Privacy

I am on record as an optimist when it comes to the internet. The free flow of information on the web, including but not limited to websites like Above the Law, helps people make better decisions about their lives and careers (and also entertains, a value that shouldn’t be ignored).

At the same time, as we’ve discussed before, the web has its dark side….

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* We’re getting closer to being able to unlock our phones legally. Soon you can accidentally brick an iPhone without fear of reprisal. [The Guardian]

* The Wall Street Journal thinks law student résumés are nearly identical (?) and recommends cultivating “quirky interests” like serving as a college mascot. Because national law firms just feel safer with Furries on staff. [The Legal Watchdog]

* A judge who already faces overlapping ethics proceedings is about to add a couple more to his plate. This time the allegations include sleeping with a law student, not disclosing when she appeared before him, and “misappropriating” marijuana evidence. He doesn’t seem to get that the whole “What happens in Vegas” thing only works if you’re not living there. [Las Vegas Law Blog]

* Someone tries to fight Larry Lessig on copyright. They lose. [IT-Lex]

* An applicant withdraws his application to a law school because they do not allow gay or lesbian wedding ceremonies on campus. While that’s a noble decision, did he really think a Catholic school was going to be having gay and lesbian weddings? [The Ivy Coach]

* Professors Chris Sprigman and Barry Friedman employed a cool tool called ReplyAll to have a public discussion about the NSA. [Just Security]

* Redeployment (affiliate link) is a new collection of stories by Phil Klay focusing on the transition of Iraq veterans to stateside living. One story focuses on a Marine going to law school. Apparently he wanted to trade one brand of PTSD for another. [New York Times]

* Wow, it looks like San Diego has a real problem policing its police. [Voice of San Diego]

* If you’re in the Boston area next week, check out Disruptive Innovation in the Market for Legal Services, a cool symposium on March 6. [Harvard Law]

* Baseball is trying to ban home plate collisions, because why have any aspect of the sport be exciting? Here’s an exercise in statutory interpretation featuring the new rule. [PrawfsBlawg]

* Former judge forced to resign at age 40 under a gathering cloud of sexual harassment allegations now collects $65,000 a year in pension. And it looks like he may be claiming “sex addiction” as a disability. Bravo. [WDSU]

* Should legal writing professors be treated like nurses? [Dorf on Law]

* The world’s top Bitcoin exchange, Mt.Gox, just shut down, and millions of real dollars worth of fake money is missing. I’m excited to see the bevy of Libertarian Bitcoin fanatics who praise the decentralized “new Gold standard” and publicly trash its critics explain this one. [Valleywag]

* Are bar associations moving online? [Law Sites]

* Forget your cell phone, the feds have been spending millions to warrantlessly collect your very breath. [IT-Lex]

* Our own David Lat did some speculating about who the next Supreme Court justice might be. [Ozy]

* That hope that the government would deport Justin Bieber? Here’s why that just isn’t legally going to happen. Video after the jump… [Bloomberg Law]

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* A guy who tried to get on the bench more than once was just busted in a prostitution sting. Oops. He also spells his name weird. [The Press Democrat]

* Tomorrow, Gibson Dunn partner Miguel Estrada will argue before the Second Circuit that private parties can’t get injunctions under RICO. For those keeping score, Gibson Dunn partner Randy Mastro hangs his whole case in Chevron v. Donziger on a request for an injunction under RICO. Time to play the Distinguish Polka. [Courthouse News]

* Wait until the RIAA realizes there are royalties to be made at CIA black sites in Uzbekistan. Because the only thing more torturous than being forced to listen to this music is the tenacity of the RIAA. [Slate]

* More on the legislative fight over accrual accounting versus cash-basis accounting for Biglaw firms. To the barricades! Swear your allegiance to Generalissimo MacEwen! [Adam Smith, Esq.]

* Is there a right to online anonymity? All the people out there trying to hire contract killers over the Internet certainly think so. [InsidePrivacy]

* Jay Edelson and Chandler Givens of Edelson PC examine the flawed law firm recruitment model. [Legal Solutions Blog / Thomson Reuters]

* Slip and falls at the IRS office. [Lowering the Bar]

Is the internet good or evil? Well, neither — the internet, just like the information you find on it, is really what you make of it. Some people use information for good purposes, and some use it for bad.

Here at Above the Law, we tend to see the internet as a force for good. We use our bandwidth on the web to entertain and to educate. Our view is that, in general, more information is good. With more information, people can make better choices about their lives and careers. Should I go to law school? If so, which law school? And what about law firms? Which firms are the best places to work?

But you can use the internet for anything, really. For some folks, to quote the popular song from the musical Avenue Q, The Internet Is For Porn — and so much more, from the shady to the downright illegal….

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* Were you looking for a treasure trove of high school pictures of SCOTUS justices? Well, you’re in luck! [Josh Blackman's Blog]

* Remember when Gov. Bob McDonnell was a rising GOP star? Well, this recap of his federal indictment makes that seem like a distant memory. [TPM Muckraker]

* Here’s a career alternative for you: Space Tyrant. When GW Law grad Alex Gianturco bailed on his gig at Zuckerman Spaeder, he took the usual route of just playing video games all day. With the twist that he actually made money at it. As the most powerful player in EVE Online, The Mittani, as he’s now known, has managed to enrage pretty much everybody out there playing a game basically designed to reward dickish behavior. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* A pharmacist lands in hot water after trying to connect with a patient. In his defense, being a pharmacist seems like a pretty fool-proof plan to ensure that a potential date has a clean bill of health. [IT-Lex]

* It’s a mixed bag in Ecclestone family litigation news. Tamara Ecclestone lost her dispute with an ex-boyfriend over a Lamborghini Aventador. She’d given the car to her ex-boyfriend and wanted it back, but the High Court deemed the car was a gift. On the other hand, dad Bernie convinced the New York Supreme Court to kick out a £392.5 million lawsuit over an alleged bribe, so on balance it was a decent week for the billionaire family. Now if he could just fix this stupid “double points” thing. [Daily Mail]

* Lawdingo and Themis’s Clio platform have partnered up. Hopefully Lawdingo won’t shy away from light-hearted commercials now that they’ve hit the big time. [Go Clio]

* Kentucky is looking to authorize service monkeys. What can possibly go wrong? [My Fox DC]

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* A Supreme Court whose members are still afraid of using email will most likely have the final say on the NSA case, one of the biggest technology and privacy rulings in ages. Well, that’s comforting. [Talking Points Memo]

* Pittsburgh firm Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney is reportedly in merger talks with Tampa firm Fowler White Boggs. Boy, a merger between two firms from lackluster cities sure sounds promising. [Daily Business Review]

* Law professors are completely outraged by the ABA’s proposal to cut tenure from its law school accreditation requirements. Quick, somebody write a law review article no one will read about it! [National Law Journal]

* Struggling to find a topic for your law school personal statement? You should ask someone who knows next to nothing about you and your life for advice. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

* Michael E. Schmidt, the lawyer killed in a police firefight, had some interesting things in his apartment, including a “green leafy substance,” a “white powdery substance,” and lots of pills. [Dallas Morning News]

In too many ways, 2013 was a year that vindicated the long-standing paranoia of many Americans, particularly the more conservative. A bewildering number of stories littered the news that seemed to confirm exactly the sort of gross government overreach that previously sounded like a delusion of someone whose eyes were scanning the skies for black helicopters. In spring 2013, for example, we learned that the IRS had been targeting the 501(c)(3) applications of conservative and libertarian organizations, apparently based solely on their political and philosophical affiliations. Nothing in 2013, though, fanned the flames of political paranoia quite like revelations of the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance programs.

In Clapper v. Amnesty International USA, decided in February, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed Amnesty International’s constitutional challenge to a portion of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. In its 5-4 opinion, the Court found that Amnesty lacked Article III standing, in part because the plaintiffs could not show that they had necessarily been targeted for surveillance. When Edward Snowden later disclosed details of the NSA’s PRISM surveillance program, civil libertarians experienced something of a Pyrrhic victory. Standing would not be a problem in many future lawsuits because the revelation of PRISM established that millions of Americans had been subject to some NSA spying. The only question was whether that surveillance amounted to a violation of the law.

As we leave 2013 and 2014 dawns, some new developments have emerged . . . .

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Edward Snowden

* Now that a federal judge has ruled against the NSA’s domestic spying program, maybe government prosecutors will cut Edward Snowden some slack — or maybe haha, yeah right. [WSJ Law Blog]

* On that note, the ACLU is appealing the other federal ruling that says the agency’s activities are constitutional. The NSA will let you know what the Second Circuit’s decision is this spring. [Guardian]

* Alas, Judge Shira Scheindlin knew from the get-go that her stop-and-frisk ruling would be contested, and she even warned the lawyers involved that they ought to consider a jury. [New York Times]

* “How do you say, ‘I’m married, but not really? I’m divorced, but not really?'” Thanks to Utah’s same-sex marriage ruling, unhappy gay couples who married in other states are rejoicing over the fact that they can finally get divorced. [Deseret News]

* Facebook, a social network that constantly changes its privacy settings to make your life less private, is being sued over its alleged interception and sharing of messages with advertisers. Shocking. [Bloomberg]

* It goes without saying that Sergio Garcia is having a happy new year. The California Supreme Court ruled that the undocumented immigrant will be able to legally practice law in the state. ¡Felicitaciones! [CNN]

* Judge William Pauley ruled that the NSA’s warrantless spying program is legal, noting that — if it had existed — the government could have predicted the 9/11 attacks. Good point, because intelligence agencies were in no position to figure out that there was an attack brewing without a Big Brother initiative. Oh… wait. [Huffington Post]

* On a related note, a cartoon from 1994 that predicted the NSA’s controversial programs. It’s really kind of scary…. [Slate]

* Britain’s clowns are furious that people are dressing up as clowns and trying to scare people. For their sake, let’s make sure they never hear about Pennywise. [Lowering the Bar]

* Professor Dave Hoffman evaluates the case for flat-rate tuition. [Concurring Opinions]

* The Wolf of Wall Street is about a criminal ripping off poor people. Bankers cheered at a recent showing. There is a lesson to be had there about what bankers would do if given an opportunity. [Business Insider]

* “Knockout,” a game where young boys cold-cock unsuspecting victims, is a serious issue. Nah, just kidding, it’s a crypto-racist overreaction. But at least one kid was stupid enough to try it and then tell a cop about it. Seriously. [Gawker]

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