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Other countries? Well, in Israel – a nation perpetually under attack, with a dysfunctional system of government, and no coronavirus vaccine-manufacturing capacity of its own, like Canada – more Israelis get vaccinated in a single day than Canada vaccinated in all of December.
In the United States – a divided nation run by an impeached lunatic, with an actual insurrection still underway – nearly ten million Americans have been vaccinated with one or more doses. President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to “move Heaven and Earth,” meanwhile, to get 100 million of his fellow citizens vaccinated in the first 100 days of his administration.
Justin Trudeau’s Canada? Not so good.
Now, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic Leblanc is a whip-smart guy, educated at Trinity College and Harvard. He was sent out, a few days ago, to polish the turd that is Justin Trudeau’s record on vaccines.
Canada is “on track” with its coronavirus vaccine rollout, Leblanc said to various media, with a straight face. And, in response to criticisms arising from the fact that provinces have run out of doses – because they actually have – well, Leblanc said this: it’s “a bit simplistic.”
And that much is true, although not in the way that Leblanc intended. It is simple: you either have vaccines, or you don’t.
Many provinces didn’t, or not nearly enough. The University Health Network – which has thousands of beds, and patients from across Canada – effectively ran out of vaccines a few days ago. They were forced to reschedule vaccination appointments.
India announces sweeping guidelines for social media, on-demand streaming firms, and digital news outlets – Yahoo Movies Canada
India announced sweeping changes to its guidelines for social media, on-demand video streaming services, and digital news outlets on Thursday, posing new challenges for small firms as well as giants such as Facebook and Google that count the nation as its biggest market by users.
Ravi Shankar Prasad, India’s IT, Law, and Justice minister, said in a press conference that social media companies will be required to acknowledge the request within 24 hours and deliver a complete redressal in 15 days. In sensitive cases that surround rape or other sexual nature, firms will be required to takedown the objectionable content within 24 hours.
These firms will also be required to appoint a chief compliance officer, a nodal contact officer, who shall be reachable round the clock, and a resident grievance officer. The firms will also be required to have an office in the country.
For social media companies, Prasad said they will be required to disclose the originator of objectionable content. “We don’t want to know the content, but firms need to be able to tell who was the first person who began spreading misinformation and other objectionable content,” he said. WhatsApp has previously said that it can’t comply with such traceability request without compromising end-to-end encryption security for every user.
Firms will also be required to publish a monthly compliance report to disclose the number of requests they received and what actions they took. They will also be required to offer a voluntary option to users who wish to verify their accounts.
The guidelines go into effect for small firms effective immediately, but bigger services will be provided three months to comply, said Prasad.
New Delhi has put together these guidelines because citizens in India have long requested a “mechanism to address grievances,” said Prasad. India has been working on a law aimed at intermediaries since 2018. This is the first time New Delhi has publicly shared an update on the specifics of the guidelines.
“India is the world’s largest open Internet society and the Government welcomes social media companies to operate in India, do business and also earn profits. However, they will have to be accountable to the Constitution and laws of India,” he said, adding that WhatsApp had amassed 530 million users, YouTube, 448 million users, Facebook’s marquee service 410 million users, Instagram 210 million users, and Twitter, 175 million users in the country.
Full guidelines for social media firms and other intermediaries. (Source: Indian government.)
For streaming platforms, the draft, which will be legally enforceable when it becomes a law, has outlined a three-tier structure for “observance and adherence to the code.” Until now, on-demand services such as Netflix, Disney+ Hotstar, and MX Player have operated in India with little to no censorship.
New Delhi last year said India’s broadcasting ministry, which regulates content on TV, will also be overseeing digital streaming platforms. 17 popular streaming firms had banded together to devise a self-regulation code. Prakash Javedkar, Minister of Information and Broadcasting, said the proposed solution from the industry wasn’t adequate and there will be an oversight mechanism from the government to ensure compliance of code of practices.
Streaming services will also have to attach a content ratings to their titles. “The OTT platforms, called as the publishers of online curated content in the rules, would self-classify the content into five age based categories- U (Universal), U/A 7+, U/A 13+, U/A 16+, and A (Adult). Platforms would be required to implement parental locks for content classified as U/A 13+ or higher, and reliable age verification mechanisms for content classified as “A”,” the Indian government said.
“The publisher of online curated content shall prominently display the classification rating specific to each content or programme together with a content descriptor informing the user about the nature of the content, and advising on viewer description (if applicable) at the beginning of every programme enabling the user to make an informed decision, prior to watching the programme.”
Digital news outlets will be required to disclose the size of their reach and structure of their ownership.
Industry executives have expressed concerns over the new proposed regulation, saying New Delhi hasn’t consulted them for these changes. IAMAI, a powerful industry body that represents nearly all on-demand streaming services, said it was “dismayed” by the guidelines, and hoped to have a dialogue with the government.
Javedkar and Prasad were asked if there will be any consultation with the industry before these guidelines become law. The ministers said that they had already received enough inputs from the industry.
This is a developing story. More to follow…
Australia passes law to make Google and Facebook pay media companies for news content – Financial Post
Australia will be the first country where a government arbitrator will decide the price to be paid by the tech giants if commercial negotiations with local news outlets fail
CANBERRA — The Australian parliament on Thursday passed a new law designed to force Alphabet Inc’s Google and Facebook Inc to pay media companies for content used on their platforms in reforms that could be replicated in other countries.
Australia will be the first country where a government arbitrator will decide the price to be paid by the tech giants if commercial negotiations with local news outlets fail.
The legislation was watered down, however, at the last minute after a standoff between the government and Facebook culminated in the social media company blocking all news for Australian users.
Subsequent amendments to the bill included giving the government the discretion to release Facebook or Google from the arbitration process if they prove they have made a “significant contribution” to the Australian news industry.
Some lawmakers and publishers have warned that could unfairly leave smaller media companies out in the cold, but both the government and Facebook have claimed the revised legislation as a win.
“The code will ensure that news media businesses are fairly remunerated for the content they generate, helping to sustain public-interest journalism in Australia,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said in a joint statement on Thursday.
The progress of the legislation has been closely watched around the world as countries including Canada and Britain consider similar steps to rein in the dominant tech platforms.
The revised code, which also includes a longer period for the tech companies to strike deals with media companies before the state intervenes, will be reviewed within one year of its commencement, the statement said. It did not provide a start date.
The legislation does not specifically name Facebook or Google. Frydenberg said earlier this week he will wait for the tech giants to strike commercial deals with media companies before deciding whether to compel both to do so under the new law.
Google has struck a series of deals with publishers, including a global content arrangement with News Corp, after earlier threatening to withdraw its search engine from Australia over the laws.
Several media companies, including Seven West Media , Nine Entertainment and the Australian Broadcasting Corp have said they are in talks with Facebook.
Representatives for both Google and Facebook did not immediately respond to requests from Reuters for comment on Thursday.
Facebook exploring potential news licensing agreements in Canada: source
By Moira Warburton
VANCOUVER (Reuters) – Facebook Inc is exploring potential licensing agreements in the coming year with Canadian media outlets and expanding its investment in local journalism initiatives, a source familiar with the company’s thinking said on Wednesday.
The move comes as the Canadian government is preparing to introduce legislation in the coming months, along the lines of the controversial Australian model that forces technology companies like Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Google to pay media companies for content.
But the source said Facebook views the situation in Australia as unique.
“You’re looking at a country that is by and large dominated by one large media conglomerate that has a very heavy influence on government and government policies,” the source said, pointing out that most countries do not have that.
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp owns two-thirds of Australia’s major city newspapers.
The conversations around licensing are taking place at a high level, and the source compared the potential licensing agreements to those Facebook obtained to use music in Instagram stories and reels.
The source, who is not authorised to speak about the matter publicly, declined to say which Canadian publishers Facebook would consider for licensing talks or how much it has budgeted.
Last week, Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault, in charge of crafting legislation, condemned Facebook’s decision to shut down all news sites in Australia for several days, and said it would not deter Ottawa from introducing new rules.
Facebook announced on Wednesday that it would raise its funding of news publishers to $1 billion over three years.
Canada‘s news media industry has come out hard against Facebook and asked the government for more regulation of tech companies, to allow the industry to recoup financial losses it has suffered in the years that Facebook and Google have been steadily gaining greater market shares of advertising.
(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by Denny Thomas and Marguerita Choy)
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