February 28 2008, 18:02
Before Mrs. Jones leaves work on a typical Tuesday, she goes to a familiar Web site where she can view the items left in her refrigerator to determine if she needs to stop by the grocery store. She is completely out of milk and some other items, so she plans a trip to the store. Double-checking to make sure her children arrived safely at home, she sees on the Web site that they both got off the bus on time and are in the living room, probably watching television instead of doing their homework.
As she walks toward her car on the way home, a billboard greets her, “Good evening, Mrs. Jones!” and displays a pair of jeans she might be interested in – the same brand of jeans she bought a couple of months ago. In her car, she drives through the parking garage exit without handing anyone money - the arm automatically lets her out. At the store, she is greeted again with her name and the shopping cart she grabs tells her what she bought last time and what aisle each item is in. Upon arriving home, her doors unlock automatically so she do not have to dig out her keys while she carries the grocery bags.
This scenario is made possible through radio frequency identification (RFID). It may seem incredibly futuristic, but the truth is that the technology is closer than one would think. RFID technology offers incredible possibilities for efficiency and convenience for both businesses and consumers, but also raises important privacy concerns.
Uses and Benefits of RFID
RFID technology involves the electronic communication of information from a small chip that emits a radio frequency to a reader that interprets the information.  RFID technology is currently used in items such as clothing, home products, security cards, driver’s licenses, and tollway passes.  No human interaction with the products or data reader is necessary – the data reader either requests information from the RFID chip if the chip is passive (the more common implementation) or receives information if the RFID chip is active (such as car tags for tollways). 
RFID is being implemented extensively by Wal-Mart.  Wal-Mart required its top one hundred suppliers to use RFID chips in their products by January 2005.  Wal-Mart installed RFID readers on its shelves so when a product with an RFID chip is taken from the shelf, the stock room is notified that a replacement needs to leave the stock room and a new product needs to be ordered.  This has incredible benefits of more accurately supplying customers with desired products, as well as not requiring human interaction for scanning the shelves or manually calculating how many products are needed.
Road-toll management is also another current use of RFID.  Toll road systems can electronically identify the car and deduct the toll while allowing the cars to keep moving.  Identification cards allow electronic access to secured areas through RFID.  Holding up the identification card to the reader opens the door, providing great convenience to the user RFID tags are being tested to track students by putting tags in their backpacks.  The system being implemented in Charleston, South Carolina will track children as they enter and exit the buses.  The global positioning system on the bus will track where the bus is located on its route.  Parents are able to check a Web site to see if their children are on the bus and if the bus is on time. 
RFID technology offers significant benefits. For retailers, it combines the security of magnetic tags used to prevent theft combined with the detailed product information available with barcodes in one technology.  RFID tags also allow writing of information, so businesses can write on the tag who purchased the product and when.  Retailers can keep track of their products much closer, knowing exactly when a product has left the shelves and needs to be replaced.  This can save companies, both retailers and suppliers, an incredible amount every year.  Procter and Gamble reports that almost 16% of its products are out-of-stock, causing empty store shelves.  By reducing that number only 10 – 20%, it could save the company $400 million each year. 
The convenience of opening doors or driving directly through toll booths is a great benefit of the technology as well. Some parents greatly appreciate being able to determine when their young children have arrived at school and when to expect them home. Other parents, however, have great concerns that the information about their children could become available to unscrupulous individuals. In Charleston, the American Civil Liberties Union has assisted those concerned parents in keeping the information about their children safe by stopping the implementation of RFID tracking technology. 
Privacy Implications of RFID Technology
The most serious privacy and legal concerns are raised by publicly available technology that can “skim” – or steal - information from RFID tags.  Skimming technology copies the information contained on the RFID tag quickly by reading and cloning the RFID signal.  This information can include identifying information and give the ‘skimmer’ access to secured areas or buildings.  California State Senator Joe Simitian sponsored a bill in the California Senate to outlaw skimming technology; the bill was passed in January 2008.  Senator Simitian himself was a victim of skimming – a hacker skimmed Senator Simitian’s State Capitol access card and was able to walk into restricted areas.  Other types of identification, such as drivers’ licenses and student IDs often have RFID technology. Frighteningly, the technology to skim the personal information from an RFID tag is “readily available, off-the-shelf, and surprisingly inexpensive.” 
Retail items with RFID tags, such as clothing, electronics and other goods can provide those who purchase RFID readers or skimming technology with detailed information about a person’s spending habits and purchasing history.  When the tagged item is identified with a particular individual, the information about that product and the other products they have with them or in their home, depending on where the RFID reader is used, can give the reader a profile of the person.  This might be helpful for customers who want targeted coupons or advertisements, but for many people this raises serious concerns about privacy.
In 2005 American Express submitted a patent for a new RFID technology system made up of RFID tags and readers.  The patent explained that objects with RFID tags would emit signals that identified the user and that when used in conjunction with RFID readers, people’s movements would be recorded and they would be sent video ads targeted directly toward them.  RFID readers would be placed in public places such as “a common area of a school, shopping center, [or] bus station,” finding out personal information about many different people. 
Solving Privacy Problems
For those concerned about privacy, there are forces at work to address the privacy implications of RFID technology. At least two legislative bodies, the California Senate and Washington House of Representatives, have passed bills that make it illegal to skim RFID–enabled cards.  On the technological front, software that deactivates RFID tags once the items with the tag is purchased is being developed.  This technology will, through the use of lights, indicate when the item’s RFID tag has been deactivated. 
Also preventing the great outcry against RFID technology is that RFID is not widely used yet. Businesses wanting to use RFID tags would have to make incredible investments in new hardware to read RFID tags on shelves and at checkout counters, software to understand the RFID tags, the RFID tags themselves, training for employees and new security systems. Most companies do not have the capital for such a venture.  RFID tag technology itself needs to improve before it can have wide-spread use.  RFID readers are not always accurate, and the RFID tags are hard to manufacture very small for the products that require small tags.  Additionally, the technology to disable the RFID tags needs to be implemented to address the privacy concerns that consumers have. 
As RFID technology gets less and less expensive, more businesses will begin investing in RFID tags. From 1999 to 2003, the cost of RFID tags decreased by fifty percent - from $1.00 to $.50 per tag - with price drops predicted to continue.  Once RFID tags become more affordable to smaller businesses, they will become more widely used and consumers need to be aware of what RFID technology is and how it affects them. Even though it would be great to have stores and billboards give customers a personal greeting because they can read the RFID tag on our drivers’ licenses, it also means that all sorts of companies are gathering personal movements and creating a profile about the consumers. There is no need to begin a great panic about “big brother” monitoring our every movement, but consumers do need to be aware of RFID technology and what it means for their lives. Although RFID might bring great convenience by allowing parents to see where their children are and permitting drivers to pass through toll booths at a normal speed, at what price does this convenience come? Only the future will reveal how retailers, the government, police, investigators, lawyers and marketers will use our private information.
 Alan D. Smith, Exploring Radio Frequency Identification Technology and its Impact on Business Systems, 13 INFORMATION MANAGEMENT AND COMPUTER SECURITY 16, 17 (2008).
 Alan D. Smith, supra note 1, at 20-21.
 Todd Lewan, Chipping Away at Privacy: Devices Track Spending, Personal Moves, ALBANY TIMES UNION, Jan. 27, 2008, at A7.
 Alan D. Smith, supra note 1, at 17.
 Id. at 21 - 22.
 California Senate Approves Bill to Outlaw Skimming RFID Tags, COMMWEB NEWS, Jan. 31, 2008.
 Michelle R. Smith, Plan for Student-Tracking Chips Criticized, CHARLESTON DAILY MAIL, Jan. 8, 2008, at 12A.
 Alan D. Smith, supra note 1, at 18.
 Id. at 18.
 Id. at 18-19.
 Michelle R. Smith, supra note 11.
 California Senate, supra note 6, at 1.
 Lewan, supra note 3.
 Washington State Reps. Pass Ban on RFID Skimming, COMMWEB NEWS, Feb. 15, 2008.
 Illinois, Rhode Island Inventors Develop Visual Identification Tag Deactivation, US FEDERAL NEWS, Feb. 11, 2008.
 Alan D. Smith, supra note 1, at 22 – 23.
 Id. at 18.
February 23 2008, 01:09
Picture yourself in the shoes of Maria Udy, a marketing executive working for a travel management firm in Maryland.  Udy, a British citizen traveling from Washington D.C. to London, was pulled aside by a federal agent because he had "a security concern" with her.  She was presented with a frustrating choice: hand over her laptop for the agent to search or miss her flight.  In a similar incident a tech engineer, a U.S. citizen who chose to remain anonymous for fear of calling attention to himself, was pulled aside by a federal agent who demanded that he log into his computer so that the agent could search it.  The engineer protested, as the computer belonged to his corporation, but he logged in and watched in dismay as the federal agent copied down each of the websites he had visited.  Sadly, these incidents are far from isolated. 
Technological advances have provided international business travelers with innumerable benefits, but recent border search jurisprudence threatens to nullify the conveniences of this medium by subjecting such travelers to random, invasive searches of their electronics.  Indeed, in this age where a business traveler's laptop can be as indispensable as his or her wallet (and capable of carrying so much more), privacy protections have become all the more essential. Furthermore, due to conflicting precedents in two recent, landmark cases, the future of privacy protections in the digital age is entirely uncertain.  This article will not only examine the current state of the law of border searches with regard to technology, but it will also analyze the merits of arguments made in salient, recent cases that will shape the future of the law in the field. [More]
February 5 2008, 14:44
The legal profession has been criticized for not keeping up with technological advances , arguably leading to less efficiency in the practice of law. Websites like LegalZoom.com and LegalAdviceLine.com are at the cutting edge of changing that.  While most law firms, especially those in large cities, have basic websites outlining the firm’s area(s) of expertise, displaying recent press releases, and even giving biographies of the attorneys in order to attract more business, some legal web pages have taken a more interactive approach.  These interactive websites offer a variety of “do-it-yourself” services, from answering specific legal questions, to incorporating a new business, to quickly producing documents such as basic contracts and wills at a fraction of the cost of obtaining a lawyer’s services.  While the thought of saving money on attorneys fees may initially seem attractive, and even though these websites are generally used for very basic legal needs, online legal aid may cross the line between self-help and the unauthorized practice of law.  The following article will discuss the inherent costs and benefits of having this form of legal advice available. LegalZoom.com claims that it, in fact, is not offering legal services.  The fine (and gray, making it even harder to see) print on that website states that “the information provided in this site is not legal advice, but general information on legal issues commonly encountered. LegalZoom’s Legal Documentation Service is not a law firm and is not a substitute for an attorney or law firm.”  But just because this is what the website says, does that mean it is true? Is LegalZoom.com really not providing legal advice? The mere suggestion of this may seem somewhat laughable in that LegalZoom.com advertisements claim that its “services will save up to 85% of what an attorney would charge for performing the same service,"  which is highly suggestive that the website is meant as a substitute for an attorney. Before we can say LegalZoom.com and others have crossed a line , we must first determine what constitutes the unauthorized practice of law. According to Mark Yoccum, a Duguesne University Professor of professional responsibility, “most jurisdictions…have no definition of what it is to practice law,” and generally these kinds of situations are dealt with on a case-by-case basis.  While websites pose a seemingly new problem regarding the unauthorized practice of law, this situation is similar to form books, which may give people the information they need to draft their own contracts and other legal documents. Books were ultimately found not to be the unauthorized practice of law by several courts, however, if the author were too include commentary discussing the material in the document, there may be a problem.  “Determining just what constitutes the unauthorized practice of law is a state to state issue”  so websites may be in trouble in one state, but perfectly within the rules in another. To be sure, there is no clear cut answer to whether websites constitute the unauthorized practice of law, but there are viable arguments on both sides, and case law is needed in this area to come to a definitive conclusion.  To be sure, there are perks to legal services over the internet. The most obvious is that this will increase efficiency.  Rather that forcing clients come in and meet with an attorney face-to-face to discuss their legal issues, the internet provides a faster method of getting answers to legal questions.  Internet legal services also may lower the costs of legal services (due to the increase in efficiency), thereby increasing the number of people who have access to legal advice.  The cons, however, are considerable. The most important is that the internet is very difficult to regulate and therefore the quality of legal services and advice may be compromised, leading to misguidance.  In the event that the legal advice obtained was false or misleading, a client may have missed the statute of limitations deadline, causing irreparable harm if the websites are not forced to answer, in civil court or before the appropriate bar association, for the error.  Also, when these kinds of websites are allowed to operate, who’s to say they will adhere to other professional ethics rules, such as those regarding confidentiality and the attorney-client privilege?  Without these guarantees, there cannot be as free of an exchange of information, and information the client may want to keep private may be revealed. There are also multi-jurisdictional complications – legal advice in one jurisdiction is not necessarily applicable in another, but the internet is available across all jurisdictions, leading to inevitable confusion if explicit disclosures are not made.  In addition “websites, form books and other instances of non-lawyers providing legal advice can lead to a lack of confidence [in the system].”  Lastly, it has been argued that “the real reason the practice of law needs to be regulated is to ensure independence of judgment. ‘The lawyer’s interest is your interest….that isn’t always the case if you are dealing with someone who isn’t a lawyer.’”  In essence, the oath lawyers take to do what is best for their client protects the client - if legal advice is accepted from those who have not taken that oath, those important protections are not in place. So what should be done in light of the fact that legal websites are only gaining popularity, with legal professionals running to catch up? Perhaps internet and traditional legal services do not have to be at odds with each other. Indeed, they can coexist and even assist in each other’s prosperity. It is unclear at present whether every legal website is owned and operated by a licensed attorney. It is the opinion of the author that all websites offering any form of legal service should have a licensed attorney behind it and willing to accept the consequences for the business, including potential malpractice lawsuits. The lawyers running these websites should be held to identical standards to their brick and mortar counterparts, and should comply with all the model rules of professional ethics so as to create uniformity across jurisdictions. There is, of course, a multijurisdictional problem, because legal advice in one state may not be appropriate for those in another. In this case, legal websites must get an informed waiver from anyone using the service, to make them aware that legal advice is not “one size fits all” and must often be tailored to specific state law. Another option has been presented by Robert Shapiro, founder of LegalZoom.com.  He has launched ProxiLaw.com, a website designed for use by licensed attorneys, which basically serves as an “invisible member of the attorney’s staff.”  The service provides basic services to enable attorneys to attend to their clients’ more complicated needs.  ProxiLaw.com is meant to serve as a “cost-effective and time-saving” tool to streamline the day to day practices of law firms.  This is an example of how traditional law firms and the internet can interact to foster a better, more efficient, and most cost-effective way of providing legal services to those who need it. The internet presents unique problems related to the unauthorized practice of law. It will be interesting to see how the offering of legal services evolves via the internet, and whether future courts and bar associations will crack down on websites claiming that they are not offering legal advice. Indeed, regulation is needed to assure that quality legal services (provided by qualified individuals) are offered to those who seek it, but the internet offers new hope for efficient and cost-effective legal counsel – it is the wave of the future and, perhaps, a step in the right direction.Sources Allen W. Chiu, The Ethical Limits of ELawyering: Resolving the Multijurisdictional Dilemma of Internet Practice through Strict Enforcement, 2004 UCLA J. L. & TECH. NOTES 1 (2004). Id. Id. Jason Green, Websites may Create Unauthorized Practice Questions, 9(14) LAWYERS J. 6, 6 (2007). See generally, id. (discussing the unauthorized practice questions that arise from legal websites); Catherine J. Lanctot, Scriveners in Cyberspace: Online Document Preparation and the Unauthorized Practice of Law, 30 HOFSTRA L. REV. 811 (2002). See also, MODEL RULES OF PROF'L CONDUCT R. 5.5 (2007). Green, supra note 4, at 6. Id. See also, LegalZoom.com Home Page,, http://www.legalzoom.com (last visited Feb. 5, 2008). Id. Id. Id. Green, supra note 4, at 6. Id. See id. ("To date...no complaints regarding the dispensing of legal services from the Internet have been made."). See West Group, Attorney Rober Shapiro Launches On-Demand Paralegal Service, 20(23) LAW P.C. 6 (2003). Chiu, supra note 1. Id. See Lanctot, supra note 5, at 840-41. See generally, id. (discussing that legal websites refuse to accept liability if someone uses their documents without consulting a lawyer). See MODEL RULES OF PROF'L CONDUCT R. 1.6 (2007) (discussing confidentiality). See generally, Kristine A. Moriarty, Law Practice and the Internet: The Ethical Implications that Arise from Multijurisdictional Online Legal Service, 39 IDAHO L. REV. 431 (2003). Green, supra note 4, at 6. Id. West Group, supra note 14. Id. Id. Id.
November 14 2007, 14:58
Instant Messages (IMs) have become an increasingly popular method of communication, both in the personal and business world.  They have the benefit of being an efficient, rapid and oftentimes free means of communication.  IMs are often candid and free-form, and when users close their IM dialogue box when the conversation ends, the chat session generally disappears and is not recorded.  However, with the advent of the e-discovery amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP), many electronically stored documents have become subject to discovery in litigation.  While Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and e-mails are accepted as discoverable documents for litigation purposes, it is unclear whether IMs can and should be requested during the discovery process.  This article will explore issues related to the discoverability of instant messages and will ultimately suggest that businesses employ techniques to closely monitor employee use of instant messages to prevent a “smoking gun” IM from costing employers millions of dollars in court. [More]
October 25 2007, 15:44
Virtual reality is fast becoming a mainstay in today’s modern culture of computer savvy citizens all over the world.  It is a concept of real time and space existing within a construct comprised entirely of a dynamic, streaming assembly of 1’s and 0’s of binary programming language, translated into an individual’s online world. As the complexity and realism of these interactive virtual playgrounds increase, users have adapted a plethora of entrepreneurial opportunities that test the legal boundaries of laws throughout the world, including those of the United States.  [More]
October 25 2007, 15:43
I. Introduction Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (FMRI) and DNA sequence mapping provide technologies that offer society unprecedented benefits, but at a cost that we are only beginning to understand.  FMRI, for example, enables researchers to map the brain's neurons as they process thoughts, sensations, memories and motor commands.  This provides neurologists with the ability to detect early onset of Alzheimer's disease and other ailments without invasive surgery.  It also can be used as a next generation lie detector in that it provides an almost infallible insight into a person's thought process that detects deception, raising obvious concerns about our civil liberties and right to privacy.  DNA sequence screening, on the other hand, involves the study of genes and the notion that they are determinative of an individual's behavior, character, and future medical problems.  Diseases such as Crohn's disease, night blindness, Lupus, and emphysema and their associated genes are already patented , making genes a highly lucrative business commodity.  However, should there be property rights associated with genes? In the wrong hands, these potentially altruistic technologies may create an Orwellian society where the government and/or large corporations may legally infringe on our traditional notions of civil liberties in the pursuit of capitalist ends.  Where should we draw the line? II. FMRI Technology - Promises and LiesFMRI scans have uncovered a rough methodology of, for example, how our brains handle fear, memory, risk-taking, and romantic love.  Lie detection is possible because the hemoglobin in red blood cells react differently to the FMRI magnetic fields depending on if the cells are carrying a molecule of oxygen.  Active regions of the brain use more oxygen, and the fMRI scanner can pinpoint the busiest regions of the brain in real time with no danger or discomfort to the subject.  Subjects that lie showed increased brain activity in areas such as memory, judgment, planning, sentence processing, and inhibition.  In contrast, those that told the truth that utilized less mental resources; thus, the liars exerted more mental processes to lie than truth tellers, making for fail proof determinations of deception. Two startup companies called No Lie MRI and Cephos have emerged, promising to bring deception detection to the market.  Because of the highly controlled, sensitive, and cumbersome non-portable testing environment, their primary customers are those that seek to exonerate themselves from their convictions.  However, new derivative infra-red technologies that can still achieve a 95% accuracy rate, are under way that could enable discrete scans from across the room, applicable to situations like airport screening or military interrogations without the need for consensual participation.  The potential uses are vast; beyond determining if someone is a law-abiding citizen or a security threat, this technology could be used, for example, in employee hiring procedures or even if to determine if your partner is faithful or not.  This raises obvious questions of 4th and 5th amendment rights - is an involuntary FMRI scan an illegal search and seizure since something (your thoughts) was taken from you without your consent?  The intrusion into one’s thoughts would arguably violate one’s constitutional right not to incriminate yourself if people could ask you questions that you cannot deny or refuse to answer. III. Gene Sequence Screening and Health CoverageGenes have become a major business commodity, with venture capitalists and patent procurements aimed primarily at the development of drugs and diagnostic tests.  Almost 20 percent of the entire human genome is "owned" by patent holders and investors mostly focused on human disease and biological pathways.  While the benefits of the technology show unprecedented promise in fighting disease, the benefit may be at some cost to our privacy with genetic information. Insurance companies have already denied health insurance to patience because of genetic screening.  For example, an HMO stated that it would pay for an abortion of a fetus with a genetic defect, but would not provide financial coverage if the fetus was brought to term.  Even healthy people have been denied coverage despite their disease prevention measures because of genetic screening. A healthy child who carried a gene that predisposed him of a heart disorder was rejected for health coverage despite his medication that eliminated his risk of heart disease.  This poses the question as to whether insurance companies should be able to charge higher premiums based on genetic screening when predisposed but controllable ailments are detected.  The protection and privacy of our genetic information will certainly be hotly debated in the years to come.IV. ConclusionFMRI and Gene Sequence Screening offer many benefits to society that can revolutionize and greatly enhance, among other things, our medical and security capabilities. However, if left unchecked, the capitalistic ends may test our traditional notions of civil liberty.Sources: GEORGE ORWELL, 1984 (Plume 2003) (1961). Intrepid Liberal Journal, Brain Fingerprinting and Civil Liberties, May 23, 2006http://www.politicalcortex.com/story/2006/5/23/222135/163 (last visited Nov. 20, 2007). Id.  Id. Id. Philip Bereano, Does Genetic Research Threaten Our Civil Liberties?, Aug. 2000http://www.actionbioscience.org/genomic/bereano.html (last visited Nov. 20, 2007). Greta Lorge, Everybody Wants a Piece of You. One-fifth of Your DNA is Now Owned (As in Patented) by Someone Else, Jan. 2006 http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.01/start.html?pg=17(last visited Nov. 20, 2007). See Bereano, supra note 6. Steve Silberman, Don’t Even Think About Lying. How Brain Scans are Reinventing the Science of Lie Detection, Jan. 2006 http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.01/lying.html?pg=2&topic=lying&topic_set= (last visited Nov. 22, 2007). Jeff Wise, This is Your Brain…This is Your Brain on an fMRI Scan, POPULAR MECHANICS, Nov. 2007, at 64. Id. Id. Id. Id. See Silberman, supra note 9.  Id. Id. See Wise, supra note 10. Id. Id. See Lorge, supra note 7. Id. See Bereano, supra note 6. Id. Id. Id. Id.
October 18 2007, 21:18
In the middle and late 1990’s, dot com companies were all the hype.  However, when the dot com bubble unexpectedly popped in 2000, many investors and stockholders were left asking, “Where did we go wrong?”  While a few companies survived due to hard work, solid business plans and faithful employees, most lower level employees and top executives of internet companies were left jobless and in debt.  This article will explore the history of dot com businesses and the causes of the 2000 stock market crash, then it will discuss common mistakes made by dot com entrepreneurs and will conclude with suggestions for aspiring dot com business owners to ensure a successful future for their businesses. [More]
October 18 2007, 14:58
From gambling in the city of lights to gambling on the internet in your PJs at home, Americans love to wager their hard earned dollars on a variety of games. Despite this fact, the U.S. Congress decided to place a ban on online gambling.  As a result, the United States went in front of the World Trade Organization (WTO) after Antigua complained of unfair commerce practices when it was prevented from engaging in transactions with U.S. consumers. The WTO sided with Antigua, finding that the U.S. did in fact violate its trade obligations to the world community, and the U.S. may now be face billions of dollars in damages. Even in light of this finding, the U.S. has passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Act of 2006, which effectively criminalizes funding online gambling accounts.  In the face of strong opposition, will the U.S. back down on its ban and should they? Antigua and Barbuda filed a complaint with the WTO in 2003 and effectively argued that three U.S. laws are keeping their companies from reaching American online gamblers: The Wire Act, the Travel Act and the Illegal Gaming Business Act.  The main complaint is that the U.S. has violated its treaty obligations by discriminating – it has excluded Antiguan online operators while allowing domestic casinos to continue to operate.  While one might expect the Bush administration to stop in its tracks and just allow foreign online gambling operators to reach U.S. consumers, instead the U.S. simply “withdrew the sizeable gambling industry form its free trade commitments.”  The WTO was not pleased, and may now seek compensation for this decision in the form of almost $100 Billion dollars.  Despite the problems its facing with the Wire Act, Travel Act and Illegal Gaming Business Act, the U.S. has passed yet another law aimed at eliminating online gambling but this one appears to aim at both domestic and foreign entities: The Unlawful Online Gambling Act of 2006.  The Act was justified by Congress through this statement of purpose: “Internet gambling is a growing cause of debt collection problems for insured depository institutions and the consumer credit industry.”  It appears as though Congress has not targeted the consumer (that is, the online gambler) in this Act. Instead, it declares that “[n]o person engaged in the business of betting or wagering may knowing accept, in connection with the participation of another person in unlawful Internet gambling—(1) credit…(2) an electronic fund transfer…(3) any check, draft, or similar instrument...” and so on, covering the bases of every form of currency with which someone might fund their online gambling account.  The language of this statute is targeted at credit and lending institutions, but it also effectively cutoff the pipeline of funds which ultimately affects online gamblers. There is a debate over whether the act of gambling online is a crime for the consumer , though intent is fairly clear - powers in the U.S. government desire an end to online gambling.  Unfortunately there do not appear to be any cases to date interpreting the Unlawful Online Gambling Act of 2006, which would assist in the deciphering its true meaning. Assuming that online gambling is illegal for players, or that it will be made illegal in the future, it is important to look at the policy behind that decision and decide whether it is actually a wise move on the part of Congress. As stated above, one of the major reasons Congress gave for the Unlawful Internet Gambling Act of 2006 is that it harms the economy. However, not all agree that online gambling is the root of all evil in this respect. An opponent to online gambling writes that “[o]nline gambling is being seen as pushing up consumer debts and that’s not good for the economy. Figures from the government have revealed that the amount of money spent on gambling shows a perturbing sharp increase.”  In response to this article, it has been noted that the logic in these statements is flawed. A poker blog took this argument head on: “Nice way to take two unrelated facts and come to a completely unrelated conclusion. Consumer debt is not good for the economy. True. The money wagered on gambling is sharply increasing with both the rise of online sites as well as B&M casinos sprouting up all over the place. True. Online gambling has caused an increase in consumer debt. False.”  It is not altogether clear that online poker really does have a detrimental affect on the economy, making this argument seemingly weak until compelling evidence is given...but Congress has not yet made such evidence public. When faced with legislation such as the Unlawful Internet Gambling Act of 2006, an Act that was tacked on to another unrelated bill (The Safe Port Act) and was seemingly snuck through in the eleventh hour , one must wonder what the true motivations behind the Act are. While Congress attempts to convince the American public that it was for the greater good – that online gambling debt is a source of debt collection problems and the like – one has to think a deeper force may be at play. Was it the desire to legislate morality and destroy something that (in its view) tears at the fabric of society? Perhaps. In this author’s opinion, this kind of legislation is inappropriate and misguided - do not attack entertainment. Assuming the possibility of addiction played into Congress’s decision there will always be those who get addicted, no matter what the activity is. Instead of criminalizing these actions, treat this addiction as a medical problem and help people in that way. In short, this should not be a legal issue, but it has been made into one by legislators at Capital Hill…and now the world is fighting back. Chock it up to a learning experience, Congress, and withdraw from this fight - you're wagering $100 Billion American tax dollars on it.Sources Associated Press (AP), World Trade Organization to Review U.S. Internet Gambling Bans, Jul. 20, 2006, available at http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,204613,00.html (last visited Oct. 18, 2007) Bloomberg News, WTO backs Angigua, rules U.S. Online Gaming Ban is Illegal, Nov. 10, 2004,available at http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/text/2004/nov/10/517802938.html. AP, supra note 1. 31 U.S.C. §§ 5361-5367 (2007). AP, supra note 1. Clement James, US Faces US$100 Billion Fine for Web Gaming Ban, Oct. 12, 2007,http://www.itnews.com.au/News/62937,us-faces-us100-billion-fine-for-web-gaming-ban.aspx (last visited Oct. 18, 2007). Id. Id. 31 U.S.C. §§ 5361-5367 (2007). Id. See id. Id. See id. Steve Badger, Is Online Poker Legal? Online Poker and United States Law,http://www.playwinningpoker.com/online/poker/legal/ (last visited Oct. 15, 2007). Jennifer W. Chiang, Don't Bet on It: How Complying with Federal Internet Gambling Law is not Enough, 4 SHIDLER J.L. COM. & TECH. 2 (2007) (discussing how the U.S. Department of Justice has made clear that it considers Internet gambling to be a violation of federal law). 31 U.S.C. §§ 5361 (2007). International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators, Online Gambling Causing Credit Card Debt, Feb. 23, 2006, http://www.iapda.org/articles/2006_02_23_archive.html#114071743703814594(last visited Oct. 18, 2007). Bill's Poker Blog, Online Gambling Causing Credit Card Debt, Feb. 28, 2006,http://www.billrini.com/2006/02/28/online-gambling-causing-credit-card-debt/ (last visited Oct. 18, 2007). Id. I. Nelson Rose, Safe Port Act - Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act Analysis,http://www.playwinningpoker.com/online/poker/legal/internet/ (last visited Oct. 18, 2007).
October 10 2007, 09:29
No matter how it is emphasized, it may be difficult to describe the importance of the Internet in our daily lives. It is very important to provide a secure service to connect domain names to the numeric computer identifiers, such as Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, for a stable internet exploration environment. The service, coordinating (i) the allocation of identifiers for the Internet, (ii) the operation of the nameservers, and (iii) policy development on the domain name system (DNS) has been managed in a central manner by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).  Due to its significant effects on the global society, ICANN, a Californian nonprofit public-benefit corporation, has been watched since its creation in 1998.  However, it has still been controversial: Is ICANN accountable and transparent enough to manage the global DNS? [More]
September 20 2007, 21:21
Starting a new business can be a scary venture, especially for an inexperienced entrepreneur.  However, adhering to one little known business fundamental can help make the process run as smoothly as possible.  Specifically, securing one's intellectual property ("IP") interests from the start can secure a solid future for a new business by ensuring more funding from venture capitalists and investors.  IP traditionally includes patent, trademark, copyright and trade secrets, all of which can be protected with the right legal knowledge or competent attorney.  This article explains the four types of IP interests, their advantages and disadvantages and the benefits of securing them during the start-up stage of new businesses. [More]