By their own admissions, the justices on the highest court of the land, the US Supreme Court, are not the most tech-savvy bunch. But despite Justice Elena Kagan’s own acknowledgement that the court hasn’t “gotten to” e-mail yet—instead communicating with one another via memos printed on ivory paper—the justices have been tasked with solving some of the most thorny technology debates of our time.
The nine justices heard oral arguments last week in two companion cases (Riley v. California and US v. Wurie) involving whether law enforcement can warrantlessly access all of the information on a person’s cell phone when he or she is arrested. The week before, the court entertained arguments in a case (ABC v. Aereo) involving whether online broadcast television is to remain in the hands of a stodgy industry that once declared the VCR the enemy—a case with potentially huge implications for the future of “cloud computing”).
In the coming months and years, the Supreme Court is likely to be confronted with many other challenging technology cases, and it will play a central role in shaping the 21st century cyberlaw debate.
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