Thursday, July 18, 2013

ACLU Idaho Considers Internet Privacy

Posted By on Thu, Jul 18, 2013 at 2:25 PM

Lisa McGrath (left) and Jessica Flynn (right) were the main speakers at ACLU of Idahos Law and Liberty: Privacy in the Digital Age.
  • Lisa McGrath (left) and Jessica Flynn (right) were the main speakers at ACLU of Idaho's "Law and Liberty: Privacy in the Digital Age."

Anything you say may be used against you. But does that include anything you say or write on the Internet?

Addressing the issue of Internet privacy in relation to the law and public workforce, Boise-based social media attorney Lisa McGrath and Jessica Flynn, founder of Red Sky Public Relations, were the guest speakers as ACLU of Idaho hosted 2013’s first in a series of summer lectures July 17, titled Law and Liberty: Privacy in the Digital Age.

“The National Labor Relations Board has found that the provisions of the Disparagement Clause, as well as the prohibition of social media on company time and equipment, are unlawful under the National Labor Relations Act,” McGrath told a packed room of attorneys and downtown professionals.

McGrath said private employees have the right to engage in what she called "protected concerted activity," to discuss wages, working conditions, and supervisors on social media sites. However, employees can still be discharged if their comments reside “outside the scope of protected, consorted activity” identified by the National Labor Relations Act. That said, McGrath emphasized the importance of Internet-based account ownership and protecting one’s intellectual property on social media websites.

In order to protect personal information and statements on the Internet, McGrath suggested companies and individuals use two-step authentications for Gmail and Twitter accounts, change Facebook privacy settings to release posts to “Friends Only,” password protect or encrypt electronic devices, clear browser history on a regular basis, and set up Google Alerts on specific names.

“We are in a state of digital ubiquity,” said Flynn. “It’s probably easier these days to get a tattoo removed than it is to erase a digital footprint.”

Flynn’s final message was one that stressed education in digital literacy.

“I think we as a society owe it to our next generation to really make sure there is that digital literacy education,” she said to her mixed audience. “There’s this assumption that just because [young people] can use an iPad very easily, they fully understand what technology means in the broader sense of the world, but I don’t think they fully understand how the choices they’re making and what they’re sharing is going to impact them down the road.”

ACLU of Idaho officials said they strive to give people the opportunity to learn about this social media awareness through their programs.

“We feel it’s really important that even with the changes in technology, people still are able to understand how technology works and how they can protect their privacy,” ACLU of Idaho Program Coordinator Kathy Griesmyer, told Boise Weekly. “With the way that social media and online platforms are advancing, the privacy laws don’t really follow that, so we want to make sure that as people are accessing either the Cloud or Twitter or their email that they know how to best protect themselves and their privacy in a world that is free to access.”

ACLU of Idaho plans to host more Law and Liberty lectures throughout the rest of 2013. The next topic in the Law and Liberty CLE Series will cover Equality in Education on Tuesday, August 13, at noon in the Idaho State Bar Classroom on Jefferson Street.

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