Jonathan B. Wilson

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Jonathan Wilson is an Atlanta attorney with more than 19 years of experience guiding growing private and public companies.  He currently serves as the outside general counsel of several companies and is the former general counsel of (NASDAQ: WWWW) and EasyLink Services (NASDAQ: ESIC).  He is also the founding chair of the Renewable Energy Committee of the American Bar Association's Public Utility Section.

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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Biden Pronounces Obama "Clean"
Senator Joseph Biden's presidential campaign can be timed with an egg timer at this rate.
In an interview, Biden described fellow Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama as "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean . . . "
If Biden were a Republican his office would already be surrounded by an army of protesters, but even as a Democrat he is unlikely to escape howls of indignation. 
Biden's apologists are already claiming that he was quoted out of context or, alternatively, suggesting that if the comma were placed after "African-American" the entire sentence would change its meaning.
Who knows where this will lead, but it doesn't bode well for Biden's chances.
2:18 pm est 

More States Enact Data Breach Notification Laws
Seven additional states have now adopted data breach notification laws.  (Background memo from Seyfarth Shaw, LLP)  This brings the number of states adopting these measures to well more than a majority of the nation.  (Past coverage). 
7:18 am est 

Monday, January 29, 2007

Turning a Blind Eye to Sandy Berger's Crimes
John Fund has all the details
8:07 am est 

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Fourth Circuit Holds Maryland's "Wal-Mart" Law was Pre-empted
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision, has upheld the trial court's ruling that Maryland's "Wal-Mart law" was pre-empted by federal ERISA regulations.  (Seyfarth Shaw briefing paper). 
The law, which was ostensibly neutral but, in effect, applied only to Wal-Mart, was passed by the Maryland legislature and required employers with more than a certain number of employees in that state to provide health insurance.  (Past coverage). 
8:00 am est 

Monday, January 22, 2007

Overselling Global Warming
More coverage on the problem of explaining the concept of uncertainty to the public. 
12:25 pm est 

Miscellaneous IT-Related Legal News for January 2007
Vincent Polley at Dickinson Wright PLLC puts together a monthly collection of cases and articles for the ABA's Cyberspace Law Committee.
This month's newsletter contains a number of items of interest.
Federal Judge Enjoins Hypertext Links
A federal judge in Texas has issued an injunction preventing a website operator from hypertext linking to the content of another website operator on the basis of copyright infringement.
This issue was addressed several times in the late 1990s and most famously in a case between Ticketmaster and  In nearly all of those cases the courts ruled that directly hypertext linking did not violate the linked party's copyright interests because no "copying" actually occurred.
This latest decision may be colored somewhat by peripheral facts involved in the case, as the defendant represented himself pro se and accused the plaintiff in court filings of acting like "Genghis Khan."  Perhaps a better-heeled defendant would have obtained a more balanced result.
DOD Bars HTML Email
The Department of Defense has prohibited the use of HTML e-mail by its personnel in response to increased threat levels involved in the product.  
Brobeck Archive
Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison was a rising star among high tech law firms in the late 1990s.  It dissolved in 2003 after the tech bubble burst. 
A new project, however, is putting onto the web volumes of documents created by the firm for its many high-tech clients during the glory days of the tech bubble. 
As Vincent Polley notes, however, it is not clear how the proponents of this project are handling the myriad attorney/client privilege issues they must be encountering when publishing this attorney work product. 
U.K. Email Law Mandates Disclosures in Footer
Companies based in the U.K. will need to start including certain identifying information in all of their outbound e-mail according to a new law.    DTI briefing paper.   
This is yet another compliance headache for cross-border enterprises who may need to comply with the U.K. law as well as the U.S. CAN-SPAM Act and the increasing numbers of e-mail regulations in other countries. 
Seventh Circuit Expands FISA Powers
The Seventh Circuit has ruled that information obtained through a FISA wiretap may be used in a criminal prosecution so that as the crimes prosecuted are unrelated to the original purpose of the wiretap.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act empowers the F.B.I. to obtain wiretaps through a specialized federal court for the purpose of obtaining information from persons inside the U.S. believed to be acting as the agents of foreign powers. 
FISA wiretaps are only supposed to be used for counter-intelligence and counter-espionage purposes, however, and not for domestic law enforcement.
The Seventh Circuit's ruling would seem to clear the way for federal prosecutors to use information obtained under FISA wiretaps so long as discovery of the crime was not the purpose of the wiretap to begin with.

The complete MIRLIN (Miscellaneous IT Related Legal News) newsletter is available here
8:14 am est 

Friday, January 19, 2007

What is the State of the Union?
Peggy Noonan offers her thoughts:
The big thing I'd like to hear the president say this year? There are areas toward which he can point with pride, most especially the still not fully recognized triumph of the U.S. economy, a jobs-making, wealth-making dynamo. That it is so strong, so high, five years after 9/11 is amazing, and moving, too: A lot of individual toil went into that. How did it happen, what cultural implications does it hold, what are we doing wrong, what will strengthen growth, what will undermine it? Serious and textured thoughts are, here, overdue.
But there is no denying that Iraq is, still, subject No. 1. In connection with that, I wish the president would take time to acknowledge and think aloud about the bitterness that has come to surround the entire postinvasion American polity. The feeling of mutual sympathy that swept America's political class in the days after 9/11 has dissipated, if not disappeared. And this is true not only in government but in newspapers, on the Internet, in the culture.
9:08 am est 

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Music Industry Threatens ISPs
In the U.S. Internet Service Providers are relatively safe against suits from copyright owners so long as they follow the procedure spelled out in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act when responding to complaints regarding their customers' alleged copyright violations.
Other nations do not have such clear-cut safe harbors, however, and an article in the U.K.'s Independent describes how the music industry (representing copyright holders) is preparing to litigate with a number of ISPs over copyright claims springing from the actions of the ISPs' customers. 
7:41 am est 

The GOP's Black Hole
Robert Novak's column captures the gloom of many in the GOP. 
7:34 am est 

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Activism Among State AGs
Robert Gaglione and the Federalist Society have produced a new white paper on activism among state attorneys general. 
It concludes that the use of creative tort claims, settlements with ongoing oversight functions and the use of outsourced trial counsel with contingent fees have created a challenge to federalism in several state AG offices.  Regulation through litigation, as it has come to be known, represents a usurpation of the legislative function by the executive function in these states and also poses a challenge to federalism to the extent that state AG litigation may sometimes extend into areas where the federal government has pre-emptive jurisdiction. 
7:07 am est 

Is Everyone Above Average?
Or, as Charles Murray writes, are too many people going to college? 
6:47 am est 

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Benefits of Globalization
As global economic freedom increases, not only is wealth growing, but the gap between rich nations and poor ones is decreasing, according to a new report described in today's WSJ. 
7:56 am est 

Friday, January 12, 2007

Guiliani and Gingrich Collaborate
Rudy Guiliani and Newt Gingrich, two of the more iconoclastic Republicans now out of power eyeing a bid for the '08 nomination, have collaborated on an Op/Ed in the Wall Street Journal. 
Their proposal is a "civilian jobs corp" for Iraq that is modeled after a welfare-to-work program that Guiliani championed while mayor of New York.
What is interesting about the piece, however, is that these two Republican heavyweights are working together.
Gingrich is best remembered for his 1994 "Contract for America" which was successful for nationalizing that year's Congressional elections, uniting Republicans under a banner of legislative reform that had resonance in the electorate. 
Guiliani, before he became the face of the New York in the days following 9/11, was noted for the way he dramatically reduced crime in New York by first targeting graffiti.  He reasoned that by creating an environment that gave a impression of lawfulness that would-be lawbreakers would be deterred. 
He saw crime as both a cause and an effect of a lawless environment.  His critics laughed but he was proven right when NYC's crime statistics dropped through the floor.  At the end of his term, the city that was formerly one of the most dangerous in America had becime one of its safest. 
What unites Guiliani and Gingrich is that they have both had success crafting innovative and novel solutions for long-standing problems using market-oriented and generally conservative rationales.
Could their collaboration be a model for Republicans seeking to pull themselves out of the mess than was the 2006 midterm elections?
7:39 am est 

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Wyoming Security Breach Notification Bill
Legislators in Wyoming have filed a bill in that state's Senate that would allow consumers to place a "freeze" on their credit reports in certain situations and would obligate parties that "own or use" certain data pertaining to citizens of Wyoming to give notice of certain actual or potential breaches of information security.
As I've argued in the past, this kind of legislation springs from the best of intentions but poses nearly insurmountable practical problems for the owners and users of consumer data and often for the service providers that support them. 
Because nearly all online retailers and website operators have a global footprint, any breach of data security could affect the website operator's customers around the world.  It is simply unrealistic for legislators to expect that a website operator's response to a potential security breach will include a 50-state review of breach notification laws (plus all the non-U.S. legal sources) and will result in a compliant notification to all affected persons in as little as "one business day" (the amount of time contemplated in the Wyoming bill). 
Establishing such unrealistic expectations can only spawn useless litigation.  An effective solution would create a single, nationwide standard. 
8:07 am est 

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

White House Counsel
It's always gratifying when a recruiter calls to offer you a job, so imagine how Fred Fielding felt when he got the call from White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolton to join President Bush's team for the last two years of his administration.
As the WSJ recounts, Fielding is a veteran of the Nixon and Reagan administrations and the law firm that bears his name has been a fixture in Washington for decades.  His recruitment back into the White House should send a message to those who would try to score points by starting investigations of the administration that the administration is prepared to fight back. 
7:52 am est 

Monday, January 8, 2007

Follow the Money
Ted Frank rips into the trial lawyers' latest attempt to hold legitimate businesses liable for events outside their control -- terrorism:
The trial lawyers have now enlisted themselves in the war against terror. One can imagine a parody—a team of wing-tipped attorneys parachuting into the wilds of Afghanistan, armed with subpoenas forcing Osama bin Laden to produce all relevant documents and secure his attendance at a 20-day videotaped deposition (damn the Geneva Conventions against torture). The legal and photocopying bills alone crush al Qaeda.
The reality is more prosaic, and less amusing. For just as Willie Sutton legendarily said he robbed banks "because that's where the money is," plaintiffs' attorneys are weaving creative legal theories to hold legitimate third parties liable for the intentional acts of terrorists. This friendly fire could end up doing almost as much financial damage as the terrorists themselves, with the lawyers getting rich in the process.
12:06 pm est 

2006 Privacy Year-in-Review
If you haven't read it already, EPIC's 2006 Privacy Year-in-Review should be required reading for lawyers and policy makers dealing with electronic privacy issues. 
10:56 am est 

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Reefer Madness
Barack Obama clears the decks for his '08 Presidential run by making sure that his admission of marijuana use is covered in the mainstream media well before the campaign gets underway. 
As the Washington Post reports, Obama described his drug use in a book he wrote more than a decade ago, long before he ran for any office, so it would be unfair to describe his efforts to air out the issue as cynical. 
9:00 am est 

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Jonathan B. Wilson is an Atlanta attorney at the law firm of Taylor English Duma LLP.  Jonathan B. Wilson provides legal advice to investors, companies and business executives involving corporate law, securities law, SEC matters, intellectual property, website and Internet legal issues, start-ups, limited liability companies, partnerships, 1934 Act matters, outsourcing, strategic alliance agreements, contracts, and other matters of importance to growing private and publicly-traded companies.