By Erin Pritchard
New York Legislation Would Ban Anonymous Online Speech
Proposed legislation in New York would require New York-based websites, such as blogs and newspapers, to “remove any comments posted on his or her website by an anonymous poster unless such anonymous poster agrees to attach his or her name to the post” says a report from Wired. The legislation is proposed in both the state Senate and Assembly, but no votes on the measures have been taken. Critics contend that this legislation poses First Amendment problems, and would degrade the Internet experience. Supporters contend that it would improve accountability online and stop “cyberbullies.”
Facebook IPO: Excitement and Disaster
On May 21, 2012, Facebook had their initial public offering, which Vanity Fair called the tech world’s most highly anticipated initial public offering since Google. However, Facebook was overvalued and Facebook’s share price fell below the offering price of $38, and has remained below since, reports Reuters. Now, Bloomberg notes that Facebook and the IPO underwriters face numerous lawsuits legal and serves as an embarrassing example of how not to run an IPO. As a result, there are billions of dollars in losses, investigations by two congressional committees, and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
White House Addressing the Reality of a Networked Nation
On Wednesday, May 23rd, the White House launched the new Digital Government Strategy. In the first Digital Government directive, “Building a 21st Century Platform to Better Serve the American People,” President Obama is pushing all federal agencies to develop mobile applications and thereby make government services more accessible to the public. Steven VanRoekel, the Federal Chief Information Officer, lauds the mandate for government agencies to open up their vaults of valuable data to the public, encouraging enterprising and external development. This release comes on the heels of President Obama’s Consumer Data Privacy Framework in February. The collection, security, and ownership of Americans’ personal online activity data is a lucrative, controversial and ever-growing market that has largely run unchecked since its inception. Adherence to the Consumer Bill of Rights is voluntary, but it is encouraging that the reality of America’s technological shift is beginning to be addressed by the White House.
Oracle v. Google, Patent Wars: Judge Learns to Code
In a move heralded by the technology community, Judge William Alsup of the intellectual property trial between Oracle and Google recently revealed he had learned to code in Java specifically for the case, Wired reports. Oracle is seeking damages from Google for infringing copyrights specifically related to Java APIs. Oracle’s lead counsel, David Boies, is still seeking infringer’s profits, but Judge Alsup is unconvinced that this is not just a “fishing expedition” as even he could write some of the infringing code in five minutes.
This case typifies the problems the tech industry is having with the patent system in the U.S. Visual.ly published a flowchart illustrating the convoluted nature of the patent wars being waged between large technology companies. Timothy Lee of Ars Technica criticizes solutions proposed by former Federal Circuit judges in an article specifically about software patent issues. Although the debate continues, the need for patent reform is recognized by both the innovators and the courts.