Justice Articles from 2016
TPP Threatens Security and Safety by Locking Down U.S. Policy on Source Code Audit
By Jeremy Malcolm
Posted February 23, 2016
Multiple recent reports on serious security vulnerabilities in cable modems and routers paint a dire picture of the state of security of the devices that millions of users depend upon to connect to the Internet. Such vulnerabilities can be exploited to disable our access, snoop on our personal information, or launch malicious attacks on third parties. Other devices that are equally important for our security, or even to our physical health and safety—such as home alarm systems and, terrifyingly, a cardio server used in hospitals—have also been the subject of recent vulnerability disclosures.
One tool that security researchers can use to more quickly uncover and eliminate such vulnerabilities is having access to the source code of the software embedded in these devices. Of course, that can usually only be done if the source code is made available to them by the supplier. More…
An Idiot’s Guide to Prosecuting Corporate Fraud
by David Dayden
Posted February 19, 2016
A new group called Bank Whistleblowers United have just pushed out a comprehensive plan they think would put the executive branch back in the business of enthusiastically identifying, indicting, and convicting financial fraudsters — restoring accountability while protecting the public.
The cumulative credibility of the group’s four founders is extremely strong. Richard Bowen is the Citigroup whistleblower who unsuccessfully warned top management about the rotten condition of loans inside mortgage-backed securities. Michael Winston spoke out about similarly corrupt practices at non-bank mortgage originator Countrywide. Gary Aguirre, a Securities and Exchange Commission attorney, was fired for refusing to let a Wall Street banker out of an insider trading investigation.
And their ringleader is William Black, an outspoken fraud-fighter and longtime white-collar criminologist who was a two-fisted bank regulator during the savings and loan crisis and now teaches at the University of Missouri–Kansas City (UMKC). More…
How the TPP Will Affect You and Your Digital Rights
By Maira Sutton
Posted February 18, 2016
The Internet is a diverse ecosystem of private and public stakeholders. By excluding a large sector of communities—like security researchers, artists, libraries, and user rights groups—trade negotiators skewed the priorities of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) towards major tech companies and copyright industries that have a strong interest in maintaining and expanding their monopolies of digital services and content. Negotiated in secret for several years with overwhelming influence from powerful multinational corporate interests, it’s no wonder that its provisions do little to nothing to protect our rights online or our autonomy over our own devices.
For example, everything in the TPP that increases corporate rights and interests is binding, whereas every provision that is meant to protect the public interest is non-binding and is susceptible to get bulldozed by efforts to protect corporations. Below is a list of communities who were excluded from the TPP deliberation process, and some of the main ways that the TPP’s copyright and digital policy provisions will negatively impact them. More…
Private Corporation Giving Cops “Free” License Plate Scanners In Exchange For All Data They Collect
by Justin Gardner
Posted February 5, 2016
Texas police departments are conspiring with a private company called Vigilant Solutions in an outrageous scheme to maximize the extortion of citizens, while collecting reams of personal information to use for commercial profit.
In the deal—dubbed “warrant redemption”—Texas law enforcement agencies get free automated license plate readers (ALPRs) as well as access to Vigilant’s massive database and analytical tools. In exchange for this, police departments give Vigilant all of the data they collect on drivers, along with access to information about all outstanding court fees. The cops don’t pay a dime, and Vigilant uses this information for nearly unlimited commercial purposes. More…
Bank of Canada Lawsuit
By Joyce Nelson
Posted January 26, 2016
One of the most important legal cases in Canadian history is slowly inching its way towards trial. Launched in 2011 by the Toronto-based Committee on Monetary and Economic Reform (COMER), the lawsuit would require the publicly-owned Bank of Canada to return to its pre-1974 mandate and practice of lending interest-free money to federal, provincial, and municipal governments for infrastructure and healthcare spending.
Created during the Great Depression, the Bank of Canada funded a wide range of public infrastructure projects from 1938 to 1974, without our governments incurring private debt. Projects like the Trans-Canada highway system, the St. Lawrence Seaway, universities, and hospitals were all funded by interest-free loans from the Bank of Canada. More…
The EPA’s Hush-Hush Response to the Flint Water Crisis
by Lauren McCauley
Posted January 16, 2016
Officials with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for months knew about the poisoning of the Flint water supply and, rather than raise alarm and stop residents from drinking the lead-tainted water, took a backseat on the matter.
The Detroit News reported late Tuesday that federal officials began making inquiries in February and the region’s top EPA official, Susan Hedman, confirmed to the newspaper this week that as early as April the agency knew about the lack of corrosion controls in the water system. All the while, residents of the poor, largely African American community blindly continued to drink the poisoned water. In September, researchers at nearby Hurley Children’s Hospital discovered that children living in two Flint zip codes had elevated levels of lead in their blood. More…
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