Tension between Hong Kong and the US escalated further with President Joe Biden’s administration set to warn American companies about the risks of doing business in Hong Kong as China tightens its influence over the region.

“The situation in Hong Kong is deteriorating. And the Chinese government is not keeping its commitment that it made how it would deal … with Hong Kong,” Biden has said. The Financial Times [£] also reports.

NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association (“CCIA”) has filed a lawsuit challenging a new social media law in Florida. At the hearing a federal judge has made comments criticising the law- the Tampa Bay Times reports on the comments from U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle. The law was put in place following Twitter’s lifetime ban of former President Donald Trump, and has been criticised on the grounds that it violates the social media platforms First Amendment rights and would harm their efforts to moderate content. See also coverage from the Florida Trend. Judge Hinkle sided with NetChoice and the CCIA in issuing a preliminary injunction.

On the topic of Donald Trump, the Former President is looking to sue Facebook, Twitter and Google and their Chief Executives, bringing a series of class action lawsuits. The lawsuit seeks court orders to restore Trump’s social media accounts along with punitive damages in a effort to ensure other users cannot be banned and flagged in similar ways.

The White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has tackled the issue of coronavirus misinformation on social media. President Joe Biden has been critical of social media outlets, particularly Facebook for allowing misinformation to spread about the virus and vaccinations, Forbes reports.

The family of murdered teenager Bianca Davies is to sue New York officals over video footage. The mother of the 17-year-old has filed a lawsuit accusing officials of sharing sex and murder videos with the media, the BBC reports. 

A judge in Roselle Park Municipal Court has ordered a homeowner who posted a “F*** Biden” sign to pay a $250 daily fine if the sign was not removed stating, “This ordinance does not restrict political speech. Neither this town or its laws may abridge or eliminate Ms. Dilascio’s freedom of speech. However, freedom of speech is not simply an absolute right. It is clear from state law and statutes that we cannot simply put up the umbrella of the First Amendment and say everything and anything is protected speech.” Volokh Conspiracy comments.

Eugene Volokh has published an excellent article on whether social media platforms can be considered common carriers.

Jonathan H. Adler has critiqued how the filibuster could be considered unconstitutional.

In the Courts

Mahanoy Area School District v B.L. – a junior varsity cheerleader goes on a profane rant on SnapChat after failing to make the team. She is then suspended by the school. Held by the US Supreme Court 8-1 to be a violation of her First Amendment rights.  The NYTimes, CBS and Inquirer all have coverage.

Taylor v Buchanan – does it violate the First Amendment to force Michigan lawyers to pay money to join their Bar Association? As the plaintiff’s did not bring a “germaneness” challenge the claims are already considered by a Supreme Court precedent which has yet to be overturned.

United States of America v Tuggle – did establishing three CCTV cameras, encircling a man’s house for 18 months violate his privacy rights per the Fourth Amendment? The United States Court of Appeals held that it did not however- “Barring a transformation in governing law, we expect this chronicle of cameras to repeat itself again and again with the evolution of far more invasive technologies. Today’s pole cameras will be tomorrow’s body cameras, “protracted location tracking using [automatic license plate readers],” drones, facial recognition, Internet-of-Things and smart devices, and so much more that we cannot even begin to  envision. New technologies of this sort will not disappear, nor will the complicated Fourth Amendment problems that accompany them. If anything, we should expect technology to continue to grow exponentially. And if current technologies are any indication, that technological growth will predictably have an inverse and inimical relationship with individual privacy from government intrusion, presenting serious concerns for Fourth Amendment protections.” The Court then went on to posit that the Supreme Court might need to revisit the decision in Katz in future.

This Round up was complied by Suneet Sharma a junior legal professional with a particular interest and experience in media, information and privacy law.