It's a Small World After All


It just is not realistically possible for countries to be isolationist in this current era. Indeed, the entire world is interconnected by the Internet and other technologies.

Consider this fact that shows how the world is becoming smaller as we group together even more closely: 3,000 years ago there were about 600,000 independent world communities; now there are fewer than 200 such communities.

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Are U.S. Companies Violating European Union Privacy Rules?


Gone are the days when some companies may decide to take lightly the responsibility to safeguard private data. Indeed, many companies have been very earnest in complying with U.S. privacy rules when it comes to sensitive data such as health and financial information.

But how are U.S. companies doing when it comes to protecting European data? Not so well, according to a recent complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

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Wait, Now USB Devices May Be Unsafe Too?


Thumb drives, keyboards, and mice, oh my! That's right, these USB devices now may be the latest "lions, tigers, and bears" to fear in our high-tech world.

According to a recent Reuters article, such USB devices possibly can be compromised to hack into personal computers in a previously unknown form of attack that supposedly can side-step current security precautions.

As reported by Reuters, Karsten Nohl, a chief scientist at SR Labs in Berlin, has stated that hackers potentially can load software onto very small and inexpensive chips that control the functions of USB devices, but which presently do not have "built-in shields" that would prevent tampering with the devices' operative code.

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Police Banner 'Ads' Warn About Potentially Pirated Content


INTERNET ADS CAN be annoying. At times, for example, you may be seeking to read an article or watch a video clip online, but first you have to click off an advertisement that is in the way, or you have to wait out a video ad before you can watch the video content of your choosing.

Perhaps these ads once in a while may be successful in gaining your interest to buy the advertised products, but certainly most of the time these ads simply are a nuisance and a waste of time.

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Hacking Continues: European Central Bank Is the Latest Victim


WHEN WILL IT stop? We have been hearing about cyberhacking for years, and rather than hack attacks dropping out of the news, we continue to be inundated with reports of successful hacks. This time the latest victim is the European Central Bank.

Perhaps you are thinking that because hacking is nothing new, methods and technology should have been developed to thwart hackers in their tracks. And it is true, there has been significant progress in this regard.

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Freedom of Anonymous Online Speech Has Potential Limits


It is very easy to communicate freely and anonymously on the Internet. And some people believe that if they do not use their real names and easily identifiable information, they can basically say whatever they want online, without needing to worry about the impact that their Internet speech may have on others.

Is this true? Read on, because the answer is not simple.

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Uber and Lyft Halted in Pittsburgh, for Now


More and more, people are migrating away from the traditional call-a-taxi model, and are instead searching on their smartphones for the closest Uber or Lyft vehicle. You might remember the Beatles' lyric "Baby, you can drive my car," and now Uber and Lyft drivers likely are singing to themselves, "Baby, you can ride in my car." Copasetic, right? Well, maybe....

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ABA: Lawyers Can Snoop on Jurors' Social Media Sites


Jurors always are admonished by judges not to conduct any independent factual research with respect to the cases they are considering. In this way, the rules of evidence will be adhered to and jurors will only be permitted to evaluate evidence deemed admissible and relevant by the judge.

But what about lawyers? How much sleuthing can they do with respect to the potential and actual jurors for their cases? Can they, for example, snoop on social media sites to learn more? Read on.

Researching Potential Jurors

We know that lawyers can conduct a certain level of research when it comes to potential jurors. For example, when I previously worked as a prosecutor, we were provided in advance with information relating to the geographic demographics of potential jurors, as well as their prior run-ins with the law.

Potential jurors from one part of the county were known as prosecution-oriented, while the opposite was true as to those from another part of the county. Also, potential jurors who had previously been arrested or convicted were not thought to be prosecution-friendly. Thus, during jury selection, efforts were made to maximize the odds of jurors who might be prosecution-inclined based on the foregoing information obtained.

An entire cottage industry has developed when it comes to jury selection. There are many jury consultants now plying their trade, and at times they even sit at counsel's table in the courtroom helping the lawyers decide whom to try to keep (or not keep) on the jury based on information such as gender, age, occupation, and other variables.

However, do lawyers (and their consultants) go too far to find out more by visiting the social media sites of potential and actual jurors? Somewhat amazingly, the ABA's answer is "no." Or put another way: Yes, social media sites can be checked out!

Jury Consultants Will 'Like' This...

Yes, indeed, the American Bar Association (ABA) has determined that it is ethical for lawyers to look at the publicly available social media posts of prospective and actual jurors. The only caveat is that the ABA cautions against lawyers actively friending or following these people or otherwise gaining access to them via private Internet spaces.

Perhaps the ABA's guidance is not all that shocking. Public information is public information and should not be precluded from use by lawyers in their jury machinations just because that information shows up on social media sites, some might argue. Others might take the position that even though some social media posts are publicly available, this just goes too far and is too invasive.

One thing is for sure, though, the depth and breadth of jury research will be exponentially expanded under this new regime. And this cottage industry might come more and more outside of the cottage. Plus, thorough jury research of social media sites could become very expensive, as social media searches can be very time consuming, with further time incurred leading to more costly jury-consultant bills.

At the end of the day, will information from social media posts lead to a better jury selection process? Not necessarily. If both sides to a case utilize this information, there could be nullification -- each side challenging the best potential jurors for the other side -- pushing toward a balanced jury in the middle.

Eric Sinrod is of counsel in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris LLP, where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology and intellectual property disputes. You can read his professional biography here. To receive a weekly email link to Mr. Sinrod's columns, please email him at ejsinrod@duanemorris.com with Subscribe in the Subject line. This column is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author's law firm or its individual partners.

 
 
 
 

Internet Law Is All Grown Up


When I first started working on legal issues relating to electronic data, we were back in the dark ages of the 1980s. This was well before Bill Clinton talked about the coming "information superhighway" when he was running for president in the early 1990s. We were living in a world where document production in legal cases meant the production of actual hard copy pieces of paper and nothing else. There was no "e" when it came to "discovery."

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Detoxing From Always-On Technology Overload


We now live in a world in which we constantly are connected electronically. We spend so much of our time in front of computers, laptops and tablets. Our smartphones can accomplish feats unimaginable not so long ago. These days we can even surf the Internet with smart eyeglasses.

Plainly, connectivity presents numerous advantages from business and professional standpoints. If that were not the case, people likely would not be so addicted to their instant electronic communications and access.

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Do Snapchat Messages Really Vanish? Ask the FTC


People frequently use Snapchat to send messages back and forth with the understanding that those messages will disappear after a designated expiration time.

However, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) launched an investigation and asserted charges that Snapchat messages actually do not vanish as promised. In the wake of those charges, Snapchat and the FTC have settled, according to a recent FTC press release.

So, what is the scoop? Read on.

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Reminder: Update Internet Explorer to Fix Security Flaw


By now, we all have heard of potential security problems and risks on the Internet. And most recently, we must worry about which Web browser we use.

Indeed, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security cautioned Americans last week to refrain from using Internet Explorer because of a significant security flaw.

This flaw apparently enables hackers to circumvent the Windows operating system's security protections. Once that happens, there can be "infection" caused when a compromised website is visited.

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Cyber Insurance Becoming a Necessity for Online Businesses


This blog for years has highlighted the potential risks and liabilities presented by communications and activities on the Internet. The Internet provides the possibility of privacy violations, security breaches, intellectual property disputes, defamation, hack attacks, and even cyber warfare, among other threats.

So what should companies do to be as safe as possible as they conduct business over the Internet?

In addition to implementing security and protective measures, companies more and more are turning to cyber insurance policies in an effort to protect their exposure to Internet risks.

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UN Homicide Report Shows the World Is Not a Safe Place


Recently, this blog has touched on how warfare between nations in the digital era includes cyberattacks. And now, just as we already are feeling less than safe, the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (the UNODC) has released some homicide statistics that can make us feel even more vulnerable.

According to the UNODC study, as many as 437,000 people were murdered around the world in 2012 alone.

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Is Cyberwar Happening Right Now in Ukraine?


This blog recently discussed whether international mechanisms exist to award damages caused by potential cyberwars. And now it appears that a cyberwar actually is taking place with respect to Ukraine.

Press accounts have been rampant in terms of the turmoil over Crimea, Russia, and Ukraine. And while there have been possible threats of physical force, there also have been reports of disruption of mobile communications as a result of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.

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Duane Morris TechLaw

Duane Morris lawyers share their insights on developing legal issues which impact technology and business. Topics include e-commerce, cloud computing, outsourcing, security, privacy, social media, software, telecommunications and more.

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.