Ziese & Associates, Ltd.

Robert J. Ziese, Esq.

Kathryn G. Ziese Financial Services

Client Newsletter - July - Sept. 2000



Call us for real estate, wills & trusts, tax & bankruptcy issues, business startup & litigation, matrimonial, and non-profit organization matters
973-625-4559

CONTENTS:

New Motor Vehicle Laws

Workers Compensation Insurance for LLCs, Sole Proprietors and Partnerships

Want to Get Rid of That PMI Payment?

E- Commerce Law 

FBI's "Carnivore" Stalked

President Signs Digital Signature Law

Can We Lose Our Past?

Identity Theft Increases

Web Sites for Assisted Living and Senior Citizen Services.

Wisconsin-Pay On TheSpot.


New Motor Vehicle Laws PLEA BARGAINING IS BACK.  In April, the Court abolished down-grading or plea bargaining of speeding tickets or other "point" offenses. Angry legislators reacted quickly (for a change) and, in July,  passed a new offense of "drive or operate a motor vehicle in an unsafe manner likely to endanger a person or property". This can apply to almost any traffic violation . It carries a fine of $ 50 to $ 150 for a first offense --- but no points. Therefore, a 2 point speeding ticket, which could result in an insurance increase, can be downgraded. Workers Compensation Insurance for LLCs, Sole Proprietors and Partnerships

In April 2000, New Jersey made the following changes:

Limited Liability Companies (LLC) can elect to have Workers Compensation Insurance. LLCs with non-member employees must have WC insurance, but if the members want WC protection, they can elect to buy it.

Sole proprietors and partnerships can elect to have Workers Compensation for the owners. In the past, owners were not covered. The policy cannot be canceled in mid-term.

The impact???     We will see an increase in buyers requiring their sole proprietor contractors to have Workers Compensation in case they get injured while working.

Don't forget--- Corporations ---Everyone, including the sole officer/stockholder is an "employee" of the corporation. The corporation must have Workers Compensation insurance.


Want to Get Rid of That PMI Payment?  
A new federal law requires lenders to cancel Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) when the homeowners' equity reaches 22% and will give homeowners the right to request PMI cancellation when their equity reaches 20%. Those required equity levels are based on the original value of the house, disregarding any change in value. The new law also requires that consumers be notified of their cancellation rights and be given the name and number of someone to contact regarding their PMI.


E-Commerce Law  
NET RETAILERS PAY FOR DELAY
On July 26th, seven Internet retailers agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they failed to give purchasers adequate notice of shipping delays during the 1999 holiday season. The merchants included Cdnow, KBkids.com, Macys.com, Minidiscnow.com, The Original Honey Baked Ham Company of Georgia, Patriot Computer, and Toysrus.com.

 They were accused of violating the Mail and Telephone Order Rule, which requires retailers to
ship goods by the date promised, or, if no date is promised, within 30 days of the order's receipt. If the merchant cannot ship as promised, it must provide the buyer with a revised shipping date and offer the opportunity to cancel the transaction. The retailers agreed to change their procedures and
to pay penalties which total $1.5 million. 

ANTI-SPAM LEGISLATION
On July 18th, the House of Representatives passed the first federal bill which would hold e-mail promoters accountable for spam (bulk unsolicited e-mail). The Unsolicited Electronic Mail Act passed garnering overwhelming bipartisan support with a 427-1 vote. The bill will bar e-mail marketers from sending spam unless the message identifies itself as an unsolicited commercial advertisement. It also provisions for opt-out measures and provides the Federal Trade Commission with enforcement powers. The bill will now go to the Senate.


FBI'S "CARNIVORE" STALKED   

The FBI's Internet-wiretap system, dubbed "Carnivore" by the FBI, came under intense scrutiny by Congress on July 24th. The system allows U.S. law enforcement bodies to monitor the e-mail of criminal suspects by attaching directly to an Internet service provider's internal systems. The press and the public have voiced grave concerns that the system may be abused and lead to widespread surveillance of e-mail. FBI spokesmen maintain that the system has a narrow focus and can only be utilized under the specific terms of a court order using criteria set out in the order; for
instance, selecting messages to or from a particular e-mail account.


"Carnivore" has been used by the FBI in about 25 investigations thus far.
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a Freedom of Information Act
request to look at the program's source code in order to evaluate the
software's capabilities, which the FBI has indicated it will deny. 

On July 27th, Representative Bob Barr introduced legislation that would rein
in Carnivore. The Digital Privacy Act of 2000 would prevent the FBI and
other law enforcement agencies from accessing individuals' computers files
unless "factual evidence reasonably indicates that a crime has been, is
being or will be committed." Electronic evidence illegally obtained would be
barred from use in court. Barr and more than 25 other legislators also sent
a letter to Attorney General Janet Reno on July 27th demanding that the FBI
cease utilizing Carnivore until constitutional questions regarding its use
are resolved. Reno announced on July 28th that she would not suspend the use
of Carnivore.



President Signs Digital Signature Law
On June 30th, President Clinton signed The Electronic Signatures in Global
and National Commerce Act which becomes effective on October 1st. Even
though e-signatures are already legally binding in more than 40 states,
differences over what constitutes a signature in each state have kept some
companies from supporting electronic signatures. The Act states that an
electronic signature is whatever two entities agree it is. The signature may
be "an electronic sound, symbol, or process, attached to or logically
associated with a contract or other record and executed or adopted by a
person with the intent to sign the record." An e-signature can simply be a
typed name which individuals attach to an e-mail message or it can be a
digitized image of a signature that's linked to a mathematical algorithm
that verifies the authenticity of an online document. If the document is
altered after signing, the signature is broken and invalid.


Can We Lose Our Past?

This article appeared in:

The Rapidly Changing Face of Computing
June 5, 2000
by Jeffrey R. Harrow
Principal Member of Technical Staff
Technology & Corporate Development,
Compaq Computer Corporation
http://www.compaq.com/rcfoc

How Fleeting Our History...

My Mom came to visit recently, and even though I've yet to convince her
to reach out and touch the Web, her low-tech visit triggered some very
high-tech thoughts. We were engaged in that most traditional of
Mother's Visit activities, going through a box of old family
photographs, when we came across several "personally recorded" small
78-RPM records; they were apparently from my Dad to my Mother when he
was overseas during World War II. This was long before the days of
tape, so various organizations such as the USO provided this recording
service to soldiers so their families at home could actually hear their
voices. (One record even has a full-color Pepsi commercial emblazoned
across its face -- and you thought "banner ads" were new for the
Internet!)

"Well," I thought, "playing these old records would be a real Mother's
Day treat for Mom!" Although a CD/DVD player had long-since replaced
our venerable turntable, I knew it was still in the basement, so up it
came; it was the work of but a moment to hook it into the sound system.
And then the disappointment...

My old turntable, it turns out, was not quite old enough. As you
probably suspect by now, it would play 33 and 45 RPM records, but not
78s. The voice was there, buried under the scratches and pops, but it
was very ssssllllllooooowwwwwwwww.

Now I will admit to thinking of digitizing the slow audio into my PC
and speeding it up through software, but I could tell from the very
poor quality that I'd do better starting with the correct speed. So
the project is on-hold until I dig up a 78-RPM turntable.

The Point.
But this did get me to thinking... We had no problem looking at
several generations of paper photographs, even though some looked to be
from the early days of photography itself. A several generation-old
family tree on dry and yellowed paper was still quite readable. And
old diplomas and mementos posed no problems at all. Yet the moment
"technology" reared its head, the words on those 78-RPM records were
lost to our reminiscing, at least until I bring some new technology, or
an old phonograph, to bear. Some of the paper records we enjoyed
viewing may well have been 200 years old, but the 60-year old records
held their secrets tight.

The parallel to how we're increasingly storing information today, in
digital format, is all too obvious, and the dangers are all too real.
I have old single-density Macintosh disks I can no longer read, even if
the information is still intact on the media (highly doubtful.)
Somewhere else in my basement are reels of DECtape that, without
calling in some favors, will never again remind me of programs I wrote
long ago. In another box I have perhaps a dozen different disk and
tape media that I no longer have the drives to read, and anyway, their
content has doubtlessly succumbed to magnetic old age.

Looking more recently, I have some 8mm videotapes of my kids, and while
the old 8mm camcorder still works, it has been replaced with a DV
(Digital Video) version. So, when my 8mm camcorder plays its last, I'm
unlikely to get it fixed or replace it. What then happens to those old
movies if I don't transcribe them to my "new media" first? And even if
I do transcribe those 8mm tapes to DV tape, how long will those "DV"
tapes remain playable...?

Don't Take This (Only) Personally.
I've been using "personal" data here as an illustration, but this
issue, of the long-term integrity of stored digital data, very much
extends to businesses and to governments. Consider how much
information is now being stored exclusively in computer-readable
format, with no paper backup. What are the implications when (not if,
but when) those tapes and disks are no longer readable due to media
failure or reader obsolescence? What if, ten years from now, you need
to access information for your small or large business, only to find
that no paper records were ever kept and the magnetic backups are, at
best, only somewhat readable. What would happen if hospitals and town
halls "upgrade" their old, cumbersome but long-lived paper records, to
new easily searchable, but perhaps not "for the ages," digital media,
and fifty years from now your kid needs a new birth certificate...?

Certainly, there are ways around this: constantly regenerating
magnetic tape (copying from one tape to another before the original
degrades) can help, and some CD-ROMs can last longer (although I've
been told that the typical writable CD-ROM is not as "cast in stone" as
I might have expected, having a life expectancy of less than ten
years.) And I'm sure there are other, longer-term archival media out
there that can be used by governments or businesses to safeguard their
most important data.

But my old box of "photographs" does illustrate that MOST information
(government, business, and personal) will never get that "special
archival treatment." Which places much of our national, business, and
personal histories at risk of being lost to the ages through the decay
of magnetic domains, the physical aging of tapes and disks, and the
molecular drift of the pits in CDs. The photographs in my old box,
however, are likely to remain intact for generations of Mother's Day's
viewings to come. It is something to ponder.

Our past would be a terrible thing to waste...


Identity Theft Increase.

Identity theft is a relatively new type of crime in which someone steals another person's Social Security number, and sometimes other personal information, then uses it to apply for credit in that person's name to run up charges. The crime, unheard of a decade ago, now hits thousands of consumers annually. To avoid becoming a victim:

If you become a victim of identity theft:


Web Sites for Assisted Living and Senior Citizen Services.
There is a lot of information on the Web regarding services available to older people needing help or services available to their caregivers. Some of the more useful sites are :


Wisconsin - Pay On The Spot.
Wisconsin State Patrol cars are being equipped with wireless credit card authorization boxes from MasterCard. When you get a ticket in Wisconsin, it seems, the state trooper accompanies you to a police station, where you have to post an "appearance bond" to
guarantee that you'll show up in court. (If you don't show up, you forfeit the bond, which usually equals the amount of the fine.)

Rather than take up everyone's time, these [new] authorization machines, which operate on the BellSouth Wireless Data network, let you pay the performance bond by credit card right on the roadside.

I guess this is OK. I just hope there's no space on the charge slip for a tip.


 


 

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