A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Privacy Concerns in the Sharing Economy: The Case of Uber 

By Sabreena Khalid – Edited by Insue Kim

Recent revelations about Uber’s disconcerting use of personal user information have exposed the numerous weaknesses in Uber’s Privacy Policy. The lack of regulation in the area, coupled with the sensitive nature of personal information gathered by Uber, makes the issue one requiring immediate attention of policy makers.

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San Francisco Court Considers Google’s Search and Ad Services Free Speech

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Henry Thomas

A San Francisco court dismissed a lawsuit against Google, treating Google’s search and advertisement services as constitutionally protected free speech. The lawsuit alleged an antitrust violation based on unfavorable treatment of a website in Google’s search results, and on the withdrawal of third-party advertisement from the website. In throwing out the lawsuit, the court applied California’s “anti-SLAPP” law, which allows quick dismissal of lawsuits against acts protected as free speech.

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EU Unitary Patent System Challenge Unsustainable: Advocate General

By Saukshmya Trichi – Edited by Ashish Bakshi

The Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union has rendered an opinion on Spain’s challenges to regulations implementing the European Unitary Patent System. The Advocate General opines that the challenges must be dismissed as the system is intended to provide genuine benefit in terms of uniformity and integration, and safeguard the principle of legal certainty, while the choice of languages reduces translation costs considerably.

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California Sex Offender Internet Identification Law Held Unenforceable

By Jesse Goodwin – Edited by Michael Shammas

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a district court ruling granting a preliminary injunction prohibiting of the Californians Against Sexual Exploitation (“CASE”) Act. In a unanimous ruling, a three-judge panel held that requiring sex offenders provide written notice of “any and all Internet identifiers” within 24 hours to the police likely imposed an unconstitutional burden on protected speech.

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Congress Fails to Pass Act Limiting Collection of Phone Metadata

By Henry Thomas – Edited by Paulius Jurcys

The Senate failed to reach closure and bring the USA FREEDOM Act to a vote. The Act would have extended provisions of the Patriot Act, but would have sharply curtailed the executive’s authority to collect phone conversation metadata. While the bill had broad popular support, the vote failed largely along party lines, passing the onus of drafting and approving a new bill onto the next congressional session.

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Supreme Court Declares Animal Cruelty Statute Violates First Amendment
By Debbie Rosenbaum – Edited by Chinh Vo

United States v. Stevens, No. 08–769 (U.S., April 20, 2010)
Slip Opinion

The Supreme Court affirmed the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which had held that 18 U.S.C. § 48, a federal statute criminalizing the commercial production, sale, or possession of depictions of cruelty to animals, was an unconstitutional abridgment of the First Amendment right to freedom of speech and did not serve a compelling governmental interest.

In an 8-1 ruling, the Supreme Court overturned the conviction of a Virginia man who sold dog-fighting videos, holding that the First Amendment does not allow the government to criminalize whole categories of speech and expression that are deemed undesirable. The Court said that 18 U.S.C. § 48 was too broad because while some depictions of animal cruelty were appropriately exempted from the statute, other speech that should be protected, such as “most hunting videos” and photos of out-of-season hunting, was not.

Briefs and relevant court documents are available at the First Amendment Center. NPR, the Wall Street Journal, and the LA Times provide overviews of the case. The Volokh Conspiracy and the Constitutional Law Prof Law Blog analyze the decision. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 23 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Sixth Circuit Upholds Ohio Anti-Pornography Statute
By Avis Bohlen – Edited by Dmitriy Tishyevich

American Bookseller’s Foundation for Free Expression v. Strickland, Nos. 07-4375/4376 (6th Cir., April 15, 2010)
Opinion

On April 15, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed an Ohio district court’s decision to enjoin the enforcement of an anti-pornography child protection statute, Ohio Revised Code § 2907.31(D)(1), which criminalizes displaying or disseminating harmful materials to juveniles.  The court held that as narrowly construed by the Supreme Court of Ohio, the statute does not violate either the First Amendment or the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.

The Sixth Circuit had previously certified the question as to the scope of the statute to the Ohio Supreme Court.  The Ohio Supreme Court issued its response on January 27, holding that the statute only applies to personally directed electronic communications, such as instant messages, private chat rooms, and person-to-person emails, and not to generally accessible communications on the Internet, like websites or public chat rooms.  In upholding the statute, the Sixth Circuit concluded that the “Internet provisions,” criminalizing the electronic transmission of harmful material to juveniles if the sender “knows or has reason to believe” the recipients to be juveniles, are not unconstitutionally overbroad.  Further, though the court held that the statute does not trigger strict scrutiny because it does not affect constitutionally protected speech among adults, it noted in dicta that it would survive even strict scrutiny because it was narrowly tailored to promote a compelling government interest.  The court also held that the statute does not violate the Commerce Clause.

Cyberlaw Cases provides an overview and history of the case through the Ohio Supreme Court’s January decision. The AP offers an overview of the Sixth Circuit’s decision.  Both the Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray and groups affiliated with the coalition of publishers and Web site operators that challenged the constitutionality of the statute claimed some degree of victory after the ruling. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 21 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Federal Circuit Affirms Exclusion and Cease-and-Desist Orders against GPS Chipmaker
By Gary Pong – Edited by Dmitriy Tishyevich

SiRF Tech., Inc. v. ITC, Appeal 2009-1262 (Fed. Cir., Apr. 12, 2010).
Slip Opinion

The Federal Circuit affirmed a decision by the International Trade Commission (“ITC”), which found that SiRF Technology, Inc. (“SiRF”) violated 19 U.S.C. § 1337 by unlawfully importing and selling Global Positioning System (“GPS”) devices that infringed upon patents owned by Global Locate, Inc. and Broadcom Corp. (collectively, “Global Locate”).

The Federal Circuit held that: (1) Global Locate had standing to sue for infringement, even though one of the patents in question had been automatically assigned to the inventors’ previous employer under an employment agreement; (2) SiRF’s GPS chips had directly infringed the patents in question; and (3) the asserted method claims were directed to patentable subject matter under the In re Bilski “machine-or-transformation” test because it was tied to a particular machine – the GPS receiver.

The ITC Law Blog provides an overview of the case and its history. Patently-O features an analysis of the decision and the Patent Prospector has excerpted the key parts of this decision.  (more…)

Posted On Apr - 19 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Tyler Lacey

Bank Programmer Pleads Guilty to ATM Hacking

On April 13, 2010, Wired reported that Bank of America employee Rodney Reed Cavelry pleaded guilty to one count of unauthorized computer access, after installing software on more than 100 ATMs that allowed him to steal more than $304,000 over a seven-month period last year. Bank of America identified Caverly’s theft internally, and was able to recover at least $167,000 in cooperation with the United States Secret Service. Bank of America had employed Cavelry since 2007 to write “application software and troubleshooting programs.” Cavelry will face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 when he is sentenced this summer.

Canadian Regulator Warns Against Foreign Ownership of Telecommunications Companies

On April 13, 2010, The Toronto Star reported that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) warned against allowing majority foreign ownership of Canadian telecommunications companies. Konrad von Finckenstein, CRTC’s chairman, argued that a proposed law allowing additional foreign investment in telecommunications companies would create a “branch plant communications industry” in Canada. Complicating the matter is the fact that Canada’s leading telecommunications companies are also broadcasting companies, which are subjected to additional cultural regulations on minimum levels of Canadian content. von Finckenstein believes that “there is no way to separate telecoms from broadcasters,” and that the best strategy is to “to create uniform rules that would apply to both industries, and to keep control firmly in Canadian hands.”

Italian Judge Explains Rationale for Guilty Verdicts in Illegal Video Case

On April 13 CNET reported on Italian Judge Oscar Magi’s 111 page explanation for the guilty verdict that he entered against three Google employees on February 24. Judge Magi believed that “commercial exploitation” was Google’s motive for allowing a video, depicting an autistic teenager being harassed and attacked, to remain online for two months. In response, Google argued that the “conviction attacks the very principles of freedom on which the Internet is built” and indicated that it would appeal the verdicts.

Posted On Apr - 17 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Jyoti Uppuluri

UK Passes Controversial Digital Economy Bill

The Guardian and the Electronic Frontier Foundation reported that on April 8, the U.K. Parliament passed the controversial Digital Economy Bill in a late-night “wash-up” session after just two hours of debate. Two provisions of the bill in particular raised concerns among the citizenry and telecommunications companies in the U.K. The Guardian reports that the bill contains a broad-ranging clause allowing the Secretary of State for Business to block a site that “has been, is being or is likely to be used for or in connection with an activity that infringes copyright.” EFF notes that the bill also includes a provision allowing for the disconnection of the “Internet connection of any household in the U.K. with an IP address alleged to have engaged in copyright infringement.”

30-Year Computer Ban for Sex Offender Overturned by DC Court of Appeals

Wired reported that on April 2, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia vacated a 30-year computer ban imposed on a sex-offender as a condition of his supervised release. The Court stated that the immutable ban on computer use was “substantively unreasonable” and “aggressively interferes with the goal of rehabilitation,” including obtaining employment. Citizen Media Law Project argues that while the overturning of the ban was a good outcome, the reasoning of the court is troublesome due to its implication that a computer ban providing for a shorter duration and probation officer approved waivers would be acceptable.

Spy Network Targeting Indian Government Uncovered

Ars Technica reported that the researchers who previously uncovered GhostNet, a spy network targeting Tibetan exiles, have recently uncovered a separate network targeting the Indian government, among other entities. This network has been traced back to a hacking community in Chengdu, China. The majority of machines attacked by the network are associated with India, including “Indian embassies and consulates,” as well as commercial groups like the Times of India and the New Delhi rail station. The spy network obtained “everything from information on missile systems being developed by India to a list of visas issued by Indian embassies.”

Posted On Apr - 12 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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Privacy Concerns in

By Sabreena Khalid – Edited by Insue Kim Following scandals earlier ...

free-speech

San Francisco Court

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Henry Thomas S. Louis Martin ...

European union concept, digital illustration.

EU Unitary Patent Sy

By Saukshmya Trichi – Edited by Ashish Bakshi Advocate General’s Opinion ...

computer-typing1

California Sex Offen

By Jesse Goodwin – Edited by Michael Shammas Doe v. Harris, ...

nsa-tracking-phone-records-325x337

Congress Fails to Pa

By Henry Thomas – Edited by Paulius Jurcys USA FREEDOM Act ...