Privacy and The Internet
The internet is a public medium. Each and every message, attachment, file etc. that you send goes from your computer to it's destination by being transferred from one computer to another, to another. The number of 'stops' varies but it can easily be in the thousands or more. Each and every 'stop' not only passes that message along but can also store that message. It could be observed or viewed any where along the way or at a later time. It is analogous to postcard sent via regular mail, everyone along the route can read it.
A quick thought about the amount of traffic over the internet makes you realize that the possibility of any particular message being viewed is very slight. In other words, it can happen but the possibility that it will happen is very slight (statistically zero). This is of course not true if you (or I) in particular are being watched by your (or my) ISP (Internet Service Provider). The legal status of this observation remains unclear at both the Federal and State levels. This issue is even further compounded by the discussion of the possibility of introducing legislation at the Federal level that will require the internet to be monitored for 'key words' as well as legislation that will require every ISP to provide a unique 'serial number' to each user that would be attached to every piece of information that the user sends over the internet.
The Attorney/Client relationship produces some protection against the revealing of information that is provided/discussed between an Attorney and their Clients, a protection called Privilege. You should note that this is not an all-encompassing protection, or it does not apply to everything. Further, this is a protection that, even if it existed, can be lost by discussing with or revealing the information to 3rd parties. This is where the internet can come in. If you send information to an Attorney that might be privileged, knowing that it could be viewed by any party along the way, an argument can be made that the privilege is lost. Even without information being privileged, people often discuss confidential information, or information they would not want others to know about, with their Attorney.
In an effort to try and protect any privileges and to protect my clients from the potential disclosure of any confidential information, but still provide them with the benefits of the internet I have subscribed to an encryption service through
This service allows 2 things to happen: 1) I can digitally 'sign' a document so that you know it came from me (though it can still be viewed) and 2) You can send me an encrypted document using my public key so that only I can view it. (For a complete description of how Digital Key's work or to obtain your own Digital Key, go to the Verisign website by clicking on the graphic above). Once you obtain my public key from Verisign (again available from their website by clicking the graphic above), you can send me documents in a secure manner. If you wish your documents to be sent securely to you, you can obtain your own key from the same site. Please note that the this will take some set-up, but the directions are step by step on the Verisign site. The privacy gained is well worth the effort.
Note that even with encryption, the world is not a perfect place and it is possible that your transmission could be monitored and read. The use of such encryption, however, should limit the already statistically zero chance to nearly no chance. Further, its use should limit the potential for any confidential information being observed and also the possibility of any person later making an argument that any privilege that might have existed is lost by sending the information through a public medium.
If you have any questions about Privacy and the Internet, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone or 'snail' mail at the number or address on the related pages.
IF IN DOUBT ABOUT SENDING A SECURE DOCUMENT OVER THE INTERNET - DON'T.
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