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Privacy

- Law enforcement does not need a warrant to obtain the IP addresses for Twitter users, according to a recent decision. In investigating contributors to Wikileaks, the federal government asked Twitter to turn over the suspects’ account information. A U.S. district court ruled that the government does not need a warrant and that Twitter users have no expectations of privacy.

Emergency Alerts

- New technology is helping implement a 2006 executive order directing the Department of Homeland Security to develop a next-generation public alert system. See the original directive.

Excessive Force

- A federal appeals court has ruled that the parents of a teenager killed by police may pursue their excessive-force lawsuit. The teen was armed with a pocketknife and was threatening to kill himself. An appellate court instructed the lower court to determine whether the officers could reasonably suspect that the teenager posed an immediate threat to their safety.

GPS Tracking

- The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that police officers need a warrant to track a suspect’s movements using GPS, but there’s more nuance than first meets the eye. Read the ruling here.

Employment

- A company did not discriminate against a group of older employees when it fired them—but not two younger employees—for sending and receiving pornographic materials using their corporate e-mail accounts.

DNA

- A new standard out of the National Institute of Standards and Technology simplifies the transfer of DNA data across borders. It also provides more details on transmitting fingerprint and crime scene data.

Workplace Violence

- A California court has ruled that a company can rely on hearsay evidence in pursuing a restraining order against a potentially violent visitor.

Data Security Regulations

- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Commerce Department have asked for feedback on ways to create a “voluntary industry code of conduct” to combat botnets. Read the comments online.

DNA

- A federal appeals court has ruled that authorities may take DNA samples from persons arrested but not yet been convicted. The justices wrote that the practice was reasonable given the arrestees’ diminished expectations of privacy and the legitimate interests in the collection of DNA from these individuals.

Social Media

- A student who created a MySpace page to ridicule another student is not protected by the First Amendment. A federal appeals court ruled that the school’s discipline of the student was permissible because “the student used the Internet to orchestrate a targeted attack on a classmate.” Other courts have ruled that students’ social media postings are protected so long as they do not cause disruptions and are created off school property.

Geomagnetic Storms

- The North American electrical power system could potentially collapse due to a giant geomagnetic storm. Congress has held hearings but critics say that not enough is being done. Read the testimony and judge for yourself.

Employment

- A subcontractor is responsible for the actions of an employee who accidentally ran over another worker on a job site. An appeals court found that the employee furthered the overall progress of the project and “the resulting risk of injury was inherent to the enterprise.”

Privacy

- A government employee may proceed with her invasion of privacy claim against her employer. The employee was filmed during a shower, and the images were posted on the computer network, available to all employees in the workplace.
 




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