CLIP-ings: February 23, 2018

Internet Governance

Cyber-Digital Task Force: U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered the creation of a Cyber-Digital Task Force to examine how the Justice Department can combat foreign interference in U.S. elections, deter attacks on American infrastructure, prevent online terrorist recruiting, and defend against cyber attacks targeting businesses and individuals; the order came days after special counsel Robert Mueller charged three Russian companies and 13 Russian citizens with conducting a criminal and espionage conspiracy campaign through social media to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Postcards from Facebook: Facebook will start sending postcards by U.S. mail to verify the identities and location of people purchasing advertisements related to U.S. elections; the postcards will contain a special code that advertisers who want to mention a specific candidate must give Facebook in order to prove that they are located in the U.S.

Privacy

Sham Mexican Spyware Inquiry: American officials rejected multiple requests from the Mexican government to help investigate whether Mexico used surveillance technology against human rights lawyers, academics, and journalists; American officials were concerned that Mexico has little interest in actually investigating the accusations and wants to use the U.S. as cover in a sham inquiry. 

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Clearer Cyber Risk Disclosure: The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission issued updated guidance urging public companies to disclose cybersecurity risks promptly, develop policies to quickly assess cybersecurity risks, and prevent corporate insiders from trading in shares while a hack is being investigated and before it is disclosed; the guidance also prohibits companies from using internal or law enforcement investigation as a sole excuse “for avoiding disclosures of a material cybersecurity incident.” 

Beware of Business Email Compromise: IBM reports that hackers likely of Nigerian origin are engaged in a widespread credential harvesting, email phishing, and social engineering scam called Business E-mail Compromise, causing millions in losses for Fortune 500 companies; the attackers send fake invoices, impersonate high-ranking corporate officers, and target accounting or human resources staff to gather sensitive financial information—all while bypassing hacking safeguards by avoiding the use of malware.

Intellectual Property

Eyes on the Sky: Samsung has patented a drone that users will be able to control with their eyes, head, hands, or fingers in real time through an integrated display; the unit may also include features like voice recognition, GPS, and a Wi-Fi based positioning system.

Embedding Tweets May Infringe Copyright: A New York federal court ruled on a motion for summary judgment that embedding a tweet on a webpage could be considered copyright infringement—a decision that may have a far-reaching impact on social media and online publishing; the ruling arises out of a case in which a photographer accused online publications, including Breitbart, Time, and Yahoo, of copyright infringement for publishing articles that linked to a photo of Tom Brady originally shared on the photographer’s Snapchat.

Free Expression and Censorship

Bahrain Activist Sentenced for Tweets: A court in Bahrain sentenced democracy advocate Nabeel Rajab to five additional years in prison for tweets about prison conditions and the Saudi-led war in Yemen; Rajab’s sentence is the latest dissent-suppression move by the country’s royal family, which has previously used riot police, tanks, and arrests to silence critics.

Practice Note

What’s My Age Again? A federal judge struck down a California law requiring IMDb to remove age-related information at the subscriber’s request; U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria held that the two-month-old law is unconstitutional because 1) California failed to explore less-speech-restrictive alternatives before enacting the law; and 2) the law is not narrowly-tailored to achieve California’s goal of eliminating discrimination in the entertainment industry.

On The Lighter Side

Bitcoin Regret Club: Regret not investing in Bitcoin? Join the club! Enter a date and investment amount into this site to find out just how much you didn’t make.


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:

Is Tech the Key to Public Service Reform? France’s senior official in charge of public service reform plans to use data and AI, such as tax algorithms and conversational chatbots, to lower the cost of public services by reducing the number of employees needed for some services and allowing reinvestment in others; these changes, as well as an IT project investment fund of €700 million over the next five years, are part of Macron’s campaign pledge to cut €60 billion in public spending and 120,000 public sector jobs.

EU Encouraging Internet Platform Content Control: A leaked document revealed the European Commission’s draft of non-binding guidance for internet platforms to identify and remove terrorist content, seeking to test improvement of social media platforms’ responses to such content before deciding on legislation requiring removal; France’s technology policy diplomat said the country has been working closely with the Commission, Europol, and other leading countries to formulate this stronger approach.

From Meghna Prasad – Rome, Italy:

Back to Life: Although not illegal, bots generating tweets and Facebook posts from dormant accounts are becoming active again, spreading repetitive messages about candidates in Italy’s upcoming election, and sparking concerns about the effect on voters.


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

Idalys Núñez
Dean’s Fellow, Fordham CLIP

Erin Shahinfar
Subrina Chowdhury
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: February 16, 2018

Internet Governance

FCC Supports SpaceX Satellite Internet: Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai urged the approval of an application by Elon Musk’s SpaceX to use low Earth-orbit satellites to provide broadband services to Americans living in rural or hard-to-serve areas where fiber optic cables and cell towers do not reach.

YouTube’s Stricter Self-Regulation: Following a series of controversial videos by popular vlogger Logan Paul, YouTube released new policy changes that outline the company’s stricter approach to behavior it deems harmful to the YouTube community of “advertisers, the media industry, and…the general public”; though the new policies omit a definition of “harm,” they allow YouTube to stop recommending the channel’s videos and cut off the channel’s ability to serve ads and access premium monetization programs.

Privacy

Privacy Victory or Speech Suppression? YouTube and Instagram may be blocked in Russia unless they comply with a court order compelling the removal of 14 Instagram posts and seven YouTube videos that show Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska and Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Prikhodko on a yacht with an alleged escort; though the court in Russia’s Krasnodar region held that the videos and posts violate Deripaska’s right to privacy, others, including anti-Kremlin campaigner Alexey Navalny, called the decision an “act of censorship.”

Private Facebook Accounts May Be Discoverable: The New York Court of Appeals ruled in a personal injury case that Facebook posts, videos, and messages “reasonably calculated” to contain “material and necessary” evidence may be discoverable even if the user’s Facebook account is set to private; Chief Judge Janet DiFiore explained that “[s]ome materials on a Facebook account may fairly be characterized as private, but even private materials may be subject to discovery if they are relevant.”

Information Security and Cyberthreats

What’s Yours is Mine: The UK Information Commissioner’s Office took down its website following the revelation that it—along with some 4,000 other sites—was infected with a code that uses visitors’ computers to mine the cryptocurrency, Monero; security experts traced the crypto mining script to a website plug-in called Browsealoud, which helps blind people access the web and claims that the bug was only active for four hours on Sunday.  

Olympics Cyberattack: A yet-to-be-identified culprit launched a cyberattack on the Winter Olympics’ opening ceremony; the attack downed internet access and telecasts, grounded broadcasters’ drones, and prevented spectators from printing out reservations for the ceremony thereby leading to an unusually high number of empty seats.

Intellectual Property

$6.75m for 5Pointz: U.S. District Judge Frederic Block awarded $6.75 million in damages to 21 artists whose graffiti work at 5Pointz warehouses was whitewashed by the buildings’ owner after a jury found that their artwork was protected under the Visual Artists Rights Act because of their “recognized stature”; the judge awarded the artists the maximum damages possible, stating the buildings’ owner “willfully” ruined the artwork and showed no remorse for his “recalcitrant behavior.”

Copyright Credits on Google Images: In exchange for a multi-year license for Getty Images’ photos, Google agreed to highlight copyright attribution on images and remove “view image” links for pictures to reduce the number of direct downloads; the agreement follows Getty’s competition law complaint against Google with the European Commission, which accuses Google of being a one-stop piracy shop, allowing users to easily download and view copyrighted photos.

Free Expression and Censorship

AI Blocks Extremism: The UK Home Office developed an AI program that can automatically detect 94% of online Islamic State propaganda with a 99.99% success rate by examining video content during the upload process and stopping it from reaching the internet; the tool’s development alerted large tech firms to take more meaningful action against extremist content and can help smaller companies that don’t have the resources to tackle the problem, but it also raises concerns about censorship and legal accountability for content removal.

India’s Press Crackdown: After a journalist in India wrote a story exposing a major privacy breach in a nationwide database of more than a billion Indians, supporters of India’s Hindu nationalist Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, filed a police complaint accusing the journalist, her newspaper, and the alleged cyber criminals of forgery and other offenses punishable by 30 years in jail; India fell three spots on the World Press Freedom Index to 136, below Afghanistan and Myanmar, because of the growing censorship by Hindu nationalists.

On The Lighter Side

The Sound of Silence: A new app helps diners in San Francisco (and soon New York, Portland, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.) avoid noisy restaurants.


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:

WhatsApp at Work in Advance of GDPR: Seeking GDPR compliance, WhatsApp created a new feature—to be enabled by May 25th and extended to Facebook and Instagram—allowing users to download individual personal data directly from the app to give them “more control over their data…ensuring more protection, transparency, and uniformity”; WhatsApp’s privacy development follows the French data protection authority’s formal notice to the messaging app to stop sharing user data with Facebook, its parent company, within one month.

From Meghna Prasad – Rome, Italy:

Cryptocurrency Maybe Not So Secure: Hackers stole 170 million units of Nano, a cryptocurrency forming part of the Italian cryptocurrency exchange, BitGrail, raising concerns about the security of cryptocurrency exchanges, especially lesser known exchanges which may not have proper cybersecurity defenses.


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

Idalys Núñez
Dean’s Fellow, Fordham CLIP

Erin Shahinfar
Subrina Chowdhury
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: February 9, 2018

Internet Governance

Take Down of Infraud: The U.S. Justice Department indicted 36 people from numerous countries including the United States, Ivory Coast, and Bangladesh for acting as administrators, moderators, and sellers of illegal hacking and fraud services on an online black market forum called Infraud; the indictment accuses the defendants of trading Social Security numbers and stolen credit card numbers, providing an escrow account members could use to launder their proceeds using digital currencies, and hosting services designed to enable other illegal online operations, thus causing more than $530 million in losses to companies and individuals.

Gig Workers’ Rights: After an independent review calling for clearer definitions of UK employment statuses, the UK government announced a new “Good Work Plan” to improve access to sick and holiday pay and stable contracts for “vulnerable workers,” which could include gig economy workers employed by internet-based applications; the reforms follow a number of legal challenges, including by a group of UK Uber drivers who proved they should be classified as “workers” in an employment tribunal court.

Privacy

Deepfakes: Twitter and Reddit joined a growing list of platforms cracking down on so-called ‘deepfakes’ or computer-generated porn that digitally grafts the faces of celebrities onto the bodies of porn actors; however, elsewhere on Reddit, the technology used to make deepfakes continues to be employed for the less nefarious purpose of inserting Nicolas Cage into every movie ever.

Cloud Act Support: Microsoft, Google, Apple, Facebook, and Oath Inc. declared support for bipartisan House and Senate versions of the “Cloud Act” to deal with cross-border data requests from law enforcement—even as the Supreme Court prepares to review the issue, which stems from a 2013 request by federal authorities for data held overseas by Microsoft and other companies; the Cloud Act would allow the U.S. to make agreements with foreign countries about data requests and permit technology companies to notify foreign governments of any requests and challenge them.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Equifax on Ice: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau acting chief Mick Mulvaney reined in the bureau’s investigation of the Equifax breach—where hackers stole personal data from 143 million Americans; according to sources, Mulvaney has not ordered subpoenas against Equifax or sought sworn testimony from executives and has rebuffed bank regulators when they offered to help with on-site exams of how Equifax protects consumer data.

Russians Hacked U.S. Voter Systems: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reported that the Russian government successfully accessed the voter registration rolls of several states prior to the 2016 presidential election, but did not alter any of the registration rolls; the electoral system is considered “critical infrastructure” and therefore under the jurisdiction of the DHS, but some states claim they are still waiting for cyber security help from the federal government while others are opposed to DHS involvement, viewing it as a federal intrusion.

Intellectual Property

Christian Louboutin Is Seeing Red: The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) may issue an opinion that could prove a setback to Christian Louboutin’s signature red soles; according to the recommendation of Advocate General Maciej Szpunar, a trademark combining color and shape may be refused and declared invalid on the grounds set out under E.U. trade mark law—this contrasts with a U.S. appeals court decision permitting Louboutin to protect his red soles as a source-identifying trademark.

Ok, Ladies, Now Let’s Get in Litigation: Kimberly Roberts, star of the Oscar-nominated Hurricane Katrina documentary “Trouble the Water,” filed a lawsuit against Beyoncé in New Orleans federal court this week, alleging the makers of Beyoncé’s ‘Formation’ music video used clips from the documentary without paying royalties and, in some instances, without permission; the suit comes on the heels of another federal ‘Formation’-related copyright dispute, which was dismissed on Monday following the parties’ submission of a joint stipulation for dismissal.

Free Expression and Censorship

Made Possible by Viewers Like You? PBS is pushing back against YouTube’s decision to specially label videos published by government-backed news outlets; under the new policy, videos by outlets like PBS will feature a flag that identifies their government association and links to, believe it or not, the publisher’s Wikipedia page.  

Practice Note

Court of Appeals on Patent Eligibility Analysis: The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled in Berkheimer v. HP Inc. that “while patent eligibility is ultimately a question of law,” a lower court erred by holding that “there are no underlying factual questions” in a 35 U.S.C. § 101 inquiry; the decision is in tension with the Court’s prior treatment of eligibility analysis, which generally permitted resolution of the issue on the pleadings as a pure question of law.

On The Lighter Side

Lonely Hearts Club: Valentine’s Day means many things to many people, but for the internet it means a spike in searches for “alone” GIFs.


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:

GAFA Prepares for Stricter EU Tax Rules: After settling a French tax claim for nearly €200 million from 2006 to 2010, Amazon announced that it will begin declaring all its earnings in France; the announcement follows EU officials’ commitment to implement stricter tax rules, as the current regime allows companies whose earnings occur primarily in higher tax member states to declare them in lower-tax countries.

Contractual Termination or Censorship? A French court will hear arguments in a case where a French primary school teacher sued Facebook, Inc. for violating his freedom of speech in 2011 when the company removed his profile after he posted a photo of a nude painting in the Musée d’Orsay—a ruling is expected in the case on March 15; the case comes to court after years of wrangling over jurisdiction and venue where Facebook attempted to argue that the lawsuit could only be heard in California—currently, Facebook, Inc. claims that Facebook Ireland, the web host for service in France, is the correct party to bring to court over the deactivation.

From Meghna Prasad – Rome, Italy:

No Bracelets for You: Several Italian politicians denounced Amazon’s plan to patent an electronic wristband to track their workers’ movements to improve efficiency; Speaker of the House Laura Boldrini calls the proposed patent “degrading and offensive,” while Economic Development Minister Carlo Calenda insists that “the only bracelets we make in Italy are the ones produced by jewelers.”


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

Idalys Núñez
Dean’s Fellow, Fordham CLIP

Erin Shahinfar
Subrina Chowdhury
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: February 2, 2018

Internet Governance

Faux Followers: Citing concerns about impersonation and deception, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman opened an investigation into Devumi, a company—and the subject of a recent New York Times exposé—that allegedly sells automated Twitter followers, some of them using real users’ identities, to celebrities, businesses, and anyone willing to pay for a bigger social media following.

SEC Halts ICO: The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) obtained a court order to freeze the assets of Dallas-based AriseBank and halt its initial coin offering (“ICO”) for failing to file registration or an exemption from registration with the agency; the thwarted ICO represents the first time the SEC has appointed a third-party custodian to secure a firm’s cryptocurrency holdings, which in this case include bitcoin, litecoin, bitshares, dogecoin and bitUSD.

Facebook Sued for Wrongful Death: The family of a Cleveland man whose murder was posted to Facebook is suing the social media platform for negligence and wrongful death, arguing that Facebook’s information and data-mining tools could have stopped the death by alerting police to a video posted just before the fatal shooting, which showed the killer professing his intent to kill the victim.

Privacy

TSA’s Facial Recognition Pilot Program: The Transportation Security Administration launched a three-week trial of facial recognition technology at Los Angeles International Airport where at designated gates, scanners capture the name on a passenger’s digital or paper boarding passes, verify the name with boarding pass data and then, if the names match, compare the passenger’s e-passport photo with a real-time image.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

UK Rules Mass Data Collection Act Unlawful: The UK’s Court of Appeal ruled that parts of the Investigatory Powers Act of 2016 are unlawful and held that the powers granted in the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act of 2014—which paved the way for the 2016 Act—did not restrict the accessing of confidential personal phone and web browsing records to serious crime, thereby conflicting with EU law by allowing police to authorize their own access without review by a court or independent administrative body.

Intellectual Property

Wrist Watch: The USPTO granted Amazon a patent for a wristband that tracks warehouse workers’ hand movements and location in real time, thus raising employees’ privacy concerns; the proposed system consists of three parts, including various ultrasonic devices placed around the work area, a module to manage data, and the wristband itself, which features a haptic feedback module that buzzes to notify workers about breaks and help workers find items in the warehouse.

We Shall Overcome Copyright Law: Parties in the copyright dispute about the 1960s protest song “We Shall Overcome” agreed to a settlement putting the civil rights anthem in the public domain; the settlement followed a decision in September by U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan stripping copyright protection from the song’s most famous verse ruling that the song’s adaptation from an older work—changing “will” to “shall”—lacked originality.

Robo Cop: Ford developed a patent for a police car that can issue tickets without pulling drivers over by using artificial intelligence to find good hiding spots to catch traffic violators and identifying drivers by scanning license plates, tapping into surveillance cameras and wirelessly accessing government records; the patent application states the vehicle can perform “routine tasks,” such as issuing tickets for failure to stop at a stop sign or communicating with other vehicles on the road, but tasks that cannot be automated will be left to police officers who can be inside the vehicle at all times and reclaim control of the car when necessary.

Free Expression and Censorship

Cuba Internet Task Force: Cuba gave the top American diplomat in Havana a note of protest in response to the Trump administration’s creation of a Cuba Internet Task Force composed of U.S. government and non-governmental representatives; the U.S. State Department said that the task force will promote the “free and unregulated flow of information” by “expanding internet access and independent media,” but the Cuban Foreign Ministry counters that the task force is an attempt to violate its sovereignty and carry out interventionist and illegal actions.

Practice Note

Court Swipes Left: A California appellate court reversed a lower court’s dismissal of an age discrimination lawsuit against Tinder, stating that the company’s variable pricing for Tinder Plus, which charges more for users over 30 years old, is discriminatory because without a strong public policy justification, the pricing makes an “arbitrary, class-based generalization” about older users’ incomes, in violation of California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act and the Unfair Competition Law.

On The Lighter Side

A Wealthy Sourpuss: The Grumpy Cat wins a $710,000 payout in a copyright and trademark lawsuit.


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:

GDPR Guidance: With less than 100 days until mandatory compliance, the European Commission published a guidance to aid all stakeholders to prepare for the GDPR while national data protection authorities, such as the CNIL in France, have been advising organizations, citizens, and businesses on what changes to expect and how to adapt; the Commission’s guidance urges member states to provide financial and human resources to national authorities, announced a Commission website dedicated to compliance guidelines, and designated €3.7 million to help with compliance—€1.7 million to fund data protection authorities and to train data protection professionals, and €2 million to support national efforts in reaching out to businesses.

From Meghna Prasad – Rome, Italy:

Cryptojacking, A New Threat: Hackers targeted YouTube users in Japan, Taiwan, France, Italy, and Spain to mine cryptocurrencies without the users’ knowledge via Google’s Double Click advertising software; although Google confirmed the removal of the compromised ads, the threat of cryptojacking remains a very serious problem.


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

Idalys Núñez
Dean’s Fellow, Fordham CLIP

Erin Shahinfar
Subrina Chowdhury
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP