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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

Fury Over School Regulations: It’s the Department of Education, Stupid!

Last month's proposed rules on school accountability are yet another reminder that it’s time for federal bureaucrats at the Department of Education to get their hands out of our education system. In its latest power grab, the department seeks to enact top-down measures that would remove authority from the hands of teachers, school districts, and state government. The regulation would impose Education Department-mandated accountability measures promulgating federal government oversight over student and school achievement.

07/06/2016
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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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Legislation Combats IRS Abuse of Free Speech, Privacy Rights

This week, the House will consider a bill that would stop the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from collecting identifying information about donors to tax-exempt organizations. The IRS, in repeatedly using tax disclosures to create political targets, has prompted a chilling effect on First Amendment rights and political free speech.

06/13/2016
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USDA Spends $19.9M on One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish...Catfish?

The Senate recently passed legislation that would result in a minor victory against the regulatory state and for the legislative branch reclaiming its powers. The measure is now pending in the House, where Republican leadership should bring the measure up for a vote. What is the target of this unnecessary regulation? Catfish. Yes, catfish.

06/09/2016
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Obama Plans His Own Retirement, Vetoes Bill to Repeal Fiduciary Rule

Last month, the Senate voted 56-41 to rescind the Department of Labor’s “Fiduciary Rule” using the Congressional Review Act. This was after a House vote of 234-183 to repeal the regulation. Under the Congressional Review Act, the House and the Senate reserve the right to jointly overrule unnecessary or burdensome acts of regulatory overreach. Today, as promised, President Obama has blocked Congress' efforts to deregulate. This is the 10th veto of the Obama presidency.

06/08/2016

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