Privacy Regulators Are Zeroing in on the Internet of Things

IAPP
September 22, 2016

Privacy regulators across the globe are beginning to realize what the industry has known for a long time: IoT devices are woefully insecure. It can only be a matter of time before enforcement agencies introduce tough new requirements for data security and disclosures. Companies that fail to anticipate these developments will find themselves at a sever disadvantage.

Congress Moves to Protect Critical Social Media Reviews

CNN Money
September 13, 2016

Last week, the House of Representatives passed the Consumer Review Fairness Act, which is intended to prohibit businesses from suing individuals for posting honest, but negative, online reviews. This bill makes a provision of a form contract void from the inception if it is used in the course of selling or leasing goods or services to: (1) prohibit or restrict an individual who is a party to such a contract from engaging in written, oral, or pictorial reviews, or other similar performance assessments or analyses of, including by electronic means, the goods, services, or conduct of a person that is also a party to the contract; (2) impose penalties or fees against individuals who engage in such communications; or (3) transfer or require the individual to transfer intellectual property rights in review or feedback content (with the exception of a nonexclusive license to use the content) in any otherwise lawful communications about such person or the goods or services provided by such person.

The legislation goes on to make clear that it does not apply to employment contracts, nor is it meant to prohibit other common terms of use provisions, such as those against harassment or defamatory speech.

The intent of this law is laudable. It will be interesting to see how the final language comes together and, if signed into law, how it is applied.

Michigan’s First Revenge Porn Money Judgment

Detroit Free Press
August 26, 2016

This is a great legal development in my home state’s internet law:

“In what might be Michigan’s first revenge-pornography case resulting in a monetary judgment, an Oakland County woman was awarded $500,000 Wednesday after her ex-boyfriend posted nude photographs of her on multiple Internet sites. 

“According to court records from the Oakland County Circuit Court, Judge Martha Anderson awarded the sum, which is set to accrue interest over time. Anderson also granted a permanent injunction against the ex-boyfriend, forcing him to immediately destroy and never republish the photos to third-party websites. If he does … he can be held in contempt and face prison or additional fines.”

The article also notes that “In April, a bill criminalizing the posting of sexually explicit images on the Internet without the depicted person’s consent was signed into law by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley. Anyone found guilty of violating the law could face up to 93 days in jail and a $500 fine for a first offense. If a second violation occurs, the person could face up to a year in jail and a fine of $1,000. The individual could also face separate charges in connection to the crime.”

Although many similar statutes have been passed around the country, they often have First Amendment defects, because they go too far in abridging the Constitution’s sacrosanct freedom of speech. Nevertheless, cases like this prove that existing tort laws will almost always provide a way to punish those who use the internet to abuse others.