CLIP-ings: June 11, 2021

Internet Governance

Senate Passes Comprehensive Tech And Manufacturing Bill: The bipartisan legislation, which responds to increasing competition from China, would authorize $250 billion for technology research and development and would restrict the purchase and use of certain technologies from the country.

El Salvador Becomes First Nation To Adopt Bitcoin: The cryptocurrency is now legal tender after the country’s legislature adopted it in an effort to make it easier for Salvadorans across the world to send money back home to family and friends; most Salvadorans lack traditional banking and rely on remittances that account for nearly a quarter of the country’s GDP.   
Privacy

Report Finds Privacy Tech Industry At “Inflection Point”: A report by the Future of Privacy Forum finds that as consumers become more connected, and as regulatory compliance becomes a growing need for companies, privacy technology has become a multi-billion-dollar market sector. 
Information Security and Cyberthreats

Major Websites Briefly Forced Offline After Bug Triggered: The vast outage took place as a result of a hidden bug in a software deployment from Fastly, a cloud computing service provider used by many web publishers; Fastly immediately patched the bug and has initiated system reviews to prevent against future outages, but the incident draws attention to the potential dangers of the consolidation of cloud services.

Biden Revokes Trump-Era Ban On Chinese Apps, But Calls For Supply Chain Security: President Biden revoked the executive order intended to ban TikTok, WeChat, and other Chinese apps on the basis that they share Americans’ information with Chinese authorities; in his own executive order, Biden called for an evaluation of threats to the information supply chain and instructed the Commerce Department to develop recommendations for protecting Americans’ information from foreign adversaries. 
Intellectual Property

Facebook Delays Taking Cut Of Creators’ Revenue: The company announced that it will wait until 2023 before taking a portion of earnings generated by users who share content or promote events, and stoked its ongoing feud with Apple by noting that when revenue sharing does begin, Facebook’s cut will be less than the 30 percent that Apple takes from app developers.
Practice Note

FTC Settles With MoviePass Over Deceptive Practices: The now-defunct company, which once allowed subscribers to see unlimited movies in theaters for $10 per month, is alleged to have changed customer passwords and blocked accounts outright to keep users from being able to take advantage of the service; under the settlement, the company’s parents and principals are barred from further misrepresenting their business practices.  
On the Lighter Side

Apple Nearly Revives The Away Message For Texts: Apple’s Focus, a feature that allows users to set notification filters for certain apps to minimize distraction, now notifies texters when you have Focus mode engaged so they know you’re away. 
Olivier Sylvain Academic Director, Fordham CLIP
Tom Norton Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: June 4, 2021

Internet Governance

Digital Wallets Coming Soon To The EU: Within a year, the EU plans to roll out bloc-wide technology that will allow citizens to store things like driver’s licenses, payment cards, and passwords digitally to make access to public and private services more efficient.

SCOTUS Limits Computer Fraud And Abuse Act Scope: In Van Buren v. United States, the Court overturned the conviction of a police officer who searched his department’s license plate database for purposes outside the scope of his official duties, concluding that the CFAA’s “exceeds authorized access” clause applies to only “those who obtain information from particular areas in the computer—such as files, folders or databases—to which their computer access does not extend,” and “does not cover those who . . . have improper motives for obtaining information that is otherwise available to them;” the Court noted that to adopt a broader reading of the statute would criminalize a vast swath of ordinary computing activity. 
Privacy

Privacy Advocacy Group Issues Cookie-Banner Complaints To 500 Companies: The Max Schrems-led privacy group NOYB issued the complaints, alleging that the companies’ cookie banners violate the GDPR by making it difficult for users to opt out of tracking cookies; NOYB has developed an automated system to analyze cookie banners and generate complaints for GDPR noncompliance, and plans to issue draft complaints to 10,000 of Europe’s most-visited sites in an effort to get them to change their practices before resorting to formal proceedings.

Amazon Ring’s Neighbors App Gets Transparency Update: In response to concerns about law enforcement access to Ring home-surveillance-device information, beginning on June 7th, law enforcement agencies will no longer be permitted to email Ring users directly to solicit footage; law enforcement will only be able to request footage via a public bulletin, through posts by verified profiles that include criteria such as case number and agency contact information. 
Information Security and Cyberthreats

Russian Cybercrime Group REvil Responsible For JBS Hack: The White House and the FBI have confirmed that the notorious group was behind the recent attack that crippled JBS, a Brazilian company that supplies nearly one-fifth of the world’s meat. 

NYC’s MTA Hacked: The Metropolitan Transit Authority, which operates the New York City subway system, announced that it was the victim of a cyberattack; the hackers, who are suspected of being part of a Chinese espionage operation, exploited a vulnerability in the Pulse Connect Secure VPN system and made their way into the MTA’s systems, but did not make away with any data.
Free Expression & Censorship

Instagram And Facebook Respond To Accusations Of Suppressing Pro-Palestinian Viewpoints: In the wake of the recent conflict in Gaza, Instagram will change its algorithm to give equal weight to original and shared content after employees complained that the old algorithm, which favored original posts over shared ones, had the effect of suppressing pro-Palestinian content; at Facebook, employees have called for a third-party audit of the company’s moderation practices related to Muslim and Arab content.
Practice Note

Amazon Nixes Arbitration And Allows Consumers To Sue In Court: After receiving thousands of individual arbitration demands from customers who use the company’s Echo device, Amazon did away with the arbitration clause in its terms of service, and now invites aggrieved customers to file suit in court.  
On the Lighter Side Another Famous Meme Sells As NFT: The 14-year-old “Charlie bit me” video, which is one of the most-viewed internet videos of all-time, has sold as an NFT for over £500,000; the brothers who appear in the video plan to use the money to attend university.  
Olivier Sylvain Academic Director, Fordham CLIP
Tom Norton Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: May 28, 2021

Internet Governance

D.C. Attorney General Brings Antitrust Suit Against Amazon: The suit alleges that Amazon’s practice of blocking third-party sellers from selling their products on other platforms amounts to a monopoly practice that violates the District of Columbia’s Antitrust Act.
Privacy

WhatsApp Sues India’s Government Over Message-Traceability Law: The country’s Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code, which is intended in part to track the origins of misinformation, requires messaging apps such as WhatsApp to identify the “first originator of information”; WhatsApp argues that a requirement that it trace messages would threaten end-to-end encryption and jeopardize user privacy.

Privacy Groups In EU And UK Sue Clearview AI: The lawsuits in the UK, France, Austria, Greece, and Italy allege that the controversial facial-recognition company’s practice of scraping photos from across the internet to populate its database of more than three billion images violates the GDPR. 
Information Security and Cyberthreats

Crime App Citizen Targeted In Large-Scale Scraping Incident: A hacktivist scraped from the crime-reporting app and posted online data including incident location information, police radio audio files, images, and more; while the data is publicly accessible on the app itself, the aggregation and centralization of it on the web reveals how much data Citizen processes, and could potentially be useful for tracking the app’s adoption and use.
Free Expression & Censorship

Florida Law Prohibits Tech Companies From Banning Politicians: The new law, which is intended to curb the “censorship” of conservative individuals and viewpoints by tech companies, makes it unlawful for such companies to de-platform political candidates or news outlets and grants Floridians the right to sue over content moderation decisions; violators are subject to daily fines of up to $250,000, but the law is likely to be challenged.

Facebook Plans To Limit Distribution Of Content Of Users Who Post Misinformation: While the social network already limits the visibility of posts containing misinformation, it will now begin to limit the reach of all content from users found to routinely post misinformation on the platform.
Practice Note

USPTO Makes .DOCX Preferred Filing Format: The move is part of an effort to “modernize and streamline [the] patent application system,” by, among other things, making it easier for the Office to automatically process submissions; users who wish to file using .PDF format will be subject to a fee.  
On the Lighter Side TikTok

Gets A New Voice: The popular video-streaming platform updated the audio of its text-to-voice feature after the actor whose voice was used for the original version of the feature sued, alleging that TikTok used her voice without authorization.  
Olivier Sylvain Academic Director, Fordham CLIP
Tom Norton Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: May 21, 2021

Internet Governance

Cryptocurrency Values Plummet As China Reinforces Ban: Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrency values dropped by up to 30% after China’s Internet Finance Association announced that the country’s financial institutions cannot engage in business related to cryptocurrencies on account of their volatility. 

FTC, States, Allege Frontier Communications Misrepresented Internet Speeds: In a new lawsuit, the Commission and six state attorneys general allege that the company charged or attempted to charge consumers for internet rates that the company did not actually provide.
Privacy

Amazon Extends Ban On Law Enforcement Use Of Facial Recognition Software: After announcing nearly a year ago that it would prohibit law enforcement agencies from using the controversial Rekognition system for at least one year, Amazon has now extended the ban indefinitely. 
Information Security and Cyberthreats

Consumer Reports And Advocacy Organizations Create Dark Patterns Tipline: The newly created tipline is designed to be a resource for consumers and a tool for collecting examples of dark patterns to inform advocacy work.

Colonial Pipeline Confirms Paying $4.4m Ransom To Resume Service: The company’s CEO acknowledged the payment, noting that the decision to pay came after consultation with experts familiar with DarkSide, the criminal group behind the hack.
Free Expression & Censorship

Twitter Scraps Image-Cropping Algorithm Over Bias: The social media company will largely abandon the algorithm, whose automatically generated previews of photos accompanying tweets were found to favor white people over black people and women over men.
Practice Note

Apple Moves To Dismiss Epic’s “Essential Facilities” Claim: As the antitrust trial between the companies wages on, Apple argues that Epic has failed to offer proof that it has violated the essential facilities doctrine, an element of antitrust law that prevents companies from implementing bottlenecks to exclude competitors, by preventing Epic from accessing iOS.  
On the Lighter Side

New Deepfake Technique May Make Film Overdubbing A Thing Of The Past: A new deepfake technology syncs actors’ lips and facial movements with foreign-language dialogue to make it appear that the actor is delivering their lines in the foreign language.  
Olivier Sylvain Academic Director, Fordham CLIP
Tom Norton Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: May 14, 2021

Internet Governance

Biden Teams With Uber And Lyft To Offer Free Transportation To Vaccination Sites: As part of its plan to vaccinate 70% of U.S. adults by July 4, the administration has reached agreements with the ridesharing companies through which they’ll offer free rides to vaccine-getters in exchange for data about nearly 80,000 vaccination sites across the country.

EU’s Second-Highest Court Rejects €250 Million Tax Bill For Amazon: The ruling by the General Court of the European Union amounted to a win for the tech giant against the European Commission, which levied the tax in response to Amazon’s allegedly unlawfully funneling revenue from EU sales through a Luxembourg-based subsidiary.
Privacy

German Data Protection Authority Bans Facebook From Processing WhatsApp Data: The ban comes in response to the Facebook-owned messaging app’s rollout of new terms of use, which the regulator maintains are illegal because they require users to either consent or be cut off from using the service. 
Information Security and Cyberthreats

Colonial Pipeline Resumes Operations As Biden Signs Cybersecurity Executive Order: The major fuel artery, which shut down for five days after being targeted in a cyberattack, is back online; on the heels of the attack, President Biden signed an executive order to “improve the nation’s cybersecurity” by creating a “playbook” to protect federal networks and strengthen breach response.
Intellectual Property

YouTube Shorts Will Pay Content Creators $100 Million Over The Next Year: The Google-owned video service’s new payment program is designed to incentivize creators to continually post to its platform as a way to compete with TikTok and Snapchat, which began paying content creators in 2020.
Free Expression & Censorship

Proposed UK Law Would Prohibit Tech Companies From Discriminating Based On Political Views: The proposed Online Safety Bill includes an anti-censorship clause that would require tech companies to protect “democratically important” content by prohibiting discrimination based on political viewpoint and require that companies adopt and evenhandedly apply policies for protecting such content.

Instagram Blames Removal Of Posts About Al-Aqsa Mosque On “Enforcement Error”: Posts about the mosque, which has been at the center of ongoing clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians, were removed or restricted after the holy site’s name was confused with those of terrorist organizations appearing on the platform’s list of Dangerous Organizations and Individuals; Facebook later clarified that the mosque’s name on its own does not violate company policies.
On the Lighter Side

Paralyzed Individual Writes Using Thoughts, Assisted By Neural Implants: Two implants in the premotor cortex, the area of the brain thought to be responsible for forming intentions to perform motor movements, translated the paralyzed study participant’s thoughts about forming characters into legible, on-screen letters.  
Olivier Sylvain Academic Director, Fordham CLIP
Tom Norton Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: May 7, 2021

Internet Governance

N.Y. Attorney General Finds FCC Was Flooded With Fake Comments In Lead-up To 2017 Net Neutrality Repeal: A years-long investigation resulted in a report that concludes that nearly 18 million of the 22 million public comments received regarding the net neutrality roll-back order were fake and the product of an industry effort to influence the Federal Communications Commission’s decision making.

Labor Department Rescinds Trump-proposed “Independent Contractor Rule”: The withdrawal of the Rule, which would have made it easier for gig-economy companies like Uber and Lyft to classify workers as independent contractors, signifies a policy shift toward stronger worker protections such as guaranteed wage and overtime pay.

Privacy

School Apps Found To Share Student Data: A recent study by nonprofit technology group Me2B Alliance found that 60 percent of mobile apps used in schools across the country transmit student data to third parties through the use of software development kits, which collect and share user data with analytics and marketing firms. 

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Peloton Leaves Sensitive User Data Exposed: A bug in the home-workout company’s API left exposed customer profiles that included personal information such as age, location, birthday, and workout data; the bug, which was discovered by a security researcher, has now been patched.

Intellectual Property

Musicians Implore Spotify To Not Implement Speech-recognition Tech: 180 musicians and human rights activists have asked the streaming service to never “use, license, sell, or monetize” a recently patented technology that would enable it to recommend music based on listeners’ “emotional state, gender, age, or accent,” arguing that the technology is “emotionally manipulative, discriminatory against trans and non-binary people, violates privacy and data security, and exacerbates inequality in the music industry.”

Free Expression & Censorship

Facebook Oversight Board Upholds Trump Ban, But Punts Ultimate Decision Back To Facebook: The Board concluded that the social network was correct to ban the former President for violating the site’s terms of service in posts related to the January 6th Capitol riots, but found the indefinite ban to be “vague” and “standardless”; the Board has given Facebook six months to determine an appropriate duration for the ban.

Practice Note

Ninth Circuit Denies Snapchat Section 230 Defense In Case Alleging Negligent Design: The court found that Section 230 does not provide immunity from allegations that Snapchat knew or should have known that its “speed filter,” which superimposed a user’s current speed on their Snaps and rewarded users for reaching certain speeds, would encourage people to drive their vehicles dangerously fast; the plaintiffs in the case are the parents of three boys who were killed in a high-speed car crash in which the speed filter was a factor.

On the Lighter Side

AI System Reduces Food Waste By 40 Percent: A grocery store in Poland is attempting to reduce food waste by using AI to automatically lower the prices of perishable food items as they approach their sell-by dates.

Olivier Sylvain Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

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