Kashmir Hill

I'm an editor emeritus at Above the Law. I am still a contributor to ATL, but now spend my days at Forbes writing about privacy, technology and the law at The Not-So Private Parts. Follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook.

Posts by Kashmir Hill

A Facebook photo to rival David Lat's infamous mobile upload of post-operative cysts.

When you allow a photo to be taken, you should expect that it will be shown to others. That’s at the heart of a judge’s decision in the famous placenta photo case. Unless you’ve been stuck inside a womb, you must have heard by now about the placenta that almost aborted a nursing student’s career.

As previously noted, a Kansas judge decided that nursing student Doyle Byrnes shouldn’t have been kicked out of her program for posting a photo of herself posing with a human placenta to Facebook (at right). It was a move worthy only of de-friending by the weak-stomached.

The actual written decision in the case has come out, and there’s some interesting analysis in it, as noted by Eric Goldman at his Technology & Marketing Law Blog. It suggests that “photo-taking automatically means consent to widespread publication of that photo.” We imagine Brett Favre might object to that….

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Julia Neyman paid for this drink.jpgLast time we checked in with Columbia law student Julia Neyman, she was sweating her way through a year-long exercise regimen. Her new year’s resolutions were similar to many: she resolved to exercise more and spend less money. Her unique inspiration, though, was to combine these two resolutions into one: she spent 2010 working out at gyms around Manhattan — gyms that usually charge a pretty penny — for free, taking advantage of promotions and trial memberships. She then blogged about her adventures on Buns of Steal.

We thought it was a brilliant idea. (If nothing else, it seemed like a clever campaign to shame Columbia into upgrading its “dark and dank” student gym.) Others were more critical, calling her a “mooching” “gym grifter.” Neyman says, though, that gyms were “actually really on board with the project.”

Other potential grifters, we advise you start blogs. Neyman says: “I’ve consistently gotten emails and offers from gyms offering for me to come in and work out for free. It was a win-win because for the gyms, my blog was like free advertising.”

Well, now the year is up. Neyman had planned to buy a membership to her favorite gym — revealed after the jump — but instead she has fled to Paris for the semester, where she is helping to turn Frenchmen against lawyers…

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Cover of "Robocop"

Aaron Titus, are you in there?

When Washington, D.C., was buried in snow last week, one suburban Maryland school alerted parents via robocall that they would be opening two hours late. The call, hypothetically letting parents know that they could sleep in that day, went out at 4:30 a.m.

That angered privacy lawyer Aaron Titus. His well-told tale of revenge reverberated around the media last week, thanks to a story in the Washington Post. Titus went Robocop on the school, using an online robocalling company to place a 4:30 a.m. call to the home phones of nine school board members, the school superintendent, and the school’s chief lawyer the next day, letting them know he hadn’t appreciated the early morning wake-up call. (The school said it made a mistake in setting the time for the calls and that it should have gone out at the immensely more reasonable hours of 5 or 6 a.m.)

Titus tweeted that he was following the Golden Rule. Meanwhile, other laws were possibly ignored…

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In this file picture taken on July 14, 2008 pr...

Max Mosley wants to be warned next time he's the subject of a (s)exposé

Max Mosley, former head of international motorsports organization FIA, has been fighting with British tabloid News of the World for almost three years. In 2008, News of the World published a story about Mosley’s raunchy role-playing rendezvous with five sex workers, in which they played prison guards to his naughty prisoner. One of the sex workers had a camera supplied by the tabloid, so the story had a graphic video component. The News of the World focused on the fact that the sex workers spoke German throughout the role-playing, and thus described it as a “Nazi orgy.”

Not only was Mosley miffed to be part of a sex sting story, he said News of the World mischaracterized his sex fantasy. He said it was just a German prison camp, not a Nazi German prison camp (a crucial distinction — especially given that his father was Oswald Mosley, head of the British fascists, who did associate with Nazis).

Max Mosley sued News of the World for defamation and invasion of privacy. He won his case and was awarded nearly $100,000 plus legal fees. Heil yeah.

But by that point, it was too late to undo the reputational damage….

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There are several reasons to steer clear of fake baking, such as the heightened risk of cancer and of turning out looking like Snooki. But there’s one other novel reason to avoid Sunkissed Tanning and Spa in western Pennsylvania. Two women allege that the tanning salon had cameras hidden in the ceilings, which captured clients stripping down before getting into their tanning beds.

The filming allegedly happened in 2006 and 2007. How did the women discover they were secretly being videotaped? When footage of them disrobing wound up on a porn site that they discovered last summer.

How did they come across the XXX site? I dunno. Fortunately, they must have some pervy, porn-loving friends.

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PASADENA, CA - MAY 04:  A Blackberry Curve 831...

Should police need a warrant to search this?

As a place to live, California has a lot going for it: the Pacific Ocean, pleasant weather, celeb spottings. But if you’re concerned about the police perusing the contents of your smartphone without a warrant, you might prefer to spend your time further east, in the Buckeye State.

The Supreme Courts of California and Ohio have come down on opposite sides of the question of whether police need a warrant to search an arrested person’s cellphone. California may be perceived as the tech-savvy state, thanks to playing host to Silicon Valley, but when it comes to how the law applies to technology, its analysis is rather simplistic. In an opinion issued Monday, California’s court said “no warrant needed,” equating a cell phone with a pack of cigarettes. Hmmmm. Cell phones are addictive, I suppose…

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Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...

You may want to download a class action tracking app to your iPhone

It’s always sad when two people give you the same present for Christmas — especially if it’s not a present you want. That’s the situation Apple is in this holiday season, hit with two lawsuits in federal court last week, both seeking class action certification, for helping advertisers create profiles of iPhone and iPad users.

Lalo v. Apple, first reported by Businessweek, and Freeman v. Apple, first reported by Wired, were both filed on Thursday, Dec. 23, in the Northern District of California. The first was filed by Kamber Law, the team behind the $2.4 million Quantcast “zombie cookie” settlement, and the second by three law firms, including the one that recently sued YouPorn over its “history sniffing.”

Both lawsuits are essentially copy-and-paste jobs of a recent Wall Street Journal article about how smartphones spy on their users. The WSJ report detailed how apps on iPhones and Android phones gather personal information, including location, gender, age, contacts, and a phone’s unique identifier, and then pass that information along to advertisers. The suits focus on Apple’s disclosing iPhone and iPad users’ Unique Device ID (UDID) — basically a mobile device’s social security number, which, when disclosed, can be used to profile a Machead.

Re-gifting alert: since this occurs on the Android as well, Google may want to look out for a belated class action present. “We usually take the most meritorious action first and then work our way down,” says Majed Nachawati, one of the class action attorneys in the Freeman complaint. “Google is on the radar, but we haven’t taken any action against them yet.”

Read on at Forbes.com.

Social media savvy teen causes national controversy in Australia

‘Tis the season for… lover’s revenge via the Internet. Last week, Elie brought you the tale of a cuckolded man who filmed his wife making out with a fellow SMU Law student (and intervened to throw a weak punch). Then the husband posted the sad, sordid video to YouTube. Because shame makes the hurt go away.

Meanwhile, over in the land down under, a 17-year-old in Melbourne is using her social network savvy to punish a couple of Australian football players who allegedly did her wrong. Kim Duthie claims to have scored with two of the players (and to have had a miscarriage as a result). Feeling used and abused, she’s now using all the digital tools at her disposal — Facebook, YouTube, Formspring, and Twitter — to broadcast her story, as well as a handful of naked photos of the St. Kilda football players. This girl makes Karen Owen look like a saint.

And apparently she didn’t think through the legal implications of putting photos of the football players’ “lands down under” up on her Facebook page…

Read on at Forbes.com.

Why is Bob smiling? Because police now need a warrant to check his email (joke stolen from Julian Sanchez).

Thanks to a huge decision out of the Sixth Circuit, your email and the Fourth Amendment just got better acquainted. The police need to get a warrant to take a peek at the contents of someone’s inbox, writes Judge Danny Boggs — once rumored to be on the SCOTUS shortlist — in the court’s opinion (PDF, via a thrilled EFF).

The court says that the 1986 Stored Communications Act, which grants law enforcement access to email older than 180 days old with a simple subpoena or court order, is unconstitutional, since it enables the police to conduct unreasonable searches.

“This is a very big deal,” writes law professor Paul Ohm. “[T]his is the opinion privacy activists and many legal scholars, myself included, have been waiting and calling for, for more than a decade. It may someday be seen as a watershed moment in the extension of our Constitutional rights to the Internet.”

The case that led to the decision dealt with extensions of a different variety. The defendant that challenged the po-po’s warrantless search of his email is Steven Warshak, the mastermind behind Enzyte, a questionable herbal supplement purported to increase the size of a man’s erection. Sometimes, new constitutional protections pop out of the strangest places…

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Courtship connection.jpgWhen we launched the ATL Courtship Connection in New York, we received a number of plaintive emails from lawyers in other cities asking us to give matchmaking a whirl in their towns. Judging from these emails, Chicago, L.A. and D.C. are all cities with numerous single lawyers desperate enough adventurous enough to turn their love lives over to Above the Law.

Loyal Courtship readers know that we had a mixed track record setting up legal types in the Big Apple. There were a few duds, a couple of studs, one make-out session, and one utter FAIL. To our knowledge, though, there were no LTRs (or STDs) as a result of our playing Cupid.

We’ve decided we might have better luck in another city, so we are bidding Manhattan and its surrounding boroughs farewell for now, and taking this matchmaking service down I-95 to Washington, D.C., a.k.a. the best city in which to be a lawyer.

Read on for details…

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