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The Hardware Year-End Review, 2006

By The FindLaw Editorial Staff of FindLaw

2006 is coming to a close, and it has been a topsy-turvy year, to say the least.

The world of Legal Technology has also had its share of ups and downs in 2006, with companies spying on their boards, the treasury department spying on money transfers, and the government spying on, well, everyone! With all the spying going on, data security was certainly on everyone's mind in 2006, and several key stories arose out of the inability of companies and government agencies to protect their customer and employee data. The new Federal Rules of Civil Procedure also added to the mix with new requirements for companies and other potential litigants to keep in mind as they generate gigabytes and gigabytes of information every day.

We've assembled some of the top hardware issues that have appeared in the Legal Technology Center over the course of 2006, and we offer them up so you can relive the highs and lows that were 2006. Enjoy, and have a wonderful holiday season and a happy New Year!

  • Ninth Circuit OKs Border Searches of Laptops
    The Ninth Circuit, in a decision announced this summer, has approved forensic searches of laptop computers at the border, even when the laptop's owner spent no time outside the airport in the foreign country and was under no suspicion of possessing foreign contraband.

  • Responsible e-Waste Disposal
    The statistics on electronic waste (e-waste) are alarming. E-waste is now the fastest-growing part of the municipal waste stream, according to the EPA. Computers seem so efficient and environmentally-friendly, but there are hidden dangers associated with them once they become e-waste.

  • High-Tech Company Uses Low-Tech Spy Technique
    Anyone interested in technology and the law has probably already heard about HP's spying scandal involving the use of "pretexting" to get information about members of HP's Board of Directors. Pretexting (also known as "social engineering") is a simple, low-tech, and frighteningly common way that data miners and private investigators can gain access to an individual's personal information.

  • Electronic Voting Systems Are Vulnerable
    In the wake of the hanging and dimpled chads debacle of the 2000 Presidential election, there has been a movement afoot to embrace electronic voting systems. Good news, right? Perhaps not quite yet.

  • Employees May Have Privacy Expectations In Company Laptops
    Yes, it is true, the great weight of law holds that employees generally do not have privacy expectations when it comes to their work-related electronic communications, especially when they have signed computer policies that explicitly state this to be the case. However, in a recent twist, a federal court recently has held that employees may be able to assert that the attorney-client privilege applies to their communications with their attorneys on company laptops under certain circumstances.

  • A Court Rules That Privately Editing Films for Content Violates Studios' Copyright: The Decision in Clean Flicks v. Steven Soderbergh and Its Cultural Context
    On July 6, in Clean Flicks v. Steven Soderbergh, a federal district court in Utah held that companies that "sanitize" -- or, more appropriately, "bowdlerize" -- motion pictures by removing sex, profanity, and violence, violate the motion picture studios' copyright. (The plaintiffs included powerhouse studios like Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount, Universal City, and Dreamworks as well as a number of directors, including, besides Soderbergh, Robert Altman, Steven Spielberg, and Robert Redford.)

  • Remote Control: How Remote Access Technologies Can Ensure Compliance with a Recent Ninth Circuit Decision
    The Ninth Circuit recently held that the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department violated a software vendor's copyright by installing licensed software on more computers than the Sheriff's Department had purchased licenses for, even though the use of the software on those computers was restricted to the correct number of users. The case, Wall Data Inc. v. Los Angeles Cty. Sheriff's Dep't has important implications for firms that purchase large numbers of software licenses.

  • Protecting Data On Government Laptops
    In the past couple of months, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Trade Commission have grappled with laptops that have gone missing that contained large amounts of private data.

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