Can Minors Consent to E-mail Interception?

 

On January 27, 2014, Google’s motion for interlocutory review was denied in In re Google Inc. Gmail Litig.[1] In late 2013, a group of plaintiffs sued Google, alleging violations of federal wiretapping laws, when Google tapped into users’ e-mails.[2] United States District Judge Lucy H. Koh of the Northern District of California said plaintiffs could pursue allegations that Google violated federal law by reading private e-mails of Gmail users to build behavioral advertising profiles.[3]

Google asserted implied consent defenses for many of the allegations brought against them.[4] In a footnote, the court mentions that based on the clauses of Gmail’s Terms of Service, minors (between ages 13-17) could not have offered valid consent.[5]

However, the parties in their briefs disputed whether teens could legally consent, despite state law to the contrary.[6] Google contends that the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) preempts any state laws on the matter. COPPA, detailed below, is a federal statutory scheme with special provisions covering minors under age 13.[7] Google cites a proposed version of COPPA[8] which included all minors (even those aged 13-17).[9] Accordingly, Google argues Congress’s explicit decision not to use that version is indicative of its intent that minors between ages 13 and 17 can consent to digital contracts.[10]

 1.                  What Is COPPA?

 COPPA, enacted on October 21, 1998, was created to grapple with two concerns: “(i) overmarketing to children and collection of personally identifiable information from children that is shared with advertisers and marketers, and (ii) children sharing information with online predators who could use it to find them offline.”[11] Currently, the stated goal is to keep parents in control of children’s activities online.[12]

The five primary elements of COPPA are (1) Notice; (2) Parental Consent; (3) Parental Review; (4) Limits on the Use of Games and Prizes; and (5) Security.

 2.                  Who Must Comply with COPPA?

 COPPA applies to any commercial website operator[13] or online service directed to children under 13 that collects personal information, or a general website that has actual knowledge it collects personal information from children.[14]

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) has indicated that when it determines whether a website is directed to children, they consider: (a) subject matter; (b) visual or audio content; (c) age of models on the site; (d) language; (e) whether site advertising is directed to children; (f) information regarding the age of the intended audience; and (g) whether the site has animated characters or other child-oriented features.[15]

Actual knowledge is present, according to the FTC, when a general audience site learns of the child’s age either through site registration or upon notice from a parent who has learned that their child is participating in the site.[16]

 3.                  What Must Covered Companies Do?

 Sites governed by COPPA have a number of obligations. First, operators must post privacy policies, and provide parents with information, concerning the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information from children.[17] Second, in most cases, operators must obtain “verifiable parental consent” before collecting, using, or disclosing personal information,[18] including consent to any material change in the collection, use, or disclosure practices to which the parent has previously consented.[19] Further, the parent, on request, should be able to review the personal information collected from the child and prevent further use of that information or the future collection of additional information.[20] Moreover, an operator cannot condition a child’s participation, in something like a game, on the child disclosing more information than reasonably necessary to participate.[21] Lastly, operators must establish and maintain reasonable procedures to protect the confidentiality, security, and integrity of personal information gathered.[22]

 4.                    Recent Changes to COPPA

 In 2012, the FTC amended COPPA. Now sites must obtain parental consent before collecting a child’s photographs, videos, or geolocational information.[23] Further, the amendments closed a loophole that allowed kid-directed apps and websites to permit third parties to collect personal information from children through plug-ins without parental notice and consent and extend coverage in some of those cases so that the third parties doing the additional collection also have to comply with COPPA.[24] Covered entities must now take reasonable steps to release children’s personal information only to companies capable of keeping it secure and confidential, and operators are expected to adopt reasonable procedures for data retention and deletion under the amendments. Moreover, the changes strengthen the FTC’s oversight of self-regulatory safe harbor programs, and COPPA was extended to cover persistent identifiers that can recognize users over time and across different websites or online services, such as IP addresses and mobile device IDs .[25]

 5.                   Notice Required by COPPA

 For notice, COPPA requires the posting of a privacy notice on the site and demands direct notice to parents of children from whom the operator wishes to collect information.[26] There also must be a link to the operator’s privacy notice on the site’s home page and on every page that collects information from children,[27] that is both “clear and prominent.”[28]

The privacy notice must be clearly written so children will understand it, and the notice must include:

(1)   the name and contact information of the operators collecting or maintaining the

personal information;

(2)   types of personal information collected and the collection methods used (direct or

passively through cookies);

(3) how the information is used;

(4) whether the operator discloses the data to third parties, and, if so, the operator must

also state:

           (i)        the nature of the third party’s business,

          (ii)      the purpose for which the data is used, and

          (iii)    whether the third party maintains confidentiality;

(5) notice that the operator may not require the child to disclose more data than necessary

to participate; and

(6) notice that the parent can request:

(i)    to review the information,

(ii)   to have information deleted, and

(iii)  a halt to any further collection of information.[29]

If the site wants additional personal information from the child, it must then send the site’s privacy notice directly to the parents by mail or e-mail.[30]

 6.                  Consent Requirements

 An operator must obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting any personal information from a child (under 13), unless the collection fits into an exception.[31] If the information is only used internally, and not disclosed to third parties or made publicly available, then parental consent may be obtained through use of the Rule’s “email plus” mechanism.[32] The Rule sets forth several non-exhaustive options for obtaining consent, and sites can apply to the FTC for pre-approval of a new consent mechanism.[33]

If the site wishes to disclose children’s personal information to third parties, or allow children to make it publicly available (e.g., through a social networking service, online forums, or personal profiles), then the site must use a method reasonably calculated, in light of available technology, to ensure that the person providing consent is the child’s parent.[34] Such methods include:

  • Providing a consent form to be signed by the parent and returned via U.S. mail, fax, or electronic scan (the “print-and-send” method); [35]
  • Requiring the parent, in connection with a monetary transaction, to use a credit card,[36] or other online payment system[37] that notifies of each transaction to the account holder;
  • The parent calls a toll-free number staffed by trained personnel (or via video-chat); or
  • Verifying the parent’s identity by checking a form of government-issued identification against databases of such information, if the information is promptly deleted after completing the verification.[38]

Further, though some operators use convenience methods, such as providing parents with a PIN number after initial consent, if a site materially changes their information practices, they must send notice to the parents.[39] The site must also give the parent access to whatever information it possesses regarding the child.[40]

An operator must give parents the option to consent to the collection and use of a child’s personal information without consenting to the disclosure of such information to third parties (only where disclosure is not inherent in the activity to which the parent is consenting).[41]

 7.                   Disclosure Defined

 Under 16 C.F.R. § 312.2, “disclosure” includes “[m]aking personal information collected by an operator from a child publicly available in identifiable form by any means, including but not limited to a public posting through the Internet, or through a personal home page or screen posted on a website or online service; a pen pal service; an electronic mail service; a message board; or a chat room.”[42] 

8.                     How COPPA Applies to Social Networking Services

 In the case of social networking sites, or similar sites, personal information is central to the site; hence, sites are not mandated to give parents the choice to allow the site’s operator to collect and use their children’s information but not disclose it to third parties.  However, sites must clearly disclose their information collection, use, and disclosure practices in their direct notice and online privacy policy so that parents can make an informed decision about their children’s participation.  

Sites may use parents’ “online contact information” to verify consent. Such information is defined as an email address, IM user identifier, VOIP/video chat user identifier, or other substantially similar identifier (not mobile phone number or app store password). However, once a site becomes connected with the parent via the parent’s online contact information, the site may request a parent’s mobile phone number in order to further communicate with him or her.

9.                    Third Parties Who Collect Consent

Third parties may collect consent on behalf of sites.  For instance, several Commission-approved COPPA safe harbor programs offer parental notification and consent systems for operators.[43] The amended Rule provides a mechanism for interested parties to file a written request for Commission approval of parental consent methods not currently enumerated in 16 C.F.R. § 312.5(b).[44] 

10.                 Trade Secret Information

Many innovative privacy corporations were concerned about their creative confidential consent mechanisms becoming public. The FTC writes: “just as the Commission has done for COPPA safe harbor applicants, it would permit those entities that voluntarily seek approval of consent mechanisms to seek confidential treatment for those portions of their applications that they believe warrant trade secret protection.”[45]

11.                 Exceptions to COPPA Requirements


There are exceptions where the child’s name and e-mail address can be obtained without first obtaining verifiable parental consent. For practical reasons, a website operator is allowed to collect a child’s name and e-mail address along with a parent’s e-mail address in order to comply with COPPA by sending notification and seeking verifiable consent.[46]

The website may also collect this information when:

(1) responding to a specific one time request from a child, and the information is not used

to re-contact the child and is subsequently deleted from their records;

(2) communicating with the child more than once in response to a specific request (e.g., a

 monthly online newsletter), if the site notifies the parent and gives them the  

 opportunity to stop the communication;

(3) the information is used solely to protect the child’s safety when participating on the

 site; and

(4) to protect the security or liability of the site, or respond to law enforcement.[47]

12.                   The Safe Harbor Provision Under COPPA

COPPA includes a safe harbor provision through which the FTC has the power to approve safe harbor programs.[48] Websites must draft self-regulatory guidelines for FTC approval. The FTC regulations set forth certain criteria for the approval of self-regulatory guidelines.[49] After the safe harbor standards are approved, they are officially deemed COPPA-compliant, subject to the review as described in the guidelines of the safe harbor program (as opposed to an official FTC action).[50] Since the enactment of COPPA, the FTC has approved several entities applications for acceptable safe harbor programs.

13.                 What Are the Implications of Google’s Claim?

In the Gmail case, a number of plaintiffs are pursuing Google in regard to their violation of federal wiretap laws. Plaintiffs argue that minors between 13 and 17 cannot consent on the basis of Cal. Fam. Code § 6701 (where it states that a minor cannot “give a delegation of power” or “make a contract relating to any personal property not in the immediate possession or control of the minor”).

In truth, the problem highlighted here, starts before Google’s allegedly inappropriate consent practices. The fact that the plaintiffs are arguing that federal law does not apply means that federal law as it exists does not protect teens.[51]  Teens tend to be more prone than tweens to take risks and have less psychological capacity to protect themselves than adults.[52] So while COPPA has been helpful, especially in the FTC’s major enforcement suits, some internet users remain completely unprotected, though they are not typically old enough to furnish consent.[53]

Further, as it applies to those covered by COPPA, COPPA protects the privacy of children but not their physical safety [54]or the content children see.[55] While this is an issue that needs to be reexamined in regard to COPPA in general, this tenet is especially true with regard to teens who often believe they have the capacity to assume safety risks that tweens would never dream of taking.

14.                         Solution

Though COPPA made some positive changes in 2013, the legislation as a whole must be reconsidered. Perhaps the first concern to be addressed is whether adolescents can consent to terms of use. Of course it would be unreasonable to apply COPPA’s firm standards to adolescents; however, perhaps some form of examination of the viability of minors consent should be considered.

As far as kids under 13 are concerned, safety and content can never be addressed in their entirety, but at least an attempt to mend those problems would be beneficial. Addressing both of these issues simultaneously may significantly improve the safety of teens in the digital age.  It is also safe to presume that if these problems were addressed, it would enhance parents’ trust online and help online businesses (though for certain businesses such challenges would be rather burdensome).

Conclusion

 The Gmail case only reinforces an old concern regarding the ability of minors to consent online. Though COPPA made some amendments recently, teens need to be addressed as well. Further, COPPA consists of privacy law, not safety laws. It would be essential for the protection of teens using the internet for Congress to reexamine the potential hazards stemming from these gaps in the law.

 

 

 


 [1]In re Google Inc. Gmail Litig., 5:13-MD-2430-LHK, 2014 WL 294441 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 27, 2014).

 [2] In re Google Inc., 13-MD-02430-LHK, 2013 WL 5423918 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 26, 2013).

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.at n.8.

[6] Id. See Cal. Fam. Code § 6701 (where it states that a minor cannot “give a delegation of power” or “make a contract relating to any personal property not in the immediate possession or control of the minor”).

[7] Id.

[8] Before an official enactment was agreed upon.

[9] In re Google Inc. Gmail Litig., 2013 WL 6905028 (N.D.Cal.).

[10] Id.

[11] Recent Developments in Privacy Protections for Consumers: Hearing Before the Subcomm. on Telecomm. Trade & Consumer Prot., 106th Cong. (2000).

[12] See Anita L. Allen, Minor Distractions: Children, Privacy and E-Commerce, 38 Hous. L. Rev. 751, 763 (2001) (“COPPA confers to parents the power to function as gatekeepers of children and families’ personal information; and, because small children sometimes slip personal information under the gate, parental power to recapture information previously disclosed is critical.”).

[13] Under 15 U.S.C.A. § 6501(2), “operator”

(A) means any person who operates a website located on the Internet or an online service and who collects or maintains personal information from or about the users of or visitors to such website or online service, or on whose behalf such information is collected or maintained, where such website or online service is operated for commercial purposes, including any person offering products or services for sale through that website or online service, involving commerce—

(i) among the several States or with 1 or more foreign nations;

(ii) in any territory of the United States or in the District of Columbia, or between any such territory and—

(I) another such territory; or

   (II) any State or foreign nation; or

(iii) between the District of Columbia and any State, territory, or foreign nation; but

 (B) does not include any nonprofit entity that would otherwise be exempt from coverage under section 45 of this title [§ 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C.A. § 45]. 

It is worth mentioning that this exception does not apply to nonprofits who operate to benefit their commercial members. See e.g., California Dental @#!*% ‘n v F.T.C., 526 U.S. 756, 766 (1999) (where dental members were benefitting from a nonprofit organization, the FTC rules applied in such situations).

[14] 15 U.S.C.A. § 6502(a)(1). “It is unlawful for an operator of a website or online service directed to children, or any operator that has actual knowledge that it is collecting personal information from a child, to collect personal information from a child in a manner that violates the regulations prescribed under subsection (b).” Id.

[15] 1 Data Sec. & Privacy Law § 7:31 (2013).

[16] Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule; Final Rule, 64 Fed. Reg. 59888, 59892.

[17] 15 U.S.C.A. § 6501(8). Personal information is defined as (a) the child’s full name; (b) a home or other address, which includes the street and city or town name; (c) an e-mail address; (d) a telephone number; (e) a social security number; (f) any other identifying information the agency determines that permits the contacting of a specific child; or (g) information concerning the child or parent that the website collects online and combines with an identifier described inthis paragraph. The regulations go further to include such personal information as hobbies, interests and information collected through cookies and other tracking mechanisms. See id.; see also 15 U.S.C.A. § 6502(b).

[18] 15 U.S.C.A. § 6502(b)(1)(A)(ii).

[19] 16 C.F.R. § 312.5.

[20] 15 U.S.C.A. § 6502(b)(1)(b).

[21] 15 U.S.C.A. § 6502(b)(1)(C).

[22] 15 U.S.C.A. § 6502(b)(1)(D).

[23] Allison Fitzpatrick & Alison Winter, FTC Issues Updated FAQs on Amended COPPA Rule, 25 Intell. Prop. & Tech. L.J. 13 (2013).

[24] Corp. Couns. Gd. to Privacy § 17:1

[25] § 19:25.Children’s Privacy—Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA), 2 Internet Law and Practice § 19:25.

[26] 15 U.S.C.A. § 6502(b)(1)(A).

[27] Corp. Coun.s Gd. to Web Site Agrmts. § 6:9.

[28] 16 C.F.R. § 312.4(b)(1); 312.4(d)(1).

[29] 16 C.F.R. § 312.4(b)(2)(i) to (vi).

[30] Id.

[31] 16 C.F.R. § 312.5(c).

[32]  “Email plus” allows sites to request (in the direct notice sent to the parent’s online contact address) that the parent consent in a return message. Documenting E-Commerce Transactions § 1:24. To use the email plus method, you must take an additional confirming step after receiving the parent’s message (this is the “plus” factor).  The confirming step may be: Requesting in your initial message to the parent that the parent include a phone or fax numer or mailing address in the reply message, so that you can follow up with a confirming phone call, fax, or letter to the parent; or after a reasonable time delay, sending another message via the parent’s online contact information to confirm consent.  In  

this confirmatory message, you should include all the original information contained in the direct notice, inform the parent that he or she can revoke the consent, and inform the parent how to do so. Complying with COPPA: Frequently Asked Questions, Bureau Consumer Protection  (Apr. 2014), http://www.business.ftc.gov/documents/0493-Complying-with-COPPA-Frequently-Asked-Questions#Verifiable%20Parental; see also 16 C.F.R. § 312.5(b)(2).

[33] Complying with COPPA: Frequently Asked Questions, Bureau Consumer Protection  (Apr. 2014), http://www.business.ftc.gov/documents/0493-Complying-with-COPPA-Frequently-Asked-Questions#Verifiable%20Parental.

[34] Id.

[35] Note: Operators would be wise to post multiple consent methods in order to avoid problems when parents disapprove of a particular method, such as offering a credit card. 2 E-Commerce and Internet Law 26.13[2][A] (2014 update).

[36] Supra note 17. Once the credit card is provided, it is legally assumed that parental consent was obtained;, it is not the issue of the operator if this is not so.

[37] The amended Rule permits an online payment system as a form of verifiable parental consent, but only if the card or system:  (1) is used in connection with a monetary transaction, and (2) provides notification of each discrete transaction to the primary account holder. Therefore, such method cannot be used without a monetary transaction.

[38] Id.

[39] Supra note 22.

[40] Id.

[41] See 16 C.F.R. § 312.5(a)(2).

[42] See 16 C.F.R. § 312.2; supra note 22; http://www.business.ftc.gov/documents/0493-Complying-with-COPPA-Frequently-Asked-Questions.

[43] See 78 Fed. Reg. 3972, 3989.

[44] See 16 C.F.R. § 312.12(a).

[45] See 78 Fed. Reg. 3972, 3992.

[46] 16 C.F.R. § 312.5(c)(1) (meaning, the name/e-mail address are being used solely to formulate a COPPA notice)

[47] 16 C.F.R. § 312.5(c)(1) to (5)

[48] 15 U.S.C.A. § 6503.Note after proper hearings and allowing for comments.

[49] 16 C.F.R. § 312.10.

[50] Supra note 16

[51] Lauren A. Matecki, Update: COPPA Is Ineffective Legislation! Next Steps for Protecting Youth Privacy Rights in the Social Networking Era, 5 Nw. J. L. & Soc. Pol’y 369, 389 (2010).

[52] Id.at 389-390.

[53] “Meeting of the minds. Restatement (Second) of Contracts § 17 (1981) (one of the most basic tenants of contract law is that minors typically cannot be bound by a contract since there cannot be a meeting of the minds).

[54]Shai Samet, Founder & President, kidSAFE Seal Program (an FTC-approved COPPA Safe Harbor provider)

  On January 27, 2014, Google’s motion for interlocutory review was denied in In re Google Inc. Gmail Litig.[1] In late 2013, a group of plaintiffs sued Google, alleging violations of federal wiretapping laws, when Google tapped into users’ e-mails.[2] United States District Judge Lucy H. Koh of the Northern District of California said plaintiffs […]

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Who Controls the Internet? Apparently, Not You.

The following post was inspired by a lovely book co-authored by Jack Goldsmith & Tim Wu:  Who Controls the Internet?: Illusions of a Borderless World.

________________________________________________________

During the Internet’s early years, its founders and idealistic supporters saw it as a network with an open architecture, free and distrustful of centralized control.  This emerging cyberspace was likened to a new frontier, separate and protected from territorial government.  In his famous Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace written in 1996, John Perry Barlow—one of the lead proponents of this view—penned the following far from prophetic words:

 “Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather… Cyberspace does not lie within your borders. Do not think that you can build it, as though it were a public construction project. You cannot. It is an act of nature and it grows itself through our collective actions.”

Contrary to the hopes of these early internet thinkers, governments, those “weary giants of flesh and steel,” have found diverse and creative ways to maintain their sovereignty in cyberspace.  Through a collection of case studies, Jack Goldsmith and Tim Wu demonstrate that these early visions of a post-territorial order were just that: visions.  In reality “territorial government is a persistent fact of human history,” they wrote. “Behind the mists and magic of the Internet lies an older and stronger order whose relevance remains inescapable.” Who Controls the Internet takes the reader on a journey into how governments from around the world have evolved their own unique regimes for governing the internet.  Far from being a borderless frontier of liberated communication, the internet is in fact a new forum for governments to impose their nation’s social norms and laws, both domestically and globally.

The Internet cannot escape government because its architecture functions in governmental territories.  Packets of information flow through cables, wires, and satellite transmissions and are stored on servers in huge data centers. Goldsmith and Wu explain that this physical network is a local asset, owned and operated by phone and cable companies, and other internet service providers (ISPs) who are already some of the most regulated corporations on earth.  Thus, by targeting the local internet intermediaries—the companies that provide internet services to local users—the government can achieve very effective control over internet activities.  Information intermediaries (like Google and Yahoo), financial intermediaries (like credit card companies such as Visa, MasterCard, and AmEx), and individual citizens (through arrest and fining) are all vulnerable to coercive governmental pressure.

Goldsmith and Wu recount several tales to demonstrate the force of this coercive government power.  In the famous Yahoo v. France case, a French court was able to compel Yahoo from making Nazi memorabilia available to French citizens through its auction sites.  The French court threatened to seize the assets of Yahoo’s French subsidiary if it did not comply with the court order to remove Nazi materials from its auction sites.  To tap into the Chinese market, Yahoo presently works with the Chinese government to filter results from its search engines.  When internet commerce flows in a direction a government is not happy about, it can target a financial intermediary to cripple an online industry.  That is what the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (joined by several states) did in 2005 to stop tax evasive online tobacco sales. The bureau simply ordered financial intermediaries to stop processing online cigarette sales or face consequences; within two weeks, without a convenient and secure way to take payments, scores of online vendors went under.  Since the early 2000’s the US Department of Justice has been seizing the domain names of drug paraphernalia and copyright infringing vendors.  Visitors to such sites would read messages such as this: “By application of the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the website you are attempting to visit has been restrained by the United States District Court.”  In China, a 15 year old, Liu Di, spent a year sharing a prison cell with a convicted murderer.  Her own crime was posting an essay on an obscure internet site which she titled “How a National Security Apparatus Can Hurt National Security.”  Liu was arrested by the State Security Protection Bureau on November 7, 2002.  When she was released a year later, she was placed on permanent surveillance and was banned from speaking to foreign journalists and traveling outside Beijing.

Imposing government sovereignty and societal norms is only part of the story.  Governments provide an underappreciated service which is actually welcomed, not just by happily employed government bureaucrats, but also by internet businesses and users.   The success of internet companies and the protection of users from harms such as fraud and identity theft all rely on public goods that can only be provided by government.  Internet businesses require effective fraud control, reliable and secure banking and credit environments, and a system responsive to contract breaches.  All of that requires a functional legal system enforced by government.

At one end of the scale, we trust government to provide the public goods and oversight needed to make the Internet a secure space for the billions of transactions, both social and commercial, that we significantly benefit from.  At the other end, we see how a government’s unchecked coercive power and influence over the internet (think China) can lead to mass information censorship and the imprisonment of political dissidents.  In the middle, governments wield their influence by threats to internet businesses, ISP’s, search engines, and financial intermediaries to filter out and intercept offensive Net communications and activities in an effective effort to advance social norms and local laws.

What is the average American citizen’s role in this dubious and evolving internet climate?  Goldsmith and Wu fell short on this subject; I called my teenage sister for some insights. She is nineteen and has no concept of a world without Internet.  “Why aren’t you scared about how your internet activities are being collected, monitored, used and shared?” I asked.  “Because I’m not hiding anything.” she answered.  “People in my generation don’t care because it’s not affecting their personal lives.  It’s the same way we don’t really care that there are starving people in the world.  It’s somewhere else and doesn’t affect us.  Let the government and corporations do what they want with my data.  As long as it doesn’t affect me personally I don’t care. When I’m affected personally I’ll perk up and do something.”  Well, what about your personal data like your social security and credit card numbers?  What about identity theft?  “I had friends that it’s happened to and it was rectified.  It’s a risk, but I trust the government to help me if it happens.”

So there you have it fellow Americans.  Trust your government to protect you.  Let them do what they will so long as you are not personally affected, and when you are, the government better help get you out of that pickle, or you’ll perk up and do something.  I told my sister about Liu Di, the Chinese teenager who spent a year in prison for posting her opinion on the internet.  “Wow,” she said.  “Glad I don’t live in China.”  If Goldsmith and Wu are right that governments do in fact impose laws and social norms in cyberspace, what does that say about social norms in America?

 

The following post was inspired by a lovely book co-authored by Jack Goldsmith & Tim Wu:  Who Controls the Internet?: Illusions of a Borderless World. ________________________________________________________ During the Internet’s early years, its founders and idealistic supporters saw it as a network with an open architecture, free and distrustful of centralized control.  This emerging cyberspace was […]

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April 4 Symposium — From Bleak House to Geek House: Evolving Law for Entrepreneurial Lawyers

We are co-hosting a Symposium on April 4 at Brooklyn Law School: From Bleak House to Geek House:  Evolving Law for Entrepreneurial Lawyers.

From Bleak House to Geek House will explore ways in which we can (1) use the law to improve the needs of entrepreneurs and society, and (2) use technology and other innovations to improve the law and legal process.

General Info:  http://www.brooklaw.edu/newsandevents/events/2014/04-04-2014.aspx

Agenda:  www.brooklaw.edu/bleakhouseagenda

We are co-hosting a Symposium on April 4 at Brooklyn Law School: From Bleak House to Geek House:  Evolving Law for Entrepreneurial Lawyers. From Bleak House to Geek House will explore ways in which we can (1) use the law to improve the needs of entrepreneurs and society, and (2) use technology and other innovations […]

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Legal Hackers Unite Across the Atlantic Feb. 8-9

Tech + Law = Data Privacy Legal Hackathon:

“This particular hackathon is our first to link American legal hackers with European legal hackers to create new approaches to problem solving by uniting different perspectives and starting points,” said Professor Jonathan Askin, founder and director of BLIP Clinic. “Our objective is to bring together lawyers and technologists, policy advocates and innovators, with the conviction that when different modes of thinking share the same space, great ideas emerge.”

Tech + Law = Data Privacy Legal Hackathon: “This particular hackathon is our first to link American legal hackers with European legal hackers to create new approaches to problem solving by uniting different perspectives and starting points,” said Professor Jonathan Askin, founder and director of BLIP Clinic. “Our objective is to bring together lawyers and […]

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Legal Hackers: Maintaining Privilege After Snowden

Part 1: Introduction to Legal Hackers

Legal Hackers is a Meetup Group founded by alumni of Brooklyn Law School’s BLIP Clinic to continue the kind of work that the clinic does: using the law to address the issues that new technology raises.

Members of the Legal Hackers community gathered on October 24, 2013, at 287 Spring Street in downtown Manhattan to discuss questions regarding attorney-client privilege in light of revelations that the U.S. government has been collecting and processing online communications. Read More

Part 1: Introduction to Legal Hackers

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Can Patentees Maintain Their Rights In The Face Of 3D Printing?

3D Printing was created in 1984 by Charles “Chuck” Hull.[i] In 1984, Hull’s device was limited in distribution and accordingly presented no major legal issues. The internet has introduced limitless opportunity in the 3D printing field, for instances, sites offering hundreds of free designs. Such advancements make 3D printing an issue that is considerably more available and thus more complicated than it was 29 years ago; putting patent legislators in a very difficult spot yet again.

Today, companies such as MakerBot have made 3D printing available to individuals and small businesses who could have never dreamed of such an opportunity.[ii] 3D Printers spur innovation by allowing people to create object, but open a whole Pandora’s Box of intellectual property and other legal issues.[iii] Read More

3D Printing was created in 1984 by Charles “Chuck” Hull.[i] In 1984, Hull’s device was limited in distribution and accordingly presented no major legal issues. The internet has introduced limitless opportunity in the 3D printing field, for instances, sites offering hundreds of free designs. Such advancements make 3D printing an issue that is considerably more […]

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Sam’s Sunday Scene

Sam’s Sunday Scene

If you did not get a chance to witness the impressive launch of CUBE (Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship) last Thursday, check out the BLIP Facebook Page for a photo recap. BLIP Facebook
Now, on to the next one… Read More

Sam’s Sunday Scene If you did not get a chance to witness the impressive launch of CUBE (Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship) last Thursday, check out the BLIP Facebook Page for a photo recap. BLIP Facebook Now, on to the next one…

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Sam’s Sunday Scene

Sam’s Sunday Scene

We have a shorter laundry list this week because of the launch of CUBE: Brooklyn Law School Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship. CUBE’s goal will be to explore new ways to represent innovative businesses as well as to train the next generation of entrepreneur-minded lawyers. Read More

Sam’s Sunday Scene We have a shorter laundry list this week because of the launch of CUBE: Brooklyn Law School Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship. CUBE’s goal will be to explore new ways to represent innovative businesses as well as to train the next generation of entrepreneur-minded lawyers.

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Ten Things To Know About Privacy Policies

Ten Things To Know About Privacy Policies

Almost every website should have a privacy policy. However, drafting a privacy policy has become either robotic (because it is easy to copy wording from another site) or baffling (because site owners are not fully aware of the primary requirements in an industry that is always changing). This list enumerates the primary matters that a website should be concerned about. Read More

Ten Things To Know About Privacy Policies Almost every website should have a privacy policy. However, drafting a privacy policy has become either robotic (because it is easy to copy wording from another site) or baffling (because site owners are not fully aware of the primary requirements in an industry that is always changing). This […]

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