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Intermediaries

2019

The Australian government passed the Criminal Code Amendment (sharing of abhorrent violent material) Bill which makes a crime for social media platforms not to promptly remove abhorrent violent material shared by their users. The legislation seems to be a response to the March attacks in Christchurch in which a white supremacist used a helmet-mounted camera to stream live on Facebook as he killed people in two mosques. The law defines abhorrent violent material as acts of terrorism, murder, attempted murder, torture, rape, and kidnapping. The crime would be punishable for people working for online companies by three years in prison and a fine of 10.5 Australian dollars or 10% of the platform’s annual turnover. The legislation creates a liability regime that is stricter than the notice-and-takedown regimes in the US and Europe.   ​​

The new report “The future of work: litigating labour relationships in the gig economy”, released by Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, indicates that “the gig economy is the frontline in the battle for the future of labour rights”. It states that the new technology has enabled start-ups like Uber and Deliveroo to become international corporations with only a few employees and with the majority of its workforce misclassified as self-employed. This business model is based on not paying for workers’ social protection and seriously jeopardise labour rights. The report includes facts and figures on the development of the gig economy across the world, recent case law defying the self-employment status of workers in the sector, and stakeholder responses. The report calls on online intermediary companies to classify their workers as employees with full labour rights and protections, to eliminate forced arbitrations clauses from their contracts, and to “introduce human rights policies with proper remediation to live up to their responsibilities under the United Nations Guiding Principles on Human Rights”. The report also argued that legislative reforms are necessary to incentivize sharing economy companies to classify their workers as employees. Deliveroo responded by saying that flexible work enabled by sharing economy platforms is the new way of working and “is here to stay”.

Los Angeles ride-hail drivers working for Uber and Lyft turned off their apps for 25 hours in protest of low wages. The organising group Rideshare Drivers United said the strike was triggered by Uber’s decision to reduce per-mile pay. Drivers have complained that their working experience in these companies has become worse over the time. In many cities, drivers have organised informal groups to defend their rights within public authorities. In 2018, New York City passed a minimum wage of $17,22 per hour after drivers’ protests.

The Copyright Directive was approved by members of the European Parliament. 348 members voted in favour while 274 voted against it. Members states have 24 months from now to transpose the directive rules into their national legal systems. The content of the Copyright Directive has been subjected to lobbying from businesses, copyright holders and digital rights lawyers. The most controversial article 13 (renamed article 17) have passed almost with the same terms of the last proposed draft. The rule requires from websites new duties to stop users from uploading copyrighted content. Advocates against the Directive say that the new rule can lead to the implementation of filters that will monitor the content before it is uploaded to block any content that breaches copyrighted material. 

The New Zealand mosque’s attack has been streamed on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter since last Friday. The suspect in the shooting shared photos of his weapons, recorded and livestreamed the killings through a helmet camera. The online platforms claimed they have incessantly deleted the videos, but their efforts have not been enough. It is still possible to find them on the platforms. Facebook announced to have deleted 1.5 million videos on the first day just after the attack. The event raises concerns over the lack of liability of online intermediaries for disseminating harmful content.  ​

A Norway Nokia 7 Plus user notified the Norwegian media about batches of data being sent to a server in China upon powering on. Data such as the phone’s IMEI numbers, SIM card numbers, the cell ID of the base station the phone is connected to, and its network address (the MAC address), were sent unencrypted. Norway’s data protection ombudsman has launched an investigation. Although Norway is not an EU member state, the GDPR is still applicable to Norway as a member of the European Economic Area

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