CLIP-ings: June 19, 2020

Internet Governance

DOJ Proposes Communications Decency Act Reform: A proposal to reform CDA Section 230, which currently immunizes online services from liability for user-created content, recommends that Congress amend the law to deny immunity to sites that “purposely facilitate criminal activity,” require sites to log and keep reports of reported bad activity for law enforcement in order to “maintain their existing level of rights,” and curtail the sites’ content moderation powers. 

Google Expands Policies To Prevent Discriminatory Targeted Advertising: Though Google previously barred targeting advertisements based on “race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation,” the company has announced it will further fight unlawful discrimination “by barring housing, employment and credit ads” from targeting users based on “their postal code, gender, age, parental status, or marital status.” 

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Former eBay Executives Charged With Cyberstalking Critics: Six former eBay executives were charged with conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses after harassing a Massachusetts couple who edit a blog that critiqued the company; the executives mailed, among other things, “a bloody pig Halloween mask”  to the couple’s home, sent threatening Twitter messages, and allegedly surveilled the couple “in their home and community.”  

Zoom Applies End-To-End Encryption To All Communications: The videoconferencing service announced that all user communications would be encrypted end-to-end by default; the decision reverses Zoom’s prior policy  that offered only paid users such privacy protections. 


Microsoft Pitched Facial Recognition To Federal Law Enforcement: Emails obtained by the ACLU reveal that in 2017, Microsoft’s Cognitive Services Group pitched facial-recognition and other AI products to the DEA, months before the company called for “public regulation and corporate responsibility” in that field; last week, the company pledged to not sell the technology to police departments. 

Intellectual Property

Google Countersues Sonos For Speaker Patent Infringement: In January 2020, Sonos sued Google for patent infringement, alleging that Google stole Sonos’s technology for “multiroom network speaker systems”; Google now countersues Sonos for infringement of Google’s “mesh networking, echo cancellation, DRM, content notifications, and personalized speech” patents. 
Free Expression and Censorship

Fox News Removes Manipulated Protest Images From Site: After the Seattle Times discovered that Fox inserted “altered and misleading” pictures  in its online coverage of Seattle’s civil rights marches, the news conglomerate replaced the images and posted an editor’s note explaining the retraction.
On the Lighter Side

Facebook To Launch New Feature To Block Political Ads: Facebook and Instagram will soon allow users to block all “political, electoral, and social issue” advertisements; this feature will be launched throughout the United States in the next few weeks and will be available globally by Fall of 2020. 
Joel R. Reidenberg
Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Chair and Professor of Law
Founding Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP
Isabel Brown
Caroline Vermillion
Editorial Fellows