CLIPings: July 22, 2016

Internet Governance

Blocking Out Dissent: The Turkish government blocked access to WikiLeaks after the site released approximately 300,000 emails of the ruling party; WikiLeaks stated that it released the data in response to the government suspending and arresting 50,000 people in the last week.

Plans for Cross-Border Data Searches: After last week’s federal appeals court ruling against the use of federal warrants to search Microsoft’s data held overseas, the Obama administration has initiated agreements that would allow foreign governments to serve US tech companies with warrants to search their email or intercept their messages, as well as authorize US investigators to search data in other nations.


Privacy Interest in Mug Shots: The Sixth Circuit ruled that federal agencies are not required to release a federal suspect’s mug shot to the media under the FOIA; agencies may refuse to comply with requests for law enforcement information if such a release could “reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”

Microsoft to Comply with French Data Rules: In response to findings that Windows 10 collects excessive user data and has caused serious breaches, France’s national data protection authority (CNIL) ordered Microsoft to comply with the French Data Protection Act within three months and stop its tracking and data-gathering activities that compromise user privacy and security.

Restraints on Data Retention: In a preliminary ruling over a challenge to UK data retention under the Data Retention and Investigation Powers Act, the Court of Justice of the European Union found that governments may impose general metadata retention obligations and maintain compatibility with EU law, but the obligation must be “necessary to the fight against serious crime[s]” and balanced against privacy risks; the decision is highly influential, albeit not yet legally binding.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Arrested Overseas: Ars Vaulin, alleged founder of the world’s largest BitTorrent distributor, was arrested in Poland; the DOJ charged him with running the website that unlawfully distributed over $1 billion in copyrighted materials.

Intellectual Property

Fitbit Patents Invalidated: A US International Trade Commission judge invalidated three Fitbit patents in a case against Jawbone, finding that the technology in question embodied abstract ideas not subject to patent protection.

Free Expression and Censorship

Making Amends: Twitter permanently banned controversial blogger Milo Yiannopoulos in response to criticism of the social network for failing to prevent anonymous trolls from sending abusive comments to users; Yiannopoulos targeted Leslie Jones, star of the newly-released Ghostbusters movie, with racist and sexist attacks that caused her to leave Twitter.

What Constitutes a Threat? In the wake of the Dallas shooting, the police have arrested several people in four different states for their “threatening” posts on social media, including those naming the shooter a “hero;” the arrests raise concerns as it is unclear whether the speech amounts to a “true threat,” under Supreme Court precedent.

Practice Note

Hijacking Legitimate Websites: A recent cybersecurity report finds that hackers seek to not only harm their target directly, but are increasingly hijacking legitimate websites through an inconspicuous “piggybacking” technique that enables long-term use of websites’ resources and reputation to facilitate the hacker’s own illicit businesses.

On the Lighter Side

Real-Life Filter: Warby Parker is offering its Snapchat followers a chance to bring the app’s features to real life by selling Snapchat-exclusive sunglasses to its followers.

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