CLIP-ings: May 28, 2021

Internet Governance

D.C. Attorney General Brings Antitrust Suit Against Amazon: The suit alleges that Amazon’s practice of blocking third-party sellers from selling their products on other platforms amounts to a monopoly practice that violates the District of Columbia’s Antitrust Act.
Privacy

WhatsApp Sues India’s Government Over Message-Traceability Law: The country’s Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code, which is intended in part to track the origins of misinformation, requires messaging apps such as WhatsApp to identify the “first originator of information”; WhatsApp argues that a requirement that it trace messages would threaten end-to-end encryption and jeopardize user privacy.

Privacy Groups In EU And UK Sue Clearview AI: The lawsuits in the UK, France, Austria, Greece, and Italy allege that the controversial facial-recognition company’s practice of scraping photos from across the internet to populate its database of more than three billion images violates the GDPR. 
Information Security and Cyberthreats

Crime App Citizen Targeted In Large-Scale Scraping Incident: A hacktivist scraped from the crime-reporting app and posted online data including incident location information, police radio audio files, images, and more; while the data is publicly accessible on the app itself, the aggregation and centralization of it on the web reveals how much data Citizen processes, and could potentially be useful for tracking the app’s adoption and use.
Free Expression & Censorship

Florida Law Prohibits Tech Companies From Banning Politicians: The new law, which is intended to curb the “censorship” of conservative individuals and viewpoints by tech companies, makes it unlawful for such companies to de-platform political candidates or news outlets and grants Floridians the right to sue over content moderation decisions; violators are subject to daily fines of up to $250,000, but the law is likely to be challenged.

Facebook Plans To Limit Distribution Of Content Of Users Who Post Misinformation: While the social network already limits the visibility of posts containing misinformation, it will now begin to limit the reach of all content from users found to routinely post misinformation on the platform.
Practice Note

USPTO Makes .DOCX Preferred Filing Format: The move is part of an effort to “modernize and streamline [the] patent application system,” by, among other things, making it easier for the Office to automatically process submissions; users who wish to file using .PDF format will be subject to a fee.  
On the Lighter Side TikTok

Gets A New Voice: The popular video-streaming platform updated the audio of its text-to-voice feature after the actor whose voice was used for the original version of the feature sued, alleging that TikTok used her voice without authorization.  
Olivier Sylvain Academic Director, Fordham CLIP
Tom Norton Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: May 21, 2021

Internet Governance

Cryptocurrency Values Plummet As China Reinforces Ban: Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrency values dropped by up to 30% after China’s Internet Finance Association announced that the country’s financial institutions cannot engage in business related to cryptocurrencies on account of their volatility. 

FTC, States, Allege Frontier Communications Misrepresented Internet Speeds: In a new lawsuit, the Commission and six state attorneys general allege that the company charged or attempted to charge consumers for internet rates that the company did not actually provide.
Privacy

Amazon Extends Ban On Law Enforcement Use Of Facial Recognition Software: After announcing nearly a year ago that it would prohibit law enforcement agencies from using the controversial Rekognition system for at least one year, Amazon has now extended the ban indefinitely. 
Information Security and Cyberthreats

Consumer Reports And Advocacy Organizations Create Dark Patterns Tipline: The newly created tipline is designed to be a resource for consumers and a tool for collecting examples of dark patterns to inform advocacy work.

Colonial Pipeline Confirms Paying $4.4m Ransom To Resume Service: The company’s CEO acknowledged the payment, noting that the decision to pay came after consultation with experts familiar with DarkSide, the criminal group behind the hack.
Free Expression & Censorship

Twitter Scraps Image-Cropping Algorithm Over Bias: The social media company will largely abandon the algorithm, whose automatically generated previews of photos accompanying tweets were found to favor white people over black people and women over men.
Practice Note

Apple Moves To Dismiss Epic’s “Essential Facilities” Claim: As the antitrust trial between the companies wages on, Apple argues that Epic has failed to offer proof that it has violated the essential facilities doctrine, an element of antitrust law that prevents companies from implementing bottlenecks to exclude competitors, by preventing Epic from accessing iOS.  
On the Lighter Side

New Deepfake Technique May Make Film Overdubbing A Thing Of The Past: A new deepfake technology syncs actors’ lips and facial movements with foreign-language dialogue to make it appear that the actor is delivering their lines in the foreign language.  
Olivier Sylvain Academic Director, Fordham CLIP
Tom Norton Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: May 14, 2021

Internet Governance

Biden Teams With Uber And Lyft To Offer Free Transportation To Vaccination Sites: As part of its plan to vaccinate 70% of U.S. adults by July 4, the administration has reached agreements with the ridesharing companies through which they’ll offer free rides to vaccine-getters in exchange for data about nearly 80,000 vaccination sites across the country.

EU’s Second-Highest Court Rejects €250 Million Tax Bill For Amazon: The ruling by the General Court of the European Union amounted to a win for the tech giant against the European Commission, which levied the tax in response to Amazon’s allegedly unlawfully funneling revenue from EU sales through a Luxembourg-based subsidiary.
Privacy

German Data Protection Authority Bans Facebook From Processing WhatsApp Data: The ban comes in response to the Facebook-owned messaging app’s rollout of new terms of use, which the regulator maintains are illegal because they require users to either consent or be cut off from using the service. 
Information Security and Cyberthreats

Colonial Pipeline Resumes Operations As Biden Signs Cybersecurity Executive Order: The major fuel artery, which shut down for five days after being targeted in a cyberattack, is back online; on the heels of the attack, President Biden signed an executive order to “improve the nation’s cybersecurity” by creating a “playbook” to protect federal networks and strengthen breach response.
Intellectual Property

YouTube Shorts Will Pay Content Creators $100 Million Over The Next Year: The Google-owned video service’s new payment program is designed to incentivize creators to continually post to its platform as a way to compete with TikTok and Snapchat, which began paying content creators in 2020.
Free Expression & Censorship

Proposed UK Law Would Prohibit Tech Companies From Discriminating Based On Political Views: The proposed Online Safety Bill includes an anti-censorship clause that would require tech companies to protect “democratically important” content by prohibiting discrimination based on political viewpoint and require that companies adopt and evenhandedly apply policies for protecting such content.

Instagram Blames Removal Of Posts About Al-Aqsa Mosque On “Enforcement Error”: Posts about the mosque, which has been at the center of ongoing clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians, were removed or restricted after the holy site’s name was confused with those of terrorist organizations appearing on the platform’s list of Dangerous Organizations and Individuals; Facebook later clarified that the mosque’s name on its own does not violate company policies.
On the Lighter Side

Paralyzed Individual Writes Using Thoughts, Assisted By Neural Implants: Two implants in the premotor cortex, the area of the brain thought to be responsible for forming intentions to perform motor movements, translated the paralyzed study participant’s thoughts about forming characters into legible, on-screen letters.  
Olivier Sylvain Academic Director, Fordham CLIP
Tom Norton Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: May 7, 2021

Internet Governance

N.Y. Attorney General Finds FCC Was Flooded With Fake Comments In Lead-up To 2017 Net Neutrality Repeal: A years-long investigation resulted in a report that concludes that nearly 18 million of the 22 million public comments received regarding the net neutrality roll-back order were fake and the product of an industry effort to influence the Federal Communications Commission’s decision making.

Labor Department Rescinds Trump-proposed “Independent Contractor Rule”: The withdrawal of the Rule, which would have made it easier for gig-economy companies like Uber and Lyft to classify workers as independent contractors, signifies a policy shift toward stronger worker protections such as guaranteed wage and overtime pay.

Privacy

School Apps Found To Share Student Data: A recent study by nonprofit technology group Me2B Alliance found that 60 percent of mobile apps used in schools across the country transmit student data to third parties through the use of software development kits, which collect and share user data with analytics and marketing firms. 

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Peloton Leaves Sensitive User Data Exposed: A bug in the home-workout company’s API left exposed customer profiles that included personal information such as age, location, birthday, and workout data; the bug, which was discovered by a security researcher, has now been patched.

Intellectual Property

Musicians Implore Spotify To Not Implement Speech-recognition Tech: 180 musicians and human rights activists have asked the streaming service to never “use, license, sell, or monetize” a recently patented technology that would enable it to recommend music based on listeners’ “emotional state, gender, age, or accent,” arguing that the technology is “emotionally manipulative, discriminatory against trans and non-binary people, violates privacy and data security, and exacerbates inequality in the music industry.”

Free Expression & Censorship

Facebook Oversight Board Upholds Trump Ban, But Punts Ultimate Decision Back To Facebook: The Board concluded that the social network was correct to ban the former President for violating the site’s terms of service in posts related to the January 6th Capitol riots, but found the indefinite ban to be “vague” and “standardless”; the Board has given Facebook six months to determine an appropriate duration for the ban.

Practice Note

Ninth Circuit Denies Snapchat Section 230 Defense In Case Alleging Negligent Design: The court found that Section 230 does not provide immunity from allegations that Snapchat knew or should have known that its “speed filter,” which superimposed a user’s current speed on their Snaps and rewarded users for reaching certain speeds, would encourage people to drive their vehicles dangerously fast; the plaintiffs in the case are the parents of three boys who were killed in a high-speed car crash in which the speed filter was a factor.

On the Lighter Side

AI System Reduces Food Waste By 40 Percent: A grocery store in Poland is attempting to reduce food waste by using AI to automatically lower the prices of perishable food items as they approach their sell-by dates.

Olivier Sylvain Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton Executive Director, Fordham CLIP