CLIP-ings: September 22, 2017

Internet Governance

Kaspersky Gets Canned: The Senate has voted to ban the Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab’s software from use in the federal government, stating that the firm’s products pose a national security risk despite its CEO’s insistence that it does not conduct espionage on behalf of the Russian government.

Internet Influences: To reduce the prevalence of prejudice in court proceedings resulting from internet use, such as a jurist researching the details of a current proceeding online and sharing the information with fellow jurors, the attorney general of the U.K. is ramping up use of the little-known Contempt of Court Act of 1981 to discharge and jail violating jurists.


Identity Inventory: The State of Illinois is developing a blockchain birth registry that will contain a “secure ‘self-sovereign’” digital identity of each Illinois citizen and would contain their name, gender, birth date, and blood type; while each identity would be controlled entirely by the individual, the registry would serve as a centralized database for easy identity verification for the government and private entities.

Blundered Bill: A proposed California bill that would have required internet service providers (ISPs) to get opt-in consent from customers before showing or selling their information to third parties failed in the state legislature; it faced intense opposition not only from major ISPs but also from internet companies like Google and Facebook.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Grandma’s USB: The Department of Veterans Affairs is providing veterans seeking access to the website with a new method of identity verification in lieu of a password: a physical USB-security key developed by an army veteran that is allegedly “unphishable” and can hold sensitive information such as social security numbers, driver’s licenses, school or military IDs, professional licenses and passports.

Crack the Code: The National Security Agency (NSA) has released the fifth iteration of its Codebreaker Challenge, which encourages students to compete in solving a fictitious government cybersecurity scenario by completing a series of exercises that progressively increase in technical complexity.

Intellectual Property

Taylor in Trouble: Two songwriters have accused Taylor Swift of infringing on lyrics they popularized in 2001, claiming that they were first to put the particular lyric sequence together and that it is common industry practice to give credit to the source material that artists use in future songs.

Protecting Pepe: The creator of Pepe the Frog has been fighting against the alt-right’s use of his art for their propaganda with mixed success, first with cease and desist letters and now by invoking the Digital Millennium Copyright Act against websites featuring the appropriated work.

Free Expression and Censorship

Good Faith Government? Although denounced by courts and policymakers, governmental bodies are seeking judgments against requestors of legally sensitive or embarrassing public documents to allow the government to avoid disclosure.

Saudi Stipulations: Under pressure from the Saudi Arabian government, Snap has removed the Al-Jazeera channel from the Snapchat Discover section on its app, in an effort to comply with Saudi media and criminal laws that prohibit publishing content jeopardizing national security or the public order.

Practice Note

Alice Advice: Recent decisions from the Federal Circuit and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office provide guidance for software-related patent applicants to improve their chances of passing step one of the Alice two-step patent-eligibility test; in order to pass, drafters should (1) provide detailed explanations of the benefits of their alleged invention compared to the conventional art, (2) include source code and/or pseudo code in the application’s appendix, and, if applicable, (3) provide a detailed explanation of the improvement in the hardware-related features of their invention as compared to contemporary approaches to those same features.

On The Lighter Side

Museum Matchup: A battle of wits broke out on Twitter this week as the UK-based Natural History Museum and Science Museum both leveraged their most fascinating exhibits in an effort to prove which museum was superior.

Information Law News From CLIP-ings International Correspondents Around the Globe

This academic year, former CLIP-ings Editorial Fellows studying abroad are reporting from time-to-time on current local news and developments in the field of information law!

From Victoria Loeb – Paris, France:

European High Court Takes on Workplace Surveillance: The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights, reviewing a 2016 decision by the Court that upheld the monitoring of an employee’s personal email use and his subsequent firing, ruled that workplace monitoring of electronic communication violates the right to privacy where there is no policy that gives notice of the specific nature and extent of the monitoring; the French-based court’s ruling on monitoring of electronic communication echoes regional privacy concerns of both public and private e-surveillance.

European Response to Heightened Cyber Threats: Following a speech on the state of the European Union last week by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission proposed to delegate greater authority to information security agency Enisa, which since 2004 has functioned mostly as an advisory and oversight tool; notably, the agency will be responsible for implementing the NIS Cybersecurity Directive, recently adopted by the EU and outlining principles similar to those in place in France.

Asian Media Covets French Agency’s Presence in North Korea: Through its exclusive coverage of official events in North Korea and frequent reporting since opening an office in Pyongyang last year, Agence France Presse (AFP) has solidified its presence as one of the few news sources operating live from the region, leading to contracts with agencies and channels throughout Asia; to compete with agencies already established in Asia, AFP plans to increase its video content and distribute “lives” on web media.

From Meghna Prasad – Rome, Italy:

From Drought to Fortification: After a severe drought throughout Italy forced Rome to implement rationing and a temporary halt of water delivery from its central lake last spring, the Italian government has turned to Israel for a solution, receiving advice not only on water management and conservation, but also on cybersecurity and monitoring techniques to prevent hackers from compromising the Italian water system.

Joel R. Reidenberg
Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Chair and Professor of Law
Founding Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Yemi Danmola
Harrison Kay
Rilana Wenske
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP