A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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The Court of Justice of the European Union Finds the Harbor No Longer Safe

Written by: Ann Kristin Glenster - Edited by: David Nathaniel Tan

This fall, the Court of Justice of the European Union delivered a landmark ruling,  holding that the Safe Harbor Agreement on the handling of personal data by U.S. companies in Europe was invalid. This article will give a brief overview of the case, and explore 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.

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Yiran Zhang – Edited by Olga Slobodyanyuk

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

New EU Copyright Rules Left Possibility for Google Tax

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

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By David Nathaniel Tan – Edited by Adi Kamdar

Software Pirate Settles Suit Via YouTube

After Paris Attacks, FCC Chairman Calls for Expanded Wiretap Laws

Hoverboards Declared Illegal in New York City

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Belgian Court Demands that Facebook Stop Tracking Non-Members

By Mila Owen – Edited by Kayla Haran

The Belgian Privacy Commission requested a cessation order against Facebook regarding their practice of placing “datr” cookies on devices of non-Facebook users to track activity on other Facebook pages or on pages containing the “like” or “share” button. The court ruled that this tracking violates the Belgian Privacy Act because it amounts to the collection and “processing of personal data.”

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Facebook not liable for discrimination against Sikhs in India

By Ann Kristin Glenster – Edited by Yaping Zhang

By dismissing Sikhs for Justice Inc.’s case against Facebook for discrimination by blocking the group’s page in India, the United District Court of Northern California maintains the neutrality of interactive online providers and exempts them from liability under Title II of the Civil Rights Act.

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By Amanda Liverzani – Edited by Saukshmya Trichi

Application

Stephen Hawking is posed to leverage his physics fame into a brand name. The renowned theoretical physicist has filed an application seeking trademark protection of his name with the U.K. Intellectual Property Office. The trademark, if approved, will give Hawking greater control over how his name is used in connection with certain goods and services including charitable endeavors, scientific research, and medical devices.

Hawking, the director of research at the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Theoretical Cosmology and author of popular-science books including the 1988 bestseller A Brief History of Time, has enjoyed increased popularity in recent years following appearances on The Simpsons, Futurama, and The Big Bang Theory, as well as the release of the 2014 critically-acclaimed biographical film The Theory of Everything.

The University of Cambridge declined to comment on the rationale behind Hawking’s trademark application, stating: “It’s a personal matter for Stephen Hawking, it is not a university issue, but he has taken measures to protect his name and the success it has bought.” Toby McDonald and Jonathan Leake, “It’s the Big Brand Theory as Cox and Hawking Trademark Names,” The Sunday Times, Mar. 29, 2015. Some however, have suggested that Hawking’s decision was motivated by a desire to stop exploitation of his name through unauthorized or inappropriate products. See Thomas Burrows, “Big Brand Theory for Professors Brian Cox and Stephen Hawking who Trademark Own Names To Turn Themselves Into Brands,” Daily Mail, Mar. 29, 2015.

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Posted On Apr - 8 - 2015 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Jeanne Jeong

European Regulators and Watchdogs Increase Investigation of “Technology Giants”

European Union officials have taken steps to increase pressure on U.S. technology companies including Facebook, Apple, and Google, on a range of matters including privacy and competition. European watchdogs in France, Spain, and Italy have escalated scrutiny of Facebook’s privacy controls, following the footsteps of Dutch, Belgian, and German officials.  Privacy watchdogs in those countries have joined a group looking into the company’s access to and use of personal information from its millions of users in Europe.  In connection with Apple’s plans to market a subscription-based music streaming service, European competition officials sent questionnaires to record labels for information into agreements with Apple.  Officials are concerned whether Apple, using its clout in the music industry, may attempt to persuade labels to use its service over others.  The recent surge of privacy and competition investigations suggests a trend toward more aggressive stances on these issues in Europe.

Snapchat Published Transparency Report Revealing Government Data Sharing

On April 2, 2015, Snapchat published its first-ever transparency report, revealing its sharing of data with the government.  During the reporting period of November 2014 and February 2015, Snapchat received 375 criminal legal requests for user information by U.S. law enforcement, and produced at least some data in 92% of those requests.  The majority of the requests came in the form of search warrants and subpoenas.  The report shows during the same period, Snapchat received a total of 28 requests for such information from government entities outside the United States.

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Posted On Apr - 6 - 2015 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Jenny Choi – Edited by Katherine Kwong

Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2015

Link to the Full Text of the Bill

On March 26th, 2015, the Australian Senate passed the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2015. This legislation requires Internet service providers (“ISPs”) and telecommunication providers to encrypt and retain user metadata for two years. On October 30th, 2014, the bill was introduced to the House of Representatives, while it was first introduced to the Senate on March 24th, 2015. According to Yahoo News, Attorney-General George Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull jointly stated that the purpose of the Bill is to ensure national security and provide law enforcement agencies adequate access to the information they need.

A summary of the history surrounding the bill is available here. The Wall Street Journal, ArsTechnica, CNET, and Mashable all describe controversies about the bill. 

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Posted On Apr - 6 - 2015 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Henry Thomas – Edited by Anton Ziajka

Chan v. Ellis, No. S14A1652, 2015 WL 1393410 (Ga. Mar. 27, 2015).

Opinion hosted by Justia.

The Georgia Supreme Court, in Chan v. Ellis, clarified the meaning of the word “contact” as it applies to Georgia’s stalking law, OCGA § 16-5-90 et seq., holding that the defendant’s publication of messages about the plaintiff on an online message board did not amount to prohibited contact under the statute. Chan, 2015 WL 1393410, at *1. According to the court’s opinion, the defendant, Matthew Chan, runs a website on which he and others criticize “copyright enforcement practices that they consider predatory.” Id. Chan and fellow commentators published on the website’s message board numerous posts about the plaintiff, a poet named Linda Ellis, criticizing Ellis’s aggressive pursuit of infringers of her poetry’s copyright. Id. The court described some of these posts as “mean-spirited, . . . distasteful and crude,” and some of the commentators threatened to publish personal information about Ellis and her family. Id. Ellis discovered the inflammatory comments, and filed a restraining order against Chan under the Georgia stalking law. Id.

JOLT Digest, in a prior post, details the procedural background of the case. The Technology & Marketing Law Blog and the Washington Post provide additional reporting and commentary on the case.

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Posted On Apr - 6 - 2015 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Jenny Choi – Edited by Jens Frankenreiter

infringementJohnson v. Ryan, No. 31837-1-III (Wash. Ct. App. Mar. 9, 2015)

Opinion

The Washington State Court of Appeals rendered a decision in a case involving the interpretation of Washington’s anti-SLAPP statute in the context of a lawsuit for defamation and tortious interference with business expectancy brought by the director of a performing arts theatre against a blogging ex-employee. The Court of Appeals reversed a trial court judgment which had dismissed the lawsuit under the anti-SLAPP statute.

The Washington State Court of Appeals held that the ex employee James Ryan’s blogging against Yvonne Johnson, the director of the theatre, was not for public concern and that Ryan was not entitled to assert the anti-SLAPP statute to dismiss Johnson’s claim. In so holding, the court narrowly interpreted the “public concern” requirement, and distinguished the Washington anti-SLAPP statute from California anti-SLAPP statute, which uses the phrase “public interest” rather than “public concern.” The anti-SLAPP statute allows a defendant to dismiss a plaintiff’s defamation claim and requires a plaintiff to pay $10,000 for damage if the defendant’s statement is “in connection with an issue of public concern.” RCW 4.24.525(d).  (more…)

Posted On Apr - 1 - 2015 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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