CLIP-ings: March 20, 2020

Internet Governance

Israel Turns To Cellphone Location Data To Fight Coronavirus: Israel’s internal security agency has received authorization to use cellphone location data to “retrace the movements of individuals who test positive for the virus, and identify others who should be quarantined”; reports suggest that government researchers in the United States have been in talks with tech companies such as Facebook and Google on how to leverage their users’ data to help curb the virus’s spread in the U.S.

EU Asks Streaming Services To Downgrade From High-Definition: European Union officials are asking online streaming platforms such as Netflix to switch to standard-definition streaming to preserve bandwidth and prevent strain on the internet’s functioning during a time when many are working and learning from home due to coronavirus-related quarantines or lockdowns.


House FISA Bill Delayed After Senate Extends Existing Surveillance Tools: On Monday, the Senate agreed to extend for 77 days a set of existing government surveillance tools to gain time to review the House-approved USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020, which would update and renew domestic surveillance rules under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. 

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Security Firm Discovers Malware Disguised As Coronavirus-Tracking App: Mobile app security company Lookout discovered a malware app that mimics Johns Hopkins’ legitimate coronavirus-tracking app and allows attackers to access a device’s photos, videos, and location, as well as to enable its camera.

Free Expression and Censorship

Facebook Spam Filter Bug Blocks Legitimate Coronavirus News: Users who attempted to share legitimate news about coronavirus from outlets such as The Atlantic and The Times of Israel had their posts flagged as spam; Facebook contends that the issue arose as the result of a bug in the company’s spam filter.

TikTok Adds Content Advisory Council Following Content Suppression: The popular video-sharing app announced that a council of health and safety experts with expertise in areas such as misinformation, hate speech, and bullying will help form content policies for the app; the announcement comes after TikTok was discovered to have instructed its content moderators to suppress videos from users who appeared to be “too ugly or too poor.”

Practice Note

Department Of Health And Human Services Loosens HIPAA Penalties In Wake Of Coronavirus: To enable greater patient assessment while limiting the risk of infection through the use of telehealth services, the Department will waive penalties for violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act that could otherwise result from medical professionals’ use of non-HIPAA-compliant videoconferencing services such as FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, and Skype.

On the Lighter Side

The Show Must Go On(line): Conan O’Brien will become the first of the late-night talk show hosts to attempt to return to the air from coronavirus-imposed self-isolation by filming his segment using an iPhone and dialing in guests via Skype.

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