Pennsylvania Supreme Court Reiterates that Zoning Must Be Precise

Gorsline Strongly Reminds That Municipalities Must Protect the Rights of All Property Owners On June 1, 2018, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court sent another wake-up call to municipalities. In Gorsline vs. Fairfield Township, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that local municipalities cannot play fast-and-loose with the definitions…

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Pennsylvania Living Will and Durable Medical Power of Attorney Example

If you become incapacitated and cannot make healthcare decisions, who makes those decisions? Such an event can be extremely stressful without the added stress of trying to determine “what mom or dad would want?” Who makes decisions when you are incapacitated? How do you express your wishes? How do…

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Government May Compel Disclosure of Encryption Passwords in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Superior Court issued another troubling, computer-related opinion in late November 2017. Commonwealth v. Davis holds that the Pennsylvania government can compel an individual to disclose a computer password for an encrypted computer. Commonwealth v. Davis, 2017 PA Super 376 (Nov. 30,…

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Equifax Data Breach

On 7 September 2017, Equifax announced a data breach of 143 million Equifax customers involving the compromise of names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers. A subset of victims, apparently, also had credit card numbers and “dispute documents” compromised.

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Pennsylvania Court’s ‘Cest la Vie’ View of Data Breach Damages

The Pennsylvania Superior Court recently held in Dittman v. UPMC, that employees cannot sue employers after a data breach involving the employer’s computer systems even if the employee’s sensitive, personal information such as names, birth dates, social security numbers, tax information, addresses, salaries, and bank information…

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What is Zoning in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Municipal Planning Code (often referred to as “the MPC”) defines the legal requirements of zoning. While addressing the legal requirements, the MPC does not do a great job of explaining what zoning is. In simplest terms, zoning helps protect your property value…

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Overview of Pennsylvania’s Data Breach Reporting Law

Many ask what a business should do when uncovering a suspected data breach in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, the answer can be quite complex depending on the business, the nature of the suspected breach, and the data involved. The legal consequences of a data breach, not to mention the business consequences,…

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FAA Finally Requires Drone UAS Registration

The FAA now requires registration and labeling of all outdoor drones (unmanned aircraft systems or UAS) by February 19, 2016. According to the FAA UAS Website, electronic registration is available for hobbyists, as defined by law, fro drones weighing less than 55 lbs. and paper registration must…

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The Unwitting Cybersecurity Trap: The Risks of Relying on Technology Consultants

Considering the increasing number of data breaches, “hacking” episodes, and cybersecurity incidents over the past few years, businesses are finally starting to take cybersecurity and data security seriously. Businesses also realize that responsibility for data security is shifting from the IT staff to the Board and senior leadership.* However,…

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Pirker Decision Fails: Drones Subject to FAA Rules

As predicted, the NTSB reversed an earlier administrative law decision in Pirker and held that drones (UAS) are aircraft according to law and thus subject to FAA regulation. The FAA accused Pirker of “reckless operation of an aircraft” and imposed a civil fine of $10,000. The FAA alleged that…

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Is PCI Compliance Enough?

CIO Magazine recently ran an insightful article about PCI compliance. The article emphasizes that PCI “compliance” is a credit card industry minimum set of standards to protect data and to minimize data breaches. However, as the numerous data breaches…

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Texas Bar Opinion 642 and Today’s Legal Profession

In May 2014, the Texas Bar Association’s Professional Ethics Committee released Opinion 642 barring law firms from using the title “officer” or “principal” in non-lawyer job titles such as Chief Information Officer. Shockingly, the opinion unleashed a howl of protest from lawyers—even…

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Cybersecurity Resolution Adopted

The American Bar Association (ABA) adopted a startling resolution on cybersecurity at its August 2014 meeting. The ABA resolution urges all businesses, law firms, government agencies, and organizations to take cybersecurity seriously and to conduct regular reviews of security posture. But, the most import aspect of the resolution is,…

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Cybersecurity Basics for Pennsylvania Law Firms

Most Pennsylvania law firms either misunderstand cybersecurity [computer and network security] or significantly underestimate the threat of data breaches at law firms. Successful “hacks” can result in the loss of client confidential data or even losses of escrow funds. Considering the November 2013 updates to the…

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Droning On: Drone Aircraft Activists’ Arguments Unravel

On June 23, 2014, the FAA issued a Federal Register Notice for the operation of model aircraft (drone) aircraft. The Notice repeats the long-standing rules regarding operating model aircraft and addresses the new rules mandated by Congress—ironically, Rules necessitated by…

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The Next Battleground for Data Breaches…Shareholder Lawsuits?

Companies ill-prepared for data breaches and failing to take reasonable steps to secure data and computer systems face increasing and serious risks to the business. Specifically, companies, officers, and boards must start taking data and computer-systems security seriously or risk shareholder lawsuits. Shareholder Lawsuits for Data Breaches In two…

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Commercial Drones Pose Confirmed Dangers?

Drone aircraft crashes and personal injury may no longer be speculation. In Australia, a triathlete was apparently struck by a drone aircraft after radio interference destabilized the drone. See, e.g., Australian triathlete injured after drone crash, BBCNews (Apr.7, 2014). Even military…

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Pennsylvania’s New, Technology-related, Ethics Rule Changes for Lawyers

Fifteen pages of changes to the Rules of Professional Conduct (Rules) went into effect in November 2013. The changes primarily reflect the increased roles of technologies in law practice—both as important lawyering tools and as material to legal matters. Put simply, the Rule changes make express that every attorney…

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Not So Fast…Commercial Drone Legality Still Remains Unclear

On 6 March 2014, in FAA v. Pirker, a NTSB Administrative Law Judge dismissed the first complaint brought by the FAA against the operator of a commercial drone for reckless operation of an aircraft. While some claim that this opinion means that the commercial drones are absolutely legal, serious…

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A Fair Approach to Drone Regulation

Drone manufacturers and would-be manufacturers paint a picture of skies filled with drones—unmanned aircraft (and other machines). Media and advocacy groups cite First Amendment rights to the use of drones. Police seek drones despite prohibitions by federal and state constitutions. But, serious issues related to safety (what happens when…

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Restrictions on the Commercial-Use of Drones

Many vendors currently offer various types of drones. Increasingly, some use drones for commercial purposes. But, the FAA currently restricts the commercial use of drones. Put simply, persons wishing to use drones for commercial use must obtain an experimental airworthiness certificate from the FAA before deploying the drone.

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Federal Appellate Court Affirms Warrant Required for GPS Tracking

UPDATE: Government attorneys continue to press for warrantless searches in GPS cases and significant, and unconstitutional, expansion of the so-called Good Faith Doctrine. On December 12, 2013, a majority of the Third Circuit agreed to re-hear the matter en banc and vacated the earlier, October 22, 2013, opinion. The information below still deals with the vacated opinion.

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An Introduction to Malware for Lawyers

The FBI recently warned that law firms are specific targets of computer criminals (cybercriminals) seeking unauthorized access to data. Pending changes to the Rules of Professional Conduct re-state the lawyer’s duty to reasonably secure computers to protect client confidentiality. Thus, cybersecurity emerges as a law practice issue.

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Warrant Necessary to Obtain Cell Phone Tracking Data

The New Jersey Supreme Court held that government agents must obtain a warrant, supported by probable cause and issued by a neutral judicial authority, before obtaining cell phone tracking data (unless exceptional, exigent circumstances apply). State vs. Earls, A-53-11 (N.J. Sup. Ct., Jul. 18, 2013)(slip opinion).

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Send in the Drones—Flying in the Face of Danger?

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS—the current, official FAA designation), Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), or drones. All describe remote-controlled aerial vehicles of various configurations and various sizes. Current FAA regulations and FAA guidance prohibit the commercial use of UASs without a FAA Special Airworthiness Certificate–Experimental Category (SAC-EC). Considerable controversy surrounds the use of drones and privacy, financial liability, regulatory authority, and Constitutional issues remain.

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