Stewart Baker is running a year-end contest to name the most regrettable uses of privacy law over the past year. Among his nominations: the “Agriculture Department, which cited privacy grounds in refusing to name any of the beneficiaries of the notoriously fraud-ridden ‘Pigford‘ settlement”; Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who imposed millions of dollars in fines on private health companies for lacking adequate technical controls on the privacy of health data, “even when there was no evidence that any data had been compromised,” at the same time as her own department was launching healthcare.gov, a data intake site with much more critical privacy and safety flaws; racing mogul Max Mosley, who prevailed on a French court to order Google to de-index scandal coverage of Mosley’s recreational indiscretions; and federal judge Lucy Koh, for finding Gmail’s business model potentially violative of wiretap laws. All the examples above were winners in their categories, save Mosley who trailed behind two others in the category “Worst Use of Privacy Law to Protect Power and Privilege.”
“French officials have fined a pub in Brittany €9,000 for “undeclared labour” after a customer returned some empty glasses to the bar. For customers at the Mamm-Kounifl concert-café in Locmiquélic, carrying drinks trays and used glasses back to the bar was a polite tradition.” [Independent]
“A law working its way through [the French] parliament would grant amnesty to workers who have ransacked their company’s offices or threatened their bosses during a labor dispute.” [USA Today via Jon Hyman]
The Mayor of Paris proposes banning vehicles made before 1997 [NYT via Amy Alkon]
I’ve expanded into a longer Cato post my item about how (according to the New York Times) incoming French president François Hollande demanded and got the dismissal of the editor of Le Figaro, the leading opposition (conservative) newspaper. If you think such things would never happen in this country, you might want to catch up on a couple of stories from Chicago and Boston. The post is here.
P.S. They’re still fighting in Washington over media cross-ownership rules.
Incoming Socialist president François Hollande demanded and received the dismissal of the editor of Le Figaro, the country’s top conservative newspaper, whose owners have military-contracting interests and must cultivate the goodwill of the state. [Scott Sayare, New York Times]
The French town of Angers might be 500 or so years too late, though. It asks a bit hopefully for the British crown jewels as compensation. [Lowering the Bar]
Travails of French employers under the Code du Travail — though it’s not as if America doesn’t have plenty of firms that follow the same strategy of keeping head counts below a certain regulatory-trigger threshold. [Business Week]
Author/attorney Tim Sandefur dropped us a line as follows:
“I’ve lately been reading Mark Twain’s book Following The Equator, and I came across a passage in which he talks about employment recommendations. What he says immediately made me think of you — how employment law has changed!”
The first Bearer that applied, waited below and sent up his recommendations. That was the first morning in Bombay. We read them over; carefully, cautiously, thoughtfully. There was not a fault to find with them – except one; they were all from Americans. Is that a slur? If it is, it is a deserved one. In my experience, an American’s recommendation of a servant is not usually valuable. We are too goodnatured a race; we hate to say the unpleasant thing; we shrink from speaking the unkind truth about a poor fellow whose bread depends upon our verdict; so we speak of his good points only, thus not scrupling to tell a lie – a silent lie – for in not mentioning his bad ones we as good as say he hasn’t any. The only difference that I know of between a silent lie and a spoken one is, that the silent lie is a less respectable one than the other. And it can deceive, whereas the other can’t – as a rule. We not only tell the silent lie as to a servant’s faults, but we sin in another way: we overpraise his merits; for when it comes to writing recommendations of servants we are a nation of gushers. And we have not the Frenchman’s excuse. In France you must give the departing servant a good recommendation; and you must conceal his faults; you have no choice. If you mention his faults for the protection of the next candidate for his services, he can sue you for damages; and the court will award them, too; and, moreover, the judge will give you a sharp dressing-down from the bench for trying to destroy a poor man’s character, and rob him of his bread. I do not state this on my own authority, I got it from a French physician of fame and repute – a man who was born in Paris, and had practiced there all his life. And he said that he spoke not merely from common knowledge, but from exasperating personal experience.
(& State Bar of Michigan News)