The Cyberlaw Clinic was privileged to represent the Center for Intimacy Justice in a letter of complaint to the US Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), highlighting concerns about the discriminatory treatment of social media advertisements for sexual health and wellness products targeted at women and people of underrepresented genders, vis à vis those targeted at cis men. A level playing field is uniquely needed in the realm of sexual health, because these companies deliver critical information that is otherwise not widely available or discussed. The complete letter is available here. The complaint focuses on Meta, which controls irreplaceable marketing networks for medium- and small-sized businesses. It presents evidence demonstrating that the application of Meta’s advertising policies on Facebook and Instagram systematically treats sexual health products and services directed towards women and people of underrepresented genders differently, resulting in the rejection of the ads and the banning of these companies from the platforms. To businesses of all sizes, rejected ads represent wasted resources. The Center for Intimacy Justice has documented myriad examples of companies being rejected for ads which explicitly meet Meta’s guidelines.
Sexual Health and Wellness Ads Face Discrimination: Clinic Client CIJ Urges the FTC to Take Action
Beyond the FTC: The Future of Privacy Enforcement
On March 31 and April 1, 2023, the Harvard Journal of Law & Technology and the University of Iowa Innovation, Business, and Law Center hosted Beyond the FTC: The Future of Privacy Enforcement. The symposium, planned by a number of current and former Cyberlaw Clinic students, brought together legal and computer science scholars to discuss the limitations of the FTC’s current system for enforcing privacy protections and proposals for ensuring protections through avenues other than FTC enforcement. The moderators and keynote speakers included BKC Faculty Director Jonathan Zittrain and Cindy Cohn, Executive Director of longtime Clinic client the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
HLS Students: Enroll in the Cyberlaw Clinic for Fall 2023 or Spring 2024!
Attention Harvard Law School 1Ls and 2Ls: clinical registration for the 2023-24 academic year takes place Tuesday, March 28, 2023 through and Thursday March 30, 2023! If you are interested in exploring issues at the nexus of technology, law, policy, and social justice, while gaining real-world law practice experience, we strongly encourage to you to join us in the Cyberlaw Clinic in fall 2023 or spring 2024. Detailed information about clinical registration is available through the HLS Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs.
Clinic Files Amicus Brief on Behalf of Authors and Creators in “Bad Spaniels” TM Case
On February 23, 2023, the Cyberlaw Clinic filed an amicus brief on behalf of Authors Alliance and ComicMix in the Supreme Court of the United States, in support of VIP Products, which seeks to defend its parodic use of Jack Daniel’s trademarks on a dog toy under the First Amendment. Authors Alliance is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting authors who want to serve the public good by disseminating their work broadly. ComicMix is a book publisher and digital news provider offering creation, coverage, and commentary on comic books and other popular culture.
ACLU Wins Significant Transparency Victory With Clinic Support
Today, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued an opinion in ACLU v. ICE (No. 21-1233) requiring federal agencies to preserve relational information when producing public records from a database. The opinion is an important victory for government transparency in an age where government records are increasingly stored in structured datasets. The Cyberlaw Clinic is honored to have represented the Center for Investigative Reporting, the Media Law Resource Center, and the MuckRock Foundation as amici curiae in this appeal.
Comment to the FTC on Transparency and Commercial Surveillance
On October 21, 2022, the Cyberlaw Clinic submitted a comment in response to a request from the Federal Trade Commission for feedback regarding an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking related to commercial surveillance and data privacy. The comment was submitted on behalf of the Berkman Klein Center and its projects and associates, including the Data Nutrition Project, the Lumen database, the Risk Assessment Tool Database project, and the Youth and Media project. The comment provides actionable recommendations that would represent meaningful incremental steps toward an eventual goal of end-to-end data transparency from data collectors and processors. These include tailored transparency mechanisms, flexible disclosure requirements, and protections for vulnerable populations online.
Clinic and Engine Advocacy File Patent Eligibility Comment
On October 15, 2022, the Cyberlaw Clinic submitted a Comment on behalf of a non-profit technology policy, research, and advocacy organization that bridges the gap between policymakers and startups. Engine seeks to support the growth and success of nascent companies and startups, including through startup-friendly patent polices. The Comment responded to a United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Notice seeking feedback on its existing patent subject matter eligibility guidance.
Clinic Works w/ Amici Kenneth Crews and Kevin Smith to Support Internet Archive’s Controlled Digital Lending Efforts
Last week, the Cyberlaw Clinic filed an amicus brief in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in support of Internet Archive (“IA”) a non-profit digital library working to provide access to cultural artifacts of all kinds. The Clinic filed the brief on behalf of amici curiae Kenneth D. Crews and Kevin L. Smith, library and information scholars and historians with significant expertise on libraries and archives. The brief supports IA in a case filed against them by book publishers, alleging that IA’s controlled digital lending (“CDL”) program infringes their copyrights.
Clinic Files Amicus Brief in Support of Gig Workers’ Rights
On Monday, April 11, 2022, the Cyberlaw Clinic filed an amicus brief in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in support of four former employees of GrubHub. Amici curiae Professors Jonathan Askin, Vivek Krishnamurthy, Christopher Morten, and Jason Schultz are scholars and clinicians engaged in research concerning the impact of technology on society. The brief supports the GrubHub workers’ argument that they are exempt from mandatory arbitration as “workers engaged in interstate commerce.”
Cyberlaw Clinic Files Comment for CDT Urging the U.S. Dept. of Ed. to Protect LGBTQI+ Students from Discriminatory Tech
On September 12, 2022, the Cyberlaw Clinic filed a comment on behalf of the Center for Democracy and Technology in response to a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued by the U.S. Department of Education (Department), encouraging the Department to protect LGBTQI+ students from their schools’ use of surveillance technology. →