Overnight Tech: US calls on Iran to stop blocking social media | Big court win for Airbnb | FTC approves Lenovo settlement over privacy charges

Overnight Tech: US calls on Iran to stop blocking social media | Big court win for Airbnb | FTC approves Lenovo settlement over privacy charges

US CALLS ON IRAN TO STOP BLOCKING SOCIAL MEDIA: The State Department on Tuesday urged the Iranian government to end its blocking of social media platforms amid continued protests against the country's clerical rulers.

Steve Goldstein, U.S. undersecretary of State, said the administration would like Iran to "open these sites," according to The Associated Press.

The founder of the messaging app Telegram said Sunday that Iranian authorities blocked many of its citizens from accessing the app after the technology company refused to close down some channels.

Protests began over economic concerns last week, but have shifted toward anti-government demonstrations focused on Iran's clerical rulers, according to reports.

In the remarks reported by the AP, Goldstein said the social media platforms are "legitimate avenues for communication" and that the U.S. is obligated "not to stand by."

President TrumpDonald John TrumpIran claims it rejected Trump meeting requests 8 times ESPY host jokes Putin was as happy after Trump summit as Ovechkin winning Stanley Cup Russian ambassador: Trump made ‘verbal agreements’ with Putin MORE and other administration officials, including U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyOvernight Defense: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | GOP looks to reassure NATO | Mattis open to meeting Russian counterpart Dem pollster: Haley would be 'very strong' presidential candidate Watchdog: First lady spokeswoman may have violated Hatch Act with ‘MAGA’ tweet MORE, have said they support the peaceful protesters. Trump said Monday that it's "time for change" in Iran.

"The people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime. All of the money that President Obama so foolishly gave them went into terrorism and into their 'pockets,' " Trump said Tuesday.

Read more here.

 

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JUDGE TOSSES LAWSUIT AGAINST AIRBNB: A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by Apartment Investment & Management Co. (Aimco), one of the largest residential landlords in the country, against Airbnb.

The lawsuit alleged the homesharing platform lets tenants effectively break their leases by subletting properties.

U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee based her decision on the Communications Decency Act (CDA), a law that insulates tech firms from being liable for user-created content.

"Airbnb hosts, not Airbnb, are responsible for providing the actual listing information," Gee explained in her decision on Dec. 29.

The law has given technology firms cover from legal challenges from other industries. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, for example, ruled in favor of Backpage.com, over allegations it facilitated prostitution on its site. The court sided with Backpage because of CDA. Other companies have used the law to fight back against claims of user-posted pirated content on their platforms.

Read more here.

 

FTC APPROVES LENOVO SETTLEMENT: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Tuesday approved a settlement with computer manufacturer Lenovo over charges that it had violated user privacy with software that came preloaded on its computers.

The commission voted 2-0 to approve the settlement it reached in September with the company.

"Lenovo compromised consumers' privacy when it preloaded software that could access consumers' sensitive information without adequate notice or consent to its use," acting FTC Chairwoman Maureen Ohlhausen said in a statement at the time. "This conduct is even more serious because the software compromised online security protections that consumers rely on."

Read more here.

 

GERMANY WILL FINE SOCIAL MEDIA COMPANIES FOR NOT REMOVING HATE SPEECH: Germany has begun enforcing a new law that mandates that social media firms must swiftly remove hate speech, hoax stories and illegal content from their platforms or face a fine.

Social media firms with at least 2 million users will have 24 hours to remove material that has been flagged to them and could see fines up to 50 million euros if they don't.

The law, known as NetzDG in Germany, was created to target large sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, according to the BBC, but will also affect platforms like Reddit, Tumblr and potentially others.

NetzDG had been announced previously to give companies time to prepare before it went into effect in 2018. The law was proposed after several notable instances in which hoax stories and racist material were spread across social media platforms.

Read more here.

 

UBER LOOKS TO BOUNCE BACK FROM ROUGH 2017: Uber is eager to put 2017 in the rear-view mirror after a year mired in controversies.

The year began with the "delete Uber" campaign and ended with revelations the ride-hailing firm paid to cover up a massive data breach.

But even under fresh new leadership, the embattled start-up continues to be haunted by past missteps, increasing the chances that Uber, once a darling of the tech industry, could have federal regulators on its back.

Read more here.

 

AGENCIES RACE TO IMPLEMENT EMAIL SECURITY TOOL: The federal government's use of a security tool that cracks down on fake emails has surged in recent weeks as agencies with .gov domains rush to meet a deadline to implement the tool and bolster cybersecurity, according to new research.

The tool, called the Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC), helps organizations that use it identify fraudulent messages purporting to come from their email domains.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced in mid-October that it would mandate that organizations operating .gov domains use DMARC as well as HTTPS to encrypt web traffic. Homeland Security gave departments and agencies 90 days, or until mid-January, to comply with the directive.

Read more here.

 

TRANSITIONS: NEW YEAR, NEW TEAMS:

-Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenNovartis pulls back on planned drug price increases The Hill's Morning Report — Trump’s walk-back fails to stem outrage on Putin meeting Meet the woman who is Trump's new emissary to Capitol Hill MORE (D-Ore.) office announced that the hiring of Chris Soghoian as senior technologist. Soghoian will help the senator on tech and cybersecurity matters. He has been working in Wyden's office as a fellow through TechCongress since Feb. 2017. Before he worked as the principal technologist with the Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, and as a technologist in the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's Division on Privacy and Identity Protection.

-CTIA-The Wireless Association announced on Monday that it has promoted Scott Bergman to senior vice president of regulatory affairs. He originally joined the trade association in 2009 after working at the FCC in a variety of senior positions.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Vanity Fair: Inside Silicon Valley's problematic, bacchanal dark side.

Microsoft's top ten tech issues for 2018

Reuters: Spotify hit with $1.6 billion copyright lawsuit

WSJ: EU asks: Does control of 'Big Data' kill competition?