/ December 16, 2009

Law & Tech Roundup

Our RSS readers are exploding with law and technology news this week. Here are some of the highlights:

Microsoft (and its European customers) are having a good day. European regulators finally dropped their antitrust suit against Microsoft in exchange for the software giant’s agreement to give European Windows users a choice of 11 rival web browsers rather than limiting them to Internet Explorer. Unfortunately for domestic Windows users, Microsoft apparently has no plans to extend this offer beyond the European Union. Many are heralding this as a huge victory for EU Windows users, but given how easy it is to install competing browsers on a PC these days, it is a little tough to see what all the fuss is about. For an interesting analysis of the issues, check out this article from the Seattle PI.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by jeffwilcox

Intel’s day is not going quite so well. The blogosphere is exploding with reports about the FTC’s commencement of an antitrust suit against the chip0maker today accusing it of “stifl[ing] competition” by systematically blocking its rivals access to the market. What does that mean? According to the FTC’s complaint, Intel “threatened to and did increase prices, terminate product and technology collaborations, shut off supply, and reduce marketing support to OEMs that purchased too many products from Intel’s competitors.” Read about it here, here, here, and here.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by logan_x

Texters take heed: On Monday the Supreme Court granted certiorari on City of Ontario v. Quon, 08-1332. Quon presents the issue of whether government employers can read text messages that their employees send and receive on workplace texting devices. In this case, a police officer from California frequently sent personal and sexually explicit text messages from a pager provided by the police department. The department’s wireless provider turned over the transcripts of the messages to the department – a move that the civil-rights friendly Ninth Circuit called an unreasonable search. The Supreme Court will review the Ninth Circuit’s decision and decide whether the officer had a legitimate expectation of privacy in his text messages. Although this case arose in the context of government employment, it is sure to have implications for private companies as well. Oral arguments are likely to take place this spring, so stay tuned. And regardless of which way the high court comes out, it is probably wise to keep your private messages off of an employer-owned device.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by moriza

Sources: NY Times, WSJ, PC World, CNN, Seattle PI, and ScotusWiki.

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