Do We Need a ‘Right to Be Forgotten’ in the U.S.?

Should our digital pasts always follow us around, or should we have the right periodically to wipe out digital slates clean?

The notion of “the right to be forgotten” has garnered quite a bit of attention in Europe, where privacy is more strictly protected than here in the United States. And while there have been some rumblings on our soil, perhaps now is the time for this notion to be taken more seriously in the United States.

The band Simple Minds in the 1980s had the famous song and lyric, “Don’t You (Forget About Me).” Back then, before we played our lives out loud on the Internet, the fear was that an individual might not be noticed and might disappear into oblivion.

Fast-forward: We currently live in much different times. Practically everything is recorded for posterity. And this includes not just warm and friendly family photos, but also material that at the time may seem funny and perhaps edgy, and that later may came back to bite.

Continue reading Do We Need a ‘Right to Be Forgotten’ in the U.S.?

Where Has All the Privacy Gone?

When it comes to privacy, a lyric from a Joni Mitchell song seems apt: “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” Indeed, as technology has moved forward, it seems that practically every semblance of privacy has disappeared.

Let’s recount just a few of the ways that privacy has gone by the wayside.

From the Workplace to Cyberspace

For starters, there is very little privacy in the workplace. Most employers have employees sign policies stating that the business equipment that employees use is company property and that employers can monitor communications using that equipment. Employees are told upfront that they do not have expectations of privacy when using company phones, computers, and other devices.

In addition, practically everyone is living their life, at least to some extent, on the Internet. As a consequence, all sorts of private information is shared in cyberspace. When making online purchases, for example, credit card and home address information is shared. When making such purchases, consumers agree to the terms of service of the providers. At times, those terms of service allow for the further sharing of information provided, and can also lead to targeted advertising. Continue reading Where Has All the Privacy Gone?

It’s 2015: The Future Is Here for Legal Tech

It may be hard to believe, but we already have closed the books on 2014, and we now have started making our legal way into 2015. The year 2015 at first blush sounds futuristic, and in many ways we really are living in the legal tech future we could have barely imagined not that many years ago.

When I started practicing law approximately 30 years ago, advanced technology meant that legal secretaries used mag cards in their electronic typewriters. When we conducted legal research, we actually went into the law library and cracked open real, hard-backed books. Once upon a time, it was a very, very big deal to receive a fax.

Back then, we used dictaphones to dictate letters, memoranda and briefs. When it came to document production, we actually met in conference rooms with opposing counsel and exchanged boxes of hard copy documents for in-person review. When we made telephone calls, we were tethered to the phones and phone cords at our office desks. And, of course, when we were working, we definitely were physically present at our law offices.

In what seems like a heartbeat, those days are gone. Continue reading It’s 2015: The Future Is Here for Legal Tech

Is Full-Time Telecommuting a Good or Bad Thing?

For the longest time, many workers complained about commuting to work. On top of a long work day at the office, they also had to lose time while being stuck in traffic or commuting by other means. Between work and commuting, there was hardly any time in the day to do anything of personal benefit.

But then this situation started to change. With the growth of the Internet and the ability to communicate electronically from practically any geographic location, no longer was it necessary for workers to be tied down to their desks at their companies’ offices.

To make life easier for their employees, some enlightened companies began to offer some flexibility. Workers periodically, sometimes even a day or two per week, could telecommute from home. Thus, the number days they would need to commute into the office would be cut down to a fair extent.

Now, however, we are entering into a new paradigm. Companies are closing down offices and are requiring some employees to work remotely full-time. This is not necessarily being done simply for the non-commuting advantage of the workers. Instead, given the fact that employees truly can do almost all of their work tasks remotely, employers want to shed the overhead of maintaining offices, for great company cost-savings.

Does this play out well for full-time, remote employees? Continue reading Is Full-Time Telecommuting a Good or Bad Thing?

Drones: The Next Big Thing!

There have been several technological paradigm shifts over the past few decades. First, there was the personal computer. Next came the Internet and worldwide technological/communications access across the globe. And now, we have drones.

So what is a drone? It’s commonly defined as an unmanned aerial aircraft. But drones really are much more.

Of course, drones started with military applications. They have been used for espionage, delivery of materials, and for military attacks.

After that, the use of drones initially bypassed commercial applications and were used for personal endeavors. It has been very common, for example, for people to use drones to film events and places from up above.
Continue reading Drones: The Next Big Thing!

Online Holiday Shopping Is Here to Stay

Once upon a time, holiday shopping meant schlepping from one store to another, braving traffic and crowds, with the hope of finding the perfect gifts for our families and friends. Countless hours and hassles later, we finally collected our stash of presents.

But with the advent of Amazon and other online shopping sites more than 10 years ago came the prospect of buying holiday gifts right from home.

At first, there was trepidation. Was it safe to shop online? Was it OK to share credit card information on the Internet? Would ordered gifts actually arrive? Could they be returned when appropriate? Continue reading Online Holiday Shopping Is Here to Stay

Happy TechGiving!

With modern air travel, it is possible to visit family members and dear friends who live in other parts of the country for Thanksgiving. Indeed, Thanksgiving week is the busiest time of year for airlines and airports.

It is not uncommon for people to think twice about Thanksgiving travel, given the crowds and commotion. And now, much of the country is socked in with blizzards, massive snows, and temperatures well below freezing. These conditions make travel even more daunting, if not impossible in some circumstances. Continue reading Happy TechGiving!

Dangerous Technology Requires Old-Fashioned Diplomatic Solution

In these blogs over the years, we have covered many of the fantastic advantages of high technology. Unfortunately, though, tech also can be used for unsavory purposes, to put it mildly. Indeed, with tech, mankind has developed new and different ways to kill other people. As an example, fairly recently a Malaysia Airlines jetliner carrying civilians was shot out of the sky, apparently by an advanced missile.
Continue reading Dangerous Technology Requires Old-Fashioned Diplomatic Solution

Veterans Day: One WWII Vet Lives Long and Goes Tech

Today is Veterans Day. We have much to be thankful for in terms of the valuable service dedicated to our country by our veterans. I want to take the opportunity in this blog to talk about one amazing veteran in particular.

Phil Economon just celebrated his 97th birthday. He still is going strong, working out in the gym, driving his car, and living independently in the house that he has owned for years. Phil is a dear friend and a mentor to me. On numerous occasions Phil has provided indispensable wisdom, counsel and advice to me, and to other people who know and count on Phil. Indeed, when in doubt, we always go by this mantra: “Do what Phil would do.” Continue reading Veterans Day: One WWII Vet Lives Long and Goes Tech

The Skies Are Still Friendly, Despite Virgin Galactic Crash

First, we took to the air by hot air balloon. Next, we went even higher via ever-developing aircraft. Astronauts then made their way into outer space and even to the moon.

And now, with the advent of Virgin Galactic, there has been the prospect of non-astronauts going into outer space in a new-age space plane. Indeed, more than 700 celebrity non-astronauts have reserved seats on Virgin Galactic with tickets costing $250,000 a piece.

Unfortunately, as we know, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo recently crashed in the Mojave Desert. It is easy to think that this calamity, along with prior notable aviation accidents, means that it is not safe to fly. Is that true? Read on. Continue reading The Skies Are Still Friendly, Despite Virgin Galactic Crash