Big Tech's Grip on the Critical Infrastructure

On January 29, ZeroHedge (Tyler Durden) published a well researched piece, "Is This The Man Behind The Global Coronavirus Pandemic?"  He asserted that the coronavirus causing the current pandemic (COVID-19) was developed in a Chinese government lab which engaged in bio-weapons research.  The piece contains a photo and details describing a researcher at the Wuhan Institute of Virology whom he suspected of leading the research.  The official position of the Chinese government was that the pandemic had originated in a Wuhan "wet" food market.  But some  Chinese researchers had already published a study controverting this position, and the matter was already being debated in the scientific community.

However, Google, Facebook, and Twitter immediately rushed to support the Chinese government and to suppress other opinions!  On February 1, Twitter permanently suspended the ZeroHedge account.  Google and Facebook went even farther in de-ranking or eliminating similar opinions.  They worked with the U.N. World Health Organization (WHO), which naturally sided with the Chinese government.  In its January 10 statement, which remains on its website, WHO parroted the Chinese government position and advised against travel restrictions:

The reported link to a wholesale fish and live animal market in Wuhan could indicate an exposure link to animals. ... No specific measures for travellers are recommended. ... WHO advises against any travel or trade restrictions on China based on the current information available on this event.

WHO called dissenting opinions "Infodemic," and Big Tech rushed to squash them, as the New York Times reported:

Working with the big tech companies, the U.N. health agency has made strides in combating rumors and falsehoods on the internet about the new infection.

Google and Facebook made WHO the top source for the information about the coronavirus pandemic, moving down the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  Facebook elevated WHO and announced that it restricts circulation of other opinions.  A Google search for coronavirus places not only results from WHO, but even tweets from its director-general above the results from the CDC.  Not surprisingly, these efforts were joined by Chinese companies Tencent and TikTok.

Let's really look at this situation.  The U.S. is affected by a pandemic, which might be caused by Chinese bio-weapons.  In this situation, Google, Facebook, and Twitter align themselves with China by promoting its position, expressed through WHO, by preventing Americans from disputing this position, and by hiding the information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

I have no opinion on the origin of COVID-19, but we are lucky that this is not an actual attack with bio-weapons.  If it were one, the attacker would make much more effective use of the domestic enemies that have been allowed to control our critical communications infrastructure.

Facebook, Twitter, and Google are internet telecommunications companies.  Their software is part of their telecommunications equipment, as defined in 47 U.S. Code §153 (52).  These companies control critical national infrastructure.

Another example of their abuse of power happened recently, when Google's YouTube deleted Rand Paul's video mentioning Eric Ciaramella, apparently a seditious leaker.  Google, Facebook, and Twitter have been trying to erase all mentions of Eric Ciaramella.  Twitter even attempted to delete the president's tweet about him!  I wonder why nobody investigates this sabotage of the critical communications infrastructure by the companies that are responsible for maintaining and securing it.

The likely reason behind these extraordinary efforts is that Ciaramella's name can be easily connected to other coup participants and Joe Biden.  The alleged concerns about privacy and security are false excuses.  These companies do not care about privacy or security.  Twitter allowed Antifa to post LinkedIn profiles of 1,500 ICE agents.  The link to them is still there.  Prior to the 2018 elections, Facebook created a registry of political speech, which it called the Ads Library.  This registry, accessible and fully searchable worldwide, allows terrorist organizations and hostile governments to identify any U.S. organization or individual who criticizes them.  Then the addresses and other personal information become available in a couple of clicks and can be used for retaliation.

Big Tech has an overarching and dangerous hold on the internet infrastructure and the general flow of information.  To rein in these self-appointed Masters of the Universe (MOTU), federal and state officials need to arm themselves with technical and business expertise.  They should hire individuals or companies who are not beholden to these Masters of the Universe or to their Democratic allies.  Silicon Valley and congressional Democrats promote misinformers and propaganda outlets, such as CrowdStrikeNew KnowledgeOxford Internet Institute, and Data & Society.

There is no need to make new laws or regulations, only to enforce existing ones.  Some important points are the following:

  • Google, Facebook, and Twitter are telecommunications companies.  At least some of their services qualify as common carrier services (per 47 U.S. Code §153 [11], [50]-[53]), and must be provided without discrimination (47 U.S. Code §202).
  • Even if considered as interactive computer services providers with a much lower legal burden and various immunities under the Section 230, Google, Facebook, and Twitter are not protected from federal criminal liability for blocking and/or removing content.
  • Google, Facebook, and Twitter should immediately lose their finger-on-the-button ability to delete content and disable user accounts on a whim.  AT&T cannot disconnect our phone services on a whim.  Neither should these companies. 
  • Google, Facebook, and Twitter have deleted messages and disabled accounts of the president and senators, while simultaneously allowing unrestricted activities on accounts held by foreign terrorist organizations.  This should be investigated as a matter of national security.  All foreign activities of these Masters of the Universe companies should be investigated.
  • Google, Facebook, and Twitter should be investigated for assisting foreign governments, political parties, and terrorist organizations in interfering in U.S. elections.  Trusting them with securing U.S. elections is like trusting a fox to guard the henhouse.
  • In their censorship and content promotion decisions, MOTU executives are acting under control or direction of foreign governments in the U.S.  This is a violation of 18 U.S. Code §951 (Agents of foreign governments).
  • Other countries have the right to regulate Google, Facebook, and Twitter activities on their territory.  The U.S. needs to prevent those regulations from spilling over to the U.S.

The government should encourage whistleblowers to emerge from inside these companies, keeping in mind that people with internal knowledge of MOTU usually earn upward of $200K/year and often have other options worth millions.  I wonder whether the False Claims Act is applicable here.

Leo Goldstein is a former chief technology officer.  He welcomes technical questions from lawyers who want to oppose MOTU.

On January 29, ZeroHedge (Tyler Durden) published a well researched piece, "Is This The Man Behind The Global Coronavirus Pandemic?"  He asserted that the coronavirus causing the current pandemic (COVID-19) was developed in a Chinese government lab which engaged in bio-weapons research.  The piece contains a photo and details describing a researcher at the Wuhan Institute of Virology whom he suspected of leading the research.  The official position of the Chinese government was that the pandemic had originated in a Wuhan "wet" food market.  But some  Chinese researchers had already published a study controverting this position, and the matter was already being debated in the scientific community.

However, Google, Facebook, and Twitter immediately rushed to support the Chinese government and to suppress other opinions!  On February 1, Twitter permanently suspended the ZeroHedge account.  Google and Facebook went even farther in de-ranking or eliminating similar opinions.  They worked with the U.N. World Health Organization (WHO), which naturally sided with the Chinese government.  In its January 10 statement, which remains on its website, WHO parroted the Chinese government position and advised against travel restrictions:

The reported link to a wholesale fish and live animal market in Wuhan could indicate an exposure link to animals. ... No specific measures for travellers are recommended. ... WHO advises against any travel or trade restrictions on China based on the current information available on this event.

WHO called dissenting opinions "Infodemic," and Big Tech rushed to squash them, as the New York Times reported:

Working with the big tech companies, the U.N. health agency has made strides in combating rumors and falsehoods on the internet about the new infection.

Google and Facebook made WHO the top source for the information about the coronavirus pandemic, moving down the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  Facebook elevated WHO and announced that it restricts circulation of other opinions.  A Google search for coronavirus places not only results from WHO, but even tweets from its director-general above the results from the CDC.  Not surprisingly, these efforts were joined by Chinese companies Tencent and TikTok.

Let's really look at this situation.  The U.S. is affected by a pandemic, which might be caused by Chinese bio-weapons.  In this situation, Google, Facebook, and Twitter align themselves with China by promoting its position, expressed through WHO, by preventing Americans from disputing this position, and by hiding the information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

I have no opinion on the origin of COVID-19, but we are lucky that this is not an actual attack with bio-weapons.  If it were one, the attacker would make much more effective use of the domestic enemies that have been allowed to control our critical communications infrastructure.

Facebook, Twitter, and Google are internet telecommunications companies.  Their software is part of their telecommunications equipment, as defined in 47 U.S. Code §153 (52).  These companies control critical national infrastructure.

Another example of their abuse of power happened recently, when Google's YouTube deleted Rand Paul's video mentioning Eric Ciaramella, apparently a seditious leaker.  Google, Facebook, and Twitter have been trying to erase all mentions of Eric Ciaramella.  Twitter even attempted to delete the president's tweet about him!  I wonder why nobody investigates this sabotage of the critical communications infrastructure by the companies that are responsible for maintaining and securing it.

The likely reason behind these extraordinary efforts is that Ciaramella's name can be easily connected to other coup participants and Joe Biden.  The alleged concerns about privacy and security are false excuses.  These companies do not care about privacy or security.  Twitter allowed Antifa to post LinkedIn profiles of 1,500 ICE agents.  The link to them is still there.  Prior to the 2018 elections, Facebook created a registry of political speech, which it called the Ads Library.  This registry, accessible and fully searchable worldwide, allows terrorist organizations and hostile governments to identify any U.S. organization or individual who criticizes them.  Then the addresses and other personal information become available in a couple of clicks and can be used for retaliation.

Big Tech has an overarching and dangerous hold on the internet infrastructure and the general flow of information.  To rein in these self-appointed Masters of the Universe (MOTU), federal and state officials need to arm themselves with technical and business expertise.  They should hire individuals or companies who are not beholden to these Masters of the Universe or to their Democratic allies.  Silicon Valley and congressional Democrats promote misinformers and propaganda outlets, such as CrowdStrikeNew KnowledgeOxford Internet Institute, and Data & Society.

There is no need to make new laws or regulations, only to enforce existing ones.  Some important points are the following:

  • Google, Facebook, and Twitter are telecommunications companies.  At least some of their services qualify as common carrier services (per 47 U.S. Code §153 [11], [50]-[53]), and must be provided without discrimination (47 U.S. Code §202).
  • Even if considered as interactive computer services providers with a much lower legal burden and various immunities under the Section 230, Google, Facebook, and Twitter are not protected from federal criminal liability for blocking and/or removing content.
  • Google, Facebook, and Twitter should immediately lose their finger-on-the-button ability to delete content and disable user accounts on a whim.  AT&T cannot disconnect our phone services on a whim.  Neither should these companies. 
  • Google, Facebook, and Twitter have deleted messages and disabled accounts of the president and senators, while simultaneously allowing unrestricted activities on accounts held by foreign terrorist organizations.  This should be investigated as a matter of national security.  All foreign activities of these Masters of the Universe companies should be investigated.
  • Google, Facebook, and Twitter should be investigated for assisting foreign governments, political parties, and terrorist organizations in interfering in U.S. elections.  Trusting them with securing U.S. elections is like trusting a fox to guard the henhouse.
  • In their censorship and content promotion decisions, MOTU executives are acting under control or direction of foreign governments in the U.S.  This is a violation of 18 U.S. Code §951 (Agents of foreign governments).
  • Other countries have the right to regulate Google, Facebook, and Twitter activities on their territory.  The U.S. needs to prevent those regulations from spilling over to the U.S.

The government should encourage whistleblowers to emerge from inside these companies, keeping in mind that people with internal knowledge of MOTU usually earn upward of $200K/year and often have other options worth millions.  I wonder whether the False Claims Act is applicable here.

Leo Goldstein is a former chief technology officer.  He welcomes technical questions from lawyers who want to oppose MOTU.