ByteDance Files Suit Against the U.S. Over TikTok Sale or Ban

Short-form video hosting service TikTok and its China-based parent company ByteDance have filed suit against the United States challenging the constitutionality of the law that seeks to force a sale of the popular social media company, or otherwise ban it from use in the United States. The petition seeks to upend the bill President Biden signed into law April 24 as part of a foreign aid package. TikTok faces a ban from U.S. app stores if ByteDance has not been sold to a non-adversarial entity by mid-January 2025. ByteDance has made clear it has no intention of divesting. Continue reading ByteDance Files Suit Against the U.S. Over TikTok Sale or Ban

U.S. Braces for TikTok Ban After President Signs Bill into Law

Congress rapidly passed and President Biden signed into law a bill intended to sideline the short-form video service TikTok, owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance. The process played out over the course of a week — the result of the proposal being tied to a foreign aid package with support for Ukraine and Israel. The nation now readies for the aftermath of the new U.S. law, which gives ByteDance nine months to find a new, U.S.-approved owner. Absent that, the app will essentially be banned from app stores and ISPs, which will face fines for distributing or supporting the social platform. Continue reading U.S. Braces for TikTok Ban After President Signs Bill into Law

Florida Pushes Forward a Social Media Ban for Kids Under 16

Florida’s legislature has passed a bill banning children younger than 16 from having social media accounts despite some pushback from Governor Ron DeSantis, who said he will be wrestling with whether to sign the measure into law. Due to a procedural requirement, DeSantis will have to sign or veto the proposed legislation before lawmakers conclude the current session in a matter of weeks. He has expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of a provision to let parents override the restriction, which would curtail access to the most popular sites, potentially impacting TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube. Continue reading Florida Pushes Forward a Social Media Ban for Kids Under 16

Supreme Court to Assess States’ Social Media Speech Laws

The Supreme Court will hear a case that will assess the constitutionality of controversial state laws governing social media in Texas and Florida. The states enacted their laws in 2021, ostensibly to assure “free speech” was guaranteed on platforms like Facebook and X (formerly known as Twitter). Users who considered their views “conservative” filed suit alleging censorship. Protections offered by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act impact how government can regulate expression shared by online services and private media companies. Much like broadcast’s Fairness Doctrine, plaintiffs argue there are obligations that come with government warrantees. Continue reading Supreme Court to Assess States’ Social Media Speech Laws

DHS Moves to ‘Master’ AI While Keeping It Safe, Trustworthy

The Department of Homeland Security is harnessing artificial intelligence, according to a memo by Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas explaining the department will use AI to keep Americans safe while implementing safeguards to ensure civil rights, privacy rights and the U.S. Constitution are not violated. The DHS appointed Eric Hysen as chief AI officer, moving him into the role from his previous post as CIO. “DHS must master this technology, applying it effectively and building a world class workforce that can reap the benefits of Al, while meeting the threats posed by adversaries that wield Al,” Mayorkas wrote. Continue reading DHS Moves to ‘Master’ AI While Keeping It Safe, Trustworthy

Montana’s TikTok Ban Tees Up First Amendment Legal Battle

Montana has become the first state to institute an outright ban on TikTok, barring it from operating in the region and prohibiting app stores from providing downloads there. The move is opposed not only by the Chinese-owned TikTok, but by free speech advocacy groups including the American Civil Liberties Union. The ban is set to go into effect January 1, 2024, though legal challenges could delay that implementation. Observers say the inevitable lawsuits fighting the legislation could prove instructive as relates to proposed federal TikTok bans in development in Washington. Continue reading Montana’s TikTok Ban Tees Up First Amendment Legal Battle

TikTok CEO Testifies Before Congress as App Faces Scrutiny

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew plans to offer broad platform safety and security promises at his hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, according to testimony provided in advance of today’s event. The well-being of child users will be a point of focus, as will the Chinese-owned app’s proposed firewall to protect U.S. data from foreign access and government interference. “TikTok will remain a platform for free expression and will not be manipulated by any government,” Chew’s prepared remarks indicate, noting “there are more than 150 million Americans who love our platform.” Continue reading TikTok CEO Testifies Before Congress as App Faces Scrutiny

Supreme Court Asks DOJ to Weigh In on Online Speech Laws

The Supreme Court of the United States has delayed its decision in a request to hear three cases that would test the constitutionality of Texas and Florida laws that propose to allow lawsuits on the basis of political censorship by online platforms. Although the cases would not be heard until the court’s next session, which extends into 2024, the laws remain blocked in the interim. Rather than deciding outright whether it will grant certiorari, SCOTUS on Monday asked the Justice Department to file the Biden administration’s position, forestalling immediate deliberations. Continue reading Supreme Court Asks DOJ to Weigh In on Online Speech Laws

SXSW: Snowden Talks Digital Privacy, Pushes Better Encryption

Former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden addressed the crowd at SXSW in Austin, Texas yesterday via videoconference from Moscow. Speaking on NSA leaks and data security, Snowden urged tech firms to adopt better encryption methods to help protect users from government surveillance. He also shared privacy tips for citizens, such as encrypting your hard drive, implementing browser plug-ins that prevent online tracking, and using online network Tor, that promises anonymity. Continue reading SXSW: Snowden Talks Digital Privacy, Pushes Better Encryption

Court Rules That Facebook “Like” is Constitutionally Protected

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia issued a ruling that utilizing the “Like” feature on Facebook to show support for a political candidate is protected by the Constitution. The ruling is in light of a lawsuit brought by former employees of a sheriff’s office who claim they lost their jobs after supporting their boss’s opponent, which involved a campaign on Facebook. The Virginia Court’s decision reversed an earlier decision from a lower court. Continue reading Court Rules That Facebook “Like” is Constitutionally Protected

Tech Companies Support Federal Move Against Patent Trolls

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney described President Obama’s newly proposed patent policy yesterday during the daily press briefing. The administration introduced a package of executive orders and recommended legislation that takes aim at patent trolls. Technology companies have expressed early support for measures that they hope will help curb the growing onslaught of lawsuits negatively affecting innovation. Continue reading Tech Companies Support Federal Move Against Patent Trolls