CLIP-ings: March 23, 2018

Internet Governance

Ban on Venezuela Petro: President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning U.S. purchases of Venezuela’s new oil-backed cryptocurrency called Petro and authorized Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to issue necessary regulations to enforce his order; the order is in response to attempts by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to circumvent U.S. sanctions by issuing a digital currency, complicating the Maduro government’s efforts to boost its foreign reserves.

Anti-Robocall: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned portions of a Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) regulation aimed at limiting the use of automated dialers to make uninvited calls, holding its language was too broad and could be construed to prohibit calls from any smartphone; Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai praised the court’s decision, noting that he had opposed the regulation two years ago. 


Facebook Pledges Better Privacy: Mark Zuckerberg apologized for the misuse of data belonging to 50 million Facebook users and promised to take steps to restrict developers’ access to such information, following allegations by a whistleblower that British data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed users’ information to target American voters with personalized political advertisements to help elect President Donald Trump in 2016; the scandal knocked off nearly $46 billion from Facebook’s market value and led to growing government scrutiny of Facebook in Europe and the United States

High-Tech Surveillance of Students: Schools across the country are spending millions to equip their campuses with advanced surveillance technology, including face recognition to deter predators, object recognition to detect weapons, and license plate tracking to detect criminals, raising privacy concerns regarding the usefulness of these tools.  

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Orbitz Hack: Popular travel site Orbitz revealed that hackers may have accessed 880,000 payment cards in a security breach discovered during an investigation of a legacy Orbitz platform; the information “likely accessed” includes names, payment card information, dates of birth, phone numbers, billing addresses, and gender.

Nuclear Cyber Protection: The Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit science advisory group, urged the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to reject the Nuclear Energy Institute’s longstanding request to limit cyber attack protections at nuclear plants; the request follows reports from the Department of Homeland Security and FBI stating that in March 2016 or earlier, a “multi-stage intrusion campaign by Russian government cyber actors” sought to penetrate multiple U.S. critical infrastructure sectors by targeting the networks of small commercial facilities “where they staged malware, conducted spear phishing, and gained remote access into energy sector networks.”

Intellectual Property

Blurred Lines Fines: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declined to order a new trial and affirmed a jury’s 2015 verdict punishing Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams to the tune of $5.3 million for infringing Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” when they created their 2013 hit song “Blurred Lines”; the decision, a win for the Gaye family, prompted a sharp dissent from Judge Jacqueline Nguyen who wrote that “[t]he majority allows the Gayes to accomplish what no one has before: copyright a musical style.”

Graffiti Is Art After All: H&M has withdrawn a copyright lawsuit against LA-based street artist Jason Williams, stating “[i]t was never our intention to set a precedent concerning public art or to influence the debate on the legality of street art”; the disagreement stemmed from a cease-and-desist letter Williams sent the Swedish retailer after it used his outdoor Brooklyn mural as the backdrop for photos it circulated online without compensating him.

Free Expression and Censorship

YouTube Bans Firearm Demos: Just ahead of this weekend’s March for Our Lives rally for gun control, YouTube announced new guidelines set to go into effect this April that will ban videos with instructions on how to assemble firearms and videos that promote or link to websites selling firearms and accessories; the platform has been gradually tightening its rules for gun-related content since a mass shooting in Las Vegas last year.

Far-Right Leader Denied UK Entry: Lutz Bachmann, the founder of a German extreme far-right group called Pegida, was denied entry to the UK and deported; Bachmann reportedly intended to appear at Speakers’ Corner in place of Martin Sellner, a white supremacist who was similarly denied entry to the UK earlier this month.

On The Lighter Side

Talk Klingon to Me: Learning a new language can be hard. In fact, it can make you “bItlhIb; toppa’ Darur” or “as incompetent as a topah.” Fortunately, language-learning app Duolingo is now making it easier for Star Trek nerds to learn common Klingon vocabulary, sentence structure, and phrases.

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 Meghna Prasad – Rome, Italy:

Be Careful What You Post: Italian police arrested a man suspected of making pipe bombs and possibly planning an attack after the FBI alerted them that the man had been using social media to applaud Sayfullo Saipov, a man charged with killing eight people in New York City last year with a speeding truck.

Mafia Trademark Rejected: After the Italian government brought a lawsuit against a Spanish catering company called La Mafia se Sienta a la Mesa (The Mafia Sits at the Table), contesting the validity of the company’s trademark for public policy and general morality reasons, the European General Court in Luxembourg ruled the trademark invalid as the name “plays a part in trivializing the illicit activities of that criminal organization.”

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