CLIP-ings: March 3, 2017

Internet Governance

New New York Regulation: On March 1, New York implemented new cybersecurity regulations to better protect financial institutions as well as consumers from cyberattacks; the regulations are composed of 23 different sections that comply with SEC and FINRA guidelines and include policies such as encryption of all non-public data, training of employees in security, improved multifactor authentication systems, breach disclosures, and yearly affirmance by a senior officer that the company is in compliance with the requirements of the regulation.

Free Data for Sale! The Federal Communications Commission has suspended a set of rules passed last October which, upon going into effect this December, would have prevented internet service providers like Verizon and Comcast from collecting and selling customers’ personal information without permission.


The Caller ID That Betrayed Me: The FCC is currently considering a petition to compel phone companies to reveal blocked caller ID information from bomb threat calls that were placed to Jewish institutions nationwide this week; last year, the FCC granted these blocks to be lifted in Middletown, New York which was similarly inundated with bomb threat calls, noting that the public interest was greater than “any countervailing privacy request from the calling party.”

Alexa Hears All: Arkansas police are demanding that Amazon release information obtained by a murder suspect’s Amazon Echo after the digital assistant automatically began recording upon the use of a “wake” word uttered by someone during the murder; Amazon argues that the audio recording is protected by the First Amendment and therefore requires a warrant for access.

The Tracked and the Furious: Members of the ethnic Uyghur population in China are now required to install GPS tracking devices in their cars so that the government can track all of their movements; refusing to install this surveillance system means drivers will be prohibited from refueling their vehicles.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Cloudfare Suffers Cloudflaw: Cloudflare, an internet infrastructure company that delivers performance and security services to six million website customers including Fitbit, Uber, and OKCupid, was recently revealed to have been victim to a bug that caused website-specific data such as cookies, user login credentials, API keys, and other authentication tokens to be leaked into the code of other websites.

TMI from IVF: Couples receiving in vitro fertilization treatments at a London hospital have had their intimate conversations exposed online due to an Indian subcontractor company storing transcripts and audio files on an unsecure server since as early as 2009.

Intellectual Property

But Isn’t It Patently Obvious? IBM has decided to relinquish its rights to a patent for out-of-office email technology that it was surprisingly granted earlier this year, after an uproar from an EFF lawyer who alleged that the USPTO grossly failed to consider both prior art and the nonobviousness requirement of a patent grant.

Will You Marry Copy Me? Known for aggressively defending its intellectual property against counterfeiting, Tiffany & Co. now finds itself at the other end of a lawsuit with a New York-based photojournalist suing the jewelry company for copyright infringement after it removed copyright information from one of his photos of Elsa Peretti and used it on the Tiffany website to sell her jewelry line.

Free Expression and Censorship

Thank God For My Free Speech: A North Carolina law that prohibits registered sex offenders from using social media sites is being challenged in the Supreme Court by a registered sex offender who was arrested after writing an unrelated Facebook post thanking God for avoiding a traffic ticket; at least five justices view the law as a restriction of free speech, noting in part the First Amendment right to speak and to receive information.

YouGuilty: After having his acquittal overturned, a British teenager is once again facing charges for violating Section 127 of the UK’s Communications Act 2003 for leaving comments under YouTube news videos in which he threatened to kill leaders, such as former prime minister David Cameron.

Practice Note

Back to the Grind: In a recent case involving dating app Grindr’s potential liability to a plaintiff whose ex-boyfriend posted fake profiles with the plaintiff’s personal contact information, prompting hundreds of unwanted users to seek him out, the court denied a request for extension of the plaintiff’s TRO, citing Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

On the Lighter Side

It’s A-Me, Mari…! With a valid international driving license and a plane ticket to Tokyo, you can put on a onesie and drive around the streets of Shinjuku dressed as a Super Mario character—that is, unless the go-kart rental company MariCar loses the IP infringement suit recently filed by Nintendo.

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