Responding to the US Supreme Court’s judgment in two cases aimed at holding social media platforms liable for third-party content and its decision not to revisit internet law Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, Pat de Brún, Deputy Director of Amnesty Tech, said:
“While these judgements avoided an overhaul of the law in the US, the fact remains that radical change to the way Big Tech is regulated remains urgent. The courts of law are not well-suited to filling the void left by the lack of effective and comprehensive regulations on Big Tech. These judgments should spur legislators into action by enacting long overdue regulations which can rein in this industry.
From India to Ethiopia, and Brazil to the United States, Big Tech’s unregulated algorithms are optimized to maximize profit and engagement, which fans the flames of ethnic violence, disinformation and gross human rights violations.Pat de Brún, Deputy Director, Amnesty Tech
“Many communities around the world, including the Rohingya in Myanmar, are seeking justice and accountability for adverse human rights harm caused or contributed to by the Big Tech business model. Effective human rights due diligence, which is properly enforced and regulated, could have prevented or mitigated the harms that Meta contributed to against the Rohingya in 2017. Yet in the absence of effective regulations, there is a grave risk that history will repeat itself over and over again.
“Ultimately, we need proper regulation to protect human rights, including free expression, but also to hold Big Tech accountable for the severe harms that can result from the amplification of harmful content. From India to Ethiopia, and Brazil to the United States, Big Tech’s unregulated algorithms are optimised to maximise profit and engagement, which fans the flames of ethnic violence, disinformation and gross human rights violations.
“Governments and legislators have an obligation under international human rights law to introduce regulations that can protect our human rights from corporate abuses. Companies such as Meta and Google should be subject to strict oversight and transparency requirements, including mandatory human rights due diligence in line with international standards for business and human rights.”
Amnesty International’s research has shown that Meta substantially contributed to the ethnic cleansing and forcible displacement of over 700,000 Rohingya in 2017, but Meta is yet to provide survivors with an effective remedy.
Amnesty International has previously reported on how the surveillance-based business model that underpins Big Tech companies such as Meta and Google gravely threatens a range of human rights.