posted 24 days ago on techdirt
We already described how the recent hack into the US federal government's Office of Personnel Management (OPM) appears to be much more serious than was initially reported. The hack, likely by Chinese state hackers, appear to have obtained basically detailed personal info on all current and many former federal government employees. And here's the amazing thing: the federal government wasn't the one who figured out they'd been hacked. Instead, it's now coming out that it was discovered during a product demo from a cybersecurity company (guess their product works, huh?). According to the Wall Street Journal: But four people familiar with the investigation said the breach was actually discovered during a mid-April sales demonstration at OPM by a Virginia company called CyTech Services, which has a networks forensics platform called CyFIR. CyTech, trying to show OPM how its cybersecurity product worked, ran a diagnostics study on OPM’s network and discovered malware was embedded on the network. Investigators believe the hackers had been in the network for a year or more. That may go down as one of the most effective product demos ever. But, what's really sickening about all of this is that the federal government is already using this hack -- which it failed to discover -- as an excuse to pass new cybersecurity legislation, whose sole purpose is to give the feds more information, in the (faulty) belief that they'll "help" prevent future attacks. Within days of the initial report of the hack, Senator Mitch McConnell pointed to it as the reason to push cybersecurity legislation: “It might or might not deal with every aspect of what apparently happened a few days ago. But Congress is going to act on cybersecurity on this bill in the very near future.” Thankfully, cooler heads -- including Senator Patrick Leahy -- prevailed in pointing out that the OPM hack is no reason to rush into cybersecurity legislation -- but it's even more ridiculous than that. The entire premise of these cybersecurity bills is that we need this kind of information sharing so that government folks can "help" to better protect "critical infrastructure." But these same guys are so clueless they can't even protect their own staff files -- and then need outside help to even discover that they were hacked a year ago? Perhaps it's time to move in the other direction and take away the government's mandate over "cybersecurity" because it's shown little indication that it can handle the problem.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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Here on Techdirt, we have been following with a certain bemusement attempts by a number of European governments to bring in laws that would grant newspaper and magazine owners a special "ancillary" copyright over snippets -- actually a thinly-disguised attempt to tax Google. Despite the miserable failure of this ploy, Austria has decided it wants to join the club, as reported here by the Initiative Against Ancillary Copyright site: The Austrian proposal is very similar to the German law. Producers of "newspapers and magazines" shall be granted an exclusive right only against commercial providers of search engines and news aggregators. As in Germany, this right is also supposed to only last for one year. But there remains one big difference: The draft does not include an exception for "single words and shortest text-snippets" which expands the scope of the right tremendously! That's something of an understatement. Assuming Austria goes ahead and brings in this change (it's currently a draft amendment to the country's copyright law), it will surely learn the hard way that it doesn't help publishers. What's more worrying is that there is an amendment (number 204 - pdf) to the proposed revision of the EU copyright directive, that seeks to bring in this crazy idea across all 28 member states: Notes that the current legal framework provides for neighbouring rights for performers, phonogram producers, film producers and broadcasting companies, but not for press publishers; calls on the Commission, therefore, to analyse whether neighbouring rights for press publishers can provide appropriate protection and remuneration for their work in a digital media world; There's an important vote on Tuesday that will determine whether that amendment is adopted, along with some of the hundreds of others that have been proposed. Let's hope that the European politicians bear in mind how badly the idea has turned out every time it has been tried before. Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+ Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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Without getting too down in the procedural weeds, just a little while ago, the House of Representatives effectively blocked "fast track authority" for the White House on trade deals -- for now. There was a lot of political maneuvering, and apparently the President started pushing hard on Congressional Democrats to support the trade deals. Many thought the last minute push would make it happen, but with Nancy Pelosi saying that Congress needed to "slow down" fast track, fast track basically came off the table. Again, how this was done involved a lot of gamesmanship and technically a later vote on fast track actually passed very narrowly (219 to 211), but it doesn't matter, because an earlier vote on a different, related measure, needed to pass as well, as the two issues were bundled together. After a bunch of confusing procedural moves, it appears that the House of Representatives will take another shot at this next week, but considering that the key provision went down by a 302 to 126 vote, a lot of arms need to be twisted in the next week and that may not be possible. If the vote next week fails, then things are extremely bleak for the future of "fast track" and the various trade agreements the USTR is pushing. The whole setup was somewhat confusing, because that official 302 to 126 vote was against Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), a program for helping workers whose jobs are displaced by trade. Such a program is usually supported by Democrats, but was rejected here in order to block Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which was bundled with TAA on the Senate side. The later "show vote" for TPA is meaningless, because it would now need to go back to the Senate for a new vote, and the Senate won't approve TPA without TAA. And, of course, all of this is needed for the USTR and Obama to get the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) approved. And, if you're confused by the fact that TAA, TPA and TPP all sound sorta similar, don't worry: that's all on purpose to confuse the hell out of you and most of the rest of the public. Rest assured, however, that what happened today was the House of Representatives pumping the brakes on trade agreements like the TPP, after months of really heavy pressure from the White House, which had really ramped up in the past few weeks and days. This is a big blow to the USTR's program. It doesn't mean the House won't eventually get there, but it's not going to be an easy path, and this certainly could put agreements like the TPP (and TTIP and TISA) at risk.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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Headphones are a popular, must-have item for many folks. The over the ear models are usually more comfortable than in the ear buds for long listening sessions. For 65% off of the list price, we have the stylish Brooklyn Headphone Company BK9 Headset available in the store. These headphones feature 40mm drivers for crisp sound and the over the ear design is made to reduce outside noise intrusion and come with a carrying case to help keep them looking sharp. The 48" cable has a built in microphone and an answer/end button for taking calls while you're listening to your tunes. The BK9s are available in blue or black and the deal includes free shipping to the continental US. Note: We earn a portion of all sales from Techdirt Deals. The products featured do not reflect endorsements by our editorial team.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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Almost exactly a year ago we wrote about a troubling lawsuit in British Colubmia, where a court ruled that Google needed to block access to a website globally. The case involved one company accusing another of selling counterfeit or copied equipment, and despite Google not even being a party to the case, said that Google needed to make sure no one could find the site in question via Google anywhere in the world. As we noted, this had tremendously problematic consequences. For example, China doesn't think anyone should be able to learn about the protests in Tiananmen Square. Can it now order Google to remove all links to such references globally? That result seems crazy. And, of course, there was a separate issue of how the court even had jurisdiction over Google, seeing as it does not have any operations, staff or servers in British Columbia. Google stepped in to protest the injunction at the appeals court. Unfortunately, the court has now ruled against Google, using the same sort of logic the lower court did -- basically arguing that because Google is available in British Columbia, the court has jurisdiction, and because it's trying to stop what it deems to be illegal actions from reaching Canada's shores, it has every right to order Google to block things worldwide, lest someone from British Columbia decide to type "google.com" into their browser to avoid the "google.ca." On the question of "doing business" in BC, the appeals court basically accepts the lower court's confused understanding of things: While Google does not have servers or offices in the Province and does not have resident staff here, I agree with the chambers judge’s conclusion that key parts of Google’s business are carried on here. The judge concentrated on the advertising aspects of Google’s business in making her findings. In my view, it can also be said that the gathering of information through proprietary web crawler software (“Googlebot”) takes place in British Columbia. This active process of obtaining data that resides in the Province or is the property of individuals in British Columbia is a key part of Google’s business. Google says that even if it is concluded that it carries on business in British Columbia, the injunction was not properly granted, because it did not relate to the specific business activities that Google carries on in the Province. In my view, the business carried on in British Columbia is an integral part of Google’s overall operations. Its success as a search engine depends on collecting data from websites throughout the world (including British Columbia) and providing search results (accompanied by targeted advertising) throughout the world (including British Columbia). The business conducted in British Columbia, in short, is the same business as is targeted by the injunction. In other words, if you don't want to be subject to the laws of BC (with control over your entire global operations) don't index websites based in BC? That's crazy. While I doubt it will happen, it's got to be tempting for some at Google to just say "okay, no more Google for BC or any website in BC." Now as for the nutty idea that a court in BC has jurisdiction over all of Google's global operations, again, the court doesn't seem even remotely concerned about that. It's response is basically "yeah, so?" Google raises the specter of it being subjected to restrictive orders from courts in all parts of the world, each concerned with its own domestic law. I agree with the chambers judge that it is the world-wide nature of Google’s business and not any defect in the law that gives rise to that possibility. As well, however, the threat of multi-jurisdictional control over Google’s operations is, in my opinion, overstated. Courts must, in exercising their powers, consider many factors other than territorial competence and the existence of in personam jurisdiction over the parties. Courts must exercise considerable restraint in granting remedies that have international ramifications. And it notes that previous cases have said that, sure, BC courts have "worldwide jurisdiction." At one time the courts of this Province refrained from granting injunctions that enjoined activities outside of British Columbia.... In 1988, however, the English Court of Appeal held that it had jurisdiction to issue a worldwide Mareva injunction.... It is now over 25 years since the Supreme Court of British Columbia first issued a worldwide injunction.... The jurisdiction to do so was re-confirmed .... and is, today, well-established. Google, quite reasonably, points out that while injunctions make sense against parties that actually break the law, it makes no sense to issue an injunction against a third party that has nothing to do with the party that actually broke the law. The court goes on a long and winding road saying "sure, but... in this case, it's okay." Finally, the court addresses another concern raised by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, noting that banning access to a website worldwide has serious free speech consequences. Once again, the court says "sure, but, we don't care in this case." For that reason, courts should be very cautious in making orders that might place limits on expression in another country. Where there is a realistic possibility that an order with extraterritorial effect may offend another state’s core values, the order should not be made. In the case before us, there is no realistic assertion that the judge’s order will offend the sensibilities of any other nation. It has not been suggested that the order prohibiting the defendants from advertising wares that violate the intellectual property rights of the plaintiffs offends the core values of any nation. The order made against Google is a very limited ancillary order designed to ensure that the plaintiffs’ core rights are respected. I note, as well, that the order in this case is an interlocutory one, and one that can be varied by the court. In the unlikely event that any jurisdiction finds the order offensive to its core values, an application could be made to the court to modify the order so as to avoid the problem. In short, sure, banning speech around the globe from one court in British Columbia, Canada could have serious global free speech concerns, but... we really don't like this website, so we're not going to change the ruling. In fact, later in the ruling, the court basically says "hey, the idea that there may be some 'legitimate' speech on this website we're ordering blocked globally is totally speculative": There has, in the course of argument, been some reference to the possibility that the defendants (or others) might wish to use their websites for legitimate free speech, rather than for unlawfully marketing the GW1000. That possibility, it seems to me, is entirely speculative. There is no evidence that the websites in question have ever been used for lawful purposes, nor is there any reason to believe that the domain names are in any way uniquely suitable for any sort of expression other than the marketing of the illegal product. Of course, if the character of the websites changes, it is always open to the defendants or others to seek a variation of the injunction. And, thus, British Columbia believes it can order global blocking of any website its courts deem problematic in BC. One wonders if we'll start to see "censorship tourism" migrating to BC courts now that its doors are open for global censorship orders.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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After a rather quiet period, WikiLeaks seems to be back on form. After the big TISA leak last week, it's released the Healthcare Annex to the Transparency Chapter of TPP. The document itself is short (pdf), and fairly opaque, so WikiLeaks has helpfully provided some expert commentary from Deborah Gleeson (pdf) and Jane Kelsey (pdf), both well-known academics in this field. Here's a key part of Gleeson's summary: The inclusion of the Healthcare Transparency Annex in the TPP serves no useful public interest purpose. It sets a terrible precedent for using regional trade deals to tamper with other countries' health systems and could circumscribe the options available to developing countries seeking to introduce pharmaceutical coverage programs in future. The Annex is clearly intended to target New Zealand’s Pharmaceutical Management Agency (PHARMAC) and some of its provisions will result in new obligations for PHARMAC that will involve transaction costs and could impinge on its flexibility and autonomy. This is particularly worrying given that PHARMAC provides a model pharmaceutical coverage program that is suitable for adoption by developing countries. Pharmac is New Zealand's system for buying medicines in bulk, which results in substantial savings for the country -- around $3.5 billion since 2000. US drug companies hate it for two reasons: it is able to negotiate lower prices in New Zealand by consolidating purchases for the whole country; and it represents a dangerously successful model that other countries might adopt. The latest leak is important because it confirms that Big Pharma is using TPP not only to strengthen drug patents, but also to attack Pharmac directly. It has long been a fear that TPP would seek to undermine it, something that the New Zealand government has strenuously denied. The latest clear evidence that Pharmac is indeed under threat has forced the country's prime minister, John Key, to respond, reported here by the New Zealand Herald: Prime Minister John Key has promised that New Zealanders will continue to pay no more than $5 [US$3] for subsidised prescriptions, whatever happens to Pharmac under the Trans Pacific Partnership. Jane Kelsey is quoted in the new story as noting that there were only four possibilities: the Government could increase the health budget overall; the health budget could remain the same but more funding go from non-Pharmac costs to Pharmac; the price the public paid for prescriptions could rise -- which Mr Key ruled out today; and the fourth was that fewer medicines were bought by Pharmac. Any of the other options means higher taxes in New Zealand or cuts somewhere else to pay for the more expensive drugs TPP is almost certain to bring. That fact has led to a spate of articles in the New Zealand press, and a wider awareness about the negative consequences of the hitherto obscure TPP, albeit rather late in the day. As a side note, it's worth noting one other interesting aspect, pointed out by Kelsey in her detailed analysis of the latest leak: The Annex applies very specifically to a 'national health care program' that makes recommendations/decisions about listing pharmaceutical products or medical devices for reimbursement, or the sum of that reimbursement, where these programmes are run by a 'national health care authority'. The Annex does not apply to direct government procurement of pharmaceuticals and medical devices. 'National' is presumably chosen to preclude such programmes that are run by states and provinces, which are politically sensitive in the US and Canada. In effect, the US has excluded almost all its own programmes, while targeting New Zealand Clever, no? Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+ Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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Sentencing revenge porn extortionists seems to be all over the place. Craig Brittain, who basically originated the extortionate process of not just running a revenge porn website, but combining it with a (pretending to be) separate "pay us and we'll get your naked photos taken down" service, had his wrists duly slapped by the FTC earlier this year. Shortly after that, Kevin Bollaert, who more or less copied Brittain's plan, got sentenced to 18 years in jail (which he's currently in the process of appealing). Hunter Moore, who is often credited with being the first one to set up a big revenge porn site (without the corresponding extortionate takedowns, but apparently with hiring people to hack into computers to get copies of naked photos to post), took a plea deal with somewhere between two and seven years in jail. And, now, Casey Meyering, who also copied Brittain's plan -- almost exactly -- and who also took a plea deal a few weeks ago, has been sentenced to three years in jail (which he can't appeal, due to the plea deal). Adam Steinbaugh, who spends his spare time hunting down revenge porn operators, provides a bit of background: In June of 2013, I documented how Meyering had ripped off an extortion scheme pioneered by another revenge porn site operator, Craig Brittain.  Meyering created Takedownhammer.info, copying Brittain’s Takedownhammer.com (word for word), and solicited payments to this “independent” service using a Google Wallet account clearly linked to Meyering’s drum-lessons business. When Meyering was arrested in February of 2014, he was found in a Tulsa hotel room, drunk.  He subsequently told the court he was homeless, bankrupt, and had nobody to ask for financial assistance to hire an attorney. It seems like the sentencing is all over the place with these guys. However, at the very least, it seems to have scared most revenge porn sites away from the US.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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The idea of space-based telecommunications seemed so promising in the 1980s, but the delivered services didn't quite live up to the dream of ubiquitous global communications. Al Franken's one-man satellite reporting didn't really address the latency issues associated with geosynchronous satellite orbits, but the future of satellite communications was still a bad joke. Perhaps after a few decades, we're ready for another try? Elon Musk's SpaceX intends to create a constellation of 4,000 small/cheap satellites to provide high speed internet all over the world. Billionaires have tried this concept before, but maybe this time, the economics of cheaper satellites and rocket systems will make it a more feasible venture. [url] Iridium is the usual example of a global satellite network that was supposed to provide an always-on telecom network anywhere in the world. Iridium Next is actually set to replace the original aging Iridium satellites -- launched from SpaceX rockets in the largest commercial launch contract ever signed in 2010. The original business wasn't exactly a success, and given some of the lackluster specs of the planned replacement satellites, the next revision might not be much better. [url] OneWeb is looking to build around 900 satellites to deliver internet connections all over the world. If all these plans actually pan out, it'll be a bit strange to see more competition in the satellite internet industry than in the terrestrial wireline internet business. [url] After you've finished checking out those links, take a look at our Daily Deals for cool gadgets and other awesome stuff.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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Earlier this week, we noted that Senator Mitch McConnell, hot off of his huge flop in trying to preserve the NSA's surveillance powers, had promised to insert the dangerous "cybersecurity" bill CISA directly into the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act). As we discussed, while many have long suspected that CISA (and CISPA before it) were surveillance bills draped in "cybersecurity" clothing, the recent Snowden revelations that the NSA is using Section 702 "upstream" collection for "cybersecurity" issues revealed how CISA would massively expand the NSA's ability to warrantlessly wiretap Americans' communications. Thankfully, like his PATRIOT Act games from a few weeks ago, this latest McConnell move has fallen flat. The Senate rejected the attempt by a 40 to 56 vote. So, for now, it looks like the Senate isn't going to be able to ram CISA through either which is good news. Still, expect Congress to keep trying. But, each time, it's important to ask some basic questions: what attacks would this bill actually stop (answer: none). And what laws are currently preventing the supposedly necessary "information sharing" from happening today? And, more importantly, why is the NSA getting access to this information and allowed to run backdoor searches on its upstream collections of all internet traffic exiting or entering the US? These all seem like relevant questions and they're all questions that the powers that be are ignoring.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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Last night, we noted that an amendment from Reps. Thomas Massie and Zoe Lofgren was on the docket that had two provisions to stop two different kinds of surveillance: the first, taking away funding from "backdoor searches" which are a hugely problematic "loophole" that the NSA uses to do warrantless surveillance of Americans. In many ways, this is much worse than the bulk collection programs that were just hindered by the USA Freedom Act. The second part of the amendment was barring funds from being used to mandate "backdoors" into technology products -- another hugely important move. Thankfully, the amendment passed by a wide margin earlier today: 255 - to 174. While this is great news, I'm somewhat surprised and disappointed that the margin of victory here was lower than a nearly identical amendment last year (which was approved 293 to 123. It's possible that some of last year's votes were in protest to the falling apart of the USA Freedom Act a year ago -- whereas since it passed this year, some felt it was okay to shift their vote here. Still, in many ways, this has the potential to be a much bigger deal and much more important than the USA Freedom Act, because those backdoor searches are a huge problem. Of course, it's still a long way from making it into law. As we saw last year, this amendment was quietly dropped later in the year, as part of the giant "CRomnibus bill" that the government needed to pass. Still, we can hope that Congress finally recognizes how important this is.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has denied the broadband industry's requested stay of the FCC's reclassification of ISPs as common carriers under Title II, meaning the agency's shiny new net neutrality rules will go live tomorrow as scheduled, much to the chagrin of the nation's broadband duopoly. Incumbent ISPs requested the stay last month, claiming the FCC's rules were "arbitrary and capricious," "vague and onerous," and act to create "significant uncertainty about the introduction of new services" while "exposing providers to costly litigation." According to the court order (pdf), broadband providers failed to provide "the stringent requirements for a stay pending court review," meaning that the FCC's new net neutrality rules will remain in place for the duration of the ISPs assault on the FCC. While the courts have promised to expedite it, a resolution to the case could still take more than a year. FCC boss Tom Wheeler was quick to take to the FCC website to applaud the ruling:"This is a huge victory for Internet consumers and innovators! Starting Friday, there will be a referee on the field to keep the Internet fast, fair and open," said the Commission boss. "Blocking, throttling, pay-for-priority fast lanes and other efforts to come between consumers and the Internet are now things of the past. The rules also give broadband providers the certainty and economic incentive to build fast and competitive broadband networks."While net neutrality opponents in the House have been trying all manner of poison pills and other efforts to kill the rules, hamstring the FCC, or curtail the agency's budget, short of a court win -- the only viable way to kill the rules moving forward is a 2016 party shift, FCC leadership change, and subsequent gutting of the agency's order. Annoyed by recent blocked mergers and an uncharacteristically consumer friendly FCC boss bullish on broadband competition, you can be fairly certain that AT&T, Verizon and Comcast lobbyists are already very busy trying to ensure that a more incumbent-friendly scenario comes to fruition.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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Cops kill a lot of people. Depending on who's counting, they've already killed between 385 and 470 people this year. This isn't to say that some of these killings weren't justified, but when details begin leaking out about the those killed, the amount of force in relation to the threat posed is often questionable. Because no PD wants to look like the home of trigger-happy thugs, the media spin begins almost before the "suspect" has expired. Usaamah Abdullah Rahim, shot by Boston cops, was instantly memorialized by law enforcement and a compliant press with the following: "allegedly radicalized by ISIS social media" "may have been planning to attack police" "preparing to launch an ISIS-inspired attack" "wielding a machete" "under 24-hour surveillance by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force" The "machete" turned out to be just a knife, albeit a "military-style black knife," because black knives are inherently more evil and dangerous than those in any other color. #blackknivesmatter What appeared to be a mishandling of a potentially-dangerous situation is now a fully-justified kill of a terrorist. Everyone is just supposed to take these claims at face value, despite the assertions raising more questions than they actually answer. If Rahim was so dangerous, why didn’t the constant surveillance result in any charges? If — as the media spent all day claiming — he was on the verge of executing a horrific terror attack, why didn’t law enforcement agents have an arrest warrant or even search warrant? What was their intention in approaching him this way? Were they wearing uniforms, and — supposedly believing he was an ISIS operative eager to kill police — did they do anything to make him feel threatened? Notably, none of the media outlets regurgitating police assertions bothered to probe the issues raised by these statements. This, unfortunately, is all too common. Disparaging the dead is the national pastime, in terms of police-press relations. A suicidal man wielding a knife is shot in his bed by police officers responding to a call to a non-emergency line at a local hospital -- in which his girlfriend stated he was threatening to hurt himself. Completely unprompted, this is what police had to say to the victim's mother: Denise said [Detective Mike] Smith then told her about “this new trend in law enforcement now—it’s called suicide by cop.” She said Smith explained “suicide by cop” is when suicidal people provoke the police in an effort to end their own lives. She said Smith wouldn’t tell her family where or how many times their son was shot. Just like that, the dead man was posthumously awarded the department's "He Was Asking For It" award. Further details on the shooting were withheld, because a bloodstained bed with bulletholes in it hardly portrays the shooting victim as a "threat." Akai Gurley, shot in the stairwell of a New York City apartment complex, was committing no crime when he was shot. Rather, the officer who shot him was patrolling the stairwells with his gun out and needed little more than a startling noise to justify opening fire. What did the media lead with? Gurley has 24 prior arrests on his record, police said. As if that mattered. The officer didn't recognize Gurley and assume he was looking for number 25. The officer couldn't even see who he was shooting at, because the stairwell was unlit. The unprompted rap sheet delivery by police sources was CYA in the form of presumed guilt. When a Ferguson police officer shot an unarmed Michael Brown, the press led with what it had been fed: Brown had participated in a "strong arm robbery" (which was actually just shoplifting combined with an altercation with the owner). When an NYPD officer choked Eric Garner to death, the airwaves filled with mentions of his previous arrest record (for minor things like selling untaxed cigarettes) and even extended so far as to implicate the person who recorded the incident, who had "previous arrests" and the coincidental misfortune of a post-recording arrest for possession of a handgun. Feast your eyes on this aggressive spin attempt: But the (lack of a) devil is in the details. The sentence under the headline implying the takedown of a dangerous, police-targeting thug shows the "history" wouldn't even fill the unused space on a detective's business card. The man killed by Pasco Police Tuesday evening had a past run-in with officers that resulted in an assault conviction. A past run-in. Singular. Hardly a "history." Can you possibly smear a 12-year-old who was shot to death within seconds of a patrol car arriving on the "scene?" You can certainly try. Tamir Rice's father has a history of violence against women. Relevant how? People from across the region have been asking whether Rice grew up around violence. The Northeast Ohio Media Group investigated the backgrounds of the parents and found the mother and father both have violent pasts. [Police and police supporters] from across the region have been [trying to spin this shooting of a 12-year-old]. The Northeast Ohio Media Group [has obliged them]. We're already skeptical of FBI claims that someone is "involved" in terrorist activities or has been "radicalized." The FBI has no one to blame for this perception but itself. The recent shooting that quickly turned an armed male into a terrorist on the prowl, operating at the behest of ISIS, is another in a long line of post-shooting justification attempts. In most cases, the officers involved know little to nothing about the person they've just killed. But that changes swiftly when an incident turns deadly. Suddenly, there's a killing to defend and every public record and every law enforcement database must be scoured to find that "justification." Somehow, a past conviction becomes current guilt, even if the victim was doing nothing illegal at the time and did little to justify the use of deadly force. Sometimes -- very, very rarely -- there are exceptions. A Madison, Wisconsin cop shot an unarmed man during an "altercation." The police chief refused to play the "smear the victim" game. The police chief refused to comment on Robinson’s criminal history or run-ins with police. “I could but I choose not to,” he said at a press conference Saturday. “I frankly think it is, for our purposes today, wholly inappropriate and I am not going to blemish anyone’s character, particularly someone's as young as his.” This was backed up by the mayor of Madison. Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, who said he met with Robinson’s family the night of the shooting, said officials aren’t going to put the teen on trial. “That’s not what this is about. What this is about is finding out exactly what happened that night and to determine, then, responsibility,” he told CNN’s “AC360.” “We know that he was not armed, and as far as the police chief and I are concerned … the fact that Tony was involved in any kind of transgression in the past has nothing to do with this present tragedy.” Unfortunately, the media refused to join the police chief and mayor on the high ground. As much as Koval and Soglin conducted themselves admirably, the media is so bound to the gutter that it couldn’t bear the idea of not throwing dirt on the body. "Wisconsin Circuit Court documents indicate Robinson pleaded guilty in December to an armed robbery that occurred last April." Because the cops refused to smear Robinson, the media had to do its own dirty work and dig up whatever nastiness “court documents” might offer. And if CNN’s smear isn’t bad enough, try ABC’s: "Inside, Kenny found Tony Robinson, a 19-year-old who had previously pleaded guilty to armed robbery charges in 2014." They could have described Tony Robinson as “a 19-year-old who was loved by his family, who saved kittens from a tree, who had a lovely smile and joy for life, who appeared to have had an unforeseeable psychotic breakdown,” but no. Instead, they described him as a guy who was guilty of armed robbery charges. Even if law enforcement officials bite their tongues when faced with the opportunity to clear themselves and disparage victims, media outlets can't seem to help themselves. Too many media outlets ingratiate themselves with local law enforcement -- not only by rebroadcasting questionable assertions, but by digging up any potentially damning that law enforcement left untouched. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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Everyone has had the idea at one time or another for the perfect app. This pay what you want Mobile-First Developer's Bundle can help you turn that idea into a reality. Pay whatever you want and you will receive the Monetize Your App and The Complete Android Lollipop App Development courses to get you started with 9 hours of content covering how to add ad networks and the Android ecosystem. If you beat the average price listed in the store (at the time of writing, it is under $7), you unlock 8 other courses to help you master developing iOS and Android apps. Get your name on the top of the leaderboard of buyers and you'll receive the 10 courses plus 5 entries for the Pick Your Apple Toy giveaway (see the store for details). If you end up on the leaderboard at any time during the promotion, you'll receive the 10 courses plus 1 entry to the giveaway. 10% of the profits from your purchase will go towards Creative Commons, who develops, supports, and stewards legal and technical infrastructure that maximizes digital creativity, sharing, and innovation. So you'll be helping support Creative Commons and Techdirt with a purchase today. Note: We earn a portion of all sales from Techdirt Deals. The products featured do not reflect endorsements by our editorial team.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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Last December, we warned that Australia was about to get its own version of SOPA. The key aspects of the proposed law were exactly the parts of SOPA that so concerned millions of people in America: the ability of someone to make a copyright complaint that would force an ISP or other third parties to block entire websites with little to no due process. In March, just such a bill was introduced, pushed by Attorney General George Brandis, who refused to listen to consumer advocates and their concerns (though he met plenty of times with Hollywood reps). Also, more importantly, supporters of the bill did not conduct any sort of cost/benefit analysis to see if it was worthwhile. And now, that bill has been given the green light to move forward after the Parliamentary committee reviewing the bill voted to move forward with it -- despite the lack of the cost/benefit analysis. From their recommendations, it appears that almost everyone on the committee has almost no clue about how this would work, the impact on free expression or the collateral damage created from blocking entire sites. Instead, it just takes for granted that "copyright infringement poses a significant threat to the viability and success of Australia's creative industries" and thus something must be done! Even if that "something" won't solve the problem and will actually create many more problems. In addressing the lacking cost/benefit analysis, the committee more or less shrugs its shoulders and says, well, how about we add a plan to review how well this is working two years down the road. The only dissenting view was put forth by Senator Scott Ludlam, who spoke out clearly about the problems of Australia implementing its own SOPA: The Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015 is the latest in a long line of misguided attempts by the government to monitor, control and censor the Internet. The Bill will allocate a significant new censorship power to the Court that will be used by copyright owners to block access to online content. However, there is a substantial weight of evidence showing that it will be relatively easy to evade the Bill's provisions, that it does not contain appropriate safeguards, and that it may result in legitimate online sources being blocked. Most importantly, there is also a significant weight of evidence showing that the Bill will not meet its aims, as it does not address the underlying cause of online copyright infringement: The continual refusal of offshore rights holders to make their content available in a timely, convenient and affordable manner to Australians. As we had mentioned, there had been some concern earlier this year that the vague terms in the bill -- specifically about "facilitating" infringement -- could lead to VPNs being banned. When asked about that, defenders of the bill kept giving non-committal answers about that not being the target -- and the committee report seems to accept that as fine, so long as there's some sort of notation with the bill saying that it's not intended to go after VPNs: The committee acknowledges the evidence given by the Department of Communications regarding VPNs but notes that the Bill does not explicitly contemplate the introduction of injunctions against VPNs. The committee also notes that VPNs are unlikely to meet the 'primary purpose test' in proposed paragraphs 115A(1)(a)-(c). The committee would however be reassured if the government were to clarify the status of VPNs in the Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill. What's somewhat amazing to me is that a couple years ago, when it looked like Australia might actually introduce fair use into its copyright law, the copyright industry flipped out, arguing, in part, that because there wasn't a history of case law to rely on, it would lead to craziness while the courts sorted things out. Yet, amazingly, when it comes to this sort of site blocking, it appears the copyright maximalists take the exact opposite stance: arguing that it's fine to let the courts flat out censor websites, because the courts will have lots of "discretion" to sort things out: The committee takes the view that by providing the Court with a high level of discretion the Bill would allow the Court to both target specific issues that arise in individual cases and develop a general body of jurisprudence to provide more legal certainty into the future. As the Bill would allow the Court to tailor an order to the circumstances of a particular case, the committee expects that the Bill would encourage the Court to draft orders in such a way so as to effectively deal with the online copyright infringement but at the same time limit any unintended consequences such as over-blocking or accidental blocking. Yeah, because courts never get tripped up by this kind of stuff... And of course, Australia should know damn well how poorly this kind of stuff works in practice, because after the Australian Securities and Investments Commission tried to block about 1,000 websites a couple years ago, it accidentally knocked a quarter of a million sites offline because no one understood that multiple sites could share the same IP address. And yet, these are the same people voting to move forward with this plan to let the government simply declare websites "bad" and cut them off. Again, as we noted back in the SOPA days, nearly every new technology has been declared a major "facilitator" of "piracy" by the copyright industries before they figured out how to use them. This includes: radio, recorded music, television, cable television, the photocopier, the VCR, digital music, the DVR, the MP3 player, online video and online storage lockers. All of them. Under bills like SOPA or this Australian version of SOPA, the industry is allowed to effectively kill such innovations early, making it more difficult for the content industries to adapt and embrace these new services which time and time again have been shown to make the industry more money in the long run. It is the ultimate ignorant and lazy response of Australian politicians to believe that they need to block new innovations because the copyright industry refuses to innovate or figure out ways to better serve the public. And, even worse, they seem to feel the only way to do so is in a way that censors large parts of the internet, puts tremendous costs on ISPs (to be passed on to consumers), and which will only serve to drive infringement further underground, rather than magically convincing people to give extra money to Hollywood.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 25 days ago on techdirt
We've written a few times about Zenefits, a really interesting company that has been super innovative and creative in rapidly building a unique and useful company. In short, the company took on the market for "HR software" by building a nice web-based tool for managing HR. But that's not the interesting part: it's the business model innovation that was really smart. It gives away its software entirely for free. However it then also acts as an insurance broker for companies, for which it takes in fees. This is kind of brilliant on a variety of levels. Currently, businesses have to go through brokers to get required insurance, and those brokers take a big cut for doing basically nothing other than connecting two companies. Zenefits realized that by building great HR software, it could give it away free, and then tack on an insurance brokering business and basically everyone is better off for it. Companies get free (really good) HR software plus an insurance broker that actually adds value, rather than the typical broker. It's a true win-win situation, which is what innovation should create. Of course, there are some losers and it tends to be the traditional companies who have dominated the HR and insurance brokerage spaces in the past. Zenefits ran into some problems last year when Utah sought to ban Zenefits, arguing that it was an illegal "inducement" or "rebate." Thankfully, that was fixed a few months ago -- but Zenefits is onto its next big battle with an incumbent entrenched interest. Enter ADP -- the payroll giant. Even if you're unfamiliar with the company, there's a decent chance that your own payroll is handled by ADP. They are, truly, the 800lb. gorilla of the payroll space. And, apparently, the company has an issue with Zenefits. There's a lot of he said/she said involved in this dispute, but it escalated insanely quickly to the point that ADP has already sued Zenefits -- but we'll get to that. Two days ago, however, Zenefits posted a blog post, letting its customers know that ADP had begun de-activating Zenefits accounts with ADP. Previously, many Zenefits customers who also used ADP basically allowed Zenefits access to the ADP account in order to handle payroll. This is fairly typical and there's nothing strange about this at all. Outside HR/accounting organizations are frequently given access to company payroll accounts to make it all work. Zenefits had made it easy for companies using its software to use ADP (apparently to the point of even having an ADP salesperson working out of Zenefits' offices). According to Zenefits, ADP gave a bunch of conflicting and nonsensical reasons for cutting its customers off: Initially, ADP claimed they had disabled our access because an unusual traffic spike on June 3-4 placed undue load on their servers. Interestingly, ADP actually started blocking clients from connecting their payroll with Zenefits about a week before this spike supposedly occurred. After we shared our traffic logs, which showed no such spike, ADP shifted its justification to “security concerns”, without a lot of detail.  We’ve repeatedly asked to confer with their security team, only to be directed to their lawyers instead. Make no mistake about it: if there are indeed true threats, we want to know about them. We want to work with the ADP security team to address them, but we have yet to be given that opportunity. In the meantime, we have reviewed our system and practices, and we’ve identified no threats to the security of our clients’ data. We take the safeguarding of our clients’ information very seriously, employing bank-level security protocols and constantly probing our systems for vulnerabilities. Our clients’ data is secure, and we believe Zenefits has best-in-class security. Zenefits further noted that ADP started making claims about Zenefits that are either untrue or highly misleading: ADP accuses Zenefits of “un-masking Social Security numbers.” Zenefits does not expose Social Security numbers. Any accusation to the contrary is false. ADP is also confused about how our system actually works. Typically, employees of companies that use Zenefits onboard through Zenefits. New employees enter their Social Security numbers into Zenefits, and then Zenefits enters that information into ADP. That’s one of the benefits of the Zenefits service: we set up employees in payroll for you. We do the same thing with health insurance, 401ks, commuter benefits, PTO systems, and more. ADP is spreading a lot of fear about how Zenefits integrates with our clients’ payroll systems. But this is misleading. Zenefits accesses payroll systems when our clients create an administrative account in their payroll system for us to use. In every single case, the customer themselves set up these accounts explicitly for Zenefits to use. And this practice is quite common: ADP has for years allowed third-parties such as accountants, bookkeepers, and HR services firms to manage ADP payroll systems on behalf of their clients. The only difference is that we’ve built software to automate some of these tasks. This is a benefit to customers because it allows us to offer the service at scale for free and it also eliminates human error. Although we have automated this process, we obtain and transmit data through the same secure link, encrypting data both in transit and at rest. Zenefits also offered to pay companies $1,000 to switch to Intuit's competing payroll product and asked people to sign a Change.org petition. The story started to spread around the startup world... ... and then things got even weirder. Zenefits CEO Parker Conrad claims that ADP's CEO Carlos Rodriguez called him over the weekend threatening to sue him. According to comments to Business Insider: "He called me on on my cell phone Saturday night. It was like a Dirty Harry conversation," Conrad told us. "I’ve never been sued before, it's pretty scary. We really thought about this. We took those threats seriously." Conrad remembers, "He closed the conversation by saying 'You're going to hear from our lawyers about this and you're really going to hear from us on Monday." Monday would be the day before Zenefits put out its public blog post. ADP told BI that the phone call did happen but that "it didn't start out hostile." Instead, the company claims: "Rodriguez had 'made a good faith offer to properly partner' with Zenefits." That doesn't make much sense. Again, there's no direct need for the two companies to partner. Obviously, if both of them to voluntarily agree to a partnership, that could make sense -- but it seems clear from the context that the offer was "take our terms or we cut you off." And this is even though there is no legitimate reason for ADP to cut off Zenefits. And... from there, things escalated even further. By Wednesday ADP had actually sued Zenefits for defamation, trademark violations and unfair competition. For reasons that make no sense to me, no one seems to be posting the actual lawsuit, but you can see it right here. The lawsuit, frankly, is a bunch of weak sauce. It focuses on the fact that Zenefits (accurately) told companies that it could work with ADP -- which is a true statement. ADP claims that because Zenefits hadn't officially "integrated" with ADP that this is not true. But that's meaningless. Again, tons of companies allow third parties to access and run their payroll accounts. Hell, we've done exactly that for years -- including with ADP, who handles some of our own payroll. And the bookkeeping/accounting service that we use doesn't have some big "integration" with our payroll providers. They just have a login. The lawsuit also repeats the claims about traffic "spikes" and "security" concerns, that don't hold up under much scrutiny. The "defamation" claims are ridiculously weak as well. Here are the first three: The June 5 letter falsely stated to clients that ADP took the protective measures to block Zenefits’ automated scraping of data from ADP RUN to protect the continuing service “without your permission.” This statement was false, as ADP’s agreements with its customers expressly give ADP the right to take such protective measures to protect continuity of service and sensitive employee data. The June 5 letter falsely claimed that ADP systematically deactivated Zenefits’ admin user access to ADP’s RUN payroll system because “ADP believes it can one day build software to compete with Zenefits, and in the meantime they would like to do anything they can to impede Zenefits.” No factual basis exists for this claim. The June 5 letter also falsely dismissed ADP’s security reasons as “clearly not true,” implying that ADP lied about the basis for its actions as pretext for, as Conrad characterized, ADP’s “unethical” behavior. These statements are false, since ADP’s statement about security concerns in the communication that ADP sent to clients who gave Zenefits admin user access was not related to the specific protective measure that ADP took on June 4, 2015. Indeed, nothing in ADP’s June 5 client communication indicated that ADP would completely block the Zenefits admin user access. In fact, ADP took the preventive measures to protect all of ADP’s RUN clients from Zenefits’ careless and unauthorized automated processes by which millions of data requests flooded ADP’s systems and potentially put at risk the continuity of the operation of ADP’s system. There certainly may be disagreements about the nature of the discussion and what has happened, but to argue that any of these three claims reaches the level of "defamation" is laughable. With the first one, in context, it's quite clear what Zenefits meant: which is that ADP didn't ask these customers if they wanted to be cut off. The next two are clearly statements of opinion or general hyperbole. It's hard to see how they raise to the level of defamation at all. Also, on that second point -- about whether or not ADP was building a competitor to Zenefits -- things got even stranger yesterday. Because just hours after the lawsuit was filed, Zenefits posted a second blog post showing an email from an ADP salesperson to a Zenefits customer, directly pitching a Zenefits competitor: ADP now claims that the person who sent that email was "mistaken" and that there is no "Opum" offering, but rather was pushing a different third party platform: With respect to “Opum,” in responding to a direct client inquiry, the sales associate confused the name with Optum Insight, which is a third party platform from United Health Group that we have integrated into our current offering and improves our ability to support benefits enrollment for our clients. This is a core service ADP has offered clients for many years, and is a service that we charge for Even if that's true, the salesperson claims that it's "free." So, at the very least, ADP has a problem with its sales people making totally false promises to customers. Either way, it would be nice to see the "screen shots" that were supposedly included in the email, as that would clarify things. As things kept escalating, ADP responded with a PDF* claiming to explain "the facts" behind the situation, but which just repeats the same claims that were made earlier and are in the lawsuit. It's pretty clear what's happening here: Zenefits figured out a way to "integrate" with ADP without coming to an agreement with ADP first. And, yes, lots of 3rd parties get access to ADP accounts, but Zenefits is bigger than most of those. ADP tried to come to some sort of agreement with Zenefits to make the integration "official" -- which likely means getting Zenefits to cough up some cash to ADP -- and Zenefits declined. ADP then decided to throw its weight around, with claims about traffic spikes and security concerns, which are dubious, at best. Zenefits fought back the way many internet-era companies do -- by going public about it. And ADP fought back by doing what many old school companies do -- by going legal about it. Honestly, much of this seems like a straight up culture clash between old style giants and new upstarts. It wouldn't be surprising to see them come to a settlement before this actually goes anywhere in court, because it really looks like both sides may have overreacted -- with ADP massively overreacting and perhaps Zenefits marginally overreacting in response. The legal claims from ADP seem incredibly weak, and ADP and its lawyers have to know that. And so far, ADP is clearly losing the PR battle as well. Hopefully the company isn't so stubborn that it can't realize this fact. Zenefits is providing a useful service in an innovative way. And tons of small businesses are using it -- because it works. And none of them seem to be complaining about the way Zenefits works with ADP -- they like it. ADP should get with the program, whether or not it's actually trying to build a competing service. * It seems worth noting that the young internet upstart company is using blog posts and Change.org petitions to make its case, while the old school mega-giant corporation is using PDFs and lawsuits...Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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Well, here's a possible first in open government: a Congressional Representative issuing a pull request on a government policy posted to GitHub, leading the US CIO to merge the request into the document. The White House has actually been using GitHub a bit lately. In fact, we had just noted how the White House CIO, Tony Scott, had been using Github to solicit feedback on various proposals, including the one to require all federal government websites go HTTPS only. Another proposal concerned the Management and Oversight of Federal IT Resources. That included a draft policy document. A few weeks ago, Rep. Gerry Connolly (or, perhaps, a staffer...) made a pull request, adjusting some of the language in the draft policy: For those of you not used to using version control systems like Github, a pull request is a way to submit a contribution to a project. Here, Rep. Connolly was basically suggesting a language change to the policy. Then, this week, as the policy was finalized, the White House merged the pull request, thereby making it a part of the final policy. Chances are there was a lot of behind-the-scenes coordination to make this happen. I doubt that we'll be seeing Congress critters crawling around Github, posting bills, reviewing and merging pull requests and such -- but is it such a crazy idea? Yes, right now it's mostly useful for folks with some technical background, but given how well such processes have worked for more open development of code, why can't it work for many other things up to and including regulations? Yes, this particular example may be something of a stunt, but it's still a milestone, and one worth paying attention to. It shows how we could move much more towards truly open government if we really had the will to go there.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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The House Intelligence Committee is supposed to be providing "oversight" of the intelligence community and preventing it from violating our civil rights. That's why it was formed in the first place, out of the Pike Committee, when Congress actually investigated abuses by the NSA, CIA and FBI. But, over the decades, the House Intelligence Committee has, instead, turned into a cheerleader for the intelligence community and seems to work to better hide its activities from the public, rather than oversee them. That's part of the reason why we now have a Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) who is actually supposed to be investigating these programs and protecting our civil liberties. Thus, it should come as little surprise that the House Intelligence Committee is trying to stop the PCLOB from doing its job, and has come up with the pettyist of petty reasons for doing so: it's upset about an opinion piece that was written by the PCLOB's chairperson. Back in April, PCLOB chair David Medine criticized the lack of oversight concerning the use of military drones. That opinion piece argued: Now is the time to address the questions President Obama has raised. We must seize the opportunity to institutionalize a more transparent and dispassionate process, defend the hallmarks of due process, and affirm that neither the executive branch nor U.S.-born terrorists are outside the law. We recommend a fine-tuned version of the second approach raised by President Obama: an independent, executive branch review panel designated to assess the evidence against proposed targets and make non-binding recommendations to the President as to whether the targeting is appropriate before efforts are made to kill the targets. One candidate for such a panel is the existing Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent, bipartisan agency in the executive branch. In short, a fairly modest request: if we're going to be droning people -- including American citizens, shouldn't there at least be some oversight? To the House Intelligence Committee, however, apparently this is sacrilege. Thus, punishment in the form of blocking the PCLOB from having the power to review any information concerning covert actions by the US government: Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, upset by an opinion piece penned by the chairman of a government watchdog on privacy issues, have advanced a measure to block the agency’s access to information related to U.S. covert action programs. The provision, in the 2016 intelligence authorization bill, takes a jab at the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent executive branch agency whose job is to ensure that the government’s efforts to prevent terrorism are balanced with the need to protect privacy and civil liberties. In other words, because the chair of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversght Board expressed some concerns about the impact on civil liberties of a "covert" (ha ha) program, the House Intelligence Committee has blocked it from investigating any further. How is this "oversight" by the House Intelligence Committee and not "covering up"? Of course, they're coming up with all sorts of silly excuses about how this is about keeping the PCLOB from straying outside its mandate: That article “really stirred the pot,” said one congressional aide, who like others interviewed for this article was not authorized to speak for the record. The committee majority saw that suggestion, along with other reviews the board was undertaking, the aide said, as “mission creep.” The provision, which the committee passed on a voice vote last week, was an attempt by Republicans to make sure the board members “stay in their lane,” as another aide put it. “Covert action, by its very definition, is an activity that the United States cannot and should not acknowledge publicly,” the committee’s chairman, Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), said. “Review of such activity is ill-suited for a public board like the PCLOB.” Yes, but the drone program has been acknowledged publicly, and why does that even matter when we're discussing the privacy and civil liberties impact of these programs? And, why have we allowed our elected officials to become the enablers of civil liberties abuses, rather than the protectors of civil liberties?Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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Techdirt readers with a good memory may recall that back in 2010 a Spanish woman with entirely too much time on her hands claimed to have found a legal loophole that allowed her to register her ownership of the sun. Yes, the sun. You know, Sol, that star that allows us to exist, and it apparently fell into the hands of Maria Angeles Duran. The law had been constructed to prevent any nations from declaring ownership of planets or stars -- but not individuals. Maria laid her claim by registering it and announced plans to charge us lowly citizens of the Earth for all beneficial uses of "her" sun. Well, she presumably was told by someone with a couple of brain cells to rub together that the world wasn't going to let that kind of Dr. Evil shit go on, because she instead decided to monetize her "ownership" of the sun on -- wait for it -- eBay! Yes, via the internet marketplace, Duran was selling "plots" of "land" on "her" sun, all the way up until eBay caught wind and shut the whole thing down. And now Duran is taking eBay to court over all of this, a court which ostensibly falls under the watchful eye of her property's rays. A magistrate's court in Madrid has declared that Maria Angeles Duran, from Vigo in Spain's northwestern region of Galicia, has the right to take eBay to court after it blocked her account which was selling plots of land on the sun at a price €1 (73p) per metre square. In 2013, Duran began selling plots of the sun at a price of €1 per square metre on eBay in Italy and Spain with the promise "buy new object, unused, unopened, undamaged. Shipping is free" - and in return buyers received a diploma of acquisition. According to Duran, she received 600 orders worth €1,200 but some customers were left disappointed by the closure of the page; eBay closed the page because the item on sale could not be touched or transported and it believed it to be a scam. Which is exactly what it is, of course. Duran doesn't actually have an ownership claim on the sun simply because she registered it in her name. Nor does she have any land-rights for a star that doesn't have anything resembling land, so there's nothing to suggest that selling these plots is anything other than a silly attempt to pilfer from the likewise misinformed buyers. And, make no mistake, every action taken by Duran is that of someone simply looking to grab at cash. Duran filed a suit against eBay in 2014 for breach of contract, and claimed €10,000 in compensation. The ecommerce giant tried to settle the claim out of court, but Duran complained that the pact was "blind" because she didn't know how much money was she going to get. All this in a settlement offer for not allowing her to sell plots of land on the sun, mind you. I'll give Duran this: it's nice to see a non-American go all crazy-litigious for once. I guess it's time we updated that whole "I have a bridge to sell you..." joke. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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Last year a decent, but not great, patent reform bill looked poised to pass... until it was killed off at the last minute, thanks mainly to trial lawyers afraid of fee shifting provisions. The common wisdom was that this year a similar reform bill would likely sail through Congress, since the Senate had shifted and the Democrats (who are more closely aligned with the trial lawyers) were no longer in power. The eventual bill was just so-so, but had a few good and useful provisions, taking people a step in the right direction. After that, I had assumed that things would go along the usual course, and eventually this weak, but still marginally useful, patent reform bill would go through. However, a few weeks ago, someone involved in negotiations on the bill told me that the whole thing was potentially falling apart, as a concerted lobbying effort by those against patent reform -- combined with less than active support from those in favor of patent reform -- threatened to destroy the bill. And, now, it appears that's exactly what's happening. Judiciary Committee boss Rep. Bob Goodlatte has apparently caved on a few key issues, such that the bill has basically been watered down to nothing, and even those in favor of patent reform may just bail on it altogether. The committee had been expected to approve the bill easily when it was introduced earlier this year by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the House Judiciary chairman. But under pressure from House leadership and opponents of the bill, new language was added last week that guts key parts of the legislation, according to its proponents. Advocates of aggressive legislation are threatening to walk away from the bill if the old language isn't restored. For instance, one aspect of the bill would've made it harder for trolls to file suit in courts that have historically granted favorable decisions. Recent changes have weakened that provision too far, said one pro-reform advocate, who declined to be named because the talks are ongoing. Even that's misleading. The legislation that was on the table was hardly "aggressive," but those who abuse the patent system, especially on the pharma side, are a powerful lobby, and apparently they're now killing the best chance we had at real patent reform. Yes, in the last few years the courts have been useful in chipping away at some of the worst abuses of the patent system, but a real legislative change was necessary as well -- and now that's likely to disappear. Once again, it looks like Congress can't get its act together to fix a major problem for the economy.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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In the last few weeks, we've pointed out that the House of Representatives have been attaching a bunch of interesting amendments to appropriations bills to block surveillance. Last week, for example, there was overwhelming support for an amendment to an appropriations bill that would block funding from NIST (National Institute of Science and Technology) for helping the NSA or CIA undermine encryption. Other amendments blocked funds being used by the DOJ/FBI to force companies to put backdoors into encryption. Other amendments stripped out funding for warrantless use of stingrays. Now, with the focus on defense appropriations, it appears that Reps. Zoe Lofgren and Thomas Massie are pushing a repeat amendment of last year's bill to block funding for two different kinds of "backdoors" used in surveillance. You can see the amendment here. There are two key parts to this. The first would block Defense funds from being used for so-called backdoor searches of information collected via the infamous Section 702 "upstream" collection program. We knew that the NSA felt that it was fine to sniff through these so-called "incidental" collections of information, but as we learn more and more about how they do so, the more worried we should be. These backdoor searches are a way for the NSA to spy on many people without ever needing to get a warrant -- and this amendment would block that in cases where the government is searching for information on a US person through that database of info: Except as provided in subparagraph (b), none of the funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act may be used by an officer or employee of the United States to conduct a search of a collection of communications acquired under section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (50 U.S.C. 1881a) in an effort to find communications of a particular United States person (other than a corporation). The second part of the amendment would block funding for having the federal government demand products have backdoors in them: Except as provided in subsection (b), none of the funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act may be used by an officer or employee of the United States to mandate or request that a manufacturer, developer, or seller of covered products design or alter the security functions in its product or service to allow the surveillance of any user of such product or service, or to allow the physical search of such product, by any agency. There is some overlap with some of those earlier amendments we talked about from last week, but from different funding bills, so these are an important way to make sure funding for such programs doesn't continue via other channels. Last year, this was the amendment that passed overwhelmingly, surprising many in the intelligence community. And there are some indications that it has even more support this year, as more and more Representatives area aware of intelligence community abuse of surveillance powers. Unfortunately, last year, this amendment was later stripped out, but if support for it continues to grow it'll be impossible to block it forever.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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Some surgeries that were really risky just a couple decades ago are nearly routine now -- though the risk of death and/or complications is always going to exist. However, the idea of a head transplant is more than a little "out there" when it comes to extreme medical procedures. There are some people working on transplanting heads (or switching bodies, depending on your point of view), but early adopters aren't expected to get any life extension benefits just yet. Head transplants have been tried in a bunch of different animals over the last few decades, but one surgeon has performed about 1,000 head transplants on mice since 2003. These mice have lived as long as one day after the procedure, so this doctor is going to try primates next. IANAD, but maybe he should stick to mice.... [url] Monkey head transplant surgery has been done before, but the animals didn't live for too long, either. Brain grafts and nerve tissue regeneration might be a more promising research approach, but figuring out how to keep brains alive (without the original body) seems like an idea that won't go away. [url] James Boysen had a partial skull and scalp transplant -- an extreme way to get a new head of hair. Actually, doctors did this surgery because he needed a pancreas and kidney transplant and also had cancer damage to his skull. [url] After you've finished checking out those links, take a look at our Techdirt Deals for cool gadgets and other awesome stuff.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 26 days ago on techdirt
It looks like the government might be forced to hold another uncomfortable discussion about who is/isn't a journalist. Among the many amendments to the DOJ's appropriation bill was one from Rep. Alan Grayson, which forbids the use of DOJ funding to force journalists to turn over sources. The description of the amendment is only one sentence long, but it's provoking a much larger discussion. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to compel a person to testify about information or sources that the person states in a motion to quash the subpoena that he has obtained as a journalist or reporter and that he regards as confidential. "...as a journalist or reporter…" -- What does that mean? In the non-specifics of a short amendment, it could mean anything. In a practical sense, its definition is likely far narrower. Legislators have periodically mounted attempts at a "shield" law for journalists. Unfortunately, their efforts have either been beaten back by administrations that love prosecuting leakers or that were sabotaged by their own far-too-limited ideas of who might qualify for the elusive "journalist" designation. This -- despite its open-endedness -- will probably end up being no better than previous efforts. On one hand, it could be argued that the term is almost all-inclusive. Here's Joel Kurtzberg -- who defended James Risen in his fight against the DOJ -- on what he sees is the problem with Grayson's amendment. “If this became law, it would provide significantly needed protection to journalists who need to be able to keep their promises to confidential sources in order to do their jobs,” he says. “The difficulty with it, however, is that it appears to provide protection for anyone who claims in motion papers to have obtained confidential information as a journalist." Kurtzberg says if the amendment passes the Senate and becomes law anyone who claims to be a journalist could be off the hook from testifying. This seems like a rather odd argument to be coming from someone's whose client would have definitely benefitted from some sort of journalistic shield law. It's almost as though he's of the same mindset as some of our representatives: "real" journalists write for well-known papers and draw salaries. No one outside of this narrow definition should be shielded from the government's vengeance, no matter how much journalism they actually perform. (It's an act, not a position.) A legal rep (Barry Pollack) for an entity frequently considered to be "NOT JOURNALISM" by legislators (Wikileaks) sees this wording as implying the opposite. “I wouldn't say it offers no real-world protection,” he says. “It offers limited and imperfect protection. It would constrain what the Department of Justice could do. Anyone has a better chance if the opponent has one arm tied behind its back. But it is the referee, not the opponent, who makes the decision.” As he sees it, the courts could still compel testimony because there is no federal law offering explicit protections for journalists. The DOJ may not be able to spend money prosecuting journalists, but the courts would not be compelled to recognize a protection that officially doesn't exist. “Unless the law changes, judges may continue to rule against journalists, even without the Department of Justice openly advocating for that result,” Pollack says. And if it's not the judges, it may be the administration itself, which has never been kind to whistleblowers or journalists. The usual mouthpiece for prosecutions is the Department of Justice, so this amendment -- if it sticks -- will make for some interesting courtroom maneuvers in the future. Grayson himself doesn't see any real issues with the amendment as worded. According to him, the fact that lying to the government is a crime will be a sufficient deterrent to potential abuse. Grayson points to former House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s recent indictment for allegedly lying to the FBI when asked if non-journalists could misuse the provision. “If you go to court and lie about anything, or lie to federal agents ... then that itself is a crime and will lead to you being in prison,” he says. The potential for this sort of abuse isn't what worries journalists about shield laws. It's the abuse coming from the top down. Grayson's amendment means well, but his feeling that the government -- via the courts -- will interpret this open-ended "reporter or journalist" designation "reasonably and favorably" puts a bit too much faith in a system that has shown a preference for doing exactly the opposite. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 26 days ago on techdirt
We've been pointing out for ages that, contrary to what some claim, one of the biggest problems with including things like copyright and patents in international trade agreements like the TPP and TTIP is that it effectively binds Congress' hands, by blocking them from fixing problems associated with those laws. We've highlighted in the past, for example, how the currently leaked draft of the TPP's intellectual property section would require copyright terms to be at least life plus 70 years, which goes directly against what even the Copyright Office's boss, Maria Pallante, has been arguing for, in terms of (finally) reducing copyright terms for the first time, ever. Here's yet another example. We already wrote about the Copyright Office's (somewhat problematic) proposal on "orphan works" (a problem that is actually caused by moving away from a "formalities" system that requires registration). However, as Jamie Love at KEI points out, the Copyright Office's own proposed legislation, would flat out contradict the language currently found in the leaked TPP intellectual property chapter. Specifically, the so-called "orphan works" legislation being pushed by the Copyright Office would limit remedies, including possible compensation or injunctive relief, in certain specific instances for those who make use of "orphaned" works. Yet, the TPP requires that signatories offer monetary damages and injunctive relief to anyone whose work is infringed. Thus, the Copyright Office's own proposed regulations wouldn't be allowed if the US signs the TPP or would lead to the risk that the US would face challenges either under the WTO or a corporate sovereignty (ISDS) tribunal for failing to adhere to the rules that it agreed to in that trade agreement. Defenders of the TPP and TTIP insist that neither will change US copyright law as it stands today, but we keep finding examples of where it would bar changes that even the Copyright Office is advocating for. The Copyright Office is supposed to be working closely with the USTR on these agreements, but this raises some serious questions about whether the left hand has any idea what the right hand is doing.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 26 days ago on techdirt
The FBI doesn't just stonewall FOIA requesters. It also stonewalls its in-house investigator. Remember all those deferrals to "lawful authority" and "rigorous oversight" the agency makes when not commenting on controversial surveillance programs? Those really don't mean anything if you lock out the oversight and prevent his office from verifying whether surveillance is being carried out in accordance to laws and FBI policies. Inspector General Michael Horowitz has been fighting a courageous, but losing, battle against FBI secrecy. As the head of the DOJ's OIG office, you'd think FBI officials would throw a small amount of deference his way. But no. They don't. It has obstructed his investigative work "for years," leading to this sort of thing: [Horowitz] said the refusal to grant routine requests stalls investigations, including a recent one on FBI material witnesses, such that officials who are under review have sometimes retired or left the agencies before the report is complete. The FBI won't even release an organizational chart to him. Horowitz took these complaints to Congress earlier this year in hopes of prompting FBI document production by threatening its annual budget. Section 218 of the Appropriations Act does not permit the use of funds appropriated to the Department of Justice to deny the OIG access to records in the custody of the Department unless in accordance with an express limitation of Section 6(a) of the IG Act. The IG Act, Section 6(a), does not expressly or otherwise limit the OIG's access to the categories of information the FBI maintains it must review before providing records to the OIG. For this reason, we are reporting this matter to the Appropriations Committees in conformity with Section 218. This, surprisingly, failed to have any effect -- not because the FBI might have deduced Horowitz was actually serious about obtaining the long-delayed documents, but because if there's anything government agencies fear more than a loss of power, it's a loss of funding. Marcy Wheeler points out that -- during the ruckus surrounding the expiration of Section 215 -- the FBI again passed several of its self-imposed deadlines for document delivery. The OIG has sent four letters to Congress to report that the FBI has failed to comply with Section 218 by refusing to provide the OIG, for reasons unrelated to any express limitation in Section 6(a) of the IG Act, with timely access to certain records in ongoing OIG reviews. Those reviews are: Two FBI whistleblower retaliation investigations, letter dated February 3, 2015, which is available here; The FBI documents related to review of the DEA’s use of administrative subpoenas, letter dated February 19, 2015, which is available here; The FBI’s use of information derived from collection of telephony metadata under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, letter dated February 25, 2015, which is available here; and The FBI’s security clearance adjudication process, letter dated March 4, 2015, which is available here. As of March 31, 2015, the OIG document requests were outstanding in every one of the reviews and investigations that were the subject of the letters above. Of particular importance is the delay of documents related to the FBI's use of Section 215 collections. Obviously, having the chance to review this before the vote on reauthorization would have been preferable. If there were any questions about the FBI's involvement, or its use of the collected data, these observations could have potentially played a key role in the provision's renewal, not to mention contributed to the debate surrounding the USA Freedom Act. Obviously, the FBI preferred to keep legislators in the dark about its participation in Section 215. An ill-informed legislature is more prone to rely on fear-mongering and other baseless assertions. With nothing stating otherwise, the FBI is free to operate under the illusion that its use of the program is by-the-book and that the program itself is effective and useful. Horowitz is one of the few government officials willing to stand up to the FBI. Unfortunately, it hasn't resulted in better behavior by the agency. Apparently, the FBI feels it does best with minimal oversight and isn't inclined to let anyone -- not even its in-house inspector -- in on its domestic surveillance tactics. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 26 days ago on techdirt
A few weeks ago, we wrote about a young man who had $16,000 "forfeited" to DEA agents while riding an Amtrak train -- under the legal theory that the money was somehow involved in drug trafficking. (Not the guy carrying it. He was released without being charged -- just his money.) Maybe if the man had been more careful not to appear "suspicious," he and his money might have made it to California intact. But how can you not look "suspicious" while riding Amtrak? Unusual nervousness of traveler Unusual calmness or straight ahead stare Looking around while making telephone call(s) Position among passengers disembarking (ahead of, or lagging behind passengers) Carrying little or no luggage Purchase of tickets in cash Purchase tickets immediately prior to boarding Too calm is suspicious. Too nervous is likewise suspicious. The straight ahead stare that's too suspicious to be deployed is undercut by looking around while using the phone. You can't win. You may as well turn yourself in (and any cash you're carrying) before boarding, rather than risk setting off law enforcement's "sixth sense" that basically turns anyone not in a law enforcement uniform into a potential suspect. Law enforcement needs "reasonable suspicion" before it can move forward with patdowns, searches, questioning, etc. If it can't establish that, everything past that point runs the risk of nullifying any evidence obtained or arrests effected. But it's such a low bar, and it varies from officer to officer, not to mention from locality to locality (and even from agency to agency). Suspicion is hard to articulate, but "reasonable suspicion" is tied to the word "reasonable." The above list is clearly far from "reasonable." Two stories (of many) we've covered illustrate the huge gap between what the public views as "reasonable" in terms of suspicion, and what those outside of that realm -- namely the courts -- find to be "reasonable." Asserting your rights isn't inherently suspicious, but law enforcement has attempted to paint it as such when trying to hold onto a drug possession bust. The government has also tried to make the assertion that password-protected files on a laptop were suspicious enough to prompt further searches, but this reasoning was shot down by the court. A 2006 National Institute for Justice report detailed some behavior officers find suspicious -- as noted during 132 hours of ride-alongs with 182 police officers. All black clothing, regardless of race of person wearing them. Nervousness, refusal to look directly at officers, "fidgeting" Mismatch of ethnicity (whites in a black neighborhood and vice versa) The vague notions of "reasonable suspicion" have evolved over the past decade as law enforcement agencies increasingly view themselves as integral parts of the War on Terror. Asset forfeiture laws haven't helped, especially considering assets can be seized based on nothing more than an officer's "suspicion" the assets may be tied to illegal enterprises. (And, it must be noted, the Fourth Amendment -- despite its language about "seizures" has almost no bearing on most asset forfeiture proceedings. And due process -- the Sixth Amendment -- is often ignored as well.) Hence, this sort of thing, as detailed by the Denver Police Dept.: Business patrons or individuals who carry large amounts of cash. That alone is supposed to be "suspicious activity" -- something that nicely dovetails into the perverse incentives of asset forfeiture laws. Cash is suspicious and must be seized before it can do further harm, whether or not the person carrying it is ever determined to be involved in criminal activity. Even worse -- following a list of terrorist-related activities to look out for (chemical purchases, questions about building security, etc.) -- is the assertion that looking slightly out of place is inherently suspicious. Anyone attempting to appear ‘normal’ in their behavior, such as portraying themselves as a student or tourist. Some alleged "terrorists" are nothing more than people who aren't entirely comfortable in their new environments. The list of "reasonable" suspicions is neverending. The following are from cases where courts actually stepped up to call officers out on their "reasonable suspicion" claims. (US vs. Davis, 2013) There was no reasonable suspicion for defendant’s stop for allegedly being nervous and only allegedly walking away from the officers after making eye contact with one and saying “shit.” (State vs. Fontaine, Ohio, 2013) We agree with the trial court that “overly polite” and “heavy breathing” are not sufficient indicators that give rise to a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. (State vs. Richardson, 2010) While Officer Eastwood did observe an “unusual bulge,” this fact standing alone did not provide the independent basis of reasonable suspicion that Baldwin requires, especially in light of Richardson’s immediate compliance and Officer Eastwood’s prior peaceful exchanges with Richardson. (Schneider vs. State, 2015) Here, although Officer Wiens testified that he would conduct a stop in the event of a color discrepancy to determine whether the vehicle was stolen, he did not testify that, in his experience, car thieves would change the color of a vehicle after it had been stolen or that a discrepancy in color was indicative of any type of criminal conduct. There was, therefore, no evidence before the circuit court that a color discrepancy was indicative of any criminal activity that would possibly allow otherwise innocent behavior to give rise to a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. It is clear, based on the testimony at the suppression hearing, that Officer Wiens was acting on a purely conjectural suspicion that appellant was engaged in illegal activity at the time he initiated the traffic stop. (Parker vs. Town of Woodworth, 2015) The issue is simple: Can a police officer conduct an investigatory stop and detain citizens otherwise legally operating motor vehicles on the public highways or private roads in this State solely because past crimes or suspicious activities have occurred in the area where motorists are traveling? The answer is not even close: “No.” There simply is no “check-em-out” exception to this Constitutional prohibition. [...] Officer Godwin could articulate nothing to establish a particularized and objective basis for suspecting Parker of criminal activity. (US v. Thompson , 2015) The combination of air fresheners, two phones, only one visible bag, referring to military friends to a stranger by rank and last name, clean construction gear, and no hotel reservation do not rise to more “inchoate and unparticularized suspicion or hunch.” This is a very small sampling. Dozens more can be found here. Police may find the courts to be too narrow in their definition of "reasonable suspicion." It's not that every case where a search is thrown out is linked to a bad cop abusing his or her power. It's that the courts don't see the situation the way cops do. This doesn't make the courts wrong, but it does explain why it's so pervasive, despite dozens of rulings finding in favor of those illegally searched. In a case where "reasonable suspicion" was nothing more than a person being in what was termed a "high-crime area" by the police officer, the court had this to say about the law enforcement mindset: But here, an officer’s confident body language and tone of voice are not enough to prove a high-crime claim. Allowing such a finding solely through unsubstantiated testimony (no matter how confidently stated) would give police the power to transform “any area into a high crime area based on their unadorned personal experiences.” United States v. Montero-Camargo, 208 F.3d 1122, 1143 (9th Cir. 2000) (Kozinski, J., concurring). Yet those experiences can exaggerate the criminality of an area because “[j]ust as a man with a hammer sees every problem as a nail, so a man with a badge may see every corner of his beat as a high crime area.” Id. This is natural--even expected--because police “are trained to detect criminal activity”; they view “the world with suspicious eyes.” Id. But seeing some crime does not automatically make a place a high-crime area. That's the disconnect. People who aren't committing crimes wonder why they're being hassled by police officers. This is why. "Reasonable suspicion" is subjective and that determination is placed completely in the hands of those who can easily abuse it, and who are in the business of finding and detaining suspicious people. The remedy is the courts, which isn't much of a remedy at all, when you have to be arrested, held and possibly charged before you can avail yourself of your Fourth Amendment rights. In a recent Ohio Supreme Court case, this unfortunate limitation is called out. The "reasonable suspicion" prompting the illegal search and arrest was based on little more than the "suspect" not making eye contact with a police officer. The officer in this case was cruising a Kroger parking lot using the license plate scanner. She approached defendant because he was suspicious, but, on cross, could not identify any potential crime at all. The stop was without reasonable suspicion, and the trial court correctly suppressed the evidence. [Not looking at a police officer was considered suspicious. ¶10. How many cases have said that staring at a police officer is suspicious? Apparently some form of acknowledgment is required in this city.] The footing for reasonable suspicion constantly shifts. The assertions made in defense of bogus searches and busts are similarly ethereal. The "hunch" always remains, but when pressed for something factual and tangible, there's nothing there. The decision quotes a 1948 ruling that clearly defines the Fourth Amendment's purpose in relation to searches. "The point of the Fourth Amendment, which often is not grasped by zealous officers, is not that it denies law enforcement the support of the usual inferences which reasonable men draw from evidence. Its protection consists in requiring that those inferences be drawn by a neutral and detached magistrate instead of being judged by the officer engaged in the often competitive enterprise of ferreting out crime." Which is why the courts must sort this out. We've already seen what the Fourth Amendment looks like in the hands of police officers. It's an obstacle, at best, and it's more commonly viewed as an enemy of police work rather than a necessary check against abuses of power. The court also examines the nexus of the Fourth Amendment and the oft-applied "good faith exception." In this too, the officer is found wanting. The exclusionary rule has existed for a century to broadly protect our rights to be free from unlawful search and seizure. We find no basis for applying a good-faith exception under these admittedly subjective circumstances. '[G]ood faith on the part of the arresting officers is not enough.' If subjective good faith created an exception to the exclusionary rule, enforcement of the Fourth Amendment for people to be "secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects," would be at the discretion of the police. Furthermore, quoting Justice Robert H. Jackson (who presided over the Nuremberg Trials), the court notes that it is there to provide relief in the case of law enforcement overreach, but its offerings are purely defensive, far from comprehensive and well after the fact : Only occasional and more flagrant abuses come to the attention of the courts, and then only those where the search and seizure yields incriminating evidence and the defendant is at least sufficiently compromised to be indicted. If the officers raid a home, an office, or stop and search an automobile but find nothing incriminating, this invasion of the personal liberty of the innocent too often finds no practical redress. There may be, and I am convinced that there are, many unlawful searches of homes and automobiles of innocent people which turn up nothing incriminating, in which no arrest is made, about which courts do nothing, and about which we courts do nothing, and about which we never hear. In short: the remedy exists, but it can't prevent bogus arrests and illegal searches. On one hand, you have inherently suspicious cops far too often finding the Fourth Amendment's protections inferior to their well-honed sixth senses. On the other, you have the victims of these violations attempting to avail themselves of rights that have already been violated. In the middle, you have the courts, which can provide a much more reasonable look at "reasonable suspicion," but are also prone to extending the protections of immunity and "good faith" exceptions to far too many officers. Unlike other rights, the government is only too happy to violate first and deal with the fallout later. Government agencies are generally wary of stifling free speech and legislators often hesitant to propose or back gun control laws, but the Fourth Amendment is one the government seldom seems worried about violating. Whatever consequences it faces for these violations are often months removed from the incident and far from guaranteed. Because of that -- and the general law enforcement mindset brought on by the realities of the job -- "reasonable suspicion" will always be anything but "reasonable." Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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