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by CSO Contributor

Doing Business By Cellphone Creates New Liability Issues; 5 Wall Street Firms Fined over E-Mails; Judge Asked to Shut Down Morpheus, Grokster Services; No End to Medical Errors

Dec 03, 20024 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

Doing Business By Cellphone Creates New Liability Issues

Mobile phones, two-way pagers and other tools of modern life now mean that business can be conducted just about anywhere at any time. But a story in todays New York Times reveals that that technological boon may make companies liable if employees using those gadgets are involved in accidentsusually car accidents. The Times story gives examples of several different legal cases around the country and their varying outcomes. No one, the paper reports, is sure what companies must do to avoid or at least limit liability. Companies’ lawyers do not want to rely on unpredictable juries and would prefer to know how to give clients reliable protection. To avoid the risk that a work-related call may be blamed for accidents, more employers have decided to prohibit employees from using cellphones to conduct business while driving. Of course a too-draconian policy may simply be ignored and create more liability problems. Nonethless, Gerald D. Skoning, a negligence lawyer with Seyfarth Shaw in Chicago told the Times, that while having a policy in place “is not a bulletproof shield, it’s a pretty good first step.”5 Wall Street Firms Fined over E-MailsReuters report. “Each firm had inadequate procedures and systems to retain and make accessible e-mail communications,” the Securities and Exchange Commission, New York Stock Exchange and NASD said in a statement. Rules require the firms to keep such records for at least two years.

Five Wall Street brokerages Goldman, Salomon, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank Securities and U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffraywere fined a total of $8.25 million for not properly preserving e-mail communications, securities regulators said today, according to a

Judge Asked to Shut Down Morpheus, Grokster Services

with added features, according to the Mercury News today. They asked a federal judge to skip a trial and find the companies behind these networks guilty of contributing to widespread copyright infringement. U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson probed key issues, focusing on whether Morpheus or Grokster supply anything to the music-trading networks beyond software. The question of the companies’ control over the networks is key in determining whether either firm directly contribute to users’ infringement. The Mercury News also reports that the judge also questioned how Morpheus and Grokster could be aware of the infringing activities of their users and whether these companies have the technological wherewithal to block the exchange of copyrighted works.

Entertainment industry attorneys argued in a packed Los Angeles courtroom Monday that the new generation of music-trading networks, Morpheus and Grokster, are nothing short of Napster reborn

No End to Medical ErrorsWashington Post reports on the lack of progress in reducing medical mistakes. Three years ago, the Post story says, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued its blunt assessment of medical errors in the nations hospital system, concluding that as many as 98,000 hospitalized Americans die every year and 1 million more are injured as a result of preventable medical errors that cost the nation an estimated $29 billion. Shortly after its release, Congress held hearings and promptly earmarked $50 million for research into the causes and prevention of medical mistakes. President Clinton announced his support for a key recommendationmandatory reporting of serious errorsan idea borrowed from aviation. Still, while there’s a lot of talk about reducing medical mistakes, there has been no significant progress. The reasons, according to the Post, include fierce resistance by doctors and hospitals to mandatory reporting and other IOM recommendations, a lack of oversight by the federal government and the absence of an effective consumer lobby. The vast majority of hospitals still rely on paper charts that often can’t be located and are difficult to decipher, rather than more accessible and legible computerized medical records. Fewer than 3 percent have fully implemented computerized drug ordering systems, which have consistently shown dramatic reductions in drug errors. And the nation’s most exhausted and inexperienced doctorsthe 100,000 interns and residents who staff teaching hospitalscontinue to work as many as 130 hours a week, often with little or no supervision.

An article in todays