Volume 19, Issue 2 Articles

The Imbalance of Security & Privacy: What the Snowden Revelations Contribute to the Data Mining Debate

By: George Gutierrez

Data mining is the process of searching data for previously unknown patterns and using these patterns to predict future outcomes. Recently, the United States has been embroiled in a fiery debate concerning the government’s ability to use data mining as a tool to protect domestic security. Critics of the government using data mining argue that the practice fails to adequately address terrorism, burns through financial capital, and ineffectually uses scarce resources, which collectively threaten civil liberties. However, data-mining supporters argue that it provides useful counterterrorism intelligence that enhances domestic security and ensures the safety of Americans.

Whistleblower, Edward Snowden’s, recent revelations have given the public access to information regarding previously undisclosed government data mining programs. This Article uses the work of two leading scholars to present the data mining debate as it stood before the Snowden leaks, and argues that the government programs exposed by the leaks undermine the previous arguments of data mining supporters.

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Copyright Troll or Ugly Rights Holder? The Spread of Troll-Tactics and Solutions to the Abuse of the Courts and Degradation of the Copyright Protection Scheme

By: Elif Sonmez

A “troll,” in the intellectual property context, is typically defined as a non-producing entity that sues to enforce narrow intellectual property rights against alleged infringers. While patent trolls are currently a focus of national conversation and legislative reform, copyright trolls also cause harms that warrant attention and active deterrence. The copyright troll business model has evolved to the point where not only non-producing entities but also legitimate copyright holders use coercive trolling tactics to generate revenue. Courts currently act as gatekeepers in the mass litigation claims brought against putative copyright infringers. However, copyright holders’ use of troll-tactics to enforce their rights perpetuates abuse of the courts and undermines the policy underlying copyright law.

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and individual court actions taken by certain District Court judges have acted as firewalls against abusive tactics and frivolous claims. However, long-term deterrence of intellectual property rights holders’ troll-like behavior should come from Congress because the courts lack the resources to police and prevent troll-tactics as the business model evolves. This Article argues that legislative action provides the uniform and systemic legal change necessary to disrupt and stop the copyright trolling business model.

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Medical Information as a Hot Commodity: The Need for Stronger Protection of Patient Health Information

By: N. Nina Zivanovic

Medical data has always demanded more privacy protection because of its personal nature, as well as its value. Employers, insurance companies, pharmaceutical data mining companies, drug manufacturers, and medical researchers all want access to medical information regarding patients’ medical histories, diagnoses, prognoses, and treatments. These entities seek medical information to conduct research, assist treatment, provide coverage, assess opportunities, process claims, and market products. Current law governing patient medical information allows certain entities to access this information, and even allows data miners to sell or license prescription information to drug manufactures and advertisers for a profit.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accessibility Act (HIPAA) regulations provide some protection for medical data that is personally identifiable, but fails to protect de-identified data. Data re-identification is the process of matching various fragments of a person’s information to deduce that person’s identity. Studies indicate that de-identified information is no longer as safe from re-identification as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) thought when it created the HIPAA Privacy Rule. Furthermore, scholarship indicates that the regulations currently governing the privacy of personal health information are far from ironclad. Businesses manage to circumvent the law by colluding with other companies to share medical information, shielding themselves from HIPAA liability. Under HIPAA, if entities combine into one covered entity, they may also combine their medical information, thus evading the HIPAA limitations on how and with whom personal medical information can be shared. HIPAA’s regulations apply to “covered entities,” that include healthcare providers, healthcare clearinghouses, and health plans. These entities obtain medical care payments from both private and government sources, such as Medicaid and Medicare.

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