May 29, 2017

Archives for July 2014

"Loopholes for Circumventing the Constitution", the NSA Statement, and Our Response

CBS News and a host of other outlets have covered my new paper with Sharon Goldberg, Loopholes for Circumventing the Constitution: Warrantless Bulk Surveillance on Americans by Collecting Network Traffic Abroad. We’ll present the paper on July 18 at HotPETS [slides, pdf], right after a keynote by Bill Binney (the NSA whistleblower), and at TPRC in September. Meanwhile, the NSA has responded to our paper in a clever way that avoids addressing what our paper is actually about. [Read more…]

Fair Use, Legal Databases, and Access to Litigation Inputs  

In copyright-and-fair-use news, a significant case for the legal profession’s access to the inputs of judicial decision-making was decided last week in federal district court in New York. The case was brought against West Publishing Corp. (owner of the Westlaw database) and Reed Elsevier (owner of the LexisNexis database) by two lawyers who alleged that their copyrights in their legal briefs were infringed when West and Lexis included the briefs in their databases. The two databases have long provided paid subscribers with access to the judicial decisions that adjudicate the arguments raised by litigants. Now, Westlaw and Lexis will be able to continue providing their subscribers with access to the primary documents in which those arguments are made. In a decision that follows the lead of recent fair use decisions concerning the wholesale copying of literary works to repurpose them for search and research, the court held that West and Lexis are protected from the lawyers’ claims of infringement. A holding in favor of the plaintiffs would have made it effectively impossible for West and Lexis to continue to provide subscribers with access to copies of briefs, given the prohibitively high transaction costs associated with trying to license every brief filed by every lawyer in every case in every court in the United States.
[Read more…]

No silver bullet: De-identification still doesn't work

Paul Ohm’s 2009 article Broken Promises of Privacy spurred a debate in legal and policy circles on the appropriate response to computer science research on re-identification techniques. In this debate, the empirical research has often been misunderstood or misrepresented. A new report by Ann Cavoukian and Daniel Castro is full of such inaccuracies, despite its claims of “setting the record straight.”

In a response to this piece, Ed Felten and I point out eight of our most serious points of disagreement with Cavoukian and Castro. The thrust of our arguments is that (i) there is no evidence that de-identification works either in theory or in practice and (ii) attempts to quantify its efficacy are unscientific and promote a false sense of security by assuming unrealistic, artificially constrained models of what an adversary might do. [Read more…]