MIRLN (Misc. IT Related Legal News) is a free product for members of the American Bar Association’s Cyberspace Law Committee, et al., and is produced by KnowConnect PLLC.
Members of the ABA Cyberspace Law Committee automatically receive MIRLN postings (about every third week); members can manage their subscriptions at http://www.abanet.org/dch/committee.cfm?com=CL320000 (find the “Listserves” box; MIRLN comes through the CLCC-MEMS listserve). Others who wish to be added to the MIRLN distribution list should send email to Vince Polley (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org?subject=MIRLN) with the word “MIRLN” in the subject line, and similarly will be removed from the distribution list after sending email to Vince with the words “MIRLN REMOVAL” in the subject line.
Recent MIRLN issues are archived at www.knowconnect.com/mirln.
**************End of Introductory Note***************
U.S. ARMY WARNS OF TWITTERING TERRORISTS (CNET, 26 Oct 2008) - The U.S. intelligence community is concerned that terrorists might use micro-blogging tool Twitter to coordinate attacks, according to a purported draft Army intelligence report posted on the Web. The report--present by the 304th Military Intelligence Battalion and posted to the Federation of American Scientists Web site--examines the possible ways terrorists could use mobile and Web technologies such as the Global Positioning System, digital maps, and Twitter mashups to plan and execute terrorist attacks. The report, which appears to have been first presented earlier this month, was reported Friday by Wired magazine’s Noah Shachtman. A chapter titled “Potential for Terrorist Use of Twitter,” presents general, introductory information on Twitter and how it works, and describes how the service was used to report details of a recent earthquake in Los Angeles and by activists at the Republican National Convention. The report goes on to say: “Twitter is already used by some members to post and/or support extremist ideologies and perspectives. Extremist and terrorist use of Twitter could evolve over time to reflect tactics that are already evolving in use by hacktivists and activists for surveillance. This could theoretically be combined with targeting.” The report also described scenarios in which terrorists could leverage “potential adversarial use of Twitter,” such as planning ambushes or detonating explosives. http://news.cnet.com/8301-1009_3-10075487-83.html?part=rss&subj=news&tag=2547-1009_3-0-20
CISCO STUDY HIGHLIGHTS COMMON FAILURES OF ENTERPRISE SECURITY POLICIES (eWeek, 28 Oct 2008) - As actor Paul Newman’s character said in “Cool Hand Luke”: “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.” The well-known quip is relevant to IT security in many enterprises. According to a survey by InsightExpress, one of the key issues surrounding IT is that many employees simply do not understand or know the security policies their company has in place. The survey was sponsored by Cisco Systems and gathered responses from more than 2,000 employees and IT professionals in 10 countries. What was found was disturbing, if not startling—when asked if their companies had a security policy, there was a 20 to 30 percent gap between what IT professionals said and what other employees said. The largest gaps—31 percent—were in companies in the United States, Brazil and Italy. Taken at face value, what this means is that many employees are oblivious to the security policies a company has in place. Most of the time security policies were passed along to employees via e-mail; an easy way of disseminating information perhaps, but not necessarily the most effective. Beyond the communication factor, there is also a gap between IT’s perceptions of why policies are violated and employees’ true motivations. When employees were asked why they broke security policies, the most popular responses in all 10 countries were either that the policies don’t align with the realities of their job, they need access to applications not included in the policy, or both. When IT pros were asked why employees violated policy, the most popular answers were variations on the theme of apathy and a lack of awareness. http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Security/Cisco-Study-Highlights-Common-Failures-of-Enterprise-Security-Policies/
AUTHORS, PUBLISHERS SETTLE COPYRIGHT SUIT AGAINST GOOGLE (SiliconValley.com, 28 Oct 2008) - Consumers may soon be able to search, preview and buy millions of hard-to-find books, thanks to a deal announced Tuesday between Google and major copyright holders. The deal, which settles a 3-year-old lawsuit, allows Google to scan in and make available any out-of-print book that still has a valid copyright. It can offer subscriptions to universities to its database of such books, sell online access to individual tomes and eventually let consumers print books on demand. “Readers are . . . big winners under the settlement,” said Roy Blount Jr., president of the Authors Guild, which had sued Google. Their dispute, which also involved book publishers, focused on Google’s Book Search program launched in late 2004. It scanned in books from the libraries of such universities as Harvard, Stanford and the University of Michigan to make those libraries more easily searchable for the general public, even displaying snippets of books in response to queries. But Google launched the program without getting the permission of publishers and authors. Rights holders objected to the service, charging that Google stood to profit from their works without compensating them. The Authors Guild and a collection of publishers sued Google in 2005 in U.S. District Court in New York. Under the settlement, which still needs court approval, Google has agreed to pay about $125 million. It will give copyright holders an upfront payment of about $45 million, agree to share proceeds from future book-search-derived revenue and help establish a registry of rights holders to collect and distribute those proceeds. Google will have few limitations on books that are out of print. Unless rights holders explicitly ask Google not to, the company will be able scan such books, display up to 20 percent of their contents and sell subscriptions or individual access to them. The company will be able to do similar things with in-print books, but only with the explicit permission of authors and publishers. http://www.siliconvalley.com/news/ci_10835920?nclick_check=1 Settlement here: http://www.steptoe.com/assets/attachments/3632.pdf
OUTSOURCING, OPEN SOURCE AND BUDGET CUTS (InsideHigherEd, 29 Oct 2008) - It turns out information technology wasn’t immune to the past year’s worsening economic conditions. As colleges across the country adjust their budgets and prepare for possible belt tightening ahead, support for campus network and computing functions could take a hit. The evidence can be found in the 2008 Campus Computing Project survey of IT in American higher education, released today at the annual Educause conference, held this week in Orlando. The survey also highlights trends that show no signs of slowing down, such as outsourcing of e-mail services and adoptions of mass notification systems for security purposes, and pinpoints some changes to watch for in the future, such as the acceptance of open source and use of clickers in the classroom. This year’s survey, culled from 531 respondents over the Web from September to October of this year, covers the spectrum of institutions from two-year public colleges to doctoral research universities. As with last year, the No. 1 issue on IT administrators’ minds is network and data security, with 20.3 percent saying it topped their list of concerns. More security incidents on campus continue to result from thefts of computers containing sensitive data as well as intentional employee misconduct, a trend the survey first picked up on last year. While hacking and network attacks continue to be the most-reported security breaches, the frequency of such incidents continues to decrease, from over 50 percent of responding institutions in 2005 to just over 25 percent this year. Ever since last year’s shooting deaths at Virginia Tech, colleges have been scrambling to update their emergency response plans and install instant notification systems that contact students via text message, e-mail and even physical loudspeakers. The survey reports that a year and a half later, nationwide progress is almost complete — with 5.5 percent of respondents reporting that they don’t have such a system in place, compared to 25 percent last year. (That number is highest for community colleges, at 13.1 percent without a system, and lowest for private universities, at 2.3 percent.) http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2008/10/29/computing
SOCIAL NETWORKS, THE NEXT EDUCATIONAL TOOL? (InsideHigherEd, 30 Oct 2008) - At last year’s Educause conference, in Seattle, educators pondered what to do about students’ technology habits. Should they try to change them? Accept that they’re here to stay? Try to co-opt them? A lot can change in a year. Many colleges seem to have moved on from the question of whether to follow students’ lead on technologies they prefer, from Web-based e-mail to Facebook to text messaging. Now, the dilemma they face is whether to adapt students’ existing habits — of messaging each other, checking each other’s profiles and browsing upcoming parties — to the educational realm. A study conducted this year at Arizona State University sought to take a closer look at first-year students’ use of social networks, mainly Facebook and MySpace. While many of its findings aren’t surprising on the whole, the survey suggests potentially useful conclusions for educators thinking about how to use social networks to reach out to students — both as college applicants and as enrolled pupils. http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2008/10/30/social
SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES “GOOD FOR BUSINESSES” (Reuters, 29 Oct 2008) - Good news for workers addicted to Facebook, Bebo and MySpace -- a British think-tank says bosses should not stop their staff using social networking sites because they could actually benefit their firms. The report by Demos said encouraging employees to use networking technologies to build relationships and closer links with colleagues and customers could help businesses rather than damage them. Author Peter Bradwell said that while companies were using specific systems to share information, online social networking sites could also play a role, helping with productivity, innovation and democratic working. However, he said there should be practical guidelines to limit non-work usage. “Bans on Facebook or YouTube are in any case almost impossible to enforce; firms may as well try to put a time limit on the numbers of minutes allowed each day for gossiping,” he wrote. “The answer is not to close down staff access to social network platforms, nor is it investing blindly in collaborative platforms. “Rather, we argue that we need to understand how, once we accept the implications of social networks, we can manage the new challenges and trade-offs.” His research concluded that trying to control the use of sites such as Facebook, which alone boasts more than 100 million users worldwide, could even harm organizations. http://tech.yahoo.com/news/nm/20081029/wr_nm/us_britain_facebook_2
COURT RULES INTERACTIVE SITE ALONE NOT ENOUGH FOR JURISDICTION (BNA’s Internet Law News, 30 Oct 2008) – BNA’s Electronic Commerce & Law Report reports that a federal court in Illinois has ruled that the mere existence of an interactive hotel Web site does not give guests a carte blanche to sue the hotel for injuries wherever the Web site is accessible. The court said that Web accessibility alone did not create the minimum contacts required to exercise jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant in Illinois. Case name is Linehan v. Golden Nugget.
“RED FLAG” IDENTITY THEFT RULES APPLY TO UNSUSPECTING BUSINESSES; FTC EXTENDS COMPLIANCE DEADLINE (Duane Morris Client Advisory, 30 Oct 2008) - The FTC recently announced that it would push back the compliance date for its recent “red flag” rules from November 1, 2008 to May 1, 2009. The “red flag” rules and guidelines require financial institutions and creditors to formulate and implement identity theft prevention programs. In a recent enforcement policy statement, the FTC explained that the new rules applied to a wide range of industries and entities, many of which were not aware until very recently that they would be considered a “financial institution” or “creditor” for purposes of the rules. Many of these businesses were generally not required to comply with FTC rules in other contexts and had not been aware of the red flag rules. Additional rules that were published at the same time as the red flag rules apply specifically to credit and debit card issuers and to certain users of consumer reports and still require compliance by November 1, 2008.
YOUTUBE DEEP VIDEO LINKS GO LIVE (CNET, 30 Oct 2008) - On Thursday YouTube introduced a new feature which lets users send a link to a video that will start at the precise time they’ve selected. Similar standalone Web services have offered workarounds for such a feature, however YouTube has gone above and beyond by integrating this into the comments section of each video. Any time a user writes in a time in their comment, YouTube’s system will parse it over and create one of these deep links. For example if you say “The explosion in 2:10 blew my mind” the 2:10 becomes a link to that specific part of the video. So far this only works on direct video URLs and not embedded clips. The time you want the video to start must be appended by hand with #t=_m_s at the end. You have control over the minutes and seconds, which are what go where the underscores are. To show you how this works, [t]here’s a quick demo. http://news.cnet.com/8301-17939_109-10079170-2.html?part=rss&subj=news&tag=2547-1_3-0-5
FEDERAL COURT LIMITS PATENTS ON BUSINESS METHODS (New York Times, 31 Oct 2008) - The decade of patents on business methods looks to be ending. Ten years ago, in a case called State Street Bank vs. Signature Financial Group, a federal circuit court found that novel methods for doing business on computers were patentable. That opened the gates to a flood of “business method patents” of features like Amazon.com’s “1-Click” checkout and Priceline.com’s “name your own price” tools, which involve less technological ingenuity than ethereal inventiveness and legal muscle. This year, the State Street ruling was challenged by a closely observed case that is generally known as re Bilski. On Thursday, the dozen judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled 9 to 3 to reverse the State Street ruling and end the era of business method patents. In the ruling, the judges said that a proper test for determining patent eligibility is whether an invention is tied to a particular machine or whether it transforms a physical article. The decision will probably be appealed to the Supreme Court, but the larger question is whether the Supremes will hear Bilski or simply let business method patents die quietly. (There is some good analysis of the decision at Techdirt, Patently-O and Groklaw.) The impact of the Bilksi decision will probably be felt most in technology circles, where business method patents have been used to build start-ups and conduct cross-licensing agreements, and by small “troll” firms to legally assault large technology companies. The tech giants “will breathe a sigh of relief,” said Kevin G. Rivette, the former vice president for intellectual property strategy at I.B.M. The trolls will now have considerably weaker legal ammunition, he said. http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/10/30/federal-court-kills-patents-on-business-methods/?pagemode=prints Good analysis of the case here: http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20081030-appeals-court-limits-software-business-method-patents.html
GET THE (INSTANT) MESSAGE, DUDE! (ABA Journal, Nov 2008) - Three different times last summer, I was standing in a line behind teenagers and saw one turn to another and say, “I wish my mom texted.” In fairness, I didn’t hear anyone wish his or her lawyer texted, but I have heard several lawyers tell me their clients want them to use instant messaging. Studies indicate that 2 trillion (yes, trillion) instant messages were sent in 2007. There is a generational aspect to instant messaging, as anyone whose cell plan includes a teenager well knows. However, instant messaging has become increasingly common in the business setting and among cell phone users. And the growing frustration with e-mail has led to use of messaging as an alternative. But some law firms actually prohibit the use of instant messages. It’s time to rethink that approach because lawyers can no longer ignore the medium of messaging. What do you need to know and how should you get started? First and foremost, treat messaging as a serious communication medium—not a fad or toy. Messaging has powerful benefits in many settings, and it addresses problems shared by both e-mail and telephone. http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/get_the_instant_message_dude/
NO MORE PIRATED DVDS FROM CHINA...MAYBE (CNET, 31 Oct 2008) – If you’ve been copying DVDs using some made-in-China DVD player, think about taking good care of the device, as you might not be able to buy a replacement. The Motion Picture Association of America on Friday announced that its member companies have won a breach of contract lawsuit against China-based DVD player manufacturer Gowell Electronics Limited. The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California issued a permanent injunction that prohibits the manufacturer from violating any term of the Content Scramble System license agreement. The lawsuit started in June of 2008 after an MPAA investigation revealed that Gowell was manufacturing and selling DVD players that lacked the appropriate implementation of the CSS license agreement. CSS technology is a security measure that controls unauthorized access to and copying of copyrighted content on DVDs. The CSS license mandates the content protection that enables film studios to provide consumers with more than 84,000 DVD titles, including 12,000 new titles last year alone. The motion picture studios are third-party beneficiaries of the CSS license and may enforce it against licensees who fail to comply with its terms. While this is the ninth such case in which a court has issued a permanent injunction banning future violations of the license, this time the plaintiffs are allowed to review and test any new or re-engineered products that incorporate the CSS technology before going to market. http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10080559-93.html
PROPELLED BY INTERNET, BARACK OBAMA WINS PRESIDENCY (Wired, 4 Nov 2008) - Barack Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States Tuesday night, crowning an improbable two-year climb that owes much of its success to his command of the internet as a fundraising and organizing tool. Both Obama and Republican rival John McCain relied on the net to bolster their campaigns. But Obama’s online success dwarfed his opponent’s, and proved key to his winning the presidency. Volunteers used Obama’s website to organize a thousand phone-banking events in the last week of the race -- and 150,000 other campaign-related events over the course of the campaign. Supporters created more than 35,000 groups clumped by affinities like geographical proximity and shared pop-cultural interests. By the end of the campaign, myBarackObama.com chalked up some 1.5 million accounts. And Obama raised a record-breaking $600 million in contributions from more than three million people, many of whom donated through the web. “He’s run a campaign where he’s used very modern tools, spoke to a new coalition, talked about new issues, and along the way, he’s reinvented the way campaigns are run,” says Simon Rosenberg, president and founder of the nonprofit think-tank NDN, and a veteran of Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign. “Compared to our 1992 campaign, this is like a multi-national corporation versus a non-profit.” Ironically, it was McCain who first saw the internet’s potential in a presidential race, running an experimental set of targeted banner ads during his doomed 1999 primary battle against George W. Bush. But eight years later, Obama finally teased out the net’s full potential as an election tool. The campaign’s commitment to online organizing took shape during the primaries, when it hired online director Joe Rospars, a veteran of Howard Dean’s web-heavy 2004 campaign, and lured Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes to build its own social networking site, myBarackObama.com. Hughes was intrigued by the challenge. “We were going to be taking on some of the biggest names in politics,” Hughes recalled in an interview last week. As the presidential race heated up, the internet grew from being the medium of a core group of political junkies to a gateway for millions of ordinary Americans to participate in the political process, donating odd amounts of their spare time to their candidate through online campaign tools. Obama’s campaign carefully designed its web site to maximize group collaboration, while at the same time giving individual volunteers tasks they could follow on their own schedules. The scale of Obama’s campaign reached massive proportions. By Election Day, for example, it was asking its cadres of volunteers to make a million phone calls to get out the vote. In addition to fostering grassroots supporters with its social networking tool, the Obama campaign contacted hard-to-reach young voters through text messages, collecting thousands of numbers at rallies and sending out texts at strategic moments to ask for volunteer help or remind recipients to vote. The campaign also launched web pages and online action groups to fight the underground, e-mail whisper campaigns and robo-calls that surfaced in battleground states. In one effort, the campaign urged supporters to send out counterviral e-mails responding to false rumors about Obama’s personal background and tax policies. http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2008/11/propelled-by-in.html and Youth Turnout Rate Rises to at Least 52%: http://www.civicyouth.org/ ; Transition website goes live on 6 November: http://change.gov/
IN ERA OF BLOG SNIPING, COMPANIES SHOOT FIRST (New York Times, 5 Nov 2008) -- During past downturns, layoffs were mostly a private affair. Big companies tended to issue vague press releases filled with jargon about “downsizing,” and start-ups often gave people the pink slip without telling the world anything at all. Not anymore. In the age of transparency, the layoff will be blogged. Elon Musk, chief executive of the electric-car company Tesla Motors in San Carlos, Calif., said that he had no choice other than to blog about the Oct. 15 layoffs at the closely watched company — even though some employees had not yet been told they were losing their jobs. Valleywag, a Silicon Valley gossip blog owned by Gawker Media, had already published the news, and it was being picked up by traditional media reporters, Mr. Musk said. “We had to say something to prevent articles being written that were not accurate.” Blogging about staff cuts is particularly prevalent in Silicon Valley, where tech gossip sites pounce on every rumor and Web-savvy employees broadcast their every thought on personal blogs and Twitter feeds. Companies feel pressure to break bad news on their own blogs so that they can better control the message. However, experts in human resources and public relations say it is only a matter of time before companies of all sizes and in all industries will feel compelled to blog about painful news. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/05/technology/start-ups/05blog.html?_r=2&ref=business&oref=slogin&oref=slogin
WIFI GAINS STRENGTH IN CITIES (Washington Post, 5 Nov 2008) - Over the past three years, large cities and rural towns promised to bring WiFi to every street corner, park bench and doorstep. The wireless service was to be the key to extending cheap Internet access to underserved areas and low-income neighborhoods. But the efforts largely fell flat as Internet service providers abandoned the projects, which proved to be far more expensive than expected, leaving cities such as Philadelphia and Chicago -- as well as Alexandria and Arlington -- disconnected and discontent. Many municipalities decided to move forward by investing in the technology themselves. The souring economy has further encouraged some cities to experiment with building their own networks as a way to spur economic development. Having a stake in the network means police officers, building inspectors and paramedics, for example, can access the network while working in the field, and the government can sell excess capacity to residents and businesses. Some communities are providing free WiFi to attract shops and offices to slumping areas. Such experiments come as federal officials try to shape broadband policies. The United States has fallen behind other countries in terms of broadband speed and reach, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, an international organization. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/04/AR2008110403443.html
BEFORE YOU CLICK ‘BUY,’ SEARCH FOR COUPONS (CNET, 6 Nov 2008) - There I was, about to order something from Buy.com for Mrs. Cheapskate (am I way ahead on holiday shopping? Yes I am!), when I noticed the ever-popular Promotion Code box. Rats, I thought--I don’t have a promotion code. But then, a light bulb: maybe the Web does. A quick Google search later (“Buy.com promotion code”), I’d snagged a 5-percent-off coupon. Total savings: $7.50. Not a fortune by any stretch, but a pretty good return on my 30-second Google effort. There’s also a site called DealLocker that collects coupons under one roof for easier searching and browsing. I’ve done this a few times before. While at the checkout page for an online store, I’ll pop open a new browser tab and search for coupon codes. Sometimes the results are fruitful, like today, but not always. Sometimes the codes are expired or invalid. But, hey, it never hurts to try. The moral of the story: a few minutes of searching can often save you a few bucks--and maybe even more than a few. Give it a try the next time you buy. http://news.cnet.com/8301-13845_3-10083201-58.html?part=rss&subj=news&tag=2547-1_3-0-5
HALLIBURTON TRIES TO PATENT FORM OF PATENT TROLLING (Techdirt, 7 Nov 2008) - We see all sorts of ridiculous patent applications and patents, but my favorites tend to be the patents that have to do with patents themselves (such as the patent app on a method for filing a patent). However, the folks over at Patently-O have highlighted a fascinating patent application from an attorney at Halliburton, which appears to be an attempt to patent the process of patent trolling. The application covers, quite explicitly, having a company (we’ll say Company A) that does not invent something, find a company (Company B) that did invent something, but chose to use trade secret protection, rather than patents. Then, the Company A files a patent covering Company B’s technology, and then use the issued patent to get money out of Company B. http://techdirt.com/articles/20081107/0118162765.shtml Application at http://appft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=/netahtml/PTO/search-bool.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PG01&s1=20080270152&OS=20080270152&RS=20080270152
FAIR USE GROUP COMES UP WITH CLASSROOM COPYRIGHT PRIMER (ArsTechnica, 11 Nov 2008) - As various forms of media have gone digital, it has become far easier to make exact copies of material, including material that happens to be under copyright. Content owners have attempted to restrict the copying of this media through laws like the DMCA and legal campaigns against file-sharing, but these efforts have often ignored the concept of fair use entirely. A group of academics involved in media studies has now issued a series of fair use best practices, some of which apply to an audience well beyond the group that drafted the document. The field of media studies is expected to be especially sensitive to fair use, as the text of the guidelines notes. The basic material it covers will often be covered by copyright, meaning that even the preparing of a course outline or readying lecture materials will often involve making copies of copyrighted text, images, music, or videos. Any class assignments are likely to require that their students wind up duplicating copyrighted works, too. As a result, it’s no surprise that the field is especially sensitive to copyright and fair use. http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20081111-fair-use-group-comes-up-with-classroom-copyright-primer.html [The referenced best practice resource is here: http://www.centerforsocialmedia.org/resources/publications/code_for_media_literacy_education/]
AFTER BANNING YOUTUBE, MILITARY LAUNCHES TROOPTUBE (Washington Post, 11 Nov 2008) - The U.S. military, with help from Seattle startup Delve Networks, has launched a video-sharing Web site for troops, their families and supporters, a year and a half after restricting access to YouTube and other video sites. TroopTube, as the new site is called, lets people register as members of one of the branches of the armed forces, family, civilian Defense Department employees or supporters. Members can upload personal videos from anywhere with an Internet connection, but a Pentagon employee screens each for taste, copyright violations and national security issues. Part of Delve’s work was to build speedy tools for approving and sorting incoming videos. Its technology also crunches video files into several sizes and automatically plays the one that best suits viewers’ Internet connection speeds. But the startup’s real forte is making sure searches on the site turn up the best video results. Delve’s system turns a video’s sound into a text transcript. It pares unimportant words like “this” and “that,” then compares what’s left against a massive database of words commonly uttered in proximity to each other, collected from crawling hundreds of millions of Web pages. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/11/AR2008111101741.html
GOOGLE USES SEARCHES TO TRACK FLU’S SPREAD (New York Times, 12 Nov 2008) - There is a new common symptom of the flu, in addition to the usual aches, coughs, fevers and sore throats. Turns out a lot of ailing Americans enter phrases like “flu symptoms” into Google and other search engines before they call their doctors. Tests of the new Web tool from Google.org, the company’s philanthropic unit, suggest that it may be able to detect regional outbreaks of the flu a week to 10 days before they are reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In early February, for example, the C.D.C. reported that the flu cases had recently spiked in the mid-Atlantic states. But Google says its search data show a spike in queries about flu symptoms two weeks before that report was released. Its new service at google.org/flutrends analyzes those searches as they come in, creating graphs and maps of the country that, ideally, will show where the flu is spreading. The C.D.C. reports are slower because they rely on data collected and compiled from thousands of health care providers, labs and other sources. Some public health experts say the Google data could help accelerate the response of doctors, hospitals and public health officials to a nasty flu season, reducing the spread of the disease and, potentially, saving lives. Google Flu Trends avoids privacy pitfalls by relying only on aggregated data that cannot be traced to individual searchers. To develop the service, Google’s engineers devised a basket of keywords and phrases related to the flu, including thermometer, flu symptoms, muscle aches, chest congestion and many others. Google then dug into its database, extracted five years of data on those queries and mapped it onto the C.D.C.’s reports of influenzalike illness. Google found a strong correlation between its data and the reports from the agency, which advised it on the development of the new service. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/12/technology/internet/12flu.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin
TEXAS COURT DECLINES NOTICE OF WIKIPEDIA ENTRY (BNA’s Internet Law News, 13 Nov 2008) - BNA’s Electronic Commerce & Law Report reports that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals held Oct. 23 in an unpublished opinion that the fact that anyone can anonymously edit content on Wikipedia makes content on the site inappropriate for judicial notice. Case name is Flores v. State.
FOR A WASHINGTON JOB, BE PREPARED TO TELL ALL (New York Times, 13 Nov 2008) - Want a top job in the Obama administration? Only pack rats need apply, preferably those not packing controversy. A seven-page questionnaire being sent by the office of President-elect Barack Obama to those seeking cabinet and other high-ranking posts may be the most extensive — some say invasive — application ever. The questionnaire includes 63 requests for personal and professional records, some covering applicants’ spouses and grown children as well, that are forcing job-seekers to rummage from basements to attics, in shoe boxes, diaries and computer archives to document both their achievements and missteps. Only the smallest details are excluded; traffic tickets carrying fines of less than $50 need not be reported, the application says. Applicants are asked whether they or anyone in their family owns a gun. They must include any e-mail that might embarrass the president-elect, along with any blog posts and links to their Facebook pages. The application also asks applicants to “please list all aliases or ‘handles’ you have used to communicate on the Internet.” http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/13/us/politics/13apply.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin
NIST OFFERS GUIDELINES FOR SECURING CELL PHONES AND PDAS (Steptoe & Johnson’s E-Commerce Law Week, 13 Nov 2008) - The National Institute of Standards and Technology recently released a set of “Guidelines on Cell Phone and PDA Security.” These guidelines note that the size, portability, and wireless interfaces of cell phones and PDAs can expose these devices to loss, theft, unauthorized access, malware, spam, and electronic eavesdropping and tracking. In an effort to mitigate these threats, the guidelines recommend that organizations encrypt any sensitive information stored on cell phones or PDAs, use passwords and other means of authentication to control access to these devices, and establish a “mobile device security policy,” among other actions. While the guidelines were prepared for use by Federal agencies, NIST notes that they may also be used by business and other nongovernmental organizations. The guidelines could thus offer another source for future courts and regulators to consult when determining whether a company had “adequate” security measures in place when they suffered a data breach. http://www.steptoe.com/publications-5706.html NIST guidelines here: http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/nistpubs/800-124/SP800-124.pdf [Editor: among the recommendations are: “enable non-cellular wireless interfaces only when needed” and “minimize functionality”.]
CORPORATE GOVERNANCE OF PUBLIC WEB SITES (Law.com, 14 Nov 2008) - The Securities and Exchange Commission’s interpretive guidance released in August on the use of company Web sites for compliance with the disclosure requirements under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and the antifraud provisions of the securities laws highlights the need to include Web site review as part of a public company’s corporate governance program. This SEC Web site release is part of the SEC’s continued efforts to promote the use of a company Web site as a disclosure vehicle for the dissemination of important information to investors. The release focuses on the SEC’s existing position that provisions of the federal securities laws apply to information posted on or hyperlinked to the company’s Web site. From a corporate governance perspective, as the corporate Web site and securities regulatory compliance become more intertwined, the Web site not only serves as a communications medium, but also as a compliance tool that has to be appropriately managed. This article describes methods of effectively complying with the new SEC guidance related to company Web sites. http://www.law.com/jsp/legaltechnology/pubArticleLT.jsp?id=1202426010486&rss=newswire
**** RESOURCES ****
WHY I BLOG (by Andrew Sullivan, The Atlantic, November 2008) – Interesting, useful perspective on becoming a blogger. http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200811/andrew-sullivan-why-i-blog
E-DISCOVERY LEGAL GUIDES (Law.com, 7 Nov 2008) - Lawyer Michael Arkfeld is a leading expert on electronic data discovery and author of the treatise, Arkfeld on Electronic Discovery and Evidence. Recently, Arkfeld (a member of Law Technolony News’s Editorial Advisory Board) launched a comprehensive e-discovery Web site, Arkfeld’s eLawExchange. A standout feature of this free site is a database of e-discovery case law and rules from all 50 states. Enter a keyword and select a state to find the applicable entries, or simply select a state to find all cases from that jurisdiction. A second database contains information on individuals and companies that provide EDD services and consulting. Other features of the site include articles on EDD and a collection of “litigation intelligence links” to Web resources that are particularly useful to litigators. http://www.law.com/jsp/legaltechnology/pubArticleLT.jsp?id=1202425845155&rss=newswire eLawExchange (free registration required): http://www.elawexchange.com/
SOURCES (inter alia):
1. The Filter, a publication of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, http://cyber.law.harvard.edu.
2. Edupage, http://www.educause.edu/pub/edupage/edupage.html.
3. SANS Newsbites, email@example.com.
4. NewsScan and Innovation, http://www.newsscan.com.
5. BNA’s Internet Law News, http://ecommercecenter.bna.com.
6. Crypto-Gram, http://www.schneier.com/crypto-gram.html.
7. McGuire Wood’s Technology & Business Articles of Note, http://tinyurl.com/ywsusp
8. Steptoe & Johnson’s E-Commerce Law Week, www.steptoe.com
9. Eric Goldman’s Technology and Marketing Law Blog, http://blog.ericgoldman.org/.
10. Readers’ submissions, and the editor’s discoveries.
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/us/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 543 Howard Street, 5th Floor, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.
PRIVACY NOTICE: E-mail addresses of individuals who subscribe to this periodic e-newsletter by sending email to Vince Polley with “MIRLN” in the subject line are kept by Vince Polley; this listing will not be provided to any other persons.