Issues to Watch

Issues to Watch

Designer Babies, Heritable Diseases, and Patent Applications: Legal Issues Surrounding CRISPR Gene Editing Technology


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Designer Babies, Heritable Diseases, and Patent Applications: Legal Issues Surrounding CRISPR Gene Editing Technology

Adrianne C. Blake*

            The science fiction movie GATTACA first brought the concept of eugenics and its surrounding ethical concerns to the big screen.  GATTACA (Columbia Pictures 1997).  When the movie was released in 1997, human gene editing was not yet possible.  Only twenty years later, the idea of a designer baby is no longer a matter of science fiction, but of reality.   (more…)

Issues to Watch, Uncategorized

Open Mic Night: Does Subpoenaing a Home Voice Assistant Device Pose a Constitutional Threat?


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Open Mic Night: Does Subpoenaing a Home Voice Assistant Device Pose a Constitutional Threat?

Tiffany Meekins*

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the right of citizens “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures . . . and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause.”  U.S. Const. amend. IV.  This Amendment guarantees an individual’s fundamental right to privacy in their own home. Stanley v. Georgia, 394 U.S. 557, 565 (1969).  There is a general understanding that possessions, such as a laptop computer or a cellular phone, can be seized and their contents searched with a valid warrant.  Riley v. California, 134 S. Ct. 2473, 2485 (2014).  But what about technological devices that one decides to invest in to improve the “quality of [their] life?”?  Amy B. Wang, Can Amazon Echo Help Solve A Murder? Police Will Soon Find Out, Wash. Post (Mar. 9, 2017), https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2017/03/09/can-amazon-echo-help-solve-a-murder-police-will-soon-find-out/?utm_term=.c01a88c258a8.  For instance, devices containing voice assistants have become a staple in many Americans’ homes.  See Andrew Burger, Report: Voice Assistant Penetration Jumps to 12% of U.S. Broadband Households, telecompetitor (Mar. 21, 2017, 1:53 PM), http://www.telecompetitor.com/report-voice-assistant-penetration-jumps-to-12-of-U-S-broadband-households/.  What are the constitutional implications of subpoenaing these devices? (more…)

Issues to Watch, Uncategorized

Exploiting the First Amendment to Shield Deceptive Practices: Crisis Pregnancy Centers Ask the Supreme Court to Strike Down Mandatory Disclosures


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Exploiting the First Amendment to Shield Deceptive Practices: Crisis Pregnancy Centers Ask the Supreme Court to Strike Down Mandatory Disclosures

Jennifer Mahan* 

            Following the Ninth Circuit’s decision and denial of rehearing in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Harris, the Alliance Defending Freedom petitioned the Supreme Court on behalf of the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) for a writ of certiorari in March 2017.  Nat’l Inst. of Family & Life Advocates v. Harris, 839 F.3d 823 (9th Cir. 2016), petition for cert. filed sub nom. Nat’l Inst. of Family & Life Advocates v. Becerra, No. 16-1140 (U.S. Mar. 21, 2017).  The pending petition asks the Court to determine whether California’s law, requiring licensed pregnancy centers to provide information on how to obtain a state-funded abortion and unlicensed pregnancy centers to disclaim to clients that they do not have a medical license, violates the First Amendment.   (more…)

Issues to Watch

The Rise of Cryptocurrency: What Is It and How Should It Be Regulated?


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The Rise of Cryptocurrency: What Is It and How Should It Be Regulated?

Christina Martin*

        Within the past six months, the price of one Bitcoin has risen 174%, and other cryptocurrencies are experiencing similar increases.  Andrew Hallam, Bitcoin Gains 174 Percent in Just Six Months: Should It Be Part of Your Portfolio?, Assetbuilder (June 21, 2017), https://assetbuilder.com/knowledge-center/articles/bitcoin-gains-174-percent-in-just-six-months-should-it-be-part-of-your-portfolio.  Until recently, cryptocurrencies have had a reputation as mainly being used for illegal activity on the dark web.  See Omri Marian, A Conceptual Framework for the Regulation of Cryptocurrencies, 82 U. Chi. L. Rev. 53, 56–57 (2015).  Today, everyone from investors to legislators have begun to take note as cryptocurrencies gain popularity throughout the United States and across the world.  See id; see also Hallam, supra.

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Issues to Watch

Facial Recognition Technology: First and Fourth Amendment Implications


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Facial Recognition Technology: First and Fourth Amendment Implications

Ashley Triplett*

On October 18, 2016, the Georgetown Law Center on Privacy & Technology released a report regarding the use of facial recognition technology in law enforcement agencies throughout the country.  Clare Garvie et al., The Perpetual Line-Up: Unregulated Police Face Recognition in America 1 (2016), https://www.perpetuallineup.org/sites/default/files/2016-12/The%20Perpetual%20Line-Up%20-%20Center%20on%20Privacy%20and%20Technology%20at%20Georgetown%20Law%20-%20121616.pdf.  According to the report, over 117 million American adults are subject to face scanning programs with their picture in a law enforcement database.  Id.  The report highlights the risks of such programs and calls for legislative oversight at the state and federal level.  See id. at 1–6.

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