Singularity Law

The Information Technology Law Blog and Podcast by Professor Michael Scott

Pervasive Eavesdropping, Where Do We Go From Here?

The revelations from the Snowden documents show an NSA that has defied Congress, defied the FISA Court and defied the Constitution in spying on American citizens. Yet despite these revelations, that the NSA no longer even takes the trouble to deny, Congress and the President have done nothing to rein in the agency.

Reform is possible. There is talk about tightening up the laws. But no one want to do anything that could be viewed as hobbling our intelligence agencies. No one wants to support a law that might allow a terrorist to go about his business undetected. So, whatever concerns Congress may have over the NSA’s conduct, they don’t want to be viewed as doing anything that would weaken our spy agencies in their “war against terrorism.”

Is there a “happy medium” that can be achieved? Read more

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The Internet: Not What It Was Imagined to Be

I recently finished reading “From Counterculture to Cyberculture,” by Fred Turner. What attracted me to the book was the historical aspects of how those individuals active in the counterculture of San Francisco (hippies, Summer of Love, etc.) were some of the earliest adopters and users of technology that became what is today called the “Internet.” What I found most amazing about the book, however, is the naivety of otherwise intelligent and foresighted people of what the Internet was and would become. Read more

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Another milestone

In October 2007, a group of lawyers, law professors and law students launched the IT Law wiki. Today the wiki published its 25,000th article. Check it out!

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Drones and the Law

“Drones” – technically, Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems/RPASs – are moving from mainly military to civilian applications. Foremost amongst these are the potential uses and benefits for newsgathering and media production by providing new platforms for photography, videography and audio capture. Because of their relatively small size, they are portable and can easily be moved to locations where reporting needs to take place or production is most desirable. Read more

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“I’m shocked, shocked”

Edward Snowden’s disclosure of the extensive and intrusive online surveillance engaged in by the NSA (and others) has led to some interesting reactions by politicians both at home and abroad. They claimed to be shocked to find out such activities were occurring. Yet, it is Congress (and the President) that opened the door for such activities by passage of the USA Patriot Act in 2001, and a series of subsequent laws giving the Intelligence Community the right to spy on American and foreign citizens – all in the name of “national security.”
Read more

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The Beat Goes On . . .

Just over five years ago, a group of lawyers and law students decided to start a wiki dedicated to IT law. The goal was to post 20,000 articles within the first five years. It was thought that the wiki would be fairly complete by that milestone.

Just a few days after the fifth anniversary of the wiki (on October 15, 2010), the 20,000th article was posted. While the group is pleased at reaching this milestone, and while the wiki is quite rich with content, it is clear to all involved that the growth of IT law globally means that the wiki still has a long way to go to be “complete.” Of course, no project of this sort can ever be considered finished, since there are new developments every day. And not just new case decisions and statutes, but entirely new fields of IT law. No one could have predicted the enormous growth in such cutting edge areas as the “smart grid” (Internet-based controls of the power grid) (80 articles), biometrics (287 articles), and cybercrimes (392 articles), or the impact that social media (in its “infant” stage five years ago) would have on all areas of the law (103 articles).

One of the attractive features of the wiki format is that it allows anyone to post materials or edit existing articles. We have had lawyers, law professors, law students and others contribute to the wiki. And we are gratified in having over 6,000 daily visitors to the site.

Our next goal is to reach 25,000 articles by the end of 2013. We welcome anyone who would like to be a part of this project to join us. We are particularly interested in expanding our non-U.S. coverage.

The IT Law wiki is located here.

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First Outsourcing, Now Desourcing

Starting in the mid-1990s, American companies took advantage of the growth of global telecommunications and computerization to send not only manufacturing but also service jobs overseas. It became known as outsourcing, and has been a bone of contention with politicians ever since. Many cite outsourcing as a major cause of the recession in the U.S., Europe and much of the rest of the world, and the slow economic recovery we have experienced. Outsourcing has created enormous political and legal issues.

Outsourcing has shifted jobs from countries with high standards of living to those with lower standards of living (and lower wages and costs of doing business). However, economists have long argued that outsourcing, while disruptive, arguably results in a net increase in the total number of jobs. This election has seen outsourcing as an important issue. But are we looking in the wrong direction?

More troubling for politicians is the growth of what is now being referred to as “desourcing.” Read more

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Pending Elections, Cyberspace Forgotten?

We are in the middle of the campaign season. A time when candidates from both parties (as well as a few independents) try to get the attention of voters and garner their support. Something definitely missing from this race is ANY discussion of those issues that are near and dear to those of us concerned about the future of the Internet and cyberspace. Read more

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The “Cyberwar” Bug-a-boo

The Obama Administration, with the support of the military and a long list of defense contractors, has asked Congress for massive increases in funding for cyberwarfare activities. As stated in an article by William J. Lynn III, formerly deputy defense secretary, cyberwar is “just as critical to military operations as land, sea, air, and space.” Earlier this year, the Defense Department vowed to equip all U.S. armed forces for “conducting a combined arms campaign across all domains — land, air, maritime, space, and cyberspace.”

While there have been numerous reported cyberattacks against various government entities (including a widely discussed cyberattack by Russian activists against the Estonia government in retaliation for its decision to relocate a Russian war memorial), there is little evidence of the ability of even the most sophisticated governments to engage in even limited-scale cyberwarfare. Read more

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Kids, Apps and Privacy

I bought an iPad for my granddaughter when she was 6 months old. Everyone thought I was crazy. She couldn’t talk yet and had trouble sitting up on her own. Yet, she took to that iPad like a duck to water. She already knew how to swipe it to turn it on from playing with my iPhone, and the children’s apps we downloaded from the Apple App Store had very intuitive interfaces. Within days she was watching movie, learning her ABCs, and trying to figure out how to add simple numbers.

Flash forward to today. Read more

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