image of drone demonstration in Shenzhen, China

Villasenor on Security of Chinese-Manufactured Drones

Public Policy Professor John Villasenor spoke to NPR about the U.S. government’s security concerns regarding Chinese-manufactured drones. The Department of Homeland Security issued a warning that drones manufactured by Chinese companies pose a potential security risk, including that data gathered by these drones can be stolen. Villasenor said this is not the first time the U.S. government has been uneasy about drone security, referring to when the U.S. Army raised concerns about Chinese-made drones in 2017. “The concern is not new, although the fact that it has surfaced now may or may not be tied to these broader trade tensions which have flared up in recent months,” he said.


 

Villasenor Is Among 70+ Internet Luminaries Ringing the Alarm on EU Copyright Filtering Proposal 

John Villasenor, UCLA Luskin professor of public policy, joined more than 70 influential tech leaders to warn the European Parliament that a copyright bill it is considering poses “an imminent threat to the future” of the Internet. At issue is Article 13, which would require Internet platforms to automatically filter uploaded content. “Article 13 takes an unprecedented step towards the transformation of the Internet, from an open platform for sharing and innovation into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users,” said the letter co-signed by Villasenor, who is also a professor of electrical engineering and management. Three weeks after the letter was published, the European Parliament voted to send the bill back to the drawing board. A revised copyright bill will be debated in September.


 

When Should The Authors Of Anonymous Online Reviews Be Revealed? Yelp Challenges A Court ‘Unmasking’ Order

Written by John Villasenor, featured on Forbes

On February 6, Yelp filed an appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court challenging an order to provide information about the authors of allegedly defamatory reviews. The case, Yelp, Inc. v. Hadeed Carpet Cleaning, Inc., is one of many in recent years that are forcing the courts to balance the First Amendment rights of anonymous online reviewers against the right of businesses to pursue defamation claims.

Yelp v. Hadeed concerns a set of negative reviews on Yelp that Hadeed believes were not authored by real customers. Hadeed filed a complaint in July 2012, and then subpoenaed Yelp to produce documents containing the “full name, gender, birth date, IP address, or email address” of the authors of the reviews in question. In seeking to compel Yelp to produce the documents, Hadeed invoked a Virginia “unmasking” statute that addresses anonymous communications that “may be tortious or illegal.”

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