Past JLTP Abstracts - Volume 2001 Issue 2

                         Articles


On the Increasing Presence of Remote Employees: An Analysis of the Impact on Employment Law as it Relates to Teleworkers

Joan T. A. Gabel & 
Nancy Mansfield

 

Internet technologies have had a profound effect on the nature of employment in the United States. These technologies have led to a dramatic increase in the number of workers in the “cyberspace workplace” who now “telecommute” from home or away rather than physically work in the office of their employer. In this Article, Professors Joan Gabel and Nancy Mansfield argue that the recent boom in telecommuting has created legal uncertainty with respect to how current employment laws apply to this new cyberspace workforce. As a result of this logistical change in the workforce, the authors further argue that current employment laws must evolve to accommodate this new paradigm in working conditions.

Professors Gabel and Mansfield begin by examining how and why new information technologies have led to this dramatic increase in telecommuters. The uncertainty in the status of telecommuters as either employees or independent contractors is discussed as well as jurisdictional issues that may arise due the sometimes vast distance between a telecommuter and their employer. Next, the authors illustrate how current employment laws may not be broad enough to cover telecommuters creating legal uncertainty over application and enforcement of such laws. In particular, the authors discuss issues related to the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family Medical Leave Act, the National Labor Relations Act, and Occupational Safety and Health Act. Finally, Professors Gabel and Mansfield discuss potential responses and changes in these employment laws to better accommodate telecommuters and help eliminate the uncertainty in the legal rights of both employees and employers in this new and growing cyberspace workforce.


A Tort for Prying E-eyes

Natalie L. Regoli

 

As the number of users browsing the Internet continues to grow at a staggering pace, organizations and companies doing business on the Internet are busy developing new and unobtrusive means to covertly gather personal information about these users. In this Article, author Natalie Regoli contends that the privacy Internet users would and should reasonably expect is purely illusory. The large amount of increasingly personal information companies are collecting from unwitting Internet users is a grave violation of civil liberties which may ultimately result in the loss of a user’s sense of self being. Ms. Regoli argues that current privacy laws and the Federal Trade Commission’s urging of self-regulation by Internet companies is not, and will not be adequate to protect user’s privacy on-line. The author ultimately suggests the creation of a new common law tort against companies who continue to steal personal information from Internet users without their consent.

Ms. Regoli begins by examining the nature of personal user information being collected as well as the methods employed by many companies to secretly gather such information. Specifically, the use of “clickstream data” and other software methods of data collection are discussed. Next, the author explores how and why current laws and methods of self-regulation are problematic and fail to adequately protect Internet users’ personal information. Ms. Regoli then argues that the creation of a new common law tort is the most effective solution to the problem. It is argued that the creation of a common law tort would be the most inexpensive, rapid, flexible, and effective means of protecting users’ personal information particularly when contrasted with the alternative of passing new legislation or modifying existing legislation. Finally, the author outlines the metes and bounds of such a tort including the scope of the tort, the mechanics of applying the tort to specific acts, and the remedies available to plaintiffs under this new law.


The Information Revolution: Implications for Higher Education Policy

Daniel Alpert & 
Robert F. Rich

 

Since the early 1990’s, rapid advances in information technologies have changed the ways our society receives, processes, and uses information. Akin to the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century, this new Information Revolution has a huge impact on virtually all of our institutions and ways of doing things. However, in the following Article, Professors Daniel Alpert and Robert Rich illustrate that while technological innovation may offer great promise and new opportunities, unintended threats and challenges may also be presented. The authors argue that throughout history, the promise and benefits of new technologies have often come with unintended and unforeseen negative consequences, accordingly, the Information Revolution is no different. Professors Alpert and Rich suggest that typically, the greater the promise of a technology, the greater the potential threats are. In this Article, the authors explore current efforts to strengthen the higher education enterprise through the introduction of new information technologies to illustrate their point.

Professors Alpert and Rich begin with a historical perspective illustrating how innovative technologies throughout history that have had great benefits were also accompanied by challenges. Next, the authors explore the impact of new information technologies on higher education. In particular, the authors discuss how the Information Revolution is changing the central mission and priorities of colleges and universities. Both the potential benefits and challenges of these changes are subsequently discussed. Then, Professors Alpert and Rich discuss how the Information Revolution affects distance-learning programs. They consider the concept of a “Virtual University” and explore the potential benefits and threats associated with this new enterprise. Finally, the authors discuss how new information technologies may be used to build new learning environments that will maximize the benefits of these new technologies while minimizing potential threats to promote the ultimate goal of building a learning society.


                         Book Review


Democracy on the Line: A Review of Republic.com by Cass Sunstein

Thomas S. Ulen

 


                         Notes


Business Method Patents: Chaos at the USPTO or Business as Usual?

Kevin M. Baird

 


Trouble with the Guidelines: On Urging the USPTO to Properly Evolve with Novel Technologies

Benjamin Pleune

 


Satellite: Like a Diamond in the Sky

Bradley M. Yusim