Research

Stray WiFi Signals Could Let Spies See Inside Closed Rooms

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - 13 hours 29 min ago
sciencehabit quotes a report from Science Magazine: Your wireless router may be giving you away in a manner you never dreamed of. For the first time, physicists have used radio waves from a Wi-Fi transmitter to encode a 3D image of a real object in a hologram similar to the image of Princess Leia projected by R2D2 in the movie Star Wars. In principle, the technique could enable outsiders to "see" the inside of a room using only the Wi-Fi signals leaking out of it, although some researchers say such spying may be easier said than done. Their experiment relies on none of the billions of digital bits of information encoded in Wi-Fi signals, just the fact that the signals are clean, "coherent" waves. However, instead of recording the key interference pattern on a photographic plate, the researchers record it with a Wi-Fi receiver and reconstruct the object in a computer. They placed a Wi-Fi transmitter in a room, 0.9 meters behind the cross. Then they placed a standard Wi-Fi receiver 1.4 meters in front of the cross and moved it slowly back and forth to map out a "virtual screen" that substituted for the photographic plate. Also, instead of having a separate reference beam coming straight to the screen, they placed a second, stationary receiver a few meters away, where it had a direct view of the emitter. For each point on the virtual screen, the researchers compared the signals arriving simultaneously at both receivers, and made a hologram by mapping the delays caused by the aluminum cross. The virtual hologram isn't exactly like a traditional one, as researchers can't recover the image of the object by shining more radio waves on it. Instead, the scientists used the computer to run the radio waves backward in time from the screen to the distance where wave fronts hit the object. The cross then popped out.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

EPA Website Removes Climate Science Site From Public View After Two Decades

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - 16 hours 9 min ago
Last week there were reports that the EPA climate change website was set to be taken down, though later the EPA denied that. On Friday evening, however, the Environmental Protection Agency announced its website would be "undergoing changes" to better represent the new direction the agency is taking, triggering the removal of several agency websites containing detailed climate data and scientific information (paywalled; alternative source). From a report on The Washington Post: One of the websites that appeared to be gone had been cited to challenge statements made by the EPA's new administrator, Scott Pruitt. Another provided detailed information on the previous administration's Clean Power Plan, including fact sheets about greenhouse gas emissions on the state and local levels and how different demographic groups were affected by such emissions. The changes came less than 24 hours before thousands of protesters were set to march in Washington and around the country in support of political action to push back against the Trump administration's rollbacks of former president Barack Obama's climate policies.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

Petition of the day

SCOTUS Blog - Fri, 04/28/2017 - 23:36

The petition of the day is:

Missouri ex rel. Hawley v. Becerra 16-1015

Issue: Whether a state has parens patriae standing to challenge another state’s commercial regulations on the ground that those regulations violate the commerce clause by impermissibly discriminating against out-of-state commerce, unduly burdening interstate commerce and purporting to regulate commercial activity that occurs entirely outside the borders of the regulating state.

The post Petition of the day appeared first on SCOTUSblog.

Categories: Research

Trump Order Helps Offshore Drilling, Stops Marine Sanctuary Expansion

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Fri, 04/28/2017 - 23:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: In an executive order signed on Friday, President Trump directed his secretary of the interior to review current rules on offshore drilling and exploration. This review is likely to result in a relaxation of the strict protections the previous administration put on offshore oil drilling in the Atlantic and in the Arctic. According to the Washington Post, a review of the rules is likely to "make millions of acres of federal waters eligible for oil and gas leasing." At the same time, Trump's executive order directed the secretary of commerce to cease designating new marine sanctuaries or expanding any that already exist. According to USA Today, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is also "directed to review all designations and expansions of marine monuments or sanctuaries designated under the Antiquities Act within the last 10 years." The Post says this "includes Hawaii's Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, which Obama quadrupled in size last year, and the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts off Massachusetts." Although these reviews could take some time to complete, they put in motion a bid to favor extraction industries like oil and gas mining. "Today, we're unleashing American energy and clearing the way for thousands and thousands of high-paying energy jobs," Trump reportedly told the Associated Press.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

Open Ports Create Backdoors In Millions of Smartphones

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Fri, 04/28/2017 - 21:25
An anonymous reader writes: "Mobile applications that open ports on Android smartphones are opening those devices to remote hacking, claims a team of researchers from the University of Michigan," reports Bleeping Computer. Researchers say they've identified 410 popular mobile apps that open ports on people's smartphones. They claim that an attacker could connect to these ports, which in turn grant access to various phone features, such as photos, contacts, the camera, and more. This access could be leveraged to steal photos, contacts, or execute commands on the target's phone. Researchers recorded various demos to prove their attacks. Of these 410 apps, there were many that had between 10 and 50 million downloads on the official Google Play Store and even an app that came pre-installed on an OEMs smartphones. "Research on the mobile open port problem started after researchers read a Trend Micro report from 2015 about a vulnerability in the Baidu SDK, which opened a port on user devices, providing an attacker with a way to access the phone of a user who installed an app that used the Baidu SDK," reports Bleeping Computer. "That particular vulnerability affected over 100 million smartphones, but Baidu moved quickly to release an update. The paper detailing the team's work is entitled Open Doors for Bob and Mallory: Open Port Usage in Android Apps and Security Implications, and was presented Wednesday, April 26, at the 2nd IEEE European Symposium on Security and Privacy that took place this week in Paris, France."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

Airbnb Gives In To Regulator's Demand To Test For Racial Discrimination By Hosts

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Fri, 04/28/2017 - 20:45
As part of an agreement with California regulators, Airbnb will allow the government to test for racial discrimination by hosts. The Guardian reports: The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) announced Thursday that it had resolved a complaint it filed against Airbnb with an agreement that forces the company to permit the state to conduct "fair housing testing" of certain hosts. That means that for the first time the San Francisco-based company is giving a regulatory body permission to conduct the kind of racial discrimination audits that officials have long used to enforce fair housing laws against traditional landlords. The DFEH's original complaint -- which had not previously been disclosed -- was based on research and a growing number of reports suggesting that hosts regularly refuse to rent to guests due to their race, a problem exposed last year under the hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlack.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

Apple, Tesla Ask California To Change Its Proposed Policies On Self-Driving Car Testing

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Fri, 04/28/2017 - 19:20
Tesla and Apple have asked the state of California to change its proposed policies on self-driving cars to allow companies to test vehicles without traditional steering wheels and controls or human back-up drivers, among other things. Reuters reports: In a letter made public Friday, Apple made a series of suggested changes to the policy that is under development and said it looks forward to working with California and others "so that rapid technology development may be realized while ensuring the safety of the traveling public." Waymo, the self-driving car unit of Google parent company Alphabet Inc, Ford Motor Co, Uber Technologies Inc, Toyota Motor Corp, Tesla Motors Inc and others also filed comments suggesting changes. Apple said California should revise how companies report self-driving system "disengagements." California currently requires companies to report how many times the self-driving system was deactivated and control handed back to humans because of a system failure or a traffic, weather or road situation that required human intervention. Apple said California's rules for development vehicles used only in testing could "restrict both the design and equipment that can be used in test vehicles." Tesla said California should not bar testing of autonomous vehicles that are 10,000 pounds (4,535 kg) or more. Tesla also said California should not prohibit the sale of non-self-driving vehicles previously used for autonomous vehicle testing.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

WikiLeaks Reveals the 'Snowden Stopper': CIA Tool To Track Whistleblowers

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Fri, 04/28/2017 - 18:40
schwit1 quotes a report from Zero Hedge: As the latest installment of it's "Vault 7" series, WikiLeaks has just dropped a user manual describing a CIA project known as "Scribbles" (a.k.a. the "Snowden Stopper"), a piece of software purportedly designed to allow the embedding of "web beacon" tags into documents "likely to be stolen." The web beacon tags are apparently able to collect information about an end user of a document and relay that information back to the beacon's creator without being detected. Per WikiLeaks' press release. But, the "Scribbles" user guide notes there is just one small problem with the program: it only works with Microsoft Office products. So, if end users use other programs such as OpenOffice of LibreOffice then the CIA's watermarks become visible to the end user and their cover is blown.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

A Database of Thousands of Credit Cards Was Left Exposed on the Open Internet

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Fri, 04/28/2017 - 17:20
A US online pet store has exposed the details of more than 110,400 credit cards used to make purchases through its website, researchers have found. From a report on ZDNet: In a stunning show of poor security, the Austin, TX-based company FuturePets.com exposed its entire customer database, including names, postal and email addresses, phone numbers, credit card information, and plain-text passwords. Several customers that we reached out to confirmed some of their information when it was provided by ZDNet, but did not want to be named. The database was exposed because of the company's own insecure server and use of "rsync," a common protocol used for synchronizing copies of files between two different computers, which wasn't protected with a username or password.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

When it comes to pending legislation, Congress loves data

Sunlight Foundation - Fri, 04/28/2017 - 15:32

Hundreds of bills currently pending in Congress highlight the never-ending push-pull between the public’s right to know and assorted privacy and security concerns. With 535 legislators constantly introducing bills, there’s no simple way to keep track of every one that might affect the collection or dissemination of data.

By searching on  GovTrack.us, however, I found that in the 115h Congress alone, 13 bills contain the term “public records,” 93 contain the word “database” and 403 contain the word “data, as of mid-April 2017.

Sifting through these proposed laws, it’s clear that data collection is a factor in all types of government functions, from modernizing the copyright process to closing underutilized military bases to monitoring the assets of Iranian leaders.

Following is a breakdown of how and where data comes up in legislation in the 115th Congress, including a partial list of bills Sunlight supports.

Some bills, like the Federal Records Modernization Act of 2017, indicate  in the title that they modify the government’s information-gathering powers.

In other cases, data collection or disclosure is obscured by the title of the bill. For example, The Wingman Act would let congressional staffers obtain health records of consenting veterans without having to go through the VA.

Some bills are relatively non-controversial.

  • The Cold Case Record Collections Act of 2017 proposes that “All government records related to civil rights cold cases shall be preserved for historical and governmental purposes.” The bill acknowledges that the disclosure of such records has historically been slow and inadequate under the Freedom of Information Act – and that executive orders claiming to protect national security information have also blocked transparency.
  • The Improving Support for Missing and Exploited Children Act of 2017 calls for the coordination of state-level missing-children clearinghouses and to “make available to the general public, as appropriate,” data on missing children and attempted abductions.

Other bills have other potential landmines.

  • The Tax Accountability Act of 2017 would deny federal employment, grants and contracts to anyone with “seriously delinquent tax debt.” The bill would authorize the Secretary of the Treasury to disclose to other agency heads whether certain people have such debt.
  • The stated goal of Pharmaceutical Information Exchange Act (H.R. 2026) is “to improve patient access to emerging medication therapies by clarifying the scope of permitted health care economic and scientific information communications between biopharmaceutical manufacturers and population health decision makers.”  But its title alone — the Pharmaceutical Information Exchange Act — raises some red flag about what health data might be shared with companies and who could stand to profit.
  • The Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act of 2017, which seeks to expand nuclear-energy research among civilians, proposes “a database to store and share data and knowledge relevant to nuclear science and engineering between Federal agencies and the private sector.” Theoretically, getting more people learning about nuclear capabilities could result in better practices; then again, what if Kim Jong Un downloads a copy?

A number of bills in the pipeline are focused on the threat of terrorism.

  • The Frank Lautenberg Memorial Secure Chemical Facilities Act is an effort to gather data on small chemical facilities like fertilizer or pesticide manufacturers. It provides for the development of security assessments, as well as the establishment of whistleblower hotlines to report non-secure facilities.  Should this information be available to neighbors understandably concerned about potential threats? Or stay secret, lest the proverbial bad guys exploit it? The bill foresees such conflicts, as it provides for the vague power to “prescribe such regulations, and may issue such orders, as necessary to prohibit the unauthorized disclosure” of related information.
  • H.R. 876, the Aviation Employee Screening and Security Enhancement Act of 2017, seeks to mitigate insider threats to airport security by insuring that certain employee entry and exit points in airports include secure doors that require PIN numbers or biometric technology, as well as surveillance video. The bill covers employees including airport concessionaires and requires collecting their social security numbers. It calls for creation of a “national database of Administration employees who have had either their airport or aircraft operator-issued badge revoked for failure to comply with aviation security requirements.” It also calls for a process for removing anyone falsely added to the database.

Another set of bills would set up new databases, some of which are problematic because of the ways weaponizing selective disclosure could undermine public trust in government.

  • The Mobile Now Act would require the Office of Science and Technology Policy to “establish and operate a single database of any covered property that is owned, leased, or otherwise managed by an Executive agency” and make the database available to communications companies, but also “establish a process for withholding data from the database for national security, public safety, or other national strategic concerns.”
  • The Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 commands the Director of National Intelligence to study the feasibility of creating a database of surveillance imagery.
  • The Sportsmen’s Act, which seeks to open federal land to hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting, would require creation of a searchable database of court adversaries and a “priority list” of lands currently inaccessible to the public.
  • The Open Book on Equal Access to Justice Act, a.k.a H.R. 1033, calls for the creation of “an online searchable database containing information about cases in which fees and expenses were awarded by courts or federal agencies to individuals or entities under the Equal Access to Justice Act.”
  • The Corporate Crime Database Act would have the Attorney General acquire data regarding civil, and criminal judicial proceedings initiated by the federal government against corporations.

Other proposed laws focus on social media.

The “Social Media Screening for Terrorists Act of 2017” requires the Department of Homeland Security “to search all public records, including Internet sites and social media profiles, to determine if an alien applying for admission to the United States is inadmissible under the Immigration and Nationality Act.” It’s legally debatable whether social media counts as “public record,” if it’s not produced by a government agency.

While many bills seek to open up the government’s books or mandate public access to certain categories of records – The Mar-A-Lago Act  would require public disclosure of visitor logs to the White House and President Trump’s private Florida estate – others would close off the flow of information.

For instance, H.J.Res. 38 eliminated the Stream Protection Rule, which required mining companies to collect and monitor environmental data on mining sites and groundwater.

Others bills remain up for debate, including:

Other bills focus on fundamentally reforming how the government collects, organizes and discloses data to the public.

  • Senator John Tester of Montana’s Public Online Information Act of 2017, asserts that the federal government should make its “public information available on the Internet,” and do so “in ways that take advantage of modern technology, that anticipate the public’s needs, and that provide access to the greatest number of people. The Government should strive to make its information available on the Internet in real-time and in machine processable formats.”  Sunlight has been a long-time support of the POIA.
  • The Preserving Government Data Act (H.R. 2026) would require federal agencies to preserve public access to data sets and prevent the removal of those data sets from the Internet without sufficient public notice. You can read the full text of the The Preserving Data in Government Act on our blog. Sunlight supports it!
  • The OPEN Government Data Act would codify an expectation into law that the Sunlight Foundation has been advocating for since we were founded a decade ago: Public data created with taxpayer dollars should be available to the public in open, machine-readable forms when doing so does not damage privacy or national security. We helped draft it, we support it in 2017., and hope you will too!
Categories: Research

NSA Halts Collection of Americans' Emails About Foreign Targets

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Fri, 04/28/2017 - 15:20
The NSA is stopping one of the most disputed forms of its warrantless surveillance program (alternative source), one in which it collects Americans' emails and texts to and from people overseas and that mention a foreigner under surveillance, NYTimes reports on Friday citing officials familiar with the matter. From the report: National security officials have argued that such surveillance is lawful and helpful in identifying people who might have links to terrorism, espionage or otherwise are targeted for intelligence-gathering. The fact that the sender of such a message would know an email address or phone number associated with a surveillance target is grounds for suspicion, these officials argued. [...] The N.S.A. made the change to resolve problems it was having complying with special rules imposed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in 2011 to protect Americans' privacy. For technical reasons, the agency ended up collecting messages sent and received domestically as a byproduct of such surveillance, the officials said.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

It Keeps Getting Worse for Michael Flynn

Project On Government Oversight - Fri, 04/28/2017 - 14:28
President Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn may be in legal trouble for failing to disclose information about his relationships with foreign governments.
Categories: Research

The Internet-of-Things is Maturing

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Fri, 04/28/2017 - 13:40
An anonymous reader shares a report: The "Internet of Things" (IoT) category is starting to mature in terms of startup investments, according to a new report from Silicon Valley venture capital firm Wing. Like any other trendy area of tech, IoT is in the midst of its own hype cycle, so it's important to get a more detailed picture of how the money is flowing.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

Qualcomm Says Apple To Stop Paying Royalties

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Fri, 04/28/2017 - 13:20
Apple has decided to withhold royalty payments to its contract manufacturers that are owed to Qualcomm, until a legal dispute between the companies is resolved, the chipmaker said on Friday. From a report: Qualcomm, the largest maker of chips used in smartphones, said it will not receive royalties from Apple's contract manufacturers for sales made during the quarter ended March 31. San Diego, California-based Qualcomm also slashed its profit and revenue forecasts for the current quarter, to account for the lost royalty revenue.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

Argument analysis: The Supreme Court struggles with the ACA’s patent provisions

SCOTUS Blog - Fri, 04/28/2017 - 09:01

In a surprise to virtually no one, the oral argument in the consolidated patent cases Sandoz v. Amgen and Amgen v. Sandoz showed the Supreme Court struggling to understand both the highly complex patent provisions in the Affordable Care Act (aka the “Obamacare” statute) and the many procedural complexities of the underlying litigation.

The argument began with an unusual announcement by Chief Justice John Roberts, who told the lawyers for the two battling pharmaceutical firms that “the Court has decided to give each of you five extra minutes” of argument time.  Each advocate must have thought, “Wow, five whole minutes! For each of us! How generous!”

Joking aside, however, I’m sure that the advocates understood what the court was doing. The court could not possibly have thought that the five more minutes would really bring much more clarity to the issue. Even five extra hours of argument might not have helped much. The extra time signals to the lawyers, and to the larger biomedical community that cares about these legal issues, that the court understands that this litigation is far more complex than most others and that the justices are willing to put in extra effort to try to resolve the relevant issues in a conscientious manner.

The five additional minutes might signal something else too. There is, I believe, a real chance that the court might decline to rule on some or even all of the issues presented in these consolidated cases. You read that correctly: The justices may not decide any of the issues but instead might dismiss as improvidently granted the petitions for certiorari in the case (a so-called “DIG” of the petitions). The extra minutes might be designed to show that the court was not merely trying to avoid work or otherwise being cavalier in waiting to opine on the issues until another day.

Such DIGs are unusual, but so are the consolidated cases here. In one of the most highly cited cases concerning DIGs, The Monrosa v. Carbon Black Export, Inc., the court wrote that its function is to “decide[] questions of public importance,” but only “in the context of meaningful litigation,” and not simply to answer questions in an “administrative or managerial” role.

At multiple points in the oral argument, the parties seemed to be encouraging the justices to assume just such an administrative or managerial role with respect to this statute (the 17-page biosimilars subchapter contained in the larger ACA).  As mentioned in my argument preview, all of the issues in this particular case are moot, and the court granted certiorari based on the exception to mootness for issues “capable of repetition yet evading review.” Yet as the argument played out, this particular litigation seemed more unusual and less typical, and the parties were seeking rulings that may or may not be relevant to future cases. Justice Stephen Breyer was the most vocal of the justices in rejecting such a role, as he repeatedly stated that the issues would be better resolved in a comprehensive administrative rulemaking rather than in Supreme Court litigation.

Below I will discuss the specific issues raised in the litigation, and in doing so, I will follow the structure of my argument preview, which described the issues in five layers. Throughout my discussion, however, I will point out the places in the argument where comments by the justices and even by the attorneys seem to hint that the case may be a poor vehicle for answering the questions presented.

*                      *                    *

Very few questions at the oral argument focused on the two most general aspects of the case: (i) the long-running policy war over the optimal level of patent protection for medicines, and (ii) the complex technology of biologics and biosimilars. The dearth of questions on those matters is to be expected. The justices clearly understood that, in enacting the relevant statute, Congress was trying to strike a balance between patent protection and access to medicines, and that the underlying complexities of the technology partly explain why the statute is so complex. The justices were instead devoting almost all of their attention to trying to discern what balance had been struck by Congress.

The first specific legal issue that gave rise to the litigation between Amgen and Sandoz is whether, under the statute, Amgen was entitled to obtain Sandoz’s FDA application to market a biosimilar to Amgen’s drug filgrastim (trade name Neupogen). One of the very first steps in the statutory “exchange of information” process is that the applicant for a biosimilar license – here Sandoz – “shall provide to the [research pharmaceutical company] a copy of the application submitted [to the agency] under subsection (k).” Amgen’s position is that “shall” in that sentence means that the disclosure is mandatory, and that a federal court may issue injunctive relief if the application is not disclosed. Sandoz argues that disclosure is optional, with the statute merely permitting a declaratory judgment action about possible patent infringement if the application is not provided.

A few points of clarity emerged on this issue, but no real resolution. The court seemed willing to assume that the word “shall” bespeaks a mandatory duty. At one point in his questioning of Amgen’s lawyer—former Solicitor General Seth Waxman — Justice Neil Gorsuch said, “let’s say I spot you that … ‘shall’ means shall.”  The hard issue is then whether the statute’s listed consequences for nondisclosure are the exclusive remedies, and as Justice Gorsuch noted, “it’s hard to divorce a right from its remedy.”

Justice Sotomayor questions Seth P. Waxman, the lawyer for Amgen (Art Lien)

Justice Stephen Breyer then identified the key ambiguity in the statute, stating: “You’re right. ‘Shall’ means ‘shall.’ Okay? But [the remedial provision in the federal statute] doesn’t say that’s the only remedy or that there are others.” The statute provides a remedy for the applicant’s non-disclosure of its FDA application, but it is ambiguous as to whether that remedy is exclusive.

In the underlying litigation, Amgen sued Sandoz and received Sandoz’s application in discovery, so the issue of the remedy for nondisclosure is moot in this litigation. Nevertheless, the justices speculated about whether such a disclosure-via-discovery solution would always be present or was the exception.  Questioning Sandoz’s counsel — former Assistant to the Solicitor General Deanne Maynard — Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked whether other litigants would generally have “a good-faith basis” for bringing such a suit so that the FDA application could be obtained in discovery. That question led to extended speculation about possible future lawsuits, and that sort of speculation might very well be a signal to the court that it’s a bad idea to decide a moot legal question without seeing the issue arise in a more concrete context.

The next issue in the case was whether the biosimilar applicant Sandoz provided proper notice to Amgen. The statute required Sandoz to provide notice “not later than 180 days before the date of the first commercial marketing of the biological product licensed [by the FDA].” Sandoz sent the notice while its biosimilar application was still pending before the FDA, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held that notice to be too early. Logically, the Federal Circuit believed, the notice would have “to follow licensure, at which time the product, its therapeutic uses, and its manufacturing processes are fixed.”

Breyer again identified the precise ambiguity in the statute that creates uncertainty here. He rhetorically asked: “What does this notice [have to] say?” He then started to paraphrase the statute and realized that the statute does not provide any indication about the information that should be in the notice. It’s a “crucial ambiguity,” he noted. At that point, he suggested that the contents of the notice would be better decided by administrative regulation, admitting that he was “operating in a field I know nothing about,” and then asking “[s]o why isn’t the way to go about this case to ask the agency to issue some regulations?”

Later in the argument, Breyer returned to that idea, but admitted that the court may not be able to prod the agency into action: “I would stick with the idea of the FDA doing this first, but maybe I can’t get there. And if I can’t get there, I’m stuck.”

Deanne E. Maynard, the lawyer for Sandoz (Art Lien)

The last issue in the case is whether federal courts could provide injunctive remedies that are not expressly authorized in this particular statute. In my preview, I worried that the court might inadvertently decide a major issue concerning the scope of federal equity powers without realizing the full implications of such a decision. The oral argument, however, focused on a different theory — a theory that (no surprise here) is hopelessly muddled in this litigation.

The oral argument focused on Amgen’s theory that, to remedy any violations of the biosimilar provisions in the ACA, Amgen could rely on the California’s Unfair Competition Law, which authorizes injunctive relief for any “unlawful, unfair or fraudulent business act or practice.”

I did not discuss that theory in my preview because my reaction to the argument was similar to that of John Roberts, who commented: “[T]his is a very reticulated statute with enormous consequences, and you’re reading along and you finally figure it out, and all of a sudden up pops California law.” Roberts seemed to indicate that he thought such a combination of state and federal law would be “odd” and that the state law could not be used to supplement the federal statute under “well-established preemption” principles.

Amgen’s lawyer Waxman had an answer for that: “[P]reemption was waived” by Sandoz! Roberts was unpersuaded, but not because he disagreed that the issue had been waived. Rather, he said: “I understand [the waiver problem], but I’m not going to interpret a Federal statute based on the decisions of one party to waive the argument or not.”

To any sophisticated observer of the Supreme Court, the entire exchange between Waxman and Roberts points to what’s wrong with this case. Roberts is absolutely correct that the court isn’t in the habit of “interpret[ing] a Federal statute based on the decisions of one party to waive the argument.” But the court doesn’t routinely forgive waivers either. In fact, the justices do not usually hear such cases at all because they typically deny certiorari when a case has such a significant procedural problem.

*                      *                    *

In closing, I’ll note a final general impression about the argument. At numerous points, the advocates and the justices found themselves speculating about how this statute might work, but it’s clear that the discussion was speculative because the statute is so new.

For example, the Roberts asked “how often” a particular issue is likely to arise, and Waxman answered “[w]e don’t have a sufficient data set [because the FDA] has only granted 5 [applications], the last one being last Friday.” Earlier in the argument, Justice Elena Kagan asked Maynard whether “as a matter of practice, … that’s the way people operate under this statute.” Maynard answered that Amgen took that course in this case and “this is the only situation in which I’m aware ….”

The best line — one that received a good bit of laughter — came after Maynard speculated about the strength of the “incentives” provided by the statute for parties to take certain actions, and Sotomayor interrupted: “All incentives have a way of failing. Just look at our society.”

It’s a funny line. But it hints at a serious question about the proper role of the court in deciding complex issues arising under a new statutory scheme, and the justices seem to be thinking about that as much as about the substantive issues presented in these consolidated cases. We will know more about how that concern plays out by the end of June.

The post Argument analysis: The Supreme Court struggles with the ACA’s patent provisions appeared first on SCOTUSblog.

Categories: Research

Lawsuit: Fox News Group Hacked, Surveilled, and Stalked Ex-Host Andrea Tantaros

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Fri, 04/28/2017 - 09:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Comparing their actions to the plot this season on the Showtime series Homeland, an attorney for former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros has filed a complaint in federal court against Fox News, current and former Fox executives, Peter Snyder and his financial firm Disruptor Inc., and 50 "John Doe" defendants. The suit alleges that collective participated in a hacking and surveillance campaign against her. Tantaros filed a sexual harassment suit against Roger Ailes and Fox News in August of 2016, after filing internal complaints with the company about harassment dating back to February of 2015. She was fired by the network in April of 2016, as Tantaros continued to press complaints against Fox News' then-Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, Bill O'Reilly, and others. Tantaros had informed Fox that she would be filing a lawsuit over the alleged sexual harassment. Tantaros claims that as early as February of 2015, a group run out of a "black room" at Fox News engaged in surveillance and electronic harassment of her, including the use of "sock puppet" social media accounts to electronically stalk her. Tantaros' suit identifies Peter Snyder and Disruptor Inc. as the operators of a social influence operation using "sock puppet" accounts on Twitter and other social media.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

Arkansas executes fourth inmate in one week

SCOTUS Blog - Fri, 04/28/2017 - 08:34

Without any recorded dissents, the Supreme Court last night declined to block the execution of Kenneth Williams. Williams was the fourth inmate executed in Arkansas in a week; the state had sought to execute eight inmates over a span of 11 days so that it could carry out the executions before one of the drugs in its lethal injection protocol expired, but four other inmates had their executions stayed. The 38-year-old Williams had been serving a life sentence without parole for the 1998 murder of Dominique Herd when he escaped from prison and murdered Cecil Boren, who lived near the prison. Williams stole Boren’s truck; driving the truck while trying to evade capture, Williams struck and killed another driver, Michael Greenwood. Williams was sentenced to death in 2000.

In filings yesterday at the Supreme Court, Williams argued that his execution should be put on hold to allow him to demonstrate that he is intellectually disabled and therefore cannot be put to death. But the justices were unwilling to step in. They issued orders denying Williams’ request for relief shortly after 11 p.m. EDT, the state began to administer the lethal injection a little less than an hour later, and Williams was pronounced dead at 11:05 p.m. CDT.

The post Arkansas executes fourth inmate in one week appeared first on SCOTUSblog.

Categories: Research

Today in OpenGov: Congressmen try to preserve data, journalists collaborate to open FEC data, and more…

Sunlight Foundation - Fri, 04/28/2017 - 08:03

In today's edition, California develops a state-wide water data portal, Washington prepares for upcoming DATA act deadlines, news nerds combine their powers against PDFs, Brazil finds a colorful way to fight corruption, and more…

states and cities
 
  • Louisville Mayor touts transparency, but keeps his meetings secret. Louisville, Kentucky Mayor Greg Fischer has made transparency a key part of governing philosophy. But, as it turns out, he hasn't extended that to his own interactions. "There is no public record of guests or visitors to the mayor’s office, according to a WFPL News investigation that sought to find who might have private influence over the administration during a time of city budget planning. The mayor’s office also denied a request for any other documents that show the name of anyone visiting Metro Hall to meet with Fischer, when they visited and for how long." In the past Sunlight has praised Fischer for his work on transparency, but as Alex Howard pointed out "Any administration that is putting its shoulder toward being more open and accountable to the public will embrace voluntary disclosures of influence as part of making sure that transparency and accountability don’t just end with a policy, but are actually borne out in spirit." (WFPL) You can find a more detailed statement on our Facebook page
  • California focuses on statewide water data platform. "This spring the Department of Water Resources (DWR), the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) jointly submitted a budget proposal that would put $2.9 million in fiscal year 2017-18 and more than $2 million each year thereafter toward the platform's development and maintenance." (Government Technology)
  • Report finds that "special districts" and authorities, which handle many public services, lack basic transparency. "When citizens turn on their faucet, visit a library or fly out of an airport, there’s a good chance they’re being served by a special district. These entities frequently spend hundreds of millions in public funds a year, but information about how those dollars are used is often scarce." (Governing)
  • ACLU, others sue LAPD for "systemic violations" of public records law. "The American Civil Liberties Union has joined with a journalist, a college professor and an activist to sue the Los Angeles Police Department over what they describe as a 'systemic violation' of California’s public records law. (LA Times via NFOIC)
data, data, data
 
  • New bill would preserve public access to public data online. A bipartisan team of Senators have introduced the Preserving Data in Government Act to ensure that once data has been made available to the public online it will remain available. Sunlight strongly supports this effort and we hope that Congress passes the bill quickly. Read more on the Sunlight blog
  • With DATA Act deadline approaching, officials stress that this is only the start. "The first deadline for the DATA Act, which requires all agencies to report spending in a standardized way, is on May 9. But that marker, officials say, is only the beginning." Some agencies have acknowledged that they will struggle to meet the upcoming deadline, but Congressional overseers and the agencies in charge of overall implementation are stressing that the process is ongoing and early struggles will do not equal failure. (FedScoop)
  • Financial transparency is a priority for the president, according to Trump aide. Despite the fact that some agencies are struggling to meet the upcoming DATA act deadline "…financial transparency is still a priority for President Donald Trump’s administration, Matt Lira, special assistant to the president for innovation policy and initiatives, told an audience in Washington Thursday." (Nextgov)
trumpland
 
  • Reporters from competing publications collaborated to open up Trump inaugural data for the public. After President Trump's Inaugural committee filed its disclosure to the FEC in print and it was disclosed as a PDF, "news nerds" from ProPublica, the Wahington Post, the New York Times, and the Huffington Post worked together to clean up the data and published it as a more useable, open dataset. Then, they invited the public to act as  "citizen sleuths" to identify contributors. As a result of the issues they found, the committee has to refile. Get the whole story at OpenNews
  • Review of White House press pool reports sheds some light on who has access to President Trump. "Reuters analyzed more than 900 White House press pool reports to give the first big picture view, albeit an incomplete one, of who has had the most and least success at bending the president's ear." Those getting the most time include manufacturing companies and Wall Street players. Sunlight's John Wonderlich weighed in on Trump's decision to withhold public access to White House visitor logs, saying ""A public record of who has the president's ear is more important than it has ever been." (Reuters)
  • Transparency is not a Trump priority. "Nearly 100 days into his presidency, Trump hasn’t made keeping Americans informed about what his administration is doing a top priority – despite the many public signing ceremonies for executive orders and congressional resolutions." Sunlight's John Wonderlich summed it up nicely, saying "President Trump is not going to lead on any kind of transparency or accountability…[the White House's] default is whatever choice prevents discomfort and inconvenience." (The Miami Herald)
  • President Trump signs VA accountability executive order. "President Donald Trump visited Department of Veterans Affairs headquarters on April 27 to sign an executive order setting up a new office to crack down on problem employees and protect those who report waste, fraud and abuse." (Federal Computer Week) But will it really help whistleblowers? The move is the latest in a series of efforts to solve problems at the VA it it leaves many open questions. The Project on Government Oversight has the whole story and a recommendation for Congress to "conduct close oversight of the Central Whistleblower Office as well as the broader Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection." (Project on Government Oversight)
think global
 
  • Open data is making progress in the Caribbean, albeit slowly. "Unfortunately, progress in the Caribbean has been mixed, if not slow. While Caribbean governments were early adopters of Freedom of Information legislation–7 countries (Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago) having passed FOI law–the digital channels through which many citizens are increasingly accessing government information remain underdeveloped." (Open Knowledge)
  • Indian government blocks social media platforms in Kashmir. "Authorities in Indian-administered Kashmir have blocked 22 social media applications including Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter." Authorities argue that the services are being used to disturb "peace and tranquility" and could be blocked for a month. (Global Voices)
  • Chrome extension serves as corruption scorecard for Brazilian politicians. "Released before what is expected to be the biggest general strike in decades, Colour of Corruption is an online political scorecard that details criminal allegations against members of the cabinet, the upper and lower houses of parliament, state governors, their deputies – and even the president." (The Guardian)
save the dates
 
  • #TCampAZ is coming up on May 22 in Phoenix. Learn more on Facebook and get your tickets hereThis one-day unconference will bring together the government representatives, developers and journalists to solve problems relating to civic data access. TCamp participants design the agenda, present their ideas and dive into the challenges, success stories and new possibilities during morning and afternoon breakout sessions. It is being hosted by the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting with key partners including Sunlight, Galvanize, and the Institute for Digital Progress.
  • May 6th: Sustainable Development Goals Data Archive-a-thon in Washington, DC. The SDG Data Archive-a-thon is an opportunity for programmers, archivists, scientists and volunteers of all kinds to help preserve publicly accessible federal data resources in the public interest. The goal of this event is to archive the datasets used to report on the SDG indicators and to ensure they remain accessible to the public online. This event is hosted by the Center for Open Data Enterprise. Learn more and register to participate here
  • May 17th and 18th: Reboot Congress 2017 and the Kemp Forum in Washington, DC. "Held in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol, Reboot Congress 2017, is an invite-only conversation that will bring together a dynamic mix of problem solvers – civic tech innovators, engineers and designers, elected officials, senior staffers, policy experts, and other stakeholders working to modernize Congress." Learn more here.
  • May 17th: The 2017 Door Stop Awards in Washington, DC. "Lincoln Network and The OpenGov Foundation are joining forces to present the 2017 Door Stop Awards for Congressional Innovation and Transparency. Awards will be presented on May 17, 2017 in Washington, D.C. at an evening party as part of Reboot Congress." Learn more here.
  • May 19th and 20th: Global Legislative Openness Conference in Kyiv, Ukraine. "This 2-day event is hosted by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, organized by the Legislative Openness Working Group of the Open Government Partnership and Open Parliament Initiative in Ukraine. The event will convene leading legislators, government officials, and civil society representatives to consider how legislative openness can strengthen public trust in representative institutions and build a responsive, 21st century legislature. In addition, the conference will explore how parliaments can best leverage the Open Government Partnership's new legislative engagement policy to develop and implement legislative openness plans and commitments." Learn more here. 
  • June 8th and 9th: Personal Democracy Forum 2017 in New York City. "The annual flagship conference brings together close to 1,000 top technologists, campaigners, hackers, opinion-makers, government officials, journalists, and academics for two days of game-changing talks, workshops, and networking opportunities to celebrate the power and potential of tech to make real change happen." Learn more about #PDF17 and get your tickets here.
  • June 29th: DATA Act Summit 2017 in Washington, DC. "The fourth annual DATA Act Summit, hosted by the Data Coalition and Booz Allen Hamilton, will bring together supporters of the open data transformation from across government and the private sector." Learn more and get your tickets here
  • September 11th and 12th: TicTec@Taipei in Taipei. "TICTeC@Taipei is the first ever conference about the influence of civic tech to be held in Asia. We’ve invited members of academia, business, politics, NGOs, education to participate, and discuss their research. We hope through this event, we can build a global network of civic tech enthusiasts." The event is being held during #CivicTechFest 2017. Learn more, submit a session proposal, and register to attend here

 

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Categories: Research

Friday round-up

SCOTUS Blog - Fri, 04/28/2017 - 07:09

At Reuters, Lawrence Hurley reports that during Wednesday’s argument in Maslenjak v. United States, an immigration case, Chief Justice John Roberts “took issue … with the Trump administration’s stance,” “saying it could make it too easy for the government to strip people of citizenship for lying about minor infractions.” Additional coverage of the argument in Maslenjak comes from Britain Eakin at Courthouse News Service, who reports that the justices offered “hypothetical examples from failing to disclose nicknames to lying about weight to walking into an immigration hearing with a pocket knife.”

 Briefly:

  • As the court heads “toward the home stretch of an eventful and unusual term,” Constitution Daily offers “a quick update of the major cases heard in Court since October.”
  • At Bloomberg BNA, Patrick Gregory reports on the court’s decision this week in Lewis v. Clarke, holding that a tribe’s sovereign immunity does not extend to a tribal employee sued in his individual capacity, noting that the court suggested that “personal immunity defenses may still be available for tribal employees in some cases.”
  • The World and Everything in It features a discussion of the oral argument in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, a constitutional challenge to Missouri’s exclusion of a church-run preschool from a state program that provides grants to nonprofits to resurface playgrounds.
  • At his eponymous blog, Lyle Denniston reports that for “the fourth time in the past eight days, the Supreme Court on Thursday night refused to delay an execution in Arkansas,” acting with “no recorded dissents.”
  • Mark Walsh has this blog’s coverage of an event yesterday at Georgetown Law’s Supreme Court Institute honoring Jeffrey Minear, the counselor to Chief Justice John Roberts.

Remember, we rely exclusively on our readers to send us links for our round-up.  If you have or know of a recent (published in the last two or three days) article, post, or op-ed relating to the Court that you’d like us to consider for inclusion in the round-up, please send it to roundup [at] scotusblog.com.

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