A number of case studies will set the themes for the day. These case studies, collected from panelists and the news, will be shared at the beginning of the conference to provide a common groundwork of facts and circumstances that illustrate key legal and policy questions related to the use of social networking websites. They will focus on real stories, real conflicts, and the unique problems that social networks create for our legal system, both from the perspective of administering the law and the ethics of legal professionalism.


Social networking websites are massive repositories of voluntarily disclosed information and frequent recipients of subpoenas, warrants, and requests for user information in criminal and civil investigations. Laws like the Electronic Communications Privacy Act limit what can be disclosed to different parties in different circumstances. Do these laws strike the right balance between privacy and justice? Is there fair access to this data between defense, prosecution and civil litigants?


The quandary of whether or not to add someone to your social network perplexes many people, but most people do not realize that the “friend” could be an F.B.I. agent, a defense investigator, or an opposing attorney covertly seeking information. Where is the line between an honest investigation and an unethical deception? What are the consequences for crossing it? Are the rules the same, or should they be for different participants in the legal process such as law enforcement, defense investigators, and civil investigators?


Keynote:  Safety and Social Networks: the Challenge of Community Policing in a Virtual Neighborhood


Searches and attempts to obtain evidence from Social Networking Websites have increased, but is the evidence admissible and valuable? How do you authenticate the evidence? What do juries find convincing? Practitioners and judges discuss best practices.


Social networks are the new frontier for criminal activity. The networks are used to coordinate crimes such as sex trafficking, drug deals, and gang activity. Other crimes like cyberbullying take place on the social network itself. The panel will discuss how to regulate these new spaces. Are current computer laws adequate safeguards? What policies should companies develop in response?


Lawyers’ uses of social media tools and networks raise distinct challenges to the legal profession and the duty to maintain confidentiality. How will lawyers operate in an age of unprecedented transparency and permanent online records of everyday transactions? Where is the line between appropriately guarded comments and breaching attorney-client privilege? Can use of social media or networking ever be in a client’s best interest?

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