With growing concern over data breaches and cyberattacks, Cohen is regularly called on to help determine if a breach has occurred and what actions are required in response. She leads the firm’s data protection and cyber security group, with her clients including esports firms and other online companies. Cohen cites the #metoo movement as one of the most important legal issues of the past year. “We see these issues in practice, including with employees who are concerned with executives violating companies’ harassment policies, as well as corporate ethics and compliance policies,” she says. Cohen started as a litigator at Paul Hastings, and was partner in the Thompson Hine telecommunications group. She volunteers for the Special Olympics.
What have been the most important legal issues in communications for you in the past year?
The #metoo movement, which started in tech but exploded with issues at Fox (Bill O’Reilly, Roger Ailes), NBC (Matt Lauer) and at other networks and companies (Weinstein). Communications businesses were forced to confront harassment, abuse, and inappropriate workplace behavior with increasing frequency and media attention focused on these sensitive issues, including the inquiries on what, if anything, the media company did to address these issues. We see these issues in practice, including with employees who are concerned with executives violating companies’ harassment policies, as well as corporate ethics and compliance policies.
The fallout over the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality. In particular, proponents harnessed the power of social media to express their viewpoints in favor of retaining the FCC’s rules. A related, important issue is the concern with alleged “fake comments” submitted in the net neutrality docket and related investigations (e.g, by the New York Attorney General) into use of fake identities to submit comments. This issue of the integrity of the processes is closely related to the next issue, privacy and data security.
Privacy and cybersecurity issues continue to be important legal issues in communications, particularly the security of customers’ information. There is a growing concern by news media companies of data breaches and cyber attacks, with increased attention on data security and employee training. Data security issues will continue to be a focus for communications companies, many of which possess sensitive personal information as part of their customer relationships. In my own practice, I am regularly called by clients to help determine if a data breach has occurred and the actions that are required in response to the breaches.
What is your golden rule for negotiating?
Be tough but be fair. Many of us may be on the other side of each other over many years, it is important to build trust and credibility while negotiating.
If you could be any legal thriller writer, who would you want to be and why?
I’ll go with Truman Capote, because his In Cold Blood represents the birth of the legal thriller as a genre and remains a seminal work of art by exploring issues of crime, class, law, and media, among others. John Grisham and Scott Turow are more prolific authors in modern times, but no one can replace Capote for his in-depth exploration of murder in a small farming town.
What’s the biggest sleeper issue in communications?
Will Congress modify Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to address issues such as sex trafficking on websites while continuing to protect website operators for liability from others’ content and to promote a free and vibrant Internet as Congress intended?
What movie superhero would you most like to be and how would that character fit into the legal world of communications?
Wonder Woman, of course! When the second grade boys ran around as superheroes, I made my coat into a cape and became Wonder Woman. The character would fit into the legal world of communications by helping reinforce proper workplace behaviors, so we can address the problems highlighted by the #metoo movement. She’s strong, intelligent, and will not hesitate to oust inappropriate CEOs.