Category Archives: Privacy Law

Attorneys May Not Mislead Witnesses Into Granting Access to Social Web Pages

According to BNA’s Privacy Law Watch, the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Professional Guidance Committee has declined a lawyer’s plan to collect information about an adverse witness by hiring someone gain access to the witness’ social networking web sites. 

The attorney asked for permission from the Bar Association’s committee before implementing the plan of hiring a third party to befriend the 18-year old witness online, and thereby get access to the witness’s Facebook and MySpace accounts.

In advising the attorney against this plan, the committee noted that the attorney would be responsible for any unethical actions of the third party under Pennsylvania Rule of Professional Conduct 5.3 (Responsibilities Regarding Nonlawyer Assistants).  The plan of pretending to "friend" the witness would violate several other Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct including:

  • 8.4(c) (conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation),
  • 4.1(a) (knowingly making false statements of material fact to third person), and
  • 8.4(a) (violating rules through acts of another).

Read the full story through the Library’s subscription to BNA Privacy Law Watch.

Read the full opinion online.

Note that the opinion cites to an article in the Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics entitled: "Ethical
Responsibilities of Lawyers for Deception by Undercover Investigators and Discrimination Testers: An Analysis of the Provisions Prohibiting Misrepresentation under Model Rules of Professional Conduct."

New York Criminalizing Impersonation Over Internet

New York passed a law that will make it a Class A misdemeanor to impersonate another “by communication by Internet website or electronic means with intent to obtain a benefit or injure or defraud another, or by such communication pretends to be a public servant in order to induce another to submit to such authority or act in reliance on such pretense.” Read more on BNA Privacy Watch, available through the Georgetown Law Library’s subscription.

Privacy under the European Convention on Human Rights

European Court of of Human RightsIn a case that rested on the question of whether access to medical records was covered by Article Eight of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees citizens’ right to privacy, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the Finnish government failed to protect a citizen’s right to privacy through negligent handling of her medical records (I v. Finland, Eur. Ct. H.R., No. 20511/03, 7/17/08).

The ECHR ruling is available fron the Court’s own website.

Read more about the case in Privacy Law Watch, available through the Law Library’s BNA Subscription.

YouTube to De-Identify Data Intended For Viacom in Copyright Infringement Suit

Video-sharing Web site YouTube agreed July 14 to substitute non-identifying values for information intended for release to Viacom International Inc., such as how many times each video has been viewed and the user name and Internet Protocol address of every viewer, in a stipulation signed by the parties and handed up July 15 to Judge Louis L. Stanton of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
Viacom International Inc. v. YouTube Inc., S.D.N.Y., No. 07-cv-2103, stipulation agreed to by parties 7/14/08).

Read more through the Law Library’s BNA subscription.

GAO Study on Currency Transaction Reports Recommends ‘Fine Tuning’ Compliance Rules

The Government Accountability Office Feb. 21 released a congressionally mandated report on currency transaction reports indicating that expanded use of existing exemptions could reduce the cost and regulatory burdens associated with anti-money laundering obligations.

Banks have promoted legislation that would allow them to extend current exemptions to include “seasoned” customers. The House passed the Seasoned Customer CTR Exemption Act (H.R. 323) in January 2007 and sought to attach such a provision to financial services regulatory relief legislation that cleared Congress in 2006 (125 PRA, 6/29/06 a0b2y6m8h0 ). Although lawmakers passed the Financial Services Regulatory Relief Act of 2006 without the additional exemptions for CTRs, they included a provision calling on the GAO to study the usefulness of the reports to law enforcement agencies.

The GAO examined CTR filings from 2004 through 2006 and conducted interviews with many banking officials. The report’s findings suggest that CTRs remain useful to law enforcement agencies, which have greatly improved their ability to extrapolate valuable information about criminal activities from the data.

However, the GAO also recommended that Treasury routinely publish “summary information on law enforcement uses of CTRs, provide additional guidance on the documentation needed to demonstrate eligibility for some customers, revise certain regulations that deter exemptions, and provide Web-based material to help depository institutions interpret exemption requirements.”

Read the entire article about the GAO report in the BNA story — available through the library’s institutional subscription.

The full text of the GAO report is online.

Health Insurer May Examine Blog Entries On Eating Disorders Despite Privacy Concerns

An insurance company seeking to determine the cause of health policy subscribers’ eating disorders may examine blogs, Web pages, and other electronic communications that children posted online about their eating disorders, the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey held Jan. 30 (Beye v. Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of N.J., D.N.J., No. 06-5337, discovery order 1/30/08).

Quoting from BNA Privacy and Security Law – available through the Library’s online databases.