Draft Executive Order Gives FCC, FTC Sway Over Internet

According to sources, the White House drafted an executive order that would give the Federal Communications Commission the power to determine how Facebook, Twitter and other large tech companies curate their websites. The FCC would be tasked with developing regulations on how (and when) the law protects social media platforms when they remove or suppress content, and also charges the Federal Trade Commission with taking the new regulations into account when investigating or suing these companies. Continue reading Draft Executive Order Gives FCC, FTC Sway Over Internet

Social Media Summit Excludes Top Social Media Platforms

President Trump convened a Social Media Summit without Facebook, Twitter, Alphabet or YouTube, which he has accused of stifling conservative voices. Instead, he invited supporters such as former White House advisor Sebastian Gorka, James O’Keefe from Project Veritas, and activist Ali Alexander. Speakers included Trump supporters Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, known as Diamond & Silk, who have a large Facebook following, House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) and Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri). Continue reading Social Media Summit Excludes Top Social Media Platforms

Robotics-as-a-Service Rises, California Puts Limits on Bots

Up until now, massive conglomerates have dominated robotics, but that’s about to change, as the cost of hardware production plunges (due to globalization) and computing and cloud solutions become cheaper, more powerful and easy to ramp up. That’s given rise to Robotics-as-a-Service (RaaS) solutions, in which vertical-specific hardware and software are bundled and sold in monthly subscription packages. At the same time, California enacted a new law that would require a bot to reveal its “artificial identity.” Continue reading Robotics-as-a-Service Rises, California Puts Limits on Bots

Twitter Will Warn Users of Politicians’ Inappropriate Tweets

Twitter announced that it plans to hide messages that are posted by politicians who violate the company’s abuse or harassment policies. Such tweets will be hidden behind a warning label, but will not be removed from the service, since Twitter still considers them a matter of public interest. The notices will inform readers if a tweet violates rules regarding harassment or violent threats, and then readers will have the option of clicking through to access the questionable message. The move could complicate the current debate over political bias on Twitter in addition to the balance other social platforms are struggling with between free speech and offensive content. Continue reading Twitter Will Warn Users of Politicians’ Inappropriate Tweets

Facebook Opens New Command Post Ahead of EU Election

As part of a range of efforts to show that it has taken regulator and governmental concerns seriously, Facebook has set up an operations center in its European headquarters in Dublin, Ireland ahead of the upcoming European Union’s parliamentary election, which is scheduled for May 23-26 across 28 countries. Employees will monitor and clear Facebook of misinformation, fake accounts, and any signs of foreign meddling aimed at swaying election results. Facebook recently set up a similar post in Singapore for elections in India.

Continue reading Facebook Opens New Command Post Ahead of EU Election

EU Votes For Copyright Rules Opposed by Nativist Groups

In a vote of 348 to 274, nineteen out of the European Union’s 28 member countries voted in favor of reformed laws to protect content creators. Critics of the reform — including large tech companies — argue that the rules will reduce free speech online, with Articles 11 and 13 of particular concern. European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker declared that the new copyright rules are “fit for the digital age.” In the lead-up to the vote, nativist groups in many countries worked to defeat the new rules. Continue reading EU Votes For Copyright Rules Opposed by Nativist Groups

Europe Passes a Strict Law That Favors Copyright Holders

The European Union adopted a strict online copyright law requiring technology companies to ink licensing agreements with authors, musicians and news publishers. The goal is to force technology platforms to proactively remove unlicensed copyrighted content from their sites, rather than respond to thousands of complaints by copyright holders. Lobbying leading up to the vote was vigorous. While media companies are celebrating the move, the new law is a blow to companies such as Google and Facebook, as well as free speech advocates. Continue reading Europe Passes a Strict Law That Favors Copyright Holders

U.S. Rights Groups Propose Website-Blocking to Halt Piracy

Blocking piracy sites became controversial in the U.S. with SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act), which although it had support of both parties and dozens of government, consumer and union organizations, was seen as a threat to free speech. A second proposal (PIPA) also met fierce resistance, culminating in a widespread service blackout by Google, the English Wikipedia and 7,000 other smaller websites. Both bills were shelved, but now, the issue is being raised in the U.S. due to success in website-blocking in Europe. Continue reading U.S. Rights Groups Propose Website-Blocking to Halt Piracy

Right to Be Forgotten Case Could Affect Borderless Internet

In early 2019, the European Union’s highest court will likely rule on a dispute between Google and French regulators on the right to be forgotten. In 2015, French regulators ordered Google to respect this right on all its sites worldwide — in other words, not just google.fr but also google.com. Google’s argument (and that of many other tech companies) is that this “right” not only menaces free speech but is an onus for private companies, encroaches on sovereignty and creates a range of other risks. Continue reading Right to Be Forgotten Case Could Affect Borderless Internet

Facebook, Twitter and Other Platforms Struggle With Infowars

After Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg and his colleagues debated for weeks what to do about Alex Jones’ far-right, conspiracy-focused Infowars, Zuckerberg finally made the decision to ban Infowars content from the platform. Jones has millions of followers who endorse theories such as the Sandy Hook massacre being a hoax enacted by gun-control supporters. Prior to Facebook’s ban, company execs gave vague, unsatisfactory answers to questions from lawmakers and journalists. Meanwhile, Twitter execs have also been debating Infowars, but for now have opted not to ban Jones’ content. Continue reading Facebook, Twitter and Other Platforms Struggle With Infowars

Legal Experts Discuss AR Issues at Augmented World Expo

Legal issues related to augmented reality IP ownership, licensing, liability and control were discussed by a panel of legal experts during an AWE ‘Law and ARder’ session moderated by ETC@USC’s Philip Lelyveld. Kimberly Culp (Venable LLP) discussed what companies need to think about when creating AR IP. Michael Leventhal (Holmes Weinberg PC) covered what you should ask for when licensing AR IP. Alexia Bedat and Ed Klaris (Klaris Law) addressed the risks associated with delivering AR experiences in public spaces. And Brian Wassom (Warner Norcross & Judd), who litigated the Candy Lab v. Milwaukee case, discussed whether a digital overlay impacts the original work at all, as well as AR as free speech. Continue reading Legal Experts Discuss AR Issues at Augmented World Expo

Facebook Combats Fake News After Hoaxes End in Violence

In the wake of posts that have incited violence in Sri Lanka, Myanmar and India, Facebook has tweaked its fake news policy and agreed to remove posts that could lead to physical harm. In the incidents that sparked this change, rumors spread on Facebook led to physical attacks on ethnic minorities. The attacks have involved the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, Muslims in Sri Lanka, and other attacks in India and Mexico. Changes do not apply to Instagram or WhatsApp, despite the latter’s involvement in incidents in India. Continue reading Facebook Combats Fake News After Hoaxes End in Violence

YouTube, Facebook Use AI Tools to Curb Unwanted Content

Google reports that AI-powered machines, not humans, detected about 80 percent of the 8.28 million videos taken off of YouTube in Q4 2017. This revelation underscores the importance of AI-enabled computers in removing unwanted content — and just how aggressively YouTube is pursuing their removal. At Stanford University’s Global Digital Policy Incubator, executive director Eileen Donahoe noted that balancing free speech with the removal of undesirable videos will be YouTube’s major challenge going forward. Continue reading YouTube, Facebook Use AI Tools to Curb Unwanted Content

Facebook, Google and Twitter Execs Testify Before Congress

Facing the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Facebook, Google and Twitter executives responded to questions on why they didn’t recognize Russian-linked accounts earlier. In response, the rueful executives said their companies were working on ways to curb the activity of foreign governments, terrorists and criminals and prevent them from exploiting social media. On the other hand, however, those same Silicon Valley companies face a public that is far from united over whether they should curb free speech. Continue reading Facebook, Google and Twitter Execs Testify Before Congress

Facebook Debates Self-Regulation to Combat Misinformation

Facebook is facing many challenges, none more pressing than the posts and memes covertly created by Russian government-led organizations whose goal was to influence the 2016 U.S. election. Inside Facebook, say a dozen current and former employees, the debate rages over how to deal with the issue. One side, supporting free speech, believes that nothing should be censored; the other side is worried about the problems created by this laissez-faire approach. Meanwhile, the company is reportedly in full-on defense mode. Continue reading Facebook Debates Self-Regulation to Combat Misinformation

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