Film Review: Terms and Conditions May Apply

Terms and Conditions May Apply Film Poster

On September 22, 2016 the Technology Law Section of the State Bar of Georgia, co-hosted a screening of the documentary “Terms and Conditions May Apply” at Emory University in Atlanta (

The synopsis of the film reads: “TERMS AND CONDITIONS MAY APPLY explores the intent hidden within these agreements, and reveals what corporations and governments are legally taking from you and the consequences that result from clicking “I accept.””

As one side of my practice focuses on online legalities in the digital world I decided to go and see what it was about. First I will say it was interesting. Second I will say it was disappointing. As I sat there I was wondering why it doesn’t seem like they dealt deep enough – something is missing. And then when I looked up the film I figured it out – the film came out in 2013, which means it was filmed in end of 2012. So what was missing? Everything regarding Snowden and his whistleblowing, SONY, Target and other data breach hacks, and the current political and legislative environment regarding online privacy. The premise was good but the content did not prove timeless. Watching it with over 4 years of hindsight behind me I kept finding myself updating what was being displayed on screen (in my mind and notes) and wishing it would hurry up and get to its point.

There were a few gems I managed to record – because I was really, really looking for some tidbits to share since this film is old and so much has changed.

Have you seen this documentary? What year did you see it if you did? What was your reaction to it? If you haven’t just click on this link to view it for free.


For a limited time when Game Station had an update the license agreement said they “could claim your immortal soul.” Not many people found that because not many people read the license agreement. 

Online privacy laws that were to go into effect died because of the 9-11 attack and have not been passed yet.

 The filmmaker (Cullen Hoback) called himself a “digital rights advocate” as he connects these online terms of use with government survellience.

 Privacy is a fickle thing – you have nothing to hide until you do.

Who is watching the watcher?


ICLE 2016 Recap: Social Media Beyond Our Comfort Zone

On September 16, 2016 over 130 attorneys attended in person or via remote access the 6th Annual Social Media and Law program sponsored by the Institute of Continuing Legal Education in Georgia (ICLE). Chaired by Deborah Gonzalez, Esq. , founder of Law2sm, LLC (, the program featured a number of prominent attorneys in the areas of criminal and civil litigation, employment law, entertainment law and technology law.

Gonzalez began the day with an update of the social media legal landscape highlighting the most prominent changes in the social media technology and the latest cases relating to the online platforms. Gonzalez emphasized that not only were there changed from 2015 to 2016, but that these changes should be seen in the context of change from 2011 (when this series began) to 2016 (the present year).

Trends reported on:

  • Facebook seeing its users share less personal information as people are becoming more concerned over privacy and security.
  • Facebook changing its algorithm making it necessary for business to spend more on advertising to reach potential clients.
  • Live streaming taking off with Facebook Live and Twitter and NFL deal.
  • Emojis as a language that can convey specific speech, including threats and discrimination.
  • New apps accessing publically available social media data for new uses.
  • Hoax Alert – Selfitis
  • Increase in cyber bullying and cyber-harassment
  • FTC Native Advertising Guidance
  • Tweets are Public Records in Nevada
  • The Dark Web proves challenging for law enforcement and criminal investigations.

The next panel focused on Social Media and its use in litigation. Paul E Andrew, from Andrew Merritt, Reilly & Smith, organized and moderated the panel. Josh H Viau from Fisher & Phillips LLP and Melinda C Pillow from the Law Office of Melinda C Pillow were the panelists. They began their presentation with a comparison of the 20th and 21st Century perspectives about the use of the Internet in litigation:

20th Century View: “Any evidence procured off the Internet is adequate for absolutely nothing.” St. Clair v. Johnny’s Oyster & Shrimp, Inc. (S.D. Tex. 1999).

21st Century View: A lawyer has a duty of competence to his/her clients (GRPC Rule 1.1). To be ignorant of social media and its interrelationship with the law is unethical at best and, at worst, malpractice.

Their panel discussion followed the litigation process from client intake to after the decision and award. Some highlights:

  • Review a potential client’s social media accounts – run a Google search and see what you find.
  • Various jurisdictions now allow for service f process via social media and email.
  • Social media has created new defendants and expanded duties.
  • Social media is accepted as evidence but you must go through the authentication process, etc. to have it entered into the record.
  • Social media used in the voir dire of jurors.
  • Be careful about using social media before, during, and after trial – publicity rules and Ethical rules must be followed.

Third panel of the day recognized the importance of this year in politics. Tamay Shannon (@Where2start) from W2S Marketing and Ashley Sasnett (@AshleySasnett) from Atlanta joined Gonzalez in looking at the impact social media platforms are having on the politic landscape, specifically this presidential election. The panelists provided examples of social media campaigns and best practices and Gonzalez focused on the legal issues surrounding this use.


  • Earned, owned, paid and shared media work together to reach voters.
  • FTC Disclosures of hen political speech is free and when it is bought.
  • Your social media political team needs to have certain skills in crisis communication, data analytics, writing political speech
  • No backyard is private anymore.
  • A crisis will happen – how big and how much of an impact it has varies on the response: delete, ignore, repurpose.
  • Political donations DO NOT have a limited when they are contributed via online.
  • Security has become a major issue for the campaigns – from protecting donor and voter information, to preventing hacks.
  • We are getting some decisions from state courts regarding ballot selfies – in some states they are protected freedom of speech. However there is an argument as to whether this can violate the integrity of the voting process.
  • Government agencies can use social media but not to post propaganda.

After lunch the anxiously anticipated social media and ethics panel began. Moderated by Paul Andrew it included William J Cobb, Counsel for the State Bar of Georgia and Terri Thornton from Thornton Communications. Christina Petrig, then counsel for the State Bar of Georgia, left many attorneys with more questions regarding “consent” from clients. In response Ms. Thornton worked with her attorney clients to create a series of hypotheticals, and Andrew sent them on to Tina and Cobb. Cobb, Thornton and Andrew then went through the hypothetical scenarios. The short answer is always get consent from your client before you post anything right before you post it. Do not rely on a social media amendment signed at the beginning of the engagement as situations may change and the client may change their mind. Cobb also provided a good paper regarding specific ethical rules to be considered when an attorney uses social media.

The next to the last panel focused on a specific application of social media use within the entertainment industry. Social Media: Celebrities and Public Figures Legalities included Julie K Roach, Esq.(@julieroachesq), Ashley Hollan Couch, Esq. (@CouchLawyer) and Eddie Rhodman, Jr. from DFSM.


  • The difference between a celebrity, a public figure and an influencer.
  • Review of how celebrities use social media, including to promote change and to stay relevant.
  • How brands use celebrities and influencers
  • The issue of honesty, authenticity and consumer protection when brands promote using celebrities and influencers.
  • The differences between endorsement, sponsorship, advertisement and promotion.
  • FTC Endorsement Guidelines (retweets, disclaimers)
  • Twitter Whitelisting

The last session of the day was Social Media International Developments by John Yates of Morris, Manning & Martin, LLP. According to Yates this topic is important because “While social media has become ubiquitous across the world in all realms of society, the legal complexity surrounding it remains challenging.

These challenges are daunting in light of the diversity of concerns that must be addressed among different countries that may have inconsistency in the rules and regulations based on new technologies and overlapping jurisdictions. Plus, these applications are changing so quickly that someone who thinks they’ve covered their bases may learn that the landscape has changed drastically in a short period of time. “ John’s session was based on a survey “derived directly from international attorneys (from 16 different countries) with whom I have been involved throughout the ITechLaw organization, a global association of attorneys focused on technology law issues.” The questions addressed by them were:

  1. Has your country enacted or proposed laws or regulations on social media?
  2. What organization or governing body promulgates rules and regulations in this area?
  3. Have there been court cases or administrative decisions relating to the use of social media? If so, I’d be interested in a short summary.
  4. Do the social media rules vary from province/state/jurisdiction in your country or are they uniform across the country?
  5. What is your expectation of the future of regulation of social media in your country?

For more information about the program and/or to secure materials from prior year sessions please contact ICLE at

Ashley Couch, Eddie Rodham Jr., Julie Roach
Ashley Couch, Eddie Rodham Jr., Deborah Gonzalez, Julie Roach


John Yates, Terri Thornton
John Yates, Terri Thornton



Bill Cobb, Terri Thornton, Paul Andrew
Bill Cobb, Terri Thornton, Paul Andrew
Terri Thornton, Ashley Sasnette, Tamay Shannon, Deborah Gonzalez
Terri Thornton, Ashley Sasnette, Tamay Shannon, Deborah Gonzalez

Guest Post: Censoring Twitter

Today’s post is from Guest Blogger Christine Kane, a graduate of Communication and Journalism. She enjoys writing about a wide-variety of subjects focused on communication for different blogs. She can be reached via email at:  More info at:

Image from:

On January 26, 2012, Twitter announced that it acquired the capability to censor content on a country-by-country basis. That’s quite a transformation from the exposed and entirely unfiltered history of the site. But what does this modification mean to the company as a whole? To the Tweeters? How will it affect us?

First of all, why did Twitter take this unexpected and radical step? Venturing that the stepalluded to a succeeding Twitter presence in China, PandoDaily wrote, “I’m sure Mao would be pleased.” Censorship in China has been anextensive and fiercely debated topic, and it appears that Twitter is preemptively acceding to the countries suspected demands.

The Guardian, in the interim, inquired if the new censoring ability could be used in the U.K. to block tweets revealing information covered by local laws regarding celebrities. What disturbance that could have on the gossip columnists and celebrity new shawks there can only be imagined.

Dreading extensive and automated use of the new technology, Marketing Land spoke with Twitter employees who confirmed that censorship will only occur on a case by case basis and that no programmed online filters will be generated.

But what could happen if Twitter’s censorship went automated? What could be censored? Private data like names and addresses? Celebrities and politicians privacy concerns? Swearing and sexual advances? If Twitter’s censorship does happen, it will obliterate Twitter as we know it. But is it right to have Twitter censor-free in one country and chopped up in another? How will that work? Will some countries be detached from the rest, language barriers aside? Or will users simply compose their own language, a secret code, which would be problematic for the censors to unearth? Only time will tell.

The Wall Street Journal conjectures that the option to censor Twitter was made in a move to defend any future international development efforts where the company would have to follow local law or take a chance of having its employees thrown in jail. This is simply a politically correct way of discussing China and other countries whose idea of Internet freedom does not encompass as much as America’s does. You can understand Twitter wanting to expand into those countries, but at what expense?

What are your thoughts on this issue?