Sardar Law Firm

Archive for May, 2010|Monthly archive page

Search Warrant for Google Docs

In Social Media, Technology Issues and the Law on May 2010 at 8:46 pm
Wired recently reported on a search warrant the FBI served on Google last year to retrieve documents stored on the Google Docs “cloud” word-processing service, in an investigation of a company named Pulse Marketing. Pulse Marketing allegedly sent millions of spam emails promoting and offering to sell acai berry, and had established a system to create multiple Yahoo and Gmail email addresses to send the spam.

The issue: whether Pulse Marketing violated 18 U.S.C. § 1037, which prohibits using false information to create multiple fake domains or email addresses, and using those domains and addresses to send out multiple commercial email messages.  Further, the federal CAN-SPAM Act, 15 U.S.C. § 7701, et seq., places restrictions and requirements on sending commercial emails.  All in all, the idea behind these laws is to protect consumers from unsolicited and unwanted advertisements while ensuring that companies are not abusing commerical emails.

While the idea of searching emails during an investigation has become routine, the Google Docs warrant appears to be the first in which the information sought resided in documents stored in “the cloud.”  The question becomes, is “cloud computing” safe and does it protect your privacy in the world of social media law?

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Jurors Shouldn’t Tweet

In Social Media, Technology Issues and the Law on May 2010 at 11:34 pm

The U.S. Judicial Conference—which sets policies for all federal courts except the Supreme Court—sent all federal district judges suggested jury instructions on “juror use of electronic communication technologies” during trial.  The essence of the instructions was simple: risks of social media use by jurors is too high, so jurors should refrain.  Jurors were asked not to reference blogs or the internet to find out information on cases they are assigned to.  Further, jurors should not use technologies such as blogs, Twitter, or other social networking platforms such as Facebook, My Space and more.

While there have been some questions as to why such technologies are not allowed, the answer seems quite simple:  jurors must learn about the case through the courtroom procedures and are not even allowed to discuss the case with each other.  If jurors are allowed to utilize social networking sites, read or post on blogs, or Twitter – there is a higher likelihood that someone may slip up.

Here, social media risks have been assessed, and as with social media law, it is developing!

by:  Benish Shah, Esq. & Sheheryar Sardar, Esq., Sardar Law Firm LLC

For more information on social media law, contact: Sardar Law Firmat sardar@sardarlawfirm.com.

Follow Sardar Law Firm on Twitter: http://twitter.com/sardarlawfirm

Follow Social Media Legal at: http://twitter.com/socialmedia_law

And … A Conviction From Twittering

In Entrepreneurs and Social Media, Social Media, Technology Issues and the Law on May 2010 at 6:25 am

In our “Think Before Your Tweet” piece, we discussed the potential risks associated with ranting via Twitter. With Twitter serving as a new basis for conversation, social media users feel that they are speaking only to their online friends when they post something on a public Twitter page.  Unfortunately, a public Twitter page creates a critical social media risk:  a simple, angry rant can turn into a much bigger deal when it is put in electronic form and essentially published to millions of readers on the internet. Social media law is still developing, leaving room for confusion on part of social media users.

A British man recently learned a hard lesson on social media risk associated with angry Twittering.  According to DailyRecord.co.uk , a twenty six year old “sent” a message to his 600 Twitter followers that he would blow an airport “sky high” because of the weather-related airport closings/delays back in January.  He became the first person to be convicted of “sending” an offensive Tweet out.  While the man, an accountant, did not believe his rant would be taken seriously – a UK judge saw differently.  As quoted by DailyRecord.co.uk, “He failed to realise that his messages could be viewed by all Twitter users.” The young accountant lost his job over the incident, and he was fined at the following levels: £385 fine, a £15 victims’ surcharge and costs of £600.

This was the first Twitter related conviction… and we say it again, it’s time to evaluate your social media risks and Twitter risks, and make sure you assess, influence, and evolve.

by:  Benish Shah, Esq. & Sheheryar Sardar, Esq., Sardar Law Firm LLC

For more information on social media law, contact:  Sardar Law Firm at sardar@sardarlawfirm.com.

Follow Sardar Law Firm on Twitter: http://twitter.com/sardarlawfirm

Follow Social Media Legal at: http://twitter.com/socialmedia_law


Libel & Social Media

In Social Media, Technology Issues and the Law on May 2010 at 2:51 am

The online world mirrors that of freedom of speech offline. However, social media on the world wide web is just that – a web so intricate and complex that the norms and even legalities of expression and speech are crossed.  Most times, these crossed boundaries go unchecked.   A blogger’s ranting, someone’s negative tweeting, a flipant status update on Facebook.  It never crosses our minds that something said on social media platforms could hurt someone else’s business or reputation to the point of libel.

What is libel? Simplified, it is when you make an allegedly false statement about someone that causes them financial harm.  It’s akin to gossip gone horribly wrong in the professional sphere.  Even retweeting libel online can be considered libel on your part – even if you did not author it.  Add into the mix the permanent nature of the Internet and the whole thing is a legal mess to be remembered.

For example, you get mad at your hairdresser and say on Twitter: “this is the worst salon ever. Don’t ever go there!” and suddenly all your friends, co-workers and family start spreading that statement and the salon’s revenues drop. In one angry statement on Facebook, you published your potentially false statement and maybe liable for libel.

So what to do?

If you just can’t seem to keep your agitated thoughts off the Internet, make sure that you have truth backing up your statements.  And if you are a corporate exec… Read here!

by: Benish Shah, Esq. & Sheheryar Sardar, Esq., Sardar Law Firm LLC

For more information on social media law, contact: Sardar Law Firm at sardar@sardarlawfirm.com.

Follow Sardar Law Firm on Twitter: http://twitter.com/sardarlawfirm

Follow Social Media Legal at: http://twitter.com/socialmedia_law

Losing Your Idea Through Social Media

In Entrepreneurs and Social Media, Social Media on May 2010 at 2:44 am

Before presenting an idea to an investor, companies usually ask them to sign a Non Disclosure Agreement (“NDA”). The NDA is viewed as critical to protect the company or individual,and their idea. In the small world of entrepreneurship, the fear of losing a cashable idea is daunting.

And then, an entrepreneur decides to take his idea to every social media platform that she/he can find.  They leak seemingly simple information such as, “working on my new idea!” and “can’t wait to get investors interested in bio tech in Eastern Europe.” Suddenly, coupled with a series of other posts on the same topic, another person puts the pieces together and voilà – the idea is gone. There is no protective NDA, no contract, and no proof that it was your idea that was stolen.

The desire to engage with others through social media has tapped into the excitement of sharing every brilliant idea you have with your closest online friends – all 800+ of them.  However, if you were to put all of those people into a room, you would be more secretive about your idea – afraid of losing it to someone else.

So next time you want to post on a social media platform about you newest business idea… Remember that you are giving a green light to the loss of your idea – and no NDA to prevent it.

by: Benish Shah, Esq. & Sheheryar Sardar, Esq., Sardar Law Firm LLC

For more information on social media law, contact: Sardar Law Firm at sardar@sardarlawfirm.com.

Follow Sardar Law Firm on Twitter: http://twitter.com/sardarlawfirm

Follow Social Media Legal at: http://twitter.com/socialmedia_law