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CLIP-ings: August 23, 2013

Internet Governance

“Digital Inequality”:  A recent Commerce Department study shows that, despite the Obama administration’s $7 billion initiative to expand Internet access in 2009, around 20 percent of American adults do not use the Internet and are therefore isolated from jobs and government services that require access.

String Similarity Confusion:  In deciding a string confusion objection to a top-level domain application, an ICDR expert panelist sustained an objection that “.CAM” and “.COM” are “confusingly similar" after the ICDR denied the same objection to a similar application just a week earlier. 


NSA Gathered American E-mails:  A recently-declassified 2011 FISC opinion reveals that the NSA had filtered correspondence between Americans from its “upstream” data collection, possibly in violation of a criminal anti-spying law.
Facial Recognition:  According to The New York Times, the Department of Homeland Security has contracted with Kentucky-based Electronic Warfare Associates to develop an improved facial recognition surveillance program that would connect collected biometric information to biometric databases; the Times also noted that the technology is not yet ready for law enforcement use.

Information Security & Cyberthreats

Don’t Go Hacking My Heart:  The FDA’s recently-released final guidelines on wireless medical devices address the need to encrypt data from hospital information systems and from the devices themselves; however, it does not discuss “the issue of hackers trying to take control of implanted devices.”
DDoS Distraction:  Cyber crooks are reportedly using denial of service attacks as “smokescreens” to access and rob many bank accounts at once by controlling a master payment switch.

Intellectual Property

Legal Eagles:  Relying on case law and a congressional charter giving an “exclusive right” to use terminology that they adopt, the Boy Scouts of America have demanded that Hacker Scouts drop “scouts” from its name; Hacker Scouts believe that such leeway for chartered organizations is “outdated and violates trademark law.”
Rule Against GMOs:  After a Kickstarter project that rewarded donors with seeds to a genetically-modified glowing plant sparked debate in the scientific community, Kickstarter implemented a new rule prohibiting projects from offering such rewards.

Free Expression & Censorship

Hard Drive Destruction:  In response to demands by British intelligence that it turn over documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the Guardian instead opted to destroy the hard drives and memory chips containing such documents with “angle grinders and drills” so as to not betray its source.

Practice Notes

IP Cloaking Violates CFAA:  A federal judge ruled that 3Tap’s circumventing of an IP address blockade imposed by Craigslist breached the CFAA, rejecting 3Taps’s argument that “an owner of a publicly accessible website has no power to revoke the authorization of a specific user to access that website.”

On the Lighter Side

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Editorial Fellows: Tom Norton and Ryan Cloutier