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A California judge has refused to throw out a class action case that claims Google’s scanning of Gmail accounts is a form of wire-tapping and an illegal invasion of privacy. The lawsuit is still at a preliminary stage but it’s significant that the judge refused to accept Google’s claim that the scanning was allowed because it formed part of its business operations. The ruling also addressed the larger question of whether users lose privacy rights in their email when they rely on services like Google or Yahoo. The Verge has a rundown, including the implication of the third party doctrine, here.

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In Brief

Adam Liptak of the New York Times provides a lively account of how half the links in Supreme Court decisions — links that provide precedent and justify the law — lead to broken or missing webpages. The so-called “link rot,” described in a Harvard study, is a problem for the legal profession, and shows how courts’ shift away from fusty paper practices isn’t all positive. More broadly, the situation shows how future discussions of infrastructure renewal should encompass plans to repair the country’s digital infrastructure as well.

In Brief

Is liking something on Facebook a form of protected expression akin to putting a bumper sticker on your car? The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals said, yes, it is. The ruling comes in response to a sheriff who sacked a deputy for liking the Facebook page of his political rival. A lower court last year agreed with the sheriff that the speech was “insignificant” and didn’t qualify for First Amendment protection. Facebook and the ACLU disagreed and weighed in on behalf of the deputy. (More background on the case and symbolic speech here.)

 

 

In Brief

In response to a lawsuit brought by the ACLU, a secret spy court has ordered the federal government to declassify decisions (issued by the spy court) that authorized the NSA to collect meta-data on millions of US phone records. The court cited recent leaks by Edward Snowden as a factor in its order, which you can read here. The Guardian has a detailed account here. Earlier today, big technology firms renewed their efforts in the secret court to get permission to disclose how many surveillance requests they receive.

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