CLIP-ings: April 9, 2021

Internet Governance

Justice Thomas Criticizes Digital Platforms’ Moderation Powers: In a concurring opinion to a decision that vacated a previous ruling finding former President Trump’s blocking of Twitter users unconstitutional, Justice Thomas argued that the “concentrated control” of Big Tech gives digital platforms too much control over speech moderation decisions and that protections afforded by Section 230 should be “pared back.”


Apple’s New Privacy Feature Rejects Apps That Collect User Data Without Consent: As part of Apple’s effort to implement its new App Tracking Transparency program, which allows users to opt out of being tracked, the company has begun to reject apps that use software development kits (SDKs) that employ methods such as device fingerprinting to track users across the web without their consent for deep analysis or advertising purposes.

Information Security & Cyberthreats

Private Data From 533 Million Facebook Accounts Exposed Online: The personal data of Facebook users in 106 countries, including their email addresses and telephone numbers, was leaked for free after being harvested through an underreported vulnerability that was discovered and purportedly fixed in 2019.

Trump Campaign Used Dark Patterns To Scam Users To Donate More Money Than Intended: By using deceptive user interface designs such as pre-checked checkboxes and buried fine print, the Trump campaign tricked donors into making recurring weekly or monthly donations instead of intended one-time donations; last month, California banned certain dark patterns, and other lawmakers and regulators have taken steps to curb their use.

Intellectual Property

Google’s Use Of Oracle’s APIs Constituted Fair Use: The Supreme Court decided that Google’s use of Oracle’s application programming interfaces to develop the Android platform  amounted to a non-infringing, “fundamentally transformative use,” thus ending the decade-long dispute between the two companies.

Free Expression & Censorship

Twitch’s New Policy Will Take Disciplinary Actions Based On Off-Platform Misconduct: The company’s updated Off-Service Conduct Policy announces that the platform will investigate users’ off-service or offline offenses, including violent or terroristic acts, as part of its enforcement of its Hateful Conduct and Harassment policy, which is designed in part to ensure the Twitch Community’s safety.

Practice Note

Supreme Court Sides With Facebook And Narrows The Scope Of Federal Robocalls Ban: In an unanimous decision, the Court adopted a narrow reading of the 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act and ruled that the notification system Facebook employs to text users about suspicious logins does not run afoul of the Act, which is designed to curb robocalls and automated texts.

On the Lighter Side

As Yahoo Answers Shuts Down, Users Save The Best “Bad” Questions For Posterity: The question-and-answer platform, a place to which people often turned to ask embarrassing questions they didn’t want to ask friends and family, is shutting down forever after being active for more than 15 years.

Olivier Sylvain
Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Erica Chan

Junyi Cui

Editorial Fellows