CLIP-ings: January 4, 2019

Internet Governance

Arizona Residents Resist Waymo: A New York Times report details how members of the Chandler community—a testing site for Waymo’s autonomous vehicles—displayed hostility towards the company in at least 21 incidents since 2017, including by slashing tires and threatening backup drivers with weapons; Waymo has chosen not to prosecute the assailants.

NYPD Planned To Use Drones On New Year’s Eve: Although thwarted at the last minute by rain, the New York Police Department intended to use drones during the New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square as part of a larger drone program unveiled last month.


Court Dismisses Biometric Lawsuit Against Google: After finding that the plaintiff did not suffer “concrete injuries,” a federal court dismissed a lawsuit alleging that Google’s extraction of “face templates” from images uploaded to its cloud-based photo service violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act; the plaintiff argued that she did not upload the images of herself and thus did not consent to Google’s collection, storage, or use of her biometric data.

Tracking Devices Installed In Chinese Student Uniforms: Students in certain Chinese schools are required to wear uniforms that track their whereabouts; while a state-run Chinese newspaper describes the rule as an effort to promote attendance, critics raise concern that the uniforms allow authorities to track the students’ locations outside of school.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Terrorists Control Idle Twitter Accounts: Due to a decade-old security flaw, hackers from terrorist groups have been able to hack and post propaganda from dormant accounts by resetting the accounts’ passwords using new email addresses created based on the now-expired or otherwise nonexistent addresses used to initially set up the Twitter handles; Twitter partially directs the blame at email providers that recycle deactivated email addresses.

Unknown Hackers Delay Newspaper Delivery: A strain of malware infected several U.S. newspapers owned by Tribune Publishing—including the LA Times and west coast versions of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal—and delayed their publication and delivery; the motive and source have not been determined.

Intellectual Property

Williams-Sonoma v. Amazon: Williams-Sonoma filed a trademark and design patent infringement lawsuit against Amazon for selling unauthorized Williams-Sonoma merchandise on its website and misrepresenting itself as an authorized seller of the company’s products; the home goods retailer also argued Amazon “unfairly and deceptively engaged in a widespread campaign of copying” designs of its West Elm furniture for Amazon’s own furniture line, Rivet.

Free Expression and Censorship

Netflix Removed Comedy Episode After Saudi Demand: Netflix removed an episode of its show “Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj” from streaming in Saudi Arabia after the country claimed that the episode violated its anti-cyber crime law barring content that threatens “public order, religious values, public morals, and privacy”; the episode is critical of the United States’ relationship with the Saudi government due to the country’s involvement in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the war in Yemen.

Tech Companies Not Responsible For San Bernardino Shooting: A federal judge in San Francisco dismissed a lawsuit seeking to hold Facebook, Google, and Twitter liable to victims of the 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, on the basis that the attack was not a direct result of the tech companies’ permitting terrorist groups to use their platforms; the judge also found the companies not liable for aiding and abetting terrorism under the 2016 Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act because they were only “generally aware” that terrorists groups have used their services.

On The Lighter Side

AI Stops Wildlife Poachers: Non-profit group Resolve created a pencil-sized, AI-equipped camera to detect animals, humans, and vehicles in real-time, allowing park rangers to detect and stop poachers in Africa before it’s too late.

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