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.