Technology Predators

Uber Driver Sued for Sexually Assaulting Teen

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Judge - Marietta Attorney

Uber Driver Sued for Sexually Assaulting Teen

Uber is once again going back to court and not holding up to its claims of trustworthiness. A mother of a 13-year-old girl is suing Uber and one of its drivers after the driver sexually assaulted her daughter.

Isagani A. Marin, a driver for Uber, drove the 13-year-old girl from her house to her middle school around 10-20 times from October to November of last year. During that time, Marin made several inappropriate sexual comments to the girl, offered to buy her panties, and asked her to not get another boyfriend. The girl also reported that Marin rubbed her inner thigh. Marin was arrested three months later, and charged with a misdemeanor assault. Marin pled guilty.

Marin was lucky enough to receive only a six month jail sentence, a suspended driver’s license for a month, and he was banned from having any contact with the girl. But that is not the end of the fight. Marin will be going to civil court with Uber for the mother’s suit against Uber for not properly screening and training Marin. The suit alleges that Marin had several traffic violations, which included reckless driving, that Uber overlooked when they hired him. The victim’s daughter is seeking $2.4 million in damages.

This is not the first issue with sexual assault or failure to properly screen that Uber has had. In the past few years, a woman was raped in Chicago by an Uber driver and an Uber driver in Boston was arrested for kidnapping and raping a woman. The company has also been banned in Dehli, India after a girl was allegedly raped by an Uber driver. Although the company has announced steps to reduce these incidents, not much has changed.

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a ride-share company or driver, contact our law offices today for a free consultation.

New Technologies = Potential Vehicle Hacking

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Vehicle Safety Technology Attorney - The Cooper Firm

New Technologies = Potential Vehicle Hacking

With new technologies and electronic safety features being introduced to vehicles, there will also be new risks or potential errors. One of those risks is the potential for hackers to take control of vehicles. Many vehicles have electronic systems to manage entertainment, GPS and safety features. These systems are very easy to hack into which could compromise safety.

Everything from seat belt and braking functions to infotainment and Bluetooth connect to Electronic Control Units (ECUs). Because all ECUs work through the vehicle’s controller area network (CAN), it makes the system vulnerable to attacks. If one of these areas is hacked, all of the other areas are compromised.

Senators Edward Markey and Richard Blumenthal announced at a hearing on “The Connected World: Examining the Internet of Things,” that they will be introducing a bill which would require the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to create federal standards that would guarantee that automakers protect privacy and security of consumers. “We need the electronic equivalent of seat belts and airbags to keep drivers and their information safe,” Sen. Markey said. Markey sent questions to 19 different manufactures on what they are doing to protect consumers from being hacked through new technologies. The responses varied, but overall showed that not much was being done.

NHTSA has done little to develop a standard to ensure electronic systems have well-designed safety and security. When safety agencies do not have established standards, what incentive do automakers have to develop safety measures for these technologies?  For consumers, cybersecurity is becoming more significant now that they can see what affects it may have on them.

BMW recently announced that 2.2 million of its vehicles had a security flaw which could allow hackers to break in using a smartphone. With access to the BMW Connected Drive System, hackers could activate the horn, open the door, or operate a vehicle. The security flaw could be combined with previous flaws in older models giving hackers the ability to steal the vehicle.

Considering last year’s record breaking recalls, hopefully NHTSA will play catch up and start setting standards for these electronic systems. With systems like vehicle to vehicle technology and driverless vehicles quickly approaching the market, the potential risks of hacking should be a priority. To read more on this issue visit Safety Research and Strategies.

Source: Safety Research and Strategies

Uber Launches Safety Measures after Drivers Charged with Sex Assaults

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Judge - Marietta Attorney

Uber Launches Safety Measures after Drivers Charged with Sex Assaults

Uber announced a new safety program for its drivers following the arrest of two Uber drivers who sexually assaulted passengers on separate occasions. Uber shared that its drivers will now go through inspections by “trained security specialists, including off-duty Chicago police officers.” Uber will take safety issues from monthly audits and monitor and report them.

Uber is used nearly 2 million times a month in the Chicago area. Drivers are supposed to go through a rigorous background check, but according to ABC7 Eyewitness News a driver shared that he never had one. On the flip side, cab drivers must go through training courses and submit a physical and drug test.

This would not be the first time that Uber has come out with a safety initiative publically. After a driver allegedly raped a woman in Chicago and a Boston Uber driver was arrested for kidnapping and raping a woman, Uber came out with a “safe ride checklist” which was added to its app in Chicago and Boston. The company has also been banned in Dehli, India after a girl was allegedly raped by an Uber driver.

Uber has announced a three step screening process with county, federal and multi-state check that will go back seven years to uncover drivers’ criminal record. Uber drivers are also checked against the National Sex Offender Registry. All of these measures have caused thousands of drivers to be denied, according to Uber.

Many individuals have shared that they would rather pay the extra money to have a taxi drive them than driving with an Uber driver and feel unsafe.

Source: ABC

Combating Technology with Technology

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Vehicle Safety Technology Attorney - The Cooper Firm

5 Apps to help you stop texting while driving

It is extremely important to drive safe considering your life and the lives of others are at stake. As much as drivers do not intend to drive distracted, the alert saying you received a new message or call can spur a habitual action of reading the text or answering the phone call.  With drivers taking their eyes off the road for an average of 23 seconds, there is plenty of time for an accident to occur.

No text or call is worth putting someone’s life at risk. With the way our smartphones are glued to our hips, it may be best to use technology to combat technology. There are several new apps that will help you drive without distractions as well as encourage safety while you are behind the wheel.

  1. DriveSafe Mode – (Free)  DriveSafe Mode sends an alert through email if your phone is being used while driving. Although it doesn’t block any incoming calls or text, nor does it block the user from using their phone, it does help parents to keep track of whether their child has been using their phone while driving.
  2. AT&T Drive Mode – (For Android and Blackberry Phones) – (Free) AT&T created an application that locks your phone when you are moving more than 25 mph. It will then send an auto response message of your choice to the caller or texter. When you speed is below 25 mph for more than five minutes the app will then show you your missed calls or messages.
  3. DriveSafe.ly – (For Blackberry and Android) – (Free) This app combats texting while driving by reading your text message, phone call, or email aloud. This prevents the driver from reaching from their phone. It also automatically responds to the recipients automatically or by voice using hands free.
  4. tXtblocker – ($6.99 monthly) This app will block text messages while you are driving and at certain locations, such as school, work, or home. It is a great application for parents who want to control phone usage or need GPS tracking.
  5. Textecution – (For Androids) – ($29.99) When your GPS detects that you are going a certain speed it will disable the phone and sent an automated text reply. You can override this function if you are a passenger or riding a bus through the account administrator who can override the app.

All of these applications are good resources to combat technology with technology. Although it can be beneficial, technology can also be very dangerous. Make choices based on safety, and always remember that “It can wait.”

My child is a victim of cyber bullying – What now?

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Safety First - The Cooper Firm

Cyber Bullying

Cyber bullying is more common among teens than ever before. With the rise of social media and internet use among teenagers, there are so many different outlets for children to be bullied. It is something that no previous generation has ever experienced. According to the Harford County Examiner around half of teens have been the victims of cyber bullying.

Encourage your child to be open with you about what they are doing on the internet. Only 1 in 10 teens tells a parent if they have been a cyber bully victim, which can leave parents in the dark while their teen is hurting. Make sure that your teen knows that being bullied is not their fault.

If your child is being bullied, make sure to communicate with your child’s school. You can also report cyber bullying to online providers where the child was bullied. It often violates the terms of service provided by the social networks and internet providers.

In some cases, where there are threats of violence, child pornography, invasion of privacy, stalking or hate crimes parents or the victim should report it to the police immediately. You can look at your state’s laws to see what is illegal or what cyber bullying is considered a criminal action. If your child has been injured do to a technology predator or has been injured after threat through the internet, the best thing to do is seek medical attention and then contact an attorney to help you protect your rights.

There are some situations where the technology service providers do not take precautions to keep their subscribers safe from sexual predators or internet stalking. If this is the case and you have been injured, contact our law offices today for a free consultation.

Man Leaves Son in Hot Car and is Accused of Murder and Child Cruelty

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Childcare Product Safety Attorney

Georgia Man Leave Son in Hot Car

During a hearing last Thursday, surprising claims were shared regarding a Georgia man whose 22-month-old son died after being left in a hot car all day. Justin Harris Ross, 33-years-old, was accused with murder and was placed in jail without bond on June 18. During the hearing, allegations were shared that Harris had messaged six women at work while Cooper, his son, was dying in the car. One of the women was underage at the time. The messages included explicit texts with nude images. The temperature had reached 92 degrees in the car that day.

According to Detective Phil Stoddard’s testimony, Harris had buckled his son into his car seat after eating with him at Chic-fil-a that morning. Only thirty seconds after being in the car, Harris made a turn that would have revealed his son’s head in the back seat. Instead of turning towards his daycare, he turned to go to work. He also went to Home Depot during his lunch break where he bought light bulbs and threw them in the passenger side of his vehicle.

Earlier that month Harris had viewed Reddit pages on being ‘child-free.’ He had also searched ‘how to survive in prison’ and watched videos of the dangers of leaving dogs and children inside hot cars.

Several different stories have been released on how Harris reacted after he pulled into the shopping center ‘discovering’ his dead son. “For him to enter the car … when the child had been dead and rigor mortis had set in, and the testimony is the stench in the car was overwhelming at that point in time, that he — in spite of that — got in the car and drove it for some distance before he took any action to check on the welfare of his child, I find there is probable cause for the two charges contained in the warrant,” Cobb County Chief Magistrate Frank Cox shared with the courtroom.

Harris never called 911 after he found his son.  He stated that he did not reach anyone on his phone, but phone records show that he made three calls. One of the calls was to his employer which lasted 6 minutes. When asked to get off his phone, Harris said “F*** you” to the police officer who took his phone and handcuffed him.

Defense attorney H. Maddox Kilgore, shared that Harris was partially deaf in one ear which could have caused him not to hear his son in the back seat.

Source: CNN, Police: Father was ‘sexting’ as son was dying in hot car, Elliot C. McLaughlin and Dana Ford, July 4, 2014.

Your Smartphone Could Be Causing You Sleep Disorders

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Safety First - The Cooper Firm

Sleep Disorders From Smartphones

If waking up was hard for you this morning, your smartphone might be the one to blame. Emory Sleep Disorders Laboratory, Medical Director, Dr. David Schulman, reported that using your device right before you go to bed may make it harder to fall asleep.

Checking your email, Facebook, Instagram, and other social networks makes it hard to disengage your mind. We naturally want to respond to things or engage in conversations and post which doesn’t help in relaxing your mind. Even the light on your phone naturally stimulates your mind and has an alerting affect.

Dr. Schulman suggests reading a book instead of using your smart device. Light pointing downward as opposed to directly in your eyes can be less obtrusive. Artificial light exposure between dusk and the time we go to bed at night suppresses release of the sleep promoting hormone melatonin.

In a poll by the nonprofit National Sleep Foundation, 95 percent of people reported that they frequently use an electronic device the hour before bedtime. Although Facebook is not to blame, 19 percent of people under 25 reported posting to Facebook or Twitter whenever they wake up at night and 28 percent said they logged into social-networking before even getting out of bed in the morning. With teenagers being recommended to get close to 9 hours of sleep a night, an electronic curfew may be good for yourself or your teen.

Although all of our smartphones and tablets help our lives in one way or another, we need to make sure they are not stealing our sleep in return or causing us to fall asleep behind the wheel. Be sure to check out our blog for more information on how smart phones can also cause severe accidents as a result of distracted driving.

New Verizon FamilyBase App Helps Teen Parents

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Vehicle Safety Technology Attorney - The Cooper Firm

FamilyBase App Helps Parents Protect Teens

Nearly 78% of teens have a cell phone and three in four of those teens have access to the internet. If you know a teenager, it is safe to say, they like to use their smartphones. Most teens have access to texting, video chatting, and apps with social networking. The way teens can communicate with others is endless, which can leave parents worried.

Verizon recently came out with an app called Verizon FamilyBase. The app can be a great tool to use in addition to your frequent and open conversations with your teen about their technology use. FamilyBase assists parents by keeping track of who their teens are communicating with, how frequently, and what apps they are using.

With some apps encouraging teens to talk to strangers, FamilyBase can be a great tool to help you prevent that. It is always a good idea to do your own research on the different apps your teen has on their phone and what features allow or promote connections with strangers. FamilyBase can send you notifications when your teen adds a new contact to their phone, helping you  keep track of who your teen is talking with. The Verizon app can also give you updates on how much time your teen is spending on certain apps. This is beneficial in tracking how much time your teen is spending on picture and video sharing apps which can become very dangerous or areas for bullying.

One of the best features of FamilyBase is its ability to tell when your teen is using their smartphone. This can help parents see if their teen is using their cell phone late at night, past curfew, or when they are driving. Although this app never prevents your teen from making bad decisions, FamilyBase can help you as a parent to stay involved and help aid them in making responsible choices.

iPhone sized device that could aid car hackers

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Vehicle Safety Technology Attorney - The Cooper Firm

Technology could hack vehicles while being driven, could aid car hackers

You are probably familiar with car-jacking, but with technology expanding to vehicles people now have to worry about ‘car-hacking.’ A small handheld device could connect to your vehicle’s internal network and command everything from the windows and headlights to steering and brakes. The device is called the CHT or the CAN Hacking tool. Spanish security researchers Javier Vasquez-Vidal and Alberto Garcia Illera came up with the gadget for less than $20. The tools they used are all off-the-shelf products, allowing anyone to gain access to a tool like this. All you need is access under-the-hood or the trunk, and in some cases you can plant the device under the car. It takes less than five minutes to hook up. Currently it only works via Bluetooth, which limits the connection range to only a few feet.

The two researchers plan to present the research at a conference in Singapore, and by then they said that it will be upgraded to use a GSM cellular radio which could control the vehicle from miles away. This is only an addition to the ongoing security issues with the vulnerability of networked automobiles. Last July, researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek plugged their laptops into a dashboard port of a Toyota Prius and Ford Explorer to show that they could control the breaks and steering wheel through the network.

Senator Edward Markey sent a seven page letter to 20 automakers requesting that they detail their security practices. Markey has not yet released their responses. It is frightening to hear that Toyota brushed off Miller’s and Valasek’s work just because they had physical access to the vehicle. It can be just as dangerous to have someone access the network from within the vehicle as it is outside the vehicle.

Both sets of researcher’s intentions were to highlight the fact that the car attacks are possible, not to enable them. They reached out to the manufacturers to show them what dangers are possible.

For more information you can visit Forbes article here.

When can bullying become a crime?

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Safety First - The Cooper Firm

Technology Predators

Bullying has been affecting a large number of individuals for many years. Studies show that bullying done during childhood development can have a lasting impact on individuals causing trauma, anxiety, and panic attacks later in life. Although many agree that bullying is wrong, nothing has been able to create a dent in the issue that seems impossible to solve.

Though there are few solutions to solve bullying altogether, there are forms of bullying and cyber bulling that are considered a crime. In these cases, legal action can be taken. We compiled a short list to help you decipher when bullying can be considered a crime.

1. When there is physical assault.

2. Harassment based on a protected characteristic such as race or gender.

3. Making violent or death threats.

4. Obscene or harassing phone calls and text.

5. Sexting.

6. Sexual exploitation.

7. Child pornography.

8. Stalking.

9. Hate Crimes. Hate crimes are crimes that are motivated by racial, sexual, or other prejudice that usually are acted out with violence.

10. Extortions. Bullying through extortions is when something is obtained like personal object or money through force or threats.

11. Cyberbullying. When any of the above is done through the internet it is called cyberbullying and can be considered a crime.

If you or someone you know has experienced bullying through one of these forms, make sure to seek help and report the incident. Although it may be difficult to talk about these situations it is important to prevent the bully from bothering you or anyone else in the future.


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