Last Friday, a judge in the Eastern District of Texas rejected Apple’s request for a new trial as well as several other claims. Apple has been battling VirnetX over patent infringement for more than a decade. In October, jurors held that Apple infringed on two of VirnetX’s patents related to virtual private networks (VPNs). VirnetX was awarded $502.8 million, plus interest, as well as an 84 cents per unit royalty on future infringements. Apple requested a new trial, claiming that the jury instructions were inadequate, and a reduction on the monetary awards. These claims were denied and VirnetX’s shares rose 10.8%.
Plans for the January 6, 2021 capitol insurrection were unfolding in plain sight on social media platform, Gab. Founded in 2016, the platform is popular among far-right groups. Ahead of January 6th, Gab users posted messages about how to avoid police on the streets and what tools to use to pry open doors. Since the riots, Gab’s number of registered users has doubled, to about 3.4 million. Critics, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, argue that social media sites were partially responsible for the capitol attack. Some argue that the sites should be held legally responsible, but Section 230 of the Communications and Decency Act makes legal culpability unlikely. The section shields tech companies from civil suits over what content they leave up or remove. Orin Kerr, a professor at Berkeley, said “it’s hard to imagine” that social media sites will face federal prosecution for the violence at the Capitol.
The California Public Utilities Commission challenged the FCC in the U.S. Court of Appeals over an order that it deemed to be “arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion.” In 2017, the FCC repealed its net neutrality rules that were established in 2015. The net neutrality rules barred internet service providers (ISPs) from blocking content, slowing content, or offering paid “fast lanes.” In October 2019, the Court of Appeals largely upheld the FCC’s decision to repeal, but asked that the agency reconsider the repeal’s impact on public safety. This October, the FCC voted to not make any changes to its order. When Senate confirms a new member to the FCC, the commission is expected to reinstate net neutrality rules. Additionally, last week, 13 California House members urged Merrick Garland, attorney general nominee of the President-elect, to quickly withdraw the Trump administration’s lawsuit over California’s state net neutrality law.
The National Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act (NAIIA) of 2020 became law mere weeks ago. The act aims to support AI-related activities, permitting federal spending on AI-investments, though not appropriating funds. The act includes several directives; among other things, it calls for the creation of a White House AI office, an advisory committee, and a study on how to create a national research cloud. According to a former congressional staffer, “it’s the closest thing to a national strategy on AI from the United States to be formally endorsed by Congress.” The author also notes an interest among academics for an academic cloud among universities. Though it is still unclear how much spending will actually be given to AI, advocates “say the act demonstrates the remarkable support that the field now enjoys.”
After the January 6th attack on the capitol, Amazon suspended its web hosting service to social media site, Parlor. Amazon made this decision over concern that the site is “brimming with violent content.” Parlor sued Amazon and moved for a preliminary injunction to reinstate web hosting. The author notes that during the hearing, Parlor’s lawyer admitted “that he’s not on social media and has been trying to quickly get up to speed on the technology.” The judge denied the injunction, opting instead to wait for a permanent resolution to Parler’s dispute with Amazon. Parler’s lawyer ultimately agreed that this was the “better avenue.”
The DOJ and federal courts have announced that they were affected by a hack of SolarWinds, a network management software. Due to the jack, about 3% of DOJ emails were potentially accessed. New procedures were announced, mandating that federal courts should only accept highly sensitive documents in a paper form or on a secure electronic device, like a thumb drive. The author notes that “Russia is thought to be behind the software hack.” It is unknown what information was compromised in the hack. Commenters maintain that information obtained through the hack could be used for competitive advantage in stock trades. In the meantime, federal courts have suspended all use of the SolarWinds system.