CLIP-ings: August 9, 2019

Internet Governance

eBay Sues Amazon Over Alleged Seller Poaching: The lawsuit, filed in federal court in California, claims that Amazon managers carried out a criminal conspiracy in which they directed employees to target and recruit to Amazon high-value eBay sellers; this is the second such lawsuit by eBay against Amazon.

Privacy

FCC Filing Reveals Pentagon Is Testing Mass Surveillance Balloons: Up to 25 unmanned solar-powered balloons have been launched to surveil six Midwestern states; while the balloons will reportedly detect narcotics trafficking and homeland security threats, privacy groups have criticized the wide-area surveillance, which could track the travel and location of any vehicle in the target area.

Technology Companies Pause Reviews Of Audio Recordings: Apple and Google have halted employee reviews of recordings made by voice assistants and Amazon has introduced an opt-out feature, but Microsoft contractors are reportedly continuing to review recordings; Apple now faces a federal lawsuit in California and the German data protection regulator is investigating Google’s practices.

Information Security & Cyberthreats

AT&T Employees Allegedly Received Bribes To Help Unlock Millions Of Smartphones: The DOJ has charged a Pakistani man with paying bribes totaling more than $1 million to AT&T employees at a company call center in Washington; the scheme allegedly involved the installation of malware that captured confidential and proprietary information about AT&T’s internal computers and applications, and automatically unlocked phones without requiring any employee input.

Intellectual Property

Walmart Files Patent Application For Digital Currency: The filing proposes a method for a blockchain-based digital currency which could be pegged to the U.S. dollar and made available for use at selected Walmart retailers or partners; the proposal is similar to Facebook’s planned cryptocurrency Libra.

Free Expression And Censorship

Social Media Companies Face Scrutiny Over Hate Speech: Civil rights activists have urged Twitter to ban white supremacist content following the recent mass shooting in El Paso, and the House Homeland Security Committee has asked the owner of website 8chan to testify on what the forum is doing to address the proliferation of extremist content.

Practice Note

Appeals Court Voids Google Cookie Privacy Class Action Settlement: The Third Circuit found the settlement raised due process concerns by releasing money damages claims and paying privacy groups, rather than class members, under the cy pres doctrine; a district judge will now revisit the settlement.

On The Lighter Side

Amazon Scammer Arrested For Obtaining Refunds By Returning Packages Filled With Dirt: The alleged scam, which took in nearly $370,000, was only discovered after a random search at an Amazon warehouse revealed a dirt-filled box.

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

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Alison Gordon
Editorial Fellow