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:
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!
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:
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! —MegComments
If you didn’t see the news, Wednesday, June 25 was a big day for privacy and technology law. The Supreme Court of the United States (“SCOTUS”) ruled on two pivotal cases that greatly shape the way we legally encounter technology.
Want to impress your friends with your knowledge of these cutting edge issues in law? Here’s what you need to know:
The police arrested a man after finding loaded firearms in his car during a traffic stop. As a result of his arrest, his cellphone was confiscated and searched. The cellphone search revealed incriminating evidence that led the police to charge the man with additional criminal charges.
What Was the Problem?
The police didn’t get a warrant (which is a fancy term for a document granting official permission) to search the man’s cellphone, and the man felt that he was entitled to his privacy on the device.
The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that an arrested person has the right to privacy for the information in his cellphone. Cellphones contain intimate information surrounding a person’s life, and so police must go through the required, governmental formalities to access this information.
How This Affects Us?
This is a very significant case for law enforcement practices and privacy. For the first time in history, we have a definitive answer as to how private our information is treated on our cellphones. Traditionally, courts disagreed with whether an arrested person has privacy in his cellphone information. In the future, police will be required to get a warrant if they want to search through someone’s cellphone, or they will risk serious legal repercussions.
An up and coming startup named ‘Aereo’ created a new way to watch broadcast television live on the internet. Aereo gave its subscribers an antenna that received data from shows played over the air. As live shows broadcasted over the air, Aereo downloaded a “personal copy” of the program to the subscriber’s account where it could be streamed on a variety of devices.
What Was the Problem?
Aereo’s subscription service gave users access to copyrighted content. The company didn’t pay licensing fees, nor did it believe it should. Although it created an innovative way to capture and stream media, the companies that owned the rights to the content believed that Aereo was using their material in violation of copyright law.
The Supreme Court ruled 6 to 3 that Aereo was committing copyright infringement. The Court equated Aereo’s service with cable television, which falls within the scope of copyright law.
How Does this Affect Us?
Looking to start up a streaming service like Aereo in the future? Proceed with caution. Now that copyright issues surrounding Aereo have been discussed by the Supreme Court, there will likely be more restrictions surrounding services that attempt to offer copyrighted content without first paying the licensing fees.
For more information, check out the full decisions here:Comments
This past Sunday was Star Wars Day…and for those who might have missed it, May the Fourth Be With You!
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:
Screenshot of Raza’s viral video, “The Star Wars Kid,” Circa 2002. Click the screenshot to view the video (external link to YouTube).
Screenshot of the Arrested Development, “Star Wars Kid” Parody Circa 2013. Click the screenshot to view the video (external link to YouTube).
Raza, circa 2010, overcame his hardships and graduated from law school, among other accomplishments (via Motherboard)
(pic: artworksbytb, “,” May 11, 2012, via Flickr, Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic Creative Commons License.)
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!Comments
Earlier this year, I discussed an ongoing copyright lawsuit between a small toy company named “GoldieBlox” and the popular hip-hop band, the Beastie Boys.
To recap: GoldieBlox used the Beastie Boys Song, ‘Girls’ with alternate lyrics as a backup track for an online toy ad. When the ad went viral, the Beastie Boys expressed their concerns with the song’s usage, and Goldieblox sued soon after. The company tried to fight for the right to continue to use the song under the legal claim of ‘fair use’.
This week, GoldieBlox and the Beastie Boys set their arguments aside, and instead reached a settlement agreement out of court. According to the NY Times, as a part of its settlement agreement, Goldieblox was instructed to publicly apologize on its website and to pay a percentage of its revenues to a charity of the Beastie Boy’s choosing that promotes science, technology and engineering for young girls.
GoldieBlox’ public apology posted on front page of its website (pic: screen cap of www.goldieblox.com, March 20, 2014)
Looks like everything is resolved here once and for all.Comments
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—
Let’s get you up to speed:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(pic: .V1ctor Casale., “Handcuffs,” January 16, 2012 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution.)
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.
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.
(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.
What Do you think of this case? Do you feel that the CFAA is being applied fairly to Weev’s case and others?Comments