Sunday, May 26, 2013

Washington Enacts Social Media Password Protection Law, Does It Right

Washington has become the fifth state this year to enact legislation protecting social media passwords of job applicants and employees.  The law prohibits employers and potential employers from demanding online social media passwords from employees, and bars employers from demanding that employees Friend management personnel so that their profile is viewable.

The new legislation does allow employers to request "content" (not passwords) during internal investigations (e.g. leaked trade secrets).  This marks the first official position on the issue taken by any branch of Washington government.  

Washington's courts of appeals have yet to weigh in directly on the discoverability online social media in civil litigation (employment-related or otherwise).  Trial courts will likely continue to evaluate requests for social media on a case-by-case basis under the principles of the discovery rules.  That being said, it is unlikely courts will order litigants to give passwords or Friend adverse parties' attorneys.  While the recent legislation has no direct legal impact on discoverability in civil litigation, it does announce (or substantiate, depending on your perspective) the public policy and privacy interests in protecting social media, or at least the scope and type of disclosures (requested targeted to specific content, rather than access to everything).

The new law also draws a clear distinction between social media content and social media access.  This is the same line I have been proposing, and interpreting in review of national case law on social media discovery, in lecturing and writing about the discoverability of online social media. 

So, kudos to Washington for getting on it, and also for doing it right.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Andrew Ackley Chairing and Speaking At "Anatomy and Physiology 101 For Attorneys"

To my peers, National Business Institute is putting on a CLE May 16 at the Convention Center entitled "Anatomy and Physiology 101 For Attorneys."  I am chairing and speaking at it.  This is a really good primer for the medical aspects of legal practice that are not typically covered in legal research resources.  I invite you to take advantage of the opportunity and sign up at the link above.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Ackley Law Group Files Class Action For Security Life's Unlawfully Sold Dental Plans

Ackley Law Group, along with the Bierlein Law Office, has filed a class action lawsuit against Security Life Insurance Company of America.  The lawsuit alleges that Security Life sold dental plans in Washington that were unlawful and were never properly approved by the Office of Insurance Commissioner, that Security Life failed to expeditiously bring the plans into compliance, and that these actions resulted in unilateral termination of the plans by Security Life.  

One of the unlawful components of the plans was overly lengthy waiting periods for dental services.  The lawsuit alleges that paying full price into an insurance system during the unlawfully lengthy periods to earn full coverage, combined with the unilateral cancellation and loss of benefits accrued in those waiting periods, forced consumers to pay for services they could never use.

If you have been affected by early termination of a Security Life dental plan, please contact Courtney K. Ackley at Ackley Law Group by email at

Friday, February 1, 2013

Andrew Ackley Named Rising Star by Super Lawyers

Andrew Ackley has been named a Super Lawyers Rising Stars, 2013.  He will be profiled in Super Lawyers magazine and Seattle Met magazine this summer.  No more than 2.5% of lawyers in the state are named to the list.

Monday, January 7, 2013

FBI Issues Formal Alert About Online Dating Extortion Scams After ALG Client Speaks Out

Several months ago I posted about our client's online dating extortion ordeal.  Our client was brave and determined enough to speak out publicly.  Brandi Kruse at KIRO radio profiled his story, and he was one of the first victims to file this type of complaint with the IC3, the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Since then, the IC3 has received a substantial number of similar complaints, so many that the FBI has issued a public alert.  The FBI's investigation and alert are explained here, and the local update from Brandi Kruse is here.

Shortly after our investigation and the original story aired, went offline.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Facebook Continues to Fight Against Disclosure of Content Under SCA, But Not Against Government

According to a recent article in Oregon Live, Facebook continues to shield itself from subpoenas for user content based on the Stored Communications Act, a 1986 federal law that created 4th Amendment-like privacy protections for electronically transmitted or stored communications.  However, because of the Act permits law enforcement subpoenas in some circumstances, the effect is that government has an advantage in gaining access to potentially relevant information compared with criminal defendants and civil litigants.  While the applicability of a 1986 law to Facebook posts may be worthy of debate, at least in the case of civil litigants, both sides are equally impaired in obtaining content from Facebook.  It is troubling, however, that criminal defendants are at a disadvantage compared with the government prosecuting them.  While prosecutors typically must turn over all of their evidence to the defense, including potentially exonerating evidence, there is usually nothing to require a prosecutor to subpoena Facebook content they otherwise would not need.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

CyberTorts: What the Kids Are Doing

In 2010 I posted predicting the revival of privacy torts through online social media.  Unfortunately for lots of folks who have come to us, and too many others, I was right.

On Friday Courtney and I traveled to Portland so I could speak about CyberTorts at the Western Regional Conference for USLSA, the University Student Legal Services Association.

For those of you who don't know, SLS programs around the country serve university students at low or no cost with the help of supervised interns (third year law students).  It's a fantastic program for students, who are often targeted because it is assumed they lack the knowledge and resources to protect themselves.  It's also a fantastic program for law students, who get the experience of managing real cases and helping real clients long before they ordinarily would in private practice.

My job was to provide some insight and resources for SLS program supervising lawyers, and their interns, to fight back against online bullying, harassment, invasion of privacy, and defamation.  These problems are typical to the college-age populations they serve.  The SLS supervisors from around the country were a fun bunch with a great sense of humor and fierce curiosity.