|Rep. Armey Criticizes Tampa
|7/2. House Majority
Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) issued a statement
regarding the city of Tampa's use of surveillance cameras and
face recognition software to identify and track individuals.
He wrote that "Contact between the police and the
community is essential. Placing police officers in a remote
control booth to watch the every move of honest citizens isn't
going to make us safer. This is a full-scale surveillance
system. Do we really want a society where one cannot walk down
the street without Big Brother tracking our every move? We
gave away our privacy in allowing red light and photo radar
cameras to take the place of police on our streets. Now Tampa
has taken the next step, and there's nowhere to turn for those
who value their privacy."
|FTC and Netpliance Reach
|6/27. The FTC filed a complaint
[PDF] in U.S. District Court (WDTex)
alleging violation of Section 5 of the Federal Trade
Commission Act (FTCA), the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), and
the FTC's Mail Order Rule. Netpliance is a Delaware
corporation based in Austin, Texas, that sells i-opener, a
basic Internet access device, and Internet access service. The
FTC simultaneously filed a proposed
consent decree [PDF] settling the matter.
Complaint. Count I of the complaint alleges that
Netpliance engaged in deceptive advertising in violation of §
5 of the FTCA by claiming that the i-opener provides access to
all of the Internet's content and by claiming that the i-opener
is equivalent to a personal computer with respect to its
Internet related performance. Count II alleges that Netpliance
misrepresented the price of the i-opener, in violation of § 5
of the FTCA. Count III alleges that Netpliance failed to
disclose that i-opener users must use Netpliance's ISP to
access the Internet, in violation of § 5 of the FTCA. Count
IV and V allege deceptive billing practices and unauthorized
charging of debit and credit card numbers, in violation of §
5 of the FTCA. Count VI - VIII alleges violations of the TILA
or Mail Order Rule.
Consent Decree. Under the terms of the proposed consent
decree, Netpliance is enjoined from further deceptive
advertising, required to reimburse consumers for improperly
billed charges, and fined $100,000. This settlement is subject
to court approval.
|Metricom Files Chapter 11
|7/2. Metricom filed a
Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition in U.S. Bankruptcy Court (NDCal).
Metricom, based in San Jose, California, will continue to
provide its Ricochet wireless data service. Metricom is
represented by the law firm of Murphy Sheneman.
|Court Construes ECPA, PPA,
1A & 4A in Computer Seizure Case
|7/2. The U.S.
Court of Appeals (6thCir) issued its opinion
v. Leis, a civil case against a police
department arising out of the seizure of computer equipment
used to operate BBSs. The District Court and Appeals Court
ruled for the defendant police department on all issues.
Background. Plaintiffs are bulletin board service
operators, host computer owners, and users. They filed two
complaints in U.S. District Court (SDOhio)
against the Hamilton County Sheriff's Department and various
individuals. Plaintiffs alleged violation of the Electronic
Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), the First and Fourth
Amendments, the Privacy Protection Act (PPA), and
various state law claims. Defendants temporarily seized
computer equipment, pursuant to warrants, that stored images
that were illegal as obscenity or child pormagraphy.
The District Court granted defendants either qualified
immunity or summary judgment on all claims. Plaintiffs
Appeals Court Holding. The Appeals Court affirmed on
all issues. The Appeals Court held that there was no violation
of the ECPA because police had a valid warrant before seizing
and searching the computers. The Appeals Court also held that
there was no illegal prior restraint of speech. It wrote that
"Police are permitted to seize evidence of a crime - even
expressive materials - if the seizure is pursuant to a valid
The Appeals Court also affirmed on the PPA claims. The PPA
prohibits the government from seizing work product materials
that are intended for publication. The Appeals Court held that
"The targeted files - obscene images or pirated software
- would not qualify as protected work product or documentary
material because both definitions exclude 'property designed
or intended for use, or which is or has been used as, the
means of committing a criminal offense.' "
|7/2. Paige Anderson joined the Center for Democracy and Technology
(CDT), a Washington DC based non profit group that focuses on
technology policy. She will work on a new project aimed at
addressing the global digital divide through legal and
regulatory reform in developing countries. Anderson was
previously an attorney in the Washington DC office of the law
firm of Akin Gump,
where she had practiced communications law since 1996. See, Akin
7/2. The Washington DC based law firm of Arnold & Porter
opened an office in Northern Virginia. It will be headed by Robert
Ott, and will initially have 19 attorneys specializing
in technology and commercial transactions, intellectual
property protection, commercialization and litigation, venture
capital, private and public equity financings, and IPOs. See, release.
7/2. The Washington DC based law firm of Shaw Pittman announced
its merger with Klein & Martin, a 15 attorney Los Angeles
law firm that focuses on complex business, technology and
health care transactions. See, release.
7/1. Randy New, BellSouth's
VP for Public Policy, left BellSouth effective July 1. See, release.
7/2. Georg Berrisch joined the Brussels office of the
Washington DC based law firm of Covington
& Burling. Berrisch is a German Rechtsanwalt and EU
litigator. He previously was the the Managing Partner of the
Brussels office of the German firm Gaedertz. See, release
Elinger joined the Seattle office of the law firm of Preston Gates & Ellis
as of counsel in the firm's Business Department and, the
emerging growth company and venture capital practice group.
Her practice emphasizes business transactions and general
corporate matters, particularly private and public equity
financings, venture capital transactions, mergers and
acquisitions, and strategic transactions for emerging and
developing entities, including technology and intellectual
property agreements. See, release.
Ogden joined the Washington DC office of the law firm
of Wilmer Cutler &
Pickering as a partner. He was previously Assistant
Attorney General for the Civil Division
of the U.S. Department of Justice. See, release.
|The Tech Law Journal Daily E-Mail Alert will not be
published on July 4, 5 or 6.
|Gallup Conducts Poll on
|6/28. The Gallup Organization released the results of a poll
of e-mail users regarding online privacy. Gallup stated that
66% of respondents "think the government should pass more
laws to ensure online privacy". Gallup also stated that
"Frequent Internet users - those who spend 15 hours or
more online each week - are more likely to favor the passage
of new laws (75%) than are infrequent users (63%). Also,
Democrats (73%) are more likely than Republicans (60%) to
favor more privacy laws." See, release.
|AMD and Alcatel Settle
|7/2. AMD and Alcatel
Business Systems announced the settlement of AMD's lawsuit
against Alcatel. AMD filed a complaint in the Supreme Court of
the State of New York against Alcatel alleging that it had
breached a contract to supply AMD flash memory products. The
action was removed to the U.S. District Court (SDNY).
The two companies did not disclose the terms of the
settlement. See, AMD release.
|Sabre and EDS Complete
|7/2. The U.S. Department of Justice, Antitrust Division,
announced that it will not challenge the planned sale of Sabre's airline
infrastructure information technology assets to EDS after the
parties informed the DOJ that they were abandoning an
agreement that would have transferred EDS' internal airline
reservation system, known as SHARES, to Sabre. See, DOJ
release. The two companies announced the completion of the
transaction. See, Sabre
release and EDS
|6/27. Rep. John
Dingell (D-MI) wrote a "Dear Colleague" letter
[PDF] to members of Congress urging them to support HR 1542,
the Tauzin Dingell bill.
7/2. The U.S. Patent and
Trademark Office (USPTO) began a pilot program under which
125 patent examiners will work at home using workstations
provided by the USPTO. These examiners will have full
electronic searching through encrypted transmission over high
speed data lines. See, release.
7/2. Napster temporarily
suspended file transfers. It stated that "There were
problems with the databases upon which the new file
identification technology relies ..." and that transfers
would be resumed "as soon as possible but we don't yet
have a sense of a precise time." See, Napster
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