House And Senate Committees Hold Antitrust Hearings On Amazon, Apple, Facebook And Google: The tech companies’ market power and Facebook’s proposed cryptocurrency, Libra, were the main focus of this week’s hearings; G7 leaders and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin have also expressed skepticism about Libra, and a draft bill targeting the cryptocurrency, the Keep Big Tech Out Of Finance Act, is circulating in the House Financial Services Committee.
FaceApp Revives In Popularity Despite Privacy Concerns: The Russian photo-editing app, which allows users to upload photos and make their subjects appear older or younger, is being criticized because uploaded photos are processed in the cloud rather than on local devices; the app can also access photos on Apple devices even where the user’s photo permission setting would prevent any access.
FTC Proposes $5 Billion Fine For Facebook’s Role In Cambridge Analytica Scandal: The fine follows an investigation into whether Cambridge Analytica’s accessing of approximately 87 million Facebook users’ data violated an earlier consent decree; while the fine is the largest ever proposed by the FTC against a tech company, and its largest ever for a privacy violation, some Senators have labeled it “woefully inadequate.”
Information Security & Cyberthreats
Bulgarian Tax Agency Hack Exposes Bulgarian Taxpayers’ Personal And Financial Data: A 20-year-old cybersecurity worker has been arrested in connection with the hack, which is believed to have exposed the data of the majority of Bulgaria’s adult population; depending on the extent of the breach, the tax agency may face a fine of up to 20 million euros.
Qualcomm, DOJ, Seek Temporary Pause In Patent Licensing Litigation: The chipmaker is asking the Ninth Circuit to stay a May District Court ruling which found that Qualcomm broke antitrust law by charging cellphone makers high fees for rights to its wireless equipment; the government has requested a pause in the proceedings due to national security interests stemming from Qualcomm’s position as a supplier of 5G technology.
Free Expression & Censorship
Facebook Granted “Shadowbanning” Patent: The patent covers the process by which moderators can demote or hide comments in online forums without the commenter’s knowledge; although the feature is designed to manage offensive content, it stokes concern about social media companies’ control over speech, as reflected in a letter from two Republican Senators to the FTC this week asking it to investigate technology companies’ alleged censorship practices.
USPTO Announces New Rule Requiring All Foreign Trademark Applicants, Registrants And Parties To Be Represented By U.S. Counsel: The rule, announced earlier this month, takes effect on August 3 and is expected to affect tens of thousands of foreign-domiciled participants to USPTO proceedings; the rule is a response to a recent surge in fraudulent, inaccurate, and bad faith submissions.
On the Lighter Side
Uber Passengers Inadvertently Charged 100 Times The Advertised Price: The glitch, which triggered fraud alerts and maxed out customers’ credit cards, affected passengers in San Diego and Washington, with one rider charged $9,672 for a $96.72 fare.
Joel R. Reidenberg
Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Chair and Professor of Law
Founding Academic Director, Fordham CLIP
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP