Droned Out: UK police and prison officers have formed a new specialist squad to share information with each other to take down drones that people use to deliver illegal drugs and mobile phones to prisoners, with the first UK citizen given a 14-month sentence last year for using a quadcopter to send three different prisoners prohibited items.
Not So Cuddly And Warm: To regulate IoT devices, California has drafted a new bill, informally called by critics the “Teddy Bear and Toaster Act,” which would require manufacturers of IoT devices to implement security features such as beeps or lights that would signal to users when the product is collecting information, but this may be problematic since some devices constantly collect information and the costs may disproportionately hit small businesses.
Bose Boasts Boatload of Data: Bose, the maker of audio products, is being sued by a customer who alleges that the company violated the Wiretap Act and other Illinois state privacy laws when it gathered information about users’ listening patterns and provided this data to third parties.
23andMe…and You and All Third Parties: DNA testing companies, like 23andMe, which provide you with a summary of your ancestry or a disease risk assessment are not only collecting your saliva but your personal information too; while such companies sell the data in aggregate to third parties, research companies may request additional information when they detect a rare condition that is found in only a small proportion of customers.
Information Security and Cyberthreats
A New Tricky Hacker Technique: “Homograph attacks”—schemes by hackers to trick internet users into visiting what they believe are legitimate sites but are actually not—are on the rise as valid domains in non-English languages are being disguised to appear the same as common English domains like apple.com and epic.com, though this problem should have been addressed over 15 years ago.
Big Whoop! Burger King’s television advertisement scheme that attempted to trigger viewers’ voice-activated Google Home devices to respond with a definition of the Whopper backfired when Wikipedia users edited the first line of the Wiki article to contain terms such as “cancer-causing” and “cyanide,” and Google responded by altering the device so that it now only lights up but stays silent when the advertisement plays.
We Are So Zarry: Spanish retail chain Zara has removed a skirt from its websites and stores after social media outcry over the skirt’s image of a frog which bore an uncanny resemblance to Pepe the Frog, a symbol originally intended to stand for peace but which has been adopted by anti-Semitic and bigoted groups.
The Legend of Nintendo: After Nintendo’s success with “Mario Maker,” a design suite that enables fans to create their own Mario games within the console, Nintendo declined to make a “Zelda Maker” for its other successful franchise, but when a fan made his own and disseminated it to the public, Nintendo sent DMCA notices to sites that displayed video clips of the game, but these notices were not only ineffective but also created new competition.
Free Expression and Censorship
WeBlock in China: The Chinese government has been censoring WeChat, a popular messaging app, by using keyword filtering that prohibits messages that contain terms such as “human rights,” “mass arrest,” and “spiritual freedom,” although the senders are never notified that their messages were never received.
Broadcasting Crimes Online: Sexual assault, suicide, and murder are violent content being broadcasted by users on Facebook Live, but because the social media company relies on users to first view and then flag the content instead of creating an algorithm that might automatically censor free speech and because of the FCC’s unclear authority in regulating the internet, a better solution may be for video-streaming companies to implement a “delay” safeguard in case something unexpected suddenly airs.
Hazing the Internet: After a former sorority sister posted Phi Sigma Sigma’s “sacred” handshake onto an internet message board, the sorority first sent DMCA notices to have the post removed—alleging that it was a violation of their “trade secrets,” instead of copyright—and is now pressuring various websites to remove any mention of the handshake, which is garnering more attention to the issue and suggesting a de facto right to be forgotten that does not exist in US law.
On the Lighter Side
The Best Wingman: If you have enough confidence in your friends’ judgments of your love life, sign up for Wingman, a new dating app that gives your friends control over who to swipe right on.
Joel R. Reidenberg
Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Chair and Professor of Law and Founding Academic Director, CLIP
N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP
Editorial Fellows, CLIP