Trusting Privacy Promises

Michael Arrington writes at Techcrunch about a former law firm, all of whose records are going to be opened to the public:

Brobeck, Pleger & Harrison LLP was a well known law firm in silicon valley during the first Internet boom. They had thousands of startup and public company clients and handled all aspects of their legal needs. Their client list included Cisco. None of that mattered in the end though – the law firm dissolved in 2003 due to financial mismanagement after the downturn.

But now the nightmare could be beginning for Brobeck’s former clients. In a bizarre story, the bankruptcy court handling the Brobeck case, citing the historical value of the records, has given permission to turn over all confidential client documents to the Library of Congress and put on display in a new public archive. The project even has its own website and will have advertisements published in the Wall Street Journal and the San Francisco Chronicle.

This is one off the stupidest things I’ve seen in a while. First of all, these documents remain the property of the clients, not the law firm or anyone else. Those rights are being completely ignored by the court. Many of these documents will also contain extremely confidential information of third parties that were not clients to Brobeck and will therefore not be getting notice.

See “Somebody Needs to Stop this.

There’s a reason we prefer to trust our privacy to the laws of mathematics over those of man.

3 thoughts on “Trusting Privacy Promises

  1. In other news, baseball players that gave urine samples for an “anonymous” drug test will now have their names and results turned over to investigators.
    “The 2-1 decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned three lower court decisions and could help authorities pinpoint the source of steroids in baseball. It could also bolster the perjury case against the star outfielder, who is under investigation for telling a grand jury he never knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs.
    Investigators seized computer files containing the test results in 2004 during raids of labs involved in MLB’s testing program. The samples were collected at baseball’s direction the previous year as part of a survey to gauge the prevalence of steroid use. Players and owners agreed in their labor contract that the results would be confidential, and each player was assigned a code number to be matched with his name.
    Quest Diagnostics of Teterboro, N.J., one of the largest drug-testing firms in the nation, analyzed more than 1,400 urine samples from players that season. Comprehensive Drug Testing of Long Beach, Calif., coordinated the collection of specimens and compiled the data.
    Armed with data from both labs, government officials now can match the positive test samples with the players’ names. Those players then could be called before a grand jury and asked how they obtained their steroids. If enough testify that they got the drugs from Bonds’ personal trainer, Greg Anderson, it could undermine Bonds’ claim that he didn’t know Anderson was supplying him with illegal substances.”
    http://www.eog.com/news/full-article.aspx?id=15232

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