Hurry Up Before You Get Sued: The New York Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against Charter Communications, parent company of Time Warner Cable, as his battle against broadband companies misleading customers intensifies; allegedly, wired internet speeds and WiFi speeds were up to 70% and 80% slower than advertised—although with a Trump-led FCC that favors these large companies, it is unclear how effective this lawsuit will be in increasing broadband companies’ transparency.
Body Cams for Entire Police Force: An agreement reached by New York City and the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association will require all NYPD officers to wear body cameras by the end of 2019; however, concerns about the completeness and ability to obtain records raise questions about the effectiveness of this project, which could cost taxpayers and officers up to $250 million over 14 years.
Scan Me, Sue You: In a milestone case defending and promoting the use of biometric data, two gamers sued video game publisher 2K claiming that 2K’s video games never informed users that face scans used to create player avatars in their likeness would be stored indefinitely and that their biometrics could be shared, but a New York federal judge ruled that the plaintiffs did not prove sufficient injury.
PornStation: In a case where gamers used the PlayStation Network to distribute child pornography—which involved Sony combing through their messages and reporting the content to law enforcement and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children after being tipped off by other gamers—a Kansas federal judge ruled that the Fourth Amendment did not protect the accused’s expectation of privacy.
Information Security and Cyberthreats
A Partnership Against Cybercrime: In an effort to combat cybercrime, Europol and the Global Cyber Alliance have signed a MoU to symbolize their agreement to increase transparency in their information exchange and to work together on international projects to strengthen cybersecurity; the partnership will work together to recommend methods of securing organizations’ networks and domains through the Internet Immunity Project for example, by encouraging organizations to adopt the DMARC email validation policy which allows organizations to authenticate email and prevent fraud.
Not a Suite Day at This Hotel: Following a rising trend in ransomware attacks throughout Europe and the US, hackers recently gained access to the electronic room key system of an Austrian luxury hotel, thereby locking guests out of their rooms until the staff paid $1,800 in the form of two Bitcoins—a digital currency favored by hackers due to the difficulty in tracing it.
A Patent Problem: As patents for routine web development processes are on the rise—such as patents for filming a yoga class, Amazon’s patent on white-background photography, and CBS Interactive’s patent for a “computer-implemented system” that posts song lyrics and allows users to annotate those lyrics—the EFF and public interest group Public Knowledge have filed an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to consider the obviousness standard in patent law to emphasize to patent examiners that they are able to reject common sense applications.
“G” Stands for Google: Google has requested an arbitration panel to transfer to them the domain name registration for ɢoogle.com—as opposed to Google.com—from a Russian spammer who had been using the confusing URL, spelled with a Latin “G,’ to spam Google Analytics with pro-Trump messages and bombarding users with malware, scareware, and pop-ups.
Free Expression and Censorship
Dividing the Media: Fewer than two weeks into his presidency, President Trump’s actions are already dividing media outlets including Fox News, hosted by Bill O’Reilly, and The Wall Street Journal, and causing conflict among writers and editors on their coverage perspectives—which is raising questions of fair reporting and inappropriate interference as editors insist on their writers using certain language in order to stay true to their publications’ missions.
Cyberbullying Bill Bullies Cyberbullies: A well-intentioned Texas bill against cyberbullying may in fact chill free speech and victimize unpopular groups because of its vagueness and overbreadth; the EFF argues that the bill is problematic because the term “cyberbullying” is not well-defined, students may be expelled for their behavior despite their intentions, students may not be able to communicate anonymously on the internet, and parents may also be liable when their children send harmful emails even if the parents are unaware.
Gorsuch a Heavy Docket: President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch may influence digital technology cases on issues such as cloud technology, authority over email stored on a foreign server, free speech rights in the digital space, and fair use of copyrighted material reproduced online.
On the Lighter Side
Online Dating for the Lazy: For only $99 a month, you can have “Audrey”—who may or may not be a bot—send messages, schedule dates, and give you feedback when you’re rejected so that you can online date without any effort of your own.
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