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Around the Block-November 24, 2010

Posted by rjbiii on November 24, 2010

Around the block is a regular feature of Post Process, providing a brief survey of articles and issues of note affecting law and technology.

EU Flag
The EU “Cookie Rule” will soon go into affect. A Computer World article penned by Stewart Room notes that this entails big changes for ISPs. From the article:

These new rules focus in particular on the dropping of cookies onto our equipment. This will only be lawful if the service provider has the subscriber or user’s consent. In order for consent to be valid, it must be freely given, specific and informed, the benchmarks established by the Data Protection Directive.

The EU’s Article 29 Working Party, which is made up of the national data protection regulators and other officials, issued an opinion on cookies and the consent issue earlier in 2010, observing that the new rules will not be satisfied by default browser settings, bulk consents, web user inactivity or the use of opt-outs.

Criticisms of the rule, which appears to require user consent every time a cookie is to be dropped on a computer, include charges that it isn’t practical, that it (along with other regulations) will stifle e-commerce growth, and that such a “pro-privacy” approach will actually work to diminish the user’s enjoyment of the internet.

Facebook

Facebook May Become a More Frequent Target of Discovery. Facebook’s recent announcement that it will introduce a communication system that could replace email may complicate the lives of us working in electronic discovery. Shannon Green, in her article “Facebook Creates a Mess for EDD: Messages,” notes that the service’s large user-base having these additional tools creates additional burdens and risks for future litigants and employers:

The system has three key components: seamless messaging, a social inbox, and conversation history. Facebook engineer Joel Seligstein blogged, “You decide how you want to talk to your friends: via SMS, chat, e-mail or Messages.” Facemail messages will be clustered by sender instead of by the “antiquated” concept of using a subject line.

So far, so good. But what might be most problematic for employers is that Facebook will preserve these messages — text, chat, or smoke signals — forever.

“It’s definitely a problem in that it means these e-mails will be outside the boundaries of their retention policy,” said Rudy Rouhana, an attorney and director of product marketing at Daegis, a provider of e-discovery services. “So, if they typically delete e-mail every 90 days, 2 years, etc., they will be unable to enforce that on e-mails created in this system,” he said.

Protect your data when traveling internationally. Wired has posted an article in their “How-to” Wiki on protecting your data during border crossings. From the article:

But recently, we’ve seen incidents of computer security experts with ties to WikiLeaks and white hat hackers being stopped by government agents and having their laptops and phones thoroughly inspected.

Unless you work in computer research, or if you have ties to whistleblowers or cybersecurity journalists, the chance is very, very slim that your electronics will be searched. But even if you don’t think you’re up to anything that would arouse the suspicion of the Feds, you should still take precautions. Also, the threat of theft or snooping is something you should pay attention to, no matter how far from home you wander.

Note that these rights extend only to U.S. citizens. Any foreign visitor can be refused entry to the country by border officials on almost any grounds, even if you have a visa.

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