CLIP-ings: January 24, 2020

Internet Governance

France Offers To Suspend Its Digital Tax In Response To Proposed U.S. Tariffs: A new French tax that is seen by some to unfairly target U.S. tech companies spurred threats of retaliatory tariffs on certain French products; an unnamed source within the French Finance Ministry confirmed France would suspend down payments of the tax until December as a gesture of goodwill and to enable further negotiation.


Newly Revealed Facial Recognition App Threatens To Erode Anonymity: The app, created by Clearview AI, relies on a database of three billion images ostensibly scraped from social media profiles and other online sources to identify individuals based on their photograph by revealing other photos of the person as well as links to the sources where those photos appear; the app has been licensed to over 600 law enforcement and security companies in the past year.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

UN Seeks Investigation After Evidence Ties Saudi Crown Prince To Hack Of Jeff Bezos’ Phone: UN investigators have discovered a report from a private security consultant detailing the hack of Bezos’ phone last May and tracing the breach to spyware sent by the Crown Prince’s WhatsApp account; the same investigators suggest the hack may have been part of an effort to influence coverage of the muder of Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist for the Bezos-owned Washington Post. 

Microsoft “Misconfiguration” Leaves More Than 250 Million Customer Service Records Vulnerable: Microsoft disclosed and corrected a database error that left exposed customer service chat logs dating as far back as 2005; in response, Microsoft will begin contacting affected users and also plans to audit its internal security system.

Intellectual Property

Court Overturns Patent Ruling In Favor Of Nintendo, Ending Seven Year Litigation: The action filed by iLife Technology in 2013 alleged that the Nintendo Wii’s motion-sensing controller infringed six of its patents and resulted in an award of $10.1 million in damages to iLife. 

Free Expression and Censorship

Journalist Glen Greenwald Charged With Cybercrimes In Brazil: The charges come after Greenwald published stories that included “leaked” messages containing content embarassing to public officials as part of an effor to expose public corruption; Greenwald states the Brazilian Federal Police cleared him of any wrongdoing just two months ago, and that prosecutors’ allegations that he “encouraged” the hacking of officials’ phones is retaliatory.

Practice Note

Appeals Court Refuses To Reopen 3D-Printed Gun Publishing Suit: The Texas-based nonprofit Defense Distributed sought to reopen its 2018 suit against the State Department, the Secretary of State, and other officials, seeking government approval to publish online plans for its 3D-printed gun; Defense Distributed is still facing ongoing litigation after 20 states and the District of Columbia filed suit to block publication of the plans.

On the Lighter Side

Seattle County To Host The First U.S. Election Offering Smartphone Voting: In an effort to boost voter turnout, King County, Washington, will allow electronic voting from its blockchain-based smartphone app for the upcoming board of supervisors election; the county hopes to overcome numerous challenges and security risks that have hindered online voting for years.

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

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Lawrence Keating
Editorial Fellow