Mass convictions of local warlords for 2009 massacre revive faith in Philippines' justice system

The election of the violent Philippine autocrat Rodrigo Duterte and the subsequent widespread extrajudicial killings, torture, and other crimes against humanity was a blow to the rule of law in the Philippines and the democracy advocates who have struggled to make a just society after centuries of colonial exploitation. Read the rest

Chinese law professor's social media denunciation of facial recognition in the Beijing subway system

Lao Dongyan is a professor specializing in Criminal Law at Tsinghua University; on Oct 31, she posted a long, thoughtful piece to their public Wechat account about the announcement that Beijing's metro system will soon deploy facial recognition to "improve efficiency of passenger traffic." Prof Lao makes a smart, thorough argument against this, drawing on both China's rule of law, international privacy norms, and lack of meaningful consent. Read the rest

"Owning your data" will not save you from data capitalism

The fight against surveillance capitalism and mass state surveillance has reached a tipping point, the peak-indifference moment, when new privacy advocates are self-radicalizing as they witness firsthand the undeniable risks of overcollection, over-retention, and secret manipulation of personal data. Read the rest

AT&T disconnects whole families from the internet because someone in their house is accused of copyright infringement

It's been five years since America's super-concentrated telcoms sector announced their "voluntary Copyright Alert system" (AKA Six Strikes), a system that said that if your someone in your household was accused of six acts of copyright infringement, everyone in your house would get the internet death penalty, having your net connection terminated. Read the rest

My keynote for Ethereum Devcon: without the rule of law, crypto fails

I was one of the keynote speakers at last week's Ethereum Devcon in Prague, where I gave a talk called "Decentralize, Democratize, or Die," about the way that bad tech policy (crypto backdoors, the DMCA's ban on security disclosures, etc) come from weak states where the super-rich get to call the shots, and how things like money-laundering creates these weak states. The core message: if you don't figure out how to make more pluralistic, less plutocratic states, you will never get the kind of information security you need for your blockchain systems to thrive. Read the rest

22 states jointly petition the Federal Circuit appeals court to reinstate Net Neutrality

The Attorneys General of New York, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia have filed suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, asking it to reinstate the Network Neutrality rules killed by Trump FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. Read the rest

Leaked ICE forfeiture manual instructs agents to seize houses if they contain a phone implicated in crime

ICE have become house-flippers, using the notorious and discredited "civil asset forfeiture" process to steal houses from people they say were involved in crime, then selling the houses to fund their operations, and more seizures of more houses. Read the rest

Customs officials refuse to allow passengers to debark a domestic flight unless they show ID

Two CBP officials boarded a Delta flight from New York to SFO after it landed on Wednesday and demanded that passengers show government-issued "documents" before they would be allowed to debark. Read the rest

America's institutions can preserve liberty, but they're also pretty good at destroying it

As trumpism metastasizes, I've taken some comfort in the American system of checks and balances, especially the independent judiciary and the strong Constitutional tradition, which lets impact litigators like EFF and ACLU leverage the courts to overturn the executive branch; I've seen this work many times with EFF and other civil liberties organizations. Read the rest

Federal judge orders emergency injunction and restraining order ending Trump's #muslimban

US District Judge Andre Birotte Jr (Central District of California) heard a plea from 28 Yemeni-born US citizens, and ruled that: Read the rest

Acting Attorney General orders DoJ lawyers not to defend the #muslimban UPDATE: she's fired

Update: they fired her. No foreign surveillance warrants until further notice.

Acting Attorney General Sally Yates has ordered Justice Department lawyers not to make legal arguments in the court challenges to Trump's ban on Muslims entering the USA. Read the rest

Lawrence Lessig on how Congress should behave when the president breaks the law

Lessig compares the current constitutional crisis -- a lawless, reckless president; law enforcement officers flouting federal court orders -- with previous crises, such as the impeachment of Nixon, and says the major difference between then and now: then, Congress had a bipartisan consensus that "they were engaged in the most serious job a member of Congress could have — because they knew that in a critical sense, the very stability of the Republic depended on them behaving as adults." Read the rest

US towns that pandered to anti-immigrant sentiment had to raise taxes and borrow to cover the millions in losses

The US is a nation of laws, not men, and that means that unconstituional actions by lawmakers end up being struck down by judges -- so when populist leaders of small towns come to power by promising racist legislation to harass "illegals," everybody loses. Read the rest

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

Ten principles for user-protection in hostile states

The Tor Project's "Ten Principles for User Protection in Hostile States" is both thoughtful and thought-provoking -- it's a list that excites my interest as someone who cares about the use of technology in improving lives and organizing political movements (principle 1 is "Do not rely on the law to protect systems or users" -- a call to technologists -- while number 7 is aimed at companies, "Invest in cryptographic R&D to replace non-cryptographic systems" and principle 2 says "Prepare policy commentary for quick response to crisis," which suggests that the law, while not reliable, can't be ignored); and also as a science fiction writer (check out those tags! "Acausal trade," "Pluralistic singularity" and "Golden path"! Yowza!) Read the rest

California's "gang" database is a sick joke; today, you can do something about it

Dave Maass from Electronic Frontier Foundation writes, "A coalition of social justice and digital rights groups are tweeting at Gov. Jerry Brown today to demand he sign A.B. 2298, a bill that would bring new accountability measures to CalGang, the state's troubled gang database. Read the rest

Why Facebook's "It's too hard" excuse for Vietnam war photo takedown is bullshit

On Friday, Facebook started deleting posts containing "The Terror of War," Nick Ut's photo depicting a young Vietnamese girl fleeing a napalm attack on her village; Facebook approach this photo with a scorched earth (ahem) policy, even deleting it when it was posted by the Prime Minister of Norway. Read the rest

More posts