CLIP-ings: February 24, 2017

Internet Governance

Reach for the Sta—Appropriate Celestial Object: After the Department of Homeland Security designated state election systems as “critical infrastructure,” thereby granting these systems the protection of the federal government, the National Association of Secretaries of State recently voted to oppose the designation, as they claim that the federal government is reaching beyond its permissible scope of authority.

Privacy

Meet the Bride of Chucky: The German Federal Network Agency has ordered a doll on the market called “My Friend Cayla” to be destroyed because it violates German telecom law prohibiting “concealed transmitting devices;” the toy contains a speaker and microphone that allow children to ask questions which the doll answers based on internet searches through an unsecure Wi-Fi connection, sparking privacy, data collection, and information security concerns.

Dark Vessels, Ghost Nets, and Illegal Fish, Oh My! In an effort to save ocean life from illegal fishing, the nonprofit group SkyTruth has formed an alliance with private satellite company DigitalGlobe to track pirates across the world by using satellite data taken from the automatic identification system (AIS)—usually used to locate ships—and then analyzing heat maps to find patterns of suspicious activity over the vast ocean, which helps locate pirate ships that have turned off their AIS signals.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

You Drive Me Crazy: Due to the absence of a factory reset option, mobile applications that car owners can use to access their vehicles from their phones still allow previous owners to access their cars long after they have sold their vehicles to a new owner, in a privacy glitch discovered by an IBM researcher.

Operation BugDrop: Using Dropbox and phishing emails containing infected Microsoft Word attachments, hackers have gathered over 600 GB of data from 70 organizations—including an international organization, an engineering company, a research institute, newspaper editors, and a company that designs monitoring systems for critical infrastructure—mainly in Ukraine, a country that has already suffered two power outages caused by hackers in less than two years.

Intellectual Property

Shiver Me Timbers! Beginning this summer, Google and Bing will implement a new UK code of practice to hasten the process of taking down sites with pirated content and putting sites with legitimate content at the top of search results, making pirated content more difficult for internet users to find.

Trump™: Despite China’s Trademark Office initially rejecting Donald Trump’s registration for the “Trump” trademark back in 2006—due to China having a “first-to-file” system and the trademark already belonging to a prior Chinese registrant—in April 2016 the Review Board suddenly invalidated the former registration and transferred the trademark to the President instead, in what may be a violation of the Emoluments Clause; the President immediately applied for 49 other trademarks after this decision.

Free Expression and Censorship

A Brand New Censor: The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is using a tracking page to brand news articles that supposedly contain false information with a large red “FAKE” stamp, although the Russian government’s only explanation for why these articles from major US and UK sources, such as the New York Times and the Telegraph, are being stamped is a line on the government’s own state-run news agency reading, “This material contains data, not corresponding to the truth.”

Condoning Pedophilia? The Conservative Political Action Conference has rescinded its invitation to British public speaker and former editor of Breitbart News, Milo Yiannopoulos, after a conservative news feed recently tweeted an early-2016 podcast in which Yiannopoulos can be heard victim-blaming 13-year-old boys who are raped by older women, despite alleging that he himself was a child abuse victim.

Practice Note

A Punny Lawsuit: Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres recently won a defamation suit filed by a real estate agent after her show mocked an advertisement bearing the plaintiff’s name, Titi Pierce, and phone number, which had prompted viewers to menacingly call the plaintiff’s office to make fun of her; the court ruled that the mispronunciation of the plaintiff’s name could not support a defamation claim.

On the Lighter Side

BS-ing 101: The University of Washington is now offering a new course called “Calling Bullshit in the Age of Big Data,” which will teach students the vital skill of detecting false information; though the 160-person class is already filled up, the public may be given access to the online syllabus and lectures.


Joel R. Reidenberg
Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Chair and Professor of Law and Founding Academic Director, CLIP

N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Editorial Fellows, CLIP
Nadia Kashem
Meghna Prasad

CLIP-ings: February 17, 2017

Internet Governance

The Spy Who Loved Me: In the UK, proposals for a new Espionage Act have been drafted without consultation with free speech organizations, even though this new law could jail and classify journalists and whistleblowers in the same category as spies for communicating, gathering, or even just obtaining classified information.

No Love for Immigrants: In response to the recent deportations of undocumented immigrants and the Muslim travel ban, the governors’ offices of all 50 states were asked about their positions on sharing immigration data with the federal government, with the results that three expressed taking active measures against it, while 47 declined to respond, gave vague responses, or expressed their support.

Privacy

You Just Keep on Pushing My Love over the Borderline: Travelers who have been stopped by border agents at American airports are reportedly being asked by Homeland Security to unlock their phones or laptops and turn over their social media passwords; despite that these agents have wider authority to search travelers at the airport than do police officers on the street, these demands are technically unlawful and requests for legal assistance are being met with great hostility.

Caught in Cupid’s Cross-Browser: Currently, websites are only able to track visitors based on a digital fingerprint embedded in a single browser, but a new mechanism called (Cross-)Browser Fingerprinting would allow websites to track visitors to a site when they use an additional browser in their device’s background; although this new technique raises privacy concerns, fingerprinting can also help enhance users’ security, for instance by alerting a user if a bank account has been logged into from a new computer.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

That PLC Needs Some TLC: At the recent RSA cybersecurity conference, a Georgia Tech PhD student demonstrated that the current landscape of industrial control systems, including water treatment, oil, and gas plants, can be easily hacked, as they are built with programmable logic controllers (PLCs)— small, specialized computers that are designed to control factory processes but that are oftentimes connected to other computers online, leaving the PLCs and therefore these industrial systems open to third party attacks.

A Date with the President: During a dinner at a private club with the Japanese Prime Minister, the President discussed classified information and allowed guests to use their phones; this lack of restriction enabled aides to direct their phones at the documents to help the President read them and a club member to take photos with the man carrying the “nuclear football,” which was later posted on Facebook.

Intellectual Property

Don’t Get All Sentimental On Me: Google has revealed that it has received website takedown requests for billions of URLs in a recent transparency report, showing a very large increase from last year; these high numbers are due mostly to a rise in piracy and websites requesting that copyright-infringing content be removed, especially in light of the recent decision of US internet service providers to vacate their piracy warning system.

A Bouquet of Images: The public can now download and freely use 375,000 high-resolution images of public domain artwork without any fear of copyright infringement under a Creative Commons Zero designation, courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Free Expression and Censorship

Let’s Just Be Friends: After a Facebook user continued to receive text message notifications from Facebook despite opting out, he sued the social media platform, alleging a violation of the federal Telephone Communications Privacy Act, while Facebook’s so far rejected defense has been that the TCPA is unconstitutional as a content-based restriction on speech.

Hell Hath No Fury Like An Industry Scorned: In Mexico—Coca-Cola’s biggest consumer market—nutrition activists, policymakers, and government employees who have been campaigning to double the national soda tax in order to combat childhood obesity have received threatening anonymous text messages after their phones were infected with government spyware provided by an Israeli cyber arms dealer called the NSO Group.

Practice Note

Will You Be My Herbalentine? Although Iowa State University initially allowed NORML, a student-run marijuana advocacy group, to create a T-shirt with the school’s trademark beside the group’s name, the school subsequently disallowed the group from printing any additional shirts after receiving a “formal legislative inquiry” from an Iowa legislature GOP staffer about whether the school’s Trademark Office had approved the shirt; what followed was a lawsuit where the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals found a First Amendment violation, claiming that the university’s refusal to reprint the shirts was motivated by viewpoint discrimination.

On the Lighter Side

A Broken Heart: A man with several medical conditions was charged with arson and insurance fraud after his story of jumping through a broken window to flee his burning home while still finding time to pack and carry his belongings was found to be inconsistent with the data on his pacemaker.


Joel R. Reidenberg
Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Chair and Professor of Law and Founding Academic Director, CLIP

N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Editorial Fellows, CLIP
Nadia Kashem
Meghna Prasad

CLIP-ings: February 3, 2017

Internet Governance

Hurry Up Before You Get Sued: The New York Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against Charter Communications, parent company of Time Warner Cable, as his battle against broadband companies misleading customers intensifies; allegedly, wired internet speeds and WiFi speeds were up to 70% and 80% slower than advertised—although with a Trump-led FCC that favors these large companies, it is unclear how effective this lawsuit will be in increasing broadband companies’ transparency.

Body Cams for Entire Police Force: An agreement reached by New York City and the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association will require all NYPD officers to wear body cameras by the end of 2019; however, concerns about the completeness and ability to obtain records raise questions about the effectiveness of this project, which could cost taxpayers and officers up to $250 million over 14 years.

Privacy

Scan Me, Sue You: In a milestone case defending and promoting the use of biometric data, two gamers sued video game publisher 2K claiming that 2K’s video games never informed users that face scans used to create player avatars in their likeness would be stored indefinitely and that their biometrics could be shared, but a New York federal judge ruled that the plaintiffs did not prove sufficient injury.

PornStation: In a case where gamers used the PlayStation Network to distribute child pornography—which involved Sony combing through their messages and reporting the content to law enforcement and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children after being tipped off by other gamers—a Kansas federal judge ruled that the Fourth Amendment did not protect the accused’s expectation of privacy.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

A Partnership Against Cybercrime: In an effort to combat cybercrime, Europol and the Global Cyber Alliance have signed a MoU to symbolize their agreement to increase transparency in their information exchange and to work together on international projects to strengthen cybersecurity; the partnership will work together to recommend methods of securing organizations’ networks and domains through the Internet Immunity Project for example, by encouraging organizations to adopt the DMARC email validation policy which allows organizations to authenticate email and prevent fraud.

Not a Suite Day at This Hotel: Following a rising trend in ransomware attacks throughout Europe and the US, hackers recently gained access to the electronic room key system of an Austrian luxury hotel, thereby locking guests out of their rooms until the staff paid $1,800 in the form of two Bitcoins—a digital currency favored by hackers due to the difficulty in tracing it.

Intellectual Property

A Patent Problem: As patents for routine web development processes are on the rise—such as patents for filming a yoga class, Amazon’s patent on white-background photography, and CBS Interactive’s patent for a “computer-implemented system” that posts song lyrics and allows users to annotate those lyrics—the EFF and public interest group Public Knowledge have filed an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to consider the obviousness standard in patent law to emphasize to patent examiners that they are able to reject common sense applications.

“G” Stands for Google: Google has requested an arbitration panel to transfer to them the domain name registration for ɢoogle.com—as opposed to Google.com—from a Russian spammer who had been using the confusing URL, spelled with a Latin “G,’ to spam Google Analytics with pro-Trump messages and bombarding users with malware, scareware, and pop-ups.

Free Expression and Censorship

Dividing the Media: Fewer than two weeks into his presidency, President Trump’s actions are already dividing media outlets including Fox News, hosted by Bill O’Reilly, and The Wall Street Journal, and causing conflict among writers and editors on their coverage perspectives—which is raising questions of fair reporting and inappropriate interference as editors insist on their writers using certain language in order to stay true to their publications’ missions.

Cyberbullying Bill Bullies Cyberbullies: A well-intentioned Texas bill against cyberbullying may in fact chill free speech and victimize unpopular groups because of its vagueness and overbreadth; the EFF argues that the bill is problematic because the term “cyberbullying” is not well-defined, students may be expelled for their behavior despite their intentions, students may not be able to communicate anonymously on the internet, and parents may also be liable when their children send harmful emails even if the parents are unaware.

Practice Note

Gorsuch a Heavy Docket: President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch may influence digital technology cases on issues such as cloud technology, authority over email stored on a foreign server, free speech rights in the digital space, and fair use of copyrighted material reproduced online.

On the Lighter Side

Online Dating for the Lazy: For only $99 a month, you can have “Audrey”—who may or may not be a bot—send messages, schedule dates, and give you feedback when you’re rejected so that you can online date without any effort of your own.


Joel R. Reidenberg
Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Chair and Professor of Law and Founding Academic Director, CLIP

N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Editorial Fellows, CLIP
Nadia Kashem
Meghna Prasad

CLIP-ings: January 27, 2017

Internet Governance

The “Google Tax”: Arguing that Google’s search engine has reduced their profitability, Canadian news agencies are asking the Canadian government to implement a “Google tax” on Google’s display of Canadian news media content—similar to a proposed “Facebook tax,” the EU’s “snippet tax,” and already failed “Google tax” laws in several countries including Spain.

China Strengthens Its Wall: VPN services—which for years have allowed internet users in China to bypass the government’s “Great Firewall” and access blocked websites, such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, and YouTube—now need approval by the government, in effect making most of them illegal.

Privacy

White House Staffs’ Private Emails Not So Private: Senior White House staff members are using rnchq.org, a private RNC email server, for their communications, which, according to the Office of Government Ethics, is technically not illegal—provided that these emails are copied and forwarded to an official White House address within 20 days—but still leaves these communications vulnerable to possible foreign attacks.

The Real Cost of Free Personality Quizzes: While seemingly innocuous, certain free personality quizzes on Facebook are actually operated by a data firm, Cambridge Analytica, to create psychological and demographical profiles of now more than 230 million Americans, which are then used for “dark posts”—a form of advertising that appears only to a select target audience; Cambridge Analytica was hired for the Brexit and Trump campaigns and in the US serves only Republican clients.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Thai-d to the Government: By enabling Windows to automatically trust the Thai government’s root certificate, a mechanism to verify HTTPS-enabled websites, Microsoft is the only major tech company to help the Thai government gain more control over its citizens’ web encryption, as this root certificate can enable the government to sneak malware into websites and even present site users with counterfeit versions of entire pages.

Travel Internationally Without a Passport: The Australian government is working on the “Seamless Traveler” project, which, if successful, would allow all passengers by March 2019 to pass through Australian airports without the need for passports or human interaction; instead, biometric scanners would recognize passengers’ facial features, irises, and fingerprints, though the implementation of such a database raises privacy and security concerns.

Intellectual Property

I Know There’s Gonna Be a Lawsuit: Despite Universal Music Group giving Apple the proper authorization to use the Jamie xx song “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” in a 2015 iPhone 6 commercial, Jerome Lawson, whose song “Good Times” is sampled in the song, is now suing Apple, claiming a violation of his right of publicity under California’s Right of Publicity law, which he argues should preempt federal copyright law.

This Fan Fiction Film Can Live Long and Prosper: A California federal court in a copyright infringement case over an amateur but professional-quality Star Trek fan fiction film heard arguments regarding similarities between the works and whether Klingon is copyrightable, but a settlement reached by Paramount Pictures, CBS Studios, and the fan’s production company will now allow the latter to keep the video online and create two more, but with several restrictions.

Free Expression and Censorship

When the Writing Is on the Cell Wall: Among the 230 people detained during violent protests on Inauguration Day last Friday, which saw protesters smashing glass buildings and lighting a limousine on fire, were six journalists covering the protests and who allegedly had no part in this violent criminal activity, thus sparking fears for the future of press freedom.

Gagged and Bound: The Trump administration has issued gag orders on several federal agencies, including the National Park Service; General Services Administration; Environmental Protection Agency; Departments of Transportation, Agriculture, Interior, Health and Human Services and Energy; and the National Institutes of Health, regarding their social media communications with the public and other communications with the government—although the current slowdown in communication could also be a result of staffing changes under the new administration.

Practice Note

Snap Me into Trouble! In a growing type of case where victims of accidents sue cellphone technology providers for motivating these accidents, a car crash victim unsuccessfully sued Snapchat after a Georgia woman—who was allegedly encouraged to drive at an unsafe speed by Snapchat’s Speed Filter—caused him permanent brain damage; the court opinion held that Snapchat was immune from liability under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which provides immunity to providers of an “interactive computer service” that publishes information provided by others–despite that the woman’s Snap was never actually published.

On the Lighter Side

Mini Einstein: This 14-inch robotic personal companion for kids teaches about science, gives compliments, makes jokes, provides weather updates, walks around without falling, maintains intense eye contact, sticks out its tongue, and even has the same fashion sense as the iconic scientist after whom it is modeled.


Joel R. Reidenberg
Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Chair and Professor of Law and Founding Academic Director, CLIP

N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Editorial Fellows, CLIP
Nadia Kashem
Meghna Prasad

CLIP-ings: December 2, 2016

Internet Governance

Unwrapping North Korea’s Internet: Although internet usage is slowly increasing in North Korea in places like elite graduate universities and some governmental offices and ministries, the government maintains a strict hold on the internet and communications with the outside world, monitoring all channels and instilling a fear in citizens of the consequences of disobedience.

A Snoopy Christmas: Despite criticism from Google, Apple, Microsoft, Twitter, Yahoo and even the UN special rapporteur for privacy who called the bill “worse than scary,” the Snooper’s Charter, an alleged counterterrorism measure, officially became law earlier this week in the UK and will allow the government to conduct mass global surveillance, including bulk hacking, bulk data collection, and the requirement that phone and internet providers store communications data for a year and provide it to law enforcement when asked.

Privacy

Yule Be Tracked: Uber’s new update requests that users allow the app to track their locations even when not in use, sparking concerns about how the company will use this information, though Uber claims that it will only use this feature to improve the accuracy of location pick-ups and drop-offs.

Scrooges at the Border: The Fourth Amendment’s protections against unlawful search and seizure are suspended at the US border, where the U.S. Customs of Border Protection has been exercising its right to confiscate and access laptops and smartphones of regular passengers and journalists without any warrant or suspicion of wrongdoing; in particular, award-winning Canadian photojournalist Ed Ou was detained and had his phones and other materials confiscated before being denied entry into the country, preventing him from covering the Dakota Access Pipeline protest.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Santa’s Little Alert System: Under the 2006 Warning, Alert, and Response Network (WARN) Act, Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) may be sent to consumers’ cell phones in the form of an alert issued by the president, an alert involving imminent threats to safety or life, or an Amber Alert; as cell phone carriers can allow subscribers to block all of these alerts except for presidential ones, the question remains as to how President-elect Donald Trump will use this system, though his alerts will need to be issued through FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert & Warning System before reaching the American public.

The Bells Are Not Jingling in Congress: Congress has failed to prevent new changes to the search-and-seizure provision in the FRCP from going into effect Thursday, meaning that FBI and other US law enforcement agencies will now have the authority to hack into computers and phones belonging to US residents no matter where they are located in the world, though a US-issued search warrant will still be required for such tracking.

Intellectual Property

A Christmas Miracle: Netflix has announced that it will allow offline viewing of content, although due to limitations imposed by licensing agreements, not all content will be available for download and users will be restricted from downloading too many titles at once.

Counterfeit Operation Near the North Pole: As part of its new “Don’t F***(AKE) Up” campaign, Europe’s police agency, Europol, teamed up with agencies from 27 countries, including the US and Canada, to seize more than 4,500 website domains involved in trading counterfeit products, leading to the arrest of 12 people across The Netherlands and the seizure of more than 3,500 items of clothing and fake luxury goods.

Free Expression and Censorship

The Grinch Who Didn’t Steal Free Speech: With just one signature from President Obama, the Consumer Review Fairness Act will make it illegal nationally for businesses to punish consumers who leave negative reviews of the establishment on or offline, partly in response to the 2013 case Palmer v. KlearGear in which the plaintiff was threatened with a $3,500 fine for posting a negative online review of a company.

The Censorship Tree-tment: In China, Microsoft’s chatbot, “Xiaoice,” refuses to speak when asked about controversial topics, such as Tiananmen Square, Chinese President Xi Jinping, or even Donald Trump, while in other parts of the world, Facebook is required to restrict certain content (Pakistan and Russia), has been pressured to censor anti-immigrant posts (Germany), and is being accused of aiding in the spread of fake news (US)—all examples of the problem tech companies face in balancing users’ rights with censorship restrictions imposed by the national governments in order to gain access to those markets.

Practice Note

Ho! Ho! Hold It Before You Post That Meme! The legality of memes has come into question in a false light invasion of privacy case in which a “Dancing with the Stars” contestant publicly humiliated a child with Down Syndrome by adding a derogatory caption on an already-circulated photo of the child; after the mother requested he take down the image, the accused refused and defended his actions by asserting that the child’s obesity was a matter of public concern.

On the Lighter Side

An Icy Disposition: Iceland Foods, which owns a European trademark for “Iceland” and also operates a supermarket chain in Britain under that mark, is being sued by the country of Iceland, which is trying to invalidate the trademark because it has impeded local Icelandic firms’ efforts to market their products using the geographic term.


Joel R. Reidenberg
Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Chair and Professor of Law and Founding Academic Director, CLIP

N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Editorial Fellows, CLIP
Nadia Kashem
Meghna Prasad

CLIP-ings: November 18, 2016

Internet Governance

No Dinner for LinkedIn: After refusing to comply with a Russian law requiring all websites to store personal data on servers located within Russia, LinkedIn has been banned from Russia even though the company has previously complied with other similar regulations; for instance, in China, LinkedIn operates as a completely separate site and hosts its data within the country.

Poachers Feasting on Profits: Vietnamese wildlife traffickers are selling illegal products made from at least 907 elephants, 225 tigers, and 579 rhinos, as well as various other dead animals to China and southeast Asian countries through WeChat and Facebook, violating both the latter’s policies and possibly an international treaty.

No More Cooking Up Memes: Spreading “images that infringe the honor of a person” without the person’s consent may become a crime in Spain if a new piece of legislation proposed by the Prime Minister passes into law; the proposal—endorsed by the Popular Party which has a history of trying to limit people’s freedom of speech—has been met with only increased internet mockery.

Privacy

Google Play Music Stuffing More into Playlists: In an effort to keep up with other music streaming services, Google Play Music will begin to suggest new music to users based on user behavior including not only user listening patterns but also user location, user activity, and the weather.

IDNYC a Recipe for Disaster: Mayor de Blasio has vowed to fight the federal government from accessing any data stored in the database for IDNYC, a program that had been implemented as a means for providing identification for New York City residents—many of whom are undocumented immigrants—to be able to use certain services, such as opening bank accounts; a kill switch for the program would prevent law enforcement from gaining access to the data.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

A Cornucopia of Duplicate Accounts: A new report studying the Twitter and LinkedIn accounts of over two-hundred Fortune 500 CEOs has found an abundance of duplicate accounts on these two platforms, exposing these executives to thieves behind these accounts who use them to send attack emails and conduct phishing schemes on unknowing enterprises and individuals.

Be Thankful You Haven’t Been X-Posed: In possibly the largest hack of 2016, a recent breach has leaked account information of over 412 million users of various websites belonging to the FriendFinder Network, including usernames, passwords, and email addresses, over 80,000 of which are registered under .gov and .mil emails.

Intellectual Property

Chess-nuts Roasting on an Open Website: The organizers of the World Chess Championship lost a bid for exclusive streaming of the chess moves in the ongoing 12-game series between world champion Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin after the website operators of Chess24.com argued in federal court that the chess moves are not protected by copyright law but rather are in the public domain.

Oh, the Lawsuits You’ll File: Dr. Seuss Enterprises is attempting to block a small group of artists’ Kickstarter project that parodies the classic “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” with Star Trek, despite the artists insisting that their work is protected as a fair use.

Free Expression and Censorship

Squashing the Alt-Right: In an effort to combat harassment and hateful conduct on its platform, Twitter has banned the accounts of several alt-right conservative figures who advocate white ethno-nationalism, including Richard Spencer, Paul Town, Pax Dickinson, Ricky Vaughn, and John Rivers, although it is unclear whether specific tweets or incidents prompted the ban, especially in light of the fact that Twitter recently allowed a white supremacist group to promote itself through the platform.

Bon Voyage, Fake News: In response to the recent controversy surrounding the circulation of fake news stories that possibly influenced the U.S. presidential election, Google and Facebook will limit their advertising features to prevent the dissemination of these stories, with Google preventing fake news websites from employing its AdSense advertising network, and Facebook similarly updating its advertising policy to include fake news in its ban on deceptive and misleading content.

Practice Note

Thanks for Giving Away My Age: IMDb is challenging the constitutionality of a new law that allows paying subscribers to demand to have certain personal information removed from their IMDb profiles; the law seeks to fight age discrimination after a failed lawsuit brought by actress Junie Hoang who was passed over for a job when producers discovered her age on the site.

On the Lighter Side

Turkey-Brained Robot: A research robot has failed to reach scores high enough to gain admission to the prestigious University of Tokyo, earning a mere 511 out of 950 on the standardized admissions test, quashing any fears of an impending rise of the machines.


Joel R. Reidenberg
Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Chair and Professor of Law and Founding Academic Director, CLIP

N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Editorial Fellows, CLIP
Nadia Kashem
Meghna Prasad

CLIP-ings: November 11, 2016

Internet Governance

New Restrictive Chinese Law: China has passed a new cybersecurity law, effective next summer, in an alleged effort to protect against cyberattacks and terrorism; although critics are concerned that certain facets of the law—such as requiring data to be stored within the country and forcing users of messaging services to register their real names—will further restrict already heavily regulated internet usage and even cut China off from the rest of the world.

Net Neutrality Trumped: With President-elect Donald Trump having announced his opposition to net neutrality and decision to appoint Jeffrey Eisenach, “a crusader against regulation,” to head the FCC’s telecom transition team, the fate of the FCC’s telecom enforcement and new net neutrality protections—such as its recent decisions to reclassify internet service providers as common carriers and to provide privacy protections for broadband users—remains unclear.

Privacy

CSIS in Hot Water: Since 2006, believing it had the authority to watch citizens as a result of warrants granting surveillance powers, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service has reportedly been illegally retaining personally identifiable information about citizens and actively hiding this secret metadata collection from Canadian courts.

France’s National Identity Database: As Paris hosts the Open Government Partnership summit, the idea of a national identity database that would store personally identifiable data of 60 million citizens is being revisited in France despite fears that the system could be vulnerable to abuse; previous efforts to implement such a system were thwarted by the dangers posed by cybercriminals, hostile state actors, and the possibility of a future occupation of the country by another Nazi-like regime.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Googling Your Technological Safety: Google’s Safe Browsing tool, which already marks sites that contain malware or unwanted software with a large red warning sign, has a new, stricter policy for sites that repeatedly implement these dangerous visitor traps; now, if a flagged site removes the offending software, then asks Google to delete the red warning sign and yet re-implements the software once the warning is removed, the “repeat offender” will be blocked from reapplying for removal of the sign for 30 days.

The FBI’s Child Porn Collection: Recently unsealed documents reveal that the FBI exceeded the scope and jurisdictional limitations of a warrant—which only granted permission to hack specific Maryland-based users of a “Dark Web” email service used by some to distribute child pornography taken from FBI-administered sites—when the Bureau used malware to also hack legitimate users of the email service across the world.

Intellectual Property

Former Guitarist off the Hook: In a suit filed by Tom Scholz, the frontman of rock band Boston, against the band’s former guitarist Barry Goudreau for trademark infringement of the band’s name when Goudreau referred to himself as “Barry Goudreau from Boston” while promoting gigs with other musical acts, a district court jury has found that Scholz’s claim has no merit.

Public RSS Feeds Not Really Public? The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) has accused a podcast’s app developers of copyright violation, claiming that accessing its public RSS feed without paying a licensing fee is considered “commercial use,” due to the app selling banner ads, even though the apps are not specific to CBC content.

Free Expression and Censorship

I Can Get Some Satisfaction: In a federal case regarding Rolling Stone Magazine’s now-discredited November 2014 story describing a University of Virginia administrator’s failure to take action after the brutal gang rape of a student at a fraternity party, a jury found the publication liable in the amount of $3 million for defamation resulting from comments made both in the article and by the author and magazine after the story was published.

Turkey Blocks the Internet: After the arrest of 11 members of the opposing pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, the Turkish government blocked access to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and WhatsApp, but this is not the first time the country has gone to such measures to quell political unrest; last week, the internet was shut down entirely in the southeast region, and last month, access was limited to Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive after private emails belonging to the President’s son-in-law were leaked.

Practice Note

Google Play and YouTube Cases: Two successful recent cases against Google illustrate how a plaintiff can allege bad faith on the defendant’s part to defeat a Section 230(c)(2) defense, which provides civil liability protection for “Good Samaritan” blocking and screening of offensive material under the Communications Decency Act.

On the Lighter Side

Keeping Toasty With Technology: Currently in a Kickstarter crowdfunded campaign, Taps are fake fingerprint stickers that users would be able to stick onto gloves so that they can use the Touch ID feature of their iPhones without facing the risk of frostbite.


Joel R. Reidenberg
Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Chair and Professor of Law and Founding Academic Director, CLIP

N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Editorial Fellows, CLIP
Nadia Kashem
Meghna Prasad

CLIP-ings: November 4, 2016

Internet Governance

The Ballot of the Dark Web: Police in various countries, including the US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK, recently cracked down on users of the “Dark Web,” warning and even arresting specific buyers and sellers of illegal drugs and goods such as live turtles and counterfeits.

Privacy

Campaigning for Transparency: Facebook-owned texting app WhatsApp is under scrutiny by the European Article 29 Working Party, which is concerned that, after WhatsApp updated its privacy policy this summer to reflect Facebook’s new access to WhatsApp user data, these terms may not have been communicated to users in a legally permissible way.

Solving Crime Through Text Messaging: In an attempt to find a killer, police in Ontario have obtained the phone numbers of 7,500 people from a cell tower and plan to send them text messages asking to fill out an online questionnaire to determine whether they witnessed the murder; though responses are voluntary, police may make follow-up calls to those who don’t respond and have expressed no plans for deleting any of the collected data.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Nominating a New Policy: With the worldwide cost of cyberspace crimes estimated at $445 billion, the UK has launched a new initiative, the National Cyber Security Strategy, which outlines a plan to augment the UK’s defenses by using automated defense techniques, to strengthen law enforcement resources that detect cyber criminals, and to develop the nation’s next generation of cyberspace experts.

iOS Bug Calls 911: A teenager is facing multiple felony computer tampering charges after an alleged prank in which he admitted to discovering an iOS bug, tampering with it by inputting his own code, then spreading a link containing the bug through social media, which caused people’s iPhones to repeatedly dial 911, thereby threatening to take down the emergency system in parts of Arizona, California, and Texas.

Intellectual Property

A Vote for Harmony: Germany’s royalty collecting association GEMA has ended a 7-year dispute with YouTube that stemmed from GEMA’s demand for 17 cents per YouTube stream of content represented by GEMA; as a result of this settlement, German YouTube users will now be able to access many music videos that were once blocked.

Not Much Cheering in the Supreme Court: In a landmark case for copyright law in the fashion industry, Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands is before the Supreme Court to determine whether certain aspects of cheerleading uniforms should receive copyright protection; while Justice Ginsburg agreed on Monday that the two-dimensional designs may be separable from the three-dimensional cut and shape of the garment, Chief Justice Roberts disagreed, saying that the artwork is applied to the fabric to merely serve a utilitarian function, and thus not copyrightable.

Free Expression and Censorship

Debating Free Speech: The ACLU filed a lawsuit against the State of California on Monday, claiming that a 12-year-old ban on taking photographs of voter ballots, which is currently espoused by 18 different states, is outdated and a First Amendment violation, since voters express their enthusiasm, support, and patriotism for the nation’s election through taking and sharing these photos.

How to Censor the Election for Kids: Since Calvin Coolidge’s presidential campaign in 1924, children’s book publisher Scholastic has been providing child-appropriate election news to schools, but this year the preteen reporters of Scholastic’s children’s press corps program are facing new challenges on how to report the news for other young readers, considering this election’s especially controversial topics.

Practice Note

Electing to Hack: The Copyright Office has enacted a new exception to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which previously allowed manufacturers to sue digital device owners who hack into their device’s software and expose security vulnerabilities; the new exception will exist for a trial period of 2 years and will allow these hacks, for example, when they are conducted for the purpose of security research and digital repair of vehicles that employ this technology.

On the Lighter Side

Virtual Hairstyling: L’Oréal’s hairstylist training program, Matrix Academy, will now feature virtual reality that will allow trainees to immerse themselves in a room-sized program and observe from every angle a hologram of an actual stylist cutting a client’s hair.


Joel R. Reidenberg
Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Chair and Professor of Law and Founding Academic Director, CLIP

N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Editorial Fellows, CLIP
Nadia Kashem
Meghna Prasad

CLIP-ings: October 28, 2016

Internet Governance

New Facebook Terror-tory: After Facebook recently revealed its plans to introduce to the American app store Free Basics—a zero-rated app that provides low income users with simplified content including news, health, weather, education, and Facebook access—speculation has mounted over the level of control the social media platform will have over the content these viewers can access, as well as the effectiveness of the app in bringing awareness of the internet.

Cutting Off Airbnb: In an effort to solve the state’s housing crisis, a new law makes it illegal in New York to advertise unoccupied apartments on Airbnb for durations of less than a month, but the home sharing company is now suing the state.

Privacy

R.I.P. Your Privacy: Google recently updated its privacy policy to specify that web-browsing data collected through its advertising network DoubleClick “may be” mixed in with personally identifiable information that Google stores through Gmail and other login accounts; the consequence of this new change is that ads can now target users based on their web searches, email content, and usernames.

This Eerie “Social Credit” System Will Determine Your Worth: The Communist Party in China has plans to create a system by 2020 called “Internet Plus,” which would monitor, collect, and analyze data on every citizen’s public and private interactions and then assign a “credit score” that would represent that person’s trustworthiness; good behavior will earn you rewards, but bad behavior will subject you to punishment, such as random inspections and increased daily supervision.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Hacking Away at Your Heart: In a report disputed by St. Jude Medical Inc. as a scheme to prompt a stock price drop, private research-based investment firm Muddy Waters has stated that implantable cardiac devices created by St. Jude are susceptible to hacking; the report points to tests where hackers could induce cardiac arrest by sending shocks to a patient’s heart from 10 feet away.

Internet Apocalypse: Last Friday, hackers used a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS) to infiltrate one of the largest internet management companies in the US, leading to a shutdown of major websites throughout the country and some parts of Europe; the same software had been used in the two biggest DDoS attacks recorded, and researchers believe that such attacks are becoming more sophisticated.

Intellectual Property

Stopping Pirated Videos in Real Time: Cisco has developed a technology called Streaming Piracy Prevention that would allow content providers to automatically cut off live feeds of pirated videos, bypassing the usual notice-and-takedown procedure.

Free Expression and Censorship

YouTube Filter Possessed? For those who opt in to using the “Restricted Mode” filtering option on YouTube, several videos that are part of a series created by Prager University entitled “PragerU” and which feature prominent professors and thinkers discussing issues such as abortion, the Islamic State, and race from a conservative point of view, do not show up, despite that these videos have over 1 million views each and do not contain violent or sexual material.

Burying the Hatchet: A Harvard study, which analyzed political articles that were published and edited on Wikipedia over the past 15 years, has found that providing such a forum with specific guidelines for public contribution and debate has caused the contributors to become less partisan over time, suggesting that perhaps Wikipedia helps “de-radicalize” far-leaning individuals and makes the online community more moderate as a whole.

Practice Note

The Ghost of “Repeat Infringers” Past: The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled on a 10-year-old case between major record labels and now bankrupt website MP3Tunes, expanding the previous definition of “repeat infringers” which applied to only those who posted or uploaded copyrighted material several times, to now include those who also may unknowingly and repeatedly download copyrighted material for personal use.

On the Lighter Side

MIT’s Spooky Nightmare Machine: Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created an artificial intelligence project that uses a deep learning algorithm to generate horror images from normal photographs of things like cities, famous landmarks, and faces.


Joel R. Reidenberg
Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Chair and Professor of Law and Founding Academic Director, CLIP

N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Editorial Fellows, CLIP
Nadia Kashem
Meghna Prasad

CLIP-ings: October 21, 2016

Internet Governance

Ethiopia Unplugs the Internet: The government of Ethiopia has shut down access to the internet in certain regions, after protests organized through social media killed almost 100 people; the protests were sparked by public outrage over the Ethiopian government’s marginalization and persecution of the Oromo and Amhara people.

Hopping over Netflix’s Virtual Borders: Netflix, which has country-exclusive licensing agreements for its movies and shows, is winning the fight against “unblocking companies” that allow their customers to bypass Netflix’s geo-restrictions to access content not available in certain areas.

Privacy

British Security Agencies Spy on Citizens: The UK’s Investigatory Powers Tribunal has ruled that British security agencies have illegally amassed large amounts of cell phone and internet usage data and other confidential information for the past 17 years without sufficient care or protection, in a failure of adherence to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which protects the right to privacy.

Stealing Data over Skype: Even without any malware, a Skype user can steal the other caller’s passwords and other private information with up to 91.7% accuracy simply by listening to the keystrokes over a VoIP connection, if he has some information about the victim’s computer and typing style—or with 42% accuracy without this information.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Hackers Coming into Your Home: Because of weak passwords and software vulnerabilities, hackers are increasingly targeting routers in people’s homes, obtaining access to devices such as IP cameras and digital video recorders.

The Aftermath of Being Hacked: After a company is hacked, the company or its employees may face significant regulatory fines, possible prison sentences, business failure from information leaked to competitors, lawsuits from its customers or suppliers, and damage to its reputation, which can cause far greater losses than can regulatory fines or lawsuits.

Intellectual Property

eBook Pirate Caught: The Spanish police conducted a raid and captured a man in Valencia who had illegally uploaded over 11,000 literary works to a server and also possessed a hard drive with infringing works on it; his uploaded works are said to have been used by over 400 websites and he is thought to have cheated the copyright owners out of at least 400,000 euros.

Patent Trolling: A Harvard research study has shown that one of the world’s largest patent-holding companies, Intellectual Ventures, currently owns nearly 500 patents that were originally assigned to private and state universities, despite some of these institutions having endorsed principles against licensing their patents to those who “rely primarily on threats of infringement to generate revenue.”

Free Expression and Censorship

Russian Media Censored by UK Treasury? Russian TV channel “Russia Today,” a broadcaster of conspiracy theories and the Kremlin’s anti-US views to English-speaking countries, has accused the UK government of impinging on its freedom of speech after NatWest, a member of the primarily state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland Group, decided to close the bank accounts of Russia Today’s broadcasters; the move, which has been denied by the UK’s Treasury, has been condemned by Russian MPs, the foreign ministry, and human rights officials.

No Porn for California: On Wednesday, several porn websites blocked access to Californians, who were instead greeted with a message to vote against Proposition 60 on next month’s ballot, since it would give any California citizen the right to sue producers and distributors of pornographic material whose performers failed to use protection; these websites have also said that if Proposition 60 passes, they may block California users altogether to protect themselves from litigation.

Practice Note

Censorship of Social Media: In a case where a Virginia man’s comments criticizing his municipal government were repeatedly hidden from a post made by the county on its official Facebook page, an appeals court has ruled for the first time that a government’s Facebook page is considered a limited public forum and, therefore, such speech is subject to First Amendment protection, so long as it relates to a matter of public interest and does not violate any terms of the social media policy.

On the Lighter Side

Meet Kengaro, the Sweating Robot: Researchers at the University of Tokyo have created a robot that can do push-ups for 11 minutes without burning its motors, by releasing water that flows into its bones and then evaporates onto the surface to cool the motors, mimicking the way that humans sweat to cool down.


Joel R. Reidenberg
Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Chair and Professor of Law and Founding Academic Director, CLIP

N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Editorial Fellows, CLIP
Nadia Kashem
Meghna Prasad