Monday, September 20, 2010

Does suing technology “abusers” qualify as a full “Legal Specialty?” If not, why not? Perhaps we could classify all the software used for Behavioral Advertising as “electronic Used Car Salesmen?”

Cookies’ Cause Bitter Backlash

September 19, 2010 by Dissent

Jennifer Valentino-DeVries and Emily Steel:

Tools that track users’ whereabouts on the Web are facing increased regulatory and public scrutiny and prompting a flurry of legal challenges.

Since July, at least six suits have been filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against websites and companies that create advertising technology, accusing them of installing online-tracking tools that are so surreptitious that they essentially hack into users’ machines without their knowledge. All of the suits seek class-action status and accuse companies of violating the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and other laws against deceptive practices.

Read more in the Wall Street Journal.

For my Ethical Hackers... How quickly can we un-erase articles?

Erasing people’s Web trails raises ethical questions

September 19, 2010 by Dissent

Stephanie Hoops has a very interesting article in the Ventura County Star that talks about what Reputation Defender will and will not do — and what publications will and will not do — unless ordered to by a court. She writes, in part:

There are limits, however, to what ReputationDefender is willing to fix for clients.

“We will never seek to remove a news article or government record,” Fertik said. “We don’t think it will work and it’s not consistent with our values.”

The company has received a lot of requests to deal with newspapers, he said, but the most it will do is work to bump a story below page one of a Google search, he said.

News organizations around the country maintain that newspapers shouldn’t be in the business of erasing history.

Ventura County Star Editor Joe Howry marvels at the idea that technology has developed such that newspapers are now being asked to “unpublish” stories, and says he too has been asked to do it. [The electronic equivalent of Book Burning? Bob]

It’s a rare occurrence, he said, but indeed readers have called him asking to have stories purged from the Internet. Howry and most news organizations won’t budge on that issue, except under extraordinary circumstances. [How much does “extraordinary” cost? Bob]

Read more about some recent extraordinary circumstances and the debate it triggered in the Ventura County Star.

Quite a lot on Health Records today, including breaking another one of those “Health Records will ONLY be used by health care providers” promises.

FGCU admissions rule allows for rejection based on student’s health

By Dissent, September 20, 2010

Leslie Williams Hale reports:

At the intersection of health privacy laws and student privacy laws in Florida stand the students themselves.

Before a student in Florida can sign up for classes, he or she must provide a medical history to the state university. That medical history is often a simple list of required vaccinations.

However at Florida schools, including at Florida Gulf Coast University in Estero, that medical history can be used to deny a student from registering for classes.

A regulation passed by the Board of Trustees earlier this year at FGCU states that the university “reserves the right to refuse registration to any student whose health record or report of medical examination indicates the existence of a condition which may be harmful to members of the university community.”

Read more on Naple News.

Access your health records on your phone...

The Mobile Personal Health Record: Technology-Enabled Self-Care

September 20, 2010 13:14

This new study by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions:

  • Offers a perspective on the convergence of personal health records and mobile communication devices

  • Examines barriers and accelerators to increased mPHR use by health care industry stakeholders

  • Identifies immediate opportunities for mPHR use and implications by sector

+ Full Report (PDF)

[From the report:

While privacy is still a concern, consumer sentiment is slowly changing. Once consumers start using a PHR, fears about privacy and confidentiality noticeably diminish.18

Is Google the future of Electronic Health Records?

Google Health has changed a bit

By Dissent, September 19, 2010

Google Health has undergone some tweaks.

You can read about how Google Health corresponds to — or doesn’t correspond to — HIPAA protections here. Kudos to them for providing a comparison chart.

Google Health Privacy Policy can be found here.

(Related) Or will this happen to Google Health too?

Masses opting out of Google Street View in Germany

September 19, 2010 by Dissent

Google is facing fierce opposition to its Street View service in Germany with hundreds of thousands opting out, Der Spiegel news weekly reported in its latest issue.

Ahead of an October 15 deadline, “several hundred thousand people” have told the Internet giant that they do not want their home or business to be visible on Street View, which features panoramic still photos taken at street level.

Read more in The Local (De)

It's not the change, it's the continuing assumption (by consumers) that nothing has changed.

The end of software ownership--and why to smile

Consumer advocates are up in arms over a recent ruling by a federal court of appeals in Seattle. The decision, Vernor v. Autodesk (PDF), held that the terms of an end-user licensing agreement, or EULA, can change the sale of commercial software into a mere license, in this case a license that prohibits users from reselling their copy of the software.

Beyond the ruling, the opinion announced a simple test to determine when a software transaction constitutes a licensed use of the product rather than the outright sale of a copy. The transaction is a license, the court said bluntly, any time the seller specifies in a EULA or similar document that "the user is granted a license." The document "significantly restricts the user's ability to transfer the software" and otherwise "imposes notable use restrictions."

Beyond software, the appellate decision has the potential to impact resale markets for a wide range of information products that come bundled with license agreements. This includes other forms of digital content, including electronic books, music, video games, and movies.

Despite the ruling's potentially long reach, however, I don't share the doomsday view of those who believe that it will dramatically reconfigure the software industry or other information businesses.

That's largely because the reconfiguration has already happened. And the process had very little to do with law.

That's because, as Kevin Kelly wrote in a 2009 essay, "Access is better than ownership." For one thing, ownership imposes ongoing costs to the user. Renters don't have to worry about replacing outdated media (LPs to tapes to CDs, e.g.). Subscribers need not bother with mundane tasks such as "backing up, sorting, cataloging, cleaning, or storage."

Careful, this might keep you busy all week! List and links to Open Source software. Useful beyond the Law Library. Well worth checking out!

September 19, 2010

New on Open Source Tools for the Day-to-Day

Via - Open Source Tools for the Day-to-Day: Nicole C. Engard reviews several open source tools she recommends not only for their usability and reliability, but also for the cost to value ratio when compared to mainstream applications outside our ever narrowing budget requirements.

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