The Circuit: The Blog for Legal and Court Technology

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/.

Law enforcement agencies are wary about recent efforts by tech companies to guard smartphone data

Law enforcement agencies across the United States have expressed alarm about Apple and Google’s recent efforts to guard smartphone data from the police and court systems.  Technology companies are using enhanced data security as a marketing pitch to get more people to buy their products.  The conflict could soon lead to a full-fledged confrontation over security issues between government officials and Silicon Valley.  For more, read this story in The Wall Street Journal.

How the trend of “insourcing” will affect the legal profession

Forbes recently examined the trend of “insourcing” in the legal profession.  Insourcing occurs when big companies increase the ranks of their in-house legal team to cut back on the cost of hiring an expensive outside firm.  The article suggests that midsize firms will be hit particularly hard by the insourcing trend, and argues that they can weather the storm by investing in technology that improves efficiency and cuts down on legal costs.  For more, read the full story from Forbes.

The net neutrality debate heats up

Tom Wheeler, a top lobbyist for the cable and wireless industries for three decades, recently issued guidelines for net neutrality, which is the concept that users should have equal access to any legal online content.  The guidelines have received an onslaught of public criticism, with many people arguing that they do not go far enough to protect an open internet.  For more details on the net neutrality debate, check out this story in The Dallas Morning News.

 

Body-mounted police cameras are more common nationwide

A flurry of police agencies across the country have begun to equip police officers with body-mounted cameras—a controversial move that is largely a reaction to the recent police shooting of an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Mo.  Proponents of the cameras argue that they will improve the transparency and accountability of police officers on the job.  Critics worry that extensive filming could invade privacy and are concerned that archived materials could be misused, leaked, or accessed by hackers.  For more, please read this story in the The New York Times.

Federal officials promise to restore online access to archived court documents

In August, the Administrative Office for U.S. Courts (AO) removed online access to archived case documents from four U.S. federal appellate courts with little warning or public notice.  Removing these documents was controversial, and the AO has since promised to restore them by the end of October.  For more details, check out this story in the Washington Post.

Regional jail in Virginia installs new video teleconferencing technology

A regional jail on the outskirts of Northern Virginia recently installed a new video teleconferencing system that allows prisoners to attend court hearings remotely and to have more frequent communications with their lawyers.  Since its implementation in late August, the system has received positive reviews from attorneys.  For more, read the full story in Northern Virginia Daily.

Apple decides against unlocking iPhones and iPads for police investigations

Apple recently announced it will not turn over data from iPhones or iPads to police, even if police have a search warrant. Apple has taken this stance by releasing a new operating system, iOS 8, that precludes anyone from accessing data stored on an iPhone or iPad except the device’s owner.  Under the new operating system, even Apple cannot access data stored on these devices.   For more, check out this story in The Washington Post.