FTC versus FCC: Regulation of the Internet

Posted By: Emily Weiss

22495460709_9f99309cf9_oIn late March of 2017, the Senate voted to prevent a set of privacy rules from the Federal Communications Commission from going into effect. Privacy and Internet enthusiasts criticized the vote, and one Virtual Private Network service provider ran a full-page advertisement in the New York Times that named the 50 senators that “voted to monitor your Internet activity for financial gain.

All of this might seem like the death of Internet privacy. The effect of the Senate vote appeared just turned certain regulatory authority over to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Internet service providers and other industry players welcomed the rule repeal, and have argued for consistency between the FTC and FCC privacy rules. Under the FTC rules, ISPs now have far more latitude to sell browsing data from its users to advertisers in order to provide more targeted advertising, just like online service providers, like Google, already can.

With this in mind, is the end of the FCC’s rule the beginning of the end for Internet privacy, and to an extent, net neutrality?

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Justifying Video Game Piracy – The Backup Defense

Posted By: Ryan Rempp

controllerThe video game emulator community has a second argument to justify downloading copies of video games. They argue that as long as the downloader has a legal copy of the game, it is not illegal to download a backup copy. Unfortunately, that argument does not work. In fact, obtaining a digital copy of a video game is a tricky legal issue.


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Executive Order #12333: The Legality of the Most Expansive Domestic Surveillance Program Ever

Posted By: Rob Pollock

Big BrotherFor privacy advocates and civil liberties watchdogs, the year 2016 was a bad year. Executive Order #12333, signed into law over 35 years ago and largely forgotten, has been resurrected in late 2016 with a series of hair-raising executive agency procedures passed by the Obama administration citing the obscure executive order as authorization. This relatively-benign executive order was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on December 4, 1981, and regarded the relationship between intelligence agencies in how they share information with each other. However now, the executive order is not so benign, and its use as justification for intelligence information collection could represent one of the most egregious violations of the Fourth Amendment and privacy protections we’ve seen in the intelligence community for a long time.

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Why Amazon Will Not Get in Trouble For Your Review, But You Might

Posted By: Julia Ketchum

yelpToday, many sites, including Amazon, Yelp, Ebay, Redbox, and Internet Movie Database have user reviews rate anything and everything – products, services, etc. These reviews are often helpful. A bad review can save you from watching a horrible film or doing business with a horrible company. However, the business with the bad review will likely get upset and try to do something to silence the critic. Who is responsible for the bad review: the internet service provider or the user who wrote the review? In this post, we will talk about 47 U.S.C. § 230 of the Communications Decency Act and Kimzey v. Yelp. In conclusion, the OSP (online service provider) will not be considered responsible, but the user can be liable for defamation. Although the user might be liable, we will end with the many reasons a law suit is unlikely and how to avoid a law suit altogether.

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Electronic Discovery & Computer-Assisted Review

Posted By: Timothy T. Emmart

RND_0906_0035_v3cYou work for a large firm that specializes in mergers and acquisitions, or perhaps class action suits. Much of the work that you do requires you to sift through mounds of documents, spreadsheets, etc… Increasingly, in the information age, you must also swim through a sea of electronically stored information (ESI). Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a way to efficiently mine that ESI? As it turns out, the answer to that question is here.

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The Competing Interests of Open Source and Patents, or Not?

Posted By: Aidan L. Clark

Copyleft_imageSome would say that open source software and protection of intellectual property rights, in the form of patents, could not exist in the same sphere. The idea behind open source software is to encourage innovation by the free exchange of code. The idea behind patenting software is to encourage innovation by granting the inventor a limited-in-time monopoly on their software. Both methods provide a way for the innovative technology to be introduced into the public domain. And with both methods, certain restrictions are placed on both the authors of the code, and those that wish to use it. Can open source software and patented software exists in the same sphere?

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Twitter and Electronic Surveillance: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Big Brother

Posted by: Emily Weiss

Big BrotherOn April 6th, 2017, online microblogging site giant Twitter filed a complaint against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Twitter sought the court’s aid in preventing the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol from obtaining information about one of its users – the user who ran the account @ALT_USCIS. Twitter argued that the summons that CBP was using to obtain the information was inapposite, and did not apply to the kind of information CBP actually sought. As a result, Twitter argued, the summons violated the First Amendment and Twitter did not have to comply with it.

Less than a day later, DHS and CBP dropped the summons for information, and Twitter likewise dropped the suit. The American Civil Liberties Union called this a “big victory for free speech and the right to dissent.” But was it? This is not the beginning – nor the end – to Twitter’s apparent commitment to protect its user’s privacy.

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Fanfication and The New Religion: The Legend of Zelda as a Representative Model of Democratizing Copyright into Monomyth

Posted by: Drew Weigel

33477550306_345ee30b37_bThere has been a lot of online discussion surrounding The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The discussion is intense partly because the franchise has a massive fanbase, but partly because it marks one of the grandest design achievements in the gaming industry. It is even more interesting as a microcosm of the greater internet culture, representing but one evolutionary symbiosis between creators and consumers. Fans have argued for years over whether an “official timeline” unites the games, but few realize that in a digital era it is the fans themselves which assemble these monomyths and guide the expansion of fictional universes. At what point does a shared legend become sacred mythology, and a fandom become a religion? L. Ron Hubbard and George Lucas were just the beginning.

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