$5.3 Million Settlement over “Find Friends” iOS Feature

Picture1By Kiran Jassal

Eight companies (Foodspotting, Foursquare, Gowalla, Instagram, Kik, Path, Twitter, and Yelp) have agreed to a proposed settlement of $5.3 million in a case surrounding the “Find Friends” feature in iOS apps. As the name suggests, “Find Friends” allows consumers to quickly discover if any of their contacts are also using an app. Interestingly, both Apple and LinkedIn are among the companies named in the lawsuit; however, they are continuing to fight the case while the aforementioned entities have decided to settle. Continue reading

Predictive Policing: The Future in Solving Crimes or the Arrival of Minority Report

By Michael Hugginsminority-report-11-3.jpg

The film Minority Report tells the story of a future society that uses technology to predict who will commit crimes. When the crime starts to occur, the Pre-Crime police department uses those predications to capture the individual before they commit the offense. Specifically, the Pre-Crime police department uses knowledge acquired from three pre-cognitive beings to predict the time and the place of the crimes. This 2002 film continues to spark intellectual and ethical curiosity in the minds of many science-fiction fans. But Minority Report is just that: science-fiction. Or is it?

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Digital Whispers: Encrypted Communications and Law Enforcement

By Sam Hamptonlock

Much of the media attention addressing encryption for smartphones has been primarily centered on Apple and Google. Both Android and iOS operating systems offer whole device encryption, where a user’s phone data cannot be accessed without a code. Apple was the target of a lawsuit brought by the FBI who was requesting Apple unlock the cellphone of San Bernadino shooter, Syed Farook (see previous WJLTA Blog posts here and here). This case typifies an ongoing public debate about the balance the law should strike between privacy and security. But whole device encryption is just the tip of the iceberg.

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The Apple v. FBI Saga Continues: The House Energy and Commerce Committee Hearing


By Jason Liu

Despite the Department of Justice (DOJ) dropping its case against Apple, (as covered in this earlier post), the same legal arguments were salient before the House Energy and Commerce Committee (Committee).  On April 19th, the Committee heard testimony from the FBI, law enforcement heads, Apple and other technology experts about the use of encryption in technology and law enforcement action.

During the hearing, Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Penn.) asked the central question, “Should the government have the ability to lawfully access encrypted technology and communications?” Law enforcement officials insisted on “backdoor” access, while Apple countered that encryption protects people from cybercrime. Overall, the hearing continued to repeat prior arguments from the FBI that access was necessary to prevent criminal activity and Apple that encryption protects free speech and privacy made during the San Bernardino shooter case.

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Could the E.U.-U.S. Privacy Shield Provide Greater Protection to U.S. Citizens’ Personal Data?

kenzieo_picBy Mackenzie Olson

The E.U.-U.S. Privacy Shield promises greater privacy protection for E.U. citizens’ personal data, but it provides no such assurances to U.S. citizens—even though consumers have become increasingly concerned about how companies use their personal information. However, as companies reconfigure their current privacy protocols to satisfy these new standards, U.S. citizens could realize a windfall.

In Europe, privacy is considered a fundamental right, though it is not in the U.S. Data protection safeguards are included in the E.U.’s charter, but there is no U.S. federal law that establishes a right to privacy. The Safe Harbor data transfer agreement of 2000 between the U.S. and E.U. previously dictated how companies could satisfy the heightened privacy requirements due their E.U. customers’ personal data. However, Safe Harbor is now defunct. In October 2015, the European Court of Justice struck down the agreement because it failed to protect E.U. citizens from U.S. government surveillance. Ever since Edward Snowden’s 2013 document leaks revealed details about the National Security Agency (N.S.A.)’s intelligence operations, Europeans have been concerned about how U.S. intelligence uses their personal data. Though the European Commission and U.S. Department of Commerce are still developing the details of the Privacy Shield and its text, officials state that an agreement should be reached by the second part of February of this year. Continue reading