Category Archives: Privacy

Another reason not to keep client files on your laptop

The reason?

Border searches:

Miller dismissed Verma’s contention that the computer search at the airport had been non-routine or unduly intrusive.

“The court finds that reviewing the files of a computer does not rise to the level of “invasion of the privacy and dignity of the individual to make the search non-routine,” he wrote in a 14-page ruling. “Even had the search of the computer been as exhaustive as Verma claims, the court is not convinced it would be considered non-routine” and needing reasonable cause or particularized suspicion for it to be conducted, he wrote.

So held the Southern District of Texas, the federal court with jurisdiction over part of the Texas-Mexico border.

If you carry a laptop across the border — whether on a business trip or a personal one — you’d do well to ensure that you do not have sensitive client files.

For seriously sensitive files, the reality is that sophisticated forensics can detect even the magnetic shadows left behind after you delete a file, or fragments of that file that might have been written temporarily to disk by your operating system (or, of course, the magnetic shadows of those temporary files). Those documents demand a more robust solution. But anyone who values their privacy should be aware that U.S. border officials might decide to poke around in the personal files of anyone who wants to reenter the country.

Hat tip: IT Business Edge


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Filed under Encryption, Privacy

Cross-posts: Privacy implications of Google Buzz

I’m cross-posting these links here.  This past week on SCOTXblog, I wrote a series of posts about the privacy implications of using Google Buzz.

The first post was aimed at lawyers, bloggers, journalists, and others who have a special concern about people being able to communicate with them in confidence. Buzz’s pre-populated and pre-published follower lists threatened to expose those confidences.  I have been overwhelmed (as was my server, a time or two) by the response.

As the story developed over the next few days, I posted tips about how to disable Google Buzz (before Google put their own disable button into Gmail) and a personal response to Google’s much-touted apology.

At a gut level, what bothered me about Buzz is captured by this snippet from Kontra (which I saw on Daring Fireball):

Google is a $170 billion company. It employs thousands of engineers and developers. It tests, tests, tests, and tests more. In fact, its “designers” once unable to pick a shade of blue tested 41 variations of it. It’s ludicrous to think that the Buzz fiasco was simply a result of under-testing.

Until Google recognizes — and truly respects — some distinction between our data and theirs, the Buzz fiasco will not be the last.

Why am I cross-posting my own law blog posts here?

I started blogging on a purely legal blog, with a focus on the Supreme Court of Texas (SCOTXblog).  That’s deeply related to my work as an appellate lawyer, and the blog has been a success.

I have sometimes posted about internet law, legal technology, or technology in general (filtered through a legal perspective).  I enjoy those topics and want to participate in those conversations, but they rarely have fit the mold of SCOTXblog.

This week, I really wished I had a separate platform not so entangled with my day job (handling Texas appellate cases).  On the other hand, I appreciate that my Buzz-related posts were distributed so quickly because my law blog already has an established and loyal readership.

So it goes.  Cross-posting is my latest experiment in how to talk about technology without disrupting my other blog’s more traditional legal readers.

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Filed under Privacy