CLIP-ings: January 5, 2018

Internet Governance

Mobile-Friendly Government: Congress passed the Connected Government Act requiring all federal agencies to ensure “to the greatest extent possible” that websites aimed at public use are mobile-friendly; the act aims to keep up with technological advances and enhance citizen engagement.

France v. Fake News: Emmanuel Macron, France’s President, expressed his desire to implement a new law intended to curb the rise of “fake news” by requiring websites to disclose funding sources, capping the money websites may receive from sponsored content, and authorizing the French government to block websites promoting fake news.


WeChat Virtual ID: The Guangzhou government in China launched a pilot program allowing users of the smartphone app WeChat to use the app’s virtual identification to apply for government services and register in hotels without the need to present a physical ID card; the app uses facial recognition and machine-learning technology to verify applicants before their virtual ID cards get authorized.

Privacy Web: The New York Times uncovered that some apps, including children’s apps, employ a software allowing it to use a smartphone’s microphone to track audio signals while the app is in use, whether prominent or in the background, allowing the app to identify and aggregate the audio to sell to advertisers who use the information to better target their ads; the software company contends that the program does not detect human speech and that its practice is detailed in its privacy policy which consumers “knowingly” opt in to.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Internal Data Breach: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) suffered a data breach affecting more than 240,000 current and former employees; DHS claims the breach was not a “cyber-attack by external actors” but rather stemmed from an unauthorized copy of the department’s “investigative case management system” held by a former employee.

Aadhaar Access For One, and For All: Aadhaar, the largest identification system in the world containing numerically identifying codes connected to Indian residents’ personally identifiable information, has been accused of being compromised after Indian journalists contend that they paid eight Indian rupees to access the database from a man on WhatsApp.

Intellectual Property

Typo-Targeting Injunction: A German court issued a preliminary injunction against Amazon ordering it to stop displaying ads of knock-offs of Birkenstock shoes to shoppers entering misspellings of the brand on Google.

Spotify’s A Billy Problem: Wixen Music Publishing sued Spotify in a California court alleging that Spotify failed to secure the proper licenses for music streamed on its platform by making “insufficient efforts” to “identify the rights holders of songs it licenses from labels” further emphasizing the issue of splitting streaming rights compensation between labels and publishing companies.

Free Expression and Censorship

Preventing Adpocalypse: Dissatisfied with YouTube’s lack of regulation of its online content, JP Morgan developed an in-house algorithm using YouTube’s API aimed at ensuring that the bank’s online ads do not appear in videos not in line with its brand. 

Iran’s Internet Crackdown: In an effort to control nationwide protests, the Iranian government blocked access to various online applications including Telegram, the nation’s most used app for private encrypted messaging, forcing users to turn to “proxies to circumvent the ban or to using WhatsApp,” which has yet to be blocked.

On The Lighter Side

Psychedelic Funk: AI would not have fared well in the 1970s.

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

Idalys Núñez
Dean’s Fellow, Fordham CLIP