A Safer Internet in the UK – but what is the burden for technology companies?

The UK government, like many others, is pushing for a safer Internet. Prompted by the global trend in cyber-bullying and online offensive material/trolling, the UK has taken steps to address Internet safety with the stated aim of being the safest place in the world to be online. We recently reported on the measured taken in Germany. 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 re Grand Jury Subpoena, No. 16-03-217, Civ. No. 17-16221, D.C.No. 2:17-mc-00036-DJH (9th Cir. Nov. 8, 2017)).  (We had previously covered an unrelated case involving anonymity of reviews on Glassdoor.com posted by former employees here.) Continue reading

German law on hate speech – complaint procedures

The German law on hate speech (Network Enforcement ActNetzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz) which came into effect on October 1, 2017 is continuously subject to criticism. Its legal and political implications in regard of the current global debate on the dealing with different opinions, the power and influence of social media on information and disinformation and its place in the context of an increasing fragmentation of the internet are widely discussed throughout media (i.e. see our posts here and here).

Since January 1, 2018, social media providers are now obliged to maintain a procedure for complaints. This procedure forms a core element of the law, as the obligation on the social media provider to delete unlawful content and the time period for deletion are triggered by the receipt of a complaint. Continue reading

Ninth Circuit Reverses Social Media Gag Order

Currently, in the midst of a jury trial in U.S. federal court, the San Diego Comic Convention (SDCC) has had a bumpy ride in its trademark suit in the Southern District of California against Dan Farr Productions and its co-founders for their use of the name Salt Lake Comic Con. On October 26, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s “gag order,” which essentially prevented the defendants from posting about the case on any social media platform. Continue reading

Who is responsible for fan sites?

The Advocate General to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) Yves Bot caused a sensation with his unexpected opinion concerning the admissibility of social media fanpages under EU data protection law. According to the opinion of Mr. Bot, the operator of a social media fanpage is “jointly responsible for the processing and collection of personal data together with” the social media operator.

Further, the operator of a fanpage of a social network is deemed to be a controller “with regard to the phase of processing of personal data consisting in the collection of data on the persons visiting this site by this social network with a view to the production of visitor statistics relating to this site.” Continue reading

Pepe the Frog: A Case Study On When Copyrightable Content Takes On New Meaning

After making headlines in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Pepe the Frog is back in the news again. This time, for the copyright enforcement efforts that Pepe’s creator is pursuing against unauthorized uses of the character by certain social media personalities and social media forums. Continue reading

Celebrity Endorsements, Cryptocurrencies, and Initial Coin Offerings

Our readers may recall that 2017 brought warning letters from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to celebrities who had posted some photos on Instagram and the FTC has recently taken action regarding some undisclosed “material connections.”  A post on our sister blog, Regulation Tomorrow, describes the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission’s recent warnings about celebrity endorsements of cryptocurrency and “initial coin offerings” and contrasts the SEC and FTC guidance and regulatory scope:

https://www.regulationtomorrow.com/us/celebrity-endorsements-cryptocurrencies-and-initial-coin-offerings/

Entering a new age of virtual reality

Experiencing virtual reality

The line between the digital world and the physical world is becoming increasingly blurred as we enter an era of virtual reality (VR).  VR can be defined as a “computer technology that uses virtual reality headsets…to generate realistic images, sounds and other sensations that simulate a user’s physical presence in a virtual or imaginary environment.”  In other words, VR uses computers to create a virtual environment that feels as close to reality as possible.

VR will have a significant impact on social media. Instead of communicating through texts, pictures and videos, VR technology will allow two or more people to feel as though they are in the same room together even though each person is in the comfort of their own home, using their own VR system.  Companies are already introducing social VR apps that allow users to communicate with each other through the use of avatars in a 3D environment. Continue reading

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act: Considerations for Employers

Although the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) (18 U.S.C. § 1030) is a federal statute that primarily protects against unauthorized computer access such as hacking, it can also impact employers in the realm of social media.  Originally enacted in 1984, CFAA makes it illegal to access knowingly or intentionally a “protected computer” without authorization or in excess of authorized access. Protected computers are defined broadly to include all computers that are used in or affect interstate commerce, and thus include most employer-owned computer systems.  Violations of CFAA may result in criminal penalties, and CFAA also permits individuals (and employers) to bring a civil action for damages or injunctive relief.  Employees rarely sue their employers under CFAA, but employers should nonetheless consider CFAA in formulating their social media policies and determining how they will regulate employee use of social media. Continue reading

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