A Forfeiture of Rights: For-Life Ankle Monitoring Upheld by the 7th Circuit

Is legal punishment meant to deter future bad behaviors, punish the bad actor, or rehabilitate the bad actor?  Every law student in his or her first week of law school is posed that question, although it seems that no law professor can give a straight answer.  In an interesting, and maybe even surprising, decision, the 7th muddied the waters even further.


In Belleau v. Wall, Michael Belleau challenged the constitutionality of his Wisconsin sentence requiring him as a civilly committed sex-offender to wear an ankle monitoring device after his release in addition to registering as a sex-offender.  The federal district court ruled that this was an invasion of Belleau’s privacy.  Wisconsin appealed that decision to the 7th Circuit.  The 7th Circuit overruled the district court’s decision holding that the burden on privacy is balanced against the gain to society as the test for such a monitoring program to stand.  The Court reasoned that Belleau’s own actions had already severely curtailed” his privacy; thus, the requirement of the ankle monitor was not unduly burdensome.


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DC Circuit Court of Appeals Hears Challenge to NSA’s Metadata Collection Program

Earlier this month, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in a case regarding the NSA’s collection of telephone metdata. The appeal stems from last year’s lower court decision in Klayman et al. v. Obama et al., which ordered the NSA to stop its collection program and destroy any data collected as a result of this program. For more information on the case, see http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/11/top-appeals-court-to-hear-why-nsa-metadata-spying-should-stay-or-go/.

Public Disclosure Requests Threaten to Shut Down Plan to Equip Seattle Police with Body Cameras

Seattle is about to launch a pilot program outfitting 12 officers with body cameras, a first step in a plan designed to equip more than 1,000 officers with cameras by 2016. However, that program might be in jeopardy due to broad reaching public-disclosure requests. These requests would have a significant financial and labor impact on the city, enough so that they could lead the city to shut down the program before it ever gets off the ground. For more information, see the full story in The Seattle Times (http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2025060346_spdcamerasxml.html).

Stricter Requirements on “Stingray” Use by Police

Police in Pierce County, Washington have long been using authorized pen registers as a legal basis for using a cell-site simulator known as a Stingray, unbeknownst to the judges authorizing those pen registers. Rather than using the registers to require cellphone companies to turn over an individual’s phone records, police are using the Stingray to collect that information themselves. However, one concern related to the use of the Stringray is that it picks up more than the target’s information. In tracking a suspect’s cellphone, it also picks up cellphone data from innocent third parties who happen to be nearby. Since information about the use of the Stingray came to light, judges in Pierce County have changed the way things are done, now requiring police to ask for specific permission to use the Stingray. For more information, see the full story in The News Tribune (http://www.thenewstribune.com/2014/11/15/3488642_tacoma-police-change-how-they.html?sp=/99/289/&rh=1).

Google’s Search Results Considered Free Speech

Over the years a number of companies have challenged how Google orders its search results. A recent decision out of the San Francisco Superior Court upheld Google’s right to order search results as it chooses, agreeing with Google that their actions are protected by the First Amendment. The decision stems from an allegation that the way Google chooses to order its results violates antitrust laws. For more, see http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/11/court-agrees-that-googles-search-results-qualify-as-free-speech/.

AT&T Seeks Uniform Policy Regarding Disclosure of Customers’ Cell-Site Data

There is an ongoing debate regarding the necessity of warrants in the government’s quest to obtain cell-site data for telecommunications customers. AT&T recently weighed in on the matter, requesting clarity of the law requiring disclosure and urging the courts to adopt a uniform policy when it comes to disclosure of cell-site information. As it stands, a number of circuits have come down differently on the issue, and the Supreme Court has yet to weigh in. AT&T, along with many others, see this clarity as necessary in order to safeguard the privacy rights of their customers. For more, read http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/11/att-demands-clarity-are-warrants-needed-for-customer-cell-site-data/.

Kindgom v. Gresham: February Fractured Fairytale

On Wednesday, February 12, local 1st and 2nd graders will be visiting the McGlothlin Courtroom for a program hosted by The Center for Legal and Court Technology (CLCT). The program, entitled “Fractured Fairytales,” consists of a mock trial in which all of the witnesses and parties are based on classic fairytale characters or creatures. The characters and their respective classic stories are each given an odd or idiosyncratic twist that creates a legal problem that is at the center of the mock trial. The students, at the end of the trial, will serve as the jury and determine the verdict. Wednesday’s case, Kingdom v. Gresham, is a twist on the classic Goldilocks classic fairytale. The Kingdom has brought charges of criminal trespass and destruction of private property (including Baby Bear’s iPod) against Janie Gresham (aka Goldilocks). Testimony will be provided by all three bears, Edward “Papa” Bear, Sonya “Mama” Bear, and Carey “Baby” Bear. Little Red Riding Hood will also be testifying on behalf of the prosecution. Goldilocks will argue the defense of necessity, as she was lost in the woods in the cold and feared for her safety.

Limited space is available for law students. If you wish to view the trial, please contact Greg Marinelli at gpmarinelli@email.wm.edu to reserve your seat.

CLCT will be organizing another Fractured Fairytale Trial toward the end of the Spring 2014 semester featuring guest appearances by faculty members for law school student viewing. For more information about Fractured Fairytales or CLCT, please contact Greg Marinelli at gpmarinelli@email.wm.edu.


Your Digital Trail: Does the Fourth Amendment Protect Us?

NPR.org ran an article discussing the different implications that technology has had on the scope of the protections afforded by the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unlawful search and seizure of “papers and effects,” but legal analysts say that the age of computers has greatly diminished the power of the Amendment. Searches and seizures that once required a warrant now require only a subpoena, which is far easier to get. The change is based upon the logic that, by giving certain companies access to information, individuals forfeit their right to keep that information private. To read the full article (which is part of a 4-part discussion on people’s digital trail and who has access to it) here is the full article.



Secure Your Wi-Fi

Many people enjoy the convenience of public wi-fi hotspots at their local coffee shop, at a hotel, or any number of places around town; but what should one be cognizant of when using a public, unsecured network? This article provides a step-by-step process for ensuring that data is protected, even on public networks.

If you are interested in learning how to keep your data safe on public wi-fi, check out this article.

Facebook and Facial Recognition

Since 2011, Facebook has implemented facial recognition technology for their “Tag Suggest” function. This software allows Facebook users to see when they appear in a newly added photo. The software matches new photos with items in its database of tagged photos for each user, which allows the program to put a name to the face. Facebook has recently expressed its intention to expand the scope of the software to include profile photos.

The software is intended to facilitate transparency, according to Facebook’s chief privacy officer, Erin Egan. She says that the software’s ability to match photos to names provides users with the tools to discover when photos of them are uploaded to the web by another user. She makes it clear that any user who is opposed to this technology has the ability to opt out and to exclude their profile photos from the database. Her argument, however, has not convinced some skeptics. This software’s existence has raised red flags for several privacy organizations and government officials; and regulators in Europe have chosen not to allow this feature at all.

This software, while interesting and possibly helpful, makes some people uncomfortable. Many wonder what dangers might appear in the future as a result of facial recognition software. Some even fear cooperation between Facebook and other entities, though Facebook resoundingly denies such theories. To get the full story, click here.