White House Proposes to End NSA’s Mass Collection of Phone Data – But Reforms Don’t Go Far Enough for Many Privacy Advocates

Responding to mounting public pressure, President Obama announced this week that he would be proposing legislation to end the National Security Agency’s mass collection of phone records. Under the new proposal, phone metadata would be stored by telephone companies, not the NSA, and could only be obtained by the NSA through a court order.  However many members of Congress as well as privacy advocates argue that the proposal does not go far enough and that Continue Reading →

New Patent Law Cheered by Large Corporations May Prove Beneficial to Small Entities As Well

On December 5, 2013, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3309, the “Innovation Act” sponsored by Representative Bob Goodlatte of Virginia. The law has moved quickly through committee and made it to the floor of the house in just over a month. The bill has been interpreted as an attack on Non-Practicing Entities (NPEs), more commonly known as patent trolls, and numerous commentators have addressed the potential implications of the bill’s modification of infringement suits Continue Reading →

The Senate’s violent video games bill: witch hunt or legitimate concern?

Last January, in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut, Sen. Jay Rockefeller proposed S. 134: Violent Content Research Act of 2013, which has since worked its way through the Commerce, Science, and Transportation committee. Freshly amended in December, the bill would require various governmental agencies to work with the National Academy of Sciences in researching the effects of video game violence on children, and the possible disproportionate impact they have on Continue Reading →

Legal Issues in Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is when a user provides an input for a program, but some or all of the program’s processing is outsourced to another computer or set of computers (the “cloud server”). Google Maps is an easy example of this – the user provides an input, which Google’s cloud server processes in order to provide the user an output. Cloud servers, in processing inputs, will acquire data, some of which may be highly sensitive (i.e., Continue Reading →

Medication Abortions: Is a state’s limitation of drug induced abortions only to FDA-approved practices constitutional? Courts disagree.

Last week, three courts, the Oklahoma Supreme Court, the Western District of Texas and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, issued rulings regarding the constitutionality of state abortion laws, specifically, whether a state’s limitation on medication abortions is constitutionally permissible. On Tuesday October 29th, the Oklahoma Supreme Court reaffirmed its earlier ruling that the state’s 2011 preventive abortion law, H.B. 1970, is unconstitutional. The proposed law limited how medications could be administered to patients to Continue Reading →

Advancing Video Game Technology May Be Too Realistic

Technological improvements in the realistic portrayal of college athletes in video game graphics may partially be to blame for a string of recent legal disputes against major video game developer Electronic Arts, Inc. (“EA”).  NCAA college athletes have filed actions against EA for unauthorized use of their names and likenesses, a charge that falls under the statutory and common law right of publicity. This is a relatively new charge in the world of video games Continue Reading →

Sea Change: the Legal Implications of Climate Change for Island States

Earlier this month, the intergovernmental 44th Pacific Islands Forum convened in the Marshall Islands to discuss the affairs of 16 sovereign states in the Pacific Ocean. Members of the Forum include Australia, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji and Samoa. Discussions at the Pacific Islands Forum covered a wide variety of economic, political and strategic topics, but the major focal point of the Forum concerned climate change. The topic of climate change is one that Continue Reading →

Client Confidentiality and the NSA: May attorneys still use unencrypted email?

Lawyers handling client data are under an obligation to protect the privacy of that data. State and ABA ethics opinions have approved of correspondence over unencrypted email, deciding that in most cases such communication is consistent with the lawyer’s privacy obligation. However, those opinions were based on an understanding of privacy law that preceded the recent revelations about government storage and tracking of email under the authority of FISA and the PATRIOT Act. It may Continue Reading →

New Jersey Supreme Court Rules that Warrants are Required to Electronically Track Cell Phone Data

The New Jersey Supreme Court recently held that law enforcement officials must obtain a warrant before electronically tracking a suspect’s cell phone. In State v. Earls, the court stressed that users are entitled to a reasonable expectation of privacy in the level of detail cell phone data can reveal about their lives. This holding applies both to tracking using data from cell towers and tracking using GPS technology from the cell phones themselves. The court Continue Reading →

There’s No App For That: Smartphone Data Privacy and Law Enforcement Searches

Smartphones have become repositories for vast amounts of personal information.  As their functionality grows, users store more and more of their details in their smartphone, from friends’ phone numbers, diary entries, photos, and messages, to shopping lists, bank details, and travel plans.  At the same time, phone manufacturers and app designers silently gather data on users’ movements, browsing habits and passwords.  The resulting bounty of data is extremely convenient for users, but also makes smartphones Continue Reading →