Book Reviews

The New Kinship: Constructing Donor-Conceived Families

By: Ashley Jacoby Introduction: In The New Kinship: Constructing Donor Conceived Families, author Naomi Cahn examines how families and relationships form when individuals utilize assisted reproductive technology (“ART”) to conceive and bear children. Cahn proposes that The New Kinship serves three purposes: firstly, it explores how emotional connections are created and develop within families who opt to use donor gametes, and documents these evolving relationships; secondly, it offers a legal foundation for promoting the development of these communities, and argues that current law should not be primarily focused on medicine, technology, and commodification, but rather family and constitutional law; thirdly, The New Kinship illustrates how donor families simultaneously reinforce and complicate the meaning of family, thereby offering an opportunity to reconsider the meaning of family generally. In seeking to offer an in-depth look at how “donor families” both support and confuse the social, cultural, economic, and legal meaning of family, Cahn offers a chronological and thematic exploration of the donor world. Consequently, this review will begin by examining the basic meaning of family and outlining the composition of the donor world. The second section of the review will address the questions of “who” searches for donor-based relationships, and “why.” The third section examines the law’s approach to, and relationship with, donor-conceived families. The last section discusses Cahn’s proposals for legal reform in this emerging area of law. The review will conclude by addressing the broader implications and benefits of allowing for the expansive construction and conception of the meaning of family.

I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did [Social Networks and the Death of Privacy]

By: Justin McHugh Introduction: Since the creation of Facebook, people have been flocking to social media to have their voices heard. Facebook now has over 750 million members making it the “third largest nation in the world.” With so many followers, Facebook has essentially become its own nation with its own followers, financial system, legal system, and relationships with fellow real world nations. Just like with any nation, there are issues of privacy and governmental intrusion into people’s lives. Generally, Facebook and the Internet have never given great reverence to users’ privacy. Instead, Facebook and sites like Spokeo continue to collect data on people and sell it to the highest bidder. Spokeo and Facebook are a part of a “multibillion-dollar industry of data aggregators.” These companies take Internet users data, bundle it up into neat little packages, and sell it to all sorts of interested third parties. Advertising agencies, businesses, and government agencies can all benefit from the research and use of this data. Advertising agencies can develop more narrowly tailored marketing strategies to get individuals to buy things that they do not really need. Businesses can perform intrusive background checks on potential employees. Lastly, the government or big brother can keep a better eye on us with promises of better security and protection. The true repercussions of the continued sale of our search histories and Internet use are the loss of our privacy. Sadly, one judge even went as far to say that once you start using Internet services, “the right to privacy is lost, upon your affirmative keystroke.”

To Protect and Serve, But Not Drive: Police Use of Autonomous Vehicles

By: Geoffrey Wills Introduction: Images of Knight Rider, Herbie the Love Bug, or HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey might be the first thing people think of when discussing artificial intelligence and self-driving vehicles, but that is quickly changing. While a self-driving car used to be just a pipe dream, an ever-increasing number of car manufacturers are taking off with the concept, but technology still needs to be developed and perfected before autonomous vehicles can be mass produced and used for daily use. Currently, fully autonomous vehicles have traveled safely at speeds up to 31 miles per hour. Car manufacturers including General Motors, Audi, Nissan, and BMW all expect fully autonomous, driverless cars to be in dealership showrooms by 2020. As curiosity and demand for these vehicles increase, the need for understanding how the law applies to them also increases. This leads to an important question that could have major implications for the future: what if police departments use this technology to patrol the streets and keep cities safe? This note will analyze and attempt to answer these questions, and will also discuss the technological history of autonomous vehicles, as well as the evolution of applicable law that will dictate the use of these “driverless” cars. This essay will be broken down into several parts. Part I will give a brief rundown of how autonomous vehicle technology works. Part II will discuss the legality of vehicle automation and the technologies inside the car, including how many of these technologies not only currently exist, but are legally permissible for crime prevention and surveillance purposes. Part II will also look at social acceptability of autonomous vehicles patrolling the streets and enforcing laws. Finally, Part III considers how autonomous vehicles will have the capability to take subjectivity, discretion, and potential prejudice out of patrolling and traffic stops, as well as increasing officer safety and efficiency.

Review of “I Know What You’re Thinking: Brain Imaging and Mental Privacy”

Reviewed by: Jenna Furman Since the 1980s, MRI scanners have been used in medicine to help diagnose various conditions, many of which are found in the brain. The use of such scanners has led to advances in understanding the human mind, both its structure and functions. Such advances have led to greater knowledge of neurological diseases and conditions. This subset of the MRI’s imagining technology is typically referred to as “neuroimaging.” However, recently many academics and doctors have questioned whether MRI technology could be used to one day “read the minds” of those studied. The use of MRI technology in this way raises not only legal issues regarding the right to privacy of the participant but also ethical issues, such as whether it would be appropriate to use this advanced technology to detect cognitive awareness of a person in a vegetative state. This book compiles essays from psychiatrists, neuroscientists, ethicists, anthropologists, philosophizers, and lawyers which address the legal and ethical issues, along with the scientific benefits and social concerns, raised by the possible future use of MRI-imaging technology to “read minds” of patients. This book review will outline certain arguments addressed in these various essays which provide insight into these legal and ethical issues regarding the use of neuroimaging to “read minds.”

Review of “Legally Poisoned: How the Law Puts Us at Risk from Toxicants”

Reviewed by: Alessandra Baldini Introduction: In Legally Poisoned, Cranor lays out the frightening details of chemical proliferation in our modern world. In this well-researched work, the author makes clear the extent to which we are exposed to chemical toxicants, and the danger of this exposure to our health. Cranor clearly illustrates the process by which we are “legally poisoned,” as the title says: the regulatory regime of the nation is one that assumes safety in all of the thousands of chemicals we encounter daily. It is only when harmful effects are shown after the fact that the government steps in to reduce or eliminate the use of a chemical. No effort is made to protect our citizens until some portion are injured.

Review of “Transfer of Nuclear Technology Under International Law: Case Study of Iraq, Iran and Israel”

Reviewed by: Matt Galante Summary: The author provides an excellent summary of the international law framework guiding the safe transfer of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes between nation states. The author discusses the many benefits and uses of nuclear technology and the importance of sharing such technology throughout the world. The author focuses her legal analysis on the substantive components of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and the standards outlined by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The book ends with an examination of case studies involving the use of transferred nuclear technology in Iraq, Iran, and Israel.

Review of “Reframing Rights: Bioconstitutionalism in the Genetic Age”

Reviewed by: Brianne Yantz Book by: Sheila Jasanoff, et al. Abtract: Reframing Rights: Bioconstitutionalism in the Genetic Age assesses the evolving relationship between science and the law. Specifically, the authors focus on how advances in biological sciences and biotechnology in the last century have promulgated changes regarding the legal conception of life and individual rights. Told through a series of case studies, Reframing Rights argues these changes in law and science should be considered "bioconstitutional." Topics such as sterilization, DNA testing, and xenotransplantation are among those examined and argued by the authors as demonstrative of constitutionally significant changes that have developed between individuals, science, and the state in recent decades. With such considerable changes, the authors contend, the law must constantly evolve to maintain the balance between individual rights and state authority.

Review of “Navigating Climate Change Policy: The Opportunities of Federalism”

Reviewed by: Carly Wolfrom Book by: Edella C. Schlager, Kristen H. Engel, and Sally Rider, eds. Abstract: Because of climate change’s inherently global nature, most proposed solutions have been tailored to a global scale. Navigating Climate Change Policy: The Opportunities of Federalism challenges the idea that because climate change is a global issue, only actions on a worldwide scale can lead to a resolution. It considers the perspective that since climate change itself has both global and local causes and implications, the most effective policies for adapting to and mitigating climate change must involve governments and communities at many different levels. The editors and authors feel federalism is well-suited to address the challenges of climate change because it permits distinctive policy responses at a variety of scales. This book uses a variety of viewpoints and blends legal and policy analyses to provide thought-provoking coverage of how governments in a federal system can cooperate, coordinate, and accommodate one another to address climate change.

Review of “Forensic Science in Court: Challenges in the Twenty-First Century”

Reviewed by: Pete Frick Book by: Donald E. Shelton Abstract:Forensic Science in Court: Challenges in the Twenty-First Century is a book that explores the legal implications of forensic science. Starting with the history of scientific evidence in court, the book progresses into an examination of how courts treat current types of forensic evidence, specifically how modern juries receive and weigh forensic evidence, and how judges determine what evidence can be allowed. Judge Shelton makes good use of case studies in the book to illustrate the academic points in a real-world setting.

Review of “The Patent Crisis and How the Courts Can Solve It”

Book by: Dan L. Burk & Mark A. Lemley Reviewed by: Victoria E. Munian Abstract: The patent system is in a crisis. Bad patents being passed and patents being abused in court have currently made patents become ineffective. Congress has tried to find a unitary system for patents, but because different industries need patents for certain needs, this unitary system is ineffective. Burk and Lemley propose that the system needs to address each individual industry in order for the system to be more effective. The authors also propose that courts should take matters into their own hands and judge on a case-by-case basis. By doing so, each industry will fully benefit from patent systems. Issues that arise from this new approach include the courts’ role, how courts can begin to change the process through using certain policy levers and the issues of seemingly judicial activism.