Harvesting Wind in the Garden State: Offshore Wind and New Jersey’s Energy Future

In 2019, New Jersey will face an energy crisis. The Oyster Creek Nuclear Power Plant, which provides 637 megawatts of electricity1 to New Jersey, will shut down permanently.2 But, New Jersey, along with the rest of the east coast states, is a geographically fortunate state in terms of its shore-front location. It has access to a renewable resource that could potentially power eighty percent of the entire state’s energy needs3: off-shore wind.4 This valuable resource is something New Jersey should invest in to provide a sustainable, permanent, and safe future for New Jersey inhabitants. While it is subject to certain inadequacies, including siting issues, intermittency, upfront costs, and potential threats to avian wildlife, its benefits certainly outweigh its deficiencies.

Much of the energy modern civilization uses is produced using fossil fuels, which produce greenhouse gases (“GHGs”). But, there are alternatives that provide energy without producing GHGs, and some of them have been used for centuries5 while others have been developed more recently.6 They include wind power, photovoltaic solar power, solar hot water, nuclear, hydroelectric generation, and geothermal, among others. Wind energy is New Jersey’s best choice for providing renewable, clean energy to its residents because wind is so prevalent off the coast of New Jersey.7 New Jersey lacks the open spaces and volume of direct insolation that western states have for solar energy (either photovoltaic or hot water) or land-based wind power, lacks large topographic variation that aids in hydroelectric generation, and has no active volcanism for geothermal energy. Offshore wind is more constant than on land,8 and an offshore location offers a larger surface area to create a larger wind mill farm than any single land area in New Jersey.

Moreover, intermittency, which is the largest obstacle for successfully using off-shore wind energy, can be mitigated by innovations in energy storage. Intermittency is the natural variability of wind intensity that makes levels of energy production difficult to accurately predict.9 But, it is important to note that “wind over the oceans is steadier [than over land], providing more reliable output and hence lower reserve requirements.”10 There are multiple solutions to the issues presented by intermittency in wind energy production. First, there will be other sources of energy production, as a healthy energy system will have multiple sources. Second, advances in energy storage are on the horizon, and each of these could be used to supplement the energy needs of New Jersey residents to counteract the intermittency problems of wind energy.11

Both mechanical and chemical energy storage are viable options. Mechanical energy storage is using the motion or potential motion of a source to produce energy.12 There are several kinds of mechanical energy storage, including pumped hydroelectric storage (“PHS”), compressed air storage (“CAS”), and flywheel energy storage (“FES”). For example, in PHS, one could use energy during times of surplus and low demand to raise quantities of water to high elevations, then during higher demands, let gravity pull the water through a generator.13 In FES, a spinning flywheel, usually spinning at an extremely rapid rate, powers a generator.14 There are other forms of mechanical energy as well, including potential energy from a raised weight and generators that use tension as a source of potential energy, similar to springs that store energy by being forced apart or rubber bands that store energy as tightly wound bundles. Chemical energy storage is also an option, which is essentially the use of a conventional battery, such as a lead acid car battery or a lithium ion camera battery, and it is the way biological organisms store energy.15

There is also the growing idea of using ‘smart grid’ technologies to enhance the efficiency of energy use and storage.16In this idea, excess energy that is produced from wind sources during times of surplus is used to engage in a task that will conserve energy at later times, such as using the excess energy to freeze water then using that ice to cool buildings during the day, when summer energy loads are at their peak. This idea is not an alternative to any one mode of energy production, rather it is a method of increasing efficiency through the synthesized use of multiple modes of energy production.

But there are other problems associated with wind energy as well, including siting and threats to wildlife. These problems are evident in the Cape Wind project in Massachusetts, which was proposed in 2001 and was supposed to be the first offshore wind project in the United States, but has not yet been started.17 Some interested groups claim that the wind turbines will be unsightly or that they will interfere with commerce or natural and historic areas.18 The group Save Our Sound has created a campaign against the Cape Wind project because it claims that the wind turbines will cost too much, desecrate tribal lands, threaten wildlife, and result in job loss.19 But, these issues are not substantially supported by the available evidence. Cape Wind proponents argue that the project will produce over a thousand jobs, many them permanent, and will create other secondary industries, such as eco-tourism.20 Moreover, from shore at sea level, the wind turbines will only be one-half of an inch above the horizon, so they will not be unsightly or reduce property values.21 Further, there is no evidence that the wind turbines will adversely affect fishing,22 and when properly sited, it is possible to place a windfarm in a location that does not interfere with the paths of migratory birds or other wildlife.23

The legal framework in New Jersey and in the United States as a whole is set up to adopt wind energy as a major component of New Jersey’s energy portfolio. In the summer of 2014, the United States Department of the Interior leased 344,000 acres off the coast of New Jersey for offshore wind development; a massive area compared to the 15,360 acres of the Cape Wind project.24 Offshore wind is further encouraged by federal and state statutes designed to facilitate such development, but nonetheless the projects remain stuck in legal doldrums as challengers continue to prohibit construction. The federal government has encouraged and subsidized wind energy since the Wind Energy Systems Act of 1980, which provides federal funding for research and development of wind energy as well as for the construction of actual wind energy generation facilities.25 In 2009, DOI and the United States Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) announced that that they two agencies would cooperate to “facilitate the permitting of renewable energy in offshore waters.”26

Further, New Jersey is also encouraging growth in this sector. In 2010, Governor Chris Christie signed a bill known as the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act that “directs the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (“BPU”) to develop an offshore renewable energy certificate program that calls for a percentage of electricity sold in the state to be from offshore wind energy. This percentage would be developed to support at least 1,100 megawatts of generation from qualified offshore wind projects.”27

Wind energy has already proven to be a successful investment: “[b]y the end of 2006, the total world wind energy capacity was over 74,000 MW – a capital investment worth about $100 billion.”28 Of that, 15,000 MW, or twenty-five percent of the total capacity, had only been added in the last year.29 While the United States has not cultivated its wind energy to the same degree as many European countries, it certainly has the potential to do so; if the United States began harnessing its offshore wind resources, some estimate it would be equivalent to 70% of the power generated in the United States in 2005.30

To date there are no operational offshore wind turbines along the New Jersey shore, or in any state for that matter.31 The media has noted that four years after the Offshore Wind Development Act, the BPU “has yet to adopt rules that would promote offshore wind by awarding developers subsidies from ratepayers to make their projects economically viable.”32 That begs the question: why not? Why are so many energy regulators and other interest groups opposed to developing offshore wind infrastructure? The answer to that question at the nexus of unprogressive economics and status quo maintenance; it might cost more to build these wind turbines and the associated transmission lines than to just continue to burn fossil fuels and, more significantly, the interest groups opposed to offshore wind energy (or any renewable energy) may be acting in conjunction with fossil fuel industries, which have an interest in retaining their domination of the market.33 This is a problematic conclusion, particularly because of how significantly it ignores the externalization of burdens characterized by fossil fuel consumption and the domination of fossil fuel-based industries in the energy market.

The problem is compounded by the fact that Oyster Creek, one of the three nuclear power plants in New Jersey that collectively supply more than half of the state’s energy,34 will be shutting down in 2019.35 This situation means that New Jersey will lose a significant portion of its energy production in the next half decade, and will require replacement. Nuclear does not produce airborne emissions, so if Oyster Creek was replaced with oil, coal, or natural gas power plants, the state’s total emissions would drastically increase. If, however, regulators permitted offshore wind energy production, New Jersey would not further burden the global climate by increasing its GHG emissions. But this problem is unfortunately not simply a matter of doing what is best for the environment, it is also a matter of what is the cheapest option.

So, what is New Jersey to do? Proponents of offshore wind energy must convince the public of their message by explaining that (1) New Jersey is reaching an energy crisis because of the closing of the Oyster Creek facility; (2) GHG emissions harm the global environment to such a degree that they must be reduced, which is a goal worth paying for; (3) the most promising method of reducing GHG emissions from New Jersey’s energy production is through offshore wind; (4) the finding that although offshore wind may cost one to two percent more for ratepayers than fossil fuel methods of energy production, the latter method externalize burdens on the rest of the world while the former method does not, so a cost-benefit analysis of using offshore wind over other energy sources must include all benefits and burdens; and (5) other environmental impacts are manageable when properly studied so any adverse effects will be reduced to the maximum extent practicable.

If proponents of offshore wind energy can successfully make their case to the citizens of New Jersey, or in the more likely alternative, the interested industrial and political parties in the state, then ideally the project will gain enough public support to progress. Although no offshore wind turbines have been built, preparations are being made for the project to begin: Fishermen’s Energy has broken “ground in Atlantic City… to make way for underground lines that may one day send electricity from five offshore wind turbines to an inland substation.”36

In this time of the impending threat of global climate change, an attitude of ‘business as usual’ has only created the situation humanity is currently facing. Historically, when some societal ill threatens public health, welfare, or safety, the majority of Americans have made the best choice in terms of providing the most good for the most people. That was the case with abolition, the Women’s Suffragist Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Environmental Movement, where the evidence clearly indicated that some ill needed to be remedied- even if it took a few lifetimes. In the offshore wind context, all of the available data indicates that, from a holistic perspective, human action is causing a global problem and New Jersey residents are at the trailhead that begins the path toward a solution. In terms beyond the bounds of just economic justifications or government regulation, this is a cause in which Aldo Leopold’s idea of a ‘Land Ethic’ readily applies.37 Here, New Jersey residents and regulators can build a strong foundation for future prosperity, if they so choose.

FAA Needs to Enact Stricter Drone Laws

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is responsible for regulating the skies and keeping passengers who fly safe from dangerous aircrafts, flying conditions, and air traffic, amongst other things. Yet, the FAA continues to allow the unregulated use of drones regardless of the inherent risks involved. Stricter regulations are desperately needed to prevent accidents, confrontations, and harm to property.

Drones are creating problems all across the country. This August, California firefighters responding to a forest fire were forced to ground their helicopters that were on a mission to put out forest fires due to interference from drones filming the scene.1 In a similar incident, drones flew within 100 feet of two commercial airliners approaching John F. Kennedy airport.2 The pilots reported that the drones were flying at an altitude of about 800 to 900 feet, heights well above new regulations that make it illegal to fly drones above 400 feet or within 5 miles of an airport.3 The JFK airport incident was not an isolated event. The FAA reported that drone sightings by pilots had nearly tripled from 238 in 2014 to 650 this year so far. Some of these drones were reported to be flying at heights of up to 10,000 feet, pilots reported.4 It is clear from these reports that many drone operators are not following current regulations. The FAA should consider alternate approaches to drone regulation such as mandating a safety feature that makes it impossible to fly above 400 feet. Drone owners should also be required to register their drones and equip their drones with identifying transponders. With over 1 million drones in the United States, the FAA needs to have more control over when and where these aircrafts are flying.5 While tiny birds can bring down commercial airplanes, who knows what could happen when a drone gets too close to a plane’s engine?

In addition to safety issues, drones have also been creating privacy concerns. In August, a Kentucky man was charged with wanton endangerment and criminal mischief for shooting down a drone that was hovering in his backyard near where his 16 year-old daughter was laying out by their pool.6 Similarly, a New Jersey man was arrested for allegedly firing at a drone hovering near his home five times with a shotgun.7 Because of the lack of regulation, homeowners feel like they are forced to take matters into their own hands to protect their families and property from aerial trespassers. Some townships, such as Long Beach Township in New Jersey, have enacted their own laws, banning recreational drones along the 12 miles of beachfront in an effort to protect the privacy of beachgoers.8

As drone technology develops further and become cheaper, more drone hobbyists will emerge. The time has come for the FAA to enact mandatory safety features onto drones and enforce stricter drone laws. It is up to the FAA, not local towns or homeowners with guns, to fix the very real problem of uncontrolled drone use in our country.

Technologizing Industries: How Technological Developments Impact Manual Labor and Service Jobs

After years of developing models and formulas to predict the future, the most brilliant scientists have been bested by Hollywood’s most creative. From creating television shows like The Jetsons, to films like I, Robot, writers and directors have already predicted the future.

In The Jetsons, which premiered in the early 1960s, George Jetson works a grueling two-hour workday1 making machine parts that are vital to the computer-automated society in which he lives. In I, Robot, which premiered forty years after The Jetsons, in 2004, robots work alongside humans — assisting them in their daily lives.2 Despite their forty-year difference, the idea that humans will heavily rely on computers has not changed.

In the United States, the Fair Labor Standards Act “establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards.”3 Labor regulations that protect workers often increase labor costs for businesses because employers must pay their employees a minimum wage. While businesses, globally, have substituted manual labor jobs for machines, China has pushed the frontier further by moving to replace part of its labor force with industrial robots to combat rising labor costs and increase profits.4 Ironically, displaced laborers may find themselves in robotic manufacturing and assembly, like George Jetson. Employees of manual labor industries are not the only ones at risk, however; service industries, like the legal field are in danger of downsizing too.

With the development of artificial intelligence, like that of IBM’s new TrueNorth chips, which “behave like neurons — the basic building blocks of biological brains,”5 it is only a matter of time until computers will complete tasks that only humans are currently capable of performing.

Supercomputers, like IBM’s Watson, have analytical and searching abilities that would turn into an entry-level attorney’s worst nightmare if the computer had an algorithm for operating legal databases and writing drafts of memos and briefs.6

Should attorneys have anything to fear? Instead of spending hours drafting briefs and memos, attorneys will be able to take basic drafts made from computer programs and edit them to perfection. Even if a computer can tailor the brief or memo,7 it is unlikely the computer will be able to assess the arguments’ strength and organize them accordingly. Although attorneys will have more time to spend on other projects, they will have to bill less hours for service. The billing requirements may even change at firms because of the software’s efficiency. The nature of client-attorney relationships, however, will likely stay the same because attorneys will still provide a human element to their customer service, like counseling and support.

As horrific as these technological developments sound for some attorneys, consumers who could not previously afford representation will be more likely to retain counsel. Moreover, attorneys who may become displaced in areas like e-Discovery could find themselves practicing in Alternate Dispute Resolution or entering the Judiciary, where human judgment is essential.

Militarizing Nanotechnology

The ever-expanding field of nanotechnology has begun to spill over into some dangerous territory. Given the enormous defense budget allocated to the United States military and its related programs, in conjunction with nanotechnology’s cost-cutting tendencies, military officials are salivating over its prospects. Specifically, this technology has been instrumental in evolving weaponry into dangerously compact, resourceful gadgets. In turn, American citizens should be alarmed because this will, undoubtedly, transform the manner in which domestic surveillance is conducted; will prompt a new breed of nanotechnology-based arms races; and may be a precursor to deadly biological weaponry.

The American government has already proclaimed a blanket distrust of her populace by planting surveillance devices in cities around the country. Currently, surveillance technology identifies vehicle crossing an intersections, monitors many sections of urban environments, and, worst of all, the elected officials have continually authorized the federal government to discard Fourth Amendment protections and spy on American citizens through the USA PATRIOT Act. Hiding under the guise of “security,” the American government has destroyed the concept of privacy and has become intimately involved in citizens’ daily personal lives. As it exists currently, “the subject and unwitting sender is the target of the surveillance and the receivers are the police.”1 Already resembling what has the feel of a police state, the enhanced surveillance prospects inherent in nanotechnology and its advancements possess the potential to drive a stake through the heart of privacy. Moreover, other countries will inevitably attempt to mimic the successes, creating a new breed of arms race.

The inevitable progression inherent in technological advancement all but guarantees the replication of nanotechnology and its potentials into an arms race. The American military has already conducted successful experimentation implementing nanotechnology into a drone format. Essentially, “we’re continuing to fuel a drone arms race that guarantees widespread proliferation.”2 Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, drone technology has exploded, creating a battlefield consisting of backpack sized killing machines. Nanotechnology threatens to shrink drones to the size (and shape) of insects, and “response to advancing technologies will undoubtedly affect the conduct of hostilities on the future battlefield.”3 This technology, additionally, has the capability to uniquely circumnavigate international treaties that address battlefield conduct.

A potential loophole to the countless international treaties concerning nuclear non-proliferation, chemical, and biological warfare lurks inside nanotechnologies. Whereas biological warfare treaties prevent the usage of agents that could cross borders and annihilate populations, nanotechnology is capable of unleashing swarms of killer drones cloaked as, for example, bees. The current treaties “may prove insufficient to prevent proliferation, and we should not shy away from new international treaties as necessary.”4 Nanotechnology in bee-sized drones would, ultimately, constitute a more sophisticated drone for which no international treaty exists. Of course, this is because technology advances more rapidly than peaceful agreements among civilized nations. The open window of technological advancement creates uncontrolled, dangerous advances in military weaponry.

Overall, the current state of domestic surveillance is a host of egregious constitutional violations. If nanotechnology is allowed to wed itself to military programs, the explosion in surveillance, both domestically and internationally, threatens the stability of the American nation. Furthermore, the inevitable transition of nanotechnology into military weaponry will destabilize entire nations as a new form of an arms race is born. A worthwhile solution is a deeper investigation into the world of nanotechnology and military use and international treaties banning this technology in weapons creation.

Facebook Freebooting: Oops, Charlie Pirated My Video

To escape the graveyard of social media wash-ups, Facebook, the declining social media giant,1 has set its sights on YouTube with the emergence of the Facebook video player,2 sharing four billion views daily.3 While this may satisfy our desire for rapid content, an increase in “freebooting” has plagued the Facebook video player, where viral videos are taken from sites such as YouTube and re-uploaded illegally through Facebook’s video player.4 Essentially, the owners of these freebooted videos are missing out on valuable profits, advertisements and publicity that encompass the six billion dollar online video industry.5 In a display of poetic justice, YouTube had previously grown its own video service through freebooting and faced the harsh legal repercussions in a seven-year battle with media giant, Viacom.6

Viacom’s 2007 lawsuit against Google, YouTube’s parent company, claimed that YouTube had directly infringed on copyrighted content from Viacom-owned networks such as Comedy Central.7 YouTube survived monetary or injunctive relief based on the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) because YouTube acted expeditiously to remove and disable 100,000 Viacom videos upon receiving notice.8  Viacom then argued that YouTube willfully allowed copyrighted material to foster on their site, to which the District Court interpreted the DMCA as placing the burden on the copyright owner to identify and notify YouTube of the infringing material, as it would be unreasonable for a service provider to keep track of a site’s entire content library.9

While Facebook can easily learn from the mistakes of YouTube and implement a content ID system,10 the legal incentive is nominal. Facebook can continue to grow their Facebook player and remain protected under the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA, contingent on removing copyrighted material once notified by the original owner. Furthermore, since the burden falls on the owner to provide sufficient information of the infringing material, Facebook would legally and financially benefit by turning a blind eye and forcing users to navigate the millions of videos in search of their pirated property. Of course while YouTube had won its legal battle against Viacom, YouTube’s 100 million dollars in legal fees and one billion in settlement should have Marc Zuckerberg rethinking his cat and mouse game of copyright infringement, as that cat may turn out to be a lion.11

Sharing With Friends: Facebook Privacy

As our society is now living in the so-called “Internet-age,” courts have struggled to adapt traditional principles of privacy law under the Constitution to the modern, vacillating idea of social media. In a 2012 case, United States v. Meregildo the District Court for the Southern District of New York held that where Facebook privacy settings allow viewership of postings by “friends,” the Government may access them through a cooperating witness who is a “friend” without violating the Fourth Amendment.1 The court reasoned that while the defendant “undoubtedly believed that his Facebook profile would not be shared with law enforcement, he had no justifiable expectation that his “friends” would keep his profile private.”2 Access to the defendant’s Facebook profile formed the core of the Government’s evidence of probable cause supporting its application for the search warrant.3

In a unanimous decision authored by Judge Denny Chin for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the three-judge court affirmed the lower court’s ruling to admit the evidence.4 In his four-page scant opinion, Judge Pauley diametrically shifts the course of what could have been a-new-age workable Fourth Amendment jurisprudence. Despite the fact that the government sought out and obtained a warrant, rather than subpoenaing Facebook for the information,5 this type of intrusion should still be considered in contravention of the Fourth Amendment. The fact that the defendant took the initiative and consciously placed safeguards on his information in the form of privacy settings shows that he did indeed have an expectation of privacy and, in light of the era we live in, a reasonable one at that.6 Further, by taking affirmative actions to add privacy settings, the defendant clearly intended to preserve his information as private.

Given the rapid increase and dependency of younger generations upon social media networks, such as Facebook, a new challenge has arose in defining a “reasonable” right of privacy under the Fourth Amendment. Left open are many questions including: how do privacy settings and restriction to access of information interplay with one’s expectation of privacy on their Facebook? Whether or not the outcome of this case would have been different had the government had no informant and instead initiated the “friending” of the defendant? Does this fear of government access to social media pages chill speech in violation of the First Amendment? Until the elements of privacy settings in social media are further clearly defined, beware what you post, your “private” information may not be so private.

Uber, Procedurally Successful Against Taxi-Cabs, Should Start Thinking of Substantive Arguments to Succeed on the Merits

Uber, a smartphone “app”,1 is noticeably changing the transportation landscape not just in the United States, but globally as well. Similar to a temp agency that connects employers and employees, Uber “[is] seamlessly connecting riders to drivers through [their] app.”2 Potential customers download the app to their phone, create an account, and within minutes can arrange for a driver to pick them up at virtually any location and drive them anywhere they want. The price is a pre-agreed upon fee preceding the acceptance of the ride. The fee for an uberX car is calculated by summing a base rate, a per minute rate, and per mile rate.3 In New Jersey, the base rate is $1.25, the per minute rate is $0.18, and the per mile rate is $1.10.4

However, like any innovation that alters or enhances the status quo, Uber is facing opposition in several jurisdictions. Who is opposing this innovative advancement? The very people that are being displaced and are unwilling to adapt to the changing transportation landscape.

Taxi-cab and limousine services in the United State and in the European Union have filed lawsuits against Uber. In addition, both state governments in the United States and foreign governments have enacted legislation requiring that Uber halt, limit, or modify operations. Wisconsin, however, is in the minority and has loosened restrictions against Uber and Uber’s counterpart, Lyft, Inc.5

One of the most recent lawsuits adjudicated against Uber is Greenwich Taxi, Inc. v. Uber Technologies, Inc.;6 thirteen separate taxicab, limousine, or livery services are listed as plaintiffs in that case. The plaintiffs alleged that Uber was in violation of several provisions of the Lanham Act because they misrepresented their services;7 that Uber is in violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (“CUTPA”) because they “engaged in unfair and deceptive trade practices”;8 that Uber intentionally interfered with contractual relationships;9 and that Uber has violated several provisions of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (“RICO”).10 In their complaint, the plaintiffs requested treble damages, a temporary restraining order, preliminary injunctive relief, and permanent injunctive relief.11

Uber filed a motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ complaint in its entirety.12 When a district court is deciding a defendant’s motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), “the court must accept as true all factual allegations in the complaint and must draw inferences in a light most favorable to the plaintiff.”13 Generally, in federal court, a plaintiff’s must plead “only enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”14 However, “a plaintiff’s obligation to provide the ‘grounds’ of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief’ requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.”15 Moreover, “nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement.”16

However, when pleading a violation of RICO, “a plaintiff must show: (1) a violation of the RICO statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1962; (2) an injury to business or property; and (3) that the injury was caused by the violation of Section 1962.”17 A plaintiff establishes that they have a substantive RICO claim by showing the defendant has “a pattern of racketeering activity.”18

Greenwich Taxi Inc. et al. alleged that Uber’s RICO violation is in the form of wire fraud. Accordingly, Greenwich Taxi Inc. must show predicate fraudulent communications. Thus, Greenwich Taxi is subject to heightened pleading requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9(b).”19 In addition to meeting the heightened pleading standards, “the plaintiffs must ‘provide some minimal factual basis for conclusory allegations of scienter that give rise to a strong inference of fraudulent intent.’”20

Judge Thompson ultimately granted Uber’s motion to dismiss; however, he also granted plaintiffs’ request to amend their complaint to conform to the requisite pleading requirements.21 Likewise, District Judge Gorton, in a similar lawsuit against Uber in the District of Massachusetts, dismissed several of a taxi-cab’s complaints against Uber, multiple of which were also RICO violation claims.22 However, like in Greenwich Taxi Inc., they were dismissed without prejudice.23 Although Uber has had several procedural victories, they should begin crafting arguments to also successfully obtain a final judgment.

One Nation, Under Drones

It is estimated that over half a million drones were sold in 2014.1 That number is expected to significantly increase for 2015.2 As more individuals gain access to drones, more uses, questions, and concerns arise regarding drone use. Restaurants use drones to broadcast promotions;3 managers use drones to monitor progress of construction projects (but not to monitor employees, apparently);4 and every day people use drones to garner YouTube views.5 There are many ways to use drones but very few laws regulating them.

Recently, however, North Dakota passed legislation that would allow police to equip drones with non-lethal weapons such as Tasers, pepper spray, tear gas, bean bag cannons, and various other weapons – adding to the list of ways drones can be used.6 What actually started as an effort to prevent law enforcement from utilizing drones for surveillance of private property without a warrant ended with legislation that now allows police in North Dakota to equip drones with various non-lethal weapons.7 In addition, the drones would be allowed to fly up to 1,200 feet in civilian airspace, as opposed to the standard 400 feet limit.8

These developments in North Dakota are likely to spread to other states. Supporters of the bill applaud its willingness to provide law enforcement with the necessary resources to serve and protect.9 The supporters believe that those who have nothing to hide and have done nothing illegal will have nothing to worry about. They also believe that the use of weaponized drones creates a safer environment for police officers and for the public.10 Opponents of the legislation do not believe the developing situation is that simple. They point to the legal and ethical ramifications of such legislation. Opponents of the legislation worry that removal of individuals from the circumstances will lead to trigger-happy individuals sitting behind computer screens, miles away.11 Another prevalent concern with weaponized flying drones, and flying drones in general, is the worry that they may invade individual privacy rights and violate the Bill of Rights.12

Lastly, what is to prevent private individuals from using drones in a deceptive manner by pretending to be law enforcement? Although there is nothing stopping individuals from impersonating police officers, the amount of effort and resources required, and the likelihood of getting caught, prevents them from doing so. However, flying a deceptive drone from a remote location, pretending to be law enforcement appears to be much easier, and “safer” for potential imposters than the traditional alternative.

Rather than developing legislation to regulate the current uses of drones, the North Dakota legislature has opted, instead, to add to the long list of potential uses. This area of law is likely to change and expand exponentially in the coming months and years and any new developments will have to be followed very closely as they will have a lasting impact on laws regulating and promoting drone use.

Revenge Porn

Revenge Porn

Written by: Christina Galarza

We are at a time where pictures and videos are taken repeatedly throughout the day, whether it’s for Facebook, Snapchat, Tumblr, or Twitter, people are snapping photos of anything and everything. Amongst this trend are nudes; both women and men are taking naked photos of themselves and occasionally distributing them. This is the beginning of revenge porn. “Revenge Porn” is commonly known as angry exes that distribute intimate photos or videos of their ex-partners to a social media site without their consent.[1]

Revenge porn can originate in a few ways: (1) non-consensual photography or video recording (such as through the use of a hidden camera), (2) consensual photography or video recording that is later stolen . . . and (3) consensual photography or video recording that is intentionally transmitted to an individual.[2]

Hunter Moore was the creator of isanyoneup.com, a pornography website that published pornographic pictures of men and women without their permission.[3] When a person submitted a photo of another person to that website, the submitter could also include the victim’s full name, location and links to their social networks.[4] Charles Evens, 25, was involved in isanyoneup.com by hacking into email accounts to get photos that he could post on Moore’s cite.[5] Evens was then paid by Moore for his contribution.[6] Although not related to his revenge porn website, in 2012, James McGibney sued Hunter Moore for defamation.[7] Hunter Moore labeled McGibney as a pedophile and McGibney was awarded $250,000 in damages.[8] Currently, Hunter Moore is facing charges of conspiracy, unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information and aggravated identity theft.[9]

On July 24, 2014, Arizona’s latest cyber-bullying law went into effect “making ‘revenge porn’ a felony punishable by a minimum of six months to a year imprisonment and a $150,000 fine.”[10] The new law passed in Arizona also makes it illegal to distribute nude photos or videos of another person.[11] The distributions of these types of photos are considered a Class 5 felony if the person is unrecognizable and a Class 4 felony if the person in the photo is recognizable.[12]

The revenge-porn bill, HB 2515:

[p]rohibits a person from intentionally disclosing, displaying, distributing, publishing, advertising or offering a photograph, videotape, film or digital recording of a person in a state of nudity or engaged in specific sexual activities if the person knows or should have known that the depicted person has not consented to the disclosure.[13]

Revenge porn websites have taken advantage of victims and blackmailed them and coerced victims to pay as much as $350 to have their photos removed from websites.[14] In a recent survey, 61% of respondents said they had taken nude photos/videos of themselves and shared it with someone else, and 23% of respondents were victims of revenge porn.[15] 90% of revenge porn were women and most ranged between the ages of 18-30.[16] Although posting nonconsensual pornography is extremely invasive, only three U.S. states had criminal laws applicable to consensual pornography before 2013.[17] Those states are: New Jersey, Alaska, and Texas. But, in the last year ten states have passed laws making the posting of nonconsensual pornography a crime.[18]

[1] Jenna K. Stokes, The Indecent Internet: Resisting Unwarranted Internet Exceptionalism in Combating Revenge Porn, 29 Berkeley Tech. L.J. 929, 929 (2014)

[2] Id.

[3] Dave Lee, IsAnyoneUp’s Hunter Moore: ‘The net’s most hated man’, BBC News (Apr. 20, 2012, 10:01 ET),  http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-17784232.

[4] Id.

[5] Josh Voorhees, Hunter Moore, Infamous Revenge Porn King, Has Been Busted by the Feds, Slate (Jan. 23, 2014, 4:07 PM), http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2014/01/23/hunter_moore_arrest_is_anyone_up_founder_arrested_in_california_for_stealing.html.

[6] Id.

[7] ‘Revenge porn’ Website Former Owner Hunter Moore Arrested, BBC News (Jan. 23, 2014 5:33 ET), http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-25872322.

[8] Id.

[9] Id.

[10] Ryan Van Velzer, It’s Officially Illegal to Post Naked Photos of your Ex in Arizona, azcentral (July 25, 2014, 3:47 PM), http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/arizona/politics/2014/07/25/its-officially-illegal-to-be-a-jerk-to-your-ex-in-az/13163829/.

[11] Id.

[12] Id.

[13] Id.

[14] Id.

[15] Mary Anne Franks, Drafting an Effective “Revenge Porn” Law: A Guide for Legislators, End Revenge Porn (July 18, 2014), http://www.endrevengeporn.org/guide-to-legislation/.

[16] Id.

[17] Id.

[18] Id.

Wagers at the Tip of a Finger

Wagers at the Tip of a Finger

Written by: Manny Diaz

In the United States gambling and conducting a gambling business are crimes as per the federal prohibition of illegal gambling businesses, with the only exception being lottery and bingo style gambling and gaming.[1] Select areas in the country, like Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and certain areas of New York, Connecticut, and Delaware, do allow for state legalized gambling and gaming. Gambling and gaming is one of the largest industries in the United States. In 2012 alone, casinos and gaming businesses beat players out of over $37 billion dollars.[2] Of this $37 billion, $13 billion went to pay employee salary and benefits, while another $8.6 billion was paid in the form of gambling taxes.[3] The increase in revenue generated by gambling and gaming has resulted in the implementation of bringing casino games and gambling to the Internet. This is known as online gambling. While a federal law exists prohibiting gambling, no such law exists in regards to the prohibition of online gambling. What does exist in relation to Internet or online gambling is the Prohibition on acceptance of any financial instrument for unlawful Internet gambling.[4] This law prevents banking institutions from participating in in these transactions, thus creating a hurdle between the gambling institution and the consumer. [5]

The dangers with ordinary face to face or in person gambling are well documented. Someone who suffers with a gambling addiction stands in the position to lose large amounts when participating in gambling and gaming related activities.[6] These problems are exacerbated when someone has the opportunity to gamble via the Internet. Someone gambling via the Internet presumably has more access to funds than if they had personally traveled to a casino, horse track, or a gaming institution thus exposing themselves to an increased chance of losing out on a severe amount of money. Furthermore, online gambling has a potential to allow underage consumers access to gambling that would unlikely exist if the minor was required to physically attend the avenue where he or she wanted to gamble. While these factors would likely incline an unbiased decision maker to lean towards more federal legislation in regards to online gambling, there are several factors that require consideration. The Casino industry throughout the United States has been on a decline.[7]7 A lack of preventative legislation towards online gambling would be a good step in maintaining the large tax revenue already brought in from in person gambling. If the continuing decline in gambling results in Casino’s being shutdown, the amount of jobs lost could be mitigated by having more websites allowing for online gambling thus resulting in new positions opening up. In a world that is trending towards becoming more technology based it makes sense that an industry as large as the gaming and gambling industry follow suite.

[1] 18 U.S.C. § 1955

[2] Gaming Revenue: 10-Year Trend,  AMERICAN GAMING ASSOCIATION, http:// www.americangaming.org/industry-resources/research/fact-sheets/gaming-revenue-10-year-trends (last visited Aug. 29, 2014).

[3] Id.

[4] 31 U.S.C. § 5365.

[5] See Id.

[6] Gambling Addiction and Problem Gambling, HELPGUIDE, http:// www.helpguide.org/articles/ addiction/gambling-addiction-and-problem-gambling.htm  (last visited Oct. 3, 2014).

[7] Casinos are a Declining Industry, CASINO, http://casinofreenh.org/4-casinos-are-a-declining-industry/ (last visited Aug. 29, 2014).