Last Week in Tech Policy #65: Fake News, Real Concerns

(by John Schoppert, Colorado Law 3L)

On Friday, February 16th, Special Counsel Robert Mueller announced the indictment of 13 Russian nationals on charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States. The announcement serves as the latest development in Mueller’s investigation into potential collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election. More concretely, it provides further evidence that Russian operatives played a critical role in disrupting the 2016 election atop near-unanimous consensus among American intelligence agencies.

The indictments track the work of a so-called “troll factory” located in St. Petersburg, which designed and deployed divisive content over social media platforms to encourage collaboration within extreme groups online. More specifically, Russian operatives stole the identities of American citizens, posed as political activists, created posts affiliated with extreme ideologies and paid individuals to locally organize protests and rallies. While many debate over whether the Russians pushed for any one candidate over the other—as opposed to creating chaos more generally—based on internal documents, it appears that disruptive efforts were aimed at supporting the campaigns of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, and undermining that of Hillary Clinton.

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Last Week in Tech Policy #62: Fixed vs Mobile Broadband

(by Stefan Tschimben, CU ITP Ph.D Candidate)

Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 requires the Federal Communications Commission to determine “whether advanced telecommunications capability is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion.” Many people were surprised and worried when the FCC suggested in an August 2017 Notice of Inquiry equating mobile broadband alongside fixed broadband in its Broadband Deployment Report. The FCC concluded:

Americans today regularly use both fixed and mobile advanced telecommunications capability to originate and receive high-quality voice, data, graphics, and video telecommunications.

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TLPC Files Three DMCA Comments for Disability Services, Multimedia E-Books, and Security Research

Today, TLPC student attorneys filed three long form comments with the Copyright Office as part of the seventh triennial Section 1201 proceeding. Under Section 1201 of the DMCA, parties may petition the Copyright Office every three years to create or update exemptions when the DMCA adversely affects noninfringing activities.

Sophia Galleher filed a comment to enable better access to films and other copyrighted works for people with disabilities. Susan Miller and Angel Antkers, along with colleagues at the UC Irvine Intellectual Property, Art, and Technology (IPAT) Clinic, filed a comment to enable artistic expressions like fan fiction by expanding the allowed uses of multimedia e-books. Elizabeth Field and Justin Manusov filed a comment to better protect good faith security researchers.

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International Copyright Law and Accessibility

(by Colorado Law 3Ls Gabrielle Daley, Luke Ewing, and Lindsey Knapton)

Over the past two years the Samuelson-Glushko Technology Law and Policy Clinic (TLPC) has worked with Professor Caroline Ncube of the University of Cape Town and representatives of member states  of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to prepare a study on the implications of copyright law for people with disabilities around the world.

The 35th Session of WIPO’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) is fast approaching. This November 13-17, representatives from member states and non-governmental organizations from around the world will gather in Geneva, Switzerland to discuss international copyright policy. During this meeting, our team will present the findings of the study we’ve spent the better part of the last year preparing. As the November meeting nears, this post discusses the work we’ve done to date.
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Last Week in Tech Policy #58: An Artificial You

In 2016, a group from Niessner Lab in Germany published a groundbreaking achievement in the world of computer facial manipulation. Their new technology, called Face2Face, captures one person’s facial expressions as they talk into a webcam and maps those facial expressions directly onto a separate individual’s face in real-time. In essence, this means that you can take a video of anyone and make their face show any expression you’d like. For example, in a demonstration video, footage of Vladimir Putin giving a serious speech becomes a video of him smiling, then frowning, with eyebrows up and then down.

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Last Week in Tech Policy #56: LEDs Talk About Lights!

(By Sophia Galleher, Colorado Law 2L)

Some people enter Newark Airport and look up. The lights, like many LEDs, seem almost too crisp—too bright. But most travelers, perhaps worried about missing a connection or losing a wayward child in the terminal, rush through the airport without raising a brow; the LEDs lights, twinkling down from their chic, architectural fixtures, don’t really beg much thought. They seem innocuous enough.

But just know, the next time you walk through Newark Airport, that those lights are watching you.

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Last Week in Tech Policy #55: CRISPR Possibilities and Concerns

(by Trey Reed, Colorado Law 2L)

CRISPR Cas9, a gene editing software, is increasingly being used by researchers to modify the genetic code of organisms. Recently, scientists from Spain have found the genetic sequence that produces most of the gluten in wheat. They removed this sequence and produced wheat with 85% reduced gluten toxicity. In the United Kingdom, scientists have found a gene (OCT4) that, if absent, causes the embryo to fail to implant correctly which leads to a miscarriage in the early stages of pregnancy. By ensuring that this gene is present, doctors can help in vitro fertilization pregnancies survive. Scientists in the United States received permission to begin testing on human embryos this past July.

From taking the gluten out of wheat, to preventing miscarriages, the possibilities are almost endless. However, while the possibilities are staggering, the ethical considerations are also large.

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Last Week in Tech Policy #50: Open Innovation in the Federal Government

(By Connor Boe, Colorado Law 3L)

Federal agencies have been feeling the pressure to use fewer resources while at the same time creating better outputs for the public good. Traditionally, public services were created and implemented by government experts hired to solve a specific subset of civic problems. Some have argued that this method of solving problems has become too outdated, too bureaucratic, and too politically driven to effectively solve some public issues. People expect their government to do more with less and create innovative solutions to complex problems. How can government actors create effective solutions in the face of competing interests?

Many agencies have turned to a trend in that has its roots in the private sector known as Open Innovation. Federal agencies in the last decade or so have begun to experiment with new forms of problem solving like prize challenges, citizen science, crowdsourcing, and entrepreneurial methodologies. This new trend has had a profound impact on the way government functions and how the public perceives the work that agencies produce.

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TLPC Facilitates Makerspace Webinar for Librarians

On February 28th, student attorneys Andi Wilt and Sean Doran and TLPC Director Blake Reid delivered a webinar on best practices for public library makerspaces hosted by the Colorado State Library Association.

The webinar focused on addressing problems and concerns that arise when a public space like a library provides access to 3D printing technology. 3D printers present challenges to libraries stemming from objects that may infringe intellectual property rights or raise other concerns under library policies.

The best way for libraries and other public makerspaces to mitigate against these risks may be to set up a positive agenda, training, and programming for the use of the space. For example, libraries should provide education and training of design technologies that work with 3D printers. Programs like Tinkercad are now free and easy to use, and many of them offer free training programs. Webinar attendees contributed a variety of helpful best practices that have worked in libraries across the country.

The webinar was recorded and archived by the CSLA and can be viewed anytime along with links to various resources and best practice ideas.

Last Week in Tech Policy: #46 Is Taxing Robots Really the Answer?

(by Ben Epel, Colorado Law 2L)

The world is facing a new problem when it comes to innovation: automation and robots increasingly have been replacing individual workers. Robots have moved out of the factories and will soon be coming to a fast food restaurant near you; in 2016, McDonald’s former CEO Ed Rensi said that it is cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who makes $15 an hour bagging French fries. As robots become cheaper and the need for higher wages increases, what will happen to displaced employees?

What would Bill Gates do? A robot tax. Private companies would be taxed whenever the company replaces an individual with a robot. Gates claims that the government should implement this tax to slow down the rate of automation in the United States.  Continue reading “Last Week in Tech Policy: #46 Is Taxing Robots Really the Answer?”