The Developing World of Cyber Litigation
According to recent reports, litigation arising out of the public disclosure of the allegedly privileged “Paradise Papers” has been settled.
The “Paradise Papers” — an allusion to the Nixon-era leak of classified memoranda known as the “Pentagon Papers” — is a trove of millions of documents hacked from a well-established offshore law firm that specialized in sophisticated tax and asset planning for a very high net worth and sometimes high-profile clientele. The documents were turned over to a German newspaper, who worked with the Pulitzer-Prize winning International Consortium of Investigative Journalists to publish the materials.
The ethics of releasing classified public information is the subject of much debate. However, the publication of clients’ personal information that was hacked from a law firm’s confidential and privileged files raises far more serious implications. This case further establishes that cyber breaches and hacks of personal information may not only occur to further the criminal act of identity theft and other cyber related criminal activity, but also may be used for purported public interest purposes or to further the profitability in legitimate commerce.
While the First Amendment offers strong protections in the United States, legitimate businesses and even news organizations may be exposed to liability for attempting to profit from or otherwise publishing hacked information despite not being involved in attaining the private information through unlawful means. For example, we believe claims for breach of fiduciary duty, breach of confidence, as well as “false light” claims by the victims of hacking may become more common as cyber hacking continues to grow and damage the public.
Vernon Litigation Group
At Vernon Litigation Group, we focus on financial litigation. The attorneys at Vernon Litigation Group provide counsel, strategy, and advocacy to clients with significant legal issues in the business and financial world, including disputes involving or arising out of a cyber breach.
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Vernon Litigation Group
Mr. Vernon handles the litigation and arbitration of complex business and financial disputes, with an emphasis on securities fraud and securities arbitration, throughout the United States.