Current Issue

Volume 18

The Economic Calculus of Fielding Autonomous Fighting Vehicles Compliant with the Laws of Armed Conflict

Evan Wallach, Erik Thomas

18 Yale J.L. & Tech. 1

In 2001, the U.S. Military had only 162 unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly referred to as drones. By 2010, that number exceeded 7,000, accounting for 41% of aircrafts in the U.S. Air Force.  As their numbers have increased, these systems have become increasingly automated.  Newly deployed weapon systems have taken the first steps towards target selection without input from human operators. The revolution in robotics and weapons technology raises numerous questions about the legality of deploying Autonomous Fighting Vehicles (AFVs) onto the battlefield.

A Warrant to Hack: An Analysis of the Proposed Amendments to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure

Zach Lerner

18 Yale J.L. & Tech. 26

In 2013, a federal magistrate judge denied an FBI request for a remote access search warrant, concluding that, among other deficiencies, Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure prevented him from granting a warrant to hack a computer when the location of the device was not known. Just five months later, the DOJ proposed amendments to Rule 41 seeking to eliminate the territorial limits on search warrants in two cybercrime contexts: (1) when suspects conceal their online locations and identities; and (2) when malware affects users in five or more districts. Despite approval from the necessary judicial committees and conferences, the amendments must now survive review by the Supreme Court and Congress. While the government argues that the amendments represent small but necessary changes, critics raise a number of far- reaching legal and policy concerns, labeling the amendments as the legalization of “New Invasive Global Hacking Powers.” This paper seeks to impartially present and evaluate both sides of the argument. This Article offers concrete alterations to the amendments, which ensure that law enforcement agencies are able to effectively investigate and prosecute cybercrimes while simultaneously protecting privacy, safeguarding civil liberties, and guaranteeing that remote access search warrants do not become ubiquitous tools of surveillance.

When Competition Fails to Optimize Quality: A Look at Search Engines

Maurice E. Stucke, Ariel Ezrachi

18 Yale J.L. & Tech. 70

The European Commission’s Statement of Objections forms the latest addition to the ongoing debate on the possible misuse of Google’s position in the search engine market. The scholarly debate, however, has largely been over the exclusionary effects of search degradation. Less attention has been dedicated to the dimension of quality – whether and how a search engine, faced with rivals, could degrade quality on the free side. We set out to address this fundamental question: with the proliferation of numerous web search engines and their free usage and availability, could any search engine degrade quality? We begin our analysis with a review of the network effects that may impact the relative power of a search engine. We next identify three necessary, but not sufficient, variables for quality degradation to occur in search results. With these three variables in mind, we consider instances when a search engine could degrade quality despite competition from rivals.

Fatal Fragments: The Effect of Money Transmission Regulation on Payments Innovation

Benjamin Lo

18 Yale J.L. & Tech. 111

A revolution in payments technology is taking place, as entrepreneurs develop new and innovative ways to send, receive, and store money. However, payment startups are running headlong into a thicket of federal and state money transmitter regulations, which impose costly registration and reporting requirements to prevent money laundering and protect consumers. The regulatory burden is particularly heavy at the state level, since each state defines “money transmission” differently. Payments startups must deal with highly fragmented regulation across states early in their lives, resulting in large and often redundant compliance costs while offering comparatively less marginal benefit to consumers. However, this does not mean that state money transmitter laws should be forsaken or preempted. Instead, the laws should be harmonized and streamlined to make multi-state compliance easier for payments startups, while providing adequate consumer protection and rigorous financial oversight. This Article examines the above issues by focusing on the fragmented landscape of state money transmitter regulation. It further analyzes the costs and benefits of such regulation on startups and consumers, and proposes several modifications to multistate regulation that could improve the tradeoff between regulatory cost and innovation benefits.

Credit Scoring in the Era of Big Data

Mikella Hurley, Julius Adebayo

18 Yale J.L. & Tech. 148

For most Americans, access to credit is an essential requirement for upward mobility and financial success. A favorable credit rating is necessary to purchase a home or car, to start a new business, to seek higher education, or to pursue other important goals. For many consumers, strong credit is also necessary to gain access to employment, rental housing, and essential services such as insurance. At present, however, individuals have very little control over how they are scored and have even less ability to contest inaccurate, biased, or unfair assessments of their credit. Traditional, automated creditscoring tools raise longstanding concerns of accuracy and unfairness. The recent advent of new “big-data” credit-scoring products heightens these concerns.

Opening Pandora's Box: Analyzing the Complexity of U.S. Patent Litigation

Jonathan H. Ashtor

18 Yale J.L. & Tech. 217

Patent litigation is widely regarded as one of the most complex types of civil litigation, with costs often totaling millions of dollars and typical cases lasting years. Also, the burdens of patent case complexity land on both sides of the technological divide, as large producers face skyrocketing defense budgets and inventors and startups risk being “priced out” from enforcing their rights. Yet, the complexity of patent cases is poorly understood as an empirical matter. Instead, patent litigation is generally accepted to be a “Pandora’s Box” of incalculable complexity, which, once opened, is only arduously and unpredictably concluded. This study undertakes a comprehensive exploration of patent litigation complexity, first defining robust metrics of complexity and continuing with rigorous analysis of the determinants thereof. 

A Prescription for Excessive Drug Pricing: Leveraging Government Patent Use for Health

Hannah Brennan, Amy Kapczynski, Christine H. Monahan, Zain Rizvi

18 Yale J.L. & Tech. 275

High drug prices are creating serious health and fiscal problems in the United States today. This reality is vividly illustrated by recently approved medicines to treat Hepatitis C. These new medicines can cure nearly everyone with this potentially fatal infection and may even enable the elimination of this disease. But the drugs’ sticker price—close to $100,000— has meant that very few patients who could benefit from them can access them. This Article describes an approach, available under existing law, to bring about transformative reductions in the prices of these medicines, at least for federal programs and possibly beyond.