The number of consumers using multiple devices—from smartphones to tablets to laptop computers—has exploded in recent years and continues to grow globally. Companies are increasingly turning to new technologies in an attempt to ascertain that multiple devices are connected to the same person for a variety of purposes, such as preventing fraud, providing a more seamless user experience, and more effectively reaching their target audience. While such cross-device tracking provides a number of benefits, it also raises privacy concerns that have drawn increased regulatory scrutiny in the last few years.

Join Socially Aware contributors Julie O’Neill and Alja Poler De Zwart on Wednesday, Oct. 11, from 11:00 am until 12:00 pm ET for a practical, multijurisdictional look at cross-device tracking and best practices that companies can employ to achieve maximum commercial advantage while mitigating privacy risks. Topics that will be addressed include:

  • An overview of various cross-device tracking technologies and how they are used;
  • The privacy issues that cross-device tracking implicates and how to avoid common pitfalls;
  • Essential features of a compliant digital advertising program; and Recent U.S. and EU regulatory activity and trends, including self-regulatory guidance.

Register now.  There is no charge to attend the webinar.

Blockchain is shaping up as one of the most disruptive IT technologies since the Internet itself, with broad-ranging applications that could transform businesses across the spectrum. Companies that ignore the opportunities—and challenges—created by blockchain and cryptocurrencies may find themselves left behind as more nimble and responsive competitors successfully leverage these emerging technologies.

Our colleagues Spencer Klein and Dario de Martino recently took a close look at blockchain and cryptocurrencies in an article entitled, “Don’t Want To Be The Next Kodak? Embrace Blockchain,” which has been published by Law360, a leading legal publication.

The article addresses:

  • how blockchain and cryptocurrencies work;
  • recent legal developments relating to blockchain and cryptocurrencies;
  • potential benefits arising from Delaware’s recently enacted blockchain legislation; and
  • key takeaways from the recent SEC pronouncements on token sales and related considerations.

Read Spencer and Dario’s Law 360 article here.

A federal appeals court in Miami held that a judge needn’t necessarily recuse herself from a case being argued by a lawyer with whom the judge is merely Facebook “friends.”

Bills in both houses of Congress propose amending Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to clarify that it doesn’t insulate website operators from liability for violating civil or criminal child-sex-trafficking laws.

The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania held that an unemployment-benefits board acted appropriately when it relied, in part, on an applicant’s Facebook post to determine that the applicant was not entitled to benefits.

A Texas law makes cyberbullying punishable by as much as a year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000.

Google is trying to make it more difficult to find and profit from YouTube videos that contain extremist content by placing warnings on those videos and disabling the advertising on them.

A company backed by Mark Cuban is planning to create a social media platform that will anonymize its users’ identities using blockchain technology and attempt to cut down on trolls by charging people with bad reputations on the platform more for premium services.

The online publishing platform Medium is giving some of its content writers the option to put their work behind Medium’s subscription pay wall and get paid based on the number of “claps” that work gets.

Evolutionary psychologists aren’t at all surprised by the popularity of snooping on social media.

Tips for law firm marketers on how to best leverage Instagram.

Advice on how to pen the best automated out-of-office reply.

When you visit someone’s home these days, do you use the doorbell or text instead?

Recent challenges to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) authority to police data security practices have criticized the agency’s failure to provide adequate guidance to companies.

In other words, the criticism goes, businesses do not know what they need to do to avoid a charge that their data security programs fall short of the law’s requirements.

A series of blog posts that the FTC began on July 21, 2017, titled “Stick with Security,” follows promises from acting Chair Maureen Ohlhausen to provide more transparency about practices that contribute to reasonable data security. Some of the posts provide insight into specific data security practices that businesses should take, while others merely suggest what, in general, the FTC sees as essential to a comprehensive data security program. Continue Reading More Insight From the FTC on Data Security—or More of the Same?

We discussed last year the trend toward companies seeking to monetize user-generated content. A recent Central District of California decision in Greg Young Publishing, Inc. v. Zazzle, Inc. serves as an important reminder of the serious risks that can arise from seeking to commercially exploit such content.

Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s (DMCA) Section 512(c) safe harbor, online service providers that comply with the eligibility requirements are shielded from copyright damages in connection with their hosting of infringing content uploaded by service users. This powerful safe harbor has played a major role in the success of Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and other U.S. social media and Internet sites.

Continue Reading Zazzle Fizzles: Website Operator Denied Copyright Safe Harbor Protection for Its Sale of Physical Products Featuring User-Generated Images

As Socially Aware readers know, privacy and data security issues are among the most critical legal issues confronting companies that do business online. With ransomware attacks and hacking incidents on the rise, and with privacy and data security laws becoming increasingly burdensome, companies are spending more time and resources than ever before addressing privacy and data security issues. Indeed, Morrison & Foerster recently collaborated with ALM Intelligence to take an in-depth look at the types of privacy and data security issues with which in-house legal departments are wrestling, and how such departments are dealing with these issues. The resulting report is interesting and informative, and can be found here.

In an opinion granting a preliminary injunction preventing LinkedIn from blocking a startup’s use of information in LinkedIn profiles accessible to the entire public, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California expressed doubts that a federal anti-hacking law—the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act—prohibits the startup’s scraping of such publicly available information from a website, even if the website owner has asked for the scraping to stop.

Former U.S. president Obama’s tweet quoting Nelson Mandela in the wake of the violent Charlottesville rally is now the most “liked” tweet in history, surpassing Ariana Grande’s response to the Manchester terrorist attack in May.

Does the First Amendment prohibit politicians from blocking people with opposing views on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms? A new wave of lawsuits are teeing up this issue for the courts to resolve.

In a rape case involving two former college football players, the Tennessee Supreme Court held the state’s law on defense subpoenas entitles the defendants to receive access to their alleged victims’ relevant social media and text messaging histories.

Google researchers discovered an algorithm capable of removing the watermarks that stock-imagery sites use in an effort to protect copyrighted content—and suggest a way to thwart the algorithm’s use.

With 2-to-3-minute long episodes, Snapchat’s first daily news program, NBC News’s “Stay Tuned,” has more than 29 million unique viewers.

Speaking of Snapchat, the innovative social media platform just introduced a feature called Crowd Surf that allows users to watch an event like a concert by connecting snaps together based on their audio.

Instagram will soon begin organizing comments into threads the way Facebook does.

A former partner at an Illinois law firm is the subject of a complaint filed by the state’s attorney disciplinary committee for setting up a phony profile on Match.com for a female attorney who practices in his town.

A Georgia judge was suspended for his social media posts, which, among other things, called supporters of de-Confederatization efforts “the nut cases tearing down monuments” and compared them to the radical Islamic terrorist group ISIS.

By deploying the first autonomous impact protection vehicle—a truck designed to absorb the impact of an errant car—the Colorado Department of Transportation eliminated the need for a human driver to risk taking one of the most dangerous jobs around.

Social media has had a huge impact on flight attendants’ work lives.

With over one billion websites on the Internet, and 211 million items of online content created every minute, it should come as no surprise that content curation is one of the hottest trends in the Internet industry. We are overwhelmed with online content, and we increasingly rely on others to separate the good from the bad so that we can make more efficient use of our time spent surfing the web.

Consistent with this trend, many websites that host user-generated content are now focused on filtering out content that is awful, duplicative, off-topic, or otherwise of little interest to site visitors. And these sites often find that humans—typically passionate volunteers from the sites’ user communities—are better than algorithms at sorting the wheat from the chaff.

Of course, any website that deals with user-generated content needs to consider potential copyright liability arising from such content. We’ve discussed in past Socially Aware blog posts the critical importance of Section 512(c) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (the DMCA) to the success of YouTube, Facebook and other online platforms that host user-generated content. By providing online service providers with immunity from monetary damages in connection with the hosting of content at the direction of users, Section 512(c) has fueled the growth of the U.S. Internet industry. Continue Reading Could the Use of Online Volunteers and Moderators Increase Your Company’s Copyright Liability Exposure?

Nearly all companies—whether they’re focused on the B2C market or the B2B market—have embraced social media as a way to promote their goods and services and to interact with customers and potential customers. The growing use of social media has, however, created challenges for federal securities regulators who must enforce antifraud rules that were written prior to the digital age.

Our Guide to Social Media and the Securities Laws summarizes how regulation has evolved in the face of the growing use of social media. It discusses the principal areas of focus for SEC-reporting companies, registered investment advisers, registered investment companies and registered broker-dealers that use social media.

Read our Guide to Social Media and the Securities Laws.

A federal district court in Wisconsin struck down the first law in the country requiring augmented-reality-game makers to go through a complicated permit-application process before their apps could be used in county parks.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 13 will implement an electronic filing system, making all new documents available to the public for free. In another attempt to advance its use of technology, SCOTUS updated its website.

Approximately 40% of the world’s population is now active on social media.

Researchers who tried to identify people suffering from depression by examining their Instagram photos had a 70% success rate.

DoNotPay, a chatbot that has helped drivers to overturn 375,000 parking tickets so far, is expanding to help consumers tackle nearly one thousand other legal issues without the help of an attorney.

The number of Internet-of-Things-related companies is fast multiplying. This Forbes piece lists the IoT categories that are attracting the most interest from entrepreneurs and investors.

Companies that allow hiring managers to check out job candidates’ social media accounts could be exposing themselves to legal trouble.

Beware requests to connect on social media from people you don’t actually know. A known hacker group used a fake LinkedIn profile to connect with people working at certain companies and trick them into installing malware on their company computers.

Using blockchain, companies organized as Decentralized Autonomous Organizations do away with the need for senior executives and managers by allowing stakeholders to vote on every decision the company faces—including the fate of employees who underperform.

A survey of 2,000 Britons about their pet social-media-peeves showed that bragging about your kids might hurt your popularity online. Read the full list of cyber activities that most people consider Facebook faux pas.