CLIP-ings: June 23, 2017

Internet Governance

Content With a Conscience: Google offered new “Community Guidelines” for its YouTube service that places additional restrictions on content deemed offensive but not flat-out removable, such as providing a warning to users, removing user recommendations and comments, and restricting the ability to monetize the content with advertising. 

All Access: The Supreme Court ruled that it is a violation of the First Amendment to ban people from the internet, recognizing a constitutional right even for individuals convicted of serious crimes to access what the Court believes is an essential forum for free speech activities.

Privacy

Dangerous Diagnoses: A data mining company has been soliciting people to take part in drug trials based in part on information it collects from data brokers about their potential health conditions, raising concerns that big data is exploiting sensitive and sometimes inaccurate medical information to turn a profit.

Internet ID? Technology companies and humanitarian groups are calling for a global digital identification system they say would make it easier to travel, sign documents, and even seek asylum, backed by encryption technology supposedly robust enough to store fingerprints, medical records, and banking information in a single mobile app.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Data Disruption Drives $1M Deposit: A South Korean web hosting company, primarily serving thousands of small businesses, paid a $1 million ransom after an eight-day data outage cyber attack.

Meet Your Moderator: Due to a bug in the company’s system, the personal accounts of over 1000 Facebook content-moderators were posted in the groups that these administrators had removed from the site.

Intellectual Property

Moody Movie: Disney-Pixar is being sued over the idea for the 2015 film Inside Out by the co-founder of the National Childhood Grief Institute for her program designed to help children manage and understand their emotions, a program that she had pitched to Disney-Pixar annually from 2005-09.

Livestream LoserA U.S. District Judge ordered an unsuccessful plaintiff to pay the defendants’ attorneys fees as a punishment for the bogus copyright claim arising over the media outlets’ use of the plaintiff’s accidental live-stream of his child’s birth, an act protected by the fair use doctrine.

Show(room) Stopper: Fresh off the heels of its $13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods Market, Amazon has received a patent for technology that prevents “showrooming” while customers are connected to the Wi-Fi in Amazon stores by restricting access to competitors’ websites, sending targeted offers, and even alerting Amazon employees that a customer is conducting online research while in the store.

Free Expression and Censorship

Mistakenly Mature Materials: As a Pride Month Initiative, with the help of many volunteered LGBTQ employees and content creators YouTube corrected its filtration system and updated its policies for its Restricted Mode, a system designed for public institutions to prevent mature content on their computers.

Maduro Gets Mad: Twitter allegedly blocked 180 accounts linked to the Venezuelan government, pointing not to a specific violation but instead to its usual policy of blocking accounts for abuse, spam or security issues and leading Venezuelan President Maduro to say that the government will retaliate by creating “10,000 or more” accounts.

Practice Note

Government Speech No-Go: The Supreme Court ruled that the anti-disparagement clause, which prohibits trademark registration if the trademark brings disparagement or produces contempt to “persons living or dead,” is unconstitutional as it violated the First Amendment, and thereby curtailing the scope of the government-speech doctrine by clarifying that the approval of a government, such as the USPTO, does not categorize the private speech as government speech capable of being silenced if it is viewed as disfavored by the government.

On the Lighter Side

To Push Puss Press… Netflix has announced it’s developing interactive-storytelling childhood shows, using Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale and Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile and  Buddy Thunderstruck, providing viewers many opportunities to navigate the story and choose their own ending.


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

N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Elizabeth Martin
Fellow, Fordham CLIP

Yemi Danmola
Harrison Kay
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: June 16, 2017

Internet Governance

Paid Postgramming: Instagram unveiled a new “branded content tool” that will help users tell the difference between sponsor-free posts and paid posts that signal partnerships with influencers, and it will help influencers and sponsors collect data on how the sponsored posts perform with users.

Classified Covfefe: As the White House states that social media posts should be considered as official presidential communications, lawmakers hope to amend the Presidential Record Act via the passing of the Communications Over Various Feeds Electronically for Engagement (COVFEFE) Act.

Privacy

Capable Crusader? With the identity of the perpetrator unknown, a lawyer unsuccessfully sued Facebook after his account was hacked and compromised with revenge porn postings; the 9th Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling that under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, Facebook as a third party to the hack was not liable for such conduct.

Privacy for the Pro: While professional athletes’ status as public figures substantially affects the scope of their privacy rights, at least one federal district court has articulated additional privacy protections that loosen the otherwise higher standard for athletes to show that a public disclosure of private information amounts to an invasion of privacy.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Cyberwar, cont. More than a year after launching a cyber offensive against the Islamic State that has yielded inconsistent results, U.S. counterterrorism officials are retooling their cyber warfare techniques with the goal of permanently dismantling ISIS cyber-infrastructure through more robust attacks.

Tweets from Thieves: A security research group has uncovered an international hacking scheme called the “Doubleswitch” in which hackers compromise the Twitter accounts of activists and journalists, locking the victims out of their accounts and allowing the hackers to use seemingly legitimate handles to disseminate fake news.

There Goes the Grid: U.S. intelligence officials are worried that the malware believed to have shut down part of the electric grid in Ukraine last year can be leveraged against other countries at a much larger scale, but the risk could provide the impetus for countries to better secure their power grids.

Intellectual Property

Tough Time for Trolling: Louis Vuitton is pushing back against being regarded as a “troll” as it is being sued for attorneys fees in its failed trademark infringement and trademark dilution litigation against the creator of “My Other Bag”; meanwhile, the 7th Circuit has squandered the hopes of housing copyright “trolls” who bring cases under the obscure Architectural Works Copyright Protection Act of 1990.

Free Expression and Censorship

Free Speech Frenzy? University of Wisconsin faculty and administrators are concerned about the passing of a vague state bill allegedly focused on public forums with invited speakers; while it would require the state’s institutions to remain “neutral” towards contemporaneously contested public policy issues, the unease arose due to uncertainty about the regulation of free speech on campuses, especially regarding scientific claims, if passed.

Sensitive Censorship: Pakistan’s government is taking a strong stance against negative social media, such as sentencing a citizen to death for a seemingly sacrilegious comment about the prophet Muhammad; Thailand is continuing to extend its censorship of negative commentary about the royal family by sentencing a man to 35 years in prison; China attempts to instill “socialist values” as it closed 60 gossip social media platform accounts for posting allegedly tasteless content.

Practical Note

Patent: Private or Public Property? The impending hearing of a case by the U.S. Supreme Court questions the America Invents Act’s constitutionality; the answer is dependent on the classification of patents as a public or private property right, and thus questions the constitutionality of the PTAB’s decisions; it appears that any answer suggesting private property rights or invalidating the PTAB will have reverberating effects on the world of patents.

Rushing a Right? The New York State Legislature proposed a bill that would significantly expand and make transferable the right to publicity, though First Amendment advocates see the bill as detrimental to the freedom of expression and call for more careful consideration of the scope and nature of the right.

On the Lighter Side

Communication-Free Courting: An interest-based dating app prohibits communication between potential suitors and utilizes common ideal date activities to match people, removing one of the uniquely human obstacles to setting up a date.


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

N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Elizabeth Martin
Fellow, Fordham CLIP

Yemi Danmola
Harrison Kay
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: June 9, 2017

Internet Governance

Airbnb Addresses A.D.A.? A new study reported that mentioning a disability renders you far less likely to be preapproved for a rental, even though Airbnb has introduced new rental options to accommodate its diverse customer base, such as “instant bookings.”

SanFran Sidewalk Ban: As the prevalence of delivery services increases, San Francisco considers a bill that would ban autonomous delivery robots from roaming the city’s sidewalks because they pose a physical safety risk to pedestrians.

Privacy

Modern Monopoly? Antitrust regulators expressed concern that existing frameworks lack protections against tech giants’ monopoly over valuable user data, citing an ongoing investigation into whether Facebook abused its dominance as a social network through unfair terms of use and calling for increased scrutiny over use of that data.

BodyCam Conversation Concerns: An intensive study of body camera footage from Oakland, California reveals that police officers use less respectful language during interactions with black people; although the behavior’s cause is unknown it is an important first step towards community driven policing.

Caller I.See: A new FCC proposal would allow law enforcement officials to uncover details about anonymous threatening callers, but the FCC must strike a balance between the privacy interest of legitimate callers and penalizing threatening callers, who the Commission says lack a legitimate privacy interest.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Revenge or Resilience: With no safeguards to ensure that victims only engage with their stolen data and issues in determining chain-of-custody and how to handle international threats, hacking back, the inspiration for the bipartisan Active Cyber Defense Certainty Act bill could do more damage than good; an alternative could be to use the power of human resilience to train cybersecurity staff and the public by using simulated phishing emails and social engineering.

Google Games to Do Good: Be Internet Awesome is the fun educational curriculum developed by Google to teach children about the dangers of the internet, such as cyber-bullying, information security, phishing attacks, and other bad internet behavior.

Intellectual Property

The Stolen Oldies? iHeartMedia Inc. will not need to pay royalties for “pre-1972s” – sound recordings generally excluded from the federal copyright system – after a federal judge in Illinois ruled that any remaining common law protection of the copyright is lost when the recordings are sold or broadcasted.

Sampling Snafu: In an unusual victory for music sampling, hip-hop artist Drake was found not to have infringed on an earlier composition by jazz artist Jimmy Smith based on the doctrine of fair use, though the case highlights the complexity of current copyright licensing law.

Free Expression and Censorship

Ruined Revenue: To appease advertisers and high-profile content creators, YouTube has disabled advertisements from running on hateful, demeaning, or incendiary videos.

Social Media Stumps Scholars: First Amendment academics are divided as to whether President Trump caused a free speech violation by blocking some of his followers on Twitter, causing a debate over whether a President’s Twitter account is analogous to a public forum or to a one-way communication channel.

Practical Note

Government Geeks: A digital civil rights organization filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the FBI after it reportedly paid Best Buy’s ‘Geek Squad’ employees to perform warrantless searches on defective devices, causing debate over whether such searches violate the Fourth Amendment.

On the Lighter Side

APPocalypse? Apple kicked off WWDC 2017 with a short video depicting the supposed inevitable apocalypse that would occur in a modern-day app-less reality.


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

N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Elizabeth Martin
Fellow, Fordham CLIP

Yemi Danmola
Harrison Kay
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: June 2, 2017

Internet Governance

Testing Troubles: In response to a leak of national school exam papers Ethiopia shut down internet access across the nation in order to prevent similar cheating on another round of upcoming national exams for the third time in one year.

Congress Contemplates Overseas Data Compliance: Congress is proposing legislation to address the retrieval of data from U.S. companies held overseas, after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that Microsoft did not have to turn over data stored on an overseas server that pertained to a suspect in a criminal case.

Privacy

Passengers Planes & Pictures: This month JetBlue Airways plans to unveil a new process to streamline boarding by utilizing facial recognition software to confirm flight information with a photo taken at the gate.

AI Interest in Inattention: A French business school’s proposed use of facial recognition software and artificial intelligence to track student’s attentiveness during online lessons, develop customized quizzes and improve teaching poses privacy risks as it requires masses of personal data.

Streaming Execs Shrug Shoulder on Password Sharing: A study revealed that over half of video streaming viewership is conducted via sharing passwords and, despite ongoing debate, industry executives regard the practice as commonplace.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Smart Cities Step Up Security or Succumb to Susceptibilities: As the percentage of the world’s residents in urban areas grows, so does the threat of the smart systems used to manage the cities’ operations; thus safeguards are needed to protect these vulnerable systems that cities increasingly depend on.

To Hack a Heart: A pair of recent studies warn that pacemakers, insulin pumps, and other life-or-death medical equipment are prone to thousands of cyber vulnerabilities, due to bugs in their code, lack of knowledge about how to write secure code and the fact that only 17% of manufacturers have taken steps to secure their devices.

Intellectual Property

From Rags to Royalties: Spotify has reached a $43 million settlement in a class action copyright lawsuit claiming that the music streaming company failed to pay thousands of songwriters proper royalties in making their compositions available to its base of over 100 million users.

Patented Parachute: As part of its Prime Air drone delivery project, Amazon received a patent for a shipping label that includes a built-in parachute attached to an autonomous drone, even though such drones are not authorized to fly in the U.S. under current FAA rules.

Free Expression and Censorship

Facebook Fuels Fight: To combat the circulation of hateful content, Facebook has employed Filipino college graduates to review and remove a never-ending stream of terror-related posts, resulting in traumatized employees and a high turnover rate; Facebook is furthering the fight against harmful content by allowing users to flag information as fake news.

Playback Problems: At least two UK-based radio stations have opted not to play a popular song with lyrics accusing British Prime Minister Theresa May of being a “liar” and untrustworthy, while the band that wrote the track sees the move as an attempt to undermine public opinion about May’s ruling party.

Practical Note

Ruling Restricts Patent Rights: The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling that a patentee’s rights in the patented item will be exhausted upon sale of the item will require companies to rebuild licensing agreements and remodel product pricing, further changing the landscape of patent owners’ protections.

On the Lighter Side

North Korea Negates Novelty? North Korea’s newest release, the iPad, blatantly inspired by American tech.


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
Yemi Danmola
Harrison Kay