CLIP-ings: February 21, 2020

Internet Governance

Facebook Changes Its Sponsored Content Policy Following Bloomberg Meme Campaign: After Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg paid a number of Instagram influencers to post sponsored memes, Facebook and its subsidiary, Instagram, lifted a previous ban on “branded content” for political campaigns; under the new policy, such content will have to be clearly marked as sponsored.


Congress Demands Information From Amazon Related To Ring Partnerships With Police: Amazon’s video doorbell subsidiary, Ring, has partnered with over 900 police departments since 2018, and the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Wednesday requested more information on the nature of the partnerships; the inquiry follows an announcement from Amazon last week that it would tighten Ring’s privacy controls after a January study by the Electronic Frontier Foundation found that Ring shared customer information with Facebook and Google without user consent. 

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Israeli Soldiers Targeted By Hamas Malware Scam: The Palestinian militant organization targeted Israeli soldiers on social media by posing as young women and asking them to install malware-infected chat apps on their devices; the Israeli Defense Force says it has detected the malware infections and taken down Hamas’ hacking infrastructure.

Intellectual Property

Peloton To Allow Free Trade-In Of Competitor Flywheel’s Bikes: Following a settlement two weeks ago under which Flywheel agreed to stop using Peloton’s patented leadership board technology, Flywheel has discontinued its online service and Peloton has announced a new program allowing Flywheel customers to trade in their bikes for “like-new” Peloton bikes. 

Free Expression and Censorship

Maine Privacy Law Faces First Amendment Challenge From ISPs: In their lawsuit against the state, broadband providers argue that a provision requiring that they obtain opt-in consent before “using, disclosing, selling, or permitting access to customer personal information” infringes their First Amendment right to “advertis[e] or market[ ] non-communications-related services to their customers,” and “offer[ ] price discounts, rewards in loyalty programs, or other cost-saving benefits in exchange for a customer’s consent to use their personal information.” 

Attorney General Reviews Online Platform Immunity: At a recent public meeting held by the Justice Department, Attorney General Barr questioned whether, given a “changing technological landscape,” broad immunity under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is “necessary at least in its current form.”

Practice Note

Federal Judge Dismisses Huawei’s Equipment Ban Challenge: Unpersuaded by Huawei’s argument that it was unconstitutional for Congress to bar U.S. federal agencies from buying the company’s products, the court noted that contracting with the federal government is a privilege, not a constitutionally protected right.

On the Lighter Side

New Bracelet Jams Microphoned Devices: Designed by researchers at the University of Chicago, the “chunky” microphone-studded bracelet emits ultrasonic signals to render human voices incomprehensible to speech-detecting and recording devices such as digital assistants.

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

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Brittany Thomas
Sean Conners
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP