July 2011

Woodrow Hartzog on clickwrap and browsewrap agreements

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Woodrow Hartzog, Assistant Professor at Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law, and a Scholar at the Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society, discusses his new paper in Communications Law and Policy entitled, The New Price To Play: Are Passive Online Media Users Bound By Terms of Use? By simply browsing the internet, one can be obligated by a “terms of use” agreement displayed on a website. These agreements, according to Hartzog, aren’t always displayed where a user can immediately read it, and they often contain complicated legalese. Web browsers can be affected unfavorably by these agreements, particularly when it comes to copyright and privacy issues. Hartzog evaluates what the courts are doing about this, and discusses the different factors that could determine the enforceability of these agreements, including the type of notice a web browser receives.

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Hal Singer on wireless competition

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Hal Singer, managing director at Navigant Economics and adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, discusses his new paper on wireless competition, co-written by Gerry Faulhaver of the University of Pennsylvania, and Bob Hahn of Oxford. The FCC produces a yearly report on the competitive landscape of the wireless market, which serves as an overview to policy makers and analysts. The report has found the wireless market competitive in years past; however, in the last two years, the FCC is less willing to interpret the market as competitive. According to Singer, the FCC is using indirect evidence, which looks at how concentrated the market is, rather than direct evidence, which looks at falling prices, to make its assessment. In failing to look at the direct evidence, Singer argues that the report comes to an erroneous conclusion about the real state of competition in wireless markets.

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Tim Harford on adapting and prospering in a complex world

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Tim Harford, economist and senior columnist for the Financial Times, discusses his new book, Adapt: Why Success Starts With Failure. He argues that people and organizations have a poor record of getting things right the first time; therefore, the evolutionary process of trial and error is a difficult yet necessary process needed to solve problems in our complex world. Harford emphasizes the importance of embracing failure in a society focused on perfection. According to Harford, one can implement this process by trying different things in small doses and developing the ability to distinguish success and failures while experimenting. A design with failure in mind, according to Harford, is a design capable of adaptation.

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Daniel Solove on the tradeoff between privacy and security

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Daniel Solove, professor at the George Washington University Law School, discusses his new book Nothing to Hide: The False Tradeoff Between Privacy and Security. He suggests that developments in technology do not create a mutually exclusive relationship between privacy and national security. Solove acknowledges the interest government has in maintaining security within our technological world; however, Solove also emphasizes the value of personal privacy rights and suggests that certain procedures, such as judicial oversight on governmental actions, can be implemented to preserve privacy. This oversight may make national security enforcement slightly less effective, but according to Solove, this is a worthwhile tradeoff to ensure privacy protections.

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