Why we should say “yes” to GMOs.

America is currently in the midst of a non-GMO craze. Genetically modified organisms—known as GMOs—attracted little public attention when they were first introduced into the U.S. commercial food supply in the mid-1990s. This changed in 2003, when a California natural food store launched a grassroots campaign to persuade natural food companies to reveal whether their products contain GMOs. This campaign led many organic food proponents to decry GMOs as impure, unnatural, and a threat to Continue Reading →

Police Body Cameras and Public Records Requests: Another Privacy Frontier

Police departments around the country have been rolling out body-worn camera (“BWC”) programs among other efforts to address accountability and transparency concerns in police conduct. Police departments, legislatures, and community groups alike believe that BWC programs will provide benefits in many forms, including lowering the incidence of police violence, reducing civilian complaints against officers, and streamlining internal police investigations. Public opinion polls overwhelmingly support their use, and news outlets have been eager to report early Continue Reading →

The Apple Case: How Did We Get Here?

As STLR discussed a few weeks ago Apple is challenging a court order to unlock the phone of one of the San Bernardino shooters. The current dispute between the government and Apple may be viewed as another chapter in a long-standing debate between law enforcement and intelligence agencies, who need to execute search warrants and conduct surveillance effectively, and consumers’ interests in privacy and security. I believe that understanding the history of this debate is Continue Reading →

His last bow – CRISPR/Cas9 and possibly the last famous Interference proceeding

The patent fight over the CRISPR/Cas9 system  between Dr. Jennifer Doudna with her employer and assignee UC Berkeley on the one side and Dr. Feng Zhang with MIT and the Broad institute on the other side has gained (almost) as much attention as the Sanders vs. Clinton race. Whereas the latter will be decided no later than July this year at the DNC convention, we may have to wait much longer to know the outcome Continue Reading →

STLR Link Roundup – Feb. 6, 2016

Privacy Shield Data Transfer Agreement On February 2nd Officials from the United States and European Union agreed to a cross-Atlantic data transfer deal called Privacy Shield after three months of negotiations. The negotiations centered around disagreements between European and American regulators on the extent of privacy individuals should be able to expect for their data. The EU and US reached the agreement after the US government made promises that it would not target Europeans to Continue Reading →

United States v. Valle: The Second Circuit agrees with the Fourth and Ninth Circuits on the Meaning of “Exceeds Authorized Access” under the CFAA

If an employee used their work computer in a way prohibited by their employer, should that be a federal crime? What if it was a police officer looking up women in a police database? This issue was recently addressed by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in United States v. Gilberto Valle[1], decided on December 3rd, 2015, also known as the ‘Cannibal Cop’ case. Valle, a policeman in the NYPD, often used his computer to Continue Reading →

Law and the Problem of Autonomous Cars

Fully autonomous vehicles will be in the hands of consumers in the near future.[1] Technology companies and car manufacturers have moved beyond small features like autonomous braking and autonomous lane assist, to fully workable cars that drive themselves with little human oversight. While the safety of the cars is largely uncertain, some initial reports bode well. Google’s self-driving vehicles have logged around 1.8 million miles on the road since 2009 and have been in only Continue Reading →

Paris Attacks Reignite Calls for Legally Mandated Encryption Backdoors

Only weeks ago, the Obama administration had decided that it would not pursue legislation requiring companies to build “backdoors” in their encryption allowing government access to encrypted data. However, the recent terrorist attacks in Paris may affect their stance going forward and have already influenced the debate on encryption. Soon after the attacks occurred, many quickly blamed encryption for enabling the attack’s organizers to plan in secrecy. Despite the fact that there is no evidence Continue Reading →

The Legality of Asteroid Mining

Introduction The space industry is experiencing a surge of activity that is making headlines. Elon Musk’s SpaceX was the first private entity to send a spacecraft into orbit, and is also one of the two private firms being paid by NASA to deliver supplies to the International Space Station under the Commercial Resupply Services program. Virgin Galactic is planning on flying paying passengers to the edge of space as a form of space tourism. Companies Continue Reading →

Inducing Renewable Energy Innovation Through Taxation

Renewable Energy Innovation’s Obstacles As the Paris Conference approaches, policymakers will search for a practical means by which the United States can meet any potential voluntary commitments to reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Economists have suggested that an increase in the price of fossil fuels could “induce innovation,” as businesses are given an incentive to develop low carbon solutions to limit their costs.[1] To have a realistic chance of mitigating human contributions to climate Continue Reading →