Privacy

Thanks to spyware, an FBI dad got a gift-wrapped child porn case.

Like any dad, Joseph Auther was worried about what his son might get up to while exploring the wilds of the World Wide Web. So when his 7th grade son got a school-provided laptop from Whispering Palms School in Saipan in the U.S. territory of the Northern Mariana Islands, Auther decided to install a monitoring program on it. He went with a spyware program called eBlaster from SpectorSoft, a company based in Vero Beach, Florida. Unbeknownst to his son, the program captured his website visits, his keystrokes, and every email, chat, and instant message he sent and received. This was all delivered up to his dad in emails, while giving the monitored person no hint that it was doing so.

Auther has a special appreciation for the benefits of surveillance. He’s an FBI special agent. In April, he discovered he was being transferred to the FBI office in Denver. At the end of the school year, Auther let Whispering Palms principal Thomas Weindl know that his family was moving and that they would be returning the school’s laptop. Weindl, 67, was actually a friend of the Auther family; when he got married earlier that year, Auther’s wife gave a reading at the ceremony. Auther told Weindl that he would return the laptop after he removed all of his son’s files, programs, and games.

Auther first took the laptop to his FBI office and asked his colleagues how to wipe it clean. Apparently they don’t have many cyber experts in the Mariana Islands, because they were unsuccessful. So Auther had to instead take it to a computer repair shop, which cleaned out the old files and allegedly re-imaged the hard drive to return it to its original settings. Auther didn’t tell the shop about eBlaster being on the computer — perhaps feeling a little Big Parent shame — but assumed that it would be wiped along with everything else. He then returned the computer to Weindl….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “FBI Dad Finds Handy Fourth Amendment Workaround to Bust School Principal for Child Porn”

By now, we’re sure you’ve seen the ridiculous copyright notices that have been popping up on Facebook status updates left and right — and if you haven’t, then perhaps your friends are simply more intelligent than the masses who’ve been fooled into believing they can override the social media giant’s terms of use.

We’ll put this simply to avoid further confusion: stringing together nonsensical bits of pseudo-legalese cannot save you from succumbing to the rules and regulations of the Facebook gods. On the other hand, stringing together nonsensical bits of pseudo-legalese is sometimes what law blogging is all about, so we’ll help our readers debunk the myths of privacy and intellectual property rights on Facebook.

Aww, you thought Facebook couldn’t use all the things you posted on the site because of your privacy settings? Well, isn’t that just precious….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Facebook Laughs as Peon Users Attempt to Reclaim Their Privacy and Copyright Interests”

Casey Anthony is not impressed.

* Will it be DOMA or Prop 8? The countdown until Friday starts now, because everyone’s waiting to see whether the Supreme Court will grant cert on one of the five same-sex marriage cases that has come before the high court. [UPI]

* Walk like an Egyptian — or, in this case, you can protest like one. Judges and lawyers are on strike and filing legal challenges to President Mohamed Morsi’s “unprecedented attack on judicial independence.” [New York Times]

* Dewey know when this failed firm’s bankruptcy plan will be approved? Team Togut is hoping for a February resolution, but the rascally retirees may throw a wrench in things with their committee’s continued existence. [Am Law Daily]

* Even though the Northern District of California has a historic all-women federal bench — a courthouse of their own, if you will — there’s probably no need to tell them that THERE’S NO CRYING IN LITIGATION. No crying! [The Recorder]

* New technology + old laws = a privacy clusterf**k. This week, a Senate committee will contemplate whether the Electronic Communications Privacy Act needs to be updated to get with the times. [New York Times]

* The New York State Bar Association may oppose it, but Jacoby & Meyers’s challenge to the state’s ban on non-lawyer firm ownership shall live to see another day thanks to the Second Circuit. [New York Law Journal]

* An Alabama Slammer is both a dangerous cocktail and a term for what happens when your Southern law school refuses to cut its class size and you’re left woefully unemployed after graduation. [Birmingham News]

* Casey Anthony finds relevancy again! Girls in my high school used to search for “foolproof suffocation” on Google and later get acquitted of murdering their daughters all the time; it was no big deal. [USA Today]

* Dean Boland, aka Paul Ceglia’s gazillionth lawyer in the Facebook ownership case, will soon find out if can withdraw as counsel. He’s got other things to deal with, like a $300K child porn judgment. [Wall Street Journal]

Ed. note: Happy Thanksgiving! We will resume our normal publication schedule on Monday, November 26. We hope you have a wonderful holiday, and we thank you for your readership.

* We’ve discussed this trend before, and it continues: administrations of the LSAT plunge further, reaching their lowest level since 1999. [Economix / New York Times]

* We’ve discussed this trend before, and it continues: judges are still offering unpaid clerkships (even though the days of law firm deferrals are behind us). [Salon]

* We’ve discussed this trend before, and it continues: law schools sometimes discriminate against conservatives, as jurors from the Teresa Wagner trial told Iowa’s leading newspaper. [Des Moines Register]

* Are you mooching off of someone else’s wireless internet? If so, consider yourself warned. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Are you a lover of Twinkies? If so, consider yourself warned (although it’s possible that a buyer might snap up the Twinkies brand). [DealBook / New York Times]

* Seven Am Law 200 firms are saying YES to work on a billion-dollar deal. [Am Law Daily]

I’ll miss you the most, my little cupcake.

* Billable hours in Biglaw are down 1.5 percent, and 15 percent of U.S. firms are planning to reduce their partnership ranks in early 2013. Thanks to Wells Fargo for bringing us the news of all this holiday cheer! [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Hostess may be winding down its business and liquidating its assets, but Biglaw will always be there to clean up the crumbs. Jones Day, Venable, and Stinson Morrison Hecker obviously think money tastes better than Twinkies. [Am Law Daily]

* How’s that “don’t be evil” thing working out for you? Google’s $22.5M proposed privacy settlement with the FTC over tracking cookies planted on Safari browsers was accepted by a federal judge. [Bloomberg]

* Greenberg Traurig and Hunton & Williams face a $7.2B suit from Allen Stanford’s receiver over a former attorney of both firms’ alleged involvement in the ex-knight’s Ponzi scheme. [Houston Business Journal]

* Perhaps the third time will be the charm: ex-Mayer Brown partner Joseph Collins was convicted, again, for helping Refco steal more than $2B from investors by concealing the company’s fraud. [New York Law Journal]

* H. Warren Knight, founder of alternative dispute resolution company JAMS, RIP. [National Law Journal]

If there’s one thing Americans are concerned about today other than voting, it’s taking pictures of themselves voting, about to vote, or having just voted. Because what’s the point of participating in democracy if you can’t photograph the experience, put ca-RAZY effects on the pictures, and then put them online?

There isn’t one, obviously.

Except for a little detail that photographing completed ballots is illegal in some parts of the country.

CHECK YOU ELECTION PRIVACY LAWS….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Photographing Your Ballot: It Might Be Illegal, Y’Know”

* If you’re sick of waiting in line to vote, just become a SCOTUS justice. NBD. [DCist]

* Now cops are even being awarded massive privacy invasion settlements — against other cops.
[Threat Level / Wired]

* If you simply have to steal a car, you should probably jack one that works. [Legal Juice]

* As election day winds down, here’s more scary s**t to maybe be worried about. [Salon]

* Lat talks to the WSJ about the uneasy rise of virtual law firms. [Wall Street Journal]

Today at least, Gregory Garre is dog’s best friend in the Supreme Court.

The Court heard two cases involving when dogs can use their noses to help fight the war on drugs. Garre argued both – back to back – for the State of Florida. Fresh on the heels of his representation of Texas in the recent affirmative action case, it was an impressive morning.

The first case presented the question of whether a dog – here, named Frankie – brought to the front door of a house, can sniff at the front of the house for drugs.

Garre came out of the box asserting that there is no legitimate expectation of privacy in contraband. That didn’t go so well….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Dog Day At The Supreme Court”

Does anyone remember Hunter Moore, creator of IsAnyoneUp and the most hated man on the internet for a good swath of last year? His site, before he took it down in April, encouraged young people to submit naked photos of themselves or their friends. The photos were posted publicly along with screengrabs of Facebook pages and real names.

At least one copycat site has popped up: the extremely NSFW IsAnybodyDown.com. In some ways the site feels even more nefarious than its predecessor because of its semi-official takedown policy. The site links to a “Takedown Lawyer” who promises to get any photos removed from the site for somewhere between $200 and $300.

It so happens that this lawyer is a friend of the site’s owner and publicly admits to using a pseudonym to offer his services. Something seems suspicious here….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Takedown Of The ‘Takedown Lawyer’ (If He’s Even A Lawyer, That Is)”

Seeing as half the Eastern seaboard is underwater or in the dark or throwing a massive party, perhaps the only other topic Americans care about right now is — you guessed it — next week’s presidential election.

Most of us know how granular the campaigning has become these last few weeks, as the candidates vie for the heart and mind of the ever elusive swing voter. But for some time now, both Mitt Romney and President Obama have taken advantage of another highly detailed, technical voter research strategy. They dig up electronic information about voters using data-mining techniques pioneered by everyone’s favorite American institutions: online retailers.

Yep. Because the process voting for president is just the same as deciding what new XBox game to buy…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “How Obama and Romney Both Rock Stalk the Vote”

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