Tool Without a Handle: "A Dust Cloud of Nonsense"

In this blog, I address one type of “fake news” - content that causes tangible harm; provocative fictions that can prompt panic and violence. The “PizzaGate” events are case in point: fictional accusations a restaurant was being used for child abuse prompted a case of assault with a deadly weapon. In this context, President Obama referred recently to the “dust cloud” of false information online. The “dust cloud” metaphor is apt as a “dust cloud” a) obscures; b) interferes with intended functionality; c) appears to come from no single origin; d) can be harmful to life and property.

As with other problematic uses of Internet tools, technology and innovation are often responsive to public concerns, and self-regulation can best integrate liberty and safety interests in responding to “fake news” concerns. That’s not to say government action against certain types of “fake news” is completely out of the question. Government action can take the form of private action: civil laws against defamation.

Further, though, responses to fictional provocations should look for opportunities for re-connecting to shared beliefs. Of course “fake news” is false, but what to do with that fact? Too often, human psychology will conflate receipt of corrective facts with an attempt to challenge motivations – or as an attack on one’s moral agenda. A “mike drop” moment feels really good, but by definition it ends dialogue. As with effective responses to violent extremism online, effective responses to "fake news" will recognize this and offer corrections accordingly.

CEIPI Opinion on a EU Proposal for a Neighboring Right for Press Publishers Online

At CEIPI, I have co-authored with Christophe Geiger and Oleksandr Bulayenko a position paper discussing the proposed introduction in EU law of neighboring rights for press publishers for the digital uses of their publications. The proposal is included in the European Commission’s Draft Directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market of September 14, 2016. Below you find the summary of the paper:

Dear Silicon Valley: Great satire can be fake news!

Many in Silicon Valley say: thumbs down to fake news! Not so fast. Great satire can be fake news! That's because satire is often "pure fiction masquerading as truth," or even real truth masquerading as fiction. Plus, satire is legally protected. Don't throw the satire baby out with the fake news bathwater. Read how!

Wiretap Numbers Still Don't Add Up

Earlier this year, I wrote that the wiretap numbers reported by the Administrative Office (AO) of the US Courts in its 2014 Wiretap Report and those disclosed in transparency reports by the major telecommunications companies just didn’t add up. While the AO reported 3554 wiretaps in 2014, the four major U.S. carriers reported 10,712 wiretaps implemented for the same period -- a threefold discrepancy.

Points of Consensus on Rule 41

Senator Chris Coons, Democrat from Delaware, offered a bill today that would delay implementation of proposed changes to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 41 for six months. Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society and Mozilla have been studying issues related to government hacking including the Rule 41 changes.

This election was not hacked – but it was attacked

The presidential campaign of 2016 thankfully – and we can only hope officially – ended this evening. As of when this article was posted, there are no reports of widespread cyberattacks or other digital interference against state voting systems. Of course, since votes are still being tallied, we’re not in the clear yet. But current indications are that this was a fairly uneventful election, from a cybersecurity perspective at least.

What the Second Circuit Just Got Wrong about the DMCA in EMI v. MP3Tunes

            With the Second Circuit’s recent decision in EMI v. MP3Tunes, the formerly small body of case law interpreting § 512(i) of the DMCA – the “repeat infringer” provision – continues to grow. Last year, for example, district courts held service providers ineligible for safe harbor for failing to comply with § 512(i) in two closely watched cases, BMG Rights Management v.


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