CLIP-ings: October 18, 2019

Internet Governance

Libra Association Loses A Quarter Of Its Membership As More Companies Abandon The Project: Seven companies have now withdrawn from the association formed to spearhead Facebook’s cryptocurrency project, which has been the subject of intense legislative and regulatory scrutiny; the 21 remaining members will meet in Switzerland next week to finalize the association’s governing charter and initial membership.

Privacy

California Publishes Draft Regulations That Address How Businesses Must Comply With New Consumer Privacy Law: The proposals include requiring companies to display a “Do Not Sell My Info” link on homepages and mobile apps, providing paper notices on data collection (for businesses with physical stores), and providing consumers with at least two ways to find or delete data that has been collected about them; the deadline for comments on the draft regulations is December 6.

Apple “Safe Browsing” Mode Stokes Privacy Concerns Over Data Sharing With Chinese Tech Giant: The default browsing mode, which is designed to protect users from malicious websites, allows Safari to send browser history information to Tencent, which has close ties with the Chinese government. 

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Online Trust Audit Finds 70% Of Presidential Campaign Websites Fail To Adequately Protect User Data: Of the 23 candidate websites surveyed, only seven were found to provide sufficient privacy and security protections; notably, a survey of each website’s privacy statement showed that all websites either engage in “free sharing” of user data or have no privacy statement at all. 

Intellectual Property

Facebook And Libra Subsidiary Face Trademark Infringement Lawsuit Over Logo: A startup bank is suing Facebook, Calibra (the Facebook subsidiary formed to manage Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency), and the design agency that made the Calibra logo in federal court in New York; curiously, the design agency is also responsible for creating the plaintiff-bank’s logo three years ago.

Twitter Temporarily Suspends Notorious Pro-Trump Meme Creator Over Copyright Violation: Known as “Carpe Dunktum,” the Twitter user has since re-uploaded much of his older content, which has been featured on the President’s Twitter feed on numerous occasions; although it is unknown which post was specifically flagged, it is believed the violation occurred in connection with his posting of a recent fictional video depicting Trump killing off critical journalists.

Free Expression and Censorship

House Energy and Commerce Committee Considers Use Of Section 230 Language In Trade Agreements: In a hearing this week, the committee considered the implications of inserting language from section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which gives online platforms legal immunity for content posted by third parties, into a recent trade pact with Japan and the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement.

On the Lighter Side

Google Chief Recommends Warning Visitors Who Enter Your Home About Active Smart Speakers: The statement by the senior VP of hardware was made during a BBC interview regarding the lineup of Google’s new devices; the executive noted that he has already adopted the practice in his own home.

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

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Alison Gordon
Lawrence Keating
Editorial Fellows

CLIP-ings: October 11, 2019

Internet Governance

PayPal Withdraws Support For Facebook’s Libra Cryptocurrency: The online payment systems company has withdrawn from an organization overseeing the creation and rollout of Libra, which continues to attract scrutiny from legislators: Mark Zuckerberg is scheduled to testify before the House Committee on Financial Services on October 23, and two Democratic Senators have written to Visa, Mastercard, and Stripe warning them to expect a high level of scrutiny should they decide to become involved with Libra.

Privacy

Declassified FISA Rulings Reveal FBI Violated Americans’ Privacy In Mass Surveillance Searches: In one of several rulings disclosed by the Director of National Intelligence this week, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court found that FBI searches were inconsistent with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the Fourth Amendment; the court pointed specifically to the FBI’s failure to differentiate which search terms specifically concerned U.S. residents, as well as to a number of incidents dating back to 2017 in which large-scale searches improperly captured information about Americans.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

U.S., UK, And Australia Call On Facebook To Halt Plans For End-To-End Encryption: In an open letter to Facebook, representatives from the three countries asked Facebook not to proceed with its plan to implement end-to-end encryption across its messaging services; the letter emphasizes the need to balance data security with the need for law enforcement to access information for criminal investigations.

Twitter Admits To Using Security Credentials For Targeted Advertising: In a statement released Tuesday, Twitter admitted to using phone numbers and email addresses provided as part of its two-step authentication process to serve targeted ads to an unknown number of users; the revelation comes less than a year after Facebook received a $5 billion FTC fine for engaging in the same practice.

Intellectual Property

SCOTUS Declines To Hear University of Wisconsin’s Appeal In Patent Dispute Against Apple: The Supreme Court declined to review a district court’s decision to throw out a $506.1 million verdict for Wisconsin, which the University’s licensing body was awarded after a jury in 2015 found that Apple violated its 1998 patent on a “predictor circuit” that assists processors in quickly executing computer programs.

Free Expression and Censorship

Apple Removes Apps From Chinese App Store And Hides Taiwanese Flag Emoji From Hong Kong Users: In response to complaints from the Chinese government, Apple has blocked an app that tracked the locations of police and protestors in Hong Kong and also removed the Quartz news app due to its coverage of the protests; Apple has also hidden the Taiwanese flag emoji , which was otherwise accessible worldwide except in mainland China.

Blizzard Bans Gaming Streamer After Vocalizing Support For Hong Kong During Livestream: The Hong Kong player known as “blitzchung” will forfeit any prize money earned in the competition, and will be ineligible from further participating for one year; the ban is seen as overly partisan and has incited online criticism of Blizzard, which is partially owned by Chinese investors.

On the Lighter Side

Instagram Says Goodbye To The “Following” Tab: Introduced in 2011 so that users could connect with mutual friends, Instagram says the feature is rarely used today, and that its removal will curb unwanted prying; a live update has already been released replacing Following with Activity, which is more focused on individual users.

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

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Alison Gordon
Lawrence Keating
Editorial Fellows

CLIP-ings: October 4, 2019

Internet Governance

D.C. Circuit Upholds FCC’s Repeal Of Net Neutrality Regulations: The court also held that the FCC could not prevent states from passing their own laws to protect net neutrality; five states have already enacted legislation or regulations protecting net neutrality, and thirty-four states and the District of Columbia have introduced bills or regulations to the same effect.

Privacy

English Court Of Appeal Allows “Safari Workaround” Class Action Against Google To Proceed: The case alleges that Google bypassed iPhone users’ privacy settings to track their web habits between 2011 and 2012; the court found that the plaintiffs could properly hold Google accountable for “deliberate misuse of personal data without consent” if their claims can be proven.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

FBI Investigates Alleged Hacking Attempt Into West Virginia’s Mobile Voting App: The app allows voters who are active military or registered to vote abroad to cast their votes from their phones; the app’s co-founder and CEO announced that a group had attempted to access the system during the 2018 Midterm Elections, and reported the incident to law enforcement to investigate.

Intellectual Property

Blackberry Loses Patent Protection Under Alice: In patent infringement litigation between Facebook, Twitter, Snap, and BlackBerry over BlackBerry’s mobile messaging and targeted advertising patents, a California District Court judge concluded that four of the patents were invalid under the Alice decision.

Google Side-Steps EU Copyright Directive’s New Link Tax: In response to France’s establishment of a link tax, Google, which would be obligated under the Directive to pay for displaying “snippets” of publishers’ copyright-protected material alongside its search results, is instead updating how search results are displayed; results will now appear without a “snippet” by default, leaving publishers to opt-in to including additional information.

Free Expression and Censorship

CJEU Rules That Individual Countries Can Order Facebook To Take Down Offensive Material Globally: Following its ruling last week that limited the reach of the “right to be forgotten,” the Court of Justice of the European Union found that courts in EU member states may require Facebook to remove on a global scale content that is “defamatory or otherwise illegal.”

Practice Note

Active Consent Is Required For Cookie Use In The EU: The Court of Justice of the European Union set a higher standard for user consent to ad tracking cookies by holding that pre-checked tick-boxes and cryptic consent agreement forms are invalid; the court did not, however, consider “cookie-walls” on websites that require users to accept cookie agreements prior to accessing the site.

On the Lighter Side

CIA To Retire Its Network Of Secure Fax Machines: Vendors will instead communicate with the Agency via its new cloud-based web service, Gray Magic, which is currently in beta; the CIA hopes to lead the intelligence community in a renewed wave of cloud-based services.

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

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Alison Gordon
Lawrence Keating
Editorial Fellows

CLIP-ings: September 27, 2019

Internet Governance

CJEU Rules The Right To Be Forgotten Limited To The European Union: The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that the EU’s Right to Be Forgotten does not require Google and other search engines to remove links to inadequate or irrelevant personal information from its search results globally, but instead that search engines are only obligated to remove such results within EU member states.

Privacy

Google Assistant To Receive Update After Backlash Over Recorded Audio: Google will “vastly reduce” the amount of recorded audio it collects from is voice-activated assistant and will no longer store recordings by default following July reports that a contractor leaked private audio recordings; Google, which had purportedly been using the recordings to improve its translation service, will now give consumers the choice of whether to share recordings or not.

Australia To Catch Distracted Drivers With New Mobile Phone Detection Cameras: Photos taken by the new cameras will be subject to AI review, then human verification, to confirm which drivers will be fined for driving while using their phones; the government of New South Wales plans to roll out as many as 45 cameras by December 2019.

Information Security & Cyberthreats

Russian Nationalist Hacker Pleads Guilty To Largest Bank Hack In U.S. History: Between 2012 and 2015, Andrei Tyurin stole more than 100 million consumer records as part of a conspiracy to commit a variety of criminal schemes including wire and securities fraud; in 2014, Tyurin hacked JPMorgan to access the data of over 80 million victims, making it the biggest theft of consumer data from a single financial institution in the U.S.

Recent Malware Campaign Against Uyghur Muslims Revealed To Have Targeted Tibetan Officials: Users posing as representatives from Amnesty International and The New York Times sent malicious links over WhatsApp capable of installing spyware to access sensitive information; although the attacks were thought to be confined to Apple iOS devices, research shows Tibetan officials were attacked on Android devices as well.

Intellectual Property

Sprint Argues To SCOTUS That $140 Million Patent Infringement Award Is Reasonable: In response to Time Warner Cable’s petition to review the judgment resulting from its infringement of Sprint’s internet calling patents, Sprint argued that the Federal Circuit correctly determined that the judgment was backed by sufficient evidence and that the award did not “contravene the principles of apportionment.”

Free Expression & Censorship

Facebook Will Not Remove Lies Or Hate Speech Posted By Politicians: As part of an effort to avoid election interference, Facebook will not fact check or censor newsworthy posts by politicians, even if the content constitutes hate speech or violates other of the social network’s policies; the company’s head of global policy and communications said that it will be up to users to “judge what politicians say themselves.”

On The Lighter Side

Match.com Sued For Leading On Its Non-Paying Users : The FTC alleges that the dating site allowed non-paying users, who are unable to read or respond to messages, to subscribe in response to messages received from accounts that Match knew to be fraudulent but which it had not yet deleted.

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

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Alison Gordon
Lawrence Keating
Editorial Fellow

CLIP-ings: September 20, 2019

Internet Governance

France, Germany, Announce Opposition To Facebook’s Proposed Cryptocurrency: Following a meeting of G7 Finance Ministers and the European Central Bank’s governors in July, France and Germany have determined that Facebook’s Libra proposal fails to address issues such as financial security, investor protection, money laundering, and terrorist financing; the countries also urge the European Central Bank to accelerate its own digital currency project.

Privacy

Amazon Targets Third Party Apps For Privacy Policy Violations: Amazon has begun to crack down on third-party app developers who rely on its Marketplace Web Service API to create apps that assist Amazon sellers in ways that violate Amazon’s privacy policy, such as by using API data to create targeted advertisements.

Private Surveillance Company Captures More Than Nine Billion License Plate Scans: A Motherboard investigation reveals that Digital Recognition Network, which manufacturers license plate-reading tools, has built a database of over nine billion license plate scans through which private or government investigators can potentially track the movements and locations of vehicles over a long period of time; the company crowdsources its data from repo men, who affix scanners to their cars and passively capture and upload data about license plates they drive by.

Information Security & Cyberthreats

Database Vulnerability Exposes Records About Most Of Ecuador’s Citizens: A misconfigured database provided access to 20.8 million records sourced from both the government and the private sector; the records included those related to notable figures such as Ecuador’s president, as well as those related to children, family trees, and car ownership.

Russia Breached Encrypted FBI Communication in 2010: a Yahoo News exclusive reveals that in 2010, Russian counterintelligence engaged in a “very broad effort to try and penetrate” FBI technologies and communications that had far-reaching effects on U.S. intelligence efforts; the breach may have served as an additional incentive for the Obama administration to banish almost three dozen Russian officials from the U.S. in 2016.

Intellectual Property

Amazon’s Audible Claims “Fair Use”: In a lawsuit filed by seven major publishers alleging Audible’s new service displaying text captions along with audiobook playback violates their copyrights, Audible has argued that the practice constitutes fair use; Audible cites to a 2015 Second Circuit ruling allowing Google to display snippets of scanned books, and the dispute is expected to ignite another animated debate about the nature of “transformative use.”

Free Expression & Censorship

Draft House Bill Proposes Task Force And Commission To Study How Social Media Companies Police Online Content: The bill, which will be introduced next week, would establish a national commission to review how tech companies protect users from harmful content and to propose appropriate legislation; the bill’s introduction follows a Senate hearing on Wednesday at which representatives from Facebook, Google, and Twitter were questioned about whether their platforms have become conduits for violent speech.

On The Lighter Side

Stay And Watch The Game: The University Of Alabama has rolled out a location-tracking app designed to entice students to stay in the stands for the duration of football games by offering improved access to playoff tickets for those who remain.

Announcements

Fellowship Opportunity: The Fletcher School and Tuft’s Department of Computer Science are seeking a postdoctoral or JD candidate with a background in privacy law for a research fellowship studying privacy implications of communications metadata usage.

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

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Alison Gordon
Lawrence Keating
Editorial Fellow

CLIP-ings: September 13, 2019

Internet Governance

Texas Law Banning Deepfake Videos Takes Effect: The legislation prohibits the creation or distribution of videos within 30 days of an election that appear to depict “a real person performing an action that did not occur in reality” if the video is created or distributed with the intent to injure a candidate or influence the election; Texas is the second state after Virginia to criminalize deepfake videos, with similar bans currently being considered in California and by Congress.

Fifty Attorneys General Announce Google Antitrust Investigation: Following reports last week that Google would be the subject of an antitrust probe, representatives from 48 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have now officially launched their inquiry, which will focus on whether Google has harmed competition and consumers through its search, advertising, and other businesses; the attorneys general of California and Alabama declined to participate.

Privacy

DHS Proposes New Rule To Obtain Social Media Usernames From Asylum Seekers, Immigrants, And Refugees: If implemented, the rule would require applicants to provide five years’ worth of usernames for 19 different social media sites including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube; the Department is seeking comments on the proposal until November 4.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Apple Comments On iOS Hacking Operation: In the wake of a Google report last week that iPhones were hacked in an extensive malware operation, Apple has confirmed the attack, but has clarified certain elements of the report—namely, that the attack was narrowly focused to target China’s Uyghur Muslim community, that the attack ran for approximately two months instead of two years, and that Apple was already in the process of fixing the vulnerability that enabled the attack before being notified about it by Google.

Intellectual Property

Nintendo Blocks Access To Pirated Games By Enjoining UK ISPs: As part of its long-standing fight against piracy, Nintendo sought and won an injunction that prohibits five major UK internet providers from providing access to four websites known for hosting pirated material; the effort marked a tactical change from Nintendo’s typical practice of targeting pirated content directly.

Free Expression and Censorship

Ninth Circuit Declares Montana Law Banning Political Robocalling Unconstitutional: The court found that content-specific bans on robocalling presented a threat to First Amendment rights and hampered candidates with limited resources, defeating the State’s concerns for privacy protection and busy phone lines.

Practice Note

Scraping Public Information Deemed Legal By Ninth Circuit: In a 3-0 decision, the court upheld an injunction that prohibits LinkedIn from blocking tech startup hiQ Labs from harvesting public information from user profiles; the court reasoned that it was doubtful that users had any expectation of privacy in the publicly listed information.

On the Lighter Side

Web Browser Workaround Makes Private Instagram Posts Accessible To All: By using the “Inspect Element” tool and tabbing to the “Img” selection, users can locate a URL for any previously viewed post or story, which can then be shared publicly regardless of the user’s privacy setting.

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

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Alison Gordon
Lawrence Keating
Editorial Fellows


CLIP-ings: September 6, 2019

Internet Governance

Tech Companies Lobby For Last Minute Changes To California Data Privacy Law: Lobbyists are seeking to amend the California Consumer Privacy Act, which passed in August 2018 and takes effect next year, to protect digital advertising revenue by allowing the collection of user data for targeted advertising even if users opt out and broadening the types of “business purpose” for which user data can be sold or distributed.

Google Is The Subject Of Upcoming Antitrust Probe: Following a recent uptick in regulatory scrutiny, Google may now be the subject of an antitrust probe prepared by more than half the nation’s state attorneys general; more information is expected to be announced officially this Monday.

Privacy

FTC, New York Attorney General, And YouTube Settle Investigation Into Alleged COPPA Violations: YouTube will pay a record $170 million fine—$136 million to the FTC and $34 million to New York—for allegedly collecting personal information from viewers of child-oriented channels without first notifying parents and obtaining their consent in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act Rule.

Information Security & Cyberthreats

Google’s Security Team Uncovers Extensive iPhone Hacking Operation: Hackers infected a small collection of websites with malware that collected iPhone users’ location history, passwords, chat history, address books, and Gmail databases; the hack is believed to have affected thousands of users for over more than two years, and was rectified by Apple in an operating system update in February this year.

Manager Wires $243,000 To Fraudsters Imitating CEO’s Voice Using Deepfake Technology: Fraudsters successfully convinced an executive of a UK-based energy firm to send the funds by imitating the voice of his boss using commercially available deepfake software.

Intellectual Property

USPTO Seeks Comment On AI’s Impact On Intellectual Property: To address some of the mounting questions posed by AI, the USPTO has published a call for comments in the Federal Register to solicit feedback from experts and the general public about, among other things, the nature of AI and how intellectual property protections should extend to it.

Free Expression & Censorship

Anti-Nazi Documentary Removed From YouTube For Violating Hate Speech Policy: The 1938 newsreel film “Inside Nazi Germany” was removed despite an exception to YouTube’s policy for educational content and documentaries, although YouTube has since restored the video.

On The Lighter Side

Patent Granted For Heated Keyboard To Divert Cats Away From The Real Thing: The invention details designs for a decoy keyboard so computer users won’t be interrupted by their cats laying on the keys.

Job And Fellowship Opportunities

From time to time, CLIP-ings highlights career opportunities in the information law field. Please note the following opportunities at the Future of Privacy Forum:

Opportunities for Former Students/Graduates:

Opportunities for Current Students:

  • Remote student contractors working on education privacy ($20/hour for 10-20 hours a week).
  • Blogging opportunities for students interested in writing about student privacy issues on FERPA|Sherpa, paid at $150 per blog. Interested students should email avance@fpf.org to apply with their resume and an attached writing sample (ideally non-legal).

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

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Alison Gordon
Editorial Fellow

CLIP-ings: August 30, 2019

Internet Governance

German Court Suspends Cartel Regulator’s Restrictions On Facebook Data Integration: A Dusseldorf court suspended an order by Germany’s Federal Cartel Office that would have created a structural separation of Facebook’s businesses by banning the company from combining data across Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp without user consent; the Office has indicated that it intends to appeal the suspension.

FTC, AT&T, Settle Data Throttling Lawsuit: The 2014 lawsuit alleged that AT&T failed to inform consumers with unlimited plans that their data speeds would be reduced after they used a certain amount of data each month; the parties have sought a 90-day stay to allow the FTC to vote on the settlement.

Privacy

Sweden Imposes First GDPR Fine On Municipality For High School’s Trialing Of Facial Recognition Technology: The school claimed that it obtained students’ consent for a pilot program to use facial recognition technology to monitor student attendance; the Swedish Data Protection Authority found that it was nevertheless unlawful to collect the students’ data due to a “clear imbalance between the data subject and the controller.”

Information Security & Cyberthreats

Sensitive Bioterrorism Defense Data Stored On Insecure Website For Over A Decade: The Department of Homeland Security stored the information, which included the public locations of air samplers used to detect airborne biological weapons, results of tests for possible pathogens, and response plans that would be implemented in the event of a bioterrorism attack, on a website that was vulnerable to attacks by hackers; the website has now been shut down, but officials do not know whether hackers obtained access to the data.

Intellectual Property

Former Waymo Engineer Indicted For Autonomous Vehicle Trade Secrets Theft: The DOJ filed a 33-count indictment against Anthony Levandowski, alleging that he stole trade secrets relating to self-driving car technology from Google’s Waymo before leaving to found his own company that was later acquired by Uber; Levandowski pleaded not guilty at an arraignment in federal court in California.

Publishers Sue Audible Over Speech-To-Text Feature: Seven book publishers have filed a lawsuit against the audiobook company alleging that its new “Captions” feature, which uses machine learning to transcribe spoken words into written ones so users can follow the text of an audiobook, violates copyright law because Audible does not hold licenses to reproduce written versions of the books; Audible contends that the feature “was never intended to be a book,” and emphasizes that it differs from a book in that users cannot flip through pages of text but must wait for text to be generated as they listen along.

Free Expression & Censorship

College Student’s Visa Cancelled Over Friends’ Social Media Posts: U.S. Customs and Border Protection cancelled a Harvard student’s visa at the airport due to U.S.-critical posts on his friends’ social media accounts, even though the student had not interacted in any way with the content; the student is seeking to challenge the decision.

On The Lighter Side

Court Orders Man Claiming To Be Bitcoin Inventor To Pay $5 Billion In Bitcoin: A U.S. district court in Florida has ordered Craig Wright to pay half of his Bitcoin holdings to the estate of a deceased programmer involved in the creation of the cryptocurrency; experts have questioned Wright’s claim that he invented Bitcoin, and the court did not decide the question.

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

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Alison Gordon
Editorial Fellow

CLIP-ings: August 23, 2019

Internet Governance

Facebook Faces Fair Housing Act Lawsuit Over Advertising Practices: Several New York residents filed a proposed class action in California federal court alleging that Facebook allowed advertisers to restrict ads from certain users based on characteristics such as race and gender; the lawsuit is the latest in a string of litigation concerning the allegedly discriminatory nature of housing advertisements on Facebook.

States Reportedly Planning Antitrust Investigation Of Big Tech Companies: At least twelve states’ attorneys general are intending to issue civil subpoenas in the latest antitrust investigation into the major technology companies; the investigation is expected to be formally announced in September.

Privacy

Facebook Launches “Clear History” Privacy Feature: The new tool, which will initially be introduced in Spain, Ireland, and South Korea, will show users which websites are tracking their off-Facebook activity and sending ad targeting reports to Facebook, and will allow users to “disconnect” their off-Facebook activity from their Facebook account; the tool will not delete data from Facebook’s servers, however.

Is Libra What It Seems? A new opinion paper released by researchers at the Digital Equity Association and University College London’s Centre for Blockchain Technologies argues that Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency is born out of the social network’s motivation to “become the world’s digital identity provider”—a role that would be of significant financial interest to Facebook as an advertising company.

Information Security & Cyberthreats

Ransomware Attack Targets 22 Texas City And Local Governments: The coordinated attack has reportedly affected access to birth and death certificates and utility bill payment services; the attack highlights the vulnerabilities of some local governments’ IT infrastructure.

Intellectual Property

YouTube Sues Alleged Copyright Troll Over Extortion Scheme: YouTube contends that a user who caused the website to remove other users’ content by making false allegations of copyright violations, and then demanded payment from the users to withdraw the allegations, violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s prohibition against fraudulent takedown claims.

Free Expression & Censorship

Facebook, Twitter, Investigate Chinese Government-Linked Accounts Critical Of Hong Kong Protests: The social media companies discovered and have suspended certain accounts and advertisers which are alleged to have “deliberately and specifically” sought to create political discord around the protests in Hong Kong.

Practice Note

Federal Circuit Affirms Injunction Barring PTAB Proceedings On Basis Of Forum Selection Clause: A clause in a patent license agreement which stated that any disputes would be litigated in a court in San Francisco County or Orange County, California, precluded PTAB proceedings in litigation concerning royalty payments for distribution of virtual reality headsets.

On The Lighter Side

YouTube Mistakenly Removes Robot Fight Videos For Animal Cruelty: The website conceded that it was mistaken to have removed videos of robots fighting for violating its policies against deliberate infliction of animal suffering.

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

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Alison Gordon
Editorial Fellow

CLIP-ings: August 16, 2019

Internet Governance

Job Search Websites Ask European Antitrust Regulator To Investigate Google: 23 job search websites have written to the European Commission alleging that Google has engaged in unfair and anti-competitive conduct by using its own service to steal their market share; the company is reportedly already making changes to its job search feature in Europe in response.

U.S. Trade Representative Announces Delay To Tariffs On Certain Electronic Devices From China: Although a round of tariffs on Chinese imports will take effect on September 1, tariffs on products such as cellphones, laptops, video game consoles, and computer monitors will be delayed until December 15; the announcement comes after Apple, Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft wrote to the USTR expressing concern over the impact of the tariffs.

Privacy

Irish Regulator Investigates Facebook’s Review Of Audio Recordings: Ireland’s Data Protection Commission is “seeking detailed information” about the social network’s manual review of audio recordings after already investigating Google, Apple, and Microsoft for engaging in the practice; Facebook has stated that it paused human reviews of audio more than a week ago.

QR Codes On Debt Collection Letters Violate Consumer Protection Law: The Third Circuit recently ruled that debt collection notices that include the codes, which can be scanned by any smartphone and are “susceptible to privacy intrusions,” reveal encrypted account numbers and thus violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Information Security & Cyberthreats

SEC Investigating First American Financial Corp. Over Exposure Of 885 Million Records: The investigation will determine whether the title insurance company violated any federal securities laws as a result of the exposure of financial records relating to mortgage deals; the New York Department of Financial Services is already investigating the company for potential cybersecurity violations in connection with the leak.

Intellectual Property

Federal Circuit Vacates International Trade Commission Preclusion Ruling: As part of a trademark infringement suit brought by personal transportation company Segway, a three-judge panel vacated the court’s earlier opinion that found trademark rulings from the ITC preclude district court litigation over the same issue.

Free Expression & Censorship

LGBTQ Creators Sue YouTube, Google, Over Alleged Discrimination And Censorship Practices: The lawsuit alleges that YouTube discriminatorily and unfairly applies its policies to restrict, block, demonetize, and financially harm the plaintiffs and the LGBTQ community.

Practice Note

California Supreme Court Rules On Standing Of Website Visitors: In a case challenging payment processing service Square’s “Prohibited Goods and Services” policy as discriminatory, the court found that “visiting a website with intent to use its services is, for purposes of standing, equivalent to presenting oneself for services at a brick-and-mortar store”; the ruling may have wide-reaching ramifications for online businesses.

On The Lighter Side

Amazon’s Facial Recognition Technology Mistakes California Lawmakers For Criminals: A recent test by the ACLU mismatched one in five photographs of lawmakers with mugshot pictures.

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

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Alison Gordon
Editorial Fellow