5 Illusions of Online Rights and Privacy

Many people believe all of their online communication is protected and private but in many cases this is not true. Your online communications may impact attorney confidentiality, be used against you in legal proceedings or lead to civil defamation suits. It is vital to protect yourself by understanding common misconceptions about online anonymity and the risks involved in posting information online.

1. I am completely anonymous online. Posting comments to online forums, news outlets or blogs may give you a false sense of anonymity and privacy. However, there is no anonymity online; almost anything can be traced back to its source. Before posting anything online consider the very real possibility that it will be traced back to you. You should never assume that information you post online is private or confidential.

2. All communications regarding my legal matter are protected by attorney-client privilege. Attorney-client confidentiality only protects direct communication between you and your attorney. These communications, whether in person, by phone or online, cannot be used against you in court. You jeopardize your confidentiality by talking about your legal matter with anyone other than your attorney. If you forward an email between you and your attorney to someone else, it is no longer protected. A breach of attorney-client privilege can seriously harm your case. Do not discuss the details of your case with anyone other than your attorney and avoid discussing legal matters on social networking sites.

3. Private communications cannot be used against me in court. In recent years online posts and email communications have become frequent sources of evidence in criminal and civil cases. No matter what your intention when posting something online, consider how it could come back to haunt you. Your social media record can be used to track your location on specific dates and times as well as your relationships and conversations with others. This information could be subpoenaed and used against you in court. If you are involved in a civil or criminal legal proceeding do not discuss any details of the case online.

4. I can’t be fired for what I do online on my own time. While a few states and provinces offer protections for certain types of online speech, such as political discussions or personal activities conducted outside of work hours, there are few employment protections for online speech. Disparaging your employer or conducting yourself in a way that reflects poorly on the business may very well cost you your job. Before you post something online, consider whether or not you would want to read the post to your employer in person. If you have questions about employment law, call your LegalShield provider law firm.

5. Free speech is protected; I can say what I want online. Obscenity, threats, criminal activity and incitement of illegal activity are not protected online or elsewhere. Also, just because the government protects other forms of speech does not mean an individual or business cannot take legal action against you. Most online communities and businesses

have strict rules about acceptable content and are free to ban you from their website for violating terms of use. If you post or publish false information online that causes financial or emotional injury to a person or business you could be sued for defamation.

Contact your LegalShield provider law firm if you have any questions.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.