Bitcoin’s Myth of Anonymity and the Rise of Other “Anonymous” Cryptocurrencies

Introduction Many cryptocurrencies tout their “anonymous” qualities and lure users with general promises of untraceable transactions. Users of cryptocurrencies seek anonymity, not necessarily because they want to deal in illegal activity (although there are plenty of criminals turning to digital currencies to hide transactions) but because they desire privacy and security in knowing that they control the release of their personal data and spending history. Bitcoin has gained the most traction as a digital currency Continue Reading →

Crash Course: Recent Proposals for Comprehensive Privacy Reform

Introduction Google searches for the term “privacy” reached new highs over the past month. The ascension of privacy issues in the national consciousness comes as no surprise considering recent revelations of Cambridge Analytica’s data scandals, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s recent testimony before Congress, and prospects of increased regulation on privacy and data. The concern over privacy is not new. The phrase, “If you’re not paying for it, you are the product,” and similar analogues have Continue Reading →

Up in the CLOUD: What the New Congressional Act Means for Data Security

Until this past week, Microsoft looked as though they would receive an unfavorable ruling from the Supreme Court. In 2013, the U.S. Justice Department issued a warrant for the emails of individuals they were investigating as drug dealers, but the technology giant refused to hand them over on the grounds that the information in question was hosted on a server in Ireland and warrants are only applicable in the United States. The Court was likely Continue Reading →

Can Electronic Surveillance Constitute a Search of Private Property Under the 4th Amendment? Gorsuch’s Comments Raise New Questions.

At oral argument in Carpenter v. United States, now awaiting final decision, Justice Gorsuch raised the possibility that individuals have a property right in their data. Specifically, Gorsuch suggested that a customer of a cellular provider had a property interest in location data that police had obtained from the provider without a warrant. This is relevant in a Fourth Amendment context because government trespass against private property is a form of “search.” But there is Continue Reading →

The Emerging Trend of Data Localization

Free flow of data across the globe has been a remarkable feature of the Internet. Innovations like cloud computing—spreading data across a host of servers in several locations—have been possible due to the free, open nature of the Internet, and have resulted in technical efficiencies and reduced costs. Cross-border data flows are estimated to have raised the world GDP by 10.1%. However, this lack of borders in the digital world has tested traditional notions of Continue Reading →

The Ethicality and Legality of Facial Recognition Technology

The advent of relatively effective and scalable facial recognition technology has prompted a spirited policy debate about the appropriateness of its use in law enforcement contexts. Some commentators have raised both ethical and constitutional concerns over the implementation of these technologies. While the Supreme Court has not yet directly addressed the use of facial recognition systems, there is some indication it may feel compelled to do so in the near future.  China Leads the Way Continue Reading →

STLR Link Round-up – Jan 26, 2018

Qualcomm: the Latest Victim of the Harsh Antitrust Enforcement by EU In a recent move, the EU competition regulator fined Qualcomm €997m (US$ 1.2bn) for anti-competitive practices. Qualcomm was deemed to be abusing its dominant market position in the LTE baseband chipsets market by making exclusivity arrangements with device manufacturer Apple – arrangements that essentially would see Apple use only Qualcomm chips for their smartphones and tablet devices. As the European Commission noted, “Qualcomm prevented Continue Reading →

Changing Privacy Laws in the Digital Age: Carpenter v. United States

In an age of ever-increasing reliance on digital technology, concerns about security and privacy have become increasingly relevant. When such technology has been used by individuals to coordinate and orchestrate criminal acts, courts been faced with the challenge of balancing these individuals’ privacy rights with law enforcement’s investigative goals. For example, in 2014, the United States Supreme Court held that the warrantless search of a cell phone obtained during an arrest was unconstitutional.  On the Continue Reading →

Is Your Smart Home Spying on You? Personal Data Issues with the Internet of Things

In the finale of the latest season of HBO’s Silicon Valley, a network of “smart” refrigerators were the unlikely heroes. In earlier episodes, the fictional Pied Piper company installed their innovative software – designed to compress and store peer-to-peer, shared data – in their home “smart” refrigerator. Due to some glitch, the software was downloaded by other refrigerators of the same model. Unknown to the company, the refrigerators continually backed up the data stored in Continue Reading →

The Use of Biometric Data for Personal Identification Purposes

Biometric identification technologies, once the realm of science fiction movies, have now become ubiquitous for many Americans. Roughly 90 million Americans own iPhones [1], which for several years, have used fingerprint scans in lieu of passcodes, and the most recent iPhone X, unveiled in September 2017, uses facial mapping technologies to identify owners. [2] Smartphone technology is just one of many uses for biometrics. Biometrics are also used by retailers to track and analyze the shopper experience [3]. Continue Reading →