Attorneys ignoring privacy rules

I was flipping through legal newspapers to gather some to show to our advanced legal research class, when I came upon a truly alarming letter to the editor in the San Francisco Daily Journal by Judge Terence L. Bruiniers.  In his letter, “Protecting Personal Data From Online Access,” Judge Bruiniers writes:

. . .

As a trial judge I was shocked to see how often attorneys would routinely and cavalierly attach documents as exhibits to their pleadings containing not only social security numbers and financial account numbers but credit card numbers and the like — and not just of opposing parties, but frequently of their own clients.  Family law practitioners seemed to be among the worse offenders, attaching documents like tax returns to their public pleadings.

. . .

Terence L. Bruiniers

Associate Justice

1st District Court of Appeal

San Francisco Daily Journal, Tuesday, September 28, 2010, p. 7

French Legal Guides from EducNet – Guides Juridique Legamedia

The French Ministry of Higher Education and Research has posted a handful of thematic legal guides on their EducNet site. Guides are able for copyright, protection of children online, cultural property, privacy, human rights, and regulation of teachers and professors. All information is available only in French.

Guides Juridique Legamedia

http://www.educnet.education.fr/legamedia

Report: Data Protection in the European Union

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights has published a report on data protection.

Data Protection in the European Union: Role of National Data Protection Authorities. Strengthening the Fundamental Rights Architecture in the EU II

http://fra.europa.eu/fraWebsite/attachments/Data-protection_en.pdf

FJC Privacy Audit of PACER Documents

New from the Federal Judicial Center:

“A Memorandum to Honorable Reena Raggi, Chair, Privacy Protection Subcommittee [of the Judicial Conference Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedureregarding Social Security Numbers in Federal Court Documents,” by George Cort and Joe Cecil (Federal Judicial Center), April 5, 2010.

The summary states:

“The Center identified 2,899 documents with one or more unredacted Social Security numbers among the almost ten million documents filed in federal district and bankruptcy courts in a recent two-month period. Seventeen percent of these documents appeared to qualify for an exemption from the redaction requirement under the relevant privacy rules. An unknown number of the remaining documents may qualify for a waiver of the privacy protection under the rules, but we could not determine whether such a waiver applied to the documents identified in this study.”

The One-Way Mirror: Enhancing Participation and Securing Privacy for Government 2.0

“The One-Way Mirror: Enhancing Participation and Securing Privacy for Government 2.0”

Danielle Keats Citron
University of Maryland School of Law

Maryland Legal Scholarship Network RPS
University of Maryland – School of Law

George Washington Law Review, Vol. 78, 2010
University of Maryland Legal Studies Research, 2009-41

Abstract:     
The public can now “friend” the White House and scores of agencies on social networks, virtual worlds, and video-sharing sites. The Obama Administration sees this trend as crucial to enhancing governmental transparency, public participation, and collaboration. As the President has underscored, government needs to tap into the public’s expertise because it doesn’t have all of the answers. To be sure, Government 2.0 might improve civic engagement. But it also might produce privacy vulnerabilities because agencies often gain access to individuals’ social network profiles, photographs, videos, and contact lists when interacting with individuals online. Little would prevent agencies from using and sharing individuals’ social media data for more than policymaking, including law enforcement, immigration, tax, and benefits matters. Although people may be prepared to share their views on health care and the environment with agencies and executive departments, they may be dismayed to learn that such policy collaborations carry a risk of government surveillance. This essay argues that government should refrain from accessing individuals’ social media data on Government 2.0 sites. Agencies should treat these sites as one-way mirrors, where individuals can see government’s activities and engage in policy discussions but where government cannot use, collect, or distribute individuals’ social media information. A “one-way mirror” policy would facilitate democratic discourse, enhance government accountability, and protect privacy.

Source:  LSN Information Privacy Law Vol. 2 No. 41,  11/09/2009

Judicial Information Management in an Electronic Age: Old Standards, New Challenges

“Judicial Information Management in an Electronic Age: Old Standards, New Challenges”

Federal Courts Law Review, Forthcoming

PETER A. WINN, University of Washington School of Law

Under well established law, information in court records is open to the public, but it may be sealed upon a fact-based showing either that the information is not a matter of legitimate public concern or is sufficiently sensitive to need such protection. Under the former paper-based court record system, however, routine violations of these publcity standards were widely tolerated. At the same time, the practical obscurity of paper provided a default privacy benefit for negligently unsealed sensitive information. With the introduction of electonic filing, old improper sealing practices are now increasingly being exposed and criticised; while the dealth of practical obscurity has caused individuals with sensitive information in court files, to be increasingly exposed to harm. This article argues that restoring an appropriate homeostasis to the judicial information eco-system, where legitimate privacy and publicity interests are both protected, does not require replacing established common law standards; but it will require the adoption of new legal procedures, better use of information technologies, and more careful training of judges and lawyers. Ultimately, to properly achieve this goal, the existing common law adversarial system of information mangement will need to be supplemented by a new administrative model.

Source:  LSN Information Privacy Law Vol. 2 No. 34,  10/07/2009

In Defense of Data: Information and the Costs of Privacy

“In Defense of Data: Information and the Costs of Privacy”

Technology Policy Institute Working Paper
Emory Law and Economics Research Paper

THOMAS M. LENARD, Technology Policy Institute

PAUL H. RUBIN, Emory University – Department of Economics, Emory University – School of Law

The commercial use of information on the Internet has produced substantial benefits for consumers. But, as the use of information online has increased, so have concerns about privacy. In this paper we argue that acting on those concerns would be counterproductive. Far from a ‘free lunch,’ more privacy implies less information available for producing benefits for consumers, including targeted advertising and the valuable web services it supports, e.g. search engines, email, and social networks. Concerns about privacy may also be misguided. Most data collected about individuals is anonymous, and reducing legitimate uses of online information is not likely to reduce identity theft. Firms appear to be responsive to consumers’ privacy preferences, which also points to a properly functioning market. Our analysis suggests that proposals to restrict the amount of information available would not yield net benefits for consumers.

 

Source:  LSN Information Privacy Law Vol. 2 No. 24,  08/11/2009

The Mediated Book

“The Mediated Book”

U of Chicago Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 463

RANDAL C. PICKER, University of Chicago – Law School

Text in hand, we have read books by candlelight, oil lamp and Edison’s incandescent bulb, maybe even the occasional CFL. But even as light itself has changed, the book has remained constant. Until now. With the rise of Google Book Search and ebook readers like Amazon’s Kindle, we have entered the era of the mediated book. We will still browse and read books, but we will do so through a screen.

This is more than just a change in medium. Digital texts are inherently on-demand works, that is, works that can be produced at the instant that a consumer wishes to interact with the text. Physical books historically have been printed in batched runs in advance of demand. This fact of production matters relatively little for the texts themselves, as we typically want books to be fixed, reliable artifacts.

This changes matters for how we finance books. On-demand texts can be financed through advertising. Printing in advance means that embedded advertising has little chance of being relevant at the point of reading. Mediated texts can be updated instantly with new, continuously timely advertising. That advertising also can be personalized for individual readers as the interaction between the mediating device and the reader will create a rich information stream to enhance the relevance of this advertising. That process of course will raise standard privacy issues.

The short history of 20th Century advertising expenditures in the United States is characterized by two facts. First, overall expenditures as a percentage of GDP are relatively constant over time, bouncing around over the last sixty years between 1.5% and 2.5%. The emergence of new advertising platforms – say radio in 1927; broadcast TV in 1949; cable TV in 1980; and the Internet in 1997 – hasn?t altered that essential fact. The emergence of another new platform – advertising-supported books – isn’t likely to expand overall advertising expenditures much if at all. Second, print?s advertising market share has declined steadily, from roughly 55% of advertising dollars in 1935 to a little under 21% in 2007.

Mediated content accounts for a large chunk of that decline. Now books and of course print more generally will be mediated too. And we will get a nice test. Does the decline in the role of print as seen in advertising dollars reflect the decline of words relative to images and sounds? Or is this a story not of content but of technology, in which a mediated platform is a better advertising platform? The rise of the new mediated books will change how we finance books and will change our understanding of the relative roles of content and technology in driving advertising.

 

Source:  LSN Cyberspace Law Vol. 14 No. 32,  05/26/2009

eYou Guide – European Union Guide to Internet Rights

The European Commission has created a Web site for citizens to learn about EU Internet law, e-commerce,  privacy rights online, and copying digital content. Although not designed for attorneys, the site does link to the full-text of legislation and case law mentioned in the text.

eYou Guide to your rights online          http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/eyouguide/navigation/index_en.htm

 

Examples of questions addresed by eYouGuide site:

Protecting privacy

Tips and precautions you should take in order to prevent misuse of your personal information online.

Can the company that provides my internet connection see which sites I visit? If so, how do they use this information?

What you should know about the consumer contracts, unfair terms and delivery of goods bought online.

Shopping online

When buying goods/services online, what are the consequences of clicking “I have read and approved the terms & conditions”?

Safety & security

Concerns about the security of your computer, Internet connection or safety of your online payments.

What are the risks of using social networking websites?

Copyright & IPR

What you should know about your rights and obligations related to music files, movies, CDs and DVDs and books online.

Can I lawfully copy images and texts I found on the internet?   

Can I record streaming video and audio?

Disabled, older people

Access to and use of online services for older people and people with disabilities.

I am a blind user and sometimes I have difficulties accessing some literary or artistic works online. What can I do about this?

Who’s liable?

How to find who is responsible for illegal content online and for faulty goods sold or advertised on the internet.

Can an online seller be held liable for faulty products?

Who is going to pay for the damages caused by a defective product bought online?

Harvard Law Library director again in the news

News from the Berkman Center at HLS:

 

Internet Safety Technical Task Force Releases Final Report on Enhancing Child Safety and Online Technologies

Findings To Be Presented Today at State of the Net Conference in Washington, D.C.

January 14, 2009, Cambridge, Mass., and Washington, D.C. – The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University today released the final report of the Internet Safety Technical Task Force, a group of 29 leading Internet businesses, non-profit organizations, academics, and technology companies that joined together for a year-long investigation of tools and technologies to create a safer environment on the Internet for youth.

The Task Force was created in February 2008 in accordance with the Joint Statement on Key Principles of Social Networking Safety announced in January 2008 by the Attorneys General Multi-State Working Group on Social Networking and MySpace.  The report was delivered to the 52 Attorneys General in December, 2008.

To read the final report, including the executive summary, as well as reaction statements from members of the Task Force, visit:

http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/pubrelease/isttf,

 

John Palfrey, chair of the Task Force and faculty co-director of the Berkman Center, will discuss the findings of the final report today at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time at the Congressional Internet Caucus Fifth Annual State of the Net Conference in Washington, D.C. (http://www.netcaucus.org/conference/2009) along with members of the Task Force.

 

 

Source:

Seth Young
Berkman Center for Internet & Society
Harvard University
+1.617.384.9135
<syoung@cyber.law.harvard.edu>