By Jyoti Uppuluri
Public Battle Between Google and China Continues
On March 12, Wired reported that the friction between Google and China over the censorship of search results and issues of cybersecurity is ongoing as Google keeps pushing for greater Internet freedom for users. China’s Minister of Information and Technology, Li Yizhong, told the press “Google has made its case, both publicly and privately,” and explained “[i]f you don’t respect Chinese laws, you are unfriendly and irresponsible, and the consequences will be on you.” Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, stated that he hopes that talks with the Chinese government will yield a result soon.
Netflix Cancels Prize Contest Over Privacy Concerns
On March 12, Ars Technica reported that Netflix has cancelled its second Netflix Prize contest in order settle a lawsuit and alleviate concerns by the Federal Trade Commission. In December, a user sued Netflix, alleging that the data provided by the company to contest participants was insufficiently anonymized. According to Ars Technica, the suit claims that Netflix “violated fair-trade laws and a federal privacy law designed to protect video rental records.” Neil Hunt, Netflix’s chief product officer, stated that company has “reached an understanding with the FTC and ha[s] settled the lawsuit with plaintiffs,” noting that the agreement “involves certain parameters for how [the company] use[s] Netflix data in any future research programs.”
More Freedom for Social Media Services to Operate in Iran, Cuba, and Sudan
On March 10, the Electronic Frontier Foundation reported that the United States Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) has announced “key amendments” regarding export controls on social media software. The new rules clarify that the export of certain personal communication services and software over the Internet, including “instant messaging, chat and email, [and] social networking,” is now permitted in Iran, Cuba, and Sudan. Prior to these amendments, OFAC’s regulations had been a source of legal ambiguity for companies such as Google and Microsoft, causing them to block some personal communication services in these nations.