CLIP-ings: September 7, 2018

Internet Governance

Tech Meeting on Capitol Hill: While Google declined to make a C-suite executive available for the hearing, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee about their efforts to curb foreign interference in U.S. elections and whether Twitter is biased in how it monitors online accounts; directly after the hearing ended, the Department of Justice stated that Attorney General Jeff Sessions “has convened a meeting with a number of state attorneys general this month to discuss a growing concern that these companies may be hurting competition and intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas on their platforms.”

‘Stop BEZOS Act’: Senator Bernie Sanders introduced a bill entitled “Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies Act” that would require companies with at least 500 employees to pay a one-hundred percent tax on government benefits received by workers, following similar legislation introduced in Congress last summer by Representative Ro Khanna; while Sanders claimed Amazon’s employees are paid inadequate wages and rely on federal benefits to cover their families’ basic needs, Amazon argued Sanders’ figures are “inaccurate and misleading” because they include temporary and part time workers.


‘Five Eyes’ on Encrypted Data:  Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and her counterparts from Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, the so-called Five Eyes nations, issued a joint memo calling on technology firms to create workarounds to their encrypted products and services so the governments may lawfully access encrypted e-mails, text messages and voice communications; while technology firms have not yet commented on the memo, Facebook’s global public policy lead on security Gail Kent wrote in May that “cybersecurity experts have repeatedly proven that it’s impossible to create any back door that couldn’t be discovered — and exploited — by bad actors. It’s why weakening any part of encryption weakens the whole security ecosystem.”

LinkedIn Recruits Spies? U.S. counter-intelligence chief William Evanina claims that Chinese espionage agencies are using fake LinkedIn accounts to recruit spies in America with access to government and commercial secrets and asked Microsoft, the owner of LinkedIn, to shut down the alleged fake accounts; while German and British authorities previously cautioned their citizens that China is using LinkedIn to recruit spies, this is the first time a U.S official publicly discussed the issue.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Spy Gets Spied Upon: mSpy, an app that allows people to track their children, loved ones, or anyone else, leaked more than two million sensitive records, including personal passwords, text messages, contacts, notes, and even location data for mSpy users; the leak emerged when security researcher Nitish Shah found mSpy’s online database did not require authentication and allowed anyone to find up-to-the-minute records for customer transactions and mobile phone data.

Intellectual Property

Facebook v. Blackberry: Facebook filed a complaint against Blackberry in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California claiming six patent infringements, including “Voice Instant Messaging”; the allegation comes only months after Blackberry filed a lawsuit against Facebook and its subsidiaries, WhatsApp and Instagram, in March which also involved messaging patents.

EU Copyright Reform Warning: The Wikimedia Foundation issued a blog post that warns against the EU copyright reform that will be voted on next week, which proposes a copyright for snippets of journalistic content online and shifting liability for platform users’ copyright infringements onto the platforms themselves; supporters argue the legislation will help fairly recompense European creatives for their work.

Free Expression and Censorship

Saudi Arabia Punishes Satire: Saudi Arabia’s Public Prosecution tweeted on Monday that posting satire online that “mocks, provokes, or disrupts public order, religious values and public morals” could result in an $800,000 fine and up to 5 years in jail; the restriction was announced amidst the apparent crackdown over the past year on critics of the government.

Apple Pride Watch Face Removed in Russia: iOS developer Guilherme Rambo discovered that the pride Apple watch face is “hardcoded to not show up if the paired iPhone is using the Russian locale”; Apple’s removal is an apparent attempt to abide by a Russian “gay propaganda” law passed in 2013 which makes actions such as supporting LGBTQ rights punishable by jail time.

Practice Note

Development of Domain Name Jurisprudence: Panels appointed to adjudicate nearly 50,000 domain name disputes under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy have developed a complex jurisprudence of domain names, including certain evidentiary hurdles for complainants and respondents; as a result, there has been an emergence of counsel who have expertise in domain names.

On The Lighter Side

AP Computer Science Female, Minority Students on the Rise: Thanks to an introductory course in tech skills, a record number of female, black, and Latino students took the Advanced Placement computer science course this year according to the College Board; the program is designed to expose high school students, especially those belonging to groups currently underrepresented in the tech industry, to computer science training and hopefully provide access to high-paying tech jobs in the future.

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

Subrina Chowdhury
Tommine McCarthy
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP