CLIP-ings: October 12, 2018

Internet Governance

Google Won’t Bid on Pentagon Contract: Google will not submit a proposal for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (“JEDI”), an estimated $10 billion contract designed to accelerate the Defense Department’s cloud computing capabilities, because JEDI does not align with the tech giant’s AI principles prohibiting the use of AI in weaponry; additionally, Google disagrees with the government’s decision to choose one vendor instead of adopting “a multi-cloud approach.”

Introducing the “Internet Bill of Rights”:  Democratic representative Ro Khanna of California has worked with think tanks, big tech companies, and government IT pros to devise ten consumer data privacy principles that he hopes will be passed into law; the list includes protecting net neutrality, ensuring consumer choice for ISPs, offering greater transparency on how data is collected, and notifying consumers in a timely manner when personal data has been hacked.

Privacy

UK Court Blocks Privacy Suit Against Google: The UK High Court dismissed an estimated £3 billion class action lawsuit against Google alleging that the tech giant harvested personal data from Safari users without their permission through tracking cookies; although the Court deemed Google’s behavior “wrongful, and a breach of duty,” it nevertheless found that the claimants “had not suffered damage” and did not share the “same interest,” as required by UK law.

Amazon Fires Employee for Selling Emails: Weeks after confirming that marketplace sellers bribed Amazon employees to delete negative reviews or share users’ proprietary information, the company fired an employee who sold customer email addresses to a third-party seller; with customer email addresses, marketplace sellers can gain a competitive edge by directly asking customers to change or remove negative reviews, which is a violation of Amazon’s policy.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

U.S. Telecom Discovers Manipulated Hardware: Following an earlier report that China infiltrated a Supermicro factory to install chips on motherboards used in Apple and Amazon servers, Bloomberg issued a second report claiming that an unnamed U.S. telecom discovered that hardware used in its datacenter had been “manipulated” by an implant designed to “conduct covert surveillance and exfiltrate corporate or government secrets.”

Google Plus Shuts Down After Breach: Google announced its plan to shut down Google Plus after discovering a bug that made available to third-party developers information from over 500,000 accounts, including users’ occupation, gender, and email address; Google defended its decision not to announce the discovery in March—the same month that the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal came to light—on the basis that there was no evidence of data misuse. 

Intellectual Property

Microsoft Adds 60,000 Patents to OIN: After joining the anti-patent-trolling group LOT Network last week, Microsoft announced it is also joining the Open Invention Network (“OIN”), an open-source patent group designed to protect Linux and other open-source software from patent-related suits; while 60,000 of Microsoft’s patents will be open-source and available to OIN members, Windows desktop and desktop application code will not be available.

Free Expression and Censorship

Wikipedia Bans Breitbart: Wikipedia editors voted to ban use of the far-right media outlet as a source of fact in articles “due to its unreliability;” Wikipedia editors similarly decided that the “use of InfoWars as a reference should be generally prohibited.

Practice Note

European Union IP Customs Plan: Concerned by the influx of counterfeit and pirated goods into Europe, the Council of Ministers endorsed a proposed new European Union Customs Action Plan to combat intellectual property rights infringement; the plan outlines “an exchange of best practices on the customs follow-up of internet trade” between the European Commission and EU member states and claims that blockchain could be used to effectuate that purpose.

On The Lighter Side

Sue Anyone at the Touch of a Button: The AI-powered “robot lawyer” chatbot DoNotPay has a new iOS app that could help you “sue anyone” simply by pressing a button.


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

Tom Norton 
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Subrina Chowdhury
Tommine McCarthy
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: October 5, 2018

Internet Governance

California Sued Over Net Neutrality: Internet, cable, and wireless providers filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block California’s new statute mandating net neutrality rules, following a separate lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice; the lawsuit alleges California’s law is a “classic example of unconstitutional state regulation” and urges the court to block the legislation before it takes effect on January 1.

Amazon Raises Minimum Wage: Following months of public criticism about its labor practices, Amazon announced it will begin paying all U.S. employees, including part-time, seasonal, and temporary workers, at least $15 an hour and all U.K. employees at least £9.50; Amazon also revealed that it will begin lobbying Congress to raise the federal minimum wage, which has been set at $7.25 for almost a decade.

Privacy

EU Enforcement Can Access Telecom Data: The European Court of Justice ruled that national law enforcement authorities may access individuals’ basic information, such as addresses and phone numbers, held by telecommunication companies when investigating minor criminal offenses so long as the data-gathering does not seriously infringe their privacy rights; the decision arises as the court is dealing with several privacy disputes, including efforts to extend the “Right to be Forgotten” worldwide and upcoming hearings related to the legality of the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield.

Suspect Unlocks iPhone With Face: In what may be a world first, the FBI forced a suspect to unlock his iPhone X using Apple’s Face ID feature and searched photos and chats on the iPhone, allegedly finding material and conversations associated with child pornography; while courts ruled that there is a difference between a facial or fingerprint recognition system and a passcode typed into a phone, the case raises an interesting legal question of whether a person can be compelled to unlock his or her phone by looking at it.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Sentenced for ATM “Jackpotting”: A federal judge sentenced a man from Springfield, Massachusetts to twelve months and one day of imprisonment for his role in an ATM “jackpotting” scheme, marking the first time someone in the U.S. is imprisoned for this form of ATM hacking; according to the Department of Justice, the hackers dressed as legitimate repair technicians to install malware on an ATM while others used the malware to extract the cash.

Irish Regulator Opens Facebook Investigation: The Irish Data Protection Commissioner commenced an investigation into a massive cyberattack that allowed hackers access to more than 50 million accounts, potentially costing Facebook more than $1.63 billion in fines; the investigation will examine “Facebook’s compliance with its obligation under the GDPR to implement appropriate technical and organizational measures to ensure the security and safeguarding of the personal data it processes.”

Intellectual Property

Vigilante Prevents Waymo Patent: Eric Swildens, an engineer with no connection to the self-driving industry, spent $6,000 of his own funds to successfully argue that the lidar circuit in Waymo’s patent already existed, causing the US Patent and Trademark Office to deny 53 of out Waymo’s 56 claims; the same patent was at issue in Waymo’s lawsuit against Uber in December 2016, which resulted in Uber agreeing to redesign its lidar instrument and give Waymo $254 million worth of equity, a resolution that now seems unnecessary.

Groupon Settles IBM Patent Infringement Claim:  Having previously argued in court that some of IBM’s patents involving pre-internet technology from the 1980s are outdated, Groupon agreed to pay $57 million to settle IBM’s infringement claims and entered into a long-term cross-licensing deal; IBM, which maintains over 45,000 technology patents, previously litigated patent infringement suits against titans such as Twitter, Amazon, and Expedia.

Free Expression and Censorship

Alphabet Takes on DNS Manipulation: Jigsaw, an Alphabet incubator tasked with addressing global security challenges, developed a tool called Intra that defends Android users against attacks on free speech by encrypting connection to the DNS server and pointing to Google’s own DNS servers, which prevents authoritarian governments from denying access to information deemed off-limits;  DNS manipulation is widespread with more than 60 countries, including Iran, China, and Turkey censoring parts of the Internet.

Infowars Publisher Sues PayPal: After PayPal banned his account for violating its policy against promoting hate and discriminatory intolerance in September, Alex Jones, publisher of Infowars, sued the digital payment platform, complaining of “viewpoint discrimination” against political conservatives that permeates technology companies; PayPal spokesperson, Kim Eichorn, responded, “PayPal believes the claims in the complaint are without merit.”

Practice Note

California Overhauls Ethics Rules: California’s ethics rules will be in-line with the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct starting November 1, which means all U.S. states will track the Model Rules; Dennis Rendleman, lead senior counsel for ethics for the ABA’s Center for Professional Responsibility, in reflecting on lawyers’ increasingly multi-jurisdictional practice, stated, “It’s better for the rules to be consistent from state to state … [s]o the development in California, which of course is one of the largest economies in the country, is a positive development.”

On The Lighter Side

9 Million Wikipedia Links Rescued: Internet Archive, a nonprofit digital library, reinstated 9 million previously broken Wikipedia links and intends on continuing its efforts with Wikipedia as well as other media such as e-books and academic papers; replacing broken links with their archived versions boosts the credibility of Wikipedia, preserves internet history, and expands access to original sources.


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

Subrina Chowdhury
Tommine McCarthy
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP