Articles Posted in Internet Law

Two Florida district courts have reached clashing conclusions on whether a suspect in a criminal case can invoke the Fifth Amendment to withhold their iPhone passcode from law enforcement. In the older case, State of Florida v. Stahl, the court ruled that a criminal suspect does not have this right under the Constitution. (This case involved…


October 24, 2018 -- The 4th District appellate court ruled in G.A.Q.L. v State of Florida that an intoxicated minor involved in a car crash that killed someone cannot be forced to reveal the passcode to his iPhone. The teen, known as G.A.Q.L., was allowed to plead the Fifth Amendment clause, shielding him from self-incrimination. He had been found with a blood alcohol level of 0.086, which is over the legal limit, at the hospital after the car crash had occurred.


California and the federal government have reached an agreement whereby the state will halt plans to implement its new net neutrality law on January 1, and the Department of Justice will withdraw its motions seeking to block implementation until the conclusion of ongoing litigation regarding state net neutrality rules. 


In the wake of the FCC's efforts to undo net neutrality protections under the Trump administration, California recently passed a law implementing net neutrality rules that are even stronger than the Obama-era regulations that have been rolled back at the federal level. Governor Jerry Brown signed the new law on September 30, which represents the strongest set of net neutrality protections in the country. The Department of Justice immediately filed a lawsuit in federal court, stating that California's law constitutes an impermissible burden on the federal government's efforts to deregulate the internet.


The New York Times has filed a lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over the FCC's ongoing refusal to adequately respond to FOIA requests. When the FCC's website was soliciting public comments over the controversial net neutrality policies last year, it received an alarmingly high number of comments from ostensibly fake accounts. The New York Times alleges that it has requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) the traffic details for that notice-and-comment period and that the FCC has failed to respond to multiple requests. In its complaint, the New York Times claims that the release of the "records . . . will shed light on the extent to which Russian nationals and agents of the Russian government have interfered with the agency notice-and-comment process about a topic of extensive public interest: the government's decision to abandon 'net neutrality.'"


The FCC should investigate Verizon’s throttling of firefighters’ “unlimited data” that took place during California’s largest wildfire, two Senate Democrats recently argued.


Posted in: Internet Law, Politics

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals recently decided a case allowing the government to produce evidence from the Internet Archive (often referred to as the “Wayback Machine”). The July 2018 ruling supports a similar holding from the Third Circuit in 2011.


In a 4-3 opinion, the California Supreme Court ruled yesterday that Yelp.com cannot be ordered to remove negative posts against a San Francisco law firm that another judge determined were defamatory. The decision overturns a lower court’s ruling against Yelp, and affirms rules that protect internet platforms from legal liability over users’ posts.


The largest social media company in the world faces another legal battle. On Monday, April 16, 2018, US District Judge James Donato ruled in San Francisco federal court that a class action lawsuit could proceed with the allegation that Facebook illegally collected and stored its users biometric data without their permission.


Last week 16 Pulse shooting survivors filed a federal lawsuit against Facebook, Twitter, and Google claiming they helped spread terrorist propaganda with resulted in the deadly Orlando shooting. Specifically, the lawsuit claims that the major tech companies helped terrorists by "aiding, abetting, and knowingly providing support and resources to ISIS.” Without major social media website such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google, plaintiffs argue ISIS would not have become a powerful terrorist organization, and the Pulse attack would not have occurred.


Posted in: Internet Law