CLIP-ings: May 17, 2019

Internet Governance

Status Of Uber Drivers Further Edged Toward Independent Contractors: The Office of the General Counsel for the National Labor Relations Board advised in a public opinion that Uber drivers are independent contractors and not Uber employees; the opinion aligns with recent court rulings, a Department of Labor opinion, and Uber’s own stance on driver classification.


San Fran Set To Ban City Use Of Facial Recognition: San Francisco officials voted on an ordinance that would prohibit city personnel from purchasing and using facial recognition technology and would require city departments to submit surveillance technology policies for public vetting; the ordinance, which is a response to the increase in discomfort around facial recognition technology, aims to protect marginalized groups that could be harmed by the technology’s implementation.

Information Security & Cyberthreats

WhatsApp Breach May Have Targeted Human Rights Group: WhatsApp reports that a breach of its platform in which spyware was installed through the app’s voice messaging system may have been the act of a government implementing surveillance technology developed by a private company; WhatsApp believes that the “serious security vulnerability” targeted human rights groups.

Tracking Software Planted In Attorney Email: Defense counsel for a U.S. Navy Seal officer charged with war crimes and his platoon commander claim that military prosecutors installed tracking software in emails sent to the defense team and a reporter, allegedly to discover the source of leaks to the media.

Free Expression & Censorship

White House Introduces Online Tool For Reporting Censorship: The White House created a tool for people to report instances where they feel they’ve been censored or banned on social media platforms due to political bias; the tool allows users to share screenshots of censored posts and provide explanations of enforcement actions taken against them.

France And New Zealand Spearhead Pledge To Reduce Terrorist Content Online: Tech companies including Microsoft, Amazon, and YouTube, as well as 17 national governments and the EU, signed the “Christchurch Call,” a collaborative pledge to combat the rise of terrorist content online; the White House, citing free speech concerns, declined to sign.

Practice Note

App Store Antitrust Lawsuit Allowed To Proceed: The Supreme Court ruled that iPhone owners are allowed to attempt to prove that Apple exercises monopoly power in the retail market for the sale of apps and has used that power unlawfully to force iPhone owners to pay higher-than-competitive prices for apps; the Court rejected Apple’s argument that it is a mere intermediary and thus not subject to suit as missing the economic reality of the relationship between Apple and app developers.

On the Lighter Side

Do Space “Pirates” Justify The Space Force? Twitter users, including Elon Musk, respond creatively to Senator Ted Cruz’s opening remarks before the Senate Subcommittee on Aviation and Space supporting the need for a Space Force.

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

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Quinn Nicholas D’Isa
Editorial Fellow, Fordham CLIP