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April 2018
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Michael Cohen Drops Ridiculous Lawsuit Against Buzzfeed After Buzzfeed Sought Stormy Daniels' Details

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Donald Trump's long time lawyer, Michael Cohen has been in a bit of hot water of late. As you no doubt heard, the FBI raided Cohen's office and home seeking a bunch of information, some of which related to the $130,000 he paid to adult performer Stormy Daniels. Already there have been a few court appearances in which Cohen (and Donald Trump) have sought to suppress some of what's been seized, but that doesn't seem to be going too well. At the same time, Cohen is still fighting Daniels in court, which also doesn't seem to be going too well.Given all of that, it's not too surprising that Cohen has decided to dismiss his ridiculous lawsuit against Buzzfeed for publishing the Christopher Steele dossier. As we pointed out, that lawsuit was going nowhere, because it sought to hold Buzzfeed liable for content created by someone else (oh, and that leaves out that much of what Cohen claimed was defamatory may actually have been true.And while many are suggesting Cohen dropped that lawsuit because the other lawsuits are a much bigger priority, there may be another important reason as well. As we noted last month, through a somewhat complex set of circumstances, the lawsuit against Buzzfeed may have resulted in Cohen having to reveal the details he's been avoiding concerning Stormy Daniels. That's because Buzzfeed was claiming that Cohen's interactions with Daniels were relevant to its case, and it was likely to seek that information as part of the case moving forward.In other words, dropping the Buzzfeed lawsuit (that he was going to lose anyway), Cohen wasn't just ditching a distraction in the face of more important legal issues, he may be hoping to cut off at least one avenue for all the stuff he's been trying to keep secret from becoming public. That doesn't mean it won't become public eventually. After all the DOJ has a bunch of it. But it does suggest that Cohen had more than one reason to drop the Buzzfeed lawsuit.

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posted at: 12:00am on 21-Apr-2018
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Canadian Government Leaning Towards A Right To Be Forgotten It Can Enforce Anywhere In The World

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It looks as though the "Right to Be Forgotten" will be crossing the Atlantic and setting up shop just north of the United States. The Canadian Privacy Commissioner has already stated existing Canadian privacy laws allow for this, but there's been no statutory adoption of the Commissioner's theory.The idea that Canadians should join their European counterparts in being able to selectively erase personal information continues to be pushed by the Privacy Commissioner. Speaking at a recent conference in Toronto, Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien reiterated his belief Canadians should be offered this dubious "right."

Therrien said he continues to support the concept of “the right to be forgotten” — which has been adopted in other jurisdictions through the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation.“[I]nformation about individuals is much easier to find with the internet, thanks to search engines and other functions. The information that is found will often be taken out of context. It is easily replicable and is very difficult to delete,” said Therrien.“All to say that information that went to reputation before the internet, that may be information known to a small circle of people, with the internet, is now potentially known to many, many people. Out of context, that information may be inaccurate and, moreover, may create real consequences for people. Reputation matters.”
Reputation does matter. That's the problem with the RTBF. While there are legitimate uses, there are also plenty of people willing to abuse it to obtain an unearned reputation. Fortunately, this abuse is routinely called out by press outlets hit with RTBF requests to delete unfavorable coverage or criticism.The Privacy Commissioner's pitch continues and the Canadian Parliament seems amenable to the idea. The committee handling privacy, information access, and ethics has issued a report nudging the Canadian government towards the adoption of the Right to Be Forgotten. But its conclusions are somewhat contrary to the Privacy Commissioner's assertions. The committee likes the idea but points out these protections are not built into Canada's existing privacy laws.
The Committee’s first finding in this regard was that when online reputational damage occurs in the context of personal relationships rather than commercial transactions, PIPEDA does not apply (since the latter only applies to the collection, use and disclosure of personal information in a commercial context).   Moreover, the Committee noted that the Criminal Code treats a number of related offences, such as regards the publication of intimate images without consent. Accordingly, the Committee clarified that the scope of their analysis was limited to the protection of privacy and online reputation in the context of commercial transactions.
With this, the committee appears to believe it can amend PIPEDA to include a "right to be forgotten," but one more expansive than the European model. According to this, it would appear to cover things like revenge porn.
As regards the right to erasure, the Committee noted that PIPEDA does not expressly contain such a right, although the principles of “consent”, “limited retention” and “accuracy” may be applied in some instances to give effect to a limited right of erasure in certain circumstances.For example, according to Principle 4.3.8 of Schedule 1 to PIPEDA, an individual has the right to withdraw consent to the collection, use and disclosure of his/her personal information. If this is then combined with the limited retention principle, pursuant to which an organization may only retain personal information for so long as it is necessary for the fulfilment of the purposes for which it was collected, then (in some circumstances) an individual may successfully argue that, upon withdrawal of their consent, the organisation that holds their information should destroy it.[...]In this context, several of the Committee witnesses argued that PIPEDA should be amended to create a more comprehensive right of erasure (to address situations of cyberbullying or revenge porn, for example) that would be similar in scope to the right of erasure found in the GDPR.
It's not that revenge porn and cyberbullying should be ignored. It's more of a question whether amending the law will fix the problem without a lot of collateral damage. Fortunately, some of the committee members have expressed this exact concern, noting the potential PIPEDA amendments would likely adversely affect Canadian freedom of expression.Unfortunately, there's a larger problem that's not discussed in the report: the recent Equustek decision. In this lawsuit, Canada's top court declared delisting orders issued in Canada were valid worldwide. Google challenged this decision in the US (Equustek did not make an appearance), obtaining a judgment finding the Canadian decision could not be applied extraterritorially. The committee believes the ruling could be read as covering personal information, not just trade secrets (which were central to the Equustek case). It also appears to indicate that any delisting requests can be enforced worldwide, no matter where the recipient of the order resides.Further, the committee apparently believes the tech companies that will be delisting info aren't properly equipped to evaluate the public's interest in removal/non-removal when handling requests. This suggests the Canadian government may take a more hands-on approach if it decides to create a Right to Be Forgotten. Fortunately, some of the committee comments suggest they fear over-compliance rather than under-compliance, which may mean the Canadian government's involvement may actually include policing requests for abuse of the law.Even with these cautionary comments, the concern remains that Canada will create its own version of RTBF, but with the added nasty side effect of the nation's highest court declaring orders issued in Canada must be executed by companies located in other countries. The committee's report [PDF] spends no time discussing this unfortunate ruling or its adverse effects if the world's tech companies are subjected to extraterritorial delisting orders. But that's what will happen if PIPEDA is amended: Canada will be giving its citizens the opportunity to engage in worldwide censorship.

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posted at: 12:00am on 12-Apr-2018
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More Drug Lab Misconduct Results In Massachusetts Court Tossing Nearly 12,000 Convictions

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If everything keeps falling apart in Massachusetts, there won't be a drug conviction left in the state. The eventual fallout from the 2012 conviction of drug lab technician Annie Dookhan was the reversal of nearly 21,000 drug convictions. Dookhan was an efficient drug lab worker -- so efficient she often never performed the tests she was required to. The state moved much slower, dragging its feet notifying those possibly affected by Dookhan's lab misconduct until a judge told it to stop screwing around. There still could be more reversed convictions on the way as the state continues to make its way through a 40,000-case backlog.Those numbers alone are breathtaking. But there are even more conviction dismissals on the way. Another drug lab technician convicted for stealing samples to feed her own drug habit has tainted thousands of additional drug prosecutions. A judicial order related to her questionable drug tests is erasing a whole bunch of prosecutorial wins.

The Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) and the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) of Massachusetts said Thursday an estimated 11,162 convictions in 7,690 cases tainted by former state drug lab chemist Sonja Farak were ordered for dismissal by Supreme Judicial Court Associate Justice Frank Gaziano.
Farak apparently used whatever drugs she came across during her decade-plus with the Amherst, MA drug lab. This lab was inspected in 2012 by state police, shortly after the Boston lab was shut down following the discovery of Annie Dookhan's misconduct. This apparently cursory inspection turned up nothing, and the police who can smell drugs the moment they pull over a car apparently couldn't tell Farak had smoked crack just prior to her interview with state police inspectors. Her misconduct wasn't discovered until 2013 -- nearly eight years after Farak began using drug lab drugs regularly.
By 2010, Farak was snorting, smoking and swallowing not only the lab “standards” but also the police-submitted evidence, frequently siphoning from the powder cocaine. In one case in 2012, where police in Chicopee, Mass., had seized a kilo of cocaine, Farak “took approximately 100 grams from the same and used it to manufacture base cocaine” — crack — “at the Amherst Lab.” She also began seeking treatment for her addictions, the report states, creating another source of records about her drug use. Soon she began stealing from her co-workers’ samples as well, and manipulating the computer databases so that wasn’t noticed. Finally, a colleague looking for some of Farak’s lab samples found they had been tampered with, and she happened to get caught in January 2013.
Once this was uncovered, the state attorney general's office released a regrettable statement claiming Farak's eight years of drug use wouldn't "undermine any cases. Three years later, a full report showed Farak's abuse of her position affected nearly 8,000 cases. It also uncovered a complete lack of standards in the Amherst lab. According to the AG report [PDF], lab security was almost nonexistent. The running of "blanks" through testing equipment (to clear residue from previous drug tests) was supposed to happen after every test to avoid tainting new tests with previously-tested substances. In reality, this only happened "every 5 to 10" tests and was wholly at the tester's discretion.The exposure of additional drug lab misconduct is more than concerning. It's terrifying. Based on results from labs subject to minimal standards, security precautions, and state oversight, people were being incarcerated. Drug sentences are notoriously harsh. Stealing from people is treated as a less severe violation than selling someone drugs they want to purchase. So is rape, assault, and a number of other crimes where no consensual transaction takes place. And yet, the evidence in these cases -- the ones capable of delivering 25-year-minimums and life sentence-equivalents -- is treated carelessly by the labs testing substances and the government overseeing them.

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posted at: 12:00am on 11-Apr-2018
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Facebook & Publishers: Frenemies Forever?

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With Facebook changing their algorithm and newsfeed, publishers' relationship with the platform is becoming murkier than ever before. Clearly, the way ads and content are distributed by publishers needs to change. But how?David Kashak, CEO and Founder of Connatix,explores the challenges and opportunities in this Adotas Q&A. Q: The relationship between the walled gardens of […]The post Facebook & Publishers: Frenemies Forever? appeared first on Adotas.

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posted at: 12:00am on 27-Mar-2018
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