A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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By Ellora Israni – Edited by Filippo Raso

IMDb is challenging the constitutionality of Assembly Bill 1687 (“AB 1687”), a California law requiring IMDb to remove ages from its website upon request from paid subscribers, claiming that the law violates the First Amendment’s free speech protections.

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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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UnknownBy Suyoung Jang – Edited by Ken Winterbottom

SEC approves crowdfunding of startups

On October 30, in a 3-1 decision, the Securities and Exchange Commission approved rules allowing the crowdfunding of start-up companies over the internet. Prior to the new rules, companies could only seek funds from accredited investors with a net worth of at least $1 million, excluding the value of their homes, or annual income of more than $200,000. The approved rules allow investors with annual income or net worth of less than $100,000 to contribute $2,000 or five percent of their net worth, whichever is greater. Those with higher incomes can invest up to ten percent of their net worth, but they are limited to $100,000 in all crowdfunding offerings during a 12-month period. While the new rules were implemented to spur job growth, some critics warn investors of unsound investments and fraud.

Bill introduced to criminalize warrantless use of “stingrays”

On November 2, Representative Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah introduced the Cell-Site Simulator Act seeking to limit the warrantless use of stingrays. Stingrays are cellular phone surveillance devices that mimic wireless carrier cell towers to connect to all nearby phones and capture location data and in some cases calls and text messages. The controversial device came into spotlight after the IRS Commissioner John Koskinen admitted last week that his agency uses stingrays in some investigations. The bill requires agents to acquire warrants before using stingrays, and provides for fines and up to ten years in prison for violations of its prescriptions. Exceptions exist for emergencies that involve “immediate danger of death,” national security, and those that fall under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The full text of the bill is available here.

Newly introduced bill forces UK ISPs to keep a record of Web browsing history for a year

On November 4, the Home Secretary of the United Kingdom, Theresa May, introduced a draft piece of legislation known as the Investigatory Powers Bill. The proposed bill, which is the successor to a statute that the British High Court struck down last year, requires Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to hold a record of Web browsing history for a year. However, it will only record the Internet services a device has connected to, not the details of the individual webpages visited. To balance the heightened surveillance power it grants, the bill implements a “double lock” warrant authorization process whereby a request for emergency authorization by the Home Secretary is subject to judicial review. In addition to its browsing history provisions, the bill creates a new criminal offense with a two-year prison sentence for abuse of communications data by public authorities.

Posted On Nov - 17 - 2015 Comments Off READ FULL POST

SenateBy Sheri Pan – Edited by Cristina Carapezza

S. 2044 – The Consumer Review Freedom Act

The text of the bill is available here.

S.2044 on Govtrack.us.

On September 16, 2015, the Senate introduced the Consumer Review Freedom Act (CRFA) of 2015. The bill was originally introduced by Senator John Thune (R-SD).  On Wednesday, November 4, 2015, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing to discuss the bill.

CRFA voids any form contract provision that prohibits or penalizes individuals for creating reviews, or transfers the intellectual property rights of reviews to the vendor.  It covers written, verbal, or pictorial reviews, performance assessments, and analyses of products, services, or conduct.  The bill protects against only standardized contracts that the individual did not have a meaningful opportunity to negotiate.  The Federal Trade Commission and state attorney generals can bring civil actions to enforce the bill.  CRFA does not provide for private individuals to bring causes of action.

The bill provides several exceptions.  It allows terms that restrict disclosure of trade secrets, privileged information, confidential information, or personnel, medical, and law enforcement records that implicate personal privacy.  It also does not affect duties of confidentiality or defamation, libel, or slander lawsuits. (more…)

Posted On Nov - 17 - 2015 Comments Off READ FULL POST

UnknownBy Matthew P. Ponsford

Edited by Ann Kristin Glenster and Cristina Carapezza

Introduction

Bitcoin, also known as a decentralized virtual currency (DVC),[1] is regulated differently in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Canada, and the United States, and represents a vastly underdeveloped area of the law. No country has currently backed Bitcoin. Launched in 2009, and founded by Satoshi Nakamoto,[2] Bitcoin is a “decentralized peer-to-peer currency.”[3] Other virtual currencies include Litecoin, Namecoin, Auroracoin, Peercoin, and Dogecoin – about 500 varieties in total – but research here will primarily focus on Bitcoin.[4] A comparative analysis will help discern how these respective countries classify Bitcoin (e.g., a virtual object, currency, or potential security), and how these jurisdictions regulate, or intend to regulate, DVCs. Bitcoin is identified as a “currency,” throughout the paper, but the classification is heavily contested. Questions for analyses include: are there appropriate existing legal frameworks to regulate Bitcoin? What securities regulation challenges does Bitcoin pose? What are the consumer and investor protection concerns associated with Bitcoin compared to traditional financial exchanges? What are the cross-jurisdictional challenges of virtual currency transactions that operate over the Internet (e.g., money laundering, or fraudulent activities)? Research herein incorporates securities commission reports, social and political commentary from secondary sources, and relevant jurisprudence and legislation. The paper helps situate the current climate of Bitcoin globally, and assesses how its regulation differs relative to technological, economic, social, financial, and political forces.

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Posted On Nov - 14 - 2015 1 Comment READ FULL POST

UnknownBy David Nathaniel Tan – Edited by Ken Winterbottom

Patent Holders’ Choice of Forum Under Siege

The 1990 Federal Circuit decision in VE Holding v. Johnson Gas revolutionized patent litigation by relaxing restrictions on venue for patent cases. For over a decade, the Eastern District of Texas has heard a disproportionate amount of patent cases primarily for the reason that it tends to favor plaintiffs in infringement suits. However, a company called TC Heartland may shatter that status quo: they have petitioned the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to nullify VE Holding. Although TC Heartland’s case does not involve the Eastern District of Texas, a ruling in favor of TC Heartland would put limits on “forum shopping” for patent cases. Public interest groups led by the Electronic Frontier Foundation have filed an amicus brief supporting TC Heartland. Ars Technica provides further commentary.

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

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
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