PACT Act Intends to Update Section 230, Protect Consumers

Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and John Thune (R-South Dakota) introduced the Platform Accountability and Consumer Transparency (PACT) Act, which would hold Internet platforms such as Facebook and Google responsible for hosting illegal content and require them to reveal their moderation practices. The Act would change parts of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 that shield such platforms from liability for the content their users post, and is intended to require platforms to quickly remove offending content. Continue reading PACT Act Intends to Update Section 230, Protect Consumers

Senate Bill Calls For Search Engines to Divulge Algorithms

For search engines such as Alphabet’s Google, their algorithms are the secret sauce that they claim gives the best results. Not all consumers agree with that, arguing that these algorithms filter their searches in a way that is tantamount to censorship. Now, a bipartisan group of legislators proposed the Filter Bubble Transparency Act, a law that would require search engines and platforms to provide an optional unfiltered search and force them to disclose the algorithms they use to rank searches. Continue reading Senate Bill Calls For Search Engines to Divulge Algorithms

Apple iPhones Can Now Be Repaired at Any U.S. Best Buy

Apple and Best Buy announced the two companies are extending their partnership so that technicians can repair iPhones at any of the 992 Best Buy locations in the U.S. The companies also revealed that 7,600 Geek Squad techs are now certified for iPhone repairs using genuine parts from Apple. While Apple will continue to offer repairs at its own stores, the new deal should prove beneficial to iPhone users in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming, since Apple does not presently have stores in these states. Continue reading Apple iPhones Can Now Be Repaired at Any U.S. Best Buy

Studies on Kids and Tech Flip the Meaning of Digital Divide

Experts are coming to grips with the impact of digital technology on children. Educators worried that students from poor homes would find themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide, but, in fact, many states are spending money to make sure that all their students have access to computers, while Silicon Valley parents are choosing to raise their children with traditional toys and non-digital activities. The reason is that technologists are privy to recent research about the dangers of exposing kids to screen time. Continue reading Studies on Kids and Tech Flip the Meaning of Digital Divide

Tech Execs Address Concerns About Data Privacy Regulation

In a hearing on Wednesday, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agreed on the need for legislating privacy for online users, but not everyone is on the same page as to what such laws should cover. Amazon and Google executives, whose companies depend on user data for revenue, warned that some kinds of regulation could have the unintended consequence of limiting the services they’re able to provide. What has become clearer is that hammering out the details of the legislation could take a long time. Continue reading Tech Execs Address Concerns About Data Privacy Regulation

Supreme Court Lets States Collect Sales Tax From E-Tailers

The Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 vote that states have the authority to collect sales taxes from online retailers, even if they don’t have a physical presence in the state. In doing so, the justices closed a loophole that helped Internet sales to grow and also overturned 50 years of its own precedents that banned states from collecting sales tax from companies without such physical presence. The decision did not follow typical ideological decisions, with liberal justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joining conservative justices. Continue reading Supreme Court Lets States Collect Sales Tax From E-Tailers

Trump Administration, 35 States Oppose Online Tax Exemption

The Trump administration has joined numerous state officials entreating the Supreme Court to overrule a 1992 case that exempts online sellers from adding taxes to their prices. Arguments on the 1992 case, Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, begin next month. South Dakota is leading the group asking the court to overrule the precedent-deciding case; it is joined by 35 states, the District of Columbia, organizations representing retailers, and, now, the Trump administration. Opposing are catalog mailers and online sellers. Continue reading Trump Administration, 35 States Oppose Online Tax Exemption

Internet Tax Ruling Sets the Stage for Supreme Court Appeal

The South Dakota Supreme Court has ruled that retailers selling goods over the Internet are not required to charge the state’s 4.5 percent tax. The court had examined an appeal brought by online retailers Overstock, Wayfair and NewEgg, which contested the state law that required any company doing more than $100,000 in online retail to collect sales tax. This ruling lays the foundation for an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which can issue a final rule on this contentious issue that would impact retailers across the U.S. Continue reading Internet Tax Ruling Sets the Stage for Supreme Court Appeal

South Dakota’s New Internet Sales Tax Law Spurs Lawsuits

In March, South Dakota passed a new law requiring many out-of-state online and catalog retailers to collect the state’s sales tax, a challenge to a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Quill v. North Dakota prohibiting states from doing exactly this. The regulation has already resulted in several lawsuits. If the law is not overturned, other states are likely to follow suit, levying similar Internet sales tax rules. The implications would be enormous if numerous states adopt these rules, likely forcing audits and new tax rules in thousands of jurisdictions across the nation. Continue reading South Dakota’s New Internet Sales Tax Law Spurs Lawsuits

States Push Web Tax, Hoping to Spur Litigation and Legislation

States that want to collect sales taxes from out-of-state Internet e-tailers are tired of waiting for Congress to act. As a result, they’re passing state laws to do so. Alabama, South Dakota, Utah and 10 other states have passed legislation that directly contradicts the standing national law that states can only apply tax to businesses with brick-and-mortar locations there. State legislators are hoping that by challenging the existing law, they will spur litigation and force Congress to re-examine the issue. Continue reading States Push Web Tax, Hoping to Spur Litigation and Legislation

Federal Court Rules Pandora Can License Music for Streaming

Pandora Media, provider of streaming online music, won a legal victory on Tuesday in its ongoing battle with the music industry involving licensing and royalties. A federal court ruled that the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers cannot stop Pandora from licensing all the music in their catalog. The service’s attempts to reduce its costs have made it a target in the music industry, but the larger effect of the ruling remains unclear. Continue reading Federal Court Rules Pandora Can License Music for Streaming