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CLIP-ings: June 14, 2013

Internet Governance

Security Privatization: The NSA's PRISM program relies heavily upon IT systems administrators from private defense contractors such as Booz Allen, which make up 38% of the 1.2 million top-secret clearances.
FISA transparency Bill: A bipartisan group of eight senators introduced a bill Tuesday that would force the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to reveal its decisions and, specifically its interpretation of §215 of the Patriot Act, which the government used to justify collecting the phone records of millions of Americans.


Possible Email Snooping: In light of recent privacy-related revelations, NSA chief Keith Alexander hinted that the agency may also have access to emails and web histories when he requested to discuss "email and other metadata" surveillance during a classified session, rather than during a public hearing.
Cell Phone Seizures: Legislation currently pending in New Jersey would allow police to "thumb through" a cell phone without a warrant if they believe a suspect was talking or texting while driving.

Information Security & Cyberthreats

Cyber War Assistance: The New York Times reports that the Obama administration is aiding Persian Gulf countries in their efforts to build defenses against Iranian cyber attacks.

Intellectual Property

War on Piracy: Warner Bros., one of the more aggressive Hollywood studios in addressing piracy, is experimenting with new test program through Digital Rights Corp., which presents accused infringers with $20 settlement offers.
No Patents for Human DNA:  The Supreme Court held that "a naturally occurring DNA segment is a product of nature and not patent eligible merely because it has been isolated," yesterday in a unanimous decision, though the court upheld the patentability of synthetically created DNA.

Free Expression & Censorship

SCOTUS Protests: A federal district judge declared unconstitutional the 65-year old law which made it illegal to "parade, stand, or move in processions or assemblages" on Supreme Court property.
Censorship Suit: A U.S. District Judge says that activists are entitled to serve a lawsuit on a Chinese search engine's lawyer in New York without infringing on China's sovereign protections, which the country invoked in an attempt to block the suit.

Practice Notes

Internet Anonymity: In light of recent privacy-related government surveillance, Tor, a computer utility pioneered by the US Navy in 2002 and now a free open-source project, could prove to be a useful tool for attorneys concerned about the secrecy of client communications.

On the Lighter Side

Wookie Mistake: TSA finally joins the fight against known smugglers and the Rebel Alliance.