Access Without Consent: The Ninth Circuit found that a web service that accessed Facebook to obtain users’ contact information and send messages on their behalf “intentionally access[ed] a computer without authorization” in violation of the CFAA, when it connected to the social network after Facebook expressly revoked permission via a cease-and-desist letter and blocked the service’s IP addresses.
Privacy Framework Finalized: This week, the EU Commission approved the EU-US Privacy Shield Framework that redefines US surveillance practices and recourse for EU citizens, allows US companies to “self-certify” their adherence to the framework’s privacy guidelines, and establishes a position for an “ombudsperson” in the US State Department who will address European privacy questions and complaints.
Hunger Activists Turn to Tech: The UN and the World Food Programme are implementing technology initiatives to remedy world hunger; one of their developments is a low bandwidth app for small Guatemalan farmers that provides information on weather, farming and market prices in their location, and another uses a network of government-operated internet cafes to provide an online interactive medium aimed at increasing nutritional education in rural Columbia.
Warrant Required for Stingray Use: A federal court ruling in New York suppressed evidence obtained by the government’s warrantless use of a stingray to locate a suspect and held that the Fourth Amendment requires police to obtain a warrant to use a cell-reception simulator.
Search Warrant Quashed: The Second Circuit overruled a decision requiring Microsoft to hand over MSN e-mails stored on a server in Ireland to the U.S. government, finding that courts cannot issue and enforce warrants against U.S.-based service providers to seize client e-mail content stored solely on foreign servers.
Body Camera Info No Longer Public: The Governor of North Carolina signed a bill into law that allows access to police dashboard and body camera footage for persons recorded and their representatives only once they file a request; the law was passed to protect police officers’ privacy and requires petitioners to go to court when law enforcement denies their inquiry.
Information Security and Cyberthreats
Messaging Apps Increase Privacy: Facebook has announced a beta Messenger app version open to certain users, called “secret conversations,” that offers end-to-end encryption (E2EE); an increasing number of messaging apps already use E2EE.
New Patent Improves Anti-Piracy Efforts: The United States Patent and Trademark Office granted a patent to NBC Universal that seeks to deter piracy of its copyrighted content by enabling early detection of high volume swarms in peer-to-peer networks; the analytics mechanism processes a data feed of peer-to-peer swarm movement and identifies the high volume swarms whose parameters surpass a threshold.
Free Expression and Censorship
Live Video Protocol: After last week’s live stream of a police shooting was removed from and then returned to Facebook, the company clarified that its live video policies will only remove a video of someone’s death if the purpose of the post is to mock the victim or celebrate the incident, and stated that its live video service team is continuously on call to respond to reports of inappropriate content and either remove the content, leave it up, or post a warning disclaimer of graphic content.
Hate Speech Triggers Investigation: German federal police raided the houses of sixty people accused of posting “extremist messages” on a Facebook group; the action represents increasing efforts to contain online hate speech.
Risks Associated with Collecting Metadata: Information security practices like peer-to-peer encryption do increase online communication and content security, however, metadata remains largely outside user control and continues to be widely accumulated; metadata that is not disposed of or limited poses privacy and security risks as it may provide the same information about people as the content of their communication.
On the Lighter Side
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