New York State of Net Neutrality: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order requiring state agencies to contract only with ISPs that abide by net neutrality principles days after Montana’s Governor Steve Bullock did the same; the order’s use of state contracts as leverage may withstand legal challenges as it does not impose direct regulations on the providers, but on the state government.
Airbnb Checks Out in the Bay: Airbnb’s San Francisco listings plunged from over 10,000 to around 5,500 after new vacation-rental laws kicked in requiring Airbnb hosts to register with the city; the laws aim to prevent homes from turning into year-round tourist hotels, which take rentals off the market and distort market prices.
Foreign or US Surveillance? President Trump signed the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017 extending the authorization allowing the intelligence community to “collect critical intelligence on international terrorists, weapons proliferators and other important foreign intelligence targets outside of the US”; the law permits the Director of National Intelligence and the Attorney General to surveil anyone outside of the country and allows authorities to access communications that simply mention a foreign target, thus raising privacy concerns as US citizens’ communications can be accessed.
Facebook’s New Privacy Center: In response to the forthcoming requirements of the EU’s GDPR, Facebook will set up a new global privacy center that puts core privacy settings in one place permitting its users to more easily manage their personal data.
Information Security and Cyberthreats
Look Before You Swipe: Researchers at security firm Checkmarx demonstrated that Tinder’s app lacks the standard HTTPS encryption necessary to conceal a user’s photos, allowing one to see any user’s photos or inject their own images into the user’s photo stream; the researchers also demonstrated that HTTPS-encrypted data in Tinder’s app still leaked enough information allowing a hacker on the network to monitor the user’s swipes or matches on the app.
Kansas’ Crosscheck: Boston-based security firm Netragard warned that Kansas’ Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office—host of the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, a database designed to cross-check voter records for potential double voters—could expose sensitive voter data from as many as twenty-seven states to hackers through unsecured connections between the Secretary of State’s network and other state-hosted networks.
The Music Modernization Act: A bipartisan group of senators introduced the Music Modernization Act, legislation designed to update music licensing laws for the digital age by streamlining the licensing process and setting a new standard for mechanical royalty rates; under the proposed legislation, a single entity would be created to collect royalties for distribution to copyright holders and royalty rates would be based on what a willing buyer and seller would negotiate on the free market.
Bunny v. Boing Boing: Boing Boing moved to dismiss a lawsuit filed against it by Playboy, which accuses the website of copyright infringement for linking to a YouTube video and an Imgur gallery featuring every Playmate centerfold ever; in 2016, Playboy’s Dutch publisher, Sanoma, successfully sued Dutch website GeenStijl for unfair profits arising from copyright infringing hyperlinks.
Free Expression and Censorship
Ministry of Disinformation? The UK announced plans to establish a new national security communications unit dedicated to combating “fake news”; the announcement follows French President Emmanuel Macron’s declaration that he intends to overhaul French domestic media legislation in order to counter disinformation.
Quid Pro NO! YouTube is asking sponsored musicians and artists to sign non-disparagement agreements in exchange for the platform’s promotional support; while the agreements are common in some areas of business, YouTube’s biggest music competitors do not mandate them.
Qualcomm Fined by EU: The EU’s competition watchdog fined American chipmaker Qualcomm €997 million for violating EU antitrust laws by abusing its market dominance when it paid Apple billions of dollars for the tech giant’s promise that it would exclusively use Qualcomm chips; the Commission looked at Qualcomm’s high market shares, the chip-making market’s high entry barriers, the exclusion of rivals from the market and the denial of rivals’ business opportunities, and concluded that Qualcomm failed to demonstrate that the exclusivity agreement with Apple created any market efficiencies.
On The Lighter Side
Rise and Type: Google researchers have uncovered why so many smartphones in India run out of space so quickly—too many Indians send cheer-y good morning graphics to each other.
Information Law News From CLIP-ings International Correspondents Around the Globe
This academic year, former CLIP-ings Editorial Fellows studying abroad are reporting from time-to-time on current local news and developments in the field of information law!
From Victoria Loeb – Paris, France:
Tech is ‘Choosing France’: Following a booming French tech sector and President Macron’s pro-business reforms, Google’s CEO announced the company’s plan to expand AI operations in Paris and open four Google Hubs across France for free training in “online skills and digital literacy,” while Facebook revealed it would invest €10 million in its French AI center.
AI Alliance: The UK and France will collaborate on AI at a digital conference this year, where “experts in data, cybersecurity, digital government and digital skills from both sides” will share knowledge to integrate the technology’s benefits and strengthen the countries’ digital economies; the announcement occurred at the annual UK-France summit, where the countries also reiterated their support for net neutrality.
From Meghna Prasad – Rome, Italy:
Fake News Filters: In anticipation of the upcoming general election, the Italian government created a portal on Italy’s postal police website for citizens to report URLs of alleged fake news stories, where “the police’s cybercrime division will fact-check the reports,” and either deny any false information or take legal action if necessary; critics of the initiative worry about the potential for political censorship and the lack of clarity regarding what constitutes fake news.
CORRECTION: In our January 19, 2018 edition of CLIP-ings, in the portion entitled “No Pictures Please!,” we erroneously stated that “under Italian law, the image’s copyright belongs to the subject rather than the photographer.” Although Italian law does provide copyright ownership to the author of a photograph, privacy and publicity rights of the subject place limits on exclusive rights of the copyright holder.
Joel R. Reidenberg
Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Chair and Professor of Law
Founding Academic Director, Fordham CLIP
N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP
Dean’s Fellow, Fordham CLIP
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP