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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Is Facebook a Marriage Killer?


If you are married, you may wish to pause and consider how you behave on Facebook and other social media outlets. Why? Because as much as one-third of divorce filings in 2011 included the word "Facebook" within them, according to a report by ABCNews.com. And the numbers may be even higher a few years later.

On top of that, the article states that more than 80 percent of divorce attorneys report that social networking behavior is finding its way into divorce proceedings.

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Talking Turkey: Is New Internet Law a Danger to Democracy?


Here in the United States, we are accustomed to freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment of our Constitution.

Indeed, this freedom has been interpreted by the courts to include the freedom to speak freely on the Internet, even anonymously. (However, if such speech causes harm, it is possible that anonymity will be unmasked so that the victim of the speech can seek legal redress).

Unfortunately, other countries are not as open in terms of safeguarding the ability of people to speak their minds -- and in this case, Turkey is among them.

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Hague Court Lifts Block on The Pirate Bay for 2 ISPs


A block on the website The Pirate Bay has been partially lifted by the Court of Appeal in The Hague, according to ZDNet. The Court of Appeal came to this result, reasoning that the block was disproportionate for two particular Internet Service Providers and also because it generally was not effective.

The Pirate Bay, as a search engine, can locate tiny information files known as torrents that implement content downloading on the BitTorrent peer-to-peer file-sharing system. This can enable the sharing of pirated music, movies, and software.

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If Cyberwars Erupt, Will Damages Be Recoverable


Unfortunately, warfare has been part of the human experience for centuries and even millennia. Historically, wars were fought on the ground between individuals. Often, in more recent times, mass physical destruction has been caused from a distance, with bombs dropping from planes and missiles launched from remote locations.

And now, in the Internet age, wars can be waged electronically by purposely disrupting mission-critical systems of a perceived enemy state. Damages caused by such disruptions could be quite high, but there are potential international mechanisms by which such damages could be awarded.

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Driver Not Culpable For Wearing Google Glass; Wait, What?


Google Glass brings the Internet right to your face. Indeed, it brings computer functionality to an eyeglass device. So now, you can frolic online literally while on the go.

Is that a good thing? Well, we already live our lives via all sorts of technology, including desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Do we need more? That can be debated in terms of the ramifications of living constantly in cyberspace instead of the here and now of the real world.

But what about safety? Do we want people operating motor vehicles and other types of machinery while potentially distracted by surfing the Web on eyeglass devices? Probably not in most instances. So, let's turn to a real situation, as opposed to theoretical hypotheticals.

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OIG Criticizes CMS For Lack Of Adequate Fraud Detection Practices in Electronic Health Records


In early January, 2014, the Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) for the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) issued a report criticizing HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) for failing to adopt stronger integrity practices governing electronic health records (“EHRs”).  “CMS And Its Contractors Have Adopted Few Program Integrity Practices To Address Vulnerabilities In EHRs,” oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-01-11-00571.pdf.   Here are some of the OIG’s challenges and concerns: “…clues within the progress notes, handwriting styles, and other attributes that help corroborate the authenticity of paper medical records are largely absent in EHRs. Further, tracing authorship and documentation in an EHR may not be as straightforward as tracing in a paper record. Health care providers can use EHR software features that may mask true authorship of the medical record and distort information in the record to inflate health care claims.” These are legitimate issues for EHR users.  Government health care programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, many insurance laws, and private payer contracts require prior documentation for every encounter as a matter of patient safety and proper billing.  Also, under recent federal law, providers are receiving $22.5 billion in incentive payments to adopt EHRs and must attest to their compliance with EHR standards.   The OIG recommends that CMS, working with their fraud detection contractors, develop more sophisticated EHR integrity and fraud detection standards and tools, and issue best practices and guidance.  The OIG specifically recommends that CMS and contractors look at providers’ EHR audit logs to help authenticate records, and develop approaches to detecting inappropriate cutting-and-pasting.  In its response, CMS indicates that it is aware of these issues and is working diligently to address them.  The agency has also initiated investigations of a number of providers on the grounds that the attestations they provided in order to obtain the EHR incentive monies were not sufficient, which could result in takebacks. Most hospitals, physicians and others have deployed EHR systems that have been designed and are maintained by third party vendors.  Many providers may not have the sophistication to determine whether, for instance, an audit log system is adequate to detect abuse.  Nevertheless, it is incumbent on all providers with EHRs to be aware of potentially unlawful uses; to work with EHR vendors that will represent that their products are fully compliant and that they have installed tools, such as audit logs, access controls and export controls and others as may be required by CMS;  and to properly train all staff and clinicians that use EHRs. 

 

 

 
 
 
 

All I Want for Tech Christmas...


Here we are, Christmas Eve. Family is home for the holidays. Festive lights shine bright. Ornaments are on the tree. And soon, stockings will be stuffed and presents will arrive.

What do I want this year? Well, assuming I have been nice and not naughty, I of course want to spend time with loved ones and I wish for health, happiness and peace.

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Revenge Porn Website Creator Faces 31 Criminal Charges


The other shoe has dropped -- a recently enacted revenge porn law has reached the point of criminal prosecution in California.

Indeed, a San Diego man has just been charged with operating a Web site that allows users to post sexual images of others so that he then allegedly could extort large sums of money from the victims whose images had been posted.

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iPhone Not Secure Enough for President Obama; BlackBerry to the Rescue?


Earlier this year, I told you about how I finally took the leap and moved off of my BlackBerry to the latest iPhone. It was a struggle for me at first, because I was addicted (yes, a confirmed CrackBerry addict) to the tactile keyboard for ease of typing on the BlackBerry device. But, as you may recall, I was won over by the many other fantastic features of the iPhone, including Siri voice recognition, the larger screen, better photography, and the vast array of iPhone apps.

I have been very happy with my iPhone for the better part of 2013 -- notwithstanding the fact that I often miss the BlackBerry keyboard. So, end of story, right? iPhone wins and BlackBerry loses, correct?

Not so fast when it comes to our Commander in Chief -- President Barack Obama.

Indeed, Reuters reports that President Obama stated recently that he is not permitted to use an iPhone for "security reasons." He made this remark at a meeting during which he was touting his new healthcare law. Say what? That's right! While the President uses an iPad, he is not allowed to use an iPhone.

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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.