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Internet companies stop providing services to 8chan after El Paso deadly shooting

The cybersecurity and domain name registrar companies Cloudflare and Tucows have terminated 8Chan as a customer after the shooting in El Paso. 8chan, an imageboard website of user-created message boards, has been used for harmful activism. Days before the deadly shooting in El Paso, Texas, the perpetrator of the massacre had spread his manifesto in the platform. The same happened in the Christchurch and Poway synagogue shootings. 8Chan alleges that owners moderate each board with no interaction from the website administration and, therefore, has no liability for illegal content under American laws. Cloudflare stated “the action we take today won’t fix hate online. It will almost certainly not even remove 8Chan from the Internet. But it’s the right thing to do”. As a result of Cloudflare and Tucows’ actions, 8Chan changed its domain register to BitMitigate which supports freedom of speech as fundamental rights in American society.

US appeal court rules Facebook is not liable for terrorist content

The US Second Circuit Court of Appeal ruled Facebook does not edit for the content that the terrorist group Hamas publishes on the platform. The ruling stressed that the company only required users to provide basic information and, therefore, acts as a neutral intermediary. The lawsuit required to hold Facebook liable for allowing violent extremists to use the platform to recruit followers. The families of the terrorist victims attempted to argue that Facebook could be held liable under the US Anti-Terrorism Act. 

E-commerce platforms restrained from selling exclusive products 

The Delhi High Court has ruled that e-commerce platforms like Amazon, Flipkart, Healthkart and Snapdeal are not allowed to advertise, display and offer for sale the products of companies that are direct selling entities without their consent. The lawsuit was filed by Amway, Modicare and Oriflame, direct selling companies of healthcare and beauty products. They claimed that the platforms sell their product at cheaper rates, resulting in financial losses. The e-commerce platforms argued that they were merely intermediaries under Section 79 of the IT Act 2000, therefore, not liable for the products that different sellers offer on their marketplaces. 

Amazon tackles counterfeits but denies liability 

Amazon informed its customers that the Align nutritional supplements sold on its platform by third-party vendors were counterfeits. The company recommended its customers to stop using and disposing of the supplements in the US. Amazon does not know if any of its customers have ingested something dangerous. They received a full refund for having purchased the fake supplements. Amazon has fought against fake products sold by third parties for years. The company alleges to investigate every claim of counterfeit, often with the assistance of brands, and to remove the illegal items for sale, permanently banning bad actors. However, Amazon’s liability for illegal third party products is limited in the US. Courts have ruled that market places such as Amazon and eBay are mere intermediaries between customers and sellers, and, therefore, are immune under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA). Amazon is both a retailer and a third-party marketplace. In a recent ruling, a court of appeal has admitted that Amazon’s product listing, featuring its own products but also third-party products, makes it difficult for customers to understand from whom they are purchasing the product.

Kazakhstan enables interception of HTTPS traffic of its citizens

Authorities of Kazakhstan have asked all major local ISPs to demand their customers to install government-issued root certificates. Some major ISPs have started re-directing all users’ HTTPS requests to a page which provides instructions for installing the national root certificates. This action is the second attempt for implementation of the amendments to the national Communications Law, passed in 2015. While the government and ISPs advertise the step as a security measure to reduce fraud and cybercrime, experts warn that this will allow authorities to invisibly intercept all the communications of its citizens to global HTTPS sites through a man-in-the-middle approach: ISPs will be able redirect encrypted traffic, intended for global services, to dedicated local snooping servers that pretend to be the requested global service - which will be trusted by user devices thanks to bogus certificates issued by the government. In addition, criminals may exploit the fact that the new certificates can only be downloaded from HTTP sites, and place own bogus certificates in computers around the country. Major browser makers, like Google, Mozilla and Microsoft, are discussing how to deal with sites that have been (re-)encrypted by the Kazakh government's root certificate, ZDNet reports.

Kazakhstan intercepts all HTTPS Internet traffic

 The Kazakhstan government now requires all local Internet service providers (ISPs) to install a government-issued certificate, allowing them to intercept and decrypt all HTTPS Internet traffic inside its borders. Implications for surveillance and rights are serious, as it will allow wider targeting of Internet traffic, in addition to its use of the Israeli NSO Group hacking technology. Mozilla denied a similar root inclusion request from Kazakhstan in 2016, and is again considering whether to block its root certificate.

French National Assembly approved law to fight against hate speech online 

The French National Assembly approved Act against hate speech online. The Act forces online platforms and search engines, such as Facebook and Google, to remove hate content targeting ethnic origin, religion, sexual orientation, and disability in 24 hours. The deputies also added to this list incitement to terrorist and child pornography. If the intermediary refuses to remove the illegal content, it can be condemned to pay up to 4% of their annual global profit. The act also requires platforms to implementing a button, common to all intermediaries, that will allow users to report any hate content. The superior audio-visual council will watch and ensure that online intermediaries enforce the Act.

Civil rights audit concludes that Facebook’s policy against white supremacy is insufficient

Since March 2019 Facebook’s has implemented a new policy banning from the platform any content that used the term ‘white nationalist’.  An external audit, conducted by former American Civil Liberties Union (UCLU) director Laura Murphy, reported that Facebook’s present white nationalism policy is too limited, because it bans only explicit support of the term ‘white nationalism’ or ‘white separatism’. As a result, content that expressly supports white nationalist ideology without using the terms has flourished in the platform. Facebook reacted to the audit by having formalised a civil rights team at the platform. The team will identify hate slogans and symbols connected to white nationalism and white separatism. Despite Facebook’s efforts on content moderation, online intermediaries are exempted from liability for illegal third-party content in the United States.

Tech companies lobby against UK proposal to enforce duty of care

The Internet Association (IA), an American lobbying group formed by Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter among others, have publicly attacked the UK online harms proposal that imposes online platform a duty of care to protect users. The government of the UK has published for consultation a regulatory proposal to address online harms, which includes the enactment of a statutory duty of care on online businesses for their users’ safety; the appointment of an independent regulator to oversee and enforce the regulation; and extraterritorial application of the statute. The proposal was opened to public consultation until 1 of July.

California lawmakers may force ride-sharing companies to treat drives as employees

California lawmakers are about to codify a 2018 California Supreme Court decision regarding the misclassification of ride-hailing drivers as contractors. Uber and Lyft have public reacted by stating that the new legislation would jeopardise their business model. Both companies agree to basic commitments in exchange for a guarantee that their drivers would not have employment status. Uber and Lyft compromise on increasing driver earnings and benefits; the creation of an appeals board where drivers could contest being barred from the platforms; and authorising a worker association where drivers would collectively bargain. Uber and Lyft have spent more than US$2 million on lobbying in California since 2017. Both companies plan to urge drivers to put pressure on lawmakers against the legislative proposal.

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