A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Daniel Etcovitch – Edited by Emily Chan

Florida Judge Rules Bitcoin Is Not Equivalent to Money

Illinois Governor Signs Bill Restricting Use of Stingrays

DMCA DRM Circumvention Provision’s Constitutionality Being Challenged

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest

By Yuan Cao – Edited by Frederick Ding

Mere Commercial Benefit Not Enough to Trigger The On-Sale Bar

Technology-Based Software Solution Can Be Patentable 

Patent Disputes about Siri, iTunes, Notification Push, and Location

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Sixth Circuit Finds Privacy Interest in Mugshots under FOIA

By Filippo Raso – Edited by Ariane Moss

A split en banc Sixth Circuit reversed the lower courts’ ruling, holding individuals have a privacy interest in their booking photos for the purposes of Exemption 7(C) of the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552. In so doing, the Court overruled Circuit precedent established two decades ago. The case was remanded with instructions to balance the public interests against the individual’s privacy interest.

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The EFF Challenges the DMCA Anti-Circumvention Provision: A First Amendment Fight

By Priyanka Nawathe – Edited by Kayla Haran

On July 21, 2016, the Electronic Frontier Foundation sued the United States government to overturn DMCA Section 1201, commonly referred to as the anti-circumvention provision. The EFF argues that this provision, designed to prevent circumvention of “technological protection measures,” actually chills research and free speech, and thus is a violation of the First Amendment.

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By Jaehwan Park – Edited by Kayla Haran

Bipartisan Lawmakers Introduce Bill Encouraging U.S. Government Agencies to Use the Cloud as a Secure Alternative to Legacy Systems

Snapchat Accused of Violating Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Announces New Policy Group to Promote Global Digital Trade

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RespublikaBy Frederick Ding — Edited by Yaping Zhang

Republic of Kazakhstan v. Does 1–100, No. 15 Civ. 1900 (ER) (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 27, 2015), Slip Opinion hosted by Justia.com

The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a clarification of the preliminary injunction it granted on March 20, 2015 to the plaintiff, the Republic of Kazakhstan, enjoining unidentified defendants and “all persons acting in concert with them from using, disclosing, or otherwise disseminating” documents and emails that defendants allegedly acquired by hacking.

The District Court held that the preliminary injunction does not apply to non-party Respublika, an online Kazakhstan newspaper, reasoning that the plaintiff had not shown a likelihood of success on the merits in any substantive claim against Respublika for hacking, and that applying the injunction against Respublika would function as an unconstitutional prior restraint on free speech. In so holding, the court noted the “near absolute right to publish truthful information about matters of public interest,” even if a re-publisher of information knew that it had been obtained illegally.

Eugene Volokh provides an overview of the case, approving the outcome. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is representing Respublika, previously criticized Kazakhstan’s abuse of the court’s order in June.

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Posted On Nov - 11 - 2015 Comments Off READ FULL POST

California and Federal FlagsBy Ann Kristin Glenster – Edited by Stacy Ruegilin

Home to Silicon Valley, California has been at the forefront of protecting privacy with three new laws in as many years. According to the website Lexology, the most recent piece of legislation, coming into effect on January 1 2016, will give the sunshine state “the strongest digital privacy rights in the U.S.” Yet, the brunt of the new measures concern strengthening privacy breach notification regimes, hardly a major shift in legislative intent. Rather, these changes represent an incremental updating of the law in order to make its language and application more fit for purpose.

However, that cannot be said for the flagship in this sea battalion of privacy measures, the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act (CalECPA). Introduced by Democratic Senator Mark Leno in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2014 decision in Riley v. California, the new Act requires a search warrant for law enforcement officials to access digital personal communication. The Act also extends the definition of personal information to include metadata, thereby bringing the Californian legal framework more closely in line with European data protection laws.

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Posted On Nov - 11 - 2015 Comments Off READ FULL POST

3293465641_b6c5081e87_qBy Danielle Kehl – Edited by Olga Slobodyanyuk

Maximillian Schrems v. Data Protection Commissioner, C‐362/14
(Court of Justice of the European Union Oct. 2015)

In what some are calling a victory against NSA surveillance, the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) invalidated a key part of the current transatlantic “Safe Harbor” agreement between the United States and the European Union earlier this month. The case began in 2013 when privacy activist Maximillian Schrems filed a complaint against Facebook with the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, alleging based on evidence disclosed by then-NSA contractor Edward Snowden that American companies were not adequately protecting Europeans’ data from government snooping. Although Schrems’ complaint was initially rejected by the Irish data authority, the High Court of Ireland eventually referred the case to the top court in the European Union, which handed down the unexpected decision on October 6, 2015.

The CJEU held in Schrems v. Data Protection Commissioner that the privacy principles adopted under U.S.-E.U. Safe Harbor agreement violate the 1995 European Data Protection Directive, which provides a level of baseline protections to safeguard the privacy of all European citizens’ data. Since 2000, the Safe Harbor arrangement has allowed American companies to process the personal data of European citizens by self-certifying to the U.S. Department of Commerce that they adhered to certain guidelines and principles, including notice, choice, access, security, data integrity, and enforcement. Over 4,000 American technology companies rely on the Safe Harbor framework to operate in Europe without violating the continent’s privacy laws. Without it, those companies may not be able to send data from their European users back to the United States, a prohibition that could be incredibly costly.

Privacy advocates like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and New America’s Open Technology Institute have characterized the decision as a clear signal that further reform of the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs is needed. NSA whisteblower Edward Snowden even told Schrems he had “changed the world for the better” via Twitter. But many have also expressed concern about the economic ramifications that American technology companies will experience unless and until the United States successfully negotiates a new Safe Harbor agreement with the E.U. As U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker noted in a press release following the ruling, the decision “creates significant uncertainty for both U.S. and E.U. companies and consumers, and puts at risk the thriving transatlantic digital economy.” Just Security provides a nuanced overview of the ruling and its implications.

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Posted On Nov - 4 - 2015 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Fed. Cir. Flash Digest

By Mila Owen – Edited by Olga Slobodyanyuk

Senate CISA Debates End

The Senate voted Thursday to end debate on a package of amendments to the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA). CISA allows businesses to share private consumer data with the federal government in exchange for information on security vulnerabilities and immunity from associated lawsuits. Because CISA covers all consumer data shared with U.S. companies regardless of origin, CISA would allow foreigners to be prosecuted and jailed for crimes outside of the United States. The bill is due to come up for vote the week of 10/26. The bill faces broad opposition from the technology industry and privacy advocates.

The FDA CDRH released its Regulatory Science Priorities for 2016

The FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) has released its Regulatory Science Priorities for 2016, aimed at improving safety and effectiveness of medical devices. Priorities include harnessing big data for scientific advancement, improving device cyber security and performance. CDRH aims to inform strategic funding for regulators and external stakeholders.

Germany requires all Internet companies to make metadata available to its law enforcement agencies

The German parliament has passed a controversial law requiring telecoms and Internet companies to share metadata with law enforcement agencies, allowing agencies to access data without a warrant for citizens who are suspects of “severe crimes”. This bill revises a 2010 attempt to introduce such measures in Germany. It contains a short data retention period, a localization requirement, and strict security protections for the metadata German law enforcement would obtain. Once the bill is signed by President Gauk, it may still face opposition from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), where it must meet the requirement of limitation to what is “strictly necessary” laid down as a standard last year in the CJEU invalidation of the EU data retention directive last year.

Posted On Nov - 4 - 2015 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Supreme CourtBy Adi Kamdar – Edited by Travis West

The Supreme Court announced it would take up two parallel patent cases this term: Stryker Corp. v. Zimmer, Inc. and Halo Electronics, Inc. v. Pulse Electronics, Inc. The Court will consider the Federal Circuit’s strict standard for awarding enhanced damages for willful patent infringement — a standard that does not comport with recent high court rulings. This discrepancy has most commentators predicting the Supreme Court will overrule the Federal Circuit, continuing a clear trend that materialized through the Court’s last few terms.

Overruling the Federal Circuit, the appeals court that hears all patent issues, in this consolidated case would be a win for plaintiffs — a marked difference from prior Supreme Court rulings, which have tended to favor defendants. Loosening the Federal Circuit’s standard for willful patent infringement will make it easier for patent owners to secure treble damages, making infringement much more expensive.

And higher damages is exactly what the plaintiffs in these cases want, as Ars Technica reports. Halo Electronics, a small transformer manufacturer, took on the much-larger Pulse Electronics for infringing a patent on a particular component — an “electronic surface-mount package.” Halo won and was awarded $1.5 million, but both the trial court and Federal Circuit threw out its willful infringement claim. Stryker has a very similar case against Zimmer regarding patents covering a medical lavage device used for cleaning wounds and bones. While the plaintiff was awarded $210 million dollars, the Federal Circuit reversed the lower court’s finding of willfulness and lowered the award to $70 million.

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Posted On Nov - 4 - 2015 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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