Microsoft Moves The Cloud to the Ocean Floor

microsoftBy Carlie Bacon

Some like it hot, but datacenters don’t. When they get too toasty they crash, making waves in the sea of data storage and access.

Microsoft is making waves of a more useful variety.

 The company just launched Project Natick—a research effort that includes underwater data centers. As cloud computing becomes more prevalent, Microsoft aims to improve the ways we manipulate data. The underwater setting provides better cooling, renewable energy, and a more controlled environment than traditional land options. Continue reading

Closing the Tax Gap through Modern Information Technology

PictureBy Sam Hampton

Congratulations—you just hit a $5000 jackpot on a slot machine! Would you be more likely to report this income on your 1040 (as you should) if you knew the casino would report the winnings to the IRS? Would you be more likely to report a cash tip income if you found out that a waiter had been prosecuted for tax fraud for failure to report his tips? A recent New York Times article suggests that taxpayers are much more likely to report in either of these situations—and modern information technology provides new avenues for both auditing and monitoring taxpayers. Continue reading

SCOTUS Dodges Privacy Issue … For Now

imrs (1)By Andrew H. Fuller

Last Monday (Nov. 9), the Supreme Court of the United States declined cert to petition Davis, Quartavius v. United States. The case focused on whether the police must obtain a warrant in order to access and review cellphone location data held by carriers. In brief, Davis was convicted of several counts of robbery based on evidence that was largely constructed from cellphone location data the state obtained from Davis’s mobile carrier, MetroPCS, without a warrant. Of particular concern to both Davis and privacy advocates was the data regarding the cell tower locations that Davis’s phone connected to at certain dates and times. The Eleventh Circuit held that Davis did not have a privacy interest in the historical cell site location data and therefore no warrant was necessary. Continue reading

Harvard Law School and Ravel Law Collaborate to Improve Access to the Common Law

printerBy Carlie Bacon

The technological age has transformed the once-useful volumes lining the walls of law firms and libraries into decorative dust-collectors. Just like this blog post, the information in those books can be accessed from anywhere that you can check your email. Law is widely regarded as a conservative profession, but even so, modern attorneys and law students conduct legal research online. Why turn page after page at a desk somewhere, when you can scroll through seamless documents from the comfort of, well, anywhere?

Companies like Westlaw and LexisNexis offer access to enormous electronic databases and handy research tools, but at a cost. Subscription fees can total millions of dollars annually for large firms. Like those shelves full of books, commercial databases’ days may be numbered too. Continue reading

Taking a Bite Out of the Big Apple: Law Enforcement and the Apple iPhone

iphoneBy Michael Huggins

On October 26, 2015, the United States government argued before a federal magistrate judge in New York that it should be able to force Apple to unlock an iPhone as part of a criminal investigation. The federal government filed a request for a court order to compel Apple to comply pursuant to the All Writs Act— an 18th Century law that allows federal courts to issue orders to effectuate otherwise valid court orders. The government argues that the federal courts can use the All Writs Act to force Apple to assist the government in investigating users of the software. Apple refuses to comply with the order.

Apple argues that the situation would not be any different than if the government used the All Writs Act to force a safe manufacturer to travel around the country, unlock safes, and give the contents of those safes to the government. Apple argues that the government wants Apple to do the investigative work for them. Judge James Orenstein, the federal magistrate judge in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, agreed with Apple’s logic. Assistant U.S. Attorney Saritha Komatireddy believes that Apple’s refusal to unlock the phone represents a surprising reversal from Apple’s previous willingness to unlock phones for the government. When Judge Orenstein asked Apple why it did not challenge the previous search warrants, Apple’s attorney Marc Zwillinger replied that the company had only recently become more cognizant of the harms to high-profile data breaches and that the company has had a change of heart. But even if Apple was willing to unlock the phone, it cannot do so because each individual contains a very specific password/key to unlock the phone. Continue reading