CLIP-ings: April 26, 2018

Internet Governance

Huawei Investigation Continues: The Justice Department is reportedly investigating whether Huawei Technologies Co. violated U.S. sanctions against Iran, which could lead to criminal penalties for the company; the investigation comes after Congress proposed to block Huawei from government contracts and advised carriers, internet service providers, and private citizens against purchasing Huawei’s products.

EU Regulates Tech Commercial Relations: The European Union proposed rules that will for the first time govern commercial relations between tech giants and smaller businesses; the proposal requires target app stores, search engines, e-commerce sites, and hotel booking websites to be clear about how they rank search results and why they delist some services and empowers companies to collectively sue the online platforms for violation of these rules. 

Blockchain Verifies Jewelry: IBM and several jewelry companies, including Richline Group and Helzberg Diamonds, established a joint initiative called TrustChain to develop blockchain technology to trace the provenance of finished pieces of jewelry and ensure they are ethically sourced; the initiative tracks and authenticates diamonds and precious metals through every stage in the process of becoming finished jewelry and includes third-party oversight. 

Privacy

Identity Theft Of Children: A study released by Javelin Strategy and Research claims that more than one million children in the United States were affected by identity theft last year, causing $2.6 billion in losses and $540 million in out-of-pocket costs for families; the study states 60 percent of identity fraud victims who are children know the identity thief, while only seven percent of adult victims personally know the perpetrator.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Hack On Hotel Master Keys: Security researchers uncovered a design flaw in the software of hotel master keys produced by VingCard, a global provider of hotel locking systems used in more than 42,000 properties in 166 countries; the researchers are helping hotels patch the problem, which allows hackers to create a master key to the building, within minutes using a regular hotel key, even if it is expired.

Bad Gamble: British teenager Kane Gamble was sentenced to two years at a youth detention center after pleading guilty to 10 hacking charges for hacking a number of high profile United States government employees, including former CIA director John Brennan and former director of intelligence, James Clapper; Gamble and others stole 40 attachments from Brennan’s email, broke into Clapper’s and his wife’s emails, and stole and leaked the contact info of 20,000 FBI personnel.

Intellectual Property

SCOTUS Upholds Patent Review Process: The Supreme Court upheld the Patent Office’s power to review and cancel issued patents through the inter partes review procedure of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB); the case, Oil States Energy Services, LLC v. Greene’s Energy Group, LLC turned on whether PTAB’s administrative patent judges are constitutionally permitted to revoke patents or if this can only be done by Article III courts.

Monkey See, Monkey Selfie: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an Indonesian crested macaque does not hold the copyright to selfies he took on a nature photographer’s camera in 2011, dismissing an appeal brought by PETA; the dispute over who owns the photo–monkey or man–arose when Wikipedia posted the image to its free to use website and the nature photographer asked to have it removed.

Free Expression and Censorship

Facebook Updates Community Standards: Facebook unveiled changes to its content review policy, adding an appeals process for removed content and releasing its moderation guidelines; the move–part of Facebook’s commitment to be more transparent about its content decisions–now allows posters of removed photos, videos, or posts to contest determinations they believe were wrongly made.

Texas’ ‘Revenge Porn’ Law Struck Down: A Texas appeals court struck down the state’s “Relationship Privacy Act,” holding that the statute is overbroad and infringes on free speech protections; the law, which passed the Texas Legislature unanimously in 2015, contains provisions that the state court worried could punish individuals who share intimate, private photos without knowing that they were, in fact, private. 

Practice Note

Yahoo! Fined $35M by SEC: The SEC announced that Altaba, the owner of the remnants of Yahoo!, agreed to pay a $35 million fine for failing until September 2016 to disclose a 2014 data breach in which hackers stole information from 500 million users; the SEC–which released guidance on disclosure of data breaches earlier this year–said in a statement that “public companies should have controls and procedures in place to properly evaluate cyber incidents and disclose material information to investors.”

On The Lighter Side

Going Green: Ever wonder how it feels to be the Hulk? Now you can find out. A new force feedback jacket developed by Disney Research, MIT Media Lab, and Carnegie Mellon University uses inflatable airbags to simulate the experience of turning into the superhero.


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 Meghna Prasad – Rome, Italy:

“We Gucci”:  After a nine-year intellectual property dispute between Gucci and Guess, the two brands reached a confidential settlement in longstanding a trademark infringement case that saw Gucci file suit in not only the U.S., but also in Italy, France, Australia, and China; the suit alleged that Guess was guilty of counterfeiting, unfair competition, and trademark infringement for its interlocking “G” logo on a line of Guess shoes.

Give Me a Break:  In advance of a final decision from the Court of Justice about whether the four-fingered shape of the KitKat bar is enough to justify the 2006 EU trademark KitKat holds, the advocate general recommended to the Court that there is not enough evidence to show that the chocolate is sufficiently known in the EU.

From Victoria Loeb – Paris, France:

EU Debates Cyber System: The European Commission proposed legislation to create an EU-wide cybersecurity certification system for technology products by funding, staffing and giving oversight authority to Athens-based EU agency ENISA; France’s cybersecurity agency ANSSI, one of Europe’s largest authorities for preventing breaches and responding to threats, is a proponent of EU-wide certification, but argues that member states must keep a level of control over the process.


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

Erin Shahinfar
Subrina Chowdhury
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: April 20, 2018

Internet Governance

Some Criminals Have ‘Right to Be Forgotten’: A UK high court ruled that some–but not all–criminals have a ‘right to be forgotten’ after Google denied a man’s request to remove search results related to his decade-old conviction for conspiracy to intercept communications; the court reached the opposite conclusion in a companion case that also weighed the nature of the crime and whether the petitioner expressed remorse.

SCOTUS Struggles with E-Commerce Law: The U.S. Supreme Court appeared divided following a one hour argument in a case that could let states collect sales tax from out-of-state online retailers like Amazon; the case turns on a 1992 decision–holding that states cannot collect state sales tax from online retailers unless they have a physical presence in the state–which some justices believe should be overturned while other justices would rather wait for Congress act.

Privacy

Singapore’s Facial Recognition Lampposts: The Singapore government plans to install cameras linked to facial recognition software on 110,000 lampposts, prompting concern that the technology, which is already in use in other Asian cities like Shanghai and Beijing, could be used to suppress protests, journalists, or political opponents.

Privacy as Art? Chinese authorities shut down an art exhibit featuring the personal data of 346,000 people and accused the artist, Deng Yufeng, of collecting the information through illegal means; the Beijing-based artist, who purchased the data from online brokers, wanted the show to highlight China’s lax data privacy rules.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Digital Geneva Accord? Led by Facebook and Microsoft, more than 30 tech companies signed the “Cybersecurity Tech Accord,” a set of principles that includes a declaration not to aid governments in cyberwar against “innocent civilians and enterprises from anywhere”; Noticeably absent from the signees were Amazon, Google, Apple, and companies from countries associated with cyber attacks like Russia and Iran.  

Russia’s Router Hacking: The Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the White House, and the UK’s National Cybersecurity Center issued an alert warning that hackers tied to the Russian government have tried to hack millions of routers and firewalls in attempts to “enable espionage” and facilitate intellectual property theft; however, as some in the intelligence and cybersecurity community quickly pointed out, these are the cyber intrusions commonly practiced by the U.S. government and the NSA..            

Intellectual Property

Stock Photo Copyright Infringement: The U.S. Supreme Court turned aside an attempt by Arizona stock photo company, DRK Photo, to sue McGraw-Hill Global Education Holdings for copyright infringement for allegedly exceeding the scope of licenses it purchased on more than 1,000 photos; the stock photo company petitioned the Supreme Court claiming that a November ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals favoring McGraw-Hill misinterpreted the Copyright Act of 1976 and widened a split in the federal appellate courts by ruling that DRK could not sue for infringement of copyrights that it did not own.

‘Facebook For Scientists’ Resolves Copyright Issues: ResearchGate, an online collaboration platform backed by Bill Gates and Goldman Sachs and dubbed ‘Facebook for Scientists,’ partly resolved a copyright dispute with publishers by reaching an agreement with Springer Nature, Cambridge University Press, and Thieme to work together on sharing articles while protecting the rights of authors and publishers; the agreement will streamline the process for notifying ResearchGate of copyright infringement and ensuring that offending material is taken down quickly.

Free Expression and Censorship

Google Resumes Drug Rehab Ads: Google plans to resume advertisements from U.S. addiction treatment centers in July, nearly a year after Google suspended rehab-related advertisements over concerns that disreputable treatment centers were gaming Google’s algorithms to solicit patients; in-person rehab facilities, crisis hotlines, and support groups will be able to advertise after being evaluated by LegitScript for 15 criteria, including criminal background checks, insurance verification, and policies “demonstrating a commitment to best practices, effective recovery and continuous improvement.”

Reversal of Gay Content Ban: Sina Weibo–China’s version of Twitter–reversed a proposed ban of LGBTQ-related content after users criticized the proposal as discriminatory and bombarded the site with #Iamgay hashtags and slogans like “gays aren’t scary”; Weibo announced that they will no longer immediately categorize gay posts as lewd content, but will continue censoring “pornographic, violent, and bloody content.”

On The Lighter Side

A Dog’s Purpose: Dog owners, have you ever wished your pooch was internet famous? Researchers at Nvidia and Cornell University have developed an algorithm to help you with that by transforming pictures of your dog into pictures of a cat.


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:

Digital Border Reform: The EU Commission proposed a new law that could require tech companies to turn over user data in certain criminal cases to European law enforcement within 10 days or, in urgent cases, six hours, even when stored on servers in another country or outside the EU; officials state that the law is necessary as current legal procedures for obtaining digital evidence lack efficiency, “transparency and legal clarity.”

France’s Key to Prevent Breach: The French government has developed its own encrypted messenger service that will protect communications between top officials and avoid storing data beyond French borders, which occurs with the US’s WhatsApp and Russia’s Telegram; the app was created with “freely available” internet codes and will become mandatory for the entire French government once it passes the testing phase.

From Meghna Prasad – Rome, Italy:

Don’t Forget the Little People: A Milan civil court of appeal upheld a 2016 preliminary court ruling that Facebook committed copyright infringement and “parasitic appropriation” when it released a feature that allows users to locate restaurants and other sites just two months after the Plaintiffs unveiled their location-finding app in the Facebook app store.

Bring Kitchens Back to Life: This year’s Milan Design Week features fresh design ideas, including a Samsung oven that not only cooks two dishes at once, but also takes remote commands from users and suggests cooking modes based on the dish being prepared.

 


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

Erin Shahinfar
Subrina Chowdhury
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: April 13, 2018

Internet Governance

Trump Signs ‘FOSTA’ Into Law: President Trump signed a bill called “FOSTA” or “Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act” that gives prosecutors and victims greater power to pursue websites that host sex-trafficking advertisements; the signing comes days after Backpage.com and its affiliated websites were seized by the Department of Justice and seven of Backpage.com’s executives were indicted for facilitating prostitution and money laundering.

‘CONSENT’ Bill: A new bill–the “Customer Online Notification for Stopping Edge-provider Network Transgressions (“CONSENT”) Act”–proposed by Senators Edward J. Markey and Richard Blumenthal would require edge providers to notify and obtain consent from users before using, sharing, or selling their personal data; the bill, which would rely on the FTC for enforcement, follows Sen. Blumenthal’s confrontation of Mark Zuckerberg over Facebook’s apparent violation of the FTC’s 2011 consent decree during the CEO’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees.

Privacy

YouTube Collects Children’s Data: Twenty-three privacy and children’s advocacy groups filed a Federal Trade Commission complaint against YouTube, alleging the platform is violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) by collecting personal data from children under 13 to tailor advertisements and services to them without first gaining parental consent; the coalition is calling for YouTube to shift all the videos aimed at children to the YouTube Kids app and wants YouTube to pay a fine worth billions of dollars for profiting off children’s viewing habits.

“Voice-Sniffing” Patent? Amazon filed a patent for a “voice-sniffing” algorithm that would allow Amazon’s Echo speakers to listen to conversations for trigger words, such as “love” and “hate,” build a profile on the customers, and then offer them “targeted advertising and product recommendations”; Amazon denied that it currently uses voice recordings for advertising as Echo products only listen to users when they say the “Alexa” wake word.  

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Lord & Taylor Breach: A New York consumer filed a federal class-action lawsuit against Lord & Taylor in Delaware over allegations that her private information was stolen by hackers as a result of the retailer’s failure to implement adequate security systems to protect customers’ private information; the lawsuit follows Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue’s announcement last week that 5 million customer credit card numbers were stolen by “a well-known ring of cybercriminals” using software implanted in its cash register systems.

“Don’t Mess With Our Elections”: A group of hackers targeted networks in a number of countries including data centers in Iran where they left the image of a U.S. flag on screens along with a warning: “Don’t mess with our elections”; the attack, which hit internet service providers and cut off web access for subscribers, exploited a vulnerability in routers from Cisco and affected 200,000 router switches across the world.            

Intellectual Property

Alibaba and the Trademark Thieves? Chinese mega retailer Alibaba Group Holding filed a trademark infringement suit against a Dubai-based cryptocurrency company called Alibabacoin Foundation; the cryptocurrency company claims that Alibaba’s demand for it to shut down and restart with a new name is neither “reasonable [n]or proportionate” because the name is “inherently generic” and does not originate in China.

Apple to Pay Patent Troll Toll: VirnetX, a patent assertion entity, won a $502.6 million judgment against Apple Inc. after a federal jury in East Texas found that Apple’s FaceTime, VPN on Demand, and iMessage features infringe four patents related to secure communications; VirnetX’s stock rose 44% on news of the federal ruling, while Apple’s remained relatively unchanged.

Free Expression and Censorship

Russia Blocks Telegram App: Russia’s communications watchdog, Roskomnadzor, filed a lawsuit to limit access to the Telegram messaging app after the company refused to give Russian security services access to its users’ encrypted messages; Russia claims that it needs access to the private messages in order to prevent terrorist attacks.

Homeland Security to Create Media Database: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) is seeking a third party contractor to help it build a database capable of tracking 290,000 global news sources and identifying “media influencers” like journalists, editors, and foreign correspondents; the database will provide “media comparison tools, design and rebranding tools, and communication tools,” in order to help DHS agencies “better reach federal, state, local, tribal, and private partners.”

On The Lighter Side

Where’s the Beef? Environmentally-conscious carnivores rejoice! White Castle is set to test an uncannily meat-like meatless patty called the Impossible Burger that sizzles, smells, tastes, and even bleeds like beef.


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 Meghna Prasad – Rome, Italy:

Cannabis and Cryptocurrency? Evolution BNK, an Italian company that grows medical cannabis, has filed a patent for a system that combines cryptocurrency mining with cannabis growing; the company plans to build a 20,000 square meter solar powered greenhouse in Sanremo, which will have a basement where computers mining cryptocurrency will provide heat to a greenhouse during the winter.

Robots in Hotels: Guests at a hotel in Italy’s Lake Garda will be greeted by Robby Pepper, a robot that can answer basic questions about the hotel, so that staff don’t have to repeat themselves; robots of this type are becoming increasingly popular in the tourism industry, but their use is limited because the technology is not advanced enough to handle many questions beyond the time and weather.


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

Erin Shahinfar
Subrina Chowdhury
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: April 6, 2018

Internet Governance

Zuckerberg to Testify Before Congress: Following revelations that Cambridge Analytica harvested data from 87 million users’ Facebook profiles in order to target voters during the 2016 Presidential election, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has agreed to testify before Congress on April 10 and 11 to answer questions about how the platform protects its user data.

Microsoft Digital Data Case Moot: Microsoft and the federal government have asked the Supreme Court to dismiss a high-profile data privacy case as moot following a Congressional re-write of the Stored Communications Act, which now says that a “provider of electronic communication service” shall comply with a court order for data “regardless of whether such communication, record or other information is located within or outside of the United States”; the case asked whether Microsoft had to comply with a court order to produce emails even though the data was stored abroad on a Dublin server.

Privacy

Social Media Visa Screen: The State Department proposed a rule that would require all visa applicants to the United States to list their social media names for the last five years on their visa applications; the new proposal would affect an estimated 14 million people and cover 20 social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, China’s Sina Weibo, and the Russian social network VK.

Grindr to Stop Sharing HIV Status: Dating app Grindr announced that it will stop sharing users’ HIV status with third party analytics companies following revelations that it provided two companies with some of the information that Grindr users include in their profiles, including HIV status and “last tested date”; the app’s chief security officer defended the data-sharing practice, arguing that the two companies are simply tools to help apps like Grindr function better and the information was not shared to make money.  

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Malaysian Central Bank Hack Attack: The Philippine central bank warned local financial institutions to be on high alert following a cyber attack at the Malaysian central bank where hackers tried to steal money using fraudulent wire-transfer requests; though the Malaysian central bank says that no funds were lost in the attack, the Philippine alert is part of an information sharing protocol developed in response to the 2016 theft of $81 million from the Bangladesh central bank that was deposited into several Manila-based accounts before disappearing.

Breach Notification Finally in All 50 States: Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed a data breach notification law that will go into effect May 1 and require organizations and agencies to notify data breach victims within 45 days; the law–which allows the Attorney General to fine violators up to $5,000 per day and file lawsuits on behalf of the breach victims–makes Alabama the 50th and final state to put a breach reporting law on the books.            

Intellectual Property

Copyright Protection of Tattoos? U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain in Manhattan rejected a request to dismiss a lawsuit against Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. over its depiction of copyrighted tattoos on LeBron James and other NBA stars in the popular NBA 2K video game, stating she needed a better understanding of how the game is “generally played” before deciding whether its “realistic” depiction of the tattoos licensed by Solid Oak Sketches amounted to fair use.

Google May Face Billions in Damages: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed a 2016 jury verdict and held that Google’s unauthorized use of Oracle’s Java development platform to create the Android operating system was not protected under fair use, possibly making Google liable for billions of dollars in damages; Judge Kathleen O’Malley did not find fair use because no reasonable jury could find that what Google copied was not qualitatively significant, Google’s development of Android robbed Oracle of the ability to make money from its Java SE platform for mobile devices, and Google’s use of the code was not transformative since Google used the copied code for the same purpose as Oracle–to help developers create Java programs.

Free Expression and Censorship

Malaysia Bans Fake News: Prime Minister Najib Razak’s government secured a majority in parliament to pass the Anti-Fake News 2018 bill, which would punish citizens on social media or those working at a digital publication for spreading fake news with fines of up to 500,000 ringgit ($123,000) and a possible prison sentence of up to six years; critics worry the bill may impede free speech ahead of elections and censor discussion of the prime minister’s involvement in a multibillion-dollar scandal.

No More CryptoMail: Mailchimp updated their acceptable use policy, shutting down accounts that send newsletters promoting the sale of cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings in order to halt “scams, fraud, phishing, and potentially misleading business practices” within its email platform.

On The Lighter Side

Can’t Touch This: To combat a spate of cactus thefts, Saguaro National Park in Arizona has embedded microchip IDs in hundreds of saguaro cacti to help identify stolen plants.


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:

France Plans for Boost in AI: President Macron announced a $1.5 billion investment in AI research and funding in France; Macron stated that a more “proactive” approach to data sharing would allow companies and researchers to develop specialized algorithms for the benefit of their industries, however, they will have to also adhere to the GDPR’s new privacy rules, which draw a line between data aggregation and intrusion.


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