STLR Link Round-Up – Nov. 6, 2014

Compelled Fingerprinting:

The next development in what could be called IOs 8 Jurisprudence: a Virginia Circuit Court held that the 5th Amendment provides no protection for a Defendant forced to provide his fingerprint to unlock his phone. Professor and tech law writer Orin Kerr writes that the holding “is just a state court trial ruling, not an appellate decision. So it’s interesting more for its reasoning than its precedential value.” In dicta, the Court also wrote that being forced to enter a passcode would be protected by the 5th Amendment.

Facebook in the News:

In the 2010 elections, Facebook “get out the vote” messages were responsible for an extra 340,000 voters making it to the polls. Unsurprisingly, the social network again made it easy for users to share that they voted, though they tweaked the messages this year, making the text the same for all users. But GOTV isn’t the only thing keeping Mark Zuckerberg’s goliath in the news—it’s also the company that most concerns consumers regarding their privacy, per a CNBc.com poll. It also just launched a version of its website that runs on anonymity software Tor, allowing users to avoid online surveillance, whether by government, computer hackers, or advertising companies. This coming at a time when requests from governments across the globe for Facebook to disclose user data are up 24%, and the company continues to fight a US court order for the disclosure of data belonging to about 400 individual users. Obviously the ubiquitous website is going to continue to be at the forefront of online privacy law.

Alibaba’s rise:

By now, most will have heard of Chinese web-giant Alibaba’s record-breaking IPO. After a brief post-IPO dip, the company has trended upward, and is now worth more than Wal-Mart, not to mention Amazon and E-Bay. Some of that value comes from a fairly novel source: More than 500 Chinese courts are selling seized property on Alibaba-owned web auction site Taobao.com.

Speaking of Wal-Mart, the founder of online peer-to-peer retail service Etsy thinks that it could grow as big as the brick-and-mortar behemoth, so long as the government steps in to protect net neutrality. Net neutrality is a massively important issue, and has been in the news and public consciousness a great deal of late. Yet it was an utter non-issue in 2014 campaigns. This disconnect could spell disaster for net-neutrality advocates during the terms of the 114th United States Congress.

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