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Blog

Section 702’s Expiration Date -- Could it Bring Backdoor Searches to an End?

Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act (FISA) is set to expire on December of 2017, and the debate over Fourth Amendment protections vs. security will be revisited. Intelligence officials have been pushing for its renewal for a year already. The use of Section 702 for spying on Americans created a national uproar when revealed by Edward Snowden, who disclosed classified information about the mass surveillance of Americans by the government.

04/08/2017
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Blog

The Email Privacy Act Passes in House, Next Stop: Senate

Two years after the Email Privacy Act (H.R. 387) was first introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, it was revisited Monday, Febuary 6th, and passed unanimously. This is a huge victory for proponents of digital privacy, but the fight is not over quite yet. Now that is has been passed in the House, it will need to be passed by the Senate before Americans’ right to email privacy can finally be updated for the 21st century.

04/03/2017
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Blog

Circumventing Cell Towers and Constitutions

On Wednesday, House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) singled out StingRay scanners, stating that the committee is set to investigate these devices and their use in government surveillance. While mired in technical language, this is an issue of importance to all Americans.

09/12/2016
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Blog

The Digital Age Warrants Constitutional Protections

In the majority opinion for the unanimous Court in Riley v. California (2014), Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, “The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought.” This “go get a warrant” sentiment is echoed again and again in more recent cases involving cell phone privacy. By taking a closer look at how exactly a search warrant works, it becomes increasingly clear that this protection is needed now more than ever as we enter the digital age.

07/19/2016
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Blog

Regulatory Agencies Exploit Unintended Consequences of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act

Regulatory agencies have entered the space of copyright law and have tipped the balance of the intellectual property system. Now, it is somehow unclear that agency regulations designed to protect health, safety, and the environment have absolutely nothing to do with copyright law. As with many threats to the balance of intellectual property, Section 1201 is responsible for tipping the scale.

07/14/2016
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Blog

Ruling Celebrated as Fourth Amendment Victory Leaves Unanswered Questions

A federal judge in New York ruled for the first time on Tuesday that the use of a surveillance device to capture cell phone location information constitutes a warrantless search. In the case, Lambis v. United States, government officials used a stingray device to track a drug suspect. Stingrays, also known as “cell site simulators,” force cell phones in the area to transmit signals that pinpoint the user’s location through cell site location information, or CSLI data.

07/13/2016
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Blog

If You Build the Blockchain, Regulators Will Come

The hardest part of drafting any new regulation is establishing a definition. In fact, most of the policy work is in the definition and there are alarmingly few policy considerations after something is defined as a covered entity. The definition of cryptocurrency has already proved problematic for regulators. Essentially, to commodities regulators, virtual currency is a commodity. For bank regulators, it is a bank. For securities regulators, it is a security. For those who regulate money transmitters, it is a money transmitter. For the purpose of property taxes, it is a property. Everyone wants a stake in the new world of virtual currency.

07/12/2016
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A Hidden Threat to Online Freedom: The Lost Balance of Fair Use and Intellectual Property

The current imbalance of our intellectual property system allows copyright law to strangle free speech and innovation. Ideally, the intellectual property system would strike a balance between the rights of the intellectual owner and those of consumer. Intended to support the property’s creator, copyright laws can promote fair compensation and allow for the continued creation of content. At the same time, intellectual property systems are designed so that after the creator is paid after the work enters the public domain and aids in the creation of new works. This balanced is threatened by the misuse and misunderstanding of the roles of copyright and fair use.

07/08/2016
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Blog

Congress Must Shut the Backdoor on Section 702 Surveillance

The fight over NSA surveillance is about to heat up again. This week, the House will consider a measure that would require the NSA and other government agencies to follow due process and obtain a warrant to collect the communications of American citizens. Through an amendment to H.R. 5293, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2017, the House could defund warrantless government searches of the database of information collected under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

06/15/2016
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Net Neutrality Ruling: A Blow to Internet Freedom

In a blow to Internet freedom, a federal appeals court has given a green light to the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Open Internet Order, a plan to impose net neutrality rules on the Internet. Most disturbingly, the ruling yesterday by a 3-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit affirmed the basis for the Order, the FCC's determination that it can apply utility-style regulations – intended for telephone companies under the Communications Act of 1934 – to land-based and wireless Internet service providers (ISP). In one of the most egregious instances of overreaching by federal agencies under the Obama Administration, the FCC used the determination to grant itself sweeping power to regulate the Internet, opening the door to a plethora of burdensome Internet regulations.

06/15/2016

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