All posts by Eric J. Sinrod

Potential Amendments To CDA Section 230 Relating to Immunity Provided To Internet Intermediaries

In 1996, Congress enacted Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) to provide Internet service intermediaries with general immunity from liability with respect to third-party content posted on their sites. Congress wanted the commercial Internet to flourish, with great benefits to the U.S. economy, and therefore did not want Internet intermediaries to be burdened with the phenomenally costly task of having to monitor and referee third-party content.

Calls for Section 230 Reform

Of course, as we know, the commercial Internet has flourished since 1996 to the advantage of the U.S. economy, and some of the biggest and most valuable U.S. companies are Internet intermediaries that host third-party content. But there have been some complaints about the immunity provided by virtue of Section 230. For example, there have been complaints that some Internet intermediaries should have been and should be more active in monitoring and removing false information posted on their sites that is designed to influence political elections. In the wake of these complaints, there have been suggestions that Section 230 is ripe for potential amendments.

Continue reading Potential Amendments To CDA Section 230 Relating to Immunity Provided To Internet Intermediaries

Oregon Senator Proposes Robust Federal Privacy Legislation

Frustrated by privacy lapses by US companies, Democrat Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon has introduced proposed federal legislation referred to as the Mind Your Own Business Act (the Act). If enacted, this law could put serious teeth into efforts to protect consumer data.

Serious Penalties for Noncompliance

Indeed, the Act could cause certain executives to find themselves in prison for as many as twenty years if their companies are found to have lied to legal authorities about improper use of consumers’ personal information. On top of that, the Act could lead to such companies incurring special tax penalties corresponding to executives’ salaries.

If this were not enough, the Act would empower the Federal Trade Commission with the ability to fine companies for violating this law up to four percent of corporate annual revenues. For some companies, this could amount to fines in the billions of dollars. Continue reading Oregon Senator Proposes Robust Federal Privacy Legislation

Your Smartphone: Friend or Foe?

Wherever we go these days, whether at work, at home, in restaurants, outside, or practically anywhere else, people reflexively go to their smartphones constantly.

Why? Because those little handheld devices can accomplish so much. We can send communications across various platforms, conduct business tasks, check on the news, shop, participate in social media, listen to music, watch videos, and the list goes on and on. Continue reading Your Smartphone: Friend or Foe?

Staying Ahead of Rampant Cyber-Attacks

Since the advent of the most rudimentary technology, criminal activity has followed. And in more recent times, the internet certainly has been no stranger to criminal enterprises. Indeed, governmental entities, companies and individuals are falling victim to all sorts of cyber-crimes on a constant basis. A look at just one criminal target drives home the rampant nature of online attacks.

Brace yourself for this – the City of London Corporation suffered almost one million cyber-attacks monthly for the first quarter of 2019, based on information obtained by Centrify as reported by info security-magazine.com. That indisputably is a phenomenal number of attacks on the local authority which oversees capital housing for a good portion of the financial center in London. Continue reading Staying Ahead of Rampant Cyber-Attacks

What To Do About CDA Section 230 And ISP Immunity?

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) became law long ago when it comes to internet time, way back in the 1990s. The main thrust of the CDA was an effort by Congress to regulate indecent content posted online. Section 230 was included within the CDA to provide general immunity to Internet service providers with respect to third-party content posted on their sites. While the indecency regulatory aspect of the CDA was struck down by the United States Supreme Court as violating the First Amendment, Section 230 survives to this day and has been the critical legal backbone that has allowed a good part of the Internet to flourish, especially social media. Continue reading What To Do About CDA Section 230 And ISP Immunity?

European Union Seeks to Update and Centralize Internet Law

While issues relating to Brexit and Boris Johnson becoming the Prime Minister of England have tended to dominate the news across the pond, not to be lost in the shuffle are reports that the European Union is in the process of creating a new law that would add further regulation of online content. The new law, titled the Digital Services Act, seeks to replace an older commerce directive from two decades ago with an updated and legally binding law. The law is reported to address a wide array of digital platforms and supposedly would focus on all aspects of tech.

So, what are some of the reported features of the Digital Services Act? Continue reading European Union Seeks to Update and Centralize Internet Law

FBI Warns of Cybercrimes Targeting Seniors

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day took place last week on June 15. This Awareness Day highlights how older populations are vulnerable to various forms of fraud and seeks to promote education and strategies to prevent the elderly from being victims of deception.

At the federal level here in the United States, the Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act was enacted in 2017, and the Department of Justice brought forth the Elder Justice Initiative. The purpose of the Initiative is to provide a platform for the DOJ “to combat elder abuse, neglect and financial fraud and scams that target our nation’s seniors,” according to an FBI press release. As a consequence, the FBI “has prioritized [its] efforts to address elder fraud.”

Regional initiatives to protect the elderly have been introduced in the United States as well. For example, the Phoenix Field Office of the FBI is seeking to create greater knowledge about “cyber scams targeting the elderly in Arizona” in recognition of World Elder Abuse Day, as stated in the FBI press release.

Top Crimes Against Seniors

As part of creating greater awareness, the press release points out that residents over the age of 60 make up most of the cybercrime victims in Arizona in 2018 and accounted for the majority of adjusted losses in that year, citing statistics from the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center. Continue reading FBI Warns of Cybercrimes Targeting Seniors

Another State Passes Law to Protect Consumer Data

States are taking online consumer protection into their own hands given a perceived lack of sufficient protection at the federal level. Maine now has jumped in.

Indeed, Janet Mills, the Governor of Maine, just signed into law arguably one of the strongest privacy bills in the country. This law, called the Act to Protect the Privacy of Online Consumer Information and which goes into effect on July 1, prohibits internet service providers from using, selling, or distributing data from consumers without obtaining their consent. And, according to The Hill, this new state law bars internet service providers from refusing to serve consumers, penalizing consumers or offering them discounts to seek to gain their permission to sell their data.

Consumer Affairs and Privacy

This bold step by Maine follows in the footsteps of California, a state which passed a complicated online privacy law last year. That law has been both applauded by privacy activists and criticized in certain respects by the tech industry.

At first blush, the new Maine law may be even more robust than the California law. The Maine law is opt-in in nature, requiring explicit consent from consumers before internet service providers can sell their data. The California law is opt-out in effect, making consumers affirmatively request that their data not be sold. Continue reading Another State Passes Law to Protect Consumer Data

Social Media Companies Seek Government Content Regulation?

Long ago in internet time, way back in the 1990s, Congress passed the Communications Decency Act (CDA). A key feature of the CDA is Section 230 of the statute. In essence, Section 230 generally creates immunity for internet service providers (ISPs) with respect to third-party content posted on their sites. Congress desired a strong and robust commercial internet that would be good for the economy. Congress did not believe that the commercial internet would thrive if ISPs were saddled with the incredible cost and burden of monitoring the content on their sites and having the tremendous task of deciding content that could remain and content that should be removed from their sites. Continue reading Social Media Companies Seek Government Content Regulation?

The Federal Government Seeks to Get Hip to Artificial Intelligence

Are the robots going to take over the world?! There is no question that artificial intelligence is finding its way into our everyday lives. Some people love interacting with Alexa as part of their daily activities. Others worry about the loss of autonomy and privacy that accompanies the burgeoning AI world, and some dread that someday humans may become secondary to the artificial intelligence we have created. The AI train already is leaving the station, and before it gets too far down the tracks, what is the federal government doing in terms of potential regulation?

In a time of deep partisan divide in which Republicans and Democrats in Congress disagree on practically everything, a bipartisan group of legislators has reintroduced a bill to accelerate the adoption of artificial intelligence in the federal government. Continue reading The Federal Government Seeks to Get Hip to Artificial Intelligence