Big tech censorship, antitrust and why the Crown Platform matters.
Crown contributor defunctec’s take on platforms vs publishers.
For years we have witnessed a slow creep of big tech control over the industry and control over content via their platforms which has now lead to Department of Justice probes.
Are these “platforms” publishers or platforms is the question of the day.
A great example of a publisher is news outlets where they pay journalists or reporters to write about X with the editors being responsible for what the author has written and published, while a platform is an open system in which virtually anyone can contribute anything. Of course, the platform has a duty to filter illegal content from its platform but apart from that anything goes.
The issue seems to be that these platforms are acting as publishers by not only banning illegal content but also controversial speech that either they don’t like or have been pressured by outside forces to remove.
Do platforms have the right to remove non-illegal but controversial content and still be classed as a platform? Who owns your content, you or the platform?
A good argument for Facebook not owning your content can be found here.
Facebook says the user owns their content but then why are they removing non-illegal but controversial speech from their platform? They’re taking responsibility for the curation of content other than illegal, making the argument of being a publisher very serious. If you do own your content, they’re only responsible for the removal of illegal content, not yours.
They can do this legally if they’re a publisher, but they masquerade as platforms and benefit from the lack of legal repercussions from acting as a publisher.
Antitrust suits are also on the horizon in America with Google, Apple and social media platforms all being looked into for breaches of laws relating to anti-competitive behaviour.
So why does blockchain matter?
Projects like Ethereum offer great utility for individuals and business to build or integrate already existing services to use blockchain tech, but with this utility comes great legal risk.
For example, an illegal organisation could use Ethereum and it’s token generation tools (ERC tokens) to fund operations around the world. The Ethereum developers are basically powerless to stop this group from using Ethereum’s tools unless they take drastic action which would jeopardise the trust aspect of the project. Even if mass consensus was reached to remove such a group then the fact that the Ethereum team intervened will erode trust in the decentralised ideal.
Crypto tech will always be used maliciously. We cannot completely stop this but we can create a system that helps filter out illegal content.
Ethereum will one day face this scenario, with an “illegal” operation using its tools for bad intentions.
When this day comes the Ethereum community will have to decide if this type of structure is the one they would like to continue to support or move on to a more regulated space. We must also consider governments actually banning the use of such platforms that allow illegal content to be hosted and distributed on the platform.
The Crown development team and community are building a new system in which illegal actors’ access to the platform can be revoked… But not by the development team.
A unique and privileged position to hold within the Crown community, it comes with great responsibility. A verifier would need to create a special proposal via Crown’s proposal (governance) system. Once the proposal gathers enough Yes votes to pass the proposer gains access to a part of the Crown Platform no one else has. The verifier can now hash identity documents and provide requesters of verification with a “Unique Verification Hash” (UVH). A UVH can be used by individuals or corporations to provide proof they are who they say they are.
Will provide computational power to users of the Crown Platform and can also be used independently alongside any website/server/business. A Systemnode doesn’t need a UVH to operate in the legacy sense but to use Crown Platform services a UVH will be needed.
A Systemnode can provide a toolkit of API requests from the network such as NFT generation, account registration etc..
So who keeps what in check?
The Crown community vote on ID verifiers which in turn provide UVHs to the Crown community. This is a relationship between a verifier and the community. If the verifier becomes a bad actor (e.g., Person A obtains UVH, Person A uses Crown Platform to host illegal content), the Crown community can notify the verifier that illegal content is being hosted using a UVH they provided, the verifier can now act appropriately. If the verifier doesn’t act the Crown community can vote down the verifier, removing all content related to the verifier.
It sounds harsh but it’s a requirement to remain legally compliant as a global network (within reason.)
Person B who successfully completed his verification and now possess a UVH can now host a Systemnode or become part of the computational pool.
Why the Crown Platform matters
This is the perfect time for a blockchain backed platform like the Crown Platform to emerge as an alternative technology and new way of managing large platforms such as the “App store”, social media, etc. where the distinction between publisher and platform is grey.
The Crown Platform is purely a platform and not a publisher. ID verifiers must not pick and choose the content they prefer but rather accept the user’s freedom to do anything within the law of the UVH holder’s land. Any content hosted on the platform is hosted by verified users and if the content is illegal in his country, his Identity could be used against him since his UVH is known to the ID verifier. It’s well within the user’s interest to remain within legal compliance within his jurisdiction.
Users (UVH holders) also have the choice to choose more than one ID verifier to provide them with a valid UVH in case the Crown community ever vote down a verifier and their privilege is revoked.
If a verifier acts like a publisher and revokes UVHs because of some personal spat, for example, it’s the Crown community’s (Voters) responsibility to act. On the other hand, if an ID is found to be fraudulent or the user acts illegally it becomes the verifier’s responsibility to revoke the UVH. Again, if the verifier doesn’t act they become susceptible to No votes and ultimately removal from the platform.
This isn’t a platform of curation nor subjective, moral or ethical standards rather a legally compliant framework you can choose to use or not to use.
“Fall of big tech”
If big tech platforms are found to be publishers and violate or have violated antitrust laws there will be a huge vacuum ready to be filled with new tech and new ideas. Large corporations that have a firm grip on the tech industry could actually be broken down similar to how Standard Oil was broken into 34 individual companies.
Yes, speculation… But all this should be considered when building such a platform as we don’t want to make the same mistakes.
Legal action against big tech platforms is looming. Platform or publisher? Do they own the content you provide and can they restrict your content if it’s legal? Are they violating antitrust laws by snuffing out competition? The Department of Justice will provide more information about this soon.
It’s safe to say that censorship of speech which is a right in the USA, for example, is curation, making the argument that these platforms act as publishers carry some weight.
The Crown Platform and its community do not curate non-illegal content. Users are free to act within the laws of their jurisdiction.
ID verifiers provide users with UVHs allowing them to join the computational pool or access tools directly via a Systemnode. Verifiers have the responsibility of revoking users’ UVHs if found to be acting illegally, not curating content depending on how they feel that day.
Systemnodes can be used alongside a website, for example, to offer their users/customers blockchain related services.
Overall the Crown Platform is attempting to build an open compliant network that will function legally within as much of the globe and possible, providing non-fungible token creation to start, with further development leading to fungible tokens, account registration, ID verification, verifier voting, time stamping, transactions. All the tools that will enable the Crown Platform to be a vibrant open legal ecosystem.