The 2017 Facebook Saga: A Competition, Consumer and Data Protection Story

Abstract

The article reviews the 2017 Facebook investigations in Europe by competition, consumer and data protection authorities about the data transfer from WhatsApp to Facebook and the recent preliminary assessment by the Bundeskartellamt of the Facebook case for having abused its dominant position by breaching data protection rules. The article examines the theory of harm and the need to integrate privacy issues in any data-driven antitrust and merger cases. Finally, the article argues that competition, consumer and data protection agencies must collaborate to better protect the consumer and the competition in the Big Data age.

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A Proposal to the FTC and the SEC to Form a Self-Regulatory Organization Subject to Federal Oversight to Regulate Social Media

  FTC SEC SRO Letter

                                      N. B. FINRA’s Budget is 3 Times That of the FTC                                                                                                                                                                                             [ FINRA regulates only one sector]

 

DECODING THE ROLE OF THE ‘GATEKEEPERS OF CYBERSPACE’ IN THE INTERNET ECONOMY: ANALYZING THE LEGAL FOUNDATION OF INTERMEDIARY LIABILITY OF ONLINE PROVIDERS

When fake news is uploaded and widely shared on Facebook, is Facebook legally bound to take immediate action, or should it simply allow public opinion to correct itself? Is a reporting mechanism, through which users can flag nudity, false news, spam, and similar content sufficient for an online platform to meet its responsibility as an intermediary? When a product purchased online turns out to be a counterfeit, do online shopping sites like Lazada and Zalora have warranties that they should fulfill? As the Internet economy rapidly evolves and touches on virtually every sector of the economy from commerce to basic health services, the list of questions pertaining to intermediary liability goes on.

Politico: White House drafting executive order to tackle Silicon Valley’s alleged anti-conservative bias

The White House is circulating drafts of a proposed executive order that would address allegations of anti-conservative bias by social media companies, according to a White House official and two other people familiar with the matter — a month after President Donald Trump pledged to explore “all regulatory and legislative solutions” on the issue.

 

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FINRA: A Prototype for US Regulation of the Social Media

Administrative Law Section of the American Bar Association Teleconference on Regulation of the Social Media

 

FTC SEC SRO Letter

July 24, 2019

N.B.  The day of the Teleconference the SEC and the FTC announced respectively fines of $100 million and  $5 billion respectively against the social media.

Note:   The public has made a number of requests for additional information on the presentations made at the aforementioned event but we are advised that presently there are no plans to prepare an in-depth analysis of the statements made by the panelists. However summarized below is  a particular topic addressed by the panelists.

User Data as Public Resource: Implications for Social Media Regulation

Revelations about the misuse and insecurity of user data gathered by social media platforms have renewed discussions about how best to characterize property rights in user data. At the same time, revelations about the use of social media platforms to disseminate disinformation and hate speech have prompted debates over the need for government regulation to assure that these platforms serve the public interest. These debates often hinge on whether any of the established rationales for media regulation apply to social media. This paper argues that the public resource rationale that has been utilized in traditional media regulation in the U.S. applies to social media. The public resource rationale contends that, when a media outlet utilizes a public resource – such as the broadcast spectrum, or public rights of way – the outlet must abide by certain public interest obligations that may infringe upon its First Amendment rights. This paper argues that aggregate user data can be conceptualized as a public resource that triggers the application of a public interest regulatory framework to social media sites and other digital platforms that derive their revenue from the gathering, sharing, and monetization of massive aggregations of user data.

Private Regulation of Speech

Governments around the world are increasingly turning to private internet platforms as de facto regulators of internet users’ speech. In the United States, newly enacted legislation has expanded internet intermediaries’ liability for users’ communications for the first time in two decades. In the European Union, the Commission has proposed making social media companies proactively monitor and remove user communications relating to terrorism. Pressure to combat violent extremism has already led to troubling errors – including platforms removing political speech, videos posted by human rights organizations, and users’ discussions of Islamic religious topics.

See Private Speech Regulation

Politico: Facebook’s digital currency could trigger new D.C. battles

 

By MATEI ROSCA and PATRICK TEMPLE-WEST

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But with this big step into the tightly regulated world of finance, the company will expose itself to a type of regulatory intrusion that is not common in its traditional realm of online media. Chief among the concerns, according to experts, are the possibilities that Facebook’s global coin could be exposed to money laundering using the company’s main website and its sister platforms WhatsApp and Instagram.

“Facebook coin will do for money laundering what Facebook did for fake news — likely lead to an explosion in terrorist financing,” said Charlie Delingpole, CEO of Comply Advantage, an anti-money laundering consultancy.

SEC: Updated Investor Alert: Social Media and Investing – Avoiding Fraud

Editor’s Note:  Five years ago the SEC alerted the public to the damage that could result from the unethical use of social media.

The SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy is issuing this Investor Alert to help investors be better aware of fraudulent investment schemes that may involve social media. U.S. retail investors are increasingly turning to social media, including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn and other online networks for information about investing. Whether it be for research on particular stocks, background information on a broker-dealer or investment adviser, guidance on an overall investing strategy, up-to-date news, or to simply discuss the markets with others, social media has become a key tool for U.S. investors.

SEC: High-Yield Investment Programs (HYIP)

Fraudsters may use social media to promote a HYIP website or may encourage investors to use social media to share information about a HYIP website with others.

High-Yield Investment Programs

The Internet is awash in so-called “high-yield investment programs” or “HYIPs.” These are unregistered investments typically run by unlicensed individuals – and they are often frauds. The hallmark of an HYIP scam is the promise of incredible returns at little or no risk to the investor. A HYIP website might promise annual (or even monthly, weekly, or daily) returns of 30 or 40 percent – or more. Some of these scams may use the term “prime bank” program. If you are approached online to invest in one of these, you should exercise extreme caution – they are likely frauds.