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Ex-girlfriend’s Phony Facebook Page Tests NJ Identity... Yesterday New Jersey Superior Court Judge David Ironson refused to dismiss an indictment charging a woman with identity theft for allegedly adversely impersonating her ex-boyfriend...

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The Center for Democracy and Technology Defends Mobile... Last week the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) made a public appeal to gain support for their campaign to reform the Electronic Communications Privacy Act’s (ECPA)...

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Canadian Supreme Court Protects Free Speech on the... This month the Supreme Court of Canada issued a ruling that protects Website owners who provide hyperlinks to allegedly defamatory content from liability. The facts of the...

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NJ State Senator Will Introduce Online Gambling Legislation... In March Governor Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would have made New Jersey the first state in the country to allow online gambling within its borders. He vetoed the law...

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Federal Shield Law in the Senate Currently, 40 states and the District of Columbia have shield laws. Shield laws are important because they safeguard the public's right to know by protecting the rights of...

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Social Media Law News Rss

Law Enforcement Monitors Social Media

Posted on : 16-12-2010 | By : Julie Gottlieb | In : Buzz, Government

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Yesterday Jay Baer, a social media strategy consultant, posted a very clear and informative article, entitled Cop and Robbers: Social Media Invades Law Enforcement, detailing the ways that law enforcement uses social media. Specifically, Baer lists 9 ways that law enforcement uses social media. They are crime mapping; crime reporting; soliciting tips; alerts and notifications; investigations; emergency preparedness and response; malicious use; public relations and reputation management; and vetting. Regarding investigations, Baer writes, “Social media is a valuable investigative tool when seeking evidence or information about individuals or cases including missing persons, wanted persons, gang participation and recruitment, and crimes perpetuated online such as cyberbullying or identity theft.” Furthermore, he provides a chart that breaks down, by percentage, law enforcement’s use of certain social media sites. Facebook, Nixle and Twitter were the three most used, respectively. Finally, Baer gives 4 examples where law enforcement used social media to apprehend suspects.

To learn more about law enforcement’s use of social media, please read Baer’s concise and informative article. Then to learn about the use of social media as evidence in criminal and civil cases please read my articles.

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FTC’s ‘Do Not Track’ Proposal Protects Consumer Privacy Online

Posted on : 08-12-2010 | By : Julie Gottlieb | In : Online Privacy

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Last Wednesday, in a report to Congress, The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published its most potent online privacy protection proposal yet. The proposal entitled, Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change, advocates stricter restrictions on online information collection or Web tracking, a Do Not Track browser setting, and greater transparency and consumer control of the information collected.  According to the report, “[I]ndustry efforts to address privacy through self-regulation have been too slow, and up to now have failed to provide adequate and meaningful protection.” The FTC’s answer is a Do Not Track setting on consumers’ Web browsers.

Similar to the Do Not Call Registry, the Do Not Track setting would allow consumers to easily opt out of all Web tracking in one place. Currently, consumers have almost no say over who is tracking their information or what information is being tracked. While a minority of companies offer an opt-out option, doing so is often confusing and complicated. Thus, the Do Not Track proposal simplifies the process.

It is important to note that the “Do Not Track” could apply to all Web tracking, including behavioral advertising and services, such as Google Analytics, which builds a profile of individuals’ online activity. While the FTC has called for voluntary cooperation with its proposal, if trackers ignore said proposal, the FTC will likely ask Congress to pass legislation. The FTC is soliciting public comment on the proposal until January 31, 2011. To file a public comment electronically, please click here and follow the instructions.

To learn more about Do Not Track, please read the following articles:

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Employers Beware: Social Media Ignorance Can Harm You

Posted on : 06-12-2010 | By : Julie Gottlieb | In : Social Media Policies

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Although employers have started to understand the value of the information that social media can provide, many employers remain unaware of how and when they can use social media to hire, fire or discipline employees. In the article, The Social Media Revolution: Recent Developments and Guidelines For Employers to Consider, Jon Stoler, Jim Hays and Jonathan Sokolowski review two recent cases in which an employer’s use of social media was challenged. Furthermore, they provide employers with practical advice to help them take advantage of social media while maintaining the rights of their employees.

In the first case, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a complaint alleging that American Medical Response of Connecticut, Inc.’s (AMR) termination of Dawnmarie Souza for posting disparaging remarks about her supervisor on Facebook interfered with her right, under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), to engage in “concerted protected activity.” Additionally, the NLRB alleged AMR’s Social Media policy which prohibits employees from making disparaging, discriminating or defamatory comments about AMR or its supervisors, violates the NLRA. An administrative law judge is scheduled to begin hearing the case on January 25.

In the second case Pietrylo v. Hillstone Restaurant Group a jury found that the employer unlawfully terminated two employees who maintained a password-protected online discussion group on MySpace. Although an employee/member of the discussion group originally showed a manager some of the discussions voluntarily, another manager later asked the same person for the group’s password so that he could review postings. During the trial the employee testified that she felt compelled to give the manager her password out of fear of retaliation. As a result, the employer was found to have violated the Stored Communications Act and the New Jersey Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Control Act (NJWESCA), which makes “it an offense to intentionally access stored communications without authorization or in excess of authorization.” The jury awarded the plaintiffs both compensatory and punitive damages.

While employers must take advantage of the benefits social media provides, employers need to understand and stay current on this quickly evolving area of law. The following is a summary of the advice provided by Stoler, Hays and Sokolowski in their article:

  • Remove all hiring decision-makers from performing or reviewing social media background checks to avoid making employment decisions based on race, religion, sex, age, and national origin, etc.
  • Limit all social media discovery to publicly available user information to avoid violating the Stored Communications Act and similar state laws.
  • Implement social media policies that notify employees of the following: that they have no expectation of privacy when using company computer systems, that permission must be granted to use company logos or express company views, and of the consequences of posting lawful but inappropriate comments or material about the employer or other employees online.
  • Seek legal assistance when taking adverse employment actions based on information found on social media sites.

To learn more, please read Stoler, Hays and Sokolowski’s article. Also please see my other articles about workplace social media policies:

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OK First to Legislate Digital Estates

Posted on : 03-12-2010 | By : Julie Gottlieb | In : Buzz, Government

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Oklahoma is the first state to legislate ownership of a social networking account when its creator dies. Under the new Act that became effective on November 1, 2010, estate executors are automatically vested with the legal authority to access, administer or terminate online social media accounts of deceased Oklahomans. Former State Representative Ryan Kiesel, who coauthored the Act, hopes this Act will remind Oklahomans to plan for their intellectual property as well as their personal and real property. In a press release entitled, House Approves Social Media Probate Legislation Kiesel said, “Digital photo albums and e-mails are increasingly replacing their physical counterparts, and I encourage Oklahomans to think carefully about what they want to happen to these items when they pass away.”

However, the Act may be futile. While the Act assumes a social network account is the property of its creator, most social networking websites claim ownership of that information in their service agreements. According to Michael Kimball’s article Oklahoma Law Aims to Give Control of Social Network Profiles to People’s Will Executors, “Mark R. Gillett, Associate Dean of Academics at the University of Oklahoma Law School, agreed the law won’t override the terms of service agreements and doesn’t create any property or contract rights that don’t exist.” In fact, it is likely that this law will be challenged by a social networking company with deep-pockets, like Facebook, who has historically brought lawsuits to protect their intellectual property. Much of the content (pictures, writings, music, etc), on these sites has value, especially in the case of deceased public figures. Although Kiesel acknowledged this conflict, he felt the Act was important because it gets people thinking about the permanence of the content they post online.

To learn more about digital estate planning, please read www.thedigitalbeyond.com‘s Digitial Dealth Guide.

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