CLIP-ings: March 5, 2021

Internet Governance

Ahead Of Other Major Powers, China Tests New Forms Of Digital Currency: China’s Central Bank is testing the electronic Chinese Yuan in cities such as Shenzhen, Shanghai, and Beijing, where recipients of 200 electronic yuan have only a few weeks to spend it through the eCNY app before the digital money disappears; some economists worry the eCNY could provide the Chinese government a way to monitor citizens’ transactions. 

The FCC Subsidizes Low-Income Households For High-Speed Internet Adoption: The Federal Communications Commission approved $3.2 billion for eligible low-income households that may be “at risk of digital disconnection,” with eligible households entitled to receive up to $50 per month ($75 per month for households on Native American land) for broadband service, plus a one-time $100 discount on a computer or tablet.

Privacy

Virginia Becomes Second State To Pass A Comprehensive Data Privacy Law: Following in the footsteps of California, Virginia passed the Consumer Data Protection Act, which will become effective in 2023; although similar to California’s consumer privacy laws, Virginia’s law is viewed as weaker, as it contains no specific revenue threshold for application and lacks a private right of action, among other things.  

TikTok Settles Privacy Class-Action For $92 Million: The settlement resolves 21 class-action lawsuits alleging that TikTok used facial recognition technology to collect users’ biometric, gender, ethnicity, and age data without consent, and also harvested and sold other “highly sensitive personal data” in violation of multiple federal and state privacy and consumer protection laws. 

Information Security & Cyberthreats

Google Cloud Plans To Offer Cyber Insurance Designed For Google Cloud Customers: Leveraging a partnership with Allianz and Munich Re, Google Cloud will roll out a cyber insurance product, Cloud Protection +, embedded in its Cloud services for users in the U.S., indicating that cyber insurance might become more mainstream in businesses in the future.

Intellectual Property

Federal Jury Rules Intel Infringed Two Patents, Must Pay $2.18 Billion: Intel Corp. must pay VLSI Technology LLC one of the largest patent-damages awards in U.S. history for infringing two patents related to chip-making technology, despite Intel’s claims that it never infringed any of the patents and one of the patents covers the work of Intel engineers.

Free Expression & Censorship

On Facebook, Right-Wing Misinformation Has Higher Engagement Than Other Political Content: In assessing five months of Facebook post data from August 2020 to January 2021, researchers found that far-right sources of misinformation had the highest average number of interactions per post compared to sources promoting content reflecting views falling elsewhere on the political spectrum, but noted that further research is needed to determine why right-wing content achieves higher engagement.

On the Lighter Side

Plastic Surgeon In Surgery Attends Traffic Court Via Zoom: A judge postponed a virtual traffic court hearing after observing the defendant performing surgery on a patient while appearing in court.  

Olivier Sylvain
Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Erica Chan

Junyi Cui

Editorial Fellows

CLIP-ings: February 26, 2021

Internet Governance

Federal Judge’s Ruling Allows California To Enforce Net Neutrality Law: A California federal judge rejected a motion for a preliminary injunction by telecommunications providers to stop California’s net neutrality law, allowing the state to enforce the 2018 law that would ensure equal access to internet content.

U.K. Supreme Court Classifies Former Uber Drivers As Employees: The Court issued a unanimous decision classifying 25 former Uber drivers as “workers” entitled to employment benefits such as minimum wage while they worked for the company; while the ruling is limited to the 25-driver group, it nevertheless sets a precedent for more litigation over the employment status of gig workers in the country.

Privacy

WhatsApp Will Limit App Functionality If Users Do Not Accept New Privacy Policy: WhatsApp announced that starting May 15th, users will not be able to send or read messages through the app if they do not agree to the service’s new privacy terms, which outline how WhatsApp can share private messages with parent company Facebook and utilize that data for advertising.

Information Security & Cyberthreats

A “Bug” In Prison Software Keeps Arizona Inmates Behind Bars Despite Earning Early Release: A flaw in Arizona’s Correctional Information System inmate management software renders the program incapable of calculating early release dates, which forces Arizona prison employees to manually calculate early release credits earned by inmates who, under Arizona’s SB 1310 program, could be eligible for early release if they were convicted solely on certain drug charges and participated in self-improvement programs offered by the state.

Phishing Scams Targeted At Postmates Drivers Drain Their Weekly Earnings: Scammers claiming to be Postmates employees call gig workers to obtain login details for the accounts in which the company deposits drivers’ weekly earnings so that funds can be siphoned out, and drivers now ask for more safeguards, such as having a unique caller ID for calls originating from the company.

Intellectual Property

Twitch Dubbed Metallica’s Livestreamed Performance To Avoid Copyright Issues: During a livestream of the BlizzCon video game conference, Twitch overdubbed Metallica’s performance of its classic songs with generic, “copyright-free” music due to concerns over copyright infringement.

Free Expression & Censorship

TikTok Took Down 89 Million Videos, Some Of Which Had Shared Election And COVID-19 Misinformation: In its latest transparency report, the social media company revealed that from July to December 2020, it took down 347,225 videos for sharing election misinformation and 51,505 videos for spreading COVID-19 misinformation; however, some of the videos already had hundreds of thousands of views before they were removed.

On the Lighter Side

SEC Bans Trading Of The Long Blockchain Corp’s Stock: The company, formerly known as The Long Island Iced Tea Corp, diversified its iced tea business by investing in blockchain technologies but now has had its stock registration revoked by the SEC for failure to report on its financials since 2018.

Olivier Sylvain
Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Erica Chan

Junyi Cui

Editorial Fellows

CLIP-ings: February 19, 2021

Internet Governance

Maryland Becomes The First State To Impose A Tax On Digital Advertising Revenue: Maryland passed a bill to impose a “Digital Advertising Gross Revenues Tax” of up to 10 percent of the annual gross revenues of “digital advertising services” that target users within the state; proceeds from the tax will contribute to an education fund for Maryland public schools.

Facebook Limits Australian Access To News Content: In response to a proposed law in Australia that would require Facebook and other digital giants to pay for news content published on their platforms, Facebook has decided to block Australian users’ access to Australian news, and also prohibit the sharing of Australian news for both its Australian and international users; Google, which has threatened to pull its search engine from the country in response to the legislation, has begun to strike deals with news publishers.

Privacy

European Consumer Group Alleges TikTok Violates GDPR: Europe’s leading consumer advocacy group filed a formal complaint with European consumer protection authorities against TikTok, alleging that the social media company is violating the GDPR by, among other things, having “ambiguous” and fluid privacy policies, employing defective consent mechanisms, and subjecting children to the harms of hidden marketing.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Disaster Scammers Steal Account Numbers During Texas Snowstorm: As many Texans struggle without electricity due to the winter storm, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas warns Texans not to hand over private account numbers to social media scammers who are posing as electricity workers to steal account information.

Three North Korean Hackers Indicted By DOJ For Hacking Banks And U.S. Government Agencies: The suspected military intelligence hackers have been charged by the Department of Justice after hacking banks and cryptocurrency companies around the world and making away with more than $1.3 billion, as well as sensitive data from U.S. government contractors and agencies.

Free Expression and Censorship

Google Potentially Gave Online Advertisers The Option To Exclude Nonbinary Audiences: Despite its online advertising policies against gender discrimination, Google’s advertiser options allegedly allowed online advertisers, including employers and landlords, to keep their ads from being shown to users categorized as having “unknown gender”; Google stated that it will make updates to “restrict advertisers from targeting or excluding users” based on their “unknown gender” characterization. 

Practice Note

Federal Judge Rules Citibank Is Not Entitled To The Return Of $500M Mistakenly Transferred: Citibank blamed the erroneous loan repayment on financial software Flexcube’s confusing user interface, but a federal judge ruled that the recipient creditors were within their rights to assume the transfer was repayment, and noted that it would be reasonable for creditors to assume that a sophisticated bank like Citibank would not send out such a large sum by accident.  

On the Lighter Side

Start-Ups Aim To Simulate Real-Life Gatherings Virtually: Several virtual-meeting start-ups, inspired by consumer demand to recreate chance encounters in the workplace, allow users to explore and interact with one another on virtual maps.  

Olivier Sylvain
Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Erica Chan

Junyi Cui

Editorial Fellows

CLIP-ings: February 12, 2021

Internet Governance

Nevada Invites Technology Companies To Form “Alternative Local Governments”: A proposed bill in Nevada would allow companies working on emerging technologies to form local governments in “Innovation Zones,” which would have authorities similar to those of counties, including the power to impose taxes and provide government services.

New Section 230 Reform Would Restrict Immunity For Online Platforms: If passed, the proposed SAFE TECH Act update to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act would lift immunity for platforms in cases alleging stalking, harassment, or intimidation, as well as cases relating to advertisements and wrongful death;  critics of the bill argue that it is too broad and would likely result in “potentially dire” unintended consequences for the internet as we know it.   

Privacy

Eleventh Circuit Denies Standing Based On Future Harm Theory In Data Breach Incidents: The Eleventh Circuit joined four other circuits and denied a plaintiff standing in a data breach case on the basis that his allegations of an increased risk of future harm were too speculative;  in a separate case before the Supreme Court, technology companies filed an amicus brief that implores the Court to prohibit “abusive no-injury class action lawsuits.”

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Water Treatment Plant In Florida Hacked Due To Weak Security Practices: A Florida water treatment plant network that was hacked last week left itself vulnerable to an attack by lacking a firewall and employing poor password security; through the hack, an attacker was able to increase the sodium hydroxide content in the water supply for 15,000 people to poisonous levels before a plant operator noticed and reversed the change. 

Intellectual Property

Microsoft Patent Enables Virtual Conversations With Deceased Or Fictional Personalities: Microsoft was recently granted a patent for technology that would cull an individual’s “social data” to train a chatbot to converse in the personality of that individual, but the company says it doesn’t plan to create a product from the technology due to AI ethics concerns. 

Free Expression and Censorship

Facebook Plans To Remove Posts With Erroneous Claims About Vaccines: Whereas the social network had only “downranked” misleading claims about certain vaccines in the past, Facebook recently announced it will remove any false claims about vaccines that have been debunked by the World Health Organization and other leading health institutes.

Facebook’s Algorithm Is Blocking Ads By Adaptive Fashion Brands: By misidentifying adaptive fashion advertisements as the promotion of “medical and health products and services including medical devices,” Facebook’s automated intelligence system routinely rejects these ads and blocks them from the social media platform.

On the Lighter Side

From Kitten Filters To Upside-Down Heads, Attorneys Fumble In Video-Conferencing Meetings: In the latest news of video-conferencing mishaps, Minnesota Rep. Tom Emmer appeared up-side down in a meeting of the House Financial Services Committee, while earlier this week, a Texas attorney had trouble removing his kitten filter during a Zoom court appearance. 

Olivier Sylvain
Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Erica Chan

Junyi Cui

Editorial Fellows

CLIP-ings: February 5, 2021


Internet Governance

China’s New Media Policy Requires Self-Publishers To Obtain Accreditation: China’s new media regulation, which requires that self-publishers obtain the Internet News Information Permit “and other relevant accreditation” before publishing news about politics, threatens to put an end to the careers of independent journalists who have recently gained popularity for publishing work that news organizations have rejected.

U.K. Launches Inquiry Into Uber’s Acquisition Of Autocab For Its Effect On Competition: U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority is investigating Uber’s decision to acquire Autocab, U.K.-based software company that operates a ride-sharing platform that directly rivals Uber, over concerns that the acquisition will decrease competition in ride-sharing services.

Privacy

Amazon’s Transparency Report Reveals A Record High Number Of Government Demands For User Data In The Last Half Of 2020: Amazon processed 27,664 demands for user data from government authorities all over the world—an 800 percent increase from the first half of the year—and handed over data containing user content in 52 cases; more than 2,000 local law enforcement departments in the U.S. now participate in Amazon’s Ring network, and Amazon complied with more than 1,000 government efforts to obtain Ring video footage despite the device owners’ denial of access.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Apple iOS 14 Upgrade Features Changes That Address Zero-Click iMessage Attacks: Researchers discovered that Apple has updated the operating system to address vulnerabilities in the iMessage app that allow for “zero-click” attacks, which are “interactionless” attacks that could infect an iPhone without recipients clicking a link or downloading a file, by implementing structural changes, including establishing a “quarantine zone” where incoming messages are examined before being released into the iOS environment.

Free Expression and Censorship

India Warns Twitter To Comply With New Delhi’s Request To Block Accounts: After Twitter lifted its block of high-profile accounts in India, which was initially levied in compliance with New Delhi’s request in the wake of ongoing protests by farmers in the country, India warned the social media company not to “assume the role of a court and justify non-compliance.”  

Facebook Might Enable Advertisers To Choose What News Stories Appear Around Ads: Facebook is testing a new “topic exclusion controls” tool that allows advertisers on the platform to choose what news topics that they want to keep from appearing adjacent to their  advertisements; topic options include “news and politics,” “social issues,” and “crime and tragedy.”

Practice Note

Judge Rules Tim Cook To Sit For Seven-Hour Deposition: Despite Apple’s citation of the apex doctrine, which limits the extent to which high-level, corporate executives may be deposed, a judge ruled that the Apple CEO could be deposed for up to seven hours in the company’s litigation against Epic Games.  

On the Lighter Side

Texas Sends Out Amber Alert For Chucky, The Killer Doll: Blaming a test malfunction, the Texas Department of Public Safety accidentally sent out three Amber Alerts warning the public to be on the lookout for Chucky, the serial killer doll from the Child’s Play series.  

Olivier Sylvain
Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Erica Chan
Junyi Cui
Editorial Fellows

CLIP-ings: January 29, 2021

Internet Governance

Facebook Content Oversight Board Announces First Round Of Rulings: The board, which was established last year to review content moderation decisions for the social network, overruled four out of five of Facebook’s decisions to remove posts containing hate speech, the incitement of violence, misinformation, and adult nudity; the board is also set to soon rule on Facebook’s recent decision to indefinitely suspend former President Trump.

Privacy

WhatsApp Implements Biometric Authentication For Desktop Logins: The messaging service announced that users who employ biometric authentication to access the app on their phones will now be required to authenticate access to the phone app before logging into the web browser or desktop versions of the service; the move is intended to ensure that anyone who might obtain access to another’s phone cannot link the phone user’s account to their own web browser.

CCPA Inspires Global Privacy Opt-Out Standard: Provisions in the California Consumer Privacy Act that provide consumers a right to opt-out of having their personal information sold by websites they visit have given rise to a new privacy standard, known as Global Privacy Control, which is designed to function as a single-click, automated global opt-out mechanism that enables internet users to signify to sites that they don’t want their data collected and shared.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Data Breaches Down In 2020: A report from the Identity Theft Research Center indicates that there were fewer data breaches in 2020 than in previous years, but that cyber criminals were still able to run lucrative schemes by leveraging previously stolen data or engaging in ransomware attacks; according to the report, the approximately 1,100 data breaches in 2020 affected 300 million individuals—but those numbers do not account for yet-unknown incidents or recent attacks for which the full impact is still uncertain, such as the SolarWinds hack.

Free Expression and Censorship

Stock-Talk Channels Suspended, Reinstated, In Wake Of GameStop Stock Run: Instant messaging service Discord banned the WallStreetBets server for allegedly hosting “occasional content that violates [its] Community Guidelines,” but is now working with a WallStreetBets team to moderate a new server; similarly, the WallStreetBets subreddit went private for a period of time due to “technical difficulties based on the unprecedented scale as a result of the newfound interest in” the forum.

Facebook To Stop Recommending Political And Civic Groups: As part of an effort to prevent “fighting and politics” from taking over its platform and “to make sure the communities people connect with are healthy and positive,” Facebook announced that it would stop recommending “political and civic groups” among the types of pages for users to follow.

Practice Note

2016 Election Misinformation Spreader Charged With Voter Suppression: Federal authorities charged the alt-right figure who went by the pseudonym Ricky Vaughn with conspiracy to “disseminate misinformation designed to deprive individuals of their constitutional right to vote” during the 2016 election cycle by, among other things, designing meme-based misinformation campaigns that encouraged people to vote using illegitimate methods, such as by posting their votes on Facebook or Twitter or through text messages; the use of social media messages in this case could amount to a “tectonic shift in how the federal government tries to enforce laws against election interference.” 

On the Lighter Side

Spotify Wants To Know How You’re Feeling: A patent for speech-recognition technology granted to the music streaming service would enable it to detect listeners’ emotions and recommend appropriate music based on characteristics of listeners’ speech, including “intonation, stress, [and] rhythm.” 

Olivier Sylvain
Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: January 22, 2021

Internet Governance

Google Acquired Fitbit Despite Antitrust Investigation: Google closed its $2.1 billion takeover of Fitbit as a step to improve its hardware business despite ongoing antitrust investigation of the acquisition, leaving open the possibility that the U.S. Department of Justice might sue to unwind the completed deal in the future; regulators and consumer groups around the world have voiced privacy and antitrust concerns about the deal since as early as when it was announced in 2019.

Facebook And Google Allegedly Engaged In “Sweetheart Deal” To Promote Digital Advertising: Documents from Texas’s antitrust lawsuit against Facebook and Google reveal that the two tech giants might have reached an agreement in 2018 to reduce competition in the digital advertising space that gave Facebook preferential treatment in ad header bidding and also insight into its ad audiences.

Privacy

Facebook Settles Class Action Suit Alleging Violations Of Illinois Biometric Data Law: Facebook will pay a total of $650 million in settlement fees to 1.6 million users in Illinois for collecting their facial data without their informed consent to support its “tag suggestions” feature, in violation of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act; if Facebook had proceeded to trial and lost, it could have been liable for up to $35 billion, given statutory penalties of $1,000 for each accidental violation, or $5,000 for each knowing violation of the Act.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Data Breach Of Parler Revealed Videos Filmed Near Law Enforcement Buildings And Military Bases In The U.S.: GPS data analysis of videos posted on the Parler app, which was one of the online forums used to plan the attack on the U.S. Capitol building earlier this month, revealed that more than a hundred of the videos were filmed within 50 to 1,000 feet of law enforcement buildings, military bases, and an immigrant detention center; although some videos captured benign activities of officers, experts warn against the threat of officers’ potential exposure to extremist ideologies.

Intellectual Property

Trump Pardons Former Google Engineer Who Pleaded Guilty To Stealing Trade Secrets: Hours before leaving office, President Trump granted a full pardon to Anthony Levandowski, the former engineer who was sentenced to 18 months in prison for stealing trade secrets related to Google’s self-driving car project.

Free Expression and Censorship

President Of The European Commission Calls For U.S. To Regulate Big Tech: After recounting the storming of the U.S. Capitol building earlier this month, President von der Leyen warned that hate speech and disinformation can undermine democratic institutions, and called for Europe and the U.S to impose “democratic limits on the untrammelled and uncontrolled political power of the internet giants.”

For Many Americans, Trust In Traditional Media Is Disappearing: According to Edelman’s annual trust barometer report, only 46% of Americans trust traditional media while 56% agree with the statement that “[j]ournalists and reporters are purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations.”

On the Lighter Side

Biden Administration Recruits IT Experts Through Easter Egg In White House Website’s Source Code: After Joe Biden was sworn in as President this past Wednesday, Twitter users found a comment tag in the source code of the updated whitehouse.gov website that linked viewers to the hiring page of the U.S. Digital Service, the federal unit created to “deliver better government services to the American people through technology and design.” 

Olivier Sylvain
Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Erica Chan
Junyi Cui
Editorial Fellows

CLIP-ings: January 15, 2021

Internet Governance

Google Hides Links To Certain News Sites From Search Results In Australia: Google has removed links to stories by the Guardian Australia, the Australian, and the Sydney Morning Herald from search results in the country, purportedly as part of “experiments” designed to “measure the impacts of news businesses and Google Search on each other”; others, however, view the move as reaction to the Australian government’s recent proposal that would require Google and others to share advertising revenue with the country’s news publishers.

Airbnb Blocks D.C. Bookings For Inauguration: In light of warnings about potentially violent protests in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere on Inauguration Day, Airbnb has cancelled all reservations and is blocking new requests for stays in the D.C. area in the days around January 20th; the site is also assisting law enforcement with identifying users who were “involved in the criminal activity at the Capitol building” last week.

Privacy

Flo App Settles With FTC Over Sharing User Data: The fertility and period-tracking app with over 100 million users allegedly shared details about users’ menstrual cycles and intentions to become pregnant with third-party analytics and marketing services, including Facebook and Google, without allowing users to block the sharing; under the settlement’s terms, Flo must notify affected users that their data was shared and ensure that third-party recipients destroy affected users’ data.

TikTok Enhances Privacy For Younger Users: As part of several efforts designed to improve privacy for children who use the app, TikTok will make the accounts of users under 16 private by default; other changes involve limiting who can comment on children’s posts and restricting the use of certain collaborative features by children.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Ring Debuts End-to-end Encryption: After improving its privacy and security settings by, among other things, implementing a Control Center dashboard and requiring two-factor authentication, the home security company will now add end-to-end encryption to its doorbells and video cameras.

Free Expression and Censorship

Snapchat Among Latest Platforms To Ban Trump: “In the interest of public safety,” the app permanently banned Trump for “clear violations of [its] guidelines,” including “attempts to spread misinformation, hate speech, and incite violence”; similarly, YouTube, “in light of concerns about the ongoing potential for violence” leading up to Inauguration Day, removed content recently uploaded to Trump’s channel and will ban the uploading of new content to it until at least January 19th.

Practice Note

ABA Ethics Committee Publishes Guidance About Attorney Response To Negative Online Reviews: In a Formal Opinion, the Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility iterates the importance of maintaining client confidentiality and offers a set of best practices for responding to online reviews.

On the Lighter Side

Lost Password Could Lead To Lost Fortune: A man who lost the password to a hard drive containing $240 million worth of Bitcoin has two more login attempts left before the hard drive encrypts itself and becomes permanently inaccessible. 

Olivier Sylvain
Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: January 8, 2021

Internet Governance

U.S. Department Of Labor Issues Final Rule For Classifying Employees And Independent Contractors: The rule, which could help companies in the gig economy to classify workers as independent contractors instead of employees, identifies two “core factors” for drawing the distinction—the “nature and degree of control over the work” and the “opportunity for profit or loss”—plus additional “guideposts” to aid in analysis.

Trump Administration Cracks Down On Chinese Apps And Software In Final Days: Via an executive order issued on January 5th, Trump has banned transactions with eight Chinese apps and software services that “can access and capture vast swaths of information from users.”

Privacy

App Developers Seek Workaround To Forthcoming Apple Privacy Update: In response to an iPhone update that will prevent apps from tracking identifiers for advertising purposes without user consent, app developers are exploring the use of techniques such as device fingerprinting and email hashing to subvert the new policy.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

U.S. Government Officially Blames Russia For SolarWinds Hack: A joint statement by the FBI, the NSA, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence acknowledged that “an Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) actor, likely Russian in origin, is responsible for most or all of the recently discovered, ongoing cyber compromises of both government and non-governmental networks”; this week, it was reported that Department of Justice email accounts were also affected by the attack.

Intellectual Property

Facebook Fined In Italy For Stealing App’s Tech: An Italian court of appeals upheld a decision that Facebook copied the Faround app, which presented Facebook users with an interactive map of nearby stores, to launch its own, similar Nearby Places app; the decision highlights concerns about unfair competition, noting that Facebook had “privileged and early access” to the Faround app to test whether it was compatible with its platform.

Free Expression and Censorship

Facebook Locks Trump’s Account “Indefinitely”: After the President’s account was temporarily locked in the wake of Wednesday’s unrest on Capitol Hill, Mark Zuckerberg announced that the account will now be locked “indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.

Practice Note

Italian Court Finds That Food Delivery Service App Deliveroo’s Algorithm Is Discriminatory: The court concluded that the algorithm, which determines rider “reliability” based on cancellation data, is discriminatory because it fails to take into account reasons for cancellation and thereby “unjustly penalizes riders with legally legitimate reasons for not working”; the decision is seen as a landmark one, as it creates precedent for subjecting algorithms to judicial review and placing liability on companies that employ even unintentionally discriminatory algorithms.

On the Lighter Side

Covid-19 Vaccine Meme Electrifies The Internet: Online jokesters and conspiracy theorists alike have shared a diagram of schematics purported to be that of a chip injected into people who receive the Covid-19 vaccine—but it’s really just the circuitry for a guitar effect pedal. 

Olivier Sylvain
Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: December 18, 2020

Internet Governance

Google Facing A Googol’s Worth Of Litigation As 52 Attorneys General And The Department Of Justice Allege Antitrust Violations: Across a series of actions likely to be consolidated into one lawsuit, the federal government, several coalitions of states, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the District of Columbia allege that the search engine goliath has long engaged in exclusionary agreements and anticompetitive conduct involving blocking competition for online advertising, abusing vertical integration in order to win advertising, limiting access to competitors, prohibiting interoperability of its search-advertising business, and throttling the speeds of those who try to circumvent Google Search by accessing destinations directly.

Privacy

Facebook Took Out Full-Page Ads To Stand Up To Apple: In addition to creating a website criticizing Apple’s forthcoming policy that will require iPhone users to choose whether to allow certain companies to track them across different apps, Facebook took out full-page ads in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times to “speak[] up for small businesses” that have allegedly expressed concern over the policy change; however, Facebook’s published statements neglect to mention how the new policy could also hurt its own advertising business. 

Facebook To Move United Kingdom Users To United States Accounts: In response to Brexit, the social network will put its U.K. users into agreements with its California-based corporate headquarters to sever their relationship with its Ireland-based unit for the purpose of putting those users out of EU privacy law’s reach; privacy advocates are concerned that the shift might lead the U.K. to adopt looser privacy laws as it negotiates a trade deal with the U.S., and that U.K. users may have their information shared with the U.S. government.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Behind The Russia-Based Cyberattack Affecting Multiple United States Government Agencies And Private Firms: A backdoor initially detected by cybersecurity firm FireEye and Microsoft was implanted by Russia’s primary foreign intelligence agency, SVR, in an update to SolarWinds’s Orion IT monitoring platform back in March; with thousands of Orion users around the world, including the United States Departments of Commerce, the Treasury, and Homeland Security, and given the nation-state level sophistication of the malware, the effects of the ongoing breach and its impact may remain uncertain for many more months.

Free Expression and Censorship

Misinformation Purveyors Pivot To Covid-19 Vaccines: In order to maintain their social media influence, peddlers of online misinformation are switching topics to stay relevant; those who were spreading election conspiracy theories are now pushing false Covid-19 vaccine narratives as voter fraud misinformation has subsided.

Twitch’s New Policy Bans Terms “Simps,” “Incel,” And “Virgin”: Due to a rise in sexual harassment complaints and in an effort to make the streaming platform a safer environment, Twitch will ban the words when they are used to harass another person for their sexual activity.

Practice Note

European Union Announces Intent To Bolster Anti-Competition Efforts By Introducing Aggressive Regulation Via Two Acts: Carrying the threat of fines as high as 10% of annual global revenue, the Digital Markets Act (DMA) would bar large online platforms, or “gatekeepers,” from favoring their own products over those of rivals or using data they have collected in an exclusionary way, while the Digital Services Act (DSA), which is aimed at preserving the laws of EU member nations, and would penalize platforms up to 6% of their annual revenue for not removing illegal posts following a government order.

On the Lighter Side

Twitter Update Will Show Users Tweets They Find Funny: Anecdotal evidence suggests that as people spend more time on video calls with co-workers, friends, and family, more have turned to plastic surgery to improve their on-camera appearance. 

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

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Erica Chan
Daniel Gerken
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP