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On September 4, the Federal Trade Commission announced that Google will be required to pay $170 million to the FTC and the state of New York for children’s data privacy violations. The fine is part of a settlement in a case filed against Google and its subsidiary, YouTube, in the district court for the District […]

It’s a pleasure to be with all of you this afternoon as we discuss “The Role of the Courts in Shaping Patent Law & Policy.” And what better to address on this issue than the judicial exceptions to § 101? So, you will forgive me if we get a bit into the weeds today, as […]

Good morning. Thank you for inviting me to speak to you today at this conference on patent law. Your invitation stated that I might speak on any relevant topics of my choosing, such as recent trends or developments in case law. But what I choose to speak on are not trends or developments in case […]

Would you let someone pay you $20 per month to look at every picture, message, and email you send? Every website you visit? Watch everything you look at on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and YouTube? Most would not. Yet this is exactly the deal Facebook secretly made with a myriad of users age 13–35. Why would […]

With cybersecurity attacks on the rise and amid growing calls for transparency in the private sector, public companies may soon be required to disclose whether they have any cybersecurity experts on their Boards of Directors in their periodic filings to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The pending bill, the Cybersecurity Disclosure Act of […]

In January 2019, the USPTO published new patent subject-matter eligibility guidelines to direct inventors, attorneys, and courts in patentability assessment. The new guidelines provide crucial clarity to the original USPTO eligibility standards. Why the Change? The original patent subject-matter eligibility guidelines, codified in U.S §101, state: “Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, […]

In 2001, a U.S. military drone, Predator, became the first weapon to stalk and kill an individual on the other side of the planet. Controlled from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) campus in Virginia, the Predator hovered over a compound in Afghanistan, which housed Mullah Mohammed Omar, an ally of Osama Bin Laden. The Predator […]

Automated defense technology (ADT) refers to weaponry designed to fend off incoming threats that is typically employed in international combat and utilizes automation in some part of its operation. Because of this automation, ADT removes some human error from warfare, and more recent automation technology allows machines to make certain decisions about engagement without any […]

The term “study drugs” refers to a sub-class of prescription stimulants, approved by the FDA for the treatment of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), that students routinely abuse to enhance academic performance. This sub-class, categorized as substituted phenethylamines, includes methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta), dexmethylphenidate (Focalin), dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine), lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse), and a mixture of amphetamine salts (Adderall). In […]

Broadband Internet is the most common Internet service used in the United States. Broadband includes all services that provide high speed Internet, although not all Internet services are broadband. Government regulation of broadband is highly controversial, in part due to broadband’s rapid development and expansion. Congress has avoided drafting legislation governing broadband and instead granted […]

Policy makers have sought to ensure that Internet access is cost- effective, not unduly discriminatory, and of sufficient quality. To this end, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) passed the Open Internet Orders and the Restoring Internet Freedom Order. But has the FCC truly succeeded in meeting its goals? This paper argues primarily no. In place […]

Cryptocurrency is an attractive target for theft. This digital property is compact, portable, and subject to conversion by simply acquiring the private key, giving unfettered control to the key’s associated cryptocurrency. Crypto-theft may occur without any physical interaction with the true owner. Crypto-thieves are difficult to identify and—even when identified—are often out of the practical […]

Last year, a widely read technology blog turned heads with the deeply disturbing headline: “We Are Truly Fucked: Everyone Is Making AI-Generated Fake Porn Now.” While deliberately provocative, it was— and remains—unfortunately true. An unnamed individual on the popular discussion board, Reddit, superimposed images of celebrities such as Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman), Masie Williams (Game […]

Blockchain fever is hotter than ever. The World Economic Forum predicts that ten percent of global gross domestic product will be stored on blockchain by 2027, which has caused an unparalleled craze regarding blockchain’s possibilities. Some see it as a new way of organizing modern-day society, while others fear the chaos that it could create.There […]

China has recently embraced a national use of “big data” through the implementation of judicial reforms that utilize new technology. These technological reforms have turned China’s judicial system into one closely resembling a common law system. Because of this, China’s use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the judicial setting provides a case study for general […]

When the Federal Circuit granted en banc review of Alice in 2013, the Court asked the parties and amici curiaefor assistance in developing a test to determine whether a computer-implemented invention is patent-eligible or whether these inventions merely recite abstract ideas ineligible for protection. The Federal Circuit had been struggling to provide guidance on what […]

While both sides conceded from the beginning that few minds would be changed, supporters and opponents of the proposed merger of T-Mobile and Sprint squared off in a lively debate at the Capitol Visitors Center on March 5, hosted by the Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law and Policy. The event came on the heels […]

As part of the United States Government’s strategy to combat the potential threat of Chinese telecoms companies being leveraged by their government to enhance China’s intelligence collection capabilities, Huawei is the latest front in the battle. Last August, Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”) which provided over $700 billion in funding for the […]

Manhattan Community Access Corp. v. Halleck is a pending United States Supreme Court case about a public access cable television station in New York. The Manhattan Community Access Corporation (“MNN”) is a nonprofit company that operates four public-access channels in Manhattan. Such channels must be open to the public on a first-come and first-served basis. […]

The Bundeskartellamt, Germany’s antitrust authority and Federal Cartel Office, recently issued a regulatory blow to Facebook, labeling Facebook’s current data collection practices abusive. On February 6, 2019, the Bundeskartellamt ordered Facebook to cease cross-app integration and data tracking from Facebook-owned apps like WhatsApp and Instagram to Facebook user accounts without “users’ voluntary consent.” The regulator […]

On February 2nd, the New York City Police Department sent Google a cease-and-desist letter, demanding that it remove a popular function from its Waze navigation app that allows drivers to share and avoid the locations of police checkpoints.  “Individuals who post the locations of DWI checkpoints,” the letter stated, “may be engaging in criminal conduct[,] […]

Introduction: In late November 2018, I sat down with three members of the 2017 Federal Communications Commission (FCC) honors attorney class for a conversation about the honors program, working in government, and all things telecom. The Attorney Honors Program is the FCC’s training and hiring program for recent law school graduates. I spoke with Annick […]

According to top officials at the U.S. Department of Energy, our nation’s energy infrastructure is “a primary target for hostile cyber actors,” and the “frequency, scale, and sophistication of cyber threats” are on the rise. In response to these growing concerns, the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources held a hearing on February […]

In recent years the United States witnessed several giant technology companies stepping in to help fix the housing crisis in tech hubs like Seattle and San Francisco. Tech giants such as Facebook, Amazon, and Airbnb are contributing millions through corporation funds and personal donations. While this private philanthropy could help curb the housing crisis, questions arise […]

On November 2018, the White House announced renewed sanctions on the Iranian regime. The sanctions’ targets include fifty banks, the national airline, and 200 members of the shipping industry. While these sanctions predominately target large institutions, the Department of Treasury does have the ability to target individuals if national security so requires. Recently, the Department […]

Saying “Hey Google,” “Hey Siri,” or “Alexa,” wakes voice command technology for use and allows voice assistants to help users complete everyday tasks. The convenience associated with voice assistants has caused their popularity to grow significantly over the past few years. However, substantial privacy concerns are also on the rise. First, users are not comfortable […]

Transparency in political advertising serves an important function in democracy. In the wake of election meddling in the 2016 election along with concerning revelations about targeted advertising practices generally, organizations including ProPublica, Mozilla, and Who Targets Me created ad transparency tools to gain insight into this historically opaque world of targeted political advertisements on Facebook. […]

On January 1, 2019, Vietnam’s new cybersecurity law went into effect. Under this law, foreign companies with clients or customers in Vietnam are subject to a data localization requirement and cybersecurity audits. While the law has not been officially published, a copy of the passed draft has been released by VnEconomy (the electronic version of […]

On February 11, 2019, The Brookings Institution held an event moderated by Darrell West, the Founding Director for their Center for Technology Innovation, entitled “Smart Cities and Artificial Intelligence.” Speakers addressed concerns, obstacles, and benefits that new digital tools and networks would raise as they are incorporated into urban environments. Nicol Lee, Fellow for the […]

On December 6th, the Australian Parliament passed an encryption bill despite strong opposition from technology companies and human rights advocates alike. The Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill allows law enforcement to more easily target “criminals and terrorists” using encryption technology. The bill’s language creates and allows for the issuance of ‘technical […]

In late 2018, Researchers at MIT announced that they had developed a wirelessly controlled electronic pill (or capsule) capable of being ingested and remaining in the human body for up to a month. According to the researchers, the capsule can store and release drugs over time. It also carries a specially designed sensor, which allows […]

Data privacy surged to the forefront of policy concerns in Congress during 2018 after revelations regarding Cambridge Analytica’s misappropriation of Facebook user information. As a result, elected officials in both the House and Senate spent months hosting hearings, grilling technology companies, and drafting bills to address growing concern about the “wanton collection, dissemination, and monetization […]

Authorities in China have declared that researcher He Jiankui’s controversial gene-editing work “seriously violated” state laws. At a conference in November, the researcher revealed that he had successfully created the first gene-edited humans using CRISPR-Cas9 technology. China, as well as the United States, prohibit gene-editing for reproductive purposes. His conduct has reignited debates regarding the […]

The Growing Concern Over Data Privacy Individual data privacy is and has been a global concern for much of the 21st century. Should anyone need convincing, it is estimated that Google processes over 40,000 searches per second. Internet searches generally occur through a web browser run via a local computing environment. It may seem completely […]

This paper seeks to establish how human-designed networks and different flavors of openness—institutional, organizational, informational, and resource-based—can and do coexist meaningfully. As part of that examination, this paper surveys fifty years of openness in the telecommunications and information technologies networking space. The focus is on how the term “openness” has been employed by regulators and […]

Once, courts eschewed “the spector [sic] of trial by machine” and the possibility that “each man’s sworn testimony may be put to the electronic test.” Judges worried “jurors w[ould] abdicate their responsibility for determining credibility, and rely instead upon the assessment of a machine.” Forty years later, that fear has metamorphosed into trusting, even welcoming, […]

Your personal information has already been stolen. Statistically speaking, that is. From 2005 to 2017, 7,674 data breaches exposed over one billion U.S. consumer records. While this statistic includes the eighty million Social Security numbers stolen in Anthem’s 2015 hack, it does not account for the 145.5 million Social Security numbers that were compromised in […]

On December 15, 2016, China seized a United States Navy unmanned maritime system (UMS) in the South China Sea. The UMS, known as an “ocean glider,” was used by the Navy to gather oceanographic data in the region. Chinese naval personnel seized the UMS within sight of Navy research vessel, USNS Bowditch, and despite protests […]

Over the past decade, social media has increasingly become an essential part of Americans’ everyday lives. As of 2017, eighty percent of Americans had a profile on at least one social media platform. Not only has social media become extremely popular for typical users, it has also become a massive marketing tool for celebrities, athletes, […]

Mark Patterson starts his book with the simple statement, “[k]nowledge is power.” He then leads the reader through a very well-reasoned argument that the new information age creates new abilities for dominant market players to distort the market to their advantage—this time the dominant players are the information providers, such as Google, Yelp, and others. […]

“On sale” in the Patent Act has historically meant any commercial sale, but the adoption of the America Invents Act (AIA) has led some to assert that this meaning was abandoned—that “on sale” now only means certain sales. Even though the AIA still categorizes inventions that have been “on sale” as prior art, some claim […]

For those entrenched in the data privacy profession, it is refreshing to read work that tackles familiar questions, such as those surrounding the value of personal data, through a less familiar lens. The practice of privacy is flourishing because of the many novel challenges sparked by the proliferation of personal data. Questions abound about how […]

In an interview with Georgetown Law Technology Review, Paul Ohm, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law at Georgetown Law,discusseshow consumer privacy issues affect Americans, and addresses the need for better consumer privacy regulation. Paul Ohm is the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law at Georgetown University LawCenter. He specializes […]

In an interview with Georgetown Law Technology Review, Karla Torres, AR Human Rights Policy Counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, describes how assisted reproduction (AR) and assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) fit broadly among intersecting social movements, and how rapidly progressing technologies impact the surrounding legal landscape.   AR refers to medical technologies used to […]

Consumer rights advocates secured a major victory this October, as the Library of Congress and the US Copyright Office published new exemptions to Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Among other effects, the new exemptions will promote digital preservation, make it easier to conduct security research, and enable users to repair and […]

The rapid expansion and evolution of artificial intelligence (AI) in our world has emphasized both the infinite amount of new possibilities this technology may be able to achieve, as well as the perils that its very use may cause. This duality is not news to the technology community—at  the end of October, Google announced that […]

On November 26th, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Apple v. Pepper, a long-running antitrust case that was originally filed back in 2011 against both Apple and AT&T, which at the time had a five-year exclusivity deal for the iPhone following its initial launch. The claims against AT&T were dismissed in 2013 and the […]

In November, 2018, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reported that Ferial Nijem had been harassed by her ex-partner through her home security system. Nijem’s ex-partner used the security system installed in the home they used to share to blare music, flicker the lights, and turn the TVs on and off in the middle of the […]

On October 4, 2018, Bloomberg Businessweek reported that Chinese spies had surreptitiously implanted microchips as small as a “sharpened pencil tip” on server motherboards sold by Supermicro, an American company whose customers included Apple and Amazon. Businessweek alleged that the spies had forced domestic subcontractors to install the chips before the processed components were shipped to other […]

In 2017, Bitcoin experienced a rise of 1500% investment in the world trade economy. Independent of the traditional investment channels, Blockchain technology has enabled safe exchanges of cryptocurrency through secured distributed ledger and smart contracts. The success of Bitcoin has attracted the attention of the aerospace industry. More specifically, Blockchain technology’s platform that enables the […]

Over the past couple months, two pioneers in blockchain technology, LO3 Energy and the Energy Web Foundation (EWF), joined forces to create blockchain technology for managing our nation’s energy grid. These companies are trying to figure out how to make blockchain scalable and standardized across the energy industry. LO3 Energy has been operating in the […]

On October 12, 2018, the Brookings Institution hosted a conversation with David J. Redl, an NTIA administrator, to discuss the growth and governance of the digital economy. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), an agency within the Department of Commerce, advises the president on telecommunications and information policy issues. Among its stated goals are […]

Initial coin offerings, which were once considered beyond the scope of securities regulation, have now come under judicial scrutiny. On September 12th, 2018, Judge Raymond J. Dearie of the Eastern District Court of New York ruled in U.S. v. Zaslavskiy, that initial coin offerings constitute an investment contract and as such may violate laws against […]

Natural disasters are increasing in frequency and intensity. Public safety apparatuses are becoming increasingly reliant on networks controlled by private companies. There are two apps that have been very helpful during these crises because they do not rely solely on cellular service: Zello and Firechat. These two apps, and other apps that employ the same […]

Silicon Valley, a region in Northern California, has become synonymous with innovation. This cluster of high-tech companies, startups, and innovators has created a unique environment known for setting trends for the 21st century. Although these trends tend to be focused on the growth of new technologies, Silicon Valley has also started to branch out into […]

Several of the world’s largest technology companies expressed support last month for federal regulation to protect consumers’ data privacy, signaling a shift from Silicon Valley’s longstanding preference for self-regulation. But critics argued that the companies’ push for new federal law is driven more by their desire to head off tougher state-level data rules than by genuine […]

Brick-and-mortar stores are increasingly using cutting edge technology to do everything from streamlining grocery shopping to identifying potential shoplifters. These technologies provide great benefits to consumers looking to shave precious minutes off their shopping time; however, they often collide with privacy and consent concerns. Amazon Enters the Real World In late September 2018, news leaked […]

On September 26th, the world’s largest biometric identification system passed a major hurdle as the Indian Supreme Court ruled that India’s Aadhaar system is constitutional, a year after it had ruled that Indians have a fundamental right to privacy. As a number of countries, including Germany, Argentina, and Spain, have implemented mandatory nationwide identification systems, India’s […]

In September 2018, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) kicked off its hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century at the Georgetown University Law Center and the FTC’s Constitution Center facilities in Washington, D.C. The FTC’s hearings come at a time that the antitrust community is seeking to understand the proper role of […]

On September 28, California governor Jerry Brown signed SB-327 into law, making California the first state to pass a cybersecurity law regarding connected devices, which comprise what is popularly known as the Internet of Things (IoT). SB-327was introduced in February 2017 and passed the California State Senate in late August. It will go into effect […]

On September 12, 2018, as anticipated, Apple revealed their new line of iPhones. Apple also introduced the new generation of the Apple Watch. For the first time, the watch contained features that were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The sensors and the associated application (app) on the Apple Watch can produce […]

On May 14th, 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States overruled a federal law from 1992 entitled the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). PAPSA made it unlawful for all states except Nevada to legalize betting on professional and collegiate sporting events. Esports, or competitive computer gaming, has risen sharply over the last […]

In September, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced its plan to invest up to $2 billion over the next five years toward new programs advancing artificial intelligence (A.I.). DARPA describes the new investment as working toward what it calls the “third wave” of A.I. The “third wave” campaign is aimed at developing machines […]

In August, Congress passed the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA) as part of a $717 billion defense spending bill. FIRRMA focuses on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a group that reviews proposed foreign investment deals and evaluates them for potential national security risks. It expands the scope of […]

Encounters between networked information technologies and law tend to be framed as examples of what happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object. For example, some argue that networked information and communication technologies are technologies of freedom, able to help human civilizations solve all of our most pressing problems—if only the law will stop […]

Content moderation is such a complex and laborious undertaking, it is amazing that it works at all and as well as it does. Moderation is hard. This should be obvious, but it is easily forgotten. Policing a major platform turns out to be a resource intensive and relentless undertaking; it requires making difficult and often […]

Facebook and YouTube have promised to take down Tide Pod Challenge videos. Easier said than done. For one thing, on the Internet, the line between advocacy and parody is undefined. Every meme, gif, and video is a bit of both. For another, these platforms are structurally at war with themselves. The same characteristics that make […]

It’s not easy being an Internet giant. Once the darlings of the innovation economy, the major technology companies—Amazon, Google/Alphabet, and Facebook—have in recent months found themselves suddenly on the back foot. From the firestorm surrounding the proliferation of “fake news” and hate speech on Facebook and YouTube, to Google’s long-burning dispute with Yelp over the […]

In this essay I discuss the political economy of data-driven platforms in terms of monopolies and monopsonies, arguing that the concentration of buying and selling power builds on and extends a pseudo-omniscient data architecture that feeds on an increasingly seamless data ecosystem. As the mathematical underpinnings of data-driven architectures are further extended into the hardware […]

As we transition to a data-driven economy, we are witnessing the emergence of data-opolies—companies that control a key platform, which, like a coral reef, attracts users, sellers, advertisers, software developers, apps, and accessory makers to its ecosystem. Apple and Google, for example, each control a popular mobile phone operating system (and key apps on that […]

A handful of tech platforms mediate a large and growing share of our commerce and communications. Over the last year, the public has come to realize that the power these firms wield may pose significant hazards. Elected leaders ranging from Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) to Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) have expressed alarm at the level […]

In December 2017, under the Trump administration, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) repealed its 2015 network neutrality rules and abdicated its role to protect consumers and competition in the broadband market. This widely criticized decision, coupled with the enormous and growing power of online platform companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Alphabet’s Google, raised […]

Zero-rated services provide an on-ramp to networked resources that are otherwise beyond many users’ reach. Through such services, wireless service providers offer free access to a curated set of popular applications on the public Internet. Its proponents assert that zero-rated services provide an invaluable introduction to online applications and content, which, in turn, will increase […]

Platform regulation has become the cause celebre of technology regulation: a call to regulate the intermediaries who provide platforms for networked digital services. These include the GAFA giants: Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple. Many policy entrepreneurs are peddling solutions as the policy cycle turns, in a classic Kingdon case of “solutions chasing a problem.” Yet networks are not […]

In 1986, science and technology studies scholar Langdon Winner wrote, “The issues that divide or unite people in society are settled not only in the institutions and practices of politics proper, but also, and less obviously, in tangible arrangements of steel and concrete, wires and transistors, nuts and bolts.” To that list, we might add the […]

The metaphor of the marketplace of ideas is under siege with its detractors pointing to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites as proof positive that the model is no longer operative. The surprising outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the concomitant focus on the scourge of “fake news” have placed Internet platforms at the center of […]

From Cloudflare’s headline-making takedown of the Daily Stormer to YouTube’s summer restrictions on LGBTQ content, 2017 was a banner year for platform censorship. Companies—under pressure from lawmakers, shareholders, the press, and some members of the public—ramped up restrictions on speech by adding new rules, adjusting their still-hidden algorithms, and hiring more staff to moderate content. They […]

Backpage is a classifieds hub that hosts “80 percent of the online advertising for illegal commercial sex in the United States.”This is not by happenstance but rather by design. Evidence suggests that the advertising hub selectively removed postings discouraging sex trafficking. The site also tailored its rules to protect the practice from detection, including allowing […]

In 2017, Peter Daou launched “Verrit,” a partisan news site targeted to Democratic voters disappointed with the results of the 2016 election. The site consists of single quotations, facts, and statistics, each formatted as a graphic and labeled with a unique “identification code” to indicate authenticity and accuracy. For instance, a Verrit article titled “Where […]

Election meddling, state-sponsored disinformation campaigns, and the potential manipulation of platform users is provoking intense reactions to technology around the world. The outrage following news reports that the data of millions of people were used without their knowledge to train sophisticated targeting tools that may have manipulated voters suggests that consumers expectations of how their data […]

In the absence of a technology-focused regulator, diverse administrative agencies have been forced to develop regulatory models for governing their sphere of the data economy. These largely uncoordinated efforts offer a laboratory of regulatory experimentation on governance architecture. This symposium essay explores what the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has done in its first several […]

To tame the, sometimes, harmful power of enormous platforms, we need to reconsider the mathematics of regulation. The law tends to treat the growth of a company linearly, while the power and harm of online activity increases at a much faster rate. We need to scale up the mathematics of regulation to deal with many […]

  Search engines no longer merely shape public understanding and access to the content of the World Wide Web: they shape public understanding of the world. Search engine results produced by secret, corporate-curated “search scripts” of algorithmic and human activity influence societies’ understanding of history, and current events. Society’s growing reliance on online platforms for […]

Amidst allegations that Cambridge Analytica used the personal data of millions of Facebook users to target voters and help sway the 2016 U.S. presidential election, public spotlight is on the data management practices of social media platforms—particularly the transfer of data between the platform and third parties. Collaboration between social media platforms and outside entities […]

Recent months have seen several states moving to embrace blockchain technology and its promise of making governmental services more efficient and secure. On March 22, 2018, Tennessee passed legislation that establishes the legal authority of smart contracts in the marketplace. The Tennessee Senate Bill, referred to as SB 1662, acknowledges that smart contracts “may exist […]

On March 14, 2018, the Federal Election Commission (FEC, or Commission) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) and released two alternative proposals that would amend its disclosure requirements for online political advertisements. Both proposals would require advertisers to disclose the sponsors for public communications on the internet that “contain express advocacy, solicit contributions, or […]

Autonomous vehicle companies still appear all-in on the development of self-driving cars—despite recent accidents and hesitation from states to grant the companies expanded testing authorization. On March 18, an Uber self-driving vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian crossing the street in Tempe, Arizona. Uber responded by stopping testing in Arizona and San Francisco, Toronto, and […]

On April 11, 2018, the President signed FOSTA/SESTA into law. The bill combines largely similar House and Senate versions, both intended to target sex trafficking online. Though each passed with broad bipartisan support in Congress, FOSTA/SESTA has been highly controversial within the tech community and, notably, among anti-trafficking advocates and sex worker advocates. The Internet […]

On March 23, 2018, the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act, or CLOUD Act, was signed into law. The CLOUD Act was tacked onto the omnibus spending bill and was passed without any public hearings or input as to its impact. The Act eases foreign law enforcement’s access to electronic information in cloud storage. […]

On March 26, 2017, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) confirmed that it is investigating Facebook relating to the recent controversy surrounding the collection and sale of user data. Cambridge Analytica suspiciously obtained the data of 87 million Facebook users, which has been used for targeted political advertising. There is conflicting information about what, if any, […]

Humans die at the hands of other humans every day. Often, people don’t seem to notice unless they are affected personally. However, a recent death involving a driverless vehicle and an Arizona pedestrian is causing serious turmoil across the country. But why? Is it worse when computer error causes death than when human error does? […]

Google, in a somewhat uncharacteristic move, has tenuously taken the first step in equipping the Department of Defense (DoD) with artificial intelligence (AI) technology for use in intelligence gathering. The U.S. government, already a substantial cloud user, is looking to the corporate technology sector for new systems and leaders in AI to partner with in […]

On March 16, 2018, a federal judge granted HTC’s motion to dismiss with leave to amend in Electronic Scripting Products, Inc. v. HTC America, Inc. et al.  In this case, Electronic Scripting Products, Inc. (ESPI) sued both HTC America, Inc. (HTC), a designer and manufacturer of mobile devices, and Valve Corporation (Valve), an American video […]

On March 12, President Trump issued an order prohibiting the $117 billion hostile takeover of Qualcomm by Singapore-based Broadcom Limited, following the recommendation of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). If the merger is eventually allowed to move forward, it will likely be the largest tech merger of all time. In […]

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a nonprofit organization responsible for maintaining the WHOIS protocol. The WHOIS protocol is a tool for retrieving information about the registrant of an internet domain name—including information such as the registrant’s name, phone number, address, email, and technical and administrative contacts—by querying databases controlled by […]

As artificial intelligence (AI) continues to impact nearly every industry, much attention is given to its ability to recognize patterns in information—e.g., face recognition, document review, and fraud detection—as well as make decisions. Recently, however, another capability of AI has attracted attention: its ability to create new content. This ability exists in a type of […]

On Friday, February 23, 2018, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) ruled against the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe’s motion to terminate a patent challenge on the basis of sovereign immunity. The unique circumstances that led to a Native American tribe holding the patents of the blockbuster drug Restasis were the subject of much controversy […]

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is rapidly changing the workplace across all sectors, and the legal profession is no exception. The kneejerk reaction to AI’s infiltration has largely been fear that human professionals will soon be obsolete, and their positions will be filled by synthetic employees that can work around the clock, do not require livable salaries, […]

Social media websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, have faced growing pressure over the “fake news” phenomenon ever since the 2016 presidential election. Immediately after the election, concern was raised over several incidents that occurred during the campaign, such as the “Pizzagate” conspiracy, which culminated in a man opening fire in the Comet Ping Pong […]

As laws adapt to new technologies and societal norms, new questions arise as to the correct way they should be administered. Dahda v. United States is one episode in a series of pending cases in which the Supreme Court of the United States has granted certiorari that attempts to address some of these concerns. Along […]

What is a cloud? Twenty years ago, anyone on the street could easily define the term; even children could simply point to the sky to effectively communicate their understanding. But all of that changed when the term collided with technological evolution, subsequently transforming its ordinary definition. A cloud is no longer a strictly meteorological concern, […]

On February 23, former managing partner of the intellectual property firm Irell & Manella, LLP, Andrei Iancu, was sworn in as the new director of the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO). An experienced litigator in the patent litigation field, Iancu bears a high expectation from the public to reform Patent Trial and Appeal […]

On February 23, 2018, the United States informed the World Trade Organization (WTO) that China’s data network restrictions, coming into force on March 31, appear to create illegal restrictions for cross-border service supplies and needs to be addressed by the WTO. Specifically, the statement claimed that new Chinese regulations would prohibit Virtual Private Networks (VPN) […]

On February 15, 2018, Google announced that it would be removing the “View Image” button from its Image Search in an attempt to encourage users to directly visit the hosting website to download an image. The company stated that the changes were designed to strike a balance between serving user needs and publisher concerns. More […]

On February 23, 2018, the state of Texas became the most recent state to recognize an evidentiary privilege for patent agent communications with clients. The Supreme Court of Texas, in In re Silver, extended the existing attorney-client privilege doctrine to include communications with a patent agent, reasoning that patent agents, acting within the scope of […]

Smart cloud computing, driverless vehicles, and wireless-sensor networks are all examples of technologies that have two things in common: Internet of Things (IoT) protocols and artificial intelligence (AI), both fields of innovation set to be the epicenter of telecommunication innovation in 2018. Since they are classified as emerging technologies, deals involving these innovations and a […]

The recent cryptocurrency phenomenon has proved controversial in many aspects, none more so than the existence of initial coin offerings (ICO). ICOs provide a way for new cryptocurrency companies to raise funds by selling their own cryptocurrency, often in exchange for more popular or established cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin or Ethereum. The ICO process is […]

The United States has the greatest per capita healthcare spending in the world, but patient health outcomes have not received a proportional benefit when compared to other countries of similar economic status. Although measures like the Affordable Care Act have attempted to deal with aspects of the healthcare system such as insurance coverage as a […]

At the end of last November, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Carpenter v. United States on whether the Fourth Amendment permits the warrantless seizure and search of cellphone records that contain the location and movements of a user over a 127-day period. In anticipation of this hearing, the Georgetown Law Technology Review explained […]

Since 2015, Facebook has been fending off a lawsuit challenging its use of facial recognition software, and this pressure will continue as Facebook is pushed to adjust its biometric data processing practices to comply with the impending European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will be implemented this May. Developing facial recognition software is […]

In late January, Georgetown University Law Center hosted a debate on the best method for electing the President of the United States, with expert panelists arguing whether we should maintain the Electoral College or establish a national popular vote. During the event, one line of conversation focused on the significant technological and national security implications […]

For Twitter users, it’s easy to be aware when a new social media idea is trending. Spread by celebrities and acquaintances alike, a hashtag can go viral in a matter of hours, and then, just as quickly, its popularity will fall off. When the tag is something like #DescribeYourselfBadly, the decline in its use is […]

In a highly publicized and politicized decision, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to repeal net neutrality at the end of last year. Net neutrality, a phrase coined by Columbia Law Professor Tim Wu, is a set of rules to ensure that the internet is kept neutral. To achieve this end, the FCC adopted three […]

After creating one of the world’s most profitable companies and moving into the online food space just last year, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s latest move is into the healthcare industry. In an announcement made at the end of January, Amazon, JPMorgan Chase, and Berkshire Hathaway announced a new agenda to create a “fully independent” healthcare […]

On January 28, Axios Media, Inc. published a Trump Administration report on the stakes of 5G wireless network deployment. The report, authored by the National Security Council, is undated but likely was created in late December 2017 or early January 2018. It advocates for the creation of a nationalized 5G—or fifth generation—wireless network, which will […]

The legal profession has long been regarded as one of intellect, advocacy, and prestige. The process of obtaining a legal education alone exemplifies the commitment lawyers make to the profession. Although there may be outliers—the bad eggs or misguided egos—overall, the profession is steeped in tradition, guided by the precedent of brilliant legal scholars. To […]

INTRODUCTION: HACKING AND SOCIETY Nearly ubiquitous in today’s online culture, “hacking” has generally reclaimed the benign spirit the word once held in the early days of electronics, throwing off the more nefarious meaning it held throughout the tail end of the twentieth century. The word “lifehacks”—a technique for accomplishing a familiar task more easily and […]

INTRODUCTION After years of anticipation, the era of telemedicine has finally arrived. It has been nearly a decade since doctors, insurance companies, and other health care professionals predicted a telemedicine revolution. Telemedicine literally means “healing from a distance” and involves the direct treatment and prevention of diseases and injuries by healthcare professionals at a distance. […]

INTRODUCTION: ANONYMIZATION USING TOR Between February 20 and March 4, 2015, the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) administered and monitored a child pornography website in an effort to identify those who accessed the website’s illicit content. This website, “Playpen,” had more than 150,000 users worldwide. The FBI’s investigation was known as “Operation Pacifier.” […]

INTRODUCTION The rapid progress of technology challenges traditional application of the Fourth Amendment. As law enforcement’s technological capabilities advance, judges have had to wrangle with what constitutes a search and seizure. Past precedent generally remains unhelpful unless new technology can be analogized to past technology. To combat this, the Supreme Court recognized the need to […]

LAW ENFORCEMENT’S HISTORY OF TRACKING SUSPECTS Locating and tracking individuals is often a vital component of law enforcement operations. Throughout its history, American law enforcement has continually adopted new methods and technologies to track suspects with greater efficiency. Nineteenth-century state governments employed bounty hunters to track suspects across state lines, while some twentieth-century agencies used […]

INTRODUCTION  When an employee leaves a company for a competitor, there is a concern that trade secrets and confidential information belonging to the company may leave for the competitor as well. Protecting trade secrets is important in order for businesses to remain technologically competitive. The following case raises important questions about what constitutes a trade […]

INTRODUCTION  On June 19th, 2017, the Supreme Court unanimously overturned a North Carolina law (hereinafter referred to as “statute”) that effectively instituted a social media ban for registered sex offenders. The statute made it a felony for a registered sex offender to “access a commercial social networking Web site where the sex offender knows that […]

INTRODUCTION Searching the word “algorithm” on Google leads to images of spider-web charts, three-dimensional graphs and rows of mathematic equations. What could social media and math have to do with each other? Looking at the motive behind social media companies tells us why algorithms are an inseparable part of social media platforms. SOCIAL MEDIA AS […]

INTRODUCTION As technology continues to develop and as citizens increasingly embrace a digital society, consumers accordingly consider methods to better protect their privacy. One method, the virtual private network (VPN), was developed in 1996 to address that need. A VPN is a secured network that protects data by creating a secure connection that shields those […]

INTRODUCTION San Francisco is the home of the platform economy. Uber and Airbnb—the poster children of that economy—launched their initial products in the city and used the feedback garnered from Bay Area users to perfect their business models. These and other platform companies also started to build their loyal user bases with Bay Area consumers. […]

INTRODUCTION Fraud is a seemingly easy concept to understand. By definition, it describes the actions of a person “deliberately deceiving someone else with the intent of causing damage.” However, various jurisdictions within the United States qualify both the act of fraud and the related offenses differently. These varying perspectives alone can lend themselves to numerous […]

INTRODUCTION When Samsung and Apple, both dominators of the smartphone market, went head-to-head in the Supreme Court in Samsung Electronics Co. v. Apple, Inc., the Supreme Court refused to “resolve whether, for each of the design patents at issue [in Samsung], the relevant article of manufacture is the smartphone, or a particular smartphone component,” or […]

INTRODUCTION Recent technological innovations have led to an increasing number of devices connecting to the Internet, which in turn collect and store user data. The expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT) industry raises new privacy and security concerns for users of these devices. One surprising area of concern is children’s privacy and security in […]

DIGITAL INFORMATION’S MODERN CONTEXT: A DATA SECURITY CRISIS Major breaches to corporate information systems, such as Equifax’s 2017 data breach, have shown the vulnerabilities of many data security practices. These highly public failures have created some of the most significant headlines of the early twenty-first century, forcing data security experts to rethink their methods for […]

On October 16, four patents for Allergan’s second best-selling product, the dry-eye treatment Restasis, were invalidated by a federal judge in a Hatch-Waxman Act case for patent infringement. United States Circuit Judge William C. Bryson of the Eastern District of Texas ruled that although Allergan had proved the defendants’ infringement of the Restasis patents at […]

On October 24, 2017, Twitter announced its plans to roll out a number of policies aimed at increasing the transparency of on-site advertisements. This shift comes about one month after the platform publicized its discovery of approximately 200 accounts with suspected ties to Russia and a number of ads purchased by Russia Today (RT), a […]

Sophia, an advanced humanoid robot created by Hong Kong-based Hanson Robotics, uses artificial intelligence, facial recognition, and strikingly human-like expressions. On October 25, Saudi Arabia granted citizenship to Sophia, making “her” the first robot to achieve that distinction in the world. Though many have speculated as to the motives of this ostentatious move on the […]

On November 1, 2017, the Trump administration placed an Obama-era connected vehicle Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on “long-term status” and removed the rulemaking from the White House Office of Management and Budget’s list of regulations actively under consideration. The NPRM, known as “Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; V2V Communications,” would have required automakers to […]

Tesla, Inc. has been accused of using customers’ personal information without their consent for sales and marketing purposes, putting the customers’ privacy interests at risk. A driver in a proposed class action suit, plaintiff Wayne Skiles, alleged that Tesla has been storing and transmitting consumers’ personal information to credit agencies, who then create an overview […]

The Senate Judiciary Committee is considering an amendment to the current federal child pornography law that would give prosecutors the ability to charge minors for voluntarily creating or sending sexually explicit material featuring the minors themselves. The bill was spurred by a recent Fourth Circuit decision reversing a federal conviction of a nineteen-year-old who had […]

In October 2015, AlphaGO, an artificial intelligence (AI) programmed by Google’s Deep Mind, shocked the world by handily beating human-master Lee Sedol in a five-match series in the ancient game of Go—a game far more complex than chess. Since then, AlphaGo and its sibling, AlphaGo Zero, have dominated all challengers, proving that games like Go […]

On October 24, 2017, the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI)—a global organization composed of representatives from companies such as Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft—published a set of guidelines detailing how governments and leaders within the technology industry can collaborate to reduce any harmful effects stemming from artificial intelligence (AI) developments. Fears of technology gaining dominance […]

The price of Bitcoin (BTC) has soared in 2017 with little sign of looking back. It now sits above $7,000/BTC, up from roughly $1,000/BTC since January, which is motivating many to acquire more of the virtual currency. In addition to purchasing the cryptocurrency, one can also “mine” Bitcoin; the blockchain maintained by the Bitcoin network […]

For more on Georgetown Law Technology Reviews coverage of the Equifax breach, read how the “Equifax Breach Highlights Regulatory Gaps in Data Privacy Protection,” and for more a technical description of the hack, read “What Happened at Equifax, and Should It Have Been Ready?” On November 1, 2017, President Trump signed a bill into law […]

The Supreme Court is set to hear Carpenter v. United States on November 29, 2017. The question presented to the Court is whether the government violates an individual’s Fourth Amendment rights by collecting historical cell-site location information without a warrant. The District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan convicted Timothy Carpenter of armed robberies […]

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has long used gag orders as a forceful tool to prevent certain information from reaching third parties. Recently, the DOJ issued new guidelines to its attorneys and agents narrowing their ability to impose gag orders on tech companies. The new policy aims to provide transparency and confidence around DOJ requests […]

The Supreme Court recently granted certiorari in U.S. v. Microsoft, a case that will examine the extraterritorial reach of the Stored Communications Act (SCA), and thus whether warrants in criminal cases seeking information under the SCA apply outside of the United States. In 2013, the federal government served Microsoft at its U.S. headquarters with a warrant, […]

The modern digital assistant has been in the works for decades. IBM introduced the Shoebox, a speech recognition machine that had a vocabulary of sixteen words, in 1962. Over time, speech recognition machines have evolved from the Shoebox to automated telephone support, and now they take the form of internet-connected devices such as Amazon Alexa, […]

For decades, patent holders could effectively file a lawsuit in any district where a defendant made sales, thanks to a broad interpretation of the phrase “resides” in 28 U.S.C. § 1400(b). With this reading, the patent world saw the rise of forum shopping, a practice which allows plaintiffs to bring suit in a court they […]

On October 13, 2017, the Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA) released a report concluding that Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system breaches local privacy law. The report bases its conclusion on the operating system’s processing of personal information in relation to telemetry data—diagnostic system information used to fix errors and improve products. According to the report, […]

In the immediate aftermath of the recent tragedy in Las Vegas, false information spread rapidly across the internet about the perpetrator and the method of the attack. Online sources quickly attributed blame to a man later determined innocent; Google News spread misinformation and gave credence to unverified rumors for the online community. Websites such as […]

Hurricane Maria destroyed Puerto Rico’s cell tower infrastructure in September, severely limiting communications among those on the island. After the hurricane, 95.2% of Puerto Rico’s cell towers were down, meaning forty-eight of the seventy-eight counties had no service at all. There are 2,739 cell sites on Puerto Rico’s 13,791 square kilometers, an area roughly the […]

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a concept dating back to the 1920s, when Nikola Tesla first described a wireless world “converted into a huge brain.” Now, almost a century later, we are experiencing the real possibility that we have created this “brain” through the Internet of Things. This begs the question: does the average […]

On September 29, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) initiated a civil enforcement action involving Initial Coin Offerings (ICO). In this first-of-its-kind action, the SEC alleges that Maksim Zaslavskiy and his companies, ReCoin Group Foundation and Diamond Reserve Club (DRC), fraudulently sold investors cryptocurrencies in the form of securities, which normally require registration. An ICO […]