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Archive for October, 2010|Monthly archive page

New York Does Not Believe in “Privacy” Settings on Facebook

In Social Media, Technology Issues and the Law on October 2010 at 12:43 pm

The other day we discussed how a California judge used a 1986 law to prevent a company from essentially data mining and accessing a litigant’s social media posts. And, on the other coast, a New York judge has decided to use that same law to support his decision to force a women to turn over all of her social media posts, including those marked private.

The woman claimed that she was injured when falling from an allegedly defective chair.  And the defendant company, the chair manufacturers, wanted to use her social media posts to prove otherwise.

In a word of over-accessible information, and the lightening speed we all use when adding to that information, social media is proving to be a can of worms that companies need to assess and analyze.  Social media compliance & risk is beginning to play an integral role in these processes, and a little paranoia may go a long way in these situations. Social  media law is definitely evolving.

by: Sheheryar Sardar, Esq. & Benish Shah, 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

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1986 Laws & Facebook: How does it work

In Social Media, Technology Issues and the Law on October 2010 at 12:34 pm

In California, an artist sued an apparel company for putting his designs on items they hadn’t agreed on. Brilliantly, the company’s lawyers mined his social networking tools such as Facebook and MySpace to see if he had ever posted any comments on how he was thrilled to be featured on such products.  But a federal judge stepped in and applied a 1986 electronic communications law, stating that as long as the artist’s wall was set to a strict “friends-only” privacy setting, his posts were private and couldn’t be used by the defendants.

In a world of social media crazed communities – where the creators of many of these platforms rely heavily on “sharing” information – the question pops into mind:  does this 1986 law apply to the current issues around social networking today?  And because the law is often a reactionary measure to the times, how and when will be able to answer that question succinctly?

Guess it’s time for some creative lawyering!

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

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

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

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

Oh GOP: Reforming Privacy Laws & Social Networking

In Entrepreneurs and Social Media, Social Media, Technology Issues and the Law on October 2010 at 1:55 pm

A Republican policy memo leaked anonymously suggests that the GOP is planning to oppose efforts to reform the 1986 privacy law, to make it more current and applicable to changing needs through trends in social media and digital media. The GOP apparently sees privacy advocacy by tech giants like Google, Microsoft, AOL, and AT&T as cover for an attempt to limit their expenses on behalf of U.S. law enforcement investigations.

The issue of course is the confusion of privacy as a protective sphere.  Does privacy apply to e-mails? Smartphones? Text messages? Facebook posts?  Where do the bright lines exist and if they don’t, where should they be drawn on a legal spectrum?

In an effort to develop up to date laws and understand the issues surrounding social media risk and compliance, lawmakers are once again out of touch.  On the surface level the privacy issue may be one of cost for larger companies, but on an individual level, taking in to consideration how intrinsic social networking has become to daily life, the privacy issue is a very real one to social networkers.  The social media platform is not about publishing thoughts online, it’s about sharing thoughts with one’s “close” friends or community, and perhaps privacy should be respected there?

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

Social Media is the New E-mail: Brace Yourself Litigants

In Social Media, Technology Issues and the Law on October 2010 at 4:23 am

Remember that panic caused by the quickness of e-mail about 10-15 years ago?  While e-mail has matured into a well known and well controlled piece of technology, social networking and digital media are a whole new playground. The ability to instantly reply to a situation with an insult to a boss, a lewd comment about a client, or violating client confidentiality in a way that could cost you your broker’s license – all of that is now not only available in digital format, but it’s available to EVERYONE.

Unlike e-mail, the power of social media rests in it being public information being shared through communities.  While an e-mail could be forwarded and then tracked to you – a Tweet can already be seen by everyone, and furthermore, it can also be retweeted, and retweeted again… and so an so forth.  And with the ability to connect Twitter and Facebook, as well as various other social applications, that information is posted on various platforms all at the same time.  Making it impossible to “unsend” or delete a single comment.  The digital footprint, if you will, is much larger and by far much more permanent in the sphere of social media law.

With this publicly available rant or blunder, more and more litigants are beginning to see social media reports come up in their cases.  Facebook and MySpace postings are being used to impeach witnesses or simply contradict their testimony in litigation.  It happened in People v. Franco, 2009 WL 3165840 (Cal. App. Ct. Oct. 5, 2009), where a jury convicted the defendant Franco of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence.  The day before the accident Franco posted the following on her MySpace page, “If you find me on the freeway and you can keep up I have a really bad habit of racing random people.”  A simple, potentially harmless amusing statement when it was posted on a public forum, but it created room for liability on the part of Franco.

So what do you do to deal with these possible issues?  Check Social Media Risk & Compliance companies such as Global Executive Board, which provide strategic consulting on these issues.  It’s better to get it done now, then to figure it out after a liabilities blood-shed.

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