CLIP-ings: June 15, 2018

Internet Governance

The End of Cyberbullying? In a controversial move to criminalize cyberbullying, New York’s Senate Bill 2318 was unanimously passed by the Senate, making it a crime to “knowingly engag[e] in a repeated course of cyberbullying of a minor;” its vague and potentially broad language raises alarms – a similar law was struck down in 2014.

Expansive Drone Bill Draws Scrutiny:proposed bill allowing DOJ and DHS officials to “intercept, acquire or access [drone] communications,” define any “threat” broadly, and bypass established procedures – such as the Wiretap Act, Electronic Communications Privacy Act, and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act – is sparking criticism from many parties, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation.


You Can Run But You Can’t Hide: Researchers at MIT have developed a technology that uses wifi signals to penetrate walls and capture detailed physical information of people on the other side such as movements, breathing, and even heartbeat; the primary aim of the project is to improve monitoring of the elderly and automate emergency alerts in cases of injury, but potential applications of this technology are limitless.

China’s Marauder’s Map: China plans to implement a new vehicle identification system that will empower the government to track drivers throughout the country using radio frequency identification (RFID) chips placed in cars; compliance will be mandatory for new vehicles starting in 2019, expanding the growing breadth of China’s surveillance system.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Subaquatic Cyber Attack: In their latest bid to curtail U.S. naval supremacy in Southeast Asia, Chinese Ministry of State Security hackers stole 614 gigabytes of material from a Navy contractor, including: secret plans to develop supersonic anti-ship missiles, signals & sensor data, submarine radio room information, and an electronic warfare library; the incident adds one more success to a long line of Chinese hacking achievements – including snatched designs for the F-35 fighter, the Patriot PAC-3 missile system, the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship, and the Army’s anti-ballistic missile system known as Terminal High Altitude Area Defense.

What Would Grandpa Do? In compliance with E.U. General Data Protection Regulation protocol, DNA testing and genealogy company MyHeritage revealed on Monday that its servers had been breached, compromising the emails and hashed passwords of over 92 million users; the company believes that the one-way hash of each user password it stores will not be of use to the culprit(s).

#SecurePhonesSaveLives: The forthcoming update to Apple’s iOS software will close the loophole, used extensively by law enforcement agencies, that permitted outsiders to access locked iPhones and obtain personal information; Apple’s CEO Tim Cook hails privacy as a “fundamental right,” which differentiates Apple from companies like Google and Facebook that show little qualms about extracting vast amounts of personal data from their users.  

Intellectual Property

Blackberry in a Jam: Moving to dismiss Blackberry’s patent infringement claims against them, Facebook and Snap have both asked the court to apply the two-step Alice test to throw out six of the plaintiff’s patents on the grounds that they are too vague or represent attempts to patent everyday operations performed by mobile devices.

Go Home, You’re Drunk: Uber has a pending application for a patent that would use AI to identify drunk passengers by analyzing uncharacteristic user activities such as user location, typos, and even the angle the smartphone is being held; the application states that the patent aims to “reduce undesired consequences” but Uber said this week that it has no immediate plans to implement this technology.

Free Expression and Censorship

Skinny and Slippery: Pro-eating disorder online communities that promote dangerous behaviors are evading oversight by bypassing the filter algorithms; the users’ ability to avoid automated detection by developing new hashtags and other conventions, in addition to recommendation algorithms that unwittingly suggest problematic contents to users, highlight the limits of automated content curation.  

My House, My Rules: This week, Vietnam passed a bill that requires tech companies to remove any offensive content within 24 hours of notice from the government authorities in addition to storing all user data domestically in order to do business in the country; protesters of the bill are concerned that the new law will stifle online dissent against the government since the law could also force tech companies to provide personal information of the dissenters to the government.

Practice Note

Johnson v. Twitter: California Superior Court ruled that Chuck Johnson, an infamous Twitter troll who was perma-banned from Twitter, failed to make a prima facie case against Twitter because Twitter is a private sector entity that may limit its service to users that abide by its TOS; the court found the analogy that Twitter is equivalent to an old town square unpersuasive.

On The Lighter Side

China Paves the Way for Smartphone Users: Literally. In an effort to increase pedestrian efficiency and protect “phubbers” – oblivious phone addicts – from themselves, the city of Xi’an has inaugurated a 100m walkway for their exclusive use.

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

Mindy Nam
William Ioas
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP