Source: New York Times
The article examines Bitcoin exchange businesses. Ed Felten, Director of the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University, is quoted.
Edward W. Felten, a professor at Princeton University who has studied Bitcoin, said, “We’re seeing a shakeout where the companies that are weaker in terms of management and technical execution are being weeded out.”
Source: New York Times
The article examines the status of net neutrality regulation. Columbia law professor Tim Wu is quoted.
“The F.C.C. is afraid of the companies they regulate. They are capable of being intimidated by them,” said Mr. Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School. But Mr. Wu, who has written extensively about similar regulatory issues, predicts that this could backfire on the Internet service providers, leading to stricter regulation or to companies like Google calling their bluff.
“Phone and cable companies should be careful what they wish for because this could all blow up in their face,” he said. “Verizon and Comcast could end up facing serious demands for money. It could be that Google will say to the telcos, ‘Actually, if you want your customers to be able to reach Google, I’m afraid you’re going to pay us.’ ”
Source: American Public Media’s Marketplace
The story reports that inequality is one of the agenda items for the 2014 annual meeting of the World Economic Forum which took place in Davos, Switzerland in January. Daron Acemoglu, the Elizabeth and James Killian Professor of Economics at M.I.T., is quoted.
“It’s good that the media, policymakers, and academics are paying more attention to it [inequality],” he says.
Acemoglu notes there is an irony here: “They can spend a week in the most luxurious circumstances, flying in their private jets, precisely because of the inequality that we are talking about.”
But, Acemoglu says, if the economic and political elites in our society are genuinely interested in a social problem like inequality, they can attract attention to it and contribute resources to address it.
Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, both of MIT, are interviewed about their new book, “The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies.”
These titanic changes have had a huge effect on human living standards, and in many ways we can learn from how things changed with the first Industrial Revolution and the first machine age. But there are also some key differences. As we augmented and automated muscle power and our ability to use that power to manipulate the world — not just with the steam engine but with subsequent general-purpose technologies like the internal combustion engine and electricity — it acted largely as a complement to human decision making. The power wasn’t very valuable unless you had someone controlling it and deciding what to do with it.
We do believe that technology is a driver of change, but it doesn’t follow that there is nothing we can do to shape the future. We think that education, entrepreneurship and tax policy can all help in increasing both the bounty and decreasing the spread. That’s our grand challenge.
Source: National Public Radio’s All Tech Considered
This story examines the potential value of Bitcoin and other virtual currencies. Professor Joshua Gans, Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, is quoted.
However, if the currencies themselves don't stay, the idea driving them will, according to [Nick] Holland and Joshua Gans, professor of strategic management at the University of Toronto.
"It's surprisingly difficult to transfer money between banks, and the question is, 'Why should that be?' " Gans says. "Some of these [virtual currencies] are trying to see if they can eliminate that, but of course the banks will come in and say, 'Well, we were charging people for those things in the past; we won't anymore.' "
Holland and Gans compare it to how Skype disrupted the market for telecommunications companies: Making calls over the Internet made business harder for traditional phone companies charging for long-distance calls.
Given the extremely volatile value of bitcoins, this article looks at efforts of creating derivatives markets for the digital currency introduced in 2009. Law professor Eric Posner, University of Chicago, is quoted.
“It’s not surprising that people would try to do this [establish derivatives markets],” says Eric Posner, a professor at the University of Chicago law school who explores financial markets and other economic issues. “If you’re a merchant or a business and you buy and sell stuff, you need to know how much you’re getting in return.”
“It’s [futures derivative] basically an insurance policy against fluctuations in exchange rates,” Posner says.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
The article reports on the U.S. appeals court ruling that threw out federal rules requiring broadband providers to treat all Internet traffic equally. This ruling raises the prospect that bandwidth-hungry websites like Netflix Inc. might have to pay tolls to ensure quality service. Columbia University law professor Tim Wu is quoted.
"It takes the Internet into completely uncharted territory," said Tim Wu, a Columbia University law professor who coined the term net neutrality.
Source: The Washington Post
With the news that the U.S. federal appeals court overturned the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) net neutrality regulations, The Washington Post interviewed the man who coined the phrase, ‘net neutrality:’ Columbia University law professor Tim Wu.
It [the appeals court decision] leaves the Internet in completely uncharted territory. There's never been a situation where providers can block whatever they want. For example, it means AT&T can block people from reaching T-Mobile's customer service site if it wanted. They can do whatever they want.
The slightly more subtle thing is they [appeals court] upheld some FCC authority under the FCC's Title I or "auxiliary" authority. Under that provision, the court said that the FCC has some authority to regulate broadband.
The obvious alternative would have been to do what the FCC should have done and — in the future tense — now should do, which is to reclassify broadband under Title II authority.
Source: The Washington Post
The article examines the U.S. Court of Appeals ruling against the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) net neutrality rules, which prohibit Internet providers from blocking or prioritizing Web traffic. Columbia University law professor Tim Wu is quoted.
Denying that the FCC's open Internet order reflects common carriage regulation isn't likely to be a winning strategy, said Tim Wu, the Columbia University law professor who first coined the term "net neutrality." That's because the very notion of non-discrimination is central to common carriage, an idea that itself dates back to medieval times.
Source: The Hill
Reporting on the federal appeals court decision to overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) net neutrality regulations, the article offers reactions from opponents and supporters of the decision. Columbia law professor Tim Wu, who coined the phrase “network neutrality,” is quoted.
Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School, said that Wheeler “has to act” after the court struck down provisions that keep Internet providers from both blocking and slowing access to websites.
“It’s just a completely different world” if Internet providers are able to throttle traffic to certain websites and services, such as Netflix, Skype and YouTube, Wu said.
Source: The European
The article reports on the unpredictable value and growing use of bitcoins. Susan Athey, an economic theorist at Stanford Graduate School of Business, offers her thoughts on how the digital currency.
Susan Athey, Professor of Economics at Stanford Graduate School of Business, said that deflation should not be a concern, given that bitcoins “could be divided more finely and their protocol accordingly adapted”.
E-commerce is another field where bitcoin can flourish. Professor Athey said that bitcoin might create new e-commerce opportunities for businesses in the developing world that were so far constrained by borders. An example, she said, would be, “an African travel agency that wants to use Google Adwords to advertise and cannot use local currency”.
Professor Athey said that a reason for bitcoin’s appeal in China might be that most people do not have credit cards, which makes bitcoin the perfect alternative for e-commerce and small payments. She added that Chinese consumers might be using bitcoins to buy apps, as China has high smartphone adoption.
Source: Wall Street Journal
The article explores how businesses use sensors to track customers and build shopper profiles. University of Washington law professor Ryan Calo is quoted.
Places where people didn't think they were being watched are now repositories for collecting information, says Ryan Calo assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Law. "Companies are increasingly able to connect between our online and offline lives," he says.
Source: National Public Radio’s Here & Now
MIT professor Erik Brynjolfsson discusses how the effects of today’s technological revolution may be greater than the Industrial Revolution. Professor Brynjofsson, along with co-author Andrew McAfee, delve into the challenges and choices brought about by smart machines in their newly released book, "The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies.”
“There’s no economic law that says that when technology advances, that everybody necessarily benefits: some people, even a majority of people, could be made worse off.” Brynjolfsson said. ”The earlier technologies tended to be complements to humans. They made human decision making, cognitive skills more valuable. But the new technologies, these cognitive technologies, are not necessarily complements for people. In some cases, they are substitutes.”
In order for us to fully harness the good that this new age of machines can do, Brynjolfsson says, we still need good public policy.
“We don’t think the solution is to smash the machines, or slow down technology,” Brynjolfsson said. “The answer is to speed up our adaptation to it: changes in our skills, our organizations, even our institutions. Technology can and should be good news.”
Source: Los Angeles Times
Professor Andrea Matwyshyn is quoted in this article that reports on one of the biggest retail breaches to date: hackers stole credit and debit card information on 40 million Target customers. Professor Matwyshyn is with the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School. Her research focuses on corporate information security and risk management.
“We're seeing massive data breaches frequently due to low-hanging type of security problems,” said Andrea Matwyshyn, a University of Pennsylvania law professor who specializes in computer security. “Traditionally, questions of information security have been viewed by many companies as something that the IT department does, and that is a cultural mindset problem that is at the root” of some of the problems.
Source: National Public Radio’s Marketplace
Following the announcement that China's national financial agencies have banned the country’s banks and exchanges from using Bitcoin, NPR’s Marketplace asked Professor Eric Posner to discuss the validity of Bitcoin as a currency. Eric Posner is the Kirkland and Ellis Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School.
"It's [Bitcoin] more like a payment system that people can use to transfer dollars from one place to another, and the way you transfer your dollar is you buy a Bitcoin, ship it through the internet, and then the other person gets it and converts it into a dollar," Posner says.
One reason Posner says he's not bullish on the idea of Bitcoin as a currency has to do with the government's inability to control its supply. Governments, he says, need to be able to control currencies through economic highs and lows.
"If there's a recession, for example, you need to increase the money supply, and if there's a boom, you need to reduce the rate at which money grows," Posner says. "If the government has no control over the supply of the money that people use because people have used Bitcoin, it won't be able to use these instruments to help control the economy. … And, so I think the government would find a way to ensure that Bitcoins did not replace the dollar as our currency."
"If you think of [Bitcoin] as just a very useful mechanism for transferring value from one place to another, then regulation will not undermine that goal. It will actually improve that by making the use of Bitcoins more secure, protecting people from some of the illegal or undesireable uses of Bitcoin -- for example, to finance criminal activity or to buy drugs."
Source: New York Times
The article examines the number of ways that companies track, observe, and capture data about their customers. Ed Felten, Director of the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University, is quoted.
“Just because information is unavailable to you and you don’t see it doesn’t mean that it is not being captured, stored, or even seen by someone else in transit,” said Edward W. Felten, a professor of computer science and public affairs at Princeton.
Source: Columbia Journalism Review
The article reports on a recent Federal Trade Commission workshop on deceptive advertising. Privacy scholar Chris Hoofnagle, Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, participated in the workshop and is quoted in this article.
“When I hear ‘sponsored by’ I think about things like PBS,” said Hoofnagle. “When you watch the MacNeil/Lehrer Show (PBS NewsHour), it starts out with ‘brought to you by BP.’ I would never think that BP told the television show what stories to run. What I assumed from that representation is that BP provided underwriting that laid a groundwork for the good reporting at PBS.” With native advertising, Hoofnagle learned Wednesday, the exact opposite is true. Rather than publishers independently creating content and then going out to get advertising to support it, advertisers approach publishers and say, “I want you to run a story that is compatible with my product,” continued Hoofnagle. “It doesn’t have to promote my product, but it has to puff it up in some ways. That’s a complete opposite mental model.”
Source: The Verge
The article examines the use of unmanned flying drones by delivery companies such as Amazon and UPS. Ryan Calo, a robotics specialist with the University of Washington School of Law, is quoted.
"I think from both a tech and a policy perspective, delivering to consumers in residential areas is going to be tough thing to accomplish any time soon," says Calo. "But a company like UPS could use drones to bring packages quickly and cheaply from a major airport or city to pick-up centers in more remote locations, speeding up delivery for a lot of customers."
Source: New Republic
In this article he wrote for the New Republic, Professor Eric Posner, University of Chicago School of Law, explains the various theories and escalating hype surrounding the virtual currency. Below are a few excerpts.
To cut through the confusion, one needs to see that there are two different theories as to how bitcoins work—a wrong theory which is driving the excitement, and a banal theory which may leave a marginal place for bitcoin in the financial system.
In the unlikely event that bitcoin ever threatens the dollar, the U.S. government would shut it down.
And if somehow bitcoin nonetheless thwarted efforts by the government to control it, it would surely be a victim of its own success, as other virtual currencies would flood the market, resulting in a volatile situation in which exchange rate risk—a problem faced by exporters and importers—would exist at home as well.
The key security problem introduced by bitcoins is that bitcoin makes a huge amount of money available to people on devices that they carry around with them or leave unsecure in their homes and offices, and thus makes those people juicy marks for criminals.
The real boon is for capital-control evaders, drug dealers, and terrorist financiers. If they, rather than legitimate businesses, are the real beneficiaries of the bitcoin phenomenon, then the government will bar legitimate institutions from the bitcoin market, eliminating its value for most users.
Source: Los Angeles Times
The article provides an overview of what bitcoins are. Susan Athey, Professor of Economics at Stanford Graduate School of Business, is quoted.
"You just move the money in, move it across the ledger, and move it out again," says Susan Athey, an economist at Stanford. "In principle, you need to only worry about the exchange rate for 10 minutes." Athey says it's the transfer mechanism that's really revolutionary. "All these articles about how bitcoin has moved from $100 to $500 are missing the point," she says. "The point is that we have a new technology that allows any individual in the world to send value from one place to another instantly, in a way that's secure and verifiable."
That's a warning to traditional banks. "Some of their policies do seem archaic," Athey says, mentioning the inordinate delays and fees involved with moving even modest sums from your bank to your broker. "Having an alternative will put a lot of pressure on these systems to modernize."
Source: The New York Times
The article reports on Judge Chin’s dismissal of the Authors Guild lawsuit against Google which claimed that the Googles Books project violates the copyright fair-use doctrine. Law professor James Grimmelmann is quoted.
“What seemed insanely ambitious and this huge effort that seemed very dangerous in 2004 now seems ordinary,” said James Grimmelmann, a law professor at the University of Maryland who has followed the case closely. “Technology and media have moved on so much that it’s just not a big deal.”
Source: U.S. Science News
The article references Professor Mark Lemley’s paper, “The Myth of the Sole Inventor,” which disputes the invention stories of Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Samuel Morse, and Eli Whitney.
“Edison did not ‘invent’ the light bulb in any meaningful sense,” says Lemley. Electric lighting was long in the works when Edison came on the scene, and his work attracted several patent infringement lawsuits from his contemporaries. “What Edison really did well,” Lemley argues, “was commercialize the invention.”
Source: Foreign Policy
The article examines the contradictory attitudes of those on opposing sides of the debates NSA surveillance and privacy. Daniel Solove, George Washington University is quoted, and his paper, “Understanding Privacy” is referenced.
As George Washington University Law School Professor Daniel Solove puts it, privacy is "a concept in disarray. Nobody can articulate what it means." Ask a dozen people to define privacy and you'll get a dozen different answers: privacy encompasses, notes Solove, "freedom of thought, control over one's body, solitude in one's home, control over personal information, freedom from surveillance, protection of one's reputation, and protection from searches and interrogations."
Source: National Journal
The article reports on the efforts of leading technology companies (Google, Yahoo, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and America Online) to call for legislation that would curtail the National Security Agency’s (NSA) authority. Professor Ed Felten, Princeton University, is quoted.
Whether more revelations are coming or not, the latest spate [of NSA revelations] "will further strain the relationship between Silicon Valley and the NSA because it involves intruding into the internal communications of the companies," said Ed Felten, director of the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University. "Rather than using court orders served on the companies, I think this will be seen as crossing a boundary that people didn't expect government to cross."
Source: The New York Times
This article examines the rising trend of school administrators’ surveillance of their students’ online speech. John Palfrey's work with his students at Phillips Academy is featured. Palfrey is the Head of School at Phillips Academy, Andover and the Director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.
John G. Palfrey Jr., head of Phillips Academy in Massachusetts, said he favored a middle ground. He follows his students on Twitter if they follow him, for instance, but he is wary of automated tools that try to conduct what he called National Security Agency-style surveillance.
Mr. Palfrey offered an offline analogy. “We wouldn’t want to record every conversation they [students] are having in the hallway,” he said. “The safety and well-being of our students is our top priority, but we also need for them to have the time and space to grow without feeling like we are watching their every move.”
Source: The New Yorker
In this article, Tim Wu, Columbia University law professor, asks if avoiding ads is sustainable for the development and delivery of content (articles, movies, live sportscasts). A few excerpts are quoted below.
The argument is pretty simple: if you destroy the advertising revenue that content depends on, we’ll end up in a cultural wasteland, or, worse, a culture plagued by advertising that masquerades as content. But things are more complex than they may at first appear.
Some of what’s called ad-avoidance might be better termed “paying for stuff.” Netflix, Amazon, HBO Go, and other subscription services are direct beneficiaries of people who hate ads. While not ad-free, the New York Times, reversing a trend that began in the eighteen-thirties, now makes more money from its subscribers than its advertisers.
As consumers, we should understand ad-avoidance as a way of setting a price on our time and attention. For the past century, we’ve arguably been selling it too cheap, trading it all for a few decent sitcoms and sports programming. The rise of ad-avoidance is a way of putting a higher price on the privilege of doing what ads do—make brands more valuable and convince us to spend money.
In this article for Time, danah boyd debates the pros and cons of allowing teens to participate on social media with the general public, not just with their friends. boyd is a principal researcher at Microsoft Research, a research assistant professor in media, culture and communication at New York University and a fellow at Harvard‘s Berkman Center for Internet & Society.
But why should youth not be allowed to participate in public life? Do paternalistic, age-specific technology barriers really protect or benefit teens?
Rather than trying to protect teens from all fears and risks that we can imagine, let’s instead imagine ways of integrating them constructively into public life. The key to doing so is not to create technologies that reinforce limitations but to provide teens and parents with the mechanisms and information needed to make healthy decisions.
But it should not be up to technology companies to determine when teens are old enough to have their voices heard publicly. Parents should be allowed to work with their children to help them navigate public spaces as they see fit.
I commend Facebook for giving teens the option and working hard to inform them of the significance of their choices.
Source: United Press International (UPI)
Princeton University computer scientist Ed Felten testified at a U.S. Senate Judiciary hearing on "Continued Oversight of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act." Excerpts from his testimony are quoted in this article.
Testifying before a hearing of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee this week, Felten said merely combining an analysis of phone records with call times and durations can give investigators insights into people's work, social habits, religion and political affiliations.
"It is no longer safe to assume that this 'summary' or 'non-content' information is less revealing or less sensitive than the contents it describes," Felten said. "Just by using new technologies such as smart phones and social media, we leave rich and revealing trails of metadata as we move through daily life. Many details of our lives can be gleaned by examining those trails."
"The structured nature of metadata makes it easy to analyze massive data sets using sophisticated data-mining and link-analysis programs," Felten said. "Those advances have radically increased our ability to collect, store, and analyze personal communications, including metadata."
"When focused on intelligence targets, metadata collection can be a valuable tool," Felten said. "At the same time, unfocused collection of metadata on the American population gives government access to many of the same sensitive facts about the lives of ordinary Americans that have traditionally been protected by limits on content collection."
The article explores the impact of the government shutdown on a wide variety of businesses that rely on data from government agencies such as the Commerce Department (for information on new-home sales, demographics, and international-trade statistics), the U.S. International Trade Commission (access to its database of complaints and the agency filings), and the U.S. Labor Department (for its monthly employment report). Erik Brynjolfsson, MIT Center for Digital Business, is quoted.
Over the past decade, “we’ve seen a shift toward a more data-driven approach in business decision-making, and the combination of government and private data has been very valuable,” said Erik Brynjolfsson, director for digital business at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management in Cambridge. “You lose one part of that, you lose the synergy.”
Source: The Atlantic
The article examines a study by the marketing firm PHD that identifies the times of day and days of the week when women feel the most vulnerable about their appearance, and recommends a strategy of advertising beauty products during those times. Privacy law professor Ryan Calo, University of Washington, and his recent paper on “Digital Market Manipulation” are quoted.
"Advertisers can only reach people at their most vulnerable if they can reach them practically anytime," he explained to me over email. For most of us, the Internet allows that opportunity, and even when we're not at a computer, we tend to have our phones with us. "The woman who (apparently, research suggests) feels bad about herself in the morning," he writes, "can receive a text right then and there from a company offering a 'beauty' product."
Source: San Francisco Chronicle
The article examines the current efforts from the online ad industry to track user behavior in order to effectively market to them, and consumers’ efforts to disable browser cookies that allow marketers to monitor their online movements. Law privacy expert Chris Hoofnagle, University of California, Berkeley, is quoted.
“Google knows exactly who you are because there is so much authentication built into Google’s services,” said Chris Hoofnagle, director of the information privacy programs at the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, in an email. “We are moving to an authenticated web where one is always signed in, and that authentication, even if on the surface (it’s) pseudonymous, typically indicates the user’s identity.”
“[Google’s anonymous identifier] AdID appears to be one of those mechanisms that might be both good and bad for privacy,” Hoofnagle said. “Good for those who are worried about the many companies trying to track them, but bad for those who think that concentrating tracking power at a single company raises special risks.”
Source: Mother Jones
The article discusses findings from “What is Privacy Worth?,” a study by Alessandro Acquisti, Carnegie Mellon University, Leslie John, and George Loewenstein. In the study, Professor Acqusiti and his colleagues ran a series of experiments to understand the value individuals place on their privacy.
"Not even the experts have a full understanding of how personal data is used in an increasingly complicated market," points out Carnegie Mellon University public policy professor Alessandro Acquisti, who researches the psychology behind online privacy perceptions.
A study last year by Acquisti … found that people were willing to accept wildly varying sums of money in exchange for giving out their email address and information about their hobbies and interests—from $0 to $100,000.
"Even those that are privacy sensitive among us may rationally decide not to protect their privacy," Acquisti explains. "Not because they don't care, but because it's just too hard. You could be trying to do everything right, and your data could still be compromised."
In this opinion piece for Slate, James Bessen, Boston University School of Law, argues that technological innovation, specifically in automation, can create jobs in many industries. Mr. Bessen shows that “technology is not the cause of the slow economic recovery” by outlining the offsetting benefits of automation.
When technology eliminates some tasks involved in a job, it makes remaining, related tasks more valuable. Sometimes this greater value can create job growth.
In other cases, technology creates offsetting job growth in different occupations or industry segments.
Technology does place a burden on displaced workers: They often suffer lower wages until they learn the skills to use new technology. The need for new skills might explain why wages are stagnant. But technology is not the cause of the slow economic recovery.
Source: The Huffington Post
The article examines teenagers’ choices with their privacy settings and control access to their photos and personal information on Facebook. A study conducted by Microsoft researcher danah boyd and Eszter Hargittai on Facebook privacy settings is quoted.
And in a fairly large study conducted in two waves at the University of Illinois by Danah Boyd and Ezster Hargittai, the researchers found that first year college students reported "far from being nonchalant and unconcerned about privacy matters, the majority of young adult users of Facebook are engaged with managing their privacy settings on the site at least to some extent. The frequency with which they adjust their settings and their confidence in doing so may vary, but most report modifying their settings."
Boyd and Hargittai found that there were some differences between young people who had more experience and skill with Facebook and those who had less in terms of the ways that they deal with their privacy settings. The researchers also suggested that it's really important to try to understand more about the "relationship between what people say they do, what they actually do, and what their settings functionally mean."
Source: Vermont’s NPR News Source
The story reports from a panel discussion on Patent Abuse at Champlain College. James Bessen, Boston University School of Law, presented at the event; he is quoted in this story.
James Bessen, co-author of Patent Failure: How Judges, Bureaucrats, and Lawyers Put Innovators at Risk and lecturer at Boston University … said the problems the patent system is seeing now date back to the 1990s, when high-growth Internet and computer technology companies filed for thousands of patents that now seem over-broad and outdated.
Bessen said the problem with patent abuse is that it is contrary to the very purpose of patents. Instead of protecting innovative companies and allowing them to recover their research and development costs, it's making innovation costly.
"This is acting as a tax on R&D," he said.
Source: The Washington Post
Professor James Grimmelmann, Director of the Intellectual Property Program and the University of Maryland, shows how the Federal Circuit court has weakened design patent law by examining a recent design patent case involving fur-lined slippers.
The nation's top patent court has been on a Frankenstein-like quest to reanimate design patent law, stitching together pieces of patent law, copyright law and even trademark law into an unnatural monster.
Like its utility patent doctrines, the Federal Circuit's design patent doctrines systematically uphold patents that should never have been granted in the first place, giving trolls and titans the ability to extort settlements and muscle out the competition.
Ultimately, only Congress can solve the problem by rolling back the Federal Circuit's jurisdiction and taking more intellectual property cases away from it.
Source: Fast Company
The article asks the question: will the robotics revolution be an aggregate job creator or job killer for humans? MIT economist Erik Brynjolfsson shares his thoughts.
“Technological progress is not a rising tide that automatically raises all incomes,” say Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee of MIT’s Sloan School of Management and coauthors of Race Against the Machine. “Even as overall wealth increases, there can be, and usually will be, winners and losers.” What Brynjolfsson and McAfee refer to is the division of rewards that will potentially make “some people worse off than they were before the innovation, . . .” adding that, “the losers are not necessarily some small segment of the labor force, like buggy-whip manufacturers.”
Source: The Atlantic
The article explains Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, and examines its effect on innovation as well as a proposed exception to it. Section 230 states, essentially, that websites cannot be sued or prosecuted for content posted by their visitors. It is important to note that it does not apply to copyright infringement. Law professor Eric Goldman, Santa Clara University, responds to a proposal by a group of State Attorneys General for an exception to Section 230 that would allow states to prosecute internet companies for violations of state criminal law for their online publication of third party content.
As Santa Clara law professor Eric Goldman explains, the move would end up "eviscerating" Section 230, removing a "key internet immunity" that has been responsible for the "extraordinary Internet boom over the past 15+ years." Companies would be forced to take on the prohibitively expensive cost of policing their entire websites. Suddenly, speech law would have the same level of uncertainty as copyright.
Leading privacy advocates were asked for suggestions of companies they see as especially privacy friendly. Chris Hoofnagle, University of California, Berkeley, offered his list.
Chris Hoofnagle, director of Information Privacy Programs at the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, singled out an entirely different set of firms. “I think you’ll find that the companies that perform the best on that are B2B services, such as Salesforce, which explicitly says that the data you load into their service is yours, that you can encrypt it (so Salesforce cannot read it), and that they will never sell it,” he said. “App.net is probably in that category. It’s basically only going to be for-pay services.”
“In financial services, Amex and Discover are the best for payments, Square is also good, and non-profit banks such as USAA have good practices.”
The article examines how innovative technology, such as interconnected computers and intelligent mobile monitoring, are setting the stage for a wave of productivity gains. Professor Erik Brynjolfsson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is quoted.
“I’m quite optimistic,” said Brynjolfsson, a professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management in Cambridge. “When I look at the technologies coming along, I project some big improvements from productivity.”
“There are always lags between the introduction of new technologies and productivity gains,” Brynjolfsson said. “In my papers, we found that companies that installed big, new enterprise information systems didn’t get the full benefits for five to seven years.”
The article explores the impact on businesses of the news about the National Security Agency’s practice of establishing ‘back doors’ into encryption programs. Computer science professor Ed Felten, Princeton University, is quoted.
Princeton technologist Ed Felten — who used to be government-employed at the Federal Trade Commission — writes, “This is going to put U.S. companies at a competitive disadvantage, because people will believe that U.S. companies lack the ability to protect their customers—and people will suspect that U.S. companies may feel compelled to lie to their customers about security.”
Source: Popular Mechanics
The article examines the proliferation of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), and the issues that will arise as the FAA creates regulations, mandated by Congress in 2012, to open the National Airspace System to these flying drones. Law professor Ryan Calo, University of Washington, is quoted.
The same things that make drones useful cause the public to worry: UAS are much cheaper to own and operate than helicopters or fixed-wing airplanes. "Drones drive down the cost of surveillance considerably," Ryan Calo, an assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Law, testified before Congress in March 2013. "We worry that the incidence of surveillance will go up."
Source: The New York Times “Room for Debate”
In this “Room for Debate” essay, law professor Ryan Calo addresses the question: What are some of the most exciting possibilities for Internet-connected objects, and how can we minimize the risks that come with them?
The Internet of things presents not just a window to peer through, but a door upon which to knock.
Where a new technology involves the collection of information, data tends to be the focus of scrutiny. And for good reason: the Internet of things could provide an unparalleled window in the consumer’s home life. But we should not lose sight of the fact that smart and networked things will not just record our world, but also will act upon it.
[But] ultimately, we need to think comprehensively about the impact of new technology on a range of values, and head off efforts to turn our appliances into salespeople.
Source: The Washington Post
In this article written for The Washington Post, James Bessen explains why software patents are prone to litigation abuses. James Bessen is Lecturer in Law at the Boston University School of Law and Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.
Today’s patent trolls are wreaking damage on a scale not seen in the past. And there's a specific reason for this: The last two decades saw a dramatic increase in the number of patents on software, and these patents are particularly prone to abuse, both by trolls and by other types of patent holders.
[But] Software patents are particularly prone to such abuses because software is inherently conceptual. Software is a technology that represents broad classes of interactions abstractly. That makes it inherently difficult to tie down a software patent to a specific inventive concept.
If they [the appellate court for patents] strictly enforce the Supreme Court’s doctrines, most software patents will be found invalid, disrupting powerful interest groups. If they don’t, then wasteful litigation will continue to grow, imposing large costs on society, costs that are already inhibiting innovation.
Today, the explosion of patent troll litigation provides stark evidence that old patent doctrines are not providing clear boundaries for information technology. The resolution will require substantial changes to the way the law treats software patents.
Source: The New York Times
The article explores whether Big Data will have an impact on our economy. Professor Shane Greenstein, Northwestern University, offers his thoughts.
In addition, infrastructure investments often take years to pay off in a big way, said Shane Greenstein, an economist at Northwestern University. He cited high-speed Internet connections laid down in the late 1990s that have driven profits only recently. But he noted that in contrast to the Internet’s first wave, which created services like the Web and e-mail, the impact of the second wave — the Big Data revolution — is harder to discern above the noise of broader economic activity.
“It could be just time delay, or it could be that the value just isn’t there,” said Mr. Greenstein, who has studied the competitive success of online businesses in media, advertising and retailing.
Source: The Atlantic
The article examines the arguments that Professor Ryan Calo makes for the potential harms of digital-ad targeting in his recently released a paper called, “Digital Market Manipulation.” Professor Calo is a privacy and robotics expert with the University of Washington School of Law.
Right now, he [Calo] writes, digital advertising's main strategy is relevance: putting the relevant ad in front of the right person. But Calo foresees a much more personalized approach down the road -- not just the right good, but a customized pitch, delivered late at night, when the company knows you, particularly, have a tendency to make impulse purchases.
The consumer is shedding information that, without her knowledge or against her wishes, will be used to charge her as much as possible, to sell her a product or service she does not need or needs less of, or to convince her in a way that she would find objectionable were she aware of the practice.
The value of Calo's paper is not in laying out where we should go from here but in disentangling the mess of problems related to identity and privacy online, and extracting from that mess a set of issues that are recognizable: consumer protection.
Source: The Christian Science Monitor
The article examines how Big Data may revolutionize every facet of life. Professor Erik Brynjolfsson’s book, “Race Against the Machine” (with co-author Andrew McAfee) is referenced. Professor Brynjolfsson is the Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business and the Schussel Family Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management.
[In "Race Against the Machine," Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Erik Brynjolfsson and MIT researcher Andrew McAfee write: ] "More data crosses the Internet every second than were stored in the entire Internet 20 years ago."
Evidence that Big Data promises enormous benefits is more than anecdotal. MIT's Mr. Brynjolfsson did a study in 2012 examining 179 companies. He found those whose decisions were "data-driven" had become 5 to 6 percent more productive in ways only the use of data could explain.
Brynjolfsson and Mr. McAfee compare Big Data to Leeuwenhoek's development of the microscope in the 1670s. They are, after all, both tools. They let people see lots of things that have always been around. Of course, the microscope also prompted us to ask questions we could never ask before. Big Data does that, too.
Source: The Los Angeles Times
The article examines the privacy implications with Google Glass. Glass are digital goggles that, according to Google, are a revolutionary way to quickly and effortlessly connect people with information. Professor Ryan Calo, University of Washington, is quoted.
That in-your-face quality of Glass could wake up more people to their ever shrinking privacy in the rapidly advancing digital age, University of Washington law professor Ryan Calo said.
Not only will people be more keenly aware that they have no reasonable expectation of privacy in public, Glass and devices like it could make it easier for government authorities to gain access to everything they see and record without a warrant, he said.
And, with a warrant, the government might even be able to remotely turn on Glass' video recording capability without the user's knowledge, the way it has done with OnStar systems in cars, Calo said.
Source: Chicago Tribune
The article examines the recent ruling from the U.S. International Trade Commission that Samsung violated two crucial mobile patents held by Apple and that products using the related technology should be banned from being imported into the U.S. Intellectual property law professor Mark Lemley, Stanford University, is quoted.
"Coupled with the veto, it definitely puts Samsung back on the defensive," said Mark Lemley, a professor at Stanford Law School. "Samsung's phones can be blocked but Apple's can't."
Source: The New York Times
The article details the upcoming ruling expected from the U.S. International Trade Commission on whether it will uphold a preliminary finding that Samsung mobile products violated a handful of Apple patents. Professor Robert Merges, Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, is quoted.
The decision on Friday is not over essential patents. But if the commission hands Apple another victory, Robert P. Merges, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, said the Obama administration could again overrule any import ban the commission puts in place, as part of a strategy to diminish the power of patent litigation as an industry weapon.
“I think there are a lot of political implications,” he said, referring to the possible reaction by other governments. “You’ll have the obvious favoring-the-home-team problem. But I would be shocked if they didn’t think this through carefully.”
Source: Silicon Valley
In the latest round between Apple and Samsung, the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals will review U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh’s ruling last year rejecting Apple's bid for a permanent injunction against a line of older Samsung smartphones and tablets. The article discusses the potential for the appeals court ruling to reshape patent law. Intellectual property law professor Mark Lemley, Stanford University, is quoted.
"I think it is extremely important," said Mark Lemley, a Stanford University law professor and leading tech law scholar. "It could fundamentally change the way the patent system works in the (technology) industries."
If Koh is upheld, "it will be very hard for any company to get an injunction in a complex, multi-component industry like smartphones," Lemley said. "It may also finally prod the parties to settle if it is clear that there is only money and not market control at stake in these lawsuits."
Source: The Washington Post
The article looks at the actions the U.S. Department of Justice is proposing against Apple now that that the App Store leader has been found guilty of conspiring to fix e-book prices with publishers. Law professor Randy Picker, University of Chicago Law School, is quoted.
“When you’re going to launch a platform, you want to have stuff on it,” Randall Picker, an antitrust scholar at the University of Chicago, told my colleague Timothy Lee last month. “An e-book store with five books is not very attractive. They’re going to want to enter at a certain scale.”
Source: The Christian Science Monitor
The article examines the U.S. Department of Justice’s proposal that Apple be required to provide links to other companies’ e-book stores from within Apple’s e-book app at no cost to the other companies. Apple has been found guilty of conspiring to fix e-book prices in violation of antitrust laws. Professor Scott Hemphill, Columbia University, is quoted.
“The big picture concern is that the DOJ seems to be showing some interest in Apple's app platform," says Scott Hemphill, a law professor at Columbia University. While the company usually keeps 30 percent of the revenue made from purchases in the App Store, the DOJ would require Apple to link to other stores' prices free of charge. "The government did not allege in the case [against Apple that its] prohibition on links [to outside sites] was an anti-competitive act in the first place," Mr. Hemphill says. Tacking on this condition in the proposal could be a signal that the DOJ has taken interest in the wider question of how the App Store operates.
Source: NBC News
The story highlights Facebook and the National Network to End Domestic Violence work in creating a guide on privacy and safety aimed at survivors of abuse. danah boyd, Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research and Research Assistant Professor at New York University, shares her expertise on youth and online behavior.
"Friends who have less motivation to lock down everything may post an announcement of an event that, in effect, announces the location of a victim. And when victims' comments on friends' posts are made visible, this too can be used to glean information," Danah Boyd, a senior researcher at Microsoft Research, whose research focuses on young people and social media, countered in an email to NBC News. "What victims need — more than anything — is not to be able to be found, online or offline."
Source: The Wall Street Journal
The article provides information on how to avoid fees when terminating a cell-phone contract early. Omri Ben-Shahar, University of Chicago, is quoted.
University of Chicago Law School professor Omri Ben-Shahar, who studies consumer law and consumer protection, said that compared to a few years ago, cellphone consumers are now much more informed and have more choices, so anyone interested in avoiding termination fees can do so more easily. While early termination fees may be burdensome for some, he said, if they didn’t exist then neither would discounts on phones.
“It is a tradeoff,” Mr. Ben-Shahar said. “And while we tend sometimes to focus on the travails of those who want to switch and are stuck and have to pay a stiff penalty, we less often notice the reduction in price that is enjoyed by everyone else.”
Source: The Seattle Times
The article examines the settlement between Microsoft and British Sky Broadcasting Group, which had contended that Microsoft’s use of “SkyDrive” infringed on the British company’s “Sky” trademark. Intellectual property law expert Mark Lemley of Stanford Law School is quoted.
“Trademark owners have become increasingly aggressive, making more and more outrageous claims,” Stanford University law professor Mark Lemley said.
“The idea that consumers would be confused into thinking that SkyDrive and British Sky Broadcasting were the same thing is ludicrous. ... I think Microsoft simply decided that keeping the name wasn’t worth the additional time and uncertainty of an appeal,” Lemley said.
Source: The Washington Post
The article looks at economist and patent lawyers’ thoughts on the value of patent protection for software. Law professor Doug Lichtman, UCLA, is quoted.
Doug Lichtman, a law professor at UCLA, once told me that a rule against patents on software would be an “odd way to divide the world up.”
Source: The Washington Post
This opinion piece discusses the impact of innovation on the U.S. economy and the type of people who do the innovating. A report by economist Giovanni Peri, UC Davis, is referenced.
Another recent study from UC-Davis economics professor Giovanni Peri and Colgate economics associate professor Chad Sparber finds the small number of “foreign scientists and engineers brought into this country under the H-1B visa program have contributed to 10%-20% of the yearly productivity growth in the U.S. during the period 1990-2010.”
Source: The Washington Post
The article examines the burden on the country’s Internet infrastructure with upcoming technologies such as Google Glass. Google Glass is a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display. Gregory Rosston, Deputy Director of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, shares his expertise in spectrum policy.
“The iPhone was a game changer in terms of how much data people used,” said Rosston. “That caused two things: The carriers built out much more capacity . . . and they pushed people to pay for data. I think if Google Glass takes off, two similar things will happen.”
All that cultural output will require an Internet connection. And it’s not just Glass that could take off this way. As Stanford’s Rosston said, other products in the wearable-tech category might wind up being the killer tethered device.
“We don’t know if it’s Google Glass that’s going to be the one to take off, or Apple’s iGlass, if you’ll excuse the expression,” Rosston joked. “But whatever it is . . . they either try to increase capacity or they try and take advantage of [the lack of supply] and raise prices. I think they’ll do both.”
Source: The New York Times
The article takes a look at a range of new tools being developed that act as robotic personal assistants, anticipating what you need before you ask for it. Andrea Matwyshyn of the University of Pennsylvania is quoted.
"To the question of creepiness, the answer is it depends who you ask," said Andrea M. Matwyshyn, an assistant professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, who studies the legal implications of technology. "What works for a group of 30-something engineers in Silicon Valley may not be representative of the way that 60-year-old executives in New York tend to use their phones."
"People could find the interface disruptive rather than helpful," Matwyshyn said.
Source: Bloomberg BNA
University of Pennsylvania law professor Andrea Matwyshyn testified before the House Energy and Commerce committee on data breach reporting. Bloomberg BNA reported on the panel. Below are select quotes from Professor Matwyshyn.
Andrea M. Matwyshyn, assistant professor of legal studies and business ethics at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, agreed with other panelists that some sort of unifying federal baseline standard could be useful, but took a largely contrary view in her testimony on whether it should preempt state laws or include exemptions.
Although she suggested that a central repository of data breaches reported to and maintained by the Federal Trade Commission would be a good idea, she emphasized that states should be able to maintain and enforce their breach notice regimes.
“Limiting states' rights to impose liability for information security misconduct will further erode consumer trust and damage innovation in the United States,” she said.
Matwyshyn argued for a threshold for breach notification that would eschew a risk of harm standard, instead saying that breaches should be reported for “unauthorized access of any protected information connected with a consumer login credential.”
The story looks at the new trend of investment firms whose historic roots are in private equity, moving into the retail investment world with mutual funds to attract individual investors. Economics professor Josh Lerner, Harvard University, is quoted.
“The implications for alternative asset managers are staggering because the bulk of all their money has historically come from pensions that are now going away,” Josh Lerner, who teaches investment banking at Harvard Business School told Forbes. “Over the next five to ten years individual investors are going to be a very important source of capital for alternative asset managers, and you’ll see them rethinking their business models.”
Source: CNN Money
The article reports on the stalled efforts of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) to agree to the development of Do-Not-Track technology. Privacy expert Peter Swire, Georgia Tech, and co-chair of the global Do Not Track process for the World Wide Web Consortium, is quoted.
"There would be widespread confusion if consumers select a Do Not Track option, only to have targeting and collection continue unchanged," wrote Matthias Schunter and Peter Swire, co-chairs of the tracking protection working group.
Source: The New York Times
The article reports on the decision by the W3C’s Tracking Protection Working Group for a uniform Do Not Track standard for the Internet. Law professor Peter Swire, Ohio State University, is quoted.
“The public meaning of Do Not Track is to limit behavioral advertising,” said Peter P. Swire, a law professor at Ohio State University who is a chairman of the Tracking Protection Working Group, along with Matthias Schunter, principal engineer at the Intel Corporation.
Source: National Public Radio’s All Things Considered
The report examines the federal district court decision against Apple in the e-books price fixing case. Law professor James Grimmelmann, University of Maryland, helps to explain Judge Cote’s decision.
James Grimmelmann, a law professor at the University of Maryland, says the judge laid out a convincing case that when Apple began talks with the publishers, they all knew exactly what they were doing.
JAMES GRIMMELMANN: The publishers wanted to transition to agency. But they were afraid of doing it on their own, but they would be happy to jump if Apple said let's all jump at the same time. So by saying jump, Apple was able to organize an effective conspiracy.
NEARY: Grimmelmann says Apple uses the agency modeled in other parts of its business but this decision should have no effect on that.
GRIMMELMANN: Doesn't say there is anything wrong with selling on the agency model where they take a commission; nothing wrong with having fixed priced buckets. It was purely about Apple's negotiating tactics in the run-up to the launch of the iBooks store. This means that for the most part, the app store, the music store, those things should be unaffected.
Source: The Washington Post
In this interview, Professor Randy Picker, University of Chicago Law School, explains the antitrust implications from the Apple e-book price-fixing antitrust case.
I wish the opinion cited to the record more, but based on [Judge Cote's] rendition of the evidence, it seems very clear that Apple should have known, probably did know, that publishers would try to raise e-book prices.
The line between the legal and the illegal seems so thin.
I think it’s fair to say that one should be concerned that when we bring antitrust liability to bear in these situations that we’re going to make it harder for people to do these kinds of deals.
In his article for Wired magazine, Harvard law professor Jonathan Zittrain examines issues of censorship, content altering, and access restrictions that are unique to books in electronic formats. Below are a few excerpts from the article.
Digital books and other texts are increasingly coming under the control of distributors and other gatekeepers rather than readers and libraries.
With cloud-based services, one "master" copy of the book is always online, but that makes it vulnerable to manipulation or even deletion.
Anyone with claims of copyright infringement, defamation, plagiarism or obscenity now has a powerful new tool to compel the full or partial retraction or alteration of a book. Even the mere threat of a lawsuit could pressure authors to digitally alter or retract what they've written.
The article profiles economics professor Susan Athey. Professor Athey is an economic theorist who has made significant contributions to the study of industrial organization. She is currently Professor of Economics at Stanford Graduate School of Business. Below are a few quotes from the article.
Discussing search technology with Microsoft executives in 2007:
“The obvious question was, would this become a one-firm show or was it possible to have two competing search engines?” recalled Athey, an authority on timber auctions who had just begun studying the market for digital advertising. “I believed then, based on economic theory and some data, and I believe more strongly now that it’s indeed possible to have two competing search engines and that it’s also incredibly important for the Internet ecosystem.”
Opportunities for the future:
“We’ve never had data on that scale before to study behavior,” which “creates opportunities for new science,” she said. “I want to help the economics field embrace those opportunities.”
Source: Homeland Security News Wire
The article discusses the various parameters states are putting on drone use. Margot Kaminski, Executive Director of the Information Society Project at Yale University, is quoted.
Margot Kaminski, a scholar at Yale Law School … warns that private drone use can lead to First Amendment problems. “If you have a news organization hovering over a protest and videoing cops beating protesters, that’s really valuable for the First Amendment,” Kaminski told the Post. State courts have determined that private citizens have a First Amendment right to record the activities of public officials, meaning that recording police conduct is protected.
Although Kaminski does not agree with the provisions in the Texas and Idaho bills, she also does not want the federal government to determine what can and cannot be used in a drone bill, saying federal legislation could end up in a poorly crafted law on the entire country.
Source: The New York Times “Room for Debate”
Given recent events about two government surveillance programs being leaked, law professor Eric Posner, University of Chicago, helps to answer the question: Is government surveillance a threat to our democracy?
Objections to this surveillance are theoretical, and the mere potential for abuse can’t by itself be a good reason to shut down a program. If it were, we would have no government.
Objections to the secrecy of the N.S.A. program are thus really objections to our political system itself, and, for all its flaws, there are no obviously superior alternatives.
I doubt meaningful democratic debate about the [N.S.A.] program would have been possible unless details were given, so that people actually understood what they were debating about. Details like who is targeted, and why, and on the basis of what evidence; details like what abuses might take place, and how they are corrected. … But once the N.S.A. reveals the details of the policy, its effectiveness diminishes as targets learn how to evade it. I wish there were a solution to this problem but I don’t see it.
Source: The New York Times
In light of the Edward Snowden leaks of secret documents about the National Security Agency’s surveillance, this article examines the legal and political obstacles to having a debate between national security and personal privacy. Law professor Peter Swire, Ohio State University, is quoted.
“The Democrats want to support Obama, and the Republicans supported FISA expansion,” said Peter Swire, an expert on privacy at Ohio State University, referring to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. “Both parties face internal tensions on this issue.”
The article examines the growing demand by U.S. employers for data scientists. Economics professor Susan Athey, Stanford Graduate School of Business, is quoted.
“In most areas of the modern economy, math and statistics have never been more important,” said Susan Athey, an economics professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business near Palo Alto, California. “As firms get more and more data-driven, there become fewer and fewer careers that don’t require those skills.”
Source: The Washington Post
The article examines the government surveillance practices that came to light with the recent leaking of National Security Agency data collection processes. Law professor Daniel Solove, George Washington University, is quoted.
“What the government can do is certainly much greater than before 9/11,” said Daniel Solove, a George Washington University law professor and author of “Nothing to Hide.” “The Obama administration by and large has not done anything to dial it back. If anything, maybe they’ve dialed it forward.”
Source: CBS Pittsburgh
The story provides reaction from Professor Lorrie Faith Cranor to the recent news about the leaking of National Security Agency data collection practices. Professor Cranor is director of the CyLab Usable Privacy and Security Laboratory (CUPS) and teaches courses on privacy, usable security, and computers and society at Carnegie Mellon University.
“Telephony metadata is information about what phone number is calling what other phone number and the location of those devices,” says Professor Lorrie Cranor, a Carnegie Mellon University international expert on cyber security.
Cranor told KDKA political editor Jon Delano that she suspects that other secret court orders cover telephone providers like AT&T and Sprint. After all, this order is the 80th order issued this year.
“It seems unlikely to me that they’d only be looking at Verizon,” noted Cranor.
Source: MIT Technology Review
The article examines the government surveillance practices that came to light with the recent leaking of National Security Agency data collection processes. Law professor Deirdre Mulligan, University of California, Berkeley, is quoted.
Deirdre Mulligan, an assistant professor at UC Berkeley School of Information and the chair of the Center for Democracy & Technology, is also worried, and she’s not the only one. She attended the Privacy Law Scholars Conference at UC Berkeley on Friday and says the feeling was “morose.”
“I think this revelation makes clear there was a cost to not having a more detailed conversation and public decision about the balances between democracy and policing,” she says.
“It seems to me that the time is really ripe for Congress to, in a very detailed and public way, get a better handle on the sorts of activities that we are engaged in in the name of the war on terror,” Mulligan says.
Source: National Public Radio’s All Things Considered
Law professor Jeffrey Rosen, George Washington University, explains Section 215 of the Patriot Act. The National Security Agency attained Verizon's customer's phone records via Section 215.
Section 215 was an expansion of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which was originally passed in 1978. … Section 215 dramatically broadened the scope of that power. Now the government can seize any tangible thing. … The only limitation is that the secret warrant has to be relevant to a national security investigation.
The government has to provide some argument about relevancy, but it seems that the Obama administration may have made the rather adventurous argument that any data or phone logs are potentially relevant because if scanned algorithmically, they might reveal patterns that could lead to terrorism.
Remember, when Section 215 was passed, the big controversy was about libraries and book store records. Although those were very legitimate concerns, I think even those librarians could never have imagined that what would be seized in the future are telephone logs of every single phone call - domestic, international and even local - let alone the billions of pieces of content that are posted to Facebook and Google and Twitter and the internet every day.
Source: National Public Radio’s Morning Edition
The story looks at Apple’s defense against government charges that it conspired with publishers to fix e-book prices. Professor James Grimmelmann, New York Law School, is interviewed.
Apple points out that since it got into the market, overall eBook prices have actually come down. But New York Law School Professor James Grimmelmann says that doesn't really matter. “The conspiracy itself is illegal, whether or not it's successful in extracting money from consumers' pockets.”
Grimmelmann believes Apple continues to fight because the retail model it set up for eBooks is pretty much the same way it sells everything. “This is how they sell apps, it's how they sell music. For Apple, this goes to the heart of a very large business.”
Source: Information Week
Erik Brynjolfsson, MIT's Sloan School of Management, discusses his experiences using AvayaLive Engage, an online education technology, that melds real and virtual classrooms.
Brynjolfsson said the most striking moment for him came during a break, when he was talking with a virtual participant, avatar to avatar. "While we were talking all these people saw, and they all kind of gathered around. And there was this mob of probably like 40 or 50 avatars all sort of surrounding me and this other person," Brynjolfsson said.
The virtual world isn't exactly like human interaction. The avatars don't walk smoothly, for instance. Brynjolfsson joked that while the other avatars were coming towards him in that break, their stilted gaits made it seem "like zombies coming on me!"
Overall, "I think this has enormous promise," Brynjolfsson said. "It crossed the key threshold for me, I could see how you could do small group exercises and have people meet each other."
Source: The Star-Ledger
The article examines the lawsuit the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has brought against the Wyndham hotel chain for engaging in unfair and deceptive practices. The FTC said the hotel told customers it used "standard industry practices" to protect their private information, when in fact its steps were not reasonable or appropriate. The hotel chain was hit with three cyber attacks in the span of less than two years, causing the theft of payment-card data for hundreds of thousands of customers. Law professor Eric Goldman, Santa Clara University, is quoted.
No authority such as Congress or the courts have formally decreed the FTC with power over cybersecurity, noted Eric Goldman, a professor at Santa Clara University’s School of Law and director of its High Tech Law Institute. Rather, the agency has deputized itself to police this field.
"The FTC views this as a gap that needs to be filled and they’re going to fill it. No one has fought back," he said.
"This is a must-win battle for the FTC," Goldman said. "They’ll fight until they win or until someone says ‘you’re done.’"
The article looks at the U.S. Justice Department’s case against Apple accusing them of conspiring to increase ebook prices. Law professor John Lopatka, Pennsylvania State University, is quoted.
Apple may be calculating that potential future damages claims by states and class actions make it worth going to trial, said John Lopatka, a law professor at Pennsylvania State University.
"Apple might think, 'We may lose at the trial level, but we may well convince an appellate court the trial judge mischaracterised the evidence," Lopatka said.
Source: Huffington Post
The article looks at the U.S. Justice Department’s case against Apple accusing them of conspiring to increase ebook prices. Law professor Geoffrey Manne, Lewis & Clark College, is quoted.
[But] The government may be aiming at a bigger issue, said Geoffrey Manne, a law professor at Lewis & Clark Law School. Among other things, the government lawsuit seeks to declare that certain provisions in the agreements between Apple and the publishers are unenforceable.
Similar types of most-favored nation clauses have been central in other content industries such as music and television where content providers have a role in setting the price. They have also become a discussion point in certain antitrust communities, Manne said, and a government win could "send a pretty strong message" about their use.
"If the government wins this case, it would be because the court for some reason determines that most-favored-nation clauses are more harmful to competition than helpful," he said.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
The article reports from a recent MIT symposium on the role of CIOs in ‘Architecting the Enterprise of the Future.’ Erik Brynjolfsson, MIT's Sloan School of Management, spoke on ‘The Reality of Big Data.’
Mr. Brynjolfsson added that beyond being a technology and scientific revolution, Big Data should be viewed as a management revolution. We have mostly been managing by gut, intuition and hunches because we’ve lacked the appropriately analyzed data to do otherwise. Key business and strategic decisions are frequently made by what he called the HiPPO or Highest Paid Person with an Opinion. “We need to change from opinions and hunches and go with facts and data,” he said. By feeding data to the HiPPOs we can turn them into geeks.
Mr. Brynjolfsson and Andy McAfee elaborated on this in a recent Harvard Business Review article: Big Data: The Management Revolution. “[The] Big Data of this revolution is far more powerful than the analytics that were used in the past. We can measure and therefore manage more precisely than ever before. We can make better predictions and smarter decisions. … Smart leaders across industries will see using big data for what it is: a management revolution.”
Source: Southern California Public Radio's Take Two
The story looks at how Facebook monitors content on its site and enforces its community standards. Jeffrey Rosen, George Washington University, is quoted.
"These are young kids, often 22-yo wearing flip-flops and t-shirts, and they're just making spot decisions on billions of pieces of content posted every week," said Jeffrey Rosen, professor of law at George Washington University. "They have to decide within a matter of seconds whether or not a particular content violate the policies."
Source: The Wall Street Journal
The article examines the freelancers market created with the Internet. Erik Brynjolfsson, MIT's Sloan School of Management, speaks to the challenges of measuring the economic impact of these new “micro-entrepreneurial” freelancers.
“It’s very hard to get a precise number because it is so informal and there’s not really standardized ways of reporting it,” says Erik Brynjolfsson, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management. “A lot of it gets missed in our economic statistics.”
Technology has propelled the “sharing economy” that TaskRabbit, eBay, Uber Technologies, and others are tapping, says Brynjolfsson, co-author of “Race Against the Machine,” an assessment of digital technology’s transformation of work and the economy. “Certainly over the next decade, this trend will accelerate.”
“Once people see these kinds of marketplaces arising, they start making themselves available for a job that they previously wouldn’t have,” he says, but noted that a patchwork of projects isn’t for everyone: “There are some cultural and attitudinal aspects of it. People have to be comfortable not knowing where your next paycheck is coming from.”
Source: Network World
A paper written by James Bessen, Michael J. Meurer, and Jennifer Ford is referenced in this article that examines claims of patent infringement by Kim DotCom. Mr. DotCom is the notorious Internet entrepreneur who founded Megaupload.com, which was accused of enabling and abetting copyright infringement through users uploading and downloading music and videos on a massive scale.
A paper, "The Private and Social Costs of Patent Trolls" by James Bessen, Jennifer Ford, and Michael J. Meurer of Boston University School of Law explains, "Using stock market event studies around patent lawsuit filings, we find that NPE lawsuits are associated with half a trillion dollars of lost wealth to defendants from 1990 through 2010, mostly from technology companies. Moreover, very little of this loss represents a transfer to small inventors. Instead, it implies reduced innovation incentives and a net loss of social welfare."
Source: The New York Times
The article examines the security risks that arise with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) efforts to expand wiretap design laws to include Internet communication services. Professor Ed Felten, Director of the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University, discusses a report he authored with 20 computer experts and cryptographers on the risks of wiretap modifications.
It’s a single point in the system through which all of the content can be collected if they can manage to activate it,” said Edward W. Felten, a computer science professor at Princeton and one of the authors of the report, released by the Center for Democracy and Technology, an advocacy group in Washington.
“That’s a security vulnerability waiting to happen, as if we needed more,” he said.
Source: Financial Times
Eric Posner and Glen Weyl, both professors with the University of Chicago, co-wrote this op-ed for the Financial Times in which they discuss their proposal to improve the effectiveness of corporate shareholder voting. Below are a few excerpts to show how their system, which they call quadratic vote-buying (QVB), would work:
Suppose that when an investor buys a share of a publicly listed company, he or she is given only the right to a share of profits, and not any right to vote. Instead, when a board election or transaction requires a vote, each shareholder would have the right to buy as many votes as they want. The catch is that they must pay for each vote, and the more votes they cast, the more that they pay per vote. More precisely, the price for voting is the square of the number of votes cast: the cost of casting one vote is one dollar, casting two votes is four dollars, three votes is nine dollars, and so on.
The formula ensures that the shareholder will pay exactly in proportion to the intensity of his interest – mimicking the market, where people who value, say, the quality of an item pay more for a higher-quality item than those who are indifferent to quality and are content with an average-quality item at a lower price.
The article reports on the power that a social-media backlash had against Disney-Pixar’s attempt to trademark the phrase “Día de Los Muertos.” Intellectual property law expert Marshall Leaffer, Maurer School of Law, is quoted.
“The Day of the Dead can attain a trademark significance if it’s used in a trademarked sense,” Marshall Leaffer says. “If someone wants to use ‘Day of the Dead’ in describing a particular holiday, under general trademark principles and free speech principles, the trademark owner cannot object to it.”
… Disney would probably have had to prove that the phrase “Día de los Muertos” had a specific Pixar-only meaning in order to be successful in applying for a trademark. “We don’t want to give terms too wide a protection if they don’t have any sort of significance for the consumer,” he explains.
Leaffer draws a parallel to the band The Cars: there’s a difference between trying to sell a bootleg Cars t-shirt outside a concert venue (not allowed if they have a trademark) and trying to sell an I Love Cars t-shirt at a Honda dealership (fine). And the same logic would apply to Cars—but the folks at Pixar probably already know about that.
The article examines the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) authority in antitrust cases. Joshua Wright, currently on leave from George Mason University while serving with the Federal Trade Commission, is quoted.
As Federal Trade Commission (FTC) commissioner Josh Wright correctly explained in a recent speech at George Mason, the FCC erred in the Open Internet Order by treating discrimination by vertically integrated network owners as a per se violation, in contrast to the “rule of reason” treatment afforded to similar “vertical restraints” under the antitrust laws. Mr. Wright advocates that the FTC (and not the FCC) police such conduct under the antitrust laws, arguing that the FTC is less susceptible to political influence than the FCC, and that the FTC has related experience with case-by-case enforcement of vertical restraints.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
New York University Law Professor Richard Epstein provides a critical review of Steven J. Harper’s new book, the “The Lawyer Bubble.”
With Congress passing monstrosities like Dodd-Frank and the Affordable Care Act, top-flight legal talent is needed more than ever to guide well-heeled clients through the growing regulatory maze.
[L]aw schools can’t just be “practical training” centers, as Mr. Harper would have them; they must make sure that their students grasp the fundamentals of legal theory and doctrine. Future lawyers must also be capable of connecting law with collateral disciplines ranging from corporate finance to game theory to cognitive psychology. That is what I teach, and that is also what firms want when they hire me to work on complex legal problems.
Mr. Harper's blunderbuss condemnation of most large firms and most law schools is off-target. By and large, they have proved resilient in a competitive legal climate.
Source: The New Yorker
In his article for The New Yorker, Columbia University law professor Tim Wu examines issues facing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The net-neutrality rules now in place reinforce the Internet’s original design principle: that all traffic is carried equally and without any special charges beyond those of transmission. Among other things, the rules are a pricing truce for the Internet; without them, we can expect a fight that will serve no one’s interests and will ultimately stick consumers with Internet bills that rise with the same speed as cable television’s.
Unfortunately… the F.C.C. may ultimately have no choice but to get involved in this fight. But one very important thing has changed since last time. Cable operators like Time Warner and Comcast, if they think carefully, should come to understand that they now need a net-neutrality rule more than anyone.
The article looks at China’s anti-monopoly law and its impact on European and American companies seeking global mergers. Law professor Daniel Sokol, University of Florida, is quoted.
"Sometimes the remedies have nothing to do with antitrust concerns, but you are so desperate to close a deal that you give up the store to the Chinese," said Daniel Sokol, professor of law at the University of Florida's Levin College of Law. "Firms will make all kinds of concessions. If this were the United States, people would say: I'll see you in court. No one's going to do that in China," he said.
Sokol, the law professor, said in some extreme cases, there are fears that corporate monitors could facilitate industrial espionage when oversight has little to do with antitrust issues but focuses instead on organis