Almost at once after the Paris attacks, speculation began to circulate that the murderers had used encrypted communications to plan their operation and that legislation giving government backdoor tools to break encryption was therefore needed more urgently than ever. Later reports have suggested, however, that the plotters employed a combination of plain vanilla unencrypted messaging with in-person communication. [Karl Bode/TechDirt, The Verge, Vice “Motherboard” (“How the Baseless ‘Terrorists Communicating Over Playstation 4’ Rumor Got Started”)] Related: Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg View. A contrary view: Alex Spence and Duncan Gardham, Politico Europe.
Amy Maxmen, Wired on the advances in DNA editing (via Jason Kuznicki):
But the attorney filing for Zhang checked a box on the application marked “accelerate” and paid a fee, usually somewhere between $2,000 and $4,000. A series of emails followed between agents at the US Patent and Trademark Office and the Broad’s patent attorneys, who argued that their claim was distinct.
A little more than a year after those human-cell papers came out, Doudna was on her way to work when she got an email telling her that Zhang, the Broad Institute, and MIT had indeed been awarded the patent on Crispr-Cas9 as a method to edit genomes. “I was quite surprised,” she says, “because we had filed our paperwork several months before he had.”
“…Still Say We Should Give Them Cybersecurity Powers” The spectacular breach of Office of Personnel Management records, which exposed to China-based hackers information on every federal employee as well as the obviously sensitive contents of security clearance applications, was revealed when a vendor of security services was allowed to do a sales presentation on the federal network in question and discovered the already-exploited vulnerability. But of course the feds will be totally competent in prescribing practice to the private sector, right? [Mike Masnick, TechDirt] Earlier on regulation of private-sector electronic security here, here, etc. Related: W$J (DHS couldn’t move to secure networks without engaging in collective bargaining first). Related: pending bills “authorize government to impose data retention mandate on private businesses”
Updating a post from five years ago (related), a New Mexico appeals court has upheld the dismissal on summary judgment of Arthur Firstenburg’s lawsuit against next-door neighbor Raphaela Monribot for refusing to turn off her cellphone, computer, dimmer switches, and other electronic paraphernalia, which Firstenburg alleged cause him injury because he experiences electromagnetic sensitivity, or EMS, an acute sensitivity to electronic radiation, a condition on which (per the court) he has been drawing Social Security disability payments since 1992. The trial court excluded the proffered testimony of Firstenburg’s expert witnesses on causation; without it, it found that his claims of causation necessarily failed for lack of admissible evidence. More: George Johnson, New York Times.
“…and Nobody Knows What To Do About It.” How can you resist clicking a headline like that? [Daniel Rivero, Fusion]
- “Government Is the Biggest Threat to Innovation, Say Silicon Valley Insiders” [J.D. Tuccille, Reason]
- Acrimonious split between Overlawyered favorite Geoffrey Fieger and long-time law partner Ven Johnson [L.L. Brasier, Detroit Free Press]
- Case against deference: “Now More Than Ever, Courts Should Police Administrative Agencies” [Ilya Shapiro on Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Association; boundary between “interpretive” and “legislative” agency rules]
- “The Canary in the Law School Coal Mine?” [George Leef, Minding the Campus] Ideological diversity at law schools [Prof. Bainbridge and followup]
- Familiar (to economists) but needed case against state auto dealership protection laws [Matt Yglesias, Vox; our tag]
- Trial lawyers dump millions into attempt to defeat Illinois high court justice Lloyd Karmeier [Chamber-backed Madison County Record, Southern Illinoisan]
- A genuinely liberal regime would leave accreditation room for small Massachusetts college that expects students to obey Biblical conduct standards [Andrew Sullivan, more]
“Net neutrality” sounds nice, fair, workable, and so forth, and has been eloquently backed by Google. Reason enough, then, to break with the “Hands Off the Net” policy under which the internet has flourished? Lest we forget: lines of business reduced to public utility status tend to stagnate [David Boaz, Cato]
- As Brooklyn changes, so do its juries: “more sophisticated people… they don’t believe [plaintiffs] should be awarded millions of dollars for nothing.” [NY Post quoting plaintiff’s lawyer Charen Kim]
- Richard Epstein: Massachusetts buffer zone statute “should have been upheld, not struck down” [Hoover Institution, earlier on McCullen v. Coakley, my related comment]
- “Runners” as in client-chasing for injury work: “Arkansas AG Files Suit Against Chiropractic ‘Runners'” [AP]
- Fox, henhouse: 2012 law says local transit agencies must sit on boards helping set their own funding [Randal O’Toole, Cato]
- No-good, terrible, really bad idea: occupational licensure for software professionals [Ira Stoll]
- More proliferation of legally required video surveillance [Volokh; guns, cellphone sales]
- How do you expect the IRS to back up headquarters emails when we throttle its IT budget down to a mere $2.4 billion? [Chris Edwards, Cato]
Sen. Harry Reid seems to have been central:
“We felt really good the last couple of days,” said the tech lobbyist. “It was a good deal—one we could live with. Then the trial lawyers and pharma went to Senator Reid late this morning and said that’s it. Enough with the children playing in the playground—go kill it.”…
Trial lawyers are heavy donors to Democratic politicians, including Reid. … The long history of the divide over other kinds of legal tort reform loomed over the bill, which was dubbed the Innovation Act in the House. The fact that it was the trial lawyers’ lobby that reportedly delivered the death blow suggests that the rift only got wider as debate dragged on.
Key Litigation Lobby allies like Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) spoke out against the legislation on the Senate floor. [Joe Mullin, ArsTechnica]