Law and Technology News Roundup

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I’m more interested than the average person in the intersection between criminal law and emerging technologies.  Several blog-worthy stories in that area have developed over the last few days.

First, it looks like more states are considering legislation to keep sex offenders off social networking sites.  I wrote about North Carolina’s law here, and you can read about some other states’ efforts here.  There are serious First Amendment issues with these laws, and it will be interesting to see how the several states’ efforts are received by the courts.  The laboratory of federalism at work!

Second, an Illinois sheriff is suing online classified ad service Cragislist, alleging that its “erotic services” section facilitates prostitution, and seeking reimbursement for costs incurred investigating that activity.  Craigslist responds that it has taken a number of steps to address the issue, and that its responsibility for it’s users’ content is limited.  Story here.

Third, continuing in the Craigslist vein, a Wisconsin woman has been charged with identity theft for posing as her ex-boyfriend and putting an ad on Craigslist asking other guys to call him at work and engage in sexual talk with him.  That story’s here, and although some might view it as a relatively harmless prank, switch the sexes of the participants and it gets pretty scary.

Finally, a story that I plan to write about at greater length in a few days: as detailed here, a federal district court in Vermont has ruled that, at least under the circumstances involved in the case at hand, an individual can be compelled to provide access to a password-protected computer drive without violating the individual’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.  

All of these stories will continue to evolve, and to the extent that they develop in interesting ways, I’ll keep you posted.

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