New Facebook Terror-tory: After Facebook recently revealed its plans to introduce to the American app store Free Basics—a zero-rated app that provides low income users with simplified content including news, health, weather, education, and Facebook access—speculation has mounted over the level of control the social media platform will have over the content these viewers can access, as well as the effectiveness of the app in bringing awareness of the internet.
Cutting Off Airbnb: In an effort to solve the state’s housing crisis, a new law makes it illegal in New York to advertise unoccupied apartments on Airbnb for durations of less than a month, but the home sharing company is now suing the state.
This Eerie “Social Credit” System Will Determine Your Worth: The Communist Party in China has plans to create a system by 2020 called “Internet Plus,” which would monitor, collect, and analyze data on every citizen’s public and private interactions and then assign a “credit score” that would represent that person’s trustworthiness; good behavior will earn you rewards, but bad behavior will subject you to punishment, such as random inspections and increased daily supervision.
Information Security and Cyberthreats
Hacking Away at Your Heart: In a report disputed by St. Jude Medical Inc. as a scheme to prompt a stock price drop, private research-based investment firm Muddy Waters has stated that implantable cardiac devices created by St. Jude are susceptible to hacking; the report points to tests where hackers could induce cardiac arrest by sending shocks to a patient’s heart from 10 feet away.
Internet Apocalypse: Last Friday, hackers used a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS) to infiltrate one of the largest internet management companies in the US, leading to a shutdown of major websites throughout the country and some parts of Europe; the same software had been used in the two biggest DDoS attacks recorded, and researchers believe that such attacks are becoming more sophisticated.
Stopping Pirated Videos in Real Time: Cisco has developed a technology called Streaming Piracy Prevention that would allow content providers to automatically cut off live feeds of pirated videos, bypassing the usual notice-and-takedown procedure.
Free Expression and Censorship
YouTube Filter Possessed? For those who opt in to using the “Restricted Mode” filtering option on YouTube, several videos that are part of a series created by Prager University entitled “PragerU” and which feature prominent professors and thinkers discussing issues such as abortion, the Islamic State, and race from a conservative point of view, do not show up, despite that these videos have over 1 million views each and do not contain violent or sexual material.
Burying the Hatchet: A Harvard study, which analyzed political articles that were published and edited on Wikipedia over the past 15 years, has found that providing such a forum with specific guidelines for public contribution and debate has caused the contributors to become less partisan over time, suggesting that perhaps Wikipedia helps “de-radicalize” far-leaning individuals and makes the online community more moderate as a whole.
The Ghost of “Repeat Infringers” Past: The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled on a 10-year-old case between major record labels and now bankrupt website MP3Tunes, expanding the previous definition of “repeat infringers” which applied to only those who posted or uploaded copyrighted material several times, to now include those who also may unknowingly and repeatedly download copyrighted material for personal use.
On the Lighter Side
MIT’s Spooky Nightmare Machine: Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created an artificial intelligence project that uses a deep learning algorithm to generate horror images from normal photographs of things like cities, famous landmarks, and faces.
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