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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Can Kazakhstan Use the United States Legal System to Attack Free Speech?

laikrastis-respublika-63491024By Juliya Ziskina

The government of Kazakhstan has pursued one of its fiercest critics, the newspaper Respublika, with lawsuits and threats for fifteen years. But despite blocks, bans, and overwhelming distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, Respublika continues to publish on its websites, which critically report on the country’s affairs and provide a forum for discussion from the relative safety of servers hosted in the United States. Because Respublika’s site is blocked in Kazakhstan, the news service also posts its articles to third party sites, including its Facebook group.

Earlier this month, the Kazakhstan government had a major setback in its attempt to use the U.S. legal system to attack Respublika. A federal judge in California rejected Kazakhstan’s demand that Facebook turn over information about users associated with Respublika’s account on the social media site. The judge found that Kazakhstan lacked the appropriate judicial authorization to pursue such discovery, rejecting Kazakhstan’s claims that its Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) lawsuit gave it free rein to obtain information about its critics. The CFAA is a federal anti-hacking statute that prohibits unauthorized access to computers and networks and was enacted to expand existing criminal laws to address a growing concern about computer crimes. It also allows civil actions to be brought under the statute as well. Continue reading

Animal-Style v. Cali-Style: The Better Burger Battle

Caliburger-Seattle-03-1024x683By Kelsey O’Neal

Everyone who has been to Southern California has probably seen a bright yellow arrow pointing to the promise of the ultimate meal: a double-double, animal style fries, and a Neapolitan shake. Where does the arrow point? In-N-Out Burger. The company typically stayed within a certain radius of its original store in Baldwin Park, CA, and it wasn’t until 2011 that it opened a restaurant in Texas. In-N-Out has been notoriously slow to expand. So, it must have been a shock for the residents of Shanghai to see animal style burgers in the Jing An Temple District in 2011. However the force behind the new store was not In-N-Out, but rather Caliburger, LLC, a Diamond Bar, CA-based company that trademarked In-N-Out’s menu items in Asia and Eastern Europe. In-N-Out wasted no time; it sued Caliburger in Santa Ana, California. The two companies settled, and the settlement was likely contingent on Caliburger’s willingness to change its menu. (For example, a “double-double” is now a “Cali-double,” and “animal style fries” became “wild fries,” which then morphed into “Cali-style fries.”) Continue reading

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

London Calling: Will 10 Downing Street Be Listening?

ukBy Jeff Bess

As the debate over the appropriate extent of – and necessary limits to – government surveillance rages on in the United States, other nations are looking to expand their own powers to monitor the electronic communications of their citizenry. Chief among these is the United Kingdom, whose parliament is currently considering passage of the so-called “Investigatory Powers Bill,” which would authorize a whole host of new tactics for monitoring citizens’ Internet use and would also require compliance from the large Internet companies that possess troves of user data. Continue reading