CLIP-ings: December 11, 2020

Internet Governance

FTC, States, Launch Antitrust Suit Against Facebook: The Federal Trade Commission and a coalition of over 40 states have launched parallel suits against the social network, alleging that its “actions to entrench and maintain its monopoly deny consumers the benefits of competition”; in its suit, the FTC seeks an injunction that would require Facebook to divest Instagram and WhatsApp.


CDC Vaccination-Tracking Effort Gives Rise To Privacy Concerns: To better understand national uptake of a Covid-19 vaccine and to “track adverse reactions, address safety issues and assess the effectiveness of the vaccine among different populations,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has asked states to agree to share vaccine recipients’ identifying information, including names, addresses, ethnicities, and birthdays; some state authorities, including New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, have pushed back on the plan, arguing that shared data could be used to identify and ultimately deport undocumented immigrants, which might dissuade some from obtaining the vaccine. 

French Privacy Regulator Fines Google €100 Million For Cookies Rules Violations: The CNIL levied its largest fine ever against the search company after concluding that it failed to obtain users’ consent before storing advertising cookies on their devices and failed to explain how the trackers would be used or how users could opt-out of tracking; Amazon was also fined €35 million for similar violations.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Prominent Cybersecurity Firm Victimized By Hack: U.S.-based FireEye, which is relied on by companies and governments across the globe, was hacked by what is believed to be a “highly sophisticated” state actor seeking “information related to certain government customers”; the attackers made away with FireEye’s own hacking tools, which could enable further hacks across the globe. 

European Medical Agency Suffers Hack Related To Covid-19 Vaccine: The Agency, which is responsible for approving potential Covid-19 vaccines—including those by Moderna and a BioNTech/Pfizer collaboration—announced that attackers accessed “some documents relating to the regulatory submission for Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate.”

Free Expression and Censorship

YouTube Bans Misinformation About 2020 Presidential Election Results: Now that “the legitimacy of Biden’s election is no longer up for debate,” the video-streaming service will remove nearly all content “that misleads people by alleging that widespread fraud or errors changed the [election’s] outcome”; content that is “educational, documentary, scientific, or artistic,” however, is excepted from the ban.

Practice Note

House Of Representatives Passes PACER Reform: This week, the House passed the Open Courts Act of 2020, which would modernize the database of court filings and eliminate its paywall; the federal judiciary, which earns approximately $145 million annually from PACER fees, opposes the bill on the bases that it would increase filing costs for litigants, result in a windfall for large law firms and companies, and cost more than $2 billion over the next half decade.

On the Lighter Side

On Camera And Under The Knife: Anecdotal evidence suggests that as people spend more time on video calls with co-workers, friends, and family, more have turned to plastic surgery to improve their on-camera appearance. 

Olivier Sylvain
Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP