New Restrictive Chinese Law: China has passed a new cybersecurity law, effective next summer, in an alleged effort to protect against cyberattacks and terrorism; although critics are concerned that certain facets of the law—such as requiring data to be stored within the country and forcing users of messaging services to register their real names—will further restrict already heavily regulated internet usage and even cut China off from the rest of the world.
Net Neutrality Trumped: With President-elect Donald Trump having announced his opposition to net neutrality and decision to appoint Jeffrey Eisenach, “a crusader against regulation,” to head the FCC’s telecom transition team, the fate of the FCC’s telecom enforcement and new net neutrality protections—such as its recent decisions to reclassify internet service providers as common carriers and to provide privacy protections for broadband users—remains unclear.
CSIS in Hot Water: Since 2006, believing it had the authority to watch citizens as a result of warrants granting surveillance powers, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service has reportedly been illegally retaining personally identifiable information about citizens and actively hiding this secret metadata collection from Canadian courts.
France’s National Identity Database: As Paris hosts the Open Government Partnership summit, the idea of a national identity database that would store personally identifiable data of 60 million citizens is being revisited in France despite fears that the system could be vulnerable to abuse; previous efforts to implement such a system were thwarted by the dangers posed by cybercriminals, hostile state actors, and the possibility of a future occupation of the country by another Nazi-like regime.
Information Security and Cyberthreats
Googling Your Technological Safety: Google’s Safe Browsing tool, which already marks sites that contain malware or unwanted software with a large red warning sign, has a new, stricter policy for sites that repeatedly implement these dangerous visitor traps; now, if a flagged site removes the offending software, then asks Google to delete the red warning sign and yet re-implements the software once the warning is removed, the “repeat offender” will be blocked from reapplying for removal of the sign for 30 days.
The FBI’s Child Porn Collection: Recently unsealed documents reveal that the FBI exceeded the scope and jurisdictional limitations of a warrant—which only granted permission to hack specific Maryland-based users of a “Dark Web” email service used by some to distribute child pornography taken from FBI-administered sites—when the Bureau used malware to also hack legitimate users of the email service across the world.
Former Guitarist off the Hook: In a suit filed by Tom Scholz, the frontman of rock band Boston, against the band’s former guitarist Barry Goudreau for trademark infringement of the band’s name when Goudreau referred to himself as “Barry Goudreau from Boston” while promoting gigs with other musical acts, a district court jury has found that Scholz’s claim has no merit.
Public RSS Feeds Not Really Public? The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) has accused a podcast’s app developers of copyright violation, claiming that accessing its public RSS feed without paying a licensing fee is considered “commercial use,” due to the app selling banner ads, even though the apps are not specific to CBC content.
Free Expression and Censorship
I Can Get Some Satisfaction: In a federal case regarding Rolling Stone Magazine’s now-discredited November 2014 story describing a University of Virginia administrator’s failure to take action after the brutal gang rape of a student at a fraternity party, a jury found the publication liable in the amount of $3 million for defamation resulting from comments made both in the article and by the author and magazine after the story was published.
Turkey Blocks the Internet: After the arrest of 11 members of the opposing pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, the Turkish government blocked access to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and WhatsApp, but this is not the first time the country has gone to such measures to quell political unrest; last week, the internet was shut down entirely in the southeast region, and last month, access was limited to Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive after private emails belonging to the President’s son-in-law were leaked.
Google Play and YouTube Cases: Two successful recent cases against Google illustrate how a plaintiff can allege bad faith on the defendant’s part to defeat a Section 230(c)(2) defense, which provides civil liability protection for “Good Samaritan” blocking and screening of offensive material under the Communications Decency Act.
On the Lighter Side
Keeping Toasty With Technology: Currently in a Kickstarter crowdfunded campaign, Taps are fake fingerprint stickers that users would be able to stick onto gloves so that they can use the Touch ID feature of their iPhones without facing the risk of frostbite.
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