As the Internet grows and develops, the law is fast on its heels — attempting to resolve difficult cases and seeking to regulate new and different online scenarios. The Year 2015 was replete with important and fascinating Internet stories.
Just to name some top stories in brief (with the number one story at the end):
The safe harbor that has been in place that has allowed US companies to transfer data back and forth with Europe in the context of the European Union Privacy Directive was threatened by a court decision in Europe;
A federal court ruled that copyright owners are required to consider potential fair use defenses when it comes to DMCA takedown notices;
The Supreme Court overturned the conviction of a man who allegedly posted violent threats on Facebook, as the government is required to prove even more than just that a reasonable person might find the posted content to be threatening;
The FCC voted that broadband Internet services can be regulated as public utilities; and
President Obama sought more cooperation among companies to defend against hackers.
But the top story for 2015 was the hack of Ashley Madison.
Ashley Madison purports to be the world’s leading web site for its many millions of “anonymous” members who wish to use the site to facilitate extramarital affairs.
Unfortunately for the Ashley Madison members, a hack of the site caused these members no longer to be anonymous. Indeed, the identities of many of the members were outed. Some of these members, not surprisingly, got into trouble with their spouses. But on top of that, others lost their jobs, some were the subject of blackmail, and sadly a few caused physical harm to themselves.
Undoubtedly, the Year 2016 will bring further interesting developments on the Internet front. So, fasten your seat belts — it is going to be a bumpy ride!
Eric Sinrod (@EricSinrod on Twitter) is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris LLP, where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology and intellectual property disputes. To receive a weekly email link to Mr. Sinrod’s columns, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org with Subscribe in the Subject line. This column is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author’s law firm or its individual partners.