Europe's top court says UK surveillance rules are unconstitutional

Last July, the European Court of Jutice's Advocate General ruled that the UK's mass surveillance regime was unconstitutional, triggering an appeal to the ECJ itself, which has affirmed that under European law, governments cannot order retention of all communications data; they must inform subjects after surveillance has concluded; must only engage in mass surveillance in the pursuit of serious crime; and must get independent, judicial authorization. Read the rest

Florida appeals says you can be compelled to utter your phone's passphrase

A state appeals-court judge in Florida has broken with the precedent that the courts may not compel suspects to reveal the unlock codes for their devices as this would violate the Fifth Amendment's prohibition against forced self-incrimination. Read the rest

More than 4,000,000 attempts to read US law have failed since a court ordered Public Resource to take it down

Rogue archivist Carl Malamud writes, "In keeping with best practices for major Internet providers to issue periodic transparency reports, Public Resource would like to issue two reports. Read the rest

Judge Reinhold arrested at Dallas airport for refusing a second TSA screening

Actor Judge Reinhold was flying out of Dallas Love Field on Thursday and his bag set off an "alarm" on a TSA scanner, so security personnel demanded to pat Reinhold down; Reinhold objected that he'd already passed through the naked scanner and didn't believe he should have to get a government-mandated genital massage as well. Police were called and he was arrested. Read the rest

NYC will cease retaining data that Trump could use for mass deportations

IDNYC is New York City's ID card program, and it has served as a critical means for undocumented migrants to get identity papers that they can use to establish utilities accounts, bank accounts, and so on. The city has announced a change to the program's data-retention policy, vowing to purge information that might be useful in the mass deportations promised by Donald Trump during his presidential campaign. Read the rest

The latest generation of chatbot toys listen to your kids 24/7 and send their speech to a military contractor

Last year's Hello Barbie chatbot toy sent all your kid's speech to cloud servers operated by Mattel and its tech partner, but only when your kid held down Barbie's listen button -- new chatbot toys like My Friend Cayla and the i-Que Intelligent Robot are in constant listening mode -- as is your "OK Google" enabled phone, your Alexa-enabled home mic, and your Siri-enabled Ios device -- and everything that is uttered in mic range is transmitted to Nuance, a company that makes text-to-speech tech (you probably know them through their Dragon-branded tools), and contracts to the US military. Read the rest

Portland proposes a special tax on companies where CEOs make 100X more than median employee

Environmental lawyer-turned-Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick has a cool use for the new SEC rules requiring companies to disclose executive pay starting in 2017: he's going to impose special taxes on businesses where the ratio of CEO pay to median worker pay exceeds 100:1 -- an increase of 10% for 100:1 companies, and 25% for 250:1 companies. Read the rest

On Jan 1, awesome stuff will enter the public domain: HG Wells, Gertrude Stein, Buster Keaton, Walt Disney, Lenny Bruce (but not in the USA)

In much of the world, copyright ends 50 years after the creator's death, in some of the rest of the world, it ends 70 years after the creator's death; in the USA, things have stopped going into the public domain until 2019 (unless America decides to retroactively extend copyright...again!). Read the rest

Psychedelics can treat anxiety and depression, but there's a catch

Jan Hoffman writes about recent research into the effects on psychedelics such as psilocybin on anxiety and depression: "About 80 percent of cancer patients showed clinically significant reductions in both psychological disorders, a response sustained some seven months after the single dose."

Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, a past president of the American Psychiatric Association, and Dr. Daniel Shalev of the New York State Psychiatric Institute are among leaders in psychiatry, addiction medicine and palliative care who endorsed the work. The studies, they wrote, are “a model for revisiting criminalized compounds of interest in a safe, ethical way.”

If research restrictions could be eased, they continued, “there is much potential for new scientific insights and clinical applications.”

Although cancer patients will not have access to therapeutically administered psilocybin anytime soon, the findings add vigor to applications to expand research in a multicenter trial with hundreds of participants.

Moreover, there are few side effects. But there is a catch: the experiences must be rigorously contextualized, written down, analyzed, etc.

Dr. Griffiths noted that patients received extensive support, which may have deepened and secured their life-affirming transformations.

“People will take psilocybin at a rave or at Burning Man” — the art and performance desert festival — “but the effect,” he said, “evaporates like water running through their hands.”

Set and setting and settlement. Read the rest

As North Dakota governor orders "emergency evacuation" at Standing Rock, Water Protectors ask court for an injunction

Jack Dalrymple, the Republican governor of North Dakota, has ordered an "emergency evacuation" on the unceded treaty lands owned by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, where protesters have endured potentially lethal, unconstitutional violence from law enforcement, including the use of water cannons as antipersonnel weapons in subzero temperatures and the use of tear-gas cannisters as projectiles fired into crowds of protesters. Read the rest

America's "most prolific" transparency advocate is crowdfunding to force disclosures from Trump

Ryan Shapiro, the punk Freedom of Information Access ninja, is crowdfunding a warchest to fund his inevitable lawsuits against the Trump government when he subjects it to the same relentless bombardment of transparency requests he visited upon the Obama administration. Read the rest

Wells Fargo says that its customers gave up right to sue by having their signatures forged

Even though disgraced Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf has left the building, his most outrageous legal theories live on: on Wednesday, the company filed a motion in a federal court in Utah seeking dismissal of a class action suit by the customers it defrauded -- the bank argues that since customers sign a binding arbitration "agreement" when they open new accounts, that the customers whose signatures were forged on fraudulent new accounts should be subject to this agreement and denied a day in court. Read the rest

Kansas Attorney General apologizes for citing Dred Scott decision in abortion-ban brief

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is very sorry that his office cited the 1857 Dred Scott case, which established that the descendants of enslaved black people were not US citizens, in response to an ACLU brief in a case challenging a judge's ruling that Kansas's constitution doesn't guarantee the right to have an abortion. Read the rest

Snowden's lawyer says he'll testify about German surveillance...if Germany gets him safe passage out of Russia

An official German government committee of inquiry investigating the illegal surveillance that Edward Snowden revealed has asked Snowden to testify before it, the German Federal Court of Justice has ordered the German government to offer Snowden safe passage to Germany to do so, or admit to illegal spying. Read the rest

Superstar academic economists charge $1000+/hr to defend disastrous corporate megamergers

In 1977 Richard Posner (then a prof at the University of Chicago's notorious ultra-libertarian school; now a federal judge) teamed up with an economist and law student to form Lexecon, which has since grown to a firm worth more than $130,000,000, whose major business is to serve as intellectual guns-for-hire who will produce plausible-seeming economic models defending giant corporate mergers against anti-trust regulators. Read the rest

Electric cars must now emit engine-tones at low speeds

My friend Gilbert was the first Prius owner I knew; a hacker, Gilbert was accustomed to eating at a drive-through at 3AM, but the first time he took his silent car through the lane, the order-taker curtly said that they didn't serve people on foot; when he insisted that he was in a car, she demanded to know why she couldn't hear the engine idling? Read the rest

High Court tells UK government that Brexit requires a vote in Parliament

The lawsuit to force the UK government to call a Parliamentary vote before triggering Article 50 (the first and irrevocable step to pulling the UK out of the EU) has prevailed at the High Court. Read the rest

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