Internet & Online Privacy - Legal Technology - Technologist
Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

Recently in Internet & Online Privacy Category

You're probably all heart bled out, but further news of the biggest Internet security failure is worth noting. So now that the patches are up, and we can shop online and check our email without fear (fingers crossed), it's time to have a little chat and do a -- excuse the phrase -- post mortem on Heartbleed.

We know you went to law school because you hated math, but here's a winning formula of what the not-so-distant future looks like, that even you can get: Password + (option 1 below) or (option 2 below) = Secure Two-Factor Authentication.

We apologize in advance if you're suffering from Heartbleed fatigue. It's the biggest issue in tech right now, because it might just be the biggest security failure ever. Remember those annoying email worms? This is worse. This is unlocked doors to secure data, with the majority of the Internet using the broken locks. It effects everything, from online dating, to millions of Android smartphones.

And, of course, where there's a opening, the National Security Agency will work its way in. Two unidentified sources told Bloomberg that the NSA has exploited the bug for years. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence denied the allegations, stating, "Reports that NSA or any other part of the government were aware of the so-called Heartbleed vulnerability before 2014 are wrong."

Mystery solved.

Why couldn't I log in to my website yesterday? It's because, four days ago, somebody hacked my site and replaced it with some neon green colors, misspelled alphanumeric messages of triumph, and other gibberish.

Congrats. You hacked a nearly empty site that was used for testing WordPress plugins. Total damage caused: about fifteen minutes of time spent logging in to my horridly bad web server and changing a few passwords, plus hitting the "reinstall" button on WordPress.

Yes, I was fortunate, because it was a non-business site. Your law firm's website, however, is far more important. Here are a few things I've learned from the experience:

There is a good reason why I've never used in flight Wi-Fi services: I'm cheap. Besides, I can live without the Internet for an hour or three.

But, if you needed another reason, how about this: Gogo and Panasonic Avionics' eXConnect may have added surveillance back doors for federal law enforcement agencies to monitor your Internet traffic. Together, the two companies manage Wi-Fi for Delta, American Airlines, United, Alaska Airlines, Virgin America, US Airways and others.

The program was made possible by the Federal Communications Commission, which has used the possibility of adding rules and restrictions to in-flight Wi-Fi as a gun to the head of the two companies, reports Wired.

Sending confidential client files during that flight? Maybe not.

How do you choose your software? Most likely, you base your choices on functionality and reputation. You'll ask friends or check the Internet for suggestions, try a few alternatives, and use what fits you best.

When do politics hit the equation? If a company took a controversial stance on a divisive issue, would you drop their product? What if it were merely the CEO of a company? What if the stance was a political donation from 2008?

Since last week's announcement of Microsoft Office for iPad, more details have leaked on the company's newest addition to the family, including a couple significant limitations that were discovered by third-party reviewers.

Meanwhile, the Office for iPhone and Android, apps that we barely noticed? They're still largely insignificant, due to extremely limited feature sets, but there's a new silver lining: they're free! Every other alternative app is superior, but yeah, free!

And as a third quick update for your Monday morning perusal, Microsoft actually listened to criticism! Since the company revealed that it tapped into a blogger's Hotmail account to plug an internal leak, it has faced constant and nearly universal criticism, even after it set up a semi-protected kangaroo court to manage such situations. They have a new new remedy this week, one that is sure to satisfy nearly all privacy advocates.

In 2011, one of Al Franken's constituent groups in Minnesota, the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women, reached out to him about their concern over GPS tracking apps or "stalking apps" on mobile smartphones. Since then, Senator Franken has made this one of his top priorities.

In 2012, he introduced the Location Protection Privacy Act of 2012, which came through Senate Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support, but never resulted in a vote. Now, Senator Franken, as Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law, is "reintroducing his location privacy bill that would outlaw the development, operation, and sale of stalking apps," according to a press release issued by his office.

It's Friday, and we're ready for the weekend, so we thought a good roundup of legal tech news was in order. Today, we hear a court's concern for the sweeping government requests for searching electronic data, the Government gives procrastinators a break, and Apple gets multicultural -- with its emojis, that is.

Judge Denies Request to Search iPhone

A few weeks ago, a college student found himself in trouble with the FBI after he bragged about making ricin, having learned to make it from an online search on his iPhone. The Government requested a search warrant to search the student's iPhone and Judge Facciola of the District Court for the District of Columbia denied the request for a warrant because the request was overbroad, reports Ars Technica.

Bitcoin has been in a "legal grey area" since its inception, and at least one court and the SEC have characterized the virtual currency as money. As Bitcoin gained popularity, so has the question of its validity, and recognition by the government.

Late last year, the Department of Justice described Bitcoin as a "legal means of exchange," says Bloomberg, while this past February, the United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General held a webinar last week to "explore the possibilities" of providing non-banking financial services, including "providing [B]itcoin exchange services at post offices," according to Main Street.

Yesterday, just weeks before the April 15 personal income tax deadline, the IRS took a position on the issue and released "IRS Virtual Currency Guidance," and accompanying question and answer Notice 2014-21. Here are some of the major takeaways.

Let's give credit where credit is due. A few months ago, President Barack Obama addressed the ongoing NSA privacy issues and proposed what we politely called "mild reforms," including instructing intelligence officials to find a way to preserve the NSA's program of bulk collection of cell phone metadata by March 28.

With only a few days left until the deadline (not coincidentally, the date the court order authorizing the program expires), it seems the White House's strategy has shifted, and the legislative proposal sounds almost ... constitutional.