Media Law Roundup: August 29th

Welcome to the Media Law Roundup, a survey of the week’s developing media news.

New Social Media Policy for Indian News Organization

On Tuesday August 26, the Times of India instituted a social media policy  that requires employees to create corporate “User Accounts” on Facebook and Twitter, declare all personal social media accounts, and cease posting news links from personal accounts. The company will have full access to these accounts and control any and all intellectual property stemming from the account. These policies will also extend to the Times of India’s sister publications. The following day, a new version of this policy, which came in the form of a contract that all employees must sign, was circulated. One major change—the insistence from the company that it is in an employee’s best interest to maintain only a company monitored User Account on each social media platform, though this will not be enforced.


Social Data for Ebola Surveillance

Scientists are using social mapping data to help track the spread of Ebola. The software HealthMap, which is run by researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital, helped predict the spread of Ebola several days before the World Health Organization declared it an epidemic. Tools such as HealthMap are meant to be used as early warning systems in the fight against disease. HealthMap’s other projects include DengueMap, which globally monitors and provides warning on dengue outbreaks, and Vaccine Finder, which helps users locate centers that administer flu vaccines.


PM Defends National Broadcast Policy

Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina addressed objections over the national broadcast policy. The policy, which came into effect on August 4, 2014, restricts the broadcast of news that might “taint the image of the country’s law keepers and the armed forces” or contribute to group protests. The Prime Minister defended the policy, saying that it is for the media’s best interests and that those protesting were only doing so to complain against the government. “We are okay with criticisms, but don’t try to cut off the branch you’re sitting on. You, too, will fall. I think a hint is enough for the intelligent,” the Prime Minister stated.


Facebook and Twitter Users ‘More Likely’ to Censor Their Views Offline

The “spiral of silence,” which leads people to self-censor views they feel may be unpopular, exists both offline and online. Though many were optimistic about the potential of social media to provide new avenues for discussion, the Pew Research Centre has found the opposite. The “spiral of silence” can start with Facebook and Twitter users censoring their own posts and end with users censoring themselves offline. Of the 1,801 US adults surveyed in August and September of 2013, only 43 per cent expressed willingness to discuss NSA surveillance on Facebook, and 41 per cent felt similarly about Twitter. The Pew Report “suggests that Facebook and Twitter users were less likely to join offline conversations if they felt that their views were out of step with their online friends and followers.”


Internet Governance Forum:

This year, the Internet Governance Forum takes place from September 2-5, 2014 in Istanbul, Turkey. The Center for Democracy and Technology has written a preview of the topics they expect will be discussed at this year’s forum, the theme for which is “Connecting Continents for Enhanced Multistakeholder Internet Governance.” The Electronic Frontier Foundation is guarded in its hopes, noting that conferences like the Internet Governance Forum “seem to be all talk, without any proximate effect on ordinary internet users.” The EEF gives a brief summary of NETmundial, a conference during which “participants collaborated upon a different form of internet governance,” and which will be a topic of discussion during the Internet Governance Forum.


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