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.

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Last Week in Tech Law & Policy, Vol. 37: Wireless Emergency Alerts Improved by Federal Communications Commission

(By Eilif Vanderkolk, Colorado Law 2L)

A Speedy Manhunt

In mid-September, Ahmad Khan Rahami allegedly committed terrorist bombings in Manhattan and the Jersey Shore . Rahami was arrested on the Monday following the bombings, shortly after New York officials had issued a Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) naming Rahami as the primary suspect. The alert, received by all smartphones located in the five Boroughs that had not opted out, looked like this:

WANTED: Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28-yr-old male. See media for pic. Call 9-1-1 if seen.

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Last Week in Tech Law & Policy, Vol. 36: Another Yahoo! Data Breach? Personal Consumer Information and the U.S. Government’s Intelligence Collection Practices

(by Zachary Goldberg, Colorado Law 2L)

Apparently Yahoo waited two full months to disclose to its customers the largest consumer data breach in history, which Yahoo officials claim went undetected for two full years

On September 22, 2016, Yahoo officials announced that 500 million of its customers’ email accounts were hacked in 2014. The Yahoo security team believes that “state-sponsored hackers” somehow managed to penetrate Yahoo’s system to target its email users’ identifying information, passwords, and security question responses. At this stage in their investigation, Yahoo officials have not indicated precisely when they discovered the breach, and they know neither specific details as to who orchestrated it, nor how they gained access to Yahoo’s email system.

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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.

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FCC Releases Public Notice Seeking Comment on Petition for Waiver of E-Rate Rules Filed by BVSD and TLPC

(by Caroline Jones and Max Brennan, TLPC Student Attorneys)

Last week, the Federal Communications Commission released a public notice seeking comment on a petition by the Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) and the TLPC to help bridge the homework gap. BVSD seeks to connect the students in Boulder’s low-income housing communities to its high-speed fiber network so they can access the internet after school hours to do their homework.

The petition asks for a waiver certain provisions of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) E-Rate Program, a federal program that provides subsidies for schools and libraries to obtain telecommunications services. The public notice also invites comment on a petition filed by Microsoft that asks the FCC to permit the use of TV White Spaces technology to extend a school’s  internet access service to students’ homes for educational purposes.

The FCC has designated the period for public comment until November 3rd, 2016, with reply comments due December 5th, 2016. Interested parties may file comments on the FCC’s website.

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.

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Last Week In Tech Law & Policy, Vol. 33: Space Junk, A Growing Threat to the Future of Space Access

In 2007 China tested an anti-satellite missile against one of its decommissioned weather satellites 800km above the earth in an explosion, creating 100,000 new pieces of orbital debris in a single instant. In 2009 a commercial Iridium communications satellite and a defunct Russian satellite collided over Siberia creating over 2,000 of pieces of debris capable of being tracked and even more that we cannot yet see. In 2015 the ISS performed a Red Conjunction where the crew evacuated to the Soyuz escape craft while a piece of debris passed close to the station without enough warning for a debris avoidance maneuver.

Even higher in orbit, there are many more defunct spacecraft posing risks to geostationary satellites. Since Sputnik first blasted its way into space in 1957, thousands of satellites have been sent into orbit around the Earth. But what happens to these satellites once they are no longer used?

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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.

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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.

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