CLIP-ings: February 16, 2018

Internet Governance

FCC Supports SpaceX Satellite Internet: Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai urged the approval of an application by Elon Musk’s SpaceX to use low Earth-orbit satellites to provide broadband services to Americans living in rural or hard-to-serve areas where fiber optic cables and cell towers do not reach.

YouTube’s Stricter Self-Regulation: Following a series of controversial videos by popular vlogger Logan Paul, YouTube released new policy changes that outline the company’s stricter approach to behavior it deems harmful to the YouTube community of “advertisers, the media industry, and…the general public”; though the new policies omit a definition of “harm,” they allow YouTube to stop recommending the channel’s videos and cut off the channel’s ability to serve ads and access premium monetization programs.


Privacy Victory or Speech Suppression? YouTube and Instagram may be blocked in Russia unless they comply with a court order compelling the removal of 14 Instagram posts and seven YouTube videos that show Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska and Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Prikhodko on a yacht with an alleged escort; though the court in Russia’s Krasnodar region held that the videos and posts violate Deripaska’s right to privacy, others, including anti-Kremlin campaigner Alexey Navalny, called the decision an “act of censorship.”

Private Facebook Accounts May Be Discoverable: The New York Court of Appeals ruled in a personal injury case that Facebook posts, videos, and messages “reasonably calculated” to contain “material and necessary” evidence may be discoverable even if the user’s Facebook account is set to private; Chief Judge Janet DiFiore explained that “[s]ome materials on a Facebook account may fairly be characterized as private, but even private materials may be subject to discovery if they are relevant.”

Information Security and Cyberthreats

What’s Yours is Mine: The UK Information Commissioner’s Office took down its website following the revelation that it—along with some 4,000 other sites—was infected with a code that uses visitors’ computers to mine the cryptocurrency, Monero; security experts traced the crypto mining script to a website plug-in called Browsealoud, which helps blind people access the web and claims that the bug was only active for four hours on Sunday.  

Olympics Cyberattack: A yet-to-be-identified culprit launched a cyberattack on the Winter Olympics’ opening ceremony; the attack downed internet access and telecasts, grounded broadcasters’ drones, and prevented spectators from printing out reservations for the ceremony thereby leading to an unusually high number of empty seats.

Intellectual Property

$6.75m for 5Pointz: U.S. District Judge Frederic Block awarded $6.75 million in damages to 21 artists whose graffiti work at 5Pointz warehouses was whitewashed by the buildings’ owner after a jury found that their artwork was protected under the Visual Artists Rights Act because of their “recognized stature”; the judge awarded the artists the maximum damages possible, stating the buildings’ owner “willfully” ruined the artwork and showed no remorse for his “recalcitrant behavior.”

Copyright Credits on Google Images: In exchange for a multi-year license for Getty Images’ photos, Google agreed to highlight copyright attribution on images and remove “view image” links for pictures to reduce the number of direct downloads; the agreement follows Getty’s competition law complaint against Google with the European Commission, which accuses Google of being a one-stop piracy shop, allowing users to easily download and view copyrighted photos.

Free Expression and Censorship

AI Blocks Extremism: The UK Home Office developed an AI program that can automatically detect 94% of online Islamic State propaganda with a 99.99% success rate by examining video content during the upload process and stopping it from reaching the internet; the tool’s development alerted large tech firms to take more meaningful action against extremist content and can help smaller companies that don’t have the resources to tackle the problem, but it also raises concerns about censorship and legal accountability for content removal.

India’s Press Crackdown: After a journalist in India wrote a story exposing a major privacy breach in a nationwide database of more than a billion Indians, supporters of India’s Hindu nationalist Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, filed a police complaint accusing the journalist, her newspaper, and the alleged cyber criminals of forgery and other offenses punishable by 30 years in jail; India fell three spots on the World Press Freedom Index to 136, below Afghanistan and Myanmar, because of the growing censorship by Hindu nationalists.

On The Lighter Side

The Sound of Silence: A new app helps diners in San Francisco (and soon New York, Portland, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.) avoid noisy restaurants.

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:

WhatsApp at Work in Advance of GDPR: Seeking GDPR compliance, WhatsApp created a new feature—to be enabled by May 25th and extended to Facebook and Instagram—allowing users to download individual personal data directly from the app to give them “more control over their data…ensuring more protection, transparency, and uniformity”; WhatsApp’s privacy development follows the French data protection authority’s formal notice to the messaging app to stop sharing user data with Facebook, its parent company, within one month.

From Meghna Prasad – Rome, Italy:

Cryptocurrency Maybe Not So Secure: Hackers stole 170 million units of Nano, a cryptocurrency forming part of the Italian cryptocurrency exchange, BitGrail, raising concerns about the security of cryptocurrency exchanges, especially lesser known exchanges which may not have proper cybersecurity defenses.

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

Erin Shahinfar
Subrina Chowdhury
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP