Differing Approaches: In a bid to make the island of Hainan more tourist friendly, China will lift some internet censorship in its southernmost province, allowing visitors to access their Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube accounts; the policy is in sharp contrast to this week’s blocking of HBO’s website in China following presenter John Oliver’s humorous criticism of the nation’s President for life Xi Jinping.
Safe Space for Shopping: Amazon, Alibaba, eBay, and Rakuten signed an E.U. pledge this week, promising to speedily remove dangerous products being sold on their online marketplaces within the E.U.; other components of the pledge include cooperating with authorities, developing measures to act against repeat offenders, preventing reappearance of removed listings, and innovating new technologies to improve detection of unsafe products.
Big Win for Consumer Privacy: In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court has ruled that law enforcement cannot access mobile phone location records from wireless providers without a warrant; the Court’s reasoning that “[j]ust because you have to entrust a third party with your data doesn’t necessarily mean you should lose all Fourth Amendment protections in it,” carving away a bit of the Third Party Doctrine.
Effect of Kennedy’s Retirement on Privacy: Justice Kennedy “did not always embrace a broad view of privacy rights,” but valued the importance of privacy in American democracy; his departure may make room for a justice who does not share Kennedy’s views in a time when interpretation of the Constitution is crucial for regulating the power of the government and tech companies.
Information Security and Cyberthreats
Vault Left Wide Open: A security researcher discovered that data broker Exactis’s 2TB database containing nearly 340 million individual records was missing firewall protection, permitting anyone with basic cybersecurity prowess to hack its entire database; although there is no evidence of intrusion by hackers, sensitive personal data including home and email addresses, religious beliefs, habits, phone numbers, and even the number, age, and sex of subject’s children were left exposed.
Fool Us Twice, Shame on Us: Tech giants including Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, and Twitter met with intelligence officials last month and discussed strategies to prevent repetition of the Russian interference that occurred during the 2016 elections; these companies have also been developing independent strategies to mitigate interference, e.g., Apple is introducing a curated 2018 midterm elections section in its News app and Twitter is developing algorithm for eliminating fake accounts with election-related content.
Worldwide Patent Damages? The Supreme Court’s opinion in WesternGeco LLC v. ION Geophysical Corp. has interpreted Section 271(f) of the Patent Act, concerning exports of components, to include lost profits for the use of an invention overseas as a remedy; critics believe this will disincentivize U.S.-based innovators who may face liability for reasonable royalties on domestic and international sales, whereas foreign infringers would likely only be liable for royalties on their U.S. sales.
Free Expression and Censorship
Limits to Free Expression? Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia with a State Department terrorist designation, claimed on Saturday that its Facebook and Twitter accounts have been shut down; the Times of Israel reports that the move closely followed threats of criminal prosecution against Twitter staff by Israeli authorities citing Hezbollah’s calls to violence.
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
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP