CLIP-ings: November 2, 2018

Internet Governance

UK Proposes Big Tech Tax: Chancellor Philip Hammond proposed a 2% digital services tax on the UK-generated revenues of search engines, social media platforms, and online marketplaces that are profitable and achieve global revenue above £500m per year; U.S. political leaders and business groups expressed concern that the tax proposal may violate tax agreements by targeting U.S. firms, spark U.S. retaliation, and hurt prospects for a U.S.-UK trade deal.

Waymo Takes The Wheel: California granted Waymo, the self-driving car startup of Google parent Alphabet, a first-of-its-kind permit to test fully driverless cars on public roads in the state; while the vehicles may not travel faster than 65 miles per hour, they are allowed to drive in fog and light rain and operate in parts of Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, and Palo Alto in Northern California.


AI Lie Detector To Question EU Travelers: In an EU-funded six-month pilot program, travelers at border crossing points in Hungary, Latvia, and Greece will be administered an automated lie-detection test by animated AI border agent “iBorderCtrl”; which will ask travelers questions, record the travelers’ faces to analyze micro-gestures, and score each response before either providing a QR code that permits the traveler to pass through the border or directing the traveler to a human agent for further assessment.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Aerospace Companies Hacked By Chinese Spies: The Justice Department charged two Chinese Ministry of State Security officers, six hackers, and two aerospace company insiders for allegedly leading a five-year operation to steal the technology behind a turbofan engine used in commercial airliners by hacking U.S. and French aerospace companies using malware and spear fishing techniques.

White House Monitors Foreign Election Interference: The FBI, the Justice Department, and the Department of Homeland Security are working with the National Security Council to monitor possible foreign interference in next week’s congressional elections, and will sanction any company or individual found to interfere through hacking or disinformation efforts; the Justice Department will also launch an “election interference command post” to help the FBI rapidly communicate with its different field offices around the country on election day.

Intellectual Property

The Right to Repair: The U.S. Copyright Office carved out new exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that allow for the lawful circumvention of digital locks on voice assistants, tablets, smartphones, and vehicles so that consumers and third-parties acting on their behalf may repair such devices without violating copyright law.

Free Expression and Censorship

Twitter Reverses On Pipe Bomber’s Tweets: The social media platform apologized for denying a user’s request to address Cesar Sayoc Jr.’s threatening tweets weeks before he was charged with sending explosive devices to prominent critics of President Trump; other platforms continue to face backlash for not adequately monitoring hate speech, including Instagram for its initial refusal to remove content about Sayoc before reversing course due to public outcry.

Practice Note

Major Case Law Project Unveiled: In an effort to make a complete, searchable database of state and federal cases free on the Internet, Harvard Law launched the Caselaw Access Project with nearly 6.5 million decisions; while the primary documents have always been in the public domain, the project makes them accessible to anyone with Internet connection.

On The Lighter Side

Art Is In The AI Of The Beholder: An AI-generated painting recently fetched $432,500 at a Christie’s auction.

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