CLIP-ings: February 2, 2018

Internet Governance

Faux Followers: Citing concerns about impersonation and deception, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman opened an investigation into Devumi, a company—and the subject of a recent New York Times exposé—that allegedly sells automated Twitter followers, some of them using real users’ identities, to celebrities, businesses, and anyone willing to pay for a bigger social media following.

SEC Halts ICO: The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) obtained a court order to freeze the assets of Dallas-based AriseBank and halt its initial coin offering (“ICO”) for failing to file registration or an exemption from registration with the agency; the thwarted ICO represents the first time the SEC has appointed a third-party custodian to secure a firm’s cryptocurrency holdings, which in this case include bitcoin, litecoin, bitshares, dogecoin and bitUSD.

Facebook Sued for Wrongful Death: The family of a Cleveland man whose murder was posted to Facebook is suing the social media platform for negligence and wrongful death, arguing that Facebook’s information and data-mining tools could have stopped the death by alerting police to a video posted just before the fatal shooting, which showed the killer professing his intent to kill the victim.

Privacy

TSA’s Facial Recognition Pilot Program: The Transportation Security Administration launched a three-week trial of facial recognition technology at Los Angeles International Airport where at designated gates, scanners capture the name on a passenger’s digital or paper boarding passes, verify the name with boarding pass data and then, if the names match, compare the passenger’s e-passport photo with a real-time image.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

UK Rules Mass Data Collection Act Unlawful: The UK’s Court of Appeal ruled that parts of the Investigatory Powers Act of 2016 are unlawful and held that the powers granted in the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act of 2014—which paved the way for the 2016 Act—did not restrict the accessing of confidential personal phone and web browsing records to serious crime, thereby conflicting with EU law by allowing police to authorize their own access without review by a court or independent administrative body.

Intellectual Property

Wrist Watch: The USPTO granted Amazon a patent for a wristband that tracks warehouse workers’ hand movements and location in real time, thus raising employees’ privacy concerns; the proposed system consists of three parts, including various ultrasonic devices placed around the work area, a module to manage data, and the wristband itself, which features a haptic feedback module that buzzes to notify workers about breaks and help workers find items in the warehouse.

We Shall Overcome Copyright Law: Parties in the copyright dispute about the 1960s protest song “We Shall Overcome” agreed to a settlement putting the civil rights anthem in the public domain; the settlement followed a decision in September by U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan stripping copyright protection from the song’s most famous verse ruling that the song’s adaptation from an older work—changing “will” to “shall”—lacked originality.

Robo Cop: Ford developed a patent for a police car that can issue tickets without pulling drivers over by using artificial intelligence to find good hiding spots to catch traffic violators and identifying drivers by scanning license plates, tapping into surveillance cameras and wirelessly accessing government records; the patent application states the vehicle can perform “routine tasks,” such as issuing tickets for failure to stop at a stop sign or communicating with other vehicles on the road, but tasks that cannot be automated will be left to police officers who can be inside the vehicle at all times and reclaim control of the car when necessary.

Free Expression and Censorship

Cuba Internet Task Force: Cuba gave the top American diplomat in Havana a note of protest in response to the Trump administration’s creation of a Cuba Internet Task Force composed of U.S. government and non-governmental representatives; the U.S. State Department said that the task force will promote the “free and unregulated flow of information” by “expanding internet access and independent media,” but the Cuban Foreign Ministry counters that the task force is an attempt to violate its sovereignty and carry out interventionist and illegal actions.

Practice Note

Court Swipes Left: A California appellate court reversed a lower court’s dismissal of an age discrimination lawsuit against Tinder, stating that the company’s variable pricing for Tinder Plus, which charges more for users over 30 years old, is discriminatory because without a strong public policy justification, the pricing makes an “arbitrary, class-based generalization” about older users’ incomes, in violation of California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act and the Unfair Competition Law.

On The Lighter Side

A Wealthy Sourpuss: The Grumpy Cat wins a $710,000 payout in a copyright and trademark lawsuit.


Information Law News From CLIP-ings International Correspondents Around the Globe

This academic year, former CLIP-ings Editorial Fellows studying abroad are reporting from time-to-time on current local news and developments in the field of information law!

From Victoria Loeb – Paris, France:

GDPR Guidance: With less than 100 days until mandatory compliance, the European Commission published a guidance to aid all stakeholders to prepare for the GDPR while national data protection authorities, such as the CNIL in France, have been advising organizations, citizens, and businesses on what changes to expect and how to adapt; the Commission’s guidance urges member states to provide financial and human resources to national authorities, announced a Commission website dedicated to compliance guidelines, and designated €3.7 million to help with compliance—€1.7 million to fund data protection authorities and to train data protection professionals, and €2 million to support national efforts in reaching out to businesses.

From Meghna Prasad – Rome, Italy:

Cryptojacking, A New Threat: Hackers targeted YouTube users in Japan, Taiwan, France, Italy, and Spain to mine cryptocurrencies without the users’ knowledge via Google’s Double Click advertising software; although Google confirmed the removal of the compromised ads, the threat of cryptojacking remains a very serious problem.


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

N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Idalys Núñez
Dean’s Fellow, Fordham CLIP

Erin Shahinfar
Subrina Chowdhury
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: January 26, 2018

Internet Governance

New York State of Net Neutrality: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order requiring state agencies to contract only with ISPs that abide by net neutrality principles days after Montana’s Governor Steve Bullock did the same; the order’s use of state contracts as leverage may withstand legal challenges as it does not impose direct regulations on the providers, but on the state government.

Airbnb Checks Out in the Bay: Airbnb’s San Francisco listings plunged from over 10,000 to around 5,500 after new vacation-rental laws kicked in requiring Airbnb hosts to register with the city; the laws aim to prevent homes from turning into year-round tourist hotels, which take rentals off the market and distort market prices.

Privacy

Foreign or US Surveillance? President Trump signed the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017 extending the authorization allowing the intelligence community to “collect critical intelligence on international terrorists, weapons proliferators and other important foreign intelligence targets outside of the US”; the law permits the Director of National Intelligence and the Attorney General to surveil anyone outside of the country and allows authorities to access communications that simply mention a foreign target, thus raising privacy concerns as US citizens’ communications can be accessed.

Facebook’s New Privacy Center: In response to the forthcoming requirements of the EU’s GDPR, Facebook will set up a new global privacy center that puts core privacy settings in one place permitting its users to more easily manage their personal data. 

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Look Before You Swipe: Researchers at security firm Checkmarx demonstrated that Tinder’s app lacks the standard HTTPS encryption necessary to conceal a user’s photos, allowing one to see any user’s photos or inject their own images into the user’s photo stream; the researchers also demonstrated that HTTPS-encrypted data in Tinder’s app still leaked enough information allowing a hacker on the network to monitor the user’s swipes or matches on the app.

Kansas’ Crosscheck: Boston-based security firm Netragard warned that Kansas’ Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office—host of the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, a database designed to cross-check voter records for potential double voters—could expose sensitive voter data from as many as twenty-seven states to hackers through unsecured connections between the Secretary of State’s network and other state-hosted networks.

Intellectual Property

The Music Modernization Act: A bipartisan group of senators introduced the Music Modernization Act, legislation designed to update music licensing laws for the digital age by streamlining the licensing process and setting a new standard for mechanical royalty rates; under the proposed legislation, a single entity would be created to collect royalties for distribution to copyright holders and royalty rates would be based on what a willing buyer and seller would negotiate on the free market.

Bunny v. Boing Boing: Boing Boing moved to dismiss a lawsuit filed against it by Playboy, which accuses the website of copyright infringement for linking to a YouTube video and an Imgur gallery featuring every Playmate centerfold ever; in 2016, Playboy’s Dutch publisher, Sanoma, successfully sued Dutch website GeenStijl for unfair profits arising from copyright infringing hyperlinks.

Free Expression and Censorship

Ministry of Disinformation? The UK announced plans to establish a new national security communications unit dedicated to combating “fake news”; the announcement follows French President Emmanuel Macron’s declaration that he intends to overhaul French domestic media legislation in order to counter disinformation.

Quid Pro NO! YouTube is asking sponsored musicians and artists to sign non-disparagement agreements in exchange for the platform’s promotional support; while the agreements are common in some areas of business, YouTube’s biggest music competitors do not mandate them.    

Practice Note

Qualcomm Fined by EU: The EU’s competition watchdog fined American chipmaker Qualcomm €997 million for violating EU antitrust laws by abusing its market dominance when it paid Apple billions of dollars for the tech giant’s promise that it would exclusively use Qualcomm chips; the Commission looked at Qualcomm’s high market shares, the chip-making market’s high entry barriers, the exclusion of rivals from the market and the denial of rivals’ business opportunities, and concluded that Qualcomm failed to demonstrate that the exclusivity agreement with Apple created any market efficiencies.

On The Lighter Side

Rise and Type: Google researchers have uncovered why so many smartphones in India run out of space so quickly—too many Indians send cheer-y good morning graphics to each other.


Information Law News From CLIP-ings International Correspondents Around the Globe

This academic year, former CLIP-ings Editorial Fellows studying abroad are reporting from time-to-time on current local news and developments in the field of information law!

From Victoria Loeb – Paris, France:

Tech is ‘Choosing France’: Following a booming French tech sector and President Macron’s pro-business reforms, Google’s CEO announced the company’s plan to expand AI operations in Paris and open four Google Hubs across France for free training in “online skills and digital literacy,” while Facebook revealed it would invest €10 million in its French AI center.

AI Alliance: The UK and France will collaborate on AI at a digital conference this year, where “experts in data, cybersecurity, digital government and digital skills from both sides” will share knowledge to integrate the technology’s benefits and strengthen the countries’ digital economies; the announcement occurred at the annual UK-France summit, where the countries also reiterated their support for net neutrality.

From Meghna Prasad – Rome, Italy:

Fake News Filters: In anticipation of the upcoming general election, the Italian government created a portal on Italy’s postal police website for citizens to report URLs of alleged fake news stories, where “the police’s cybercrime division will fact-check the reports,” and either deny any false information or take legal action if necessary; critics of the initiative worry about the potential for political censorship and the lack of clarity regarding what constitutes fake news.


CORRECTION: In our January 19, 2018 edition of CLIP-ings, in the portion entitled “No Pictures Please!,” we erroneously stated that “under Italian law, the image’s copyright belongs to the subject rather than the photographer.” Although Italian law does provide copyright ownership to the author of a photograph, privacy and publicity rights of the subject place limits on exclusive rights of the copyright holder.


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

N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Idalys Núñez
Dean’s Fellow, Fordham CLIP

Erin Shahinfar
Subrina Chowdhury
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: January 19, 2018

Internet Governance

The State of Net Neutrality: A coalition of twenty-two attorney generals around the country filed a petition for review of the FCC’s recent repeal of the net neutrality rules arguing that the FCC’s decision was “arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion” and that it preempted state and local laws.

Revenge Porn Damages: In a landmark civil privacy suit, the United Kingdom’s High Court of Justice awarded American YouTube star Chrissy Chambers substantial damages against an ex-boyfriend for breach of confidence, misuse of private information, and harassment, after he uploaded videos of the couple having sex to a porn site.

Privacy

Face-Off: The wildly popular Google Arts & Culture app, which matches users’ selfies to historical artworks, is blocked for many residents of Texas and Illinois because of state privacy laws that ban the collection of biometric data, such as “face geometry,” without a user’s consent.

Health App Data = Murder Evidence? In Germany, Apple’s Health app—which records a user’s steps, nutrition, sleep patterns and heart rate—provided critical evidence in the trial of a refugee accused of killing a medical student by locating the accused’s movements, and recording two spikes in physical activity on the day in question, which the app identified as “climbing stairs.”

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Lebanese Spy Agency Phone Hack: Mobile security firm Lookout and digital rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation reported this week that Lebanon’s intelligence service may have used phishing attacks to turn the Android smartphones of thousands of targeted users into monitoring devices through which they could steal victims’ data undetected.

Lawmaker Requests Briefs on Microchip Flaws: Ongoing concern about the Spectre and Meltdown security flaws in microchips that could allow hackers to steal data from most computers and devices prompted California Representative Jerry McNerney to request briefings on the vulnerabilities from microchip makers including Intel Corp., Advanced Micro Devices, and Softbank-owned Arm Holdings.

Intellectual Property

Competition Over Digital Movies:  After Disney’s motion for a preliminary injunction to block Redbox from selling digital movies at its kiosks, Redbox filed an opposition to the injunction arguing that the case is Disney’s attempt to diminish competition for its digital streaming service and invoking the first-sale doctrine as support for the lack of merit in the suit.

TWiT v. Twitter: Internet broadcaster This Week in Tech (“TWiT”) sued Twitter alleging Twitter breached written and oral agreements and is infringing on TWiT’s trademark by setting plans to deliver original, premium video content exclusively from its platform; in its suit TWiT alleges that in 2007 Twitter’s co-founder Evan Williams agreed with a TWiT creator that Twitter would not expand into audio or visual under its brand, and thus allowed both brands to co-exist.

Free Expression and Censorship

Phillipines’ Press Crackdown: The Philippines’ government revoked the corporate registration of Rappler, an independent online news site that has reported aggressively on President Rodrigo Duterte’s troll army and police abuses in the government’s war on drugs, further emphasizing the issue of press freedom in the Philippines.

Practice Note

Ninth Circuit Ruling on Automated Downloads: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held this week in Oracle v. Rimini Street that the download of online data in violation of the host’s terms of use did not violate California’s Comprehensive Data Access and Fraud Act.

On The Lighter Side

Drone Saves Lives: A drone used for shark-spotting saved two swimmers caught in Australian rough seas by tracking the stranded duo a half-a-mile from shore and dropping them a flotation device.


Information Law News From CLIP-ings International Correspondents Around the Globe

This academic year, former CLIP-ings Editorial Fellows studying abroad are reporting from time-to-time on current local news and developments in the field of information law!

From Victoria Loeb – Paris, France:

5G Test Phase: Arcep, France’s telecommunications regulator, will begin issuing temporary authorizations to use 5G-related frequencies to gather information on the “benefits and usage” of the mobile internet; the country’s five largest telecom operators purchased permits to be the first to use the frequencies, but Arcep’s chairman wants to avoid a “hasty allocation” without fully understanding the new technology.

Au Revoir, English Tech: Resisting the ubiquity of English words in the French language, the Journal officiel de la République française published alternatives to tech-related phrases such as “dark net” (“internet clandestin”) and “hashtag” (“mot-dièse”); most recently, the Commission for Enrichment of the French Language recommended use of the term “mobile multifunction” instead of “smartphone.”

From Meghna Prasad – Rome, Italy:

No Pictures Please! As part of divorce proceedings involving the boy’s parents, a Roman court held that the mother is subject to a €10,000 fine if she posts Facebook pictures of her 16 year-old son without the son’s consent; under Italian law, privacy and publicity rights of an image’s subject place limits on the copyright holder’s exclusive rights.


Job and Fellowship Opportunities

From time-to-time, CLIP-ings will highlight career opportunities in the information law field. Please note the following:

Summer 2018 Law, Policy & Technologist Intern at the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT)

Summer interns work closely with CDT policy experts, technologists, and attorneys on an array of civil liberties and international human rights issues related to technology and the internet, including online free expression, electronic surveillance, digital copyright, cybersecurity, internet governance, and consumer privacy.

For more information see here. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis until March 15, 2018.

Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) is hiring a communications associate, policy counsel and policy fellow.

The Future of Privacy Forum brings together industry, academics, consumer advocates, and other thought leaders to explore the challenges posed by technological innovation and develop privacy protections, ethical norms and workable business practices. The positions may be done on a part-time basis by current law students or recent graduates.

For more information about the specific positions, follow the links directly above.

Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency (FAT*) Conference is looking for volunteers.

The FAT* Conference, which brings together researchers and practitioners interested in fairness, accountability, and transparency in socio-technical systems, is looking for student volunteers to help with check-in, registration, and other logistics. There may also be an opportunity to prepare a write-up of the conference. Volunteers will be able to attend both days of the conference for free.

The conference will take place on February 23-24 from 8 AM-5 PM at NYU Law School.

If you’re interested in serving as a student volunteer, please send Amanda Levendowski (levendowski@nyu.edu) a short email expressing your interest, providing your availability during the conference, and saying a few words about why you’d like to be a student volunteer by Friday, January 19 at 8 PM.

ATRIP Essay Competition 2017 for Young Researchers in Intellectual Property Law

ATRIP is currently accepting essays for its annual competition for young researchers in intellectual property law. The paper may pertain to any topic related to intellectual property law.

For more information see here. Entries should be submitted to admin@atrip.org  no later than February 15, 2018.

Please feel free to send us any position announcements at CLIP@law.fordham.edu CLIP@law.fordham.edu.


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

N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Idalys Núñez
Dean’s Fellow, Fordham CLIP

Erin Shahinfar
Subrina Chowdhury
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP

Correction: January 25, 2018
In an earlier version of this post, in the portion titled “No Pictures Please!,” we erroneously stated that “under Italian law, the image’s copyright belongs to the subject rather than the photographer.” Although Italian law does provide copyright ownership to the author of a photograph, privacy and publicity rights of the subject place limits on exclusive rights of the copyright holder.

CLIP-ings: January 5, 2018

Internet Governance

Mobile-Friendly Government: Congress passed the Connected Government Act requiring all federal agencies to ensure “to the greatest extent possible” that websites aimed at public use are mobile-friendly; the act aims to keep up with technological advances and enhance citizen engagement.

France v. Fake News: Emmanuel Macron, France’s President, expressed his desire to implement a new law intended to curb the rise of “fake news” by requiring websites to disclose funding sources, capping the money websites may receive from sponsored content, and authorizing the French government to block websites promoting fake news.

Privacy

WeChat Virtual ID: The Guangzhou government in China launched a pilot program allowing users of the smartphone app WeChat to use the app’s virtual identification to apply for government services and register in hotels without the need to present a physical ID card; the app uses facial recognition and machine-learning technology to verify applicants before their virtual ID cards get authorized.

Privacy Web: The New York Times uncovered that some apps, including children’s apps, employ a software allowing it to use a smartphone’s microphone to track audio signals while the app is in use, whether prominent or in the background, allowing the app to identify and aggregate the audio to sell to advertisers who use the information to better target their ads; the software company contends that the program does not detect human speech and that its practice is detailed in its privacy policy which consumers “knowingly” opt in to.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Internal Data Breach: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) suffered a data breach affecting more than 240,000 current and former employees; DHS claims the breach was not a “cyber-attack by external actors” but rather stemmed from an unauthorized copy of the department’s “investigative case management system” held by a former employee.

Aadhaar Access For One, and For All: Aadhaar, the largest identification system in the world containing numerically identifying codes connected to Indian residents’ personally identifiable information, has been accused of being compromised after Indian journalists contend that they paid eight Indian rupees to access the database from a man on WhatsApp.

Intellectual Property

Typo-Targeting Injunction: A German court issued a preliminary injunction against Amazon ordering it to stop displaying ads of knock-offs of Birkenstock shoes to shoppers entering misspellings of the brand on Google.

Spotify’s A Billy Problem: Wixen Music Publishing sued Spotify in a California court alleging that Spotify failed to secure the proper licenses for music streamed on its platform by making “insufficient efforts” to “identify the rights holders of songs it licenses from labels” further emphasizing the issue of splitting streaming rights compensation between labels and publishing companies.

Free Expression and Censorship

Preventing Adpocalypse: Dissatisfied with YouTube’s lack of regulation of its online content, JP Morgan developed an in-house algorithm using YouTube’s API aimed at ensuring that the bank’s online ads do not appear in videos not in line with its brand. 

Iran’s Internet Crackdown: In an effort to control nationwide protests, the Iranian government blocked access to various online applications including Telegram, the nation’s most used app for private encrypted messaging, forcing users to turn to “proxies to circumvent the ban or to using WhatsApp,” which has yet to be blocked.

On The Lighter Side

Psychedelic Funk: AI would not have fared well in the 1970s.


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

N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Idalys Núñez
Dean’s Fellow, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: December 22, 2017

Internet Governance

We’re Dreaming of a New Internet? Following the FCC’s vote last week to repeal the 2015 “Net Neutrality” rules, Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee aims to introduce a new bill to implement some regulation towards ISPs; critics contend that while the legislation would ban ISPs from blocking or slowing web traffic it does not ban “fast lanes” and limits the FCC’s ability to regulate broadband networks.

Uber, Your Taxi is Arriving: The EU Court of Justice ruled Uber as a “transport service” and not an “information society service,” thus allowing the EU jurisdictions where Uber operates to enforce transport laws and regulations upon the company; Uber argued that it was merely an “e-commerce platform that facilitates rides,” and while the Court did acknowledge that Uber was “an intermediary service between drivers and riders,” it ultimately ruled that the company was inherently linked to a transport service due to the indispensability of the app to the drivers and riders and Uber’s control over the service provided.

Facebook in Fritz: Following the French data protection authority’s order to WhatsApp to stop sharing its user data with Facebook, Germany’s competition authority, the Bundeskartellamt, made a preliminary finding labeling Facebook’s data collection from third parties as abusive; while the finding is preliminary and Facebook will have an opportunity to comment and provide justifications for its conduct, the finding acts as a warning to Facebook about its data aggregation practices.

Privacy

Privacy at the Border: A new report from Georgetown Law criticizes the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) biometric exit pilot program—which uses facial recognition technology to identify passengers leaving on international flights—for its scope, execution, and accuracy; the report called the system an “invasive surveillance tool,” highlighted the system’s high rate of error, and criticized the DHS’s implementation of the program for not following the proper federal rulemaking procedures.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

You Be Gone: Youbit, a South Korean cryptocurrency exchange, filed for bankruptcy following a hack earlier this week where the company lost 17% of all its assets, with the company informing that during bankruptcy proceedings its customers would receive around 75% of the value held in the exchange; this was the second hack for the company in less than eight months with the first hack incurring losses of around 4,000 bitcoins.

Intellectual Property

Let Them Eat Sorbet: In a dispute between Comité Interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne, a lobbying group to protect the champagne mark, and Aldi, a supermarket chain, the EU Court of Justice issued a judgment stating that if sorbet, “has, as one of its essential characteristics, a taste attributable primarily to champagne,” it may be described as such and perhaps not interfere with champagne’s status as a “protected designation of origin”; the case was ultimately remanded back to the lower court to decide whether Aldi violated any laws by marketing the sorbet with the champagne mark.

Free Expression and Censorship

Rohingya Online: The Rohingya, a persecuted ethnic minority in Myanmar, will have its language included in the next version of Unicode—the international standard for digitally encoding characters and symbols—allowing the Rohingya to communicate through smartphones and computers; digitizing the language will support the humanitarian response to the current crisis and ultimately preserve the Rohingya’s identity and culture.

On The Lighter Side

Holiday Snooze: If your Facebook friends’ holiday over-sharing becomes an issue, use this new feature.


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

N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Idalys Núñez
Dean’s Fellow, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: December 15, 2017

Internet Governance

NYC Against the Machine: The New York City Council approved a first-of-its-kind bill to create a task force made up of various fairness, accountability, transparency and non-profit experts to review NYC agencies’ use of algorithms; the task force will develop a set of recommendations addressing when and how to make the algorithms public, how to assess the algorithms’ biases, the impact of such biases, and how to document and archive the algorithms and their training data.

The Net Dynamic Duo: As the FCC works towards repealing the Obama-era Open Internet Order, it released a Memo of Understanding detailing how the agency along with the FTC will share jurisdiction over ISPs and meet regularly to discuss open investigations against ISPs; the memo highlights the ISPs’ required disclosures, the FCC’s role—to monitor broadband market entry barriers, review consumer complaints, and take actions for improper public disclosure of any throttling, blocking or prioritization practices—and the FTC’s role in regulating ISPs for “marketing, advertising or promotional activities deemed deceptive, unfair or unlawful.”

Privacy

(Major)ity Report: The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services wants to implement sophisticated biometrics authentication to its visa, green card, and naturalization programs in an effort to prevent fraud and save money in labor costs; the agency “expects formal rules on the use of voice, iris and rapid DNA identification by March 2019” and hopes to use the biometrics data to authenticate users online and in person and to verify familial links.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Starbucks’ Little Secret: A customer in a Starbucks store in Argentina found that the store had a ten-second delay when allowing patrons to connect to the in-store Wi-Fi which the store used to mine cryptocurrencies using the customer’s laptop; Starbucks announced that it had addressed the issue but a cybersecurity expert highlights this as an example of the risks incurred when using public Wi-Fi networks.

Searchable Dump: In the largest data dump to date, over 1.4 billion email addresses and unencrypted passwords have been found in an underground community forum with the anonymous compiler accepting cryptocurrency donations to allow downloads of the data; the data dump features search tools and scripts to import the data into databases thus simplifying the accessibility and usage of the information.

Intellectual Property

Conventional: A jury in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California found in favor of San Diego’s Comic-Con (SDCC) in its trademark action against the founders of Salt Lake City’s Comic Con over their use of “Comic Con” in describing the Utah event; SDCC argued that “Comic-Con” was a brand name while defendants argued that the mark had been diluted.

Free Expression and Censorship

Ask Your Parents, Please: As part of a newly proposed French data privacy bill, the French government aims to require parental approval before children under the age of 16 open a social media account despite concerns about the enforceability of such requirement.

“Alt-Tech” Flaws: As mainstream sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube increase the monitoring of online hate speech and suspend users from their platforms, alternative online sites have emerged to allow the Alt-Right movement to express their views without being censored; however, the sites are far from the “alt-tech” dream due to technical inferiorities caused by lack of available resources with many of the sites having few users, “long load times, broken links, and frequent error messages.”

Practice Note

Judge, Do Not Google That: According to a new ABA ethics opinion, judges may risk violating ethical rules if they conduct online research for “adjudicative facts”­—facts concerning the parties or the subject matter of the ligation at hand—but judges may still conduct online legal research for cases not cited by the parties and for facts subject to judicial notice because they are generally known and not subject to reasonable dispute; the opinion further contends that a judge’s online research of a lawyer in a case may be allowed if done “merely to become familiar with counsel” or to determine the lawyer’s status to practice in the jurisdiction but may not be allowed if a judge’s “independent research about a lawyer…is done to affect the judge’s weighing or considering [of] adjudicative facts.”

On The Lighter Side

Netflix 1984: Netflix reminds some users that it is always watching their every move.


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

N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Idalys Núñez
Dean’s Fellow, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: December 8, 2017

Internet Governance

Crypto Quandary: The SEC’s Cyber Unit arm filed its first-ever charges against PlexCorps alleging the company’s ICO, which raised over $15 million dollars, failed to adhere to U.S. securities law by making unrealistic return rates promises and was “a fraud aimed at enriching” the company’s executives; Canada had previously prohibited PlexCorps from “engaging in unregistered offering of PlexCoin Tokens.”

Fighting News Misinformation: In an effort to protect its national press and advertising quality, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission announced plans to examine Facebook and Google to understand the companies’ influence on the content produced by Australian journalists.

Privacy

“Creepy Cayla”: In anticipation of gift-giving season, the CNIL, the French data protection agency, issued a formal notice to Genesis Industries Ltd., a toymaker, targeting the company’s lack of security in two Bluetooth-enabled toys with the agency claiming that the lack of a PIN and the ability to easily communicate with the child through the toys violate Article 1 of the French Data Protection Act; the toys in question have been outlawed in Germany and consumers in the U.S. have filed complaints against the toymaker with the FTC.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

NiceHack: NiceNash, a cryptocurrency company, announced via its Facebook page that the contents of its digital wallet were stolen in a major security breach; the company has yet to release whether any customers’ bitcoins were part of the breach but speculators say that the hackers misappropriated value over $63 million dollars.

Intellectual Property

Our Brand, Our Rules: The European Court of Justice ruled in favor of Coty, Inc., the parent company of brands such as Calvin Klein and Chloe, allowing it to enforce a selective distribution system banning Parfümerie Akzente, a German distributor, from selling Coty’s products on third-party platforms such as Amazon, thus preserving Coty’s control of its brands’ images and its high-end pricing strategy; in its ruling the Court stated that if selective distribution systems are “mainly intended to preserve the ‘luxury image’ of those [goods],” and are applied uniformly and non-discriminatorily, the systems do not breach EU competition law.

iMine: The European General Court upheld the EU Intellectual Property Office’s decision to not allow Xiaomi, Inc., a Chinese smartphone manufacturer, from registering the trademark “Mi Pad” for its tablet computers due to a likelihood of consumer confusion between Xiaomi’s tablet and Apple’s iPad.

Free Expression and Censorship

Facebook Ban: Following the recent wave of social media posts about sexual harassment, many women comedians are accusing Facebook of banning them from the social media site for posting comments about men that Facebook views as threats and hate speech towards a protected group.

Practice Note

CDA Section 230: In Dyroff v. The Ultimate Software Group, Inc., the Northern District of California ruled that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act immunized the Experience Project’s website from liability arising from an overdose death one of its users suffered from drugs purchased through connections made on the website; the Court held that Section 230 protected the company from all claims except the failure-to-warn claim, with the Court ultimately deciding that the website did not have a duty to warn the user due to a lack of a “special relationship.”

On The Lighter Side

DroneUI: If you’re planning on flying a drone while drinking, avoid doing so in New Jersey.


Information Law News From CLIP-ings International Correspondents Around the Globe

This academic year, former CLIP-ings Editorial Fellows studying abroad are reporting from time-to-time on current local news and developments in the field of information law!

From Victoria Loeb – Paris, France:

Pioneer Blockchain Project Incorporates in France: ARK Ecosystem, one of the first blockchain projects to incorporate in the EU, chose France’s unique General Interest Cooperative (SCIC) process as the most compatible legal framework for its decentralized, global cryptocurrency adoption project; as an SCIC, ARK can have an executive and community shareholder management structure without having to redistribute its cryptocurrency funds as earnings.

French Agency Provides Free Privacy Accountability Software: The French data protection authority (CNIL) released the beta version of a user-friendly data protection tool in development since 2015; the software is freely licensed and gives data controllers contextual knowledge based directly on the GDPR and the CNIL’s Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) process, and will improve through community development of new features and feedback so that organizations can achieve compliance when the GDPR comes into effect in 2018.

Meghna Prasad – Rome, Italy:

“Web Tax” Will Pass: As part of an amendment to Italy’s 2018 budget law, the Senate budget committee in Italy has approved a proposal for a “web tax” which is aimed at taxing multinational companies like Google and Facebook for digital services, like advertising, which are otherwise untaxed; the proposal will be further delineated in April of next year, after parliament’s expected approval by the end of this year.

This is Uber Bad:  After the recent revelation of a massive hack of Uber, in which 57 million users had their personal data stolen and Uber paid the hackers $100,000 to keep the breach a secret, the data protection authorities of each EU Member State came together last week to form a task force which will determine how to penalize the company.

 


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

N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Idalys Núñez
Dean’s Fellow, Fordham CLIP

Rilana Wenske
Editorial Fellow, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: December 1st, 2017

Internet Governance

Inter(Net)ional Influencers: As the fight over net neutrality wages on, the Federal Communications Commission’s final decision will have reverberating effects around the world as this decision will likely influence how developing nations approach their internet policies moving forward; yet, India’s Telecommunications Agency has taken a different approach by denouncing “discriminatory treatment” in internet access within their borders.

Border Brawn: As part of the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s augmented “Visa Lifecycle Vetting” program, and despite concerns from privacy advocates, the agency is calling on major software companies to develop algorithms to assess threats posed by U.S. visa holders and to surveil the social media of persons deemed high risk.

Privacy

Will ENOUGH be Enough? This week, the bipartisan Ending Nonconsensual Online User Graphic Harassment (ENOUGH) Act of 2017 was introduced with the hope of providing the Justice Department with the necessary tools to prosecute revenge porn perpetrators and creating federal criminal liability for revenge porn, which now affects 1 in 25 Americans.

DNcrAy: Senator Chuck Schumer is asking the Federal Trade Commission to review the lack of regulation of consumer DNA testing companies, which can claim ownership of DNA, allow third parties to access it, and make DNA vulnerable to hackers, and which the Food and Drug Administration only regulates in a limited capacity.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Unveiling Uber: This week, the leads of the congressional committees on technology,  finance, telecommunications, and data security sent Uber executives a series of questions regarding their recently unveiled data breach cover-up, specifically asking why consumers were informed so long after the attack.

Web Watch: A new study has identified almost 500 of the world’s top 50,000 websites, including Home Depot and CBS News, which engage in “session replay,” a technique that records users’ keystrokes, mouse movements, and scrolling behavior and may compromise sensitive user information.

Intellectual Property

Patent Predicament: The Supreme Court appears divided over the constitutionality of a 2011 law that allows the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) to hear patent challenges, with supporters claiming that the PTAB hearings make it easier to go after patent trolls and critics arguing that the PTAB is improperly replacing the federal courts.

Free Expression and Censorship

Working Hard or Hardly Working? This week YouTube has been on its toes as it worked to fix a hack of its autocompleted search results, based on frequently searched terms, which previously allowed for suggestions of auto-completed terms relating to obscene acts with children; meanwhile, YouTube also froze brand advertisements on obscene videos of children after the company received requests from big-name brands to remove their ads from such content.

Practice Note

Balancing Act: In an effort to avoid patent licensing disputes, the European Commission has issued licensing guidelines aiming to strike a balance between the interests of patent owners and users, with the final draft removing both a requirement for owners to categorically provide licenses and a requirement for users to pay different rates to use patents.

On The Lighter Side

Mechanical Mentor: A mechanical female falcon now patrols the airspace around the Alberta, Canada airport to scare and herd birds away from the airport and teach them to fly in less dangerous areas.


Information Law News From CLIP-ings International Correspondents Around the Globe

This academic year, former CLIP-ings Editorial Fellows studying abroad are reporting from time-to-time on current local news and developments in the field of information law!

From Victoria Loeb – Paris, France:

Numerous Trackers Found in Android Apps: Security researchers at French nonprofit Exodus Privacy built a custom auditing platform to find tracking software in more than 300 apps for Android’s smartphone operating systems, with capabilities to target users based on third-party data, identify offline movement through machine learning, track behavior across devices, and correlate users; researchers at Yale Privacy Lab are working to replicate the Exodus findings and believe many of the trackers also exist on iOS, as many companies distribute for both platforms.

 


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

N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Yemi Danmola
Harrison Kay
Rilana Wenske
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: November 17th, 2017

Internet Governance

AG Action: This week Missouri’s Attorney General (AG) issued subpoenas demanding information from Google in its investigation into Google’s possible violation of Missouri’s consumer protection and antitrust laws, although it is unclear as to whether this is a publicity stunt or if other state AGs will follow suit.

Efficient Emergencies: After a decade of resistance from wireless phone carriers, the FCC is calling for the carriers to improve geographic specificity of pinpoint emergency alerts from the county level to the cell tower level, with the eventual goal of tying the alerts to individual cell phone users within a triangulated location, utilizing technology similar to that of Uber.

Rules on Review: In response to criticism that federal agencies withheld cybersecurity flaws uncovered during previous vulnerability reviews, White House officials have released new rules that detail how the agencies should consider whether to disclose or keep secret any detected vulnerabilities.

Privacy

Pill.0: The Food and Drug Administration has approved use of the first digital pill fitted with an ingestible sensor that transmits data to an app via a patch worn by the user, allowing patients to share dosage information with their doctors but raising concerns that access to such intimate data can have repercussions for the doctor-patient relationship.

Dirt Box Detailing: Last year the state of Texas paid $373,000 to outfit cellphone surveillance technology called Digital Receiver Technology or “dirt boxes” to Texas National Guard planes as a part of an anti-drug trafficking operation; this software is more powerful than Stingray technology as it can mimic cell towers, connect to every smartphone in the geographic area beneath it, and collect private data from those smartphones, such as location data and the content of cell phone calls.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Hacking the Hostiles: A group of Muslim hackers has infiltrated ISIS’s propaganda network and published a list of almost two thousand email subscribers, striking another blow to ISIS’s online presence as part of a broader movement of activist groups targeting and dismantling ISIS websites and servers and spreading disinformation among its online base.

North Korea’s Cobra: The Department of Homeland Security’s Computer Emergency Readiness Team  has issued a warning about the North Korean government’s cyber attacks, collectively called “Hidden Cobra” and IP addresses strongly believed to be linked to the attacks, which were used to attack the U.S. telecommunications, aerospace, and finance industries.

Intellectual Property

Patent for Payments: MasterCard has filed a patent for a blockchain-like system that will use a variant of the blockchain ledger to guarantee money transfers in an effort to speed up transaction times and instantly store and manage international transactions.

Free Expression and Censorship

Fake-Checkers: Despite announcing coordinated efforts to slow the spread of misinformation, Facebook’s fact-checkers are claiming that the campaigns are not proceeding as planned, citing the lack of data provided on the impact of their work, the fact that fake information is continuing to go viral, and the disadvantages of using third-party fact-checkers.

Faking Freedom: Freedom House released a detailed report on the state of internet freedom across the globe, highlighting that at least 30 countries engage in digital manipulation to distort the digital perception in their favor, that this digital interference has affected elections in 18 nations, and that the unfortunate consequence of 14 countries attempting to mitigate this problem has been reduced internet freedom within their borders.

Practice Note

Digital Dilemma: Settling an estate of a deceased loved one has become increasingly difficult because many live a portion of their lives online, but trust and estate attorneys recommend taking extra precautions to address your digital life in your will or that of a client, such as granting your executor and power of attorney access to your digital life, creating online password and email managers allowing for access by an emergency contact upon your death, recording all online banking and financing information, choosing legacy contacts for social media accounts, and deciding who inherits ownership rights of digital assets like photos and music.

On The Lighter Side

Faith in Phones: Churchgoers at New York City’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral are using their phones to shop, check email, and take photos and videos during services, even after Pope Francis called for phones to be left at home in a recent address from the Vatican.


Information Law News From CLIP-ings International Correspondents Around the Globe

This academic year, former CLIP-ings Editorial Fellows studying abroad are reporting from time-to-time on current local news and developments in the field of information law!

From Victoria Loeb – Paris, France:

Paris Joins European Sister Cities, Regulates Airbnb: Effective January 2018, Airbnb will automatically require hosts to comply with a 120-day cap per year on short-term rentals in Paris, the app’s biggest single market, amidst global criticism and claims that rental platforms are raising property prices and causing housing shortages in popular cities; the limit will only apply to Paris’ four major tourist districts, but the mayor’s housing advisor thinks it should apply to all of Paris.

Policing Traffic from the Sky: Police in southwest France are using drones to patrol drivers, as the flying machines’ cameras deliver a live-stream to police on the ground so that they can cover wide areas and track specific vehicles; the government wants to expand the operation, which stops between 15 and 20 cars an hour but cannot yet detect drivers breaking the speed limit.

Meghna Prasad – Rome, Italy:

There’s an App for That: From December 4-6, 2017, Milan will host Europe’s first mobile and digital app convention, bringing together top speakers from popular apps such as BlaBlaCar, Deliveroo, and Moovit, who will discuss mobile cybersecurity, big data, robots, and other topics related to the way that the app economy has altered consumption of information and products online.

Online Monitoring Leads to Deportation: A woman living in Milan with her parents and three younger brothers has been deported after her internet activity, including messages sent through an instant messaging software called Telegram, revealed that she was ready to “carry out a suicide attack in Italy” on behalf of Daesh.


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

N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Yemi Danmola
Harrison Kay
Rilana Wenske
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: November 10th, 2017

Internet Governance

Initial Celebrity Offerings: This week the Securities and Exchange Commission warned celebrities and media personalities to stop promoting initial coin offerings on social media because the failure to “disclose the nature, scope, and amount of compensation received in exchange for the promotion” of these possible securities is unlawful and a violates of anti-touting laws and possibly anti-fraud rules.

Trafficking Triumph: After a group of major internet companies reached a compromise with the government to support increased crackdowns on websites involved in sex trafficking in exchange for protection from a potential floodgate of litigation, the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee voted to amend a section of the Communications Decency Act to include the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act.

Privacy

Photo Fears: Facebook has announced a pilot program aimed at potential victims of revenge porn in which users voluntarily upload nude photos of themselves to create a digital footprint; the company claims that doing so will prevent future uploads of any copies of the photo, but raises concerns that the images might not be permanently deleted even if Facebook claims that they will not be stored.

Rogue Ratios: Silicon Valley’s technology companies have a peculiar habit of providing low level employees with high level access, providing opportunities such as the recent temporary deactivation of President Trump’s Twitter account by a rogue and disgruntled employee; with employee to customer ratios like 1:84,658 for Twitter and 1:89,358 for Facebook, the value of each individual user is diminished and the potential for abuse is increased.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Mysterious Methods: In a security hearing before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, former Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer admitted that the company still lacks specifics about tactics used in a Russian state-sponsored cyberattack that compromised three billion Yahoo! user accounts beginning in 2013.

Data Dangers: Not all enterprises read the terms of service agreements when they begin using various cloud services providers, making them unaware of whether their service provider has the consented-upon right to scan through their company’s stored data and documents.

Intellectual Property

Hijacking the Home: A Delaware judge has issued a preliminary injunction against Ring Protect, forcing it to temporarily cease sales of technology used in its home security platform because it purchased this technology that was originally developed for ADT.

Copyright Cash: A music tech startup called Kobalt, known for its platform that allows artists to track plays of their music and collect royalties, has launched a $600 million fund to buy music copyrights and collect royalties on those rights that allow the company to raise additional funds for its business.

Free Expression and Censorship

Controlled Content: YouTube Kids has redesigned the functionality of its website to provide parents with more controls to protect their kids from inappropriate content, such as allowing the children’s accounts to be connected to the parent’s administrator account, turning off the searching feature, and setting passcodes to prevent parental control settings from being changed.

No-Chill China: Despite blocking access to Facebook for its citizens, the Chinese government and its state media agencies are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on content posted on Facebook to disseminate pro-China news and propaganda focused on the country’s stability and prosperity and aimed at audiences outside its borders.

Practice Note

Mo’ Money Mo’ Influence: Efforts to prevent Russia’s covert influence via social media may benefit from utilizing the lessons learned in developing anti-money laundering laws, as both activities thrive in the shadows and utilize legitimate enterprise facades, specifically by enforcing transparency and accountability as to the source of the information, as was the case with anti-money laundering laws.

On The Lighter Side

35,000 Tweet: As many Twitter users react to the company’s decision to double the potential length of a tweet to 280 characters, one user was able to sidestep Twitter’s automatic link shortening tools and post a 35,000-character tweet that has since been deleted.


Information Law News From CLIP-ings International Correspondents Around the Globe

This academic year, former CLIP-ings Editorial Fellows studying abroad are reporting from time-to-time on current local news and developments in the field of information law!

From Victoria Loeb – Paris, France:

Tech is Integral to Social Business Success in France: Social entrepreneurship is a growing movement in France, supported politically by President Macron and financially by private individuals and global NGOs, that capitalizes on the tech community to allow immigrants to participate as economic contributors; projects include apps that use peer participation and artificial intelligence to make the administrative visa process more efficient, communication platforms for interested volunteers, and training programs to develop social ventures.

France Welcomes the ‘Robo-Taxi’: French startup Navya Technologies will soon begin testing its “robo-taxi” in Paris, a vehicle constructed as a wholly autonomous system rather than modeling the functions of an existing car; Navya will begin sales in the third quarter of 2018 and intends to develop a complete line-up of autonomous vehicles, but potential buyers ranging from Uber to Apple already have their own autonomous car-development plans.

Meghna Prasad – Rome, Italy:

Extra! Extra! (Don’t) Read All About It! Under a new proposed bill in Italy, police officers listening to wiretapped conversations relevant to trials will only be permitted to pass “relevant” parts of the conversations to prosecutors, leaving transcripts not deemed “relevant” sealed; the bill represents a government effort to prohibit the media from publishing supposedly irrelevant news bits to sensationalize trials and attract readers with flashy, albeit misleading, headlines which could ultimately harm trials and destroy reputations.

 


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

N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Yemi Danmola
Harrison Kay
Rilana Wenske
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP