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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WTO Nixes China's Restrictions on Rare Earth Exports


In early 2012, the United States sought a World Trade Organization (WTO) consultation regarding China's restrictions on the export of tungsten and molybdenum -- forms of "rare earths." These rare earths are raw materials that are used in the production of some electronics products. Subsequently, the European Union, Japan and Canada requested to join the consultation. China then accepted the request for a WTO consultation.

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After Uganda's Anti-Gay Law, Countries Suspend Aid


Uganda's president Yoweri Museveni recently signed legislation that severely punishes homosexuality in his country. Indeed, the new law provides for potential life in jail for gay sex -- a fact that the bill's sponsor touted on his Facebook page after Museveni signed it into law, the Los Angeles Times reports.

This legal development has led to an international uproar. Now some countries -- including the United States -- are taking retaliatory action.

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What's Up With Facebook's Acquisition of WhatsApp?


WhatsApp, a messaging service that is often used for international texting and other services, is about to be gobbled up by Facebook, right?

Well, that is Facebook's plan. Indeed, Facebook intends to fork over a hefty $19 billion to acquire WhatsApp. However, that is not the end of the story.

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Bill Would Shine More Light on Gov't Activities Under FOIA


The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was enacted decades ago to enable the citizenry the opportunity to monitor governmental affairs. As FOIA precedent has held, the public is entitled to find out and know "what the government is up to." Indeed, upon request, the government is required to provide information about its activities unless prohibited by a narrow statutory exemption or otherwise prevented by law.

Of course, statutory aspirations and actual production of information in practice are not always in harmony. There are times when government information is not produced within the timelines set forth in FOIA. Other times, information is not produced at all; for example, when the government is perceived to give too wide an interpretation on the applicability of a statutory exemption. Moreover, different administrations have different views on how open government should be when it comes to disclosing information under FOIA.

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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.