CLIP-ings: June 11, 2021

Internet Governance

Senate Passes Comprehensive Tech And Manufacturing Bill: The bipartisan legislation, which responds to increasing competition from China, would authorize $250 billion for technology research and development and would restrict the purchase and use of certain technologies from the country.

El Salvador Becomes First Nation To Adopt Bitcoin: The cryptocurrency is now legal tender after the country’s legislature adopted it in an effort to make it easier for Salvadorans across the world to send money back home to family and friends; most Salvadorans lack traditional banking and rely on remittances that account for nearly a quarter of the country’s GDP.   
Privacy

Report Finds Privacy Tech Industry At “Inflection Point”: A report by the Future of Privacy Forum finds that as consumers become more connected, and as regulatory compliance becomes a growing need for companies, privacy technology has become a multi-billion-dollar market sector. 
Information Security and Cyberthreats

Major Websites Briefly Forced Offline After Bug Triggered: The vast outage took place as a result of a hidden bug in a software deployment from Fastly, a cloud computing service provider used by many web publishers; Fastly immediately patched the bug and has initiated system reviews to prevent against future outages, but the incident draws attention to the potential dangers of the consolidation of cloud services.

Biden Revokes Trump-Era Ban On Chinese Apps, But Calls For Supply Chain Security: President Biden revoked the executive order intended to ban TikTok, WeChat, and other Chinese apps on the basis that they share Americans’ information with Chinese authorities; in his own executive order, Biden called for an evaluation of threats to the information supply chain and instructed the Commerce Department to develop recommendations for protecting Americans’ information from foreign adversaries. 
Intellectual Property

Facebook Delays Taking Cut Of Creators’ Revenue: The company announced that it will wait until 2023 before taking a portion of earnings generated by users who share content or promote events, and stoked its ongoing feud with Apple by noting that when revenue sharing does begin, Facebook’s cut will be less than the 30 percent that Apple takes from app developers.
Practice Note

FTC Settles With MoviePass Over Deceptive Practices: The now-defunct company, which once allowed subscribers to see unlimited movies in theaters for $10 per month, is alleged to have changed customer passwords and blocked accounts outright to keep users from being able to take advantage of the service; under the settlement, the company’s parents and principals are barred from further misrepresenting their business practices.  
On the Lighter Side

Apple Nearly Revives The Away Message For Texts: Apple’s Focus, a feature that allows users to set notification filters for certain apps to minimize distraction, now notifies texters when you have Focus mode engaged so they know you’re away. 
Olivier Sylvain Academic Director, Fordham CLIP
Tom Norton Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: June 4, 2021

Internet Governance

Digital Wallets Coming Soon To The EU: Within a year, the EU plans to roll out bloc-wide technology that will allow citizens to store things like driver’s licenses, payment cards, and passwords digitally to make access to public and private services more efficient.

SCOTUS Limits Computer Fraud And Abuse Act Scope: In Van Buren v. United States, the Court overturned the conviction of a police officer who searched his department’s license plate database for purposes outside the scope of his official duties, concluding that the CFAA’s “exceeds authorized access” clause applies to only “those who obtain information from particular areas in the computer—such as files, folders or databases—to which their computer access does not extend,” and “does not cover those who . . . have improper motives for obtaining information that is otherwise available to them;” the Court noted that to adopt a broader reading of the statute would criminalize a vast swath of ordinary computing activity. 
Privacy

Privacy Advocacy Group Issues Cookie-Banner Complaints To 500 Companies: The Max Schrems-led privacy group NOYB issued the complaints, alleging that the companies’ cookie banners violate the GDPR by making it difficult for users to opt out of tracking cookies; NOYB has developed an automated system to analyze cookie banners and generate complaints for GDPR noncompliance, and plans to issue draft complaints to 10,000 of Europe’s most-visited sites in an effort to get them to change their practices before resorting to formal proceedings.

Amazon Ring’s Neighbors App Gets Transparency Update: In response to concerns about law enforcement access to Ring home-surveillance-device information, beginning on June 7th, law enforcement agencies will no longer be permitted to email Ring users directly to solicit footage; law enforcement will only be able to request footage via a public bulletin, through posts by verified profiles that include criteria such as case number and agency contact information. 
Information Security and Cyberthreats

Russian Cybercrime Group REvil Responsible For JBS Hack: The White House and the FBI have confirmed that the notorious group was behind the recent attack that crippled JBS, a Brazilian company that supplies nearly one-fifth of the world’s meat. 

NYC’s MTA Hacked: The Metropolitan Transit Authority, which operates the New York City subway system, announced that it was the victim of a cyberattack; the hackers, who are suspected of being part of a Chinese espionage operation, exploited a vulnerability in the Pulse Connect Secure VPN system and made their way into the MTA’s systems, but did not make away with any data.
Free Expression & Censorship

Instagram And Facebook Respond To Accusations Of Suppressing Pro-Palestinian Viewpoints: In the wake of the recent conflict in Gaza, Instagram will change its algorithm to give equal weight to original and shared content after employees complained that the old algorithm, which favored original posts over shared ones, had the effect of suppressing pro-Palestinian content; at Facebook, employees have called for a third-party audit of the company’s moderation practices related to Muslim and Arab content.
Practice Note

Amazon Nixes Arbitration And Allows Consumers To Sue In Court: After receiving thousands of individual arbitration demands from customers who use the company’s Echo device, Amazon did away with the arbitration clause in its terms of service, and now invites aggrieved customers to file suit in court.  
On the Lighter Side Another Famous Meme Sells As NFT: The 14-year-old “Charlie bit me” video, which is one of the most-viewed internet videos of all-time, has sold as an NFT for over £500,000; the brothers who appear in the video plan to use the money to attend university.  
Olivier Sylvain Academic Director, Fordham CLIP
Tom Norton Executive Director, Fordham CLIP