Bipartisan Bill Would Make Platforms Liable for Fake Products

In a rare bipartisan move, Democratic and Republican legislators joined forces to propose the Shop Safe Act, which would make e-commerce companies responsible for counterfeit products from China and other countries sold on their websites. The bill would focus on trademark liability for those fake products that impact consumer health and safety, such as pharmaceuticals and medical products, and would force e-tailers to more closely vet sellers and remove those who repeatedly sell counterfeits. Continue reading Bipartisan Bill Would Make Platforms Liable for Fake Products

Big Tech Firms Increase Spending to Influence Lawmakers

Big Tech is now one of the biggest lobbying groups in Washington, D.C. Facebook posted the greatest increase in spending last year, followed by Amazon, Apple and Microsoft. By increasing spending in lobbying, the companies hope to influence privacy legislation, pursue government contracts and rebut charges of unfair competition. Alphabet is the only Big Tech company to reduce its spending for lobbying in 2019, by 44 percent to $11.8 million. It also ended its relationship with lobbyists at six outside firms. Continue reading Big Tech Firms Increase Spending to Influence Lawmakers

House Hearings Consider Balance of Competition, Privacy

The House Judiciary Committee held hearings that included testimony about how tech giants Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google have collected significant quantities of data that give them a dominant market power that endangers consumer privacy. House Republicans, however, noted that strong data protection regulations in Europe, as well as other privacy regulations, could hurt competition among these companies. The hearing is the latest effort in the House’s antitrust investigation into digital giants. Continue reading House Hearings Consider Balance of Competition, Privacy

Led by Search Dominance, Google Posts Strong Earnings

Despite analysts’ forecast of a slowdown and the threat of regulations, Google parent Alphabet posted strong earnings, with reported revenue of $38.9 billion, up 19 percent over the same period last year, and $9.2 billion in profits. The tech company’s continued dominance in search is foundational to its robust financial health. Announcement of the strong results, after a worrisome first quarter, caused Alphabet’s stock to rise 9 percent in after-hours trading. Google is expected to profit from advertising in Maps, YouTube and other areas. Continue reading Led by Search Dominance, Google Posts Strong Earnings

Google CEO Sundar Pichai Faces House Judiciary Committee

At a hearing at the House Judiciary Committee, Google chief executive Sundar Pichai faced tough questions about how his company handles data privacy and disinformation by foreign actors. Republicans on the Committee also grilled him about a perceived anti-conservative bias, which Pichai staunchly denied, saying Google uses a “robust methodology” on all topics “without regards to political ideology.” Unconvinced, these lawmakers pointed to videos and emails from Google executives expressing dislike of right-leaning ideas. Continue reading Google CEO Sundar Pichai Faces House Judiciary Committee

Congress Scrutinizes Social Media Liability for User Content

Social media platforms such as Google and Facebook are exempt from liability for user-posted content, a protection that top Republican legislators want to end. House Judiciary Committee chair Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia) quizzed Twitter representatives about the exemption, asking why they should be “treated differently than,” for example, a hotel that faces limited responsibility for illegal actions on its property. Goodlatte is one lawmaker who also looked at the purported silencing of conservative points of view on the platforms. Continue reading Congress Scrutinizes Social Media Liability for User Content

Copyright Holders Demand DMCA Update, Addition of Filtering

According to the Recording Industry Association of America and 14 other groups, the 19-year-old Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) needs to be updated. They’re telling the U.S. Copyright Office that new piracy controls are required. Currently, ISPs that “expeditiously” remove copyrighted content when alerted by rights holders get legal immunity or so-called safe harbor. But the RIAA and others say this process is not sufficient, as the pirated copy reappears instantly, requiring yet another takedown notice. Continue reading Copyright Holders Demand DMCA Update, Addition of Filtering

Judge Sides with Apple in Closely Watched Encryption Case

Apple’s ongoing privacy battle with law enforcement received a boost yesterday when U.S. Magistrate Judge James Orenstein of New York’s Eastern District denied the federal government’s request that the company release data from an iPhone relevant to a New York drug case. The ruling could provide Apple with a leg up as it pushes forward with its defense of privacy concerns regarding its smartphones, and may impact other cases such as efforts by the FBI to compel Apple to open the iPhone related to last year’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, California. Continue reading Judge Sides with Apple in Closely Watched Encryption Case

HPA Tech Retreat: Washington Update During This ‘Silly Season’

In another annual HPA Tech Retreat panel, Jim Burger, a copyright attorney with Thompson Coburn in Washington, D.C. gave his “Washington Update.” “We’re talking about Congress and the Silly Season, and it’s crazy,” said Burger, who said he would touch on intellectual property litigation on the copyright side; the FCC and communications; net neutrality; and unlocking the set-top box among other topics. Burger noted that the House Judiciary Committee has held over 20 copyright hearings this year. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Washington Update During This ‘Silly Season’

Congress: Should the First Sale Rule Include Digital Goods?

This week, publishing executives, technology leaders, and public interest groups gave testimony regarding ownership of purchased digital goods. The “first sale” rule currently allows people to resell or lend out physical goods like music and books, while this law does not cover digital goods, such as those sold by Amazon and Apple. Post-testimony, the House Judiciary Committee remained skeptical that property rights of physical goods should extend to the digital world. Continue reading Congress: Should the First Sale Rule Include Digital Goods?