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Did a Judge Just Void Your Right to Post Anonymous Reviews?

anonymousIf you’ve ever posted a negative review online–especially on Yelp–then news from the Washington Times might give you cause for alarm.

A Virginia court has just ordered Yelp to hand over the names of seven reviewers who left anonymous, negative reviews on the Yelp profile of a company called Hadeed Carpet Cleaning. The owner claims that the reviews cannot be matched to any existing customers and therefore must be fictitious. On those tenuous grounds, a judge in Alexandria agreed with him.

Of course,  Yelp’s legal team is pitching a conniption:

“Hadeed really did nothing to justify the need for the identity of the Does in this case,” said Mr. Levy, who works at the D.C.-based nonprofit advocacy group Public Citizen. “It’s going to make it more difficult for the marketplace of ideas to get valuable information about companies.”

The Last Two Men in the World to Realize Facebook Has No Privacy File Suit

Facebook Spies?Now here’s something novel, a tech giant being sued because of privacy violations.

Only this time, it’s not Google.

Two men have filed a law suit claiming that, get this, Facebook is violating its user’s right to privacy. Now, we’re accustomed to using the word “privacy” in the same sentence as Facebook, but there’s usually a “lack of” “no” or “we don’t need no stinkin” also included in said sentence. It should be pretty common knowledge that anyone that uses Facebook should do so without any expectations of privacy–no matter what the company’s actual privacy policy says. I know I always cringe when someone sends me something sensitive via a private Facebook message, because it’s just not that private.

Anyway, back to our two intrepid litigants…

NJ Added to List of States Where Job Applicants Protected from Password Demands

New JerseyIn the world of social media there is nothing if there is not at least the illusion that one has some level of privacy.

It’s an illusion because we all know that that our data is available to marketers in many shapes and sizes. Heck, most of you reading this post are the ones who are looking to acquire as much information about your potential customers that you possibly can. There is nothing wrong with that and no apologies are necessary. It’s the way of the world.

With Facebook, You Can Like But You Can’t Hide

facebook-icon 1Jumbo shrimp. Working vacation. Facebook privacy.You get the oxymoronic gist of it, right?

Facebook’s ideas around privacy have always been controversial so the latest turn of the privacy screws by the king of the social media hill shouldn’t surprise anyone especially in the ‘all revenue, all the time’ world of being a public company.

So what’s the latest? Well, it seems that Facebook is taking away their account holders’ ability to hide from the search function. USAToday tells us.

Facebook on Thursday announced the final phase of removing an old privacy feature from the social media platform. The feature, which allows users to be hidden from search, will finally be taken away for users who have it enabled.

Will Google’s Latest Offer to EU End Its Troubles? Not Likely

google-logo1The news out of Europe is that Google may be getting to the end of the trouble they have been having with the EU. That’s at least what the EU and Google are thinking. From Reuters we get

An offer by Google to modify how it displays Internet search results could settle a long-running antitrust dispute with the European Union, the EU competition chief said on Tuesday.

The world’s most popular search engine has been under investigation for three years by the European Commission, which acts as the bloc’s antitrust regulator, over complaints it was blocking competitors in search results.

More than a dozen companies, including Microsoft, British price comparison site Foundem and German online mapping company Hotmaps, have accused it of squeezing them out of the market.

Google Files to Avoid Wiretap Charges, But Judge Says Denied

gavel-4-1409594-mAccording to the Wiretap Act, it is illegal to

  • Intentionally, or purposefully,
  • Intercept, disclose, or use the contents of
    1. Any wire, oral, or electronic communication
    2. Through the use of a “device”

Taken at face value, that would mean Google is breaking the law when their computers scan Gmail messages in order to target ads to consumers. But Google says there’s an exception to the rule that applies. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), allows employers to monitor employee email in the ordinary course of business. Google claims that scanning email is just part of their business but a judge says no way.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh threw out Google’s request to dismiss the charges saying,

LinkedIn Denies Accusations of Email Improprieties

LinkedIn-Logo-02Last week a class action lawsuit was filed against LinkedIn which claimed that the ‘social network’ for professionals was hacking email accounts and spamming members’ contacts. From The Huffington Post we learn

Four individuals have filed a lawsuit against the professional networking site LinkedIn for “hacking” into their email accounts in order to send invitations to their friends.

The plaintiffs say that while they knew LinkedIn asks for users’ emails, the site does not make clear that it will bombard those users’ friends with up to three email invitations. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif., alleges that LinkedIn violates the federal wiretap law as well as California privacy laws.