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Google

“A top EU court has ruled Google must amend some search results at the request of ordinary people in a test of the so-called ‘right to be forgotten’. The European Union Court of Justice said links to ‘irrelevant’ and outdated data should be erased on request.” [BBC; Andrew Beaujon, Poynter; Hans Bader, CEI]

It’s being led by our perennial-favorite state-AG mentionee (D-Miss.)

Meanwhile: Houston judge reported to have issued what law professor Josh Blackman calls “blatantly unconstitutional” gag order requiring Google not only to remove all records of certain allegations against an individual, but also to refrain from discussing the gag order itself [Houston Chronicle]

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  • Harassing Google executives at their homes: what better way to show you truly care about privacy? [Ars Technica]
  • Feds arrest Bitcoin executive on charges of “money laundering” and running an unlicensed cash transmission service, latest of what looks very much like a series [Reason, Rob Wile/Business Insider, earlier on Bitcoin]
  • Know (and babysit) your customers: “HSBC imposes restrictions on large cash withdrawals,” then backs off [BBC, earlier on KYC as outgrowth of money-laundering law]
  • “Banks say no to marijuana money, legal or not” [NY Times]
  • Randy Maniloff on the Target data breach and the example of the T.J. Maxx case [Coverage Opinions and more on class actions] “Swipe fee” price controls don’t help in allocating the costs of response and prevention for card data breaches [John Berlau, CEI "Open Market"] and
  • “Financial Disclosures as Regulation” panel video, part of Vermont Law School symposium “The Disclosure Debates” that I participated in last fall; participants include Tennessee lawprof Joan Heminway and moderator Jennifer Taub [YouTube]

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Stewart Baker is running a year-end contest to name the most regrettable uses of privacy law over the past year. Among his nominations: the “Agriculture Department, which cited privacy grounds in refusing to name any of the beneficiaries of the notoriously fraud-ridden ‘Pigford‘ settlement”; Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who imposed millions of dollars in fines on private health companies for lacking adequate technical controls on the privacy of health data, “even when there was no evidence that any data had been compromised,” at the same time as her own department was launching healthcare.gov, a data intake site with much more critical privacy and safety flaws; racing mogul Max Mosley, who prevailed on a French court to order Google to de-index scandal coverage of Mosley’s recreational indiscretions; and federal judge Lucy Koh, for finding Gmail’s business model potentially violative of wiretap laws. All the examples above were winners in their categories, save Mosley who trailed behind two others in the category “Worst Use of Privacy Law to Protect Power and Privilege.”

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Surveillance roundup

by Walter Olson on December 12, 2013

  • “That Thing They Said They’re Not Doing? They’re Totally Doing.” [Daily Show with Jon Stewart] “Exactly What the State Says to Deceive You About Surveillance” [Conor Friedersdorf]
  • “Warrantless Cellphone ‘Tower Dumps’ Becoming Go-To Tool For Law Enforcement” [Tim Cushing, TechDirt; Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post; David Kravets, Wired; USA Today (local law enforcement using, not just federal)]
  • Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, AOL, LinkedIn, but telecoms absent: “U.S. Tech Industry Calls for Surveillance Reform” [Corporate Counsel, EFF, Marvin Ammori/USA Today]
  • New Federalist Society symposium on NSA/FISA surveillance and bulk data collection includes names like Randy Barnett, Jim Harper, Jeremy Rabkin, Stewart Baker, Grover Joseph Rees [Engage, Randy Barnett]
  • Nowadays “law enforcement can feel free to admit their traffic stops are pretextual” Thanks, Drug War! [Popehat] “Sobriety Checkpoints Paved Path to NSA Email Spying” [Wired]
  • FATCA, the intrusive overseas tax enforcement law, isn’t couched in public controversy as a federal data-snooping issue, but it should be [Radley Balko, McClatchy]
  • Trademark infringement claims as way to silence critics: Jenzabar gets comeuppance in form of court award of more than $500,000 in attorney costs [Paul Alan Levy, earlier and more]
  • Court holds Google Books project to be fair use [Matthew Sag]
  • Questioning the ITC’s patent jurisdiction: “Why should we have a trade agency litigating patent disputes?” [K. William Watson, Cato, more, yet more, related]
  • Courts come down hard on copyright troll Prenda Law [Popehat]
  • Annals of patent trollery: New York Times et al rout Helferich [EFF, Liquid Litigation BLLawg] Monolithic Power Systems v. 02 Micros [IP for the Little Guy] Resistance by Newegg, RackSpace, Hyundai, etc. [WLF]
  • Re: copyright terms, US government shouldn’t endorse view that longer always means better [Simon Lester, Cato]
  • Legal tiff over use of hotel carpet patterns in costumes [Io9]

Tech roundup

by Walter Olson on November 6, 2013

  • Far-reaching, little-discussed new regulation: Stewart Baker on NIST rules mandating cybersecurity at private enterprises [Volokh; first, second, third, fourth posts]
  • “Ominous Developments on the Internet Governance Front” [David Post]
  • “The Exaggeration Of The Cyberbullying Problem Is Harming Anti-Bullying Efforts” [Tim Cushing, TechDirt]
  • “Will California’s New Data Breach Notification Duty Stimulate Class Action Litigation?” [Glenn Lammi, WLF]
  • Some thoughts on how the law should treat domestic drones, public and private [Kenneth Anderson]
  • Privacy lawsuit against Gmail could do a lot of damage [Mike Masnick, TechDirt; Matt Powers, CEI "Open Market", parts one, two]
  • Warning: more efforts ahead from legal academia to come up with stringent liability schemes for software makers [New Republic and Lawfare]

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Many loyal users (including me) were beyond glum when Google decided to close down its venerable RSS reader, effective yesterday. Maxim Lott at Fox News has this report:

“You would think that it would take little effort to maintain the site, but compliance keeps the cost up,” the source ["familiar with the matter"] told FoxNews.com.

He gave one example of a costly regulation.

“In Europe they’ve had a regulation for years where basically, if someone requests that all their data on a site be deleted, the company must comply. Reader wasn’t compliant with that. So it comes down to, do you spend a lot more resources making the service compliant, or working on something new?”…

Google spokeswoman Nadja Blagojevic declined to comment about whether regulatory costs played a role in Reader’s demise.

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Medical roundup

by Walter Olson on June 6, 2013

  • New ACA regulations from the feds restrict employer wellness programs [Jon Hyman; Leslie Francis, Bill of Health]
  • Frequent-flyer defense medical examiner comes to grief in New York [Eric Turkewitz]
  • Fecal transplants (that’s not a misprint) appear to hold out hope of saving a lot of lives, except for the mountain of FDA paperwork blocking them [Amar Toor/The Verge, Maggie Koerth-Baker] Enter the grey market [Beth Skwarecki]
  • Why can’t the FDA catch up with Europe on sunscreens? [Alex Tabarrok]
  • “The banning of catastrophic-only plans infuriates me the most…. the only plans that are actually financially sensible for a healthy individual to purchase.” [MargRev comments section]
  • More on the recent study of malpractice suits by a group of Johns Hopkins researchers [Christopher Robinette]
  • For all his public health pretensions, Michael Bloomberg “has no idea what he’s talking about” on medical marijuana [Jacob Sullum]
  • Another look at asylums? [James Panero, City Journal]
  • Feds’ war on Google pharma ads reflects no credit on D.C. [Brian Doherty]

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Randal O’Toole doesn’t share the concerns of Greg Beato and others.

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January 6 roundup

by Walter Olson on January 6, 2013

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  • “The patent, used as a sword” [NY Times, Flowing Data]
  • Default judgment over 528 songs against contumacious defendant: “Website ordered to pay $6.6 million for posting song lyrics” [NLJ]
  • “Monsanto Seed Patent Case Gets U.S. Supreme Court Review” [Bloomberg Business Week]
  • New book tells story of Ira Arnstein, whose frivolous suits against Cole Porter, Irving Berlin et al set important precedent [WSJ]
  • “Do it ‘on the Internet,’ get a patent, sue an industry — it still works” [Joe Mullin, Ars Technica]
  • “Court rules book scanning is fair use, suggesting Google Books victory” [Timothy Lee, ArsTechnica]

August 15 roundup

by Walter Olson on August 15, 2012

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“The Delhi High Court has ordered 21 companies, which have already been asked to develop a mechanism to block objectionable material in India, to present their plans for policing their services in the next 15 days.” A private complaint had charged the internet firms with permitting the dissemination of material offensive to Hindus, Muslims and Christians. [Emil Protalinski, ZDNet]

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At Cato at Liberty, I find that uncannily reminiscent of a famous Bastiat parody (& IEA, Tim Worstall).

More from Coyote: “left unsaid is how they would jack up their prices when at least two other companies (Bing, Mapquest) also provide mapping services online for free.” But note that the French case arose not from Google’s furnishing of its free map service to individual end customers, but from its furnishing of its map API to businesses that typically adapt it for use in their own sites; as commenters at BoingBoing and Reddit as well as news reports point out, Google has indeed introduced fees for its largest business users of this type (which has caused some of them to adapt by switching from Google’s API to OpenStreetMap, a free wiki-based map service).

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Punishing Google’s success

by Walter Olson on December 21, 2011

Rivals are pushing for the Federal Trade Commission to take more aggressive antitrust action against the search company, and have now enlisted Sens. Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) in their cause. [Geoffrey Manne, Jim Miller & Dan Oliver/NRO, Coyote]

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Max Mosley, former head of the Formula One racing organization, has been the subject of a number of lurid allegations in the European press. Now he is suing Google in France and Germany, and contemplating suit in California, “in an attempt to force the internet company to monitor and censor search results about” the allegations. “It is understood Google has removed hundreds of references to the defamatory claims after requests from Mosley’s solicitors. However, Mosley is attempting to force Google to monitor its search results so the material never appears” in the first place. [Guardian] More: Above the Law.

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October 13 roundup

by Walter Olson on October 13, 2011

  • Behind the antitrust assault on Google [Jerry Brito, Josh Wright, more]
  • Rapid rise of lawsuit lenders [WSJ] And a Searle Civil Justice Institute conference on third party financing of litigation;
  • More law firms muscle into class action against e-book publishers [PaidContent] Fifth Circuit questions cy pres [Trask] And a new edition of the Federalist Society’s Class Action Watch is out;
  • When the house painters announce they’re not leaving: “Britain plans to tighten anti-squatter laws” [NYT]
  • “Courts Call Out Copyright Trolls’ Coercive Business Model, Threaten Sanctions” [EFF] “Righthaven’s Copyright Trolling is a Bankrupt Idea” [Cit Media Law] More: Vegas Inc.
  • “Twombly is the Logical Extension of the Mathews v. Eldridge Test to Discovery” [Andrew Blair-Stanek via Volokh, Frank] “Four more reasons to love TwIqbal” [Beck] “O’Scannlain says 9th Circ has adopted ‘Iqbal lite’ pleading standard, ‘Same insufficient complaints, fewer dismissals!’” [@ScottKGraham on dissent in Starr v. County of Los Angeles, PDF]
  • Florida farms sell raw milk as (wink) “pet food” [Sun-Sentinel]

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