Tag Archives | Law

Hactivists aren’t terrorists – but US prosecutors make little distinction

For Lauri Love, being treated as a terrorist is no laughing matter. Lauri Love/Facebook

For Lauri Love, being treated as a terrorist is no laughing matter. Lauri Love/Facebook

Activists who use technology to conduct political dissent – hacktivists – are increasingly threatened with investigation, prosecution and often disproportionately severe criminal sentences.

For example, in January 2015 self-proclaimed Anonymous spokesman Barrett Brown was sentenced to 63 months in prison for hacking-related activities including linking to leaked material online. Edward Snowden is currently exiled in Russia after leaking the global surveillance operations of the NSA and GCHQ.

Prosecutions of hacktivists intensified in 2013, when Andrew “weev” Auernheimer was sentenced to 41 months after exposing a vulnerability that affected 114,000 iPad users on AT&T’s service. Jeremy Hammond was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison after hacking and releasing documents about military subcontractor Stratfor. Aaron Swartz, who was facing a prison sentence of 25 years after hacking into JSTOR – a database of academic articles – committed suicide in January of that year.… Read the rest

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When the President Goes to Prison

Jack (CC BY-ND-NC 2.0)

Jack (CC BY-ND-NC 2.0)

Andrew Cohen writes at the Brennan Center for Justice:

When President Barack Obama goes to Oklahoma Thursday and enters the medium-security federal prison FCI-El Reno he will be entering the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Prisons, part of the Justice Department, a bureaucratic fiefdom that is nearly as sprawling as the Department of Defense and in many ways as secret and unaccountable to the public and lawmakers as the CIA or the NSA. This even though 168,139 men and women (not counting 40,000 or so prisoners held in federal custody in private prisons) are incarcerated daily in a system staffed by approximately 40,000 federal employees.

When he walks through the doors of the prison, on his way to his inevitable photo opportunity with corrections officers and nonviolent drug offenders, the President will be entering the domain of officials in Washington who for decades have sanctioned the widespread use of solitary confinement, the systemic abuse and neglect of mentally ill prisoners, and deplorable shortages of properly trained corrections staff and medical professionals, to name just three of the systemic problems identified in recent reviews of the Bureau of Prisons.

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Is There a Human Right to Kill?

tai chang hsien (CC BY-NC 2.0)

tai chang hsien (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Nicola Perugini and Neve Gordon write at CounterPunch:

On a cool spring day in May 2012, the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) met in McCormick Place, Chicago. The 28 heads of state comprising the military alliance had come to the Windy City to discuss the withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan, among other strategic matters. Nearly a decade before, in August 2003, NATO had assumed control of the International Security Assistance Force, a coalition of more than 30 countries that had sent soldiers to occupy the most troubled regions in Afghanistan. Not long before the Chicago summit, President Barack Obama had publicly declared that the United States would begin pulling out its troops from Afghanistan and that a complete withdrawal would be achieved by 2014. NATO was therefore set to decide on the details of a potential exit strategy.

A few days before the summit, placards appeared in bus stops around downtown Chicago urging NATO not to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan.

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Is downloading really stealing? The ethics of digital piracy

Piracy might be theft, but it’s not the same as robbing someone of their material possessions. Josu/Flickr, CC BY

Piracy might be theft, but it’s not the same as robbing someone of their material possessions. Josu/Flickr, CC BY

Christian Barry, Australian National University

Many millions of people throughout the world will illegally download the fifth season of Game of Thrones, released today by HBO. Legally speaking, what they will be doing is a violation of intellectual property rights, or “piracy”. But will they be doing anything morally wrong?

It might seem obvious that what they will do is wrong. After all, it is illegal. But there are many things that have been illegal that people don’t think are morally wrong. Same-sex relationships, divorce and many other practices that are now widely accepted as morally acceptable were once outlawed and criminally sanctioned.

Few people think they were wrong just before they were legalised. Rather, they tend to think the laws governing these behaviours were unjust. So appeal only to the illegality of downloading doesn’t settle whether it is okay, morally speaking.… Read the rest

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Florida’s Bathroom Law

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mike LaBossiere via Talking Philosophy:

Being from Maine, I got accustomed to being asked about the cold, lobsters, moose and Stephen King. Living in Florida, I have become accustomed to being asked about why my adopted state is so insane. Most recently, I was asked about the bathroom bill making its way through the House.

The bathroom bill, officially known as HB 583, proposes that it should be a second-degree misdemeanor to “knowingly and willfully” enter a public facility restricted to members “of the other biological sex.” The bill proposes a maximum penalty of 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Some opponents of the bill contend that it is aimed at discriminating against transgender people. Some part of Florida have laws permitting people to use public facilities based on the gender they identify with rather than their biological sex.

Obviously enough, proponents of the bill are not claiming that they are motivated by a dislike of transgender people.

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Potential Arizona Bill Mandates Doctors To Tell Patients Abortions Can Be “Reversed”

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Scott Camazine/Alamy

There’s currently an abortion bill (S.B. 1318) in Arizona waiting to be signed into law by Republican Governor Doug Ducey. The bill, which made it through the House and Senate, will force doctors to tell patients that abortions can be “reversed.” Furthermore, under this bill, abortions will not be covered by the Affordable Care Act.

If Gov. Ducey signs this bill into law (he’s previously stated that he’s against abortion), doctors will essentially be forced to lie to their patients. Republican Rep. Regina Cobb of Kingman argued fiercely against the bill stating that it forced doctors to spread “non-evidence based medicine.” As Brandy Zadrozny notes at The Daily Beast, if S.B. 1318 is passed, it will not be the first law that binds doctors to relay misinformation to abortion patients:

It’s the first reversal language of its kind to make it through a state legislature, and should it become law, will join a long list of information that doctors in The Grand Canyon State are forced to relay to patients seeking an abortion—much of which providers know to be misleading and aimed less at informed consent and more at dissuading women from choosing the procedure.

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Remove the burden of family violence from the victims, to the courts

Michael D Beckwith (CC BY 2.0)

Michael D Beckwith (CC BY 2.0)

Rob Hulls, RMIT University

Family violence has finally come to attention as a systemic wrong in need of a national plan. A federal Senate Inquiry is examining it in detail and Victoria has appointed a dedicated minister for its prevention and a Royal Commission. The Queensland Special Taskforce has just handed down its comprehensive report, and a family violence prevention advocate, the incredible Rosie Batty, has been named Australian of the Year.

My team at RMIT’s Centre for Innovative Justice released a report today that aims to broaden this conversation. Despite increased awareness, a significant gap exists in our collective response. Yes, we need to support those who are subjected to family violence – mostly women and children – and this must remain our priority. But we must also intervene at the source of the problem.

Until we adjust the lens and bring those who use violence and coercion more clearly into view, victims will remain at risk and the cycle of this violence will simply roll on.… Read the rest

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Wikimedia Sues NSA Over Mass Surveillance

Frankfurt Am Main-Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen-Detail-Justitia von Nordwesten-20110411

Justice presides with her scale and sword at Frankfurt am Main. Photo by Roland Meinecke, licensed under a Free Art license.

One of our favorite Internet resources, Wikimedia, is suing the NSA. Here’s their statement:

Today, the Wikimedia Foundation is filing suit against the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) of the United States [1]. The lawsuit challenges the NSA’s mass surveillance program, and specifically its large-scale search and seizure of internet communications — frequently referred to as “upstream” surveillance. Our aim in filing this suit is to end this mass surveillance program in order to protect the rights of our users around the world. We are joined by eight other organizations [2] and represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The full complaint can be found here.

“We’re filing suit today on behalf of our readers and editors everywhere,” said Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia.… Read the rest

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Life in Prison for Selling $20 of Weed

Torben Hansen (CC BY 2.0)

Torben Hansen (CC BY 2.0)

This is awful.

Abby Haglage via The Daily Beast:

PART I

On September 5, 2008, Fate Vincent Winslow watched a plainclothes stranger approach him. Homeless and hungry, on a dark street rife with crime, the 41-year-old African American was anxious to make contact, motivated by one singular need: food.

Another man, this one white, stood next to Winslow. He is referred to in court documents exclusively as “Perdue.”

It was nearly 9:20 p.m., hours after the sun had dipped below the abandoned buildings surrounding them. The lights of downtown Shreveport, Louisiana, flickered in the distance as the plain-clothes man—unbeknownst to them, an undercover cop—arrived.

“What do you need?” Winslow asked. “A girl and some weed,” Officer Jerry Alkire replied.

Perdue remained silent as Winslow and Alkire negotiated the costs. Winslow wanted a $5 delivery fee for the $20 (two dime bags) of pot. Fine. Money settled, he grabbed Perdue’s bike and took off.

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Canada to allow doctor-assisted suicide

Partha S. Sahana (CC BY 2.0)

Partha S. Sahana (CC BY 2.0)

Via BBC News:

Canada’s Supreme Court has ruled that doctors may help patients who have severe and incurable medical conditions to die, overturning a 1993 ban.

In a unanimous decision, the court said the law impinged on Canadians’ rights.

The case was brought by a civil rights group on behalf of two women, Kay Carter and Gloria Taylor, with degenerative diseases. Both have since died.

The government now has a year to rewrite its law on assisted suicide.

If it does not, the current law will be struck down.

Assisted suicide is legal in several European countries and a few US states.

In Canada is it illegal to counsel, aid or abet a suicide, and the offence carries up to 14 years in prison.

Continue reading.

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