A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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European Court of Justice Invalidates Data Retention Directive
By Paul Klein – Edited by Alex Shank

In a preliminary ruling requested by courts in Ireland and Austria, the European Court of Justice found that Directive 2006/24/EC was invalid. The Grand Chamber recognized the legitimacy of retaining telecommunications data as a means to combat serious crime and terrorism, but it ultimately held that the far-reaching scope of the Directive disproportionately affected individual privacy under the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

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Google to Supreme Court: Snagging Data from Unsecured Wi-Fi is Perfectly Legal
By Michael Shammas – Edited by Mary Schnoor

Google has filed a petition for a writ of certiorari asking the Supreme Court to label its Street View cars’ collection of unencrypted Wi-Fi traffic legal, appealing the Ninth Circuit’s decision that Google may have violated the federal Wiretap Act. Google believes unencrypted Wi-Fi traffic should be classed as “radio communications” accessible to the public.

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Mozilla Announces Resignation of Recently Appointed CEO Brendan Eich Following Controversy over Gay Marriage Opposition
By Sheri Pan – Edited by Corey Omer

On April 3, Mozilla Corporation (“Mozilla”), a subsidiary of the non-profit Mozilla Foundation most widely known for producing the Firefox browser, announced that its CEO of less than two weeks, Brendan Eich, has resigned, after pressure from Mozilla employees, bloggers, and developers who opposed his appointment in light of a $1000 donation that he made in 2008 in support of Proposition 8, a ballot measure that sought to ban gay marriage in California.

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Flash Digest: News In Brief
By Emma Winer

Third Circuit Vacates Hacker Conviction for Improper Venue

French Unions and Employers Agree to Curb After-Hours Work Email

Limited Sale of Google Glass Slated For April 15

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Supreme Court Weighs Patent Eligibility of Software
By Mary Schnoor — Edited by Elise Young

The Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int’l, a case with the potential to determine whether, or when, computer-implemented inventions (i.e., software) are patent-eligible subject matter. Many commentators hope the Court will use this case as an opportunity to clarify what makes an invention an “abstract idea” that is ineligible for patenting.

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Sixth Circuit Approves Warrantless Tracking of Cell Phone Location
By Michael Hoven – Edited by Andrew Crocker

United States v. Skinner, No. 09-6497 (6th Cir. Aug. 14, 2012)

Slip opinion
The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld a jury’s conviction of Melvin Skinner on two counts related to drug trafficking and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, rejecting Skinner’s argument on appeal that the district court had wrongly denied his motion to suppress evidence on the grounds that it was obtained through an unlawful search.

The Sixth Circuit held that law enforcement did not need a warrant to track Skinner through cell-site information, GPS location, and “ping” data. Because Skinner had “no reasonable expectation of privacy in the data given off” by his phone, the police were free to collect and use that data, and there was no violation of the Fourth Amendment. Skinner, No. 09-6497, slip op. at 6. In so holding, the court distinguished its case from United States v. Jones, 132 S. Ct. 945 (2012) (previously covered by the Digest), in which the Supreme Court held that placing a GPS tracking device on a car violated the Fourth Amendment. Unlike Jones, in which police trespassed onto private property, Skinner purchased the phone himself and the phone freely emitted signals that revealed his location, which eliminated any reasonable expectation of privacy on Skinner’s part.

Bloomberg Businessweek provides an overview of the case. Several commentators, including Orin Kerr at the Volokh Conspiracy, Jennifer Granick at the Center for Internet and Society, and Julian Sanchez at Cato @ Liberty, criticize the court’s discussion of cell phone technology, noting that pinging a cell phone is a request for the cell phone to return a signal, and therefore ping data is not “given off” in the way the court appears to conceive.
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Posted On Aug - 17 - 2012 1 Comment READ FULL POST

JOLT Digest would like to thank our summer contributors, editors, and comment authors, whose names can be found on our Summer 2012 staff page, for their hard work over the past two months.

 

Posted On Aug - 15 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Written By: Yana Welinder
Edited By: Molly Jennings
Editorial Policy

When Judge Robert Bork was nominated for the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987, a reporter politely asked his local video store assistant for a Xerox copy of handwritten entries of Judge Bork’s 146 prior rentals. Having convinced the editor of the Washington City Paper that this was perfectly legal, the reporter then published these records under the heading “The BORK Tapes.” The issue featured a suggestive cartoon of Judge Bork on the cover—beer in hand, slouching in an armchair in front of the television. You can imagine people flocked to buy copies of the paper hoping for juicy tidbits about the Supreme Court nominee’s secret watching habits. But to their disappointment, Judge Bork’s rental records listed only garden-variety films. This incident nevertheless spurred a privacy outrage. Within months, the Video and Library Privacy Protection Act was debated in Congress and California Congressman McCandless spoke in favor of the bill:

There’s a gut feeling that people ought to be able to read books and watch films without the whole world knowing. Books and films are the intellectual vitamins that fuel the growth of individual thought. The whole process of intellectual growth is one of privacy—of quiet, and reflection. This intimate process should be protected from the disruptive intrusion of a roving public eye. What we’re trying to protect with this legislation are usage records of content-based materials—books, records, videos, and the like.  . . . [T]here is an element of common decency in this legislation. It is really nobody else’s business what people read, watch, or listen to.

But books, records, and other materials were subsequently removed from the scope of this bill.{{1}}  The final version was adopted to regulate only the “rental, sale, or delivery of prerecorded video cassette tapes or similar audio visual materials” (emphasis added). Given its history, the legislation was dubbed the “Bork Bill.”

This comment argues that recent technological developments warrant an extension of the Bork Bill to protect records of online content consumption. The early view of the Internet as a space where “nobody knows you’re a dog” enabled people to freely browse online content, resulting in more “creativity and innovation.” Professor Eben Moglen has likened this anonymous space to cities as the historic destination for individuals who wanted to “escape the surveillance of the village” and “experiment autonomously in ways of living.” But as online exploration of content is increasingly being logged and those logs are being exposed, the Internet as a source of intellectual vitamins is under threat. More than ever, we now need to prevent the logging of media consumption that is not necessary for making the media available. This applies not only to media that existed in 1988 when the Bork Bill was adopted, such as books and music records, but to any material used for intellectual pursuit of knowledge, including blogs, tweets, podcasts, and other new sources of information. It is further critical that records of our intellectual curiosity not be shared with others without our permission to disclose that particular material.

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Posted On Aug - 14 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Charlie Stiernberg

Proposed SHIELD Act Would Require Non-Practicing Entities to Pay Legal Costs

The Saving High-Tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes Act of 2012 (“SHIELD Act”) aims to deter non-practicing entities (“NPEs”)—patent holders that do not make, use, or sell their claimed invention—from filing lawsuits by requiring such plaintiffs to pay successful defendants’ attorney fees, if a court determines that the suit did not have a reasonable likelihood of succeeding. Congressman Peter Defazio (D-OR) introduced H.R. 6245 on August 1 to supplement 35 U.S.C. § 285, which provides for attorney fees in “exceptional cases,” with a new section 285A.  The SHIELD Act would only apply to computer software and hardware patents, both defined within the act. According to the Wall Street Journal, Rep. DeFazio intends to target companies that “buy the patents solely to sue the American tech startups that created the products.”

Raytheon Plans to Pursue Trade Secret Misappropriation Claims against Indigo Systems and FLIR

Following a favorable reversal in the Federal Circuit, Raytheon Co. plans to pursue its trade secret misappropriation claims against Indigo Systems Corp. and FLIR Systems Inc., the New York Times reports. In a unanimous opinion by Judge Linn, the Federal Circuit overturned a decision by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas that had dismissed claims involving infrared camera technology because of the statute of limitations. In so holding, the Federal Circuit reasoned that Raytheon had reasonably relied on Indigo/FLIR’s repeated false assurances that Raytheon’s trade secrets were adequately protected.

Proposed Amendments to ECPA Would Require Warrants for Cloud Data

New legislation proposed by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-MI) would amend the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) to require the government to obtain a probable-cause warrant to access data stored in the cloud. The proposal would protect files in Dropbox, Facebook, and Google storage accounts, among others. Under the current ECPA, largely unchanged since the Reagan administration, the government can acquire such content as long as it has been stored on a third-party server for 180 days or more. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) proposed similar legislation last year, but it never got a hearing in the Judiciary Committee. Wired predicts a similar fate for this new proposal.

Posted On Aug - 13 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Illinois Prohibits Employers from Requiring Employees to Provide Social Networking Passwords
By Andrew Crocker – Edited by Michael Hoven

H.B. 3782, 97th Gen. Assemb. (Ill. 2012)
Bill

On August 1, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed H.B. 3782, which amends Illinois’ Right to Privacy in the Workplace law to prohibit employers from “request[ing] or requir[ing] any employee or prospective employee to provide any password or other related account information in order to gain access to the employee’s or prospective employee’s account or profile on a social networking website or to demand access in any manner to an employee’s or prospective employee’s account or profile on a social networking website.” H.B. 3782, 97th Gen. Assemb. (Ill. 2012) (to be codified at 820 Ill. Comp. Stat 55/10(b)(1)). Illinois is the second state to enact such a provision, following Maryland’s passage of a similar bill in April, according to the ACLU.

The governor’s office issued a press release that describes the legislature’s intent in passing the bill.

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Posted On Aug - 11 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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European Court of Ju

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Google to Supreme Co

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Mozilla Announces Re

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Flash Digest: News I

By Emma Winer Third Circuit Vacates Hacker Conviction for Improper Venue The ...

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Supreme Court Weighs

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