Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

Eric Sinrod

Eric Sinrod is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris LLP (http://www.duanemorris.com) where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology and intellectual property disputes. His Web site is http://www.sinrodlaw.com and he can be reached at ejsinrod@duanemorris.com. To receive a weekly email link to Mr. Sinrod's columns, please send an email to him with Subscribe in the Subject line.

These columns are prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in these columns are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author's law firm or its individual partners.



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

Question: How free is the internet? Answer: Less than free in certain countries. Further answer: And becoming even less free in other countries -- witness Vietnam, discussed briefly below.

At the start of this month, a law went into effect in Vietnam that mandates removal of online content considered offensive to the Vietnamese government. According to SoyaCincau.com, the law was put on the books "under the pretenses" of Cybersecurity, but what it actually does is to require the takedown of content deemed "toxic" by the government.

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

The Wire Act was enacted in 1961. That statute makes it a criminal offense to transmit information that seeks to promote interstate or foreign wagering.

Fast-forward to September, 2011: the Obama-era Justice Department rendered an opinion that only sports betting came with the ambit of the Wire Act. Prior to that, the Justice Department applied the statute to non-sports gambling.

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

Once upon a time less than 20 years ago, there was concern that people would not trust providing their credit card information to make online purchases. Indeed, there was a question as to whether people would take the plunge and order holiday presents online. My, how times have changed!

Amazon started out by selling books online. But not too long thereafter, Amazon embarked on a path toward becoming the all-things seller on the internet. For years, Amazon was in the red, playing the long-game, building warehouses, taking on inventory, developing shipping channels, and constantly revising business strategies as part of its all-things plan. Of course, as we know, Amazon as a result of its efforts has become the backbone of the internet when it comes to online sales.

Emailgate -- Here We Go Again!

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

Long before votes were cast for the 2016 Presidential election, this blogger discussed how Hillary Clinton's government-related emails that were sent and received on private servers could become a thorn in her political side.

Why?

Because government records must be maintained as government records so, among other reasons, they can be open and available to public review. Indeed, laws like the Freedom of Information Act maintain that to have a vital and truly functioning democracy, those who govern must be accountable to the governed; the workings of government must be transparent pursuant to "sunshine" laws. Sunshine is the best disinfectant when it comes to government affairs.

The Danger of Manipulated Videos

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

Technology has advanced to the point that videos can be doctored in terms of words spoken or physical actions taken to the point that those videos can look quite authentic.

Why is this problematical?

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

California recently passed what some argue to be the most robust net neutrality state law in the United States. That law has not yet gone into effect.

The very same day that California Governor Jerry Brown signed the net neutrality bill into law, the US Department of Justice was quick to filed a federal lawsuit, among other goals, to block implementation of the law. And last week, the Department of Justice and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra entered into an agreement to further postpone implementation of the California net neutrality law until the federal lawsuit is concluded.

So, what is at stake here?

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

The Congressional mid-term elections are coming up. There is ample current discussion about whether the Republicans can hold onto majorities in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Many Democrats believe that they have a strong chance of taking over as the majority party in the House, and some think that they may even take the Senate majority, but that latter potential achievement will be far more difficult, as many more Democrat Senators are up for reelection than Republican Senators.

If the Democrats take over as the majority party in the House, CNET reports that they plan to urge broad internet privacy protections. Representative Ro Khannna from Silicon Valley has drafted an "Internet Bill of Rights." At this point, this document is not a bill, but instead puts forward ten principles that Khanna reportedly wants to become part of a comprehensive legislative package that could be considered by Congress in 2019.

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

Concerns about foreign hackers have been heightened since the 2016 presidential election, given that various U.S. intelligence agencies reported foreign Internet efforts to influence that election. And with mid-term Congressional elections coming up, those concerns have not abated.

Meanwhile, the personal Gmail accounts of some U.S. Senators and Senate staff recently were targeted, as confirmed by a Google spokesperson to CNN. Indeed, CNN reports that Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon has written a letter to Senate leadership stating that "at least one major technology company has informed a number of Senators and Senate staff members that their personal email accounts were targeted by foreign government hackers."

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

Infections caused by surgical procedures are not uncommon and can be life-threatening. If only there were a way to cut (pardon the pun) the incidence of such infections ... But wait, Computerworld has just reported that the application of predictive analytics and machine learning techniques to real-time data from operating rooms at the University of Iowa Hospital had lowered the risk of surgical infections by a stunning 74 percent over a three-year period.

Given this success, the hospital has created Dash Analytics, a company devoted to commercializing this technology. Dr. John Cromwell, the CTO at Dash, and an associate chief medical officer at the University of Iowa Hospital, has stated the following: "We started work with the hypothesis that if we could predict which patients would get surgical infections we could change the wound management strategies at the time of surgery to reduce the risk of infection. Surgical infection in the US is the number one hospital infection and carries the most morbidity. It is also the most expensive type of of hospital infection to treat."

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

When the internet exploded beyond the early confines of US military and academic communications in the late-1990s, the US Congress believed that the internet should grow and flourish relatively unfettered by potential litigation and government regulation. This was reflected in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which generally provides that internet service providers are not liable for content posted by third-parties on their websites.

However, the pendulum may be swinging in the other direction in the US, as there have been concerns about false information posted online by foreign interests that has been intended to influence elections. There also has been worry about the ability of terrorists and other bad actors to organize and develop plans of harm and destruction by utilizing the internet to further those negative pursuits.