Quiz 9: Internet Law, Social Media, and Privacy


Online Privacy Rights: There are several activities that reveal your personal information including the following: • Signing up for internet service - your computer has an internet protocol (IP) that connects to the internet through your internet service provider (ISP) provider. Your ISP knows your IP and stores it for an undisclosed period of time even after you change service providers. • e-mail and list-serves - when you use your e-mail you may be giving the information that you send to any number of people, including your employer, the government, your e-mail provider, and anybody that the recipient passes your message to.  The federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) makes it unlawful under certain circumstances for someone to read or disclose the contents of an electronic communication (18 USC § 2511). The ECPA has exceptions: • ISP may view your e-mail if they think that you may damage the system or harm another user. Random monitoring is generally prohibited. • ISP may view and disclose your e-mail if you or the other party consents. Be aware that many ISPs require a consent agreement from new members when signing up for the service. • Employer owned e-mail, voicemail and phones. Several court cases have determined that employers have a right to monitor e-mail and phone messages of their employees. Be aware that electronic and voice mail systems retain messages in memory even after they have been deleted. Although it appears they are erased, they are often permanently backed up on magnetic tape, along with other important data from the computer system. • Smyth v. The  Pillsbury  Company, 914 F. Supp. 97 (E.D. Pa., 1996) •   Stengart v. LovingCare Agency, Inc.,  2010 WL 1189458 (N.J. March 30, 2010). • City  of  Ontario   v. Quon,  560 U.S., 130 S. Ct. 2619 (2010) • Your e-mail information may be opened in response to a court order or subpoena. • The USA PATRIOT Act, passed by Congress makes it easier for the government to access records about online activity. The good news is that in United States v.  Warshak , 2010 WL 5071766 (6th Cir. Dec. 14, 2010), the Court ruled that although an ISP has access to private e-mail, the government must obtain a search warrant before seizing such e-mail. Also be aware that any junk mail that you forward has your e-mail address listed along with everyone else's. • Browsers and search engines - Your browser provides your IP address and information about which sites you have visited to Web site operators.  As you move from site to site online, numerous companies utilize sophisticated methods to track and identify you. Search engines have and use the ability to track each one of your searches.  If you use the same web site for both your web-based email and as your search engine, your searches can be connected to your email account.  • Cookies - When you visit different Web sites, many of the sites deposit data about your visit called cookies on your hard drive. Tracking cookies are third-party cookies that communicate data about you to an advertising clearinghouse which in turn shares that data with other online marketers. • Instant messaging (IM) and social networks - IM conversations can be archived, stored, and recorded on your computer as easily as e-mails. The rule that delete does not mean delete applies to IM conversations as well as e-mail. Social networks store information remotely, rather than on a user's personal computer. Companies that operate social networks are also collecting data about their users, both to personalize the services for the users and to sell to advertisers. Considering this information, and realizing that there are more ways to gain access to our information, it is unlikely that there is a reasonable expectation for privacy online. That's not to say that we don't have rights, however the choices that we make with the information that we give freely through e-mail, browsers, websites, etc. make a difficult case for personal privacy.

A) This is phishing. Phishing occurs when an individual poses as a legitimate business. Via email or another type of electronic communication, the wrongdoer requests private information like a credit card or social security number and threatens the victim that if they do not comply, their account or service will be suspended. In this case, C posed as an employee of the victim's credit card company, claims her account is frozen, and asks for her credit card number and password. These actions would constitute phishing. B) This is also phishing. C sends an email to unsuspecting D, baiting D into providing private security information by claiming that if D fails to do so, his account will be suspended. Under the requirements listed under part A of this question, this would constitute phishing. C) This is employment fraud. Employment fraud occurs when an individual poses as a representative in a reputable company and elicits private information via email from people seeking work. Here, H is posing as part of a well-known corporation and asked Felicia for information that is of more personal. His actions would constitute employment fraud.

A wrongful mental state or men's rea is typically required to establish criminal liability. The mental state involves both the awareness that the property belongs to another and the desire to deprive the owner of it. In this case, H does not have any mens rea to discharge harmful quantity of oil into navigable water of the United States as he does not know that rock quarry's backhoe operator will puncture the pipeline resulting into the discharge of huge quantity of oil into navigable water. He must have the awareness that property belongs to another but he does not have desire to deprive the owner of it.

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