Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association was anticipated to be one of the most significant cases of the Supreme Court’s term. In Friedrichs, the Court was considering whether to overrule its prior decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education (1977), which held that public employees can be required to financially support union collective-bargaining with government, but not union political activities. In 2014, the Court sharply criticized Abood’s rationales in Harris v. Quinn, but stopped short of overruling it. Friedrichs was primed to be the final word on Abood’s continuing validity. However, with Justice Scalia’s passing in February, the Court deadlocked 4-4 in Friedrichs, and Abood remains the law of land.
This Teleforum explored the legal landscape post-Friedrichs. This includes the other cases challenging Abood that are pending in the lower courts, and the legal arguments for and against upholding Abood. It also includes cases that concern related matters, such as whether individuals can be required to affirmatively object to paying “non-chargeable” union dues under Abood, and whether individuals who are not full-fledged employees can be included in systems of exclusive representation in the wake of Harris.
Cisco and other industry leaders estimate that the Internet of Things (the “IoT”) has the potential to inject trillions of dollars of value over the next decade into both the public and private sectors. It holds tremendous promise to transform and improve our lives, generating unprecedented opportunities in the way we govern and are governed, the way we do business, and the way we manage our daily activities. We stand at the cusp of an era in which everything from cars to cows can be given an Internet address and connected to the IoT network.
This rapid expansion of new technologies and capabilities brings new technical, legal, and policy challenges to the forefront. The IoT has undoubtedly caught the attention of federal policy makers, as demonstrated by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (“NTIA”) recent request for comments. There are many potential touchpoints in the IoT ecosystem for regulators and policymakers, from addressing spectrum requirements to ensuring the security of systems to establishing data protection frameworks. Unfortunately, the risk of overregulating or promulgating inconsistent regulations runs high.
Our experts discussed the current and future regulatory landscape of the IoT. Is the NTIA’s proceeding a harbinger for more regulation in this nascent space? What is the correct framework to ensure the successful deployment of the IoT? Is there any role for government? What policy decisions could make or break the evolution of the IoT?
Cell-site simulators are devices used by law enforcement. In response to the signals emitted by a cell-site simulator, cellular devices in the proximity identify the simulator as the most attractive cell tower in the area and transmit signals to the simulator that identify the device. Using these simulators, investigators can locate cellular devices whose unique identifiers are already known to law enforcement, or determine the unique identifiers of an unknown device by collecting limited signaling information from devices in the simulator user’s vicinity.
It has been a subject of debate whether the use of cell-site simulators by the government requires a warrant supported by probable cause. In September 2015, the Justice Department released a policy requiring federal investigators to obtain a warrant prior to employing a simulator, except under exceptional circumstances.
Is there a Fourth Amendment reasonable expectation of privacy in the data collected by cell-site simulators? Who is in the best position to establish limits in this area (if any), Congress or the courts? Should investigators be permitted to use simulators, even with a warrant?
On June 10, U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz, John Cornyn, Orrin Hatch, James Lankford, and Mike Lee introduced the Stop Settlements Slush Fund Act. The Act would prohibit the Department of Justice from enforcing settlements that allow parties to give money to outside parties chosen by the administration instead of the Treasury. Many of these outside parties have been non-profits that Congress had recently removed from federal funding.