by Dorothy Du
Bipartisan Bill Would End Warrantless GPS Tracking
The Geolocational Privacy Surveillance Act, a new bipartisan bill dubbed the “GPS Act,” seeks to clarify when the government can use GPS tracking technology to obtain geolocational information about individuals without a warrant, according to Nextgov. Current electronic surveillance laws are behind the times and fail to address specific legal concerns raised by modern GPS technology. Several lawsuits in the past several years have led to a hodgepodge of court rulings over the use of GPS tracking by law enforcement, Wired reports. Ars Technica explains that the new bill would bring these decisions into uniformity by generally requiring a warrant, but creating exceptions for special cases, such as during emergencies or to track organized crime.
Juror Receives Jail Time for Contacting Defendant on Facebook
Joanne Frail, a U.K. juror, has been sentenced to eight months in prison for contacting a defendant online during an ongoing drug trial, reports The Wall Street Journal Blog. Despite the fact that defendant Jamie Sewart had been cleared of charges, contacting her was directly contrary to Frail’s oath has a juror. BBC News says that Frail had looked up Sewart on Facebook to express her sympathy and discuss the jury deliberations in clear violation of the Contempt of Court Act of 1981. As a consequence of Frail’s actions, the trial judge decided to discharge the jury and dismiss the case, which had cost £6m. NPR explains the risks jurors create by using the Internet during a trial, including the possibility that jurors could end up considering information deemed inadmissible at trial.
Online Streaming of Copyrighted Performances One Step Closer to Felony
The Senate Judiciary Committee has just approved a bill that would increase the status of streaming copyrighted performances online to a felony, The Minnesota Independent reports. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who introduced the bill last month, says that the bill is not meant to target individuals and families streaming movies at home, but rather is meant to catch those who knowingly steal digital content and make thousands of dollars or more in profit from it. Supporters of the bill say that it would make copyright law more uniform by adding “public performances” to the list of protected rights, but some argue that “performance” is ill-defined and could lead to ordinary people being thrown in jail for posting copyrighted videos on YouTube, says Techdirt. The Wrap explains that without this bill, a “public performance” like streaming is not a “reproduction” of a copyrighted work. Such a definition has left the entertainment industry at risk of losing vast amounts of revenue to unauthorized websites that can be used to stream movies and shows.