CLIP-ings: March 2, 2018

Internet Governance

House Passes ‘Sex-Trafficking’ Bill: A bipartisan coalition of House representatives passed a bill—“Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 (FOSTA)”—that would allow criminal and civil actions against websites that violate federal sex trafficking laws; proponents of the bill argue that it will reduce child sex trafficking, while critics, including sex worker advocates, contend that the bill limits free speech online.

FTC Loophole Closed: A federal court ruled that AT&T is subject to the jurisdiction of the FTC despite the company’s arguments that it is a common carrier and therefore outside the jurisdiction of the federal agency; the ruling allows the FTC’s lawsuit against AT&T to proceed and affirms the FTC’s authority to regulate broadband providers even when they offer separate common carrier services like landline or mobile phone service.


Over 2 Million Links Forgotten: Google revealed in a company transparency report and research paper that it received requests to remove over 2.43 million URLs from its search results following the 2014 Court of Justice of the European Union “right to be forgotten” ruling; the “right to be forgotten” allows Europeans to request that search engine companies remove search results relating to their name if the information is “inadequate, irrelevant or excessive in relation to the purposes of the processing.”

Facebook Facial Recognition: A new Facebook notification alerts users to the platform’s increasingly comprehensive facial recognition features and directs them to a privacy page that details how to opt out of the system; the company’s notification comes on the heels of a federal ruling that Facebook will be subject to a class action lawsuit regarding its biometric data gathering and storage program.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Equifax Breach Continues: Equifax revealed an additional 2.5 million Americans were affected by last year’s massive data breach, bringing the grand total to 147.9 million people; the company said the newly identified consumers were not included in the original count because their social security numbers were not stolen—just their partial driver’s license information.  

Chinese iCloud Encryption: Last month, Apple announced that it will hand over management of its Chinese iCloud data to a Chinese state-owned firm called Cloud Big Data Industrial Development Co. in order to comply with new laws; Apple will also hold iCloud encryption keys for Chinese users in China itself, raising new concerns about government access to users’ data. 

Intellectual Property

Fox News v. TVEyes: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that media-monitoring service TVEyes violated copyright law by allowing its customers to watch video clips from Fox News, reversing a lower court’s decision that found TVEyes’ service was fair use; TVEyes failed to prove that its service was protected by the fair use doctrine because its redistribution of Fox News’ programming makes all of Fox’s copyrighted audiovisual content available to TVEyes’ customers and it “deprives Fox of revenue that properly belongs to the copyright holder.”

Free Expression and Censorship

China’s Social Media Crackdown: After the Chinese government announced its proposal to remove an article in its constitution that limits presidential terms to two five-year terms, negative reactions sparked the government’s crackdown on social media posts; “I don’t agree,” “migration,” “constitution amendment,” “proclaiming oneself an emperor,” and the letter “N”—the equivalent of the American “X”—were some of the terms blocked on the Chinese internet.

Ban on Hate Speech: YouTube banned the channel of American neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division for violating the site’s hate speech policies, which prohibit the promotion of violence toward or “inciting hatred” against specific races or religious groups; the ban follows criticism of YouTube for previously just demonetizing the propaganda videos and adding a warning about offensive content.

Practice Note

Patent-Agent Privilege: The Texas Supreme Court ruled in favor of an inventor and upended a trial court’s order that he turn over emails between himself and his nonlawyer patent agent, holding that the communications are privileged under the state’s evidence rules; the Court found that patent agents fall within Texas Evidence Rule 503’s definition of “lawyer” because they are authorized to practice law before the USPTO, thus allowing clients to “invoke the lawyer-client privilege to protect communications that fall within the privilege’s scope.”  

On The Lighter Side

Swab ‘n’ Swipe: An online dating startup that uses DNA to make matches proves it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

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:

CNIL Notifies Health Insurance Fund to Fix Data Security: The CNIL, France’s data protection authority, published a formal notice giving the National Fund for Health Insurance for Salaried Workers (CNAMTS), which handles France’s national healthcare database SNIIRAM, three months to “take any useful measure” to fully protect the security and confidentiality of individuals’ personal medical information after a review of data practices revealed deficiencies in safeguard and access procedures.

Apple 0—French Tax Activists 1: A Paris court dismissed Apple’s request for an injunction and rejected the firm’s request to fine protesters €150,000 or to impose damages if protests against Apple’s tax liabilities occurred again; Attac, a tax campaign group, previously organized demonstrations at Apple stores in Paris and Aix-en-Provence opposing Apple’s avoidance of tax obligations and has plans to continue protesting.

From Meghna Prasad – Rome, Italy:

Milan Drone Fashion Week: As fashion week continues in major cities around the world, Dolce & Gabbana used drones, rather than humans, to present a line of handbags during the brand’s fashion show in Milan; the show was delayed by 45 minutes due to a malfunction and guests were asked to turn off the WiFi on their cellphones to eliminate interference issues.

It’s Russia, Again: A recent study by a Madrid-based company concluded that a state-controlled Russian news agency called Sputnik Italia, which promotes an anti-immigration viewpoint, directly affected Italians’ view of immigration last year, prompting concerns about Russian influence on the Italian election this weekend.

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