CLIP-ings: January 11, 2019

Internet Governance

Deciding The Scope Of The “Right To Be Forgotten”: An advocate general for the European Court of Justice argued that Google and other search engines should not be forced to apply the “right to be forgotten” outside the European Union due to the risk that “other jurisdictions could use their laws to block information from being accessible within the EU”; a final ruling is expected to be reached in the coming months from the court, which typically follows the advocate general’s opinion.

LA Sues Weather Channel App Owner: The Los Angeles City Attorney filed a lawsuit against the Weather Company, the company behind the popular Weather Channel app, claiming the app deceptively collected, shared, and profited from selling millions of users’ location information; the lawsuit claims the app unfairly manipulated users by failing to disclose that their data would be shared for commercial purposes, such as targeting marketing and analysis by hedge funds.

Privacy

Senators Call On FCC To Investigate Telecoms: Senators are calling on the FCC to investigate telecommunications companies like T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint after a Motherboard story revealed that the major mobile carriers are selling customer location data to third parties, which then offer the sensitive information to bounty hunters and others not authorized to handle the data; some senators are also demanding regulation that would prevent unauthorized use and sale of phone location data and ensure that customers are properly informed about how their data is sold.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Student Confesses To German Data Leak: A 20-year old German student reportedly confessed to exposing the personal details of Chancellor Angela Merkel and hundreds of Germany’s politicians, journalists, and entertainers last month; the student published the individuals’ contact information and personal details —including bank account statements, photos, and chat records — on his Twitter account because he was “angry with the public statements” made by his targets.

Intellectual Property

Potential Rise In Copyright Infringement Suit Costs: Filing a copyright infringement suit could become more expensive for creators if the Supreme Court, after hearing arguments in Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.com this week, finds that creators must first obtain approval of their copyright registration.

Free Expression and Censorship

Politicians’ Page Ruled A Public Forum: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld a 2017 district court decision finding that the Loudoun County, Virginia, Board of Supervisors chair violated the First Amendment rights of a Facebook user who criticized board members and their relatives by banning him for 12 hours from her Facebook page.

On The Lighter Side

Older Users More Likely To Share Hoaxes: A study conducted by researchers at New York University and Princeton University reveals that Facebook users over the age of 65 were more likely to have shared fake news stories during the 2016 presidential campaign than users in any other age group.


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

Tom Norton 
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Tommine McCarthy 
Subrina Chowdhury 
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: January 4, 2019

Internet Governance

Arizona Residents Resist Waymo: A New York Times report details how members of the Chandler community—a testing site for Waymo’s autonomous vehicles—displayed hostility towards the company in at least 21 incidents since 2017, including by slashing tires and threatening backup drivers with weapons; Waymo has chosen not to prosecute the assailants.

NYPD Planned To Use Drones On New Year’s Eve: Although thwarted at the last minute by rain, the New York Police Department intended to use drones during the New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square as part of a larger drone program unveiled last month.

Privacy

Court Dismisses Biometric Lawsuit Against Google: After finding that the plaintiff did not suffer “concrete injuries,” a federal court dismissed a lawsuit alleging that Google’s extraction of “face templates” from images uploaded to its cloud-based photo service violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act; the plaintiff argued that she did not upload the images of herself and thus did not consent to Google’s collection, storage, or use of her biometric data.

Tracking Devices Installed In Chinese Student Uniforms: Students in certain Chinese schools are required to wear uniforms that track their whereabouts; while a state-run Chinese newspaper describes the rule as an effort to promote attendance, critics raise concern that the uniforms allow authorities to track the students’ locations outside of school.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Terrorists Control Idle Twitter Accounts: Due to a decade-old security flaw, hackers from terrorist groups have been able to hack and post propaganda from dormant accounts by resetting the accounts’ passwords using new email addresses created based on the now-expired or otherwise nonexistent addresses used to initially set up the Twitter handles; Twitter partially directs the blame at email providers that recycle deactivated email addresses.

Unknown Hackers Delay Newspaper Delivery: A strain of malware infected several U.S. newspapers owned by Tribune Publishing—including the LA Times and west coast versions of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal—and delayed their publication and delivery; the motive and source have not been determined.

Intellectual Property

Williams-Sonoma v. Amazon: Williams-Sonoma filed a trademark and design patent infringement lawsuit against Amazon for selling unauthorized Williams-Sonoma merchandise on its website and misrepresenting itself as an authorized seller of the company’s products; the home goods retailer also argued Amazon “unfairly and deceptively engaged in a widespread campaign of copying” designs of its West Elm furniture for Amazon’s own furniture line, Rivet.

Free Expression and Censorship

Netflix Removed Comedy Episode After Saudi Demand: Netflix removed an episode of its show “Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj” from streaming in Saudi Arabia after the country claimed that the episode violated its anti-cyber crime law barring content that threatens “public order, religious values, public morals, and privacy”; the episode is critical of the United States’ relationship with the Saudi government due to the country’s involvement in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the war in Yemen.

Tech Companies Not Responsible For San Bernardino Shooting: A federal judge in San Francisco dismissed a lawsuit seeking to hold Facebook, Google, and Twitter liable to victims of the 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, on the basis that the attack was not a direct result of the tech companies’ permitting terrorist groups to use their platforms; the judge also found the companies not liable for aiding and abetting terrorism under the 2016 Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act because they were only “generally aware” that terrorists groups have used their services.

On The Lighter Side

AI Stops Wildlife Poachers: Non-profit group Resolve created a pencil-sized, AI-equipped camera to detect animals, humans, and vehicles in real-time, allowing park rangers to detect and stop poachers in Africa before it’s too late.


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

Tom Norton 
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Tommine McCarthy 
Subrina Chowdhury 
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: December 21, 2018

Internet Governance

D.C. Sues Facebook Over Cambridge Analytica Scandal: The Attorney General of the District of Columbia sued Facebook for its involvement in the Cambridge Analytica data scandal; the lawsuit comes in the wake of a New York Times report revealing that the company gave major technology firms including Apple, Netflix, and Amazon special access to users’ personal data and granted them exceptions to its privacy policies.

Uber Loses Appeal Over Drivers’ Employment Status: The U.K. Court of Appeal dismissed Uber’s appeal against employment tribunal rulings that Uber drivers should be classified as workers rather than as independent contractors; if upheld by the Supreme Court, the decision would require Uber to classify all of its drivers as workers, entitling them to workers’ rights such as minimum wage, sick days, and paid holidays.

Privacy

Consumer Groups Allege Google Misleads Kids: A group of consumer, privacy, and public health groups filed a complaint asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Google’s marketing of children’s apps in its Google Play Store; the complaint alleges that Google’s endorsement of certain “Family” apps as child-appropriate is misleading because some apps appear to violate the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, contain adult content, require children to watch video advertisements, and  encourage children to make in-app purchases.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

U.S. Issues More Sanctions On Russian Hackers: The U.S. Treasury Department issued sanctions against 15 Russian military intelligence officers for their involvement in multiple campaigns against the U.S., including nine members of Russia’s intelligence service who were indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller for their alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election; the sanctions were imposed days after a report detailed Russia’s political disinformation campaign on U.S. social media was more far-reaching than previously understood, with troll farms working to discourage people from voting and exploiting political and racial divisions to help elect Trump in 2016.

EU Investigates Hacked Diplomatic Communications: The European Union is investigating a cyber hack of its diplomatic communications, allegedly by hackers working for China’s People’s Liberation Army; for years, hackers downloaded thousands of communications that revealed concerns about “the Trump administration, struggles to deal with Russia and China, and the threat of Iran reviving its nuclear program.”

Intellectual Property

German Court Grants Qualcomm’s Injunction Against Apple: Apple will stop selling certain models of the iPhone in German stores after a German court ruled that the phones’ use of a combination of chips from Intel and Qorvo violates a Qualcomm “envelope tracking” patent.

Free Expression and Censorship

Google’s Dragonfly Suspended Indefinitely: Development of the censored search engine has been put on hold after an internal rift forced Google engineers to shut down a crucial data analysis system that involved examining queries that Chinese users entered into Beijing-based search engine 265.com.

Practice Note

European Court Will Decide Responsibility For Facebook “Like” Button: The European Court of Justice heard arguments in a case that will decide whether websites that embed data-collecting widgets such as Facebook’s “Like” button are jointly responsible for complying with data collection requirements under the GDPR.

On The Lighter Side

Parrot Befriends Alexa: A mischievous parrot named Rocco was caught using Amazon’s Alexa to order snacks and other items.


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

Tom Norton 
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Tommine McCarthy 
Subrina Chowdhury 
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: December 14, 2018

Internet Governance

White House Requires Agencies To Strengthen Cybersecurity: A memo issued by the Office of Management and Budget expands the criteria of what constitutes a “high-value asset” and instructs all federal agencies to work with the Department of Homeland Security to ensure those assets are adequately protected.

FCC Allows Carriers To Block Texts: The Federal Communications Commission voted to classify SMS text messages as a Title I “information service” under the Telecommunications Act in an effort to enable phone companies to block spam; critics argue that the decision gives wireless carriers the ability to censor messages and hike rates.

Privacy

Study Shows Apps Track Every Move: A New York Times investigative report explains how thousands of apps aggregate users’ precise location data – sometimes to within a few yards and updated 14,000 times a day – and sell it to advertisers, retailers, and hedge funds seeking consumer insights; while companies that use location data note that phone users who enable location services consent to their information being collected, critics argue that privacy policies do not adequately explain the extent of tracking.

Senators Introduce Privacy Bill: The proposed Data Care Act would assign online service providers fiduciary-like duties and would require the Federal Trade Commission to draft rules for fining companies that misuse private data; the draft is designed to complement rather than replace other bills recently introduced in Congress to protect consumer privacy.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Another Google+ Bug: Following an October revelation that a vulnerability exposed profile data from 500,000 Google+ accounts, Google discovered a second bug that affected 52.5 million profiles; as a result, Google announced it will shut down the social media service four months earlier than planned.

Audit Shows Border Officers’ Improper Data Processing: The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General released an audit revealing that U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers recklessly handle the personal data of travelers entering the country; one finding exhibits the agency’s failure to delete data on USB drives after traveler information is uploaded to CBP servers.

Intellectual Property

First Sale Doctrine Doesn’t Protect Digital Music Resale: In Capitol Records LLC v. ReDigi Inc., the Second Circuit ruled that ReDigi, an online marketplace for reselling legally-purchased digital music files, infringed copyright holders’ reproduction rights because ReDigi’s technology created unauthorized new copies of digital files instead of merely transferring existing files to a new user.

Free Expression and Censorship

Google Faces Russian Fine: Russia fined the tech giant 500,000 rubles ($7,530) for failing to comply with a legal requirement that it censor its search results by removing certain entries; the fine comes a month after Moscow opened a civil case against the company for its failure to join a registry showing that it lists Kremlin-banned websites.

Practice Note

Health Tracking Lawsuit Dismissal Affirmed: The Ninth Circuit affirmed dismissal of a suit alleging that Facebook illegally gathered data about user-plaintiffs’ visits to medical websites; the Court found that the users had consented to the tracking and collection by agreeing to Facebook’s privacy policy, and that their browsing history on the medical websites was not so “sensitive” or “qualitatively different” that it fell outside the scope of Facebook’s terms of service.

On The Lighter Side

Bee Backpacks Keep Wearable Tech Buzzing: Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a 102-milligram sensor system that rides on the backs of bumblebees and collects data about temperature, humidity, and light intensity.


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

Tom Norton 
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Tommine McCarthy 
Subrina Chowdhury 
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: December 7, 2018

Internet Governance

Australia’s New Anti-Encryption Law: Australia passed a bill that will require technology companies to provide law enforcement and security agencies with access to encrypted data, despite criticism that doing so could undermine national security and privacy; Australia is the first nation in the Five Eyes intelligence network—which is comprised of the United States, Canada, Britain, and New Zealand—to force broad access requirements, with fines of up to A$10 million ($7.3 million) for institutions and prison terms for individuals who fail to provide data on suspected illegal activities.

Facebook Cherry-Picked Special Access To Data: Facebook gave favored partners such as Netflix and Airbnb special access to user data, while restricting competitors’ access to its platform, according to internal Facebook documents released by a British parliamentary committee investigating online disinformation; the documents also reveal how Facebook considered restricting app developers’ access to user data unless those developers bought advertising—a policy the company now claims it never enacted.

Privacy

NYPD Unveils New Drone System: The New York Police Department unveiled plans to deploy 14 drones and train 29 officers to operate them, raising concerns about the department’s possible misuse of the devices and growing surveillance capacity; according to police officials, while the drones will be used to monitor large crowds, investigate hazardous waste spills, handle hostage situations, and reach remote areas in crime scenes, they will not be used for routine police patrols or traffic enforcement, will not be weaponized, and will not conduct warrantless surveillance.

Secret Service Tests Facial Recognition At White House: The Secret Service is testing a pilot facial recognition system that matches images of individuals outside the White House with “subjects of interest,” according to a Department of Homeland Security report revealed by the American Civil Liberties Union; while the program is currently limited to trying to match the faces of volunteer staff members, the report acknowledges a privacy risk for members of the public who are inadvertently recorded.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

500 Million Affected In Marriott Data Breach: Hackers breached Marriott’s Starwood hotels reservation system and stole the personal data of up to 500 million guests in an attack that began four years ago; the attack has prompted Senators to call for stronger data security laws and data breach penalties, and Marriott plans to provide customers with free identity theft monitoring and reimburse hack victims for new passports.

NRCC Emails Hacked In 2018 Midterms: The National Republican Congressional Committee (“NRCC”) was hacked during the 2018 midterm election campaigns, exposing thousands of emails from four senior NRCC aides to an unknown entity; neither Senior House Republicans nor rank-and-file members were told of the breach until this week, as the committee opted to withhold information to shield an investigation of the hack and not tip off the culprit.

Intellectual Property

Google Seeks Review Of Spreadsheet Patent Decision: Google petitioned the Federal Circuit for en banc review of an October panel decision finding that an invention for navigating through complex electronic spreadsheets is a patent-eligible improvement; in its petition, Google argued that the technology, which enables electronic tabbing akin to paper tabbing, is directed to an abstract idea and is therefore un-patentable under Alice.

Free Expression and Censorship

Tumblr Bans Porn: Just weeks after it was removed from the iOS App Store over an incident involving child pornography, Tumblr announced that it will permanently ban adult content on its platform starting December 17, 2018; the machine learning technology Tumblr will use to filter prohibited images has been the target of skepticism due to, among other things, its inaccuracy and inability to contextualize images.

On The Lighter Side

New Home of the Whopper? Burger King’s new app uses geofencing technology to offer customers a Whopper for a penny if they order on the app within 600 feet of a McDonald’s.


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

Tom Norton 
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Tommine McCarthy 
Subrina Chowdhury 
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: November 30, 2018

Internet Governance

DOJ Dismantles Digital Ad Scams: With the help of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and private companies, the Department of Justice indicted eight individuals who are alleged to have created fake internet advertising companies to scam legitimate companies out of a collective $36 million; while three defendants were arrested, five remain at large.

FTC Discusses Holding Tech Companies Accountable: Sitting before the Senate Commerce Consumer Protection Subcommittee, FTC Commissioners would not comment on the agency’s investigation into whether Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal showed that the social network violated a 2011 consent decree; the FTC did state that it lacks sufficient resources to combat data abuse, and as a result often opts for settlement over costly trial.

Ohio Will Accept Bitcoin For Taxes: Despite regulatory concerns around cryptocurrency, Ohio became the first state to accept bitcoin for paying business taxes; the State wants to compete for new businesses and establish itself as the “national and international leader in blockchain technology.”

Privacy

Six Flags Lawsuit Tests Biometric Privacy Law: Illinois’ highest court will determine whether a “person aggrieved” under the State’s Biometric Information Privacy Act must suffer actual harm from the collection of biometric information in violation of the statute, or whether a technical violation alone confers standing to sue.

UK Police Use AI To Predict Crime: A law enforcement software known as the National Data Analytics Solution leverages 1,400 indicators from pooled police data sets across the U.K. and uses machine learning to identify individuals who are on a trajectory toward committing serious violent crimes so they can be offered assistance such as counselling; privacy critics raise concerns about bias reinforcement and the intrusiveness of pre-emptive intervention.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

U.S. Indicts Hackers Behind Nationwide Extortion: The U.S. Treasury Department for the first time added two cryptocurrency wallets to its sanctions list after indicting two Iranian hackers for extorting $6 million from more than 200 victims — including 43 U.S. states — through ransomware software that ordered victims to send money to the bitcoin accounts; one high-profile incident involved an attack on Atlanta that affected major basic municipal functions.

Facebook Faces Vitriol From International Community: At a rare joint hearing with policymakers from nine countries, Facebook was harshly criticized for its inability to stop the spread of fake news; U.K. House of Commons member Damian Collins pointed to documents that allegedly show Facebook was aware of Russia’s malicious involvement with the platform as early as 2014, and suggested that the recently obtained documents will be published “within a week.”

Intellectual Property

Australia Tightens Online Piracy Laws: The Australian parliament passed the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2018, which, among other things, entitles copyright owners to apply for injunctions that force ISPs to prevent customers from accessing pirate sites and allows ISPs to block mirror and proxy sites without returning to court; the Australian Digital Alliance and other organizations warn that the legislation “removes public interest protections and puts legitimate sites and activities of the public at risk.”

Free Expression and Censorship

Gmail Avoids Gender-Based Pronouns: Gmail stopped its “Smart Compose” text prediction feature, which autosuggests text for Gmail users composing emails, from suggesting gender-based pronouns due to concerns that the technology might perpetuate real-world gender bias.

Practice Note

Ethical Rules Regarding Crowdfunding: The District of Columbia Bar’s Legal Ethics Committee issued an opinion analyzing lawyers’ ethical obligations when clients use crowdfunding to pay for representation, which the opinion concludes vary according to the extent of a lawyer’s involvement in fundraising efforts.

On The Lighter Side

How The Senate Stopped Grinch Bots From Stealing Christmas: Just before the holiday season, Congress members proposed the “Stopping Grinch Bots Act of 2018” to outlaw the use of online shopping bots and the resale of items they purchase.


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

Tom Norton 
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Tommine McCarthy 
Subrina Chowdhury 
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: November 16, 2018

Internet Governance

DOJ And SEC Subpoena Snap: The DOJ and SEC subpoenaed Snap for information regarding its March 2017 IPO; the subpoena comes in the wake of an ongoing shareholder lawsuit alleging that Snap misled investors by, among other things, failing to disclose a pre-IPO lawsuit claiming that the company had misrepresented user metrics and failing to reveal the effects of competition from Instagram.

Privacy

UK Data Watchdog Monitors DeepMind: The Information Commissioner’s Office will monitor artificial intelligence lab DeepMind’s handoff of its Health unit to Google Health; the reshuffling, which comes as part of an effort to scale DeepMind’s Streams app into an “AI-powered assistant for nurses and doctors everywhere” stokes concerns that Google will now have direct access to National Health Service patients’ records, which ICO determined DeepMind illegally accessed while developing the Streams app last year.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Bill Cements Cybersecurity Agency In DHS: bill establishing the new Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency within the Department of Homeland Security heads to President Trump’s desk to be signed into law; the bill also rebrands DHS’s main cybersecurity unit — the National Protection and Programs Directorate — as the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Agency, solidifying the DHS’s role as the main federal agency overseeing civilian cybersecurity.

Beware Of Fake Bitcoin Giveaways: A number of high-profile, verified Twitter accounts, including Target and Google’s G-Suite, were hacked as part of a fraudulent Bitcoin giveaway that scammed users out of their cryptocurrencies; it is unclear how the scammers gained access to the brands’ accounts, and Twitter is working on counter security measures to prevent further breaches following earlier criticism of its failure to devise a clear defense against this type of incident.

Intellectual Property

YouTube Decries Article 13: CEO Susan Wojcicki argued that the EU’s proposed copyright directive, which would make internet companies responsible for infringement on their platforms, is “unrealistic” because of the technical and financial capabilities required for compliance; the EU will conduct its final vote on the controversial directive in January.

Free Expression and Censorship

France Joins Facebook To Combat Hate Speech: For the first time, the social media giant is allowing a small team of French regulators to monitor its systems for combatting hate speech; the six-month partnership will start in early 2019 and is designed to result in “joint, precise, and concrete” regulatory proposals.

China Deletes Accounts Tied To Independent Media: The Cyberspace Administration of China removed 9,800 social media accounts, including those belonging to independent sources that are not state-registered and produce original content ranging from investigative journalism to celebrity gossip, on the basis that they posted “sensational, vulgar or politically harmful content.”

Practice Note

Patent Assignor Can Challenge Validity In IPR: In Arista Networks, Inc. v. Cisco Sys., Inc., the Federal Circuit recently held that assignor estoppel did not apply to bar a patent assignor from later challenging the assigned patent in an inter partes review proceeding.

On The Lighter Side

Pumping The Breaks On “Teslaquila” Trademark: After Tesla filed a trademark application for “Teslaquila,” Mexico’s Tequila Regulatory Council warned that the name evokes the protected term “Tequila,” and thus the company would have to “associate itself with an authorized tequila producer, comply with certain standards and request authorization from Mexico’s Industrial Property Institute.”


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

Tom Norton 
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Tommine McCarthy 
Subrina Chowdhury 
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: November 9, 2018

Internet Governance

Supreme Court Won’t Hear Net Neutrality: The highest court denied certiorari to telecom companies’ challenge to a lower court decision that upheld federal net neutrality rules set during the Obama administration on the basis that the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality made the challenge moot.

Uber Races To Put Autonomous Cars On The Road: More than seven months after a fatal crash involving one of its autonomous vehicles, the ride-hailing company released a voluntary safety report under U.S. Department of Transportation guidelines and has sought permission to resume self-driving car tests in Pennsylvania; safety improvements purportedly include automatic braking that detects objects more quickly and stricter monitoring of safety drivers.

Privacy

Dutch Police Access Encrypted Messages: Law enforcement in the Netherlands stated that a “breakthrough in the interception and decryption of encrypted communication” enabled police to read over 258,000 live messages exchanged between criminals on BlackBox Security’s IronChat, an app “billed as providing end-to-end encryption” that runs on a device costing thousands of dollars; Dutch media reported that a version of IronChat had potentially serious vulnerabilities that allowed the police to break the encryption.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Facebook Blocks Russian Trolls Ahead Of Midterms: After receiving a tip from the F.B.I., the social network removed more than 100 Facebook and Instagram accounts “due to concerns that they were linked to the Russia-based Internet Research Agency”—the same organization accused of interfering with the 2016 presidential election; the collaboration marks the first time that Facebook publicly acknowledged acting on an influence campaign as a result of intelligence received from a government agency.

Intellectual Property

Google’s Anti-Piracy Measures Pay Off: A new report highlighting the company’s anti-piracy products reveals that YouTube paid $3 billion to copyright owners through Content ID, a system that scans uploads against a database of content owners’ files, detects when an upload uses another person’s intellectual property, and then allows the owner to earn from the upload; Google also reported that it removed 3 billion URLs from Search after releasing a tool that allows copyright owners to report illicit websites, and that it disapproved of 10 million advertisements suspected of linking to infringing websites in 2017.

Free Expression and Censorship

Gab Is Back Online: Social network Gab found a new domain registrar after its prior domain host, GoDaddy, dropped the site following revelations that Pittsburgh synagogue shooter Robert Bowers maintained an anti-Semitic profile on the network; Rob Monster, founder and CEO of Gab’s new domain host Epik.com, wrote that he “did not take the decision lightly,” but believes “de-platforming is digital censorship.”

Chrome 71 To Block Ads: The new browser, due for release in December, will block all website ads that Google classifies as “abusive,” including those that cause the browser to misbehave by generating fake system messages, automatically redirecting users, or attempting to steal personal information; Google will give site owners a thirty-day period to remove the advertisement, and failure to do so will cause Chrome to block every ad on the website. 

Practice Note

Licensing SEPs To Chipmaker Competitors: A California federal judge ruled that Qualcomm must license its standard-essential patents (SEPs) to competing modem-chip sellers, siding with the Federal Trade Commission in its argument that Qualcomm violated its fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) licensing commitments; the court observed that Qualcomm itself received such licenses to supply components and emphasized in prior litigation that an SEP holder may not discriminate in licensing its SEPs.

On The Lighter Side

AI News Anchors: China’s state-run press agency used footage from humans to generate AI anchors that read the news using synthesized voices.


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

Tom Norton 
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Tommine McCarthy 
Subrina Chowdhury 
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: November 2, 2018

Internet Governance

UK Proposes Big Tech Tax: Chancellor Philip Hammond proposed a 2% digital services tax on the UK-generated revenues of search engines, social media platforms, and online marketplaces that are profitable and achieve global revenue above £500m per year; U.S. political leaders and business groups expressed concern that the tax proposal may violate tax agreements by targeting U.S. firms, spark U.S. retaliation, and hurt prospects for a U.S.-UK trade deal.

Waymo Takes The Wheel: California granted Waymo, the self-driving car startup of Google parent Alphabet, a first-of-its-kind permit to test fully driverless cars on public roads in the state; while the vehicles may not travel faster than 65 miles per hour, they are allowed to drive in fog and light rain and operate in parts of Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, and Palo Alto in Northern California.

Privacy

AI Lie Detector To Question EU Travelers: In an EU-funded six-month pilot program, travelers at border crossing points in Hungary, Latvia, and Greece will be administered an automated lie-detection test by animated AI border agent “iBorderCtrl”; which will ask travelers questions, record the travelers’ faces to analyze micro-gestures, and score each response before either providing a QR code that permits the traveler to pass through the border or directing the traveler to a human agent for further assessment.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Aerospace Companies Hacked By Chinese Spies: The Justice Department charged two Chinese Ministry of State Security officers, six hackers, and two aerospace company insiders for allegedly leading a five-year operation to steal the technology behind a turbofan engine used in commercial airliners by hacking U.S. and French aerospace companies using malware and spear fishing techniques.

White House Monitors Foreign Election Interference: The FBI, the Justice Department, and the Department of Homeland Security are working with the National Security Council to monitor possible foreign interference in next week’s congressional elections, and will sanction any company or individual found to interfere through hacking or disinformation efforts; the Justice Department will also launch an “election interference command post” to help the FBI rapidly communicate with its different field offices around the country on election day.

Intellectual Property

The Right to Repair: The U.S. Copyright Office carved out new exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that allow for the lawful circumvention of digital locks on voice assistants, tablets, smartphones, and vehicles so that consumers and third-parties acting on their behalf may repair such devices without violating copyright law.

Free Expression and Censorship

Twitter Reverses On Pipe Bomber’s Tweets: The social media platform apologized for denying a user’s request to address Cesar Sayoc Jr.’s threatening tweets weeks before he was charged with sending explosive devices to prominent critics of President Trump; other platforms continue to face backlash for not adequately monitoring hate speech, including Instagram for its initial refusal to remove content about Sayoc before reversing course due to public outcry.

Practice Note

Major Case Law Project Unveiled: In an effort to make a complete, searchable database of state and federal cases free on the Internet, Harvard Law launched the Caselaw Access Project with nearly 6.5 million decisions; while the primary documents have always been in the public domain, the project makes them accessible to anyone with Internet connection.

On The Lighter Side

Art Is In The AI Of The Beholder: An AI-generated painting recently fetched $432,500 at a Christie’s auction.


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

Tom Norton 
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Tommine McCarthy 
Subrina Chowdhury 
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: October 26, 2018

Internet Governance

E-Scooter Companies Sued For Negligence: California residents filed a proposed class action lawsuit alleging that electric scooter companies are liable for personal injury and property damage caused by e-scooters; the plaintiffs’ lawyer argues that the companies’ user agreements, which preclude riders from bringing class action lawsuits and suing for negligence, are “draconian.”

White House Seeks Tech Support:  The Trump Administration met with tech companies to discuss ways to enable workers to take leaves to work on government projects, including modernizing state and federal agencies; the conversation took place amid worker protests against tech industry involvement with government initiatives in areas such as artificial-intelligence-powered drone attacks and facial recognition technology.

Privacy

Location, Location, Location: Facebook and Google users who opted out of location tracking filed separate proposed class-action lawsuits against the two companies, alleging that each deceptively collected and sold the users’ location information despite their opt-out; the allegations arise in the wake of a recent University of Oxford study placing Google and Facebook atop the list of third-party data trackers.

Apple Calls For Stronger Privacy: In his keynote speech at the 40th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners, Apple CEO Tim Cook criticized business models that unethically profit from privacy invasion, applauded international reforms such as the GDPR, and voiced support for a comprehensive federal U.S. privacy law that would prioritize data minimization, transparency, a right to access, and a right to security; the speech followed Apple’s recent policy adjustments designed to give consumers more control over their privacy.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

U.S. Charges Russian Troll: The Department of Justice formally charged a Russian woman who is a part of the Internet Research Agency — the same group that Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted earlier this year for its involvement in the 2016 presidential election — for overseeing a social media effort to influence the upcoming U.S. midterm elections; the U.S. Cyber Command, the military wing tasked with overseeing offensive cyber operations, subsequently announced its plan to warn known Russian operatives spreading fake news that they are being watched.

Intellectual Property

Georgia Can’t Copyright Code Annotations: The Eleventh Circuit ruled that the State of Georgia cannot claim copyright ownership over its annotated code—the only official version of the state’s laws—and thus found against Georgia’s Code Revision Commission in its copyright infringement suit against an organization that purchased the code and made it publicly available online; the Court reasoned that while annotations do not carry the weight of the law, the legislature chose “to make them an integral part of the official codification of Georgia’s laws,” resulting in work that is “intrinsically public domain material, belonging to the People, and, as such, [ ] free for publication by all.”

Free Expression and Censorship

Crackdown On Brazil Spam Network: Facebook removed 68 pages and 43 accounts associated with Raposo Fernandes Associados, a marketing group supporting far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, for violating the social network’s misrepresentation and spam policies by using fake or duplicative accounts and by posting clickbait intended to direct users to third-party websites; Facebook-owned WhatsApp also banned more than 100,000 accounts used by Bolsonaro’s supporters to send bulk messaging during the campaign.

China Drafts Blockchain Regulation: The Cyberspace Administration, China’s top-level internet censorship agency, published and is seeking public feedback on a draft policy for regulating blockchain-related service providers; blockchain technology has been used in the past to bypass China’s internet censorship, but the proposed rules would require blockchain service providers to enforce know-your-customer measures by collecting certain user information and sharing it with law enforcement as requested.

Practice Note

Foreign Trademark Filers May Need U.S. Lawyer: The Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) is working on a new rule that would require foreign trademark applicants to be represented by U.S. attorneys; the rule could take effect by July 2019, as the PTO plans to issue a proposal in November and seek comment until February 2019.

On The Lighter Side

Virtual Reality Makes Food Taste Better: A study by Cornell University food scientists found that cheese eaten in pleasant VR settings was perceived to taste better than the same cheese eaten in a bleak sensory booth.


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

Tom Norton 
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Tommine McCarthy 
Subrina Chowdhury 
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP