Challenging Outdated Technology

By Cherry, Michael; Imwinkelried, Edward J. et al. | The CPA Journal, June 2019 | Go to article overview

Challenging Outdated Technology


Cherry, Michael, Imwinkelried, Edward J., Riley, Elven, Epstein, Jules, Switzer, Mark, King, Jack, The CPA Journal


Technology pervades virtually every aspect of modern American society, including the courtrooms. When technology is sound and used properly, it can yield fantastic results, improving the accuracy of legal fact-finding. When technology is flawed or misapplied, however, the consequences can be disastrous. Flawed courtroom testimony about technology is causing miscarriages of justice, and outmoded technology is imperiling economic security.

Outdated Cellphone Location Methods

Most courtrooms, including tax, criminal, civil, and traffic, are still accepting and admitting outdated methods to determine the approximate location of a cellphone. A very popular method relies on the proposition that a cellphone will use the cell tower with the strongest signal. This was a reliable claim until the late 20th century, when mobile phone companies switched from analog to programmable digital networks. The use of programmable digital networks freed phones from simply using the tower with the strongest signal and allowed more refined selections, including the selection of the least "noisy" tower.

The unfortunate use of these outdated methods may have affected the outAnother outdated method used the switching from one tower to another to identify both travel and direction. This method was also reliable before the emergence of digital networks. In the digital era, however, towers may be switched simply to balance tower load and improve sound quality.

comes of hundreds or thousands of cases. For example, the authors have successfully challenged these methods to subtract residency days in New York Tax Court and to help free a woman who spent over 10 years in jail for a crime that she did not commit.

Outdated Cybersecurity without Safe Rooms

The commercial sector also remains in the 20th century when it comes to cybersecurity. All types of entities are being hacked, including Yahoo, Equifax, Facebook, Travelers Insurance, and Bitcoin exchanges. Businesses use cybersecurity software, including virus scanners, biometrics and encryption, but they fail to use safe rooms.

For at least 20 years, the governments of the United States and many other countries have successfully used Secure Compartmentalized Information Facilities (SCIF, or a safe room) in concert with cybersecurity software to avoid hackers. …

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