Welcome to technoLAWgical... A Blog About Technology and the Law
written by Megan Costello, Esq: A Cyberlaw Attorney & Geek.

LAWts of Updates! (ok, that was a bad pun)

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Well, hello there!

It’s been quiet here on the technoLAWgical blog. Not for lack of things to talk about, but for many exciting developments that I’m happy to announce today. Here are three things to get excited about:

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1. I’m a Published Author!

I am officially a contributing author for two nationally published books. The first is a legal text book on data security and privacy law, and the other is a Computer Agreements form book for attorneys practicing in high-tech law that is part of a multi-volume set of form-books spanning all areas of the law.

For those interested in learning more about the publications, or to purchase a copy for yourself, click the links above! 

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2. I’m a National Speaker This Month!

For those interested in learning a thing or two about social media and ethics, I am a speaker for a national phone conference called “Ethics: Social Media Sanctions” on August 27th. The National Business Institute is holding the program, and (for all you attorneys out there) it will count as 1 CLE credit in qualifying jurisdictions.

To sign up for the national conference, be sure to check out this website:

http://www.nbi-sems.com/Details.aspx/R-66600ER

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3.There Are Lots of Cool Things on the Horizon (So Stay Tuned)

I have a few more projects in the works that I’ll be announcing soon. In the meantime, stay tuned to the blog and my social media feeds.

Likewise, if you are searching for a legal help for your startup or technology company, be sure to check out my solo practice’s website: technoLAWgical. The website explains a lot about my work as a solo lawyer and the types of law I generally practice.

As always, thanks for your support, your encouragement, and continued readership. Without you, my practice, blog, and everything else wouldn’t be possible.

Talk to all of you soon with an exciting new blog post! —Meg

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Whether you’re enjoying a barbecue with friends, watching fireworks, or just having a relaxing day off…technoLAWgical wishes you a very Happy 4th of July!
Whether you’re enjoying a barbecue with friends, watching fireworks, or just having a relaxing day off…technoLAWgical wishes you a very Happy 4th of July!

Whether you’re enjoying a barbecue with friends, watching fireworks, or just having a relaxing day off…technoLAWgical wishes you a very Happy 4th of July!

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OMG! HBD, LOL!!! 
Here’s a fun fact for you to start out your Friday: Did you know that popular Internet slang, “LOL” (which stands for Laugh Out Loud) turned 25 this month?
According to a great, informational article by itv  about the famous abbreviation, LOL had its roots in a 1989 online newsletter called  “Fidonet”. The newsletter suggested that internet-goers use the acronym for more “colorful communicating.”  There are some who claim the first “cyber chuckle” originated a little earlier, but hey—let’s celebrate!




Hope you’re having a great day and that you laugh your way through another great weekend! :D
OMG! HBD, LOL!!! 
Here’s a fun fact for you to start out your Friday: Did you know that popular Internet slang, “LOL” (which stands for Laugh Out Loud) turned 25 this month?
According to a great, informational article by itv  about the famous abbreviation, LOL had its roots in a 1989 online newsletter called  “Fidonet”. The newsletter suggested that internet-goers use the acronym for more “colorful communicating.”  There are some who claim the first “cyber chuckle” originated a little earlier, but hey—let’s celebrate!




Hope you’re having a great day and that you laugh your way through another great weekend! :D

OMG! HBD, LOL!!! 

Here’s a fun fact for you to start out your Friday: Did you know that popular Internet slang, “LOL” (which stands for Laugh Out Loud) turned 25 this month?

According to a great, informational article by itv  about the famous abbreviation, LOL had its roots in a 1989 online newsletter called  “Fidonet”. The newsletter suggested that internet-goers use the acronym for more “colorful communicating.”  There are some who claim the first “cyber chuckle” originated a little earlier, but hey—let’s celebrate!

Hope you’re having a great day and that you laugh your way through another great weekend! :D

Comments

The Star Wars Kid Saga: The Internet Strikes Back Against Cyberbullying

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This past Sunday was Star Wars Day…and for those who might have missed it, May the Fourth Be With You!

In honor of this geeky holiday, today’s post focuses on one of the earliest viral videos on the Internet and the very serious issue of cyber bullying. For those of you who lived through the advent of streaming video, I present to you: The Saga of the Star Wars Kid.

1. A Long, Long Time Ago, The “Star Wars Kid” Made Viral Video Fame.

Our story takes us back to 2002 when Ghyslain Raza, a young Canadian high school student armed with a golf ball retriever and a video camera, recorded himself in his school’s AV department. What came from this recording session was a video that was arguably the first of its kind to grow viral on the internet:

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Screenshot of Raza’s viral video, “The Star Wars Kid,” Circa 2002. Click the screenshot to view the video (external link to YouTube). 
Unbeknownst to Raza, a few schoolmates found the video and posted it to the internet without his permission. Within days, the video had gone viral. To this day the video continues to be watched, with over a billion hits.

2.The Viral Video Was a Source of Years of Bullying for Raza.

While some would see this “internet fame” and the unprecedented number of views something to boast about, unfortunately for Raza, this was quite the opposite. Raza faced years of bullying as a result of this video.

Dubbed, the “Star Wars Kid,” Raza couldn’t escape the torment: online or off. According to several news reports, when Raza made Internet fame, he suffered through bullying to such a degree that he was forced to drop out of high school and undergo therapy.

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(pic: Pascal, “Impending Doom (Explored),” August 5, 2010 via Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0 Generic Attribution.)  

In a 2013 interview, Raza even noted that complete strangers were threatening his life, making rude and embarrassing comments to him, and even suggesting the young man commit suicide.

3.In 2006, Raza’s Family Sued the Kids Who Released the Video To the Internet; The Parties Settled.

In addition to his private torment, Raza’s family took the fight against the teenagers who released the video to the public.
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Raza’s family took the teenagers to court for releasing the video and sued for over $351,000 in damages. It’s reported that the families ultimately settled out of court.

4. Over A Decade Later, The Internet and Popular TV Shows Alike Still Love (and Parody) The Star Wars Kid.

It’s been over a decade since its release, and The Star Wars Kid video continues to be a hit with the Internet, popular TV shows, and others. For example, in its recent Netflix comeback, the cult classic “Arrested Development” gave a nod to the famous internet video when George Michael recorded himself fighting with a small broom:
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Screenshot of the Arrested Development, “Star Wars Kid” Parody Circa 2013. Click the screenshot to view the video (external link to YouTube). 

Of course, Many other parodies continue to be released.
In some instances, Raza’s video inspired groups of people on the internet to rally together and to help support the young viral video star. Some petitioned to put Raza in the newest Star Wars trilogy (which was released in the early 2000’s by Lucasfilms), while others came together to collect enough money to buy Raza an iPod to thank him for hours of entertainment.

5. The Star Wars Kid Today is a Law School Grad and a Strong Advocate Against Cyberbullying.

Where is “The Star Wars Kid” today? Raza resurfaced in 2013 for some interviews with various news sources to speak about his experience as a viral video star, and the trials and tribulations that come with viral video fame. According to the interviews, Raza is now a law school graduate and actively speaks out about cyberbullying.

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Raza, circa 2010, overcame his hardships and graduated from law school, among other accomplishments (via Motherboard)

Cyberbullying is a very serious epidemic that is sweeping our younger generation by storm. Bullying, which was once an issue that stayed at the school and the playground, now follows students to their homes. With the creation of social networking tools and the integration with smartphones and mobile devices, cyberbullying is an unfortunate reality that can follow students virtually anywhere.

6. Help Is Just a Click Away for Victims of Cyberbullying

The Force may have been strong with Raza, but for some targets of cyberbullying, the outcome is not as favorable. Many students who have endured cyberbullying have had their reputations and feelings hurt, and in some cases, have even pushed these students to commit suicide.
If you or anyone you know is the subject of cyberbullying, please know that there is help.
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There are many public and private organizations that can help, including the US Government’s Stop Bullying website (www.stopbullying.gov) which provides a large amount of support and information to subjects of cyberbullying. Many policies and state laws have also emerged surrounding cyberbullying, creating legal recourse for this unfortunate source of suffering.
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("Original image by NASA, ESA and A. Nota (STScI/ESA), under a Creative Commons 3.0 License; warping and recoloring by technoLAWgical”)
"I’ve got a very (good) feeling about this!" 
Happy Star Wars Day from technoLAWgical! :D
("Original image by NASA, ESA and A. Nota (STScI/ESA), under a Creative Commons 3.0 License; warping and recoloring by technoLAWgical”)
"I’ve got a very (good) feeling about this!" 
Happy Star Wars Day from technoLAWgical! :D
("Original image by NASAESA and A. Nota (STScI/ESA), under a Creative Commons 3.0 License; warping and recoloring by technoLAWgical”)

"I’ve got a very (good) feeling about this!" 

Happy Star Wars Day from technoLAWgical! :D

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Tech’s Appeal (Part 2): The 3rd Circuit Rules on US v Auernheimer Appeal

Tech's Appeal (Part 2): The 3rd Circuit Rules on US v Auernheimer Appeal

Last month, I wrote about an important cybercrime case concerning a famous hacker, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) & the future of Coders Rights. This month, the 3rd Circuit issued a response on appeal. 

Here are 5 more facts about the US v Auernheimer case:

1. US v AUERNHEIMER RECAP

US v Auernheimer is an important case that involves a hacker named Andrew ‘Weev’ Auernheimer and his decision to exploit a critical AT&T network security flaw. Weev was sentenced to almost 3.5 years of prison and charged with over $74,000 in fines in violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) after discovering and releasing information on a critical flaw in the AT&T network.

For a step-by-step look at the case, I encourage you to check out my earlier blog post found here. At the time I wrote my first post, the case was beginning oral arguments on appeal.

 

2. ON APRIL 11, 2014, THE 3rd CIRCUIT OVERTURNED WEEV’S CONVICTION BASED ON VENUE

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Famous hacker ‘Weev’ is released after serving over a year in federal prison (pic adapted from: Penguinio K, “Weev,” July 28, 2012 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution.)  

On April 11th, 2014, the 3rd Circuit overturned Weev’s conviction. The Court did not rule on the validity of the CFAA, but instead ruled on the constitutional issue of venue. Because the two men did not gain access to the email addresses in New Jersey, nor were the AT&T servers located in New Jersey when the security flaw was exploited, the 3rd Circuit felt this was a serious, constitutional issue. According to the appellate opinion, the Court ruled that the Federal Government hurt Weev’s constitutional right to have his day in court where the ‘hack’ in question actually took place. 

3. WEEV WAS RELEASED FROM FEDERAL PRISON, BUT DESPITE THE VENUE RULING, MUCH IS LEFT UNANSWERED FOR THE CFAA

Weev was released from a federal prison in Pennsylvania after serving nearly 13 months of his 41-month sentence. While this case gives us some clarity on the issue of computer crimes and the constitutional issue of venue, there is still much to be established about the depth and breadth of the CFAA. The law, which was written in the 1980’s, is a source of controversy with regard to modern day internet usage. In some instances, a violation of the CFAA can carry large fines and lengthy prison sentences. 

4. WHERE IS WEEV NOW? CREATING A NEW HEDGE FUND NAMED ‘TRO LLC’.

Where is Weev now? Weev announced this week that he plans to create a hedge fund called “TRO LLC” that will help shed light on significant security flaws in publicly-traded companies. On Monday, Weev spoke with CNBC about his new idea, which will be funded primarily from the computer underground and the Internet. 

5. MORE INFORMATION ON THE CFAA 

There is still much to be learned about the CFAA and it is important as Internet users to be aware of this law and the way it is applied in practice. The way it is shaped can greatly affect the way we use the internet and technology in the future. 

In recent cases courts have tried to say that the violation of a Terms of Use on a website or (in the case of US v Auernheimer) shedding light to security flaws constitutes a federal crime under the CFAA. Among the list of people charged under the CFAA is the late Aaron Swartz, who faced a maximum sentence of 35 years of prison time and over 1 million dollars of fines for accessing and downloading a large volume of academic files from a database called JSTOR. 

Want more information on the CFAA and to learn about developing cases surrounding this law? The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has a great website with information on the CFAA. Also: be sure to stay tuned to technoLAWgical for more developments in tech law issues!

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Tech’s Appeal: 5 Facts about US v Auernheimer, the CFAA, and the Future of Coders’ Rights

Today marks an important day in history for cybercrime laws. At 10am EST, the courts in the 3rd Circuit in Philadelphia are going to hear the oral arguments for US v Auernheimer—which is currently on appeal. Although it is not highly publicized, this case is extremely important for the future of coders’ rights. It asks crucial questions about our current federal laws for cyber crime and it challenges the ways in which they are interpreted.

That said, I present to you—

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Let’s get you up to speed:

1) A Hacker Nicknamed ‘Weev’ Found a Critical Security Flaw in AT&T’s System (Without Much Hacking at All) in 2010.

In 2010, news reports all over the country warned that AT&T’s 3g network had been hacked. An unnamed source was said to have exploited a security flaw and obtained over 114,000 e-mails belonging to AT&T’s network of iPad early-adopters. In addition to the general public, this email list included high-profile addresses of generals, celebrities, and other high-ranking government officials.

Once the dust settled, Andrew Auernheimer (known by the nickname ‘Weev’) and a fellow cohort were revealed as the duo that discovered the critical flaw in AT&T’s network.

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Meet Andrew “Weev” Auernheimer. He is the face behind the AT&T Hack back in 2010. (pic: Penguinio K, “Weev,” July 28, 2012 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution.)  

According to Weev, this AT&T “hack” took very little work to accomplish. Because the e-mail information was alleged to be unprotected by any security measures, the duo took very little time to gain access to the list of addresses.

2) Weev Let Gawker Media Know About the AT&T Security Flaw. A Federal Investigation and Lawsuit Followed.

When Weev uncovered the network vulnerability, his first inclination wasn’t to go directly to AT&T. He instead went to Gawker Media—a popular blog network. According to Weev, this was done with the purpose of letting the general public know about this critical flaw.

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 The news went viral, and soon AT&T and the Federal Government started investigating the hack. A federal lawsuit was filed for Weev’s actions shortly after.

3) Weev was charged with 3.5 years of jail time, 3 years of probation, and owed over $74,000 in fines.

After his trial, the district court sentenced Weev with this hefty criminal punishment under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (known commonly as the “CFAA”) for exploiting the AT&T security flaw. Weev’s partner in crime pled guilty, and received a lesser sentence.

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(pic: .V1ctor Casale., “Handcuffs,” January 16, 2012 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution.)  

4) After nearly a Year in Prison, Weev’s Case Is Now on Appeal. Today, His Attorneys Will Argue that the CFAA is Much too Old, Much too Broad and Much too Harsh. 

Weev’s attorneys will argue on appeal today that the CFAA under which he was charged is being used too broadly by the government. 

The CFAA is a federal computer crime law that is receiving a lot of press in recent months. While it was originally created in the 1980’s as a way to stop hackers from accessing and harming government computers,it is now construed by the courts in a much broader fashion. In recent cases the CFAA has been used to prosecute the actions of internet users and hacktivists. Among the list of people charged under the CFAA is the late Aaron Swartz, who faced a maximum sentence of 35 years of prison time and over 1 million dollars of fines for accessing and downloading a large volume of academic files from a database called JSTOR.

As we shift into a more modern and interactive Internet, internet activists, technologists, and other groups stress that the CFAA is outdated, and that it is too broad and its penalties are too harsh for the crimes committed.

Because Weev obtained arguably “public” information on AT&T’s servers, his attorneys argue that his actions were unjustly punished under the CFAA and that everyday internet usage is being criminalized.

5) This Circuit Decision Could be Crucial to the Way Our Laws are Interpreted!

This upcoming ruling on Weev’s appeal has the potential to play a pivotal role with the way in which our federal cybercrime laws are interpreted. If Weev’s conviction isn’t overturned, the ruling could have potentially harsh effects on internet users. For people like Weev who tinker with, analyze and research security on the internet—it could mean there are serious criminal implications that could be tied to their actions. 

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(pic: Raymond Bryson, “Question Box,” December 16, 2011 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution.)  

How the CFAA will evolve is anyone’s guess. Cases like US v. Auernheimer help shape this evolution.

To learn more about the CFAA and the proposed changes that are currently making their way to Congress, click here.

Of course, I will update as this case develops.

Question of the Day:

What Do you think of this case? Do you feel that the CFAA is being applied fairly to Weev’s case and others?

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How many geeky holidays can we fit into one week? Lots…and I love it! :)
Today is March 14th (3.14)…which means it’s Pi Day! Practice reciting Pi from memory today, and enjoy the festivities!
Oh, and of course: Happy Pi Day!
How many geeky holidays can we fit into one week? Lots…and I love it! :)
Today is March 14th (3.14)…which means it’s Pi Day! Practice reciting Pi from memory today, and enjoy the festivities!
Oh, and of course: Happy Pi Day!

How many geeky holidays can we fit into one week? Lots…and I love it! :)

Today is March 14th (3.14)…which means it’s Pi Day! Practice reciting Pi from memory today, and enjoy the festivities!

Oh, and of course: Happy Pi Day!

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