CLIP-ings: October 5, 2018

Internet Governance

California Sued Over Net Neutrality: Internet, cable, and wireless providers filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block California’s new statute mandating net neutrality rules, following a separate lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice; the lawsuit alleges California’s law is a “classic example of unconstitutional state regulation” and urges the court to block the legislation before it takes effect on January 1.

Amazon Raises Minimum Wage: Following months of public criticism about its labor practices, Amazon announced it will begin paying all U.S. employees, including part-time, seasonal, and temporary workers, at least $15 an hour and all U.K. employees at least £9.50; Amazon also revealed that it will begin lobbying Congress to raise the federal minimum wage, which has been set at $7.25 for almost a decade.


EU Enforcement Can Access Telecom Data: The European Court of Justice ruled that national law enforcement authorities may access individuals’ basic information, such as addresses and phone numbers, held by telecommunication companies when investigating minor criminal offenses so long as the data-gathering does not seriously infringe their privacy rights; the decision arises as the court is dealing with several privacy disputes, including efforts to extend the “Right to be Forgotten” worldwide and upcoming hearings related to the legality of the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield.

Suspect Unlocks iPhone With Face: In what may be a world first, the FBI forced a suspect to unlock his iPhone X using Apple’s Face ID feature and searched photos and chats on the iPhone, allegedly finding material and conversations associated with child pornography; while courts ruled that there is a difference between a facial or fingerprint recognition system and a passcode typed into a phone, the case raises an interesting legal question of whether a person can be compelled to unlock his or her phone by looking at it.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Sentenced for ATM “Jackpotting”: A federal judge sentenced a man from Springfield, Massachusetts to twelve months and one day of imprisonment for his role in an ATM “jackpotting” scheme, marking the first time someone in the U.S. is imprisoned for this form of ATM hacking; according to the Department of Justice, the hackers dressed as legitimate repair technicians to install malware on an ATM while others used the malware to extract the cash.

Irish Regulator Opens Facebook Investigation: The Irish Data Protection Commissioner commenced an investigation into a massive cyberattack that allowed hackers access to more than 50 million accounts, potentially costing Facebook more than $1.63 billion in fines; the investigation will examine “Facebook’s compliance with its obligation under the GDPR to implement appropriate technical and organizational measures to ensure the security and safeguarding of the personal data it processes.”

Intellectual Property

Vigilante Prevents Waymo Patent: Eric Swildens, an engineer with no connection to the self-driving industry, spent $6,000 of his own funds to successfully argue that the lidar circuit in Waymo’s patent already existed, causing the US Patent and Trademark Office to deny 53 of out Waymo’s 56 claims; the same patent was at issue in Waymo’s lawsuit against Uber in December 2016, which resulted in Uber agreeing to redesign its lidar instrument and give Waymo $254 million worth of equity, a resolution that now seems unnecessary.

Groupon Settles IBM Patent Infringement Claim:  Having previously argued in court that some of IBM’s patents involving pre-internet technology from the 1980s are outdated, Groupon agreed to pay $57 million to settle IBM’s infringement claims and entered into a long-term cross-licensing deal; IBM, which maintains over 45,000 technology patents, previously litigated patent infringement suits against titans such as Twitter, Amazon, and Expedia.

Free Expression and Censorship

Alphabet Takes on DNS Manipulation: Jigsaw, an Alphabet incubator tasked with addressing global security challenges, developed a tool called Intra that defends Android users against attacks on free speech by encrypting connection to the DNS server and pointing to Google’s own DNS servers, which prevents authoritarian governments from denying access to information deemed off-limits;  DNS manipulation is widespread with more than 60 countries, including Iran, China, and Turkey censoring parts of the Internet.

Infowars Publisher Sues PayPal: After PayPal banned his account for violating its policy against promoting hate and discriminatory intolerance in September, Alex Jones, publisher of Infowars, sued the digital payment platform, complaining of “viewpoint discrimination” against political conservatives that permeates technology companies; PayPal spokesperson, Kim Eichorn, responded, “PayPal believes the claims in the complaint are without merit.”

Practice Note

California Overhauls Ethics Rules: California’s ethics rules will be in-line with the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct starting November 1, which means all U.S. states will track the Model Rules; Dennis Rendleman, lead senior counsel for ethics for the ABA’s Center for Professional Responsibility, in reflecting on lawyers’ increasingly multi-jurisdictional practice, stated, “It’s better for the rules to be consistent from state to state … [s]o the development in California, which of course is one of the largest economies in the country, is a positive development.”

On The Lighter Side

9 Million Wikipedia Links Rescued: Internet Archive, a nonprofit digital library, reinstated 9 million previously broken Wikipedia links and intends on continuing its efforts with Wikipedia as well as other media such as e-books and academic papers; replacing broken links with their archived versions boosts the credibility of Wikipedia, preserves internet history, and expands access to original sources.

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