FTC Publishes Guide to Help Mobile App Developers Observe Truth-in-Advertising, Privacy Principles

Sept. 5 2012:

From the FTc web site:

The Federal Trade Commission has published a guide to help mobile application developers observe truth-in-advertising and basic privacy principles when marketing new mobile apps. The FTC’s new publication, “Marketing Your Mobile App: Get It Right from the Start,” notes that there are general guidelines that all app developers should consider. They include:

Tell the Truth About What Your App Can Do. – “Whether it’s what you say on a website, in an app store, or within the app itself, you have to tell the truth,” the publication advises;

Disclose Key Information Clearly and Conspicuously. – “If you need to disclose information to make what you say accurate, your disclosures have to be clear and conspicuous.”

Build Privacy Considerations in From the Start. – Incorporate privacy protections into your practices, limit the information you collect, securely store what you hold on to, and safely dispose of what you no longer need. “For any collection or sharing of information that’s not apparent, get users’ express agreement. That way your customers aren’t unwittingly disclosing information they didn’t mean to share.”

Offer Choices that are Easy to Find and Easy to Use. – “Make it easy for people to find the tools you offer, design them so they’re simple to use, and follow through by honoring the choices users have made.”

Honor Your Privacy Promises. – “Chances are you make assurances to users about the security standards you apply or what you do with their personal information. App developers – like all other marketers – have to live up to those promises.”

Protect Kids’ Privacy. – “If your app is designed for children or if you know that you are collecting personal information from kids, you may have additional requirements under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.”

Collect Sensitive Information Only with Consent. – Even when you’re not dealing with kids’ information, it’s important to get users’ affirmative OK before you collect any sensitive data from them, like medical, financial, or precise geolocation information.

Keep User Data Secure. – Statutes like the Graham-Leach-Bliley Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and the Federal Trade Commission Act may require you to provide reasonable security for sensitive information.

The Impact of Social Media on Privacy is Unsettled

Illustration of Facebook mobile interface
Illustration of Facebook mobile interface (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A recent New Jersey District Court case underscores the rise in tensions between employers and employees when it comes to Social Media Accounts. In Ehling v. Monmouth-Ocean Hospital Service Corp., the Court denied an employer’s motion to dismiss a former employee’s invasion of privacy claim that alleged a supervisor accessed the employee’s Facebook account. Ehling worked for Monmouth-Ocean Hospital Service Corporation (“MONOC”) and became Acting President of the local union for Professional Emergency Medical Services. Ehling alleged that MONOC began engaging in a pattern of retaliatory conduct against her eventually leading to termination of her employment.

Posting Limited to “Friends”

Ehling maintained an account on Facebook, but kept access to her wall post limited to Facebook “friends,” many of whom were coworkers, but none of whom were members of MONOC’s management. Ehling alleged that MONOC surreptitiously gained access to her Facebook account when a supervisor summoned a MONOC employee, who was a Facebook friend, and coerced, strong-armed, and/or threatened the employee to access his Facebook account in the supervisor’s presence for the purpose of viewing and copying Ehling’s posts.

Ehling alleged that MONOC then sent letters regarding a certain posting to the New Jersey Board of Nursing and the New Jersey Department of Health, Office of Emergency Medical Services as it was concerned that Plaintiff’s Facebook posting showed a disregard for patient safety. Ehling alleged the letters were malicious and meant to damage her professionally.

Accessing Wall Postings Alleged to be Common Law Invasion of Privacy

Ehling’s claim for common law invasion of privacy was premised on Defendants’ alleged unauthorized “access of her private Facebook postings” The Court denied MONOC’s motion to dismiss which argued that Ehliong did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in her Facebook posting. The Court stated that Under New Jersey law, to state a claim for intrusion upon one’s seclusion or private affairs, a plaintiff must allege sufficient facts to demonstrate that (1) her solitude, seclusion, or private affairs were intentionally infringed upon, and that (2) this infringement would highly offend a reasonable person. See Bisbee v. John C. Conover Agency Inc., 186 N.J. Super. 335, 339 (App. Div. 1982). “[E]xpectations of privacy are established by general social norms” and must be objectively reasonable – a plaintiff’s subjective belief that something is private is irrelevant. White, 344 N.J. Super. 211, 223 (Ch. Div. 2001).

The Impact of Social Media on Privacy is Unsettled

The Court went on to make further observations on the impact of Social Media on Privacy:

“Privacy in social networking is an emerging, but underdeveloped, area of case law. See Robert Sprague, Invasion of the Social Networks: Blurring the Line between Personal Life and the Employment Relationship, 50 U. Louisville L. Rev. 1, 13 (2011) (discussing the undefined legal boundary between public and private communications on social  networking websites).

No Reasonable Expectation of Privacy

There appears to be some consistency in the case law on the two ends of the privacy spectrum. On one end of the spectrum, there are cases holding that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy for material posted to an unprotected website that anyone can view. See, e.g., United States v. Gines-Perez, 214 F.Supp.2d 205, 225 (D.P.R. 2002), rev’d on other grounds, 90 F. App’x 3 (1st Cir. 2004) (“[I]t it strikes the Court as obvious that a claim to privacy is unavailable to someone who places information on an indisputably, public medium, such as the Internet, without taking any measures to protect the information”); Yath v. Fairview Clinics, N.P., 767 N.W.2d 34, 44(Minn. Ct. App. 2009) (holding that privacy was lost when private information was posted on a publicly accessible Internet website and “[a]ccess to the publication was not restricted”).

Some Reasonable Expectation of Privacy

On the other end of the spectrum, there are cases holding that there is a reasonable expectation of privacy for individual, password-protected online communications. See, e.g., Stengart v. Loving Care Agency, Inc., 201 N.J. 300 (N.J. 2010) (employee could have reasonably expected that e-mail communications with her lawyer through her personal, password-protected, web-based e-mail account would remain private); Pure Power Boot Camp, Inc. v. Warrior Fitness Boot Camp, LLC, 587 F. Supp. 2d 548 (S.D.N.Y. 2008) (employee had a reasonable expectation of privacy in personal, password-protected e-mail messages stored on a third party’s server, although the employee had accessed that outside server while at work).

Legal Approaches Continue to Develop

The Court note that a consistent approach hasn’t yet developed. While most courts hold that a communication is not necessarily public just because it is accessible there is disagreement as to how far that theory extends. Some courts have adopted the rule that when one shares private information to one or more persons, there may still be a reasonable expectation that the recipients of the information will not disseminate it further. What is clear is that privacy determinations are made on a case-by-case basis, in light of all the facts presented.

Evidentiary Authentication of Social Media Data

Although courts have called the Internet “one large catalyst for rumor, innuendo, and misinformation,” nevertheless, it provides large amounts of evidence that may be relevant to litigation matters. Increasingly, courts are facing presentation of, and challenges to, data preserved from various websites. According to a survey conducted by the X1ediscovery blog, there are over 320 published cases involving social media/web data in the first half of 2012.

Evidentiary authentication of web-based data, whether it’s Internet site data available through browsers, or social media data derived from APIs or user credentials, presents challenges. Given the growing importance of social media posts and data, businesses should be prepared to offer foundational evidence to authenticate any posts that are vital to a case.

Authentication of social media and web data is a relatively novel issue for many courts. Courts have been extremely strict in applying foundation requirements due to the ease of creating a profile or posting while masquerading as someone else. Therefore it is important to go beyond the surface of a social media profile or a post to provide the foundation necessary to authenticate what he evidence for use in court.

Regardless of the type of data, it must be authenticated in all cases. The authentication standard is found in Federal Rule of Evidence 901(a), “The requirement of authentication … is satisfied by evidence sufficient to support a finding that the matter in question is what its proponent claims.” United States v. Simpson, 152 F.3d 1241, 1249 (10th Cir. 1998).

The foundational requirement of authentication is satisfied by evidence sufficient to support a finding that the matter in question is what its proponent claims. See US v. Tank, 200 F. 3d 627, 630 (9th Circuit 2000) (citing Fed.R.Evid. 901(a)). This burden is met when “sufficient proof has been introduced so that a reasonable juror could find in favor of authenticity.” This burden was met where the producer of chat room web logs explained how he created the logs with his computer and stated that the printouts appeared to be accurate representations. Additionally, the government established the connection between the defendant and the chat room log printouts based on IP addresses.

See also, Perfect 10, Inc. v. Cybernet Ventures, Inc. (C.D.Cal.2002) 213 F.Supp.2d 1146, 1154, and Lorraine v. Markel American Insurance Company, 241 F.R.D. 534, 546 (D.Md. May 4, 2007) (citing Perfect 10, and referencing additional elements of “circumstantial indicia” for authentication of electronic evidence).

Clearly, there is an emerging trend in the use of social media and web data as evidence. As the use of this type of evidence increases, so too will the consistency and predictability of the foundational matters required by courts. Thus, businesses are well advised to include web collection and social media support in the investigation process so they are prepared to offer the necessary foundational evidence to authenticate any social media posts that may be vital to a case.

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Social Media Legal News Roundup

1. Content & Marketing

MutualMind Signs Agreement With LexisNexis to Offer Advanced Social Media
MarketWatch (press release)

PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — MutualMind, an award-winning social media technology developer based in Dallas, Texas, announced an agreement today with LexisNexis, a leading provider of legal content and technology solutions.

Facebook: Should Law Firms Bother?
Business 2 Community

While consumer brands have embraced Facebook as a key tool in building deeper customer engagement, the biggest social network largely remains terra incognita in the legal world. The sector has certainly harnessed professional networking sites.

2. International

Bahrain may act against social media abuse
Trade Arabia

Legal action could be taken against people in Bahrain, who incite violence and spread sectarianism on social media, said a top official. The initiative comes as a new code of honour for social media users is set to be launched by the Bahrain Bloc.

3. Law Enforcement

Infographic: How police investigators are using social media
Police News

An overwhelming majority of investigators using social media for investigative purposes are “self taught,” according to a new survey of 1200 Federal, state, and local law enforcement professionals.

Social media for investigators: Why Police departments should invest in training
Police News

That’s but one of the many conclusions found in a comprehensive new survey — conducted in a partnership between PoliceOne and LexisNexis Risk Solutions — focused on the impact of social media on law enforcement in criminal investigations. Among the …

4. Employees & Workplace

What your social media profile is telling future employers? (Take our poll)
Plain Dealer

The State of Maryland already has passed a law forbidding employers from asking job candidates for their passwords to Facebook and other social media sites, and California is considering a similar law. 01fgSCREEN2.jpg View full size · The Society for …

Social Media in the Workplace – July 2012
JD Supra (press release)

With an understanding of some of the relevant issues, employers can implement meaningful and reasonable policies and guidelines for employees and respond appropriately and legally to social media issues that arise. Below are a few of the discrete issues …

5. Financial Services

Quest IRA, Inc. Develops New Interactive Website & Social Media Campaign
Equities.com

The trick for us is trying to provide legally correct information, in such a way that is easy to understand, to the American public so that investors truly understand their options with retirement savings.” “Internet, the online experience and social media are the 21st Century.”

The New Social Metrics
Bank Technology News

Below are methodologies and metrics for determining the ROI of these specific social media use cases. The metrics roll up to three major categories of benefits: revenue impact, operational efficiencies, and legal and compliance risk avoidance.

David M. Adler, Esq. is an attorney, author, educator, entrepreneur and partner with Leavens, Strand, Glover & Adler, LLC, a boutique law firm in Chicago, Illinois created with a specific mission: provide businesses with a competitive advantage by enabling them to leverage their intangible assets and creative content in order to drive innovation and increase overall business value.

We meet this challenge by providing legal counsel on issues related to creation, protection and commercialization of intangible assets, our comprehensive understating of the relevant law, our team of seasoned professionals and our client service philosophy.

World Social Media Legal News Roundup

Newsmakers Q&A | Law slow to address workers’ social-media privacy
Columbus Dispatch

Colorado shooting: Public calls on Christian Bale to swoop in
Los Angeles Times

July 21, 2012, 12:04 p.m.. People are calling upon the caped crusader in the wake of the Colorado theater shooting with the 21st century bat signal: social media.

Afghan social media war steps up with new campaign
Reuters UK

And with the government mulling a media law to tighten its grip over the fledgling but lively Afghan press corps, Nai hoped social media could help safeguard political and social freedoms, as occurred during the wave of uprisings across the Middle East.

A social media win on merger
Philadelphia Inquirer

It’s a bracing lesson, on a local stage, in the power of social media to create community around an issue and ratchet up pressure on key players – in this case, the members of the Abington board and its president and CEO, Laurence Merlis. “It’s amazing to me just how fast word spread,” …. A community-conscious and activist community, with a high concentration of concerned, committed people who work in industries such as law, medicine, public relations, and journalism.

Valley reacts via social media regarding Colorado shooting
KGBT-TV

Once new information began streaming in about the shooting, over 100 viewers began responding to the Action 4 News Facebook page and Twitter feed. As the day progressed, over 500 comments came into valleycentral.com andAction 4 social media

Media Wise Parents to the rescue
Windsor This Week
Media Wise Parents helps parents, educators and churches become more aware with social media and the internet. Tweet · Bookmark and … It’s certainly in my background with law and marketing, it’s always something that interests me.

We Want To Hear From You: Take This Two-Minute Social Media Survey
Business Insider

This Is The Gun Used In The Colorado Shooting That Everyone Can’t Believe Is Actually Legal

In Focus: Social Media & Law Enforcement

Busted! Police Turn to Social Media to Fight Crime
CNBC.com (blog)

Law enforcement is taking to social media because criminals are changing their behavior and using social media to facilitate crime. In response, law enforcement officials are using it to track down criminals and as a predictive policing tool, said Haywood.

Role of Social Media in Law Enforcement Significant and Growing
Business Wire (press release)

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–LexisNexis® Risk Solutions today announced the results of a comprehensive survey focused on the impact of social media on law enforcement in criminal investigations.

Police Make Wide Use Of Social Tools
InformationWeek (blog)

The survey, of more than 1200 law enforcement professionals with federal, state, and local agencies, found that 83% of the respondents are using social media, particularly Facebook and YouTube, to further their investigations.

Crime Busters Embrace Social Media
BusinessNewsDaily

It’s not just prospective customers, partners or employers who may be scanning the social media landscape to glean information about you and your organization. The long arm of the law has joined the party as well, a new survey shows.

How Law Enforcement Is Using Social Media (Infographic)
Law enforcement officials are using social media to solve crimes and will continue to do so in greater numbers. In an online survey conducted by LexisNexis Risk Solutions, four out of five law enforcement officials used social media.

Social Media Legal News Roundup

Into the data jungle – in association with Huron Legal
The Lawyer
Technological developments such as cloud computing, social networking and mobile apps mean EU law is no longer fit for purpose. The EU claims current laws often conflict and cost businesses a total of nearly £2bn a year.

Saudi Arabia considers law against insulting Islam
Bangladesh News 24 hours
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia, July 16 (bdnews24.com/Reuters) – Saudi Arabia is studying new regulations to criminalise insulting Islam, including in social media, and the law could carry heavy penalties, a Saudi paper said on Sunday.

Mind the missteps in online job dance
Lawyers Weekly
With some background check firms specializing in social media searches (U.S.-based Social Intelligence Corp. for one), how do third-party recruiters use social media when screening or finding clients for law firms in Canada?

Saudi Arabia looking to criminalize Islam insults on social media
Bikya Masr
DUBAI: The Saudi Arabia government is looking to ensure users on social media networking sites do not insult Islam or the Prophet Mohamed, al-Watan newspaper reported on Sunday, citing officials who said a new law could bring “heavy” penalties.

Watching the detectives: the case for restricting access to your social media data
Delimiter
That debate tells us something about how Australians and the media conceptualise privacy and business-government relationships in a world where mobile phones and social network services such as Facebook are ubiquitous.

10 Tactics for Integrating Photographs into Content Marketing
Business 2 Community
Acquire digital rights for images. Remember when using images, especially photographs, your legal team is your best friend. Ensure that you’ve got the right to use the photos by incorporating outtakes and additional shots for social media.

Syracuse Neighborhood Watch plans to increase social media outreach
CNYcentral.com
New program coordinator plans more email, social media contact. … CNY Biz Central – Legal. Helpful advice about finding the right attorney for your legal needs. CNY Biz Central. Get information from our team.

Reasonable Expectations of Privacy in the Digital Age
Mondaq News Alerts (registration)
In this digital age of smart phones, global positioning systems, cloud computing, and social networking, determining what constitutes private information and what lengths our legal system will go to protect it is increasingly challenging.

Sale Of Digg Reminder Of Potential Risks To Facebook And Other Social Media …
Seeking Alpha
In 2011, social media watchers may recall reading in Bloomberg that Myspace, which had been purchased by News Corporation (NWS) for $580 million in 2005 had reportedly been sold for just $35 million to private investors, including Justin Timberlake. In …

Your Social Media Tweeting & Posting Legal Rights. TV … – YouTube
Find out how legally liable you are for your Twitter Tweets and Facebook postings.

Learn more about me here: www.ecommerceattorney.com and follow me here

World Social Media Legal News Roundup

Law professor says social media can pose legal problems in Courtroom
Winnipeg Free Press
SASKATOON – The dean of law at the University of Saskatchewan says using social media can have negative consequences in the Courtroom – Business – Winnipeg Free Press.

Eight Ways Your Employee Social-Media Policy May Violate Federal law
AdAge.com (blog)
All employees have certain rights under federal law that social-media policies can’t restrict.

New Law to Force Identification of Trolls Set to be Unveiled
Technorati
Home / Social Media / Articles / New Law to Force Identification of Troll. … is behind the attacks on them online without having to resort to expensive legal action.

A blue wave of change Cleveland County law enforcers join move toward social media alerts
Norman Transcript
Lauri Stevens, a social media strategist at LAwS Communications, a Boston-area company, said law enforcement agencies nationwide are beginning to embrace social media.

Social media helped, hurt in hunt for suspect in triple shooting
Washington Post
Social media at times was a help, other times a hindrance in the search and eventual arrest of a suspect in the triple fatal shooting at an Alabama apartment complex.

Use social media, but use it responsibly, UAE conference hears
gulfnews.com
He said, “We do not monitor social media networks. People have the freedom to speak within the legal framework. There is no law specifically for twitter, but …

Police: Street gangs embrace social media, too
Kansas.com
Beard gave a presentation on gangs, the Internet and social media at last week’s Midwest Law Enforcement Conference on Gangs and Drugs, held in Wichita.

And…don’t forget to check out my presentation on the Law & Social Data panel at #TechWeek Chicago 2012.

The past few years have witnessed an explosion of legal and regulatory activity involving social and other new media. This session will examine several key areas, including copyright, trademark and related intellectual property concerns; defamation, obscenity and related liability; false advertising and marketing restrictions; gaming; data privacy issues presented by social media; and impacts of social media on employees and the workplace. Attendees will learn how to identify legal risks and issues before they become full-scale emergencies and how to develop appropriate policies and guidelines covering social media activity.

If you can’t make it, check out the Slideshare presentation here.

Cloud Commerce Best Practices

The Tech industry is nothing without acronyms. Here comes cCommerce (e.g. Cloud Commerce) an obvious outgrowth of eCommerce. As companies move more aspects of their business to the “cloud,” beyond their own data storage, such as customer data and transaction processing, it is imperative to implement best practices to minimize risks and ensure customer trust.

Mobile Privacy Standards Coming: U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Agency

Mobile carriers, app developers, and other technology stakeholders will meet with the U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Agency on July 12 to discuss privacy standards for mobile use. The focus of the discussion will be the privacy practices of mobile apps and their transparency.

Applications will be the main focus on July 12 when enforcement begins. The initial series of meetings will decide on rights, obligations and enforcement of online and mobile device security under President Obama’s virtual “Privacy Bill of Rights”.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Communications and Telecommunication Administration (NTIA) has made the decision that it is now time to put the president’s Privacy Bill of Rights into effect. In order to get started, they have sent an invitation to all of the “privacy stakeholders” in order to “generate robust input” in the creation of the very first transparency code of conduct for consumer data collection and use.

The White House and Congress hopes that this discussion will eventually lead to a privacy bill of rights. July’s meeting will be webcast for the public.

Social Media & The Law: Recent Developments in Privacy, Security & Media

Statute Puts Online Libraries and Other Service Providers at Risk
Kansas City infoZine

A New Washington State Law Intends to Make Online Service Providers Criminally Liable For Online Postings. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is representing the Internet Archive in order to block the enforcement of SB 6251, a law aimed at combating advertisements for underage sex workers but with vague and overbroad language that is squarely in conflict with federal law.

NLRB General Counsel Issues Further Guidance on Social Media
National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) is closely scrutinizing employer social media policies.

Legal issues in the media
Social Media Legal, Regulatory & Compliance: Risks & Issues Social Media Slideshare presentation.

Putting the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights into Practice
Providing transparency in how consumer data is handled by mobile applications – this is the first topic for the National Telecommunications and Information…

US lawmakers propose digital bill of rights to safeguard privacy …
Two US lawmakers have proposed a digital bill of rights to safeguard consumer privacy rights and ensure internet freedom.

Stakeholders to Discuss Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will convene stakeholders July 12, 2012 in Washington, DC to develop a privacy code of conduct.