Technologist - FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog


If you missed your flight to NYC for this year's Legaltech New York conference, there's no need to miss out on some of the legal innovations that were presented there. In one of the more interesting Legaltech events, nine startups gathered for "Legal Disruption Lightning Rounds." (Think "Shark Tank" but without the proprietary content.)

These start ups seek to change how we we settle disputes, draft contracts, and record fulfillments. Here are three that stand out to us.

Google's Newest Patent Is a Bot-Box on Wheels

No, we're not talking abot Google's self-driving vehicles that are becoming ubiquitous in Silicon Valley. We're talking about the "mobile delivery receptacle," a vehicle specifically designed to accept and deliver packages shuttled to it by the company's hoards of courier-drones.

It's a good thing that Google got this one patented, too. Who knows what the prior art on this concept is.

When it comes to protecting your financial information -- and your cash -- hackers aren't the only risk.

Bank tellers and bank managers have instant access to your Social Security number, your signature, leading to rampant abuse, according to prosecutors and security experts.

We're not sure what in house lawyer drafted the new terms of service for Amazon's Lumberyard product, but we like their style. Amazon's Lumberyard is a free game engine that gives designers a host of orc-killing, mine-crafting, princess-in-the-castle-freeing tools, should they agree to some simple terms of service.

And those terms include a hidden zombie clause, relaxing restrictions on Lumberyard should the world be overrun by brain-eating reanimated corpses.

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the Internet.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, aka the TPP, has been approved recently by 12 member states. If the published text of the treaty next is ratified by each state (a process that could take some time), then various important provisions will regulate trade between these member states.

The member states are the United States, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and Brunei.

When you're a corporate behemoth trying to look hip, you bring Pharrell to your corporate campus, as Apple did last April. When you're trying to look all-American, you bring in Clint Eastwood, as the GOP did for Mitt Romney's nomination. And when you're a data nerd, you bring in Nate Silver, founder of FiveThirtyEight and arguably the most famous statistician in human history.

So Silver was on hand last week when Thomson Reuters debuted its new eDiscovery product, eDiscovery Point.

The blockchain is the technology behind "cryptocurrencies" like Bitcoin and it could quickly make its way into the legal tech sphere. No, don't worry, blockchains aren't another "robots will replace lawyers" fad. Nor are they another way to ease your eDiscovery woes.

Instead, blockchains are being touted as a way to aid encryption and authentication in legal documents and within firms. And that could have a significant impact on how you actually practice law.

Will the U.S. Approve Babies With Three Genetic Parents?

In what could be an historic event in the history of American medicine, it appears that the Food and Drug Administration stands poised to approve the controversial procedures of mitochondrial replacement therapy, otherwise known as MRT, reports the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Babies who are born of this procedure inherit the genes of three parents -- a fact that troubles some.

The technique has already been legalized in the UK. But what has been the hold-up in America? Federal Law.

Four current and former University of California, Berkeley students are suing Google, alleging that the tech company scanned Cal students' university emails for more than four years -- all while claiming that academic emails were not processed by Google's advertising system. Google's privacy violations affected millions of college students across the U.S, according to the suit.

If that sounds familiar, it is. A similar class action lawsuit was rejected in 2014. But this time, the students think they have a viable workaround.

If you want to protect your data, privacy, and communications from corporations, government snoops, or hackers, end-to-end encryption is a great way to start. It's the type of encryption Apple and Google added to their mobile devices and smartphones over a year ago, leading to government claims that such encryption will be used to protect terrorists and kidnappers.

But according to a new report by Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, end-to-end encryption and other data protection methods aren't enough to actually ensure that data is kept private, now and in the future. Here's why.