CLIP-ings: September 23, 2016

Internet Governance

Internet Removed from NYC WiFi Kiosks: Due to problems of lewd conduct, people congregating on busy sidewalks, and the city’s homeless population being put on display, New York City has decided to remove the internet browsing feature from its free WiFi kiosks after efforts to filter porn failed.

Cruz Blocking IANA Transition: With a firm deadline for the IANA transition approaching next week—by which the US government’s authority over major technical internet functions would be transferred—Senator Ted Cruz is preventing negotiations by insisting that the transition would transfer power to foreign governments and threaten free speech, despite fact-checkers questioning the credibility of these statements.

Privacy

Finding the Bombing Suspect: In order to track down Ahmad Khan Rahami, the man charged with attempted murder for planting bombs in Manhattan and New Jersey, police used the bomb squad, fingerprints, Chelsea surveillance footage, and the Wireless Emergency Alert—a new feature which pushes an alert to cell phones in New York City.

FBI Contracting with Hackers: After Apple’s refusal to unlock the device earlier this year, three media giants have failed in their efforts to force the FBI, under the Freedom of Information Act, to reveal how the Bureau gained access to the contents of the iPhone belonging to the perpetrator of the San Bernardino attack.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Election Integrity Act Introduced: As concerns mount that Russian cyber spies might be tampering with the upcoming presidential election, Representative Hank Johnson (D-GA) has introduced the Election Integrity Act which would implement regulations to combat election hacks, including a prohibition on voting systems from being web-connected, and a requirement that states purchase electronic voting machines that leave a paper trail.

Hacked North American iPhones Spamming Chinese Users: Using a loophole in the iPhone’s “Send as SMS” feature, hackers have sent more than 280,000 spam text messages—which advertise counterfeit Coach and Prada handbags—from iPhones belonging to unsuspecting North American iCloud account holders to mobile users mainly in China but also in other parts of the world.

Intellectual Property

Unpatent Working to Eliminate Stupid Patents: A new platform, Unpatent, seeks to invalidate junk patents by arranging a crowdfunding campaign for each potential junk patent; the $20,000 raised in each campaign covers the costs of legally challenging the patent at the Patent and Trademark Office and compensating those who find compelling prior art that nullify the patent.

WiFi Operators Not Liable for Pirate Users: The Court of Justice of the European Union held in a case regarding a WiFi operator who was sued by Sony for facilitating music piracy that WiFi operators will not be held liable for copyright infringement as long as they did not initiate transmission, select the recipient of transmission, or select or alter the information during transmission in any way.

Free Expression and Censorship

Censoring Bad Customer Reviews: As more businesses are trying to control their image by banning or penalizing negative online reviews, the House passed the Consumer Review Fairness Act to sanction this practice; the Senate’s Consumer Review Freedom Act, passed in December 2015, similarly disallows such censorship.

Lighter Side 

Robot Under Arrest: Promobot, a rebellious robot from Russia who gained infamy after escaping from his laboratory this past June, has now been arrested at a political rally in Moscow for “suspicious activity.”


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
Nadia Kashem
Meghna Prasad