CLIP-ings: June 22, 2018

Internet Governance

Made in China 2025 Meets U.S. Tariffs: In its latest attempt to foil Beijing’s plans for technological dominance, the U.S. is introducing 25% tariffs on $50 billion worth of strategic Chinese imports targeted at high-tech industries; the tariffs aim to provide a critical shield against unfair industrial practices, like dumping, which have prompted industry experts like Warren Buffett to warn that the U.S. is being “colonized by purchase rather than conquest.”

Pie in the Sky Gets Closer: Citing a lack of competition concerns, the European Commission has approved unconditionally Comcast’s $30 billion bid for European pay-TV leader Sky, allowing Comcast to challenge 21st Century Fox’s existing bid; who will get the bigger slice is to be determined.

Corporations Are Persons – Right? The proposed California Consumer Privacy Act seeks to address data-sharing concerns by requiring companies to disclose the types of information they collect and allow consumers to opt-out of having their information sold; state disclosure records show that a group opposing the initiative has already received hefty funding from Amazon, Microsoft, Uber, Google, Comcast, Facebook, and Verizon.  


Underrated Victory of the Week: After receiving heavy criticism from Oregon Senator Ron Wyden and the media, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile stated on Tuesday that they will stop sharing customer location data with location aggregators; in May, a report found that a Missouri sheriff used the location aggregation services to look up people’s real-time location without a warrant.

Is It a Bee? Is It a Fly? It’s a Drone! MIT researchers plan to unveil a computer chip as small as a LEGO minifigure’s footprint at a symposium this week that is smaller and more powerful than the version presented last year; this chip is capable of processing real-time camera images at up to 171 frames per second and may be used to power bee-sized drones in the near future, redefining the meaning of “being bugged.”   

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Working for ICE Can Be Nice, for the Wallet at Least: It was reported this week that several high-profile data and tech companies such as HP, Thomson Reuters, Microsoft, Motorola Solutions, and Palantir are discreetly making millions of dollars from supplying ICE with state-of-the-art technology, including facial recognition, predictive data analytics, and tactical communications technology; the contract between Thomson Reuters and ICE stipulates that the company will support ICE in its “mission to locate, arrest and remove criminal aliens that pose a threat to public safety.”

Sino-Canberra Relations Meet Summer Heat: Citing information and infrastructure concerns, Australia is likely to ban Chinese network equipment and smartphone giant Huawei from participating in its 5G mobile telecommunications roll-out; fearing a repetition of its current U.S. ban, Huawei has refuted these concerns in an open letter on Monday.

Intellectual Property

“Thou Hast Seen Nothing Yet”: Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote. After 25 years of setbacks, a heart attack, and an 18 month legal battle, Terry Gilliam has lost the rights to his passion project, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, to ex-producer Paulo Branco, who allegedly bought the rights in 2016; the Paris Court of Appeal was not persuaded by Gilliam’s argument that Branco’s failure to fund the project voided the contract.

Say Bye to the Prequel Memes: The EU parliament’s legal affairs committee narrowly passed a highly controversial legislation that will require platforms such as Google and Microsoft to install filters that will block users from uploading copyrighted content–it is set to become law once approved by all EU countries; the opponents of the legislation fear that this measure would heavily curtail the internet users’ ability to share content such as news, memes, and even holiday photos, damaging the creativity of the internet.

Free Expression and Censorship

A New Robin Hood Story: Developer Sam Lavigne uploaded a database of 1,595 ICE employees that he gathered from LinkedIn to Github and published a Medium post asserting that people can “undermine entrenched power structures” by using the same tools that internet companies use to exploit them; both Github and Medium shut down the accounts of Lavigne as well as of the users who shared the ICE data, mimicking Twitter’s action this week of suspending users that shared the personal phone number of Stephen Miller.

Practice Note

Physical v. Virtual presence: Overturning its decision in Quill v. North Dakota, 504 U.S. 298 (1992), the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales tax;  The 5-4 decision highlights how e-commerce has made the previous mail-order catalogues based ruling obsolete and the Government Accountability Office estimates that states missed out on over $13 billion in tax revenue last year.

On The Lighter Side

I Know It When I See It? China has classified sensory videos, a.k.a. ASMR videos, as pornography and began censoring them on the country’s biggest streaming sites such as Youku and Bilibili; China’s anti-pornography office claimed that the videos stimulate sexual sensations although a study found that the ASMR fans primarily use the videos for relaxation.  

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