Cyberlaw

Ed note: This post originally appeared on Peter S. Vogel’s Internet, Information Technology & e-Discovery Blog.

Since the plaintiff did not a file a lawsuit against John Doe, the Texas trial court had no jurisdiction to allow the plaintiff to take the deposition of “Trooper,” an anonymous blogger who launched on on-line attack on the CEO of a company who lives in Houston. In the case of In Re John Doe a/k/a “Trooper” on August 29, 2014 the Texas Supreme Court ruled 5-4 the pre-litigation discovery seeking John Doe’s identity is unacceptable in Texas, and the discovery to learn the identity of John Doe can only proceed if a lawsuit is filed.

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The copyright industries’ obsession with trying to shoot down piracy at all costs can sometimes cause them to end up shooting themselves in the foot. Here, for example, is a great example from Microsoft, which has recently been fulminating against the dangers of software piracy:

A new study released Tuesday reaffirms what we in Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit have seen for some time now — cybercrime is a booming business for organized crime groups all over the world. The study, conducted by IDC and the National University of Singapore (NUS), reveals that businesses worldwide will spend nearly $500 billion in 2014 to deal with the problems caused by malware on pirated software. Individual consumers, meanwhile, are expected to spend $25 billion and waste 1.2 billion hours this year because of security threats and costly computer fixes.

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We saw Nova Scotia deliver the worst in cyberbullying laws (Canadian edition) earlier this year. Like most bad cyberbullying legislation, this one was prompted by the suicide of a teen. It’s too tempting for legislators to rush into action with no real idea on how to solve the problem, much less mitigate it, and the attendant public uproar contributes nothing in terms of clear thinking or common sense.

As a result, laws like Nova Scotia’s get passed — laws that rely on purely subjective measures. If someone feels offended, they can press charges, utilizing a non-adversarial process that allows the accuser to present his or her case directly to a judge, who then decides whether or not it’s actually cyberbullying. This opens the accused up to civil proceedings, criminal charges and a chance of being banned not just from social media but from the internet entirely, along with being banned from using electronic devices — like a phone….

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Ed. note: This post appears courtesy of our friends at Techdirt. We’ll be sharing law-related posts from Techdirt from time to time in these pages.

The US government is already fighting wars on several fronts, including the perpetual War on Terror. “War is the health of the state,” as Randolph Bourne stated, and the state has never been healthier, using this variety of opponents as excuses to increase surveillance, curtail rights and expand power.

Bruce Schneier highlights a piece written by Molly Sauter for the Atlantic which poses the question, “If hackers didn’t exist, would the government have to invent them?” The government certainly seems to need some sort of existential hacker threat in order to justify more broadly/badly written laws (on top of the outdated and overbroad CFAA). But the government’s portrayal of hackers as “malicious, adolescent techno-wizards, willing and able to do great harm to innocent civilians and society at large,” is largely false. If teen techno-wizards aren’t taking down site after site, how is all this personal information ending up in hackers’ hands? Plain old human carelessness.

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Judge Lynn Hughes

* Above the Law promotes real-world change! Complaint filed against a Texas judge after we call him out for being RACEIST! [ABA Journal]

* If you were thinking of calling your friend from the Philippines a “skank” on Facebook, you may want to reconsider. [Philippine Inquirer]

* If you’re a powerful financial executive, lay off the bath salts. [DealBreaker]

* Judicial throwdown at the Second Circuit! Short version: Judge Raagi thinks Judge Jacobs should care way more about punishing guys sexting underage girls. Judge Jacobs thinks Judge Raagi watches too much Dexter. [Second Circuit / FindLaw]

* Federal District Judge John Lungstrum calls out a couple trial teams for terrible trial work. Biglaw litigators may not be the best trial attorneys? You don’t say. [New York Personal Injury Attorney Blog]

* Kenneth Anderson describes the U.S. government’s longstanding love affair with “imminence” in the context of the Obama drone strike white paper. To borrow from Rev. Lovejoy’s sermon: “Imminence…sweet imminence.” [Lawfare]

* Judges: If you’re going to base a decision on a particular fact… don’t include pictures in the opinion that directly contradict that finding. Check out page six, line two and Appendix 2 [Court of Appeals, State of Oregon]

* SCOTUSBlog and Bloomberg Law have a competition for law students. Beat your peers AND the SCOTUSBlog team and win $5000. [SCOTUSBlog]

Cyber security is all the rage this week, with President Obama announcing that he’s working on a new cyber war plan and the Internets freaking out that the Super Bowl blackout was really a Chinese hacking effort.

Some of you probably assume the ATL front page was hacked this week. Don’t worry though…we made all those problems ourselves.

Cyber attacks on U.S. businesses have increased dramatically as savvy hackers look to steal financial and intellectual assets from computer systems. The smartest cyber criminals have even figured out the best way to get what they want is to avoid the target corporation entirely and aim straight for their law firm — the soft underbelly of American cyber security…

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We’ve mentioned the proposed changes to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule before, which are currently under consideration by the FTC. The changes to COPPA, as it’s known for short, would require sites that collect personal information from children to secure written parental consent first. On first glance, it seems like a slam dunk: why wouldn’t we want to protect children’s privacy, and maybe put a dent in the absurd amount of tracking that constantly happens whenever anyone goes online?

Oh right, I forgot one little detail: free speech!

Facebook is protesting parts of the rule, because the company says it would restrict the free speech of pre-teens who want to “like” articles online. Because heaven forbid children who technically aren’t even supposed to use Facebook have to voice approval in a manner that doesn’t involve clicking a little blue thumbs-up button….

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Things continue looking up for Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom. A few weeks ago, he finally got some of his assets unfrozen so he could throw some dollars in John Quinn’s direction.

Yesterday, he unveiled the teaser for his new music product, known as Megabox. And this morning, he earned an extensive personal apology from New Zealand’s prime minister. Apparently the Kiwi equivalent of the American National Security Administration had unlawfully spied on Dotcom, and Prime Minister John Key said the “basic errors” involved in the mistake were appalling.

Huh, so that’s what it sounds like when a government isn’t “acting as a proxy for private commercial interests”….

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Just as the new iPhone was announced last week, AT&T was making another, significantly less popular announcement. Although Apple will now allow iPhone owners to use FaceTime (a.k.a. the super-futuristic video phone feature) over the cellular network, instead of just WiFi, AT&T will not. Unless, of course, you buy into its new shared-data plan.

But we’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it any more!

This morning, Free Press, Public Knowledge, and the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute announced it would file a complaint with the FCC alleging AT&T has violated net neutrality rules. Let’s see the details of the complaint as well as discuss why AT&T is wrong…

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After months of living under house arrest and frozen assets, Megaupload leader Kim Dotcom has finally won a multimillion dollar victory in New Zealand court — one that will unfreeze some of his money and allow him to sell off some of his luxury cars so he can pay his attorneys.

Not a glamorous win, by any means, but it is what it is.

The Justice Department’s prosecution has been riddled with problems almost from the case’s beginning, back in January. This is another setback in their attempts to curb file-sharing.

So how much of his money will Dotcom now be able to fork right over to his lawyers? And which cars can he sell?

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