CLIP-ings: February 23, 2018

Internet Governance

Cyber-Digital Task Force: U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered the creation of a Cyber-Digital Task Force to examine how the Justice Department can combat foreign interference in U.S. elections, deter attacks on American infrastructure, prevent online terrorist recruiting, and defend against cyber attacks targeting businesses and individuals; the order came days after special counsel Robert Mueller charged three Russian companies and 13 Russian citizens with conducting a criminal and espionage conspiracy campaign through social media to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Postcards from Facebook: Facebook will start sending postcards by U.S. mail to verify the identities and location of people purchasing advertisements related to U.S. elections; the postcards will contain a special code that advertisers who want to mention a specific candidate must give Facebook in order to prove that they are located in the U.S.

Privacy

Sham Mexican Spyware Inquiry: American officials rejected multiple requests from the Mexican government to help investigate whether Mexico used surveillance technology against human rights lawyers, academics, and journalists; American officials were concerned that Mexico has little interest in actually investigating the accusations and wants to use the U.S. as cover in a sham inquiry. 

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Clearer Cyber Risk Disclosure: The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission issued updated guidance urging public companies to disclose cybersecurity risks promptly, develop policies to quickly assess cybersecurity risks, and prevent corporate insiders from trading in shares while a hack is being investigated and before it is disclosed; the guidance also prohibits companies from using internal or law enforcement investigation as a sole excuse “for avoiding disclosures of a material cybersecurity incident.” 

Beware of Business Email Compromise: IBM reports that hackers likely of Nigerian origin are engaged in a widespread credential harvesting, email phishing, and social engineering scam called Business E-mail Compromise, causing millions in losses for Fortune 500 companies; the attackers send fake invoices, impersonate high-ranking corporate officers, and target accounting or human resources staff to gather sensitive financial information—all while bypassing hacking safeguards by avoiding the use of malware.

Intellectual Property

Eyes on the Sky: Samsung has patented a drone that users will be able to control with their eyes, head, hands, or fingers in real time through an integrated display; the unit may also include features like voice recognition, GPS, and a Wi-Fi based positioning system.

Embedding Tweets May Infringe Copyright: A New York federal court ruled on a motion for summary judgment that embedding a tweet on a webpage could be considered copyright infringement—a decision that may have a far-reaching impact on social media and online publishing; the ruling arises out of a case in which a photographer accused online publications, including Breitbart, Time, and Yahoo, of copyright infringement for publishing articles that linked to a photo of Tom Brady originally shared on the photographer’s Snapchat.

Free Expression and Censorship

Bahrain Activist Sentenced for Tweets: A court in Bahrain sentenced democracy advocate Nabeel Rajab to five additional years in prison for tweets about prison conditions and the Saudi-led war in Yemen; Rajab’s sentence is the latest dissent-suppression move by the country’s royal family, which has previously used riot police, tanks, and arrests to silence critics.

Practice Note

What’s My Age Again? A federal judge struck down a California law requiring IMDb to remove age-related information at the subscriber’s request; U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria held that the two-month-old law is unconstitutional because 1) California failed to explore less-speech-restrictive alternatives before enacting the law; and 2) the law is not narrowly-tailored to achieve California’s goal of eliminating discrimination in the entertainment industry.

On The Lighter Side

Bitcoin Regret Club: Regret not investing in Bitcoin? Join the club! Enter a date and investment amount into this site to find out just how much you didn’t make.


Information Law News From CLIP-ings International Correspondents Around the Globe

This academic year, former CLIP-ings Editorial Fellows studying abroad are reporting from time-to-time on current local news and developments in the field of information law!

From Victoria Loeb – Paris, France:

Is Tech the Key to Public Service Reform? France’s senior official in charge of public service reform plans to use data and AI, such as tax algorithms and conversational chatbots, to lower the cost of public services by reducing the number of employees needed for some services and allowing reinvestment in others; these changes, as well as an IT project investment fund of €700 million over the next five years, are part of Macron’s campaign pledge to cut €60 billion in public spending and 120,000 public sector jobs.

EU Encouraging Internet Platform Content Control: A leaked document revealed the European Commission’s draft of non-binding guidance for internet platforms to identify and remove terrorist content, seeking to test improvement of social media platforms’ responses to such content before deciding on legislation requiring removal; France’s technology policy diplomat said the country has been working closely with the Commission, Europol, and other leading countries to formulate this stronger approach.

From Meghna Prasad – Rome, Italy:

Back to Life: Although not illegal, bots generating tweets and Facebook posts from dormant accounts are becoming active again, spreading repetitive messages about candidates in Italy’s upcoming election, and sparking concerns about the effect on voters.


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

N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Idalys Núñez
Dean’s Fellow, Fordham CLIP

Erin Shahinfar
Subrina Chowdhury
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: February 9, 2018

Internet Governance

Take Down of Infraud: The U.S. Justice Department indicted 36 people from numerous countries including the United States, Ivory Coast, and Bangladesh for acting as administrators, moderators, and sellers of illegal hacking and fraud services on an online black market forum called Infraud; the indictment accuses the defendants of trading Social Security numbers and stolen credit card numbers, providing an escrow account members could use to launder their proceeds using digital currencies, and hosting services designed to enable other illegal online operations, thus causing more than $530 million in losses to companies and individuals.

Gig Workers’ Rights: After an independent review calling for clearer definitions of UK employment statuses, the UK government announced a new “Good Work Plan” to improve access to sick and holiday pay and stable contracts for “vulnerable workers,” which could include gig economy workers employed by internet-based applications; the reforms follow a number of legal challenges, including by a group of UK Uber drivers who proved they should be classified as “workers” in an employment tribunal court.

Privacy

Deepfakes: Twitter and Reddit joined a growing list of platforms cracking down on so-called ‘deepfakes’ or computer-generated porn that digitally grafts the faces of celebrities onto the bodies of porn actors; however, elsewhere on Reddit, the technology used to make deepfakes continues to be employed for the less nefarious purpose of inserting Nicolas Cage into every movie ever.

Cloud Act Support: Microsoft, Google, Apple, Facebook, and Oath Inc. declared support for bipartisan House and Senate versions of the “Cloud Act” to deal with cross-border data requests from law enforcement—even as the Supreme Court prepares to review the issue, which stems from a 2013 request by federal authorities for data held overseas by Microsoft and other companies; the Cloud Act would allow the U.S. to make agreements with foreign countries about data requests and permit technology companies to notify foreign governments of any requests and challenge them.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Equifax on Ice: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau acting chief Mick Mulvaney reined in the bureau’s investigation of the Equifax breach—where hackers stole personal data from 143 million Americans; according to sources, Mulvaney has not ordered subpoenas against Equifax or sought sworn testimony from executives and has rebuffed bank regulators when they offered to help with on-site exams of how Equifax protects consumer data.

Russians Hacked U.S. Voter Systems: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reported that the Russian government successfully accessed the voter registration rolls of several states prior to the 2016 presidential election, but did not alter any of the registration rolls; the electoral system is considered “critical infrastructure” and therefore under the jurisdiction of the DHS, but some states claim they are still waiting for cyber security help from the federal government while others are opposed to DHS involvement, viewing it as a federal intrusion.

Intellectual Property

Christian Louboutin Is Seeing Red: The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) may issue an opinion that could prove a setback to Christian Louboutin’s signature red soles; according to the recommendation of Advocate General Maciej Szpunar, a trademark combining color and shape may be refused and declared invalid on the grounds set out under E.U. trade mark law—this contrasts with a U.S. appeals court decision permitting Louboutin to protect his red soles as a source-identifying trademark.

Ok, Ladies, Now Let’s Get in Litigation: Kimberly Roberts, star of the Oscar-nominated Hurricane Katrina documentary “Trouble the Water,” filed a lawsuit against Beyoncé in New Orleans federal court this week, alleging the makers of Beyoncé’s ‘Formation’ music video used clips from the documentary without paying royalties and, in some instances, without permission; the suit comes on the heels of another federal ‘Formation’-related copyright dispute, which was dismissed on Monday following the parties’ submission of a joint stipulation for dismissal.

Free Expression and Censorship

Made Possible by Viewers Like You? PBS is pushing back against YouTube’s decision to specially label videos published by government-backed news outlets; under the new policy, videos by outlets like PBS will feature a flag that identifies their government association and links to, believe it or not, the publisher’s Wikipedia page.  

Practice Note

Court of Appeals on Patent Eligibility Analysis: The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled in Berkheimer v. HP Inc. that “while patent eligibility is ultimately a question of law,” a lower court erred by holding that “there are no underlying factual questions” in a 35 U.S.C. § 101 inquiry; the decision is in tension with the Court’s prior treatment of eligibility analysis, which generally permitted resolution of the issue on the pleadings as a pure question of law.

On The Lighter Side

Lonely Hearts Club: Valentine’s Day means many things to many people, but for the internet it means a spike in searches for “alone” GIFs.


Information Law News From CLIP-ings International Correspondents Around the Globe

This academic year, former CLIP-ings Editorial Fellows studying abroad are reporting from time-to-time on current local news and developments in the field of information law!

From Victoria Loeb – Paris, France:

GAFA Prepares for Stricter EU Tax Rules: After settling a French tax claim for nearly €200 million from 2006 to 2010, Amazon announced that it will begin declaring all its earnings in France; the announcement follows EU officials’ commitment to implement stricter tax rules, as the current regime allows companies whose earnings occur primarily in higher tax member states to declare them in lower-tax countries.

Contractual Termination or Censorship? A French court will hear arguments in a case where a French primary school teacher sued Facebook, Inc. for violating his freedom of speech in 2011 when the company removed his profile after he posted a photo of a nude painting in the Musée d’Orsay—a ruling is expected in the case on March 15; the case comes to court after years of wrangling over jurisdiction and venue where Facebook attempted to argue that the lawsuit could only be heard in California—currently, Facebook, Inc. claims that Facebook Ireland, the web host for service in France, is the correct party to bring to court over the deactivation.

From Meghna Prasad – Rome, Italy:

No Bracelets for You: Several Italian politicians denounced Amazon’s plan to patent an electronic wristband to track their workers’ movements to improve efficiency; Speaker of the House Laura Boldrini calls the proposed patent “degrading and offensive,” while Economic Development Minister Carlo Calenda insists that “the only bracelets we make in Italy are the ones produced by jewelers.”


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

N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Idalys Núñez
Dean’s Fellow, Fordham CLIP

Erin Shahinfar
Subrina Chowdhury
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: January 26, 2018

Internet Governance

New York State of Net Neutrality: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order requiring state agencies to contract only with ISPs that abide by net neutrality principles days after Montana’s Governor Steve Bullock did the same; the order’s use of state contracts as leverage may withstand legal challenges as it does not impose direct regulations on the providers, but on the state government.

Airbnb Checks Out in the Bay: Airbnb’s San Francisco listings plunged from over 10,000 to around 5,500 after new vacation-rental laws kicked in requiring Airbnb hosts to register with the city; the laws aim to prevent homes from turning into year-round tourist hotels, which take rentals off the market and distort market prices.

Privacy

Foreign or US Surveillance? President Trump signed the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017 extending the authorization allowing the intelligence community to “collect critical intelligence on international terrorists, weapons proliferators and other important foreign intelligence targets outside of the US”; the law permits the Director of National Intelligence and the Attorney General to surveil anyone outside of the country and allows authorities to access communications that simply mention a foreign target, thus raising privacy concerns as US citizens’ communications can be accessed.

Facebook’s New Privacy Center: In response to the forthcoming requirements of the EU’s GDPR, Facebook will set up a new global privacy center that puts core privacy settings in one place permitting its users to more easily manage their personal data. 

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Look Before You Swipe: Researchers at security firm Checkmarx demonstrated that Tinder’s app lacks the standard HTTPS encryption necessary to conceal a user’s photos, allowing one to see any user’s photos or inject their own images into the user’s photo stream; the researchers also demonstrated that HTTPS-encrypted data in Tinder’s app still leaked enough information allowing a hacker on the network to monitor the user’s swipes or matches on the app.

Kansas’ Crosscheck: Boston-based security firm Netragard warned that Kansas’ Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office—host of the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, a database designed to cross-check voter records for potential double voters—could expose sensitive voter data from as many as twenty-seven states to hackers through unsecured connections between the Secretary of State’s network and other state-hosted networks.

Intellectual Property

The Music Modernization Act: A bipartisan group of senators introduced the Music Modernization Act, legislation designed to update music licensing laws for the digital age by streamlining the licensing process and setting a new standard for mechanical royalty rates; under the proposed legislation, a single entity would be created to collect royalties for distribution to copyright holders and royalty rates would be based on what a willing buyer and seller would negotiate on the free market.

Bunny v. Boing Boing: Boing Boing moved to dismiss a lawsuit filed against it by Playboy, which accuses the website of copyright infringement for linking to a YouTube video and an Imgur gallery featuring every Playmate centerfold ever; in 2016, Playboy’s Dutch publisher, Sanoma, successfully sued Dutch website GeenStijl for unfair profits arising from copyright infringing hyperlinks.

Free Expression and Censorship

Ministry of Disinformation? The UK announced plans to establish a new national security communications unit dedicated to combating “fake news”; the announcement follows French President Emmanuel Macron’s declaration that he intends to overhaul French domestic media legislation in order to counter disinformation.

Quid Pro NO! YouTube is asking sponsored musicians and artists to sign non-disparagement agreements in exchange for the platform’s promotional support; while the agreements are common in some areas of business, YouTube’s biggest music competitors do not mandate them.    

Practice Note

Qualcomm Fined by EU: The EU’s competition watchdog fined American chipmaker Qualcomm €997 million for violating EU antitrust laws by abusing its market dominance when it paid Apple billions of dollars for the tech giant’s promise that it would exclusively use Qualcomm chips; the Commission looked at Qualcomm’s high market shares, the chip-making market’s high entry barriers, the exclusion of rivals from the market and the denial of rivals’ business opportunities, and concluded that Qualcomm failed to demonstrate that the exclusivity agreement with Apple created any market efficiencies.

On The Lighter Side

Rise and Type: Google researchers have uncovered why so many smartphones in India run out of space so quickly—too many Indians send cheer-y good morning graphics to each other.


Information Law News From CLIP-ings International Correspondents Around the Globe

This academic year, former CLIP-ings Editorial Fellows studying abroad are reporting from time-to-time on current local news and developments in the field of information law!

From Victoria Loeb – Paris, France:

Tech is ‘Choosing France’: Following a booming French tech sector and President Macron’s pro-business reforms, Google’s CEO announced the company’s plan to expand AI operations in Paris and open four Google Hubs across France for free training in “online skills and digital literacy,” while Facebook revealed it would invest €10 million in its French AI center.

AI Alliance: The UK and France will collaborate on AI at a digital conference this year, where “experts in data, cybersecurity, digital government and digital skills from both sides” will share knowledge to integrate the technology’s benefits and strengthen the countries’ digital economies; the announcement occurred at the annual UK-France summit, where the countries also reiterated their support for net neutrality.

From Meghna Prasad – Rome, Italy:

Fake News Filters: In anticipation of the upcoming general election, the Italian government created a portal on Italy’s postal police website for citizens to report URLs of alleged fake news stories, where “the police’s cybercrime division will fact-check the reports,” and either deny any false information or take legal action if necessary; critics of the initiative worry about the potential for political censorship and the lack of clarity regarding what constitutes fake news.


CORRECTION: In our January 19, 2018 edition of CLIP-ings, in the portion entitled “No Pictures Please!,” we erroneously stated that “under Italian law, the image’s copyright belongs to the subject rather than the photographer.” Although Italian law does provide copyright ownership to the author of a photograph, privacy and publicity rights of the subject place limits on exclusive rights of the copyright holder.


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

N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Idalys Núñez
Dean’s Fellow, Fordham CLIP

Erin Shahinfar
Subrina Chowdhury
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP