Internet & Online Privacy - Legal Technology - Technologist
Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

Recently in Internet & Online Privacy Category

A United States court issues an order to Microsoft, requiring them to turn over data from a suspected drug dealer. No big deal, right? What if that data is stored in the cloud, technically on a server in Dublin, Ireland? Can that court order reach into the ephemeral cloud, and across political borders into a physical server in a foreign country?

That's the issue being debated in this landmark case, creatively captioned In the Matter of a Warrant to Search a Certain E-Mail Account Controlled and Maintained By Microsoft Corporation. (We'll stick with In re: MS Email.) Here are the five biggest things at stake in the case:

For some, Google+ Authorship in search results was a magic elixir: your photo and name next to your posts in search results would spike traffic and maybe even help with ranking. Some claimed that adding Authorship bumped up their traffic as much as 150 percent. In one of my favorite experiments, Cyrus Shepard at Moz optimized his "ugly" profile picture using a dating site, which led to a 35 percent bump in traffic.

Crazy, right? Well, at least now, with the removal of Google+ profile pictures and circle counts, us unfortunate-looking folks have a fighting chance. And speaking of Google+, another interesting tweak went through this week: fake names are now allowed. Add in April's decision to gut Google+'s staff, and this is looking more and more like G+ is inching closer and closer to obscurity.

The ABA's Section of Intellectual Property Law just released an interesting white paper, one that every Internet Law geek should read: "A Call For Action in Online Piracy and Counterfeiting Legislation." It's an exhaustive 133-page PDF file that delves into everything from taking action against individuals and predatory foreign websites, to legislation meant to aid in the defense of intellectual property against online piracy. Personally, I'm especially curious about what the ABA has to say about controversial legislative proposals, such as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which was protested against by pretty much the entire Internet.

But for now, here's a little tidbit of advice from the paper that is obvious to anyone who has followed the waves of filing file-sharing lawsuits against individuals over the past couple of decades: it isn't worth it. (H/T to Ars Technica.)

How important is a domain name? Very important.

Consider this: what's easier to remember or put on a business card: or With .com becoming increasingly crowded, short names are hard to find. That's why we're excited about the new Top Level Domains (TLDs).

Earlier this year, we reported that a Google shell company had registered a ton of these new TLDs, including .esq. Now, the company's plan is coming to life: a domain registration service, like GoDaddy, that will provide access to the company's newly acquired 101 TLDs.

Some would call it fictional Monopoly money. Others, like the IRS, consider it to be property. A federal court in Texas recognized the cryptocurrency as "money." California? It just (arguably) made Bitcoin legal tender, along with other coupons and online credits (such as Amazon coins).

What does this mean? In simplest terms, before Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 129, it was illegal to do what many were already doing: engaging in commerce with "anything but the lawful money of the United States." Now, corporations won't be violating the law by handing out their own promotional funny money. Bitcoin, meanwhile, escapes another government's scrutiny.

Aereo's tiny little personal antennas have had television broadcasters up in arms, but today the Supreme Court handed the broadcasters a win.

Back in March, Aereo founder Chet Kanojia was so confident in his position that he defiantly proclaimed that he has no Plan B should the Court rule against his company. Today, he issued a statement calling the Court's decision "a massive setback for the American consumer." He added, "We are disappointed in the outcome, but our work is not done. We will continue to fight for our consumers and fight to create innovative technologies that have a meaningful and positive impact on our world."

Let's take a look at the Court's legal analysis in coming to its decision.

Internet Monopoly money -- that's what many of us would have labeled Bitcoin in its early days. Of course, we're kicking ourselves for not buying in to the faux currency in its infancy, but that doesn't make it any more viable long-term -- it's more like a roulette wheel that is juiced to pay out for the first few years.

What about now? Though Bitcoin's value has skyrocketed, average folks can't mine coins anymore. The fixed supply means as time goes on, and more coins are mined, mining new coins requires more and more power, which means only a rare few, with a ton of computing power, control mining.

The concentration of power in these few folks has created another problem: the de-decentralization of the currency by 51 percenters, a problem that could mean that Bitcoin is broken.

Does your online advertising strategy keep up with the latest tech and SEO trends? Let our experts take a second look.

Facebook's been the king of personalized advertising for a long while, at least within that site's walled garden. The company, which has billions of users serving up biographical data and "likes" of companies and interests, knows you better than anyone. The company's "like" buttons on third-party sites also track you across the web, providing even more information on your preferences based on your browsing history.

And now, Facebook plans on sharing that information with ad providers on non-Facebook sites.

Does your online advertising strategy keep up with the latest tech and SEO trends? Let our experts take a second look.

What's the worst case scenario for an owner of an unsecured wireless network? It's probably a mooching neighbor downloading child porn, leading the police to your doorstep. That's what happened here, and after the police searched the homeowner's computers, finding nothing, they used a tool called the "MoocherHunter" to track down the true offender, Richard Stanley.

The question is: is tracking signal strength to a person's doorstep a "search" under the Fourth Amendment? The Supreme Court has ruled that using infrared to detect heat signals coming from one's home was, and this would seem to be the same situation.

Only, according to the Third Circuit, it wasn't.

Not Mac, but MAC.

A Media Access Control address (or MAC address) is unique identifier, similar to a serial number, assigned to any device that connects to networks, such as computers, tablets, smartphones, or gaming consoles. The network uses a device's MAC address to know where to transmit data. And since a MAC address is usually attached to a device for life, and is broadcasted to nearby networks, such as Wi-Fi hotspots, it has a significant drawback: it can be tracked.

Does your online advertising strategy keep up with the latest tech and SEO trends? Let our experts take a second look.