CLIP-ings: December 18, 2020

Internet Governance

Google Facing A Googol’s Worth Of Litigation As 52 Attorneys General And The Department Of Justice Allege Antitrust Violations: Across a series of actions likely to be consolidated into one lawsuit, the federal government, several coalitions of states, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the District of Columbia allege that the search engine goliath has long engaged in exclusionary agreements and anticompetitive conduct involving blocking competition for online advertising, abusing vertical integration in order to win advertising, limiting access to competitors, prohibiting interoperability of its search-advertising business, and throttling the speeds of those who try to circumvent Google Search by accessing destinations directly.

Privacy

Facebook Took Out Full-Page Ads To Stand Up To Apple: In addition to creating a website criticizing Apple’s forthcoming policy that will require iPhone users to choose whether to allow certain companies to track them across different apps, Facebook took out full-page ads in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times to “speak[] up for small businesses” that have allegedly expressed concern over the policy change; however, Facebook’s published statements neglect to mention how the new policy could also hurt its own advertising business. 

Facebook To Move United Kingdom Users To United States Accounts: In response to Brexit, the social network will put its U.K. users into agreements with its California-based corporate headquarters to sever their relationship with its Ireland-based unit for the purpose of putting those users out of EU privacy law’s reach; privacy advocates are concerned that the shift might lead the U.K. to adopt looser privacy laws as it negotiates a trade deal with the U.S., and that U.K. users may have their information shared with the U.S. government.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Behind The Russia-Based Cyberattack Affecting Multiple United States Government Agencies And Private Firms: A backdoor initially detected by cybersecurity firm FireEye and Microsoft was implanted by Russia’s primary foreign intelligence agency, SVR, in an update to SolarWinds’s Orion IT monitoring platform back in March; with thousands of Orion users around the world, including the United States Departments of Commerce, the Treasury, and Homeland Security, and given the nation-state level sophistication of the malware, the effects of the ongoing breach and its impact may remain uncertain for many more months.

Free Expression and Censorship

Misinformation Purveyors Pivot To Covid-19 Vaccines: In order to maintain their social media influence, peddlers of online misinformation are switching topics to stay relevant; those who were spreading election conspiracy theories are now pushing false Covid-19 vaccine narratives as voter fraud misinformation has subsided.

Twitch’s New Policy Bans Terms “Simps,” “Incel,” And “Virgin”: Due to a rise in sexual harassment complaints and in an effort to make the streaming platform a safer environment, Twitch will ban the words when they are used to harass another person for their sexual activity.

Practice Note

European Union Announces Intent To Bolster Anti-Competition Efforts By Introducing Aggressive Regulation Via Two Acts: Carrying the threat of fines as high as 10% of annual global revenue, the Digital Markets Act (DMA) would bar large online platforms, or “gatekeepers,” from favoring their own products over those of rivals or using data they have collected in an exclusionary way, while the Digital Services Act (DSA), which is aimed at preserving the laws of EU member nations, and would penalize platforms up to 6% of their annual revenue for not removing illegal posts following a government order.

On the Lighter Side

Twitter Update Will Show Users Tweets They Find Funny: 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. 

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: November 20, 2020

Internet Governance

Austrian Supreme Court Orders Facebook To Remove A Post Globally: After losing its appeal of a 2016 case in which Eva Glawischnig-Pieszek, then-chair of Austria’s Green Party, successfully sued Facebook Ireland for the removal of defamatory comments, the Austrian Court ordered the social media giant to remove such postings and similar references on a global scale.

Recent Hearing Reveals Important Differences Between Dorsey And Zuckerberg Reflected In Their Respective Companies: In response to questions concerning the addictiveness of social media platforms and the algorithms that determine what users see, Twitter’s CEO admitted the platforms might be addictive and expressed a willingness to allow greater transparency and user choice over algorithms, whereas Facebook’s CEO was more circumspect and avoided exploring the concept of algorithmic transparency and control; both responses reflected the way in which each platform currently operates, such as Twitter’s open implementation of experimental changes and Facebook’s zealous concealment of its algorithms.
Privacy

That New Friend Request Could Be A Debt Collector: Couched in the language of an update to consumer financial protections, and with the details concealed within a 132-page document, a new rule issued by the United States Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will allow debt collectors to approach debtors via email, text, and social media; under the rule, debt collectors are restricted from posting publicly and must comply with debtor requests to desist in contacting them through social media.
Information Security and Cyberthreats

Head Of National Cybersecurity Ousted For Not Toeing Administration Line: In a firing-by-tweet, President Trump removed Christopher Krebs from his Senate-confirmed position as the inaugural director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in retaliation against Krebs’s public assurances about the integrity of the results of the elections systems and the agency’s systematic debunking of specific election fraud claims, which undercut the President’s campaign to undermine the election results; during his tenure, Krebs built up the agency he is leaving, and through his conduct, earned bipartisan respect, both for himself and the agency.
Intellectual Property

GitHub Reinstates Popular Code That Allows Users To Download Copies Of Copyrighted Material: After receiving a DMCA takedown notice from the Recording Industry Association of America in October, GitHub removed “youtube-dl,” a command-line program that could potentially be used to download copyrighted videos; however, Github has since reversed its decision, explaining that while the program listens to a few seconds of a song in order to confirm it is working properly, it does not actually download the material for distribution, and that the code has numerous “legitimate uses.”
Free Expression and Censorship

Trump’s Accusations Of Voter Fraud Continue: Since election night, President Trump has posted over 300 tweets in which he amplifies election misinformation; at a congressional hearing this week, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey confirmed that Trump’s account will lose its “world leader” status, which ensures that tweets that might otherwise violate Twitter’s rules stay visible due to their public interest, once Trump is no longer President.
Practice Note

Requirements Forcing Production Of Code May Violate Constitutional Prohibitions Against Compelled Speech: Two providers of automobile dealer management systems have successfully claimed in Arizona federal court that part of the state’s 2019 Dealer Data Security Law requiring compatibility and integration with third-party systems violates First Amendment protections by forcing the production of code to meet the law’s standards; the court disagreed that Constitutionality is avoided because the law does not dictate content, stating that the plaintiffs’ allegations reach beyond regulation of conduct.
On the Lighter Side

Zoom Lifts 40-Minute Limit For Thanksgiving Meetings: As a goodwill gesture, Zoom is lifting the 40-minute limit on free video chats so families can talk for as long as they wish on Thanksgiving Day.
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: November 6, 2020

Internet Governance

California Voters Pass Proposition 22 To Keep Rideshare Drivers As Independent Contractors: After the most expensive campaign in state history, Californians voted to create an app-based-delivery-company exception to a labor law passed last year that otherwise would have required companies such as Uber and Lyft to classify their California drivers as employees instead of independent contractors.

European Union Regulatory Proposals Would Require Internet Platforms To Open Up Their Algorithms To Oversight: Concerned about discrimination, the amplification of bias, and abusive targeting of vulnerable individuals and groups as a result of algorithmic decisionmaking, the proposals ask for more accountability and transparency around algorithms, particularly those from the most powerful internet platforms; lawmakers also seek increased user control, increased regulator access to data, and more information for users regarding ad targeting and greater reporting requirements for content moderation.
Privacy

Portland, Maine Passes Facial Recognition Ban: The new measure strengthens Portland’s existing ban on the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement agencies and public officials by, among other things, allowing Portland citizens to sue the city for illegal surveillance and to receive $100 per violation or $1,000, depending on which amount is higher.

California Passes CPRA, Shores Up CCPA: The California Privacy Rights Act, which takes effect in January 2023, makes several substantive updates to the existing California Consumer Privacy Act, including clarifying what constitutes a “sale” of information, requiring disclosure of automated decisionmaking and data subject profiling, supplementing the list of protected data and creating a category of sensitive personal data, and providing for the formation of a data privacy authority to replace the state attorney general as the act’s enforcer, among other things.
Information Security and Cyberthreats

Ransomware Attacks On United States Hospitals Stem From Google Drive Documents: After several hospitals were struck by Ryuk ransomware, analysis from security firm Sophos reported that many of the attacks were delivered by a campaign of phishing emails that contain links to Google Drive documents, which, when opened, would deliver malware content onto victims’ computers.
Intellectual Property

Massachusetts Voters Overwhelmingly Support Ballot Measure Allowing Sharing Of Vehicle Telematics: Massachusetts residents voted to expand the state’s wide-reaching right-to-repair law to require carmakers to provide owners with a platform capable of accessing their vehicle’s mechanical telematic data and sharing that data with third-party repair shops and auto-part stores; the Coalition for Safe and Secure Data, which opposed the ballot measure, contends that the expansion does not significantly add to the existing law and that real-time, two-way access to vehicle data increases risk without justifiable benefit.
Free Expression & Censorship

Twitter’s Pledge To Label Misleading Tweets Could Effectively Slow Down Their Spread: After labeling one of President Trump’s tweets as constituting misleading content about the election only thirty-six minutes after it was posted, Twitter was able to quickly slow down the tweet’s overall spread as people could not easily reshare the post; according to analysis by the Election Integrity Partnership, the labeling of the tweet reduced the rate of retweets from 827 times per minute to 151 times per minute.

YouTube Took Down Multiple Livestreams Broadcasting Fake Election Results: Before polls closed anywhere in the country on Election Day, YouTube removed livestreams that broadcasted fake election results videos; similarly, TikTok deleted videos from two popular pro-Trump accounts that promoted election misinformation, including allegations that Democrats have plotted to steal the election.
Practice Note

Plaintiff’s Win Preliminary Injunction Against TikTok Ban Set To Go Into Effect November 12th: Three TikTok creators who had previously failed to sustain an argument that their livelihoods would be irreparably harmed by the Trump administration’s decision to ban the social media app successfully obtained the preliminary injunction from a Pennsylvania federal judge, who agreed with the plaintiffs that their content constitutes “informational materials,” a protected category under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, the statutory authority under which the ban was invoked.
On the Lighter Side

Ball-Tracking, AI-Powered Camera Mistakenly Tracks Soccer Referee’s Bald Head Instead Of The Actual Soccer Ball: As part of the Scottish Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC soccer club’s initiative to increase social distancing by live-streaming its home games, the club replaced human camera operators with an AI camera system to better track the action on the field; however, instead of tracking the soccer ball, the AI system focused on the referee’s bald head for most of the game.
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: October 23, 2020

Internet Governance

Department Of Justice Initiates Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google: The suit alleges that Google has captured 90 percent of the search market across a variety of applications and devices, including those offered by Apple and other competitors, by means of various agreements and business practices; Google contends that its behavior is not exclusionary and that users still have a choice of rival services.

EU Regulator Investigates How Instagram Protects Kids’ Personal Information: After reports that Instagram may be exposing minors’ email addresses and phone numbers after offering the option to switch their private accounts to business accounts, Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner initiated a probe to monitor how Facebook is processing children’s personal data on Instagram and whether the tech company is adequately protecting kids’ privacy on its social media platforms.
Privacy

Tens Of Thousands Of Women’s Photos Converted To Nudes Via Deepfake Bot, Shared Online: Cybersecurity company Sensity AI reports that an “ecosystem” of users are sharing pictures of women after harvesting them from sources such as social media and running them through a deepfake software on the messaging app Telegram that replaces the subject’s clothed body with a naked one; over 100,000 women’s pictures have been so altered and shared, and some appear to depict underage persons.

Belgian Data Protection Authority Finds Self-Governing Framework For Ad Tracking Non-Compliant With GDPR: The Belgian DPA found that the system of popups used by Google and other online companies for obtaining various consents allows personal information to be swapped without authorization, broadcasts users’ locations and activity, fails to offer ways to limit use of personal information, and does not adequately protect “special category” user data; furthermore, the industry standards body’s own privacy policy was found to violate the GDPR, and the same body has failed to appoint a data protection officer.
Information Security and Cyberthreats

Iran And Russia In Possession Of Voter Information, Warn Heads Of Intelligence: Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and other top intelligence officials warn of efforts by Iran to undermine voter confidence, such as the distribution of threatening emails claiming to have come from the far-right group Proud Boys to Democratic voters in swing states.
Intellectual Property

Twitch Notifies Users Of Copyright Infringement And Deletes Their Content Without Guidance On How To Appeal: In response to receiving 1,800 copyright infringement notices in June alone, streaming platform Twitch sent many of its users Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notices claiming that the users’ content violated copyright law, but failed to provide an option for users to appeal by filing a counter-notification before deleting the alleged content permanently.
Free Expression & Censorship

Misinformation Also Thrives In Spanish: Experts have found that misinformation in Spanish is being widely spread in America, particularly in South Florida, in order to suppress support for presidential candidate Joe Biden in the final weeks of the 2020 campaign.
On the Lighter Side

AOC Hosted A Livestream On Twitch To Get Out The Vote: Drawing a peak viewership of about 438,000, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez played and streamed the popular game “Among Us” to connect with younger Americans and implore them to register to vote.
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: October 9, 2020

Internet Governance

16-Month Congressional Investigation Finds Tech Giants Hold Monopoly Power In Key Business Sectors: After analyzing one million documents and interviewing experts in Big Tech as part of an investigation into Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook’s dominance in the marketplace, the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel reported that the companies’ anticompetitive conduct has undermined potential competition and hindered innovation.
Privacy

H&M Faces Second-Largest Fine For Breaching GDPR: Following a year-long investigation of H&M’s employee surveillance practices, the Data Protection Authority of Hamburg found the company illegally kept excessive and extensive records on the illnesses, religions, and family issues of its employees at its Nuremberg service center.

IRS Criminal Investigation Unit Reveals Mass Purchase Of Location Data: In a briefing to Senators Ron Wyden and Elizabeth Warren, the unit explained that the IRS had purchased a data collection from Venntel, a company which resells location data acquired from mobile app advertisers; the use of such datasets may circumvent warrant requirements, as the data does not include users’ cell phone numbers.
Information Security and Cyberthreats

Grindr Fixes Security Vulnerability: After initially ignoring a security researcher’s warnings that he had discovered a security vulnerability in the app’s password reset functionality, Grindr, a dating app that keeps track of the sexuality and HIV status of its users, has fixed its password reset algorithm “before it was exploited by any malicious parties.”
Intellectual Property

Trial Court Finds Cisco Guilty Of Infringing Cybersecurity Patents: A U.S. District Judge imposed a fine of nearly $2 billion on the company after ruling that Cisco willfully infringed four cybersecurity patents held by Centripetal Networks that had been disclosed to Cisco under a non-disclosure agreement when the parties were discussing potential partnership.
Free Expression & Censorship

Facebook Classifies QAnon As Militarized Social Movement, Imposes Broad Ban: While continuing to allow individuals to post about QAnon on their personal pages, Facebook has banned all organized QAnon content, including accounts, pages, and groups, categorizing the far-right conspiracy group as an “identified militarized social movement” prohibited by the social media giant’s terms of service.

YouTube Deletes Tweet Mocking Content Creators’ Long Videos: After mocking creators for making long videos as a way to better monetize their content under the site’s advertisement policies, YouTube apologized in a follow-up tweet for “miss[ing] the mark.”
Practice Note

Supreme Court To Decide Google v. Oracle: In a ten-year legal battle centering on the copyrightability of APIs—basic pieces of code which facilitate software interoperability—the Court will decide whether Oracle’s APIs enjoy copyright protection and, if so, whether Google’s implementation was nevertheless fair use; significant interests have weighed in on both sides, and the ultimate outcome has the potential to fundamentally disrupt the way the computer industry innovates.
On the Lighter Side

Researchers Track Poachers By Stuffing Transmitters In 3D-Printed Sea Turtle Eggs: Inspired by the HBO series The Wire, wildlife biologists developed the InvestEGGator, an inexpensive, 3D-printed egg that houses technology that transmits location data to Costa Rican authorities so that they can monitor the trafficking of turtle eggs in the country.
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: September 25, 2020

Internet Governance

Twitter’s And Zoom’s Algorithms Face Racial-Bias Problems: A Ph.D student’s Twitter thread exposing a flaw in Zoom’s algorithm that would remove his black colleague’s head in videos with a virtual background revealed a similar “cropping bias” in the algorithm that Twitter uses to generate photo previews in tweets.

YouTube May Be Forced To Acknowledge Mental Health Consequences Of Content Moderation In Pending Litigation: A proposed class-action lawsuit against the video site alleges that it violated California law by failing to ensure safe work conditions for content moderators and failing to inform them of the job’s potential negative effects on their mental health.
Privacy

Instagram User Files Suit Alleging iPhone Camera Surveillance: Filed in the United States District Court in San Francisco, the complaint alleges monitoring via unconsented camera activation by the Instagram iPhone app; Instagram owner Facebook has previously denied that users’ iPhone cameras are accessed or that content is recorded in such instances, and called the notification of camera use a bug.
Information Security and Cyberthreats

Amnesty International Report Cites Sales Of Surveillance Technology To China As Cause For EU Export Reform: In a report that notes the human rights risks associated with selling digital surveillance technologies to known persecutors of ethnic groups, Amnesty International urges European Union lawmakers to update the bloc’s export regulations to require that exporters conduct human rights due diligence. 
Intellectual Property

Facebook Rights Management Platform To Be Extended To Image Owners: Facebook has adapted its system for safeguarding music and video rights to give a select group of partners the ability to claim ownership over and control the use of their images on Facebook and Instagram; particular attention is being given to how current Instagram use may be affected before opening the tool up to all users. 
Free Expression and Censorship

Taiwan’s Sunflower Movement Shows How Digital Technology Can Promote Civil Participation: After the success of vTaiwan, a public discussion platform where experts, government parties, and citizens deliberated contentious issues, Taiwanese public officials created a government-managed platform called Join to host debates on divisive issues and give Taiwanese citizens an opportunity to participate in the legislative process.

Practice Note

In Suit Brought By Vermont Attorney General, Court Denies Clearview AI Section 230 Immunity Or First Amendment Protection: The Vermont Superior Court rejected Clearview AI’s attempt to portray itself as an interactive computer service provider publishing third party information and denied the company’s motion to dismiss, noting that the basis of the state’s claims are the means by which the company acquired photographs, its use of facial recognition technology, and its allegedly deceptive statements.
On the Lighter Side

Scientists In India Built A Tree-Climbing Coconut-Harvesting Robot: Owing to the shortage of coconut harvesters in the country, Indian scientists have built a coconut-harvesting device that can climb tree trunks and cut ripe coconuts with its circular saw blade. 
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: September 11, 2020

Internet Governance

Facebook First To Feel The Sting Of Decision Invalidating Privacy Shield: In the first major move by a European Union data protection authority to enforce the European Court of Justice’s July ruling invalidating the data transfer framework, Ireland’s Data Protection Commission has ordered Facebook to suspend transfers of European Union users’ information to the United States or face fines amounting to 4% of the tech giant’s annual revenue.

Italy Tugs Apple, Dropbox, And Google Down To Earth: Italy’s competition authority is investigating the tech giants’ cloud storage services to analyze their disclosures about the collection and use of data, the fairness of their contract clauses, and the prevalence of English rather than Italian language contracts.
Privacy

Portland Takes A Stand Against Facial Recognition Tech: Portland’s City Council unanimously adopted two broad ordinances limiting the use of facial recognition technology by city bureaus (e.g., the Police Bureau) and private companies.
Information Security and Cyberthreats

Apple Assesses Hong Kong’s National Security Law: Following Beijing’s unilateral imposition of a new national security law on Hong Kong on July 1, Apple, unlike other tech giants, has not paused processing user data requests from Hong Kong authorities while it is “assessing” the new law…
Free Expression and Censorship

GitHub In China Is A Free Speech Zone For Covid-19 Information: On the Chinese internet, where social media platforms are either banned or strictly monitored, GitHub remains the “last land of free speech in China” as Chinese authorities hesitate to censor the open source platform that has become invaluable to the country’s tech industry.

Facebook Blocks Dying Man’s Broadcast While TikTok Struggles To Remove Suicide Video: Citing a desire to avoid promoting self-harm, Facebook has blocked the victim of a rare disease from livestreaming his final days after his decision to withdraw from life-sustaining treatment; meanwhile, TikTok is scrambling to prevent a shocking and graphic suicide video from popping up on user’s screens, including those of juvenile viewers.
Practice Note

Magistrate Judges Reject “Reverse” Warrants: Two federal magistrate judges have ruled that the warrants, through which police geofence the area around a crime scene, request information on devices within the geofence from providers such as Google, and then comb through disclosed data in order to narrow down a list of suspects, violate Fourth Amendment constraints and fail under Carpenter’s reasonable expectation of privacy in cell site location information.
On the Lighter Side

U.S. Companies’ Delivery Drone Operations Postponed While Quadcopter In Tel Aviv Drops Bags Of Cannabis: Despite routine experimentation and official paperwork, U.S. companies itching to expand delivery drone operations are stalled by the lack of federal regulations; meanwhile, in Tel Aviv, a quadcopter was filmed dropping bags of cannabis onto the streets.
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