The PACT Act Is Not The Solution To The Problem Of Harmful Online Content

The Senate Commerce Committee’s Tuesday hearing on the PACT Act and Section 230 was a refreshingly substantive bipartisan discussion about the thorny issues related to how online platforms moderate user content, and to what extent these companies should be held liable for harmful user content.

The hearing brought into focus several real and significant problems that Congress should continue to consider. It also showed that, whatever its good intentions, the PACT Act in its current form does not address those problems, much less deal with how to lessen the power of the handful of major online services we all rely on to connect with each other.

EFF Remains Opposed to the PACT Act

As we recently wrote, the Platform Accountability and Consumer Transparency (PACT) Act, introduced last month by Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and John Thune (R-SD), is a serious effort to tackle a serious problem: that a handful of large online platforms dominate users’ ability to speak online. The bill builds on good ideas, such as requiring greater transparency around platforms’ decisions to moderate their users’ content—something EFF has championed as a voluntary effort as part of the Santa Clara Principles.

However, we are ultimately opposed to the bill, because weakening Section 230 (47 U.S.C. § 230) would lead to more illegitimate censorship of user content. The bill would also threaten small platforms and would-be competitors to the current dominant players, and the bill has First Amendment problems.

Important Issues Related to Content Moderation Remain

One important issue that came up during the hearing is to what extent online platforms should be required to take down user content that a court has determined is illegal. The PACT Act provides that platforms would lose Section 230 immunity for user content if the companies failed to remove material after receiving notice that a court has declared that material illegal. It’s not unreasonable to question whether Section 230 should protect platforms for hosting content after a court has found the material to be illegal or unprotected by the First Amendment.

However, we remain concerned about whether any legislative proposal, including the PACT Act, can provide sufficient guardrails to prevent abuse and to ensure that user content is not unnecessarily censored. Courts often issue non-final judgments, opining on the legality of content in a motion to dismiss opinion, for example, before getting to the merits stage of a case. Some court decisions are default judgments because the defendant does not show up to defend herself for whatever reason, making any determination about the illegality of the content the defendant posted suspect because the question was not subject to a robust adversarial process. And even when there is a final order from a trial court, that decision is often appealed and sometimes reversed by a higher court.

Additionally, some lawsuits against user content are harassing suits that might be dismissed under anti-SLAPP laws, but not all states have them and there isn’t one that consistently applies in federal court. Finally, some documents that appear to be final court judgments may be falsified, which would lead to the illegitimate censorship of user speech, if platforms don’t spend considerable resources investigating each takedown request.

We were pleased to see that many of these concerns were discussed at the hearing, even if a consensus wasn’t reached. It’s refreshing to see elected leaders trying to balance competing interests, including how to protect Internet users who are victims of illegal activity while avoiding the creation of broad legal tools that can censor speech that others do not like. But as we’ve said previously, the PACT Act, as currently written, doesn’t attempt to balance these or other concerns. Rather, by requiring the removal of any material that someone claims a court has declared illegal, it tips the balance toward broad censorship.

Another thorny but important issue is the question of competition among online platforms. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) expressed his preference for finding market solutions to the problems associated with the dominant platforms and how they moderate user content. EFF has urged the government to consider a more robust use of antitrust law in the Internet space. One thing is certain, though: weakening Section 230 protections will only entrench the major players, as small companies don’t have the financial resources and personnel to shoulder increased liability for user content.

Unfortunately, the PACT Act’s requirements that platforms put in place content moderation and response services will only further cement the dominance of services such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, which already employ vast numbers of employees to moderate users’ content. Small competitors, on the other hand, lack the resources to comply with the PACT Act.

Let’s Not Forget About the First Amendment

The hearing also touched upon understandably concerning content categories including political and other misinformation, hate speech, terrorism content, and child sexual abuse material (“CSAM”). However, by and large, these categories of content (except for CSAM) are protected by the First Amendment, meaning that the government can’t mandate that such content be taken down.

To be clear, Congress can and should be talking about harmful online content and ways to address it, particularly when harassment and threats drive Internet users offline. But if the conversation focuses on Section 230, rather than grappling with the First Amendment issues at play, then it is missing the forest for the trees.

Moreover, any legislative effort aimed at removing harmful, but not illegal, content online has to recognize that platforms that host user-generated content have their own First Amendment rights to manage that content. The PACT Act intrudes on these services’ editorial discretion by requiring that they take certain steps in response to complaints about content.

Amidst a series of bad-faith attacks on Internet users’ speech and efforts to weaken Section 230 protections, it was refreshing to see Senators hold a substantive public discussion about what changes should be made to U.S. law governing Internet users’ online speech. We hope that it can serve as the beginning of a good-faith effort to grapple with real problems and to identify workable solutions that balance the many competing interests while ensuring that Internet users continue to enjoy the diverse forums for speech and community online.

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A new, fully modular CNC controller

bdring’s new universal CNC controller for Grbl_ESP32 , that is available on Github:

The blog post details a new CNC controller I designed. I have probably designed 40-50 different controllers over the years, but this one has me really excited. My past controllers were generally application specific. My recent controllers have all been for the Grbl_ESP32 firmware. The I/O on the ESP32 is very flexible, but somewhat limited in pin count. There have always been enough pins to control the machine, but not enough to make a general purpose CNC controller that can target any machine.

Project details at

Check out the video after the break.

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Adafruit Weekly Editorial Round-Up: AdaBox015, National University of Singapore used Intel neuromorphic chip to develop touch-sensing robotic ‘skin’, Raspberry Pi E-Ink Event Calendar using Python & more!

INewImage 21 1 1


We’ve got so much happening here at Adafruit that it’s not always easy to keep up! Don’t fret, we’ve got you covered. Each week we’ll be posting a handy round-up of what we’ve been up to, ranging from learn guides to blog articles, videos, and more.


National University of Singapore used Intel neuromorphic chip to develop touch-sensing robotic ‘skin’

Robots are getting closer to actually feeling things! Drawing inspiration from human skin researchers are working on “electric skin” to give robots fine grained tactile sense. Read more here.

More BLOG:


AdaBox 015 has started shipping! Check out the full learn guide here.


Browse all that’s new in the Adafruit Learning System here!

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EFF to Court: Trump Appointee’s Removal of Open Technology Fund Leadership Is Unlawful

Government Attempts Takeover of Private, Independent Nonprofit Protecting Internet Freedom

San Francisco—The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today joined a group of 17 leading U.S.-based Internet freedom organizations in telling a federal appeals court that Trump administration appointee Michael Pack has no legal authority to purge leadership at the Open Technology Fund (OTF), a private, independent nonprofit that helps hundreds of millions of people across the globe speak out online and avoid censorship and surveillance by repressive regimes.

EFF, Wikimedia, Human Rights Watch, Mozilla, the Tor Project, and a dozen more groups urged the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C Circuit in a filing to rule that Pack violated the First Amendment right of association and assembly and U.S. law —which both ensure that OTF is independent and separate from the government—when he ousted the fund’s president and bipartisan board  and replaced them with political appointees. Government-funded OTF filed a lawsuit against Pack last month to stop the takeover.

OTF projects have provided digital tools used by more than 2 billion ordinary citizens, protestors, journalists, and human rights activists in places ranging from Hong Kong, China, to Iran, Venezuela, and Russia to evade government censors and cyberattacks. OTF grants have also supported EFF’s technical security tools like Certbot, the development of the Tor network, the technology underlying the Signal secure messaging app, and much more.

Activists work with OTF and put their trust in the technologies OTF provides because the fund is both perceived to be, and actually has been, independent and free from U.S. government influence, EFF told the court. Government claims that Pack—the newly-installed head of an agency that oversees and financially supports the fund—is authorized to take over OTF undermines Congress’ explicit declarations that OTF is not a federal entity and sets a dangerous precedent for private organizations receiving government grants.

“In our democracy, the state can’t just decide to take control of a private organization, kick out the top officials, and install its own hand-picked administrator, even if it does provide some funding and support for the work of the organization” said EFF Executive Director Cindy Cohn. “At risk is not just the independence of a single small nonprofit that receives U.S. government funding. At risk here is years of work facilitating the technical and educational underpinnings of freedom of speech and assembly, a free press, democracy, and digital security in places where oppressive regimes seek to undermine these and other basic rights. Snatching OTFs independence also puts at risk LGBTQ and domestic violence victims worldwide, along with activists and journalists, who need basic security and safety in their communications. This work requires building trust, and ensuring that those who receive support are not targeted as spies or pawns by often hostile foreign dictatorships.”

The good news is that a panel of three circuit court justices this week issued an order preventing Pack from ousting and replacing OTF’s leadership. “The justices correctly recognized that his actions have already put OTF in jeopardy,” said Cohn. “OTF can only do the important work of combating online censorship around the world if it is regarded as independent and not as a mouthpiece ‘for some partisan agenda,’ as the court put it.” The order will stay in place while OTFs appeals a lower court ruling siding with the government.

“We’re proud to be fighting alongside OTF, whose work protecting Internet freedom and free speech is so vital right now,” said Cohn. “We urge the appeals court to put an end to the government’s blatant attempt to take control of a private, technical support organization relied upon by those seeking freedom around the world.”

Executive Director
Legal Director

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Watch wildlife with a Raspberry Pi nature camera| Hackspace 33

The past few months have given us ample opportunity to stare at the creatures that reside outside. In issue 33 of Hackspace Magazine, out today, Rosie Hattersley looks at ways to track them.

It’s been a remarkable spring and early summer, and not just because many of us have had more time than usual to be able to appreciate our surroundings. The weather has been mild, the skies clear, and pollution levels low. As a result, it ought to be a bumper year for plants and wildlife. Unfortunately, the lockdown limited opportunities for embracing unexpectedly good weather while simultaneously making us more aware of the wildlife on our doorsteps.

“It’s a great time to take a fresh look at the world around us”

If you’re the outdoorsy type who likes to get out and stare intently at feathered friends from the comfort of a large shed on the edge of a lagoon, you may have spent the past few months getting to know suburban birds during your exercise walks, rather than ticking off unusual species. As things finally open up, it’s a great time to take a fresh look at the world around us, and some of the projects focused on the creatures we share it with.

Make your own nature cam

Equipped with a Raspberry Pi connected to a camera and USB power bank, we are able to spy on the wildlife in our garden. The Raspberry Pi Camera Module V2 is a good option here (it’s less intrusive than the newer High Quality Camera, though that would make a superb critter-cam). It’s important not to disturb wildlife with lighting, so use an infrared module, such as the NoIR Camera Module, if you want to snap evening or night-time wildlife activity. Connect the Camera Module to the Camera port on Raspberry Pi using the cable provided, then gently pull up the edges of the port’s plastic clip and insert the ribbon cable. Push the clip back into place and the Camera Module will remain attached. Try our ‘Getting started with the Raspberry Pi Camera Module‘.

A Raspberry Pi plus camera is a great solution for web-enabled snapping

Set up your Raspberry Pi and let it perform any OS updates needed. (The Raspberry Pi Imager tool can help)

You’ll need a keyboard and mouse to set up the Raspberry Pi, but you can disconnect them at the end. Insert the updated microSD card and use a regular power supply to start it up (keep your power bank on charge separately while you set things up). Go through the Raspberry Pi setup, making sure you change the default password (since it will be accessible to anyone), and connect to your wireless network. It helps if you can access this network from the garden.

Turn on the interface for the camera, and enable SSH and VNC so you can access Raspberry Pi OS remotely when it’s sitting out in the garden. To do this, open Menu > Preferences > Raspberry Pi Configuration and click on Interface, then set Camera, SSH, and VNC to Enabled (see this documentation). Click Yes when advised that a reboot is needed. 

Next, test the camera. Open a terminal window and enter:

raspistill -o Desktop/image.jpg

A preview window will appear. After a few moments, it will save an image to the Desktop. Double-click the image.jpg file to open it.

You can use Python to take pictures and shoot video. This is handy if you want to create a time-lapse or video camera. This Raspberry Pi Project guide explains how to control the camera with Python.

You can use a USB power bank to run your Raspberry Pi wildlife camera

Note that recording video will quickly fill up your storage space and drain the battery. A better idea is to leave the preview running and use VNC to view the camera remotely. A neater option is to hook up your Raspberry Pi to YouTube (as explained in this Raspberry Pi infrared bird-box project).

Open a web page and go to Sign in, or set up a YouTube account. You will need to enable permission to live-stream. This involves providing YouTube with your phone number. Click Settings, Channel, and ‘Feature eligibility’, expand ‘Features that require phone verification’, and click ‘Verify phone number’. Type in your phone number, then enter the code that YouTube sends you as a text message. For security reasons, it will take 24 hours for YouTube to activate this feature on your account.

Get your key and add to terminal

On the left-hand side of the screen you should see a menu with the My Channel option available:

In the middle of the screen you should see the Video Manager option. On the left you should see a Live Streaming option. Look for and select the ‘Stream now BETA’ option. 

Scroll down to the bottom of the page and you should see the ENCODER SETUP option.

Here there is a Server URL and a Stream name/key. The key is shown as a line of asterisks, until you click the Reveal button. Keep the key secret and don’t share it online. Copy your Stream Key to a text document (password-protect it, ideally).

Open a terminal window and enter this command (replacing <key goes here> with your own key:

raspivid -o - -t 0 -w 1280 -h 720 -fps 25 -b 4000000 -g 50 | ffmpeg -re -ar 44100 -ac 2 -acodec pcm_s16le -f s16le -ac 2 -i /dev/zero -f h264 -i - -vcodec copy -acodec aac -ab 128k -g 50 -strict experimental -f flv rtmp://<key goes here>

With this running on Raspberry Pi, you can view the stream from your camera on YouTube on any computer. This infrared bird-box project explains more about the command options. 

You’ll want this script to execute on startup. Create a file for your startup script and add the aforementioned raspivid stream command to it:

sudo nano /etc/init.d/superscript

Make the script executable:

sudo chmod 755 /etc/init.d/superscript

And register the script to run at startup:

sudo update-rc.d superscript defaults

You can see details of scripts running at startup here.

Shut down Raspberry Pi and fit the computer and Camera Module inside a case (if you are using one). Position Raspberry Pi in your garden and power it with the USB power bank. It will connect to your wireless network, and run the YouTube streaming key. 

Navigate to your channel on YouTube at any time to see the action taking place in your garden. 

Get HackSpace magazine issue 33 — out today

HackSpace magazine issue 33: on sale now!

HackSpace magazine is out now, available in print from the Raspberry Pi Press online store, your local newsagents, and the Raspberry Pi Store, Cambridge.

You can also download the directly from PDF from the HackSpace magazine website.

Subscribers to HackSpace for 12 months to get a free Adafruit Circuit Playground, or choose from one of our other subscription offers, including this amazing limited-time offer of three issues and a book for only £10!

The post Watch wildlife with a Raspberry Pi nature camera| Hackspace 33 appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

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App note: FT90X ethernet LED control

App note from FTDI/Bridgetek demonstrating LED control over Ethernet. Link here (PDF)

In an increasingly connected world, more and more devices are going online. To enable online connectivity typically requires an MCU with Ethernet or Wi-Fi capabilities. To demonstrate the principle, this Application Note describes an implementation of a web server which allows for control of 2 WS2812 serial addressable LEDs. A web server is implemented on an FT90X device which when connected to a Local Area Network (LAN) allows a web browser to control the LEDs on an MM900EVxA board from a graphical web page.

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Plan C: Make Better Now (Video): How 100,000 Volunteers Made Millions of PPE

If you want to get a sense of all the makers around the world producing PPE over the last several months, watch this video that captures the spirit and spread of these efforts.  How makers have collaborated on solutions and produced PPE in local communities is a big story, one […]

Read more on MAKE

The post Plan C: Make Better Now (Video): How 100,000 Volunteers Made Millions of PPE appeared first on Make: DIY Projects and Ideas for Makers.

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Open Source Hardware Certifications For June 2020

The Open Source Hardware Association (OSHWA) runs a free program that allows creators to certify that their hardware complies with the community definition of open source hardware.  Whenever you see the certification logo, you know that the certified hardware meets this standard. The certification site includes a full list of […]

Read more on MAKE

The post Open Source Hardware Certifications For June 2020 appeared first on Make: DIY Projects and Ideas for Makers.

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The Solid State of Things

Hello everyone and welcome back! This week we have five new products to show off, and it all starts with the hefty new Qwiic Solid State Relay Kit. With this you will be able to control up to four 40A relays, so make sure you know how to handle large amounts of power!

Following that, by on popular demand, we have a new version of our Qwiic Button, now with a green LED rather than red. We also have a Raspberry Pi Compute Module, the MI:power board for your micro:bit, as well as a new 10W solar charger.

Summer activities canceled? Welcome to SparkFun Summer Camp! We’ve got your classic camp fun covered online – with an electronics twist. Check out our activity schedule, and let’s have some fun! This is our third week of sales, which means we are focusing on robotics (next week is machine learning!). Don't forget that you can get a free SparkFun Qwiic Pro Micro BoogieBoard with any purchase of $75 or over using promo code "BOOGIEBOARD20" (some restrictions apply).

Now onto our new products!

Huge power options, kinda small package!

SparkFun Qwiic Quad Solid State Relay Kit

added to your cart!

SparkFun Qwiic Quad Solid State Relay Kit

In stock KIT-16833

The SparkFun Qwiic Quad Solid State Relay Kit takes one of our favorite solid state relays and lets you place up to four of t…


The SparkFun Qwiic Quad Solid State Relay Kit takes one of our favorite solid state relays and lets you place up to four of them on a single PCB, to control via I2C from your desired microcontroller. Each relay is rated to 40A at 28-380 VAC, so with all four on board you can control some serious power all from the Qwiic Connect System. The kit requires no soldering, but there is some minor assembly required to attach the relays to the board and to connect your AC load.

SparkFun Qwiic Button - Green LED

added to your cart!

SparkFun Qwiic Button - Green LED

In stock BOB-16842

The SparkFun Qwiic Button with green LED simplifies all of those nasty worries away into an easy to use I2C device, no solder…


Buttons are an easy and tactile way to interface with your project, but why would you want to deal with debouncing, polling, and wiring up pull-up resistors? The Qwiic Button with built-in green LED simplifies things in an easy to use I2C device! Utilizing our Qwiic Connect System, using the button is as simple as connecting a cable and loading up some pre-written code!

Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3+ Lite

added to your cart!

Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3+ Lite

In stock DEV-16830

This module allows a designer to leverage the Raspberry Pi hardware and software stack in their own custom systems and form f…


The Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3+ Lite contains the guts of a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ (the BCM2837 processor and 1GB LPDDR2 RAM). This module allows a designer to leverage the Raspberry Pi hardware and software stack in their own custom systems and form factors. In addition, this module has extra IO interfaces over and above what is available on the Raspberry Pi model A/B boards, opening up more options for the designer.

Kitronik MI:power Board

added to your cart!

Kitronik MI:power Board

In stock DEV-16824

The MI:power board adds portability to your project. A buzzer and 3V coin cell holder is connected to the 3V, GND and P0 conn…


The MI:power board for the BBC micro:bit brings real portability to your wearable projects. The stylish, lightweight PCB is designed to fit snugly against the BBC micro:bit and features a built-in buzzer and 3V coin cell holder. When assembled, the MI:power board is connected directly to the 3V, GND and P0 connections on the micro:bit. The 3V and GND connections provide power to the micro:bit and the built-in buzzer is connected to P0, which is the default output pin when using the audio functions in the Block Editor software.

Solar Panel Charger - 10W

added to your cart!

Solar Panel Charger - 10W

In stock PRT-16835

This is a portable, slim, lightweight solar panel charger with 10 watts of power and a standard USB connection port.


Have a project that needs some good power? Do you like free power provided by our friend, Mr. Sun? This solar panel charger is a lightweight, ultra thin (2mm), and affordable power solution. This panel comes with a 5V USB connection port. The panel is capable of 10 watts in the open sun with a peak power output around 6V at 1700mA.

That's it for this week! As always, we can't wait to see what you make! Shoot us a tweet @sparkfun, or let us know on Instagram or Facebook. We’d love to see what projects you’ve made!

Never miss a new product!

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Chaac weather station

An update on Chaac weather station project we covered previously:

With this latest redesign, I made a few more changes. First of all, I decided I would no longer be afraid of LoRa and put in a LoRa radio module. This will, with the right firmware, allow for standalone operation using LoRaWAN and The Things Network. It will also allow for much longer range, with its lower 900MHz frequency, with some slightly higher power consumption. I can continue using it with my Raspberry Pi point-to-point setup as well.

More details at Project files are available on GitHub.

Check out the video after the break.

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