A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Facebook Blocks British Insurance Company from Basing Premiums on Posts and Likes

By Javier Careaga– Edited by Mila Owen

Admiral Insurance has created an initiative called firstcarquote, which analyzes Facebook activity of first-time car owners. The firstcarquote algorithm determines risk based on personality traits and habits that are linked to safe driving. Firstcarquote was recalled two hours before its official launch and then was launched with reduced functionality after Facebook denied authorization, stating that the initiative breaches Facebook’s platform policy.

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Airbnb challenges New York law regulating short-term rentals

By Daisy Joo – Edited by Nehaa Chaudhari

Airbnb filed a complaint in the Federal District Court of the Southern District of New York seeking to “enjoin and declare unlawful the enforcement against Airbnb” of the recent law that prohibits  the advertising of short-term rentals on Airbnb and other similar websites.  Airbnb argued that the new law violated its rights to free speech and due process, and that it was inconsistent with Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects online intermediaries that host or republish speech from a range of liabilities.

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Medtronic v. Bosch post-Cuozzo: PTAB continues to have the final say on inter partes review

By Nehaa Chaudhari – Edited by Grace Truong

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“the Federal Circuit”) reaffirmed its earlier order, dismissing Medtronic’s appeal against a decision of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”). The PTAB had dismissed Medtronic’s petition for inter partes review of Bosch’s patents, since Medtronic had failed to disclose all real parties in interest, as required by 35 U.S.C. §312(a)(2).

 

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California DMV Discuss Rules on Autonomous Vehicles

DOJ Release Guidelines on CFAA Prosecutions

Illinois Supreme Court Rule in Favor of State Provisions Requiring Disclosure of Online Identities of Sex Offenders

Research Shows Concerns for Crucial Infrastructure Information Leaks

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Cristina Azcoitia – Edited by Kayla Haran

FTC Explores Crowdfunding Oversight

Comcast Sues Nashville to Stall Google Fiber

FCC Imposes New Consumer Privacy Rules on Internet Service Providers

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By Ann Kristin Glenster – Edited by David Nathaniel Tan

Introduction

On October 6, 2015, the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) delivered another landmark ruling concerning the handling of personal data by U.S. companies in Europe.[1]Responding to a request from the Irish High Court,[2] the CJEU held that the Safe Harbor Agreement (the “Agreement”), under which companies like Facebook were able to legally transmit personal data from their European subscribers to the U.S., was invalid. This article will give a brief overview of the Agreement and the case, and explore some of the salient issues to which the European Court took umbrage. Finally, it will attempt to sketch out some possible consequences of the ruling, and the options that now face E.U. and U.S. legislators.

According to the CJEU, the Safe Harbor Principles did not provide adequate safeguards as required by the Data Protection Directive (95/46/EC) (the “Directive”). The decision has led to a flurry of activity on both shores of the Atlantic. On November 3, barely a month after the judgement was announced, it was the hot topic of debate at a House Communications Subcommittee of Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade meeting. Microsoft, Apple and Oracle, among others, urged U.S. legislators to take swift action as “trillions of dollars in global GDP were at stake.”[3]

The CJEU decision has left U.S companies in a quandary as to how they may demonstrate their compliance with European law in handling foreign customer data, as they wait for rescue by Safe Harbor 2.0.[4] But so far, signals are weak that a new Safe Harbor Agreement can provide the much sought-after shelter for personal data making the journey across the Atlantic. (more…)

Posted On Jan - 4 - 2016 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Fed. Cir. Flash DigestBy Yiran Zhang – Edited by Olga Slobodyanyuk

Senators Introduce a Bill which Requires Social Media Companies to Report Terrorist Activity

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Republican Sen. Richard Burr have introduced legislation that would require social media and other technology companies to report online terrorist activity they become aware of to law enforcement. The proposed legislature does not require companies to take additional actions other than to report the information such as attack planning, recruitment, or distribution of terrorist material if companies become aware of terrorist activity. Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden opposed the bill, reasoning that the it “would create a perverse incentive for companies to avoid looking for terrorist content on their own networks”.

New EU Copyright Rules Left Possibility for Google Tax

The European Commission’s new “modern, more European” copyright framework left the possibility for the introduction of a new ancillary copyright that would require people to pay a licensing fee for the use of short snippets online, also known as the “Google tax”. The  document describing the Commission’s plans  raises concerns about the fragmentation in EU digital market, referring to individual EU Member States such as Germany and Spain’s attempts to require search engines—particularly Google—to pay publishers for using snippets from their publications in search results.  The framework, however, ruled out a tax on hyperlinks. The framework wants to bring in cross-border portability, instead of its earlier, more expansive promise to stop unjustified geo-blocking. The regulation on cross-border portability is expended to come into force in 2017, without needing any further legislation. As part of the new copyright framework, the Commission also wants to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty, figure out the freedom of panorama issue, and disrupt commercial scale copyright infringement activities. It has launched a public consultation of this legal framework, open for comments until April 1, 2016.

COP21 Reached an “Ambitious and Balanced” Deal on Climate Change

On December 12, the 21st Conference of Parties, or COP21, issued a final draft of the climate change agreement, which the French foreign minister Laurent Fabius described as “fair and legally binding.” If adopted, the agreement would set an ambitious goal of halting average warming at no more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial temperatures—and of striving for a limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius if possible. It sets up a bottom-up system in which each country sets its own goal of greenhouse gas emission reduction, or “nationally determined contribution” as called in the agreement. Bill McKibben, the co-founder of 350.org, said that the agreement “may have saved the chance of saving the planet”, with a cautious optimism typical among environmental activists.

Posted On Dec - 16 - 2015 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Icon-newsBy David Nathaniel Tan – Edited by Adi Kamdar

Software Pirate Settles Suit Via YouTube

A Czech software pirate known as Jakub F made an unusual deal with the Business Software Alliance (BSA) in order to settle a lawsuit: instead of paying damages, he simply needed to create an anti-piracy video that achieved 200,000 views. The BSA, which represents large media firms such as Microsoft, HBO and Fox, acknowledged that Jakub F could not afford the $200,000 fine and decided that awareness campaign would be a better “punishment” for the 30-year-old. At over a million views and growing, the video, starring Jakub F himself, has since gone viral. YouTube comments on the video ranged from solidarity to apathy to condemnation, with one user predicting that the “video will encourage people to start pirating as revenge.” News site TorrentFreak has provided a translation of the video.

After Paris Attacks, FCC Chairman Calls for Expanded Wiretap Laws

Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler leads an agency with a growing interest in cybersecurity. Last year, Wheeler told James Barnett, founder of the FCC’s Cybersecurity Division that he [Wheeler] does “not intend to be sitting in the chairman’s seat when a major cyber attack occurs, having done nothing.” Now, presumably in response to the recent Paris attacks, Wheeler has called for an expansion of the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) to include more modern communications channels such as video game consoles. Whether or not Congress responds to Wheeler’s suggestions remains to be seen.

Hoverboards Declared Illegal in New York City

Back to the Future got it right (kind of): hoverboards exist in 2015. But before ordering one online, note that they don’t really hover and, perhaps more importantly, were just deemed illegal in New York City. The word hoverboard is a misnomer: these devices still have wheels, and as motorized vehicles that cannot be registered, are illegal under New York law. Hoverboards are popular, hands-free, rechargeable—and now come with a $200 fine.

Posted On Dec - 10 - 2015 1 Comment READ FULL POST

1271084_10152203108461729_809245696_oBy Mila Owen – Edited by Kayla Haran

Belgian Privacy Commission v. Facebook Belgium, Court of First Instance (Belgium), November 9th 2015. Judgment available here.

The Belgian Court of First Instance, acting in summary proceedings, ruled that Facebook’s practice of storing and processing personal data of Belgian internet users without a Facebook account violates the Belgian Privacy Act, and ordered Facebook to suspend the practice (effective November 11, 2015) pending a final judgment on the merits. The National Law Review provides an overview of the case, and the Wall Street Journal offers some context on the Belgian court’s ruling and Facebook’s European legal disputes.

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Posted On Dec - 10 - 2015 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Sikhs for Justice LogoBy Ann Kristin Glenster – Edited by Yaping Zhang

Sikhs for Justice Inc.(SFJ) v. Facebook, Inc. (N.D. Cal. Nov 13, 2015, Case No. 15-CV-02442-LHK), opinion available here.

On November 13, the United States District Court of the Northern District of California dismissed the New York-based organization Sikhs for Justice’s (SFJ) case against Facebook for allegedly blocking the group’s page from users in India. The case raised issues concerning the reach of federal anti-discrimination laws, and the role of global online providers as the social internet space increasingly hosts platforms for political speech. Yet, the Court maintained that the federal Communications Decency Act (CDA), 47 U.S.C. § 230, immunized interactive online providers from liability arising from Title II of the Civil Rights Act (CRA) of 1964, and in so doing, refused to dwell on the wider principles at stake.

As social media companies operate global sites, questions remain as to the potential extraterritorial reach of U.S. laws. SFJ argued that Facebook’s incorporation in Delaware and its California offices justified bringing a case regarding Indian users to federal court. Facebook asserted that not only did federal law not reach that far, but furthermore that the company did not provide public accommodation under Title II of the CRA.

(more…)

Posted On Dec - 3 - 2015 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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