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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By Mark Verstraete — Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

Greene v. MtGox Inc., No. 1:14-cv-1437 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 27, 2014)
Complaint hosted by Scribd

Joyce . MtGox Inc. (Mar. 14, 2014), No. cv-14-500253-00CP (Can. Ont. Sup. Ct. J.)
Complaint hosted by Ars Technica

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Putative class action suits have been filed against Mt. Gox—the now defunct online bitcoin exchange—in both the United States and Canada. In Febrauary 2014, Mt. Gox halted withdrawals after being hit with a sustained distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. Several days later, it filed for bankruptcy when 850,000 bitcoins were stolen.

The U.S. suit, Greene v. MtGox Inc., No. 1:14-cv-1437 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 27, 2014), proposes two classes of Plaintiffs:

(1) “Payment Class: All persons in the United States who paid a fee to Mt. Gox to buy, sell, or otherwise trade bitcoins.”

(2) “Frozen Currency Class: All persons in the United States who had bitcoins or Fiat Currency stored with Mt. Gox on February 7, 2014.”

Complaint, Greene, at 10. The two proposed classes allege several causes of action against Mt. Gox, including consumer fraud, negligence, and conversion. In their negligence claim against Mt. Gox, the plaintiffs allege that Mt. Gox breached its “duty to employ procedures to detect and prevent the improper access and misuse of Plaintiff’s and the Classes’ bitcoins,” and that this breach caused the “Plaintiff and the Payment Class [to] suffer economic injury and other damages.” Id. at 19.

Ars Technica provides commentary on the complaint. Reuters also discusses Mt. Gox’s decision to file for bankruptcy in the wake of this complaint. (more…)

Posted On Mar - 24 - 2014 Add Comments READ FULL POST

By Albert Chen – Edited by Sheri Pan

In re Application of the FBI for an Order Requiring the Prod. of Tangible Things, No. BR 14-01 (FISA Ct. Mar. 7, 2014)
Slip opinion

On March 7, 2014, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (“FISA Court”) denied the government’s request to amend a January 3, 2014 FISA order (“Primary Order”) to indefinitely extend the five-year limit on retaining metadata collected by the National Security Agency (“NSA”). Id. at 12.

The court reasoned that an indefinite retention period would violate privacy interests while failing to substantially improve national security. It rejected the government’s arguments that retention was necessary for it to meet its preservation obligations to plaintiffs in civil litigation suits involving the NSA.

Ars Technica provides an overview of the case. Emptywheel and Techdirt provide commentary.

(more…)

Posted On Mar - 19 - 2014 Add Comments READ FULL POST

By Mary Schnoor  – Edited by Mengyi Wang

Suprema, Inc. v. Int’l Trade Comm’n, No. 12-1170 (Fed. Cir. Dec. 13, 2013)
Slip Opinion

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In October 2011, the International Trade Commission (“ITC”) issued an exclusion order blocking the importation of Suprema, Inc.’s (“Suprema”) fingerprint scanners after it determined that Suprema induced its customers’ direct infringement of various U.S. method patents. In December 2013, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit vacated and remanded the ITC’s order, holding that the ITC’s authority to exclude extended only to “articles that … infringe a valid and enforceable United States patent at the time of importation,” and that the ITC’s restriction on importing Suprema’s scanners should thus be revised to reflect the limited scope of that authority. Suprema, slip op. at 4.

The ITC and Cross Match, Inc. (“Cross Match”), whose patents the ITC found infringed, have petitioned for a rehearing en banc of the Federal Circuit’s December 2013 ruling. Combined Petition for Panel Rehearing and Rehearing En Banc of Appellee International Trade Commission, Suprema, hosted by Patently-O; Intervenor’s Combined Petition For Rehearing and Rehearing En Banc, Suprema, hosted by Patently-O.

Patently-O provides an overview of the Federal Circuit’s ruling and the ITC’s petition for a rehearing en banc. Mondaq thoroughly reviews the decision, and the Baker Botts IP Report gives a summary and advice for patent practitioners litigating method patents in the ITC. (more…)

Posted On Mar - 18 - 2014 Add Comments READ FULL POST

By Gea Kang – Edited by Emma Winer

S.B. 2005, 108th Gen. Assemb., 2d. Sess. (Tenn. 2014) Bill
H.B. 1974, 108th Gen. Assemb., 2d. Sess. (Tenn. 2014) Bill

S.B. 2140, 108th Gen. Assemb., 2d. Sess. (Tenn. 2014) Bill
H.B. 2242, 108th Gen. Assemb. 2d. Sess. (Tenn. 2014) Bill

S.B. 2428, 108th Gen. Assemb., 2d. Sess. (Tenn. 2014) Bill
H.B. 2364, 108th Gen. Assemb., 2d. Sess. (Tenn. 2014) Bill

S.B. 2562, 108th Gen. Assemb., 2d. Sess. (Tenn. 2014) Bill
H.B. 2482, 108th Gen. Assemb. 2d. Sess. (Tenn. 2014) Bill

Photo By: AJ BatacCC BY 2.0

Four bills recently introduced in the Tennessee legislature are in the spotlight for their potential impact on the evolving broadband network landscape. The bills have bipartisan sponsorship and collectively aim to roll back restrictions on the ability of municipal governments to establish broadband networks of their own.

Two of the bills focus on specific localities. S.B. 2005 and H.B. 1974 would expand the municipal electric system’s provision of broadband service in Clarksville, Tennessee’s fifth largest city, while S.B. 2140 and H.B. 2242 would allow Trousdale County  to contract with a rural electric cooperative to provide broadband services.  The other two bills address statewide policy. S.B. 2428 and H.B. 2364 revise the definition of “telecommunications”  in Tenn. Code. Ann. § 65-25-202 to enable electric cooperatives that own dark fiber networks to reach customers who are not currently served by rural telephone cooperatives. S.B. 2428 at 1.  S.B. 2562 and H.B.2482 would facilitate the expansion of municipal utilities’ broadband services in connection with economic development, education, and health care projects. S.B. 2562 at 1. (more…)

Posted On Mar - 17 - 2014 Add Comments READ FULL POST

By Shuangjun Wang

Icon-newsWorld Wide Web inventor seeks to pass a Magna Carta for the Internet

Twenty-five years ago, British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. Today, he’s calling for a new – or very old, depending on how you look at it – invention to complement his first. In an interview with the BBC, Berners-Lee advocated for a global Constitution and Bill of Rights to protect Internet users everywhere from what he perceives to be a declining level of user freedom and independence on the Internet, especially in light of the privacy issues raised by governments’ “mining” of personal data.

Having such a charter will force governments to recognize that Internet user privacy and data protection are “so important, so much part of our lives, that [they] become[] on a level with human rights,” reports The Sydney Morning Herald, quoting Berners-Lee. The British computer scientist also proposes that lawmakers create a codified system of rights to ensure “no surveillance without suspicion, that our digital communication and behavior are treated with the same respect and legal due process that we expect for our offline communication and behavior,” reports Cambridge News. To make his Magna Carta a reality, Berners-Lee has established Web We Want, a campaign focused on initiating national dialogues about Internet usage and privacy rights and on drafting legislation for an “Internet Users’ Bill of Rights.”

Facebook v. Power Ventures celebrates its six-year anniversary in the Ninth Circuit

In 2013, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California ordered Power Ventures, a now bankrupt social network aggregation tool, to pay Facebook $3 million after that court found that Power Ventures had violated 18 U.S.C. § 1030 (2008) (“Computer Fraud and Abuse Act” or “CFAA”), 15 U.S.C. ch. 103 (2003) (“CAN-SPAM Act“), and 13 Cal. Penal § 502 (2001) for accessing Facebook data after Facebook had blocked Power Ventures’ IP addresses. Facebook, Inc. v. Power Ventures, Inc., No. 8-cv-5780 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 25, 2013) hosted by Leagle.

Power Ventures has appealed the ruling in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (“EFF”) has filed another amicus brief in order to highlight the “dangers” of upholding Facebook’s claims. Circumventing IP-address blocks typically falls within the scope of “hacking” under the CFAA. According to the EFF, however, because Power Ventures was only a social network aggregating tool, Facebook users were the ones accessing their own Facebook data through Power Ventures’ servers. Criminalizing such aggregators would stunt technological innovation and market competition. In addition, Congress targeted large-scale spammers with CAN-SPAM Act. According to the EFF, if the Ninth Circuit affirms the district court’s decision, that precedent will bring all Facebook users who advertise with Facebook Events under the Act’s scope of liability.

Google’s new encryption sends data through China’s Great Firewall

Tech companies such as Google and Facebook have advertised user privacy as their number one priority for some time, but, as reported by The New York Times, privacy activists and security specialists question the companies’ actual efforts at privacy protection.

Google has taken a step in the right direction by combating government surveillance and censorship of search engines in China. According to SiliconValley.com, Google began working late last year to automatically encrypt searches as part of the global expansion of its privacy technology plan. Google’s automatic encryption – which will take effect in the coming weeks – will prevent the Chinese government from screening searches and eliminating potentially politically controversial hits.

Although Google’s market share in China is only an estimated 10%, its move to subvert and bypass the “Great Firewall of China“ is an initiative that Google hopes will catch on and “encourage the industry to adopt stronger security standards,” reports The Register. Automatic encryption of search terms will not only prevent the government from identifying search terms and censoring hits, it will also protect users’ personal information and data from being immediately available to third parties.

Posted On Mar - 16 - 2014 Add Comments 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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