Posted By: Drew Weigel

Trademark-Symbol_32When is a book not a book? How do you remove the app from apple? Should Google be a verb? this post provides a brief look into the struggle for corporations to maintain trademark rights over ubiquitous online services.

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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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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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Altering the Scope of Section 230 Immunity: Should Social Media Companies be Responsible for Child Safety?

Posted By: Rob Pollack

laptopHow We Got Here:

In the mid-1990’s, Internet service providers who hosted content on their websites were being held to the same standards as traditional publishers in many lawsuits, leading to a situation in which these Internet companies were forced to spend considerable resources and time policing content on their sites and removing objectionable posts. This high standard was retarding Internet growth and stymying one of the advantages of the Internet: that it was a place for freedom of expression and thought and a place where a vast amount of information could be mined.

If ISPs and interactive content providers were required to police their sites diligently by finding and deleting objectionable content, they would be in court quite often if they allowed for largely free expression on their sites, or more likely, they would stop allowing such free expression on their sites and the users would not be allowed to utilize the Internet in the way Congress wanted the Internet to be utilized. Without taking these steps, the ISP’s would be subject to liability for every single post on their websites and so websites would start to resemble more print-magazines than the Internet we know today. Like print newspapers, everything that is posted would be highly scrutinized, curated, and filtered for content without much room for error. This is not how Congress wanted the Internet to function, and so they decided that they had to take action legislatively to protect ISPs, but has that legal protection gone too far at the detriment of minors? This is the question we have to decide after more than 20 years of Communications Decency Act (CDA) dominance in the legal landscape.

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The CDA – A Bulletproof Vest for Internet Service Providers?

Posted By: Stephen Timmer

Super Mario’s Pizzeria is celebrating two years in business! His business is in highly competitive area surrounded by other, established pizza places like Luigi’s Lovely Pizza Pies. Mario prides himself on customer satisfaction, whether patrons dine in or if they order take out through his mobile phone app (powered, ironically, by a video game company). He’s even snagged some prime catering gigs from businesses, like Sonic the hedge fund guy. Then one day a less than flattering review shows up on a review site for local businesses called “Holla!” under the name of “The Princess”. Holla, to protect anonymity of its users, allows them to use pseudonyms to protect against any reprisals and to elicit more candid comments. The Princess talks about how she got a fly in her Turtle Soup and how she sat at her table for twenty minutes before someone came over to take her order. Out of five stars she only gave Super Mario’s a half of a star. This review devastated both his dine in and his take out business. Mario has a pretty good memory and he never recalled anybody ever coming in and having an experience like that. Mario starts to think that Holla has made up the review and is favoring Luigi’s pizza joint, based on the lack of any negative reviews about his place. When Mario requests to Holla that they take that defamatory review down, they tell him to go stuff himself down a pipe. Knowing that the review has got to go, Mario decides to take Holla to court to compel them to take the review down. Unfortunately the court gave his case a game over when they told him that Holla cannot be held liable for the comments of its users, because they were not the one’s that posted it. Disheartened, Mario starts to consider a career in the plumbing business.

Unfortunately, a scenario with an infamous review site actually happened to a local service business in Seattle, where an anonymous review put dent in his business. Online service providers have been granted a seemingly bulletproof status thanks to legislation from Congress. While it has typically been a losing battle to challenge these providers in court over their content, recent developments in the United States Court of Appeals for Ninth Circuit  could give businesses an extra life against online providers and their users’ content. Unfortunately, this light at the end of the tunnel for merchants could prove to have dire constitutional consequences for the users of the online services. Continue reading

Geolocation and Smartphone Applications

Posted by Collin Gaines

April 20, 2015

Iphone_2Corporations have a duty to maximize profits for their shareholders. In the digital world, the easiest way for companies to increase profits is to monetize the data from current users of these companies’ applications or technological products. For example, a consumer’s smartphone location is continuously shared through third-party applications everyday, all day.  Many consumers are unaware of this business strategy and indeed, view it as an intrusion. A study by Carnegie Mellon University, in 2014 determined that “concise privacy-relevant information” frequently was shared including location, phone contact lists, calendar and call logs. Indeed, during the study, a participant received a message stating, “Your location has been shared 5,398 times with Facebook, Groupon, GO Launcher EX and seven other apps in the last 14 days.” Such a message demonstrates the volume in that consumers information is shared. In fact, the researchers found “that many popular Android apps tracked their users an average 6,200 times per participant over a two-week period, or about every three minutes!” Therefore,  the ever increasing “smartphone addiction” that is taking place in society today, has lead to an erosion of the 4th Amendment Constitutional right to privacy.
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Google’s Antitrust Battle

Posted by: Sam Knecht

April 20, 2015

google_416x416The European Union recently served Google with an official antitrust complaint, alleging Google is a trust that “had abused its market dominance by systematically favoring its own comparison shopping service over that of its rivals.” It is also separately investigating accusations that Google uses anticompetitive practices towards device manufacturers that use Google’s Android operating system. The complaint could lead to millions in fines for Google unless it proves otherwise or changes its operations.

The investigation of Google’s search tools has been mainly focused on determining if the company prioritizes its own products, ranking them ahead of others in searches. Given that Google used in about ninety percent of web searches in Europe, this is a heavy accusation. The committee is also focused on whether Google made it difficult for marketers to switch to competitors. Continue reading

Is the Archive Button Sending the Wrong Message?

Posted by Collin Gaines

April 20, 2015


In 2007, Google rolled out the “archive and next” shortcut in Gmail “to help improve the speed and convenience of managing email.” Merriam-Webster definition of archive is “to collect and store materials (such as recordings, documents, or computer files) so that they can be found and used when they are needed.” Therefore, the average person would conceivably believe that once emails are archived they are stored for backup purposes only.

Accordingly, when a message in Gmail is “archived” the message is removed from the inbox tab but not deleted or removed entirely. By archiving the messages, users perceive that their inbox is void of such messages but the emails are indeed still in storage and can be easily retrieved. Interestingly, it is possible to “archive” messages that have been read and unread messages as well. Users may retrieve messages by accessing the “All Mail” tab, or if someone responds to an archived message. Because archived messages seem as though they have been deleted and can only be retrieved in limited inboxes or responses, not only is Google’s “archive” label likely to confuse the a person of average sensibilities but it may also confuse someone who is familiar with the Stored Communications Act. Continue reading

Yelp for Free Speech

Posted by: Hillary Owen

April 20, 2015


yelpAnonymous speakers are at the heart of the first amendment’s free speech protection. Requiring identification to make speech protectable could chill the speech itself, so as long as what’s being said isn’t defamatory or knowingly false, the speaker can remain in the shadows. While the routes of communication are changing, that doesn’t mean that their protections should change. The internet is an immense platform where anyone can communicate locally and globally as long as they have sufficient access. The internet has also changed the way anonymity works. Continue reading

Surveillance through the Internet

Posted by Angelica J. Simpson

April 17, 2015


EFF_version_of_NSA_logoOver the past few years there has been headlines making their way claiming the governments gross overreach in surveillance. Stories that the FBI can hack into your computer, or that NSA is gathering everyone’s phone records, down to tracking capabilities through GOOGLE Maps apps and technology. But just how true are these headlines? Does American law allows for and even facilitates the ability for the government to use technology to track and spy on people? The reality of it seems to be that while the law allows for some surveillance, it also constrains the power as well. Continue reading