How a Purse Snatching Led to the Legal Justification for NSA Domestic Spying | Threat Level | Wired.com

How a Purse Snatching Led to the Legal Justification for NSA Domestic Spying | Threat Level | Wired.com.

This is an absolutely fascinating look at how the law behind the NSA Domestic spying program originated and it clearly demonstrates the frightening power of the so-called “law of unintended consequences”.

Certainly the origin of the legal concepts at play here make it clear how ridiculous the extremes to which they are now being carried by the likes of the NSA truly are. I would call it “insanity” but sadly it is, arguably, the law.

6 States Bar Employers From Demanding Facebook Passwords | Threat Level | Wired.com

6 States Bar Employers From Demanding Facebook Passwords | Threat Level | Wired.com.

As of today, there are now a total of six states which have passed laws which specifically prohibit employers from demanding that employees provide the employer with their Facebook passwords: California, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, Maryland, and Delaware.

As more and more employers have begun demanding access to employees’ or potential employees’ personal, non-public social media data, these laws represent clearly developing trend towards greater protection of employee privacy. It is important to note, however, that none of the laws enacted to date prohibit employers from reviewing what employees or potential employees publicly post to social media sites.

With this kind of rapidly changing privacy landscape, it is increasingly important for employers to continuously review and update their hiring and other employment policies. What’s more, the most recent laws are most likely only the tip of the iceberg. Many other states are considering similar laws, some of them potentially even more far reaching than those enacted by these first six states. Likewise, the specter of increasing federal laws and regulations dealing with privacy both within and outside the workplace is also increasingly real.

And so, the $100,000 question: “Have you reviewed your company’s employment policies lately?” If not, now is a good time to do so!

Dead model’s parents can’t get Facebook messages, judge says — Tech News and Analysis

Dead model’s parents can’t get Facebook messages, judge says — Tech News and Analysis.

Another story has hit the media about privacy in the social media sphere. GigaOm and others are reporting about a recent decision by a California probate court in which the court refused to require Facebook to turn over the contents of a deceased woman’s account to her parents (who were the named executors of her estate).

The Court found that federal Stored Communications Act forbids companies not just from sharing user’s e-mails without their permission, but also social media communications, as well.  The GigOm article above links to an interesting artificial by Venkat Balasumbramani which was posted on Eric Goldman’s Technology and Marketing Law blog which discusses in greater detail a number of the recent court cases across the country dealing with privacy and social media issues and some of the landscape which they are beginning to carve out.

It is clear, however, that they law has a lot of catching up to do on this issue of privacy in a world of electronic communications. Eventually the law will catch up on this subject, whether through new legislation or court interpretation of existing legislation.In the meantime, there will be a great deal of uncertainty and inconsistency in the law, leaving rocky shoals to navigate.

Employers Banned From Asking For Social Media Passwords In California | TechCrunch

Employers Banned From Asking For Social Media Passwords In California | TechCrunch.

California has just passed a law that will make it illegal for employers in that state to require applicants and/or employees for the passwords to the their social media accounts. While it is too early to say if this will become a trend, it is clear that there is increasing concern about the extent to which there is some expectation of privacy within the social media sphere. This is the same tension which was played out in the recent case in which Twitter was required by a court in New York to turn over information on an account holder who was arrested in connection with the Occupy Wall Street protests.

This is an area of the law which remains quite unsettled. While the courts catch up on the issue of how to handle privacy issues with respect to social media, it is clear from this new California law that employers need to tread carefully with respect both limiting and investigating their employees and applicants’ use of social media.

Why the Apple v. Samsung Ruling May Not Hold Up

Why the Apple v. Samsung Ruling May Not Hold Up.

Gizmodo (via Pamela Jones from Groklaw) has run an interesting summary piece on some of the apparent bases that may exist for Samsung to appeal is recent $1B+ pasting by Apple for patent infringement.

Concerns first began to arise from how quickly the jury came back with a verdict. This was compounded when it turns out that the jury made a clear error in calculations in the initial verdict and had to go back in and reform the verdict to correct its error. Then, post-trial some of the jurors began to give information about the deliberation process and more questions began to arise.

The Groklaw article cited by Gizmodo gives a fairly detailed account of some of the issues which could give Samsung an avenue to have the verdict overturned. It will be interesting to see what other potential issues arise and whether Samsung grabs on to them to avoid Apple’s hefty judgment.

Judge in the Google – Author’s Guild Case lets librarians and other pro-“fair use” groups file amicus briefs.

While not necessarily fully indicative of the judge’s thought process to date in the trial, the fact that her is permitting amicus briefs from the pro-“fair use” camp is at least somewhat telling. It will certainly be interesting to see where this trial comes out!

Mayer Didn’t Have a Non-Compete, But Your Competitor Might

Mayer Didn’t Have a Non-Compete, But Your Competitor Might.

Law.com has in interesting article up regarding Marissa Mayer’s recent high-profile move from Google to Yahoo.  The article springs from the often asked question surrounding Mayer’s move: “Didn’t she have a non-compete?”

As the article points out, the answer is “No”, as California law does not permit true non-compete agreements. This is not necessarily the case in other states, however. There is huge variation from state to state as to what kind of restrictive covenants are and are not enforceable in employment relationships, and where they are enforceable, what kind of restrictions are permissible.

The enforceability of restrictive covenants has a huge potential impact on the recruitment and retention of valuable employees. As such, it pays huge dividends for companies to carefully consider the implications of both their own employment contracts and those of completing companies in making decisions regarding hiring and retaining employees, as well as protecting the valuable knowledge those employees may gain while they are employed.