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.


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