Tag Archives: Lawsuit

Judge Dismisses Trump Lawsuit Seeking To Lift Twitter Ban



A judge dismissed a lawsuit by former President Donald Trump seeking to lift his ban from Twitter, CNBC reported. Twitter banned Trump on January 8, 2021, citing the risk of the incitement of further violence on the heels of the Capitol riot by a mob of supporters of the then-president two days earlier, CNBC reported.

Trump, the American Conservative Union, and five individuals had sued Twitter and its co-founder Jack Dorsey last year on behalf of themselves and a class of other Twitter users who had been booted from the app.

Judge Donato’s ruling comes nearly two weeks after Trump told CNBC he had no interest in returning to Twitter even if his ban were to be lifted by Elon Musk, the Tesla chief whose $44 billion offer to buy Twitter has been accepted by the company’s board.

CNBC also reported that before the ban, Trump was an avid Twitter user, tweeting an average of more than 30 posts per day toward the end of his presidency. At the time of the ban, Trump had nearly 90 million followers on Twitter. His suit alleged that Twitter violated the plaintiff’s First Amendment rights to free speech, arguing that the bans were due to pressure on the company by Democratic members of Congress.

The Verge reported that Judge James Donato wrote that “Plaintiffs are not starting from a position of strength” in the first paragraph of his analysis.

The Verge also reported that Judge Donato determined that Twitter was not operating as a state actor when it banned Trump – a claim Trump made by noting that some lawmakers had called on Twitter to remove him from the platform.

“Legislators are perfectly free to express opinions without being deemed the official voice of the State,” the ruling says, dismissing a “grab bag” of allegations quoting various Democratic elected officials calling for a ban. Even strident congressional commentary, it concludes, “fits within the normal boundaries of a congressional investigation, as opposed to threats of punitive state action.”

Trump and his fellow plaintiffs also had a Section 230 claim – which failed. Politico reported that Judge Donato’s 17-page decision also rejected arguments from Trump attorneys that a controversial 1996 law known as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act led to the then-president’s de-platforming in January of last year.

Politico reported that the Section 230 law allows internet sites to police message boards and other user postings without incurring potential liability as a publisher of the content. According to Politico, Judge Denato wrote, “The government cannot plausibly be said to have compelled Twitter’s action through Section 230, which in any event imposed no affirmative obligations on Twitter to act in any particular way.”

Trump’s lawsuits against Facebook and YouTube remain pending. Perhaps the lawyers representing Trump and his fellow plaintiffs will have learned that the Section 230 claim is not going to be compelling to a judge. I’m wondering why the Twitter lawsuit even got this far, considering that Trump has stated that he doesn’t want to go back on Twitter.

Just to clarify, if the government throws you in jail for speech that it disagrees with – that’s a violation of your Freedom of Speech. If a social media site suspends you from the platform because you broke its rules regarding hate speech, inciting violence, etc. – that’s not a violation of your Freedom of Speech. Social Media websites are not part of any state of federal branch of government.


Facebook Settles Claims Over Discrimination Against U.S. Workers



Facebook settled claims that it refused to recruit or hire U.S. workers for positions it set aside for temporary visa holders, CNBC reported. According to CNBC, Facebook settled with not only the Department of Labor, but also the Department of Justice. These were two separate lawsuits.The Department of Justice (DOJ) posted a release on its website that shared information about these lawsuits.

The Justice Department’s settlement resolves its claims that Facebook routinely refused to recruit, consider or hire U.S. workers, a group that includes U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, asylees, refugees and lawful permanent residents, for positions it has reserved for temporary visa holders in connection with the PERM process. Additionally, the Labor Department’s settlement resolves issues it separately identified through audit examinations of Facebook’s recruitment activities related to its PERM applications filed with the Employment and Training Administration’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC).

PERM stands for “permanent labor certification program.”

Specifically, the lawsuit alleged that, in contrast to its standard recruitment practices, Facebook used recruiting methods designed to deter U.S. workers who applies to the positions, such as requiring applications to be submitted by mail only; refused to consider U.S. workers who applied to the positions; and hired only temporary visa holders.

According to the Justice Department’s lawsuit, Facebook’s hiring for these positions intentionally discriminated against U.S. workers because of their citizenship or immigration status, in violation of the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

Under the DOJ’s settlement, Facebook will pay a civil penalty of $4.75 million to the United States, will pay up to $9.5 million to eligible victims of Facebook’s alleged discrimination, and train its employees on the anti-discrimination requirements of the INA. It also must accept electronic resumes or applications from all U.S. workers who apply.

The DOJ says that this civil penalty backpay fund represents the largest fine and monetary award that the Department of Justice ever has recovered in the 35-year history of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision.

Facebook has been in a bit of trouble lately. The Wall Street Journal reported on Facebook documents that had been leaked to the newspaper. A whistleblower shared what she knew about the behind the scenes of Facebook on “60 Minutes”.

Today, Facebook was fined by the Department of Justice for being less than honest regarding hiring workers. It is a small fine, compared to the vast wealth of Facebook – but it still sends a message to Facebook to stop being awful.


Texas Sued Over Law That Stops Social Media Sites from Banning Users



The State of Texas has been sued over its new law that prevents social media platforms from banning users over their political views, The Texas Tribune reported.

The Texas bill is called HB 20. Governor Greg Abbott signed it into law. According to The Texas Tribune, the law states that “social media platforms with over 50 million monthly users in the U.S. – a threshold that includes Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube – must publicly report details about content removal and account suspensions biannually. The platforms are also required to establish an easily accessible complaint system, where users could flag violations of the law.”

The lawsuit was filed by NetChoice, LLC and Computer & Communications Industry Association, which represent Google and Twitter in the lawsuit. It was filed against Texas Governor Ken Paxton (in his official capacity as Attorney General of Texas). The case was filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas Austin Division.

Here is a key point from the lawsuit:

…The Commerce Clause does not permit a single state to dictate the rules of content for the global Internet. H.B. 20 would regulate wholly-out-of-state conduct – balkanizing the Internet by imposing onerous extraterritorial regulation on the operation of covered social media platforms. This vastly exceeds Texas’s regulatory purview and will impede commerce across the Internet…

USA Today described this Texas law as a “social media censorship law”. According to USA Today, “Texas lawmakers were motivated in large part by the suspensions of former President Donald Trump after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol”.

Personally, I don’t think this Texas law stands much of a chance in court. USA Today reported that a federal judge blocked a similar Florida law in June, one day before it could take effect.


Blizzard Sues Company that Made Overwatch Cheat Bot



Blizzard Entertainment logoBlizzard Entertainment, creator of the popular Overwatch game, has banned players who were cheating. Recently, Blizzard sued a company that made a cheat bot called “Watchover Tyrant” for copyright infringement.

The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court Central District of California on July 1, 2016. The case is called Blizzard Entertainment v. Bossland GMBH. Blizzard is suing the bot maker for trafficking in circumvention devices, inducement to infringe copyright, contributory copyright infringement, vicarious copyright infringement, intentional interference with contractual relations, and unfair competition.

Blizzard states that the Bossland Hacks “have caused, and are continuing to cause, massive and irreparable harm to Blizzard.” It also states: “The Bossland Hacks destroy the integrity of the Blizzard Games, thereby alienating and frustrating legitimate players and diverting revenue from Blizzard to Defendants.”

In the lawsuit, Blizzard Entertainment states that Bossland GmbH is a German company that has created several Buddy Bot software programs that, when installed on a user’s computer, enable that player to automate his or her play of Blizzard’s games. Blizzard included a list of all the Buddy Bots, which Blizzard game each bot is being used in, and a description of the harm this causes to not only Blizzard, but also to Blizzard’s players (who aren’t cheating).

A section of the lawsuit is about the Overwatch cheat (called Watchover Tyrant) and the unfair advantage it gives players. Blizzard notes that Bossland GmbH is making money from selling its bots to players. Blizzard states that this Overwatch cheat was released just days after the release of Overwatch, and says that Bossland GmbH is “attempting to destroy or irreparably harm that game before it even has had a chance to fully flourish.”

In other words, the lawsuit is primarily about the Watchover Tyrant cheat bot. But it is also about all the other cheat bots that connect to other Blizzard games that Bossland GmbH sells.

One of the things Blizzard is asking the court for is to require Bossland GmbH “to shut down the Bossland Hacks and any colorable copies thereof, hosted at any domain, address, location, or ISP”. Blizzard also wants the court to grant them “actual or statutory damage for copyright infringement and willful infringement.”


Uber Settles Discrimination Lawsuit



uberlogo[1]Ride-sharing service Uber agreed to settle a lawsuit brought against them by the National Federation of the Blind. The suit contended that Uber was engaging in discriminatory practices by refusing to pick up blind passengers with service dogs. The settlement is still being reviewed by a judge and pending approval. The terms of the settlement force Uber to notify all of its drivers that they must take all passengers with service animals. The suit also awards $225,000 to the National Federation of the Blind over three years.

From a statement released by Uber:

As part of this settlement, we have agreed to take steps to make clear to drivers using Uber that they are obligated to transport to any passenger with a service animal. If the settlement is approved, drivers will see a pop-up in the Uber app reminding them of this obligation. We will also send periodic email reminders to drivers.

We have also agreed to publish a service animal policy which, in addition to our code of conduct and new deactivation policy, makes clear that any driver found to have refused someone with a service animal will be barred from using the Uber platform.

The National Federation of the Blind will deploy blind passengers with service animals to help test the new measures put in place by the settlement.


The Limewire Shutdown Is Not The End Of the RIAA’s Problems



As you may have heard recently, Limewire has been ordered to finally shut its digital doors.  Yesterday, a federal judge granted the shutdown request from the RIAA after a ruling in their favor several months ago.  All searches, uploads and downloads through the client were ordered to stop.  It was, no doubt, quite a shock to users when they fired up their client and were greeted with the this message:

Legal Notice: This is an official notice that Limewire is under a court-ordered injunction to stop distributing and supporting its file-sharing software. Downloading or sharing copyrighted content without authorization is illegal.

So now the RIAA goes along its merry way without anymore worries, right?  Right?!  Not exactly.  In reality, the Limewire shutdown is a blip on the file-sharing radar.  Truth be told, the RIAA probably spent more on legal costs to pull this off than they lost from the users of the software.  And what do they have to show for it besides one program to point to as an example?  Not much, it would seem.

First, there were numerous articles popping up online today touting the alternatives to Limewire.  And of course there’s no shortage of those alternatives.  Then there’s Usenet which is almost untraceable.  And of course bittorrent which is now discovering better ways to hide users with tools like Anomos and Peerblock.  If anything, the RIAA may have made things harder on themselves by forcing pirates into more obscure places and making them harder to catch and sue.  What a kick in the butt if this shutdown makes the RIAA’s life the one that just became more difficult.

Second, there seems to be a study or survey popping up every few weeks that shows such things as “file sharers buy more music”.  I’m actually inclined to believe that too.  And not only because countless surveys have shown it, but because in a strange way it seems logical.  If you like an artist you feel as if you should support them.  They deserve to make a living off of their work, because, after all, if they can’t, then they will look for a 9-5 job and you won’t hear them again.  A lot of P2P users seems to be looking to discover new music that they can then support.  Obviously there will always be exceptions.  A percentage will always just be thieves.

So, the RIAA got their big example with Limewire.  They started down this course way back in the 90’s with Napster, so we can see how well it is working for them. They have succeeded only in alienating themselves from their customer base and probably forcing more people into piracy than would otherwise have been there.  And with each “example” they also further the technology used to thwart them.  Business models can either move ahead with the times or they can die – kicking and screaming in this case.