STLR Link Roundup – October 25, 2019

Warren and Wyden Call for FTC to Investigate Amazon over Capital One Breach

The Capital One data breach in March this year was one of the biggest data breaches ever reported, with 140,000 customer social security numbers and 80,000 bank account numbers compromised. Amazon Web Services (AWS) hosted the Capital One database that was breached. The alleged hacker, a former AWS employee, gained access to the data through a “misconfiguration” of a firewall on a web application. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) are now calling for the Federal Trade Commission to “investigate whether Amazon’s failure to secure its services against SSRF [server side request forgery] attacks constitutes an unfair business practice” in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act. Their letter argues that Amazon knew or should have known AWS was vulnerable to SSRF attacks (the kind used in the Capital One breach) and that Amazon failed to add protection against SSRF attacks to AWS, thus sharing some responsibility for the breach. Read their full letter here.

Zuckerberg Testifies to Congress

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg testified to the House Financial Services Committee on October 25. Over six hours, Zuckerberg came under fire on a wide range of issues—but most prominently, Facebook’s cryptocurrency project Libra and the platform’s newly-announced policy of not fact checking political ads from candidates. Libra has faced intense scrutiny from both U.S. and European regulators, and recently lost Paypal, Visa, and Mastercard as partners. Notably, Zuckerberg revealed that the Libra Association’s original plan to offer dividends based on interest earned from assets in the “Libra Reserve” has now been “modified or abandoned.”

Facebook Launches Facebook News (For Some Users)

Despite the issues surrounding Project Libra, and the fact that 47 state attorneys general are investigating Facebook for potential antitrust investigations, Facebook is expanding its product offering. Today, Facebook announced “Facebook News,” a new home screen tab and bookmark in the Facebook app. Facebook News will have a section called “Today’s Stories,” selected by journalists, as well as personalized algorithmic news recommendations, from a pre-approved list of about 200 major and local publishers. Facebook will be paying publishers for access to their content, though it has not said how much. The rollout of Facebook News is currently limited to about 200,000 users in the United States.

House Passes Controversial Copyright Bill

On October 24, the House overwhelmingly passed the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act (CASE Act) by a 410-6 vote. The CASE Act would create a copyright small claims court within the United States Copyright Office, with damages capped at $15,000 for each infringed work and $30,000 total, as an alternative to pursuing copyright infringement cases in federal court. Advocates say that the status quo makes it inefficient and sometimes even pointless for copyright holders—particularly online content creators—to pursue copyright infringement claims. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, however, warns that the CASE Act could “bankrupt users for regular Internet activity” and the ACLU is calling for changes to the CASE Act to better protect due process and avoid chilling speech.

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