Technologist - FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog


Think Verizon and the NSA shouldn't be in the same category as Wolfman and Frankenstein? Think again: Behind you! It's ... it's ... packet shaping!

So maybe James Clapper isn't as scary-looking as Lon Cheney in "Phantom of the Opera," but the implications of warrantless surveillance are terrifying. For Halloween, make sure you have the lights on as you read about these 13 (arguably) "frightening" legal issues facing technology today:

That "unlimited" data plan your cell phone provider offers is probably anything but, and the FTC isn't happy about it -- so unhappy that it's filed a complaint in federal court.

See, back in 2007, when AT&T was the only carrier offering the iPhone, it enticed customers with promises of "unlimited" data. Because, really, how much data could people possibly use?

Turns out it was a lot. Previous "smart" phones had Internet capability, but those Web browsers were simple training-wheels browsers, and there was no other reason to use cell data other than for email. The iPhone, with its functional browser and applications, changed all that -- and then streaming video changed all that some more.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has sent quite a letter to the superintendent of schools in Williamson County, Tennessee, calling out the district's Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) policy for its restrictions on student speech online.

BYOT policies are becoming increasingly popular as schools realize it's in everyone's best interest to let kids bring their own electronic devices from home. But Williamson County's policies appear to be a little on the fatally overbroad side.

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

Practically every aspect of life now takes place in cyberspace in addition to in the traditional world we know. While at first blush that generally may sound like a good thing, warfare now also takes place online as part of real conflicts, and not just in the realm of computer games.

You already know that if you're going to be lawyering on the road, you're going to need a laptop -- preferably one with amazing battery life, like the Macbook Air. And you probably also already have a smartphone and perhaps a tablet.

None of those are cheap, nor are they the focus of this list. This list is all about accessorizing with little gadgets that will keep you as productive on the road as you are in the office.

Here are five cheap gadgets you may want to have handy:

In an age where it seems like surveillance just keeps getting more surveill-ey, the Florida Supreme Court has hit the brakes on the common police practice of using live cell phone location data to track a person's movements in real time.

Police had obtained a both a pen register and a trap-and-trace order to track the numbers Shawn Tracey was calling on his cell phone. A month later, the order had expired, but nevertheless, police accessed the real-time cell site location information of Tracey's cell phone without a valid order.

In the old days, if your law office wanted to take credit cards, you would probably have to sign a years-long agreement with a credit card processor and pay exorbitant fees on each transaction. Heck, in even older days, you would have had to use one of those heavy metal machines that used carbon paper. (True story: I saw one of those in use at a restaurant the other day.)

Today? You can take payments online. You can use a reader the size of a nickel that plugs into your smartphone. Or if you're feeling super adventurous, you can try something really new, like Apple Pay or one of the other NFC (tap-your-phone) readers.

Here are a few options, from slightly more old-school to bleeding edge:

Finally, with all of Apple's annual (or bi-annual, in the Mini's case) upgrades on the books, we have the entirety of the Apple product line in front of us. If you're looking up upgrade or replace your office computers, and you're already on the platform, or Mac-curious, you might wonder what your best options are: Mini, iMac, or iMac with Retina?

Even between those three product lines, there are countless customization options for Apple's desktop computers. Let this be your guide:

Wait, what? You mean somewhere in between Aunt Sally and George Takei, the Drug Enforcement Agency was on Facebook? Apparently so. Earlier this month, Buzzfeed reported about Sondra Prince, a real person, whose Facebook page was not her own.

Prince (real name: Sondra Arquiett) was arrested on the ground that she was part of a drug ring. She was sentenced to probation. Unbeknownst to her, DEA agent Timothy Sinnigen set up a Facebook profile using her name and photos in the hope that criminals would try to communicate with her.

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

The United Nations was born in the aftermath of the atrocities committed leading up to World War II. The United Nations Charter is plain in its support for the development of international human rights protection.

The most fundamental human right is the right not to be killed by another human being.