CLIP-ings: January 22, 2021

Internet Governance

Google Acquired Fitbit Despite Antitrust Investigation: Google closed its $2.1 billion takeover of Fitbit as a step to improve its hardware business despite ongoing antitrust investigation of the acquisition, leaving open the possibility that the U.S. Department of Justice might sue to unwind the completed deal in the future; regulators and consumer groups around the world have voiced privacy and antitrust concerns about the deal since as early as when it was announced in 2019.

Facebook And Google Allegedly Engaged In “Sweetheart Deal” To Promote Digital Advertising: Documents from Texas’s antitrust lawsuit against Facebook and Google reveal that the two tech giants might have reached an agreement in 2018 to reduce competition in the digital advertising space that gave Facebook preferential treatment in ad header bidding and also insight into its ad audiences.

Privacy

Facebook Settles Class Action Suit Alleging Violations Of Illinois Biometric Data Law: Facebook will pay a total of $650 million in settlement fees to 1.6 million users in Illinois for collecting their facial data without their informed consent to support its “tag suggestions” feature, in violation of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act; if Facebook had proceeded to trial and lost, it could have been liable for up to $35 billion, given statutory penalties of $1,000 for each accidental violation, or $5,000 for each knowing violation of the Act.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Data Breach Of Parler Revealed Videos Filmed Near Law Enforcement Buildings And Military Bases In The U.S.: GPS data analysis of videos posted on the Parler app, which was one of the online forums used to plan the attack on the U.S. Capitol building earlier this month, revealed that more than a hundred of the videos were filmed within 50 to 1,000 feet of law enforcement buildings, military bases, and an immigrant detention center; although some videos captured benign activities of officers, experts warn against the threat of officers’ potential exposure to extremist ideologies.

Intellectual Property

Trump Pardons Former Google Engineer Who Pleaded Guilty To Stealing Trade Secrets: Hours before leaving office, President Trump granted a full pardon to Anthony Levandowski, the former engineer who was sentenced to 18 months in prison for stealing trade secrets related to Google’s self-driving car project.

Free Expression and Censorship

President Of The European Commission Calls For U.S. To Regulate Big Tech: After recounting the storming of the U.S. Capitol building earlier this month, President von der Leyen warned that hate speech and disinformation can undermine democratic institutions, and called for Europe and the U.S to impose “democratic limits on the untrammelled and uncontrolled political power of the internet giants.”

For Many Americans, Trust In Traditional Media Is Disappearing: According to Edelman’s annual trust barometer report, only 46% of Americans trust traditional media while 56% agree with the statement that “[j]ournalists and reporters are purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations.”

On the Lighter Side

Biden Administration Recruits IT Experts Through Easter Egg In White House Website’s Source Code: After Joe Biden was sworn in as President this past Wednesday, Twitter users found a comment tag in the source code of the updated whitehouse.gov website that linked viewers to the hiring page of the U.S. Digital Service, the federal unit created to “deliver better government services to the American people through technology and design.” 

Olivier Sylvain
Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Erica Chan
Junyi Cui
Editorial Fellows

CLIP-ings: January 15, 2021

Internet Governance

Google Hides Links To Certain News Sites From Search Results In Australia: Google has removed links to stories by the Guardian Australia, the Australian, and the Sydney Morning Herald from search results in the country, purportedly as part of “experiments” designed to “measure the impacts of news businesses and Google Search on each other”; others, however, view the move as reaction to the Australian government’s recent proposal that would require Google and others to share advertising revenue with the country’s news publishers.

Airbnb Blocks D.C. Bookings For Inauguration: In light of warnings about potentially violent protests in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere on Inauguration Day, Airbnb has cancelled all reservations and is blocking new requests for stays in the D.C. area in the days around January 20th; the site is also assisting law enforcement with identifying users who were “involved in the criminal activity at the Capitol building” last week.

Privacy

Flo App Settles With FTC Over Sharing User Data: The fertility and period-tracking app with over 100 million users allegedly shared details about users’ menstrual cycles and intentions to become pregnant with third-party analytics and marketing services, including Facebook and Google, without allowing users to block the sharing; under the settlement’s terms, Flo must notify affected users that their data was shared and ensure that third-party recipients destroy affected users’ data.

TikTok Enhances Privacy For Younger Users: As part of several efforts designed to improve privacy for children who use the app, TikTok will make the accounts of users under 16 private by default; other changes involve limiting who can comment on children’s posts and restricting the use of certain collaborative features by children.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Ring Debuts End-to-end Encryption: After improving its privacy and security settings by, among other things, implementing a Control Center dashboard and requiring two-factor authentication, the home security company will now add end-to-end encryption to its doorbells and video cameras.

Free Expression and Censorship

Snapchat Among Latest Platforms To Ban Trump: “In the interest of public safety,” the app permanently banned Trump for “clear violations of [its] guidelines,” including “attempts to spread misinformation, hate speech, and incite violence”; similarly, YouTube, “in light of concerns about the ongoing potential for violence” leading up to Inauguration Day, removed content recently uploaded to Trump’s channel and will ban the uploading of new content to it until at least January 19th.

Practice Note

ABA Ethics Committee Publishes Guidance About Attorney Response To Negative Online Reviews: In a Formal Opinion, the Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility iterates the importance of maintaining client confidentiality and offers a set of best practices for responding to online reviews.

On the Lighter Side

Lost Password Could Lead To Lost Fortune: A man who lost the password to a hard drive containing $240 million worth of Bitcoin has two more login attempts left before the hard drive encrypts itself and becomes permanently inaccessible. 

Olivier Sylvain
Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: January 8, 2021

Internet Governance

U.S. Department Of Labor Issues Final Rule For Classifying Employees And Independent Contractors: The rule, which could help companies in the gig economy to classify workers as independent contractors instead of employees, identifies two “core factors” for drawing the distinction—the “nature and degree of control over the work” and the “opportunity for profit or loss”—plus additional “guideposts” to aid in analysis.

Trump Administration Cracks Down On Chinese Apps And Software In Final Days: Via an executive order issued on January 5th, Trump has banned transactions with eight Chinese apps and software services that “can access and capture vast swaths of information from users.”

Privacy

App Developers Seek Workaround To Forthcoming Apple Privacy Update: In response to an iPhone update that will prevent apps from tracking identifiers for advertising purposes without user consent, app developers are exploring the use of techniques such as device fingerprinting and email hashing to subvert the new policy.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

U.S. Government Officially Blames Russia For SolarWinds Hack: A joint statement by the FBI, the NSA, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence acknowledged that “an Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) actor, likely Russian in origin, is responsible for most or all of the recently discovered, ongoing cyber compromises of both government and non-governmental networks”; this week, it was reported that Department of Justice email accounts were also affected by the attack.

Intellectual Property

Facebook Fined In Italy For Stealing App’s Tech: An Italian court of appeals upheld a decision that Facebook copied the Faround app, which presented Facebook users with an interactive map of nearby stores, to launch its own, similar Nearby Places app; the decision highlights concerns about unfair competition, noting that Facebook had “privileged and early access” to the Faround app to test whether it was compatible with its platform.

Free Expression and Censorship

Facebook Locks Trump’s Account “Indefinitely”: After the President’s account was temporarily locked in the wake of Wednesday’s unrest on Capitol Hill, Mark Zuckerberg announced that the account will now be locked “indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.

Practice Note

Italian Court Finds That Food Delivery Service App Deliveroo’s Algorithm Is Discriminatory: The court concluded that the algorithm, which determines rider “reliability” based on cancellation data, is discriminatory because it fails to take into account reasons for cancellation and thereby “unjustly penalizes riders with legally legitimate reasons for not working”; the decision is seen as a landmark one, as it creates precedent for subjecting algorithms to judicial review and placing liability on companies that employ even unintentionally discriminatory algorithms.

On the Lighter Side

Covid-19 Vaccine Meme Electrifies The Internet: Online jokesters and conspiracy theorists alike have shared a diagram of schematics purported to be that of a chip injected into people who receive the Covid-19 vaccine—but it’s really just the circuitry for a guitar effect pedal. 

Olivier Sylvain
Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: December 18, 2020

Internet Governance

Google Facing A Googol’s Worth Of Litigation As 52 Attorneys General And The Department Of Justice Allege Antitrust Violations: Across a series of actions likely to be consolidated into one lawsuit, the federal government, several coalitions of states, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the District of Columbia allege that the search engine goliath has long engaged in exclusionary agreements and anticompetitive conduct involving blocking competition for online advertising, abusing vertical integration in order to win advertising, limiting access to competitors, prohibiting interoperability of its search-advertising business, and throttling the speeds of those who try to circumvent Google Search by accessing destinations directly.

Privacy

Facebook Took Out Full-Page Ads To Stand Up To Apple: In addition to creating a website criticizing Apple’s forthcoming policy that will require iPhone users to choose whether to allow certain companies to track them across different apps, Facebook took out full-page ads in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times to “speak[] up for small businesses” that have allegedly expressed concern over the policy change; however, Facebook’s published statements neglect to mention how the new policy could also hurt its own advertising business. 

Facebook To Move United Kingdom Users To United States Accounts: In response to Brexit, the social network will put its U.K. users into agreements with its California-based corporate headquarters to sever their relationship with its Ireland-based unit for the purpose of putting those users out of EU privacy law’s reach; privacy advocates are concerned that the shift might lead the U.K. to adopt looser privacy laws as it negotiates a trade deal with the U.S., and that U.K. users may have their information shared with the U.S. government.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Behind The Russia-Based Cyberattack Affecting Multiple United States Government Agencies And Private Firms: A backdoor initially detected by cybersecurity firm FireEye and Microsoft was implanted by Russia’s primary foreign intelligence agency, SVR, in an update to SolarWinds’s Orion IT monitoring platform back in March; with thousands of Orion users around the world, including the United States Departments of Commerce, the Treasury, and Homeland Security, and given the nation-state level sophistication of the malware, the effects of the ongoing breach and its impact may remain uncertain for many more months.

Free Expression and Censorship

Misinformation Purveyors Pivot To Covid-19 Vaccines: In order to maintain their social media influence, peddlers of online misinformation are switching topics to stay relevant; those who were spreading election conspiracy theories are now pushing false Covid-19 vaccine narratives as voter fraud misinformation has subsided.

Twitch’s New Policy Bans Terms “Simps,” “Incel,” And “Virgin”: Due to a rise in sexual harassment complaints and in an effort to make the streaming platform a safer environment, Twitch will ban the words when they are used to harass another person for their sexual activity.

Practice Note

European Union Announces Intent To Bolster Anti-Competition Efforts By Introducing Aggressive Regulation Via Two Acts: Carrying the threat of fines as high as 10% of annual global revenue, the Digital Markets Act (DMA) would bar large online platforms, or “gatekeepers,” from favoring their own products over those of rivals or using data they have collected in an exclusionary way, while the Digital Services Act (DSA), which is aimed at preserving the laws of EU member nations, and would penalize platforms up to 6% of their annual revenue for not removing illegal posts following a government order.

On the Lighter Side

Twitter Update Will Show Users Tweets They Find Funny: Anecdotal evidence suggests that as people spend more time on video calls with co-workers, friends, and family, more have turned to plastic surgery to improve their on-camera appearance. 

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

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Erica Chan
Daniel Gerken
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: December 11, 2020

Internet Governance

FTC, States, Launch Antitrust Suit Against Facebook: The Federal Trade Commission and a coalition of over 40 states have launched parallel suits against the social network, alleging that its “actions to entrench and maintain its monopoly deny consumers the benefits of competition”; in its suit, the FTC seeks an injunction that would require Facebook to divest Instagram and WhatsApp.

Privacy

CDC Vaccination-Tracking Effort Gives Rise To Privacy Concerns: To better understand national uptake of a Covid-19 vaccine and to “track adverse reactions, address safety issues and assess the effectiveness of the vaccine among different populations,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has asked states to agree to share vaccine recipients’ identifying information, including names, addresses, ethnicities, and birthdays; some state authorities, including New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, have pushed back on the plan, arguing that shared data could be used to identify and ultimately deport undocumented immigrants, which might dissuade some from obtaining the vaccine. 

French Privacy Regulator Fines Google €100 Million For Cookies Rules Violations: The CNIL levied its largest fine ever against the search company after concluding that it failed to obtain users’ consent before storing advertising cookies on their devices and failed to explain how the trackers would be used or how users could opt-out of tracking; Amazon was also fined €35 million for similar violations.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Prominent Cybersecurity Firm Victimized By Hack: U.S.-based FireEye, which is relied on by companies and governments across the globe, was hacked by what is believed to be a “highly sophisticated” state actor seeking “information related to certain government customers”; the attackers made away with FireEye’s own hacking tools, which could enable further hacks across the globe. 

European Medical Agency Suffers Hack Related To Covid-19 Vaccine: The Agency, which is responsible for approving potential Covid-19 vaccines—including those by Moderna and a BioNTech/Pfizer collaboration—announced that attackers accessed “some documents relating to the regulatory submission for Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate.”

Free Expression and Censorship

YouTube Bans Misinformation About 2020 Presidential Election Results: Now that “the legitimacy of Biden’s election is no longer up for debate,” the video-streaming service will remove nearly all content “that misleads people by alleging that widespread fraud or errors changed the [election’s] outcome”; content that is “educational, documentary, scientific, or artistic,” however, is excepted from the ban.

Practice Note

House Of Representatives Passes PACER Reform: This week, the House passed the Open Courts Act of 2020, which would modernize the database of court filings and eliminate its paywall; the federal judiciary, which earns approximately $145 million annually from PACER fees, opposes the bill on the bases that it would increase filing costs for litigants, result in a windfall for large law firms and companies, and cost more than $2 billion over the next half decade.

On the Lighter Side

On Camera And Under The Knife: Anecdotal evidence suggests that as people spend more time on video calls with co-workers, friends, and family, more have turned to plastic surgery to improve their on-camera appearance. 

Olivier Sylvain
Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: December 4, 2020

Internet Governance

Trump Lashes Out At Section 230, Threatens To Veto Annual Defense Funding Bill: Disgruntled with the provision of the Communications Decency Act that safeguards online platforms from liability for user-posted content, President Donald Trump threatened to veto the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, an omnibus defense spending bill, if it does not include a repeal of Section 230.

NLRB Alleges Google Retaliated Against Employees For Worker Organizing: After Google fired two employees last year for purportedly violating its internal policies, the National Labor Relations Board this week filed a complaint alleging that the tech giant broke labor laws by retaliating against the terminated employees for their organizing efforts.
Privacy

Amazon And Microsoft Release Tools For Increased Monitoring Of Employees: Amazon’s machine-learning-based Panorama uses computer vision to analyze camera footage and automatically detect safety and compliance issues, while Microsoft 365’s Productivity Score allows employers to track 73 metrics across Microsoft services including Word, Outlook, Skype, and Excel; after receiving a backlash about privacy concerns, Microsoft has ceased individual tracking in favor of using company-wide aggregated data. 
Information Security and Cyberthreats

Google Security Researcher Discovers iPhone WiFi Vulnerability: A security researcher with Google’s Project Zero demonstrates how potential hackers can completely access a victim’s iPhone by only being within the victim’s WiFi range, without having the victim click on suspicious links or install malware; while the security flaw was fixed in May, its discovery is significant because it allowed access to a device through a single vulnerability in code.

Covid-19 Vaccine Distribution Chain Targeted By Hackers: The Department of Homeland Security and IBM warn that hackers posing as executives of a legitimate participant in the vaccine effort have used spearfishing tactics to attempt to obtain the usernames and passwords of key actors in the vaccine distribution chain, which could enable access to information about the vaccine’s development and distribution.
Intellectual Property

Microsoft Files Patent To Monitor Employees’ Productivity During Work Meetings: Despite being criticized for a employing a separate “productivity-score” tool, the technology giant has filed a patent for a “meeting-insight computing system” that allows managers to perform quality control of its Office 365 software by keeping track of employees’ body language and facial expressions during real-world and virtual meetings.  
Free Expression and Censorship

Amnesty International Alleges Facebook And Google Are Complicit In Vietnam’s Censorship: After interviewing scholars and experts regarding Vietnam’s online censorship, the human rights organization published a 78-page report claiming that Vietnamese authorities are weaponizing both platforms to block content opposing the Vietnamese government.

Six Initial Cases Of Content Moderation Now Open For Public Comment Under Facebook’s New Oversight Board: In each case, a panel of five board members will make a determination as to whether the content, which ranges from alleged hate speech to nudity to misinformation, should have been removed; Facebook hopes the new board will help relieve increasing pressure over its content decisions by introducing a familiar form of governance. 
On the Lighter Side

Cowkeepers Milk Useful Analytics From Bovine Facial Recognition System: Cainthus, an Irish computer system and AI agriculture specialist, has developed a technology capable of identifying and tracking individual cows based on hide patterns and facial recognition; ultimately, the tool provides important behavior information that “drives on-farm decisions that can impact milk production, reproduction management, and overall animal health.” 
Joel R. Reidenberg
Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Chair and Professor of Law
Founding Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Erica Chan
Daniel Gerken
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: November 20, 2020

Internet Governance

Austrian Supreme Court Orders Facebook To Remove A Post Globally: After losing its appeal of a 2016 case in which Eva Glawischnig-Pieszek, then-chair of Austria’s Green Party, successfully sued Facebook Ireland for the removal of defamatory comments, the Austrian Court ordered the social media giant to remove such postings and similar references on a global scale.

Recent Hearing Reveals Important Differences Between Dorsey And Zuckerberg Reflected In Their Respective Companies: In response to questions concerning the addictiveness of social media platforms and the algorithms that determine what users see, Twitter’s CEO admitted the platforms might be addictive and expressed a willingness to allow greater transparency and user choice over algorithms, whereas Facebook’s CEO was more circumspect and avoided exploring the concept of algorithmic transparency and control; both responses reflected the way in which each platform currently operates, such as Twitter’s open implementation of experimental changes and Facebook’s zealous concealment of its algorithms.
Privacy

That New Friend Request Could Be A Debt Collector: Couched in the language of an update to consumer financial protections, and with the details concealed within a 132-page document, a new rule issued by the United States Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will allow debt collectors to approach debtors via email, text, and social media; under the rule, debt collectors are restricted from posting publicly and must comply with debtor requests to desist in contacting them through social media.
Information Security and Cyberthreats

Head Of National Cybersecurity Ousted For Not Toeing Administration Line: In a firing-by-tweet, President Trump removed Christopher Krebs from his Senate-confirmed position as the inaugural director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in retaliation against Krebs’s public assurances about the integrity of the results of the elections systems and the agency’s systematic debunking of specific election fraud claims, which undercut the President’s campaign to undermine the election results; during his tenure, Krebs built up the agency he is leaving, and through his conduct, earned bipartisan respect, both for himself and the agency.
Intellectual Property

GitHub Reinstates Popular Code That Allows Users To Download Copies Of Copyrighted Material: After receiving a DMCA takedown notice from the Recording Industry Association of America in October, GitHub removed “youtube-dl,” a command-line program that could potentially be used to download copyrighted videos; however, Github has since reversed its decision, explaining that while the program listens to a few seconds of a song in order to confirm it is working properly, it does not actually download the material for distribution, and that the code has numerous “legitimate uses.”
Free Expression and Censorship

Trump’s Accusations Of Voter Fraud Continue: Since election night, President Trump has posted over 300 tweets in which he amplifies election misinformation; at a congressional hearing this week, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey confirmed that Trump’s account will lose its “world leader” status, which ensures that tweets that might otherwise violate Twitter’s rules stay visible due to their public interest, once Trump is no longer President.
Practice Note

Requirements Forcing Production Of Code May Violate Constitutional Prohibitions Against Compelled Speech: Two providers of automobile dealer management systems have successfully claimed in Arizona federal court that part of the state’s 2019 Dealer Data Security Law requiring compatibility and integration with third-party systems violates First Amendment protections by forcing the production of code to meet the law’s standards; the court disagreed that Constitutionality is avoided because the law does not dictate content, stating that the plaintiffs’ allegations reach beyond regulation of conduct.
On the Lighter Side

Zoom Lifts 40-Minute Limit For Thanksgiving Meetings: As a goodwill gesture, Zoom is lifting the 40-minute limit on free video chats so families can talk for as long as they wish on Thanksgiving Day.
Joel R. Reidenberg
Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Chair and Professor of Law
Founding Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Erica Chan
Daniel Gerken
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: November 13, 2020

Internet Governance

European Commission Initiates Competition Law Enforcement Action Against Amazon: Armed with the authority to fine Amazon 10% of its global turnover, the Commission has charged the retail giant with using information about third-party seller activity on its online marketplace to gain a competitive advantage as a retailer itself; Amazon counters that its global market share is less than 1%, it faces large retailers in every country, and it has provided unrivaled support to small businesses, with over 150,000 European enterprises participating in its marketplace.

TikTok Seeks Clarity As Divestiture Deadline Looms, Administration Silent: Despite efforts at actively engaging the administration and working to resolve the issues that prompted President Trump to ban the app, TikTok has received neither substantive feedback on proposed privacy and security improvements nor a response to its subsequent application for a 30-day extension to the November 12th deadline; as a result, the service has filed a petition in a United States Court of Appeals for a review of actions by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which issued the order requiring TikTok parent company ByteDance to sell its United States assets.
Privacy

European Data Protection Board Publishes Guidance On Standard Contractual Clauses Following Schrems II: Following the July ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union that invalidated the Privacy Shield framework that many businesses relied on to transfer the personal data of European citizens from the European Union to the United States, the European Data Protection Board released a 38-page guidance on the use of Standard Contractual Clauses, one of the few remaining methods of engaging in EU-compliant data transfers to the United States.
Information Security and Cyberthreats

Zoom Agrees To Upgrade Security Program In Tentative Settlement With FTC: The company has agreed to settle allegations that it has not provided end-to-end encryption for Zoom meetings outside of its “Connecter” product despite claims to the contrary; while Zoom will implement security measures to protect its user base as part of the settlement, it is not required to compensate affected users. 

Digital Rights Activist Accesses Moscow’s Facial Recognition System For Just $200: After transferring the equivalent of approximately $200 to a service advertised on Telegram that offered access to the Moscow Police’s facial recognition system, a digital rights group volunteer received a detailed report of her movements over the previous month that was based where her image had been captured by police cameras.
Intellectual Property

Twitch Apologizes For Last Month’s Vague DMCA Takedown Notices: In a blog post explaining its copyright crackdown last month, Twitch apologized for its inadequate warning emails and recommended that users use recorded music on their streams only if they own the copyrights and that they delete old videos that have copyrighted music in them.
Free Expression & Censorship

Facebook Groups In Violation Of Community Standards Policies Now Risk Forced Moderation, Subsequent Removal: In a heating up of Facebook’s efforts to curtail the spread of misinformation on its platform, the social media giant will start placing groups in frequent violation of its community standards policies on non-appealable, 60-day probationary periods, during which posts to the group must be manually approved by the group’s administrators or moderators; while Facebook deems the strategy a temporary protection “during this unprecedented time,” it warns that a group that persists in violations during its probation will be banned.
On the Lighter Side

Japanese City Responds To Bear Attacks With Robowolves: In response to a rise in black bear attacks as a result of an acorn shortage in the Japanese wilderness, the city of Takikawa, Japan, installed robotic wolves to deter bear attacks.
Joel R. Reidenberg
Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Chair and Professor of Law
Founding Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Erica Chan
Daniel Gerken
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: November 6, 2020

Internet Governance

California Voters Pass Proposition 22 To Keep Rideshare Drivers As Independent Contractors: After the most expensive campaign in state history, Californians voted to create an app-based-delivery-company exception to a labor law passed last year that otherwise would have required companies such as Uber and Lyft to classify their California drivers as employees instead of independent contractors.

European Union Regulatory Proposals Would Require Internet Platforms To Open Up Their Algorithms To Oversight: Concerned about discrimination, the amplification of bias, and abusive targeting of vulnerable individuals and groups as a result of algorithmic decisionmaking, the proposals ask for more accountability and transparency around algorithms, particularly those from the most powerful internet platforms; lawmakers also seek increased user control, increased regulator access to data, and more information for users regarding ad targeting and greater reporting requirements for content moderation.
Privacy

Portland, Maine Passes Facial Recognition Ban: The new measure strengthens Portland’s existing ban on the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement agencies and public officials by, among other things, allowing Portland citizens to sue the city for illegal surveillance and to receive $100 per violation or $1,000, depending on which amount is higher.

California Passes CPRA, Shores Up CCPA: The California Privacy Rights Act, which takes effect in January 2023, makes several substantive updates to the existing California Consumer Privacy Act, including clarifying what constitutes a “sale” of information, requiring disclosure of automated decisionmaking and data subject profiling, supplementing the list of protected data and creating a category of sensitive personal data, and providing for the formation of a data privacy authority to replace the state attorney general as the act’s enforcer, among other things.
Information Security and Cyberthreats

Ransomware Attacks On United States Hospitals Stem From Google Drive Documents: After several hospitals were struck by Ryuk ransomware, analysis from security firm Sophos reported that many of the attacks were delivered by a campaign of phishing emails that contain links to Google Drive documents, which, when opened, would deliver malware content onto victims’ computers.
Intellectual Property

Massachusetts Voters Overwhelmingly Support Ballot Measure Allowing Sharing Of Vehicle Telematics: Massachusetts residents voted to expand the state’s wide-reaching right-to-repair law to require carmakers to provide owners with a platform capable of accessing their vehicle’s mechanical telematic data and sharing that data with third-party repair shops and auto-part stores; the Coalition for Safe and Secure Data, which opposed the ballot measure, contends that the expansion does not significantly add to the existing law and that real-time, two-way access to vehicle data increases risk without justifiable benefit.
Free Expression & Censorship

Twitter’s Pledge To Label Misleading Tweets Could Effectively Slow Down Their Spread: After labeling one of President Trump’s tweets as constituting misleading content about the election only thirty-six minutes after it was posted, Twitter was able to quickly slow down the tweet’s overall spread as people could not easily reshare the post; according to analysis by the Election Integrity Partnership, the labeling of the tweet reduced the rate of retweets from 827 times per minute to 151 times per minute.

YouTube Took Down Multiple Livestreams Broadcasting Fake Election Results: Before polls closed anywhere in the country on Election Day, YouTube removed livestreams that broadcasted fake election results videos; similarly, TikTok deleted videos from two popular pro-Trump accounts that promoted election misinformation, including allegations that Democrats have plotted to steal the election.
Practice Note

Plaintiff’s Win Preliminary Injunction Against TikTok Ban Set To Go Into Effect November 12th: Three TikTok creators who had previously failed to sustain an argument that their livelihoods would be irreparably harmed by the Trump administration’s decision to ban the social media app successfully obtained the preliminary injunction from a Pennsylvania federal judge, who agreed with the plaintiffs that their content constitutes “informational materials,” a protected category under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, the statutory authority under which the ban was invoked.
On the Lighter Side

Ball-Tracking, AI-Powered Camera Mistakenly Tracks Soccer Referee’s Bald Head Instead Of The Actual Soccer Ball: As part of the Scottish Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC soccer club’s initiative to increase social distancing by live-streaming its home games, the club replaced human camera operators with an AI camera system to better track the action on the field; however, instead of tracking the soccer ball, the AI system focused on the referee’s bald head for most of the game.
Joel R. Reidenberg
Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Chair and Professor of Law
Founding Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Erica Chan
Daniel Gerken
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: October 30, 2020

Internet Governance

Section 230 Reform Could Result In A More Barren Internet Dominated By Giants: Past amendment of the law has shown that changes resulting in increased liability for user content can drive small- and mid-sized content publishers such as personal sites and social media platforms to close their virtual doors, and may also disincentivize the development of new entrants to the market; nevertheless, reform is finding varying degrees of support in Congress, with Republicans suspicious that conservative voices are being dampened, as well as among Facebook, Google, Twitter, who stand to see their current dominance further solidified.
Privacy

Facebook Orders New York University Offshoot To Cease Bulk Collection Of Advertising Information: The Tandon School of Engineering, home of the Online Transparency Project, offers an “AdObserver” tool for evaluating political ads and targeting that has proven more insightful than Facebook’s own Ad Library; however, Facebook argues the data collection performed by the AdObserver browser extension constitutes impermissible data scraping under Facebook’s terms of use and threatens users’ privacy.
Information Security and Cyberthreats

Trump’s Campaign Website Hacked In Cryptocurrency Scam: A week before the 2020 Presidential Election, the Trump campaign website was hacked to display a fake FBI notice describing evidence of Trump’s alleged wrongdoings and listing two cryptocurrency wallet addresses for visitors to send funds as a way of voting on whether the incriminating documents should be released or not.

United States Hospitals Facing Large-Scale Ransomware Threat, Several Hit: Federal security agencies have warned of an “increased and imminent cybercrime threat” due to a suspected large-scale plot by a known foreign cyberthreat actor to target hospitals in the United States; several hospitals have already been struck by a Russian group’s signature Ryuk ransomware.
Intellectual Property

Users Do Not Actually Own Content Purchased On Amazon Prime Video, Amazon Argues: In support of a motion to dismiss a recent class action suit alleging unfair competition and false advertising, Amazon argues that the Prime Video Terms of Use clearly explain that a purchase of video content results in a limited license for “on-demand viewing over an indefinite period of time,” and that some content may later become unavailable due to license restrictions or other reasons.
Free Expression & Censorship

By Allying with President Trump And Using Aggressive Facebook Tactics, The Epoch Times Emerges As “A Leading Purveyor of Right-Wing Misinformation”: In its fight against China’s ruling Communist Party for banning and persecuting its members, the Epoch Times has become a growing force in right-wing media by posting pro-Trump propaganda on Facebook and by downplaying its affiliation to Falun Gong.

Facebook Removes Misleading Ads From Both Trump and Biden Campaigns: Earlier this week, Facebook removed ads from both the Trump and Biden presidential campaigns that risked misleading voters, such as ads saying “Election Day is today” that appeared in states where early voting had not yet started. 
On the Lighter Side

McDonald’s Starts A Conversation About Mental Health On Twitter: After the McDonald’s social media manager tweeted about how all the questions she receives concern the McRib sandwich and are never “how are you doing,” other companies’ accounts responded to vent and join in the conversation on mental health.
Joel R. Reidenberg
Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Chair and Professor of Law
Founding Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

Tom Norton
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Erica Chan
Daniel Gerken
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP