CLIP-ings: February 26, 2021

Internet Governance

Federal Judge’s Ruling Allows California To Enforce Net Neutrality Law: A California federal judge rejected a motion for a preliminary injunction by telecommunications providers to stop California’s net neutrality law, allowing the state to enforce the 2018 law that would ensure equal access to internet content.

U.K. Supreme Court Classifies Former Uber Drivers As Employees: The Court issued a unanimous decision classifying 25 former Uber drivers as “workers” entitled to employment benefits such as minimum wage while they worked for the company; while the ruling is limited to the 25-driver group, it nevertheless sets a precedent for more litigation over the employment status of gig workers in the country.

Privacy

WhatsApp Will Limit App Functionality If Users Do Not Accept New Privacy Policy: WhatsApp announced that starting May 15th, users will not be able to send or read messages through the app if they do not agree to the service’s new privacy terms, which outline how WhatsApp can share private messages with parent company Facebook and utilize that data for advertising.

Information Security & Cyberthreats

A “Bug” In Prison Software Keeps Arizona Inmates Behind Bars Despite Earning Early Release: A flaw in Arizona’s Correctional Information System inmate management software renders the program incapable of calculating early release dates, which forces Arizona prison employees to manually calculate early release credits earned by inmates who, under Arizona’s SB 1310 program, could be eligible for early release if they were convicted solely on certain drug charges and participated in self-improvement programs offered by the state.

Phishing Scams Targeted At Postmates Drivers Drain Their Weekly Earnings: Scammers claiming to be Postmates employees call gig workers to obtain login details for the accounts in which the company deposits drivers’ weekly earnings so that funds can be siphoned out, and drivers now ask for more safeguards, such as having a unique caller ID for calls originating from the company.

Intellectual Property

Twitch Dubbed Metallica’s Livestreamed Performance To Avoid Copyright Issues: During a livestream of the BlizzCon video game conference, Twitch overdubbed Metallica’s performance of its classic songs with generic, “copyright-free” music due to concerns over copyright infringement.

Free Expression & Censorship

TikTok Took Down 89 Million Videos, Some Of Which Had Shared Election And COVID-19 Misinformation: In its latest transparency report, the social media company revealed that from July to December 2020, it took down 347,225 videos for sharing election misinformation and 51,505 videos for spreading COVID-19 misinformation; however, some of the videos already had hundreds of thousands of views before they were removed.

On the Lighter Side

SEC Bans Trading Of The Long Blockchain Corp’s Stock: The company, formerly known as The Long Island Iced Tea Corp, diversified its iced tea business by investing in blockchain technologies but now has had its stock registration revoked by the SEC for failure to report on its financials since 2018.

Olivier Sylvain
Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Erica Chan

Junyi Cui

Editorial Fellows

CLIP-ings: February 19, 2021

Internet Governance

Maryland Becomes The First State To Impose A Tax On Digital Advertising Revenue: Maryland passed a bill to impose a “Digital Advertising Gross Revenues Tax” of up to 10 percent of the annual gross revenues of “digital advertising services” that target users within the state; proceeds from the tax will contribute to an education fund for Maryland public schools.

Facebook Limits Australian Access To News Content: In response to a proposed law in Australia that would require Facebook and other digital giants to pay for news content published on their platforms, Facebook has decided to block Australian users’ access to Australian news, and also prohibit the sharing of Australian news for both its Australian and international users; Google, which has threatened to pull its search engine from the country in response to the legislation, has begun to strike deals with news publishers.

Privacy

European Consumer Group Alleges TikTok Violates GDPR: Europe’s leading consumer advocacy group filed a formal complaint with European consumer protection authorities against TikTok, alleging that the social media company is violating the GDPR by, among other things, having “ambiguous” and fluid privacy policies, employing defective consent mechanisms, and subjecting children to the harms of hidden marketing.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Disaster Scammers Steal Account Numbers During Texas Snowstorm: As many Texans struggle without electricity due to the winter storm, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas warns Texans not to hand over private account numbers to social media scammers who are posing as electricity workers to steal account information.

Three North Korean Hackers Indicted By DOJ For Hacking Banks And U.S. Government Agencies: The suspected military intelligence hackers have been charged by the Department of Justice after hacking banks and cryptocurrency companies around the world and making away with more than $1.3 billion, as well as sensitive data from U.S. government contractors and agencies.

Free Expression and Censorship

Google Potentially Gave Online Advertisers The Option To Exclude Nonbinary Audiences: Despite its online advertising policies against gender discrimination, Google’s advertiser options allegedly allowed online advertisers, including employers and landlords, to keep their ads from being shown to users categorized as having “unknown gender”; Google stated that it will make updates to “restrict advertisers from targeting or excluding users” based on their “unknown gender” characterization. 

Practice Note

Federal Judge Rules Citibank Is Not Entitled To The Return Of $500M Mistakenly Transferred: Citibank blamed the erroneous loan repayment on financial software Flexcube’s confusing user interface, but a federal judge ruled that the recipient creditors were within their rights to assume the transfer was repayment, and noted that it would be reasonable for creditors to assume that a sophisticated bank like Citibank would not send out such a large sum by accident.  

On the Lighter Side

Start-Ups Aim To Simulate Real-Life Gatherings Virtually: Several virtual-meeting start-ups, inspired by consumer demand to recreate chance encounters in the workplace, allow users to explore and interact with one another on virtual maps.  

Olivier Sylvain
Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Erica Chan

Junyi Cui

Editorial Fellows

CLIP-ings: February 12, 2021

Internet Governance

Nevada Invites Technology Companies To Form “Alternative Local Governments”: A proposed bill in Nevada would allow companies working on emerging technologies to form local governments in “Innovation Zones,” which would have authorities similar to those of counties, including the power to impose taxes and provide government services.

New Section 230 Reform Would Restrict Immunity For Online Platforms: If passed, the proposed SAFE TECH Act update to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act would lift immunity for platforms in cases alleging stalking, harassment, or intimidation, as well as cases relating to advertisements and wrongful death;  critics of the bill argue that it is too broad and would likely result in “potentially dire” unintended consequences for the internet as we know it.   

Privacy

Eleventh Circuit Denies Standing Based On Future Harm Theory In Data Breach Incidents: The Eleventh Circuit joined four other circuits and denied a plaintiff standing in a data breach case on the basis that his allegations of an increased risk of future harm were too speculative;  in a separate case before the Supreme Court, technology companies filed an amicus brief that implores the Court to prohibit “abusive no-injury class action lawsuits.”

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Water Treatment Plant In Florida Hacked Due To Weak Security Practices: A Florida water treatment plant network that was hacked last week left itself vulnerable to an attack by lacking a firewall and employing poor password security; through the hack, an attacker was able to increase the sodium hydroxide content in the water supply for 15,000 people to poisonous levels before a plant operator noticed and reversed the change. 

Intellectual Property

Microsoft Patent Enables Virtual Conversations With Deceased Or Fictional Personalities: Microsoft was recently granted a patent for technology that would cull an individual’s “social data” to train a chatbot to converse in the personality of that individual, but the company says it doesn’t plan to create a product from the technology due to AI ethics concerns. 

Free Expression and Censorship

Facebook Plans To Remove Posts With Erroneous Claims About Vaccines: Whereas the social network had only “downranked” misleading claims about certain vaccines in the past, Facebook recently announced it will remove any false claims about vaccines that have been debunked by the World Health Organization and other leading health institutes.

Facebook’s Algorithm Is Blocking Ads By Adaptive Fashion Brands: By misidentifying adaptive fashion advertisements as the promotion of “medical and health products and services including medical devices,” Facebook’s automated intelligence system routinely rejects these ads and blocks them from the social media platform.

On the Lighter Side

From Kitten Filters To Upside-Down Heads, Attorneys Fumble In Video-Conferencing Meetings: In the latest news of video-conferencing mishaps, Minnesota Rep. Tom Emmer appeared up-side down in a meeting of the House Financial Services Committee, while earlier this week, a Texas attorney had trouble removing his kitten filter during a Zoom court appearance. 

Olivier Sylvain
Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Erica Chan

Junyi Cui

Editorial Fellows

CLIP-ings: February 5, 2021


Internet Governance

China’s New Media Policy Requires Self-Publishers To Obtain Accreditation: China’s new media regulation, which requires that self-publishers obtain the Internet News Information Permit “and other relevant accreditation” before publishing news about politics, threatens to put an end to the careers of independent journalists who have recently gained popularity for publishing work that news organizations have rejected.

U.K. Launches Inquiry Into Uber’s Acquisition Of Autocab For Its Effect On Competition: U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority is investigating Uber’s decision to acquire Autocab, U.K.-based software company that operates a ride-sharing platform that directly rivals Uber, over concerns that the acquisition will decrease competition in ride-sharing services.

Privacy

Amazon’s Transparency Report Reveals A Record High Number Of Government Demands For User Data In The Last Half Of 2020: Amazon processed 27,664 demands for user data from government authorities all over the world—an 800 percent increase from the first half of the year—and handed over data containing user content in 52 cases; more than 2,000 local law enforcement departments in the U.S. now participate in Amazon’s Ring network, and Amazon complied with more than 1,000 government efforts to obtain Ring video footage despite the device owners’ denial of access.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Apple iOS 14 Upgrade Features Changes That Address Zero-Click iMessage Attacks: Researchers discovered that Apple has updated the operating system to address vulnerabilities in the iMessage app that allow for “zero-click” attacks, which are “interactionless” attacks that could infect an iPhone without recipients clicking a link or downloading a file, by implementing structural changes, including establishing a “quarantine zone” where incoming messages are examined before being released into the iOS environment.

Free Expression and Censorship

India Warns Twitter To Comply With New Delhi’s Request To Block Accounts: After Twitter lifted its block of high-profile accounts in India, which was initially levied in compliance with New Delhi’s request in the wake of ongoing protests by farmers in the country, India warned the social media company not to “assume the role of a court and justify non-compliance.”  

Facebook Might Enable Advertisers To Choose What News Stories Appear Around Ads: Facebook is testing a new “topic exclusion controls” tool that allows advertisers on the platform to choose what news topics that they want to keep from appearing adjacent to their  advertisements; topic options include “news and politics,” “social issues,” and “crime and tragedy.”

Practice Note

Judge Rules Tim Cook To Sit For Seven-Hour Deposition: Despite Apple’s citation of the apex doctrine, which limits the extent to which high-level, corporate executives may be deposed, a judge ruled that the Apple CEO could be deposed for up to seven hours in the company’s litigation against Epic Games.  

On the Lighter Side

Texas Sends Out Amber Alert For Chucky, The Killer Doll: Blaming a test malfunction, the Texas Department of Public Safety accidentally sent out three Amber Alerts warning the public to be on the lookout for Chucky, the serial killer doll from the Child’s Play series.  

Olivier Sylvain
Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Erica Chan
Junyi Cui
Editorial Fellows