CLIP-ings: November 8, 2019

Internet Governance

TikTok Attracts Further Congressional And Regulatory Scrutiny: TikTok was criticized this week after it declined to appear at a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing investigating links between big tech companies and the Chinese government; the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. has also commenced a national security review of TikTok owner ByteDance’s acquisition of the social media app Musical.ly, which later merged into TikTok.

California’s Attorney General Reveals Investigation Into Facebook’s Privacy Practices: The investigation was made public in court documents alleging that the social media company failed to comply with subpoenas seeking information related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Privacy

Florida State Court Approves Warrant To Search DNA Database Of Over 1.2 Million Users: The warrant, which authorized a Florida detective to search the database of DNA site GEDmatch, is believed to be the first authorizing the search of a consumer DNA database for genetic information; the development has stoked concerns that law enforcement, which historically has been “deliberately cautious about approaching [DNA] sites with court orders,” will now be encouraged to request similar warrants for larger sites.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Former Twitter Employees Charged With Leaking Personal Information To Saudi Royal Family: Two individuals who worked for Twitter from 2013 to 2015 have been charged with leaking as many as 6,000 profile records to Saudi officials claiming to represent the royal family, including records related to critics of the royal family and murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Researchers Command Alexa And Other Voice Assistants Via Laser: Using equipment estimated to cost less than $400, researchers were able to silently issue voice commands to smart speakers by encoding the command in the intensity of the laser beam and shining it on the device’s microphone to trigger the microphone’s diaphragm; the study raises security concerns as researchers successfully ordered products through Amazon and took control of smart home devices.

Intellectual Property

Judge Rules Against Netflix, Hulu’s Motion To Dismiss In DivX Patent Infringement Suit: DivX, one of the internet’s first high-quality video streaming enablers, allege in separate suits that Netflix and Hulu infringe a number of its patents covering video compression technology; the Judge rejected both Netflix and Hulu’s arguments that the DivX patents fail the Alice test on the basis that the arguments rest on “factual disputes that are better resolved on a more robust record after the scope of the claims is better understood.”

Free Expression and Censorship

Lawsuit Against Facebook Alleges Discriminatory Advertising Again: The proposed class action alleges that Facebook enabled advertisers of loans, life insurance, and other financial services to target users by age and gender; the lawsuit follows a settlement between Facebook and civil rights groups earlier this year in which the company agreed that advertisers of housing, employment, and credit would no longer be able to target users based on age, gender, or ZIP code.

On the Lighter Side

FTC Releases Informational Brochure To Help Keep Social Media Influencers On Brand: In an effort to remind influencers about best practices and necessary disclosures, the FTC has released a new brochure and video to educate influencers; in response to public pressure, the FTC has been increasingly scrutinizing influencers, sending more than 90 letters to infringing individuals in 2017.

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

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Alison Gordon
Lawrence Keating
Editorial Fellows

CLIP-ings: October 25, 2019

Internet Governance

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Speaks Out Against State And Local Internet Regulation: At a live press event for The Wall Street Journal on Monday, Pai vocalized concerns that a patchwork regulatory system will stifle innovation and create market uncertainty; Pai’s comments follow a recent federal court decision that approved the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality, but allowed states to pass their own regulation.

Privacy

House Antitrust Hearing Focuses On Tech Companies’ Potential Harm To Consumer Privacy: As part of its investigation into major tech companies, the House Judiciary Committee heard testimony last Friday that Facebook, Google, Apple, and Amazon hold vast amounts of consumer data, giving them an advantage over rivals; the testimony also explored how the big tech companies’ market dominance enables them to get away with aggressive data collection.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Department Of Defense Ends Use Of Floppy Disks In Nuclear Weapons System: The communication infrastructure used to transmit emergency action messages for nuclear command centers is being upgraded to a highly-secure, solid state digital storage mechanism; while the outdated technology currently in use reportedly poses a lower security risk, maintenance has become increasingly difficult as replacement parts are no longer available.

Twitter Announces Plan To Introduce Policy Against Deepfakes, Will Seek User Input: Following a recent trend by tech giants such as Facebook and Amazon, Twitter announced it will introduce rules to address “synthetic and manipulated media;” before implementing the policy, Twitter will seek feedback from users to help refine the rules.

Intellectual Property

House Passes Controversial Copyright Small Claims Bill: In a 410-6 vote, the House approved the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act, or CASE Act, which is designed to improve access to copyright protections for content producers such as photographers and artists in the digital age by creating a tribunal of “Copyright Claims Officers” responsible for resolving alleged infringements.

Free Expression and Censorship

TikTok Removes ISIS Content: The social media platform popular among young users removed content promoting the terrorist organization that has been shared by nearly two dozen accounts; the videos, some of which are set to catchy songs and employ fun filters, highlight a growing concern about the distribution of propaganda through social media.

Practice Note

Georgia Supreme Court Holds Warrant Was Required To Obtain Data From Crashed Car: In Mobley v. State, the state’s highest court held that the trial court erred in declining to suppress electronic data taken at the scene of a vehicle collision, reasoning that the “physical intrusion of a personal motor vehicle” by law enforcement without a warrant was an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment.

On the Lighter Side

U.K. Hospital Inadvertently Converts Patient’s Message Into Its Own Voicemail Greeting: The hospital also routed inbound calls to the individual who left the message, causing patients to call and share personal information relating to their own healthcare.

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

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Alison Gordon
Lawrence Keating
Editorial Fellows

CLIP-ings: October 11, 2019

Internet Governance

PayPal Withdraws Support For Facebook’s Libra Cryptocurrency: The online payment systems company has withdrawn from an organization overseeing the creation and rollout of Libra, which continues to attract scrutiny from legislators: Mark Zuckerberg is scheduled to testify before the House Committee on Financial Services on October 23, and two Democratic Senators have written to Visa, Mastercard, and Stripe warning them to expect a high level of scrutiny should they decide to become involved with Libra.

Privacy

Declassified FISA Rulings Reveal FBI Violated Americans’ Privacy In Mass Surveillance Searches: In one of several rulings disclosed by the Director of National Intelligence this week, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court found that FBI searches were inconsistent with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the Fourth Amendment; the court pointed specifically to the FBI’s failure to differentiate which search terms specifically concerned U.S. residents, as well as to a number of incidents dating back to 2017 in which large-scale searches improperly captured information about Americans.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

U.S., UK, And Australia Call On Facebook To Halt Plans For End-To-End Encryption: In an open letter to Facebook, representatives from the three countries asked Facebook not to proceed with its plan to implement end-to-end encryption across its messaging services; the letter emphasizes the need to balance data security with the need for law enforcement to access information for criminal investigations.

Twitter Admits To Using Security Credentials For Targeted Advertising: In a statement released Tuesday, Twitter admitted to using phone numbers and email addresses provided as part of its two-step authentication process to serve targeted ads to an unknown number of users; the revelation comes less than a year after Facebook received a $5 billion FTC fine for engaging in the same practice.

Intellectual Property

SCOTUS Declines To Hear University of Wisconsin’s Appeal In Patent Dispute Against Apple: The Supreme Court declined to review a district court’s decision to throw out a $506.1 million verdict for Wisconsin, which the University’s licensing body was awarded after a jury in 2015 found that Apple violated its 1998 patent on a “predictor circuit” that assists processors in quickly executing computer programs.

Free Expression and Censorship

Apple Removes Apps From Chinese App Store And Hides Taiwanese Flag Emoji From Hong Kong Users: In response to complaints from the Chinese government, Apple has blocked an app that tracked the locations of police and protestors in Hong Kong and also removed the Quartz news app due to its coverage of the protests; Apple has also hidden the Taiwanese flag emoji , which was otherwise accessible worldwide except in mainland China.

Blizzard Bans Gaming Streamer After Vocalizing Support For Hong Kong During Livestream: The Hong Kong player known as “blitzchung” will forfeit any prize money earned in the competition, and will be ineligible from further participating for one year; the ban is seen as overly partisan and has incited online criticism of Blizzard, which is partially owned by Chinese investors.

On the Lighter Side

Instagram Says Goodbye To The “Following” Tab: Introduced in 2011 so that users could connect with mutual friends, Instagram says the feature is rarely used today, and that its removal will curb unwanted prying; a live update has already been released replacing Following with Activity, which is more focused on individual users.

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

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Alison Gordon
Lawrence Keating
Editorial Fellows

CLIP-ings: October 4, 2019

Internet Governance

D.C. Circuit Upholds FCC’s Repeal Of Net Neutrality Regulations: The court also held that the FCC could not prevent states from passing their own laws to protect net neutrality; five states have already enacted legislation or regulations protecting net neutrality, and thirty-four states and the District of Columbia have introduced bills or regulations to the same effect.

Privacy

English Court Of Appeal Allows “Safari Workaround” Class Action Against Google To Proceed: The case alleges that Google bypassed iPhone users’ privacy settings to track their web habits between 2011 and 2012; the court found that the plaintiffs could properly hold Google accountable for “deliberate misuse of personal data without consent” if their claims can be proven.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

FBI Investigates Alleged Hacking Attempt Into West Virginia’s Mobile Voting App: The app allows voters who are active military or registered to vote abroad to cast their votes from their phones; the app’s co-founder and CEO announced that a group had attempted to access the system during the 2018 Midterm Elections, and reported the incident to law enforcement to investigate.

Intellectual Property

Blackberry Loses Patent Protection Under Alice: In patent infringement litigation between Facebook, Twitter, Snap, and BlackBerry over BlackBerry’s mobile messaging and targeted advertising patents, a California District Court judge concluded that four of the patents were invalid under the Alice decision.

Google Side-Steps EU Copyright Directive’s New Link Tax: In response to France’s establishment of a link tax, Google, which would be obligated under the Directive to pay for displaying “snippets” of publishers’ copyright-protected material alongside its search results, is instead updating how search results are displayed; results will now appear without a “snippet” by default, leaving publishers to opt-in to including additional information.

Free Expression and Censorship

CJEU Rules That Individual Countries Can Order Facebook To Take Down Offensive Material Globally: Following its ruling last week that limited the reach of the “right to be forgotten,” the Court of Justice of the European Union found that courts in EU member states may require Facebook to remove on a global scale content that is “defamatory or otherwise illegal.”

Practice Note

Active Consent Is Required For Cookie Use In The EU: The Court of Justice of the European Union set a higher standard for user consent to ad tracking cookies by holding that pre-checked tick-boxes and cryptic consent agreement forms are invalid; the court did not, however, consider “cookie-walls” on websites that require users to accept cookie agreements prior to accessing the site.

On the Lighter Side

CIA To Retire Its Network Of Secure Fax Machines: Vendors will instead communicate with the Agency via its new cloud-based web service, Gray Magic, which is currently in beta; the CIA hopes to lead the intelligence community in a renewed wave of cloud-based services.

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

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Alison Gordon
Lawrence Keating
Editorial Fellows

CLIP-ings: September 13, 2019

Internet Governance

Texas Law Banning Deepfake Videos Takes Effect: The legislation prohibits the creation or distribution of videos within 30 days of an election that appear to depict “a real person performing an action that did not occur in reality” if the video is created or distributed with the intent to injure a candidate or influence the election; Texas is the second state after Virginia to criminalize deepfake videos, with similar bans currently being considered in California and by Congress.

Fifty Attorneys General Announce Google Antitrust Investigation: Following reports last week that Google would be the subject of an antitrust probe, representatives from 48 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have now officially launched their inquiry, which will focus on whether Google has harmed competition and consumers through its search, advertising, and other businesses; the attorneys general of California and Alabama declined to participate.

Privacy

DHS Proposes New Rule To Obtain Social Media Usernames From Asylum Seekers, Immigrants, And Refugees: If implemented, the rule would require applicants to provide five years’ worth of usernames for 19 different social media sites including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube; the Department is seeking comments on the proposal until November 4.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Apple Comments On iOS Hacking Operation: In the wake of a Google report last week that iPhones were hacked in an extensive malware operation, Apple has confirmed the attack, but has clarified certain elements of the report—namely, that the attack was narrowly focused to target China’s Uyghur Muslim community, that the attack ran for approximately two months instead of two years, and that Apple was already in the process of fixing the vulnerability that enabled the attack before being notified about it by Google.

Intellectual Property

Nintendo Blocks Access To Pirated Games By Enjoining UK ISPs: As part of its long-standing fight against piracy, Nintendo sought and won an injunction that prohibits five major UK internet providers from providing access to four websites known for hosting pirated material; the effort marked a tactical change from Nintendo’s typical practice of targeting pirated content directly.

Free Expression and Censorship

Ninth Circuit Declares Montana Law Banning Political Robocalling Unconstitutional: The court found that content-specific bans on robocalling presented a threat to First Amendment rights and hampered candidates with limited resources, defeating the State’s concerns for privacy protection and busy phone lines.

Practice Note

Scraping Public Information Deemed Legal By Ninth Circuit: In a 3-0 decision, the court upheld an injunction that prohibits LinkedIn from blocking tech startup hiQ Labs from harvesting public information from user profiles; the court reasoned that it was doubtful that users had any expectation of privacy in the publicly listed information.

On the Lighter Side

Web Browser Workaround Makes Private Instagram Posts Accessible To All: By using the “Inspect Element” tool and tabbing to the “Img” selection, users can locate a URL for any previously viewed post or story, which can then be shared publicly regardless of the user’s privacy setting.

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

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Alison Gordon
Lawrence Keating
Editorial Fellows


CLIP-ings: August 30, 2019

Internet Governance

German Court Suspends Cartel Regulator’s Restrictions On Facebook Data Integration: A Dusseldorf court suspended an order by Germany’s Federal Cartel Office that would have created a structural separation of Facebook’s businesses by banning the company from combining data across Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp without user consent; the Office has indicated that it intends to appeal the suspension.

FTC, AT&T, Settle Data Throttling Lawsuit: The 2014 lawsuit alleged that AT&T failed to inform consumers with unlimited plans that their data speeds would be reduced after they used a certain amount of data each month; the parties have sought a 90-day stay to allow the FTC to vote on the settlement.

Privacy

Sweden Imposes First GDPR Fine On Municipality For High School’s Trialing Of Facial Recognition Technology: The school claimed that it obtained students’ consent for a pilot program to use facial recognition technology to monitor student attendance; the Swedish Data Protection Authority found that it was nevertheless unlawful to collect the students’ data due to a “clear imbalance between the data subject and the controller.”

Information Security & Cyberthreats

Sensitive Bioterrorism Defense Data Stored On Insecure Website For Over A Decade: The Department of Homeland Security stored the information, which included the public locations of air samplers used to detect airborne biological weapons, results of tests for possible pathogens, and response plans that would be implemented in the event of a bioterrorism attack, on a website that was vulnerable to attacks by hackers; the website has now been shut down, but officials do not know whether hackers obtained access to the data.

Intellectual Property

Former Waymo Engineer Indicted For Autonomous Vehicle Trade Secrets Theft: The DOJ filed a 33-count indictment against Anthony Levandowski, alleging that he stole trade secrets relating to self-driving car technology from Google’s Waymo before leaving to found his own company that was later acquired by Uber; Levandowski pleaded not guilty at an arraignment in federal court in California.

Publishers Sue Audible Over Speech-To-Text Feature: Seven book publishers have filed a lawsuit against the audiobook company alleging that its new “Captions” feature, which uses machine learning to transcribe spoken words into written ones so users can follow the text of an audiobook, violates copyright law because Audible does not hold licenses to reproduce written versions of the books; Audible contends that the feature “was never intended to be a book,” and emphasizes that it differs from a book in that users cannot flip through pages of text but must wait for text to be generated as they listen along.

Free Expression & Censorship

College Student’s Visa Cancelled Over Friends’ Social Media Posts: U.S. Customs and Border Protection cancelled a Harvard student’s visa at the airport due to U.S.-critical posts on his friends’ social media accounts, even though the student had not interacted in any way with the content; the student is seeking to challenge the decision.

On The Lighter Side

Court Orders Man Claiming To Be Bitcoin Inventor To Pay $5 Billion In Bitcoin: A U.S. district court in Florida has ordered Craig Wright to pay half of his Bitcoin holdings to the estate of a deceased programmer involved in the creation of the cryptocurrency; experts have questioned Wright’s claim that he invented Bitcoin, and the court did not decide the question.

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

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Alison Gordon
Editorial Fellow

CLIP-ings: August 23, 2019

Internet Governance

Facebook Faces Fair Housing Act Lawsuit Over Advertising Practices: Several New York residents filed a proposed class action in California federal court alleging that Facebook allowed advertisers to restrict ads from certain users based on characteristics such as race and gender; the lawsuit is the latest in a string of litigation concerning the allegedly discriminatory nature of housing advertisements on Facebook.

States Reportedly Planning Antitrust Investigation Of Big Tech Companies: At least twelve states’ attorneys general are intending to issue civil subpoenas in the latest antitrust investigation into the major technology companies; the investigation is expected to be formally announced in September.

Privacy

Facebook Launches “Clear History” Privacy Feature: The new tool, which will initially be introduced in Spain, Ireland, and South Korea, will show users which websites are tracking their off-Facebook activity and sending ad targeting reports to Facebook, and will allow users to “disconnect” their off-Facebook activity from their Facebook account; the tool will not delete data from Facebook’s servers, however.

Is Libra What It Seems? A new opinion paper released by researchers at the Digital Equity Association and University College London’s Centre for Blockchain Technologies argues that Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency is born out of the social network’s motivation to “become the world’s digital identity provider”—a role that would be of significant financial interest to Facebook as an advertising company.

Information Security & Cyberthreats

Ransomware Attack Targets 22 Texas City And Local Governments: The coordinated attack has reportedly affected access to birth and death certificates and utility bill payment services; the attack highlights the vulnerabilities of some local governments’ IT infrastructure.

Intellectual Property

YouTube Sues Alleged Copyright Troll Over Extortion Scheme: YouTube contends that a user who caused the website to remove other users’ content by making false allegations of copyright violations, and then demanded payment from the users to withdraw the allegations, violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s prohibition against fraudulent takedown claims.

Free Expression & Censorship

Facebook, Twitter, Investigate Chinese Government-Linked Accounts Critical Of Hong Kong Protests: The social media companies discovered and have suspended certain accounts and advertisers which are alleged to have “deliberately and specifically” sought to create political discord around the protests in Hong Kong.

Practice Note

Federal Circuit Affirms Injunction Barring PTAB Proceedings On Basis Of Forum Selection Clause: A clause in a patent license agreement which stated that any disputes would be litigated in a court in San Francisco County or Orange County, California, precluded PTAB proceedings in litigation concerning royalty payments for distribution of virtual reality headsets.

On The Lighter Side

YouTube Mistakenly Removes Robot Fight Videos For Animal Cruelty: The website conceded that it was mistaken to have removed videos of robots fighting for violating its policies against deliberate infliction of animal suffering.

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

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Alison Gordon
Editorial Fellow

CLIP-ings: August 16, 2019

Internet Governance

Job Search Websites Ask European Antitrust Regulator To Investigate Google: 23 job search websites have written to the European Commission alleging that Google has engaged in unfair and anti-competitive conduct by using its own service to steal their market share; the company is reportedly already making changes to its job search feature in Europe in response.

U.S. Trade Representative Announces Delay To Tariffs On Certain Electronic Devices From China: Although a round of tariffs on Chinese imports will take effect on September 1, tariffs on products such as cellphones, laptops, video game consoles, and computer monitors will be delayed until December 15; the announcement comes after Apple, Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft wrote to the USTR expressing concern over the impact of the tariffs.

Privacy

Irish Regulator Investigates Facebook’s Review Of Audio Recordings: Ireland’s Data Protection Commission is “seeking detailed information” about the social network’s manual review of audio recordings after already investigating Google, Apple, and Microsoft for engaging in the practice; Facebook has stated that it paused human reviews of audio more than a week ago.

QR Codes On Debt Collection Letters Violate Consumer Protection Law: The Third Circuit recently ruled that debt collection notices that include the codes, which can be scanned by any smartphone and are “susceptible to privacy intrusions,” reveal encrypted account numbers and thus violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Information Security & Cyberthreats

SEC Investigating First American Financial Corp. Over Exposure Of 885 Million Records: The investigation will determine whether the title insurance company violated any federal securities laws as a result of the exposure of financial records relating to mortgage deals; the New York Department of Financial Services is already investigating the company for potential cybersecurity violations in connection with the leak.

Intellectual Property

Federal Circuit Vacates International Trade Commission Preclusion Ruling: As part of a trademark infringement suit brought by personal transportation company Segway, a three-judge panel vacated the court’s earlier opinion that found trademark rulings from the ITC preclude district court litigation over the same issue.

Free Expression & Censorship

LGBTQ Creators Sue YouTube, Google, Over Alleged Discrimination And Censorship Practices: The lawsuit alleges that YouTube discriminatorily and unfairly applies its policies to restrict, block, demonetize, and financially harm the plaintiffs and the LGBTQ community.

Practice Note

California Supreme Court Rules On Standing Of Website Visitors: In a case challenging payment processing service Square’s “Prohibited Goods and Services” policy as discriminatory, the court found that “visiting a website with intent to use its services is, for purposes of standing, equivalent to presenting oneself for services at a brick-and-mortar store”; the ruling may have wide-reaching ramifications for online businesses.

On The Lighter Side

Amazon’s Facial Recognition Technology Mistakes California Lawmakers For Criminals: A recent test by the ACLU mismatched one in five photographs of lawmakers with mugshot pictures.

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

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Alison Gordon
Editorial Fellow

CLIP-ings: August 9, 2019

Internet Governance

eBay Sues Amazon Over Alleged Seller Poaching: The lawsuit, filed in federal court in California, claims that Amazon managers carried out a criminal conspiracy in which they directed employees to target and recruit to Amazon high-value eBay sellers; this is the second such lawsuit by eBay against Amazon.

Privacy

FCC Filing Reveals Pentagon Is Testing Mass Surveillance Balloons: Up to 25 unmanned solar-powered balloons have been launched to surveil six Midwestern states; while the balloons will reportedly detect narcotics trafficking and homeland security threats, privacy groups have criticized the wide-area surveillance, which could track the travel and location of any vehicle in the target area.

Technology Companies Pause Reviews Of Audio Recordings: Apple and Google have halted employee reviews of recordings made by voice assistants and Amazon has introduced an opt-out feature, but Microsoft contractors are reportedly continuing to review recordings; Apple now faces a federal lawsuit in California and the German data protection regulator is investigating Google’s practices.

Information Security & Cyberthreats

AT&T Employees Allegedly Received Bribes To Help Unlock Millions Of Smartphones: The DOJ has charged a Pakistani man with paying bribes totaling more than $1 million to AT&T employees at a company call center in Washington; the scheme allegedly involved the installation of malware that captured confidential and proprietary information about AT&T’s internal computers and applications, and automatically unlocked phones without requiring any employee input.

Intellectual Property

Walmart Files Patent Application For Digital Currency: The filing proposes a method for a blockchain-based digital currency which could be pegged to the U.S. dollar and made available for use at selected Walmart retailers or partners; the proposal is similar to Facebook’s planned cryptocurrency Libra.

Free Expression And Censorship

Social Media Companies Face Scrutiny Over Hate Speech: Civil rights activists have urged Twitter to ban white supremacist content following the recent mass shooting in El Paso, and the House Homeland Security Committee has asked the owner of website 8chan to testify on what the forum is doing to address the proliferation of extremist content.

Practice Note

Appeals Court Voids Google Cookie Privacy Class Action Settlement: The Third Circuit found the settlement raised due process concerns by releasing money damages claims and paying privacy groups, rather than class members, under the cy pres doctrine; a district judge will now revisit the settlement.

On The Lighter Side

Amazon Scammer Arrested For Obtaining Refunds By Returning Packages Filled With Dirt: The alleged scam, which took in nearly $370,000, was only discovered after a random search at an Amazon warehouse revealed a dirt-filled box.

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

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Alison Gordon
Editorial Fellow

CLIP-ings: August 2, 2019

Internet Governance

European Court Issues GDPR Ruling On Websites Using Facebook “Like” Button: The Court of Justice of the European Union held that websites that embed Facebook’s “Like” button are, along with Facebook, jointly responsible for the initial processing of visitor data collected though the button and therefore must either obtain visitors’ consent before transferring their data to the social media company or demonstrate a valid legal basis for processing the data; the ruling is also likely to apply to websites that embed other social media plug-ins, many of which collect the data of all website visitors irrespective of whether those users have social media accounts.

Privacy

Consumer Privacy Group Files Motion To Challenge Facebook-FTC Settlement: The Electronic Privacy Information Center has filed a motion to intervene to prevent court approval of the $5 billion settlement, contending that the proposed deal, which grants Facebook immunity from thousands of outstanding consumer complaints over privacy issues and the use of facial-recognition technology, violates the Commission’s “mandate to review consumer complaints.”

Information Security & Cyberthreats

Capital One Data Breach Exposes Data Of 100 Million Americans: The hack compromised approximately 140,000 social security numbers and 80,000 bank account numbers; a Seattle woman has been arrested in connection with the breach, and the New York attorney general has commenced an investigation.

New York Passes New Data Breach Legislation: The Stop Hacks and Improve Electronic Data Security Act, which takes effect on March 21, 2020, expands the definition of “private information” and imposes more stringent breach notification obligations, among other things.

Intellectual Property

TV Broadcasters Sue Streaming Service For Copyright Violations: ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox are suing Locast, a non-profit entity funded by AT&T and Dish that streams local broadcast television programming via the internet; Locast contends that under the Copyright Act, it is not required to pay the broadcasters for their programming due to its non-profit status.

Free Expression & Censorship

Appeals Court Upholds Dismissal In Facebook Terrorism Case: The Second Circuit affirmed that the Communications Decency Act shields Facebook from civil liability to American victims of Hamas attacks in Israel, who had argued that the social media company was liable for providing Hamas with a platform to further its terroristic goals.

Practice Note

USPTO Proposes 25% Fee Increase For America Invents Act Reviews: The proposed fee increase is reportedly due to an increased workload at the PTAB; the proposed rule will be open for comments in September.

On The Lighter Side

Lyft Withdraws Electric Bikes After Two Battery Fires: The ride-sharing company announced its e-bikes will be temporarily unavailable in San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose while it investigates its battery technology.

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

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Alison Gordon
Editorial Fellow