Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

April 2012 Archives

What Lawyers Should Do to Protect Themselves From Hackers

Aside from the money, one of the benefits of being an attorney is becoming privy to a lot of cool information. The only problem is that hackers also like learning about cool stuff, too. And the bad ones don't care whether or not they have your permission. So what can lawyers do to protect themselves from hackers?

A lot actually.

It might sound like a Herculean task, especially for less tech-savvy attorneys. But protecting your client's and your own data is easy and important.

Which E-mail and Cloud Protects Your Clients Best?

With advances in personal technology coming faster than ever, the ways to upload and share client data have never been easier. But easy doesn't always mean ethical for lawyers using free cloud computing and e-mail accounts.

The options are endless for lawyers looking to streamline their office. Yahoo!, MSN, and even Facebook can give attorneys quick access to online cloud and e-mail services.

Among the providers, Google's services are one of the most popular. And surprisingly, they might also be the best option for lawyers looking to avoid client confidentiality violations.

The Dangers of Upgrading to Windows 8

Just when you were getting a handle on Windows 7, Microsoft decides to update its popular operating system.

Windows 8 is going to mark some stark changes for the OS. Chief among them is the new "Metro" user interface. Microsoft is really pushing their new touched-based UI as the next big thing in home and office computing.

But the changes might not all be for the better for attorneys and consumers alike. There are some dangers when it comes to upgrading to Windows 8.

Attorneys Can Use Best Buy Closeouts to Upgrade Law Office

With Best Buy closeouts scheduled to hit 50 of the electronic retailer's locations, attorneys looking to upgrade their law offices could be in for a score.

"Could" is the operative word here. Savvy shoppers know that closeout sales usually yield the worst deals. In the case of Best Buy, most of the big ticket items (like TVs and laptops) are slated to be shipped to other locations.

But that doesn't mean it's all bad. Generally, smaller items will still get good mark downs. So money-conscious lawyers should look out for the following office necessities. They may not be the most exciting buys, but they make billing hours much easier.

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

I have a confession to make: I am addicted to my BlackBerry. Indeed, the term "CrackBerry" certainly applies in my case. Ever since my wireless signal was established years ago, I have been mainlining my BlackBerry on a relatively constant basis.

There was a time that BlackBerry really was the only real PDA game in town at my firm. However, more recently, we have opened up the iPhone option, and as time passes, more and more of my colleagues have been weaning themselves off the BlackBerry and migrating to the iPhone. What's more, some of my colleagues have been encouraging me (rather strenuously) to change my PDA drug of choice, turn my back on my beloved BlackBerry, and go the iPhone route myself.

Who Owns Your Text Messages?

It seems like people these days can't walk four feet without typing their thoughts out on a cell phone. But who owns all your text messages?

The natural inclination is to assume that you do, after all, you wrote it. But as we all know, the law can be full of absurdities that can sometimes lead to odd conclusions.

And in the case of text messages, the result is no different.

Internet Trolling (Or Being a Jerk Online) May Soon Be Illegal in Arizona

They may be known for their bigoted, rude and downright obscene behavior, but Internet trolls are an essential part of the worldwide web. They keep message boards interesting and force many an individual to step away from the computer. (If you were being baited by an Internet troll, you'd need to quell the urge to throw your monitor, too.)

Nonetheless, it seems a just-passed Arizona bill may soon criminalize such behavior. If signed by Governor Jan Brewer, the law would effectively make Internet trolling illegal.

Riding the (once-trendy) coattails of the term “metrosexual,” there’s a new modern description for people — including lawyers — obsessed with all things digital: “datasexual.”

“The datasexual looks a lot like you and me, but what’s different is their preoccupation with personal data,” the website explains. “They are relentlessly digital, they obsessively record everything about their personal lives, and they think that data is sexy. In fact, the bigger the data, the sexier it becomes.”

While metrosexuality defines urban males who are overly concerned with personal appearances, datasexuals can be of any gender and are most turned on by one type of appearance: the visual display of information.

eBay Seller's Copyright Fight Goes to US Supreme Court

Lawyers for a Thailand native will try an eBay copyright case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The high court has agreed to hear the case of Supap Kirtsaeng, a University of Southern California PhD mathematics candidate, Reuters reports. Kirtsaeng has been accused by publisher John Wiley & Sons of reselling its textbooks on eBay in violation of U.S. copyright law.

Depending on where the Supreme Court falls in this case, the things users can sell on eBay could change forever.

Some of the most prolific examples of digital piracy can be traced not to hackers, but to universities and college professors, a series of lawsuits seems to assert.

In each case, the schools and professors claim that fair use applies to their alleged copyright infringement, The Wall Street Journal reports. But critics say "fair use" is going too far.

One case involving Georgia State University's "e-reserve" service -- where professors can post excerpts from copyrighted textbooks for students to read -- may soon be decided by an Atlanta federal judge, who described her legal predicament in court:

Here's What Facebook Sends the Cops When They Subpoena Your Activity

Ever wonder what happens when law enforcement subpoenas Facebook?

Well, it's not pretty. The Boston Police Department provided journalists at the Boston Phoenix a copy of its Craigslist Killer case file. In that file was a nearly 70-page paper printout of Philip Markoff's Facebook information.

We're talking a massive, highly-detailed printout of his social network data. Wall posts, friends lists, login and IP data, posted photos and photos he was tagged in.

Protect Your Data: 3 Tips for the Mobile Attorney

In a world that is becoming ever-so mobile, the business of law is moving from the walnut-paneled window office to the Starbucks down the street. With iPhones, Blackberries, netbooks and iPads, the confines of the office can seem limiting.

But an on-the-go attorney faces another potentially debilitating limitation. Attorneys must safeguard client data and protect confidentiality. In an increasingly mobile world, how can mobile attorneys protect the confidentiality of their data?

Twitter Spam Lawsuit Targets Spammers, Maybe Bad For Users Too

Twitter spammers everywhere take notice: the company is out to get rid of you. The social media giant has filed a federal lawsuit in San Francisco aimed at stemming spam on its site.

The Twitter spam lawsuit identifies six defendants as the primary culprits of the company's problems. TweetAttacks, TweetAdder, and TweetBuddy are some of the alleged spammers and spam tool providers that Twitter has identified, Mashable reports.

Twitter claims the defendants' actions have cost it over $1 million in anti-spam measures. The company alleges four causes of action, but not all of them may be fair to its users.

Why Can't You use a Netflix Facebook App? It May be Illegal

What is the Video Privacy Protection Act and why is it standing in the way of Netflix from releasing its new Facebook Application?

The Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA) dates back to the eighties, in the days of videotape. During the Supreme Court nomination hearings of Robert Bork, a reporter from the Washington City Paper convinced a video store clerk to providing him with Bork's rental history. 

 Although the rental history was quite uneventful, the release of the information sparked Congress into passing the VPPA.

5 Must-Have Legal Gadgets for Every Attorney

A new year means a new slew of cool new tech devices. For many attorneys, though, new legal gadgets usually amount to larger binder clips and a photocopier/fax combo.

But fear not tech-savvy lawyers, FindLaw is here to help.

Legal gadgets need not be boring. These days there are all kinds of tech goodies that can make reaching your billable hours a little easier to endure.

So if you're in the market for some new tech, you can't go wrong with the following five must-have legal gadgets.

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

The UK is working on proposals for national electronic surveillance that could monitor every electronic message sent and received by its citizens.

This follows the 2008 abandonment of a gigantic government database that would have tracked UK phone and email communications, the AP reports. It appears that the UK government is back at it now, but perhaps with a somewhat different approach.

Employers Can Still Demand Facebook Passwords After House Vote

Internet users were in an uproar last week when countless news services issued reports detailing the growing practice of employers asking job applicants for their Facebook passwords. Facebook itself even spoke out, suggesting that it would consider taking action.

The incident also prompted some House Democrats to add an amendment to a piece of Federal Communications Commission legislation up for vote. To the dismay of some, that Facebook password bill was blocked by House Republicans in a 236 to 184 vote.