FTC Imposes a Record $22.5 Million Civil Penalty on Google for Privacy Misrepresentations

On August 9, 2012, the FTC announced that Google agreed to pay a record $22.5 million civil penalty to settle charges that it made misrepresentations to users of the Safari Internet browser when Google represented that it would not place cookies or serve targeted ads to those users. In doing so, Google violated an earlier privacy settlement it had with the FTC.

FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said “[t]he record setting penalty in this matter sends a clear message to all companies under an FTC privacy order. . . “[n]o matter how big or small, all companies must abide by FTC orders against them and keep their privacy promises to consumers, or they will end up paying many times what it would have cost to comply in the first place.”

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Russian Internet Bills Revive Soviet-Era Censorship Concerns

People tend to think that anything goes on the Internet. But is that true everywhere? Perhaps not. Indeed, according to a recent New York Times article, a series of controversial Russian Internet bills, approved last week by Parliament, seeks to strengthen the government’s Internet controls.

The Russian Parliament’s approval of the bills reportedly follows the Russian government’s imposition of fines relating to unsanctioned protests and the reinstitution of criminal charges for slander.

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Electronic Discovery Can Save Litigation Costs

Partner Sheila Raftery Wiggins was featured in an article on eDiscovery in NJBiz. Here is an excerpt:

Sheila Raftery Wiggins, a partner at Duane Morris LLP, says people communicate more from home, while traveling and over the Internet, creating more possible evidence for companies to store.

During litigation, the process of electronic discovery — reviewing and identifying what electronically stored information, out of potentially millions of documents, needs to be turned over to the opposing party — often is cumbersome and costly for companies, but a recent court ruling might lead to the more widespread acceptance of technology that could save companies money and time.

Read the rest of the article on the NJBiz website.

Lawyers Must Do More To Protect Cybersecurity

Lawyers should know how to protect information belonging to their firms and their clients, right? Well, perhaps they can do a better job, according to The Wall Street Journal. Indeed, it’s now more important than ever for lawyers’ cybersecurity skills to get up to speed.

According to the article, hackers intent on insider trading may target attorneys who handle merger and acquisition transactions. They could put links in text messages that, when clicked on smartphones, activate malware that could log keystrokes and record phone conversations.

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Blog Food Fight Leaves Egg On School’s Face

The Internet yields all sorts of disputes. Take the nine-year-old Scottish girl who was banned from posting photographs of school meals on her blog, which caused a firestorm of criticism.

Martha Payne, who by now has had in excess of three million hits on her blog at NeverSeconds.blogspot.com, started posting photos of her Scottish primary school lunches at the end of April. BBC News report that her “food-o-meter” rated each meal in terms of healthiness and how many mouthfuls it takes to consume the meal.

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E-Discovery Is More Costly, Burdensome Than You Think

Once upon a time, it was widely believed that electronic discovery would streamline litigation, making it faster, easier, less burdensome, and less expensive. So, now that we are some years into the e-discovery experience, has the prediction come true? Sadly, not necessarily.

While it is true that it can be easier to retrieve information electronically by using search terms, rather than sending teams of associates into warehouses to rummage through boxes of documents, that is just the tip of the iceberg when considering the overall e-discovery effort. And even if vast quantities of electronic information can be brought up based on a simple search, that information had to be harvested at the front-end, and ultimately will need to be reviewed at the back-end.

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FTC Released its Final Report Today on Best Practices for Businesses to Protect Consumer Privacy

Today, the Federal Trade Commission released its final report titled “Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: Recommendations For Businesses and Policymakers.” http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2012/03/privacyframework.shtm

The report details best practices for businesses to protect the privacy of consumers. Recognizing the burden on small businesses, the FTC says that the framework should not apply to companies that collect and do not transfer only non-sensitive data from fewer than 5,000 consumers a year.

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Will Your High-Tech Holidays Be Naughty Or Nice?

Well, it’s that holiday time of year again. Have you been naughty or nice?

If you have been naughty, perhaps we will give you the low-tech equivalent of a lump of coal — a broken typewriter.

That’s right, we are talking about an old machine that actually requires some finger strength when you push down on the keys. And you are correct, this baby is so wireless that it is not connected to anything, not even an electric outlet. To add insult to injury, not all of the keys even work.

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The Truth About Teen Cell Phone Use

Most of us have heard about sexting — the practice of people sharing naked pictures of themselves online. Indeed, there have been press reports that suggest texting has become the latest teenage craze. Fact or fiction? Perhaps a bit of both.

Recent studies by the journal Pediatrics show that 1% of children between the ages of 10 to 17 have engaged in sexting. About the same percentage have shared less explicit but still suggestive photos of themselves. And 7% report that they had been the recipient of either type of photo.

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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