EP252 Securing Families – Navigating Cybersecurity in Family Law with Jonathan Steele

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In this LMIPodcast video, attorney Mac Pierre-Louis of MacPierreLouis.com interviews Family Attorney and Cybersecurity consultant Jonathan Steele of BeermannLaw.com and SteeleFortress.com, based in Chicago. They discuss the intersection of cybersecurity and family law, focusing on the importance of privacy and protecting personal information in the digital age. Jonathan shares his expertise on cybersecurity and offers tips on how to clean up one’s digital footprint, secure personal devices, and safeguard against hacking and phishing attempts. They also discuss the use of AI in the legal profession and its potential benefits. Overall, the video highlights the growing need for cybersecurity measures and the importance of maintaining privacy in family law cases. TRANSCRIPT BELOW.

1. Cybersecurity
2. Family law
3. Privacy
4. Digital footprint
5. Hacking
6. Phishing
7. AI
8. Data brokers
9. Data removal services
10. Advanced Protection Program
11. Chicago
12. Illinois
13. Cook
14. Divorce
15. Custody


0:01 Securing families, navigating cybersecurity in family law, that is our topic for today

0:09 Welcome to the Lawyers and Mediators International Show and Podcast, where we discuss law and conflict resolution topics to educate both professionals and everyday people.

0:20 Catch regular episodes on YouTube, and any way you get your podcasts.

0:23 Just remember, nothing in these episodes constitutes legal advice, so be sure to talk to a lawyer as cases are fact-dependent

0:37 Hi, everyone.

0:37 This is Mac Pierre-Louis, attorney, mediator, arbitrator, working throughout Florida and Texas.

0:42 And today, I have Jonathan Steele.

0:45 He’s an attorney based in Illinois, specifically Chicago.

0:49 And he’s here with us today to discuss family law, what he does mainly, just like me, and technology, and some of the work that he does.

0:58 But I’d like for him to introduce himself to let you know.

1:03 But one thing I do know about him is that he has very interesting ideas when it comes to implementing security in people’s lives and when it connects to divorces.

1:15 And so there’s something that I’m going to find very intriguing that I hope you do as well.

1:19 But Jonathan, before we proceed, tell us more about yourself, who you are and what you do.

1:24 Sure.

1:25 You gave me a pretty good intro.

1:26 I’m a family law divorce attorney in Chicago.

1:29 I work at Beermann.

1:31 And I’ve been doing divorce for about 12 years at this point.

1:36 And as of the last year or so, I also started a privacy and cybersecurity consulting company named Steele Fortress, where we advise clients about ways to clean up their digital footprint, protect

1:50 their privacy as well as improve their cybersecurity.

1:56 So you do family law like I do, and I’ve been doing this work for about almost 15 years now.

2:06 And so we’re, we have about the same amount of time in this business, but only for my curiosity because I live in Texas mainly and Florida.

2:16 Can you tell us a little bit about the family courts up where you are, and I wanna see kind of how different it is, you know, from something that we might not know that’s kind of routine to you,

2:29 but most people might not be aware

2:32 of.

2:32 I don’t know specifically how it compares to your jurisdictions, but family law in general in Illinois,

2:41 it’s, it’s pretty informal, you know, the, the rules of evidence, the Supreme Court rules, the statutes, they apply, but judges apply them pretty in a relaxed fashion because you are, you’re

2:54 dealing with kids and whether or not the kids are going to be safe and their best interests and people safety beyond kids so the rules matter, but only to a degree, and I don’t know if that’s

3:07 universally applicable, but that’s my experience in Illinois Yes, and before we get to tech and technology, I know you like that, that stuff like I do.

3:19 We do a lot of divorces here, and of course in Texas we typically have a 60 day waiting period between when you file for divorce before a judge can granted, and that exists because people sometimes

3:33 make up.

3:34 And I’m curious if that’s something you find as well.

3:37 I don’t know how it is a waiting period in your jurisdiction.

3:41 But do you find that when people come to you to do a divorce, they sometimes change their minds in between and the case doesn’t go forward?

3:49 We have a similar waiting period.

3:53 We are no-fault state.

3:55 So to get divorced, you just have to show irreconcilable differences.

3:59 To show that generally means that you’ve lived separate and apart for six months.

4:05 Separate, oddly enough, separate in a part in Illinois could mean you’re living under the same roof.

4:10 It just means you’re not living as husband and wife.

4:13 So you’re not sleeping together.

4:14 You’re not being intimate together.

4:16 And you can waive that, but ordinarily it is,

4:22 it’s not a problem to meet that requirement because at least in Cook County or Chicago, your divorce is gonna last longer than six months anyway.

4:32 we have a similar requirement.

4:34 Once in a while, people do ask to be put on the reconciliation calendar, which is, you know, give us a chance to try to work in counseling and don’t check in with the court every month, keep the

4:46 cost down, and then let us report back about whether we’ve reconciled.

4:50 It’s pretty rare, but it does happen to people who reconcile.

4:55 Got it.

4:55 And what about kids?

4:57 When kids are involved,

4:60 run of the mill, what do you typically see custody battles where mom gets to kids and dad pays child support, or are things changing, and you’re having more co-equal possession schedules and

5:14 custody between parents?

5:16 You know, there used to be something informally referred to as the tender years doctrine, which basically said, at least in the early years, children are better suited with mom than they are

5:29 with dad.

5:29 We’ve moved away from that.

5:30 Our statute has evolved over time, and now the presumption is that the child’s best interests are served by spending equal time with both parents.

5:39 And obviously, you can move off of that presumption if you show that dad’s not a good parent or not available.

5:45 But we’re moving closer towards equal parenting time for mom and for dad.

5:50 Got it.

5:51 Okay.

5:52 And just for my curiosity of what age does a teenager start having a say about who they live with?

5:59 I’m just curious.

6:02 It’s a tough question in every case.

6:05 The question becomes if a 15 year old doesn’t want to see their other parent, can you force them?

6:12 Can you fault the parent that they live with or not forcing it or facilitating the schedule?

6:18 And it’s judge specific, it’s teenager specific, it’s parent specific.

6:23 Sometimes you end up in sort of like reunification therapy if you can’t force it.

6:29 As you get older, you have more of a voice, but judges here at least are pretty reluctant to let the kids call the shots because the fear is that then they start eating chocolate cake for breakfast,

6:40 then they don’t go to the doctor, then they don’t want to go to school.

6:43 If they’re running the show, they’re not always making good decisions for themselves.

6:48 Gotcha, and finally for family law, in terms of mediation and conflict resolution, I know you said earlier before we started recording that you do participate with your clients to try to negotiate

6:59 and resolve differences.

7:01 How common or successful is mediation and resolving family law cases, or do most of your cases not settle and go to court?

7:13 So certain cases mediation is mandatory.

7:16 Certainly if you’re talking about financial things, barring some sort of like domestic abuse or things like that, it’s required.

7:25 Whether or not it’s successful, It’s hit or miss, you know, a lot of it depends on how strong of a mediator you have, how much experience they have.

7:34 We often use a facility named JAMS, a conflict resolution and Jams is, it’s all retired judges.

7:41 So they know the law.

7:43 They know how a case would shake out in the courtroom.

7:45 And so what you get from them is pretty similar to what you would get if you were litigating, except much less expensive.

7:53 So it can be successful They can be faster or private, cheaper.

7:60 So it is a good idea if the dynamic between the couple allows for mediation.

8:05 Sometimes it’s not a great fit.

8:08 If one of the spouses is a lawyer, then the other spouse may not feel comfortable in mediation.

8:12 But barring that, if everybody is a willing participant, it’s usually pretty successful.

8:20 Gotcha.

8:20 So let’s talk about technology.

8:22 OK?

8:24 Do you use AI?

8:30 And if so, how do you incorporate it in your work?

8:30 ‘Cause this is a question I’m asking a lot of people because every one of us, you know, we do different things in our private offices, right?

8:40 But because we live in the age of the internet, what we talk and we get on X and we, you know, get in chat rooms, we discuss things.

8:47 We’re able to find out really cool ways, really cool things people can do.

8:51 I have a lot to share in my own world So if one day if you’re ever interested, I, you know, I guess I’ve been trying to test things out myself privately just to see and tinker with the tech toys

9:03 that are coming out, especially from ChatGPT

9:07 you know, Claude Sonnet 35, for example, it just got announced.

9:10 I mean, really cool stuff, but I’m curious about you.

9:13 Do you use AI in your law office and if so, how?

9:18 I do.

9:18 I’m of the mindset that if you are one of the people that’s resistant to it, you’re gonna be left behind.

9:25 I view it as you either embrace it, you learn it, you learn how to write prompts effectively for it, or you will be left behind.

9:33 You will be behind the lawyers that have figured it out, that have learned how to use it effectively.

9:40 The ways that I use it, I feel like I’m sort of just scratching the surface.

9:45 I’m learning how to use it more effectively.

9:48 One of the ways that I’m using it currently

9:52 is pretty technical So I don’t know how much depth you want to know about it, but I’ve used it to assist me in writing a script or a program that I run on a computer that’s running all the time.

10:07 And what it does is it goes on the reporter of case law and it downloads new cases, the morning they’re released.

10:17 It uses my AI credentials to summarize the case and to email me.

10:24 copy the case and a summary the morning that a new case is released.

10:28 So every morning, if there’s new case law, I have a summary, I have a copy of the case, and I can distribute it to the firm.

10:35 Whereas doing that manually, the old fashioned way before AI, we may miss cases that come out.

10:41 We’re not seeing them in real time, we’re certainly not being able to digest them and summarize them in real time.

10:47 So it’s been a huge time saver.

10:49 It’s definitely helpful in terms of like if you’re in court that day to know a new decision has come out as a today.

10:57 So that’s one way that I found it to be very helpful.

11:00 Let me ask you that example you just gave is that proprietary to your firm, do you have somebody come in and help build that with the AI LLMs that are out there.

11:10 Or is that something that you can share that other companies can help other law firms do?

11:17 You’re looking at the guy that prepared it.

11:19 And with the help with the help of AI in preparing it.

11:26 AI is much greater than what some people, I hear a lot of people saying, it’s no different than Google.

11:33 And if that’s how you’re using it, I agree with you.

11:35 If you’re going out and you’re saying, what’s the weather in Chicago, then you’re not really touching its potential.

11:41 But if you’re telling AI, write me a script or audit the code that I’m using for a script, it’ll do that.

11:47 And it’ll do it in seconds.

11:49 And it’ll do it effectively.

11:50 There’s some trial and error.

11:52 AI is not perfect yet by any means.

11:54 So you do still need some technical know-how, you do need to know how to tweak certain things.

11:60 But leaning on it very heavily, I’ve developed my own scripts and they run on my own machines.

12:06 And my firm just benefits from it.

12:10 Awesome.

12:10 Awesome.

12:11 What’s your favorite LLM that’s out there?

12:15 Is it?

12:15 I like ChatGPT

12:16 Chat

12:19 GPT. I’m not a huge fan of the current model 4o other than being able to upload.

12:24 images to it and things like that.

12:27 But I do like chatGPT. I’ve tried co-pilot from Microsoft and found it was, eh, I’ve tried Llama 3.

12:37 Didn’t particularly care for that.

12:41 So for the moment anyway, I’ve settled on chatGPT.

12:47 Got it.

12:47 So the other work you do is you work in security. Can you first explain exactly what it is that you do and tell us the website?

12:59 I’ll be sure to do some screen grabs of the website for this video when it’s in post edit.

13:06 But tell us what exactly is it and how is it connected to family law?

13:11 Sure.

13:12 You know, I’ve always had an interest in privacy.

13:15 I’ve always bet, you know, if you’re familiar with Signal or you’re familiar with Proton mail, I’ve always leaned more towards these more private

13:25 tools, as opposed to, say, text messaging or Gmail, where the service is, free.

13:32 Yeah, but you’re the product, right?

13:34 You are the product.

13:35 You know, Gmail is scanning your emails and using it for marketing, and that always made me uncomfortable.

13:41 So I’ve been a Proton mail user, a Signal user, for as long as I can remember.

13:46 But COVID hits, and a lot of people are watching Tiger King and they’re learning how to bake bread, and they’re doing all sorts of weird hobbies to occupy their time.

13:55 I went down a deep rabbit hole of security and privacy that I’ve still found no bottom to.

14:02 I’ve watched all of the YouTube videos, I’ve read all of the available research on the subject.

14:09 I’ve taken courses, I’ve obtained certifications, because it just, it piqued my interest and infatuated me, frankly And so it’s been a deep rabbit hole, and I’ve used that knowledge that I’ve

14:23 acquired

14:25 to assist clients and you know what I mean by that is there

14:29 are a couple of ways where it overlaps with family law one is you know I end up trying order of protection cases pretty often or stalking no-contact order cases and a lot more and more nowadays a lot

14:41 of those stalking or the harassment is coming by way of text message and those text messages people people are getting smarter they’re not sending you texts from their phone, they’re sending you

14:54 texts from VOIP numbers, from google voice numbers from burner apps from burner websites and so you have a problem when you’re trying those cases of laying a foundation for those texts or basically

15:06 for connecting those to the person you’re saying send them and if there’s not some contextual clue like you’re a bad boyfriend and I’m going to kill you well then it’s probably the girlfriend that

15:18 wrote it it’s hard to connect those so that you know that there’s a digital tracing component in that those type of cases.

15:27 But then also just people that come in at the infancy stage of their divorce, oftentimes we’ll have a suspicion right or wrong that my spouse has their hand in my devices.

15:40 They have spyware on my device or they have access to my iCloud or they have access to my photos or they have access to my iMessages or my email.

15:49 And if that’s true and sometimes it is, the need to unplug that access is immediate because if I’m going to communicate with you about strategy on your case, I want to know your spouse isn’t reading

16:01 my emails.

16:02 I want to know that they don’t have access to your iMessages and to your photos.

16:07 And then also just privacy because social media posts end up getting used as evidence that you’re out drinking when you’re supposed to be doing parenting time or you have a new paramour

16:20 seeing during the case, and therefore you shouldn’t get maintenance or alimony.

16:24 All those things end up getting used because people post them to social media once they’re out there, you can never take them back.

16:31 And they post them not thinking, who has access to them?

16:35 Who is a follower?

16:37 Is my account private?

16:38 Are my followers somehow connected to my spouse?

16:42 So, you know, cleaning up that digital footprint for people avoids problems down the road in terms of like cutting off access to social media, metadata and photos that are posted about where they

16:56 are, when they were there.

16:58 And a lot of clients, they’re interested in being more secure.

17:02 They’re interested in maintaining their privacy, but they just don’t know how.

17:07 And so as a service, it’s sort of a, it’s like an insurance policy, right?

17:12 So you’re willing to pay a monthly fee to just have somebody else do all of this for you, somebody that knows how, that has the technical, and that will just clean up your digital footprint for you

17:22 for a reasonable monthly fee.

17:24 And that’s the service that we’re offering.

17:27 Got it.

17:28 And lots of questions.

17:29 So is this, would this be geared to more older individuals or is it for anybody, even young people who think they know everything about technology?

17:40 It’s both.

17:40 So it’s basically anybody that understands the risk that doesn’t have the desire to learn how to address it And that oftentimes is older people because they obviously, I don’t wanna say obviously,

17:54 some older people do, but most don’t have the technical know-how.

17:57 They don’t know what end-to-end encryption means or the value of it.

18:02 And then there’s the younger people, even in their 20s, even in their 30s, that they may understand the concepts, but they don’t care enough to learn how to fix it.

18:11 And so it’s like, yeah, I’m willing to give you a couple hundred dollars a month to make sure that I don’t get hacked or that my data is not, in every data broker on the internet.

18:21 And so somebody can just hop on Google and find out my home address.

18:25 So if it’s a reasonable monthly fee and it avoids me having to learn how to do it, people in all ages seem to be willing to embrace that kind of protection.

18:39 Yeah, so it’s like you set up insurance policy, basically, right, to help.

18:45 And so what is the name of the company?

18:47 Steele Fortress.

18:48 Yes, so SteeleFortress. com, I presume, correct?

18:49 That’s correct.

18:49 Yes, and so if, do you

18:58 think that there is a growing need for this type of venture or these types of businesses these days, now that we’re in the information age and the information technology era of our time, do you

19:13 think that this is just the future there’s going to be more startups popping up.

19:18 that are going to be focusing on this kind of thing.

19:22 I think there would be, but I’m just curious, if this is a new frontier that we’re going to be seeing a lot of these kind of businesses.

19:29 I think the need for it is growing.

19:32 I think the next war that this country faces is going to be a cyber war.

19:37 I think that hacking and phishing is just more and more prevalent.

19:41 Business email compromise is just more and more prevalent.

19:45 Every day you look in your news, assuming you follow this kind of news, which most people don’t.

19:50 Hence the need for this.

19:52 It’s one company or another, leaking data, getting breached, getting hacked, having their passwords leaked.

19:60 And it’s just growing.

20:02 It’s growing like rapid fire.

20:04 And generally speaking, as a need grows, the businesses that pop up to serve that need will grow along with it So I would assume also that there will be more – businesses aimed at addressing the

20:19 need?

20:20 Yes, I remember I was one of the unfortunate, you know, who got a letter from ATT saying that I was compromised, you know, I’m no longer with ATT. But the fact is that’s scary stuff.

20:32 And so definitely there’s a growing concern.

20:36 Every time you use your debit card, even at a gas station, are you sure that it’s not going to be compromised?

20:42 Because that’s happened to me before in the past.

20:44 I’m not saying I’m the most unlucky guy in the world who keeps getting hacked.

20:48 I don’t; I’m pretty secure.

20:49 But the fact that it happened to me, you know, once at a gas station, where somebody stole my card number and was able to use it.

20:58 And ATT, you know, letting me and millions of other Americans know that we’ve been compromised.

21:04 It’s pretty scary.

21:05 Like, who’s safe?

21:06 We’re all vulnerable to this.

21:09 So I can see why you see the intersection between that and family law, because you’re right when it comes to people feeling safe and knowing that their information in their laptops are not gonna be

21:23 searched by their soon-to-be ex who might not

21:30 have good motives towards them and who might want to learn what their lawyer is writing them.

21:35 That is pretty scary stuff.

21:38 So what’s the common situation?

21:42 The common example you might see out there when it comes to that, I’ll give you one example that I’ve had, if you can tell me if this is common for you, where I had a client basically communicate

21:57 with me via email, like normal, okay, like anybody else.

22:01 But one day, you know, he sends me a screenshots of his emails being forwarded to another email that he was unaware of, obviously, you know, putting two into together, he concluded that.

22:16 Um, his, you know, soon to be a wife was in fact forwarding his messages,, conversations between, you know, he and his attorney to another email so that she could, you know, keep them for

22:27 whatever reason.

22:28 You know, we worked the case.

22:29 I got settled and no big deal.

22:31 However, that, that freaked me out because I remember thinking, Hey, dude, you know, change your email account immediately, you know, because I don’t want, you know, the other side knowing

22:42 what we’ve been talking about. Is that something that happens and if it does, how frequently do you think?

22:50 I’ve seen that almost exact back pattern and it’s concerning as a lawyer.

22:55 It’s concerning as a person that uses email and who doesn’t, right?

23:00 Um, and I think it’s pretty common.

23:02 Unfortunately, I think people are sloppy with their cybersecurity hygiene.

23:07 I think people use the same password across all their accounts and their password if you if you follow, you know, cybersecurity trends.

23:16 their password is probably password one, two, three, or their dog’s name, and they think they’re being secure, or they use their dog’s name, but they replace an A with an symbol, thinking no

23:27 one’s gonna find out my password now, and that’s just not the case.

23:31 And if you’re using it everywhere, then it gets leaked one place, and they have access to everything.

23:38 And so I think it is pretty common.

23:40 I think that it is a huge problem, especially in law. There are a number of lawyers that still use email attachments when they send things to their clients, and they let their clients send them

23:55 email attachments in return.

23:58 And in the event your spouse does have access, all of a sudden your email inbox is just a treasure trove of what should be confidential information.

24:07 And

24:08 maybe your tax returns were sent, and they have your social security numbers in that, or maybe your bank statements were sent, sitting there waiting to be harvested or abused.

24:19 And there’s more secure ways of doing it.

24:22 You can send some of the documents via secure link where the link expires and the link is only accessible by the recipient and doing something as simple as that goes a long way.

24:33 So there are simple fixes, but it just it requires knowledge.

24:38 It requires knowing how to implement the knowledge and frankly a desire to do it And it seems like it’s people wait until it’s too late.

24:47 They wait until they’re hacked to figure out how to unhack themselves.

24:52 And at that point, usually it’s too late.

24:55 Yeah.

24:55 Well, you gave a good example.

24:57 You can send us a secure link, like a Google Drive link, for example.

25:01 I don’t know if you’re a big fan of Google, based on what you said earlier, but whether it’s a Dropbox link, whatever the link might be, it’s much safer than your email going from server to server

25:12 to server until it gets to its destination.

25:14 It’s instantaneous.

25:16 It feels like, however, I’ve had, I had always known that sending a Google drive link was much safer than sending an email through Google.

25:25 And so what’s another tip you could tell somebody out there who might all of a sudden be, you know, waking up to this possibility that this might happen, especially, you know, by soon to be

25:38 ex-spouse.

25:41 You know, I have mixed feelings about Google.

25:45 From a privacy perspective, they are terrible.

25:48 They scan your emails.

25:49 They have access to your everything and they build a huge profile on you and use it for marketing and they sell it as they choose. On the other side of that coin though, from a security perspective,

26:03 they are outstanding.

26:04 They do a phenomenal job of securing your accounts And so if your concern is more security focused and less privacy focused.

26:14 It pains me to say it because I focus on both, but they do a good job.

26:19 And so a Google Drive link, if you’re worried about security, is going to be pretty secure.

26:26 There are ways of buttoning that up a little bit better.

26:31 Certainly like the different methods that you use to secure your Google account will have a role in how secure your links are, how secure your emails are.

26:41 And Google offers something called the Advanced Protection Program, which initially was marketed at politicians and high-risk individuals and people that are likely to be hacked.

26:54 But nowadays everybody is likely to be hacked and there really is no downside to turning it on.

27:00 It’s literally the flip of a switch and it makes your account infinitely more secure.

27:06 It implements rigorous security checks if you need to reset your password

27:12 They don’t allow certain.

27:14 in secure forms of like two-factor authentication, you can’t use text message-based two-factor authentication because they recognize that’s not secure.

27:23 And so they force you to use better practices by enrolling in a program like that.

27:28 Now, you asked for another similar – I’m not familiar.

27:31 Yeah, before you go to the example, I wasn’t familiar with the Advanced Protection Program.

27:38 Right.

27:40 Is there a cost to that?

27:41 Or is that something that Google provides for

27:43 free or?

27:44 It’s free, and at one point, what it required is something called a hardware security key, which happened to have in my pocket.

27:54 It looks – well, I guess you can’t see it in the virtual background.

27:58 It looks like a thumb drive.

27:60 And what it

28:03 required to sign in on a new device is you type in your email address, your password, and then you would need that physical key to either tap to your device or touch it.

28:13 or plug it in and then you’re in.

28:16 And whether you have my password or not, unless you have that physical key, you cannot get into my account.

28:24 And the need they were solving there is that when people use text message codes as their form of authenticating, you’re only as secure as the customer service representative at

28:38 Verizon or at ATT or at T-Mobile because you’re vulnerable to what’s called a SIM swap attack, which is I call up your cellular provider.

28:47 I say, I’m you, I got a new phone, and I need you to port that number onto my new phone.

28:53 Well, now all of a sudden, if I have your password, that text message with the code is going to my phone.

28:59 And that happens.

29:00 And it has happened in large-scale

29:05 cyber theft cases where people use SMS to factor authentication for like.

29:12 Bitcoin transactions and people have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars by doing that.

29:19 And so, you know, moving to a hardware security key solves that problem and Google recognized that early on.

29:25 They made all of their employees use hardware security keys at Google and they stopped phishing attacks, I think down to zero percent.

29:34 And so it’s a huge security gain.

29:37 Those keys cost 30 on the low end, 50 on the high end.

29:42 And it’s a huge piece of mind.

29:46 And nowadays, you don’t even need the key.

29:48 Nowadays, Google has moved towards past keys, which are free.

29:52 And so you create a past key and you can enroll in the Google Advanced Protection Program for free.

29:59 And it’s a huge, huge gain in security.

30:08 Thank you for

30:10 educating me on that because I had no idea.

30:12 But tell me a little bit more what’s another example of a suggestion you could give people to help them be more secure.

30:22 So, you know, some of that depends on if you mean physical security or cyber security.

30:28 One thing that concerns me and that keeps me up at night is data brokers.

30:33 And that, you know, you mentioned earlier the growing need for security and the growing need for privacy.

30:38 Data brokers are popping up left and right every single day.

30:43 And what they do is they harvest your information, your personally identifiable information, and they sell it.

30:50 And that’s the source of information that feeds Google results.

30:54 So if you go on Google and you search your name, and all of a sudden somebody knows your home address, all of the names of your relatives, your phone number, your email address,

31:06 And that’s concerning in and of itself, especially as a divorce lawyer who you know, you probably piss some people off for a living.

31:15 Um, and so the thought of somebody being able to just Google your address where you might live with your children is concerning in and of itself.

31:23 Uh, but that information being publicly available also makes it easier to target you or a phishing attack because if somebody can send you a text message and reference your wife’s name or your kid’s

31:36 name or something context specific to you.

31:39 Like, hey, you’re home at and then give the address, you know, here’s an appraisal or something, any kind of contextual clues makes you more of a phishing target, makes you more vulnerable.

31:51 And so to the extent you can clean that up and remove some of that, uh, personally identifiable information from the internet, you’re removing access to, uh, clues that somebody can use to target

32:05 you.

32:06 And so there are data removal services.

32:10 We offer that as Steel Fortress.

32:13 There’s another company called Delete Me by ABine, and you pay an annual fee, and they automate the data deletion process, and they will submit removal requests on your behalf to delete all of this

32:29 from the data brokers.

32:30 And it’s something that you could do on your own There’s a process for it and delete me, for instance, will give you the how to do it.

32:40 But they’re doing that knowing the process itself is very laborious.

32:44 There are so many data removal services.

32:48 You’re playing whack-a-mole, they might remove it, and then repost it a couple months later.

32:53 And so for, I don’t know, 200 a year for delete me to have them do it for you saves hundreds of hours of time manually deleting it and it’s.

33:05 It’s a huge privacy gain and it can be a huge physical security gain.

33:10 Wow, so before we start wrapping up, I had always said something, you know, I guess as a belief that I’ve come to conclude and that is that anonymity is dead.

33:23 All we have left is our privacy, meaning we can’t guarantee that we’re gonna be anonymous in the age of the internet, especially because other people can put us on there whether you have a Facebook

33:35 page where you’re trying, a Facebook profile where you’re trying to stay anonymous and just kind of lurk behind the scenes, but yet somebody tags you because you were at some party. Well, all of a

33:46 sudden you’re put on the scene unless you know to go to your settings and say you don’t wanna be tagged.

33:53 And so the possibility of staying anonymous, I had just concluded that it’s a lost cause, it’s just not possible.

34:04 And so we just now need to focus on how do we just maintain our privacy in this anonymous-free world?

34:13 What do you think about that?

34:14 Am I off the mark here or is there a way you can stay anonymous?

34:22 And one more thing, this is actually why I bought my own name as a domain, MacPierreLouis. com.

34:28 Just because I was like, well, I forget it, I’m just going to be known and I’m going to control my own name and my own image and my own destiny, instead of somebody potentially buying it or using

34:41 it for nefarious reasons.

34:44 And is that one kind of track that people might do that approach, which is just come out with it and just say fine, I can’t be anonymous anymore, I might as well just be as public as I can.

34:57 Is that, or am I in the wrong path, what do you think?

35:01 First, I want to say – There’s a difference between anonymity and privacy.

35:07 True anonymity is difficult.

35:12 Some would say it’s not possible.

35:14 And true anonymity requires a lot of work.

35:19 There’s a lot of friction.

35:21 Trying to convince someone to use the tools to become truly anonymous is a hard sell.

35:28 You can use the Tor browser and a Hunix operating system and they are tools to help anonymity.

35:36 But the Tor browser is slow, and using it for everyday use is painful.

35:43 You can use it for things you want to be anonymous with.

35:49 Privacy, to the extent you’re using them interchangeably, I hear it a lot that privacy is dead.

35:55 My information is out there already.

35:57 It’s a lost cause.

35:58 What good is it?

36:01 And, you know, it’s.

36:03 It’s tough to get behind that.

36:05 For people that say, I don’t care about my privacy, I have nothing to hide.

36:09 To them, I question, why do you have blinds on your home?

36:13 Why do you close the door when you go to the bathroom?

36:15 It’s not about secrecy, it’s about privacy.

36:18 And there are tools that you can employ that are frictionless, that are huge privacy gains, that maybe you can’t solve the problem.

36:28 Maybe you can’t make yourself 100 private, but there are little things you can do in your daily life that stop the bleed of information and help.

36:40 And you can do little things to help the situation.

36:43 And I think those things are worth doing.

36:46 It could be as simple as not using the Chrome browser on your computer and moving toward something like Brave, which is Chrome-based, but much more privacy-friendly,

36:59 using a VPN or

37:02 You know, there are countless ways where there are things that it’s as simple as flipping a toggle that are huge privacy gains, that aren’t noticeable friction in your daily life, that go a long

37:16 way.

37:16 And I always discourage people from just saying privacy is dead and so I might as well just give more of my information.

37:25 So I think there are things you can do.

37:27 I don’t want anybody listening to resign themselves to privacy is dead and so I just, I’m gonna go all in and give Google my emails.

37:35 There are things you can do.

37:37 You can change from Gmail to Proton Mail and you can pay, I don’t know, 30 a year.

37:42 And for that 30, the peace of mind you get is you aren’t the product anymore.

37:47 Your emails aren’t being scanned by anybody and your profiles aren’t being built on you to bark it to you.

37:54 And that kind of thing helps some people that value the privacy.

38:00 that helps those people sleep at night, it sure helps me sleep at night.

38:04 Yes, yes, and just to be clear of, I had said that anonymity is dead, that all we have left is our privacy and we have to keep that secure.

38:12 So I’m definitely with you on making sure that we remain as private as possible.

38:17 Reminds me years ago in the days when Netflix was still sending like discs, remember those days to early 2000s or whatever?

38:26 And I remember talking to

38:30 Netflix customer service.

38:32 I went to a young man and on the phone and I remember, you know, he telling me, oh, so I saw that you were watching this and this and this.

38:42 I thought maybe he thought that he was cool by telling me what I had been watching.

38:46 But I remember it kind of creeped me out a little bit.

38:49 Just the fact that these companies have so much information on us and they’re able to build a profile And they basically tell us what we ate last week and tell us.

38:58 and maybe even predict what we might do tomorrow.

39:01 It is a scary, scary world in that regard.

39:03 And for people who do value their privacy, definitely the things you have said today is, you know, big comfort, there are things you can actually do to try to, you know, safeguard it as much as

39:14 possible.

39:15 So I thank you so much, you know, for these words.

39:18 But before you go, is there anything else that you’d like to, you know, share?

39:22 And I know that I see the Beermann LP, if you could also tell us a little bit about the firm.

39:30 Sure, yeah, we do

39:32 everything that you would want to avoid in your personal life.

39:35 So all the divorce, all the nasty fighting, and we do it at a high level.

39:40 We’re one, I think at this point, we are the largest in the country that does exclusively family law.

39:45 So we’re 50 some lawyers,

39:48 decades of experience combined in trying family law cases, complex cases, tough cases.

39:57 And we try to do it in a way where we care about our clients.

39:60 So I think that sets us apart from some of our competitors here in Chicago that may do it at a high level also, but care more about themselves than they do about their clients.

40:11 Yes, yes, well said.

40:13 All right, Jonathan Steele.

40:15 Thank you so much for the conversation today.

40:17 I actually learned a lot and definitely

40:21 need to stay on top of our privacy and do as much as we can to remain secure. All right, guys, until next time.

40:28 Thank you so much for checking this out.

40:30 Go over to LmiPodcast.com where you can see this recording and the audio as well.

40:36 Until next time.

40:38 Thank you.

Lawyer, mediator, arbitrator, practicing family law but passionate about helping people resolve their conflicts and disputes through mediation. MacpierreLouis.com