CLIP-ings: November 8, 2019

Internet Governance

TikTok Attracts Further Congressional And Regulatory Scrutiny: TikTok was criticized this week after it declined to appear at a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing investigating links between big tech companies and the Chinese government; the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. has also commenced a national security review of TikTok owner ByteDance’s acquisition of the social media app Musical.ly, which later merged into TikTok.

California’s Attorney General Reveals Investigation Into Facebook’s Privacy Practices: The investigation was made public in court documents alleging that the social media company failed to comply with subpoenas seeking information related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Privacy

Florida State Court Approves Warrant To Search DNA Database Of Over 1.2 Million Users: The warrant, which authorized a Florida detective to search the database of DNA site GEDmatch, is believed to be the first authorizing the search of a consumer DNA database for genetic information; the development has stoked concerns that law enforcement, which historically has been “deliberately cautious about approaching [DNA] sites with court orders,” will now be encouraged to request similar warrants for larger sites.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Former Twitter Employees Charged With Leaking Personal Information To Saudi Royal Family: Two individuals who worked for Twitter from 2013 to 2015 have been charged with leaking as many as 6,000 profile records to Saudi officials claiming to represent the royal family, including records related to critics of the royal family and murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Researchers Command Alexa And Other Voice Assistants Via Laser: Using equipment estimated to cost less than $400, researchers were able to silently issue voice commands to smart speakers by encoding the command in the intensity of the laser beam and shining it on the device’s microphone to trigger the microphone’s diaphragm; the study raises security concerns as researchers successfully ordered products through Amazon and took control of smart home devices.

Intellectual Property

Judge Rules Against Netflix, Hulu’s Motion To Dismiss In DivX Patent Infringement Suit: DivX, one of the internet’s first high-quality video streaming enablers, allege in separate suits that Netflix and Hulu infringe a number of its patents covering video compression technology; the Judge rejected both Netflix and Hulu’s arguments that the DivX patents fail the Alice test on the basis that the arguments rest on “factual disputes that are better resolved on a more robust record after the scope of the claims is better understood.”

Free Expression and Censorship

Lawsuit Against Facebook Alleges Discriminatory Advertising Again: The proposed class action alleges that Facebook enabled advertisers of loans, life insurance, and other financial services to target users by age and gender; the lawsuit follows a settlement between Facebook and civil rights groups earlier this year in which the company agreed that advertisers of housing, employment, and credit would no longer be able to target users based on age, gender, or ZIP code.

On the Lighter Side

FTC Releases Informational Brochure To Help Keep Social Media Influencers On Brand: In an effort to remind influencers about best practices and necessary disclosures, the FTC has released a new brochure and video to educate influencers; in response to public pressure, the FTC has been increasingly scrutinizing influencers, sending more than 90 letters to infringing individuals in 2017.

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: November 1, 2019


Internet Governance

FCC Proposes Rule Requiring Telecoms To Remove Huawei And ZTE Equipment: The proposal, which cites national security concerns, would prohibit telecommunications giants from using money received from the FCC’s Universal Service Fund to purchase equipment from the Chinese companies, and would also require removal of any banned products that have already been installed.

Privacy

Australian Government Considers Face Verification For Pornography Viewers: While conducting an inquiry into age controls for restricting access to online porn and gambling, the Department of Home Affairs has proposed using the country’s Face Verification Service—which “matches a person’s photo against images used on one of their evidence of identity documents”—to assist in age verification; a similar proposal was dropped in the United Kingdom earlier this month.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Senators Ask Intelligence Community To Investigate TikTok Over National Security Concerns: In a recent letter to the Acting Director of National Intelligence, Senators Tom Cotton and Chuck Schumer requested an assessment of the national security risks posed by the video app popular with young people; the letter notes that TikTok’s parent company is required to adhere to Chinese law and may be required to support and cooperate with intelligence work directed by the Chinese Communist Party.

Officials Confirm India Nuclear Power Plant Hack: Following initial denials of any breach, officials from the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited now confirm that its Kudankulam Plant was exposed to malware; while it is unclear if any data was actually stolen, the attack has been attributed to North Korean state actors.

Intellectual Property

U.K. Supreme Court Hears Arguments Over English Courts’ Jurisdiction To Set Global Licensing Rates For Multinational Patent Portfolios: Unwired Planet International, a U.S. firm that licenses patents related to wireless technology, won a ruling in the English courts that Huawei infringed various of its patents; the U.K.’s Supreme Court will now decide whether it is appropriate for the country’s courts to set global licensing rates in a case that will have international impact as to whether national courts can set the terms for global patent licenses. 

Free Expression and Censorship

Twitter Announces Ban On All Political Advertising: The ban, which takes effect on November 22, was announced amidst ongoing criticism of Facebook’s position on political advertising; Twitter’s ban will affect candidate ads and issue ads, but will not apply to ads encouraging voter registration.

Instagram Imposes Ban On Fictional Depictions Of Self-Harm: In response to public pressure, Instagram has expanded its ban on content depicting self-harm and suicide to include fictional portrayals, such as comics or memes; under the policy update, accounts that share self-harm-related content will not be featured on the platform’s search or explore functions. 

On the Lighter Side

California Man Enters Gubernatorial Race So He Can Run False Ads On Facebook: To protest Facebook’s policy of allowing politicians to run factually inaccurate ads, a San Francisco political activist is now running for Governor so he run his own false ads about Donald Trump, Mark Zuckerberg, and other Facebook executives.

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 25, 2019

Internet Governance

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Speaks Out Against State And Local Internet Regulation: At a live press event for The Wall Street Journal on Monday, Pai vocalized concerns that a patchwork regulatory system will stifle innovation and create market uncertainty; Pai’s comments follow a recent federal court decision that approved the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality, but allowed states to pass their own regulation.

Privacy

House Antitrust Hearing Focuses On Tech Companies’ Potential Harm To Consumer Privacy: As part of its investigation into major tech companies, the House Judiciary Committee heard testimony last Friday that Facebook, Google, Apple, and Amazon hold vast amounts of consumer data, giving them an advantage over rivals; the testimony also explored how the big tech companies’ market dominance enables them to get away with aggressive data collection.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Department Of Defense Ends Use Of Floppy Disks In Nuclear Weapons System: The communication infrastructure used to transmit emergency action messages for nuclear command centers is being upgraded to a highly-secure, solid state digital storage mechanism; while the outdated technology currently in use reportedly poses a lower security risk, maintenance has become increasingly difficult as replacement parts are no longer available.

Twitter Announces Plan To Introduce Policy Against Deepfakes, Will Seek User Input: Following a recent trend by tech giants such as Facebook and Amazon, Twitter announced it will introduce rules to address “synthetic and manipulated media;” before implementing the policy, Twitter will seek feedback from users to help refine the rules.

Intellectual Property

House Passes Controversial Copyright Small Claims Bill: In a 410-6 vote, the House approved the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act, or CASE Act, which is designed to improve access to copyright protections for content producers such as photographers and artists in the digital age by creating a tribunal of “Copyright Claims Officers” responsible for resolving alleged infringements.

Free Expression and Censorship

TikTok Removes ISIS Content: The social media platform popular among young users removed content promoting the terrorist organization that has been shared by nearly two dozen accounts; the videos, some of which are set to catchy songs and employ fun filters, highlight a growing concern about the distribution of propaganda through social media.

Practice Note

Georgia Supreme Court Holds Warrant Was Required To Obtain Data From Crashed Car: In Mobley v. State, the state’s highest court held that the trial court erred in declining to suppress electronic data taken at the scene of a vehicle collision, reasoning that the “physical intrusion of a personal motor vehicle” by law enforcement without a warrant was an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment.

On the Lighter Side

U.K. Hospital Inadvertently Converts Patient’s Message Into Its Own Voicemail Greeting: The hospital also routed inbound calls to the individual who left the message, causing patients to call and share personal information relating to their own healthcare.

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 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