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 Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Katherine Kwong  

U.S. v. Ulbricht, No. 13-06919 (S.D.N.Y., February 4, 2015)

FBI Press Release
UnknownOn February 4, a federal jury in Manhattan rendered its verdict in the trial against Ross Ulbricht, a 30-year-old U.S. citizen allegedly in charge of the online black market platform Silk Road. The jury found Mr. Ulbricht guilty on all charges. The case is important as it represents an attempt by the government to regain control over an area of the internet where tools such as bitcoin and Tor are used to create an online space beyond the reach of the authorities.

A summary of the case is provided by Ars Technica, Forbes, and Reuters. Wired provides an in-depth analysis of the decision. Details on the course of the trial can be found at Forbes and Forbes. (more…)

Posted On Mar - 2 - 2015 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Written by: Asher Lowenstein

Edited by: Yaping Zhang

In May 2014, another proposed bill to address abusive practices of patent assertion entities (PAEs), also known as “patent trolls,” came to an end. Senator Patrick Leahy, a sponsor of the bill, said he hoped “to return to the issue this year” because “[w]e can all agree that patent trolls abuse the current patent system.” In an interview, Senator Leahy blamed the bill’s failure on special interests that do not want to protect people from trolls.

There have been extensive legislative efforts to counter abusive patent litigation. According to Intellectual Property Ownership AssociationIntellectual Property Ownership Association, thirteen bills were introduced in Congress between May 2013 and February 2014. Certain PAEs have engaged in particularly obnoxious practices that appear to have motivated some of the legislative efforts.

In particular, provisions aimed at “bad-faith demand letters” are directed against practices exemplified by MPHJ Technology. According to the NY Attorney General’s office, in 2012 MPHJ purchased four patents and one patent application for one dollar. MPHJ began sending letters in September 2012 to businesses in all fifty states with fewer than one hundred employees. See Ex. F at 6, MPHJ Tech. Invs., LLC v. FTC, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 146288, No. 6:14-cv-11 (W.D. Tex. Jan. 13, 2014). Approximately 16,645 businesses received the letter, which stated that the recipient was likely infringing MPHJ patents by using a machine that could send a scan to email. The letters alleged that “many companies” had agreed to pay a fair price, which was usually between $900 and $1,200 per employee.

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Posted On Dec - 22 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Yixuan Long – Edited by Yaping Zhang

3D Systems, Inc., v. Formlabs, Inc., No. 13-cv-07973-RWS (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 1, 2014) (order granting dismissal with prejudice) Slip Opinion hosted by Scribd.

Complaint for Injunctive Relief and Damages, 3D Systems, Inc., v. Formlabs, Inc., No. 0:12-cv-03323-MBS (D.S.C. Nov. 20, 2012) Complaint hosted by Archive.org.

On December 1, 3D Systems and Formlabs agreed to settle their two-year legal dispute over patent infringement. Terms of the settlement are undisclosed. 3D Systems sued Formlabs in 2012 for infringement of No. 5,597,520 Patent (“the ‘520 Patent”), granted to 3D Systems in 1997. 3D Systems at *5. The patent covered different parts of the stereolithographic three-dimensional printing process, which uses a laser to cure liquid plastic. Id. 5–11. The patent will have expired in 2017.

TechCrunch and Boston Business Journal overview the settlement. Gigaom analyzes its background and impact.

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Posted On Dec - 21 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Sabreena Khalid – Edited by Insue Kim

91ea09a6535666e18ca3c56f731f67ef_400x400Following scandals earlier this month revolving around the use of personal user information, the 30 billion dollar tech giant, Uber, hired Harriet Pearson, former chief privacy officer at IBM, to “conduct an in-depth review and assessment of [the] existing data privacy program.” USA Today.

The public relations fiasco was sparked by one of the company’s senior executives suggesting that the company invest in opposition research targeted at critics, particularly at one journalist denouncing the company’s allegedly mysoginistic practices. BuzzFeed and ars technica provide further commentary and details.  The executive has since apologized for his statements. At the same time, the company took another blow when revelations surfaced that its New York general manager was accessing the Uber travel data of another journalist without her permission. Slate provides further details. Further, reports of the company using a “God view” tool to track customers’ location at a launch party resulted in a harsh letter from Senator Al Franken questioning Uber’s privacy policy.

Uber’s recent hire of Pearson is part of the company’s attempt to regain consumer trust in its business and privacy policies. According to BuzzFeed and Slate, the company has explicitly distanced itself from the acts of both officers, stating that it does not conduct any kind of opposition research on journalists, and that it restricts all employees’ access to driver or user data except for “a limited set of legitimate business purposes”.

The story brings attention to the larger and more pertinent issue of the handling and usage of personal user information by tech companies in the sharing economy. Uber’s privacy policy states that the app can gather and use users’ geo-location data for a variety of purposes, including “internal business purposes”. S. 1(b) Uber Privacy Policy. The privacy policy, however, does not define what these purposes are. So far, the company has reportedly used it for purposes such as tracking 30 of its most “notable users” to display an activity map at a launch party. It is reported that these users did not know their location coordinates were being used in such a way. Ars technica. Uber has also tracked a journalist’s location as she arrived at the Uber headquarters in New York, unbeknownst to her. Slate.  (more…)

Posted On Dec - 17 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Henry Thomas

S. Louis Martin vs. Google Inc., No. CGC-14-539972 (Cal. Sup. Ct. Nov. 13, 2014)

Order hosted by Ars Technica

A San Francisco court on November 13, 2014 dismissed a lawsuit against Google, treating Google’s search engine and third-party advertisement service as constitutionally protected free speech. The plaintiff, a website owner, had based its lawsuit on allegations that Google violated antitrust laws by treating the website unfavorably in its search results, and by withdrawing advertisement from the website. In throwing out the lawsuit, the court granted Google’s motion to apply California’s “anti-SLAPP” law, which allows a court to efficiently dismiss lawsuits against acts protected as free speech.

Ars Technica, Law360, and The Guardian provide an overview of the court proceedings. Slate welcomes the decision as acknowledging Google’s role as a media platform “curat[ing] information and present[ing] it to readers in a unique, customized order.”

(more…)

Posted On Dec - 9 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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