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Natural Disasters In The Internet Era

By Jason Beahm on March 15, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the internet.

Natural phenomena, such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, tornadoes and tsunamis, have occurred on this planet for many millennia. And such phenomena have become disasters where humans have populated in heavy concentrations in areas subject to such phenomena.

In the internet era, so much of life has seemed to move online.  People spend many of their waking hours in front of their computer screens or staring into their smart phones, that they can actually forget the real world around them. Of course, the real world can talk back and quite loudly. There is nothing like the rumble of an earthquake to provide a reminder that not everything in the real world is stable and safe.

In this Internet era, where so much can be posted online immediately, when a natural disaster happens, all of us can know about it and see it immediately. Within seconds, all sorts of images of the devastation caused by the recent massive earthquake and tsunami to hit Japan where online for viewing worldwide.

The Internet has many benefits when a natural disaster occurs.  For example, it provides a means for loved ones in affected areas to reach out and provide assurance that they are safe.  It also enables the opportunity to seek assistance.  Of course, this assumes that victims of natural disasters will be able to get online, which for some, unfortunately might not be the case for obvious reasons.

The Internet era also provides a mechanism to mobilize support and assistance from all over the globe to help people within areas that have been devastated by a natural disaster.

We do live in a real world, which at times is no more than shaky ground, but the Cyber world can lend a hand when disaster strikes.

Eric Sinrod is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris LLP ( where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology and intellectual property disputes.  His Web site is and he can be reached at  To receive a weekly email link to Mr. Sinrod's columns, please send an email to him with Subscribe in the Subject line. This column is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.  The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author's law firm or its individual partners.

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