Last Week in Tech Policy: #45 Inspection of Electronic Devices and Passwords

(By Gabrielle Daley, Colorado Law 2L)

NASA scientist and U.S citizen Sidd Bikkannavar flew back into the United States on January 30th, 2017 and was detained by U.S customs and border patrol agents.  Mr. Bikkannavar was detained upon his arrival at the Houston airport by agents who stated the reason for the detention was to ensure that he was not bringing anything dangerous into the country. However the agents never searched Mr. Bikkannavar’s luggage. Instead he was handed a document entitled “Inspection of Electronic Devices” and asked for his cell phone and cell phone password.

Mr. Bikkannavar was reluctant to hand over the phone because as it belonged to his employer, the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratories. However, agents insisted on access to the phone and password, and eventually Mr. Bikkannavar gave an agent both. The agent then left the room with the device. Mr. Bikkannavar has no idea what the agent did with the phone outside of his presence, but in a Tweet last week confirmed that JPL is running digital forensics on the phone to try and determine what may have been taken—or left—on the phone.

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Last Week in Tech Policy #42: @realDonaldTrump: How Twitter is Changing Communications from the White House

(By Connor Boe, Colorado Law 2L)

After it was first announced that President Trump would continue to use his personal Twitter account after taking office, it has become clear that social media is going to become a dominant source of information from the White House. How might social media impact the consistency and clarity of messaging that the American public has come to expect from the executive branch?

Trump first created the @realDonaldTrump account in 2009 and has tweeted roughly 34,000 tweets and accrued over 22 million followers since. Since the election Trump has used Twitter along with other social media platforms to release policy statements, personal opinions, and a surprising number of politically polarizing statements.  This new form of communication from the President creates some interesting dynamics, some possible opportunities, and a multitude of challenges that need to be considered as we enter a new era of American politics.

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Last Week in Tech Law & Policy, Vol. 39: First Amendment Protection For Discriminatory Ads?

(by Andi Wilt, Colorado Law 3L)

When is the last time you Googled someone’s name? There are many reasons why you might have done that. You could have been trying to learn more about someone who was about to interview you for a position, or maybe you were about to interview them, or even deciding whom you were going to interview in the first place. An applicant’s online presence is important to many employers, as one source indicates that 90% of executive recruiters say they do online research on applicants; up to 70% of employers who have used LinkedIn say they have decided not to hire someone based on something they learn about the applicant online.

So what’s the problem with a little online research about a person? Professor Latanya Sweeney found that a Google search for a black identifying name is 25 percent more likely to be accompanied by an arrest-related ad. Professor Sweeney explored the connection between “[b]lack-identifying” and “[w]hite-identifying” first names, which are “those for which a significant number of people have the name and the frequency is sufficiently higher in one race than another.” Continue reading “Last Week in Tech Law & Policy, Vol. 39: First Amendment Protection For Discriminatory Ads?”

Last Week in Tech Law & Policy, Vol. 29: The Dangers of “Innocuous” Data

(by Parker Ragland, Colorado Law 2L)

People often hold one of two views on privacy—either it is important to them, or they state, “I have nothing to hide.” While the latter response legitimately expresses fear that privacy laws may be used by wrongdoers to shield themselves from justice, it also reveals a common misconception about privacy: only mistakes in your past can harm your future. Problems associated with data science, and specifically the data-broker industry, are at the core of this misconception.

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Last Week in Tech Law and Policy, Vol. 23: The Rise of eSports

(by John Dubiel, Colorado Law 2L)

In August of 2015 teams from around the world competed for a total prize pool of $18,429,613 with the winners taking home over $6 million. A competition called The International 2015 took place at KeyArena in Seattle, Washington, with a live audience, all for a video game, DOTA 2.

This was the largest prize pool ever for an eSports competition, but competitive gaming has existed since the early 1980’s. One of the first games to be played competitively for money was Swordquest: Earthworld. The prize pool there was a jeweled talisman, valued at $25,000. Now there are eSports tournaments for League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Starcraft 2,  DOTA 2, and others taking place almost hourly. As  interest in eSports has grown, legal challenges have become more apparent; players now have contracts, people are betting on every game, and every game involves intellectual property. Continue reading “Last Week in Tech Law and Policy, Vol. 23: The Rise of eSports”

Last Week in Tech Law and Policy, Vol. 17: Do We Want to be Lab Rats?

(by Calli Schroeder, Colorado Law 3L)

Large companies experiment on their users all the time in large and small ways through “product testing.” Changing the format of a homepage or the layout of an app to see if it facilitates easier use or better engagement could constitute an “experiment.”  However, what happens when the experiment is only tangentially related to the product?  And how does this affect our understanding of privacy and informed consent?

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