Cyberlaw

I’m a technology geek. I’m cognizant of the argument that a not entirely thought-out prosecution could lead to the suppression of ideas and technology, and I have no desire to do that.

Wesley Hsu, chief of the cybercrime unit at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, explaining his approach to prosecuting cases. You can check out Kashmir Hill’s interesting profile of Hsu over at Forbes.

A few months ago, I went to an MCLE seminar on cybersecurity. The 90-minute presentation hit topics such as public wifi, cloud computing, thumb drives, and password strength. The goal of the presentation was of course to scare everyone into being more vigilant in their firm policies regarding cybersecurity. The recommendations included:

  • Never use cloud computing. Always store your data on onsite servers.
  • Don’t use thumb drives on company computers.
  • Never use any mobile devices to store firm information (including emails).

After the presentation, we ate dinner, and everyone and my table came to the same conclusion: “Screw that. We are going to use thumb drives while checking our business email on our phones while client files upload to Dropbox.” That’s because some things are just too convenient to give up. As a solo, I might not want a server that I have to maintain. And I like getting my emails on my phone and on my watch because it makes my life easier.

Now, I don’t want to make light of cybersecurity because it is a very serious issue. But, the fact remains that if your data exists in a tangible form, people can steal it and it is vulnerable….

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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.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Microsoft-Sponsored Study Says Problems Caused By Using Windows Software Will Cost Businesses $500 Billion In 2014″

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….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Maryland Tops Off Awful Cyberbullying Law With Direct Line To Facebook To Remove Content ‘Without Societal Value’”

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.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Greatest Trick The Government Ever Pulled Was Convincing The Public The ‘Hacker Threat’ Exists”

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…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “When Luddites Handle Cyber Security, You End Up With American Law Firms”

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….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Facebook Protests Proposed Child Privacy Rule Revisions on Scuzzy Free Speech Grounds”

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”….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “MegaMeltdown: New Zealand’s Prime Minister Apologizes to Kim Dotcom”

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…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “AT&T’s New Restriction on iPhone FaceTime Gets Hit With FCC Complaint, As It Should”

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