MIRLN --- 27 March - 16 April 2016 (v19.06)
- Pentagon cut off access to personal email to fight malicious message
- FBI is pushing back against judge’s order to reveal TOR browser exploit
- Google and Oracle lawyers who research jurors online must disclose it, judge rules
- Hackers breach law firms, including Cravath and Weil Gotshal
- Cybercriminals target 50 BigLaw firms for phishing attacks seeking corporate deal info
- Cravath admits breach as law firm hacks go public
- Law firm data breaches besiege client confidentiality
- GCs are aghast over hacks at top law firms
- ‘Panama Papers’ put spotlight on law firm data security
- 7 lessons from the Panama Papers leak
- Appeals Court: No stingrays without a warrant, explanation to judge
- Could the election be hacked?
- Reddit hints that US now spying on its customers
- The Internet’s lowercase demotion by AP Stylebook upsets the internets
- Publishers dealt another loss in copyright lawsuit
- Website seeks to make government data easier to sift through
- Applying the Fourth Amendment to cell-site simulators
- Wikimedia’s free photo database of artworks violates copyright, court rules
- Hyperlinking to unlawfully published copyright images is still legal, says top European judge
- Bitcoin start-up gets an electronic money license in Britain
- Using the All Writs Act to route around the Fifth Amendment
- Cyber insurance rates could rise 30% in 2016 for large health care, point-of-sale retailers
- Workplace wearables open up a murky legal hinterland
- How an internet mapping glitch turned a random Kansas farm into a digital hell
- University says government’s pretty terrible at sharing cyberthreat information
- NY high court says parents can legally eavesdrop on kids
- What happened when I eliminated political dissent from my Facebook feed
- Texas prisons’ new rules aim to force social media to close inmate accounts
Pentagon cut off access to personal email to fight malicious message (NextGov, 23 March 2016) - Pentagon officials last week cut off employee access to private webmail after a malicious, pervasive email campaign was spotted. Employees could not log on to commercial webmail services from the military’s network for about 48 hours beginning Thursday night, according to the Defense Department. The Defense Information Systems Agency, which operates the Department of Defense Information Network, severed connections, by direction of U.S. Cyber Command. Defense restored access over the weekend. “The decision to temporarily block commercial webmail services was a result of a recent, widespread phishing effort,” agency spokesman Jeffrey Capenos told Nextgov in an email Wednesday.
FBI is pushing back against judge’s order to reveal TOR browser exploit (Motherboard, 29 March 2016) - Last month, the FBI was ordered to reveal the full malware code used to hack visitors of a dark web child pornography site. The judge behind that decision, Robert J. Bryan, said it was a “fair question” to ask how exactly the FBI caught the defendant. But the agency is pushing back. On Monday, lawyers for the Department of Justice filed a sealed motion asking the judge to reconsider, and also provided a public declaration from an FBI agent involved in the investigation. In short, the FBI agent says that revealing the exploit used to bypass the protections offered by the Tor Browser is not necessary for the defense and their case. The defense, in previous filings, has said they want to determine whether the network investigative technique (NIT)-the FBI’s term for a hacking tool-carried out additional functions beyond those authorised in the warrant. “Tsyrklevich claims that he requires access to the government’s ‘exploit’ to determine if the government ‘executed additional functions outside the scope of the NIT warrant,’” Special Agent Daniel Alfin writes. He is referring to Vlad Tsyrklevich, a malware expert held by the defense to analyse the NIT. In January, the defense did receive some of the NIT code, but not sections that would ensure that the identifier issued to the suspect’s NIT-infection was unique, and the exploit used to break into the computer.
Google and Oracle lawyers who research jurors online must disclose it, judge rules (ABA Journal, 29 March 2016) - A federal judge has asked lawyers for Google and Oracle to voluntarily agree to a ban on Internet research on potential jurors or to disclose the extent of their online searches during jury selection. U.S. District Judge William Alsup offered that choice to lawyers in an order (PDF) on Friday. He ruled in advance of a second trial in May on Oracle’s claim that Google used Oracle’s copyrighted code in the Android operating system. Alsup said he decided to give lawyers the choice after realizing the reason they wanted more time to review a two-page juror questionnaire was so they could “scrub Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other Internet sites to extract personal data on the venire.” He gave the lawyers until March 31 to decide whether they will agree to a ban. If the lawyers opt to conduct the searches, their juror disclosure “shall not explain away their searches on the ground that the other side will do it, so they have to do it too,” Alsup wrote. “Nor may counsel intimate to the venire that the court has allowed such searches and thereby leave the false impression that the judge approves of the intrusion.” Alsup said the disclosure should include how the lawyers will research jurors’ social media accounts before and during the trial. Potential jurors would be told, however, that Google won’t be mining their Internet searches. The lawyers would also have to keep a record of every search and all information viewed. Alsup acknowledged the online searches could turn up information that aids the lawyers in their peremptory challenges and could even lead to a for-cause removal of a potential juror. But Alsup saw potential problems with the searches. First, he wrote, jurors who learn of lawyers’ own searches could be tempted to “stray from the court’s admonition to refrain from conducting Internet searches on the lawyers and the case.” Second, Alsup said, lawyers could use their Internet research to make improper personal appeals to particular jurors. “For example,” he wrote, “if a search found that a juror’s favorite book is To Kill A Mockingbird , it wouldn’t be hard for counsel to construct a copyright jury argument (or a line of expert questions) based on an analogy to that work and to play upon the recent death of Harper Lee, all in an effort to ingratiate himself or herself into the heartstrings of that juror. The same could be done with a favorite quote or with any number of other juror attitudes on free trade, innovation, politics or history.”
Hackers breach law firms, including Cravath and Weil Gotshal (WSJ, 29 March 2016) - Hackers broke into the computer networks at some of the country’s most prestigious law firms, and federal investigators are exploring whether they stole confidential information for the purpose of insider trading, according to people familiar with the matter. The firms include Cravath Swaine & Moore LLP and Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP. Other law firms also were breached, the people said, and hackers, in postings on the Internet, are threatening to attack more. It isn’t clear what information the hackers stole, if any, but the focus of the investigation is on whether confidential data were taken for the purpose of insider trading, according to a person familiar with the matter. Cravath said the incident, which occurred last summer, involved a “limited breach” of its systems and that the firm is “not aware that any of the information that may have been accessed has been used improperly.” The firm said its client confidentiality is sacrosanct and that it is working with law enforcement as well as outside consultants to assess its security. A spokeswoman for Weil Gotshal declined to comment. The attacks on law firms appear to show thieves scouring the digital landscape for more sophisticated types of information. Law firms are attractive targets because they hold trade secrets and other sensitive information about corporate clients, including details about undisclosed mergers and acquisitions that could be stolen for insider trading. The potential vulnerability of law firms is raising concerns among their clients, who are conducting their own assessments of the firms they hire, according to senior lawyers at a number of firms. One of the trickiest questions for law firms is when they are required to publicly disclose a data breach. Forty-seven US states have their own breach-notification laws, forcing law firms and other companies to navigate a patchwork of different rules.
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Cybercriminals target 50 BigLaw firms for phishing attacks seeking corporate deal info (ABA Journal, 30 March 2016) - A would-be securities fraud broker has spotlighted methods used in attempts to penetrate law firm computer systems, by seeking help with his project on a cybercriminal forum, authorities say. A post earlier this year by “Oleras,” who lives in the Ukraine, outlined a plan to target nearly 50 BigLaw firms, most of them based in the U.S., in an attempt to get hold of documents that reveal information about pending corporate deals, Crain’s Chicago Business (sub. req.) reports. Offering to pay a hacker $100,000 plus half the profits after the first $1 million, the broker outlined a plan to do keyword searches in law firm computer networks for documents likely to contain merger information. But first the hacker would have to get access to the law firm computer networks, and to do that the broker apparently suggested spear-phishing attacks on employees whose names, email addresses and social media account information were provided. In another post, Oleras listed eight attorneys at major firms to target in a different phishing attack. It would purportedly seek to profile the lawyers in a trade magazine article on top mergers and acquisitions practitioners, the Crain’s article says.
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Cravath admits breach as law firm hacks go public (American Lawyer, 30 March 2016) - While it’s no secret that law firms are often targeted by cybercriminals seeking sensitive client information, it’s rare for breaches to become public. But not this week. The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that hackers had gained access to the computer networks of law firms working on M&A deals, including Cravath, Swaine & Moore and Weil, Gotshal & Manges. A Weil spokeswoman declined to comment, but Cravath confirmed that the firm identified a “limited breach of its IT systems” in the summer of 2015. Also this week, Crain’s Chicago Business reported that dozens of law firms were targeted by a Russian hacker seeking information on M&A deals. The cybercriminal, going by the name of “Oleras,” was discovered soliciting help from other hackers to try to gain access to computer systems at 48 firms, nearly all of which are among The Am Law 100. When contacted by The American Lawyer, some firms said they became aware of the incident either in late 2015 or earlier this year. Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz; Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; Goodwin Procter; Shearman & Sterling; Pillsbury; and Kaye Scholer, which were all named in the Russian threat report, said they had no reason to believe that any of their information had been compromised. Many other firms declined to comment. Douglas Ellenoff, a founding partner at the 69-lawyer M&A firm Ellenoff Grossman & Schole, said that he found out his firm was on the target list Wednesday after reading the Crain’s article. “We were surprised our name was on that particular list,” he said, adding that it would have been a nice courtesy if he found out earlier. A partner at another of the targeted firms, who did not want to be identified for fear of inviting other attacks, said his firm sees “many, many phishing attempts.” Cybersecurity professionals said that what’s new about these hacks and attempted attacks is that they’ve been disclosed, willingly or not. Law firms will go to great lengths to keep attempted and successful hacks secret, because any sign that the data they store isn’t secure can result in a “huge loss of customer confidence,” said Austin Berglas, former head of the FBI’s cyber branch in New York. “I think that the majority of the law firms don’t even know that they’re compromised,” said Berglas, who now leads the cyber investigations and incident response team at K2 Intelligence. He added that law firms are traditionally understaffed in cybersecurity, compared with large corporations and banks. [ Polley : emphasis supplied.]
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Law firm data breaches besiege client confidentiality (Legal Tech News, 31 March 2016) - In the wake of recently exposed law firm data breaches among several of the Am Law 100 emerges a larger issue around managing client confidentiality-one of the bedrocks of law firms’ responsibilities. In the modern digital world, it also becoming more of a complex challenge, which is the topic of a recent whitepaper released by Delta-Risk, a cybersecurity consulting company based in Washington, D.C. And nowhere is the concern over client confidentiality perhaps more pronounced than in industry’s vulnerabilities to cyberthreats. Law firms are some of the most attractive targets for cyberattackers, the whitepaper notes, because they handle a variety of sensitive information, from “potential mergers and acquisitions, patent and trade secrets, litigation plans, and generally very specific and confidential information on clients and their dealings.” While law firms have kept hush about it, data breaches at law firms actually date back several years: For example, in 2010, California-based law firm Gipson, Hoffman & Pancione was the target of malicious phishing emails from Chinese hackers shortly after filing a software piracy lawsuit again the government and the country’s firms. The firm was quickly able to identify the malware and prevent any data infiltration. In 2012, however, Chinese hackers successfully breached Washington D.C. firm Wiley Rein, who represented Solarworld in an antidumping case against the country, as a part of a wider cyberattack effort. Gipson, Hoffman & Pancione and Wiley Rein declined to comment for this article. But that is not unusual, said Joseph Abrenio, vice president of commercial services at Delta-Risk, who is also president of the Midwest Cybersecurity Alliance. He noted that firms are usually hesitant to disclose breaches due to legal, ethical, and as important, branding issues. The amount of breaches at law firms, he believes, is higher than what is usually reported.
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GCs are aghast over hacks at top law firms (American Lawyer, 31 March 2016) - A general counsel often has some control over cybersecurity efforts within her corporation. But several cybercrimes reported this week show that now she needs to scrutinize the company’s outside law firms as well. Consider these news items, all published in the past five days: * * * Outside counsel and GCs have known since an FBI warning in 2011 that law firms were becoming a major target of hackers because the firms hold a treasure of corporate information, such as upcoming M&As along with copyright and patent data on new creations. “But now we know how severely law firms are being targeted,” says attorney Sharon Nelson, who is president of Sensei Enterprises Inc., a digital forensics and information security firm in Fairfax, Virginia. Because everyone is vulnerable to an attack, “the general counsel usually wants to work hand in glove with the hacked law firm,” Nelson says. * * * [ Polley : This story has a better headline than body. Still; great headline.]
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‘Panama Papers’ put spotlight on law firm data security (American Lawyer, 4 April 2016) - Experts warned that law firms need to “up their game” on data security after millions of documents showing apparent tax evasion and money laundering by wealthy individuals and companies were leaked from Panama offshore firm Mossack Fonseca. The Panama Papers leak is reportedly the biggest ever data breach and calls into question the ability of law firms to protect clients’ data. Benedict Hamilton, Europe, Middle East and Africa managing director of risk consultant Kroll Experts, said that although firms are already taking security measures to protect private data, much more still needs to be done. “I definitely think they need to up their game on data security… I don’t think they are doing nearly enough,” said Hamilton. “No company can totally protect itself against an employee abusing trust, but there are things you can do that make it harder for people to leak documents.” Ropes & Gray privacy and data security partner Rohan Massey said: “The risk we have is incredibly real and we are now as a sector being targeted because of the sensitivity of the information we hold. “As a profession we do need to ensure that our houses are safe and maybe we lag behind because we focus on clients.” Philip Lieberman, president of Lieberman Software, said clients should be aware of the risks of law firm data breaches and satisfy themselves that a firm has necessary security measures in place before trusting them with information. “There are some law firms with excellent automated and adaptive cyber defence capabilities, but many are stuck in the dark ages of wigs, candles to read by, and quill pens to write with,” he added. [ Polley : This was reportedly due to a former employee, and not a hack: see Former-employee curse: How to prevent your company from becoming the next Mossack Fonseca (Business Insights, 11 April 2016)]
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7 lessons from the Panama Papers leak (Dark Reading, 5 April 2016) - Although many people are rejoicing in the Panama Papers outing of illegal and unethical activity by rich and powerful individuals and companies across the globe, information security professionals can also take the opportunity to learn a few lessons. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), Monday, published a report based upon a yearlong study into an enormous store of 11.5 million documents—2.6 TB of data, mostly emails—leaked from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. The leaked data reveals secret information about the offshore holdings of political leaders and crime lords alike, and has exposed illegal practices used to hide wealth, disguise sources of wealth, and evade taxes. A separate report last week revealed that hackers have also been attacking law firms and banks in the United States, and the FBI is investigating to see if the attacks have resulted in insider trading. With that in mind, here are a few things all organizations, and perhaps law firms in particular, should keep in mind. * * * [ Polley : perhaps obvious, but still useful.]
Appeals Court: No stingrays without a warrant, explanation to judge (ArsTechnica, 31 March 2016) - On Wednesday, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals published a legal opinion finding that state police must not only obtain a warrant before deploying a cell-site simulator, but are required to also fully explain to the court what exactly the device does and how it is used. In recent years, stingray use has come under increasing scrutiny, with several states including California , Washington , Virginia , Minnesota , and Utah now mandating a warrant be issued for their use. Last year, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice also imposed new policies that require a warrant for stingray use in most cases. In an e-mail to Ars, American Civil Liberties Union attorney Nathan Wessler called Wednesday’s opinion the “first appellate opinion in the country to fully address the question of whether police must disclose their intent to use a cell site simulator to a judge and obtain a probable cause warrant.”
Could the election be hacked? (Government Technology, 31 March 2016) - With the surge in data breaches over the past several years, the prevailing wisdom is that no online data is completely safe from hackers. Banks, governments, insurance companies and small businesses globally have lost billions of dollars to cybercrime. Which leads to the big question that’s being asked with renewed fervor: Could the 2016 presidential election be disrupted, or somehow manipulated, via unauthorized computer hacking or denial of service attacks? Related situations have come up several times in the past year. Concerns were raised following the Iowa caucuses in February after a new Microsoft vote-tallying app failed in certain parts of the state. The Des Moines Register reported these troubles: “Too many accounts have arisen of inconsistent counts, untrained and overwhelmed volunteers, confused voters, cramped precinct locations, a lack of voter registration forms and other problems.” Still, no hacker “foul play” was insinuated. After the hanging chads from the Florida election in November 2000 and the dozens of nationwide contested elections over the past decade, no one wants to wake up to a huge cybermess that involves the word “hacking” on Nov. 9, 2016. Therefore, this election tampering issue has been raised by commentators from both ends of the political spectrum. The Huffington Post mentioned six ways hackers could disrupt an election, including hacking a voting machine, shutting down the voting system or election agencies, and deleting or changing election records. Meanwhile, Fox News proclaimed that “ballot machines are easy targets.” Pointing to a report by the Commonwealth Security and Risk Management Directorate for the Virginia Information Technologies Agency, experts recently insisted that old technology could impact election results. A 2015 report from the Brennan Center for Justice said that in this year’s election, 43 states will use electronic voting machines that are at least 10 years old and reaching the end of their expected lifespan. A member of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission told the report’s authors, “We’re getting by with Band-Aids.” So what efforts are being made to ensure a safe and reliable election count? In 2012, CountingVotes.org looked at election preparedness state-by-state. The answer is that every state has taken specific actions to ensure that public trust and integrity in the voting process is maintained. [ Polley : This is one of my greatest fears; there’s a lot of money involved, and even more money potentially to be had (or lost) depending on the way governments go. It’d be naive to assume that this isn’t under some kind of active consideration, somewhere.]
Reddit hints that US now spying on its customers (CNN, 1 April 2016) - It seems that the federal government has made a demand—in a controversial secret court—to spy on Reddit users. Normally, the discussion website Reddit would never be allowed to even acknowledge that it received such a request. But thanks to a legal hack, the company has tipped off its customers. Federal agencies have a tool of mass surveillance called a “National Security Letter.” It’s a formal request that’s usually issued by the FBI to an American company seeking information about customers. The legal demand is approved by a federal judge sitting on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court—whose proceedings are kept secret—and the subject company must stay absolutely silent about it. Ever since ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden in 2013 revealed the extent of U.S. government surveillance, some technology companies have adopted a legal hack to alert the public when they receive these secret demands for information. It’s called a “warrant canary.” Here’s the logic: Although a company can’t say when it has received a National Security Letter, it can say when it has not received one. So, some companies have included special language in public statements saying things like, “We haven’t received an NSL yet.” The idea is, when an NSL comes around, the language disappears. It’s like a canary in a coal mine that dies when exposed to toxic gas. Only a few companies—mostly high tech ones that have a strong pro-privacy stance—have adopted this, such as websites Pinterest, Reddit, and Tumblr, software maker Adobe, phone maker Silent Circle, and mobile cybersecurity company Lookout. In Reddit’s case, the company previously included this language in its 2014 “transparency report,” which documented how many times governments have requested information on Reddit users. “As of January 29, 2015, reddit has never received a National Security Letter,” the company wrote then. “If we ever receive such a request, we would seek to let the public know it existed.” That language disappeared in its next transparency report . Reuters was the first to discover this. Reddit did not respond to requests for comment.
The Internet’s lowercase demotion by AP Stylebook upsets the internets (Mashable, 2 April 2016) - The end of an era is coming: As of June 1, Internet will no longer be capitalized. No, there’s no law mandating the change, and the Internet will still be a thing, you’ll just start to notice a difference in the way the word appears on many websites. The update reflects a shift in the Associated Press Stylebook , the writing bible for many journalists in the U.S. So while a large number of websites that don’t use the AP Stylebook as a guide will continue to write the word as they see fit, for many others, readers will need to get used to seeing the word as “internet.” The change is being met with gratitude by some, and protest by others. In fact, if you keep scrolling through the responses to AP’s tweet on Saturday, the debate about the change is incredibly civil and packed with good points. [ Polley : Wired Magazine ran a story advocating for lower-case “internet” back in 2004; wouldn’t you know it but the URL for that story is dead: http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/news/2004/08/64596 .]
Publishers dealt another loss in copyright lawsuit (InsideHigherEd, 4 April 2016) - A U.S. district court judge has once again taken a look at three publishers’ case against Georgia State University’s e-reserve and ruled that, in 41 of 48 cases, no copyright infringement took place. The ruling , a 220-page walk-through that applies the four-part fair-use test to each of the 48 cases, is seen by copyright experts as a complicated decision that won’t be of much help to universities in determining fair use, as it relies on revenue data not normally available. Still, observers described it as a win for proponents of fair use and another loss for the publishers. “This ruling, like each ruling in the case, is clearly a disaster for the plaintiff publishers,” Kevin Smith, director of the office of copyright and scholarly communication at Duke University, said in a blog post . “Once again it establishes that there is significant space for fair use in higher education, even when that use is not transformative. Nevertheless, it is a difficult victory for libraries, in the sense that the analysis it uses is not one we can replicate; we simply do not have access to the extensive data about revenue, of which [U.S. District Judge Orinda D. Evans] makes such complex use.”
Website seeks to make government data easier to sift through (NYT, 4 April 2016) - For years, the federal government, states and some cities have enthusiastically made vast troves of data open to the public. Acres of paper records on demographics, public health, traffic patterns, energy consumption, family incomes and many other topics have been digitized and posted on the web. This abundance of data can be a gold mine for discovery and insights, but finding the nuggets can be arduous, requiring special skills. A project coming out of the M.I.T. Media Lab on Monday seeks to ease that challenge and to make the value of government data available to a wider audience. The project, called Data USA , bills itself as “the most comprehensive visualization of U.S. public data.” It is free, and its software code is open source, meaning that developers can build custom applications by adding other data. Cesar A. Hidalgo, an assistant professor of media arts and sciences at the M.I.T. Media Lab who led the development of Data USA, said the website was devised to “transform data into stories.” Those stories are typically presented as graphics, charts and written summaries. The media lab worked with the consulting and auditing firm Deloitte , which provided funding and expertise on how people use government data sets in business and for research.
Applying the Fourth Amendment to cell-site simulators (Orin Kerr on Volokh, 4 April 2016) - The widespread use of cellphones gives the government a way to locate criminal suspects using a device known as a cell-site simulator . The Maryland Court of Special Appeals recently handed down the first appellate decision on whether and when use of a cell-site simulator to identify the location of a target’s phone is a Fourth Amendment “search.” The opinion, in State v. Andrews , rules that government use of a cell-site simulator is always a Fourth Amendment search and that it ordinarily requires a warrant. I think that result is plausible, but I found the court’s path to that result rather frustrating. This post explains why. * * *
Wikimedia’s free photo database of artworks violates copyright, court rules (The Guardian, 4 April 2016) - Sweden’s highest court on Monday found Wikimedia Sweden guilty of violating copyright laws by providing free access to its database of artwork photographs without the artists’ consent. Wikimedia, part of the not-for-profit foundation which oversees Wikipedia among other online resources, has a database of royalty-free photographs that can be used by the public, for educational purposes or the tourism industry. The Visual Copyright Society in Sweden (BUS), which represents painters, photographers, illustrators and designers among others, had sued Wikimedia Sweden for making photographs of their artwork displayed in public places available in its database, without their consent. The Supreme Court found in favour of BUS, arguing that while individuals were permitted to photograph artwork on display in public spaces, it was “an entirely different matter” to make the photographs available in a database for free and unlimited use.
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Hyperlinking to unlawfully published copyright images is still legal, says top European judge (PC World, 7 April 2016) - Publishing hyperlinks to photos from, say, Playboy magazine is legal—even if the website linked to doesn’t have permission to publish the images, a top European Union judge has said. That’s because hyperlinking to a document does not constitute a fresh publication, according to Melchior Wathelet, advocate general of the Court of Justice of the EU, in a legal opinion issued Thursday . But his opinion, on a case brought by the publisher of Playboy magazine, is only advisory, and it still remains for the CJEU to make a final ruling on the matter. The question of whether hyperlinking constitutes publication is important to copyright and libel law. It was last addressed by the CJEU in 2014 , when it found that Swedish media aggregation site Retriever did not need a newspaper’s permission to link to stories.
Bitcoin start-up gets an electronic money license in Britain (NYT, 6 April 2016) - The British government has pushed through its first licensing of a virtual currency company, underscoring its desire to make London a hub for the development of financial technology. The Financial Conduct Authority, Britain’s top financial regulator, has granted an electronic money license to Circle, a company based in Boston that uses Bitcoin, the virtual currency, to enable consumers to make payments to other consumers using a mobile app, or “social payments” as the company puts it. The regulator helped Circle get the license by putting it in the government’s Innovation Hub, which is one of several initiatives Britain has undertaken to encourage experimentation in the financial industry. The license makes it possible for Circle to establish a banking relationship with Barclays , the British bank. It is the first time that a large global bank has agreed to work with a Bitcoin company, though Circle has attracted investments from others .
Using the All Writs Act to route around the Fifth Amendment (TechDirt, 6 April 2016) - USA Today’s Brad Heath has dug up another use for the FBI’s now-infamous All Writs Act orders: skirting the Fifth Amendment. In a 2015 case currently headed to the Appeals Court, the government is attempting to use All Writs to force a defendant to unlock his devices. The order finding Francis Rawls guilty of contempt contains a footnote pointing to the government’s use of an All Writs order to force Rawls to unlock his devices—and, one would think—allow the government to dodge a Fifth Amendment rights violation. On July 29, 2015, the Government obtained a search warrant for certain electronic media previously seized by Delaware County and Philadelphia County law enforcement officials. Dkt. No. 1. On August 3, 2015, the Government made an application pursuant to that All Writs Act to require Francis Rawls to assist in the execution of a previously executed search warrant. “Assist in the execution” means forcing Rawls to possibly provide evidence against himself, depending on what’s contained in the devices. However, the court didn’t see it this way. It considered his unlocking of the devices to be “non-testimonial.” While it did grant him a chance to respond to the All Writs application, it ultimately found in favor of the government.
Cyber insurance rates could rise 30% in 2016 for large health care, point-of-sale retailers (Canadian Underwriters, 7 April 2016) - The withdrawal by American International Group Inc. from some monoline site pollution markets “will result in increased competition” as other carriers look to pick up the displaced business, losses arising from the explosion last August in the Chinese port of Tianjin could reach $6 billion and some retailers could expect cyber insurance rates to rise 30% this year, Willis Towers Watson plc said in a report announced Thursday. In Marketplace Realities 2016 Spring Update, Willis Towers Watson revealed its predictions on rate changes for several commercial lines this year. All dollar figures are in U.S. currency. “Cyber renewals are seeing primary premiums increases of 5% to 15% for most buyers and 15% to 30% for [point of sale] retailers and large health care companies with no losses - with additional increases on excess lawyers,” stated Willis Towers Watson, formed by the recent merger of commercial brokerage Willis Group plc with Towers Watson & Co.
Workplace wearables open up a murky legal hinterland (ReadWrite, 10 April 2016) - As wearables become more common for personal use, they are also increasingly being used by employers in the workplace . This new technology is giving employers new tools to track safety and productivity, and allowing insurers to track employee habits and health indicators. But just as the options for wearable tech proliferates, so do the related legal and privacy issues. Companies are increasingly embracing the habit of tracking any and all data possible to create efficiencies and boost the bottom line. But a recent MarketWatch article explored many of the subsequent legal concerns that are cropping up in this emerging age of workplace wearables. For employers that mandate wearables in the workplace, it’s incumbent on them to develop clear rationales and policies explaining why data is being collected and limits of its use, said Jason Geller. Geller is a partner with U.S. law firm Fisher & Phillips who specializes representing employers in labour and discrimination cases.
How an internet mapping glitch turned a random Kansas farm into a digital hell (Fusion, 10 April 2016) - An hour’s drive from Wichita, Kansas, in a little town called Potwin, there is a 360-acre piece of land with a very big problem. The plot has been owned by the Vogelman family for more than a hundred years, though the current owner, Joyce Taylor née Vogelman, 82, now rents it out. The acreage is quiet and remote: a farm, a pasture, an old orchard, two barns, some hog shacks and a two-story house. It’s the kind of place you move to if you want to get away from it all. The nearest neighbor is a mile away, and the closest big town has just 13,000 people. It is real, rural America; in fact, it’s a two-hour drive from the exact geographical center of the United States. But instead of being a place of respite, the people who live on Joyce Taylor’s land find themselves in a technological horror story. For the last decade, Taylor and her renters have been visited by all kinds of mysterious trouble. They’ve been accused of being identity thieves, spammers, scammers and fraudsters. They’ve gotten visited by FBI agents, federal marshals, IRS collectors, ambulances searching for suicidal veterans, and police officers searching for runaway children. They’ve found people scrounging around in their barn. The renters have been doxxed, their names and addresses posted on the internet by vigilantes. Once, someone left a broken toilet in the driveway as a strange, indefinite threat. All in all, the residents of the Taylor property have been treated like criminals for a decade. And until I called them this week, they had no idea why. * * * [ Polley : Fascinating story about “internet mapping"]
University says government’s pretty terrible at sharing cyberthreat information (TechDirt, 11 April 2016) - Multiple government agencies have gone all-in on cybersecurity. CISA was pushed through late last year—dumped into the back pages of a “must pass” omnibus spending bill. Just like that, the government expanded its surveillance power and cleared its cyberthreat inboxes to make way for all the information non-governmental entities might want to share with it. It promised to share right back—making this all equitable—but no one really believed the government would give as much as it would take. Right on cue, a university heavily involved in scientific research says the government really isn’t interested in sharing information . Virginia Tech is no stranger to hackers . Randy Marchany, the school’s chief information security officer, says he assumes the attackers are already inside the networks. The university’s attack space includes power generation networks, campus police databases, research files, student records and retail payment systems, among other sensitive digital operations, he said. Marchany lamented what he says has been a growing trend during the last couple of years of the government restricting information about ongoing hack campaigns - information that could help his staff identify the suspicious activity they already glimpse on systems. “The federal government now has this tendency to try to put a classified label on everything, and so I have to sometimes go to a dark room and have people hand me information that I can only look at,” he said.
NY high court says parents can legally eavesdrop on kids (Ride the Lightning, 12 April 2016) - On April 5, the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, ruled that a parent who believes their minor child is in danger can legally record an overheard conversation by giving consent on behalf of their child, countering a state wiretapping law that requires the consent of at least one person on the call. The court affirmed a decision of a lower court that a recording made by a child’s father, who heard his ex-wife’s boyfriend, Anthony Badalamenti, threatening to punch his son in the face, was admissible evidence in the underlying criminal trial against Badalamenti, on the grounds that vicarious consent was given by the father on behalf of his son to be recorded because the father believed his son was in danger. The court applied the vicarious consent doctrine which recognizes the long-established principle that the law protects the right of a parent or guardian to take actions he or she considers to be in the child’s best interests. The court noted that the parent or guardian who acted in bad faith and was merely curious about the child’s conversations cannot give consent and could be held liable for eavesdropping, which could be determined by the court.
What happened when I eliminated political dissent from my Facebook feed (Vox, 12 April 2016) - I normally refrain from posting political content on social media, but in the aftermath of the San Bernardino shooting last December I shared a video on Facebook. It was too disturbing not to. Dana Loesch, a conservative radio host, narrates the video, which appeared on the National Rifle Association’s news site . She has harsh words for liberals. “These saboteurs share the same fanatical fervor to tear apart the foundations of America as the terrorists who threaten our very survival. And together, they march hand in hand toward the possible, purposeful destruction of us all,” says Loesch. The video implied that the “godless left” was responsible for the San Bernardino shooting, piling it on with other purported atrocities Loesch believes liberals are also responsible for: Benghazi, Obamacare, the overall “tearing apart of the foundations of America.” She goes on to say that liberals “demonize Christians” and endanger the country with our talk of “racism and xenophobia.” The inflammatory nature of her remarks alarmed me. I’m a progressive. I felt personally attacked. But I also felt terrified that this rhetoric existed at all in the light of such a tragedy. I posted the video with the following comment: “As we continue to lose our sense of safety in public places, including schools, it is interesting to note that the NRA and those who profit from the sale of weapons are sponsoring videos such as this one to further promote fear and division among Americans. What a scary, scary video.” I assumed my friends would see that the video was propaganda. That they would be horrified, and agree that whatever our beliefs about gun ownership, making remarks like Loesch’s about any political group is not acceptable. This is why I was incensed when an old classmate commented that she absolutely loved the video and proceeded to repost it to her page. I didn’t respond. I had a sudden urge to block her from my news feed, to prevent her from commenting on my posts, or even to delete her. But I worried that these feelings made me guilty of the same intolerance I have accused others of in the past. I resolved to not take any action. * * * While we may have always created echo chambers in our social circles, the emergence of the internet has intensified this effect. In his TED talk , Eli Pariser, the author of The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding From You and the founder of MoveOn.org, warns that the internet is “increasingly showing us things we want to see and not the things we need to see.” [ Polley : This is interesting and lengthy - I’ve here included only part of the posting.]
Texas prisons’ new rules aim to force social media to close inmate accounts (ArsTechnica, 14 April 2016) - This month the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) updated its offender handbook (PDF) to stipulate that inmates are not allowed to have social media accounts. While blog posts are still permitted, a spokesperson for the TDCJ told Ars that the rule was developed to get social media platforms to comply with the corrections department’s takedown requests more readily. Since Texas inmates are not allowed Internet access, this rule applies to social media accounts managed by friends or family. As Fusion explains , “Prisoners write posts, send them to a friend or family member through snail mail, and ask the friend to post them on Facebook.” If an inmate is caught having a friend or family member update an account for them, they’re charged with a “level three violation,” which TDCJ characterizes as the lowest level of violation in the Texas prison system. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), however, says that level three violations can result in loss of privileges, extra work duty, or confinement to an inmate’s cell for up to 45 days. The EFF objects to the new rules in Texas, arguing that “a person does not lose all of their rights to participate in public discourse when they are incarcerated… This policy would not only prohibit the prisoners’ exercise of their First Amendment rights, but also prevent the public from exercising their First Amendment rights to gather information about the criminal justice system from those most affected by it.” The TDCJ had no response to the EFF’s argument. In an e-mail to Ars, TDCJ spokesperson Jason Clark noted that the new rules did not apply to blog posts written by inmates. “The rule is specific to active social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc,” he wrote. “Those companies have mechanisms in place that allow us to request that the pages be deactivated. Private Web pages don’t have a mechanism to request they be taken down and we cannot force them to comply.” Clark clarified for Ars that the rule was put in place in part to appease social media companies that balked at the idea of taking down a social media account without a rule in place to force their hand in compliance. “Recently when we have asked that accounts be deactivated, increasingly we have found that the social media company would come back and indicate they would not do so because the agency did not have a rule prohibiting offenders from having social media accounts.” With a rule in place, however, social media companies are more willing to meet the correctional system’s demand.
LOOKING BACK - MIRLN TEN YEARS AGO
(note: link-rot has affected about 50% of these original URLs)
Changes are expected in voting by 2008 election (New York Times, 8 Dec 2006)—By the 2008 presidential election, voters around the country are likely to see sweeping changes in how they cast their ballots and how those ballots are counted, including an end to the use of most electronic voting machines without a paper trail, federal voting officials and legislators say. New federal guidelines, along with legislation given a strong chance to pass in Congress next year, will probably combine to make the paperless voting machines obsolete, the officials say. States and counties that bought the machines will have to modify them to hook up printers, at federal expense, while others are planning to scrap the machines and buy new ones. Motivated in part by voting problems during the midterm elections last month, the changes are a result of a growing skepticism among local and state election officials, federal legislators and the scientific community about the reliability and security of the paperless touch-screen machines used by about 30 percent of American voters. The changes also mean that the various forms of vote-counting software used around the country - most of which are protected by their manufacturers for reasons of trade secrecy - will for the first time be inspected by federal authorities, and the code could be made public. There will also be greater federal oversight on how new machines are tested before they arrive at polling stations. “In the next two years I think we’ll see the kinds of sweeping changes that people expected to see right after the 2000 election,” said Doug Chapin, director of electionline.org, a nonpartisan election group. “The difference now is that we have moved from politics down to policies.” Many of the paperless machines were bought in a rush to overhaul the voting system after the disputed presidential election in 2000, which was marred by hanging chads. But concerns have been growing that in a close election those machines give election workers no legitimate way to conduct a recount or to check for malfunctions or fraud. Several counties around the country are already considering scrapping their voting systems after problems this year, and last week federal technology experts concluded for the first time that paperless touch-screen machines could not be secured from tampering.
MySpace gains top ranking of US web sites (Reuters, 11 July 2006)—Online teen hangout MySpace.com ranked as the No. 1 U.S. Web site last week, displacing Yahoo’s top-rated e-mail gateway and Google Inc.’s search site, Internet tracking firm Hitwise said on Tuesday. News Corp.’s MySpace accounted for 4.46 percent of all U.S. Internet visits for the week ending July 8, pushing it past Yahoo Mail for the first time and outpacing the home pages for Yahoo, Google and Microsoft’s MSN Hotmail. Hitwise does not provide figures for the number of unique visitors to a site. MySpace, which dominates social networking on the Web, also gained share in June from other sites that aim to create virtual communities online for sharing music, photos or other interests, Hitwise said. MySpace captured nearly 80 percent of visits to online social networking sites, up from 76 percent in April. A distant second was FaceBook at 7.6 percent. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp bought MySpace for $580 million one year ago as part of a strategy to rapidly build up the media conglomerate’s Internet presence.