Sardar Law Firm

Archive for May, 2011|Monthly archive page

Why you should never use legal documents on the Internet. Seriously.

In Entrepreneurs and Social Media, Technology Issues and the Law on May 2011 at 7:10 pm

With the Internet so accessible it is easy to forget the unreliability of the content found online. Specifically, when it comes to legal documents, if found online, one should never use them. Let’s discuss why it’s a bad idea to use legal documents found on the Internet:

(1) Unknown author: while the Internet allows you to be whoever you want, this causes many users a lot of distress. Since you do not know who wrote the document, it could have been written or scanned by anyone. Also you do not know when this document was uploaded so it might also be outdated. Also, since this document could have been written by anyone, the wording and terminology could be completely incorrect and prove to be embarrassing with the person you are working with. This could cause you a potential loss of business and reputation.

(2). Not relevant: legal documents, while usually the same basic format, are typically structured on a case by case basis. The document that you find online is likely to not fit your situation exactly, which can do more harm than good if it is ever disputed.

(3). Wrong state:  statutes vary from one state to the next, what is legal in one state may not be legal in yours. By using a document found online you could be potentially breaking the law.

(4). Copyright:  Often legal documents will contain copyright laws and depending on the state, if caught using a document with a copyright, many fines could potentially be imposed.

(5). Lack of validity: Specifically divorce papers and incorporation documents are invalid when placed online. They are designed to look official but often do not follow the correct format. Many states have strict rules against submitting any document that is not officially recognized by the state.

If you decide to use a legal document found on the Internet, consult with a lawyer first before taking any further steps. This will save you a lot of personal and possible legal trouble in the long run.

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Privacy… What?

In Entrepreneurs and Social Media, Social Media, Technology Issues and the Law on May 2011 at 7:08 pm

Privacy has always been a big deal, with social media, the question is – where does the right to privacy exist and who guarantees this right?

Justice William O. Douglas established in the 1960s that the right to privacy is a right so fundamental to the individual, is it located in the, “penumbras” and “emanations” of the Constitution. Yet living in the age of the Internet, the line between what is and isn’t private is dimmed.  In an Internet filled with endless, open possibilities, can privacy exist?  Shouldn’t the individual be guaranteed some form of privacy on the Internet, where they can freely express themselves or an aspect of their life without having to face the consequences later on by the public eye?

California began the quest to figure out this privacy conundrum in 2003 with its Online Privacy Protection Act (Calif. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 22575-22578), which “requires an operator, defined as a person or entity that collects personally identifiable information from California residents through an Internet Web site or online service for commercial purposes, to post a conspicuous privacy policy on its Web site or online service and to comply with that policy.” In Nebraska it is prohibited to,  “knowingly making a false or misleading statement in a privacy policy, published on the Internet or otherwise distributed or published, regarding the use of personal information submitted by members of the public” (Nebraska Stat. § 87-302(14)).

While California says that privacy can exist within social media, New York courts say otherwise. In a recent case, Romano v Steelcase Inc(2010), Katherine Romano had suffered an injury, which would permit her from doing activities such a dancing, yet the defendant, after acquiring a Notice for Discovery and Inspection CPLR 3120, accessed her private Facebook account, revealing an “active lifestyle.”  Thus the New York Supreme Court ruled in the defendants favor, establishing that nothing put on the Internet is completely private.

While this setting of limitations on our privacy may not be convenient, it needs to be known that we unfortunately give up these privacy rights when we enter into a contract with social media. By making the choice to publish our lives on Facebook and Myspace, is it our responsibility to be aware of how exactly we are being protected?  These social media sites clearly warn their users that “complete privacy is not guaranteed,” so one cannot argue that they were uninformed.

– Research contributed by Amy Omar