Richmond Journal of Law and Technology

The first exclusively online law review.

Author: Christian Vega

What about Us? Are the disabled getting a fair treatment with the rapid growth in smartphones?

old-people-with-ipad-655x400

By: Matt O’Toole

Have you ever wondered what kind of tablet applications are out there for disabled people? You probably aren’t the only one. In fact, part of your answer may to do with the fact that they are little out accommodating those affected with disabilities.

When the ADA was enacted in 1990, the Internet was only in its nascent stage, and e-commerce as we think of it today was unheard of.[1] Nevertheless, some courts have extended the ADA’s reach to websites that offer and sell goods or services to the public, mandating that websites are accessible to persons with disabilities.[2]

Putting aside the merits of whether the ADA, in its current form, should apply to websites at all, the question that is then raised is: how do companies make their websites fully accessible?[3] Unfortunately, there currently are no generally accepted ADA standards for website construction and that seems like a big issue that gets very little attention.[4]

How can this country be so advanced in its technology but yet be so behind on its advances to folks with disabilities?

According to the United States Bureau, 8.4% of our population has a disability, under the age of 65.[5] There is certainly a market out there and whether legislation has done enough to reach that remains to be seen.

Congress instituted section 508 in 1998 to make new online opportunities available to people with disabilities and to encourage the development of software and technologies to help make this happen.[6] An amendment of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 508 requires federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology available to disabled citizens.[7]

In 2006, the National Federation of the Blind brought Target to district court and charged that Target’s Website is inaccessible to the blind and violates the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, along with several other California human rights act.[8]

“What this means is that any place of business that provides services, such as the opportunity to buy products on a Web site, is now a place of accommodation and therefore falls under the ADA,” said director of user experience for Mindshare Interactive Campaigns LLC Kathy Wahlbin.[9]

As baby boomers start to turn the corner, the number of disabled users increases and the software continues to develop.[10] Section 508 will continue to be relevant and I’m not sure that it’s necessarily the government at fault here. It is just that the advancement of technology comes more people, and more disabled user. It is just that we shouldn’t leave them behind.

With technology now moving to much greater heights than just the internet, I think instead of making more updates to Snapcaht, folks should consider making phone applications more accessible to those in need.

Photo Source: http://icdn5.digitaltrends.com/image/old-people-with-ipad-655×400.jpg

 

 

[1] Kyle David, Web Accessibility: Section 508 Compliance , Blog, (Oct. 28, 2015), http://www.corpcounsel.com/id=1202728515700/New-ADA-Lawsuits-Target-Website-Accessibility?mcode=0&curindex=0&curpage=ALL. [hereinafter David]

[2]Id.

[3] Michael J. Chilleen and Brad Leimkuhler, New ADA Lawsuits Target Website Accessibility, Corporate Counsel (June 5, 2015), http://www.corpcounsel.com/id=1202728515700/New-ADA-Lawsuits-Target-Website-Accessibility?mcode=0&curindex=0&curpage=ALL&slreturn=20150929131629

[4]Id.

[5]United States Census Bureau. (Oct. 28, 2015), http://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045214/00.

[6]See David supra, note 1.

[7]Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Pub. L. No. 93-112, 87 Stat. 355 (1973).

[8] Nat’l. Fed’n of Blind v. Target, 452 F.2d 946, 956 (2006).

[9]See David supra, note 1.

[10]Id.

Overbearing or Common Sense? Drone Registry.

travel-channel-drone-australia

By: Curtis Hazelton,

In our society, it makes perfect sense for one to be accountable for his or her actions, so why should unmanned aircrafts be any different? The Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration have recently proposed a possible fix to this accountability issue.

Traditionally, unregistered aircrafts (manned or unmanned) could fly up to 600 feet above ground level, a rather empty section of the skies, where they were unlikely to fly into anything.[1] Although600 feet above ground level seems spacious fordrone users, not every drone user flies their drone within the 600 feet fly-zone nor do they follow the guidelines of drone-free locations. According to Department of Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx, “Registration will help us enforce the rules against those who operate unsafely, by allowing the FAA to identify the operators of unmanned aircraft.”[2] Regulation of the traditionally unregistered aircraft may make it easier to address the important issues of insurance and liability.

The increase of personal drone purchase and operation in the United States has caused many problems.The FAA stated that so far in 2015, pilots reported unsafe activity by unmanned aerial vehicles about 100 times a month.[3] In July, 5 “unmanned aircraft systems” prevented California firefighters from dispatching helicopters with water buckets for up to 20 minutes over a wildfire that roared onto a Los Angeles-area freeway, burning out cars.[4] During the second round match of the U.S. open between FlaviaPennetta and Monica Niculescua drone flew over the stadium and crashed into the stands. Subsequently, the match was stopped for a period while officers examined the drone and the operator arrested for reckless endangerment and operating a drone in a New York City public park outside of prescribed area.[5] The aforementioned situations highlight the need to impose liability on drone operators for accidents caused by drones.

Although some people are wary about government regulation, the registration proposal by the FAA and DoT could be the best way to ensure that drones and other unmanned aircraft are used safely. Though the Department of Transportation is still working to finalize their efforts to require drone registration before the holiday season, drone users, new and old, should be on the lookout for a change in legislation.

Photo Source: http://skift.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/travel-channel-drone-australia.jpg

 

 

 

[1] Jordan Golson, The Feds Want a National Drone Registry by Christmas,

Wired (Oct. 19, 2015, 2:28 PM) www.wired.com/2015/10/the-feds-want-a-national-drone-registry-by-christmas/.

[2]Id.

[3] Renee Marsh and Ben Brumfield, U.S. announces task force aimed at mandatory drone registration, CNN (Oct. 19, 2015 6:11 PM)www.cnn.com/2015/10/19/politics/drone-registration-task-force-announced/index.html

[4]Id.

[5] Laura Wagnor, Drone Crash At U.S. Open; New York City Teacher Arrested, National Public Radio (Sep. 4, 2015, 2:24 PM) www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/09/04/437539727/drone-crash-at-u-s-open-new-york-city-teacher-arrested.

The End of DraftKings and FanDuel?

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By: Jenni Lyman,

On Sundays, each NFL play seems to be sandwiched in between a series of incessant testimonials touting the ease of winning thousands of dollars from onlinedaily fantasy football. Both DraftKings and FanDuel are on target to spend $150 million in Q3. [1] It is reasonable to believe these two companies will remain a staple of sportsprogramming considering the amount of cash in their quiver devoted to marketing. However, there appear to be a slew of legal principles tailored to prevent unfairness to consumers that may put an end to the two companies. [2] Recent promo codes such as ‘Win’, ‘Success’, or ‘Fun’ could change to ‘Fraud’.

Online daily fantasy sports are not regulated under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 because they are considered games of skill as opposed to raw gambling. Slate. See also. Act. [3]

Last Thursday, Draft Kings player, Adam Johnson filed a class action lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan. [4] The complaint alleges the two companies violated the laws of three states—New York, FanDuel’s corporate headquarters, Massachusetts, where DraftKings maintains its principal place of business, and Kentucky, where Johnson resides. [5]

First, the complaint alleges the two companies acted in concert. [6] Moreover, they follow the same rules regarding employee participation and issue numerous joint statements on their website. [7] The linchpin of the suit is the fact that employees of both companies had access to data and information that is not public. [8] The suit alleges that analytics are run to determine how lineups on FanDuel would fare if they were entered into DraftKings contests. [9] Finally, Johnson alleges the “companies failed to take reasonable steps to prevent insiders from competing against members of the proposed class of plaintiffs.”[10] Shockingly, DraftKings employees have won around $6 million in winnings from the $2 billion awarded by FanDuel so far. [11]

So, if Johnson can prove the two companies had knowledge of the insider trading, he has a successful claim for fraud and could recover his money by proving he would not have paid $100 to play a rigged game. [12]

To add to the legal fire, even if Johnson is unable to prove insider trading exists, there is also a possible claim of negligence. The claim alleges the companies failed to take reasonable steps to prevent competition from insiders against the proposed class of plaintiffs. [13] The suggested class is only those who dished out money in a DraftKings account prior to October 6, 2015. [14] Lastly, violations of the Kentucky consumer protection statute and the New York false advertising law are included in the suit. [15]

As we settle in for another weekend of FanDuel and DraftKings commercials spattered with football, could Johnson v. FanDuel be a season ender?

 

 

 

[1] Anthony Crupi, Fantasy Sports Sites DraftKings, FanDuel September Spend Tops $100 Million, Advertising Age, Sept. 30, 2015, http://adage.com/article/media/draftkings-fanduel-spe/300658/.

[2]John Culhane, The DraftKings Crash, Slate, Oct. 13, 2015, http://www.slate.com/articles/sports/sports_nut/2015/10/the_insider_trading_scandals_could_bring_down_draftkings_and_fanduel.html.

[3]Id.

[4] Darren Rovell, Class action lawsuit filed against DraftKings and FanDuel, ESPN, Oct. 9, 2015, http://espn.go.com/chalk/story/_/id/13840184/class-action-lawsuit-accuses-draftkings-fanduel-negligence-fraud-false-advertising.

[5]John Culhane, The DraftKings Crash, Slate, Oct. 13, 2015, http://www.slate.com/articles/sports/sports_nut/2015/10/the_insider_trading_scandals_could_bring_down_draftkings_and_fanduel.html.

[6]Id.

[7]Id.

[8]Id.

[9] Darren Rovell, Class action lawsuit filed against DraftKings and FanDuel, ESPN, Oct. 9, 2015, http://espn.go.com/chalk/story/_/id/13840184/class-action-lawsuit-accuses-draftkings-fanduel-negligence-fraud-false-advertising.

[10]Culhane, supra note 4.

[11]Rovell, supra note 8.

[12]John Culhane, The DraftKings Crash, Slate, Oct. 13, 2015, http://www.slate.com/articles/sports/sports_nut/2015/10/the_insider_trading_scandals_could_bring_down_draftkings_and_fanduel.html.

[13]Id.

[14] Darren Rovell, Class action lawsuit filed against DraftKings and FanDuel, ESPN, Oct. 9, 2015, http://espn.go.com/chalk/story/_/id/13840184/class-action-lawsuit-accuses-draftkings-fanduel-negligence-fraud-false-advertising.

[15]Culhane, supra note 11.
Photo Source: http://images.performgroup.com/di/library/sporting_news/3f/f1/fanduel-draftkings-100615-getty-ftrjpg_1p54pimj33xpv1ul6hwkremi6f.jpg?t=1051596368

The Legality of Self-Driving Cars: Whose fault is it?

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By: Manny Olojede,

Welcome to the future, Marty. Self-driving or autonomous cars will actually become a “thing” soon. But whose fault is it if the self-driving car runs a red light? The driver or the car? The manufacturer or some other third party? The chicken or the egg? Are robot cars even legal? With Tesla Motors’ recent announcement regarding its new “Auto-Pilot” software, there are numerous questions of legality and liability brought to the forefront of lawmakers’ agendas.

On October 14, 2015, Tesla Motors became the first automotive company to roll out advanced auto-pilot technology into its vehicles.[1] The Tesla Version 7.0auto-pilot software update will allow its Model S car to steer within lanes, change lanes, manage speed by using active, traffic-aware cruise control and scan for a parking space, alert [the driver] when one is available, and parallel park on command.[2] Though these features are an advancement in autonomous car technology, Tesla emphasizes that this update does not mean the car is fully autonomous and hands free.[3] In order for this software to function, your hands must be touching the wheel; otherwise the car will revert to manual mode after a few seconds.[4] Tesla is cautiously rolling out this technology, as it is aware of the few regulations surrounding autonomous vehicles.[5] However, Tesla does seek to allow its cars to be hands free in the future as new regulations are implemented and the technology improves.

Currently, the law surrounding self-driving cars in the United States has been ambiguous at best. In the majority of states, autonomous cars are not illegal, though New York is the only state that requires a “driver” to have his hands on the wheel at all times.[6] Only fourteen states have considered legislation regulating self-driving cars and nine of those have failed to pass bills specifically legalizing the cars, leaving the area of self-driving cars relatively grey.[7] Consequently, Tesla’s announcement has put on pressure on lawmakers to clarify these grey areas.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has declined to comment on Tesla’s announcement but lauded the potential safety benefits of autonomous technology in statements made by Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx earlier this year.[8] “The Department wants to speed the nation toward an era when vehicle safety isn’t just about surviving crashes; it’s about avoiding them,” Foxx said. “Connected, automated vehicles that can sense the environment around them and communicate with other vehicles and with infrastructure have the potential to revolutionize road safety and save thousands of lives.”[9] Based on these statements, autonomous technology seems to align with the future goals of the NHTSA and this may give a clue to as how regulations will be shaped surrounding them. However, it remains to be seen how the law will evolve.

Though the legal landscape surrounding self-driving cars in the United States has not been fully carved out, carmakers such as Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, and Google have indicated that they will likely accept the legal liabilities for their cars in the United States when they are put on sale to the general public. Volvo, in particular, has promised to accept full liability whenever one of its cars is in autonomous mode.[10] Though this promise may indicate car makers’ current confidence in the technology and hold carmakers strictly liable, Volvo, along with Mercedes and Google, have expressed that as the technology improves, they will expect fewer and fewer accidents.[11]

Ultimately, as the development of self-driving car technology quickly improves, it will be important for lawmakers to tackle these tough questions in a timely fashion. Carmakers have set the pace, and if the law does not catch up soon, there will be many more questions and problems for the government to answer about self-driving cars.

 

 

[1] Grayson Ullman, Tesla’s Self-driving Software: Is It Legal?, Fed scoop (October 16, 2015, 5:43 PM), http://fedscoop.com/teslas-self-driving-update-how-is-it-legal.

[2]Id. (citing Tesla Motors Team, Your Autopilot Has Arrived, Tesla Motors Blog (October 14, 2015), http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/your-autopilot-has-arrived)

[3] Molly McHugh, Tesla Cars Now Drive Themselves, Kinda, WIRED.com (October 14, 2015 6:19 PM), http://www.wired.com/2015/10/tesla-self-driving-over-air-update-live.

[4]Id.

[5]Id.

[6]Ullman, supra note 1.

[7]Id.

[8]Id. (citing Catherine Howden, Transportation Secretary Foxx Announces Plan to Add Two Automatic Emergency Braking Systems to Recommended Vehicle Advanced Technology Features, National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (January 22, 2015), http://www.nhtsa.gov/About+NHTSA/Press+Releases/NHTSA-sets-AEB-plans,-highlights-lives-saved-repoot)

[9]Id.

[10]Mark Harris, Why You Shouldn’t Worry About Liability for Self-Driving Car Accidents, IEEE Spectrum (October 12, 2015, 8:00PM), http://spectrum.ieee.org/cars-that-think/transportation/self-driving/why-you-shouldnt-worry-about-liability-for-selfdriving-car-accidents (citing Press Release, Volvo Car Group, US Urged to Establish Nationwide Federal Guidelines for Autonomous Driving (October 7, 2015), available athttps://www.media.volvocars.com/global/en-gb/media/pressreleases/167975/us-urged-to-establish-nationwide-federal-guidelines-for-autonomous-driving).

[11] Neil Briscoe, Car Makers to Accept Liability for Self-driving Cars, The Irish Times (October 12, 2015, 2:16 PM), http://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/motors/car-makers-to-accept-liability-for-self-driving-cars-1.2388608.

 

Photo Source: http://www.forcegt.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/volvo_road_train-10.jpg

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