Technologist - FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the internet.

The short-term lodging landscape has changed radically in recent years. Rather than always book hotels when away from home, people now frequently book to stay in the homes or apartments of other people through sites like Airbnb and VRBO. The growth in this area is reflected by the $30 billion estimated worth of Airbnb. But does this mean that these short-term rental sites are completely free of legal concerns? No.

You may have noticed some hiccups on the internet last Friday. Facebook went down, then Twitter, Netflix, Amazon, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times. They were all victims of a coordinated attack on the infrastructure of the internet, making it impossible for millions to connect to their favorite websites. If you were trying to waste some time online last Friday, hackers weren't going to make it easy for you.

What set this attack apart, though, was how it was accomplished: through the Internet of Things. Hackers commandeered thousands of internet-connected devices like webcameras, routers, and baby monitors, and turned them into weapons used to cripple the net.

You post a job online and are suddenly inundated with hundreds of applications, cover letters, resumes, letters of recommendation. Do you put a flesh and blood human in charge of separating the wheat from the chaff? To make the first phone calls and handle round-one interviews?

For many companies, the answer is increasingly no. Instead, they’re turning to computer programs not just to sift through resumes, but to conduct actual interviews, and the “rise of the robo-interview” could have important legal implications.

Are businesses (or their reputation management companies) suing fake defendants in order to get rid of negative online reviews? That's the argument made by Eugene Volokh and Public Citizen's Paul Alan Levy recently in the Volokh Conspiracy.

The duo looked at 25 court cases that followed a suspiciously similar pattern. First, a self-represented company, often with ties to a reputation management firm, sues a defendant for a defamatory online review. Then, the defendants agree to an injunction which quickly results in a court order to take down the allegedly offending content. Suddenly: poof, no more bad review. But when someone tries to find track down those defendants, they're no where to be found. Indeed, they might not even exist.

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the internet.

Unless you are a hermit hiding out in an undiscovered cave, you are well aware that we have been in the thick of an acrimonious and difficult election cycle for the highest office in the land -- the Presidency of the United States. Presidential campaigns and campaigns for other elected offices have been a struggle in prior years -- given all the competing interests, priorities and strategies that constantly have to be juggled. If that were not enough, now candidates have to deal with the new reality of cyber warfare.

Forget email, instant messages, and shared Google calendars. When it comes to managing your office, Facebook thinks its social network is the place to do it. The company launched its office-friendly version of the social network on Monday.

Known as Workplace, this version of Facebook replaces status updates and cat pictures with status updates and productivity tools, to help employees collaborate more easily.

You're an attorney, not the IT guy, and when it comes to most tech issues, clients usually know to go to (nerdier) experts. But with so many tech problems having legal implications today, you still have to be versed in common tech issues.

To help you out, here are five tech issues almost every lawyer should be ready to discuss with their clients, taken from the FindLaw archives.

The Supreme Court's recent decision in Spokeo v. Robins is already being felt in courts, including in a class action against Lyft over the company's background check procedures. Lyft's drivers alleged that the company broke the law when it conducted background and credit checks without informing them.

But that suit was tossed last Wednesday, largely on the basis of Spokeo. That May, 2016 decision held that plaintiffs must show a concrete injury to gain standing when alleging a violation of their privacy rights.

There's nothing wrong with being technoskeptical. There's good reason for attorneys to take a cautious approach to technological advancements, making sure that the next big thing is actually a worthwhile thing before throwing their money (and their clients') at it.

But you also can't bury your head in the sand when it comes to technological change -- not just because it's unwise, but because it can be an ethical violation. That's right, more and more states are adopting the view that lawyers who don't stay up to date on tech, or consult with someone who is, are violating their professional duties. So, if you are a Luddite lawyer, or your partner or associate is, it's time to join the modern age. If you're not sure, here are a few simple ways to tell.

Sure, a legal career isn't exactly as treacherous as a job as a mountaineer, deep sea diver, or garbage collector -- but that doesn't mean the legal profession isn't without its risks. Attorneys have to constantly worry about protecting client confidences, maintaining the integrity of their information, and making sure that all their I's are crossed and T's are dotted.

Technology has certainly made legal work easier in many ways, but as more and more aspects of a practice are connected, it's also opened plenty of security risks, threats that can bring down your practice and disrupt your life. Here are three all lawyers should be aware of.