Friday, June 10, 2011

Technology, Law, and the Workplace: Week in Review

This week, Facebook once again stirred controversy with its recent changes to its privacy policy. Once again pushing the boundaries of online privacy, Facebook now automatically opts users into facial-recognition technology. The technology compares pictures posted on Facebook to a central repository of identified photos, and then asks friends of the person it recognizes to "tag" the user in the photo.

So what does this development mean for employers? In the short term, more information. Users who have not opted out of the technology may find themselves identified and tagged by other users. As a result, employer searches of social networks may turn up even more detailed information about applicants and employees. Whether employers can act on those results is another matter entirely.

In the long term, the use of facial recognition technology has the potential to revolutionize the world of online information. There is a vast repository of electronic information already available on social networking sites, and that information increases exponentially each day. Facial-recognition technology has the ability to connect this information with the actual physical appearance of users, potentially destroying the anonymity of individuals on the web. Although reasonable minds can differ about whether that change would be good or bad policy, no one can deny that this shift represents a sea change in online privacy.

Technology in the Workplace
Technology and the Law More Generally
  • Top N.J. Court Says Bloggers May Not Qualify for State Shield Law Protection Against Revealing Sources (ABA Journal)
  • Family Sues Over Webcam Scandal in Philly Schools (Courthouse News)
  • Alaska Grants a Closer Look at Sarah Palin's Emails (Wall Street Journal)
  • Court dismisses class action against MySpace for violation of the Stored Communications Act (Internet Cases)
  • Court dismisses unfair competition claim against Facebook over alleged privacy violation (Internet Cases)
Technology in the News
  • Citi Confirms Data Breach at Citi Account Online (NY Times)
  • Facebook Changes Privacy Settings to Enable Facial Recognition (Bits)
  • Online Video Start Ups Seek to Carve Out a Place Beside YouTube (NY Times)
  • Data Grows, and So Do Storage Sites (NY Times)
  • Projects Use Phone Data to Track Public Services (NY Times)

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