Texas Schools Tracking Students with RFID Chips

The bare RFID Reader pcb by CabFabLab

This seems pretty messed up – policies have been enacted at John Jay High School and Anson Jones Middle School in San Antonio, Texas that require students to always carry their student ID cards that have radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips embedded in them. These chips are used for attendance with the goal of reducing truancy. The school hopes the chips will keep kids from skipping school which will result in the school district getting significantly more funding.

The problem is these chips broadcast the holder’s location 24-7. Anyone with an RFID reader can track them. According to my source, Heather Fazio of Texans for Accountable Government easily filed a Freedom of Information Act and was given the names and addresses of every student in the school district. It only cost her $30. That means if she has an RFID reader, she has all the information she would need to tract a student if she was so inclined if the person had their student ID with them. That’s frightening!

Some students are standing up to this invasion of privacy and refusing to carry their student IDs or only carrying their old ID cards that don’t have RFID chips. They said they’ve been tormented by instructors, barred from school functions, and not allowed into the cafeteria or library.

I don’t have a problem with requiring students to carry a student ID when they are on school property and I like the idea that schools could take attendance by having students swipe a card at the classroom door. I take issue with the school and others being able to track students when they are outside the school walls and on their own time. It’s a privacy issue and a safety issue.

The police need a warrant to put a GPS on your car to track you. Why should a school be able to mandate that students be trackable 24-7?

I agree that these students have no expectation of privacy when they are in public and they are required to be in school by law, but that doesn’t give the school permission to make them trackable wherever they go.

The policy in question requires students to carry their cards in their pockets or around their necks. If I were a student in one of these schools, I’d try to disable the RFID chip by punching a hole through it and putting it on a string around my neck. I’d be complying with the letter of the law while protecting my privacy.

Feel free to connect with me via TwitterGoogle+Facebook, and LinkedIn, or you can email me.
Please visit my homepage for more information about Carter Law Firm.
Check out my ebook on Amazon – The Legal Side of Blogging: How Not to get Sued, Fired, Arrested, or Killed

Hat tip to Sheila Dee for telling me about this story.

I’m an ABA Legal Rebel!

Photo by Don McPhee Photography

I’m excited to share the news that I’ve been named a 2012 American Bar Association Legal Rebel! The ABA acknowledges 10 members of the legal community each year for being innovative leaders. I am humbled and honored to be added to this illustrious group.

Photo by Don McPhee Photography

I learned about the Legal Rebels when I was in law school at Arizona State University. Every year they invite a panel of Legal Rebels to the school to talk to students about non-traditional career paths. I’m so grateful they hold this event for people like me who need role models who embody the idea that there’s more than one way to be a successful lawyer. I really admire people like Stephanie Kimbro, Niki Black, and Jeffrey Hughes who created some of the roads less traveled in the legal profession.

I had a wonderful conversation with Legal Rebel Mark Britton at the ABA TechShow this year. I met him the year before when he visited my law school when I was a 3L. In one year, I had gone from sitting in the audience listening to him speak to sharing the stage with him at LexThink.1. At the end of the event he was very encouraging of me and my firm and said I was “doing everything right” with my career.

The ABA selected me to be a Legal Rebel for my work in flash mob law. Even though I’ve been a lawyer for less than a year, I’ve examined the legal issues surrounding flash mobs since 2009 when I participated in my first flash mob – the No Pants Light Rail Ride. A group of us from that event decided we wanted to keep doing these events so we co-founded Improv AZ. Before  every event, I think through the criminal, First Amendment, tort, property, and intellectual property issues and try to ensure that we aren’t setting ourselves or our participants up to get arrested or sued.

Photo by Don McPhee Photography

I’m also an advocate for the real flash mob community. I try to correct the media when they call group criminal activities or any protest or demonstration organized through social media a “flash mob.” I want to maintain our reputation for organizing surprise events that entertain an unsuspecting audience.

I never would have pursued flash mob law without the support of some very special people.  I especially want to thank Ari Kaplan who encouraged me to pursue this niche, my fellow Improv AZ co-founders, and my family and friends who encouraged me to follow my dream of being a flash mob lawyer. Thank you again to the ABA for bestowing this honor upon me and for my awesome Legal Rebel Converse sneakers!

Feel free to connect with me via TwitterGoogle+Facebook, and LinkedIn, or you can email me.
Please visit my homepage for more information about Carter Law Firm.

Venture Capital Available for Arizona Companies

Money Plant by Tax Credits from Flickr

Money Plant by Tax Credits

Money doesn’t grow on trees . . . but sometimes people want to give it to you! The Invest Southwest Capital Conference is coming up on November 28th-30th at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort. This is the conference where Arizona companies can pitch their business plans and investment opportunities to over 300 venture capitalists and angel investors.

This conference has resulted in over a quarter of a billion dollars being invested in companies since its beginning in 1992. Jonathan Coury, the chairman of this year’s conference says the event’s mission is to encourage “economic growth through capital investments in growing enterprises.” I’ve known Jonathan since I worked under him and helped launch other businesses at the Innovation Advancement Program at Arizona State University. If he believes in this conference, I believe it’s something local companies should consider if they are trying to get a significant amount of venture capital.

Invest Southwest is geared towards companies that are looking for between $500,000 and $10 million in funding. You must apply to present to the conference. Applications must be received by 5pm on Thursday, August 30th with a $199 application fee. A selection committee will chose between 12 and 15 companies to present at the conference. If you are selected, you must pay an additional $350 presenter fee.  At first glance, $549 might seem like a lot of money to present at a conference, but not compared to the $10 million you might take home with you.

When you are seeking venture capital, it’s best to work with an Arizona business lawyer (like me) who can help you understand your obligations when you accept money from venture capitalists or angel investors.

Feel free to connect with me via TwitterGoogle+Facebook, and LinkedIn, or you can email me directly.
Please visit my homepage for more information about Carter Law Firm.

What’s Up with the Disclaimers on Facebook?

Avisados by Daniel Lobos, Ruth Carter

Avisados by Daniel Lobos

I’ve had multiple people ask for my take on the following disclaimer that lots of people are posting on their Facebook timelines:

Warning: Any person and/or institution and/or Agent and/or Agency of any governmental structure including but not limited to the United States Federal Government also using or monitoring/using this website or any of its associated websites, you do NOT have my permission to utilize any of my profile information nor any of the content contained herein including, but not limited to my photographs, and/or the comments made about my photographs or any other “art” related posts on my profile. You are hereby notified that you are strictly prohibited from disclosing, copying, distributing, disseminating, or taking any other action against me with regard to this profile and the contents herein. The foregoing prohibitions also apply to your employee(s), agent(s), student(s) or any personnel under your direction or control. The contents of this profile are private and legally privileged and confidential information, and the violation of my personal privacy is punishable by law.


Apparently people think that rules regarding others’ use of their information and intellectual property changed when Facebook became publicly traded and that posting this disclaimer will prevent others from using their photos and other information contained in their profiles. I hate to burst your bubble, but it doesn’t.

When you signed up for Facebook, you agreed to the terms of the site. The fact that Facebook is now publicly traded doesn’t change anything related to how Facebook can use your information that you willingly posted to your profile.

The current Facebook terms state that you gave Facebook a “non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any [intellectual property] content that you post on or in connection with Facebook.” This license ends when you delete the information from your profile. So if you don’t want Facebook to use any of your information or photographs, delete them.

Posting this disclaimer will have no effect. By using Facebook, you continue to agree to abide by the terms of the site. If you read Facebook’s terms and conditions, you will notice that there’s no provision that says you can change the terms. Your options are to accept the terms and keep using the site or to delete everything on your profile and stop using Facebook. You can’t manipulate the terms to get what you want this time.

If you want more information about this issue, check out the Snopes page on this topic.

Feel free to connect with me via TwitterGoogle+Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Please visit my homepage for more information about Carter Law Firm.

Call Your Representative to Oppose CISPA

Laptop Stickers by YayAdrian

The U.S. House of Representatives could be voting this Friday on the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). It’s important that you call your representatives today and let them know that you oppose CISPA, and they should too.

CISPA is the government’s latest attempt to invade our privacy. They say the law’s purpose is to prevent and counteract cyberattacks. This law will let private companies and the government ignore every privacy law and share your personal information. All they need to have is a “good faith” belief that they’re doing it for cybersecurity purposes, which sounds like they’re allowed to manipulate the way they describe a situation  to manufacture a good faith belief.

The proposed law has had a few amendments aimed at protecting our civil liberties, but I’m not convinced. The amendments will still let agencies like the National Security Agency have “unfettered access to information about Americans’ internet activities and allow those agencies to use that information for virtually any purpose.”

CISPA - The Solution is the Problem by DonkeyHotey

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a great resource that gives you your representative’s phone number and a script you can use when you call them to urge them to vote against CISPA. I called my representative, Ben Quayle, and I was shocked to learn that he’s a co-sponsor of the bill. I told his office that he should stay out of my computer (and my vagina for that matter).

Here’s your to-do list:

The government will always try to overstep the limits and invade our privacy. It’s our job, as the people who hired them, to keep them in check and tell them what to do.

Why I Opened A Solo Law Firm

Office Coffee by Mauricio Lima

Office Coffee by Mauricio Lima

It’s still a bit surreal to think in the last four years I went to law school, passed the bar exam, opened a law firm, and have goals of becoming a leader in my niche areas of practice.

When I started law school, I was spoon-fed the idea that every lawyer should aspire to clerk for a judge and work at a big law firm with the goal of becoming a partner. When I started working in the legal field, I realized that I didn’t want any of that. I don’t want to be trapped in an office 60 hours/week, working on cases I don’t care about, and setting myself up to have a severe chemical dependency problem, a heart attack, or a nervous breakdown before turning 40.

I’ve been a blogger for the last two years. During that time, I’ve developed passions for intellectual property, internet law, flash mob law, and preventing cyberbullying. I also had the pleasure of working in the Innovation Advancement Program at Arizona State University where I worked with entrepreneurs to get their endeavors off the ground. It was such a joy to help them breathe life into their dreams.

When people ask me where I work, I love that I get to respond, “In my laptop.” I have a virtual law office, which means I can work almost anywhere that I have wi-fi and a power outlet. I am not encumbered by a formal office or staff. With this autonomy comes more options for myself and my clients.

When I reflect on why I decided to open Carter Law Firm, one word comes to mind: “freedom.” I have the law career I’ve always wanted. I get to work on cases I’m passionate about and with interesting clients. It also gives me time to be a public speaker on legal issues and to blog posts and ebooks.

Opening this firm is the beginning of an incredible adventure. I’m excited for what’s to come.