CLIP-ings: October 30, 2020

Internet Governance

Section 230 Reform Could Result In A More Barren Internet Dominated By Giants: Past amendment of the law has shown that changes resulting in increased liability for user content can drive small- and mid-sized content publishers such as personal sites and social media platforms to close their virtual doors, and may also disincentivize the development of new entrants to the market; nevertheless, reform is finding varying degrees of support in Congress, with Republicans suspicious that conservative voices are being dampened, as well as among Facebook, Google, Twitter, who stand to see their current dominance further solidified.
Privacy

Facebook Orders New York University Offshoot To Cease Bulk Collection Of Advertising Information: The Tandon School of Engineering, home of the Online Transparency Project, offers an “AdObserver” tool for evaluating political ads and targeting that has proven more insightful than Facebook’s own Ad Library; however, Facebook argues the data collection performed by the AdObserver browser extension constitutes impermissible data scraping under Facebook’s terms of use and threatens users’ privacy.
Information Security and Cyberthreats

Trump’s Campaign Website Hacked In Cryptocurrency Scam: A week before the 2020 Presidential Election, the Trump campaign website was hacked to display a fake FBI notice describing evidence of Trump’s alleged wrongdoings and listing two cryptocurrency wallet addresses for visitors to send funds as a way of voting on whether the incriminating documents should be released or not.

United States Hospitals Facing Large-Scale Ransomware Threat, Several Hit: Federal security agencies have warned of an “increased and imminent cybercrime threat” due to a suspected large-scale plot by a known foreign cyberthreat actor to target hospitals in the United States; several hospitals have already been struck by a Russian group’s signature Ryuk ransomware.
Intellectual Property

Users Do Not Actually Own Content Purchased On Amazon Prime Video, Amazon Argues: In support of a motion to dismiss a recent class action suit alleging unfair competition and false advertising, Amazon argues that the Prime Video Terms of Use clearly explain that a purchase of video content results in a limited license for “on-demand viewing over an indefinite period of time,” and that some content may later become unavailable due to license restrictions or other reasons.
Free Expression & Censorship

By Allying with President Trump And Using Aggressive Facebook Tactics, The Epoch Times Emerges As “A Leading Purveyor of Right-Wing Misinformation”: In its fight against China’s ruling Communist Party for banning and persecuting its members, the Epoch Times has become a growing force in right-wing media by posting pro-Trump propaganda on Facebook and by downplaying its affiliation to Falun Gong.

Facebook Removes Misleading Ads From Both Trump and Biden Campaigns: Earlier this week, Facebook removed ads from both the Trump and Biden presidential campaigns that risked misleading voters, such as ads saying “Election Day is today” that appeared in states where early voting had not yet started. 
On the Lighter Side

McDonald’s Starts A Conversation About Mental Health On Twitter: After the McDonald’s social media manager tweeted about how all the questions she receives concern the McRib sandwich and are never “how are you doing,” other companies’ accounts responded to vent and join in the conversation on mental health.
Joel R. Reidenberg
Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Chair and Professor of Law
Founding Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Erica Chan
Daniel Gerken
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: October 23, 2020

Internet Governance

Department Of Justice Initiates Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google: The suit alleges that Google has captured 90 percent of the search market across a variety of applications and devices, including those offered by Apple and other competitors, by means of various agreements and business practices; Google contends that its behavior is not exclusionary and that users still have a choice of rival services.

EU Regulator Investigates How Instagram Protects Kids’ Personal Information: After reports that Instagram may be exposing minors’ email addresses and phone numbers after offering the option to switch their private accounts to business accounts, Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner initiated a probe to monitor how Facebook is processing children’s personal data on Instagram and whether the tech company is adequately protecting kids’ privacy on its social media platforms.
Privacy

Tens Of Thousands Of Women’s Photos Converted To Nudes Via Deepfake Bot, Shared Online: Cybersecurity company Sensity AI reports that an “ecosystem” of users are sharing pictures of women after harvesting them from sources such as social media and running them through a deepfake software on the messaging app Telegram that replaces the subject’s clothed body with a naked one; over 100,000 women’s pictures have been so altered and shared, and some appear to depict underage persons.

Belgian Data Protection Authority Finds Self-Governing Framework For Ad Tracking Non-Compliant With GDPR: The Belgian DPA found that the system of popups used by Google and other online companies for obtaining various consents allows personal information to be swapped without authorization, broadcasts users’ locations and activity, fails to offer ways to limit use of personal information, and does not adequately protect “special category” user data; furthermore, the industry standards body’s own privacy policy was found to violate the GDPR, and the same body has failed to appoint a data protection officer.
Information Security and Cyberthreats

Iran And Russia In Possession Of Voter Information, Warn Heads Of Intelligence: Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and other top intelligence officials warn of efforts by Iran to undermine voter confidence, such as the distribution of threatening emails claiming to have come from the far-right group Proud Boys to Democratic voters in swing states.
Intellectual Property

Twitch Notifies Users Of Copyright Infringement And Deletes Their Content Without Guidance On How To Appeal: In response to receiving 1,800 copyright infringement notices in June alone, streaming platform Twitch sent many of its users Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notices claiming that the users’ content violated copyright law, but failed to provide an option for users to appeal by filing a counter-notification before deleting the alleged content permanently.
Free Expression & Censorship

Misinformation Also Thrives In Spanish: Experts have found that misinformation in Spanish is being widely spread in America, particularly in South Florida, in order to suppress support for presidential candidate Joe Biden in the final weeks of the 2020 campaign.
On the Lighter Side

AOC Hosted A Livestream On Twitch To Get Out The Vote: Drawing a peak viewership of about 438,000, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez played and streamed the popular game “Among Us” to connect with younger Americans and implore them to register to vote.
Joel R. Reidenberg
Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Chair and Professor of Law
Founding Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Erica Chan
Daniel Gerken
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: October 16, 2020

Internet Governance

European Union Draws “Hit List” Of Big Tech Companies To Curb Market Power: As part of an effort to foster competition in the technology space, EU regulators are targeting up to 20 large Internet companies—including Facebook and Apple—by ordering them to be more transparent on how they gather information, and in extreme cases, breaking up companies that intrude on the trading practices of smaller competitors. 
Privacy

Reverse Engineering Reveals Undocumented Backdoor In Kids’ Smartwatch: Researchers at Norwegian security company Mnemonic found that a smartwatch designed exclusively for children has an undiscovered functionality that allows someone “to remotely capture camera snapshots, wiretap voice calls, and track locations in real time;” exploiting this back door, however, would be difficult without knowledge of both a unique factory-set encryption key and the phone number assigned to the watch.
Information Security and Cyberthreats

Hackers Gained Access To Twitter Accounts In High-Profile Attack By Posing As Company IT Officials: According to an investigative report by New York regulators, hackers who took over several celebrity accounts in July, including those belonging to Barack Obama and Elon Musk, did so by by pretending to assist Twitter employees with VPN problems; the hackers directed employees to a phishing website that looked identical to the legitimate Twitter VPN website and used the fake website to steal the employee’s login credentials to gain access to Twitter’s backend. 
Intellectual Property

Possible Expansion Of Massachusetts Right-To-Repair Law May Have Significant Reach: Whether original equipment manufacturers must share automobile telematics—data from cars’ internal sensors transmitted to vehicle makers in real-time—with independent mechanics will be on the ballot for Massachusetts voters this November; just as the original law’s passage in 2013 forced automakers to adopt a nationwide right-to-repair standard, the expansion could have wide-ranging ramifications.
Free Expression & Censorship

Facebook And Twitter Restrict Distribution Of Suspect Hunter Biden Story: A New York Post story based on emails said to have been provided by Rudy Giuliani and Steve Bannon, and purported to have come from a computer owned by Hunter Biden, has raised suspicions as to its veracity, prompting Facebook to reduce the article’s distribution as it undergoes fact-checking review and Twitter to ban linking to the story pursuant to its policy against hacked materials.

Yelp Initiates User Alert For Businesses Accused Of Racist Behavior: Yelp has announced that upon detecting a sudden influx of reviews for a business, the review site will post an alert and temporarily disable further reviews; upon a subsequent determination of “resounding evidence” of racist behavior, the site will then update the alert to reflect such accusation and provide a link to a credible news article.
Practice Note

Ohio Appeals Court Affirms Dismissal Of Facebook From Murder Suit: In affirming dismissal, the Court found that Facebook did not have a duty to warn the victim of the murderer’s intentions, which he articulated in a post on the social networking site, because no special relationship existed between Facebook and the victim.
On the Lighter Side

Machine-Learning Algorithm Flags Pile Of Onions As Overtly Sexual: A Canadian garden store was surprised to find that a seemingly innocuous advertisement for its Walla Walla onion seeds had been rejected by the social network’s computer-vision algorithm for “overtly sexualized positioning;” object-recognition tests performed by an outside researcher pointed to a particular onion in the middle of the ad’s visual display as triggering the rejection.
Joel R. Reidenberg
Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Chair and Professor of Law
Founding Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Erica Chan
Daniel Gerken
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: October 9, 2020

Internet Governance

16-Month Congressional Investigation Finds Tech Giants Hold Monopoly Power In Key Business Sectors: After analyzing one million documents and interviewing experts in Big Tech as part of an investigation into Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook’s dominance in the marketplace, the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel reported that the companies’ anticompetitive conduct has undermined potential competition and hindered innovation.
Privacy

H&M Faces Second-Largest Fine For Breaching GDPR: Following a year-long investigation of H&M’s employee surveillance practices, the Data Protection Authority of Hamburg found the company illegally kept excessive and extensive records on the illnesses, religions, and family issues of its employees at its Nuremberg service center.

IRS Criminal Investigation Unit Reveals Mass Purchase Of Location Data: In a briefing to Senators Ron Wyden and Elizabeth Warren, the unit explained that the IRS had purchased a data collection from Venntel, a company which resells location data acquired from mobile app advertisers; the use of such datasets may circumvent warrant requirements, as the data does not include users’ cell phone numbers.
Information Security and Cyberthreats

Grindr Fixes Security Vulnerability: After initially ignoring a security researcher’s warnings that he had discovered a security vulnerability in the app’s password reset functionality, Grindr, a dating app that keeps track of the sexuality and HIV status of its users, has fixed its password reset algorithm “before it was exploited by any malicious parties.”
Intellectual Property

Trial Court Finds Cisco Guilty Of Infringing Cybersecurity Patents: A U.S. District Judge imposed a fine of nearly $2 billion on the company after ruling that Cisco willfully infringed four cybersecurity patents held by Centripetal Networks that had been disclosed to Cisco under a non-disclosure agreement when the parties were discussing potential partnership.
Free Expression & Censorship

Facebook Classifies QAnon As Militarized Social Movement, Imposes Broad Ban: While continuing to allow individuals to post about QAnon on their personal pages, Facebook has banned all organized QAnon content, including accounts, pages, and groups, categorizing the far-right conspiracy group as an “identified militarized social movement” prohibited by the social media giant’s terms of service.

YouTube Deletes Tweet Mocking Content Creators’ Long Videos: After mocking creators for making long videos as a way to better monetize their content under the site’s advertisement policies, YouTube apologized in a follow-up tweet for “miss[ing] the mark.”
Practice Note

Supreme Court To Decide Google v. Oracle: In a ten-year legal battle centering on the copyrightability of APIs—basic pieces of code which facilitate software interoperability—the Court will decide whether Oracle’s APIs enjoy copyright protection and, if so, whether Google’s implementation was nevertheless fair use; significant interests have weighed in on both sides, and the ultimate outcome has the potential to fundamentally disrupt the way the computer industry innovates.
On the Lighter Side

Researchers Track Poachers By Stuffing Transmitters In 3D-Printed Sea Turtle Eggs: Inspired by the HBO series The Wire, wildlife biologists developed the InvestEGGator, an inexpensive, 3D-printed egg that houses technology that transmits location data to Costa Rican authorities so that they can monitor the trafficking of turtle eggs in the country.
Joel R. Reidenberg
Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Chair and Professor of Law
Founding Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Erica Chan
Daniel Gerken
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: October 2, 2020

Internet Governance

IRS May Add New Question On Form 1040 For Reporting Cryptocurrency Profits: To increase compliance with reporting rules regarding cryptocurrency earnings and crack down on deliberate tax evasion, the IRS is considering adding a prominent question to the Form asking taxpayers if at any time during 2020, they had received, sold, exchanged, or otherwise acquired any financial interest in virtual currency.
Privacy

Pay By Palm With Amazon One: After an initial, one-time scan of a user’s palm and credit card, customers of Amazon Go retail stores can charge purchases simply by holding their hand over a contactless palm-reading device at checkout; Amazon asserts the scans are encrypted, stored securely in the cloud, and that palms are more private than other forms of biometric identification.
Information Security and Cyberthreats

Seeing Through Deepfakes: FakeCatcher, a new tool developed by Intel and researchers from Binghamton University, detects deepfake videos by analyzing the subtle shifts in skin color that occur as a result of the heartbeat underneath, as deepfake software typically produces signature heartbeat discrepancies as a result of stitching together an assemblage of multiple source fragments.
Intellectual Property

3-D Copy Of Michelangelo’s David Will Be Centerpiece At Next World Fair: After winning a copyright battle banning the commercial use of images of David in 2017, the Galleria dell’Accademia, the Florence museum and home of the 17-foot statue since 1873, authorized the only 3-D printed copy to be showcased at the Expo 2020 Dubai.

Near Termination Of Popular Guitar Teacher’s Channel Due To Copyright Claims Highlights Risks Of Publishing On Third-Party Platforms: Despite being a profitable content maker, Gareth Evans was unable to get YouTube’s help to defend against a series of takedown requests until his Reddit post about his struggles caught the internet’s attention; the incident reflects the pitfalls of building a presence on third-party platforms, which may offer limited support, overlook smaller partners, and employ copyright protection systems that rely on flagging content after it has been posted instead of upfront vetting.
Free Expression and Censorship

Cornell University Study Finds Trump The Largest Driver Of Coronavirus Misinformation: In a study of 38 million articles about the Covid-19 pandemic in English-language media from around the world, Cornell researchers identified 11 topics of misinformation, with mentions of Trump making up nearly 38 percent of the overall “misinformation conversation;” in  a “miracle cures” category, Trump’s promotion of anti-malarial drugs and disinfectants as potential treatments for Covid-19 accounted for more misinformation than the other 10 topics combined.

Practice Note

TikTok Ban Enjoined By Federal District Court: The United States District Court for the District of Columbia granted TikTok’s injunction against the Trump administration’s proposed ban on the basis that TikTok users’ content constitutes “information or informational materials” and “personal communications,” which the administration may not restrict according to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.
On the Lighter Side

Biden For President Campaign Releases Snapchat Lens To Encourage Early Voting In Key Swing States: Ahead of the November presidential election, the Biden team is targeting 18- to 34-year-olds using Snapchat filters that don users in aviators and Biden-Harris swag and set off digital fireworks with the message “Vote Early for Biden-Harris” when the USPS logo is scanned.
Joel R. Reidenberg
Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Chair and Professor of Law
Founding Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Erica Chan
Daniel Gerken
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP