Decentralized news: A case study of government control vs freedom of the press

Google’s ongoing clash with the Australian regulators is making a convincing argument yet again for the decentralized news network as users struggle to find a middle ground for a seemingly lose-lose situation for them.

Through an open memo on Monday, Google warned its users that the newly proposed legislation could endanger the Australian users’ data privacy as both online services giants, Google and YouTube, will be forced to share confidential user information to media companies.

Are the digital lives of Australians in jeopardy?

The Google Search free services are at risk as big media companies will be targeting and exploiting every move you make to bring about an uptick in their viewership. Clearly, the new government regulation jeopardizes data privacy and protection of users and will adversely impact the way Aussies use Google and YouTube search services, noted the letter.

Moreover, YouTube’s regional head of Asia Pacific warned of another possible implication on content creators who face the risk of going unnoticed and earn fewer views or likes when news publishers take over the platform. 

We may be obligated to share our platform’s confidential information regarding viewership numbers, consumer engagement and content consumption with the media companies, thus resulting in them holding huge monopolies over how users choose to live their digital lives. And that could be potentially disadvantageous to most content creators and viewers.

Government refutes the claims

With Facebook, Google and YouTube forming a tripartite affiliation in battling the Australian government together, Australia’s regulatory commissioning body, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) slammed the internet giants for misleading viewers with fake information. The regulators refuted the allegations and confirmed that they hadn’t pressurized any of these tech giants to share information.

We confirm that Google, YouTube and Facebook will not be compelled to charge fees to their customers and will not be obliged to share confidential user information with Australian media companies. No one will be forced to divulge details unless they choose to do it themselves.

Dismissing Google’s claims by calling it “rather cynical”, the minister-in-chief for the ACCC, Josh Frydenberg, added that the proposal is only in its preliminary advisory stage and no decision has been made on this regard yet. It further invites media publishers and online streaming companies to provide their feedback on or before August 28.

I find this somewhat ironic considering the fact that the world’s largest data aggregator is making sweeping statements about privacy and security enforcement when it is battling privacy violation lawsuits concomitantly.

Is a decentralized news network the answer?

And while Google and the Australian government continue to be at loggerheads over the new legislation and rising tensions over government’s substantial handed intervention, it is time for us to rethink what can happen if we allow too much power to accumulate in one hand. This is what media centralization will end up with. And this is why we need a decentralized news platform where no single entity holds the ultimate supremacy.

Case in point for decentralized news network

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Today, there is a building wave of outrage among emerging content creators who are looking for a better, more just, and less centralized control over hosting platforms. There is no denying that these digital streaming platforms have a lot of sway with their algorithms, which is essentially plaguing the whole system and preventing upcoming vloggers, artists, and creators from finding their niche.

How often have we come across an instance when we start reading a news story but can’t read the rest because it needs us to pay for a month’s subscription? The press must have freedom from control, but what can sustain writers? This is where the economy of blockchain comes in but who runs it? This is where people of all affiliations must come in to balance each other out.

Blockchain for freedom of speech

A decentralized news network based on blockchain technology is apolitical, but it could be misused when not adopted massively. The more a system gets mass support, the lesser the chances of it being controlled by a powerful usurping group. The distributed nature of blockchain prevents the centralization of power by government agencies, corporate entities like Google or Facebook, or even a single powerful individual.

And while there is no denying the massive information flow and ease of use brought along by these significant internet players, and that it is highly unlikely that any other platform has it in them to challenge their massive popularity, what decentralized news platform can do is associate with social media platforms and enable a more diverse and flexible system.

Blockchain solutions can seamlessly co-exist with centralized systems and set the course for the decentralization of the critical monetization process, thus making the network less saturated and more tolerant of diversity and freedom of speech.