Corporate Accountability News Highlights: U.S. government drops Facebook gag order, research shows security risks in content filtering apps, Togo orders network shutdown

Corporate Accountability News Highlights is a regular series by Ranking Digital Rights highlighting key news related to tech companies, freedom of expression, and privacy issues around the world.

U.S. government withdraws Facebook gag order

D.C. Court of Appeals (Photo by Mr.TinDC, Licensed CC BY-ND 2.0)

The U.S. government has dropped its effort prevent Facebook from notifying three users that their communications were being investigated. Facebook received search warrants for content from the users’ accounts and the warrants were accompanied with gag orders preventing the company from notifying the users. Facebook contested the gag order, though its request was denied by the D.C. Superior Court. Facebook appealed the decision to the D.C. Court of Appeals. A hearing on the matter was scheduled for September 14, though it was cancelled on September 13 after prosecutors said the gag orders were no longer necessary, and withdrew their request.

This is one of several recent instances of U.S. internet and telecommunications companies pushing back against inappropriate or overly broad government requests. Web hosting provider Dreamhost is currently engaged in a legal battle with the U.S. Department of Justice over a demand for information an anti-Trump website, although the DOJ has thus far dropped portions of its original overly broad warrant, including the demand for all IP addresses of visitors to the website. In April of this year, Twitter reported that the Trump administration had attempted to force the company to reveal the identity of an anonymous Twitter account critiquing the administration. Twitter pushed back against the request, which was ultimately withdrawn, saying it was unlawful and a violation of the First Amendment.

As noted in the Corporate Accountability Index methodology, companies should clearly disclose their processes for responding to third-party requests for user information. This disclosure should include a commitment to carry out due diligence on government requests before deciding how to respond, as well as a commitment to push back on inappropriate or overbroad government requests. Of the seven U.S. companies evaluated in the 2017 Corporate Accountability Index—Apple, AT&T, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, and Yahoo— all seven committed to carry out due diligence on government requests for user information and to push back on inappropriate or overbroad requests.Continue Reading

Corporate Accountability News Highlights: India’s Supreme Court issues landmark privacy verdict, Yahoo to face civil suit for data breaches, Chinese government’s crackdown on free speech online continues

Corporate Accountability News Highlights is a regular series by Ranking Digital Rights highlighting key news related to tech companies, freedom of expression, and privacy issues around the world. Privacy is a fundamental right, says India’s top court In a landmark decision, India’s Supreme Court has ruled that privacy is a fundamental right, protected by the […]

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RDR en Español

We are pleased to announce that the Ranking Digital Rights 2017 Corporate Accountability Index report highlights, as well as the América Móvil and Telefónica “report cards,” are now available in Spanish, thanks to our partners at Global Voices Translation Services.   In a guest blog post (below), Gisela Pérez de Acha, contributing researcher with Ranking […]

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Corporate Accountability News Highlights: Tech companies combat white supremacist content, Chinese companies face investigation over user content, and web host pushes back on Trump administration demand for website visitor info

Corporate Accountability News Highlights is a regular series by Ranking Digital Rights highlighting key news related to tech companies, freedom of expression, and privacy issues around the world. Tech companies combat white supremacist content Leading tech companies are  making new efforts to restrict white supremacist content, following the white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia on […]

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Corporate Accountability News Highlights: UK to overhaul data protection regulations, ISPs in India ordered to block thousands of sites including Internet Archive, U.S. NGOs warn new bill would create greater internet censorship

Corporate Accountability News Highlights is a regular series by Ranking Digital Rights highlighting key news related to tech companies, freedom of expression, and privacy issues around the world. UK to revamp data protection rules UK lawmakers have announced plans to revamp the country’s data protection rules in order to comply with the EU’s General Data […]

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