Information Technology

With one week left before the EU’s General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) takes effect, we have been fielding a lot of questions about how, or if, it applies to businesses here in Lancaster. Here are three questions to help you determine if you should worry about the GDPR.

  1. Who does it apply to?

It is easy to think that businesses here in the U.S. need not worry about the EU’s data protection laws unless you have stores or employees in Europe. But the GDPR’s reach is much broader than that. If you have the data of an EU citizen or use a service located in Europe, then the GDPR probably applies to you. Here are a few examples where the GDPR applies:

  • You send email blasts and some recipients are in England (yes, England is still in the EU… for now!).
  • You have a digital list of mailing addresses to send out physical mail and some recipients of that mail are in Italy.
  • You use an online marketing service that processes your clients’ data on servers in Germany.
  1. What data is protected?

Okay, okay. So I have contacts in the EU on my mailing list. But names and addresses aren’t protected, right? Wrong. Unlike many U.S. laws, such as Pennsylvania’s Data Breach Notification Act, the GDPR is very broad in its definition of protected information. For example, under Pennsylvania law you need a name combined with some sensitive piece of data, like a social security number or bank account, before the law applies. But the GDPR applies to any identifying information. This includes names, email addresses, physical addresses, and social media names, plus all the sensitive stuff you would expect like financial and medical information. Continue Reading Three Questions to Determine if You Need to Worry About the GDPR

This post is part of our ongoing series exploring the impact of technology on legal issues. For an introduction to the series and a collection of the posts in the series, check out this post.

The hiring process is a key component of operating a successful business and employers do their best to properly vet prospective employees. Many employers conduct searches online through search engines and scour social media profiles as a part of that process, but there are significant legal risks if that process is not conducted with caution. Here is an overview of a few of the potential issues an employer could face with seeking out information online:

Discrimination Claims

Searching social media profiles can reveal all kind of information about an individual, including sensitive information which could identify that person as a member of a protected class. In Pennsylvania, protected classes include race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex (including pregnancy), age, physical or mental disability, use of a guide or support animal, having an association with an individual with a handicap or disability, familial status, education, sexual orientation, veteran/military status and genetic information.

Think about how much of the above information you could learn as a result of a quick review of someone’s Facebook profile. If an employer decides not to hire a prospective employee based on learning some of the above information, the applicant could bring a discrimination claim.

In order to avoid liability for these claims, consider the value of conducting a social media search in the first place. Is there significant job-related information that can be gained from conducting such a search? Employers should carefully document all decisions made in the hiring process and use the same screening process for all applicants.

If you decide that social media searches are useful for identifying job-related characteristics, then consider having one person or a small group conduct the search, and instruct them to filter out all information that is not job-related and pass that on to those with input on the hiring process in order to avoid decision-making based on protected criteria. Continue Reading Use Caution When Using Social Media Searches in the Hiring Process

Almost 11 short years ago, the first iPhone made its debut on June 29, 2007.  This inaugural version featured the ability to take photos but not videos, maxed out at a whopping 16 GB hard drive and 128 MB of RAM.  The phone also lacked a GPS, digital compass, and forget about touch ID.  Fast forward to the iPhone X, Apple’s newest iPhone.  The X has 256 GB  of storage, 3 GB of RAM,  and unlocks using facial recognition technology.  And as for those videos the first iPhone couldn’t manage?  The X features 2 cameras that boast more features than most digital camera and offer 4K quality video recording at 60 frames per second.  Today a person can operate their business from the palm of their hand while on the go.  And it is not just our phones that are advancing leaps and bounds.  Cars have self-driving features and refrigerators can plan your meals and text you a shopping list.  The speed of technological advancements is mind blowing and getting ever faster.  Continue Reading Introducing a New Series – Exploring the Impact of Technology on Legal Issues

As a business attorney, I try to understand my clients’ businesses and keep up with trends that may help my clients address problems they may encounter as their business grows. Three of my favorite podcasts that help me do that include Mac Power Users, which helps you get the most out of your technology, Cortex, which features business and productivity tips from independent content creators, and Free Agents, which discusses the trials and tribulations of starting your own business. On all three shows, the hosts have mentioned that they have hired virtual assistants to help them with various aspects of their growing businesses.

While browsing LinkedIn, I noticed that Frances Annis, a connection I met through the Southern Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce, had recently moved to a Lancaster-based virtual administrative support company called My Reliable Admin. Fran put me in touch with My Reliable Admin founder, Angie Mobarak, who explained that the company provides virtual administrative support to busy professionals and business across the country, utilizing technology and flexible plans and pricing to suit the needs of their clients.

Angie described My Reliable Admin’s approach to providing a positive client experience: “The VA (Virtual Assistant)/Client relationship hinges greatly on trust and communication. The highly responsive nature of our Assistants creates an in-person feel even though clients may reside in a different time-zone from their VA. Full transparency is also critical in building trust as our clients can always know how their Assistant’s time is being spent by viewing a task tracking portal we provide.” Continue Reading Need Administrative Help? Consider Hiring a Virtual Assistant

Our favorite coworking space, The Candy Factory, and Ben Franklin Technology Partners has officially announced that they are teaming up to create a technology incubator in Lancaster City. The formal announcement can be seen in this Lancaster Online article: State-backed incubator for small, new tech businesses in Lancaster County to open March 29.

Last month, Brandon Harter and I attended a sneak preview headlined by Steve Fafel, Director of Business Development and Portfolio Manager for Ben Franklin Technology Partners (BFTP). He introduced BFTP’s role as a state-funded economic development group helping early-stage technology and technology-related companies in Pennsylvania. It does this by providing direct financial resources along with indirect resources like mentoring, facilitating connections, and professional support. Mr. Fafel emphasized that encouraging and helping these entrepreneurs is better for all residents of Lancaster County, as it helps combat issues such as an aging population leading to decreased tax revenue over time, and a population that, for the seventh year in a row, has seen more households leave Lancaster County than move in. Continue Reading The Candy Factory Teams up with Ben Franklin Technology Partners in Lancaster City

In Part I, we discussed what the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) is, when it applies, and the consequences of failure to comply with the law. Below, we’ll discuss further questions and answers regarding an overview of what’s required when COPPA applies to your website, app or online service. Continue Reading Your Website and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act – Part II – Compliance Overview

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, known as COPPA, is a federal law that gives parents and legal guardians control over the collection, use and disclosure of children’s personal information. The goal of COPPA is to protect children’s online interactions and to make sure that parents consent to the collection and use of such data, since children under 13 are considered incapable of understanding the potential consequences of sharing such information.

Here are a few frequently asked questions and answers regarding COPPA, its application and consequences for failure to comply.

What information is considered personal information under COPPA?

 As defined under COPPA, personal information is information that is collected online and identifies an individual, including but not limited to:

  • First and last name
  • Physical address that includes street and town or city name
  • Email address
  • Online identifier that permits an individual to be contacted directly (for example, a username)
  • Telephone number
  • Social security number
  • Image, video or audio containing an individual’s image or voice
  • Information sufficient to identify the home or other physical address of an individual
  • A persistent identifier such as a cookie number, IP address, unique device number
  • Any other information collected from a child that is either about a child that can be used in combination with other personal information to identify the child

When does COPPA apply to a website, app, or online service? Continue Reading Your Website and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act – Part I – Does It Apply?

As an avid podcast listener, one of my favorite year-end activities is reading through the “best of” lists of the best podcasts and episodes of the year. Below are a few of my favorite lists of favorites (meta, right?) to get you started:

The Atlantic – The 50 Best Podcasts of 2017

Vulture – The 10 Best Podcasts of 2017

Vulture – The 10 Best Podcast Episodes of 2017

IndieWire – The 50 Best Podcast Episodes of 2017

My typical approach is to review the lists and their descriptions, then add episodes that sound interesting to a new playlist in my preferred podcast app, Overcast.

This year, I thought I’d share my own list of some of my favorite podcasts: Continue Reading My 2017 Podcast Picks

Earlier today a client emailed me and asked for my mailing address because her scanner wasn’t working. As I was replying (using my TextExpander snippet for my office mailing address), I thought to myself: there has to be a better way!

Turns out, there is. And it’s even easier than my initial recommendation, which was to go to the app store on your smartphone or tablet and download one of the many excellent apps that use the device’s camera to scan and create PDF files. I’ve used Scanbot for iPhone to do this for years.

Caution: from here on out, this post is a complete Apple lovefest. If you have an Android or Microsoft device, you can read on and see what you’re missing, or just check in with Brandon Harter – I’m sure he can give you a tip in the right direction. Continue Reading Is That a Scanner in Your Pocket? How to Scan Documents with Your iPhone or iPad

Like brothers who favor rival football teams, my colleague Matt Landis and I often spar over our respective technological preference for Apple vs. Google/Windows/Microsoft. Generally, I think of this as just that, a pair of rival paths.

Imagine my surprise when Matt sent me this article from Daring Fireball reviewing the Google Pixel 2. I assumed he was egging me on to follow his path of annually upgrading to the latest smartphone. While I do have a first-generation Pixel, I am not feeling the need to upgrade to the latest version. But he was after something much more nefarious… convincing me that our paths were not as different as I assumed. Continue Reading Can’t we all get along?