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.

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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

Report Lists 29 Governments That Manipulate Social Media

The University of Oxford just released a disturbing report documenting increasing evidence that 29 governments around the world are exploiting Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms to influence — both domestically and internationally — public opinion, distribute false news and sabotage those perceived as foes. As might be expected, autocratic rulers use these strategies, but so do governments that have been elected democratically. The tactics employed vary from country to country. Continue reading Report Lists 29 Governments That Manipulate Social Media

EU’s Highest Court Rules For-Profit Links Infringe Copyrights

The Court of Justice of the European Union, the EU’s highest court, has narrowed an April decision by the court’s advocate-general that determined that links to copyrighted material shouldn’t be considered a breach. Now the CJEU has specified a distinction: anyone profiting from posting a copyrighted link is responsible for researching whether the linked material is copyright protected, and any such link is considered an infringement if approval has not been secured from the rights holder. Continue reading EU’s Highest Court Rules For-Profit Links Infringe Copyrights

YouTube Stands Up For Video Creators Fighting Takedowns

YouTube, no stranger to copyright infringement battles, says it will pick up the legal costs of four video creators that are the focus of takedown demands. The company says it chose creators that used third party content legally permitted under the “fair use” provisions for commentary, criticism, news and parody. The company has stated it wants to protect free speech, but it is also signaling its support to video creators to help build loyalty in an increasingly competitive online video environment. Continue reading YouTube Stands Up For Video Creators Fighting Takedowns

FCC and Alamo Broadband Set to Face Off Over Net Neutrality

On December 4, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear oral arguments against net neutrality brought by Alamo Broadband, a small Texas Internet provider, the latest to push to end net neutrality. In its filing, the Federal Communications Commission reiterated that the net neutrality rules issued this year that reclassified ISPs as “common carriers” do not violate First Amendment rights. Both the FCC and Alamo’s positions are clear in the filings they’ve recently made to the court. Continue reading FCC and Alamo Broadband Set to Face Off Over Net Neutrality

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