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The Ashley Madison breach is causing ripples through the legal world

Ashley Madison, Texas’s New “Revenge Porn” Law, & a Box of Popcorn

The Ashley Madison breach is causing ripples through the legal worldCome September 1, 2015 Texas will join 24 other states to enact SB 1135 dubbed the “Revenge Porn Law”. The timing is coinciding, appropriately enough, with the Ashely Madison data hack and subsequent data dump that was carried out by the anonymous group going by the name Team Impact. This security breach has all the makings of a soap opera and while our first reaction may be to pop some popcorn and watch some well-known “family men” and public figures fall from grace, it also serves as a scary reminder of the perils of this new world we live in. This story holds such a strange mixture of roles; the victims are cheaters, the leakers have painted themselves to be the heroes of the internet, and Ashley–well Ashley Madison is left standing with egg all over her proverbial face. In fact—to date—no one from Ashley Madison has issued a statement regarding the data dump, aside from a smallish post on the news portion of the AM site assuring their clientele that in fact—none of their credit card information was susceptible— which I’m sure is exactly what their clients biggest, number one fear is right now (not). With two apparent suicides already potentially tied to the data dump, you don’t have to look far or scratch the surface very deep to see the human tragedy that this data breach has brought to so many disgraced spouses.

“They got what they deserved” seems to be a common sentiment expressed on various comment sections of various AM articles but this illustrates how short-sighted some people are being about the breach. Understandably there are many different levels of involvement on the site ranging from innocent curiosity—those signing on for a quick peek and a lark, all the way to outright betrayal and everything in between. Somehow though, there are those that wish to tar everyone with the same brush, which is a mistake.

As much as Ashley Madison is centered around the premise of infidelity, this incident is far more complex than just a bunch of cheating spouses and in light of all of the questions, drama, and surely more revelations and data yet to come, we wanted to look at this from the perspective of the new SB 1135 “Revenge Porn” law and what the potential correlations were. According to Section 21.16 b:
A person commits an offense if without the effective consent of the depicted person, the person intentionally discloses VISUAL material depicting another person engaged in SEXUAL CONDUCT; the visual material was obtained by the person or created under the circumstances in which the depicted person had a reasonable expectation that the visual material would remain private; the disclosure of the visual material causes harm to the depicted person; and the disclosure of the visual material reveals the identity of the depicted person in any manner: any accompanying or subsequent information or material related to the visual material; and information or material provided by a third party in response to the person’s disclosure of the visual material.

This story and it’s relation to SB 1135 raises so many questions that we don’t yet have the answers to.

Is Team Impact liable for Revenge Porn charges if they haven’t disclosed any of the photos that we know they have?

“…and the disclosure of the visual material reveals the identity of the depicted person in any manner: any accompanying or subsequent information or material related to the visual material; material provided by a third party (Ashley Madison) in response to the person’s disclosure of the visual material.”

Is Ashley Madison at risk for their negligence in allowing the site to be hacked (over the course of several years) due to their incredibly lax security—leaving approximately 37 million users vulnerable to exposure thus not even remotely practicing due diligence (despite the “trusted security award”, “100% discreet service”, and “SSL secure site” medals which, mockingly, still decorate their site today)?

“…the visual material was obtained by the person or created under the circumstances in which the depicted person had a reasonable expectation that the visual material would remain private; the disclosure of the visual material causes harm to the depicted person; and the disclosure of the visual material reveals the identity of the depicted person in any manner…”

Will Ashley Madison and parent company Avid Life be able to skirt lawsuits brought against them relying on U.S.C. code?

“It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this section that…the actor is an interactive computer service, as defined by 47 U.S.C. Section 230, and the disclosure or promotion consists of visual material provided by another person.”

These and many, many more questions will be among the fall-out from this data dump and we’ll be seeing the repercussions and litigation for years to come. This is one area where the technology is way ahead of the laws and protections that we clearly need. While Team Impact is responsible for uncovering this data, it’s also clear that Ashley Madison did little to safeguard its extensive list of users and as negligence is the law, they should have known and done better.

Though help is on the way—there is a federal bill being drawn up and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) is in the final stages of drafting legislation. In a statement on Friday, she said U.S. laws “haven’t yet caught up with this crime.”

“Today it’s possible to ruin someone’s life with the click of a button, by publishing another person’s private images without their consent,” Speier said in a statement emailed to the Daily Dot. “Our laws haven’t yet caught up with this crime. If you’re a celebrity, you can pay a high-priced lawyer to demand that websites take your picture down, but for an average person, the current system offers almost no recourse. We already punish the unauthorized disclosure of private information like medical records and financial identifiers. Why should personal images of one’s naked body, given in confidence, be any different?” O’Hara, M. (June 21, 2015). A Federal Revenge Porn Bill is Expected Next Month [Web-based article]. Retrieved from http://www.dailydot.com/politics/federal-revenge-porn-bill/

Will this future federal law help clear up these issues? That remains to be seen, but don’t worry, John Oliver, covering this topic on his June 21, 2015 Last Week Tonight show titled Online Harassment quipped, “And also the law would carve out exceptions for the ‘bona fide public interest’ meaning that if say a public figure like Anthony Weiner texted his penis around, we could all still enjoy that story,”. Pass the popcorn please.

-Melanie Shepard

Back-to-School Bike Safety Tips

Summer is winding down, and for many students this means that classes are about to start back up in full swing (if they haven’t already!). If you will be riding your bike to class, here are some important tips to remember to help keep you and those around you safe as you start back to school.

1. Inspect your bike. This is always a good tip, but it’s especially important if you haven’t been riding as much during the summer. Be sure to check the brakes, tires, wheel alignment, seat, handlebars, axle nuts and bearings, and your bike chain. Adjust, replace, or tighten things as necessary. If you aren’t sure how to do this, stop by Ozone or any of the other local bike shops and ask them help you.

2. Stay aware of traffic and traffic pattern changes. If you’ve been riding your bike over the summer, you may have gotten used to a different traffic pattern. Remember that traffic might be busier than normal at certain locations or times of day now that school is back in session.

3. Remember your lights. Days will be getting shorter now, and a class that starts in daylight might not end until after dark. Or maybe you’ll need to have a late-night study session. No matter why you end up out after dark, remember to make sure that your bike is equipped with lights. Also remember to bring extra batteries, brightly colored clothing, and reflective gear for those late night or early morning rides.

4. Always carry your books and other items in a bicycle carrier or backpack. Keep your hands free at all times! Remember, the hands-free ordinance applies to bicyclists too!

5. Don’t let your bike get stolen! While you’re in class, be sure to lock your bike while it’s parked. Buy a good quality lock, and lock your bike through both the frame and the wheel. While any lock can be broken with the right tools, a thief is less likely to go to more extreme efforts to break a lock in a crowded area. You can register your bike through BikeUT and the APD which can help get your bike returned if it is stolen. Also, be sure not to leave your bike parked on campus overnight.

Bike Crashes and APD, “I don’t know man”

This is a transcript from a bike crash here in Austin, Texas. Our police are so ill trained and this transcript is evidence of the same. The point is to illustrate that APD officers are not trained and the three foot and six foot rule, well that must be one of those “their own gig” things. This is not just one officer who is completely unaware of any laws pertaining to people who ride bikes. This is a systemic problem with police officers, at least here in Austin. As you can see by the discussion, this is several officers. This also involves a corporal. This transcript is from a video dash camera provided from APD on April 3, 2015.

Officer 2; John Conner Jr. AP7766:
Officer 2: (indistinguishable)…I’m just trying to get it off the road.
Officer 1: Ok. What-uh, what happened?
Officer 2: He was heading east bound on Barton Springs, he was in the bike lane and she turned right and he went…
Officer 1: (interrupting) He hit her?
Officer 2: …he went straight…(unintelligible)…but he’s in the bike lane and she’s in the right lane…
Officer 1: So did she hit him or did he hit her?
Officer 2: Well she turned in front of him and he hit her.
Officer 1: I have no idea man, to be honest. I’m thinking-I’m going to go with the car; I’m thinking the bike has to yield to the cars.
Officer 2: I don’t think I know-I don’t know anything about it-I don’t know, I wanted to ask-but it doesn’t seem like something that if your driving…
Officer 1: Let me call corporal. (Speaks with dispatch)
Officer 2: (speaking to unidentified person) yeah she was turning and he was going straight…
Officer 1: (On phone) Hey Corporal-quick question for you; so a person’s in a car, outside lane, going straight, and there’s a bicyclist in the bike lane right next to that car. The car goes to make a right turn and then the bicyclist goes against the car. Who’s at fault?
They both have a green but the car was turning and the bicyclist went against the car.
(long pause)
Ok. Really? (pause) Right, right. (pause) I’m not, I’m not seeing any signs so I’m going to go with no citation on this one, but yeah-I was just wondering because I’ve never actually had to deal with that and I-I figured that the bicyclist had to yield to the cars but I guess this is Austin.
Corporal: Right? Bicyclist got their own (gig?) man, they got their own…(unintelligible)
Officer 1: No, no, no. I think he might’ve scraped himself up a little bit. (pause, listening) No, no, it was a normal intersection, right by Dawson and Barton Springs and she was in, you know-she was in her turn lane and she just went and made a right and the bicyclist just hit her so I guess-she like-if you will-she just cut him off, or he didn’t yield to her turning. Um, it was just like-one of those weird situations. (pause, listening) Um. Nah, I don’t think so-I haven’t actually spoken to anyone, uh- Conner was asking and I couldn’t give him an answer so I decided to call you. (pause, listening) Ok, sounds good. (pause) Alright, thank you. I appreciate it. Bye. (ends call)
Ok-um. There’s… Corporal doesn’t know either. Hopefully this won’t take long, being new. Apparently there’s some intersection where there’s a sign that says yield to pediest-yield to bicyclists. There’s no sign here. I don’t see it. I’m not-I’m gonna go with..
Officer 2: Like a bike team?
Officer 1: I can imagine-I would imagine the bike would be (liable? Plausible?) here.
Officer 2: …..and I’m going to fill out, um… and they’re going to take him over to the hospital when I’m done…
Officer 1: So they are transporting him?
Officer 2: Yes.
Officer 1: Do you know where?
Officer 2: Brack.
Officer 1: Did you already put in on the air or no?
Officer 2: No I didn’t.
Officer 1: I’ll put it on there. So…
Officer 2: (speaking unintelligibly) getting information..
Officer 1: Ok. No, let’s go with no. Um, but I want to know for myself too maybe because that’s-
Officer 2: This is the second, it happened yesterday..
Officer 1: Here?
Officer 2: No, but I mean, another bike lane-right turn…
Officer 1: (interrupting) See-in my opinion, in my opinion, my opinion-I think that the bicyclists should yield to the–
Officer 2: I do too.
Officer 1: to the traffic because,
Officer 2: What if you’re in the turn lane and they’re going straight and you cut a party off-
Officer 1: What do you mean?
Officer 2: What if you’re in the bike lane with your car…(unintelligible)
Officer 1: That’s true.
Officer 2: It’s hard, it’s like a hard….
(Briefly interrupted by passerby)
Officer 1: Maybe they should put like stop signs at every intersection for bicycles or something, you know? Because that’s-you know-you’re in a car, you’re not paying attention to the bicyclists. You’re gonna turn, exactly.
Officer 2: It’s a lot to ask, I think.
Officer 1: Well absolutely. So not only are you looking at traffic-oncoming traffic and everything, now you gotta look for bicyclist’s too? No. So yeah, I don’t-I don’t know. And I mean, this is a tight turn too-
Officer 2: Yeah.
Officer 1: -so she had to have stopped her car to turn you know, or started to slow down tremendously.
Officer 2: Yeah,… (unintelligible)
Officer 1: No, no. Hey man, I mean, at this point-
Officer 2: If She took it too fast, she took it too fast..
Officer 1: There’s no-there’s no criminal offense on this.
Officer 2: If that’s safe enough for you to negotiate the turn…
Officer 1: Exactly.
Officer 2: There’s no requirement for you to stop at a green light-
Officer 1: (interrupting) By law. There’s no—there’s no, uh, criminal offense on this.
Hey uh, John-go ahead and let them know what we’re talking about-go ahead and let them know that we’re not issuing any citations because technically they both have the right of way, um, that’s what you’re insurance company’s for-if they want, they can argue it. Just let him know that, I’m going to talk to her about that.
Officer 1 addressing driver; Car Driver: Ma’am? Hi, good day, I’m officer ____, from the police department. So normally what we would do in these situations is, we would issue a citation, ok, somebody would be getting a ticket, either you, or him. Um, it’s in our policy that we have to issue somebody a citation when it comes to traffic accidents, uh, as long as we know who’s at fault or it’s plain obvious who was at fault. Uh, we don’t know–because technically, there haven’t been any laws or anything at this point to distinguish who has the right of way in the bike lane, or if-if the vehicle has the right of way, so—it’s kind of a– weird situation so we’re not issuing anybody a ticket, ok? So, so, I had my partner, uh, he’s telling the bicyclist now, so at this point you guys have insurance companies, they can talk it out-figure it out, ok-that’s what they’re there for anyway. Um, but we can’t really determine who’s at fault because technically, you had the green light to turn, you can turn. You know, and technically, he had the green light to go, he can go. You know? I personally think that he should be yielding to you because he’s on a bicycle. Ok, if a car’s turning—or you see that a car’s starting to slow down or whatever the case may be, you need to wait, you know? That’s the way I look at it.
Car Driver: (unintelligible) ….I did put my blinker on…
Officer 1: I don’t know either, I haven’t spoken to him- I’m just letting you know that I feel that you should have the right-of-way, but I don’t know, I don’t know what the situation is ma’am, I don’t know-um, I know there hasn’t been any clear cut laws. I know that some intersections have signs that say “Yield to bicyclists”, but that’s a different situation.
Car Driver: Like yield on green, or something like that…
Officer 1: Right, but the thing is, is that there’s no signs on this intersection for that. If there was then that would be a little bit of a different story but there aren’t any here, so I’m not going to give you a ticket and I’m not going to give him a ticket. I mean, technically you both had the right-of-way, and you both took it. So, ok?
Car Driver: I really didn’t see him until he was like, cracking into my window.
Officer 1: Were you making a left turn?
Car Driver: Yeah.
Officer 1: Wait—so you were on this road (Dawson) and you were making a left turn?
Car Driver: No, I was coming Barton Springs and making a left on Dawson.
Officer 1: Turning right onto Dawson?
Car Driver: Left.
Officer 1: Oh, ok, you were coming this way.
Car Driver: I was coming from that direction…
Officer 1: Ok. So you weren’t coming this way.
Car Driver: No.
Officer 1: Ok. Allright, gimme a second. (To Officer 2): Uhhh…which way was she coming?
Officer 2: She was coming from over there.
Officer 1: She told me she was coming the other way.
Officer 2: Oohh.
Officer 1: Because that changes everything. She said she was making a left, she was going towards MOPAC, she was making a left turn onto Dawson.
Officer 2: That’s a citation.
Officer 1: That’s a citation, yeah exactly. Yeah-I have no idea. Do you have her license?
Officer 2: No I gave her her license back but I ran her already and I saved it in the car.
Officer 1: Ok, I’m going to explain to her that I’m going to have to give her a citation and I’ll just do it over the e-ticket, it may be quicker.
Officer 2: All right, I’m going to run down and start him. I’m going to kind of verify this whole story-
Officer 1: Ok, yeah-find out—and uh–
Officer 2: –because from my understanding…
Officer 1: –because that’s what she’s telling me—ok?
Officer 1 addressing driver; Car Driver: Ok, ma’am? Can you step out of your vehicle please? I’m just trying to figure this out here. Ok—so which way were you going?
Car Driver: I was coming from over there turning this direction.
Officer 1: So you were driving this way-to the other side of the road to where that car’s going right now.
Car Driver: Yeah.
Officer 1: Ok. And you were in the turn lane—
Car Driver: Yes sir.
Officer 1: and you had a green light—
Car Driver: Yes.
Officer 1: …and you were going to make a left turn to come up Dawson this way.
Car Driver: Yes sir.
Officer 1: Ok. And how did he hit you?
Car Driver: He….I was—I was already in the turn-like I’m in the middle of turning and he ran right into my passenger door and all the glass got me—I was already turning.
Officer 1: So he hit your passenger door?
Car Driver: Yes.
Officer 1: So what happened over here?
Car Driver: Previous damage.
Officer 1: Oh. Ok. I’m like—did he fly through the car…?
Car Driver: No, no. (both chuckling)
Officer 1: Or what happened–I was confused..
Car Driver: He was like—I had already, like I was already in the turn and he just slammed right into my passenger… door.
Officer 1: Ok. Alright—at that point ma’am, I am going to have to issue you a citation, ok? We were under the impression that you were going this way for some reason, that’s what-that’s what we heard, that’s what the story was. So we were under the impression that you were coming this way…
Car Driver: Oh…
Officer 1: …and you turned and he came and hit you.
Car Driver: …pays to be honest.
Officer 1: Uh-ma’am, at that point, we um…
Car Driver: (begins crying)
Officer 1: Ma’am? I understand. And this is-this is an issue that we’re having here in Austin because these bicyclists are so hard to see. When you’re on the road you’re so used to paying attention to traffic not bicyclists, I understand. Um, however though—when you are making a left turn, then you have to actually—the law, Texas law states you have to have, without a shadow of a doubt, basically that you can make that turn and make it clear without having any kind of obstruction.
Car Driver: I-I mean, I saw him so far in the distance. I mean, like nothing—and then all the sudden when I was in the middle of the turn, I mean, I…
Officer 1: Right. Alright ma’am, do you have your license ma’am?
Car Driver: (crying) Thank you for being honest.
Officer 1: Ok ma’am, I appreciate it-and like I told you earlier, this is nothing against you, ok? This is something that we have to do by the powers that speak, that we have to give a ticket when there’s been an accident, ok?
Car Driver: (crying, speaks unintelligibly)
Officer 1: Just give me a sec, ok?
Officer 1 addressing Officer 2: She’s crying now.
Officer 2: She’s upset right?
Officer 1: Yeah, she said “that’s what I get for being honest”, I’m like, I have to give you a ticket. What did he (cyclist) say he was doing?
Officer 2: He didn’t know what happened; he said he thought that she wasn’t going then she turned right in front of him. There’s a couple ……who say that it happened abruptly. There was a couple sitting here when I first got here who said “well, we saw everything and we’ll tell you whatever you need to know” and I’m like, ok—I gotta move this car first then I’ll come find you. I’m gonna go over and grab her and ask her which way she (driver) was going.
Officer 1: Ok, sounds good.
Officer 2: Yeah, they’re saying she was heading west…
Officer 1: She was heading west? Do you have paper copies, man?
Officer 2: Sorry?
Officer 1: Do you have paper copies?
Officer 2: Uh, CR3?
Officer 1: No, uh…
Officer 2: Tickets? Yeah. Yeah.
Officer 1: We should get them workin.
Officer 2: It’s just failure to yield right of way left turn, right?
Officer 1: Yes.
Officer 2: Ok. I’ll get ‘em, I’ll do it. It’ll take like two seconds.

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