CLIP-ings: February 23, 2018

Internet Governance

Cyber-Digital Task Force: U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered the creation of a Cyber-Digital Task Force to examine how the Justice Department can combat foreign interference in U.S. elections, deter attacks on American infrastructure, prevent online terrorist recruiting, and defend against cyber attacks targeting businesses and individuals; the order came days after special counsel Robert Mueller charged three Russian companies and 13 Russian citizens with conducting a criminal and espionage conspiracy campaign through social media to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Postcards from Facebook: Facebook will start sending postcards by U.S. mail to verify the identities and location of people purchasing advertisements related to U.S. elections; the postcards will contain a special code that advertisers who want to mention a specific candidate must give Facebook in order to prove that they are located in the U.S.


Sham Mexican Spyware Inquiry: American officials rejected multiple requests from the Mexican government to help investigate whether Mexico used surveillance technology against human rights lawyers, academics, and journalists; American officials were concerned that Mexico has little interest in actually investigating the accusations and wants to use the U.S. as cover in a sham inquiry. 

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Clearer Cyber Risk Disclosure: The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission issued updated guidance urging public companies to disclose cybersecurity risks promptly, develop policies to quickly assess cybersecurity risks, and prevent corporate insiders from trading in shares while a hack is being investigated and before it is disclosed; the guidance also prohibits companies from using internal or law enforcement investigation as a sole excuse “for avoiding disclosures of a material cybersecurity incident.” 

Beware of Business Email Compromise: IBM reports that hackers likely of Nigerian origin are engaged in a widespread credential harvesting, email phishing, and social engineering scam called Business E-mail Compromise, causing millions in losses for Fortune 500 companies; the attackers send fake invoices, impersonate high-ranking corporate officers, and target accounting or human resources staff to gather sensitive financial information—all while bypassing hacking safeguards by avoiding the use of malware.

Intellectual Property

Eyes on the Sky: Samsung has patented a drone that users will be able to control with their eyes, head, hands, or fingers in real time through an integrated display; the unit may also include features like voice recognition, GPS, and a Wi-Fi based positioning system.

Embedding Tweets May Infringe Copyright: A New York federal court ruled on a motion for summary judgment that embedding a tweet on a webpage could be considered copyright infringement—a decision that may have a far-reaching impact on social media and online publishing; the ruling arises out of a case in which a photographer accused online publications, including Breitbart, Time, and Yahoo, of copyright infringement for publishing articles that linked to a photo of Tom Brady originally shared on the photographer’s Snapchat.

Free Expression and Censorship

Bahrain Activist Sentenced for Tweets: A court in Bahrain sentenced democracy advocate Nabeel Rajab to five additional years in prison for tweets about prison conditions and the Saudi-led war in Yemen; Rajab’s sentence is the latest dissent-suppression move by the country’s royal family, which has previously used riot police, tanks, and arrests to silence critics.

Practice Note

What’s My Age Again? A federal judge struck down a California law requiring IMDb to remove age-related information at the subscriber’s request; U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria held that the two-month-old law is unconstitutional because 1) California failed to explore less-speech-restrictive alternatives before enacting the law; and 2) the law is not narrowly-tailored to achieve California’s goal of eliminating discrimination in the entertainment industry.

On The Lighter Side

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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:

Is Tech the Key to Public Service Reform? France’s senior official in charge of public service reform plans to use data and AI, such as tax algorithms and conversational chatbots, to lower the cost of public services by reducing the number of employees needed for some services and allowing reinvestment in others; these changes, as well as an IT project investment fund of €700 million over the next five years, are part of Macron’s campaign pledge to cut €60 billion in public spending and 120,000 public sector jobs.

EU Encouraging Internet Platform Content Control: A leaked document revealed the European Commission’s draft of non-binding guidance for internet platforms to identify and remove terrorist content, seeking to test improvement of social media platforms’ responses to such content before deciding on legislation requiring removal; France’s technology policy diplomat said the country has been working closely with the Commission, Europol, and other leading countries to formulate this stronger approach.

From Meghna Prasad – Rome, Italy:

Back to Life: Although not illegal, bots generating tweets and Facebook posts from dormant accounts are becoming active again, spreading repetitive messages about candidates in Italy’s upcoming election, and sparking concerns about the effect on voters.

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