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.

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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

Texas lawmaker introduces bill chastising Texans for using the Chilean flag emoji

Texas and Chile have remarkably similar flags (though Chile got theirs first, by a matter of decades) and Texas doesn't have a Unicode-defined emoji for its flag (just a sprinkling of proprietary ones that do not cross platforms gracefully), so Texans have taken to using the Chilean flag emoji as a shorthand for the longhorn state. Read the rest

Tiny, poor, diabetes-wracked Pacific island nations want to ban junk food, despite risk of WTO retaliation

In the poor, remote island nations of the South Pacific, the Type-II diabetes rate ranges from 19% to 34%, a devastating health statistic that is challenging the countries' economies and wellbeing. Read the rest

Scottish court: your neighbours owe you for the distress of pointing a CCTV at your back yard and recording your conversations

Edinburgh's Nahid Akram installed a CCTV system that let him record his downstairs neighbours Debbie and Tony Woolley in their back garden, capturing both images and audio of their private conversations, with a system that had the capacity to record continuously for five days. Read the rest

Italy unveils a legal proposal to regulate government hacking

Internet traffic nowadays is mostly encrypted (“HTTPS”). Thus, for a few years now, Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA) have been facing far more challenges at gathering data through the interception of connections than they used to.

Chris Christie vetoes unanimous bill that would make NJ cops disclose what they seize through asset forfeiture

Civil asset forfeiture is the bizarre American practice of seizing peoples' property without charging its owner: instead the property is charged with being the ill-gotten gains of a crime, and if the owner doesn't pay their property's legal bills, the police get to keep or sell the property. Read the rest

The W3C, DRM, and future of the open web

JM Porup's long, thoughtful article on the W3C's entry into the DRM standardization game gives a sense of the different forces that are pushing one of the open web's staunchest allies into a disastrous compromise: the competition that siloed apps present to open-web browsers, the debts of the W3C, the relentless pressure from the entertainment industry to redesign browsers to do a corporation's bidding, rather than the user's. Read the rest

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