Tag Archives: Eric Sinrod

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?

Online Takedown Laws

The new law reportedly would allow unelected European Union officials to censor illegal content on major platforms such as Facebook and Google. Such censorship also could occur with respect to internet service providers, data storage services, and cloud services.

Perhaps most notable about the new law is that European Union nations reportedly no longer would have control of Internet laws enacted by their own governments. Instead, these nations would be under the ruling umbrella of a centralized European committee.

Flowing from this, major social media sites reportedly would be subject to the European Union mandatory notice and take down rules. As a consequence, they would be required to remove any content the EU does not approve of within an hour of notice of take down.

Also, hate speech, which has a broad definition, reportedly would be outlawed and swiftly punished.

In addition, any advertising considered political would be within the ambit of European rules.

What is at work here behind the scenes?

Online Companies, IRL Legal Distinctions

Perhaps the Digital Services Act aims to recapture enforcement powers back to the European Union that were granted to national governments pursuant to the General Data Protection Regulation. This could lead to a centralized tech sector within the European Union with the power to enforce rules. This might provide benefits to European tech companies and possible detriments to major international tech companies. The law also could help EU companies operate across various EU nations but at the sacrifice of national sovereignty when it comes to tech legal requirements.

Notwithstanding other important issues presented in the news, potentially affected businesses and individuals should pay attention with respect to coming developments relating to the Digital Services Act.

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. You can read his professional biography here. To receive a weekly email link to Mr. Sinrod’s columns, please email him at ejsinrod@duanemorris.com 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.

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

Too Much Screen Time Adversely Impacting Teenagers?

We keep hearing about how teenagers have gone inward. They spend more and more time staring into their televisions, computers and handheld devices. Indeed, they can be online practically anywhere, anytime. We have been told that the failure of teens to engage as much in the real world around them is having negative affects, with increasing rates of depression and anxiety, as well as heightened risks of self harm and harm inflicted on others.

But are the reported risks and impacts of increased screen time by teenagers actually based in fact? Not so much, according to a recent study by Oxford University in the journal Psychological Science and as reported by The Guardian. The bottom line conclusion of the study is that screen time has very little correlation to the psychological well-being of teenagers. Surprised? Read on. Continue reading Too Much Screen Time Adversely Impacting Teenagers?

Involuntary Technological Encroachment

Once upon a time, the advent of the radio was considered a major advancement, and families in the evenings would huddle together and listen to favorite radio shows. Not that much later, television became the big thing. And with TV, it was easy to sit passively by as a couch potato watching one show after another.

Indeed, there is the following joke: A man says to his wife, “Honey, if I ever became a vegetable, please pull the plug.” So, the wife walks past her husband on the couch over to the television set and pulls its plug from the wall electrical socket.

Continue reading Involuntary Technological Encroachment

New Law Could Allow for Phone Searches After Car Crashes

For many decades, Americans have taken to the roads to get from one place to another. And, in more recent times, Americans have become addicted to their smartphones — texting, posting, online searching, making purchases, among many other uses of their devices.

Put the two together, driving and smartphone use, and there is a clear recipe for potential disaster. Driving an automobile already is an inherently dangerous activity. Utmost attention should be paid to driving because split-second decisions can mean the difference between life and health versus injury or death. Continue reading New Law Could Allow for Phone Searches After Car Crashes

Will California Consumers Share in Wealth From Their Online Data?

Technology companies collect all sorts of data on their users. The terms of service located on their web sites spell out for users the types of data collected and how that data will be used. The data collected from users is extremely useful for tech companies in terms of how to market to them further, and accordingly, that data has tremendous economic value.

Along comes the Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, who according to APNews.com, has announced that California consumers should share in the billions of dollars that tech companies make on personal data they collect. Indeed, Governor Newsom reportedly has asked his aides to come up with a proposal for what has been referred to as a “data dividend” for California residents. However, it is not clear whether he envisions a tax on tech companies, refunds to users, or some other idea.

Continue reading Will California Consumers Share in Wealth From Their Online Data?