Practically every aspect of life now takes place in cyberspace in addition to in the traditional world we know. While at first blush that generally may sound like a good thing, warfare now also takes place online as part of real conflicts, and not just in the realm of computer games.[Read More]
28 Oct · Tue 2014
Cyberwarfare Is Here; Is the U.S. Prepared?
21 Oct · Tue 2014
High-Tech Violations of International Human Rights
The United Nations was born in the aftermath of the atrocities committed leading up to World War II. The United Nations Charter is plain in its support for the development of international human rights protection.
The most fundamental human right is the right not to be killed by another human being.[Read More]
15 Oct · Wed 2014
The Failure of International Organizations to Prevent War
World War I was supposed to be "war to end all wars." And the League of Nations and the subsequent United Nations were designed to keep countries at peace. But unfortunately, wars are still part of the international landscape, including the emerging threat of cyberwarfare.
As the UN prepares to celebrate its 69th anniversary October 24, let's take a look at how it and the League of Nations have tried -- and often failed -- to prevent conflict between nations.[Read More]
30 Sep · Tue 2014
States v. Nations: An International Challenge
The fact that states and nations do not line up neatly on the geographical global map continues to create international problems.
Under the Montevideo Convention of 1933, a state is defined as "an entity that has a defined territory and a permanent population under the control of its own government, and that engages in or has the capacity to engage in, formal relations with other such entities."
There is no minimum size for a state. Monaco, which is only 1.5 square kilometers, is a state. The Vatican, with a population of only about 300 people, also is considered a state.[Read More]
24 Sep · Wed 2014
The Limitations of the International Court of Justice
The world is becoming a much smaller place given international transportation, multinational corporations, and Internet communications that know no geographic boundaries. With more frequent and heightened dealings with people across the globe, there necessarily are increased international disputes that require resolution.
So, one might think that there is a global court in place to deal with such disputes, right? We do have the International Court of Justice (aka the World Court or the ICJ). But can the World Court get the job done in terms of resolving the vast majority of international disputes?
Unfortunately, the answer is a resounding "no."[Read More]
16 Sep · Tue 2014
When It Comes to Tech, Size Matters
Big, small or in-between? When dealing with tech, it seems that there are preferences, and fortunately there options currently.
Long, long ago and far away, back in the disco days of the 1970s, the only available computer to me was a massive, computer punchcard-eating behemoth that appeared to take up the entire basement of my college library. While it was a floor-to-ceiling piece of junk by today's standards, size was not an issue -- because if you wanted to work on a computer, that was the only game in town. I declined.[Read More]
09 Sep · Tue 2014
When Does Cybercrime Become Internet Warfare?
26 Aug · Tue 2014
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.[Read More]
19 Aug · Tue 2014
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).[Read More]
13 Aug · Wed 2014
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.[Read More]
05 Aug · Tue 2014
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.[Read More]
29 Jul · Tue 2014
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.[Read More]
23 Jul · Wed 2014
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.[Read More]
10 Jul · Thu 2014
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....[Read More]
02 Jul · Wed 2014
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 email@example.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.