1. Facebook In the Doghouse
After two years of data privacy scandals and concerns, the UK has decided that something must be done. Today, the UK’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee released a report on disinformation and fake news, “detailing a variety of investigations that included Facebook’s data privacy practices, its content moderation, and the company’s data-based ad targeting platform.” Believing CEO Mark Zuckerberg has failed to provide “leadership or personal responsibility” lately, the report specifically called for:
- a compulsory code of ethics for tech companies, overseen by an independent regulator
- the regulator to be given powers to launch legal action if companies breach the code
- the government to reform current electoral laws and rules on overseas involvement in UK elections
- social media companies to be forced to take down known sources of harmful content, including proven sources of disinformation
- tech companies operating in the UK to be taxed to help fund the work for the Information Commissioner’s Office and any new regulator set up to oversee them.
Facebook has said they are open to “meaningful regulation,” however, evidence shows that Zuckerberg has still been ducking a lot of questions and some were particularly angry that the Facebook CEO wouldn’t come to the UK to answer these questions in person. What’s next? The committee is calling for a new type of tech firm that can tighten legal liability for online entities and fine those who break the rules.
Who’s taking applications? Asking for a friend…
2. McDonald’s Loses Big Mac Trademark
Last month, McDonald’s lost its Big Mac trademark in Europe after losing a battle against Supermac’s, an Irish fast-food chain. McDonald’s originally started the beef when they stunted Supermac’s growth into the European market, claiming ‘Supermac’ sounded too similar to their Big Mac burger. Finally, Pat McDonagh, Supermac’s founder, had enough and sued McDonald’s, #winning because McDonald’s had not proven genuine use of the word Big Mac over the past five years. “We’re delighted. It’s a unique victory when you take on the golden arches and win,” said McDonagh. “This is a victory for all small businesses. It prevents bigger companies from hoarding trademarks with no intention of using them.” Before the win, McDonald’s had submitted printouts of European websites, posters, and packaging from company reps to verify Big Mac sales. However, EUIPO (EU Intellectual Property Office) claimed McDonald’s lacked other types of evidence, such as on its websites and in promotional material, which was needed to confirm use of the word. McDonald’s may be a stickler when it comes to trademark laws, but this loss in beef came out rare. What’s going to happen now? There’s room for the hungry Supermac’s to finally expand across Europe and the UK and for other companies to poke fun at the loss, such as Swedish Burger King’s featuring anti-Big Mac products like “The Anything But a Big Mac.”
(Source: Reuters, Chicago Tribune)
3. Trump’s Drone-Patrolled Wall
With technology intertwining in every aspect of our daily lives, it only makes sense for those in the tech industry to recommend drones to protect our borders. Last week, Congress passed legislation for Trump’s border bill to avert another government shutdown. As Trump’s national emergency declaration is underway, the idea of a border patrolled by drones may get a more in-depth look. Not only would drones “make it easier for agents to distinguish immigrants and smugglers from the cows and coyotes that prowl along the border,” but this smaller, cheaper aircraft can easily be hauled by trucks and are able to fly by themselves. The proposal is being called a “smart wall.” “I’ve said that we ought to have a smart wall. I defined that as a wall using drones to make it too high to get over, using x-ray equipment to make it too wide to get around, and using scanners to go deep enough not to be able to tunnel under it,” said House majority whip, Jim Clyburn. “To me, that would be a smart thing to do.” However, some believe a wall made of drones is just as bad as a concrete wall, compromising human rights and adding to the crossfire of privacy implications on collecting mass personal data.
(Source: CNET, The Guardian)
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