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This article by Kathleen McGinn Spring was prepared for the

May 9, 2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Risky Computing: Kevin Hart

<B>Kevin Hart has represented both Jonathan Lebed,

the 15-year-old stock trading phenom from Essex County who ran afoul

of the SEC, and the Baron A.A., a Hamilton Township social club

accused

of running an illegal gambling operation. Both, he says, were really

computer cases. In his opinion it is now hard to find a case that

is not — however subtly — a computer case.

Hart speaks on "Protecting Your Business from Cyber-Risks,"

on Thursday, May 10, at 6 p.m. at the Princeton Marriott. Call

609-599-9500.

Other panelists at this free event, sponsored by Stark & Stark, are

Jeff Perlman of Borden Perlman, Leib Dodell of the Chubb

Group, and David Krumholz of Klatzkin Technologies

(www.stark-stark.com).

The idea for the seminar occurred to Hart as he came to realize how

dependent every business is on its computers. In awe of the machines,

he says: "Take a step back, and think what access to computers

has given us." At the same time, he says, computers, and

particularly

those connected to the Internet, pose any number of dangers to

businesses.

Hart, a 1975 graduate of Rutgers, holds a J.D. from Seton Hall, and

an advanced degree in corporate law from New York University. He now

marvels at how he made it through school without a computer. "You

had to type up papers yourself, or find someone to type them for

you,"

he says of the bad old days. With Stark & Stark since 1980, he only

vaguely remembers when the firm bought its first PCs. He does recall

that some attorneys "swore they would never turn their computers

on."

Never in that camp, Hart embraced technology. A rolodex now collects

dust on his credenza. "All of my addresses are in my

computer,"

he says, musing that half of the entries that still exist only in

the rolodex "probably belong to dead people." Hart is even

moving away from that legal staple, letter writing. Slowly, but

surely,

he is replacing letters with E-mail, though he says he still is

careful

to print and save many messages.

Hart says he, like his clients, is able to do business so much better

with a computer. The downside is that, like those he advises, he can’t

even imagine what he would do if his computer were taken from him

— even for just two weeks. These are some of the computer-related

issues he says businesses should think about.

Sudden loss of computers. Record keeping used to mean

stuffing papers into folders. As manila folders are replaced by their

weightless cyber equivalents, prosecutors become increasingly

interested

in computers. In the Baron’s case, "the state got a search warrant

and seized the computers," Hart says. He had to get a court order

to allow the non-profit corporation to download files it needed to

keep up essential business processes.

While most businesses are not using their computers to keep track

of illegal bets, many could be hit with a lawsuit in which records

of one kind or another are called for in discovery. Sometimes this

means the machines’ hard drives will be scrutinized by a computer

expert, but other times it could mean that they would be removed.

"Everybody should have a back-up system," Hart says.

Moonlighting employees. The computer is like the phone,

only more so, Hart says. Let one in an office, hook it up, and it

is very difficult to control what employees do with it. Are employees

going to use both tools for personal business? They sure are. While

Hart, an attorney after all, is careful to avoid specific mention

of any personal tasks he completes at work, he does say he is at his

desk 10 hours a day. "If there is something I want to get done

that’s personal, do I want to wait until I get home?" he asks.

"It’s not necessarily right or wrong," he says of employee

use of the company computer for their personal business. But employers

should be aware that such use almost certainly is going on, and that

it could involve them. Should an employee be running a business from

his desk, for example, and that business caused harm, an employer

could, in some circumstances, be liable. While the 15-year-old he

represented in the stock fraud case is too young to be in the

workforce,

if he had been an employee with a 9-to-5 job he would have had to

do all of his trading during office hours.

Copyright laws. "Many people think just because

something

is on the Internet, they can take it," Hart says. In some cases,

they can, but in others, the code, logos, and content are protected

by copyright or trademark law. "There are these traditional legal

documents," he says. "Prior to the Internet it was pretty

clear what happens, but the ability to have access to information

has increased dramatically." It is now common for businesses to

be sued for taking material from an Internet site.

On the flip side of the issue, any number of companies are having

their proprietary information pirated, and may not know they can stop

it. Says Hart: "You may have rights you don’t know you have."


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