CLIP-ings: January 29, 2021

Internet Governance

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

Privacy

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

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

Information Security and Cyberthreats

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

Free Expression and Censorship

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

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

Practice Note

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

On the Lighter Side

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

Olivier Sylvain
Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: January 22, 2021

Internet Governance

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

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

Privacy

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

Information Security and Cyberthreats

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

Intellectual Property

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

Free Expression and Censorship

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

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

On the Lighter Side

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

Olivier Sylvain
Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Erica Chan
Junyi Cui
Editorial Fellows

CLIP-ings: January 15, 2021

Internet Governance

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

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

Privacy

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

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

Information Security and Cyberthreats

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

Free Expression and Censorship

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

Practice Note

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

On the Lighter Side

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

Olivier Sylvain
Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: January 8, 2021

Internet Governance

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

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

Privacy

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

Information Security and Cyberthreats

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

Intellectual Property

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

Free Expression and Censorship

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

Practice Note

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

On the Lighter Side

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

Olivier Sylvain
Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: December 11, 2020

Internet Governance

FTC, States, Launch Antitrust Suit Against Facebook: The Federal Trade Commission and a coalition of over 40 states have launched parallel suits against the social network, alleging that its “actions to entrench and maintain its monopoly deny consumers the benefits of competition”; in its suit, the FTC seeks an injunction that would require Facebook to divest Instagram and WhatsApp.

Privacy

CDC Vaccination-Tracking Effort Gives Rise To Privacy Concerns: To better understand national uptake of a Covid-19 vaccine and to “track adverse reactions, address safety issues and assess the effectiveness of the vaccine among different populations,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has asked states to agree to share vaccine recipients’ identifying information, including names, addresses, ethnicities, and birthdays; some state authorities, including New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, have pushed back on the plan, arguing that shared data could be used to identify and ultimately deport undocumented immigrants, which might dissuade some from obtaining the vaccine. 

French Privacy Regulator Fines Google €100 Million For Cookies Rules Violations: The CNIL levied its largest fine ever against the search company after concluding that it failed to obtain users’ consent before storing advertising cookies on their devices and failed to explain how the trackers would be used or how users could opt-out of tracking; Amazon was also fined €35 million for similar violations.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Prominent Cybersecurity Firm Victimized By Hack: U.S.-based FireEye, which is relied on by companies and governments across the globe, was hacked by what is believed to be a “highly sophisticated” state actor seeking “information related to certain government customers”; the attackers made away with FireEye’s own hacking tools, which could enable further hacks across the globe. 

European Medical Agency Suffers Hack Related To Covid-19 Vaccine: The Agency, which is responsible for approving potential Covid-19 vaccines—including those by Moderna and a BioNTech/Pfizer collaboration—announced that attackers accessed “some documents relating to the regulatory submission for Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate.”

Free Expression and Censorship

YouTube Bans Misinformation About 2020 Presidential Election Results: Now that “the legitimacy of Biden’s election is no longer up for debate,” the video-streaming service will remove nearly all content “that misleads people by alleging that widespread fraud or errors changed the [election’s] outcome”; content that is “educational, documentary, scientific, or artistic,” however, is excepted from the ban.

Practice Note

House Of Representatives Passes PACER Reform: This week, the House passed the Open Courts Act of 2020, which would modernize the database of court filings and eliminate its paywall; the federal judiciary, which earns approximately $145 million annually from PACER fees, opposes the bill on the bases that it would increase filing costs for litigants, result in a windfall for large law firms and companies, and cost more than $2 billion over the next half decade.

On the Lighter Side

On Camera And Under The Knife: Anecdotal evidence suggests that as people spend more time on video calls with co-workers, friends, and family, more have turned to plastic surgery to improve their on-camera appearance. 

Olivier Sylvain
Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: September 4, 2020

Internet Governance

Courts Hold Amazon Liable For Faulty Products: Multiple court rulings have found the e-commerce giant responsible for defective products sold by third-party merchants on its marketplace, especially when third-party merchants disappear, due to its significant role as part of the distribution chain. 
Privacy

Ninth Circuit Rules NSA’s Telephone Metadata Program Illegal And Possibly Unconstitutional: Almost seven years after the appeal of a criminal terror-fundraising case against four Somali immigrants, the unanimous three-judge panel held that the metadata program is illegal, but that the metadata collection played a minor role in the case and did not taint the evidence introduced by the government at trial under established Fourth Amendment standards.

Amazon Surveils Its Flex Delivery Drivers In Private Facebook Groups: Following the discovery of official company documents, Amazon has confirmed that it employs staff to track and monitor private social media groups used by Amazon Flex workers in order to keep tabs on complaints and discussions about strikes against the retailing giant.
Information Security and Cyberthreats

Russians Again Targeting Americans With Disinformation: After months of warnings by the F.B.I., Facebook and Twitter now confirm that the Internet Research Agency, the Russian group that interfered in the 2016 presidential election, is actively repeating its efforts from four years ago to disrupt the November 2020 election by feeding conspiracy theories designed to alienate Americans through a network of fake user accounts and fringe news sites.
Intellectual Property

Apple’s App Store Practices Spark Criticism From Facebook: Highlighting Apple’s strict controls over what it allows onto the App Store, and by extension, user’s iPhones, CEO Mark Zuckerberg reproached Apple last week for its purported anti-competitive practices, such as denials of certain features of Facebook apps and the removal of Fortnight, despite having recently shared in the scrutiny of a Congressional hearing targeting monopolistic tech giants.

Free Expression and Censorship

Facebook Touts Improved Ability To Detect And Remove Misinformation As Myanmar Elections Loom: Taking a lesson from its past failure to prevent misinformation campaigns which led to expressions of hate against Myanmar’s Rohingya minority, Facebook has implemented technological and human monitoring of information sharing, verification, and controls in order to prevent false and misleading claims from interfering with the country’s upcoming November 8th general election. 

Practice Note

Kik Finds Protection Under Section 230 Despite FOSTA Claim: In a case involving the exposure of a minor to unsolicited nude photos on the popular messaging app, the Southern District of Florida held that the scienter requirements of sections 1591 and 1595 of the anti-sex-trafficking act FOSTA had not been met and thus Kik was entitled to immunity under Communications Decency Act section 230.
On the Lighter Side

Birth Of A Virtual Nation: Almost thirty years ago, an energetic head of the White House Office of Media Affairs, a sketch of a website based on a White House tour, a major telecom, Socks the cat, and others combined to help drive a confluence of emerging internet technology to spawn the White House’s first website.
Joel R. Reidenberg
Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Chair and Professor of Law
Founding Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Erica Chan
Daniel Gerken
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: May 22, 2020

Internet Governance

State And Federal Attorneys General Coordinate Antitrust Investigation Against Google: The tech giant is under government scrutiny for alleged monopolistic behavior in the online advertising market arising from how Google uses the considerable amount of data it holds on individual users to place ads across the internet; a charging decision will likely be issued by the end of this summer.

Privacy

Apple And Google Release Secure Contact-Tracing Software: On May 20, the companies announced that 22 countries and a number of U.S. states were granted access to their jointly produced contact-tracing software; the firms publicly asserted that measures to ensure user privacy, such as blocking requests for geographic location data and applying strict encryption standards, will be enforced on states and countries that have access to the technology.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

EasyJet Could Face Large Fines If Negligence Caused Customer Data Breach: EasyJet has warned customers about potential scam emails after announcing that the data of over 9 million customers was breached in a hack of the airline’s database; “accessed” information includes email addresses, travel details, and 2,208 customers’ credit and debit card information.

Intellectual Property

Nintendo Fights To Protect Its Intellectual Property From Hackers: Nintendo filed two suits against defendants who sell products that allow gamers to play pirated games on Nintendo’s Switch devices; the company seeks a permanent injunction and a $2,500 penalty per enabled violation.

Free Expression and Censorship

Facebook Not Liable For Hosting Terrorist Content: The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from a decision of the Second Circuit which held that Facebook was not liable for knowingly hosting the accounts of terrorist groups and promoting those accounts algorithmically; the case was originally brought in 2016 by the families of five Americans affected by Palestinian attacks in Israel.

Practice Note

California District Court Signals Support For Privacy Claims In Suit Involving Google Assistant: Although it granted Google’s motion to dismiss in a recent class action alleging that the company’s voice-activated assistant tool actively listened to and recorded conversations after misperceiving voice commands, a California federal district court permitted the plaintiffs to amend their complaint, and suggested plaintiffs may have an expectation of privacy when using the device in settings “reasonably understood to be private.”

On the Lighter Side

HBO Beats Netflix To First Official Relationship With Simultaneous Streaming Provider: In light of the COVID-19 lockdown, HBO and HBO Go have announced an official relationship with Scener, a Chrome extension for Mac, Windows, and Chromebook that allows up to 20 people to stream movies and shows together through a shared viewing screen with video chatting features.

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

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Isabel Brown
Caroline Vermillion
Editorial Fellows

CLIP-ings: May 15, 2020

Internet Governance

Warrant Requirement For Web Browsing Data Rejected: The Senate narrowly voted against a bipartisan amendment to the Patriot Act that would have expressly prohibited the government from obtaining individuals’ web browsing data without a warrant.

New York City Approves Fee Capping For Food Delivery Services: A bill passed by the New York City Council prohibits third-party food delivery services from charging restaurants fees of over twenty percent during states of emergency such as the coronavirus pandemic; Mayor de Blasio supports the bill, which would impose a fine of $1,000 per restaurant per day on delivery services that violate it.

Privacy

Google Faces Suit Brought By Max Schrems: Through his organization Noyb, the privacy activist filed a complaint with Austria’s data protection authority alleging that Google unlawfully tracks users through the use of tracking IDs without first obtaining their consent.

TikTok In The Privacy Crosshairs Again: A group of consumer advocacy groups have filed a complaint against TikTok with the Federal Trade Commission, alleging that the popular video-sharing site violated a February 2019 consent decree by failing to remove videos created by users under 13 and violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act by unlawfully collecting information from those users.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

COVID-19 Work Under Threat Of Digital Espionage: The FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued a joint statement warning that Chinese hackers are attempting to steal from U.S-based research organizations intellectual property, data, and research on vaccines, treatments, and testing for COVID-19.

Free Expression and Censorship

Facebook Settles Suit With Content Moderators: The social media network will pay $52 million to a class of more than 11,0000 current and former content moderators who alleged to have developed PTSD, depression, and other ailments after they were tasked with reviewing content including “graphic murders, animal cruelty, sexual abuse, child abuse, and other horrifying footage, while being provided with little to no managerial or mental health support and hard-to-meet quotas under shifting guidelines.”

Practice Note

France Requires Swift Removal Of Illegal Content From Social Media: Under a law passed Wednesday, social media sites must remove child abuse- and terrorism-related content within 60 minutes and other harmful content within 24 hours; violators are subject to fines of up to 1.25 million euros, or four percent of global revenue for repeat offenders.

On the Lighter Side

A Different Type Of Tweeting: A quick-thinking officer from the Boston Police Department used a peacock mating call app on his cell phone to lure a bird that escaped from the city’s Franklin Park Zoo.

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

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: May 8, 2020

Internet Governance

EU Publishes Cookie Consent Guidelines: In a set of updated guidelines published this week, the European Data Protection Board has undertaken to improve cookie consent practices by banning “cookie walls,” which require users to consent to cookie policies before viewing content, and by clarifying that basic interactions such as scrolling or swiping do not amount to consent.

States Consider House Arrest Tech To Curb COVID-19 Spread As Country Reopens: States including Hawaii, Kentucky, and West Virginia have contemplated the use of GPS tracking devices, smartphone apps, and similar technology to ensure that COVID-19-infected individuals stay home, though the use of such technologies for public health purposes remains “uncharted territory.”

Privacy

Surveillance Planes Take Flight Over Baltimore: An operation that began in secret in 2016 entered its second, public phase last week; the privately funded operation, which is in a six-month trial period and will focus on surveillance related to shootings, homicides, robberies, and carjackings, is viewed by privacy advocates as the “most comprehensive surveillance ever imposed on an American city in the history of the country.”

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Unsecured Database Of Popular Adult Platform Exposed 10.88 Billion Records: A security review site found that adult-streaming platform CAM4 left a server publicly exposed, and as a result revealed over 7 terabytes of personal information, including names, sexual orientations, payment details, and transcripts of user emails and chats; there is no evidence, however, that the database was accessed by hackers.

Intellectual Property

ICANN Rejects Proposed Sale Of Public Interest Registry To Ethos Capital: After a contentious review process, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers blocked the sale of the Public Interest Registry, which handles “.org” domains, to private equity firm Ethos Capital, in part on the basis that the sale would “change [ ] the fundamental public interest nature of PIR to an entity that is bound to serve the interests of its corporate stakeholders, and which has no meaningful plan to protect or serve the .org community.”

Free Expression and Censorship

Tumblr Clamps Down On Hate Speech In Reblogs Of Terminated Posts: In response to feedback from users, Tumblr announced that it will remove reblogs of posts that have already been taken down for containing “hate speech from Nazi or other white supremacist groups” as a way to curb the spread of such speech on its platform.

Twitter Will Prompt Users To Clean Up Their Language: In an effort to dissuade users from tweeting “offensive or hurtful language,” Twitter will begin showing users prompts urging them to reconsider their word choices before sending a tweet if language in the tweet matches language in posts that have been reported.

On the Lighter Side

A Modern Twist On A Classic: One nostalgic typist created a contraption that makes his computer keyboard sound and feel like an old-fashioned typewriter.

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

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: March 20, 2020

Internet Governance

Israel Turns To Cellphone Location Data To Fight Coronavirus: Israel’s internal security agency has received authorization to use cellphone location data to “retrace the movements of individuals who test positive for the virus, and identify others who should be quarantined”; reports suggest that government researchers in the United States have been in talks with tech companies such as Facebook and Google on how to leverage their users’ data to help curb the virus’s spread in the U.S.

EU Asks Streaming Services To Downgrade From High-Definition: European Union officials are asking online streaming platforms such as Netflix to switch to standard-definition streaming to preserve bandwidth and prevent strain on the internet’s functioning during a time when many are working and learning from home due to coronavirus-related quarantines or lockdowns.

Privacy

House FISA Bill Delayed After Senate Extends Existing Surveillance Tools: On Monday, the Senate agreed to extend for 77 days a set of existing government surveillance tools to gain time to review the House-approved USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020, which would update and renew domestic surveillance rules under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. 

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Security Firm Discovers Malware Disguised As Coronavirus-Tracking App: Mobile app security company Lookout discovered a malware app that mimics Johns Hopkins’ legitimate coronavirus-tracking app and allows attackers to access a device’s photos, videos, and location, as well as to enable its camera.

Free Expression and Censorship

Facebook Spam Filter Bug Blocks Legitimate Coronavirus News: Users who attempted to share legitimate news about coronavirus from outlets such as The Atlantic and The Times of Israel had their posts flagged as spam; Facebook contends that the issue arose as the result of a bug in the company’s spam filter.

TikTok Adds Content Advisory Council Following Content Suppression: The popular video-sharing app announced that a council of health and safety experts with expertise in areas such as misinformation, hate speech, and bullying will help form content policies for the app; the announcement comes after TikTok was discovered to have instructed its content moderators to suppress videos from users who appeared to be “too ugly or too poor.”

Practice Note

Department Of Health And Human Services Loosens HIPAA Penalties In Wake Of Coronavirus: To enable greater patient assessment while limiting the risk of infection through the use of telehealth services, the Department will waive penalties for violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act that could otherwise result from medical professionals’ use of non-HIPAA-compliant videoconferencing services such as FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, and Skype.

On the Lighter Side

The Show Must Go On(line): Conan O’Brien will become the first of the late-night talk show hosts to attempt to return to the air from coronavirus-imposed self-isolation by filming his segment using an iPhone and dialing in guests via Skype.

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

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Brittany Thomas
Sean Conners
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP