As part of a new tracking system, the Department of Homeland Security will be keeping records of immigrants’ social media handles and search results.

Russia to Facebook: Turn over user-information or risk being blocked.

Google is ending a policy that required news sites to allow users at least one free article-click.

A new social media platform called Steemit will pay users in cryptocurrency for posting, commenting, or liking content—and its market capitalization is around $294 million.

Not everyone is a fan of Twitter’s new 280-character limit.

A type of biometric payment system that identifies a checking or credit account owner based on the unique vein-pattern in his or her fingertip would allow consumers to shop without cash, cards or devices.

Initial coin offerings (ICOs) are allowing startups that develop applications for blockchain technology to raise money without giving up the equity or decision-making power they would have to surrender to venture capitalists.

In this Wired op-ed, a former prisoner argues that allowing inmates controlled social media use might reduce recidivism and help the cell phone contraband problem.

Young kids are the new social media celebrities—and the law isn’t clear on whether they’re owed any of the money that their parents collect as a result of the viral videos.

When a social media celebrity famous for posting photos of herself posing in fitness gear changed the direction of her Instagram account to one that promotes body acceptance, she initially lost 70,000 followers, but she ultimately wound up with more fans than ever.

Kudos to Netflix’s in-house counsel for crafting a cease-and-desist letter for brand marketing in the modern age.

Recently, the “trolley problem,” a decades-old thought experiment in moral philosophy, has been enjoying a second career of sorts, appearing in nightmare visions of a future in which cars make life-and-death decisions for us. Among many driverless car experts, however, talk of trolleys is très gauche. They call the trolley problem sensationalist and irrelevant. But this attitude is unfortunate. Thanks to the arrival of autonomous vehicles, the trolley problem will be answered—that much is unavoidable. More importantly, though, that answer will profoundly reshape the way law is administered in America.

To understand the trolley problem, first consider this scenario: You are standing on a bridge. Underneath you, a railroad track divides into a main route and an alternative. On the main route, 50 people are tied to the rails. A trolley rushes under the bridge on the main route, hurtling towards the captives. Fortunately, there’s a lever on the bridge that, when pulled, will divert the trolley onto the alternative route. Unfortunately, the alternative route is not clear of captives, either — but only one person is tied to it, rather than 50. Do you pull the lever? Continue Reading Yes, the Trolley IS a Problem

In this era of big data, a company’s value may increasingly depend on the value of the information it has collected and stored. As companies amass ever-growing amounts of often sensitive personal data, the privacy and cybersecurity risks involved in mergers and acquisitions have become greater. As a result, today’s M&A transactions necessarily require deep due diligence on the privacy and cybersecurity risks posed by these deals, including a review of the M&A target’s communications on internal- and external-facing social media platforms.

In a practical webinar on September 26, 2017, Socially Aware contributor Christine Lyon and Mike Krigbaum discussed privacy and data security due diligence in M&A transactions. The topics they covered included:

  • Common challenges and pitfalls in performing privacy and cybersecurity due diligence;
  • The questions an acquirer’s team should ask to better identify, evaluate, and manage an acquisition target’s privacy and cybersecurity vulnerabilities; and
  • Steps the seller’s team can take to mitigate risk and help ensure that the deal is not jeopardized.

To view a recording of the webcast, click here.

In 2016, brands spent $570 million on social influencer endorsements on Instagram alone. This recode article takes a looks at how much influencers with certain followings can command, and whether they’re worth the investment.

And don’t overlook the legal issues associated with the use of social media influencers; the FTC just settled its first complaint against social media influencers individually. The case involved two online gamers who posted videos of themselves promoting a gaming site that they failed to disclose they jointly owned.

In a precedent setting opinion, the European Court of Human Rights held that the right to privacy of a Romanian man, Bogdan Bărbulescu, was violated when Bărbulescu’s employer, without explicitly notifying Bărbulescu, read personal messages that Bărbulescu sent from an online account that Bărbulescu had been asked to set up for work purposes.

In other European news, the attorney general for England and Wales, Jeremy Wright, MP, has begun an inquiry into whether that jurisdiction needs to impose restrictions on social media in order to help ensure criminal defendants there get a fair trial.

More than half of Americans 50 or older now get their news from social media sites, Pew Research Center’s 2017 social media survey shows.

Celebrities who promote initial coin offerings (ICOs) on social media risk violating laws that apply to the public promotion of securities.

Facebook developed an artificial intelligence robot that can express emotion by making realistic facial expressions at appropriate times.

A college student has sued Snapchat and the Daily Mail for alleged defamation and invasion of privacy arising from the use of the student’s name and image on Discover, Snapchat’s social news feature, under the headline, “Sex, Drugs and Spring Break—College Students Descent on Miami to Party in Oceans of Booze and Haze of Pot Smoke.”

Is the threat of artificial intelligence disrupting a slew of industries less imminent than we thought?

Google created a website that uses fun illustrations to show which “how to” queries its users entered into the search engine most.

The popularity of online videos that viewers can appreciate with the sound turned off has led to striking similarities between early silent film and modern social video.

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.