CLIP-ings: September 30, 2016

Internet Governance

State-Run Email in Russia: Despite previously using Microsoft to survey and raid opposition groups, Moscow will now replace its Microsoft email software on 6,000 government computers with a state-run system in an effort declared by President Putin to move toward better “security and reliability” by using local rather than foreign software.

Privacy

Apple Is Monitoring Your iMessages: Although Apple has long maintained that iMessage data is entirely secure and encrypted, the company reportedly creates a log that includes the date, time, and IP address of the device whenever a user types a number into an iPhone for a text conversation; although the log only lives for 30 days, a court order could compel Apple to turn over this information and extend the log’s lifespan.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Yahoo in Trouble: Yahoo may have misled investors in the wording of their September 9 proxy statement by failing to adequately disclose that it may have been aware, in as early as August, of a massive security breach that exposed 500 million user accounts.

Hacker Convicted of Terrorism: An ISIS hacker from Kosovo who provided the organization with a kill list—a compilation of the names, locations, phone numbers, email addresses, and email passwords of 1,351 US military and government officials—has been sentenced to 20 years in prison by a Virginia federal court, marking the first time that the US has prosecuted a hacker for an act of terrorism.

Intellectual Property

Record Industry Fights Stream-Rippers: In a symbolic move toward protecting musicians, the Recording Industry Association of America, the British Recorded Music Industry, and other industry lobbyists have filed suit against YouTube-mp3.org—a website that enables users to convert YouTube videos to mp3s—alleging that stream-ripping constitutes copyright infringement.

Legality of Video-Streaming Boxes: In what is being called a landmark case, a UK court will determine whether a seller can be held liable for facilitating the circumvention of copyright protection systems where he sells a set-top box preloaded with third-party add-ons—a device that allows content pirated from the internet to be streamed on electronic devices.

Free Expression and Censorship

Wi-Fi Ban at Presidential Debate: Journalists covering the first presidential debate at Hofstra University on Monday were banned from using their own Wi-Fi hotspots and, instead, were required to pay $200 to access the event’s Wi-Fi or be forced to leave if they used their own—an issue that a Federal Communications Commissioner is now asking the agency to investigate.

Facebook Censoring Palestinians: After seven Palestinian journalists, four news editors and three executives suddenly lost access to their personal Facebook accounts in what Facebook alleges was a mistake, the social media platform has been accused of working with the Israeli government, after the two recently agreed to cooperate in quelling violence-inciting content.

Practice Note

The CFAA’s 30-Year History: With numerous reforms and contradictory court decisions over the years, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act still leaves ambiguities regarding the definition of “access” and “authorization,” creating the issue: Should the scope of cybercrimes be interpreted narrowly, or should the scope be defined broadly—which could decentivize people from discovering and testing security system vulnerabilities for fear of prosecution.

On the Lighter Side

Uber Zombies: While Uber drivers in China could previously receive a subsidy for every 30 rides, that subsidy has been reduced, leading some drivers to now post profile pictures of themselves as zombies in an effort to scare passengers away, so that the drivers may collect a cancellation fee—a tactic known as ghost-driving.


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

N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Editorial Fellows, CLIP
Nadia Kashem
Meghna Prasad

CLIP-ings: September 23, 2016

Internet Governance

Internet Removed from NYC WiFi Kiosks: Due to problems of lewd conduct, people congregating on busy sidewalks, and the city’s homeless population being put on display, New York City has decided to remove the internet browsing feature from its free WiFi kiosks after efforts to filter porn failed.

Cruz Blocking IANA Transition: With a firm deadline for the IANA transition approaching next week—by which the US government’s authority over major technical internet functions would be transferred—Senator Ted Cruz is preventing negotiations by insisting that the transition would transfer power to foreign governments and threaten free speech, despite fact-checkers questioning the credibility of these statements.

Privacy

Finding the Bombing Suspect: In order to track down Ahmad Khan Rahami, the man charged with attempted murder for planting bombs in Manhattan and New Jersey, police used the bomb squad, fingerprints, Chelsea surveillance footage, and the Wireless Emergency Alert—a new feature which pushes an alert to cell phones in New York City.

FBI Contracting with Hackers: After Apple’s refusal to unlock the device earlier this year, three media giants have failed in their efforts to force the FBI, under the Freedom of Information Act, to reveal how the Bureau gained access to the contents of the iPhone belonging to the perpetrator of the San Bernardino attack.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Election Integrity Act Introduced: As concerns mount that Russian cyber spies might be tampering with the upcoming presidential election, Representative Hank Johnson (D-GA) has introduced the Election Integrity Act which would implement regulations to combat election hacks, including a prohibition on voting systems from being web-connected, and a requirement that states purchase electronic voting machines that leave a paper trail.

Hacked North American iPhones Spamming Chinese Users: Using a loophole in the iPhone’s “Send as SMS” feature, hackers have sent more than 280,000 spam text messages—which advertise counterfeit Coach and Prada handbags—from iPhones belonging to unsuspecting North American iCloud account holders to mobile users mainly in China but also in other parts of the world.

Intellectual Property

Unpatent Working to Eliminate Stupid Patents: A new platform, Unpatent, seeks to invalidate junk patents by arranging a crowdfunding campaign for each potential junk patent; the $20,000 raised in each campaign covers the costs of legally challenging the patent at the Patent and Trademark Office and compensating those who find compelling prior art that nullify the patent.

WiFi Operators Not Liable for Pirate Users: The Court of Justice of the European Union held in a case regarding a WiFi operator who was sued by Sony for facilitating music piracy that WiFi operators will not be held liable for copyright infringement as long as they did not initiate transmission, select the recipient of transmission, or select or alter the information during transmission in any way.

Free Expression and Censorship

Censoring Bad Customer Reviews: As more businesses are trying to control their image by banning or penalizing negative online reviews, the House passed the Consumer Review Fairness Act to sanction this practice; the Senate’s Consumer Review Freedom Act, passed in December 2015, similarly disallows such censorship.

Lighter Side 

Robot Under Arrest: Promobot, a rebellious robot from Russia who gained infamy after escaping from his laboratory this past June, has now been arrested at a political rally in Moscow for “suspicious activity.”


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

N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Editorial Fellows, CLIP
Nadia Kashem
Meghna Prasad

CLIP-ings: September 16, 2016

Internet Governance

Social Media Platforms Fight Against Hoax Stories: Facebook has joined the First Draft Coalition, an initiative that also counts Twitter as one of its partners, to stop fake and deceptive news stories such as fake celebrity deaths and other hoaxes from circulating through social media platforms.

Free Wi-Fi for All: The European Commission recently proposed a new law called the European Electronic Communications Code, which would seek to make Wi-Fi available to all EU citizens and improve download speeds to at least 100Mbps by the year 2025.

Privacy

“Plain Hearing” Rule About Wiretaps Reinterpreted: The Court of Appeals has elaborated on the “plain hearing” doctrine and ruled that if the government has obtained a warrant to listen in on a conversation but discovers that someone other than the warrant’s target is using that phone number, the government must cease eavesdropping.

Stalked by Google: Despite complaints about privacy and battery drainage, Google continues to track Android users’ locations through both Google Play—which refuses to stop tracking users unless location tracking is turned off for all applications at once—and Google Maps—whose basic features can stop working if location tracking is disabled.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Your Local ATM Could Be Compromised: A new type of ATM hacking device that uses “periscope skimming” has been discovered in ATMs in Connecticut and Pennsylvania and is frighteningly undetectable, as the devices are installed inside of ATM machines and can obtain over 32,000 credit card numbers in just 14 days.

Russian Hackers Release Olympic Athletes’ Medical Info: After a doping scandal at the Rio Olympic games this summer, during which 119 Russian athletes were ultimately banned, a Russian hacker group called Fancy Bear infiltrated the World Anti-Doping Agency’s database and gained access to medical information of Olympic athletes, some of which the group has already released.

Intellectual Property

Stealing Content from 3-D Printers: Placing an ordinary smartphone as far as 8 inches away from a 3-D printer may allow forgers and copyright thieves to recreate 3-D printed objects, such as cases and packaging, with 90-94% accuracy, by recording the acoustic and electromagnetic energy released by the printer and then reverse-engineering the product.

Free Expression and Censorship

Instagram’s Efforts to Moderate: Instagram has introduced a new comment moderation feature that enables users to filter out certain words or emojis from others’ comments on their posts in an effort to fight harassment, similar to a tool that Twitter is also developing.

Napalm Girl Censored for Nudity: After Facebook deleted several posts by Norwegian journalists that depicted “Terror of War,” a famous Vietnam War photograph of a naked girl escaping a napalm attack, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg wrote a letter to the Norwegian Prime Minister expressing the company’s regret over deleting the posts despite the photo’s historical importance.

Practice Note

Robots Not to Be Feared: Despite fears that robots will replace humans in the professional world, another way to view these innovations is as an opportunity for building creative intelligence and maintaining jobs, as robots will always need humans to manage their existence.

On the Lighter Side

AirPods at the Butt of the Jokes: Whether by creating memes, snipping off the wire from regular headphones, or making a parody advertisement featuring uncontrollable laughter, the Internet has found creative ways to mock Apple’s new earring-like headphones.


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

N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Editorial Fellows, CLIP
Nadia Kashem
Meghna Prasad

CLIP-ings: September 9, 2016

Internet Governance

European Broadband to Change? Europe may give control of broadband regulations to smaller bodies in individual countries rather than maintain current regulations at the European level that require companies that install broadband in residences to rent access to other businesses at a fair price.

Privacy

Microsoft’s Fight Against DOJ Gag Orders: Apple, Google, and Mozilla are among several tech companies supporting Microsoft in its legal battle against the Department of Justice by filing an amicus brief asserting the unconstitutionality of aspects of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which allows the government to use gag orders to prevent companies from notifying their users when the government seizes data.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Google Adding Transparency to Safe Browsing: Google, which employs “Safe Browsing,” a technology that uses robots to create a list of websites that host malware, harmful downloads, or deceptive ads and pages and then blocks those sites from web users, has updated its Search Console to offer otherwise unknowing webmasters more information about why their sites have been blacklisted.

Spyware Data for Sale:  An Israeli company called NSO Group is just one of dozens of spyware companies that offer international governments and law enforcement agencies a service that allows traceless collection of data from private smartphones, including collection of text messages, contacts, calendars, emails, and GPS locations.

Intellectual Property

Apple’s Trademark Applications Provide Clues: Even prior to Apple’s most recent launch, a look into its trademark applications revealed details of the upcoming products, such as the number of iPhones being released and that Apple was indeed the company behind “Airpods.”

Free Expression and Censorship

Cuba’s Text Message Censorship: The communist government in Cuba is censoring text messages by blocking the transmission of those that contain any of 30 keywords such as “democracy,” “human rights,” and “hunger strike,” while marking the messages as “sent” on the sender’s phone.

Using Google and YouTube to Reverse-Brainwash Potential ISIS Recruits: Jigsaw, a Google think tank, is developing a program to deter those attracted to ISIS propaganda by placing advertisement links next to Google search results for keywords such as “jihad,” which direct the viewer to YouTube videos containing anti-ISIS messages.

Practice Note

FIDO Alliance Seeks to Standardize Biometrics: As authentication security, specifically biometric identification and fingerprints, are becoming a more prominent way of securing information than using passwords, the FIDO Alliance is seeking to standardize the method behind using biometrics in a world where companies are currently developing their own methods, often in isolation.

On the Lighter Side

Selfie Drone: Dobby, a foldable, pocket-sized, voice-enabled selfie drone that can track targets and even take photos while doing barrel rolls, is now available in China, Europe, and the US.


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

N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Editorial Fellows, CLIP
Nadia Kashem
Meghna Prasad