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A Tale of Two-Wheeled Invaders

When I arrived in San Francisco early this summer, I marveled at the tech-forward presence of electric scooters all over the sidewalks. Much to my disappointment, the scooters were quickly banned.

SUPPORT-ing Telemedicine

The SUPPORT Act permits and encourages telemedicine programs aimed at combating opioid addition by expanding Medicare coverage to cover telehealth services for substance use disorders.

Tablets for All, Apps for . . . Some?

While many see the benefits of providing tablets in prisons, the race to enter the market combined with a lack of regulation is a recipe for harm to both prisoners and prison administration.

Help Wanted

Facebook has been sued for keeping discrimination in employment opportunities alive and well.

Swipe Right for Privacy

The mobile application market is flooded with dating apps: Tinder, OkCupid, Coffee Meets Bagel, Hinge, Bumble, and dozens more. They might make love happen, but they also risk more than just a bad date.

My Data Has Been Breached—Can I Sue?

Earlier this week, Facebook announced that 50 million user accounts had been compromised in a data breach. This is just the latest episode in a series of high profile and far-reaching data breaches in which consumers’ sensitive personal and financial information has been exposed or stolen.

Legislating Loot Boxes

How much is Darth Vader worth?  This question has, in a roundabout way, caused some legislators and regulators to look at how video games make their money.  The recently-released video game Star Wars Battlefront II originally had a profit model which locked large portion of the game off behind timed barriers.  One estimate, for example, was that it would take roughly 40 hours to unlock the ability to play as Darth Vader.  This wait could be drastically reduced by purchasing loot boxes, which had a chance of containing in-game currency.  One estimate claimed that, under Battlefront II’s original pricing model, it would take, on average, over 4500 hours to unlock everything.  Conversely, the loot box payout structure would have given the same result for roughly $2100.  Although, as of this writing, the game’s publisher has scrapped this pricing model after a huge backlash, it brought the issue of loot boxes to the attention of the public and legislators.

Access to Open Records and Electronic Media

Imagine that you are a journalist producing online content for ESPN at ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut. Your editor assigns you to cover the return of the Auburn Tigers to the top echelons of college football and how the Alabama Crimson Tide, one of the perennial powers of the sport, returned to the College Football Playoff under controversial circumstances.

Smart Drones and FAA Regulations

Drone deliveries have already made an appearance in our online shopping experience. For example, Amazon Prime Air made its first delivery in December 2016 and has made even more ambitious journeys in the United Kingdom.  Before all of our parcels are delivered that way, however, there are several regulatory hurdles. The Federal Aviation Administration UAS operational rules require a pilot to operate the drone within a visual line of sight and limits flight times to daylight and twilight hours.  The FAA offers waivers for operators who could conduct flight safely; this provision is meant to allow commercial enterprises and other organizations to explore ways to make drone flight technology more safe and secure and to shape future regulations as drone use continues to expand.

Is future-food unknown?

As we are reminded of on a near-daily basis, the American lifestyle is not environmentally friendly. Not only do we need to stop using SUVs to cart our kids to soccer, we need to find more sustainable food sources. And in true American fashion, Silicon Valley has risen to the occasion and provided some entrepreneurial solutions.

The Google Decision: A [Brand Name Redacted] Bandage for Genericide

Aspirin. Escalator. Trampoline. Three generic words with seemingly nothing in common. Those words, along with many others, were once legally protected trademarks. When a company’s mark becomes the generic name for its product or service, it can lose its trademark registration which can be extremely damaging to the company. A recent 9th Circuit decision upholding Google’s trademark may help other trademark owner’s avoid suffering a generic fate.

Who is behind your screen(s)?

One of the most important privacy cases this decade is currently in front of the Supreme Court: Carpenter v. United States. This decision will define how law enforcement interprets the Fourth Amendment regarding an individual’s cellphone. The decision hinges on whether law enforcement can use “third-party” doctrine dating from the 70s, which states that disclosing information to a third party does away with any expectation of privacy. We’ve already seen this doctrine in action. It allows law enforcement to compel cell-service providers to give historical cell-site records, without a warrant, to track down a serial cell phone thief. If SCOTUS upholds the current doctrine, then police would have free reign to monitor individuals’ cell phone location with little to no oversight.

The Controversial Genome-Editing Technique CRISPR-Cas9

On February 15, 2017, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued a ruling on a patent dispute about a genome-editing technique called CRISPR-Cas9.  The Regents of the University of California, University of Vienna, and a scientist named Emmanuelle Charpentier (collectively “UC”) initiated this legal proceeding, called an interference, against the Broad Institute, Inc., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and President and Fellows of Harvard College (collectively “Broad”). The three-judge panel unanimously sided with Broad concluding, although temporarily, a legal battle closely watched by scientists, legal professionals and the biotechnology industry. On April 12, 2017, UC filed an appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Blame it on the Robot?

Google-owned artificial intelligence company DeepMind recently succeeded at designing a program capable of defeating some of the world’s best players of Chinese strategy game Go.  While this may not appear groundbreaking, the real triumph comes from the fact that while the programmers laid the ground rules, it was the program itself, AlphaGo, that taught itself to play.

Posts on the MTLR Blog are editorial opinion pieces written by student-editors of the Michigan Technology Law Review. The opinions expressed in these editorial posts are not espoused or endorsed by the University of Michigan or its Law School. To view scholarly Articles and Notes published by the Michigan Technology Law Review, please visit the MTLR home page.