CLIP-ings: September 21, 2018

Internet Governance

Stopping Fintechs: The New York Department of Financial Services filed a suit against the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to repeal its decision permitting payment services like Venmo and online lenders to apply for national bank charters, stating the move violated the Constitution’s Tenth Amendment and put vulnerable consumers at risk of exploitation.

Hunting Pirates: The Supreme Court of Canada unanimously held media makers and other copyright holders must pay internet service providers “reasonable” compensation to link pirates’ IP addresses to customers’ personal data; the Supreme Court asked a lower court to determine the “reasonable” amount that internet service providers should be reimbursed for identifying subscribers accused of infringing on copyrights.


Protecting Children’s Privacy: New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas filed a federal lawsuit against Tiny Lab Productions and its contracted advertisers, including Google and Twitter, for allegedly sending children’s location, demographic, and other personal information to advertisers without parental consent; the Attorney General also claims Google gave its customers the false impression that the apps adhere to child privacy policies by marketing the apps in the family section of its online store.

Amazon Under Preliminary Antitrust Probe: The European Commission launched a preliminary antitrust investigation into Amazon’s use of data on third-party merchants to determine whether retailers are being placed at a disadvantage; Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager stated her office received complaints and sent questionnaires to retailers who do business with Amazon to gather more information.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Newegg Data Breach: Hardware retailer Newegg suffered a data breach that exposed customers’ credit card information for a month to Magecart, the same group behind the British Airways and Ticketmaster UK breaches earlier this year; the hackers injected a 15-line credit card-skimming code into Newegg’s payments webpage and sent the data to a server with a similar domain name and an HTTPS certificate controlled by the hackers.

UK Fines Equifax: The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) fined Equifax’s UK arm for 500,000 pounds for failing to protect up to 15 million citizens’ personal data; ICO found significant problems with Equifax’s data retention, IT system patching, and audit procedures and discovered the company failed take appropriate steps to fix a critical vulnerability identified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Intellectual Property

Modernizing Music: The Senate unanimously passed a bill that revamps Section 115 of the U.S. Copyright Act by making music licensing easier and more rewarding for rights holders, compensating songwriters and artists for pre-1972 creations, and improving payouts for producers and engineers when their recordings are used on satellite and online radio; reflecting on the bill’s likelihood of becoming law, Mitch Glazier, the president of the Recording Industry Association of America, said that the Music Modernization Act, “moves us toward a modern music licensing landscape better founded on fair market rates and fair pay for all.”

USPTO Seeks Artificial Intelligence: In hopes of moving quicker without compromising integrity, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USTPO”)  issued a request for information about an artificial intelligence solution that would aid the agency’s internal search function as it reviews patent applications; one challenge the USTPO hopes to address is the ever-changing nature of language as applicants and innovation cultivate new terms, which makes keyword searches difficult.

Free Expression and Censorship

China Collaborates on Artificial Intelligence: Facing rigid content restrictions, U.S. tech giants, such as Google, Microsoft, and Amazon, are finding an opportunity to make headway into the Chinese economy and data through artificial intelligence; for example, Google has introduced a new line of AI-backed products, which marks its first new consumer product in China since its search engine was largely blocked in 2010.

Registering Domains with “Seven Dirty Words”: The National Telecommunications and Information Administration rescinded its rule prohibiting the “seven dirty words” in domain names; after back-and-forth views between a registrant, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Harvard Law School,  the government found that Federal Communications Commission v. Pacifica Foundation only restricts the language on over-the-air broadcasts and thus the First Amendment protects the “seven dirty words” in domain name registrations.

Practice Note

Free Access to Public Judiciary Records? Republican Congressman Doug Collins introduced legislation that gives free access to documents on the federal judiciary’s website PACER, instead of charging 10 cents per page; in addition to cutting costs for the legal community, the legislation would allow readers to readily access external site links to the electronic records and enable the use of modern software to analyze legal files and evaluate biases and other trends in the judicial system.

On The Lighter Side

New Robo-Dog Litter: For those interested in experiencing evolving AI at home, Sony’s latest Aibo robot puppy is now on sale in the U.S.; the adorable mechanical pet recognizes up to 100 faces, develops a personality that changes (and becomes more obedient with training) over time, and even plugs itself in by walking to its charging station.

Joel R. Reidenberg
Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Chair and Professor of Law
Founding Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Subrina Chowdhury
Tommine McCarthy
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP