Prosecutors and federal judges collaborate with corporations to seal evidence of public safety risks, sentencing hundreds of thousands of Americans to death

When federal prosecutors drag corporations into court for business practices that hurt or even kill people, it's routine for corporate counsel to ask to have the evidence in the case sealed, and for prosecutors to agree, and for judges to rubberstamp the deal, meaning that the public never finds out about the risks around them. Read the rest

A mysterious nonprofit made millions suing companies to put California cancer warnings on coffee

The Council for Education and Research on Toxics (CERT) is a nonprofit that kicked off its mysterious existence by filing a string of lawsuits against restaurant chains and coffee roasters for not posting California Proposition 65 notices (the notices are mandatory warnings about the presence of "chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer and reproductive toxicity") despite the disputed science behind their demands. Read the rest

After retaliation against Googler Uprising organizers, a company-wide memo warns employees they can be fired for accessing "need to know" data

Last year, Google was rocked by a succession of mass uprisings by its staff, who erupted in fury after discovering that the company was secretly pursuing a censored Chinese search tool and an AI project for US drones, and that it had secretly paid Android founder Andy Rubin $150m to quietly leave the company after women who worked for him accused him of sexually assaulting them. Read the rest

Big Tech's addiction to illegal, overreaching NDAs protects wage discrimination, sexual harassment, and other evils by "terrorizing" employees

NDAs were once used exclusively to protect bona fide trade secrets, but today's Big Tech companies force new hires to sign far-ranging NDAs that exceed the law in many ways (for example, by banning employees from discussing illegal workplace conditions), as a means of "terrorizing" employees into keeping their mouths shut, lest they face threats from the company's high-powered lawyers. Read the rest

Public records requests reveal the elaborate shell-company secrecy that Google uses when seeking subsidies for data-centers

It's not just Amazon and Apple that expect massive taxpayer subsidies in exchange for locating physical plant in your town: when Google builds a new data-center, it does so on condition of multimillion-dollar "incentives" from local governments -- but Google also demands extraordinary secrecy from local officials regarding these deals, secrecy so complete that city attorneys have instructed town councillors to refuse to answer questions about it during public meetings. Read the rest

Beyond GIGO: how "predictive policing" launders racism, corruption and bias to make them seem empirical

"Predictive policing" is the idea that you can feed crime stats to a machine-learning system and it will produce a model that can predict crime. It is garbage. Read the rest

Facebook reminds America's cops that they're not allowed to use fake accounts

Facebook's terms of service require users to use their real names; though thiis has lots of potential downsides (including allowing dictators to identify and round up opposition figures), you'd hope that it would at least be evenly applied -- for example, to law enforcement agencies like the Memphis Police Department, who use "Bob Smith" accounts to befriend and entrap activists online. Read the rest

Laramie County, Wyoming Sheriffs' department blocks public records requests for their prison phone monopoly deal

Every crappy thing in the world is beta-tested on people who have little or no power, perfected, and brought to the rest of us -- CCTV starts with prisoners, moves to mental institutions, then to schools, then to blue-collar workplaces, then airports, then white-collar workplaces, then everywhere. Read the rest

For the first time, a US president has classified the legal justification for taking publicly acknowledged actions

It's not uncommon for legal opinions from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel to be classified; whenever the President wants to do something nefarious -- like authorizing the CIA's program of torture -- he'll get a memo out of the OLC, and then classify the whole thing: the action and its justification. Read the rest

William Gibson on individual privacy, governmental secrecy and the future of history

In a thoughtful New York Times editorial, science fiction giant William Gibson mediates on the difference between the privacy that individuals have and deserve, the privacy that governments assert ("What does it mean, in an ostensible democracy, for the state to keep secrets from its citizens?"), and what this will mean for the historians of the future. Read the rest

Chinese opsec funnies: your foreign boyfriend is a western spy!

In this Chinese government comic book, women are warned that mysterious foreign strangers who pitch woo at them are secretly Western spies trying to get at their government secrets. Read the rest

Microsoft sues US government for the right to tell you when the feds are reading your email

“We appreciate that there are times when secrecy around a government warrant is needed,” Microsoft President Brad Smith wrote in a blog post Thursday. “But based on the many secrecy orders we have received, we question whether these orders are grounded in specific facts that truly demand secrecy. To the contrary, it appears that the issuance of secrecy orders has become too routine.” Read the rest

UC Davis paid $175,000 or more to scrub police pepper spray incident from web searches

Looks like the geniuses who run UC Davis never Googled the words “Streisand Effect.” Read the rest

Obama: 'Top Secret' could mean info that would endanger America, or random stuff you can Google

“There’s classified, and then there’s classified,” President Barack Obama recently told Fox News anchor Chris Wallace in response to a question about the now-classified material on Hillary Clinton’s private email server from when she was Secretary of State. Read the rest

DoJ forced Google to turn over Jacob Appelbaum's email, then gagged Google

Google's lawyers fought strenuously against the DoJ's demands for access to the Gmail account of Jacob Appelbaum, a journalist, activist and volunteer with the Wikileaks project; they fought even harder against the accompanying gag order, arguing that Appelbaum had the right to know what was going on and have a lawyer argue his case. Read the rest

FBI tells tech companies offering encryption to reconsider “their business model”

Despite zero indication the people responsible for recent terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino used encryption, the FBI is launching an all-out PR war on crypto.

Now, FBI director James Comey is making tech firms that offer end-to-end encryption tools an offer they can't refuse: they should reconsider “their business model,” he said today, and instead adopt encryption techniques that let them intercept communications, and hand them over to law enforcement when asked. Read the rest

New crowdfunding campaign to help local independent journalists hold police accountable

Today Freedom of the Press Foundation is proud to announce a new crowd-funding campaign that will fund local journalists around the United States to file Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and other transparency lawsuits aimed at uncovering video evidence of police misconduct and brutality against unarmed men and women. You can donate to the fund here. Read the rest

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