CLIP-ings: June 14, 2019

Internet Governance

G20 Drafts Digital Tax Rules For Global Tech Giants: In response to corporate tax loopholes that allow multinational technology firms to funnel sales through low-tax jurisdictions, G20 finance ministers have released an official statement agreeing to establish common rules that would create a global digital tax regime; the United States has expressed concern that the efforts unfairly target U.S.-based internet companies.


Maine Enacts Online Privacy Law To Protect Consumer Data: The Act to Protect the Privacy of Online Consumer Information, now one of the country’s strongest privacy laws, requires ISPs to obtain explicit consent from consumers before selling their data and prohibits ISPs from refusing service or offering discounts to coerce consumers into consenting.

Amazon Faces Class Actions For Recording Children’s Voices: A proposed federal class action and a similar suit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court allege that Amazon’s Alexa records and “voiceprints” the voices of children who use the device without first obtaining consent, in violation of eight states’ recording laws; the suits claim that Amazon’s Alexa-enabled devices are capable of distinguishing registered users’ voices from other voices, but that Amazon has neglected to take measures to limit the recording and storage of nonuser dialogue.

Information Security & Cyberthreats

Cyberattack On U.S. Customs And Border Protection Compromises Traveler Photos: Hackers obtained photos of travelers’ faces and license plates from a federal subcontractor, which was using the data to improve facial recognition technology designed to identify vehicle occupants; the breach highlights the potential conflicts between federal surveillance practices and the privacy interests of Americans.

Intellectual Property

Investment Management Computer Program Too Abstract To Qualify For Patent Protection: The Federal Circuit affirmed the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s decision to reject a patent application for an investment management program that relies on standard computer procedures; the court agreed that the application did not meet the test set out in Alice v. CLS Bank because it did not propose an inventive concept, but rather merely automated the allocation of investment returns within a common fund.

Free Expression & Censorship

France Criminalizes Publication Of Judicial Data Analytics: The French government has banned the publication of data analysis of judicial decision-making, including patterns of judicial decisions used by legal tech companies to predict litigation outcomes; violation of the ban is now a criminal offense punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment.

Practice Note

Search Engines Held Not Liable For Map Results Derived From Fake Third Party Content: The D.C. Circuit affirmed dismissal of a claim against Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft concerning the alleged manipulation of online map results by sham companies; the court agreed that the Communications Decency Act shielded the search engines from liability for the search results that were generated by neutral algorithms.

On the Lighter Side

Google Maps Tests New “Off-Route” Feature For Taxi Rides: The new feature alerts taxi passengers if their driver diverts from the fastest route.

Joel R. Reidenberg

Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Chair and Professor of LawFounding Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Robert Chislett
Alison Gordon

Editorial Fellows