I am sorry for the long absence from cross-posting my IT-Lex posts. Although I have still been writing them, I was writing them while I was on vacation in Texas. So, I just didn't have the time to cross post them once they were published.
In any event, here is one of my more recent ones that I really enjoyed researching. It involves a case out of New York that concluded a news organization could be liable for a privacy lawsuit when it posted a picture of an aspiring lawyer (incorrectly) claiming that she was the younger sister of Kimora Lee Simmons.
The aspiring lawyer sued the news organization and another news organization that had debunked the story for violating her right to privacy under New York law. The court concluded that the incorrect story was so "riddled with fiction" that it didn't qualify for a newsworthiness exception. But, the news organization that got the story right did qualify for the exception. So what is the moral of the story? If you post a picture of a person online, you better make sure that the accompanying story of that person is factually accurate, especially if you use the person's name.
These types of online defamation and privacy claims are quickly becoming my favorite type of lawsuits to research. And luckily for me, these lawsuits continue to rise with the rise of social media.
It depends on the state.
As a social media use and competition for jobs increase, people are becoming more concerned with their online image. Recently, the media focused on employers gaining applicants' login information to access their social media accounts. Many states (at least seven so far) have decided that it is necessary to pass legislation protecting job seekers from overzealous employers. I've heard reports that at least 35 states have pending legislation.
Despite this push from state governments, I'm not sure that the hype is necessary. For starters, although I've had inappropriate questions asked during interviews, no one has gone this far. Secondly, I expect that all potential employers will Google (or Bing) my name, and with the exception of my Facebook, I have a public online presence that should keep them busy. Finally, even if a potential employer accessed my login information, there would be nothing for them to find.
In any event, the news stories outraged people, and the state governments acted. As of late April, Washington became the latest state to adopt legislation (SB 5211) that prevents employers from gaining access to social networking account logins.
It is unclear, but we will soon find out thanks to two Washington state cases.
Think about it. When was the last time you sent a real letter? It takes a lot of energy to send a letter as opposed to a text message or an email. You need paper, pen, stamp, and envelope. What if you only have one thing to say? Forget about it; just send a text message. And that is what people do. Text messaging is a normal part of everyday communication, especially for the younger generation. It's quick. It's easy. Many people only own cell phones, giving up on the idea of a "house" phone entirely, and regularly use texts to communicate—I happen to be one of those people.
And the average person—as opposed to a lawyer or judge—likely expects that their text messages are reasonably private. At the very least, people generally think of it is a private conversation between themselves and the owner of the cell phone they texted.
On Tuesday, two cases were argued before the Washington State Supreme Court involving the right to privacy in text messages: (1) State v. Hinton and (2) State v. Roden. Both cases involve an officer using a suspected drug dealer's cell phone to text message the defendants and set up drug deals. The defendants moved to suppress the evidence, which the respective courts denied. Now the state supreme court will decide if there is a privacy right in a text message once that text message has been sent to another person's phone.
The short answer is yes. The government has the capabilities to install software on your computer that will hijack all of your information, and under the right circumstances, a court might issue a warrant allowing the the government to do it.
But recently, a magistrate judge in Texas very publicly denied an FBI warrant request to install invasive software on an unidentified “target computer” used to access someone’s local bank account. Although the accessed bank account is local, the IP address of the target computer resolves to a foreign country.
The magistrate judge noted at least three problems with the warrant: (1) it was not authorized under Fed. R. Crim. P. 41 (Rule 41); (2) the Fourth Amendment particularity requirements were not met; and (3) the invasive nature of video surveillance required greater Fourth Amendment protections. For the full text of the opinion, click here.
About this Blog
I was once a licensed attorney (in Washington), but my license is now inactive. I like to geek out about entertainment,
internet, and privacy law. This blog is a place for me to do that. All of the views expressed are my own and should not be considered legal advice.
My personal blog is located under the tab Pax's Page.
Rachel is a typer of words.