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

YouPorn logo

Image via Wikipedia

I’m not overly familiar with the popular porn spots around the Internetz, but I understand that a good number of people are big fans of the homegrown selections that can be found on YouPorn – essentially YouTube for naked, lascivious types. The site is currently the 72nd most popular site on the Web, according to people who rank that stuff.

Everyone’s turned on by different kinds of things. If you’re a YouPorn visitor, I hope you’re into being “sniffed.”

Last week, over at my list-loving home, I wrote about researchers who discovered that YouPorn is one of a number of sites that exploit a Web security flaw to look at visitors’ Web browsing history. Tech types call it “history sniffing” or “history hijacking.” (If you lust for the technical details of how YouPorn used Javascript to look at the color of visitors’ browser underthings, check that out here.)

YouPorn wanted to know what other porn sites its visitors had been unfaithful with, so it sniffed their browsers for a list of 22 other sexxxy sites. Looks like I’ve helped cause my first class action lawsuit. On Friday, two California men, miffed about getting sniffed, filed a complaint alleging cybercrime and violation of consumer law protections. They’re seeking class action status.

Any other classy YouPorn watchers want to hop on this one?

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WikiLeaks worships at the shrine of rabid transparency. And it does not just sacrifice government documents to the transparency gods; founder Julian Assange tells my Forbes colleague Andy Greenberg that corporate America is the site’s next big target. A big bank is going down, says Assange.

Greenberg thinks it might be Bank of America. Dealbreaker has some additional theories. Most likely some bank somewhere is going to have a big project for its lawyers pretty soon.

Meanwhile, after the most recent State Department cable leak, government lawyers are trying to figure out how to prosecute Assange.  There’s talk of invoking the Espionage Act of 1917, regardless of the fact that Assange is an Australian citizen and spends his time country-hopping. G’day and g’luck, mate.

So, what about those juicy diplomatic cables? What did State Department legal adviser Harold Koh not want the world to see?

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This morning, the Senate had a TSA oversight hearing to discuss serious issues around secure air travel, notably the use of see-through-your-clothes scanners and aggressive “crotchal area” patdowns. A highlight was the TSA head offering any of the senators that wanted one a sample patdown to experience it for themselves. No happy ending guaranteed.

For the patdowns and scanners, that is. “There must be a way to figure out how to do what’s necessary… and for the privacy concern to be addressed because it’s legitimate,” said Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison in her opening remarks.

Frequent flyers are increasingly annoyed with their air travel experiences, whether they’re being scanned, felt up, paying for extra bags, or having their flights delayed or canceled. One U.K. man turned to Twitter in January to vent his frustration when his visit to a lady friend in Ireland was thwarted by a snowstorm. Paul Chambers tweeted, “Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your sh*t together, otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!”

The British sense of humor tends to be dry. Chambers’s was too dry for the courts there. He was convicted of being a menace and ordered to pay $4,800 in costs and fines. When his appeal was denied last week, it caused an explosion on Twitter. And those protest tweets will soon be turned over to police…

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TSA's T&A?

Taking off your clothes and getting fondled is usually fun… except when it happens at the airport. Going through security before flights has gotten increasingly humiliating over the years. Watching people prepare themselves for inspection by stripping off their shoes, belts, jackets, and sweaters is like the least sexy and most frustrating strip tease ever.

The TSA’s new whole-body imaging machines make the stripping much more efficient. There are two types of scanners — using either millimeter wave or backscatter technology — which show a person without their clothes on, to reveal a glock, bomb-making materials, or smaller, less intimidating equipment. There are now over 300 of the machines in over 60 airports.

The scanners have been controversial for both privacy and health reasons. Some people aren’t comfortable with a random TSA worker seeing them sans clothing, despite promised privacy protections, such as faces being blurred and the TSA officer who views the image not seeing you in person. And some frequent flyers fear the radiation risks that come with being X-rayed on a regular basis.

A privacy civil rights group, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, is hoping to stay the scans with a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security…

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Casual Encounters of the Unwanted Kind

The people whose stories wind up in ATL’s pages aren’t always psyched to be here. Long-time readers may remember my getting punk’d by a Boston law school student upset about his email flame war with a female lawyer going viral.

The law student placed my photo and cell phone number in a Craigslist Casual Encounters ad on a Sunday afternoon. I always appreciate people setting me up on dates, but not like that. My phone was unusable for an hour due to incoming calls and text messages.

Some urged me to press harassment charges afterward, but I let it go, dismissing it as a stupid, though somewhat amusing, prank. A Massachusetts woman was not as easily amused forgiving as was I. After being pranked in the same way, she went to the police. And the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly Docket reports that a judge determined that fake Craigslist Casual Encounters promising sexy times can lead to criminal charges. One less non-criminal way you can punk a partner for keeping you at the office late…
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What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Unless it involves defamatory Facebook postings and a retaliatory lawsuit.

The new CBS show The Defenders has Jim Belushi and Jerry O’Connell dramatizing and glamorizing the life and work of Las Vegas attorneys. But for the real attorneys working in the tumbleweeds of Nevada, it can be a tough gig. Ask Jonathan Goldsmith, a “60% Bankruptcy / 10% Family Law / 10% Criminal Defense / 5% Personal Injury” of counsel at Rosenfeld & Rinato. (They don’t bother with associates there — you’re either of counsel or a founding partner, even if you’re just two years out of law school; Goldsmith is a 2009 University of Las Vegas law grad.)

Goldsmith was plaintiff’s counsel in a divorce case, and the husband being divorced, Jordan Cooper, took a disliking to him. Which he naturally expressed on Facebook…

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child learns adult games.jpgFew are going to stand up in support of kiddie porn, even when it’s art. Last year, the Tate Modern proposed displaying a nude portrait of Brooke Shields at age 10. It caved on those plans after objections from the “obscene publications unit” of the London Metropolitan Police, according to Caveat Viator.

Caveat Viator offers a link to the portrait, but we’d advise against checking it out. (Go watch The Blue Lagoon instead.) Cyberlaw professor Eric Goldman calls child porn “toxic,” noting that “there is no easy way to legally cure even a single download of child porn.”

Even if it’s part of your “academic research.” A New York professor considering writing a book on how to define child porn is now serving a prison sentence because of images he downloaded in the course of his research, and images left in his cached folder from Web-browsing kiddie porn sites.

Sentences range. That professor got a one-to-three year sentence, while an Alabama man with an underage porno video discovered on his computer by the Geek Squad got 10 years, as we mentioned last week. That’s for hitting download and play, not for firing up a camera and hitting record. Is that a fair sentence, or are the penalties for kiddie porn possession too exxxtreme?

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A Geek Squad employee lives in my neighborhood!

Should there be a siren on that car?

Tech-savvy people who love porn seem to know that one can avoid trouble by keeping the dirty stuff on an external hard drive (an effective tactic, except if you’re an SEC lawyer).

Non-tech-savvy people don’t think about this. And those same people are the types who take their laptops to the Geek Squad when they need computer help. Such a trip to Best Buy led to a 10-year prison sentence for Alabama resident Corey Beantee Melton.

In 2005, Melton sought the help of Best Buy’s Geek Squad because he was having trouble connecting to the Internet. Their initial assessment indicated the problem was originating from Melton’s DVD drive, so he left his laptop in their care and went on his merry way.

When the Geeks did their diagnostic scans of the computer, they found a pesky virus that appeared to be linked to specific files on Melton’s computer. Those particular files had names of a “very explicit nature,” says a judicial opinion in the case (hat tip: Eric Goldman for sending the opinion my way — see an old post of his for examples of filenames of an explicit nature).

The Geeks freaked — and called in the boys in blue, as they suspected they’d found child porn…

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tajudeen-oladiran.jpgArizona attorney Tajudeen “Taj” Oladiran came onto our radar back in 2009, when he filed one of the craziest motions we’ve ever seen. Solo practitioner Oladiran, a former associate at Greenberg Traurig, filed a racketeering lawsuit against “Suntrust Bank and its pimps” for allegedly suckering him into predatory housing loans.

The motion that caught our eye — “Motion for a [sic] Honest and Honorable Court System” —  was filed to vent Oladiran’s frustration with the “dishonorable” Susan Bolton, whom Taj called “a brainless coward.” That would be the same Susan Bolton who, in a not-so-cowardly move, blocked part of Arizona’s controversial immigration law.

Taj ended the motion:

Finally, to Susan Bolton, we shall meet again you know where. :-)

Not only did Taj get our Motion of the Day nod with that, he earned Motion of the Year honors.

The Arizona court system was less impressed with the motion, though. There, it earned Taj a threat of disbarment…

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Horribly embarrassing for everybody, but this guy (who topped the 'F*** List')

When Tom Wolfe wrote I Am Charlotte Simmons, he interviewed his Duke daughter and Stanford son about their college experiences, and tried to capture what university life would be like for a highly intelligent, young, innocent virgin at an elite school obsessed with frat parties and athletics. It was an enjoyable read. If you want something similar to that, but a non-fiction version with less innocence and more alcohol, check out An education beyond the classroom: excelling in the realm of horizontal academics.

2010 Duke grad Karen Owen facetiously called it her “Senior Honors Thesis.” I summarized it over at my new bloggerly digs:

Owen kept detailed notes on her sexual adventures with 13 members of Duke’s lacrosse, baseball and tennis teams over the last four years. She then put those notes, along with the athletes’ names and photos into a 42-slide PowerPoint presentation, that concludes with a ranking of the 13 on what she calls her “F*** list.” (Congratulations, I suppose, to this guy for topping the list.)

Owen sent it by email to three friends, and then because it was too brilliant, hilarious, and painstakingly-elaborate to keep among four friends, one of them forwarded it on. Like an STD in a frat house, it went viral…

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