Regarding the Politics of Surveillance Reform

Since 9/11 the spectre of 'terrorism' and the ethos of what I term 'Everwar' and the permanent state of national emergency have permeated the Congressional and national political agendas. Over the years, starting with the USA 'PATRIOT' Act rushed to passage in October 2001, a variety of legal, procedural and technical tools, processes, and interpretations  -- some quite controversial -- were enacted or accepted in order to "protect the homeland" from the allegedly existential threat of terrorism.  

Is your design inspired or stolen?

"Am I a crook?" A design client recently asked me this question about one its designs, and whether is was legally inspired by or stolen from other works. Of course, Jonathan Adler may consider my client a crook when it uses an edited, transformed, and artistically styled sample of his pillow design to create a custom-made wallpaper design for sale to the public. But would he be right? These days, it is getting harder to tell, but there are still guidelines that can help you navigate the sometimes murky waters separating inspiration from infringement.  

Tesla and Liability

An interesting article in last week’s Wall Street Journal spawned a series of unfortunate headlines (in a variety of publications) suggesting that Tesla had somehow “solved” the “problem” of “liability” by requiring that human drivers manually instruct the company’s autopilot to complete otherwise-automated lane changes. 

453 days later...

Welcome news today from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

"Tool Without a Handle: 21st Century Privacy – A Quantum Puzzle

Recent reflection has prompted me to ask if quantum mechanics might help illuminate a path towards better dialogue about the Internet and data privacy in particular. Are network technologies tools? Or landscapes? Is the Internet a tool you use or a place you go? Perhaps the networked technologies exhibit properties of both, depending on the beliefs and perspective of the observer.

I consider this question in the instance of defining "personal data," and conclude personal data exhibits quantum properties in the following ways:
1) It can be in more than two places at once, or at least appear to be. The same data element can be both “private” (treated as confidential) and “public” at the same time.
2) The trajectory of data is not always subject to the same mechanical laws of physics that allow for relatively simple predictions of motion;
3) Data are “entangled”: one data element can be influenced by another unrelated and seemingly disconnected data element, even at a distance

A Right To Be Forgotten for Hosting Services?

European courts are beginning to sort through one of the most important follow-up questions to last spring’s “Right To Be Forgotten” ruling in Google v. Costeja: what does the case mean for hosting services? The answer matters for the Twitters, Facebooks and YouTubes of the world – not to mention European hosting services like DailyMotion, local political discussion forums, and blogs or newspapers with user comment sections.


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