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July 21, 2018 04:34 pm

State Senator Wants A Law Forcing Bots To Admit They're Not Human

An anonymous reader writes:Several commentators are calling for a law that requires bots to admit they are not human. There is a bill in California that would do just that. A new paper argues that these laws may look Constitutional but actually raise First Amendment issues. The New York Times reports:Bots are easy to make and widely employed, and social media companies are under no legal obligation to get rid of them. A law that discourages their use could help, but experts aren't sure how the one [state senator Robert] Hertzberg is trying to push through, in California, might work. For starters, would bots be forced to identify themselves in every Facebook post? In their Instagram bios? In their Twitter handles? The measure, SB-1001, a version of which has already left the senate floor and is working its way through the state's Assembly, also doesn't mandate that tech companies enforce the regulation. And it's unclear how a bill that is specific only to California would apply to a global internet... All parties agree that the bill illustrates the difficulty that lawmakers have in crafting legislation that effectively addresses the problems constituents confront online. As the pace of technological development has raced ahead of government, the laws that exist on the books -- not to mention some lawmakers' understandings of technology -- have remained comparatively stagnant. The Times seems to question whether the law should be targeted at the creators of bots instead of the platforms that host them, pointing out that tech companies like Twitter "have the power to change dynamics on their platforms directly and at the scale that those problems require."

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