WASHINGTON — A large share of the presidential primary season debates will not be aired on free over-the-air broadcast networks. Of the 15 primary season debates, all but five will air on cable TV. That pattern has led Susan Crawford, a Harvard University law professor, to question whether there is something terribly wrong here. Crawford published a piece last week in Medium about the cable subscription fees necessary for interested voters to watch the debates in real time. She said it amounts to nothing short of a poll tax.
Josephine Wolff, an assistant professor of public policy and computing security at Rochester Institute of Technology and a faculty associate at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, suggests that the FTC should develop a “very detailed, specific, rigorous list of the most effective data security practices for companies.” She suggested that “anyone who failed to meet those standards could be held responsible.”
This is “watered-down legalese that means nothing,” said Andy Sellars, a fellow at Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic, calling it a free speech issue. Defamation — which comprises a false statement of fact, made knowingly, that can be proven to cause harm — is already a civil wrong, thus rendering the clause in Grill 225’s policy unnecessary and “profoundly stupid,” he said.“If I said the service was terrible — ‘terrible’ is an opinion, you can’t sue someone for that,” he said, noting that a quick scan of Grill 225’s Yelp reviews show them to be quite opinion-laden. “Very few reviews would actually be defamation.”
And it may depend on what a reasonable person would expect from the delete service. Dalia Topelson Ritvo, the assistant director of Harvard Law School’s cyberlaw clinic, says the legal question boils down to whether Ashley Madison did what it promised. But what that promise really is promising may be difficult to parse these days. “‘What does it mean to delete?’,” she says. “It’s a really interesting question, especially in the age of big data.”
Dalia Topelson Ritvo, assistant director of the cyberlaw clinic at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, concurred, saying that it’s important to make sure both parties in the relationship are on the same page. “My best advice for a company is to have clear policies regarding when it is appropriate for an employee to use their own devices, and create technological protocols to ensure the company retains control over the information,” she said.
So far this year, 505 data breaches have targeted businesses, government agencies and other institutions, exposing more than 139 million records, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center. The sheer number of hacks is evidence of how companies underestimate the threat of a data breach and how the government needs to procure software faster to keep up with the latest cybersecurity technology, says Bruce Schneier, a fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society.
Some of the leagues that have yet to have a full season with Periscope in the mainstream are taking action to stop it. While NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league was not worried about Periscope, the NFL has filed four copyright take-down requests to the app, according to the website ChillingEffects.org, an archive founded by Wendy Seltzer of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society.
“Ashley Madison is using the DMCA in a way that it was never designed to be used in order to suppress reporting on the issue,” Andy Sellars at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society told Gizmodo. “I think it’s a rather clean-cut case here. I think there’s clearly not infringement in these cases.”
Mary L. Gray is a senior researcher at Microsoft Research, associate professor of the Media School at Indiana University, and a fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. She is writing a book, with computer scientist Siddharth Suri, on platform economies, digital labor, and the future of work.
If we want this opportunity, we have to bid for it. Maybe Boston has had enough with bids. But just because we passed on one opportunity doesn’t mean we should pass on another, especially when it’s as good as this one. Let’s make a Boston-led discussion on the future of global sport the legacy of Boston’s 2024 Olympic bid. Charles Nesson is a professor of law and founder of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.