Exploring New Approaches to Unsettled Legal Questions

Tag: National Telecommunications and Technology Competition

Protecting Innovation by Private Companies in Partnership with Government Agencies

By Heather Walker*

To encourage innovation, the government may provide a private company with an equipment authorization to develop new technology or create rules and regulations encouraging such development. However, private companies risk losing money on their innovations if the government later revokes an equipment authorization or changes a project unless the government compensates them. Although the Constitution prevents the government from taking property without providing just compensation, in order for the Takings Clause to apply, what was taken has to be deemed property in the first place. Where the government has passed rules and regulations to incentivize a specific private company to invest and develop innovative technology, the authorizations and created property should be found to be a property interest that can support a takings claim. By recognizing these interests as property interests, companies will be more inclined to partner with and support innovation that deals with pressing problems as they know they are guaranteed a certain level of protection.

The Inadequacy of Brandenburg’s Imminence: Incitement Regulation in the Internet Era

by Matthew Uvas*

Certain classes of speech are deemed to be so dangerous that they fall outside of the protections of the First Amendment. Regulation of one such class, incitement, seeks to prevent speech which would encourage lawless and violent action. The modern test for whether speech qualifies as incitement hinges upon whether the speech is likely to produce imminent lawless action. However, when hateful or violent speech is spread online, there may be a delay from when a post is made to when someone sees it and responds violently. Therefore, in these cases, imminence may not be an appropriate measure for identifying incitement language online. This Contribution argues that history, case law, and other First Amendment jurisprudence suggests shifting focus to context rather than imminence when regulating online incitement.

A Growing Need for Data Privacy Protection: Federal Preemption in the Data Privacy Arena

by Mark Vandenberg*

Data privacy is a burgeoning concern for the United States because federal telecommunications law was last meaningfully updated in 1996. The sheer amount of data collected about people’s private lives—which is now often publicly available—was simply unimaginable to lawmakers at that time. In the face of federal inaction on this problem, states have begun to move forward with their own data privacy protection laws, leading to questions regarding federal preemption. In this Contribution, Mark Vandenberg (’22) argues that neither field nor conflict preemption stand in the way of states working to protect their citizens with more robust data privacy laws and regulations.

COVID Era Regulations in the Absence of Federal Coordination: How the Dormant Commerce Clause Can Co-Exist with Effective State Contact Tracing Regulations

by Kenneth R. Brown*

Contact tracing emerged during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic as an important tool to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The use of cell phone applications provides a method to effectively trace potential exposures since most individuals carry cell phones that can easily gather the necessary data. The federal government has thus far failed to introduce its own regulations regarding the large volume of data that can be collected during contact tracing efforts or attempt to help coordinate the regulations of the individual states to ensure consistency; paving the way for a patchwork system of rules to govern, as each state is left to formulate its own method to protect the health and privacy of its residents. However, due to the volume of interstate travel and difficulty of restricting application usage based on state borders, states must be careful not to run afoul of the so-called “Dormant Commerce Clause” of the United States Constitution. In this Contribution, Kenneth Brown (’22) argues that it is possible for a state to effectively regulate con-tact tracing applications without violating the Constitution.

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