Cycle-Tracking Apps and Data Privacy in the Post-Roe Climate

This past summer, the United States Supreme Court passed down its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and explicitly overturned the precedential abortion frameworks set forth in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey. Under Dobbs, abortion is not a right protected by the United States Constitution and states are therefore able to regulate abortion legality and access within their borders.

In addition to impassioning women’s rights advocates across the United States and bringing additional attention to the world of women’s healthcare as a whole, Dobbs has left many attorneys in apprehension as they wait to see how the decision will affect traditional privacy law frameworks, considering Roe v. Wade and Casey were both based on finding a place for abortion within the privacy protections of the Constitution.

While privacy attorneys wait to understand this potentially broad restructuring of existing law, consumers have begun to consider how their current data habits and application usages may be affected by the Dobbs decision. In particular, apps that track menstrual and ovulation cycles have become a topic of important discussion. (more…)

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Give Attention to Concerns About Privacy Close to Home, Author Suggests

Yes, the furor over data from millions of Facebook users being used for political purposes is important. But just driving down the street raises important privacy issues also. And whether you can make sense of the Facebook issues, you could and probably should give attention to high-tech monitoring of your daily life.

That was the thrust of an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program Thursday in Eckstein Hall featuring Cyrus Farivar, author of a new book, Habeas Data: Privacy vs. the Rise of Surveillance Tech. Farivar is also a regular contributor to Ars Technica, which covers news related to technology.

Gousha introduced Farivar by saying that talking about technology and privacy is “a conversation that is perfect for our times.” In the week when great attention focused on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifying at length before congressional committees, Farivar agreed. (more…)

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Changes to Wisconsin’s CCAP Shortens the Time that Some Records are Online

This semester in Professor Lisa Mazzie’s Advanced Legal Writing: Writing for Law Practice seminar, students are required to write one blog post on a law- or law school-related topic of their choice. Writing blog posts as a lawyer is a great way to practice writing skills, and to do so in a way that allows the writer a little more freedom to showcase his or her own voice, and—eventually for these students—a great way to maintain visibility as a legal professional. Here is one of those blog posts, this one written by 2L Grace Gall.

“How do you spell their last name?”—That is often the question my mother used to ask me when I was a kid and asked to spend the night at a new friend’s house. Like many Wisconsin parents or employers, my mother often would use the public record cite called CCAP to search criminal and civil records of individuals. As a child, I simply got used to my mother’s question and as I grew older and started working in the legal field myself, I became more and more acquainted with CCAP. Recently this year, I heard about changes being made to the CCAP record system. The Director of State Courts voted in March of this year to change the time limits for dismissed or acquitted cases to have them removed from the public record site after two years from the final order. (more…)

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‘Click’ . . . You Just Agreed To Sell Your Privacy

We have all gone to a website and, in accessing the website’s services, have agreed to “terms and conditions” that include a litany of policies, including privacy policies governing how the company maintaining the website will use our personal information obtained while accessing the website. And let’s be honest, even as attorneys or soon-to-be-attorneys, many of us usually do not actually take the time to read the laundry list of items we are agreeing to just so we can obtain a 20% coupon.  I know I’m guilty of regularly clicking “I agree” without reading every term and condition.

cartoon image of a desktop computerWhile we may think our assent to a website’s terms and conditions has little effect on our everyday life, our agreement does in fact matter, and not just for us but also for the company maintaining the website.  For example, one such specific website that most, if not all, of us have used is Facebook. While, again, we likely have not paid very close attention to Facebook’s privacy policies such as its data and cookie policies, those policies explain that Facebook uses cookies or browser fingerprinting to identify users and track what third-party websites users browse.  This use of cookies or browser fingerprinting is why you see ads for products or services that are, or at least should be, most relevant to you.  Indeed, these processes are why I now regularly see ads for Nintendo products when on Facebook after having searched for and purchase Nintendo’s handheld 3DS video game system for my ten year old son. (more…)

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The Supreme Court Considers Google Street View

Google Street View CarAll of the interest in the Supreme Court tomorrow is likely to be focused on Hobby Lobby and, to a lesser extent, Harris v. Quinn. But I’ll be watching something that happens before either of those decisions is announced. I’ll be looking to see if the Supreme Court granted cert in the StreetView case. I hope the answer is no.

The StreetView case — Google v. Joffe — is one that I’ve blogged extensively about over the past year. See Part I, Part II; see also my coverage of the Ninth Circuit opinion, Google’s petition for rehearing, and the filing of Google’s cert. petition.) Briefly, Google’s StreetView cars intercepted the contents of transmissions from residential wi-fi routers whose owners had not turned on encryption. A number of class actions have been filed claiming that the interceptions were violations of the federal Wiretap Act. Google moved to dismiss them, arguing that radio communications (like wi-fi) basically have to be encrypted to be protected by the Wiretap Act. The district court and the Ninth Circuit disagreed, holding that the exception Google points to applies only to traditional AM/FM radio broadcasts.

Although I disagree with the Ninth Circuit’s reasoning and would find it professionally advantageous if the Supreme Court decided to take the case, I hope it denies cert. Here’s why. (more…)

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