Cyrus Farivar

Zuckerberg says Facebook will impose new EU privacy rules “everywhere”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that it will voluntarily implement the European Union's new privacy rules, known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which take effect in May 2018. "We're going to make all the same controls and settings available everywhere, not just in Europe," he said. Additionally, Zuckerberg specifically said the company did not "track" its users or "buy and sell" user data. "We run ads to make it a free service that everyone in the world can afford," he said.

“Google’s use of the Java API packages was not fair,” appeals court rules

On March 27, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled in favor of Oracle, finding that Google may owe billions in damages. Nearly 7.5 years after the original lawsuit was filed, the case will now be sent back down to federal court in San Francisco to figure out how much Google should pay. "Google’s use of the Java API packages was not fair," the court ruled. In October 2016 when the case was appealed, after Oracle purchased Sun Microsystems and acquired the rights to Java, it sued Google in 2010. Oracle claimed that Google had infringed copyrights and patents related to Java.

Judge should order MO Gov to stop using ephemeral messaging app, lawyers say

Two Missouri lawyers have sued the Missouri governor’s office over its use of Confide, an ephemeral messaging mobile app, which they say is in violation of state public records law. The two men are set to appear before a county judge on Feb 2 to ask for a temporary restraining order that would bar current and future use of such apps by the governor and his staff. Lawyers representing Gov Eric Greitens (R-MO) say that such a move is unwarranted.

Washington State: Comcast was “even more deceptive” than we thought

The Attorney General of Washington has filed a new amended complaint in an ongoing lawsuit against Comcast, claiming that "new evidence" reveals "even more deceptive conduct than previously alleged." The lawsuit, which was initially submitted in August 2016, alleged that hundreds of thousands of Washington residents were "deceived" into paying "at least $73 million in subscription fees over the last five years for a near-worthless ‘protection plan.’" According to the amended complaint, which was filed in King County Superior Court on Thursday, newly obtained recorded calls between Comcast a

Activists want to know why feds are searching more devices at the border

A free speech advocacy organization sued the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, seeking "statistical, policy, and assessment records regarding the government’s searches" of digital devices at the United States border. The group, the Knight First Amendment Institute based at Columbia University, said on that the lawsuit came about as a result of recent journalism on the issue. There has been a rapid uptick in the number of such incidents: February 2017 alone had more border searches of phones, tablets, and computers than all of 2015. Gillian M. Christensen, the acting DHS press secretary, declined to comment further, saying, "As a matter of policy, DHS does not comment on pending litigation."

California Supreme Court: No, you can’t hide public records on a private account

The California Supreme Court ruled that state and local officials must disclose public records even if those "writings" are held on private devices or accounts. The City of San Jose and the County of Santa Clara had argued that such records could be exempted from the California Public Records Act. The case dates back to 2009, when Ted Smith, a local environment activist, filed a public records request about various San Jose officials' requests concerning local development efforts. When records came back that did not include materials from personal devices or accounts, he sued.

The state Supreme Court was unequivocal in its conclusion: "CPRA and the Constitution strike a careful balance between public access and personal privacy. This case concerns how that balance is served when documents concerning official business are created or stored outside the workplace. The issue is a narrow one: Are writings concerning the conduct of public business beyond CPRA's reach merely because they were sent or received using a non governmental account? Considering the statute's language and the important policy interests it serves, the answer is no. Employees' communications about official agency business may be subject to CPRA regardless of the type of account used in their preparation or transmission."

House members: EPA officials may be using Signal to “spread their goals covertly”

House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) and the Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Darin LaHood (R-IL) sent a formal letter to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of the Inspector General, expressing concern that “approximately a dozen career EPA officials” are using the encrypted messaging app Signal to covertly plan strategy and may be running afoul of the Freedom of Information Act. The open source app has gained renewed interest in the wake of the election of President Donald Trump. The congressmen note that the EPA has previously examined employee use of text messages to conduct government business and found that only a minuscule fraction of those messages was retained under FOIA.

Twitter to judge: Let us tell everyone exactly how many secret orders we get

Twitter has asked a federal judge to decide what seems like a relatively simple question: is it ok to tell the public that the company received a specific number of national security orders, rather than simply a broad range, during a given period of time? The case began more than two years ago, when Twitter sued the Department of Justice and argued that the federal law that prohibits the company from being more precise is unconstitutional. The government counters that courts should defer to the executive branch with respect to classification and not allow Twitter's request. Lawyers representing the social media giant and the Department of Justice squared off on Feb 14 during a hearing as to whether the judge should immediately rule in the government’s favor on a motion for summary judgment.

Lawyer sues Chicago police, claims they used stingray on him

A local attorney has sued the City of Chicago and numerous police officials in a proposed federal class-action lawsuit, claiming that he and countless others were unconstitutionally searched when the police used a cell-site simulator without a warrant. In the suit, Jerry Boyle, who describes himself as an “attorney and longtime volunteer legal observer with the National Lawyers’ Guild,” alleged that while attending the “Reclaim MLK Day” event in Chicago nearly two years ago, his phone was targeted by the Chicago Police Department’s device, better known as a stingray. Boyle argued that his Fourth Amendment and First Amendment rights were violated as a result.

Stingrays are used by law enforcement to determine a mobile phone's location by spoofing a cell tower. In some cases, stingrays can intercept calls and text messages. Once deployed, the devices intercept data from a target phone along with information from other phones within the vicinity. At times, police have falsely claimed the use of a confidential informant when they have actually deployed these particularly sweeping and intrusive surveillance tools. Often, they are used to locate criminal suspects.

After Facebook “censors” anti-Muslim posts, hate groups sue US government

In July 2016, an organization called the “American Freedom Defense Initiative” joined another group called Jihad Watch in suing US Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Both entities felt slighted by Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. In their 25-page civil complaint, the two anti-Muslim activists and their respective organizations made a ludicrous argument. The groups claimed that as the country’s top cop, Lynch “enforces” Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a law that limits libel and other civil suits filed against websites, service providers, and other online publishers. However, the Communications Decency Act is a civil, rather than a criminal, statute. AFDI—which the Southern Poverty Law Center designated in 2015 as an anti-Muslim hate group—is the same group that opposed the proposed Park51 Islamic center that was to be built two blocks from Ground Zero.

In 2013, the AFDI's co-founder, Pamela Geller, and her fellow co-founder, Robert Spencer (who also founded JihadWatch), were banned from entering the United Kingdom for their “extremist” views. Because their materials have been regularly removed from Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and because they have been threatened via those platforms, the plaintiffs collectively argue that the First Amendment rights of their groups have been violated.