Technologist: August 2010 Archives
Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

August 2010 Archives

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

Germany is a country that is attempting to grapple with controversial online data privacy issues.  One of my recent blog posts dealt with German legislation that seeks to address Google Street view. Now, Germany is taking on the issue of employers reviewing the social networking pages of prospective employees.

According to Spiegel Online, German legislation has been drafted that is intended to prevent employers from doing a Facebook background check and from checking other social networking pages of job applicants as part of the hiring decision process. 

Google Adds Free Calling Feature to Gmail

In June, we discussed how Google Voice became available to everyone and the potential that it created for attorneys. For those of you who don't know what it is, Google Voice is a free communications application that can save you time and money. It offers several features that a regular phone does not replicate. For example, you get to create a new local phone number, you can choose to have the calls forward to one or more additional numbers and you can receive transcribed voicemails by text and or e-mail.

Now Google adds a feature taking Voice to the next level by offering a way for U.S. users to make Google Voice calls through Gmail. Google has announced that calls will be free within the U.S. and Canada through the end of the year, and then will be small charges for international calls. In fact, PC to phone calls to many countries around the are only two cents per minute. The move is seen as a step to take on Skype and other similar services.

Facebook Places: Where You Want To Be?

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

Facebook has just brought to the fore its new service called Facebook Places that allows users to alert others to their physical location and that ultimately seeks to enable Facebook to draw upon local business advertisers. And as Facebook moves forward with Places, it has been confronted with concerns expressed by privacy advocates.

Facebook Places, in some ways similar to other location-based social networks, enables Facebook members to check in via mobile devices and announce their physical location to friends. Using Places, they will be able to ascertain if any of their friends are in the same geographic vicinity. They further will be able to discern whether others, who have broadcast their location, also have checked in at the same place.

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

Google has stated its intention to roll out its Street View mapping service for 20 cities in Germany by the end of 2010. Copacetic? Not necessarily, according to German data privacy officials.

As part of the Google's Street View regime in Germany, property owners in the included cities have one month to register their buildings online as unrecognizable. This has drawn the rebuke of some German data privacy officials, who have complained, among other things, that this Street View program should not be launched during the summer holidays, that this initiative should have included a telephone complaint hotline, and that objections and complaints should be welcome at all times.

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

Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, reportedly made some recent comments about the death of anonymity on the Internet at the recent Techonomy conference.  Should full identity transparency be the universal Internet norm? No!

Mr. Schmidt reportedly pointed out that there were five billion gigabytes of information created from the dawn of civilization through 2003, but that an equal amount of information now is created every two days; with the pace increasing.  Mr. Schmidt reportedly stated that the bulk of that information comes from user-generated data, and he said that such information can be used and analyzed to predict specific human behavior.

New BlackBerry Torch Unveiled: Will Lawyers Love It?

When it comes to smart phones, lawyers have been big fans of the BlackBerry. But over the past few years, the BlackBerry has lost its sexiness and has fallen behind the Apple and Google. The iPhone iOS and the Google Android now clearly rule the air. But Research In Motion is looking to stage a comeback, and in order to facilitate that, they have released the BlackBerry Torch and a new operating system called BlackBerry 6.

The questions we're asking are:

  • Does the phone offer enough new features to compete?
  • Will lawyers love it?

HP Introduces New Line of Small Business Computers

If you are in the market for an upgrade to your law office computers, HP has a new line that is worth taking a look at. They recently released a new model called the HP Pro 3130 Mini-tower Business PC. The computer is designed for professionals in small to midsize companies. The HP Pro 3130 is well equipped for most uses, but can also be upgraded for more demanding users. The computers run less than $600 per unit, so for professionals who have delayed upgrading their systems, it is an appealing option.

According to HP, quoted in Informationweek.com, "The HP Pro 3130 Mini-tower Business PC is intended as an affordable desktop PC, aimed at small-to-midsize businesses, and for businesses that require simple set-up, trusted technology and reliable support services." "A new HP Pro 3130 will run about 350% faster than a five-year-old desktop while using about half the electricity, and it will do things that the old machine will have trouble doing," says Kirk Godkin, Manager, America's Business PC and Display, HP.

Major Software Systems: Heaven or Hell?

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

These days, major software systems make the world go around. Software is used to assist every day mundane functions. Software also is the backbone behind mission critical systems that ensure the health and safety of our society. But does that mean that software always is procured and supplied without controversy and disputes? Absolutely not.

Unfortunately, fights and litigation between major software providers and recipients is all too common. Why does this happen? There are a variety of reasons, and there are ways to avoid such problems on the front-end of software relationships, if due care is taken.