Law & Daily Life - The FindLaw Life, Family and Workplace Law Blog

Recently in Internet & Online Safety Category

Uber Driver Live-Streamed Passengers Without Consent

As Oscar Wilde once said, life imitates art. If you consider The Truman Show to be art, that was very true for some Uber and Lyft riders in St. Louis, Missouri. There, Jeff Gargac live-streamed over 700 customers' rides on Twitch in what has become the latest vlog trend -- IRL ("in real life"). Conversations with these passengers were broadcasted without getting their consent, which is legal in Missouri since it has one-party consent privacy laws.

How Do I 'Freeze' My Credit Report?

Identity theft isn't just super annoying; it can ruin you, financially. Each year seems to bring a new record for the amount of money stolen ($16.8 billion in 2017), and despite concerted efforts to fight it, it's still a growing problem. 

Although it seems like a drop in the bucket, Congress just made it a little cheaper for individuals to protect their identity by making credit freezes free. What's the new law and how do you go about adding a security freeze to your credit report?

Earlier this week, a federal judge ruled that President Trump blocking Twitter users from accessing his @realDonaldTrump account violates their First Amendment rights. Interestingly, the judge declined to order Trump to unblock those users, instead issuing this veiled warning:

"Because no government official is above the law and because all government officials are presumed to follow the law once the judiciary has said what the law is, we must assume that the President ... will remedy the blocking we have held to be unconstitutional."

Well, we all know the old adage about what happens when you assume. And we're pretty well familiar with Donald Trump's response to people who try to tell him what to do. So, will he unblock any of the users that sued him? And will he refrain from blocking users in the future?

Back in December, the Federal Communications Commission voted to roll back Obama-era net neutrality rules that prohibited internet service providers from charging internet users different prices based on the user, content, website, platform, application, or method of communication.

But yesterday the Senate pushed back, voting 52-47 to reinstate net neutrality protections. The vote may be cosmetic -- the House is unlikely to take similar action and the FCC could move ahead with its repeal anyway. So, what does this mean in the meantime?

By now everyone knows that no one really reads the terms of service before clicking "Accept." Even if those terms allow an app "to edit, copy, disseminate, publish, transfer, append or merge with other databases, sell, license (by whatever means and on whatever terms) and archive your contribution and data."

That's what Aleksandr Kogan's quiz app for Facebook told users before transferring all their data to Cambridge Analytica. And now that there's a class action lawsuit against Facebook and Cambridge Analytica over the release of user data, could the acceptance of those terms of service come back to haunt the plaintiffs?

Major Online Sex Trafficking Bill Passes Senate

It's probably a safe bet that everyone in Congress wants to fight sex trafficking. But it's also a safe bet that they won't all agree on the best way to accomplish that goal. In a surprising turn of events, almost all U.S. Senators agreed to pass a bill that targets online sex trafficking. But the bill is not without its vehement detractors.

It's one thing to check in to an unkempt hotel room, finding hair and dirt on the sheets. It's another to be forced to clean the room yourself, because there's no staff around to answer complaints about the condition of the room, or to fix the broken air conditioner or shower in the bathroom. And it's quite another to be charged $350 for calling the overnight number trying to get something fixed, and then threatened with a libel lawsuit by the hotel's lawyer/owner after leaving a negative review online.

That's why the Indiana Attorney General's office stepped in and filed a lawsuit against the Abbey Inn in Nashville, Indiana, charging it with violating the state's Deceptive Consumer Sales Act.

With hackers, malware, and identity theft (not to mention all the hot political takes on social media) the internet can be a scary place. And it can be scarier for some than for others.

WIRED released its Guide to Digital Security last week, a list of ways to improve your online security depending on your levels of risk. Using your smartphone to shop? You'll need good password protection and be careful about giving too much information to too many retailers. A public figure with a public social media presence? You might need some two-step verification systems. And for the rest of us that fall somewhere in between, here are five great tips for online security.

Is Net Neutrality Really Dead?

As you've probably heard by now, the FCC this week voted to overturn Obama-era regulations, referred to as net neutrality, that prohibited internet service providers from either throttling content to certain customers or creating fast lanes for certain companies. There's little doubt that the repeal of net neutrality will alter the internet as we know it, but is it a done deal?

Maybe not.

If you're still seeing people on social media telling you to contact your congressperson, there might be a good reason for that. And there may be some lawsuits in the works as well.

There is certainly an interest in being able to anonymously review products and services online: reviewers may feel more safe to be honest in their reviews, without fear of retaliation from companies or other users. Then again, anonymity can allow some reviewers to go too far, thinking there will be no consequences for the things they say online.

In a recent case in California, an appeals court attempted to balance those interests, ruling that companies hosting online reviews have a right to shield the identity of anonymous posters, but posters sued for defamation can lose their anonymity.