Research

10 Oldest Languages Still Spoken In The World Today

beSpacific - Sun, 03/19/2017 - 13:43

Culture Trip – “Language evolution is like biological evolution – it happens minutely, generation by generation, so there’s no distinct breaking point between one language and the next language that develops from it. Therefore, it’s impossible to say that one language is really older than any other one; they’re all as old as humanity itself. That said, each of the languages Here has a little something special—something ancient—to differentiate it from the masses.”

Categories: Research

This week at the court

SCOTUS Blog - Sun, 03/19/2017 - 12:04

We expect orders from the March 17 conference on Monday at 9:30 a.m. There is a possibility of opinions on Tuesday and Wednesday at 10 a.m. The court will also hear oral arguments on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, beginning at 10 a.m. each day. The calendar for the March sitting is available on the court’s website. On Friday the justices will meet for their March 24 conference; our list of “petitions to watch” for that conference will be available soon.

The post This week at the court appeared first on SCOTUSblog.

Categories: Research

Company's Former IT Admin Accused of Accessing Backdoor Account 700+ Times

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Sun, 03/19/2017 - 11:34
An anonymous reader writes: "An Oregon sportswear company is suing its former IT administrator, alleging he left backdoor accounts on their network and used them more than 700 times to search for information for the benefit of its new employer," reports BleepingComputer. Court papers reveal the IT admin left to be the CTO at one of the sportswear company's IT suppliers after working for 14 years at his previous employer. For more than two years, he's [allegedly] been using an account he created before he left to access his former colleagues' emails and gather information about the IT services they might need in the future. The IT admin was fired from his CTO job after his new employer found out what he was doing. One backdoor, which enabled both VPN and VDI connections to the company's network, granted access to a "jmanming" account for a non-existent employee named Jeff Manning...

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

The US Army Finally Gets The World's Largest Laser Weapon System

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Sun, 03/19/2017 - 10:34
It's been successfully tested on trucks, as well as UAVs and small rockets, according to a video from Lockheed Martin, which is now shipping the first 60kW-class "beam combined" fiber laser for use by the U.S. Army. An anonymous reader quotes the Puget Sound Business Journal: Lockheed successfully developed and tested the 58 kW laser beam earlier this year, setting a world record for this type of laser. The company is now preparing to ship the laser system to the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command in Huntsville, Alabama [according to Robert Afzal, senior fellow for Lockheed's Laser and Sensor Systems in Bothell]. "We have shown that a powerful directed energy laser is now sufficiently light-weight, low volume and reliable enough to be deployed on tactical vehicles for defensive applications on land, at sea and in the air..." Laser weapons, which complement traditional kinetic weapons in the battlefield, will one day protect against threats such as "swarms of drones" or a flurry of rockets and mortars, Lockheed said.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

Ask Slashdot: How Would You Implement Site-Wide File Encryption?

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Sun, 03/19/2017 - 07:34
Recently-leaked CIA documents prove that encryption works, according to the Associated Press. But how should sys-admins implement site-wide file encryption? Very-long-time Slashdot reader Pig Hogger writes: If you decide to implement server-level encryption across all your servers, how do you manage the necessary keys/passwords/passphrases to insure that you have both maximum uptime (you can access your data if you need to reboot your servers), yet that the keys cannot be compromised... What are established practices to address this issue? Keep in mind that you can't change your password once the server's been seized, bringing up the issue of how many people know that password. Or is there a better solution? Share you suggestions and experiences in the comments. How would you implement site-wide file encryption?

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

CBS Reports 'Suspicious' Cell Phone Tower Activity In Washington DC

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Sat, 03/18/2017 - 19:34
"An unusually high amount of suspicious cell phone activity in the nation's capital has caught the attention of the Department of Homeland Security, raising concerns that U.S. officials are being monitored by a foreign entity," reports CBS News: The issue was first reported in the Washington Free Beacon, but a source at telecom security firm ESD America confirmed the spike in suspicious activity to CBS News. ESD America, hired preemptively for a DHS pilot program this January called ESD Overwatch, first noticed suspicious activity around cell phone towers in certain parts of the capital, including near the White House. This kind of activity can indicate that someone is monitoring specific individuals or their devices... According to the ESD America source, the first such spike of activity was in D.C. but there have been others in other parts of the country. Based on the type of technology used, the source continued, it is likely that the suspicious activity was being conducted by a foreign nation. The news coincides with a letter sent to the DHS by two congressmen "deeply concerned" about vulnerabilities in the SS7 protocol underlying U.S. cellular networks, according to an article shared by Slashdot reader Trailrunner7. Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Ted Lieu are asking if the agency has enough resources to address the threat. "Although there have been a few news stories about this topic, we suspect that most Americans simply have no idea how easy it is for a relatively sophisticated adversary to track their movements, tap their calls, and hack their smartphones."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

China's Police Will Shoot Illegal Drones With Radio-Jamming Rifles

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Sat, 03/18/2017 - 17:34
"Police in China are being equipped with new high-tech weaponry to help them fight back against illegal drone use," writes new submitter drunkdrone. Mashable reports: A Chinese city's police department is arming itself with more than 20 drone-jamming rifles...which work by emitting radio signals that force the drones to land, purportedly without damaging them. The drone-killing rifles will be used during the upcoming 2017 Wuhan Marathon, to raise security. Wuhan police demonstrated the drone-killing rifles last week, where they shot down six drones, according to the Chutian Metropolitan Daily. Each rifle costs $36,265, and has a range of 0.6 miles.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

Bruce Schneier Calls for IoT Legislation, Argues The Internet Is Becoming One Giant Robot

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Sat, 03/18/2017 - 15:34
"We're building a world-size robot, and we don't even realize it," security expert Bruce Schneier warned the Open Source Leadership Summit. As mobile computing and always-on devices combine with the various network-connected sensors, actuators, and cloud-based AI processing, "We are building an internet that senses, thinks, and acts." An anonymous reader quotes Linux.com: You can think of it, he says, as an Internet that affects the world in a direct physical manner. This means Internet security becomes everything security. And, as the Internet physically affects our world, the threats become greater. "It's the same computers, it could be the same operating systems, the same apps, the same vulnerability, but there's a fundamental difference between when your spreadsheet crashes, and you lose your data, and when your car crashes and you lose your life," Schneier said... "I have 20 IoT-security best-practices documents from various organizations. But the primary barriers here are economic; these low-cost devices just don't have the dedicated security teams and patching/upgrade paths that our phones and computers do. This is why we also need regulation to force IoT companies to take security seriously from the beginning. I know regulation is a dirty word in our industry, but when people start dying, governments will take action. I see it as a choice not between government regulation and no government regulation, but between smart government regulation and stupid government regulation."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

Could We Eliminate Spam With DMARC?

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Sat, 03/18/2017 - 12:34
An anonymous reader writes: "The spam problem would not only be significantly reduced, it'd probably almost go away," argues Paul Edmunds, the head of technology from the cybercrimes division of the U.K.'s National Crime Agency -- suggesting that more businesses should be using DMARC, an email validation system that uses both the Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM). "Edmunds argued, if DMARC was rolled out everywhere in order to verify if messages come from legitimate domains, it would be a major blow to spam distributors and take a big step towards protecting organizations from this type of crime..." reports ZDNet. "However, according to a recent survey by the Global Cyber Alliance, DMARC isn't widely used and only 15% of cybersecurity vendors themselves are using DMARC to prevent email spoofing. Earlier this month America's FTC also reported that 86% of major online businesses used SPF to help ISPs authenticate their emails -- but fewer than 10% have implemented DMARC.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

US Lawmakers Propose Minimum Seat Sizes For Airlines

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Sat, 03/18/2017 - 09:34
The size of each passenger's seat on an airplane -- as well as the distance between rows of seats -- should be standardized, according to legislation proposed by two American lawmakers. Slashdot reader AmiMoJo quotes Consumerist: The text of the bill does not specify any dimensions for seat widths or legroom. Rather, if the legislation is passed, the particulars would be left up to the FAA to sort out... Though seat size may vary from airline to airline, Cohen notes that the average distance between rows of seats has dropped from 35 inches before airline deregulation in the 1970s, to around 31 inches today. Your backside is getting the squeeze, as well, as the average width of an airline seat has also shrunk from 18 inches to about 16.5 inches.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

Petition of the day

SCOTUS Blog - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 23:23

The petition of the day is:

Jones v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. 16-902

Issue: Whether, where the right to foreclose is extinguished as a matter of law by federal statute (Truth in Lending Act) and a unanimous Supreme Court decision (Jesinoski v Countrywide Home Loans, Inc.), and a homeowner’s home is foreclosed upon by improper foreclosure judgment, a lender can use res judicata to bar examination of an invalid judgment that was barred by federal consumer protection law.

The post Petition of the day appeared first on SCOTUSblog.

Categories: Research

Windows 10 UAC Bypass Uses Backup and Restore Utility

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 22:05
An anonymous reader writes: "A new User Access Control (UAC) bypass technique relies on altering Windows registry app paths and using the Backup and Restore utility to load malicious code without any security warning," reports BleepingComputer. The technique works when an attacker launches the Backup and Restore utility, which loads its control panel settings page. Because the utility doesn't known where this settings page is located, it queries the Windows Registry. The problem is that low-privileged users can modify Windows Registry values and point to malware. Because the Backup and Restore utility is a trusted application, UAC prompts are suppressed. This technique only works in Windows 10 (not earlier OS versions) and was tested with Windows 10 build 15031. A proof-of-concept script is available on GitHub. The same researcher had previously found two other UAC bypass techniques, one that abuses the Windows Event Viewer, and one that relies on the Windows 10 Disk Cleanup utility

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

Judge Grants Search Warrant For Everyone Who Searched a Crime Victim's Name On Google

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 18:40
Hennepin County District Judge Gary Larson has issued a search warrant to Edina, Minnesota police to collect information on people who searched for variations of a crime victim's name on Google from Dec. 1 through Jan. 7. Google would be required to provide Edina police with basic contact information for people targeted by the warrant, as well as Social Security numbers, account and payment information, and IP and MAC addresses. StarTribune reports: Information on the warrant first emerged through a blog post by public records researcher Tony Webster. Edina police declined to comment Thursday on the warrant, saying it is part of an ongoing investigation. Detective David Lindman outlined the case in his application for the search warrant: In early January, two account holders with SPIRE Credit Union reported to police that $28,500 had been stolen from a line of credit associated with one of their accounts, according to court documents. Edina investigators learned that the suspect or suspects provided the credit union with the account holder's name, date of birth and Social Security number. In addition, the suspect faxed a forged U.S. passport with a photo of someone who looked like the account holder but wasn't. Investigators ran an image search of the account holder's name on Google and found the photo used on the forged passport. Other search engines did not turn up the photo. According to the warrant application, Lindman said he had reason to believe the suspect used Google to find a picture of the person they believed to be the account holder. Larson signed off on the search warrant on Feb. 1. According to court documents, Lindman served it about 20 minutes later.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

The blog’s coverage of Judge Gorsuch’s nomination

SCOTUS Blog - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 16:22

At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Monday, March 20, the Senate Judiciary Committee will begin its hearing on the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. SCOTUSblog will live-blog the entire hearing. Below the jump is an overview of the blog’s coverage of the nomination up to this point.

Before the official nomination, as reports suggested that Gorsuch was a leading contender, Eric Citron analyzed the judge’s key decisions on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit and I provided a biographical sketch.

On the night of the nomination, a team of staffers live-blogged, Amy Howe reported on the announcement, Mark Walsh provided a “view” from the East Room, and Molly Runkle rounded-up early coverage and commentary. That night and over the course of the week, the blog also gathered and posted reactions to the nomination from politicians and interest groups, Gorsuch’s extra-judicial writings and speeches and his decisions on the 10th Circuit.

Michael Gerhardt, a law professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the former special counsel to Sen. Patrick Leahy and the Senate Judiciary Committee for the nominations of Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, outlined the confirmation process and explained what procedural opportunities Democratic senators may have to delay or prevent confirmation. Molly and I reported on early statements and actions from key Senate leaders, administration players and outside groups.

At his request, the blog published an op-ed from Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Amy reported on Gorsuch’s Senate questionnaire. Stephen Wermiel wrote an explainer for his regular feature, “SCOTUS for law students,” on attempts to predict how a nominee might vote on particular issues and cases in the future. Mark reviewed cert memos – memoranda written by law clerks recommending a grant or denial in petitions for a writ of certiorari – from Gorsuch’s time as a law clerk for Justice Anthony Kennedy and retired Justice Byron White.

The blog, along with lawyers from the law firm of Goldstein & Russell, P.C., produced a series of posts examining Gorsuch’s views on a variety of topics to provide a sense of how Gorsuch might change the court, if at all. Amy introduced the series. Edith Roberts analyzed Gorsuch’s jurisprudence on arbitration, Tejinder Singh on the First Amendment, Kevin Russell on civil rights and separation of powers and federalism, Eric on administrative law, and Amy on class actions, abortion, religion and reproductive rights, euthanasia and assisted suicide, and the Fourth Amendment. I also posted a collection of links to helpful outside coverage and commentary.

The post The blog’s coverage of Judge Gorsuch’s nomination appeared first on SCOTUSblog.

Categories: Research

FBI Arrests Alleged Attacker Who Tweeted Seizure-Inducing Strobe at a Writer

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 16:00
From a report on The Verge: An arrest has been made three months after someone tweeted a seizure-inducing strobe at writer and Vanity Fair contributing editor Kurt Eichenwald. The Dallas FBI confirmed the arrest to The Verge today, and noted that a press release with more details is coming. Eichenwald, who has epilepsy, tweeted details of the arrest and said that more than 40 other people also sent him strobes after he publicized the first attack. Their information is now with the FBI, he says. It isn't clear whether these "different charges" relate to similar online harassment incidents or something else entirely.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

Coverage of and commentary on Judge Gorsuch

SCOTUS Blog - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 15:20

Over the course of the past two weeks, this blog has published a series on Judge Neil Gorsuch’s jurisprudence in various areas. In addition to that coverage, we thought it might be helpful to offer a selection of additional articles that shed light on Gorsuch’s record and background. We include articles to illustrate Gorsuch’s thinking, opinions or personality, not to endorse the views of the authors.

Areas of law

First, we include ten links that discuss aspects of Gorsuch’s jurisprudence. Stanford Law School has also produced a helpful collection of essays on 12 subjects.

Chevron deference/administrative law:
How Neil Gorsuch could rein in regulators like the EPA and the FCC,” by Timothy Lee, published by Vox on February 2, 2017

Alternative dispute resolution:
Gorsuch on Arbitration” and “Gorsuch on Mediation,” by Russ Bleemer, published by CPR Speaks on February 1, 2017

Labor law and employment discrimination:
The Supreme Court Vacancy and Labor: Neil Gorsuch,” by Hannah Belitz, published by OnLabor on January 31, 2017

White-collar crime:
Judge Gorsuch, White Collar Crime, and the Legacy of Justice Scalia,” by Randall Eliason, published by Sidebars on February 9, 2017

Assisted suicide, euthanasia and abortion:
I read Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch’s book. It’s very revealing.,” by Dylan Matthews, published by Vox on February 9, 2017

Environmental issues:
Predicting How Neil Gorsuch Would Rule on Environmental Issues,” by Ann Carlson, published by Legal Planet on January 31, 2017

Religion:
Like a prayer: A church-state case may be an early test for Neil Gorsuch,” by Steven Mazie, published by The Economist on February 21, 2017

Education law:
Gorsuch, the Judicious Judge,” by Clint Bolick, published by EducationNext in Vol. 17, No. 3

National security and immigration:
Neil Gorsuch on National Security Law,” by Helen Klein Murillo, Yishai Schwartz and Clara Spera, publishd by LawFare on February 1, 2017

Empirical studies of ideology

Much of the analysis of Gorsuch’s jurisprudence has focused on a close reading of his opinions. Some scholars, however, have taken a more statistically based, empirical approach, both to compare Gorsuch to Scalia and to predict how he may rule if confirmed. Interestingly, they have not all reached the same conclusions. For instance, Adam Feldman finds “hints of a possible centrist,” while Ryan Black and Ryan Owens suggest Gorsuch “could be the most conservative justice on the Supreme Court.”

Searching for Justice Scalia: Measuring the ‘Scalia’ness’ of the Next Potential Member of the U.S. Supreme Court,” by Jeremy Kidd, Riddhi Sohan Dasgupta, Ryan Walters and James Cleith Phillips, posted on SSRN on November 30, 2016
* Cristian Farias covers this study as well for The Huffington Post.

Judge Gorsuch by the Numbers and Decisions,” by Adam Feldman, published by Empirical SCOTUS on February 1, 2017

Estimating the Policy Preferences of Judge Neil M. Gorsuch,” by Ryan Black and Ryan Owens, posted on SSRN on February 11, 2017
* The authors cover their study as well for The Washington Post.

Scaling Judge Gorsuch’s Opinions: Hints of a Possible Centrist,” by Adam Feldman, published by Empirical SCOTUS on February 14, 2017

Background and judicial philosophy

In addition to surveying Gorsuch’s record as a judge, reporters and commentators have also explored his background and beliefs.

Background:
In Fall of Gorsuch’s Mother, a Painful Lesson in Politicking,” by Adam Liptak, Peter Baker, Nicholas Fandos and Julie Turkewitz, published by The New York Times on February 4, 2017

A Jeffersonian for the Supreme Court,” by Jeffrey Rosen, published by The Atlantic on February 1, 2017

Gorsuch Has Strong Tie to Proponent of Morality-Based ‘Natural Law’,” by Jess Bravin, published by The Wall Street Journal on March 15, 2017

Originalism:
Trump’s Supreme Court Pick Is A Disciple Of Scalia’s ‘Originalist’ Crusade,” by Lauren Russell and Nina Totenberg, published by NPR on February 2, 2017

Neil Gorsuch: A Worthy Heir to Scalia,” by Ramesh Ponnuru, published by National Review on January 31, 2017

Justice Department record:
Colorado’s Neil Gorsuch carries the weight of Washington,” by Richard Wolf, published by USA Today on March 10, 2017

Neil Gorsuch Helped Defend Disputed Bush-Era Terror Policies,” by Charlie Savage, published by The New York Times on March 15, 2017

Gorsuch’s writing:
“Judge Gorsuch is a gifted writer. He’s a great writer. But is he a ‘Great Writer’?”, “Part One: Four Gifts” and “Part Two: Five weak spots,” by Ross Guberman, published on his eponymous blog on February 7 and February 14, 2017, respectively

The post Coverage of and commentary on Judge Gorsuch appeared first on SCOTUSblog.

Categories: Research

Gorsuch and the Fourth Amendment

SCOTUS Blog - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 13:35

During his nearly 30 years on the Supreme Court, the late Justice Antonin Scalia was perhaps best known for his commitment to originalism – the idea that the Constitution should be interpreted as it would have been understood by the Founders. Scalia’s dedication to originalism extended to the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. And it often meant that a justice whom many regarded as “conservative” reached pro-defendant results. For example, Scalia wrote the court’s 2012 decision in United States v. Jones, holding that a “search” took place when police officers attached a GPS device to the car of a suspected drug dealer and then used the device to track the car’s movements. Scalia and four other justices agreed that the installation and use of the device were no different, for constitutional purposes, than if the government had gone onto Jones’s property to collect information to use against him. This kind of “trespassing” would have been a “search” when the Fourth Amendment was first adopted in the 18th century, and so it is still a “search” today.

Judge Neil Gorsuch, the president’s nominee to succeed Scalia on the court, also describes himself as an originalist. And he too has adhered to originalist principles in reaching “pro-defendant” results in several cases, all implicating privacy issues. In one such case, United States v. Carloss, a federal agent and a local police officer went to Carloss’ house to speak with him. The house had several “no trespassing” signs scattered around the property, including one on the front door. Carloss allowed the officers to enter the house, where they saw drug paraphernalia and residue that appeared to be methamphetamines, but would not permit them to go any further. When the officers later returned with a warrant, they found “multiple methamphetamine labs,” a loaded gun and more drug paraphernalia.

When Carloss was prosecuted on drug and weapons charges, he moved to suppress the evidence found in the house. On appeal, two of the three judges affirmed the trial court’s ruling denying Carloss’ motion. Despite the “no trespassing” signs, the majority concluded, the general public and police officers had an implied right to enter the home’s “curtilage” – the area immediately around the house protected by the Fourth Amendment from unreasonable searches and seizures – to knock on the door and seek to speak with the home’s occupants.

Gorsuch filed a lengthy dissent from the ruling. He began by observing that, when the officers went to Carloss’ door to investigate a possible crime, they were indisputably conducting a “search.” The only question, in his view, was whether Carloss had, as the majority ruled, impliedly agreed to allow the officers to approach his front door and knock on it. Under the government’s rule, Gorsuch suggested, law enforcement officials would effectively have a “permanent easement” to enter a home’s curtilage for a “knock and talk” – “whatever the homeowner may say or do about it.”

But “this line of reasoning,” Gorsuch continued, “seems to me difficult to reconcile with the Constitution of the founders’ design.” The protections provided by the Fourth Amendment, he explained, parallel the protections available under the common law at the time of the founding. And at that time, the common law allowed government agents “to enter a home or its curtilage only with the owner’s permission or to execute legal process.” There was no “permanent easement,” he emphasized, for the state. “If anything,” he added, the Supreme Court’s decision in Florida v. Jardines – holding that the use of a drug-sniffing dog on a homeowner’s porch was a “search” for purposes of the Fourth Amendment – “reaffirmed the fact that the implied license on which the knock and talk depends is just that – a license, not a permanent easement, and one revocable at the homeowner’s pleasure.”

In United States v. Ackerman, the defendant was indicted on child pornography charges after an automatic filter on his Internet service provider identified images attached to his email as pornography and then notified (as required by law) the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which reviewed the images to confirm that they contained pornography and then in turn notified the police. The district court denied Ackerman’s motion to suppress the evidence against him, ruling both that NCMEC could not violate the Fourth Amendment because it is not a government actor and that its search had not gone beyond the ISP’s.

On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, in an opinion by Gorsuch, reversed. First, the court determined that NCMEC was either a government actor or, at the very least, acting as a government agent. On the latter point, Gorsuch noted that, “since time out of mind the law has prevented agents from exercising powers their principals do not possess and so cannot delegate. That is a rule of law the founders knew, understood, and undoubtedly relied upon when they drafted the Fourth Amendment.”

Turning to the question whether NCMEC’s actions constituted a “search” for purposes of the Fourth Amendment, the federal government pointed to the “private search” doctrine – the idea that there is no search when the government would not have learned anything significant beyond what the private actor had already told it. But even if that doctrine applied (and Gorsuch expressed doubt that it did), the Supreme Court’s 2012 decision in United States v. Jones also pointed to NCMEC’s actions being a search. In Jones, Gorsuch emphasized, the court “explained that government conduct can constitute a Fourth Amendment search either when it infringes on a reasonable expectation of privacy or when it involves a physical intrusion (a trespass) on a constitutionally protected space or thing” to obtain information.

Ackerman’s case, Gorsuch reasoned, involved “the warrantless opening and examination of (presumptively) private correspondence that could have contained much besides potential contraband for all anyone knew. And that seems pretty clearly to qualify as exactly the type of trespass to chattel that the framers sought to prevent when they adopted the Fourth Amendment.” The court of appeals therefore sent the case back to the lower court.

And in United States v. Krueger, a three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit upheld the district court’s order granting Krueger’s motion to suppress evidence – child pornography – found on a computer seized pursuant to a warrant issued by a magistrate judge in a different state. The majority relied on the government’s violation of the federal criminal procedure rule governing searches and seizures, without addressing whether the problems with the warrant violated the Fourth Amendment.

Gorsuch agreed with the majority’s conclusion, but he took on what he described as the government’s “phantom warrant argument”: the idea that the warrant was valid even if it did not comply with the law. Here Gorsuch once again relied on originalist principles. He noted that “looking to the common law at the time of the framing it becomes quickly obvious that a warrant issued for a search or seizure beyond the territorial jurisdiction of a magistrate’s powers under positive law was treated as no warrant at all.” It did not matter, Gorsuch stressed, whether – for example – “another judge in the appropriate jurisdiction would have issued the same warrant if asked.”

Gorsuch also rejected the idea that “enforcing territorial boundaries on the effectiveness of warrants is inefficient and arbitrary.” Citing (among other authorities) The Federalist, he reasoned that “our whole legislative system is predicated on the notion that good borders make for good government, that dividing government into separate pieces bounded in both their powers and geographic reach is of irreplaceable value when it comes to securing the liberty of the people.”

To be sure, although Gorsuch has sometimes relied on originalist principles to reach pro-defendant results, most of the opinions he has written rule – or, when he dissents, would rule – in favor of the government (often affirming a district court ruling) without specifically relying on originalism. For example, in United States v. Nicholson, a police officer believed (erroneously, it turned out) that a driver had violated a traffic ordinance. When the officer stopped the driver and smelled marijuana, he issued a traffic citation and seized the car, in which the police found (among other things) methamphetamines, a loaded gun and marijuana seeds. The driver argued, and the majority of a three-judge panel agreed, that the Fourth Amendment required the evidence to be suppressed because the police officer’s mistake was objectively unreasonable.

Gorsuch dissented. He acknowledged that, in “many” cases, “searches and seizures initiated because of an officer’s mistake about the law” “should be held unreasonable and therefore unconstitutional.” But here, he continued, the court did not have enough information to determine whether the officer’s mistake was reasonable “with any degree of confidence.” Moreover, he added, the “rigid rule” that the rest of the panel had adopted was contrary to the normal Fourth Amendment practice of being “sensitive to the totality of the circumstances.”

A little over a year later, in Heien v. North Carolina, the Supreme Court largely agreed with Gorsuch. By a vote of 8-1, in a decision by Chief Justice John Roberts, the court ruled that an objectively reasonable mistake of law “can nonetheless give rise to the reasonable suspicion necessary to uphold the seizure under the Fourth Amendment.”

In United States v. Rochin, a traffic stop prompted a police officer to pat down the driver. When the officer felt something in the driver’s pocket, but couldn’t identify it, he pulled the driver’s pockets out and found glass pipes containing drugs. Rochin, the driver, moved to suppress the drugs, arguing that the officer violated the Fourth Amendment when he removed the pipes without knowing what they were. The district court denied that motion, and the 10th Circuit affirmed.

Gorsuch seemed to regard the officer as having a fair amount of leeway in these kinds of protective pat-downs, explaining that the Fourth Amendment “is not a game of blind man’s bluff. It doesn’t require an officer to risk his safety or the safety of those nearby while he fishes around in a suspect’s pockets until he can correctly guess the identity of and risks associated with an unknown object.” Instead the Fourth Amendment only “requires reasonableness, not such potentially reckless punctiliousness.”

Although Gorsuch may be willing to give some deference to law enforcement officials, he proved less willing to defer to technology in United States v. Esquivel-Rios. In that case, a state trooper tried to verify a Colorado temporary tag, but the dispatcher told him that the tag wasn’t “returning.” Based on that information, the trooper pulled the car over; a search revealed over a pound of methamphetamine. During a trial for drug charges, the district court rejected Esquivel-Rios’ motion to suppress the drugs, finding that the trooper had “reasonable suspicion” that the tag was false.

On appeal, Gorsuch wrote for the three-judge panel that vacated the district court’s ruling and sent the case back to the district court for further proceedings. He concluded that the district court’s ruling was “right as far as it went,” but it had failed to account for another, potentially important piece of information: After telling the trooper that the car’s tag hadn’t “returned,” the dispatcher also warned that “Colorado temporary tags usually don’t return” – which at least suggested that the failure to return was the result of a database shortcoming or snafu, rather than a sign that the tag was false. And that, Gorsuch continued, raised questions about the reliability of the database and whether the officer could have in fact had reasonable suspicion.

Gorsuch acknowledged that “the law expects and takes account of human (and computational) frailties.” And he conceded that the standard for “legally sufficient grounds for a traffic stop” are relatively low. But because the state trooper relied on exclusively on the database report to stop Esquivel-Rios, and because so little information is available about how the database operates and how reliable it might be in these circumstances, he concluded, “the district court’s ruling cannot stand as issued.” The court thus ordered the district court to reconsider whether the trooper had the reasonable suspicion required by the Fourth Amendment. And if he did not, the court continued, the district court should also consider what the remedy for the violation of the Fourth Amendment might be – specifically, “whether exclusion is an appropriate remedy.”

The post Gorsuch and the Fourth Amendment appeared first on SCOTUSblog.

Categories: Research

Google's Allo App Can Reveal To Your Friends What You've Searched

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 12:40
Google's new messaging app Allo can reveal your search history and other personal information when you include the Google Assistant bot in chats, according to a report. From the article: My friend directed Assistant to identify itself. Instead of offering a name or a pithy retort, it responded with a link from Harry Potter fan website Pottermore. The link led to an extract from "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," the fifth book in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. But the response was not merely a nonsequitur. It was a result related to previous searches my friend said he had done a few days earlier. [...] When I asked "What is my job?" in my conversation with my friend, Assistant responded by sharing a Google Maps image showing the address at which I used to work -- the address of a co-working space, not the publicly listed address of my previous employer. Google had the address on file because I had included it in my personal Google Maps settings. It did not ask my permission to share that.

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Categories: Research

The roots and limits of Gorsuch’s views on Chevron deference

SCOTUS Blog - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 11:26

Not too long before he was nominated to fill Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat on the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch published two opinions – in the same case – staking out some genuinely heterodox positions on administrative law. In the now-relatively well-known case of Gutierrez-Brizuela v. Lynch, Gorsuch wrote both the majority decision for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit and his own concurrence, using the latter as an opportunity to argue against what is known in the law as “Chevron deference.”

The court’s holding in the 1984 case Chevron U.S.A. v. Natural Resources Defense Council directs courts to defer to reasonable agency interpretations of ambiguous statutes; it is a foundational case in terms of the existing structure of American government, because it grants policymaking flexibility to the agencies that line Constitution and Independence Avenues, and reduces the relative role of courts (and the congressional statutes they are interpreting) in providing fixed stars for our core federal regulatory regimes. In a way, Chevron deference is responsible for making the views of the current head of the Environmental Protection Agency far more important than the content of the Clean Air Act in terms of setting national anti-pollution policy. Gorsuch’s opinion in Gutierrez-Brizuela points out that this result essentially inverts the conventional view of the separation of powers, under which Congress sets national policy through statutes, the courts interpret those statutes to “say what the law is,” and the executive branch carries the law into execution, rather than revising it from one administration to the next according to its policy whims. So we have the odd situation that Gorsuch is viewed as a revolutionary thinker – as taking up arms against a rule at the heart of modern administrative law – by advocating for an understanding of American government we all (should have) learned in high-school civics.

A defender of Chevron would point out that something like its rule is necessary for the government to solve modern problems. Congress can only ever act in fits and starts, and cannot engage in day-to-day technical judgments about, say, what kind of substances are “air pollutants” and what quantity of them is dangerous to human health. So Congress instead sets out the broad policy aims, and then empowers an administrator or cabinet secretary to carry out those aims through her agency’s expertise. Requiring more of Congress is unrealistic, and letting courts freeze the meaning of ambiguous terms like “pollutant” through judicial interpretation means that Congress’ policy goals will be frustrated when times or scientific knowledge change. The core case for Chevron thus comes from big policy statutes that broadly create or empower federal agencies with technical expertise – statutes like the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act (EPA); the Federal Communications Act (Federal Communications Commission); the Federal Power Act and Natural Gas Act (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission); the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (Food and Drug Administration); or the Occupational Safety and Health Act (Occupational Safety and Health Administration). What is particularly notable about Gorsuch’s famous forays into administrative-law jurisprudence and Chevron deference is how distant they are from these fundamental applications of the doctrine.

In fact, Gorsuch’s two best-known decisions on administrative law – Gutierrez-Brizuela and De Niz Robles v. Lynch – both involve one of the weakest possible contexts in which to defend Chevron doctrine. The administrative agency at issue in both is the Board of Immigration Appeals, the primary function of which is just to decide the host of quasi-judicial immigration cases that must be adjudicated throughout the nation every year. In both cases, the complaint was that the BIA had changed the legal rules on the immigrants at issue and then applied those rule changes retroactively, implicating core fairness concerns, but no real issue of technical judgment or agency expertise.

Remarkably, Gorsuch’s next-best-known administrative law decision shares this feature. In United States v. Nichols, the issue was (again) the power of a non-technical administrator (the attorney general) to create retroactive effects on individuals – although Nichols, even more dramatically than the cases above, involved the agency interpreting a criminal statute. Gorsuch’s opinion would have denied the agency this power under the statute, or else recognized that Congress’ delegating this authority to the executive branch would violate the (now rarely invoked) non-delegation doctrine. Again, Gorsuch is fundamentally sticking up for the classic conception of separation of powers, and the priority position of Congress and the courts in making and interpreting the laws that determine the rights of individuals. But, again, the agency action at issue here is quite far removed from the core purposes of Chevron, in a way that highlights what is bothersome about the doctrine, and masks what it gets right.

All of this is to say that Gorsuch’s atypical take on administrative law may be rooted in his atypical perspective on the subject as a judge on the 10th Circuit, rather than on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The big agency rulemakings on technical questions that sit much closer to the core of Chevron doctrine tend to come up through the D.C. Circuit, and would accordingly jump to mind for justices who got their start there or whose government background involved these kinds of administrative-law issues. (Out of the previous nine justices, that is, remarkably, Scalia, Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan.) The D.C. Circuit does not have any immigration cases, however, and so Gorsuch’s perspective on applications for Chevron doctrine in that context will be relatively new on the court. Of course, Gorsuch’s opinions recognize that his critique of Chevron must extend to cases in which the doctrine makes much more sense than in the narrow area in which he is writing. But because judges are people, Gorsuch’s views on these questions are quite likely to be influenced by his exposure to cases in which Chevron doctrine has far more uncomfortable effects in terms of allocating the responsibility for “saying what the law is” between agencies and courts.

All in all, there is no question that a deep dive into Gorsuch’s writings in this area marks him as a unique skeptic of certain core doctrines of administrative law and the deference they provide to the agencies – particularly on questions of how to read their operative statutes. It is impossible in this regard to confuse Gorsuch with Breyer or Kagan, say, in terms of the deference they are likely to show towards administrative decision making in future cases. What is far less clear is whether and how far Gorsuch’s outspoken skepticism extends to the far-more-central cases of agency rulemaking in which Chevron developed and in which it continues to play a core role in making federal regulation effective. That much remains to be seen.

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Categories: Research

Ebook Pirates Are Relatively Old and Wealthy, Study Finds

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 11:20
A new study has found that people who illegally download ebooks are older and wealthier than most people's perception of the average pirate. From a report on TorrentFreak: Commissioned by anti-piracy company Digimarc, the study suggests that people aged between 30 and 44 years old with a household income of between $60k and $99k are most likely to grab a book without paying for it. [...] In previous studies, it has been younger downloaders that have grabbed much of the attention, and this one is no different. Digimarc reveals that 41 percent of all adult pirates are aged between 18 and 29 but perhaps surprisingly, 47 percent fall into the 30 to 44-year-old bracket. At this point, things tail off very quickly, as the remaining 13 percent are aged 45 or up.

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Categories: Research

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