CLIP-ings: December 18, 2020

Internet Governance

Google Facing A Googol’s Worth Of Litigation As 52 Attorneys General And The Department Of Justice Allege Antitrust Violations: Across a series of actions likely to be consolidated into one lawsuit, the federal government, several coalitions of states, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the District of Columbia allege that the search engine goliath has long engaged in exclusionary agreements and anticompetitive conduct involving blocking competition for online advertising, abusing vertical integration in order to win advertising, limiting access to competitors, prohibiting interoperability of its search-advertising business, and throttling the speeds of those who try to circumvent Google Search by accessing destinations directly.


Facebook Took Out Full-Page Ads To Stand Up To Apple: In addition to creating a website criticizing Apple’s forthcoming policy that will require iPhone users to choose whether to allow certain companies to track them across different apps, Facebook took out full-page ads in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times to “speak[] up for small businesses” that have allegedly expressed concern over the policy change; however, Facebook’s published statements neglect to mention how the new policy could also hurt its own advertising business. 

Facebook To Move United Kingdom Users To United States Accounts: In response to Brexit, the social network will put its U.K. users into agreements with its California-based corporate headquarters to sever their relationship with its Ireland-based unit for the purpose of putting those users out of EU privacy law’s reach; privacy advocates are concerned that the shift might lead the U.K. to adopt looser privacy laws as it negotiates a trade deal with the U.S., and that U.K. users may have their information shared with the U.S. government.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Behind The Russia-Based Cyberattack Affecting Multiple United States Government Agencies And Private Firms: A backdoor initially detected by cybersecurity firm FireEye and Microsoft was implanted by Russia’s primary foreign intelligence agency, SVR, in an update to SolarWinds’s Orion IT monitoring platform back in March; with thousands of Orion users around the world, including the United States Departments of Commerce, the Treasury, and Homeland Security, and given the nation-state level sophistication of the malware, the effects of the ongoing breach and its impact may remain uncertain for many more months.

Free Expression and Censorship

Misinformation Purveyors Pivot To Covid-19 Vaccines: In order to maintain their social media influence, peddlers of online misinformation are switching topics to stay relevant; those who were spreading election conspiracy theories are now pushing false Covid-19 vaccine narratives as voter fraud misinformation has subsided.

Twitch’s New Policy Bans Terms “Simps,” “Incel,” And “Virgin”: Due to a rise in sexual harassment complaints and in an effort to make the streaming platform a safer environment, Twitch will ban the words when they are used to harass another person for their sexual activity.

Practice Note

European Union Announces Intent To Bolster Anti-Competition Efforts By Introducing Aggressive Regulation Via Two Acts: Carrying the threat of fines as high as 10% of annual global revenue, the Digital Markets Act (DMA) would bar large online platforms, or “gatekeepers,” from favoring their own products over those of rivals or using data they have collected in an exclusionary way, while the Digital Services Act (DSA), which is aimed at preserving the laws of EU member nations, and would penalize platforms up to 6% of their annual revenue for not removing illegal posts following a government order.

On the Lighter Side

Twitter Update Will Show Users Tweets They Find Funny: 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. 

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