Business Startup

Washington Social Media Law: New Regulations Your Business May Not “Like”

The Washington social media law landscape changed recently with the passage of a new bill aimed at protecting employees from social media overreach. The new Washington “Social Media Statute” (RCW 49.44.200) presents a few challenges for businesses and entrepreneurs, especially those that may want to gain access to an employee’s personal or a “contested” social media account.  The statute adds new regulations that make it significantly more difficult to monitor an employee or applicant’s personal social media activity. Employers should understand their obligations under this new statute, and what it means for their social media policies.

Prohibited Activities

The statute makes it unlawful for an employer to “request, require, or otherwise coerce an employee or applicant to disclose login information for the...

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Mergers & Acquisitions

SEC Gives Thumbs Up for Company Announcements Through Social Media

The SEC issued a report that makes it clear that companies can use social media platforms, e.g. Facebook and Twitter, to announce key information to investors to comply with Regulation Fair Disclosure (Regulation FD) so long as the investors have been alerted about the announcement and which social media outlet being used.

The SEC’s report confirms that Regulation FD applies to social media and other emerging means of communication used by public companies the same way it applies to company websites. In 2008, the SEC issued guidance that clarified that websites can serve as effective means of communication to announce information to investors so long as the investors are aware of where to find the information.

Regulation FD requires companies to distribute...

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Business Startup

Legislative Definitions of Social Media for Employment Law Purposes

Six states have now prohibited employers from requesting social media passwords during the hiring process. Bill Carleton, at his blog Counselor @ Law, had a number of attorneys (including myself) grade the various legislative attempts to statutorily define employment law. Take a few minutes to check out Bill’s post, which you can find here.

Thanks to Bill for first compiling the definitions and links in a single document and then compiling the opinions and posting the results on his blog!

Here are the full grades and comments I sent to Bill:

California

As used in this chapter, “social media” means an electronic service or account, or electronic content, including, but not limited to, videos, still photographs, blogs, video blogs, podcasts, instant and text messages,...

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Business Startup

Staying Lean and Saving Green in a Down Economy

I recently read an article detailing the impact of the market downturn on U.S. law firms. Relying heavily on data presented by the Hildebrandt/Citi Private Bank 2012 Client Advisory, the article discussed the steady—if not drastic—decline in revenue, demand, and “realization” since September 2008. One of the most alarming statistics was the decline in the collected realization rate against the standard, i.e. the percentage of work performed at a particular firm’s standard rates that is actually collected from clients. It reveals that U.S. law firms are collecting less than 85 cents on the dollar, essentially an industry-wide client discount of 15% on every transaction. The effects of this decline include downsizing, lack of hiring, and significant pricing pressures.

So what can we...

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Business Startup

Empowering the Small(er) Investor and Business: The Potential Impacts of Equity Crowdfunding

In early April 2012, President Obama signed the JOBS Act into law. The goal behind the JOBS Act was to ease federal regulations in order to make it easier for smaller companies to obtain funding. Recently, there’s been a rising interest in the impact of the JOBS Act, focused mainly on “crowdfunding”—which, at least for purposes of this article, refers to the funding of a company by selling small amounts of equity to many investors through online intermediaries.

Title III of the JOBS Act (the crowdfunding portion) allows for companies to raise funds online from a variety of investors, including non-accredited investors. Industry professionals can’t seem to agree on what the impact of crowdfunding is going to be. Today’s post lays...

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Business Startup

iVLG News Roundup Week 50: UBS Settles; Knight Capital Merges; Amazon Buys; Instagram Frustrates; NYSE Sells

Securities Regulation

UBS Settles for $1.5 Billion We reported last week about the Swiss banking giant’s proposed settlement with global authorities. Well, the settlement is now final. UBS agreed to pay $1.5 billion in fines to settle claims against it for a multi-year scheme to manipulate interest rates, so called “rate-rigging.”

This settlement is the largest to date related to rate-rigging. The fine is one of the biggest sanctions ever levied by both American and British authorities, falling just below the $1.9 billion settlement levied against HSBC last week over money laundering claims.

Mergers and Acquisitions

Knight Capital and Getco Announce Merger Plan Knight Capital nearly collapsed last summer after a $440 million trading glitch. Getco, a major shareholder of Knight, was one of the many...

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Business Startup

iVLG News Roundup 2012 Week 30: Market Glitches, Insider Trading, Olympic Updates

U.S. Stock Market News

Glitches in System Cost Knight Capital Group $440 million Knight Capital Group, one of the largest trading firms in the U.S., stock plunged nearly 50% by midday Thursday, trading at its lowest price since 1998. The steady plunge resulted from faulty software forcing the company to buy a great number of stocks at an inflated value and then sell all those stocks at a lower price, which sent dozens of U.S. stocks swinging more than 10 percent.

The company is scrambling to secure a buyer or investor to facilitate a potential merger to save the company after the severe loss. Knight intends to continue trading and market-making while it considers its options.

U.S. Securities Regulation

Bristol-Meyers Executive Accused of Insider Trading In...

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Business Startup

iVLG News Roundup Week 23

Social Media Law

Facebook Likes not Protected Free Speech A Virginia sheriff fired employees after learning that they had “liked” his political rival on Facebook. The employees brought suit complaining that their “likes” were free speech. But in Bland v. Roberts, a federal court in Virginia held that Facebook Likes are not protected free speech. The primary basis for the judge’s ruling was that the “like” was not substantial enough to qualify as protectable speech.

A “like” on Facebook, “is not the kind of substantive statement that has previously warranted constitutional protection.”

Social Enterprise Law

Washington Now Offering Social Purpose Corporations as Choice of Entity As of yesterday, June 7th, Washington businesses can now form social purpose corporations. Social purpose corporations (SPCs) are a hybrid entities that have some features...

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Contracts

Social Media Legal Issues: (Post Number 7): Protect Your Business from Rogue Social Media Contracts

Business owners and their employees often deal with contractual relationships in the course of running almost every type of business.

Though lawyers almost always advise against it, business people often form unwritten “handshake” deals with partners, suppliers, competitors, and customers. Many an unscrupulous business person has been “saved” by the fact that the deal to which he agreed was not in writing. Similarly, many managers have been “saved” by the fact that the oral promises their employees made were not easily enforceable.

The age of social media, for better or for worse, will make it more difficult for business owners who do not properly educate themselves and their employees regarding “contracts” to evade the consequences of thoughtless agreements. And thoughtless agreements will...

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