CLIP-ings: December 4, 2020

Internet Governance

Trump Lashes Out At Section 230, Threatens To Veto Annual Defense Funding Bill: Disgruntled with the provision of the Communications Decency Act that safeguards online platforms from liability for user-posted content, President Donald Trump threatened to veto the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, an omnibus defense spending bill, if it does not include a repeal of Section 230.

NLRB Alleges Google Retaliated Against Employees For Worker Organizing: After Google fired two employees last year for purportedly violating its internal policies, the National Labor Relations Board this week filed a complaint alleging that the tech giant broke labor laws by retaliating against the terminated employees for their organizing efforts.

Amazon And Microsoft Release Tools For Increased Monitoring Of Employees: Amazon’s machine-learning-based Panorama uses computer vision to analyze camera footage and automatically detect safety and compliance issues, while Microsoft 365’s Productivity Score allows employers to track 73 metrics across Microsoft services including Word, Outlook, Skype, and Excel; after receiving a backlash about privacy concerns, Microsoft has ceased individual tracking in favor of using company-wide aggregated data. 
Information Security and Cyberthreats

Google Security Researcher Discovers iPhone WiFi Vulnerability: A security researcher with Google’s Project Zero demonstrates how potential hackers can completely access a victim’s iPhone by only being within the victim’s WiFi range, without having the victim click on suspicious links or install malware; while the security flaw was fixed in May, its discovery is significant because it allowed access to a device through a single vulnerability in code.

Covid-19 Vaccine Distribution Chain Targeted By Hackers: The Department of Homeland Security and IBM warn that hackers posing as executives of a legitimate participant in the vaccine effort have used spearfishing tactics to attempt to obtain the usernames and passwords of key actors in the vaccine distribution chain, which could enable access to information about the vaccine’s development and distribution.
Intellectual Property

Microsoft Files Patent To Monitor Employees’ Productivity During Work Meetings: Despite being criticized for a employing a separate “productivity-score” tool, the technology giant has filed a patent for a “meeting-insight computing system” that allows managers to perform quality control of its Office 365 software by keeping track of employees’ body language and facial expressions during real-world and virtual meetings.  
Free Expression and Censorship

Amnesty International Alleges Facebook And Google Are Complicit In Vietnam’s Censorship: After interviewing scholars and experts regarding Vietnam’s online censorship, the human rights organization published a 78-page report claiming that Vietnamese authorities are weaponizing both platforms to block content opposing the Vietnamese government.

Six Initial Cases Of Content Moderation Now Open For Public Comment Under Facebook’s New Oversight Board: In each case, a panel of five board members will make a determination as to whether the content, which ranges from alleged hate speech to nudity to misinformation, should have been removed; Facebook hopes the new board will help relieve increasing pressure over its content decisions by introducing a familiar form of governance. 
On the Lighter Side

Cowkeepers Milk Useful Analytics From Bovine Facial Recognition System: Cainthus, an Irish computer system and AI agriculture specialist, has developed a technology capable of identifying and tracking individual cows based on hide patterns and facial recognition; ultimately, the tool provides important behavior information that “drives on-farm decisions that can impact milk production, reproduction management, and overall animal health.” 
Joel R. Reidenberg
Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Chair and Professor of Law
Founding Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Erica Chan
Daniel Gerken
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP