As 2012 comes to a close, we looked back to see what issues the TAP readers clicked on the most over the year. It probably is no surprise to learn that of the top five most-read blogs from 2012, four of them dealt with privacy issues. However, there are a few interesting points from these five posts: two of the five examined the U.S. v. Jones GPS tracking Supreme Court case, and two of the five were written by Professor James Grimmelmann of New York Law School.
The Fourth Amendment and Privacy
In the U.S. v. Jones ‘GPS tracking case,’ the U.S. Supreme Court decided unanimously that the government violated the defendant's Fourth Amendment rights when it installed a wireless GPS tracking device on the undercarriage of his car and used it to monitor his movement's around town for four weeks without a search warrant.
Professor James Grimmelmann explores the central theme of Jones: the relationship between property, tort, and privacy in The Fourth Amendment and the Common-Law Trespass Torts. Professor Grimmelmann concludes that “privacy values become a core justification for the right to exclude—even in cases where privacy itself is not at stake.”
James Grimmelmann is an Associate Professor of Law with the Institute for Information Law and Policy at the New York Law School. Professor Grimmelmann studies how the law governing the creation and use of computer software affects individual freedom and the distribution of wealth and power in society.
In The Aftermath of the U.S. v. Jones Ruling, TAP reports on a panel from the 2012 State of the Mobile Net Conference that examined the U.S. v. Jones ruling as it pertains to location-based tracking with mobile devices. In this discussion, Greg Nojeim, Senior Counsel for the Center for Democracy & Technology, argued that courts haven’t been consistent and that there should be a warrant for probable cause. On the other side of the issue, Jason Weinstein, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), said that although the DOJ pushes to get a search warrant whenever it isn’t clear whether one is necessary, many of the cases with DOJ don’t start with probable cause. He argued that requiring probable cause would cripple the DOJ’s ability to solve crimes.
In light of released documents concerning the ‘Craigslist killer’ murder case, Professor Shane Greenstein examines online privacy and how police used information technology -- ISPs, cell phones, Facebook, email – to connect the murder to the suspect. With The Craigslist Killer and Online Privacy, Professor Greenstein states:
A big part of the online privacy debate concerns the simple policy question: how best can society use this new capability? The question is not new, to be sure, but it is hard to appreciate that question without understanding just what is possible. This example offers a good illustration about what online technology made very cheap and what police departments do with it.
Shane Greenstein is the Kellogg Chair of Information Technology and Professor of Management and Strategy at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. He is a leading researcher in the business economics of computing, communications and Internet infrastructure.
Robotics and Privacy
In Drone Crash, Professor Ryan Calo examines the crash of a drone into a Texas police vehicle and outlines the privacy issues surrounding the use of drones domestically. Professor Calo says that drone “crashes might be the canary in the coal mine of privacy (and vice versa).”
M. Ryan Calo specializes in the areas of cyberlaw and robotics. He joined the University of Washington School of Law in 2012 as an Assistant Professor of Law. Additionally, he is an Affiliate Scholar at the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society, where he previously served as director and led the Center’s Consumer Privacy Project.
Copyright Content Online
Professor James Grimmelmann’s second post in TAP’s “top five” explains how copyright law treats broadcasting, cablecasting, and streaming. Why Johnny Can’t Stream points to the ‘comical technical details’ of the legal cases that pop up as soon as start-ups like Aereo, Zediva, and ReDigi began providing access to copyrighted content.
Instead of looking at the front-end user experience, they focus on the back-end hardware and software. Sooner or later, someone is going to argue to a court that it makes a difference for copyright purposes whether a video stream is decoded by the main CPU or by a dedicated graphics card—or some other distinction equally remote from anything the typical viewer thinks about when trying to catch up on last week’s episode of Breaking Bad.
This TAP post is an overview of Professor Grimmelmann’s detailed exploration of the evolution of cablecasting and Internet-streaming business models and the copyright trials that make or break them in his essay for Ars Technica: “Why Johnny Can’t Stream: How Video Copyright Went Insane.”