9th Circuit Resisting Efforts to Dilute CDA Section 230 ISP Immunity?

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) generally affords immunity for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) with respect to content posted by users on their websites. There have been various efforts by plaintiffs in lawsuits to chip away at this immunity, most of which have failed. Now along comes Doe v. Internet Brands, in which the plaintiff sought to convince the Ninth Circuit to circumvent CDA Section 230 immunity under a “duty to warn” theory.

Factual Allegations

The anonymous plaintiff, Jane Doe, alleged that she was a model who was enticed to travel to Florida by two men. The men drugged her, raped her, and then displayed this horrid event in a pornographic video.

Doe alleged that the two men initially found her by way of the website Model Mayhem, which she’d joined as a member. She asserted that Model Mayhem is a site that profiles hundreds of thousands of models, and that the owner of the site, Internet Brands, allegedly knew of the illegal scheme by the two men but nevertheless neglected to warn her of the potential harm. Continue reading 9th Circuit Resisting Efforts to Dilute CDA Section 230 ISP Immunity?

Getting Serious About Cybersecurity

Hack attacks have been in the news for a while. But the most recent headlines seem to indicate that hackers are far outpacing security efforts to contain them.

In the last week, we have learned that a major health insurer was compromised, possibly exposing the data of 80 million health accounts. Data relating to medical patients is very sensitive, and the number 80 million is staggering in scope. And there have been indications that other health insurers might be vulnerable, meaning that 2015 could be the year of health insurance hacks.

On top of that, we just learned that “Anonymous” hackers have attacked the website of the President of the European Parliament. So, this tells us that not only is medical information unsafe, but government officials are not able to protect themselves from hackers. Continue reading Getting Serious About Cybersecurity

The Need for Speed Online: Don’t Just Sit There!

Do you ever get up in the morning, feeling sluggish and just not up to the tasks that await you? For most of us, the answer is yes, at least once in a while.

And does it ever seem that your Internet connection is having a bad hair day? Specifically, does it feel like it takes forever for Web pages to download, reminding you of the days of 32k and 56k dial-up modems?

If so, do you just sit there passively and hope and pray that the connection will improve? Well, there might be something you can do to give your Internet connection that coffee jolt that it needs to step up its game.

Case in point: There I was, trying to open Web pages so that I could accomplish work tasks remotely from my home computer last week. I kid you not, everything online was taking forever! Continue reading The Need for Speed Online: Don’t Just Sit There!

FTC Seeks to Thwart ‘Revenge Porn’

While the Internet provides many obvious advantages to people in this digital age, it can also enable a dark side for those intent on mischievous and criminal online behavior. “Revenge porn” is part of that dark side.

So, what is revenge porn? It usually consists of a nude photograph or video which is publicly shared online (most frequently by an ex-lover of the nude subject) for the purpose of spiteful humiliation.

The nude photograph or video generally is recorded when the couple is in a positive relationship, and then later is shown to the world on the Internet after the relationship has crumbled, most often by the male posting nude content of his female ex.

There also are revenge porn ransom websites. Specifically, such a website posts nude photos and videos provided by ex-lovers of their former lovers, and then offers to take down the content if paid a certain amount of money. The Federal Trade Commission has been seeking to root out these types of websites.
Continue reading FTC Seeks to Thwart ‘Revenge Porn’

Keeping Our Tech Love Alive

We live in a world in which we are bombarded with information data from many sources, and so much around us on the tech landscape is transparent. How, then, do we keep our tech love alive? Read on.

Spoiling the Surprise?

Yes, it is wonderful that we have so many interesting and creative information technology outlets. But at times we are robbed of the magic and mystique of learning about the world with surprise and personal experience.

Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with and learn about our friends. However, it becomes tiring and redundant to be notified of posts from the same people over and over again with respect to the most mundane matters.

And sure, it is wonderful to be able read online reviews of restaurants and hotels, but then when we arrive we generally find what we were expecting based on advance notice.

Of course, online trailers for movies and television shows help us to select what to watch, but so much is shown in the trailers that we know beforehand where the movies and shows will go.

When it comes to music, we have access to so much from online outlets that we can know so many more bands and songs than ever before; but at the same time it can become rare to hear new and different musical works.

In the 1970s, the band Heart sang “Keep My Love Alive.” So, how do we keep our tech love alive? Continue reading Keeping Our Tech Love Alive

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 our 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!