Topic: Law

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πŸ”— ACTA will force border searches of laptops, smartphones for pirated content

πŸ”— United States/U.S. Government πŸ”— United States πŸ”— International relations πŸ”— Law πŸ”— Law Enforcement πŸ”— United States Public Policy πŸ”— Pirate Politics πŸ”— International relations/International law πŸ”— United States/U.S. Public Policy πŸ”— Trade

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) was a proposed multilateral treaty for the purpose of establishing international standards for intellectual property rights enforcement. The agreement aims to establish an international legal framework for targeting counterfeit goods, generic medicines and copyright infringement on the Internet, and would create a new governing body outside existing forums, such as the World Trade Organization, the World Intellectual Property Organization, and the United Nations.

The agreement was signed in October 2011 by Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and the United States. In 2012, Mexico, the European Union and 22 countries that are member states of the European Union signed as well. One signatory (Japan) has ratified (formally approved) the agreement, which would come into force in countries that ratified it after ratification by six countries.

Industrial groups with interests in copyright, trademarks and other types of intellectual property said that ACTA was a response to "the increase in global trade of counterfeit goods and pirated copyright protected works". Organizations such as the Motion Picture Association of America and International Trademark Association are understood to have had a significant influence over the ACTA agenda.

Organisations representing citizens and non-governmental interests argued that ACTA could infringe fundamental rights including freedom of expression and privacy. ACTA has also been criticised by Doctors Without Borders for endangering access to medicines in developing countries. The nature of negotiations was criticized as secretive and has excluded non-governmental organization, developing countries and the general public from the agreement's negotiation process and it has been described as policy laundering by critics including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Entertainment Consumers Association.

The signature of the EU and many of its member states resulted in widespread protests across Europe. European Parliament rapporteur Kader Arif resigned. His replacement, British MEP David Martin, recommended that the Parliament should reject ACTA, stating: "The intended benefits of this international agreement are far outweighed by the potential threats to civil liberties". On 4 July 2012, the European Parliament declined its consent, effectively rejecting it, 478 votes to 39, with 165 abstentions.

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πŸ”— Jonathan James

πŸ”— Biography πŸ”— Law πŸ”— Computer Security πŸ”— Computer Security/Computing πŸ”— Biography/science and academia πŸ”— Florida

Jonathan Joseph James (December 12, 1983 – May 18, 2008) was an American hacker who was the first juvenile incarcerated for cybercrime in the United States. The South Florida native was 15 years old at the time of the first offense and 16 years old on the date of his sentencing. He died at his Pinecrest, Florida home on May 18, 2008, of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

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πŸ”— Warrant Canary

πŸ”— United States πŸ”— Internet πŸ”— Law πŸ”— Freedom of speech πŸ”— Law Enforcement πŸ”— United States/FBI

A warrant canary is a method by which a communications service provider aims to inform its users that the provider has been served with a government subpoena despite legal prohibitions on revealing the existence of the subpoena. The warrant canary typically informs users that there has not been a court-issued subpoena as of a particular date. If the canary is not updated for the period specified by the host or if the warning is removed, users are to assume that the host has been served with such a subpoena. The intention is to allow the provider to warn users of the existence of a subpoena passively, without technically violating the court order not to do so.

Some subpoenas, such as those covered under 18 U.S.C. Β§2709(c) of the USA Patriot Act, provide criminal penalties for disclosing the existence of the subpoena to any third party, including the service provider's users.

National Security Letters (NSL) originated in the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act and originally targeted those suspected of being agents of a foreign power. Targeting agents of a foreign power was revised in 2001 under the Patriot Act to allow NSLs to target those who may have information deemed relevant to both counterintelligence activities directed against the United States and terrorism. The idea of using negative pronouncements to thwart the nondisclosure requirements of court orders and served secret warrants was first proposed by Steven Schear on the cypherpunks mailing list, mainly to uncover targeted individuals at ISPs. It was also suggested for and used by public libraries in 2002 in response to the USA Patriot Act, which could have forced librarians to disclose the circulation history of library patrons.

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πŸ”— Illegal number

πŸ”— Numbers πŸ”— Law

An illegal number is a number that represents information which is illegal to possess, utter, propagate, or otherwise transmit in some legal jurisdiction. Any piece of digital information is representable as a number; consequently, if communicating a specific set of information is illegal in some way, then the number may be illegal as well.

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πŸ”— British Post Office Scandal

πŸ”— Human rights πŸ”— Computing πŸ”— Finance & Investment πŸ”— Law πŸ”— Computing/Software πŸ”— Software πŸ”— Software/Computing πŸ”— United Kingdom

The British Post Office scandal is a widespread and long-lasting series of individual miscarriages of justice which, between 1999 and 2015, involved over 700 subpostmasters being wrongly convicted of theft, false accounting and fraud when shortfalls at their branches were in fact due to errors of the Post Office's Horizon accounting software. In 2019, the High Court ruled that the Horizon system was faulty and in 2020 the government established a public inquiry. Courts began to quash convictions from 2010. As of January 2024, some victims are still fighting to have their convictions overturned and receive compensation, the public inquiry is ongoing, and the Metropolitan Police is investigating the Post Office for potential fraud offences.

The Horizon accounting system was developed by ICL Pathway, owned by the Japanese company Fujitsu. In 1999, the Post Office started to roll out the new software to its branch and sub-offices, the latter managed by subpostmasters on a self-employed basis under contracts with the Post Office. Almost immediately, some subpostmasters noticed the new system reporting false shortfalls, sometimes for thousands of pounds. The Post Office insisted that the system was robust and, when shortfalls occurred, prosecuted the subpostmasters or forced them to make up the amount. The impact of court cases, criminal convictions, imprisonment, loss of livelihood and homes, debt and bankruptcy took a heavy toll on victims and their families, leading to stress, illness, divorce and, in at least four cases, suicide. In May 2009, Computer Weekly broke the story about problems with Horizon software and in September 2009 subpostmaster Alan Bates set up the Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance (JFSA). In 2012, as a result of pressure from campaigners and Members of Parliament, the Post Office appointed forensic accountants Second Sight to conduct an investigation into Horizon. The investigators concluded that Horizon contained faults that could result in accounting discrepancies, but the Post Office insisted that there were no system-wide problems with the software.

In 2019 a group of 555 subpostmasters led by Bates won a group action brought in court against the Post Office, with the judge ruling that Horizon contained bugs, errors and defects. The Post Office agreed to settle out of court for Β£58 million. The subpostmasters' legal costs amounted to Β£47 million of, leaving them with only about Β£20,000 each. The government later agreed to supplement the settlement, as they were excluded from the compensation scheme set up by the Post Office for other victims of the scandal. The first convictions to be quashed were those of six subpostmasters who had been convicted in magistrates' courts and whose appeals were heard at Southwark Crown Court in December 2020. In allowing the appeal by 39 subpostmasters in April 2021, the Court of Appeal judges ruled that in cases that relied on Horizon data a fair trial was not possible. Further appeal cases followed.

In September 2020, the government established the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry, chaired by retired judge Sir Wyn Williams, to look into the implementation and failings of the Horizon system that led to the prosecution of subpostmasters and termination of their contracts. Evidence was due to be heard from subpostmasters, the Post Office, UK Government Investment, the Department for Business and Trade, and others.

A four-part television drama, Mr Bates vs the Post Office, was broadcast on ITV in January 2024, after which the scandal became a major news story and political issue.

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πŸ”— Michael Cicconetti

πŸ”— United States πŸ”— Biography πŸ”— Law πŸ”— United States/Ohio

Michael A. Cicconetti (born 1951) is a retired Municipal Court judge who presided in Painesville, Lake County, Ohio, United States, dispensing a unique brand of what he calls creative justice. The judge often left the choice of penalty to the defendant, who was faced with spending time in jail or undergoing one of Cicconetti's unusual punishments. These often involved placing the defendant in a similar position to that of the defendant's victim at the time of the crime.

Cicconetti's first creative sentence, which involved a violation relating to a stopped school bus, occurred in the mid-1990s. Famously he offered 26-year-old Ohio housewife Michelle Murray the option (in return for a reduced prison sentence) of spending a night in the woods for abandoning 35 kittens in a forest in wintertime; he said: "You don't do that. You don't leave these poor little animals out and, yes, I wanted to set an example for her future conduct or anybody else who was contemplating doing such a thing". On other occasions he ordered noisy neighbors to spend a day of silence in the forest or listen to classical music instead of rock. In all cases the judge attempted to place a link between the perpetrated offense and its punishment.

Due in part to the popularity of his actions, he won the presidency of the American Judges Association. He attributes his unusual approach to his background. He is an Eagle Scout, earning the award in 1964, as a member of Scout Troop 64 in Painesville, Ohio. He was the oldest of nine siblings who had to work on ore boats throughout the Great Lakes as a deckhand and deckwatch to fund himself through college. After graduating from St. Leo University, he became Clerk of the Painesville Municipal Court while attending Cleveland State University Law School at night.

Many of the victims, but also defendants, claim that his unusual approach has helped them to cope with their problems and the judge is reportedly inundated with letters from his admirers. Furthermore, where the national recidivism (repeat offender) rate is over 75%, the rate in Judge Cicconetti's court was just 10%.

His philosophy is exemplified by the following two quotations:

When you engage people and praise them for their good behavior, not unlike children, it helps their self-esteem. My judicial philosophy is really not that much different from a parental philosophy. I have five children. You can paddle them or spank them but what do you gain? Most people want to be good but for little obstacles or habits. We have to change the habits and remove the obstacles. That's our job.

Sentences such as Cicconetti's are becoming more popular across the United States, and one judge has cited him specifically as being the influence for one of her own sentences.

In February 2019 Cicconetti announced that he planned to retire later in the year. He retired from being a judge on September 20, 2019.

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πŸ”— Frankenstein Veto

πŸ”— Law πŸ”— Wisconsin

A Frankenstein veto occurs when an American state Governor selectively deletes words from a bill, stitching together the remainder (Γ  la Victor Frankenstein) to form a new bill different from that passed by the legislature.

In 2008, the state Constitution of Wisconsin was amended to place certain restrictions on the Frankenstein veto. With those changes, the governor of Wisconsin still has far greater veto powers than any other governor in the United States of America.

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πŸ”— Microsoft v MikeRoweSoft

πŸ”— United States πŸ”— Internet πŸ”— Law πŸ”— Freedom of speech πŸ”— Microsoft

Microsoft v. MikeRoweSoft was a legal dispute between Microsoft and a Canadian Belmont High School student named Mike Rowe over the domain name "". Microsoft argued that their trademark had been infringed because of the phonetic resemblance between "Microsoft" and "MikeRoweSoft".

The case received international press attention following Microsoft's perceived heavy-handed approach to a 12th grade student's part-time web design business and the subsequent support that Rowe received from the online community. A settlement was eventually reached, with Rowe granting ownership of the domain to Microsoft in exchange for an Xbox and additional compensation.

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πŸ”— Zone of Death (Yellowstone)

πŸ”— Law πŸ”— Geography

The Zone of Death is the name given to the 50Β sqΒ mi (129.50Β km2) Idaho section of Yellowstone National Park in which, as a result of a purported loophole in the Constitution of the United States, a criminal could theoretically get away with any crime, up to and including murder.

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πŸ”— St Scholastica Day Riot (1355)

πŸ”— Crime πŸ”— Law πŸ”— England πŸ”— Middle Ages πŸ”— Middle Ages/History πŸ”— Law Enforcement πŸ”— Sociology πŸ”— University of Oxford πŸ”— British crime

The St Scholastica Day riot took place in Oxford, England, on 10 February 1355, Saint Scholastica's Day. The disturbance began when two students from the University of Oxford complained about the quality of wine served to them in the Swindlestock Tavern, which stood on Carfax, in the centre of the town. The students quarrelled with the taverner; the argument quickly escalated to blows. The inn's customers joined in on both sides, and the resulting melee turned into a riot. The violence started by the bar brawl continued over three days, with armed gangs coming in from the countryside to assist the townspeople. University halls and students' accommodation were raided and the inhabitants murdered; there were some reports of clerics being scalped. Around 30 townsfolk were killed, as were up to 63 members of the university.

Violent disagreements between townspeople and students had arisen several times previously, and 12 of the 29 coroners' courts held in Oxford between 1297 and 1322 concerned murders by students. The University of Cambridge was established in 1209 by scholars who left Oxford following the lynching of two students by the town's citizens.

King Edward III sent judges to the town with commissions of oyer and terminer to determine what had gone on and to advise what steps should be taken. He came down on the side of the university authorities, who were given additional powers and responsibilities to the disadvantage of the town's authorities. The town was fined 500 marks and its mayor and bailiffs were sent to the Marshalsea prison in London. John Gynwell, the Bishop of Lincoln, imposed an interdict on the town for one year, which banned all religious practices, including services (except on key feast days), burials and marriages; only baptisms of young children were allowed.

An annual penance was imposed on the town: each year, on St Scholastica's Day, the mayor, bailiffs and sixty townspeople were to attend a Mass at the University Church of St Mary the Virgin for those killed; the town was also made to pay the university a fine of one penny for each scholar killed. The practice was dropped in 1825; in 1955β€”the 600th anniversary of the riotsβ€”in an act of conciliation the mayor was given an honorary degree and the vice-chancellor was made an honorary freeman of the city.

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