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CLIP-ings: July 26, 2013

Internet Governance
Executive Branch Says Phone Snooping Unchallengeable:  The executive branch issued its first official response to lawsuits challenging the secret U.S. spying program and expressed that the program is in the “public interest,” does not erode constitutional rights, and is not challengeable in court because the metadata collected under the program “implicates no legitimate expectation of privacy.”
Judiciary Allows Continued Metadata Collection:  Despite lawsuits asking the court to order the stoppage of phone record tracking, the FISC renewed the government’s authority to collect “large volumes” of telephony metadata so that the NSA might look for “the existence of potential terrorist communications” within.
Legislative Branch Rebuffs Amash-Conyers Proposal:  The House was unkind to the Representatives’ plan that would restrict the NSA’s surveillance practices; the proposal failed to make its way into the House’s defense authorization bill, but was a “symbolic victory” in uniting some of the chamber’s most conservative and liberal members.


Cell Tracking Requires Warrant:  The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that police must obtain a search warrant before acquiring cell phone tracking information from phone service providers because cell phone tracking technology “has the potential to violate a person’s privacy rights” protected by the Fourth Amendment.
Information Security & Cyberthreats
Tor Hides Malware:  Proving true prior predictions that malware writers might use Tor to hide the locations of their command and control centers, ESET recently discovered two Tor-based botnets operating as “hidden services.”
FTC Security Standards in Question:  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other organizations alleging that the FTC imposes “unfair and arbitrary” security standards can seek dismissal of a data breach suit filed by the agency against Wyndham Worldwide Corp., a case which many see as the “landmark test” of the agency’s authority to enforce “reasonable security standards”—many of which, the organizations argue, the agency has never specified.

Intellectual Property

Domain Name Bid Likely Rejected:  In response to the urging of a group of countries in the Amazonian region of Latin America, an ICANN committee has recommended that the <.amazon> top-level domain name should not be approved for use by the online retailer Amazon.

Free Expression & Censorship

Essay Not Protected:  A U.S. district court dismissed a lawsuit brought by a college student after the student was suspended for penning an assignment titled “Hot For Teacher,” ruling that the student had “no First Amendment right to express his sexual attraction” for the professor.

Practice Notes

FOIA Machine:  The CIR, with the help of a snowballing Kickstarter campaign, will release its free tool for streamlining the process for accessing government information and tracking information requests.

On the Lighter Side

Flying High:  The Peace Drone, an “anti-violence alternative to predator drones,” wants to blast you in the face with Oxycontin.

Editorial Fellows: Tom Norton and Ryan Cloutier