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UK proposes rules to protect against anonymous online trolls

The UK Government has added two new duties to the proposed Online Safety Bill (the Bill) that are aimed at protecting people against anonymous online abuse. These measures would give users of “main social media firms” more control over who can interact with them and the type of content users see (see the Government’s press … Continue reading

How anonymous can you be on social media?

In November of 2017, a federal appeals court rejected employment-related site Glassdoor’s claim that its users had a First Amendment right to anonymity that would protect their information from disclosure pursuant to a grand jury subpoena. The panel also sustained a contempt order that was entered by the district court to enforce the decision.  (In … Continue reading

Identifying anonymous reviewers

On January 7, 2014, a majority of a Virginia appellate court held that a social media provider can be required to disclose the identity of its anonymous users. See Yelp, Inc. v. Hadeed Carpet Cleaning, Inc., No. 0116-13-4 (Va. Ct. App. Jan. 7, 2014). A Virginia carpet cleaning business had subpoenaed from Yelp the identity of … Continue reading

Anonymous Yelp! Reviews Used as Proof of Actual Confusion

In any trademark infringement lawsuit, evidence of actual consumer confusion between two marks can play a key role in a court’s “likelihood of confusion” analysis.  This evidence frequently takes the form of a consumer survey demonstrating that certain individuals were in the marketplace, saw the two marks, and believed that they were somehow related. On … Continue reading

Anonymous Negative Reviews

Austin-based cleaning company Austin Gutter King Corporation, Inc. made headline news in Texas this week by filing a lawsuit against the poster of a negative review of its business on Google Places, the search engine’s business listing and review website. The review originally came from a user named “Norma Lee,” but a court-ordered request from … Continue reading

Synthetic data: A potential solution to the de-identification problem

The risk of privacy breaches using large data sets of personal information is only increasing with advancements in data processing and artificial intelligence (AI). With any large-scale manipulation of personal data by organizations, there is potential for misuse or disclosure of protected personal information. For instance, AI and machine learning systems necessitate vast quantities of … Continue reading

The new age of cyberbullying

There has been an increase in cyberbullying with the rise of social media. According to the Canadian government, “cyberbullying involves the use of communication technologies … to repeatedly intimidate or harass others”. Federal and provincial governments have effected legislative change to make harmful cyberbullying behaviours criminal or at least provide civil remedies for those harmed. … Continue reading

The #MeToo Movement: When Employees Take Their Complaints to Social Media

As we are all aware, the news has been populated with stories concerning allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct, particularly in the entertainment and media industries as well as government institutions. These stories have contributed to the “#MeToo” movement, which originated on Twitter and other social media websites in late 2017 and has since become … Continue reading

The Battle for Copyright Protection in the Digital Era

The age of the Internet poses many new challenges to those individuals seeking to protect and enforce their intellectual property rights online. As the Federal Court of Appeal in Canada recently stated: “Under the cloak of anonymity on the internet, some can illegally copy, download, and distribute the intellectual property of others, such as movies, … Continue reading

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