Public Records in the Age of Trump

twitterBy Jeff Bess

It is  more than cliché to observe that the advent and evolution of the internet has deeply transformed modern society in many ways, both micro and macro. Indeed, not a clearer example exists than the role social media played in the 2016 presidential election. With over twenty million followers on Twitter and nearly 35,000 tweets, Donald Trump leaned into this direct line to the masses to set a new high water mark for social media ubiquity in pursuit of the White House.

Though derided by many as misguided or un-presidential, it is undeniable that Trump’s avid use of Twitter has been and continues to be effective. Indeed his prolific social media presence was a key source of the estimated $2 billion in earned media that greatly contributed to his success. And now that he is president, do his characteristic early morning, sometimes scattershot flurries of 140-character missives count as official government records? In other words, are they subject to federal document retention laws?

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What Can a Foul-Mouthed Twitter Troll and a Board Game Playing Robot Tell Us About Artificial Intelligence’s Ramifications for the Legal System?

AIBy Jeff Bess

Rapid technological development in the digital age has disrupted countless industries and fundamentally reshaped many aspects of modern life. Many of these technologies also present legal challenges; ranging from Constitutional privacy concerns stemming from government surveillance, to ongoing employment law disputes about companies’, like Uber, use of independent contractors. A perhaps even greater disruptor – to both the law and society in general – is found in the emerging field of Artificial Intelligence. There have been numerous scholarly inquiries into theoretical challenges of creating a moral and legal framework to govern Artificial Intelligence technologies, but recent accomplishments in the field can provide clues as to how the direction of the technology will inform necessary legal rules. Continue reading “What Can a Foul-Mouthed Twitter Troll and a Board Game Playing Robot Tell Us About Artificial Intelligence’s Ramifications for the Legal System?”

#transparency: Twitter Sues U.S. Government Over Secret Surveillance

By Craig Henson On October 7, 2014, social media heavyweight Twitter filed a lawsuit against the federal government seeking the right to publicly disclose data related to secret government surveillance of its users. The company filed the complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, naming as defendants U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the Department of Justice, the FBI, and FBI director James Comey. In the complaint, Twitter alleged that the government impermissibly infringes on Twitter’s First Amendment rights by prohibiting Twitter from disclosing information about the number and type of surveillance requests and orders received, even if that number is zero. Section 2709 of the Stored Communications Act (SCA) permits the FBI to issue national security letters (NSLs) that require a wire or electronic communication service provider to supply the government with subscriber information, toll billing records information, or electronic communication transactional records. The SCA prohibits NSL recipients from disclosing that the FBI either sought

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