Trump launches his salvo against social media — will it land?

The president’s long-promised executive order targeting social media companies raises alarm, but may not have the bite he wants.

Trump launches his salvo against social media — will it land?

U.S. President Donald Trump’s attempt to punish companies like Twitter, Google and Facebook for alleged anti-conservative bias takes aim at the online industry’s most-cherished legal protections — but the shot could ultimately be a glancing blow.

Trump announced the action Thursday, signing an executive order that he said would “defend free speech from one of the greatest dangers” — tech platforms that have amassed “unchecked power to censor, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter virtually any form of communication between private citizens or large public audiences.”

“We can’t allow that to happen,” Trump said in the Oval Office, where he was accompanied by Attorney General William Barr.

Under the order, Trump said he is asking regulators to reinterpret a law that shields internet companies from lawsuits over content on their sites, a safeguard that has allowed Silicon Valley’s giants to generate some of the world’s biggest fortunes.

“My executive order calls for new regulations … to make it that social media companies that engage in censoring or any political conduct will not be able to keep their liability shield,” he said,

But any such action depends on independent agencies and state attorneys general agreeing with the administration’s stance, and would certainly provoke a legal fight that would last long past November’s election.

An early draft of the text drew swift condemnation from both internet industry advocates and civil liberties groups, including some who regularly criticize Silicon Valley, after the language began circulating on social media and news reports. Some called it dangerous; some dismissed it as bluster.

“This reads like a stream of consciousness tweetstorm that some poor staffer had to turn into the form of an Executive Order,” said Daphne Keller, a former Google attorney who now leads the Program on Platform Regulation at Stanford’s Cyber Policy Center.

The order nevertheless adds more ammunition to a talking point that resonates with Trump’s online base and will appease some Washington conservatives who are skeptical of the tech industry’s influence over political discourse. And Trump’s escalation of the issue could have a chilling effect on internet companies weighing whether to make rulings on misinformation or other content as Election Day nears.

Source : Politico EU More   

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Recovery fund: Everything depends on what happens next

If the European Commission pulls this off, momentum will build toward further integration.

Recovery fund: Everything depends on what happens next

Moritz Schularick is a professor of economics at the University of Bonn and a fellow at the Institute for New Economic Thinking.

NEW YORK — Is this the European Union’s “Hamilton moment,” a watershed in the bloc’s march toward something resembling a nation? Or is it just another European mini-step that falls short of being transformative despite all the rhetorical fanfare?

There’s no denying the European Commission’s proposed coronavirus recovery fund is significant, both economically and politically. The Franco-German proposal that is the basis for the plan has unleashed a dynamic that seemed unconceivable a few weeks ago. For the first time in the history of the union, Brussels will become an important player in the European economic game.

The proposed €750 billion Next Generation EU fund, to be financed by borrowing, amounts to 4 percent to 5 percent of the EU’s gross domestic product. That makes it almost identical in size to the roughly $800 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, U.S. President Barack Obama’s fiscal response to the 2008 financial crisis.

Details remain to be hammered out and, importantly, the EU’s national governments have yet to agree to finance the proposal. But the reactions in European capitals, including in the “frugal four” states, have generally been supportive. Financial markets have cheered, and with good reason.

This is the first time that the EU has the chance to play such an important economic role for the entire Continent.

This is the stuff that nations are made of. Few things are as powerful politically as a shared narrative of solidarity in the face of adversity.

The technocratic nature of European integration means the bloc has lacked a history of standing together when it counted most. The aftermath of the 2008 crisis was marked by mutual distrust and disappointment. This time is different. What’s on the table now helps build a joint track record for unity.

Moreover, if the plan survives in anywhere close to its current form, a precedent will have been established. The next time the EU is confronted with a crisis that hits parts of the bloc differently, there will be a playbook to cushion the impact.

The economic arguments for Europe-wide stabilization policy were always strong. But now there is a political and legal blueprint for their implementation too.

The Commission’s plan also means that additional revenues will have to be found to service the union’s debt. Over time, this could lead to a greater transfer of taxation and other resources to the EU. With this dynamic in place, Brussels will increasingly look like a normal central government.

But is this really the Continent’s Hamilton moment? Everything depends on what happens next. This is the first time that the EU has the chance to play such an important economic role for the entire Continent. But historical analogies can only be stretched up to a point. Nations evolve, rather than explode, into being.

On closer inspection, it is clear that the U.S. fiscal constitution cannot be reduced to a single decision. Hamilton’s Funding Act of 1790 unified war-time debts. Fifty years later the debt crisis of the 1840s clarified the financial relations between the center and the states by establishing the no bailout principle.

From there, it took nearly another century until the expansion of the federal government under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal turned Washington into a meaningful economic player in the U.S. economy. In reality, the much-debated Hamilton “moment” needed a century and a half to produce the modern fiscal constitution of the U.S.

In some respects, the EU has a head start. Its financial constitution today is already more advanced than the original Hamiltonian set-up of 1790. The U.S. did not have a central bank until 1913. And for the first 20 years of its existence, the Federal Reserve was a central bank without a banking union.

Federal deposit insurance in the U.S. only came into existence in the 1930s. Europe already has a central bank that is working well. A banking union with deposit insurance is in the making.

It’s up to Brussels to demonstrate the advantages of European economic policy: Spend the money fast, but spend it wisely.

Where we go from here will depend on the success of the Commission’s proposal. The pressure will be on the European institutions to demonstrate that it makes sense to put Brussels in charge of economic stabilization.

Success was the glue that gave legitimacy to the evolving U.S. fiscal constitution. Had the U.S. stumbled along the way, the “Hamiltonian moment” would not be part of our vocabulary today.

If the EU’s experiment with debt-financed stabilization policy turns out well, the momentum toward integration will accelerate further.

It’s up to Brussels to demonstrate the advantages of European economic policy: Spend the money fast, but spend it wisely.

Source : Politico EU More   

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