Senate Passes Controversial Online Sex Trafficking Bill

The Senate passed a controversial online sex trafficking bill, sending it to President Trump’s desk over concerns from the tech industry, capping off a months-long legislative fight. The legislation, called the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), but also referred to as SESTA after the original Senate bill, would cut into the broad protections websites have from legal liability for content posted by their users.

Lawsuit Filed Against Facebook, Consultancy Over Data Use

A U.S. resident has sued Facebook and a British-based political consultancy for obtaining data from millions of the social media site’s users without their permission, while an academic at the center of the storm accused both firms of scapegoating him. The complaint filed at the U.S. District Court in San Jose, California, marked the first of what may be many lawsuits seeking damages over Facebook’s ability to protect user data, and exploitation of the information by the Cambridge Analytica consultancy to help President Donald Trump’s election campaign.

Orbitz Discloses Data Breach Affecting 880,000 Payment Cards

Expedia Inc.’s Orbitz subsidiary said it has discovered a possible data breach affecting thousands of customers who booked trips through one of its older websites or a partner platform. Orbitz didn’t disclose which business partners were affected by the breach, but American Express Co. said separately that travel booked through its representatives and through had been affected by the cyberattack.

Russian Judge Rejects Telegram's Effort to Block Access to User Data

Telegram, the encrypted messaging app that’s prized by those seeking privacy, lost a bid before Russia’s Supreme Court to block security services from getting access to users’ data, giving President Vladimir Putin a victory in his effort to keep tabs on electronic communications. Supreme Court Judge Alla Nazarova rejected Telegram’s appeal against the Federal Security Service, the successor to the KGB spy agency which last year asked the company to share its encryption keys. 

FTC Investigating Whether Facebook Violated 2011 Privacy Decree

Facebook Inc. is drawing scrutiny from the main U.S. privacy watchdog and half a dozen congressional committees over how the personal data of 50 million users was obtained by a data analytics firm that helped elect President Donald Trump. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is  probing whether Facebook violated terms of a 2011 consent decree over its handling of personal user data that was transferred to Cambridge Analytica without users’ knowledge, according to a person familiar with the matter.

'CLOUD Act' Would Impact How Law Enforcement Uses Online Data

The modern world of cloud computing, where data can moves seamlessly across most borders, presents challenges for law enforcement agencies and tech companies working with laws designed for a different era. A new law designed to address these international issues that has the support of both parties is pending before Congress, but privacy advocates and others are worried this solution will create an entirely new set of problems.

More Lawmakers Want Facebook to Testify on Cambridge Analytica

Congressional calls for Facebook to testify on Capitol Hill grew louder and more bipartisan, as lawmakers demanded that the tech giant explain how a data analytics firm that worked for President Trump’s campaign obtained names, “likes” and other personal information on 50 million people. The increasingly sharp and personal tenor of the requests — many of which sought an appearance by chief executive Mark Zuckerberg — raised the odds for a fresh round of potentially contentious hearings, following lawmakers’ intense questioning of Facebook and two other technology companies last fall.

Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority Suffers Cyber Attack

The computer infrastructure of PREPA, as the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority is known, suffered a cyber attack, Executive Director Justo Gonzalez Torres said in a statement. “In these moments we are protecting the systems and working to resolve the situation,” Gonzalez said in Spanish, adding that investigations into the source of the hack were ongoing.

Financial Stability Board Resists Calls to Regulate Cryptocurrencies

The global watchdog that drove through a welter of banking and market reforms after the financial crisis said it will pivot more toward reviewing existing rules and away from designing new ones.The Financial Stability Board (FSB), which coordinates financial regulation for the Group of 20 Economies, also resisted calls from some G20 members to regulate cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.

U.S., U.K. Lawmakers Target Facebook in Political Data Harvesting

Lawmakers in the United States and Britain demanded that Facebook explain how a political data firm with links to President Trump’s 2016 campaign was able to harvest private data from more than 50 million Facebook profiles without the social network alerting those whose information was taken. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, a Democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, went so far as to demand that Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, appear before her panel to explain “what Facebook knew about misusing data from 50 million Americans in order to target political advertising and manipulate voters.”

Match Group Sues Bumble for Patent Infringement, Including Swipes

Match Group is suing Bumble, which was founded by one of Tinder’s co-founders, for infringing on two of its patents, including a design patent for Tinder’s now-famous swipe-to-connect feature, according to the suit. Match also claims that early Bumble executives Chris Gulczynski and Sarah Mick, who both previously worked at Tinder, stole “confidential information related to proposed Tinder features,” including the idea for a feature that lets users go back if they accidentally skip someone, according to the suit.

Tech Firms, Government Criticize ICANN's Proposed 'Whois' Changes

A global body that oversees internet domain names is preparing a significant tightening of its privacy standards in response to new European Union policies. The U.S. government and some major American tech businesses warn the move, which is expected to be adopted within the next couple of months, will threaten their ability to track down bad actors on the internet.

U.S. Lawmakers Revise Bill on Chinese Acquisition of Sensitive Technology

Lawmakers pushing legislation aimed at preventing China from acquiring sensitive U.S. technology have proposed relaxing elements of the measure after lobbying by high-tech firms but will tighten another portion, according to a draft revision seen by Reuters. The bill in the Senate and a companion measure in the U.S. House of Representatives would broaden the reach of the inter-agency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) in hopes of halting Chinese efforts to acquire sophisticated U.S. technology.

U.S. Imposes Sanctions on Russia for Election Interference, Cyberattack

The Trump administration imposed fresh sanctions on Russian government hackers and spy agencies to punish Moscow for interfering in the 2016 presidential election and for a cyberattack against Ukraine and other countries last year that officials have characterized as “the most destructive and costly” in history. Sanctions also were imposed on individuals known as “trolls” and the Russian organizations — including the Internet Research Agency — that supported their efforts to undermine the election.

Federal Election Commission Writing New Rules for Online Ads

The Federal Election Commission agreed to begin writing new disclosure rules for online ads as regulators grapple with ways to prevent foreign interests from influencing U.S. elections. But it’s not clear whether the rules will be fully in place for the 2018 midterm elections, and the regulations won't cover the full range of advertising that shapes American political campaigns, including the kinds of ads run by Russian operatives in the 2016 presidential contest.

European Commission Wants More Transparency from Big Sites

Online platforms such as Google, Apple and Amazon face new European Union rules on their commercial practices with smaller businesses that use their services, as Brussels seeks to curtail their huge market power. The European Commission is drafting a new regulation specifically targeting online platforms such as e-commerce sites, app stores and search engines that will require the companies to be more transparent about how they rank search results and why they delist some services.

Facebook Reaches Agreement with U.K. Over WhatsApp Privacy

Facebook, its popular messaging app WhatsApp, and the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) have reached a truce in their long-running investigation over how Facebook and WhatsApp share user data. The ICO announced that it has closed its investigation and concluded that WhatsApp and Facebook, in fact, cannot and do not share user data for anything other than basic data processing.

French Finance Minister Calls Google's App Practices 'Unacceptable'

France is threatening to fine Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Apple Inc. for abusive commercial practices through their app stores, further complicating the relationship with the very companies the country seeks to attract. Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said France will take legal action against Google and Apple and fines could be in the “million of euros”. 

Facebook Takes Down Pages for Anti-Islamic Group Britain First

Facebook has removed the pages of the anti-Islamic group Britain First and its leaders., which the social media company said the group had repeatedly violated its community standards. Earlier this month, Britain First's leader and deputy leader, Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen, were jailed after being found guilty of religiously aggravated harassment.