It's a Saturday morning in 2022, and you're trying to decide what to wear to the dinner party you're throwing that evening. All the clothes hanging in your closet are "smart"—that is, they can tell you when you last wore them, what else you wore them with, and where and when they were last cleaned. Some do this with microchips. Others have tiny printed tags that you can scan on your hand-held device.
As you prepare for your guests, you discover that your espresso machine isn't working and you need another one. So you pull the same hand-held device from your pocket, scan the little square code on the back of the machine, and tell your hand-held, by voice, that this one is broken and you need another one, to rent or buy. An "intentcast" goes out to the marketplace, revealing only what's required to attract offers. No personal information is revealed, except to vendors with whom you already have a trusted relationship.
A recent court ruling has highlighted the need to update the Stored Communications Act (SCA), a federal statute, enacted in 1986, that circumscribes privacy rights in electronic communications. The protections afforded by the SCA do not reflect the breadth and depth of personal data that service providers such as cell phone carriers, email services, and social networks regularly collect and store. That the government can access so much data without a warrant creates a significant risk of chilling online free speech. (Note: the author is not a lawyer.)
On June 30, 2012, a Manhattan criminal court judge ruled that Twitter must provide to police the records of Malcolm Harris, a Twitter user charged with disorderly conduct during an Occupy Wall Street protest in October 2011. In a single ruling, Judge Sciarrino dismissed both Harris’s and Twitter’s motions to quash the subpoena. In so doing, the judge confirmed his prior ruling and held that under the SCA, the subpoena was properly requested. Judge Sciarrino’s decision is a reminder that although the Internet has augmented and amplified individual expression, it has also provided states with unprecedented tools for regulation, review, and punishment. As Judge Sciarrino himself acknowledges, the Internet’s central role in civic and private life has created a new privacy interest that is not yet explicitly protected by existing statutes. Adapting the law to safeguard these interests may be essential if the Internet is to remain a vibrant forum for free expression.
The judicial system in the United States has kept up with technological change in many ways. We have electronic filing, websites for federal courts, and Internet streaming court coverage. But there is one way that courts have not been as quick to adapt electronically – service of process.
Last month, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York denied a request to allow service of process via social networking site (in this case, Facebook). The case, Fortunato v. Chase Bank U.S.A., involved Chase Bank's attempts to locate and serve process on a third-party defendant who fraudulently charged up multiple credit cards and gave a false physical address. The judge called the request "unorthodox," and found that Chase Bank had not given the court "a degree of certainty" about the defendant's alleged Facebook profile and the email address attached to that profile that would ensure that the defendant would receive and read the notice. However, the judge did allow for alternative service by general publication in local newspapers.
"There is so much opportunity with new technologies. But so much innovation is taking on the character of the old style of schooling." - Mike Marriner, Roadtrip Nation
I was really lucky last evening to grab a beer after work with Mike Marriner, one of the founders of RoadTrip Nation. Many of you may know Roadtrip Nation from its PBS television show, but the whole project is taking a new direction towards providing curriculum and online platforms for students and teachers.
The world may be glued to the TV to watch the start of the Olympic Games in London, but Global Voices Lingua translators are excited about another challenge: the Internet Freedom Translathon, a marathon to get the Declaration of Internet Freedom translated in as many languages and dialects as possible over the course of 24 hours on Friday August 3. Everyone can join: you don't have to be an Olympic athlete or professional translator to help!