Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

March 2012 Archives

Is It Time to Buy a New Ultrathin Laptop for Your Practice?

Two-thousand eleven may have been the year of the tablet, but 2012 is shaping up to be the year of the ultrathin laptop -- or the ultrabook, if you will. The sleek devices are slowly trickling into stores.

They're designed to be "thin, light, beautiful" -- and priced for the mainstream market. Manufactured by Acer, Asus, HP, Lenovo, LG and Toshiba, ultrabooks are intended to offer the mobility of a tablet and the functionality of a real laptop.

Should you purchase one?

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

According to press reports, online dating websites eHarmony, and Sparks Networks have entered into a joint statement of business principles to protect users from sexual predators and to help prevent identity theft and other scams. California Attorney General Kamala Harris followed up on this development by stating that "consumers should be able to use websites without fear of being scammed or targeted," in apparent recognition that a woman was assaulted on a date that came about through an online dating site.

The companies reportedly have agreed to use national sex-offender registries to check on subscribers, to quickly respond to reported abuses, and to give Internet safety guidance to members. The dating sites will also provide reports of suspected criminal activity to the Attorney General's office.

AT&T failed to prevent foreign scam artists from taking advantage of its IP Relay service, and then improperly collected $16 million in government reimbursements, a new lawsuit claims.

The Justice Department sued AT&T in federal court in Pittsburgh, Pa., over the telecom giant's Internet protocol relay service, known as IP Relay, PC Magazine reports. The service is supposed to allow deaf and hearing-impaired customers to type Internet messages that are read aloud to a recipient by an AT&T operator.

But since 2009, more than 95% of AT&T's IP Relay calls have been made by foreign scammers, the Justice Department alleges. And AT&T has been improperly raking in taxpayer money from the calls.

'Deleted' Facebook Photos Still Online 3 Years Later

Guess what, social media junkies? Your deleted Facebook photos are probably still on the company's servers.

That means that if someone has the direct link to your unwanted .jpg file, it's possible they can still access the photo.

It's a problem that was discovered by tech source Ars Technica three years ago. And it's an issue that Facebook promises to address.

Can You Survive a Day Without Email?

Admit it. Now that you have your iPhone, iPad, and laptop you can't really envision life without email anymore.

Need to quickly send over a draft of your brief so you can get some input from your colleagues? Email them a copy. Need to make sure your co-counsel is on track with her legal research? Email her a quick query.

These days, emailing someone seems almost as second nature as picking up a phone. Email has long been touted as a beacon of productivity -- which is why it's surprising that for one tech firm, email will soon be a thing of the past.

Smartphones Are a Divorce Lawyer's New Best Friend

We all know about Facebook and divorce. Talk about evidence. But it seems that the smartphone is catching up and may have become the divorce lawyer’s new best friend.

Divorce and custody attorneys are using text messages and smartphone evidence at an unprecedented rate, according to a survey conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML). Ninety-two percent of respondents report seeing an overall rise in the use of such evidence during the past three years.

Top 3 Password Managers for Your Law Practice

What are some good password managers for attorneys?

Lawyers probably possess a bevy of passwords. You need passwords to access your Westlaw account, PACER, your e-mail, and your online banking.

Yikes. It’s no wonder that many of us now need a password manager. It’s simply difficult to remember all of them. Here are some top password managers to help you stay on top of your practice:

Is Dragon Dictation App a Viable Substitute for Siri?

Thinking about installing Dragon Dictation onto your mobile device? First, the app is free. And the dictation software is relatively easy to use.

Now, when you compare it to Siri it doesn't have as many functions. For example, Dragon Dictation cannot search the web for you when prompted. It also cannot answer questions.

Though, as we recently found out Siri wasn't the best at handling legal queries.

3D Printing May Lead to 'Physible' 3D Piracy

Could 3D printing make 3D piracy the new norm? You probably never envisioned the day when you could "print" out a three-dimensional object. It certainly seems futuristic.

Well, brace yourself. The future has arrived.

Infamous torrent site The Pirate Bay recently blogged about 3D printing. The site's writers believe that the next step in sharing and copying won't center on copyrighted movies or music. The next frontier? Downloading actual, physical objects via torrent files called "physibles."

This idea would have been considered ludicrous in past decades. But in the 21st century, there are 3D printers currently capable of processing files and reproducing 3D objects. Is this the next frontier of digital piracy?

British College Student Extradited to US Over TVShack Website

Federal prosecutors have secured the extradition of Richard O'Dwyer, a British college student accused of criminal copyright infringement. The 23-year-old ran TVShack, a linking site that directed users to copyrighted TV shows and movies found elsewhere on the web.

The decision to go after the British citizen has been called both strange and rare. TV Shack was operated and hosted abroad, and the only apparent connection to the U.S. was the material it linked to.

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

One might think that as the Internet matures, domain name disputes might dissipate. Not so!

Indeed, an all-time record 2,764 cybersquatting cases pertaining to 4,781 domain names were filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (WIPO) in 2011.

Big-Name Mobile Apps are Poaching Your Phone's Address Book

Some big-name mobile apps may be taking data without a user's explicit permission.

Apps like Twitter, Foursquare, and Instagram all reportedly take information in a user's address book. The information taken includes contact names, emails, and phone numbers.

Online privacy is something most consumers are concerned about. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and many different mobile apps are all clamoring for your data. These days it seems that it's all-too-easy to leave too much personal information up for public view.

A photojournalist has recovered digital video of his legally questionable arrest at an Occupy Miami protest. Police illegally tried to delete the video, Carlos Miller claims, and it's set the scene for possible legal action.

Miami-Dade police arrested Miller, a member of the National Press Photographers Association, as they evicted Occupy Miami protesters from their campsite Jan. 31, the website Ars Technica reports. Miller was charged with one count of resisting arrest.

The NPPA's general counsel complained in a letter to police that Miller's arrest was unconstitutional. A police attempt to delete Miller's raw video was also wrong, the counsel said -- and it's hit a raw nerve among journalists.

A new high-tech feature may convince attorneys to take a bite of Apple's new, improved iPad: Voice dictation is now built-in.

The new iPad -- which some are dubbing "iPad 3" -- will be preinstalled with Siri, Apple's voice-activated personal assistant that debuted with the iPhone 4S last fall, the company announced Wednesday, according to the website TechCrunch.

Though the new iPad's version of Siri "won't be the full-featured personal assistant iPhone users have become familiar with," TechCrunch reports it will include support for a new language -- Japanese.

Careful on Pinterest, Says Lawyer Who Deleted All Her Pinterest Posts

Pinterest. If you don't use it, you've probably heard of it. It's causing a lot of concern.

Kristen Kowalski, a Georgia attorney, recently wrote about the controversy on her photography blog. Pinterest allows millions of users to pin -- or add -- photos to digital bulletin boards. They can then share those boards and images with their friends and so on.

In simpler terms, Pinterest is a hotbed of copyright infringement, and unbeknownst to many, its users are on the hook.

Fox News' website isn't just fair and balanced, it's also among the most protective of web users' personal information, according to a new rating system called PrivacyScore.

PrivacyChoice LLC, based in Santa Cruz, Calif., developed PrivacyScore as a way to assess the privacy risk of using a website, according to the company. PrivacyScore considers nine factors, and assigns websites a numerical score from zero to 100.

So what factors go into PrivacyScore?

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

It's happened: In a landmark e-discovery ruling, a federal judge has explicitly approved of computer-assisted review, also known as predictive coding (the use of sophisticated algorithms to enable a computer to determine relevance based on training by a human reviewer), to search for potentially responsive electronically stored information, or ESI.

Magistrate Judge Andrew Peck, of the Southern District of New York, concluded "that computer-assisted review is an acceptable way to search for relevant ESI in appropriate cases" in Monique Da Silva Moore, et al. v. Publicis Groupe & MSL Group, a gender-discrimination case.

EFF Sues FL Law Firm on Behalf of Lawyer Review Website

Are you on If you are, it may be time to cringe.

Florida attorney Adrian Philip Thomas has been threatening the site with legal action for quite some time. He wants a number of poor reviews removed, and claims the anonymous comments have lost him business.

But now the Electronic Frontier Foundation has stepped in on the site's behalf. The organization has asked a federal court to issue a declaratory judgment stating that the website is not legally responsible for defamatory content posted by its users.

iPhone User Awarded $850 in ATT Throttling Case

Small claims court may soon prove to be a thorn in the side of corporate counsel everywhere. First, a woman opted out of a class action and was awarded nearly $10,000 in a suit filed against Honda. Now, a California man has earned himself $850 in a lawsuit brought against wireless carrier AT&T.

That man, Matt Spaccarelli, has accused AT&T of throttling -- or slowing down -- the data traffic speed of its top users.  Having signed up for an unlimited data plan, he doesn't think his contract gives AT&T the right to punish him for taking advantage of what he pays for.