Corrections or additions?
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
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
Other panelists at this free event, sponsored by Stark & Stark, are
Jeff Perlman of Borden Perlman, Leib Dodell
Group, and David Krumholz of Klatzkin Technologies
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
those connected to the Internet, pose any number of dangers to
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
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
Never in that camp, Hart embraced technology. A rolodex now collects
dust on his credenza. "All of my addresses are in my
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
he is replacing letters with E-mail, though he says he still is
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.
stuffing papers into folders. As manila folders are replaced by their
weightless cyber equivalents, prosecutors become increasingly
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.
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
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.
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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