“Apple Rally 2.23.16” by Electronic_Frontier_Foundation is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

On September 3, 2021, Apple paused the implementation of two highly controversial new child safety features that would both algorithmically and manually surveil the devices of Apple users for Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM).

The first of these opt-in features would blur the sexual images sent or received through iMessage by users under 18 and would also alert the parents of children under 12 if the image was viewed. The devices owned by users under 18 will scan incoming and outgoing messages through an image classifier trained on ‘pornography’. The second feature would use AI to scan on-device images that…


On July 29, 2021, the Bundesgerichtshof, Germany’s Federal Supreme Court, invalidated parts of Facebook’s Terms of Service (ToS) relating to community guidelines and ruled that Online Service Providers (OSPs) would be required to inform their users about the removal of posts ex-post at the least and about blocking of user accounts ex-ante. In both cases, the Court noted that the user must be given an opportunity to be heard before a new decision is made on that individual case.

The facts of the cases related to user comments on Facebook about immigrants in Germany and allegations that they could ‘murder…


The contentious “right to be forgotten” has once again found itself at the forefront of jurisprudence in India. In July 2021, Ashutosh Kaushik, an Indian reality TV celebrity, petitioned the Delhi High Court, seeking that his drunk driving videos that date back to 2009 be deindexed and removed from online platforms.

The right to be forgotten, which was first called out in the European Union’s Court of Justice’s 2014 decision Google v. Spain, and later codified in the EU”s GDPR, has since also been recognized in India through a series of judicial pronouncements.

Soon after the CJEU’s 2014 decision, Gujarat’s…


“Cumbria police officers” by 28704869 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

In July 2021, an on-duty police officer in Alameda County being videoed by activists took out his phone and played ‘Blank Space’ by Taylor Swift, in hopes of hindering social media circulation of the video by attracting the attention of automated copyright enforcement algorithms. This was merely one of the more recent examples of a larger unsettling trend in law enforcement where police officers are weaponizing copyrighted music to thwart bystander recordings of police from going viral.

Police recordings have recently been a crucial tool for the accountability of law enforcement. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and lead prosecutor in…


In the latest installment of the Lumen Researcher interview series, we spoke with Andrea Fuller, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal who specializes in data analysis. Prior to her work with the WSJ, Fuller was previously a data journalist for Gannett Digital, The Center for Public Integrity, and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Fuller’s work combines data, spreadsheets, and code with investigative journalism and storytelling. Last May, Fuller wrote an article for the Journal about her investigation into Google’s handling of DMCA takedowns. …


In the beginning of 2021, the AI Now Institute launched “A New AI Lexicon,” a collection of contributions assessing language about critical AI topics. This includes resituating and retooling common AI buzzwords as well as focusing on underexplored, alternative narratives around AI technology.

So far, the essay contributions have been organized by keyword, like CARE, MAINTENANCE, DISSENT, and OPEN. The essays about AI in “care” and “dissent,” in particular, contain similar critiques against technological determinism and solutionism.

We live today, arguably, in a care-poor and discourse-poor world. People are excluded from supportive communities and systems of care due to medical…


In the second part of the Lumen Researcher interview series, we spoke with Daniel Seng, Associate Professor at National University of Singapore (NUS) and Director at NUS’s Centre for Technology, Robots, Artificial Intelligence, and the Law.

Professor Seng pursued his doctoral degree from Stanford Law School, where he used machine learning, natural language processing, and big data techniques to conduct research on copyright takedown notices. His doctoral thesis was the beginning of his decade-long association with the Lumen Project, then known as Chilling Effects.

As a part of his research, Prof. Seng has worked on five papers that have used…


In June, US House lawmakers released a package of bills that intend to curb the monopolies of Big Tech platforms. The bills, although not yet finalized for a House Floor vote, are pioneering in scope and depth; the regulations seek to stimulate competition among digital platforms through bans on behavior such as self-preferencing and leveraging market power over several business lines.

From the perspective of user experience, one act, in particular, has exciting, transformative potential: the ACCESS Act. The linchpin of the ACCESS Act is mandating interoperability among large online platforms.

Interoperability is as intuitive as it is absent from…


The Lumen Project operates with the motivation that good data informs good policy. Lumen receives copies of notices sent to a wide variety of different companies and while comparing them in the aggregate is fascinating, looking at just one company’s notices is also very interesting and may provide greater insight into not only the kind of content removal requests that the company in question receives, but also what motivated the users who sent them. YouTube’s notices are a great example.

Currently, YouTube shares with Lumen copies of takedown requests it receives in several different categories: defamation, trademark, counterfeit, and “other…


The Digital Millennium Copyright Act was enacted in October 1998 to implement two WIPO treaties as well as to address some of the copyright-related issues caused by the growing and widespread use of the internet. Section 512(c)(3) of the Act, which created a notice and takedown regime for alleged online copyright infringement, requires ‘proper notification’ by the sender in order for the notice to be considered as a valid DMCA takedown request.

The six elements for proper notification under the Act are first, the signature of a person authorized to act on the copyright owner’s behalf, second, identification of allegedly…

Lumen Database Team

Collecting and facilitating research on requests to remove online material. Visit lumendatabase.org and email us if you have questions.

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