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Posts from the ‘Facebook’ Category

DEA Sued for Creating Fake Facebook Account Using Woman’s Photos

How would you like to stumble upon a Facebook page that you did not create, and that also displayed your name and your personal photographs?  Better yet, how would you feel if that same page was created and being used by a government agency to catch criminals?

That is exactly what happened to a Sondra Arquiett in 2010 when an agent with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) took it upon himself to create a fake Facebook account with the hopes of establishing contact with criminal drug dealers.  DEA agent Timothy Sinnigen admitted to creating the account and appropriating Arquiett’s likeness, according to the federal lawsuit that Arquiett filed against the DEA and agent Sinnigen in the Northern District of New York.  Arquiett had previously been arrested for drug charges in 2010, and during that time some of her personal items were seized.  One of those items was her cell phone, which contained personal and private photographs.  Sinnigen used the photographs on the fake Facebook page in order to create the impression that it had been created and was being managed by Arquiett.

The photographs, some of which contain images of Arquiett’s young son and niece, were taken and used without permission or authorization.  The complaint alleges that Arquiett was “deprived of her Constitutional rights, including her right of privacy afforded to her under the First Amendment”.  This clearly raises some concerns about privacy, and to what extent the government can use your personal information.  The Justice Department will investigate this practice and the issues it creates.

The case had been set for trial in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, however it appears now that it may head to mediation.
By Taylor Hume

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Gerry Rogers Removed From Assembly – The Dark Side of Social Media

I was perusing Techdirt, as I often do, and read a story I simply couldn’t  ignore about a Canadian politician who was removed from assembly for something that she simply did not do.  Gerry Rogers, a member of the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly, was removed from Assembly when it was learned that she was part of a Facebook group targeting Premier Kathy Dunderdale called “Kathy Dunderdale must GO!!!”.  The group page evidently contained death threats regarding Dunderdale.  Rogers denied joining this group, saying that she was added to the group without her knowledge.

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Another Lesson Learned: Instagram Quickly Backtracks After Angering Its Users

This week, users of Instagram scored a victory with the company’s management over a plan to amend Instagram’s terms of service that would allow the third-party use of users’ photos without their permission or any form of compensation.  This change, which was scheduled to take effect in mid January, caused an uproar among Instagram’s user base.

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House (Mis)fires First Shot in Battle over Employer Access to Facebook Passwords

While at least one Senator is drafting a bill to stop the “unreasonable invasion of privacy” resulting from employer access to your Facebook page, the House has rejected a similar proposal from Colorado Representative Ed Perlmutter.  The measure would have prevented employers from collecting Facebook user names and passwords as a condition of employment.  The law was added as an amendment to the FCC Reform Act Bill, but was shot down 236-184. Republican opposition spelled disaster for the amendment, though it’s not clear whether House Republicans were genuinely opposed to the legislation or simply did not want to address the matter as part of the FCC Bill (which incidentally, they passed later that day).

As this blog has reported previously, Facebook is vehemently opposed to employers gaining access to employee pages. However, presumably because Facebook lacks the legal and technical capacity to stop the practice, Facebook (and its user base) has been ratcheting up the pressure on Congress to do something.

Given the attention on this issue, it’s practically certain that these measures will be reintroduced in future legislation. We’ll no doubt be blogging about these developments, so check back with us for updates as this saga unfolds.

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Breaking: Facebook Fights Back Against Employers Seeking Passwords

It is not surprising that Facebook would take a hard line against employers (and potential employers) who are seeking passwords from people’s Facebook accounts.  We blogged about it here a few days ago.

If this trend grows (or at least has that perception), many people may stop using Facebook altogether which would (naturally) not be good for Facebook.  Legally, there is not a whole lot Facebook could do at this juncture because they would not have standing to sue these (potential) employers.  For now, a strongly worded statement will have to suffice.

We have the statement from Erin Egan (which was released this morning) below.

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Things you may have missed: interesting recent legal developments

Looking back at the blog, we have covered a wide range of subjects over the last few days.  Here are some highlights worth looking at that you may have missed:

Hope everyone has a good Thursday.  More to come soon.

Five for Friday: To Like or Not to Like….That is the Question!

Well, we all made it through another week – even if it was just barely.  I had a pretty busy week, traveling to Dallas for depositions, and giving a presentation today for the ABA on the geolocation tracking controversy.  You can order the CD-ROM by going here.  My co-presenters were excellent and offered insight on addition emerging issues.  Alternatively, I would be happy to e-mail you a copy of my portion of the presentation.  Just drop me a line.

Ready for our weekly Five for Friday?  I know I am!

First, in case you did not know it already, Germany has very strict privacy laws.  How strict you ask?  So strict that Facebook’s “Like” button violates it.  It appears the decision to essentially unlike the like button stemmed from two factors because the IP address of the person “liking” something is tracked by Facebook: (i) how long Facebook kept the data for (they claim two years and Facebook concedes 90 days); and (ii) the fact that the data went through servers in the United States.  It sounds like Facebook needs to spend some PR dollars – especially after a top German government official admitted to an affair with a 16-year old he met on Facebook (which is actually legal in Germany).

Second, Google+, which was the flavor of the day just last week has faced a number of stories that people are abandoning the new social media platform.  Here is a good example.  It’s hot.  It’s not.  It’s hot again.  We’ll see.

Third, I would be remiss if I did not mention HP’s unceremonious killing of webOS just yesterday.  (Disclaimer: technically, HP killed all of the hardware associated with the OS and HP claims they will continue to develop webOS.  I doubt it.)  The internet and twitterverse was all buzz with this news.  I wonder if the webOS team is blaming the HP hardware folks for this.  I know I would.

Fourth, the BART protests continue.  I recommend following OpBART on Twitter for the latest.  The owner of that Twitter account claims no responsibility for the recent hacks on BART-related websites.  We’ll have more on this as it develops next week.  And speaking of Anonymous, check this out.  Hot off the press and a must-read.

Fifth, Sue Scheff who co-authored a book detailing her head-online fight with internet defamers has some good tips to detect if your Facebook account has been hacked.  She is a great follow on Twitter.  Facebook hacking happens way more often than you think.  Beware.

As the weekend rolls on, remember: you’re legit!

There is a lot of good information out there.  I will bring as much as I can when I can.  I will address jurisdictional issues (can you sue in X court?) next week (don’t worry – it is much more fun than it sounds!)

Google+ Makes Tremendous Progress, But a Minefield Awaits

It should come as no surprise that Google+ has expanded at a rapid pace.  Already, in just a few months, Google+ has expanded to 13 million users.

With any new social media service, like with present ones, problems are abound.  First, how does the service prevent it (or at least discourage) from being a playground for predators and defamers?  Google took one important step recently by announcing that Google+ will not allow the use of pseudonyms.  This is an important first step.  By not allowing pseudonyms, Google is peeling away one layer used by defamers and predators on the internet.

Not surprisingly, this development was not met with joy by celebrities, because many of them use pseudonyms instead of their real name.  Also, many ordinary people had their accounts suspended who were not using pseudonyms at all.  It is clear that the algorithm Google is using is not perfect and some people will unfairly be targeted.  That pain, however, is a small price to pay.

Google+ is in its infancy.  There will be missteps and issues and lawsuits.  To keep your rights and responsibilities clear, I recommend reading Google+’s Privacy Policy and Content and Conduct Policy.  They are both readable and short. One important thing of note in Google+’s Content and Conduct Policy is Google’s ban on impersonation.  I have seen cases where a victim (whether it be a company or individual) is being impersonated by another, causing immeasurable harm.  I just hope, Google will have an easy way to contact them if something like that occurs.

And of course, some things have yet to be answered:

  • How will Google handle defamation claims?
  • How will Google respond to claims of abuse by other users?
  • Will Google change its privacy settings if they sense a business opportunity (like Facebook)?
  • Will Google enforce other people’s/company’s copyrights and trademarks?

Stay tuned.

Coming soon: my take on businesses lining up to be a part of Google+.

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