Internet Security

Cloudflare beat a patent troll. What now?

In the summer of 2017, we wrote about a battle between Cloudflare, the San Francisco-based internet security and content delivery network, and two attorneys who’d previously litigated intellectual property cases on behalf of numerous tech giants. The attorneys had come together to form Blackbird Technologies, a Boston and Chicago-based firm that quickly amassed dozens of…


In the summer of 2017, we wrote about a battle between Cloudflare, the San Francisco-based internet security and content delivery network, and two attorneys who’d previously litigated intellectual property cases on behalf of numerous tech giants. The attorneys had come together to form Blackbird Technologies, a Boston and Chicago-based firm that quickly amassed dozens of patents, then began using them to file dozens of patent infringement lawsuits against companies, including Cloudflare.

The suit was typical in every way, except how Cloudflareresponded to it. Rather than quietly settle, as have some targets of Blackbird and other so-called patent trolls, Cloudflare decided to fight back in a very public way, blogging extensively, talking with news outlets like ours and, most crucially, turning to anyone and everyone who could help it locate prior art. The idea wasn’t merely to invalidate the patent that Blackbird was using to sue Cloudflare — but to invalidate all of Blackbird’s patents. Cloudlfare declared war.

To its credit, Cloudflare won, too. At least, the case against Cloudflare itself was eventually dismissed, and in a postmortem published yesterday, the company described in detail its game plan and many more specifics around its efforts to crowdsource prior art that might invalidate Blackbird’s patents.

It revealed, for example, that it had received 275 total unique submissions from 155 individuals on 49 separate patents, and multiple submissions on 26 patents. Roughly 40% of these related to the patent asserted against Cloudflare, but individuals also turned up prior art submissions that could help protect Nian

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Internet Security

TikTok’s new set of safety videos teach users about features, the app’s focus on ‘positivity’

TikTok today released a new set of safety videos designed to playfully inform users about the app’s privacy controls and other features — like how to filter comments or report inappropriate behavior, among other things. One video also addresses TikTok’s goal of creating a “positive” social media environment, where creativity is celebrated and harassment is…


TikToktoday released a new set of safety videos designed to playfully inform users about the app’s privacy controls and other features — like how to filter comments or report inappropriate behavior, among other things. One video also addresses TikTok’s goal of creating a “positive” social media environment, where creativity is celebrated and harassment is banned.

This particular value — that TikTok is for “fun” — is cited whenever the Beijing-based company is pressured about the app’s censorship activity. Today, TikTok hides under claims that it’s all about being a place for lighthearted, positive behavior. But in reality, it had been censoring topics China doesn’t want its citizens to know about — like the Hong Kong protests, for example. Meanwhile, it doesn’t appear to take action on political issues in the U.S., where hashtags like #dumptrump or #maga have millions of views.

To figure out its approach to moderation, TikTok recently hired corporate law firm K&L Gates to advise it on how to create policies that won’t have it coming under the eye of U.S. regulators.

In the meantime, TikTok is tackling the job of crafting the sort of community it wants through these instructive videos. But it’s not just issuing its commands from the top-down — TikTok partners with its own creators to participate in the videos and then promote them to fans. The first set of videos, released in February, featured a dozen TikTok creators, for example.

This time around, the company has pulled in a doze

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Internet Security

Facebook pilloried over iPhone ‘secret camera access’ bug

Facebook has faced a barrage of concern over an apparent bug that resulted in the social media giant’s iPhone app exposing the camera as users scroll through their feed. A tweet over the weekend blew up after Joshua Maddux tweeted a screen recording of the Facebook app on his iPhone. He noticed that the camera…


Facebookhas faced a barrage of concern over an apparent bug that resulted in the social media giant’s iPhone app exposing the camera as users scroll through their feed.

A tweet over the weekend blew up after Joshua Maddux tweeted a screen recording of the Facebook app on his iPhone. He noticed that the camera would appear behind the Facebook app as he scrolled through his social media feed.

Several users had already spotted the bug earlier in the month. One person called it “a little worrying.”

Some immediately assumed the worst — as you might expect, given the long history of security vulnerabilities, data breaches and inadvertent exposures at Facebo

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Internet Security

India moves closer to regulating internet services as it fears ‘unimaginable disruption to democracy’

India said on Monday that it is moving ahead with its plan to revise existing rules to regulate intermediaries — social media apps and others that rely on users to create their content — as they are causing “unimaginable disruption” to democracy. In a legal document filed with the country’s apex Supreme Court, the Ministry…


India said on Monday that it is moving ahead with its plan to revise existing rules to regulate intermediaries — social media apps and others that rely on users to create their content — as they are causing “unimaginable disruption” to democracy.

In a legal document filed with the country’s apex Supreme Court, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said it would formulate the rules to regulate intermediaries by January 15, 2020.

In the legal filing, the government department said the internet had “emerged as a potent tool to cause unimaginable disruption to the democratic polity.” Oversight of intermediaries, the ministry said, would help in addressing the “ever growing threats to individual right

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Internet Security

Twitter says government demands for user data continue to rise

Twitter says the number of government demands for user data are at a record high. In its latest transparency report covering the six months between January and June, the social media giant said it received 7,300 demands for user data, up by 6% a year earlier, but that the number of accounts affected are down…


Twittersays the number of government demands for user data are at a record high.

In its latest transparency report covering the six months between January and June, the social media giant said it received 7,300 demands for user data, up by 6% a year earlier, but that the number of accounts affected are down by 25%.

The company turned over some account data in just less than half of all cases.

U.S. government agencies requested the most data from the company during the period, filing 2,120 demands for 4,150 accounts — accounting for about one-third of all

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