CLIP-ings: August 23, 2019

Internet Governance

Facebook Faces Fair Housing Act Lawsuit Over Advertising Practices: Several New York residents filed a proposed class action in California federal court alleging that Facebook allowed advertisers to restrict ads from certain users based on characteristics such as race and gender; the lawsuit is the latest in a string of litigation concerning the allegedly discriminatory nature of housing advertisements on Facebook.

States Reportedly Planning Antitrust Investigation Of Big Tech Companies: At least twelve states’ attorneys general are intending to issue civil subpoenas in the latest antitrust investigation into the major technology companies; the investigation is expected to be formally announced in September.

Privacy

Facebook Launches “Clear History” Privacy Feature: The new tool, which will initially be introduced in Spain, Ireland, and South Korea, will show users which websites are tracking their off-Facebook activity and sending ad targeting reports to Facebook, and will allow users to “disconnect” their off-Facebook activity from their Facebook account; the tool will not delete data from Facebook’s servers, however.

Is Libra What It Seems? A new opinion paper released by researchers at the Digital Equity Association and University College London’s Centre for Blockchain Technologies argues that Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency is born out of the social network’s motivation to “become the world’s digital identity provider”—a role that would be of significant financial interest to Facebook as an advertising company.

Information Security & Cyberthreats

Ransomware Attack Targets 22 Texas City And Local Governments: The coordinated attack has reportedly affected access to birth and death certificates and utility bill payment services; the attack highlights the vulnerabilities of some local governments’ IT infrastructure.

Intellectual Property

YouTube Sues Alleged Copyright Troll Over Extortion Scheme: YouTube contends that a user who caused the website to remove other users’ content by making false allegations of copyright violations, and then demanded payment from the users to withdraw the allegations, violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s prohibition against fraudulent takedown claims.

Free Expression & Censorship

Facebook, Twitter, Investigate Chinese Government-Linked Accounts Critical Of Hong Kong Protests: The social media companies discovered and have suspended certain accounts and advertisers which are alleged to have “deliberately and specifically” sought to create political discord around the protests in Hong Kong.

Practice Note

Federal Circuit Affirms Injunction Barring PTAB Proceedings On Basis Of Forum Selection Clause: A clause in a patent license agreement which stated that any disputes would be litigated in a court in San Francisco County or Orange County, California, precluded PTAB proceedings in litigation concerning royalty payments for distribution of virtual reality headsets.

On The Lighter Side

YouTube Mistakenly Removes Robot Fight Videos For Animal Cruelty: The website conceded that it was mistaken to have removed videos of robots fighting for violating its policies against deliberate infliction of animal suffering.

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