CLIP-ings: October 12, 2018

Internet Governance

Google Won’t Bid on Pentagon Contract: Google will not submit a proposal for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (“JEDI”), an estimated $10 billion contract designed to accelerate the Defense Department’s cloud computing capabilities, because JEDI does not align with the tech giant’s AI principles prohibiting the use of AI in weaponry; additionally, Google disagrees with the government’s decision to choose one vendor instead of adopting “a multi-cloud approach.”

Introducing the “Internet Bill of Rights”:  Democratic representative Ro Khanna of California has worked with think tanks, big tech companies, and government IT pros to devise ten consumer data privacy principles that he hopes will be passed into law; the list includes protecting net neutrality, ensuring consumer choice for ISPs, offering greater transparency on how data is collected, and notifying consumers in a timely manner when personal data has been hacked.


UK Court Blocks Privacy Suit Against Google: The UK High Court dismissed an estimated £3 billion class action lawsuit against Google alleging that the tech giant harvested personal data from Safari users without their permission through tracking cookies; although the Court deemed Google’s behavior “wrongful, and a breach of duty,” it nevertheless found that the claimants “had not suffered damage” and did not share the “same interest,” as required by UK law.

Amazon Fires Employee for Selling Emails: Weeks after confirming that marketplace sellers bribed Amazon employees to delete negative reviews or share users’ proprietary information, the company fired an employee who sold customer email addresses to a third-party seller; with customer email addresses, marketplace sellers can gain a competitive edge by directly asking customers to change or remove negative reviews, which is a violation of Amazon’s policy.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

U.S. Telecom Discovers Manipulated Hardware: Following an earlier report that China infiltrated a Supermicro factory to install chips on motherboards used in Apple and Amazon servers, Bloomberg issued a second report claiming that an unnamed U.S. telecom discovered that hardware used in its datacenter had been “manipulated” by an implant designed to “conduct covert surveillance and exfiltrate corporate or government secrets.”

Google Plus Shuts Down After Breach: Google announced its plan to shut down Google Plus after discovering a bug that made available to third-party developers information from over 500,000 accounts, including users’ occupation, gender, and email address; Google defended its decision not to announce the discovery in March—the same month that the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal came to light—on the basis that there was no evidence of data misuse. 

Intellectual Property

Microsoft Adds 60,000 Patents to OIN: After joining the anti-patent-trolling group LOT Network last week, Microsoft announced it is also joining the Open Invention Network (“OIN”), an open-source patent group designed to protect Linux and other open-source software from patent-related suits; while 60,000 of Microsoft’s patents will be open-source and available to OIN members, Windows desktop and desktop application code will not be available.

Free Expression and Censorship

Wikipedia Bans Breitbart: Wikipedia editors voted to ban use of the far-right media outlet as a source of fact in articles “due to its unreliability;” Wikipedia editors similarly decided that the “use of InfoWars as a reference should be generally prohibited.

Practice Note

European Union IP Customs Plan: Concerned by the influx of counterfeit and pirated goods into Europe, the Council of Ministers endorsed a proposed new European Union Customs Action Plan to combat intellectual property rights infringement; the plan outlines “an exchange of best practices on the customs follow-up of internet trade” between the European Commission and EU member states and claims that blockchain could be used to effectuate that purpose.

On The Lighter Side

Sue Anyone at the Touch of a Button: The AI-powered “robot lawyer” chatbot DoNotPay has a new iOS app that could help you “sue anyone” simply by pressing a button.

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

Tom Norton 
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Subrina Chowdhury
Tommine McCarthy
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP