Monthly Archives: March 2012

Defamation Lawsuit: Chef Ramsay vs. Restaurateur Lavy

Gordon Ramsay Defamation Lawsuit
Gordon Ramsay Has Filed A Defamation Lawsuit Against Former Business Partner Lavy.

Defamation lawsuit alert!

Reality chef extraordinaire, Gordon Ramsey, is once again embroiled in a legal fracas. Unlike the lawsuit he recently settled — and ponied up $83,000 for — this time “Chef” is the one doing the suing. What’s got him hotter than a brick oven? Allegedly defamatory statements made by one of his Montreal-based business partners, Danny Lavy.

Cause for the $2.4 Million Dollar Defamation Lawsuit

By now, we all know the way the celebrity restaurant machine works: Well-known, master chefs lend their name and a few recipes to a restaurant, which brings in the patrons. Judging from reports, it seems Ramsay and Lavy made a similar deal. Ramsay would lend his name to Lavy’s kitchen, and the former Laurier BBQ would become Laurier Gordon Ramsey.

Here’s where things diverge.

Gordon Ramsey insists the deal he signed with Lavy did not include public promotion – Lavy, apparently, feels otherwise. Ramsay also says his deal with Lavy was terminated on February 11.

Lavy, however, recently censured Ramsay, in the Montreal Gazette, for being “too busy to come to the restaurant.” Lavy indicated he was severing ties with Ramsay, stripping the famed chef’s name from the moniker, and closed by quipping about Ramsay’s gourmet prowess: “We got nothing that was ever a ‘wow’ dish,” but just “a few tweaks on what we already had.”

Ramsay Files Defamation Lawsuit: My Name And Reputation Is Worth Its Weight In Gourmet Truffles!

Un-amused by the remarks, Ramsay directed some heat towards Lavy in the form of a defamation lawsuit. According to the filing, “negative and critical public comments regarding the plaintiff could have the effect of decreasing the commercial value of [Ramsay’s] name and any commercial ventures associated with it.” It went on to aver that Lavy’s statements were “false and defamatory.”

In other words: If you disparage Gordon Ramsay’s good culinary reputation in public, it could affect his future earning potential.

What Are Ramsay’s Chances of Winning This Defamation Lawsuit?

This one’s a toss-up. It’s a defamation lawsuit that will very much depend on the arguments from the defamation lawyers on both sides. Moreover, the case is being heard in Canadian courts, which arguably have the most “plaintiff-friendly” defamation laws in the “English-speaking world.” That being said, the lawsuit was filed in Quebec, which is the Canadian province with legal leanings most similar to U.S. standards (though mostly when reviewing issues of political speech).

In broad terms, in Canada, plaintiffs don’t have to prove malice, falsity or damage – a very different standard than the U.S., which would require a public figure to prove all three in order to bring a defamation lawsuit against the accused.

Though, Canadian defamation law – like EU defamation law – is currently in a state of flux, and new precedence is being established quickly.

This is an interesting defamation lawsuit, and we’ll be keeping an eye on this one. So be sure to check back for updates – or sign up for our Internet and defamation law newsletter and get updates in your inbox.

Are Electronic Signatures Legal

Are electronic signatures legal
Are electronic signatures legal?

Are electronic signatures legal? In a word: Yes. But like most things in business, life and law, there are limitations. So let’s take a quick look at Public Law 106-229, break it down into plain English, and answer the question: are electronic signatures legally binding?

Public Law 106-229: Electronic Signature in Global and National Commerce Act

On June 30, 2000, as one of his parting acts as President, with the approval of the 106th Congress, President Clinton signed the Electronic Signature in Global and National Commerce Act into law. It’s stated purpose was to “facilitate the use of electronic records and signatures in interstate or foreign commerce.”

The Main Point of The Electronic Signature in Global and National Commerce Act: E-Signatures Are Legal

A bill wouldn’t be a bill if it wasn’t wordy, and the Electronic Signature in Global and National Commerce Act is no exception. Weighing in at 14 pages, the gist of the bill is this:
“[sic] a signature contract, or other record relating to such transaction, may not be denied legal effect, validity or enforceability solely because it’s in electronic form.”

Electronic Signatures and Consumer Protection Standards

The Electronic Signature in Global and National Commerce Act does include various consumer protection provisions. Essentially, the Act makes it illegal to ignore the wishes of consumers who, “prior to consenting, is provided with a clear and conspicuous statement,” and opted-out of accepting electronic signatures.

In other words, if you’re an affiliate marketer, and your terms include language that allows users to send in a written consent as opposed to an electronic, and you in some way deny them rights associated with said opt-out, then you may be held liable for any claims that arise out of the situation.

The Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA)

The National Conference of Commissioners of Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) is a non-profit association that has been around since 1892. They basically work to establish uniform administrative standards for state law commissioners. Adopted by 47 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands, the NCCUSL is one of those little heard from groups that have a significant effect on law making.

One of the NCCUSL statues is the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act – or UETA. It’s another law on the books that makes electronic signatures legal. The Act outlines a standardized set of rules for how state laws legally structure their check-record–keeping and electronic signature laws.

Illinois, New York and Washington State have not adopted the UETA, but all three states do have state laws that render electronic signatures legal.

The bottom line: electronic signatures are legal. But if you have wording in your terms or policies that give consumers an electronic-signature opt-out, and you ignore their wishes, you could find yourself on the losing end of an electronic signature lawsuit. So, it’s best to have an attorney look over your policies – especially if you found it for free online – to ensure that you’re not inadvertently ignoring electronic signature opt-outs you didn’t know appeared in your disclosure statement.

Consumer Watchdog to FTC: Put a Leash on Google!

Consumer Watchdog, a non-profit consumer advocate organization, recently censured Google. The accusation? Google has been “playing fast and loose” with Safari users’ data.

What Is The Consumer Watchdog Group

Founded in 1985, Consumer Watchdog has a long history of dealing with consumer health care advocacy, energy and taxpayer rights. The group is also involved in political reform, insurance and privacy issues.

Accusations Against Google On Safari

Last month, Consumer Watchdog claimed Google was less than honest with consumers using safari browsers on their computers, iPads and iPhones. At the time, Consumer Watchdog sent the FTC a letter outlining their displeasure with what they felt “misleading” activities on the part of Google.

In their scathing  missive, the consumer advocacy organization alleged Google was “playing fast and loose” with private consumer information. The missive claimed Google was feeding false information to the public with regards to how their opt-out system actually operated.

In addition, Consumer Watchdog questioned if Google’s actions were in violation of the “Buzz Consent Agreement,” which requires Google to obtain consent whenever it changes its services.

Consumer Watchdog’s primary beef: Google’s main web browser on Apple’s platform, Safari, was depositing cookies when Google said it wasn’t. As such, when Safari users set their browser settings to deny third-party cookies, they did so in vain. In a seemingly obvious attempt to circumvent user preferences, Google’s DoubleClick, through invisible software, was able to place tracking cookies anyway.

A Matter Of Secret Cookies

To add insult to injury, Google gave false advice to Safari users who wanted to permanently opt out of being on the receiving end of Google’s advertising.

How?

Google developed a “plugin” for Google Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer that allows the opt-out option to be persistent. It told users that while Google had yet to develop a cookie opt-out plugin model for Safari, Safari was set to block third-party cookies by default. Google further assured users that even if they haven’t personally changed their settings, their cookie opt-out desires were being met.

The advice was false. “Google was lying” wrote John M. Simpson of Consumer Watchdog in his letter to the FTC. In fact, he went on, Google was circumventing users’ privacy choices with DoubleClick tracking cookies.

Consumer Watchdog iterated Google was aware of their compromising position because it subsequently removed the specific references to Safari in their policy.

This, in conjunction with the unflattering critique over Google’s privacy policy, is sure to give the search engine giant some headaches over the next few months.

An Explanation of Facebook’s Data Use Policy

Facebook Legal NewsWinter is coming in Westeros soon– and change is also a’coming on Facebook…very soon. Google unleashed a new online privacy policy earlier in the month, so it’s no surprise that their online sparring partner, Facebook, would follow suit.

A few weeks ago we dissected Google’s new policy, so it’s only fair that we give Facebook’s new terms the same treatment. Ready?

Precision Language Changes: It’s All in the Definition

Perhaps the most ostensibly major change in Facebook’s new privacy policy is that it’s no longer called a privacy policy. That’s right, the social media giant (with an admitted penchant for “openness”) decided to scrub their terms’ title of the p-word, and instead opted for the vaguer “Data Use Policy.” In other words, in simplified base terms, Facebook, technically, no longer has a privacy policy.

In addition to purging privacy from the disclosure “shingle,” the new policy also amends “hateful speech” to “hate speech” (a legal distinction, as the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits laws that restrict hate speech);  a “profile” is now an “account”; “share links” are now “social plugins”; instead of claiming that they “do” have systems that detect and filter certain suspicious click activity,” now they have systems that “attempt to detect and filter certain click activity (yep, suspicious is gone, which means they can attempt to detect and filter ALL click activity).

To see a fully tracked document of the changes, click here. Cynthia Boris did an excellent job of marking up the Facebook policy changes.

Sharing is Caring – And It Looks Like They Plan To Do A Lot Of It

Undoubtedly, the Facebook policy change that will have people throwing shade is the following:

“When you or others who can see your content and information use an application, your content and information is shared with the application. We require applications to respect your privacy, and your agreement with that application will control how the application can use, store, and transfer that content and information.”

In other words: if you’re friends use certain apps (ones that you may not want anything to do with) your information can be sent to the developer of said app. For example, let’s say your father is a fan of the NY Giants and you’re a NY Jets fan; if you’re connected to Pops through Facebook, and he downloads a Giants’s app, that app can also collect data from you.

Each app, of course, also has their own privacy rules. So, if you want to prevent your info from being passed from app to app to app, then you can (a) shut down your Facebook account, (b) learn how to read privacy policies quickly and get really good at writing mail-in opt-outs when necessary, or (c) shrug your shoulders and keep using Facebooks’ free service.

What Facebook Has The Right To Do With Your Intellectual Property

Apart from some tidying language, Facebook’s new Data Use Policy hasn’t altered the intellectual property rights section all that much.

That being said, it never hurts to review what rights an online platform claims to users’ copyrighted and trademarked material.

In the case of Facebook, if you post your own copyrighted material on their site, then you’re agreeing that Facebook has global, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free, sub-licensable rights to said work until you delete it or your account. However, if you  shared the protected work with others on Facebook, and they don’t delete it, then Facebook still retains the above rights even if you delete the work from your account.

So what rights does a “non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free, sub-licensable license” afford Facebook? It means you grant them the shared right to use your copyrighted material, without having to pay, with anyone in the world. In addition, it means that they can also grant others the right to use your material, so long as it can be found somewhere on their platform. (Something you may want to think about considering the company is going public very soon.)

Now, it should be noted that all the above is subject to your own privacy settings within the network. So, if you haven’t already, now is a good time to acquaint yourself with all the account settings.

Depending on your online privacy position, this all my sound scary; but at the end of the day, if our thirst for free platforms persists, then expect more and more online operations to move in this direction – after all, they, too, have to “bring home the bacon” somehow…because if they don’t, the economic winter we’ve been experiencing here in North America for the past 5 years may never end.

Defamation Lawsuit Rocks Syracuse University Athletic Department

Last week, attorneys representing Syracuse University men’s basketball coach, Jim Boeheim, urged  the court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by two former ball boys. The plaintiffs filed charges alleging they were sexually abused by former assistant Syracuse University men’s basketball coach, Bernie Fine. Jim Boeheim stated that the sexual abuse allegations are merely the result of opportunism sparked by Penn State’s sexual abuse scandal.

Syracuse Basketball Defamation Lawsuit Background

The two ball boys worked with Syracuse University during the 1980’s. Bobby Davis, who is now 40, and his 45 year old stepbrother, Michael Lang, allege that Fine repeatedly touched them sexually while they were working for the university’s basketball team. Fine contends he did nothing wrong and no charges have been filed for the sexual abuse case yet. However, the federal government is probing Fine due to an ongoing investigation into the matter.

Defamation Allegations

The two ball boys, Michael Lang and Bobby Davis, alleged they were defamed by head coach Boeheim. Lang and Davis are suing both Syracuse University and head coach Boeheim; documents were filed in Syracuse branch of the New York State Court. Their complaints allege that they were sexually abused by Bernie Fine. The two ball boys also allege that Boeheim and the school should have been aware of the ongoing abuse.

Request for Defamation Dismissal

Boeheim’s attorney filed dismissal request on Tuesday. The attorneys argue the statements made by Boeheim were within the grounds of protection offered by the first amendment, as his words were simply a passionate plea in favor of the coaching staff at the university.

Boeheim has stood out in support of his assistant coach Fine. The head coach initially stated the two ball boys were simply looking to take advantage of the recent scandal that rocked Penn State’s long-time football coach, Joe Paterno.. Boeheim has since apologized for his statements. His apology came after criticism from a host of victim advocates.

Boeheim’s attorneys have stated again that the coach knew nothing about the alleged sexual abuse by Fine. Boeheim’s attorneys also argued that the coach’s statements were merely a matter of opinion, and the coach had every right to express this opinion. The offense that was taken by the ball boys holds no sway, and Boeheim’s words were protected by his constitutional right to freedom of speech.

Davis and Fine’s attorney, Gloria Allred, has refused to comment about the latest issues in the ongoing case. The courts are currently considering the latest motion, and it may be several months before a decision in the case is made.

Pimental v. Google And The TCPA

Google Privacy PolicyJudge Yvonne Rogers, United States District Court, for the Northern District of California, recently filed an opinion denying Google’s motion to dismiss a pending class action lawsuit. The case, Pimental v. Google, involves advertising practices Google used to promote Disco, a mass messaging service under the Google umbrella. The case began when the plaintiffs, Nicole Pimental and Jessica Franklin, filed a complaint alleging that Google violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, or TCPA.

What Is Disco?

Customers using Disco receive a group cell phone number. The members of the group register by submitting their numbers to Google; once the group has been formed, members may send group-wide messages by dialing the communal number. According to the complaint, as soon as the group’s creator registers the communal number, the entire group receives an automated message from Google. The message states: “Disco is a group texting service. Standard SMS rates may apply or chat for free w/our app… [link deleted].” The plaintiffs, who contend that the message is an automated advertisement, filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of any Disco users who received the introductory message.

TCPA Violations

The plaintiffs must prove four elements to establish a violation of the TCPA: First, the defendant made a call; second, the defendant used an automated dialer; third, the number the defendant called was registered to a cellular phone service; and fourth, the defendant did not have permission to make the call.

In the motion to dismiss, Google’s attorneys argued that the plaintiffs failed to show that Google used an automated dialer to send the messages.

What Constitutes An Automated Dialing System

The TCPA defines an automated dialing system as “equipment which has the capacity . . . to store or produce telephone numbers to be called, using a random or sequential number generator [and] to dial such numbers.”

As the courts have interpreted the TCPA, a defendant may not use a machine that can either store or generate numbers to send unsolicited text messages. Courts focus on the nature of the machine, not the method used to send the messages or the way the defendant acquired the numbers.

Judge Rogers Ruling

In her opinion, Judge Rogers observed that other judges ruled that plaintiffs only need to accuse the defendant of harvesting numbers and automatically sending mass text messages. The mere accusation allows courts to infer that the defendant’s equipment is capable of randomly generating or storing numbers. Relying on those precedents, Judge Rogers concluded that the plaintiffs were entitled to a chance to present their case to a fact finder.

Google also argued that the text messages were non-commercial communications entitled to First Amendment protection. However, Judge Rogers noted that the plaintiffs averred in their complaint that the messages were commercial. As Google’s argument contradicted the facts alleged by the plaintiffs, it could not be resolved before trial.

What It All Means

This ruling does not mean the plaintiffs have won the lawsuit. The American justice system recognizes two fundamental issues: questions of law and questions of fact. In most cases, the jury determines the facts of the case, but the judge decides how the law applies. To prevail on a motion to dismiss, the defendant must argue that even if the jury believed all of the plaintiff’s allegations, the judge would be forced to rule in the defendant’s favor as a matter of law. In this case, Judge Rogers held that the plaintiffs had made allegations that, if the jury believed them, would establish that Google violated the law. As a result, the case could not be decided on a motion to dismiss, and the plaintiffs are now entitled to present their case to a jury.

It is rare, however, for a class action lawsuit to go to trial. Many corporations are willing to litigate individual lawsuits; even large verdicts represent only a small percentage of a national corporation’s annual budget.

In a class action suit, however, thousands or even millions of individual cases all ride on the same verdict. As a result, when a company goes to trial and loses a class action case, the damages often bankrupt the corporation. Due to the enormity of the risk and the high cost of protracted litigation, corporations typically settle once the court has certified the class and denied the company’s motion to dismiss. This allows the parties to avoid a costly trial by reaching a settlement that does not irreversibly destructive.

UK Officials Unhappy With New Google Privacy Rules

Google Privacy PolicyOfficials in the EU are once again speaking out against the latest Google privacy policy. Last time it was the French who publicly aired their displeasure with the new standards, and they asked the company to delay launching the new policy in their country until officials had time to review the possible problems; this time, the halt bell is being clanged in the United Kingdom.

This week, an Internet privacy watchdog group out of the UK voiced concerns that Google’s new policy does not comply with the countries Data Protection Act of 1998 – a fairly strict regulation that outlines the dos-and-don’ts when it comes to the collection and handling of personally identifiable information.

At a recent conference, David Smith, a European Deputy Information Commissioner, explained that the wording in Google’s new policy is “too vague.” Part of the UK’s Data Protection Act makes it illegal to collect information without expressly stating the intended reason for doing so. As such, Viviane Reding – another European official in charge of data security – was a little more cynical in her assessment of Google’s new terms and suggested that Larry Page’s operation was “sneaking away” with user’s data.

Google is working with EU officials in hopes of reaching a workable détente, and is eager to argue that their new Good to Know website, privacy centre and in-product notifications are clear, succinct, and fully explain how the company uses data.

Even still, European policy makers feel that the new policy inadequately incorporates their continent’s so-called ‘right to be forgotten’ statues. To that end, Google claims that since they are only a “conduit” for sharing, they’re exempt from said standard.

With even tighter online privacy laws currently being debated in the European Union, it’s likely we’ll see a lot of back-and-forth between the multi-national governing body and Google for months and months to come. So stay tuned, as the battle could have a significant effect on how operations structure their online business efforts.

A March Madness Parody For Friday

At Kelly Law it's all green all the time!

March Madness is upon us! Over the next couple of weeks, there will be smack-talk-a-plenty and lots of shouting at the TV. And who knows,  some legal questions may even arise out of it all if anyone makes a Kyle Williams-sized mistake.

So to help ring in this special time of year, a Kelly Law friend — David Morgan (thanks, man!) — whipped us up a little parody to get this party started!

Go Green!

Sung to the tune of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”
By David Morgan

Its the least productive time of the year
with basketball cheer and buckets of beer, March Madness is HERE!
its the least productive time of the year

Its the sad-saddest season of all
for employers with meetings
and deadlines a fleeting and missed conference calls
Its the sad-saddest season of all

They’ll be brackets a roasted
when top seeds are toasted
and charts will be left in the snow
They’ll be  “Cinderella” stories and tales of the glories of Madnesses
long long ago

its the least productive time of the year
the Web will be slowing
‘cause games will be showing
as soon as the coast is clear
Its the least productive time of the year

they’ll be brackets a roasted
when top seeds are toasted
and charts will be left in the snow
They’ll be  “Cinderella” stories and tales of the glories of Madnesses
long long ago

Its the least productive time of the year
the Web will be slowing
‘cause games will be showing
as soon as the coast is clear

Its the least productive time
Its the least productive time
Its the least productive time
Its the least productive time of the year!

“March Madness!!”

International Online Privacy: UK Data Privacy Protection Act of 1998 Summary

international online privacyInternational Online Privacy Issues

Online privacy is a big legal issue these days. Google just changed their online privacy policy and legislators on Capitol Hill are hard at work trying to work out a universal online privacy policy. At the same time, legislators in the European Union are also working on updates to their Internet privacy regulations.

What’s going on in both Washington and the EU, with regards to online privacy, should be of primary importance to anybody involved with online business. Why? Well, the two official bodies have very different opinions on how stringent their region’s online privacy laws should be. To put it simply, Europeans favor tighter rules, while American politicians and online business entities seem to be pushing for more share-friendly laws.

What does that mean for the increasingly global marketplace? In short, it means that US-based businesses, who plan on marketing to European citizens, should make an effort to adhere to the stricter EU laws. If your goal is to reach an international clientèle, the United Kingdom’s Data Protection Act of 1998 is a good rule of thumb to follow.

UK Data Protection Act of 1998

The UK Data Protection Act of 1998 governs how personally identifiable electronic data is to be collected and processed. The law was enacted, in part, to align British regulations with a European Union regulatory initiative passed in 1995 that dealt with securing the privacy of citizens.

The law does not apply to personal and domestic use. For example, people who keep an electronic address book are not subject to Data Protection Act standards. Neither are operations that collect very little data (check with a lawyer to see if your company qualifies for exemption).

There are eight primary principles of the act:

1)      Data Transfer: Information that doesn’t adhere to at least the same level of user protections cannot be transferred or shared to entities outside of the EU economic region .

2)      Management: It is the responsibility of the company or entity collecting data to ensure they have sufficient business procedures in place to thwart security breaches and data loss.

3)      Control: All users retain the right to have their data removed, in whole or in part, at any time.

4)      Longevity: Collected data should not be kept for a longer period of time than what is needed for the original purpose of collection.

5)      Accuracy: Standards and procedures must be established to ensure that the collected information is accurate and timely.

6)      Info Scope: Data should not be collected that is outside the stated purpose.

7)      Use Scope: Data should not be used for any reason other than the stated purpose.

8)      Legal: All collected data must be processed fairly and lawfully.

In addition to the above principles, the UK Data Protection Act of 1998 obliges every processor to register with the Information Commissioner’s Office.

If you run an online business and need counsel to determine if your operation adheres to the stricter EU online privacy laws, contact our firm today. We’ll square you away quickly so you can get back to the business of making money.

FTC’s Dot Com Disclosures: The SparkNotes-Esque Version

FTC Dot Com Disclosures
Federal Trade Commission’s Dot Com Disclosures

In 2000, the FTC formalized online marketing rules by creating and distributing a set of Internet advertising guidelines. After analyzing issues unique to online promotion, the commission published the “Dot Com Disclosures” — a.k.a., the online marketing bible for the United States.

An 83-page document, the Dot Com Disclosures clarifies how established regulations concerning “unfair and deceptive” sales and marketing techniques translate to online efforts.

While the document is wordy, the gist is this: Don’t try to game people using coding and design trickery. Below is a breakdown of the Dot Com Disclosure points.

Dot Com Disclosures Point #1: Placement and Proximity

One of the main issues outlined in the FTC’s Dot Com document deals with the proximity of disclosures to the statement or advertisement being offered. Essentially, it states that any policy link or required statement should be as close to the “relevant claim.” In other words, the Dot Com Disclosure makes clear that you cannot publish marketing collateral one place and then put the necessary disclosure, or conspicuous link to the necessary disclosure, in another place.

Dot Com Disclosures Rule #2: Label Correctly

If a disclosure link is not labeled properly, the FTC may come after you. In other words, policy links must be evident. Trying to mask disclosures and links to disclosures may get you in big trouble with the Federal Trade Commission. As such, when designing an online or mobile ad, and you’re not sure whether or not your disclosure link would pass FTC labeling muster, it’s best to consult with an FTC attorney. The $150 you would spending having an Internet lawyer review your online or mobile ad could save you from a rumble with the commission.

Dot Com Disclosures Rule #3: Link Consistency

The FTC cares about your website’s design. And they’re particularly picky about the site’s link style. In an effort to ensure that users can distinguish links from regular text, the FTC says that links on any given ad must be consistent and distinguishable. In other words, don’t try to trick people by doing something devious with a given link.

Dot Com Disclosures Rule #4: No Circuitous Linking

If you have a link on an ad that leads to a disclosure, the link must take the user directly to the appropriate information. Again, trying to defraud users with link trickery will raise the ire of the FTC.

Dot Com Disclosures Rule #5: You’re Responsible For Monitoring Others

The Dot Com Disclosure also lays down the law regarding the monitoring of affiliate marketing networks. The gist of their position: If you have affiliates hawking your wares, you have a responsibility to monitor their actions to ensure they’re not engaging in nefarious activities with regards to the marketing of your product. Now, of course this varies case to case, as sometimes it’s impossible for the affiliate operator to tell that one of their affiliates is engaging in something illegal, but as a general rule of thumb, it’s important to monitor your network and take measures against any affiliates who are not following the Dot Com Disclosure rules.

If you run an affiliate marketing network and need a lawyer to look things over, give us shout. It’s an inexpensive flat fee to do so and could save you a giant FTC headache down the road.

New FTC Disclosure Rules On The Way For Online Advertising

New FTC Disclosure Rules on the WayLooks like the FTC is ready to update the Dot Com Disclosures, and every Internet business owner, affiliate marketer and mobile advertiser should start paying close attention to the process – because the current chatter suggests that the stringent new rules being discussed could radically change the scope of online business.

The topics the FTC appears to be most concerned about are disclosures on mobile offers, social networking platforms and pre-landing pages.

On May 30th, the FTC will hold a public workshop focusing on disclosure rules for mobile marketing. Currently, they’re accepting panelist participant submissions and are requesting opinions on the questions below.

1) Due to the increasing prevalence of mobile devices, how can the proper FTC disclosures fit in the limited space?

2) Geo-location technology is opening up a brave new advertising world. As such, what should be the proper disclosure procedure for sat-enabled ads? For example, when should disclosures be made available to an individual plugged into a geo-location advertising program? Is it when the offer pops up on the person’s mobile device, or is it fine to not require customer notification until they decide to act on the offer (i.e., actually walking into the establishment).

3) For devices that do not have downloading capabilities, is providing users a way to send themselves obligatory disclosures, for future review, a sufficient way to include the necessary disclosures?

4) How should social media and disclosure obligations be married? Are there disclosure considerations that should be weighed with regards to re-tweets, Facebook posts, etc.?

5) What is the best way for clear promotion disclosures to be incorporated into mobile devices with limited display areas?

6) What are the current statistics on mobile phone use? How do people interact with their phones these days?

7) What is the best way to incorporate hyperlinks, jump-links and click-through mechanisms into mobile advertisements? Should a graphical standard be set up to indicate various policy, terms and disclosure requirements?

If you are involved in mobile or online advertising, keep the FTC investigation into digital disclosures on your radar. If you’re involved with Internet marketing and need an attorney to review your online advertising efforts, get in touch.

Cyberbullying Laws

Bullying is not a new phenomenon. Truth is, most people are victims of bullying at some point in their lives, be it at school, the office or social gatherings. And thanks to the Internet, online bullying has also become a serious problem. Online harassment is commonly referred to as cyberbullying. Victims of cyberbullying may not suffer from physical harm, but the mental fatigue caused by Internet harassment is often more severe than the effects of traditional bullying.

What Are the Cyberbullying Types?

Cyberbullying can be carried out via instant messengers, chat rooms, discussion forums and emails. Since the cyberbullying problem has grown exponentially, experts have delineated five different types of online harassment.

  • Cyberstalking: Victims of cyberstalking receive harsh and annoying messages repeatedly, either on their mobile phones, through the Internet or by email. The messages can be intimidating and may instil fear in the victims’ minds. Victims of cyberstalking often start believing that the intimidator can move offline and harm them physically.
  • Exclusion: Exclusion is a bullying technique that can be practiced both online and off. Exclusion refers to a bullying procedure that involves excluding or singling out an individual from a group. During exclusion cyberbullying, victims are first excluded from online groups and then taunted overwhelmingly by the other group members through the Internet.
  • Flaming: The term flaming refers to a cyberbully that supplements their hate speech with cruel and harsh photos. During flaming, communication occurs via instant messengers, emails, chat rooms or forums.
  • Outing: Outing is a cyberbullying technique in which the abuser shares private information without permission with the intent to hurt.
  • Masquerading: This is a sophisticated cyberbullying type. During masquerading, individuals create fake accounts on social networking websites to harass the victims. Masquerading is also the term used for malevolent activities, like stealing the victim’s login information and sharing it publicly.

Cyberbullying State Laws

Over 35 US states have laws that cover bullying in general. However, only 15 states have specific laws that govern cyberbullying. Seven more states are now waiting for cyberbullying laws to be passed by their legislatures. California and Missouri have the toughest cyberbully laws. In other words, convicted cyber bullies in CA and MO receive harsh punishments

In 2009, a federal bill that addresses cyberbullying was presented to the House of Representatives. The bill was titled the ‘Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act’. The bill was named after Megan Meir, the victim of the most famous cyberbullying case in the United States. The suicide of Megan Meir after being cyber bullied through a social networking website made the parents, advocates and law enforcement realizes the importance of having laws governing cyberbullying.

Are you or your child being cyberbullied or stalked online? Do you want to make it stop? You do have options, even in states that don’t have a formal cyberbullying law on the books. Contact the Kelly Law Firm today to discuss how to put an end to the online harassment.