Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Towson University Locker Room Recording Scandal May Cost Millions

The Washington Post, has reported that a Towson University diving coach was indicted on criminal charges by a grand jury for allegedly utilizing a cell phone to tape record student-athletes inside of a women's locker room on campus.  According to Baltimore County Circuit records, Maureen Mead who is married to Pat Mead who is the head coach of the women's diving team has been charged with Interception of Communication, Peeping Tom, and Altering Physical Evidence.

These are serious crimes and its possible that after the facts have been uncovered that federal charges may be forthcoming.  It wouldn't surprise me if Towson University is sued for millions of dollars by the student-athletes who were recorded.  Last year, Johns Hopkins Hospital settled a lawsuit for $190 million dollars where a doctor had illegally tape recorded his patients.

How many other times did Maureen Mead tape record student-athletes in the locker room? Why were the recordings created in the first place?  How were these recordings re-purposed? There are a lot of questions that still need to be answered.  The bottom line is that it may be prudent for Towson University to set aside several million dollars to investigate and resolve this matter.  

Copyright 2015 by The Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Emoji (and the law): The Oxford Dictionary Word of The Year

The Oxford Dictionaries have chosen "emoji" as the word of the year.  According to the Oxford University Press, the use of the word "emoji" has increased "hugely" this year so it was natural for it to become the word of the year.

An emoji or emoticon is a digital icon or image that may be used during electronic interactions to convey an idea or feeling. Utilizing emojis in text messages may be useful because they express a feeling or idea more quickly than a group of words. 

Emojis or emoticons have been slowly showing up in court over the past couple of years. There have been some cases where emojis have been introduced into evidence during trial. As more people utilize these images to convey thoughts or ideas the more these issues will need to be addressed by the judicial system.  

The bottom line is that before sending an emoji in a message or posting it online make sure you understand the legal ramifications.  

Copyright 2015 by The Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Belgian Court Says Facebook Must Stop Tracking Non-Users

In a very promising development, a Belgian court has ruled that Facebook may no longer collect information about non-users. According to The New York Times, the court ruled that Facebook may no longer collect and store digital information from Belgians who do not have a Facebook account due to a lack of consent.

Facebook will appeal the ruling because it wants the right to track everyone on the Internet for monetary purposes.  However, if Facebook loses and fails to abide by the court's decision it may be fined up to $270,000 per day.

I do not trust Facebook with my personal information. Even though I have a personal Facebook account, my profile photo shows my "favorite social media titan," and I have intentionally included incorrect personal information about myself.  I do not utilize the platform to share my personal thoughts or activities because the data is sent to data brokers.  Furthermore, Facebook is not transparent regarding how personal user information is utilized by its business partners.

Its too early to speculate on whether Facebook will ultimately win the case; however, my hope is that other countries around the world including the U.S. require Facebook, Google, etc... to become more transparent about their data collection and utilization practices. Those who do not use Facebook have an expectation that it will not destroy non-users' privacy. We may soon find out if the Belgian judiciary agrees.

Copyright 2015 by The Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC All rights reserved.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Supreme Court Declines Cell Phone Privacy Case

Earlier today, the Supreme Court declined to hear a case regarding whether law enforcement needs a warrant to access the location information of cell phone users.  While the decision to turn down the case may disappoint some privacy advocates it is not surprising.

Earlier this year in Davis v. U.S., the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals determined that it was not necessary for the police to obtain a warrant before accessing cell phone location records.  The defendant was convicted of armed robbery based in part by his cell phone location data. The appeals court opinion compared cell phone location data to security camera surveillance images (page 27 of the opinion) which is an interesting analogy.

In general, absent exigent circumstances (legal jargon for an emergency), a warrant should be required to access the content and meta data associated with one's digital devices.  In the physical world, law enforcement is generally required to obtain a warrant to search one's home or car.  A home or car may contain physical information (i.e. clothing, hard copy paper records, etc...) that may indicate an investigatory target's location history or other relevant data.

Since a warrant is generally required for physical world evidence, a warrant should generally be required for digital world evidence including location information, meta data, etc...I am hoping that the court declined this matter because it is waiting for a test case that will more easily enable them to strengthen our privacy laws.

This denial of cert demonstrates that it is imperative for the privacy community to increase its efforts to better educate the judiciary, state and federal lawmakers, and other stakeholders about digital privacy issues.

Copyright 2015 by The Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC All rights reserved.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Stevenson University Caught Requiring Access To Private Student Facebook Accounts

Playing college athletics is a privilege and not a right. However, student-athletes do not lose their civil rights when they enter the locker room.  In an insightful and troubling ESPN Outside the Lines Report, it was uncovered that a now former student-athlete at Stevenson University was forced to quit her school's athletic team because she refused to abide by an illegal and discriminatory social media policy. The policy required the women's ice hockey student-athletes to provide their coaches access to their personal social media accounts.

Requiring students to provide coaches and administrators access to personal digital accounts is not just a privacy issue but also a personal safety, cyber security, and civil rights matter.  Does a coach have a legal right to demand to see what political candidate a student-athlete supports?  Does a college administrator have a legal right to see if a student-athlete likes a page that may indicate their sexual preference?  Does a coach have a legal right to see all of your personal messages to your friends and family?  

Maryland was the first state in 2012 to enact legislation to generally ban employers from demanding access to personal social media accounts and it was also the first state to introduce legislation to protect students from being required to turn over the same information to schools. While Maryland was the first state to introduce legislation to protect personal student social media accounts it wasn't able to enact a state law on the matter until earlier this year when it became the 13th state to do so.  

While the student-athlete who was profiled by ESPN was harmed by Stevenson University's clearly unethical and illegal social media policy, it doesn't appear she has a claim under Maryland's new student social media privacy law that went into effect on June 1, 2015. However, she may have a claim under the 2012 employee social media privacy law if she worked in some type of capacity for the university. On the federal level, there may be potential Title IX, federal computer crime law (i.e. the Stored Communications Act), Office of Civil Rights claims, etc... If Stevenson University's illegal social media policy was in effect after June 1, 2015 the school may have additional legal challenges on the horizon.

The bar to settle this type of matter was set at $70,000 per student last year when a Minnesota student received this amount to settle a similar situation.  Since the student profiled in the ESPN piece appears to have been clearly harmed by her university's illegal policy her damages may be significantly higher than $70,000. Every student who was told they must provide access to their personal social media account to participate in a school sponsored activity may also be entitled to at least $70,000.

There appears to be approximately 24 students on the Stevenson University Women's ice hockey team this year.  If 24 students participated on last year's team and they were required to provide access to their personal social media accounts, Stevenson University may be on the hook to compensate each student-athlete at least $70,000.  For example, 24*$70,000=$1,680,000 in potential damages just for last year's team.

If last year's social media policy was in effect this year that could cause additional trouble for Stevenson. While the new Maryland law caps state damages at $1,000 per student plus reasonable attorney fees and court costs, this law doesn't affect potential damages under federal law. If the student-athletes band together and obtain joint legal representation they may be able to file a class action lawsuit and the total damages against the university could theoretically reach $2,000,000+.  

Stevenson needs to become transparent about this matter and held accountable.  How long has their illegal and discriminatory social media policy be in effect?  How many students were required to abide by this policy?  Did the policy just apply to female ice hockey players?  If not, who else. These are just some of the many questions that Stevenson must answer.

The bottom line is that universities need to better understand the legal ramifications of their social media policies and engage those who actually understand best practices. The legal issues involved are very serious and trump the personal/university branding issues that many schools focus on.

Copyright 2015 by The Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC All rights reserved.

Friday, October 30, 2015

UK Police May Soon Have Power To View All Users Web History

Privacy is something you don't know you have until you lose it.  Unfortunately, the Internet has gone from the world's greatest communication and knowledge spreading platform to the best surveillance tool ever invented.

According to The Independent, UK police may soon be granted the power to view the web browsing history of everyone in the country.   The alleged bill would require communication companies to retain all web browsing history of its customers for 12 months in case the police or spy agencies want access.  The article claims that the police will still need to go through some type of judicial process to obtain the data.

A user's Internet search history may be very useful for law enforcement.  For example, in the United States, it appears that in the infamous disappearance of Caylee Anthony the police may have forgotten to check all of the Internet browsing history of a computer that was searched.  If all of the browsing history of the computer that was checked was readily accessible in one dashboard would it have changed the outcome of the case?

This potential new UK law is very troubling.  Will phone companies soon be required to tape record every phone call that is made?  Will people soon be required to tape record every personal voice conversation and keep a physical copy of every pen and paper interaction they have?  Will librarians soon be required to track every request by every user and keep it on file for 12 months?

The potential for abuse is tremendous.  Will one be prosecuted for just doing an Internet search about a topic?  Who will have access to it?  Will the proper cyber security and privacy safeguards be implemented to protect the data?  What happens when multiple people utilize a device?  Will everyone eventually be forced to have their own Internet ID # to track everything they do online? How much compensation will one be able to obtain after their browsing history is illegally leaked to the media?   These are just some of the many questions that need to be answered.    

Unfortunately, it sounds as though George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four surveillance society is coming true in the U.K.  Which country will be next?  

Copyright 2015 by The Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC All rights reserved.   

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Snapchat's Troubling New Terms Destroy User Privacy and Safety

Snapchat is an ephemeral messaging app that has become popular with millions of people due to its claim that the content users send using its platform is permanently erased after a certain period of time. This sounds great; however, federal regulators have found otherwise.

According to the FTC, in 2014 Snapchat was caught making false promises to consumers about the amount of content it was collecting and saving about them. This deception led to an FTC settlement that was announced in December of 2014 that prohibits Snapchat from misrepresenting the extent to which it maintains the privacy, security, or confidentiality of users' information.  

Unfortunately, this settlement has not yet encouraged Snapchat to become a company that actually cares about user privacy and personal safety.  For example, Marketwatch.com has reported that Snapchat recently changed its terms of service and the update appears to be very similar to Facebook's terms. Snapchat's new policy states, 

"But you grant Snapchat a worldwide, perpetual, royalty-free, sublicensable, and transferable license to host, store, use, display, reproduce, modify, adapt, edit, publish, create derivative works from, publicly perform, broadcast, distribute, syndicate, promote, exhibit, and publicly display that content in any form and in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed)." 


"To the extent it’s necessary, you also grant Snapchat and our business partners the unrestricted, worldwide, perpetual right and license to use your name, likeness, and voice in any and all media and distribution channels (now known or later developed) in connection with any Live Story or other crowd-sourced content you create, upload, post, send, or appear in. This means, among other things, that you will not be entitled to any compensation from Snapchat or our business partners if your name, likeness, or voice is conveyed through the Services."

In other words, these terms allow Snapchat to publicly display user content and utilize personal data in ways many users most likely do not understand nor would they knowingly agree to. Will Snapchat soon include a clear warning message in front of its app stating that its new terms harm user privacy and safety?  I highly doubt it....:)

I do not trust services that contain the above or similar terms.  Whether its words, photos, or videos, your content is not private nor safe when the above terms govern.  If you don't trust Facebook because of its privacy killing agreements with data brokers you shouldn't trust Snapchat.  It appears not to be a question of if, but when Snapchat enters into similar privacy killing agreements with data brokers.  Will the FTC soon open an investigation into these new terms?

The bottom line is that if you care about your personal privacy and safety you should avoid utilizing Snapchat.  

Copyright 2015 by The Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC All rights reserved.   

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

U.S. Must Pass Judicial Redress Act To Demonstrate International Privacy Leadership

The recent invalidation of the U.S.-E.U. Safe Harbor Agreement by the European Union Court of Justice has demonstrated that the U.S. must enact privacy laws that protect non-U.S. citizens from law enforcement over reach.  The Snowden NSA revelations that were first revealed in 2013 not only angered many American citizens and civil rights advocates, but they also created a schism with Europe regarding government surveillance and digital privacy.
For the past 15 years, companies that do business across the Atlantic have relied on the U.S.-E.U.Safe Harbor Agreement to transfer personal data from the E.U. to the U.S. While this agreement was not perfect, it created a mechanism that was consistent with E.U. data protection directives that enabled companies to process and utilize personal digital data without running afoul of E.U. privacy laws.

Austrian privacy advocate Max Schrems' challenge against Facebook regarding how it handles the data it collects from E.U. users was the catalyst behind the demise of Safe Harbor.  E.U.data protection authorities have given lawmakers in the U.S. and the E.U. three months to negotiate a new treaty to replace the Safe Harbor’s data privacy protocols.  Under E.U. law, personal information may be exported if it is provided the same protections that are offered in the E.U. 

U.S. digital privacy protections are generally stuck in the 1980’s and many of our laws did not anticipate how technology would change over time.  While privacy has been a fundamental human right in the E.U. since 1950, U.S. digital privacy rights have been slow to evolve to catch up with how we are utilizing the many life changing services and devices that are now being deployed. 

Congress is working on strengthening our digital privacy rights but the process has been slow and arduous.  Fortunately, yesterday’s passage of the Judicial Redress Act in the U.S. House of Representatives which will enable foreign citizens to have the same legal rights as U.S. citizens if law enforcement violates their personal privacy rights is a step in the right direction.  While the bill still must be passed in the Senate and signed by the President to become law, this development demonstrates that we are on the right track and hopefully this will help lead to a new U.S.-E.U. Safe Harbor data agreement.  

This legislation and others such as ECPA reform, and the Law Enforcement Access To Data Stored Abroad Act (LEADS) are much needed bills that must be enacted to demonstrate that we will be a beacon for digital privacy rights.  We can have both privacy and security while respecting fundamental human rights.  However, we must showcase this leadership by enacting digital privacy laws that equally protect both U.S. and foreign citizens.  

Copyright 2015 by The Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC All rights reserved.   

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Facebook "Unfriending" May Create Legal Liability

Be careful whom you Facebook "friend" and "unfriend" because this act may have legal consequences.  An employment law case originating in Australia recently mentioned Facebook "Unfriending" in one of its decisions as a point of contention and it wouldn't surprise me if this issue gains more legal significance in similar cases around the world.

According to Wired UK, Australia's Fair Work Commission recently stated that that "unfriending" a work colleague showed a "lack of emotional maturity".  Did the commission declare the act bullying?  No; however, the fact that this was even mentioned demonstrates that the issue was on the minds of the commission's members and that it may play a larger role in future decisions.  

This new development demonstrates the importance of creating reasonable digital policies and training and continually educating employees about online issues.  The bottom line is that every digital mouse click and character posted may have legal repercussions.  Therefore, its imperative to ensure that the legal issues inherent are understood before you "friend" or "unfriend" people on Facebook and other electronic platforms.  

Copyright 2015 by The Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC All rights reserved.     

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Did Volkswagen Violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act?

I was very troubled to learn that Volkswagen has been intentionally misleading consumers, governments, and other industry members about its cars' emissions.  This was obviously an attempt engineered to steal market share away from its competitors, harm consumers, and mislead governments about its practices.  As a former Volkswagen owner, I am outraged by this behavior.

When I recently took my car to have its bi-annual emissions inspection in Maryland, I wondered if the inspection was still really needed because I was under the impression that all cars today adhere to the EPA's emissions standards.  Obviously, Volkswagen's intentionally reckless and illegal behavior will ensure that state emissions testing programs will continue on for years to come.
There are potential FTC Article 5 unfair and deceptive trade practice and state consumer protection violations here.  In addition, it wouldn't surprise me if there are multi-billion dollar class action lawsuits filed.  However, one legal issue that has been largely overlooked is that it appears Volkswagen hacked its own car software for monetary gain.

Investigative Journalist Bob Sullivan was the first reporter to discuss the hacking issue in the proper context.  In a recent article he stated, the "Volkswagen story should be the beginning of some really serious soul searching, perhaps even a turning point for the Internet of Things.  It’s inevitable: our light bulbs, toasters, door bells, and our cars will all communicate some day soon.  We need a rock-solid ethic — not just laws, but a social morality — that machines should never do things unless people know all about them."

Did Volkswagen violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act by intentionally accessing software without car owners' knowledge or consent?  Did it also violate multiple state computer access/hacking laws?

While its too soon to speculate on all of the fallout that will occur, I believe this matter will bring more attention to computer/digital crimes, the Internet of Things, and the privacy and cyber security issues inherent.  My hope is that federal and state authorities make an example out of Volkswagen so other companies are less inclined to follow the same path.

Copyright 2015 by The Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC All rights reserved.  

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Cybersecurity Alert: Porn App Blackmails Users

As a former New Yorker, I loved the Broadway musical "Avenue Q".  There are some Broadway shows that have widespread appeal because they are a microcosm of our society.  The production had many memorable musical numbers; however, one that is timeless is "The Internet is for Porn."

In 2013, more people visited porn websites than Twitter, Amazon, and Netflix combined.  In other words, Avenue Q's "The Internet is For Porn" still resonates with audiences more than 12 years after it was introduced.  Not only have Broadway writers taken note of society's love affair with porn so have hackers and criminals.  

According to CNN, a porn app called, "Adult Player", "secretly takes your photo and locks you out of your digital device and demands $500 to unlock it.  This activity is known as ransomware and it is becoming a growing challenge.  Criminals have even successfully targeted police departments and law firms with these schemes.

To avoid becoming a victim of this type of crime, it is imperative to be careful what you download.  Even if something appears to be legitimate it may be a phishing expedition by a criminal enterprise. Therefore, if an email attachment or link looks suspicious delete it.  If someone really wants to get in touch with you they will figure out a way to do so.    

Copyright 2015 by The Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC All rights reserved.  

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Back To School Student Privacy Issues

Since its back to school time, I thought it would be productive to discuss some digital privacy issues that parents and students should be thinking about.  During this time of the year, student privacy is hot because back to school means filling out Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) forms.  I filled one out over the weekend and I thought about what type of information I want to keep private and what was best for the school to share about my child (and our family) with other parents and the public.  For each parent or guardian, this is a personal decision and there are no wrong answers.  What may work for one family may not work for others.

On another note, be careful about what information you post about your children on various social media platforms.  In particular, be mindful that neither Facebook nor Google are "friends" of children's privacy.  Last year, it was uncovered in federal court that Google was scanning student emails for advertising purposes and I witnessed both Facebook and Google lobbying against stronger student digital data privacy laws in the state of Maryland.  With Facebook's new found interest in the education market, parents should be particularly leery about allowing their children's data to be "friends" with Facebook's data mining machine.

The bottom line is that parents should discuss these and other digital privacy issues with their children as soon as they start utilizing digital devices.  Its never too early to educate your kids about the virtual world that will affect their physical world.

Copyright 2015 by The Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC All rights reserved.  

Monday, September 7, 2015

U.S. Dept. Of Justice v. Microsoft: The Fight For Digital Privacy

Last week, the U.S.government issued new guidance regarding when and how federal law enforcement may deploy cell phone site simulators (i.e. stingray technology) that collect consumer mobile phone/digital device data.  In general, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) will now require federal officials obtain a warrant to deploy these technologies and utilize the data collected.  This change in policy signals that the U.S. government is beginning to understand that it must create reasonable rules and procedures regarding the collection and usage of digital evidence that adheres to the principles of the Fourth Amendment. 

While the federal government has changed its policy regarding the use of cell site simulators, I am perplexed that it hasn’t changed its position about some other digital data privacy issues. For example, in a New York City federal appeals courtroom later this week the DOJ will be squaring off against Microsoft in a matter about digital privacy law that has tremendous international ramifications.  In short, the federal government wants to be able to require U.S. based companies to turn over digital data that is held in foreign based servers without being required to follow the evidence collection laws of the countries where the data is located.  This position is very troubling and goes against well-established national and international law regarding the collection and usage of evidence. 

In general, to obtain physical evidence law enforcement must follow the laws of the jurisdiction where it is located.  In some circumstances jurisdiction occurs by citizenship.  However, here the data is located outside the U.S. and the user (DOJ target) doesn't appear to be American.  Under these facts, I question the DOJ's theory as to why it has the legal authority to obtain the requested information without the cooperation of the government of Ireland.  

The DOJ is arguing that data stored in digital clouds should be treated differently than evidence stored in physical filing cabinets.  Interestingly, the DOJ has so far won its flawed argument in federal court so Microsoft has taken its fight to the federal second circuit  court of appeals.  

Multiple academics (i.e. here and here) have previously written about this case (and so have I) because it sounds like a law school final exam.  For non-lawyers this means that the law is not clear on how to handle this specific situation.  If general jurisprudence on how to handle physical evidence is followed, the DOJ would be required to contact law enforcement agencies in the country (in this case it is Ireland) where the digital data is located.  However, since this is technology, and the information requested is stored in the cloud the courts are grappling with how to handle these issues.

DOJ is claiming (among other things) that since Microsoft (i.e. or other technology providers) has legal control over its servers in Ireland it should be required to turn over the data requested without going through the legal process in Ireland.  With this same argument, a foreign government could in turn claim that it doesn’t have to follow U.S. law when demanding access to U.S. consumer digital data located in the U.S. if the server provider has operations in that foreign country.

If the DOJ wins its legal argument, in addition to foreign governments making the same access demands to digital accounts located in the U.S., a win may also encourage U.S. tech companies to change the legal structure of their foreign subsidiaries to be able to legitimately claim that they do not have the authority to access and/or turn over customer data located in a foreign country.  This may lead to many high paying jobs being transferred from the U.S. to other countries to oversee the operations of these new legal entities. 

Amicus briefs from not only other technology companies, but also from civil rights groups, academic scholars, and privacy advocates supporting Microsoft's position demonstrate that this case is more than just about protecting the bottom line of the U.S. cloud industry. This case goes to the heart of the proper way to handle unique digital law and public policy issues.  Whether its through the federal courts, or via congressional action such as the Law Enforcement Access To Data Stored Abroad (LEADS) Act, or other similar legislation, the U.S. must set an example and take a leadership role on how to properly balance lawful access with personal privacy.  

Regardless of the outcome of this case, it is imperative that a broad international discussion occur on how to handle this and similar burgeoning digital law and public policy issues.  

Copyright 2015 by The Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC All rights reserved.  

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Ballot Selfies, The First Amendment, Privacy, and Public Safety

I was recently contacted by a reporter about the New Hampshire ballot seflie law court case and unfortunately I was not able to get back to the reporter before the article's deadline.  I first recall speaking with the media in 2012 about ballot selfies and at that time it was an activity that seemed ready to dramatically increase.

During the past several years, ballot selfie legal issues have picked up steam because some states have enacted laws focused on banning the practice.  Laws and regulations that ban videos/photos during certain court proceedings and in polling places were enacted due to legitimate personal safety and privacy concerns.  While I am a huge proponent of the First Amendment and frown on undue burdens that limit on speech rights, I am also a believer in strong privacy protections.

Once one is inside the polling area, they should feel confident that their decision to vote will not be broadcast to the public.  In 2012, I told ABC News, "[p]eople should feel free to exercise their constitutional right to vote without fear that their votes may be captured and posted online for the entire world to see...Therefore, it is good public policy to restrict the use of cameras and/or video in a public polling area."  While many state laws limiting photos/videos in polling places were enacted well before selfies become in vogue, these laws are generally technology neutral and apply to all still photos/video recordings.

I am sure we can find a solution that would allow people to prove to others (online and in the real world) whom they voted for without encroaching on the personal privacy and safety of other voters. I don't believe it would make good public policy to allow for the widespread use of cameras in a polling place because the rise of facial recognition and other biometric technologies raises serious personal privacy and public safety concerns.  For example, if polling places started to allow for unfettered taping inside a polling station, the entire world may know whom you voted for based upon any stickers or candidate material you are holding before/after your vote.

Several years ago, a Deputy Sheriff in Hampton Virginia was fired along with several colleagues for "liking" a Facebook page of a political candidate (who was running against his boss and eventually lost).  A federal appeals court ultimately ruled that a "Facebook Like" is constitutionally protected free speech; however, this did not change the fact that the Facebook Like dramatically changed the professional careers (and personal lives) of those who were fired for exercising their free speech rights.

In general, I don't recommend posting one's personal ballot online or discussing whom one voted for regardless of the law.  Potential employers, marketers, insurers, data brokers, governments, etc... are watching and your vote/political leanings may negatively penalize your career and/or personal life. People should have the right to post whom they voted for online; however, we may need to think of a creative mechanism to allow for ballot selfies while at the same time protect the personal privacy and safety of others in the voting area.

Copyright 2015 by the Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC. All rights reserved.   

Friday, August 28, 2015

FTC Announces PrivacyCon Symposium

Earlier today, I received notification from the FTC announcing that on January 14, 2016 it will hold an event called PrivacyCon. According the FTC's website, the conference is designed "to bring together a diverse group of stakeholders, including whitehat researchers, academics, industry representatives, consumer advocates, academics, and a range of government regulators, to discuss the latest research and trends related to consumer privacy and data security."

The FTC has done some great work in privacy and cybersecurity and just like previous events, this event will bring together some of the world's most knowledgeable experts in the field.  FTC Chairwoman Ramirez published an excellent op-ed earlier today about the need for this symposium. In her piece, she stated, "[p]olicymakers need to ensure that privacy is respected while innovation flourishes, and technology academics and researchers are crucial to hitting that sweet spot."  

Previous FTC symposiums I have attended were well worth my time so if you are interested in learning about some of the most cutting edge regulatory issues in privacy and cybersecurity this event is a must.  

Copyright 2015 by the Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC. All rights reserved.