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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SenateSenate Introduces Consumer Review Freedom Act to Protect Online Consumer Reviews

By 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 Add Comments 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 Add Comments 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 Add Comments 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 Add Comments READ FULL POST
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