It’s been a while since we’ve used the “Creep of the Week” tag here at Above the Law, but today, we’ve got a lawyer whose alleged conduct is quite fitting for the title. Back in May, we briefly mentioned the activities of an alleged law firm panty peeper — an attorney — who according to a lawsuit filed last year, used an iPhone or an iPad to take upskirt photos and videos of his female employees while they were at work at his firm.
Now, just a few months after the allegations hit the news, that attorney has been dragged into criminal court and charged for his allegedly pervy predilections. Let’s find out more about the charges, and the allegations made against him in the lawsuit….
Last week, the tech world caught fire with the newest in an increasingly long list of electronic privacy scandals. Carrier IQ, a small Silicon Valley software company with its product installed on millions of cell phones, made headlines when a young programmer posted a video allegedly showing the software’s ability to log keystrokes and collect other, very personal information from phones.
By the end of last week, the controversy had already sparked an angry letter from democratic Senator Al Franken, two class-action lawsuits, and a flurry of denials and explanations from the software company as well as major mobile phone carriers. We briefly mentioned the story in Friday’s Non-Sequiturs, but it deserves a deeper look.
Is Carrier IQ as bad as it sounds? Good question….
Earlier this week, the federal government got some heat for allegedly violating the common man’s electronic privacy by snooping around in email and the like. Today we have a lawsuit from Kentucky accusing a tech company, specifically Facebook, of doing nearly the same thing.
What is going on? It’s almost like there’s no privacy anywhere anymore! (I’m kidding, of course: Privacy completely disappeared years ago.)
The suit, filed by an average Facebook user like you or me (well, most of you are lawyers, so not quite like you), claims a class of 150 million people, and damages of hundreds or thousands of dollars per class member. Exactly what heinous offense has Facebook supposedly committed?
Molly Wei didn't stop her friend for using her computer; now she could end up in jail.
Prosecutors looking into Tyler Clementi suicide indicated yesterday that they might not be able to charge Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei with a hate crime. Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan told the Newark Star-Ledger that his office was trying to see if they could charge Ravi and Wei with a second degree bias crime, but so far they don’t have enough evidence to support such a charge.
Right now, Ravi and Wei are charged with invasion of privacy, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in jail.
Given that some people have pushed for prosecution that goes all the way up to homicide charges, the possibility that Ravi and Wei won’t be charged with a hate crime (or burned at the stake, or whatever the hell will satisfy people’s revenge impulse) will disappoint many — perhaps including prosecutor Kaplan, who said: “Sometimes the laws don’t always adequately address the situation. That may come to pass here.”
And sometimes the public’s outrage completely outstrips the actual crime committed. I’ve already shared my thoughts about Dharun Ravi’s crime. Now let’s take a closer look at Molly Wei — a girl who, as far as we know, is guilty of letting a high school buddy use her computer…
Over the past few days, we’ve learned a lot about Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers college student and talented violinist who killed himself after his roommate streamed, live on the internet, a hidden webcam video of Tyler hooking up with another man. On September 22, a few days after the incident, Clementi committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.
Former ATL editor Kashmir Hill has learned even more. She’s been tracking Clementi’s digital footprints, and found that he went to a message board for gay men seeking counsel after he learned of his roommate’s prank.
I used the word “prank” because that’s how I see the actions of Tyler Clementi’s roommate, Dharun Ravi. Ravi is an 18-year-old kid in his first semester at college. Along with a friend, Molly Wei, Ravi pulled a prank on his new roommate — one that went horribly wrong.
Because Clementi killed himself, the media has worked itself into a rabid lather over Ravi’s and Wei’s actions. The story was all over the New York Times yesterday. Michael Daly criticized Ravi so harshly I thought I was reading about some kind of modern day Billy Zabka in the New York Daily News this morning. Some gay rights groups want Ravi to be charged with a hate crime.
Before we crucify this college freshman, I have a couple of questions…
[Ed. note: This post is by MARIN, one of the finalists in ATL Idol, the "reality blogging" competition that will determine ATL's next editor. It is marked with Marin's avatar (at right).]
If you’ve ever secretly read somebody else’s email 537 times, turns out you’re not alone. Larry Mendte, former CBS3 Philadelphia news anchor and Botox enthusiast, allegedly hacked into his former co-anchor Alycia Lane’s personal email accounts 537 times since January 2008 and leaked the contents of some of those emails to the press, according to the criminal information filed last Monday. What makes this case interesting is not the charge itself (one felony count of intentionally accessing a protected computer without authorization; Mendte is expected to plead guilty on August 22), but the fact that this case appears to confirm that there are real-life Ron Burgundys among us: vain, jealous and 100% ridiculous. According to Lane’s attorneys, Mendte, insanely envious of Lane’s 8.7% higher salary (Lane supposedly made $780,000, Mendte about $100,000 less), embarked on a campaign to sabotage her career by installing keylogger programs to obtain Lane’s passwords, which he then used to compulsively check Lane’s emails from work. And home. And vacation. And his country club. Lane unwittingly assisted Mendte in his plot to undermine her by sending pictures of herself in a bikini to married NFL Network anchor Rich Eisen, which were intercepted by Eisen’s wife. It is believed that Mendte leaked the correspondence to the press, including the wife’s classic response:
Boy, do you look amazing in a bikini . . . congrats! Whatever you’re doing, (Pilates? yoga?) keep doing it – it’s working for you. Anyway, sorry but those seven e-mails you sent to my husband, Rich, well, oops, they came to the e-mail address we both use from time to time, but no worries, I’ll forward the beach shots as well as the ones of you dancing with your friends on to his main address. Do you have it?
Mendte also allegedly leaked certain privileged communications between Lane and her lawyer concerning that one time when she allegedly assaulted a police officer and accidentally called her a “dyke b*tch.” Stay classy, Philadelphia.
Evidently Mendte was so busy hacking into email, subverting attorney-client privilege and leaking private information to the press that he failed to consider that his lower salary was merited. It takes more than a Cheshire grin and a plastic face to succeed as a news anchor, and unfortunately for Mendte, his spray tan could not mask his complete ineptitude as an investigative journalist.
* House Democrats oppose Senate spy bill’s telecom immunity. [Washington Post]
* Justice Scalia approves of “so-called torture” under some circumstances. [MSNBC]
* Just a few months later, Senate committee gets around to admonishing Sen. Craig. [CNN]
* Clemens and McNamee go head to head before Congress. [ESPN]
* City’s scantily clad cowboy sues candy-coated counterpart. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Dems to propose new surveillance bill? [Newsweek]
* Only a Garrison Keillor stalker would call it “transcendental love.” [CNN]
* Pearl drops lawsuit against terrorists. [MSNBC]
* Law firm World Series. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Today’s stupid crimes from Court TV. [CourtTV]
Watch to find out what some of our subscribers received in their May box!
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The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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