CLIP-ings: October 26, 2018

Internet Governance

E-Scooter Companies Sued For Negligence: California residents filed a proposed class action lawsuit alleging that electric scooter companies are liable for personal injury and property damage caused by e-scooters; the plaintiffs’ lawyer argues that the companies’ user agreements, which preclude riders from bringing class action lawsuits and suing for negligence, are “draconian.”

White House Seeks Tech Support:  The Trump Administration met with tech companies to discuss ways to enable workers to take leaves to work on government projects, including modernizing state and federal agencies; the conversation took place amid worker protests against tech industry involvement with government initiatives in areas such as artificial-intelligence-powered drone attacks and facial recognition technology.


Location, Location, Location: Facebook and Google users who opted out of location tracking filed separate proposed class-action lawsuits against the two companies, alleging that each deceptively collected and sold the users’ location information despite their opt-out; the allegations arise in the wake of a recent University of Oxford study placing Google and Facebook atop the list of third-party data trackers.

Apple Calls For Stronger Privacy: In his keynote speech at the 40th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners, Apple CEO Tim Cook criticized business models that unethically profit from privacy invasion, applauded international reforms such as the GDPR, and voiced support for a comprehensive federal U.S. privacy law that would prioritize data minimization, transparency, a right to access, and a right to security; the speech followed Apple’s recent policy adjustments designed to give consumers more control over their privacy.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

U.S. Charges Russian Troll: The Department of Justice formally charged a Russian woman who is a part of the Internet Research Agency — the same group that Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted earlier this year for its involvement in the 2016 presidential election — for overseeing a social media effort to influence the upcoming U.S. midterm elections; the U.S. Cyber Command, the military wing tasked with overseeing offensive cyber operations, subsequently announced its plan to warn known Russian operatives spreading fake news that they are being watched.

Intellectual Property

Georgia Can’t Copyright Code Annotations: The Eleventh Circuit ruled that the State of Georgia cannot claim copyright ownership over its annotated code—the only official version of the state’s laws—and thus found against Georgia’s Code Revision Commission in its copyright infringement suit against an organization that purchased the code and made it publicly available online; the Court reasoned that while annotations do not carry the weight of the law, the legislature chose “to make them an integral part of the official codification of Georgia’s laws,” resulting in work that is “intrinsically public domain material, belonging to the People, and, as such, [ ] free for publication by all.”

Free Expression and Censorship

Crackdown On Brazil Spam Network: Facebook removed 68 pages and 43 accounts associated with Raposo Fernandes Associados, a marketing group supporting far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, for violating the social network’s misrepresentation and spam policies by using fake or duplicative accounts and by posting clickbait intended to direct users to third-party websites; Facebook-owned WhatsApp also banned more than 100,000 accounts used by Bolsonaro’s supporters to send bulk messaging during the campaign.

China Drafts Blockchain Regulation: The Cyberspace Administration, China’s top-level internet censorship agency, published and is seeking public feedback on a draft policy for regulating blockchain-related service providers; blockchain technology has been used in the past to bypass China’s internet censorship, but the proposed rules would require blockchain service providers to enforce know-your-customer measures by collecting certain user information and sharing it with law enforcement as requested.

Practice Note

Foreign Trademark Filers May Need U.S. Lawyer: The Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) is working on a new rule that would require foreign trademark applicants to be represented by U.S. attorneys; the rule could take effect by July 2019, as the PTO plans to issue a proposal in November and seek comment until February 2019.

On The Lighter Side

Virtual Reality Makes Food Taste Better: A study by Cornell University food scientists found that cheese eaten in pleasant VR settings was perceived to taste better than the same cheese eaten in a bleak sensory booth.

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

Tom Norton 
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Tommine McCarthy 
Subrina Chowdhury 
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP