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

CLIP-ings: January 17, 2020

Internet Governance

Online Retailers Face Antitrust Probe In India: In response to a complaint filed by a group that represents small- and medium-sized businesses, the Competition Commission of India will investigate whether Amazon and Walmart’s Flipkart promote “preferred sellers” over smaller sellers in violation of the country’s competition laws.

Privacy

Dating Data Shared: A recent report reveals that popular online dating services such as Grindr, OkCupid, and Tinder send data about users’ gender, ethnicity, location, and personal dating preferences to advertisers, marketing services, and location data brokers in ways that may run afoul of data privacy laws such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation and California’s newly effective California Consumer Privacy Act.

Third-Party Trackers Not Welcome On Chrome: Google has announced that as part of its Privacy Sandbox initiative to make web use more private and secure, the Chrome browser will stop supporting third-party tracking cookies by 2022; the policy change will affect how web tracking and advertising works on the platform.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Burisma Becomes Victim Of Apparent Russian Hack: A Silicon Valley security firm discovered that the Ukrainian gas company, which is at the center of the Trump impeachment proceedings, was infiltrated in a hack that employed tactics similar to those used by Russian hackers from a military intelligence unit; while it is unclear how much data was obtained through the hack, it raises concerns that Russia may be prying for information that could be used to meddle in the 2020 election.

Intellectual Property

Chinese Court Affords Copyright Protection To AI-Generated Content: A court in Shenzhen ruled that an AI-generated financial report produced by tech giant Tencent was entitled to copyright protection after another online platform duplicated the report on its own website; the court found that the work had a “certain originality” and that it met the legal requirements to be considered a “written work” entitled to copyright protection.

Free Expression and Censorship

Digital Art Falls Victim To Instagram’s False Information Warning Feature: The feature, which notifies users that third-party fact checkers have determined that a post contains false information, has begun to flag postings of digitally manipulated art and has hid those postings from Instagram’s Explore and Hashtag pages.

Practice Note

GrayKey Enables iPhone Access By Law Enforcement: A newly discovered search warrant suggests that the FBI has access to a tool—GrayKey—that can retrieve data from iPhones, including the latest 11 Pro Max model, even when they are locked; the discovery raises questions about the FBI, President Trump, and Attorney General Barr’s motivations for pressuring Apple to assist in unlocking the devices owned by the Pensacola, Florida, naval base shooting suspect.

On the Lighter Side

Spotify Curates Content For Canines: After surveying UK listeners and finding that nearly three-quarters of them play music for their pets, Spotify has created a playlist and a podcast for dogs to listen to when their owners aren’t home.

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

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP



CLIP-ings: January 10, 2020

Internet Governance

New Cambridge Analytica Documents Leaked: A former employee-turned-whistleblower has begun to leak a trove of over 100,000 documents showing that the now-defunct company was a “global operation that worked with governments, intelligence agencies, commercial companies and political campaigns to manipulate and influence people,” and that it had even worked for a Ukrainian political party in 2017 while under investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Privacy

Ring Adds Privacy Dashboard: In response to recent criticism of its privacy and security practices, the home security system has added a privacy dashboard to its app that allows users to alter privacy and security settings, including by setting up two-factor authentication and managing law enforcement’s ability to request video clips.

YouTube Implements Children’s Privacy Changes: As part of a settlement with the FTC over alleged Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act violations, the streaming service has effected changes that include removing targeted advertising, push notifications, and other community-oriented features from videos designated by creators as “made for kids”; content creators complain that a lack of guidance makes it difficult to determine whether they may be in violation of the new policies.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

FBI Again Seeks Apple Help To Unlock Device: Armed with a court order permitting it to search iPhones allegedly belonging to the suspected gunman at a Florida naval base last month, the FBI has requested that Apple help it unlock the password-protected devices; the Bureau has sought similar help from Apple in the past, but ultimately found alternative ways into the devices in those cases.

TikTok Vulnerabilities Discovered: A cybersecurity research firm discovered “multiple vulnerabilities” in the popular video-sharing app that would allow hackers to upload and delete videos from users’ accounts, change the privacy settings of users’ existing videos, and redirect users to malicious websites that mimic TikTok’s homepage; the vulnerabilities were disclosed to TikTok parent ByteDance and have since been patched. 

Intellectual Property

Airbnb Owns User-Profiling Patent: Airbnb has patented “trait analyzer” software that scours the web for information about users’ behavioral and personality traits to gauge their “trustworthiness” and ultimately to calculate their compatibility with various hosts.

Free Expression and Censorship

Facebook Deepfake Ban Met With Skepticism: On Monday, the social network announced that it will ban deepfakes on its platform, including content created by artificial intelligence and content that has been edited “in ways that aren’t apparent to an average person and would likely mislead someone”; lawmakers, however, say that the prohibition does not go far enough, as it likely does not cover content created using “widely available editing software.”

On the Lighter Side

AI That Makes You Smile: A newly announced AI toothbrush, which is driven by an app that provides “real-time tracking and coaching,” has proven to improve gum health in clinical trials.

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

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP