Major Companies Talk Privacy with Senate: Leading technology and communications companies, including AT&T, Apple, Charter and Google, provided testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee in support of a federal privacy law that would preempt state statutes, which demonstrates the industry’s acceptance of forthcoming legislation; while governing at the federal level would avoid a “patchwork of laws” that are difficult to navigate, the companies failed to provide a meaningful response when asked why Congress should not implement legislation similar to GDPR and California’s privacy law.
California Passes IoT Bill: The California bill that requires “reasonable security” for IoT devices, including a mandate that products must arrive with unique rather than default passwords that consumers can change after installation, is awaiting the governor’s signature; while some believe the legislation would be a step in the right direction, critics such as Ruth Artzi, Senior Product Marketing Manager at VDOO, argue, “the law should be defined in a more specific manner, as the requirement for an ‘appropriate’ security procedure, depending on the device nature and function, is too ambiguous with no real mechanism to verify that the vendor took the appropriate steps.”
Facebook Collects Contacts’ Information: Researchers at Northeastern and Princeton University discovered that Facebook associates the information uploaded by other users’ contact lists when “finding friends” with their profiles and sells it to advertisers, and because the user did not provide the information, he or she is unable to see it or disassociate it with their account; although Facebook does not dispute the collection method, researchers believe that the social network should make its platform more transparent by telling users all the contact information it has gathered from various sources.
Delta’s Biometric Check-In: Delta announced plans to allow travelers to check-in, pass through security, and board with facial recognition in Atlanta’s international airport, which is the first service of its kind in the U.S.; Customs and Border Protection’s “biometric exit” program, which utilizes airlines’ data to verify travelers’ identities, continues to face backlash from critics who assert privacy concerns and the illegality of collection absent Congressional authority.
Information Security and Cyberthreats
Uber Settles 2016 Data Breach: Marking the largest multi-state penalty for a privacy violation, Uber paid $148 million for its failure to promptly notify users after its 2016 data breach which exposed data from 57 million accounts, including 600,000 driving records; the settlement also requires data security incident reports on a quarterly basis for two years and a comprehensive information security program overseen by an executive officer.
Absentee Voting through Blockchain: In an effort to promote enfranchisement among military deployed abroad, West Virginia is allowing overseas residents to vote in its midterm election using Voatz, a blockchain voting app; critics in an election climate fraught with security concerns argue that a virus could alter a person’s vote, but Voatz states that the app can detect malware and will only run on smartphones with the latest security updates.
Pay Up, Tech Firms: UK’s News Media Association proposed to the government that Google, Facebook, and other sites that host news content on their platforms should pay an annual tax to fund journalism, give “reasonable notice” when they make changes to their terms of business or algorithms that affect news publishers, and share its revenue with newspapers when their stories appear in users’ feeds; the organization’s proposal suggest support of the EU’s Article 11 copyright strategy (set to pass next year), which requires tech firms to pay a “link tax” to publishers to share their content.
Qualcomm v. Apple: Qualcomm accused Apple of stealing confidential information and trade secrets related to its chip software and funneling it to Intel Corporation; according to an amended complaint Qualcomm filed in Superior Court in San Diego County, Apple gave Intel engineers confidential information for “at least several years,” including Qualcomm’s source code and log files, to develop modem chips for iPhones.
Free Expression and Censorship
No More ‘Dehumanizing’ Speech: Twitter changed its hateful conduct policies to prohibit “dehumanizing speech” and asked users to give feedback on whether the new rules are clear; Twitter’s scope of “dehumanizing speech” will “include content that dehumanizes others based on their membership in an identifiable group, even when the material does not include a direct target.”
Google’s Project Dragonfly: Former Google scientist Jack Poulson wrote a letter to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation asking senators to press Google on “Project Dragonfly,” a controversial search engine plan that complies with China’s strict censorship apparatus; Poulson writes that the project contradicts Google’s principles for the use of AI, has a “prototype interface” that ties users to their phone numbers, and blacklists words like “human rights.”
Free TM Search Tool: TrademarkNow states it is the first major vendor to launch a free preliminary trademark searching tool which offers users an unlimited volume of screening searches of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the EU Intellectual Property Office; the search tool also allows users to filter their results by registry or Nice classification.
On The Lighter Side
Joel R. Reidenberg
Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Chair and Professor of Law
Founding Academic Director, Fordham CLIP
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP