I only have one question? Why do people always feel the need to crap on everything before they give it a chance? Would it be better if public officials didn't at least try to address existing privacy concerns?
I suppose this is why they say, success has many parents; but failure is an orphan…
A preview of the soon-to-be-published book, “Growing and Maintaining Your Law Office”. Attendees will learn about ethical obligations to protect attorney-client privacy, confidentiality and security — both personally and via the smart-phones, computers & software they use daily.
(The video feed that accompanies this post isn't resolving properly on some systems. Here's a direct link if you'd like to launch it, manually)
This seemed like an appropriate subject to cover today, in light of Google's new privacy policies kicking-in in a few hours…
First off, I've never really understood the obsession some people have with disclosing trivial details about themselves. Of course, that opens a can of worms, doesn't it? One person's trivia is another person's 'absolutely-positively-need-to-know-this-very-minute!' piece of information, after all. Who am I to judge? Disclose what you want on Facebook. Leave GPS enabled 24-hours a day. Knock yourself out!
But…have you thought about who else is watching…and why? Twitter has inked a deal to sell two-years' history of your tweets; location included. What's so important about location, anyway?
Even I can see some value in disclosing your location, under certain circumstances. For example:
A minor who goes missing,
The family pet runs away,
A vehicle veers off the road and crashes into a tree in an isolated area, and the driver's unconscious or is trapped and can't reach their phone,
A bunch of friends plan to get together and, rather than having to contact each other, they simply home in on the organizer's location.
I could go on, of course. And obviously, some of these items are critical, while others are simply convenient. The problem is, all kinds of other people have an interest in knowing your patterns:
Advertisers, so they can tailor-make their ads to bring you goods and services in your vicinity,
The burgler who's waiting to break into your home,
That pesky process-server,
Your significant other(s),
Lately, in my market, Flo from Progressive Insurance has been touting their Snapshot Discount (by the way, am I the only one who is – in California vernacular – totally freaked out by Flo?) It's a device you plug into your vehicle, and it monitors your driving habits, such as how hard you brake.
Of course, it also monitored how hard the driver from List A was braking just before s/he crashed into that tree. And now we have several people from List B who are interested; the insurance carrier (noted), law enforcement (obviously), the boss (if it's a company car), a significant other (because you were supposed to be on your way to the corner store, but you were 15 miles from home) and of course, that pesky process-server (when the tree sues a few months later).
This is an over-the-top example to make a point. I'm not picking on Progressive. I could just as easily cite Onstar, et al. Besides, many newer vehicles already monitor the driver's habits through their own black boxes.
You think you're giving out information for one purpose; but others are taking it for a completely different purpose. You can either act accordingly, or go with the Flo…
Remember how I went on and on about the fact that what you do and say in your personal life (particularly online, after all this is an e-discovery blog) may become relevant in a legal proceeding? Remember how I told you that there are several cases pending that might completely change the definition of privacy? And remember when I nagged you like your (Please fill-in-the-blank here; mother, grandmother, psychiatrist, attorney, etc. Hey – I'm not dumb enough to actually name someone and make them mad at me!) when I implored you to stop making those inappropriate posts on Twitter/Facebook/MySpace, etc.?
For those who are pressed for time, this is the relevant portion:
Village Trustee Lisa Stone should be told the name of the man she
accuses of making defamatory online comments about her 15-year-old son,
a judge ruled Monday in a case being watched for its Internet privacy
Cook County Circuit Judge Jeffrey Lawrence ordered that the identity
of a person known online as Hipcheck16 be turned over to Stone."
We can debate the Constitutional implications of the ruling itself, but truly, this goes all the way back to the 'shouting fire in a crowded theater' argument. Post-mortems don't interest me much; I deal with what is, and what will be, not what was. To paraphrase a certain election campaign, it's about the future, stupid!
On a fairly regular basis, I'm accused of being "Chicken Little". Perhaps my detractors are right. Maybe it's because I was a boy scout when I was a kid (Be Prepared!) or perhaps it's from all of those years protecting my clients from what might happen, not just what I could identify as likely to happen.
If I weren't doing what I'm doing, maybe I'd have become an actuary (I'd say 'bean-counter', but for those who know this blog well, the only beans I'd be counting are coffee beans…).
It sucks being the wet blanket. It sucks constantly warning people about risks. But here's the thing; technology is moving much faster than our ability to understand what we're doing with it. There used to be an admonishment; when angry, count to ten before acting. Now, not only do we not count to ten, we immediately grab our always-within-reach Blackberry and post on Facebook!
So, here's a question for you to ponder over the weekend; do you think Hipcheck16 wishes I'd have been his wet blanket?
An IT Executive Turned California eDiscovery & Litigation Attorney and Consultant Shares his Personal Insights.