It’s a Bird . . . It’s a Plane . . . It’s a Drone! State and Local Drone Applications in Law Enforcement

By: Steven Wittenberg

Introduction

Drone technology is here to stay. They are the Obama administration’s instrument of choice for high-level officials to execute “lawful . . . lethal operations in a foreign country” aimed at enemy combatants (who can be U.S. citizens) who happen to be an “operational leader.”[1][2] To qualify, there must be an “imminent threat,” capture must not practical, and the slaying must be consistent with the laws of war. “Imminent” is a self-defense term, which demands that the official must “know, in a detailed manner, who poses such a threat, in what circumstances, and how and when such persons can be targeted.”[3] At the intersection of intelligence gathering and the decision to strike are the so-called “kill lists,”[4] which are maintained to ensure the targets satisfy all the conditions of a lawful targeted killing.

As a vestige of President Obama’s grand strategy to … Read the rest

New Legal Problems Created by Wearable Devices

By: Young Ah Kim

I. Introduction

Wearable devices have been drawing serious attention in the media as the next big thing since Google glass, a wearable device with an optical head-mounted display, was launched in 2013.[1] Fitbit, the maker of fitness-tracking wristbands, went public in 2015 after its sales rose 174% to $745 million in 2014.[2] Since GoPro’s initial public offering in 2014, the maker of the action camera has climbed over 100% from its top-of-the-range IPO price-per-share.[3] Apple unveiled the Apple watch that can monitor heart rate and activity and create a one-stop shop for health information of consumers.[4] Apple CEO Tim Cook called the Apple Watch “the most personal device we’ve ever created.”[5] According to Statista, an Internet-based statistics provider, “the global wearable device market is expected to grow from $5 billion in 2014 to $12.6 billion by 2018.”[6] In a 2014 … Read the rest

The Alienability of Digital Distribution Licenses

By: Steven Wittenberg

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.[1]

Evidently, digital distribution licenses should have also been listed with the other “unalienable Rights…”

Digital distribution describes the system in which non-tangible digital content – such as movies, music, books and video games – is delivered to consumers. To analogize, think of the internet as the river of commerce and the online delivery medium (e.g. a Kindle or a PlayStation 4) as the port where goods are unloaded; the articles of online electronic commerce include digital products (e.g. a novel or standalone video game) and their sub-products including downloadable content and other add-ons.

Depending on the demands of the consumer, the product might be streamed or downloaded. To illustrate, it … Read the rest

Daily Fantasy Sports & Modern Regulation

By: Alex Karl

American consumer markets are always seeking to develop new cutting edge ways to make money. One ever-present revenue goliath is the sports industry, which generates roughly $14.3 billion annually.[1] With every industry there are others who try to latch on and make a profit of their own, and this is no different with the sports industry and Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) sites. DFS websites such as FanDuel and DraftKings hone into this market by allowing it’s users to enter into contests where they create lineups from athletes in their respective sports in an attempt to win money.[2] The sites offer contests on a range of sports, including the NFL, NBA, MLB, PGA and more.[3] After choosing a contest you wish to join and paying a fee, users are allotted a set budget in which to create their lineup and each respective athlete is given … Read the rest

Automated Vehicles: Strict Products Liability, Negligence Liability and Proliferation

By: Steven Wittenberg

The proliferation of automated vehicles (sometimes called “self-driving cars”[1] or “autonomous cars”[2]) is poised to make American roads safer by reducing or even eliminating human error, which is the leading cause of collisions. In 2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 40 percent of crashes occur because of “recognition error,” which includes “inadequate surveillance” and “internal distraction,” while 35 percent of crashes arise from “decision error,” which includes speeding and misjudgments.[3] Automated vehicles can increase driver safety by removing driver error from the situation.[4]

California, Nevada, Michigan, Florida, and D.C. are the only states which have pioneered legislation regulating automated vehicles on public roads.[5] Virginia has dedicated 70 miles of a highway for public road testing.[6] To provide some background, the California statute requires drivers of automated vehicles to obtain a special license.[7] Additionally, the vehicles … Read the rest

Two Sides of the Same [Bit]coin: Why Regulating Bitcoin Works in Its Favor

By: Amanda Maslar

          The reality of the most notorious virtual currency is that it is only a matter of time before it comes under the purview of a regulatory body.  Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency that exists entirely online; it is partially anonymous and affords its users rigorous privacy protections in their transactions.[i]  Its online presence is shrouded in mystery, aided by the fact that no one knows exactly who introduced the world to the illustrious Bitcoin.[ii]

            Bitcoin is not pegged to any currency, and its value is dictated entirely by demand.[iii]  Central banks around the world have used monetary policy tools to manipulate the money supply and the value of currency throughout history; the Federal Reserve, however, has in recent years engaged in aggressive policies to stabilize the U.S. dollar, which has concerned some who fear inflation and a devaluation of the U.S. currency.[iv]  Many people Read the rest

Owning the Internet: The Demise of Net Neutrality

The Internet is the modern day printing press; a revolutionary game changer. The Internet owes much of its success to the theory of net neutrality. While net neutrality is not a new topic of discussion, it has been thrust in the limelight with the recent case of Verizon v. FCC, which many are proclaiming signifies a dangerous change in the policies of net neutrality. This article gives an overview of what net neutrality is, and what this means for people and businesses.

What is net neutrality?

A basic, not often thought about question is, how does the internet even work?

You connect to the Internet through pipes owned by telephone and cable companies such as Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, and Time Warner Cable; these are also known as Internet service providers (ISPs). [i]ISPs are controlled by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and by statutes such as the Telecommunications Act Read the rest

National Security Space Launch: No Contest

             Competition and innovation are key ideals in American society, and they were the main focus on March 5, 2014 when the CEOs of SpaceX and United Launch Alliance (“ULA”) testified before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.[1] The ULA, a joint venture between aerospace giants Boeing and Lockheed Martin, currently provides launch services for the U.S. National Security Space Launch programs.[2] SpaceX, a relative newcomer to the space launch business,[3] is seeking to break ULA’s current monopoly on national security launches and open the procurement process to other launch providers.[4]     

The EELV Program

            In 1994, the U.S. Air Force initiated the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (“EELV”) program to ensure that the U.S. military and civilian national security organizations would have reliable access to Earth’s orbit for spy satellites, military communications, and other important payloads.[5] As … Read the rest

In-App Purchases: the classic game of bait-and-switch, now available on Google Play

In February, a New York mother of a five-year-old boy did what many busy parents do to keep their kids occupied: she gave him a game.1

This particular game, Marvel’s “Run Jump Smash”, was on her tablet.2 She purchased the game for 99 cents at the Google Play Store, but in the 30 minutes following that purchase, her son accrued $65.95 in charges to her debit card for “game currency.” 3 The game did not ask for the mother’s password in order to make the charges; Google required a password in order to make the initial purchase of the game, but for 30 minutes after that, a user can make as many subsequent purchases as he or she likes, unfettered by a password or other controls.4

The mother has now filed a class action suit against Google on behalf of other parents unknowingly charged by in this Read the rest

The Consequences of the Death of Net Neutrality

It’s inarguable that one of the greatest features of the internet is sheer freedom. Aside from a few highly regulated and illegal activities, every user is free to have a certain degree of anonymity and autonomy. However, internet service providers (ISPs) have been looking to crack down on certain types of users – those that use up more bandwidth than average. To further this end, AT&T has filed a new patent for “Prevention of Bandwidth Abuse of a Communications System”.[1] But is this really just an attempt to go after torrenters, file sharers and pirates, or is there a further motive here? And even if AT&T is being honest with whom it wishes to restrict, is this a symptom of a greater issue?

AT&T has been looking into different ways to reduce bandwidth congestion and increase profits. Take, for instance, the Sponsor program which allows companies to pay AT&T … Read the rest