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Articles

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Dialing It Back: Why Courts Should Rethink Students’ Privacy and Speech Rights as Cell Phone Communications Erode the ‘Schoolhouse Gate’
Nicholas J. McGuire

Date posted: 11-27-2018

The ubiquity of cell phones in today’s society has forced courts to change or dismiss established, but inapplicable analytical frameworks. Two such frameworks in the school setting are regulations of student speech and of student searches. This Article traces the constitutional jurisprudence of both First Amendment off-campus speech protection and Fourth Amendment search standards as applied to the school setting. It then analyzes how the Supreme Court’s ruling in Riley v. California complicates both areas. Finally, it proposes a pragmatic solution: by recognizing a categorical First Amendment exception for “substantial threats” against the school community, courts could accommodate students’ constitutional rights while upholding school administrators’ ability to maintain a safe environment.

Topic: Media & Communications

 

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The Future of Freedom of Expression Online
Evelyn Mary Aswad

Date posted: 12-7-2018

Should social media companies ban Holocaust denial from their platforms? What about conspiracy theorists that spew hate? Does good corporate citizenship mean platforms should remove offensive speech or tolerate it? The content moderation rules that companies develop to govern speech on their platforms will have significant implications for the future of freedom of expression. Given that the prospects for compelling platforms to respect users’ free speech rights are bleak within the U.S. system, what can be done to protect this important right? In June 2018, the United Nations’ top expert for freedom of expression called on companies to align their speech codes with standards embodied in international human rights law, particularly the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). After the controversy over de-platforming Alex Jones in August 2018, Twitter’s CEO agreed that his company should root its values in international human rights law and Facebook referenced this body of law in discussing its content moderation policies. This is the first article to explore what companies would need to do to align the substantive restrictions in their speech codes with Article 19 of the ICCPR, which is the key international standard for protecting freedom of expression. In order to examine this issue in a concrete way, this Article assesses whether Twitter’s hate speech rules would need to be modified. This Article also evaluates potential benefits of and concerns with aligning corporate speech codes with this international standard. This Article concludes it would be both feasible and desirable for companies to ground their speech codes in this standard; however, further multi-stakeholder discussions would be helpful to clarify certain issues that arise in translating international human rights law into a corporate context.

 

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Defining and Regulating Cryptocurrency: Fake Internet Money or Legitimate Medium of Exchange?
Susan Alkadri

Date posted: 12-9-2018

Digitalization makes almost everything quicker, sleeker, and more efficient. Many argue cryptocurrency is the future of money and payment transfers. This paper explores how the unique nature of cryptocurrencies creates barriers to a strict application of traditional regulatory strategies. Indeed, state and federal regulators remain uncertain if and how they can regulate this cutting-edge technology. Cryptocurrency businesses face difficulty navigating the unclear regulatory landscape, and consumers frequently fall prey to misinformation. To reconcile these concerns, this paper asserts cryptocurrency functions as “currency” or “money” and should be treated as such for regulatory purposes. It also proposes each state implement a uniform cryptocurrency-specific framework following the Uniform Regulation of Virtual-Currency Business Act. Such a harmonious approach would reduce compliance costs for cryptocurrency businesses, protect consumers, and provide satisfactory state and federal oversight.

Topic: cryptocurrency

 

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Deepfakes: False Pornography Is Here and the Law Cannot Protect You
Douglas Harris

Date posted: 1-5-2019

It is now possible for anyone with rudimentary computer skills to create a pornographic deepfake portraying an individual engaging in a sex act that never actually occurred. These realistic videos, called “deepfakes,” use artificial intelligence software to impose a person’s face onto another person’s body. While pornographic deepfakes were first created to produce videos of celebrities, they are now being generated to feature other nonconsenting individuals—like a friend or a classmate. This Article argues that several tort doctrines and recent non-consensual pornography laws are unable to handle published deepfakes of non-celebrities. Instead, a federal criminal statute prohibiting these publications is necessary to deter this activity.

Topic: deepfake, pornography, computer, video, sex

 

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Icts, Social Media, & the Future of Human Rights
Nikita Mehandru and Alexa Koenig

Date posted: 4-1-2019

As communication increasingly shifts to digital platforms, information derived from online open sources is starting to become critical in creating an evidentiary basis for international crimes. While journalists have led the development of many newly emerging open source investigation methodologies, courts have heightened the requirements for verifying and preserving a chain of custody—information linking all of the individuals who possessed the content and indicating the duration of their custody—creating a need for standards that are just now beginning to be identified, articulated, and accepted by the international legal community. In this article, we discuss the impact of internet-based open source investigations on international criminal legal processes, as well as challenges related to their use. We also offer best practices for lawyers, activists, and other individuals seeking to admit open source information—including content derived from social media—into courts.

Topic: open source evidence, human rights, social media, communication