A lot of good proposals in the Online Harms White Paper but a lack of focus on taxation

By Areeq Chowdhury. The Government has finally published its long-awaited white paper on 'online harms'. There are a lot of good and welcome proposals within it, however, 'tax' (which should play a central role in the fight against online harms) is mentioned just once in the entire 37,000 word document. Internet platforms, whilst having the … Continue reading A lot of good proposals in the Online Harms White Paper but a lack of focus on taxation

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2019 will be a landmark year in the disinformation war

By Areeq Chowdhury. Fake news, Russian bots, data manipulation. If you think western democracy has been in freefall since the Trump/Brexit earthquake of 2016, brace yourself because that was just the beginning. The real nosedive will begin in 2019. Bot architects, fake news peddlers, and psychographic analysts have spent the past few years learning the … Continue reading 2019 will be a landmark year in the disinformation war

The ‘digital services tax’ is a good idea in principle but it may be difficult to enforce

By Areeq Chowdhury. In the budget this week, Philip Hammond has announced the introduction of a new ‘digital services tax’, first hinted at in his party conference speech in Birmingham. The tax, limited to tech giants which have annual global revenues of more than £500m, will be a levy of 2% on the money made … Continue reading The ‘digital services tax’ is a good idea in principle but it may be difficult to enforce

A publicly-owned Facebook? Interesting idea, but fraught with difficulty

By Areeq Chowdhury. Is it time to nationalise Facebook? Recently, social media platforms have transformed from a space to socialise, share photos, and stare at memes, to a centre of digital political warfare and the murky harvesting of personal data. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to discern fact from fiction, online abuse is rampant across comment … Continue reading A publicly-owned Facebook? Interesting idea, but fraught with difficulty

Cambridge Analytica and the future of social media

By Tess Woolfenden. In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the issue of social media regulation - or lack thereof - has been raised in mainstream public debate in the US and, to a lesser extent, here in the UK. The scandal – in which personal data from Facebook was harvested to create targeted … Continue reading Cambridge Analytica and the future of social media

With great power comes great regulation

By Areeq Chowdhury. The Cambridge Analytica debacle appears to be the straw that will break the camel’s back. The idea of data being unwittingly taken from users for the purpose of targeted advertising is nothing new, but the idea that it’s been done to contribute to the victory of Donald Trump, or perhaps Brexit, has … Continue reading With great power comes great regulation

Intersectional Suffrage: A focus on the women that didn’t get the vote in 1918

By Tess Woolfenden. This year marks 100 years since Parliament passed the Representation of the People Act – the act that extended the vote to women in Britain for the first time in history. While this marked an historic and important shift towards electoral equality in Britain, many women continued to be denied the vote … Continue reading Intersectional Suffrage: A focus on the women that didn’t get the vote in 1918

Did Russia hack the referendum?

By Ben Pearson. On January 22nd, WebRoots Democracy hosted a public seminar to explore claims about Russian interference in the EU referendum. To assess the evidence and shed some light on how interference could have taken place, we were joined by Sky’s technology correspondent Alexander J Martin and UCL’s Dr Gianluca Stringhini. Areeq Chowdhury opened … Continue reading Did Russia hack the referendum?

The fate of digital democracy is linked to the fate of online voting

By Areeq Chowdhury. What if we could get rid of politicians and simply vote on everything ourselves? Why limit ourselves to referenda on independence movements, and not have referenda on all issues affecting our lives? These are the questions which spur much of the civic tech innovation we see in the UK and across the … Continue reading The fate of digital democracy is linked to the fate of online voting

What happened in 2017?

By Areeq Chowdhury. 2017 has been a memorable year for our work advancing the digital democracy agenda in the UK. Starting work on WebRoots Democracy full-time has been incredibly challenging but incredibly worthwhile. The amount of progress made compared to previous years has increased sevenfold, literally as well as figuratively. We published seven policy documents … Continue reading What happened in 2017?