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?
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 email@example.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.
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?
Social media outlets now connect billions of people around the globe on a constant basis. Facebook, by headcount, has become the largest nation on the planet, with approximately two billion users. A tremendous number of these users communicate with others via their social media accounts many times a day. Of course, there are many positive aspects of social media communications; but, regrettably, there are palpable negatives as well. Continue reading What to Do About Social Media Bullying and Hate
Every single day, billions of people spend countless seconds, minutes, and hours on social media. Why?
This occurs in part because it is the business of social media companies to do their best to hold you captive. They want their sites to be “sticky,” so that you spend your time (and ultimately your money) there.
Thus, at bottom, as businesses that have as their appropriate mission the duty to maximize profits for shareholders, they compete fiercely for the attention of social media users.
Once upon a time, we received news in traditional formats from finite media sources by way of newspapers, television, and radio. And the news we received from those sources did not vary tremendously one from another. The news just seemed to be the news. As Walter Cronkite closed on his CBS nightly newscast, “And that’s the way it is” — in essence meaning, “Those are the facts.”
Times plainly have changed. There are many sources of news. People can choose a news outlet that suits their own political preferences. For example, for someone of a conservative, Republican persuasion, Fox News might be the news outlet of choice. Fox tends to present the news more in line with that end of the political spectrum. And, of course, there are other news outlets that favor the liberal, Democrat end of the political spectrum. So what are the “facts” when the reporting of the same events can be interpreted very differently?
We made it through 2016. So, what’s in store in 2017 when it comes to hot tech issues? There are many hot issues, such as big data, intellectual property disputes, the sharing economy, and drones. But this blog covers the three potential biggest issues. Drum roll please — here we go!
1. Security — Cybercrime & Cyberwarfare
Hacking, hacking, hacking …
Security on the internet is the first and foremost tech issue for 2017.
Hacking is penetrating all sorts of systems. For example, individuals are vulnerable to cybercrime, as their personally identifiable information is stolen when companies are hacked.
And cyberwarfare appears to be here and now, and not just some speculation about the future. Indeed, the Senate is preparing at this moment to hold hearings about the implications of apparent Russian hacking that meddled in our recent presidential election.
This year likely will be dominated by efforts to combat threats to internet security.
Upholding a student’s right to parody an adjunct professor by means of an imposter Twitter account, the Court of Appeals of Michigan last week affirmed a trial court’s order dismissing the professor’s lawsuit against the student. Continue reading Imposter Twitter Account Protected by First Amendment, Rules Michigan Court
A Magistrate Judge in a New York federal court recently had words of caution for social media-loving litigants and the lawyers who want to read their posts. In a decision refusing to penalize a plaintiff for supposedly deleting posts on her Facebook account, the Magistrate Judge in Thurmond v. Bowman, pending in the Western District of New York, discussed the relevance of social media accounts to claims for emotional distress and cautioned the plaintiff not to change her privacy settings.
Social media sites host many thousands of photos posted by people on a daily basis. An obvious issue arises as to whether and when these sites might be liable for copyright infringement with respect to any of the posted photos.
A recent case is worthy of consideration.
Kristen Pierson, a professional photographer who has won awards for her work, has filed legal action in California against Twitter, according to Wired, with respect to a copyrighted photo that was shared on Twitter. Continue reading Twitter Faces Copyright Infringement Allegations