September 27, 2012

Privacy symposium

The John Marshall Law School presents a two-day symposium, The Development of Privacy Law from Brandeis to Today, September 27-28, 2012. Symposium proceedings will be published in The John Marshall Journal of Computer & Information Law, published by John Marshall's Center for Information Technology and Privacy Law.

July 14, 2012

Olympics are stupid

The Olympics are stupid. And the London 2012 Olympic Games are especially stupid. Their terms of use prohibit linking to their site if the link portrays them in a derogatory manner (CNET, July 14, 2012). (Does that mean I shouldn't put anything derogatory in the link itself, as in "stupid Olympics"?)

They also don't want people to use their logo as a link to their site, like

It's all so confusing. How am I supposed to tell if they would object to this?

April 04, 2012

Job seeker sues Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo

Jason L. Nieman, an Illinois resident, sued his former employer, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, in 2009. Various public documents from that litigation are available on the Internet, and are accessible via Google and other search engines by anyone searching for Nieman's name.  Nieman recently filed a pro se lawsuit against Google, Microsoft (Bing), Yahoo, and others, alleging that other potential employers are conducting such searches and then unlawfully declining to hire Nieman, even though he "was obviously the most qualified person for the position" (Complaint ¶ 17).  (Hat tip to Eric Goldman, from whom I learned of the case.)

I wonder how Jason Nieman's job prospects will be affected by the fact that potential employers searching for his name will now learn of his lawsuit against search engines for linking to his lawsuit against a former employer.  (And this information, unlike the information about his litigation against a former employer, is probably a perfectly legal basis for an employer not to hire him.)

Additional coverage:  State Journal Register

March 23, 2012

How Facebook can fight nosy employers

Employers reportedly are demanding that job applicants fork over their Facebook passwords; Facebook has responded by threatening to sue employers for violating its terms of service.  Facebook could easily add teeth to this threat by amending its terms of service to provide that Facebook users are intended third-party beneficiaries, enabling them to sue employers directly instead of having to rely upon Facebook to do so.  (Facebook's current terms state just the opposite--that they do not confer any third-party beneficiary rights.)  A liquidated damages provision would be nice as well, plus attorney's fees, to make the lawsuits worthwhile.  Facebook would also have to make a minor modification to its login process, to ensure that any login from a new IP address requires explicit agreement to the terms of service.

February 03, 2012

Dealing with telemarketers

I'm looking for a good way to deal with annoying telemarketers.  I'm on the national Do Not Call list, but I still receive lots of unsolicited calls that usually start with a prerecorded sales pitch, followed by an option to speak to a salesperson for more information.  The Caller ID information is usually unhelpful (a number I don't recognize--probably fake anyway--with at best a vague description for the name).  Many of the calls seem to come from companies that sell leads to other companies.  The most common one is a credit card pitch, but there are calls from electricity providers and other companies, not to mention surveys (real and fake), charity solicitations (often claiming to benefit police or veterans), and of course political fundraising and campaign robocalls.  I usually stay on the line long enough to ask for the caller's name, company, address, and phone number, but I almost never get a straight answer, and once they realize I'm not going to buy anything they just hang up on me.

I'm tempted to buy a cheap air horn, but I've read that call centers have shriek-rejection amplifiers that block loud noises to protect their employees' hearing, so I'd just be wasting my money.  Yelling and swearing is sometimes cathartic, but after a day or two on the job, most telemarketers must be used to this, so I doubt it has much effect other than on my vocal cords.

Is there perhaps some kind of recorded hypnosis message I could play over the phone to get the caller to attack his or her supervisor, or at least to physically damage the call center's equipment?  I understand that hypnotism supposedly won't get people to do something that they wouldn't otherwise consider, but you'd have to be a sociopath to become a telemarketer in the first place, so this shouldn't be a problem.  Any other ideas?  (In case it's not clear, I'm not looking for ideas like "just ignore them," "don't answer the phone," or "ask them not to call again."  I need something that makes the experience significantly more annoying for the caller than it is for me.)