CLIP-ings: June 3, 2016

Internet Governance

Toothless Open Access Initiative?  E.U. research ministers forming the Competitiveness Council pledged to achieve free and open access to scientific publications by 2020, seeking to eliminate or reduce the six to twelve month post-publication online exclusion period, and inviting member states to implement policies in accordance with their unique research and development structures; however, there is no legal enforcement mechanism at present. 

Under the Sea: Tech companies’ need for bandwidth has led them to invest in laying undersea cables, rather than relying on telecomm companies; Microsoft and Facebook announced plans to build a 160 terabits-per-second-capacity cable (the highest capacity cable ever built) stretching from the coast of Virginia to Bilbao, Spain.


FBI Information Requests Made Public: Yahoo was able to publish three national security letters from the FBI requesting user information after the FBI lightened its nondisclosure provisions in compliance with changes to the USA Freedom Act; the tech company pledged to update its Transparency Reports to acknowledge the number of NSLs received and the accounts listed in those letters – a departure from the standard, discrete reporting of national security demands.

Biometric Law Likely Safe: The Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, one of the few U.S. laws restricting the collection and retention of facial images and a source of Facebook’s facial recognition technology litigation, was threatened by a proposed amendment that would have excluded digital photo “tagging” from the Illinois law’s scope; the amendment, proposed to a bill unrelated to biometrics, was blocked at the judicial committee hearing.

Anti-security Bill Dead: A bipartisan Senate bill, proposed after Apple’s noncompliance with the FBI’s request to hack the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, would have required tech companies to leave an “encryption backdoor” in their products to ensure compliance with government requests for the decryption of consumer data; but, security concerns and pro-encryption privacy efforts led to minimal support for the bill.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Beneficial Overreaction: Over-hyped reports on allegedly significant data breaches that urge users to change their passwords, even though actual security threats remain minimal or unchanged, serve to increase user awareness of security risks and implementation of effortless and straightforward security protections.

Intellectual Property

The Verdict Is Out: A jury verdict finding that Google’s implementation of Java APIs in developing Android constituted fair use and saving Google $9 billion in damages brought relief to the software development community; however, since the APIs are protected by copyright, questions remain about whether other Java implementations infringe.

Free Expression and Censorship

Tech Giants’ Efforts Against Hate Speech:  Responding to the E.U.’s appeals for support, Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube and Microsoft will review notice and takedown requests and disable access to hateful content and will collaborate with civil society organizations to back “counter-narratives” to online hate speech.

Information War Defenses: Pro-Russian internet and social media campaigns are perceived as a developing risk to Europe’s security, democracy and domestic exchange of information; NATO and the E.U. have created “special units” to handle the threat; and E.U. member Finland, a vigorous participant in these “information wars,” has broadened its collaboration with NATO in consideration of full alliance.

On the Lighter Side

Facebook Crimebuster? UK police were able to find and convict a thief after one of his victims noticed the crook on the Facebook’s “People You May know” feature.

Joel R. Reidenberg
Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Chair and Professor of Law and Founding Academic Director, CLIP

N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Editorial Fellows, CLIP
Victoria J.A. Loeb
Vlad A. Herta