Internet & Online Safety News - Law and Daily Life
Law & Daily Life - The FindLaw Life, Family and Workplace Law Blog

Recently in Internet & Online Safety Category

The Federal Communications Commission just voted, 3-2, to regulate Internet service providers like Comcast and Time Warner as "common carriers" under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. The vote caps off a period in which the FCC received an unheard-of 4 million comments to this proposal.

There's been a lot of misinformation going around about what Title II regulation means for businesses and consumers. Will your Internet bill go up? Will you suddenly lose "Game of Thrones"?

Here's what you need to know:

When you're shopping online, do you actually read the fine print? If you don't, you're not alone, according to a new survey by FindLaw.com.

A majority of online shoppers -- 54 percent -- say they either skim or ignore online user agreements, terms of service, or other legal fine print they encounter. On the other hand, 46 percent of shoppers say they read "most" or "every word" of such agreements.

The survey results are nearly identical to a similar FindLaw survey in 2011 -- though since that time, the online shopping market has grown by 50 percent to $300 billion. This suggests many online shoppers may not really know what they're getting themselves into.

Online bullying, also called cyberbullying, has become a widespread issue. As you may recall, a FindLaw survey in 2014 found that nearly one in 12 children had been the victim of online bullying.

What can parents do about this? One Minnesota dad whose daughter was being bullied over Snapchat talked to the bullies' father, filed a police report, and then fought back by posting the bullies' (and their father's) messages on YouTube, reports Minnesota Public Radio. Publicity following the release of the video spurred the child's school to launch an investigation and also led the father of the alleged bullies to lose his job.

If your child is being bullied online, how and to whom should you report it? Here are a few tips you may want to consider:

Social media platform Twitter is updating the tools it provides users to report and block cyberabuse.

The new features will roll out to all Twitter users over the next several weeks, reports Ars Technica. They come amid increasing reports of abusive and threatening behavior online. A recent survey by research firm YouGov found that more than 1 in 4 Americans admitted to engaging in malicious online activity known as "trolling."

How do the new safety measures work, and what prompted Twitter to take action?

One of the problems with the all-too-common Internet troll is that he or she is mostly anonymous, making it hard to pin down a person in court.

And even if you are able to zero in on your particular troll, there may be little the law can do to compensate you. Sometimes "trolling" is just a very deplorable and infuriating (but legal) part of our Internet lives.

So can you actually sue anonymous Internet trolls? Here are a few things to consider:

More than 1 in 4 Americans -- 28 percent, to be exact -- admit to Internet "trolling," according to an online survey conducted by research firm YouGov. Trolling is defined as "malicious online activity" directed at a stranger. Trolls like to argue, harass, or sow discord just because they like the reaction it provokes.

Trolls aren't well regarded in the online community, and in fact, contribute to an overall decline in the quality of online discussion and debate. It got so bad on the website for the magazine Popular Science that the editors decided to turn off the ability to comment on articles last year. In so doing, Popular Science referred to a study showing that "uncivil comments not only polarized readers, but they often changed a participant's interpretation of the news story itself" -- meaning that trolls debating an article in bad faith actually caused readers to disbelieve something that was true.

OK, so trolling is bad for debate. But can it carry legal consequences?

Like email and other digital communications, online chats can sometimes act to preserve conversations months, or even years after they took place.

In a civil lawsuit or criminal trial, the contents of a conversation conducted via online chat could help prove or disprove an important fact or substantiate the version of events told by either side.

But can online chats actually be used as evidence in court?

Facebook users may be convinced that they "own" whatever content they post to Facebook, but the legal reality is a little bit different.

If you read Facebook's legal terms of service, you'll find that "[y]ou own all of the content and information you post on Facebook," but with some very specific and important caveats.

So what does it mean to legally "own" your Facebook posts?

There are a few entities that require you to disclose your true legal name, but you may be surprised to know that Facebook is one of them.

In a strange twist, Facebook has been deleting the profiles of drag queens in an attempt to enforce its "name change" policy. According to The Huffington Post, individuals operating on Facebook under pseudonyms and stage names (or anything other than a legal name) were treated to Facebook temporarily suspending their accounts.

Can Facebook require you to use a real legal name for your account?

Setting up a blog can be a great exercise, either as a way to keep track of your latest baking kick or even to bootstrap your fledgling small business.

But you should be aware of some of the most obvious legal problems that occur when bloggers step into the chaotic realm of the blogosphere. The last thing you'd want is for your puppy blog to get you sued or to put your safety at risk.

To keep our fellow bloggers safe and legally sound, we present these five legal red flags for blogs: