Game theory: pedestrians versus autonomous vehicles

Any well-designed self-driving car will be at pains to avoid killing people, if only to prevent paperwork delays when they mow someone down. Read the rest

Man costumed as The Joker arrested and charged with "wearing a mask in public"

The AP reports that Jeremy Putnam, 31, was arrested in Winchester, Virginia, and charged with "wearing a mask in public," a felony in that state.

He was armed with a "sword" in public, which apparently alarmed residents. But they haven't charged him with that; they've charged him with this, a fascinatingly terrible law:

§ 18.2-422. Prohibition of wearing of masks in certain places; exceptions.

It shall be unlawful for any person over 16 years of age to, with the intent to conceal his identity, wear any mask, hood or other device whereby a substantial portion of the face is hidden or covered so as to conceal the identity of the wearer...

...with specific exceptions for "traditional holiday costumes," protective or medical masks, or ones for a "bona fide theatrical production or masquerade ball."

Putnam is being held at the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center.

Read the rest

What creepy stuff will your ISP do once the FCC allows them to spy on your internet usage?

Senate Republicans have introduced a bill to ensure that the FCC won't be able to prevent your ISP from spying on your internet usage and selling your private information. What does that mean in practice? Read the rest

Sobering look at how the poor are denied American justice

American penitentiaries, in idealized Quaker imaginings, were to be a place for reflective penitence followed by forgiveness. That's not how it worked out, especially for the poor. And the problem goes far beyond prison reform: Read the rest

UC Berkeley nuked 20,000 Creative Commons lectures, but they're not going away

A ruling about a DC university held that posting course videos to the open web without subtitling them violated the Americans With Disabilities Act (while keeping them private to students did not) (I know: weird), and this prompted UC Berkeley to announce the impending removal of 20,000 open courseware videos from Youtube. Read the rest

Trump's unhinged tweeting got him elected, and it's costing him in court, bigly

Trump went full berzerker last night after a judge in Hawaii shut down his new Muslim ban before it could go into effect, but he's only got himself to blame. Read the rest

If Google wins its trade secrets suit against Uber, it could tank Uber

Google is suing Uber, alleging that the company recruited a former Google exec who had secretly offered to give them access to trade-secrets from Google's self-driving car project. Read the rest

Charming animated short on The Power of Privacy

The Power of Privacy is a brisk animated jaunt through the legal development of privacy, starting with the fireplace chimney. Read the rest

Attorney's pants catch on fire while defending arsonist in court

Miami lawyer Stephen Gutierrez was in court defending an alleged arsonist when his pants literally caught on fire. However, please don't assume that Gutierrez is a liar, liar. Apparently he had been playing with an e-cigarette in his pocket. From the Miami Herald:

Stephen Gutierrez, who was arguing that his client’s car spontaneously combusted and was not intentionally set on fire, had been fiddling in his pocket as he was about to address jurors when smoke began billowing out his right pocket, witnesses told the Miami Herald.

He rushed out of the Miami courtroom, leaving spectators stunned. After jurors were ushered out, Gutierrez returned unharmed, with a singed pocket, and insisted it wasn’t a staged defense demonstration gone wrong, observers said.

Read the rest

How the GOP's simplified Border Adjustment Tax will be instantly riddled with loopholes

The GOP is advocating for a "Border Adjustment Tax," which is something like a complicated Value Added Tax that is meant to encourage companies to on-shore or re-shore their manufacturing, without raising prices for Americans (because the US dollar is supposed to rise by up to 25% (!) as a result), while removing the complexity that allows companies to dodge tax by finding loopholes. Read the rest

Who is immigration policy for: "taxpayers," "ordinary people" or all citizens?

The UK Supreme Court recently ruled in MM v SSHD, finding that the UK government could legitimately deny entry to a British citizen's spouse if the citizen didn't have enough money to support them. This same policy is the reason that parents of 15,000 British children are not allowed to live in the UK with their kids. Read the rest

SXSW will remove contractual immigration threats for international artists who play the show

For many years, the SXSW festival's standard contract with its non-US artists contained an over-reaching, frightening clause that seemed to threaten them being turned over to immigration authorities if they violated the terms of their deal with the show -- say, by playing unauthorized gigs. Though the festival never invoked this language, it took on a new salience in light of the Trump administration's scapegoating of migrants. Read the rest

Landmark ruling shows Canada has one of the world's worst DRM laws

When the Canadian Parliament passed Bill C-11 -- Canada's answer to America's notorious Digital Millennium Copyright Act -- it was in the teeth of fierce opposition from scholars, activists and technologists, who said that making it a crime to modify your own property so you could do something legal (that the manufacturer disapproved of) had been proven to be a terrible idea in practice in the USA, and that Canada should learn from its neighbour's mistake. Read the rest

Racists blubber in court as judge jails them for threatening black child's birthday party with shotgun

Jose Torres and Kayla Norton terrorized a black kid's birthday party by leading a convoy of confederate-flag flying vehicles past it while shouting racial slurs and threats—and pointing a shotgun at the children. They blubbered in court Monday as a Georgia judge sentenced them to years in jail.

Channel 2 Action News spoke to a woman who was at the birthday party in 2015.

Melissa Alford said at least seven pickup trucks displaying Confederate flags pulled up on her property on Campbellton Street and their passengers were armed and threatened to “kill y’all niggers.”

"This is behavior that even supporters of the Confederate battle flag can agree is criminal and shouldn't be allowed," Douglas County District Attorney Brian Fortner said in a statement.

Norton was sentenced on one count of violating Georgia's street gang act and one count of making terroristic threats. Torres was sentenced on three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, one count of terroristic threats and one count of violating the street gang act.

Superior Court Judge William McClain gave Torres 20 years, with 13 served in prison, and Norton was given 15 years with 6 inside. Three things seem to have enhanced the community's righteous ire:

1. It was shortly after white supremacist Dylann Roof's killing of 9 black worshipers at a church in Charleston.

2. The Douglasville Police Department originally refused to arrest the people making the threats.

3. Only four of the people in the convoy were charged with serious crimes, despite there being "a dozen or more" involved. Read the rest

British police arrest suspect in last November's me-too Mirai botnet floods

Last October, floods of traffic from Internet of Things devices infected by the Mirai worm brought down several high profile internet services, from Level 3 to Dyn to Twitter and Reddit. Read the rest

EFF is hiring! Ops manager, legislative counsel, legal fellow, technologist, membership ass't, tech projects manager

Help wanted: Operations Manager (personable, resourceful, and demonstrates outstanding attention to detail); Civil Liberties Legislative Counsel (advocacy, public speaking, blogging and other social media, media appearances and legislative and regulatory matters related to a variety of high technology public interest legal issues); 2017-19 Frank Stanton Fellowship (recent law school graduates or law students who will be graduating this Spring and have an interest in developing an expertise in First Amendment issues as they relate to new technologies); Staff Technologist/Senior Staff Technologist; Membership Assistant (energetic and enthusiastic Membership Assistant to support fundraising operations and outreach to EFF's 30,000+ annual donors); Technology Projects Manager/Technology Projects Director. Read the rest

Federal magistrate judge in Illinois rules that being forced to unlock your phone with a fingerprint could violate your rights

M. David Weisman, a magistrate judge in Illinois's Eastern Division, denied a federal warrant application that would have allowed law enforcement officers to force suspects to unlock their mobile devices with a fingerprint, ruling that the suspects' Fourth Amendment (undue search and seizure) and Fifth Amendment (self-incrimination) rights protected them from being forced to unlock their devices. Read the rest

More posts