When most Americans think of drones, they think of unmanned, often weaponized aircraft that are used by governments in areas of conflict for intelligence or combat purposes.  However, the proverbial sky is the limit on the potential commercial use of drones.  For example, in a December 2013 60 Minutes interview, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, described his company’s efforts to develop GPS-programmed, autonomous drones (or in his words, “octocopters”) to serve as “delivery vehicles” to provide half-hour delivery of your future Amazon order.  Although there will be hurdles to the widespread commercial adoption of drones as the Federal Aviation Administration works out the regulatory issues surrounding the licensing and use of drones in our airspace, our not-too-distant future could involve a world in which drones are literally buzzing above our heads.

Drones are, among other things, unmanned, light, easy to deploy and relatively cheap.  As a result, companies could use drones for numerous purposes, including scientific research and exploration, monitoring livestock or gas pipelines, remote troubleshooting of technology, finding lost shipments or even as a substitute for the Super Bowl blimp.  Because of advances in camera, video and audio technology (and the decreasing cost of that technology), however, drones could also be used to collect and communicate massive amounts of information about individuals and their everyday lives.  Imagine a company taking its drones out for a spin on a Saturday morning in your town to conduct market research, observing how the average person mows the lawn, when the average person goes to grab coffee or how many bags of groceries the average person leaves with from the supermarket.  Or, imagine a company flying a drone around its factory or retail location to monitor when its employees go on break or what end-caps its customers gravitate to or avoid.  As is true with many new technologies, drones raise complex and often troubling privacy issues (remember your first cell phone…it didn’t have a camera or location services, right?).
Continue Reading Next Generation State Privacy Law: Regulating the Commercial Use of Drones

INTRODUCTION

This year, as the world celebrates the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web, the Web’s founder, Tim Berners-Lee, has called for a fundamental reappraisal of copyright law.  By coincidence, this year we also anticipate a rash of UK and European legislative developments and court decisions centring on copyright and its application to the Web.

In our “Copyright: Europe Explores its Boundaries” series of posts—aimed at copyright owners, technology developers and digital philosophers alike—we will examine how UK and European copyright is coping with the Web and the novel social and business practices that it enables.
Continue Reading Copyright: Europe Explores its Boundaries: Part 1: Link Hubs

A 2013 CareerBuilder survey of hiring managers and human resource professionals reports that more than two in five companies use social networking sites to research job candidates. This interest in social networking does not end when the candidate is hired: to the contrary, companies are seeking to leverage the personal social media networks of their existing employees, as well as to inspect personal social media in workplace investigations.

As employer social media practices continue to evolve, individuals and privacy advocacy groups have grown increasingly concerned about employers intruding upon applicants’ or employees’ privacy by viewing restricted access social media accounts. A dozen states already have passed special laws restricting employer access to personal social media accounts of applicants and employees (“state social media laws”), and similar legislation is pending in at least 28 states. Federal legislation is also under discussion.

These state social media laws restrict an employer’s ability to access personal social media accounts of applicants or employees, to ask an employee to “friend” a supervisor or other employer representative and to inspect employees’ personal social media. They also have broader implications for common practices such as applicant screening and workplace investigations, as discussed below.
Continue Reading Employer Access to Employee Social Media: Applicant Screening, ‘Friend’ Requests and Workplace Investigations

Two bills designed to facilitate the removal of minors’ personal information from social networking sites are currently under consideration in the California State Assembly, after being approved in the upper house of the state’s legislature, the Senate, in early 2013. The first of the two bills, S.B. 501, would require a “social networking Internet

In February 2013, we reported on legislative momentum in the Japanese Diet to bring Japan’s sixty-year-old election laws into the brave new world of Web 2.0. On April 19, 2013, that reform effort came to fruition, when a bill permitting the use of the Internet during election campaign periods passed both Houses of the legislature—just

Article courtesy of Morrison & Foerster’s Mobile Payments Practice

Lawmakers in Washington, D.C., continue to show interest in understanding and developing regulatory proposals relating to mobile apps. The interest appears to be driven, at least in part, by policymakers’ concerns about consumer privacy when using mobile phones and other smart hand-held devices. The issue of

History is littered with examples of the law being slow to catch up with the use of technology.  Social media is no exception.  As our Socially Aware blog attests, countries around the world are having to think fast to apply legal norms to rapidly evolving communications technologies and practices.

Law enforcement authorities in the United