• Staff members at the US Senate have indicated that they will try to work with the US House of Representatives during the lame duck session of Congress in an effort to pass a unified bill aimed at caller ID spoofing. In February 2010, the Senate passed S. 30, the Truth In Caller ID Act, introduced by Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., which would prohibit the practice of spoofing caller ID information with the intent to defraud or harm. The bill was referred to the House on February 24, 2010. On March 3, 2010, Rep. Eliot Engel, D-NY, introduced similar legislation in HR 1258, also called the Truth in Caller ID Act, which was passed on April 14, 2010, and referred to the Senate the next day. The House bill differs somewhat from the Senate version, in that it recognizes that some legitimate business services change caller ID information, and it directs the FCC to implement rules that would allow those services to continue doing so.
  • The New York Bar Association has released Ethics Opinion 843 which states that it is permissible for lawyers to access social networking websites to collect damaging information on opposing parties in lawsuits. The Committee on Professional Ethics concluded that attorneys in litigation can access the public pages of another party’s site to obtain information about that person insofar as that site is accessible to all members of the network. The panel also held, however, that lawyers may not deceptively “friend” someone, or cause someone else to do so, in order to get information. The Opinion is available here.
  • Further developments have occurred in a case we reported in the August 9, 2010 edition: On September 13, 2010, Mark S. Haltzman, attorney for the Pennsylvania high school student who alleges that school district employees spied on him via a school-provided laptop, filed a motion seeking more than $330,000 in attorney fees and costs. The motion was filed after a judge for the US District for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled that the Lower Merion School District must pay the plaintiff’s fees and costs related to the entry of a preliminary injunction prohibiting the school district from remotely activating the webcams or purchasing any software, hardware, or technology to facilitate remote activation. The alleged surveillance came to light last November, when the assistant principal of Harriton High School reportedly told the student that the school district believed he had engaged in improper behavior at home. The motion to certify the class, to be composed of students who were provided school laptops and their families, remains pending. Robbins v. Lower Merion School District, et al., No. 10-0665 (E.D. Pa.).