A case filed in the U.S. District Court in Tennessee illustrates the growing liability risks associated with cyber bullying. The parents of a middle school boy have filed a complaint against the Williamson County Board of Education and thirty-one of their son's classmates.
Recently, the New York Times ran an op-ed about the case of Linda Martin against newspapers that had originally published articles about her arrest. Ultimately, her arrest was expunged under Connecticut law, but the articles have remained in posterity. She then filed a putative class action alleging that, by failing to delete the account of her arrest, which under law is deemed to have not actually ever occurred due to expungement, continued publication means that true articles are now false and defamatory.
By Bruce Raymond, Esq.
In October 2012, the Librarian of Congress, James H. Billington, decided to remove the unlocking of cell phones exemption from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The act went into effect on January 26, 2013, and it made clear that consumers would not be able to unlock their cell phones on a different network without carrier permission, regardless of whether or not the user contract had expired.
A data breach resulting in the theft and use of customer credit card numbers results in significant expenses and penalties for the victim company. Many companies still do not have specific cyber liability coverage and thus can be on the hook for all expenses related to such a breach. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that such losses resulting from the cyber theft of customer data were recoverable under a commercial crime policy. Retail Ventures, Inc. v. Nat'l Union Fire Ins. Co., 691 F. 3d 821 (6th Cir. 2012).
While companies are often focused on outsider risks such as breach of their systems through a stolen laptop or hacking, often the biggest risk is from insiders themselves. Such problems of access management with existing employees, independent contractors and other persons are as much a threat to proprietary information as threats from outside sources.
According to the complaint Path represented that personal information from the user's mobile device contacts would be collected only if the user clicked on "Add Friends" and then chose the "Find friends from your contacts" option. But despite that promise, Path automatically collected and stored personal data the first time the user launched the app and, if they signed out, each time they signed back in again. That, says the FTC, made Path's statement false.
Though public employees tend to enjoy greater protections that private sector employees, their personal activities posted online can cost them their jobs. On January 11, 2013, the California Commission on Professional Competence issued an influential ruling upholding the termination of an adult actress turned teacher. The three-judge panel issued a 46-page decision denying the Stacie Halas's appeal to return to work after her school's administration discovered her previous career.
Connecticut entrepreneurs need to remain mindful of anachronistic laws. Connecticut businesses used to be able to rely on laws passed in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, but the technology and social media booms of the past ten or so years may cause those laws to be overlooked.