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.

Continue reading “Last Week in Tech Policy: #45 Inspection of Electronic Devices and Passwords”

Piloting Risk-Informed Assessments in the FCC Waiver Applications

Working with Silicon Flatirons Senior Fellow Pierre de Vries, TLPC student attorneys Andrew Manley and Jonathan Bair endorse prior recommendations that the Federal Communications Commission improve its waiver application process for radio operations through the adoption of Risk-Informed Interference Assessment (RIA). The TLPC and de Vries submitted a filing to the Commission suggesting how RIA might be adopted as a tool to assist the Commission in its decision making process. The filing elaborates on the RIA method, offers a checklist by which the Commission can request RIA from parties, and explores three test waivers for the application of RIA.

Last Week in Tech Law & Policy, Vol. 38: Colonizing Mars—Fact or Fantasy?

(by Jodi Wallace, Colorado Law 2L)

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong proclaimed, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” Buzz Aldrin followed, describing the moon’s surface with the words “magnificent desolation.” For a few short hours, the two men explored the lunar surface, gathered samples, and then climbed back aboard the lunar modular to come back to Earth.

47 years after Apollo 11 was launched to take the first astronauts to the moon, Elon Musk  (chief executive of SpaceX) has announced his plans to create a permanent human settlement on the surface of Mars. But Elon Musk is not alone in this ambition—his announcement is only the most recent, and perhaps the broadest in scope.

Continue reading “Last Week in Tech Law & Policy, Vol. 38: Colonizing Mars—Fact or Fantasy?”

Last Week in Tech Law & Policy, Vol. 35: Microtargeting and the Use of Voter Data to Win Elections

(By Sean Doran, Colorado Law 3L)

Both major political parties in the United States currently gather and aggregate massive amounts of data on American voters. Over the last several election cycles, with the advent of advanced data analytics and advances in data storage and processing, campaigns have gained the ability to learn and track a surprising amount of data about voters. This creates a level of precision that allows campaigns to build advanced models for identifying and targeting individual voters to receive (or not receive) individual messages (microtargeting).  Parties are building “political dossiers” on American voters which are some of the largest, unregulated aggregations of personal data that currently exist.

Continue reading “Last Week in Tech Law & Policy, Vol. 35: Microtargeting and the Use of Voter Data to Win Elections”

Last Week in Tech Law & Policy, Vol. 34: Algorithm Bias, Discrimination, and the Law

(By Max Brennan, Colorado Law 2L)

This week’s blog post examines the concept of algorithm bias. It begins with a definition of algorithm bias, turning to  its interactions with the law, some real-world examples of bias, and ends with considerations for future legal treatment of algorithm bias.

Continue reading “Last Week in Tech Law & Policy, Vol. 34: Algorithm Bias, Discrimination, and the Law”

Last Week in Tech Law & Policy, Vol. 32: Is government hacking a “search” under the Fourth Amendment?

(by Kiki Council, Colorado Law 3L)

Last week’s blog post concerned the ramifications of sponsored and compelled government hacking with the use of backdoor encryption. This week’s post concerns how government hacks of computers using the Tor browser, and whether those hacks are considered a “search” under the Fourth Amendment.

Continue reading “Last Week in Tech Law & Policy, Vol. 32: Is government hacking a “search” under the Fourth Amendment?”

Last Week in Tech Law & Policy, Vol. 31: Sponsored and Compelled Hacking, Government Edition

(by Colter Donahue, Colorado Law 3L)

Should government agencies possess, compel, or sponsor hacking and backdoors? A backdoor is a method of bypassing the normal authentication system of a website, messaging service, or other means of electronic communications.

Privacy and encryption advocates point out that the tools created or vulnerabilities exploited by backdoors pose a privacy risk. The vulnerabilities are not not limited to exploit by U.S. agencies like the FBI and NSA; bad actors and other nations can use them too. Hacking tools don’t always stay secret; once exposed, potential damage may be measured on a global scale. But what happens when law enforcement needs access for investigatory purposes? The following post will look at a recent example and the balance of competing interests.

Continue reading “Last Week in Tech Law & Policy, Vol. 31: Sponsored and Compelled Hacking, Government Edition”

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.

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

Last Week in Tech Law and Policy, Vol. 25: The CISA/CISPA See-Saw of Cybersecurity

The government intelligence community has long vocally advocated for so-called “backdoors” in encrypted digital communications systems. Proponents of these special modes of entry and intercept into otherwise protected databases and communications believe they are a necessary part of national security in the modern age. However, attempts to statutorily codify these ideas have met significant opposition.

Not to be deterred, the government is currently seeking alternate ways to gather information about suspected criminals and terrorists. Two weeks ago, the Senate passed the Cybersecurity Intelligence Sharing Act (CISA). This bill seeks primarily to permit information technology companies to “voluntarily” share information about security threats with the Department of Homeland Security. Companies would be given immunity both from liability and from FOIA requests regarding this information sharing. A proposed amendment that would have required the scrubbing of personally identifiable information in this information sharing failed to pass.

Continue reading “Last Week in Tech Law and Policy, Vol. 25: The CISA/CISPA See-Saw of Cybersecurity”

Last Week in Tech Law and Policy, Vol. 24: Will Your Autonomous Car be Programmed to Kill You?

(by R. Kolton Ray, Colorado Law 2L)

Back to the Future Day—October 1, 2015—was celebrated this past week to commemorate the day that Marty McFly and Doc Brown traveled through time to save Marty’s future son in Back to the Future II. It’s easy to laugh at the zany fashion and technology—i.e., fax machines—but director Robert Zemeckis got a lot right about 2015. For example, Nike will release a pair of self-lacing sneakers next year, and hover boards have become close to a reality. The film even portrayed a current political candidate as a wacky villain.

While we have yet to reach the Back to the Future-style flying cars depicted in the second film, we are very close to the introduction of self-driving cars into our travel ecosystem. Google’s self-driving car has successfully completed 1 million miles and the company is planning to release a model to the general public by 2017. Automotive powerhouses like GM, Ford, Toyota, Daimler-Chrystler and Volkswagen have all partnered with Google, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said that manually-operated cars will be illegal once autonomous cars reach 100% penetration.

Continue reading “Last Week in Tech Law and Policy, Vol. 24: Will Your Autonomous Car be Programmed to Kill You?”