Archive for the ‘Surveillance’ Category
The South Dakota Supreme Court relied on the U.S. Supreme Court conclusions in California v. Greenwood in upholding the legality of curbside garbage searches. [State of South Dakota v. Wayne R. Stevens]
A review of these statutes shows no granting of authority to a municipality to place with its citizens an objective expectation of privacy in one’s trash when it has been put on the curb for city collection.
To establish a protected privacy interest in trash, a person (1) must have “‘exhibited an actual subjective expectation of privacy’” and (2) society must be “‘willing to honor this expectation as being reasonable.’”
The State of Oregon Supreme Court ruled in several related cases that no possessory interest in the garbage was retained once it was collected by the sanitation company, suggesting that there may be an reasonable expectation of privacy when the trash is curbside prior to collection. [See STATE OF OREGON, v. GARY DEAN DAWSON and STATE OF OREGON v. SHARON DAWN HOWARD]
Previous postings on this topic:
It’s not a new state of affairs when corporate America confuses unethical or illegal activity with corporate governance rights and responsibilities. The self designated all-American business, Wal-Mart, which fired two executives for hanky-panky that violated company policy, had an employee who was busy tape recording telephone conversations with a New York Times reporter. The same employee eavesdropped on board of directors’ meetings. Wal-Mart fired Bruce Gabbard, member of Wal-Mart’s Threat Research and Analysis Group and then got a restraining order to keep him from talking about “Project Red”.
And now we are learning that paranoia has set in at Wal-Mart. The otherwise cost-conscious company spent millions to spy on employees and critics.
First we learned that a Wal-Mart employee taped phone calls between Michael Barbaro, a New York Times reporter, and Wal-Mart officials. This came after The Times reported on a Wal-Mart memo that suggested such clever tactics as forcing all shop clerks to spend some time hauling shopping carts in from the parking lot — the better to weed out unhealthy workers who might submit health insurance claims.
Wal-Mart fired the employee it said was responsible for taping the calls, a man named Bruce Gabbard, and said his actions were unauthorized. Then Mr. Gabbard started talking to The Wall Street Journal, saying the department he worked for had spied on critics. Wal-Mart quickly issued apologies to the critics and got a judge to order Mr. Gabbard to stop talking.
Mr. Gabbard said he told a Wal-Mart lawyer that “I’m the guy listening to the board of directors when Lee Scott is excused from the room.”
[Paranoia and Bugging at Wal-Mart, New York Times, subscription only access]
Lessons Counsel Can Learn From Hewlett-Packard’s Pretexting Scandal explores the dire consequences of unchecked internal company investigations and weak scrutiny of company retained private investigators. The authors offer education in the law and advise on proper investigative approaches.
That is not to say that engaging outside counsel will necessarily insulate an investigation from public scrutiny. First, when advising the corporation regarding any aspect of an internal investigation, counsel should be cautious not to offer business advice as opposed to legal advice; the former may jeopardize the attorney-client privilege. U.S. v. Davis, 636 F.2d 1028, 1044 (5th Cir. 1981). Second, absent a pending investigation or possible civil litigation, internal investigations are not protected by the work product doctrine. Binks Mfg. Co. v. National Presto Industries, Inc., 709 F.2d 1109, 1120 (7th Cir. 1983). HP is a case in point. Because the company was not facing the possibility of an investigation or civil litigation, documents related to the investigation are arguably discoverable. Finally, the attorney-client privilege and work product doctrine do not shield improper techniques used at any point in the investigation. U.S. v. Zolin, 491 U.S. 554, 556 (1989).
[Article via TVC]
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is taking a hands-off approach to mandating the installation of vehicle data recorders, -the manufacturer and after market installed safety and crash data monitoring devices- preferring legislation to regulation.
The “black box” recorder can sense and preserve vehicle speed, braking and seat belt use, which is of interest to insurance carriers and statisticians. Enter the privacy advocates and consumer watchdog agencies, all of which are debating who will get their hands on the data that can reveal personal driving habits.
The privacy concerns have prompted nine states — Arkansas, California, Maine, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia — to pass laws requiring carmakers to tell consumers whether vehicles are equipped with recorders and barring anyone from downloading data from the devices without the owners’ permission. California and New York also prohibit car rental companies from using the data to impose extra charges.
Another 18 states are considering legislation that will shape how the information from the vehicle driver activity recorders is used. There is no uniform standard in the functioning of the devices, notification of consumers or authorized use of the data. Congressional Quarterly reports
A public group has been added to the endless collection of Yahoo Groups, discussing surveillance equipment, what to use and what to lose. The site is aptly named PI Gear, but the url reads, to some eyes, pig-ear. Whatever! The site description sums it up.
PI Gear is the place where users of electronic surveillance equipment can discuss and review various products used by private investigators and law enforcement throughout the world. Members are encouraged to openly discuss in a professional manner their experiences with products, what works, what doesn’t work, and practical techniques can be offered to maximize the benefit of any surveillance tool or product.
Check out this new group established by Jimmie Mesis at PI Gear.