Trump Signs ‘FOSTA’ Into Law: President Trump signed a bill called “FOSTA” or “Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act” that gives prosecutors and victims greater power to pursue websites that host sex-trafficking advertisements; the signing comes days after Backpage.com and its affiliated websites were seized by the Department of Justice and seven of Backpage.com’s executives were indicted for facilitating prostitution and money laundering.
‘CONSENT’ Bill: A new bill–the “Customer Online Notification for Stopping Edge-provider Network Transgressions (“CONSENT”) Act”–proposed by Senators Edward J. Markey and Richard Blumenthal would require edge providers to notify and obtain consent from users before using, sharing, or selling their personal data; the bill, which would rely on the FTC for enforcement, follows Sen. Blumenthal’s confrontation of Mark Zuckerberg over Facebook’s apparent violation of the FTC’s 2011 consent decree during the CEO’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees.
YouTube Collects Children’s Data: Twenty-three privacy and children’s advocacy groups filed a Federal Trade Commission complaint against YouTube, alleging the platform is violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) by collecting personal data from children under 13 to tailor advertisements and services to them without first gaining parental consent; the coalition is calling for YouTube to shift all the videos aimed at children to the YouTube Kids app and wants YouTube to pay a fine worth billions of dollars for profiting off children’s viewing habits.
“Voice-Sniffing” Patent? Amazon filed a patent for a “voice-sniffing” algorithm that would allow Amazon’s Echo speakers to listen to conversations for trigger words, such as “love” and “hate,” build a profile on the customers, and then offer them “targeted advertising and product recommendations”; Amazon denied that it currently uses voice recordings for advertising as Echo products only listen to users when they say the “Alexa” wake word.
Information Security and Cyberthreats
Lord & Taylor Breach: A New York consumer filed a federal class-action lawsuit against Lord & Taylor in Delaware over allegations that her private information was stolen by hackers as a result of the retailer’s failure to implement adequate security systems to protect customers’ private information; the lawsuit follows Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue’s announcement last week that 5 million customer credit card numbers were stolen by “a well-known ring of cybercriminals” using software implanted in its cash register systems.
“Don’t Mess With Our Elections”: A group of hackers targeted networks in a number of countries including data centers in Iran where they left the image of a U.S. flag on screens along with a warning: “Don’t mess with our elections”; the attack, which hit internet service providers and cut off web access for subscribers, exploited a vulnerability in routers from Cisco and affected 200,000 router switches across the world.
Alibaba and the Trademark Thieves? Chinese mega retailer Alibaba Group Holding filed a trademark infringement suit against a Dubai-based cryptocurrency company called Alibabacoin Foundation; the cryptocurrency company claims that Alibaba’s demand for it to shut down and restart with a new name is neither “reasonable [n]or proportionate” because the name is “inherently generic” and does not originate in China.
Apple to Pay Patent Troll Toll: VirnetX, a patent assertion entity, won a $502.6 million judgment against Apple Inc. after a federal jury in East Texas found that Apple’s FaceTime, VPN on Demand, and iMessage features infringe four patents related to secure communications; VirnetX’s stock rose 44% on news of the federal ruling, while Apple’s remained relatively unchanged.
Free Expression and Censorship
Russia Blocks Telegram App: Russia’s communications watchdog, Roskomnadzor, filed a lawsuit to limit access to the Telegram messaging app after the company refused to give Russian security services access to its users’ encrypted messages; Russia claims that it needs access to the private messages in order to prevent terrorist attacks.
Homeland Security to Create Media Database: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) is seeking a third party contractor to help it build a database capable of tracking 290,000 global news sources and identifying “media influencers” like journalists, editors, and foreign correspondents; the database will provide “media comparison tools, design and rebranding tools, and communication tools,” in order to help DHS agencies “better reach federal, state, local, tribal, and private partners.”
On The Lighter Side
Where’s the Beef? Environmentally-conscious carnivores rejoice! White Castle is set to test an uncannily meat-like meatless patty called the Impossible Burger that sizzles, smells, tastes, and even bleeds like beef.
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:
Cannabis and Cryptocurrency? Evolution BNK, an Italian company that grows medical cannabis, has filed a patent for a system that combines cryptocurrency mining with cannabis growing; the company plans to build a 20,000 square meter solar powered greenhouse in Sanremo, which will have a basement where computers mining cryptocurrency will provide heat to a greenhouse during the winter.
Robots in Hotels: Guests at a hotel in Italy’s Lake Garda will be greeted by Robby Pepper, a robot that can answer basic questions about the hotel, so that staff don’t have to repeat themselves; robots of this type are becoming increasingly popular in the tourism industry, but their use is limited because the technology is not advanced enough to handle many questions beyond the time and weather.
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
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP