In recent years the False Claims Act (“FCA”) has become the Department of Justice’s (“DOJ”) favorite tool to combat large-scale fraud—particularly healthcare fraud. In fact, from 2009 to 2016 alone, the DOJ recovered over $19.3 billion in health care fraud—“more than half the health care fraud dollars recovered since the 1986 amendments to the False Claims Act.” In general, the statute prohibits (1) knowingly submitting false claims to the federal government or causing another to submit a false claim, (2) knowingly creating a false record or statement to get a false claim paid by the federal government, and (3) retaining funds improperly received from the federal government.
Although the FCA originated during the Civil War, Congress has periodically strengthened the FCA through amendments, which have converted it into a “modern weapon” that the DOJ and whistleblowers use to punish providers who knowingly submit false claims or false records or retain funds improperly received from the government. The amendments have permitted larger damages, which in turn have incentivized whistleblowers and the DOJ to use whatever means available to prove liability in as many false claims as possible. During the last five years in particular, that has meant turning away from proving liability for each individual claim and instead using statistical sampling as proof of liability for a much larger number of claims.
For nearly a decade, health care reform has been at the center of American politics. The development, enactment, and reform of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)-“Obamacare,” in the parlance of both opposition and advocates-dominated the election cycles of 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016, and continued policy changes and market instabilities are all but certain to remain in the spotlight through 2018 and 2020. The endurance of this debate should come as no surprise: national attempts to expand access to affordable medical services have a long history, beginning not with Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Bill Clinton, or even Lyndon Johnson, but with Teddy Roosevelt and the Progressive Party in 1912. Along the way, while employer-provided insurance came to form the cornerstone of American health care coverage, a wide range of proposals sought to extend benefits to the uninsured, including efforts to create tax subsidies, to introduce single-payer government care, and to impose employer and individual mandates. Of course, it was that final option-the individual mandate, requiring that taxpayers either carry insurance or pay for their failure to do so-that featured in the law finally passed by Congress in 2010. Of “critical importance,” the mandate was “the price for the [insurance] industry’s cooperation.” However, “perhaps because prominent Republicans had [originally] endorsed the idea, Democrats underestimated the problems it would cause.” While the mandate still survives in full through 2018, it will continue only nominally thereafter: shortly before this Note went to press, the narrow Republican majorities in Congress-following years of promises to “repeal and replace” -reduced the mandate’s penalty to $0 for 2019 and beyond, although procedural limitations required them to leave intact the theoretical command.
The mandate has been the subject and survivor of substantial litigation, as well as of considerable scholarship. Underexplored, however, is a provision within the mandate giving special consideration and accommodation to those who obtain membership in a type of medical collective known as a health care sharing ministry: such members are entirely exempt from the PPACA’s requirements. This provision is unique in federal law. Unlike traditional conscientious-objector exemptions (which the PPACA also grants), the sharing ministry exemption demands no showing of a religious burden: to avoid the demands of the individual mandate, one need only join a club structured around shared ethical principles. And as a nation, join we have: sharing ministry membership has expanded dramatically since 2010, so dramatically that the exemption may have helped to accelerate the destabilization of the very risk pools that the Act was meant to supply. But the ability to join is not universal to people of all faiths and creeds, for the exemption contains a cutoff-date clause that not only forecloses the formation of new sharing ministries, but also limits the benefit of an exemption to members of just those sharing ministries which were in operation ten years before the PPACA’s passage. Whether by accident or design, the effect of this limitation is to enshrine in law an accommodation for only five ministries-each one explicitly Christian in its tenets and joining requirements.
Political advertising is undergoing what some experts have coined a “revolution,” as digital advertising catches up with-and looks poised to overtake-television advertising as the most effective way of reaching voters during a political campaign. An increasingly popular method of communicating with voters online is through native advertisements-ads that match the editorial content of media or technology platforms, making them less intrusive but also more difficult to identify as advertising. Native ads can be used to match a broad range of environments and now can be found in online newspapers, social media platforms like Facebook, and even mobile and video games. New native advertising techniques have become so sophisticated that, according to studies, many consumers cannot distinguish a native ad from editorial content. Politicians have identified the potential appeal of native ads, particularly as a tool for engaging younger voters through popular mediums such as social media and games. But in the political sphere, due to several outdated loopholes in current federal election law, native ads may be exempt from having to include typically mandatory disclaimers, making them particularly difficult to identify as advertisements. This Note argues that native ads create disclosure issues when they are used in settings such as mobile games, where users may have no expectation of seeing political advertisements, if the platforms are exempt from disclaimer requirements due to alleged practical limitations.
United States government surveillance has reached a point where the government “c[an] construct a complete electronic narrative of an individual’s life: their friends, lovers, joys, sorrows.” In June 2013, Edward Snowden released thousands of confidential documents from the National Security Agency (“NSA”) regarding classified government surveillance programs. The documents brought to light the fact that that the NSA was spying on individuals, including foreign citizens, and deliberately misleading Congress about these activities. According to Snowden, the spying was so extensive that the spying measures, including a program known as “PRISM,” involved the improper mass collection of data from citizens worldwide through NSA interactions with telecom giants like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook, and by tapping into global fiber optic cables.
These revelations sent shockwaves around the globe, and the backlash was swift and unforgiving. One thing became clear to Americans and the rest of the world: the NSA and the U.S. government had prioritized the massive collection of private information over and above the personal privacy rights of the global population. The concept of throwing civil liberties to the wayside through grossly intrusive surveillance pushed Snowden to step forward and reveal what he had seen all too closely. He no longer wanted to “live in a world ‘where everything that I say, everything that I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of love or friendship is recorded.’”
Across the Atlantic, the priorities of European Union member nations stand in stark contrast to those of the United States. The EU takes a much stronger stance on privacy and data protection and restricts how companies transfer data to non-EU nations. In the EU’s Data Protection Directive (the “Directive”), the right to privacy is described as a “fundamental right[ ] and freedom[ ].” This sentiment is echoed in other landmark EU documents such as the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
This Note seeks to address how the sprawl of GPS technology in our lives has permeated into the courts and affected the rights of criminal defendants. The first Part provides general background about the technology and its broader role in the court system, while the second Part examines GPS and the law. The second Part will look at the rules of evidence and the hurdles––however minimal––that GPS evidence may need to overcome when admitted at trial. Because GPS technology, while common, is still subject to errors and tampering, the evidence should be required to be properly authenticated. A GPS record can be––and has been––viewed as a kind of a statement, reporting where a particular person was at a particular time. For this reason, courts have considered the evidence through hearsay analysis and admitted it through the business records exception. Additionally, the second Part discusses the constitutional issues that arise with the introduction of GPS evidence. Specifically, the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment guarantees a criminal defendant the right to cross-examine the person who makes a report submitted at trial. GPS data can be considered a statement against a criminal defendant, about where the defendant was at a particular time––e.g., when a crime was being committed. The issue becomes whether a criminal defendant is entitled to “confront” the makers of these statements. Finally, the third Part of this Note concludes with concerns of how to properly deal with GPS tracking technology, considering how far it can reach, in light of the general public’s seeming non-concern with the level of government use of it. The fact that most of us carry GPS-enabled smartphones in our pockets every day gives rise to questions about the government’s ability to track us and what procedural safeguards should be maintained when evidence from these devices is admitted against an individual at trial.
Fair use is a legal doctrine that is at once generous and parsimonious to our society’s innovators. The underlying function of fair use is to allow individuals to freely and legally use copyrighted works without obtaining permission from the work’s creator. It serves as an exception to the rights granted by copyright law, promoting society’s liberty of expression and innovation by allowing individuals to infringe on another’s creative efforts. Yet while those taking advantage of the fair use exception have much to gain from the doctrine, their experiences with fair use have been plagued with “pervasive and often crippling uncertainty.”
Since the doctrine’s judicial inception and subsequent statutory codification, courts have struggled to define and apply a uniform test assessing whether a copyrighted work’s use is protected under fair use. In the 1994 case Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc., the Supreme Court introduced a new consideration into the fair use analysis: whether and to what extent a secondary use transforms the original copyrighted work. A use that sufficiently transformed the original work would weigh in favor of fair use; conversely, a use that failed to sufficiently transform the work would weigh against a fair use finding. This novel element of the fair use analysis left many questions unanswered. Where does the dividing line between a sufficiently transformative work and one that is not transformative enough lie? How much weight should this new inquiry hold in relation to the pre-existing statutory factors?
This Note argues that fragmented free expression laws across European member states and data controllers’ ability to select their reviewing supervisory authority give U.S. data controllers latitude to exploit the privacy-expression balance in favor of the U.S. prioritization of expression. Whereas the current literature revolving around the right to be forgotten and the GDPR focuses on reconciling and converging transatlantic values of privacy and free expression, this Note examines the mechanisms of the European Union’s assertion and imposition of privacy values across the Atlantic through the right to be forgotten and the right to erasure and describes weaknesses in the GDPR that may undermine those mechanisms.
Under the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was given expanded authority to bring enforcement actions against “any person” allegedly in violation of federal Securities and Exchange laws, with unhindered discretion as to whether these actions must be initiated before its own administrative law judges (ALJs) or in federal district courts. Since then, pursuant to its enhanced prosecutorial power, the SEC has increased its number of administrative proceedings—cases it has brought “in house”—sparking considerable controversy over the SEC’s perceived “home court advantage” and stirring up a series of constitutional challenges to its adjudicatory system. So far, only a few such challenges have garnered any success, while all others have been dismissed by federal district and appellate courts for lack of jurisdiction. Despite the attention the SEC has received, the Supreme Court has yet to address the issue, and Congress similarly has been slow to react. A federal bill addressing the matter, entitled the “Due Process Restoration Act,” has been proposed, but the bill is still in its infancy and has yet to pass the House of Representatives, much less reach the Senate.
In accordance with a time-honored tradition, foreign sovereigns are generally immune from being summoned to court in another country. This doctrine of “sovereign immunity” was codified and modified in the Federal Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 (“FSIA”). The FSIA divests United States courts of jurisdiction over defendants that are foreign states, subject to a number of general exceptions designed to provide a level of recourse for an aggrieved party against a foreign government. The FSIA codifies the long-standing attitude against suing foreign governments in the United States and “places in the federal courts the task of determining whether the general immunity provided by the Act attaches” in a given scenario, “weighing ‘the interests of justice’ and ‘the rights of both foreign states and litigants in United States courts.’” As such, the Act is designed to protect “both the rights of domestic litigants and foreign states.” However, the framers of the statute were, and those currently adjudicating disputes arising under the statute are, wary that “err[ing] in the former direction could implicate foreign policy concerns, while being overly solicitous of the status of foreign states could make it impossible for aggrieved parties to be made whole.” This virtual tug-of-war between these two interests was at the forefront of a case decided by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in 2013, Sachs v. Republic of Austria, a battle that ultimately reached the Supreme Court.
This is the digital age. As “the ratings machine, DJT [Donald J. Trump],” says, “all I know is what’s on the internet,” or “the cyber,” as he calls it. People’s use of and dependency on the Internet has made data breaches a serious and widespread threat to people’s privacy and security. In 2016, there were 1,093 data breaches, up from 780 in 2015. 75.6% of companies suffered at least one successful attack. Essentially “there are only two types of companies left in the United States, according to data security experts: ‘those that have been hacked and those that don’t know they’ve been hacked.’”
Major companies such as LinkedIn, Target, Ebay, Yahoo, Anthem, and Ashley Madison have been subject to data breaches, and subsequently to lawsuits. Not only can data breaches threaten people’s financial security, but breaches like Ashley Madison’s—a dating site whose slogan up until July 2016 was “Life is Short. Have an Affair”—can threaten people’s home lives and shatter careers. The government is not immune to dangerous cyber attacks either. Both the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and the Democratic National Committee (“DNC”) have suffered breaches. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s e-mails were leaked as part of the DNC breach, which became a source of controversy throughout her campaign. Further, the U.S. intelligence community has concluded that the hack was tied to and possibly directed by the Russian government, which sets a troubling precedent for future hacks by hostile foreign governments.
Plaintiffs whose information has been exposed due to a company data breach have attempted to sue the hacked companies storing their information based on causes of action such as negligence, breach of contract, unjust enrichment, breach of fiduciary duty, unfair and deceptive business practices, invasion of privacy, violation of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), and violations of various state consumer protection and data breach notification laws.