Protocol - When SCOTUS comes for Section 230

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By Sarah Roach and Nat Rubio-Licht
October 4, 2022

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Good morning! It’s the moment everyone has been waiting for: SCOTUS has finally agreed to take up Section 230. But what could happen next is anyone’s guess.

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Section 230 is on the docket

 

The Supreme Court is about to take up two cases that question the very core of social media. It’s the moment tech policy has been waiting for.

SCOTUS will hear two cases related to Section 230, one of which involves recommendation of terrorist content on YouTube and another that involves Twitter’s role in a 2017 terrorist attack.

  • Section 230 says that platforms — from newspaper comment sections and email providers to large tech companies — can’t be sued over most posts provided by users.
  • In that sense, the Supreme Court’s case basically puts the entire point and purpose of social media, including its algorithms that order and recommend content, in the crosshairs.
  • “It's fair to say that the entire technical and legal foundations of social media as it has existed for probably 30 or more years is under question here. Is that big enough for you?” Protocol Policy reporter Ben Brody told Sarah. And he wasn’t being hyperbolic.

It’s unclear which way the court will lean. Federal districts and appeals courts have all generally agreed that Section 230 should be upheld; the law has friends and foes on all sides; and no one except Justice Clarence Thomas has really taken a stand on either side of the law.

But the implications for social media companies will be far-reaching either way. SCOTUS could stick to the status quo and keep Section 230 intact. Or maybe it will find a small loophole for existing statutes on terrorist content or other kinds of liability. It could decide that social media as it exists today isn’t immune from user content, which would change platforms (for potentially better and worse) forever. And for what it’s worth, Ben wasn’t convinced that this was even close to a comprehensive list of what it could mean for social media as we know it.

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Keeping up with the Kardasi-coins

 

The SEC has its eyes on celebrities’ love affair with crypto. Currently on the chopping block: Kim Kardashian.

Kardashian was ordered to pay a $1.26 million fine yesterday for not reporting that she was paid to promote EMAX tokens.

  • The fine affirms an SEC position that’s controversial among crypto enthusiasts: Cryptocurrencies are, in fact, securities. Just like stock promoters, celebrities need to follow the rules, Protocol’s Ben Pimentel reports.
  • “When celebrities or influencers endorse investment opportunities, including crypto asset securities, it doesn’t mean that those investment products are right for all investors," SEC Chair Gary Gensler said in a statement.

Celebrities and investment advice probably shouldn’t mix. “Overexuberance without proper disclosures and disclaimers is going to be considered misleading and is going to get people in hot water,” Andrew Lom, global head of private wealth at Norton Rose Fulbright, told Ben.

But Kardasian’s fine is actually a win for the SEC. A high-profile celebrity getting burned by crypto regulation could also serve as a “warning to others that they must settle their investigations by the SEC,” said Bill Callahan, director of government strategic affairs at Blockchain Intelligence Group.

  • The case “may turn into the best public service announcement not to take investment advice from a celebrity,” he said.

Celebrities may want to think twice about endorsing crypto, Ben told Nat. But it won't matter too much to crypto firms, who already reaped the major benefits of celebrity endorsements earlier this year. Now that they have bigger fish to fry with the crypto crash and increased regulation, Ben said, "marketing has become less of a priority.”

​More U.S. restrictions on chip tech for China

 

The U.S. is set to unveil a fresh set of policies Thursday aimed at choking off China’s access to advanced chip manufacturing technology and the chips themselves, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Thursday’s planned announcement will articulate and expand upon the Biden administration’s early efforts to impede China’s military establishment and domestic surveillance apparatus from obtaining technology related to computing that is largely focused on AI applications, Protocol’s Max Cherney writes.

  • The Commerce Department declined to comment. The White House did not respond to a request for comment. Reuters and the New York Times reported earlier Monday that the announcement was set for this week, but did not specify a day.

The administration’s plans include blocking Chinese businesses, government research labs, and others from purchasing products that use American-made tech, the New York Times reported. Expanding the use of the foreign direct product rule to block Chinese entities from buying certain chips is only one element of the strategy, the newspaper said.

A MESSAGE FROM CAPITAL ONE SOFTWARE

Many business leaders aren’t sure where to begin when it comes to migrating to the cloud. To help organizations adapt to this revolution, Capital One launched Capital One Software, a new enterprise B2B software business focused on providing cloud and data management solutions.

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People are talking

 

Notion’s Akshay Kothari said the company still wants to “build the next Microsoft”:

  • “I’m personally excited about continuing to build here and seeing if we can continue to remain independent.”

​Securing the enterprise

 

In today’s global landscape, cybersecurity threats are something that every business operating on the internet must face, not just enormous tech companies. In this event, we’ll examine the current best practices for securing both large and small to medium-sized businesses, providing viewers with a true threat landscape and information they can use to make decisions about the strategy that best supports their business goals. Join us at 10 a.m. PT today. RSVP here.

Making moves

 

Naver is buying Poshmark for about $1.2 billion. Naver operates an e-commerce platform and other services in South Korea.

Charly Mwangi joined Eclipse Ventures as a partner. Mwangi is Rivian’s former EVP of manufacturing and has also worked at Tesla.

Bitcoin firm NYDIG appointed Tejas Shah and Nate Conrad as new CEO and president, respectively.

Diane Lye joined Rivian as its first chief information officer. Lye joins the company from Capital One.

Arm has lost 40% of its U.K. staff in the past year, the FT reports, due in part to staff departures spurred by uncertainty at the company.

Meta is planning to close a New York office, according to Bloomberg. Sources said it will terminate a lease at 225 Park Ave. South.

In other news

 

Europe's finally getting a single charging port. USB-C connectors used by Android users will be the norm under new rules approved by the European Parliament.

Russia is dishing out fines left and right. A Russian court fined Twitch for refusing to take down content, and it fined TikTok for refusing to remove content that broke laws on "LGBT propaganda."

Tim Cook met with Pope Francis yesterday, but it’s unclear what they talked about. The Pope has been a critic of cell phones in the past.

Bots have distorted the online economy. Fake online users make up as much as 40% of web traffic. But digital advertisers, who’ve grown accustomed to inflated numbers, are turning a blind eye, Wired reports.

Compared to Uber, Lyft still has some growing up to do. The company primarily remains a North American business, and has yet to venture into food or grocery delivery the way Uber has.

A hacker leaked 500GB of data stolen from the L.A. Unified School District, including passport details, Social Security numbers, and tax forms.

Meta settled a lawsuit against two companies that engaged in data-scraping operations on its users for marketing intelligence uses.

Microsoft is ditching its Silver and Gold designation for partners in favor of its new Cloud Partner Program. One exec said the change will only make its partners more competitive.

Nvidia ceased operations and closed its offices in Russia. It suspended shipments and product sales in the country in March. Russia had represented 2% of its revenue.

Meta approved giving Sheryl Sandberg her own personal security detail, due to what the company described as "continuing threats to her safety.”

The delicate art of LinkedIn recruiting

 

Big tech companies have halted hiring, and startups could reap the benefits — that is, if they’re up-to-date with their LinkedIn recruiting tactics. Here are a few recruiting tips to remember as you set out to hire people:

  1. Keep it short and sweet. When reaching out to a potential candidate, try to keep your message to a few sentences.
  2. Focus on skills. A candidate’s listed skills mean way more than whether they came from a big-name company.
  3. Build a brand. Consistent content is key to making a name for your startup on the platform.
  4. Try affinity groups. Groups can be particularly helpful for those who haven’t ponied up for LinkedIn Premium.

A MESSAGE FROM CAPITAL ONE SOFTWARE

The flexibility of the cloud helps companies like Capital One unlock access to their data with performance that can scale instantly. But this flexibility and scale can also create a unique challenge for organizations and users who are not proficient in cloud optimization.

Learn more

 

Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to sourcecode@protocol.com, or our tips line, tips@protocol.com. Enjoy your day, see you tomorrow.

 

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