Items tagged with: laws
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Each year, state lawmakers across the U.S. introduce thousands of bills dreamed up and written by corporations, industry groups and think tanks.
Disguised as the work of lawmakers, these so-called “model” bills get copied in one state Capitol after another, quietly advancing the agenda of the people who write them.
This story was produced as part of a collaboration between USA TODAY, The Arizona Republic and the Center for Public Integrity. More than 30 reporters across the country were involved in the two-year investigation, which identified copycat bills in every state. The team used a unique data-analysis engine built on hundreds of cloud computers to compare millions of words of legislation provided by LegiScan.
A two-year investigation by USA TODAY, The Arizona Republic and the Center for Public Integrity reveals for the first time the extent to which special interests have infiltrated state legislatures using model legislation.
USA TODAY and the Republic found at least 10,000 bills almost entirely copied from model legislation were introduced nationwide in the past eight years, and more than 2,100 of those bills were signed into law.
The investigation examined nearly 1 million bills in all 50 states and Congress using a computer algorithm developed to detect similarities in language. That search – powered by the equivalent of 150 computers that ran nonstop for months – compared known model legislation with bills introduced by lawmakers.
The phenomenon of copycat legislation is far larger. In a separate analysis, the Center for Public Integrity identified tens of thousands of bills with identical phrases, then traced the origins of that language in dozens of those bills across the country.
Model bills passed into law have made it harder for injured consumers to sue corporations. They’ve called for taxes on sugar-laden drinks. They’ve limited access to abortion and restricted the rights of protesters.
In all, these copycat bills amount to the nation’s largest, unreported special-interest campaign, driving agendas in every statehouse and touching nearly every area of public policy.
The investigation reveals that fill-in-the-blank bills have in some states supplanted the traditional approach of writing legislation from scratch. They have become so intertwined with the lawmaking process that the nation’s top sponsor of copycat legislation, a member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, claimed to have signed on to 72 such bills without knowing or questioning their origin.
For lawmakers, copying model legislation is an easy way to get fully formed bills to put their names on, while building relationships with lobbyists and other potential campaign donors.
For special interests seeking to stay under the radar, model legislation also offers distinct advantages. Copycat bills don’t appear on expense reports, or campaign finance forms. They don’t require someone to register as a lobbyist or sign in at committee hearings. But once injected into the lawmaking process, they can go viral, spreading state to state, executing an agenda to the letter.
USA TODAY’s investigation found:
* Models are drafted with deceptive titles and descriptions to disguise their true intent. The Asbestos Transparency Act didn’t help people exposed to asbestos. It was written by corporations who wanted to make it harder for victims to recoup money. The “HOPE Act,” introduced in nine states, was written by a conservative advocacy group to make it more difficult for people to get food stamps. * Special interests sometimes work to create the illusion of expert endorsements, public consensus or grassroots support. One man testified as an expert in 13 states to support a bill that makes it more difficult to sue for asbestos exposure. In several states, lawmakers weren’t told that he was a member of the organization that wrote the model legislation on behalf of the asbestos industry, the American Legislative Exchange Council. * Copied bills have been used to override the will of local voters and their elected leaders. Cities and counties have raised their minimum wage, banned plastics bags and destroyed seized guns, only to have industry groups that oppose such measures make them illegal with model bills passed in state legislatures. Among them: Airbnb has supported the conservative Arizona-based Goldwater Institute, which pushed model bills to strike down local laws limiting short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods in four states. * Industry groups have had extraordinary success pushing copycat bills that benefit themselves. More than 4,000 such measures were introduced during the period analyzed by USA TODAY/Arizona Republic. One that passed in Wisconsin limited pain-and-suffering compensation for injured nursing-home residents, restricting payouts to lost wages, which the elderly residents don’t have.
“This work proves what many people have suspected, which is just how much of the democratic process has been outsourced to special interests,” said Lisa Graves, co-director of Documented, which probes corporate manipulation of public policy. “It is both astonishing and disappointing to see how widespread … it is. Good lord, it’s an amazing thing to see.”
The impact of model legislation is undoubtedly larger than the 10,000 copied bills identified by USA TODAY/Arizona Republic.
Because the investigation relied on matching identical text, it flagged instances where legislators copied model legislation nearly verbatim, but it did not detect bills that adapted an idea without using the same language.
Sherri Greenberg, who spent 10 years in the Texas Legislature and is now the Max Sherman Chair in State and Local Government at the University of Texas at Austin, said bills used to spring from lawmakers’ experiences, constituents, or lobbyists representing long-established industries. Model legislation has flourished as gridlock in Congress forced special interest groups to look to the states to get things done, she said.
Not all model legislation is driven by special interests or designed to make someone money. Some bills were written to require sex offenders to register with law enforcement, while others have made it easier for members of the military to vote or increased penalties for human trafficking.
Charles Siler, a former external relations manager for the Goldwater Institute, which has pushed copycat bills nationwide, said it’s a fast way to spread ideas because with little modification lawmakers can adapt it to their state.
“It’s not inherently bad, one way or the other,” said Siler, who now works for a political action committee. “It depends on the idea and the people pushing it. Definitely people use model legislation to push bad ideas around.”
Allison Anderman, managing attorney at the pro-gun-control Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said model bills are simply how the system works now.
“This is how all laws are written,” she said. “You’d be hard-pressed to find a law where a legislator sits in a chamber until a light bulb goes off with a new policy.”
Bills promise to protect the public. They actually bolster the corporate bottom line.
The Asbestos Transparency Act sounds like the kind of boring, good-government policy voters expect their representatives to hammer out on their behalf to safeguard public health.
Better transparency was one reason Colorado state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg said he introduced the bill in 2017, and again last year, at the urging of a tort reform group called the Colorado Civil Justice League and backed by insurance companies, including Nationwide Insurance.
“Whenever you add transparency to the mix, it helps all consumers,” said Sonnenberg, a Republican.
But the bill had nothing to do with requiring companies to disclose to consumers what products contained asbestos or informing those who had been exposed to the cancer-causing mineral how to get help.
It, in effect, cast corporations as victims of litigation filed by people harmed by asbestos. The model bill requires people battling the asbestos-triggered disease mesothelioma to seek money from an asbestos trust, set up to compensate victims, before they can sue a company whose product might have caused their cancer.
That process can take months or even a year.
Many mesothelioma victims die within a year their diagnosis. Their families can still sue on their behalf, but for far less money.
“I can tell you for a fact that families don’t have time for all these hoops they want you to jump through,” said Chris Winokur, whose husband Bob was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2015 and died nine months later. “They’re trying to make it more difficult to sue.”
Chris Winokur poses for a portrait with a photo of her late husband, former Fort Collins City Councilman and Mayor, Robert Winokur, on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019, in Estes Park, Colo.
Bob Winokur, who worked for the U.S. Forest Service and served as mayor of Fort Collins, Colorado, never pinpointed where he came in contact with asbestos. And he never filed a claim to help pay his medical bills. The disease progressed too rapidly to allow it, even without the additional requirements proposed by the model bill, Chris Winokur said.
The model legislation was the work of corporations seeking to limit their exposure to billions of dollars in litigation associated with asbestos. Insurance companies Nationwide, AIG, Travelers, Hartford and CNA Financial Corp. together hold more than half the nation’s asbestos claim exposure totaling over $870 million.
USA TODAY/Arizona Republic found the Asbestos Transparency Act, a product of the American Legislative Exchange Council, an industry-supported model bill factory, has been introduced in at least 32 states since 2012. It became law in 12 states.
Sonnenberg, the lawmaker who introduced it in Colorado, said he didn’t write the bill and relied on “my experts” to explain it during a February 2017 hearing.
One of those experts was Mark Behrens, who logs thousands of miles a year testifying before lawmakers about ALEC’s model asbestos legislation. He has done so in at least 13 states, where he was billed as an objective authority.
Behrens is an attorney with Shook, Hardy and Bacon, which represents companies in complex civil litigation. He is a co-chairman of ALEC’s Civil Justice Task Force and is a paid consultant for the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform, an arm of the nation’s largest business lobby, which has the stated goal of reducing litigation.
During the hearing, Behrens testified: “The only thing the legislation does is accelerate the timing of when the trust claim is filed. It’s not putting any new burdens on plaintiffs.”
A Democratic legislator pressed Behrens on why the 26-page bill needed technical language that could confuse victims trying to be compensated. She called it, “a gift to defendants,” before voting against it.
Sonnenberg told USA TODAY he didn’t know Behrens worked for the Chamber of Commerce when he called him to testify. “I just knew they were experts and they indeed understood the legal issues and process much better than I,” he wrote in an email.
Behrens said the Asbestos Transparency Act seeks to hold wrongdoers accountable, while exonerating innocent companies paying for harm they didn’t cause.
“These companies don’t get a vote; all we can do is make our case,” Behrens told USA TODAY. “I don’t care who I’m there for, I still have to be credible and honest.”
Graves said special interests have “so-called experts who aren’t neutral. They go around the country and testify about those bills as if they’re good for that state or even as if they’re products of that state.”
Colorado lawmakers rejected the Asbestos Transparency Act in 2017 and 2018, and Sonnenberg said he doesn’t plan to introduce it this year.
“It would be wise,” he said, “for someone with a better understanding of these types of issues to carry the bill in the future.”
Bill Meierling, chief marketing officer and executive vice president of ALEC, said supporters of the asbestos model believed it did create more transparency, “but it’s up to each individual state to choose how they would name” the bill when they copy ALEC’s model.
USA TODAY found more than 4,000 bills benefiting industry were introduced nationwide during the eight years it reviewed. More than 80 of those bills limit the public’s ability to sue corporations, including limiting class-action lawsuits, a plaintiff’s ability to offer expert testimony, and cap punitive damages for corporate wrongdoing.
“No citizens are saying, ‘Hey, can you make it harder to sue if … low-paid (nursing home) orderlies happened to kill or injure my parents,’ ” Graves said. “That’s not a thing citizens are clamoring for. But you know who is? The nursing home industry, and big business in general.”
Many of the bills USA TODAY found were copied from models written by special interests were couched in similarly unremarkable or technical language that obscured their impact. Bans on raising the local minimum wage were dubbed “uniform minimum wage” laws. Changes to civil court rules to shield companies from lawsuits were described as ”congruity” or reforms to make laws consistent. Repealing business regulations was disguised under the term “rescission.”
Politicians get a shortcut to success. Special interests get their agendas turned into law.
A moderate Republican from the Philadelphia suburbs shows how copycat bills in some states set the legislative agenda.
Rep. Thomas Murt has sponsored more model legislation than any other state lawmaker in the nation, according to USA TODAY‘s database.
Murt, whose biggest campaign donors include the Pennsylvania Republican Party and labor unions, said he was stunned to learn that he was listed as a sponsor on 72 bills substantially copied from model legislation from 2010 to late 2018.
Pennsylvania House members solicit co-sponsors by circulating short memos summarizing a bill without including its actual language or who wrote it.
“I had no way of knowing unless it’s put in the … memo,” Murt said of the bills he helped sponsor.
Murt’s situation highlights how critical bill titles and summaries are – especially when it comes to copycat legislation – because lawmakers, even sponsors, often don’t read bills.
Had Murt probed further, he would have seen the bills he signed onto came from ALEC, its liberal counterpart ALICE, the State Innovation Exchange, Council of State Governments, Goldwater Institute and other groups that specialize in writing copycat bills.
They dealt with cities’ ability to take action against blighted properties, prohibitions on businesses banning guns in employees’ vehicles, and a call for the U.S. president to be elected by popular vote, among many others.
USA TODAY provided Murt with a list of all 72 bills, 13 of which became law, and asked questions about his support for them. He was the primary sponsor of only one: a ban on smoking in workplaces written by the liberal State Innovation Exchange.
Murt said he would reconsider his support for two of the bills that were copied from ALEC, after learning more about their impact. One was a call for a constitutional convention to curb federal spending, backed by the controversial Koch brothers conservative political network. The other was a bill protecting Crown Cork & Seal from asbestos liability.
“I would be suspect of such a proposal,” Murt said of the constitutional convention model. “But bear in mind that when that co-sponsor memo was circulated, I’m sure it never mentioned the Koch brothers,/ because for some people that would have been a show-stopper.”
Murt also said he would never support limiting asbestos victims’ ability to sue.
USA TODAY interviewed more than 50 sponsors of model legislation nationwide. Half said they knew they had sponsored model legislation. But 20 legislators said they didn’t know the source of their bill or claimed they wrote at least part of the bill.
Five insisted the bill was their own work, even though the wording of each included multiple passages that matched model legislation nearly verbatim. Almost all of the sponsors defended the practice of copying model legislation or had no opinion of it.
In Michigan, Republican state Sen. Joe Haveman said he worked with a lobbyist from a Lansing law firm to draft his state’s version of the law aimed at shielding Crown Cork & Seal from asbestos liability stemming from a corporate merger in the 1960s. The law firm, Clark Hill, has donated $1,800 to his campaigns since 2012, according to state records.
Haveman said he had no issues with relying on model bills and said even though Crown Cork & Seal is not a Michigan company, he said he saw it as a “fairness issue.” He said he was approached by a lobbyist and agreed with the bill when he saw a draft.
“It really had nothing to do with my passion for anything. They had to do this in all 50 states,” Haveman said. “Somebody targeted me, and I had to do it.”
It’s not just legislators circulating copycat bills. In Pennsylvania, the nonpartisan service that drafts all bills for the state Assembly – the Legislative Reference Bureau – frequently copies directly from model legislation, said director Vincent DeLiberato. But the legislator ultimately decides whether to use it, he said.
In Wisconsin, the Legislature’s nonpartisan legal staff is similarly tasked with converting lawmakers’ ideas into bills. A March 1, 2017, email to that staff from the office of Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos requested that an attached document be “drafted as stated.”
The document contained the Campus Free Speech Act, which prevents universities from blocking controversial speakers and imposes penalties on students, including expulsion, for disrupting such events. The measure, written by the Goldwater Institute, is a reaction to liberal protesters at Middlebury College, UC-Berkeley, University of Florida and other campuses who have disrupted speeches by conservative commentator Ben Shapiro and white supremacist Richard Spencer, among others.
Vos did not respond to questions about the origin of his bill, which was copied nearly verbatim from Goldwater’s model. It didn’t pass, but the ideas were incorporated in new university rules adopted by Wisconsin.
USA TODAY’s algorithm found the same model was introduced in 13 states, becoming law in Arizona and North Carolina. A similar version passed in Colorado.
The relationship between groups writing model legislation and the lawmakers introducing them is a marriage of convenience, experts said.
Special interests give lawmakers fully conceived bills they can put their names on and take credit for. And those special interests can become dependable donors to their campaigns.
Conservative groups like ALEC nurture those relationships at annual conferences where lawmakers and corporate lobbyists discuss policy and mingle over meals and drinks paid for by corporate sponsors.
This arrangement is particularly appealing to new lawmakers, said Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, an assistant professor at Columbia University who has studied the influence of ALEC and other conservative groups.
His research showed less-experienced lawmakers are more likely to use copycat legislation.
They “know they are conservative, they know they are pro-business, but … they don’t really know what it means to translate that into different bills,” he said. “These networks are able to fill in what it means to be a conservative Republican who wants to support business.”
Meierling, ALEC’s chief marketing officer, said there are checks and balances on corporate influence within the organization “just like our government structure.”
Companies join ALEC because they want feedback and insight from a variety of legislators, he said.
“Sure they (companies) are going to share their perspective, but a legislator is there to represent their constituents and if they don’t they’ll be held accountable at the ballot box,” Meierling said. “ALEC … has proven it’s an asset to society.”
Progressive groups, meanwhile, have failed to replicate conservatives’ success because they’ve not invested in facilitating the relationships between lawmakers and special interests, Hertel-Fernandez said.
“What ALEC does is more than provide the model bills: They provide relationships. They approach you when you are first elected and build these enduring social connections with you at recurring events that happen every year,” he said. “You really need that social connection in addition to the model-bill resources that you’re getting, the research help.”
Bills sound like they’re protecting people from a problem. They’re actually for promotion, and persuading people to open their wallets.
“Countless American lives will be saved. … I don’t want to say thousands because I think it’s going to be much more – hundreds of thousands,” President Donald Trump said at a signing ceremony for the national “Right to Try” bill in May 2018. “It is such a great name. From the first day I loved it. It’s so perfect: Right. To. Try.”
With the stroke of a pen, Trump made a bill that had circulated in statehouses for four years the most successful copycat bill in history. Not only did it pass in 41 states, it also had conquered Congress.
The version passed by Congress allows terminally ill individuals a right to try experimental medications that have not been fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
The bill’s title left the public with the impression it was spurred by a groundswell of patients demanding lifesaving treatment.
Instead, it was a focus group-tested name, coined by a consultant to a for-profit corporation.
That corporation, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, a chain focused on alternative cancer treatments, wanted access to experimental drugs to boost business.
Right to Try illustrates another finding of USA TODAY’s investigation: Some copycat bills amount to little more than marketing and posturing, with organizations behind them highlighting a perceived problem and then offering a solution with little or no measurable impact.
The point is seemingly to score political points, draw attention to the organization behind the model, and raise funds off the effort.
Former Goldwater President Darcy Olsen parlayed this campaign into the book “Right to Try.” In it, she said Cancer Treatment Centers of America approached Goldwater for help addressing a “national medical emergency”: the government blocking terminally ill patients from receiving potential lifesaving treatments.
When asked, Goldwater could not produce any of those patients.
Chuck Warren, corporate consultant to Cancer Treatment Centers of America, said he came up with the bill’s name.
Goldwater and CTCA paid for focus groups to make sure the name struck the right chord. “It was always our favorite name and it was the name that resonated the most with focus groups,” Warren said.
While the marketing was cutting edge, its policy largely had been implemented decades earlier.
Alison Bateman-House, an assistant professor of medical ethics at New York University’s Langone Health, said Right to Try is “an effort to address a problem that did not actually exist.” Patients have been able to access experimental drugs since the 1970s, she said.
Through the FDA’s compassionate-use program, about 1,000 patients a year have gained access to non-approved drugs in recent years. The FDA approves more than 90 percent of those requests, often within days and, in emergencies, sometimes more quickly.
“The Goldwater Institute was taking advantage of a very heart-rending and sympathetic issue to push for their pet policy, which is basically to roll back regulations,” Bateman-House said. “They did pick a winner of a name. … Unfortunately, it’s a lie.”
It’s unclear how many people have received experimental drugs through Right to Try. Bateman-House said she’s heard of two. Goldwater points to those same two patients, and a Texas doctor who ran a trial involving 200 patients.
Goldwater CEO Victor Riches said those were only the individuals who informed his organization about their success using the law.
Riches said Goldwater crafts legislation it sees a need for in Arizona, where it’s based. It then considers the “exportability” of its model legislation to other states, he said.
Goldwater’s strategy for Right to Try was to get it passed in as many states as possible to pressure Congress to enact a version, Riches said.
“When you are in 41 states and you’ve had literally thousands of legislators, Democrats and Republicans alike, it is hard for the federal government not to take notice,” he said.
It’s even harder to pin down what problem the American Laws for American Courts bill is solving.
The model bill, which was introduced in legislatures 53 times during the past eight years, mandates judges’ rulings be void if based on a foreign law or doctrine that violates the rights granted to U.S. citizens under the Constitution or state law.
Even backers struggle to identify situations where this has occurred.
“This is a solution looking for a problem,” said Ahmed Abdelnaby, an engineer who testified against the bill last year at the Idaho Legislature because he felt it fomented hate against his Muslim faith.
While proponents are unable to cite court cases where U.S. law has been supplanted by Sharia or some other doctrine, those lobbying for it collected about $206 million in donations between 2008 and 2013, according to a study released by the Council on American-Islamic Relations and University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Race and Gender.
“They wouldn’t be doing it if they weren’t making a buck,” said Robert McCaw, government relations director for CAIR.
Ahmed and Dalia Abdelnaby attend the Interfaith Sack Lunch Conversation event at the Islamic Center of Boise on Wednesday February 27th, 2019. Ahmed and Dalia have been vocal opponents of the so-called Anti-Sharia law bills.
Minnesota state Rep. Steve Drazkowski, who co-sponsored similar legislation in 2016, said some people fear Sharia law will be applied in the U.S., but he does not.
Drazkowski also pushed a bill in 2011 to declare English as the official language of Minnesota and prohibit conducting routine business in foreign languages, including driver’s license exams. The bill was strikingly similar to model legislation by a group called ProEnglish, which calls itself the “nation’s leading advocate for official English.”
The Saint Paul Pioneer Press editorialized that Drazkowski was using it to ensure his reelection by “pandering to the mostly conservative and card-carrying residents of … the paranoid states of America.”
Drazkowski said he is aware of ProEnglish but couldn’t remember where he got the language for his English-only bill.
“The use of these model bills is not the end of the world,” he said, noting that immigrants are more successful when they learn English. “The idea that one organization or group is somehow controlling legislation or legislators or states, that’s a fallacy.”
Voters say they want one thing. Special interests get lawmakers to do the opposite.
For Susan Edwards, it seemed like a godsend when Arizona lawmakers introduced a bill to create a new kind of school voucher for students with disabilities.
Susan Edwards speaks at her home in Tempe, Ariz. on January 2, 2019.
With the money – funded by dollars taken from a recipient’s local district school – the mother of two children on the autism spectrum could send her kids to a private school where they would receive specialized attention they wouldn’t get elsewhere.
With a sympathetic group of students as the face of the legislation, Democrats and Republicans rallied behind the 2011 bill which borrowed language from the Goldwater Institute, ALEC, and American Federation for Children, the pro-school choice group founded by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.
Edwards’ opinion of the program, however, changed drastically as legislators later introduced bill after bill to give vouchers to more students, culminating in lawmakers approving them for all students.
None of those bills, however, guaranteed Edwards’ sons and others with disabilities could keep their vouchers as more students were added. She didn’t know it at the time, but lawmakers were drawing their ideas from model legislation.
Edwards said she realized in retrospect that students with disabilities were used as a Trojan horse to put on the legislative agenda a fringe idea that was part of a much bigger campaign. In the years that followed, 19 other states debated 93 nearly identical proposals based on model legislation. They became law in Florida, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina and Tennessee.
“Every single, little expansion, if you look at who’s behind it, it is the people that want to get that door kicked open for private religious education,” Edwards said. ”All we (families with disabled students) are was the way for them to crack open the door.”
Riches, Goldwater’s CEO, said starting the ESA program with a small group of students and expanding it was the best approach.
“When you are talking about a big idea, a new idea, usually the best way of approaching it is to wade into it and demonstrate it can work on a smaller level and then grow it from there,” Riches said.
The groups behind Arizona’s move toward universal vouchers, however, were shown in indisputable terms that the public opposed their ideas.
On Election Day 2018, Arizona voters rejected universal vouchers by a 65-35 margin.
It was only the most recent example of model legislation that didn’t reflect the will of voters, USA TODAY/Arizona Republic found.
Model-legislation factories have increasingly proposed what are known as “preemption” bills. These laws, in effect, allow state legislators to dictate to city councils and county governing boards what they can and cannot do within their jurisdiction—including preventing them from raising the minimum wage, banning plastic grocery bags, and destroying guns.
Kansas stopped local efforts to require restaurants to list calories on their menus.
Arizona and New Hampshire prevented local regulations on home rentals. Airbnb has lobbied against home-sharing restrictions, often with the Goldwater Institute’s assistance.
One model pushed by ALEC and the Goldwater Institute prohibits local jurisdictions from creating occupational licensing requirements. It reflects conservatives’ and libertarians’ belief that job licensing stifles competition and hurts the economy, and should only be required when it involves health and safety.
Drazkowski, the Minnesota representative, said he introduced such a bill “so you don’t have a patchwork kind of discombobulated mess of different ordinances from one community to the next.”
But Riches said his group stopped promoting similar model legislation because of the public outcry.
“We found very quickly that you bring people out of the woodwork when you try to get rid of occupational licenses,” he said. “What I would refer to as the status-quo crowd.”
Goldwater returned with another that allows anyone who’s been harmed by occupational regulation to sue for damages, including harm that occurred before the law was enacted.
It was introduced in at least five states and passed in Arizona. But Riches acknowledged no one has used it to file suit, and the only beneficiary he can point to is a person with ties to the administration of Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a vocal supporter of occupational licensing restrictions.
Because preemption bills have almost exclusively been advanced by Republicans, many of whom rail against the excessive mandates of Washington, D.C., critics see such legislation as the height of hypocrisy.
“There’s real … hypocrisy in many of these so-called conservative legislators trying to rip away local control when they preached for years that a government that’s closest to you … is most responsive to you,” said Dawn Penich-Thacker, who campaigned to overturn Arizona’s school-voucher expansion with a public vote.
Penich-Thacker saw a similar disregard for the will of voters when within hours of Arizonans’ vote to overturn universal school vouchers, the Goldwater Institute and American Federation Children declared they would continue to feed their model proposals to state lawmakers.
Bills to modify Arizona’s voucher program were soon introduced. One bore a striking resemblance to model legislation from the Heartland Institute, granting vouchers to any parent who feels their child is unsafe or being bullied at school.
REPORTING AND ANALYSIS: Natalie Allison, Chris Amico, Daniel Bice, Giacomo Bologna, Ben Botkin, David Boucher, Jon Campbell, Amy DiPierro, Paul Egan, Dustin Gardiner, Ronald J. Hansen, Greg Hilburn, Greg Holman, Joe Hong, Lisa Kaczke, Keegan Kyle, Kaitlin Lange, Pamela Ren Larson, Aamer Madhani, Patrick Marley, Kelsey Mo, Dan Nowicki, Rob O’Dell, Geoff Pender, Nick Penzenstadler, Agnel Philip, Justin Price, Nick Pugliese, Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, Jeff Schwaner, Chris Sikich, Michael Squires, Matt Wynn
FROM THE CENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEGRITY: Jared Bennett, Kristian Hernandez, Sameea Kamal, Rui Kaneya, Mark Olalde, Pratheek Rebala, Peter Smith, Liz Essley Whyte
EDITING: Chris Davis, John Kelly, Amy Pyle, Michael Squires, Kytja Weir (CPI)
GRAPHICS AND ILLUSTRATIONS: Andrea Brunty, Veronica Bravo, Lauren Lapid, Pim Linders, Ramon Padilla, Jim Sergent, Shawn Sullivan, Mitchell Thorson
PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEOGRAPHY: Patrick Breen, Chris Powers, Pat Shanahan
DIGITAL PRODUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT: Robert Barnes, Christian Baucom, Andrea Brunty, Tom Foster, Tyler Hawkins, Spencer Holladay, Ryan Marx, Annette Meade, Josh Miller, Michael Varano, Stan Wilso
SOCIAL MEDIA, ENGAGEMENT AND PROMOTION: Mary Bowerman, P. Kim Bui, Anne Godlasky, Danielle Woodward
The sponsor, Shawnna Bolick, denied any knowledge of the Heartland model. Her bill, she said, was based on the experience of her daughter.
Edwards, the voucher supporter-turned opponent, noted that just like the first Arizona bill granting vouchers to children with disabilities, Bolick had sympathetic victims—kids who’d been bullied—to help sell her bill.
“It really does seem like you are fighting against the tide,” Edwards said of the influence of model legislation and the groups behind it. “They are ignoring the vote of the people.”
A letter to the editor appeared in The Arizona Republic defending renewed efforts to expand the voucher program despite defeat at the ballot box.
The letter’s author, Scott Kaufman, wasn’t a concerned parent, or even an Arizona resident.
He had sent his letter from the Washington, D.C., suburbs, from a model-bill factory: the American Legislative Exchange Council.
Contributing: Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, Dustin Gardiner, Ronald J. Hansen, Kelsey Mo, Agnel Philip, Giacomo Bologna, Paul Egan, Dan Nowicki, Chris Amico, Matt Wynn, Justin Price, Pamela Ren Larson
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The software giant's president says vague new laws are damaging the Australian technology industry and causing customers to seek options in other countries.
Article word count: 532
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19505880
Posted by technion (karma: 2170)
Post stats: Points: 122 - Comments: 36 - 2019-03-27T20:49:18Z
#HackerNews #australia #companies #data #encryption #laws #make #microsoft #says #storing #wary
Updated March 28, 2019 07:18:51
Microsoft president Brad Smith has warned companies are no longer comfortable storing customer data in Australia after the introduction of controversial encryption laws.
* The Government last year passed laws to give intelligence agencies greater access to encrypted data * But the technology industry has described them as overreach that will undermine privacy * Brad Smith said it was in the Australian Governmentʼs interest to ease concerns about the legislation
Mr Smith told a Canberra audience the laws are too vague and are damaging the Australian technology industry and broader economy, as businesses raise concerns about privacy and look to overseas markets.
"When I travel to other countries I hear companies and governments say ʼwe are no longer comfortable putting our data in Australiaʼ, so they are asking us to build more data centres in other countries," Mr Smith said.
Late last year, with the support of the Opposition, the Coalition passed laws to give intelligence agencies greater access to encrypted messages sent by suspected criminals.
In some cases, these security agencies can demand companies build new capabilities to allow them to read the otherwise hidden messages.
The Federal Government argues these laws are crucial to combatting terrorism and serious crime, but the technology industry has described them as an overreach that will hurt the industry and undermine privacy.
Mr Smith said Australia had developed a reputation as a destination for companies to store customer data, although that been undermined in the past six months.
"We will have to sort through those issues but if I were an Australian who wanted to advance the Australian technology economy, I would want to address that and put the minds of other like-minded governments at ease," he said.
"It has not changed, to date, anything that we have had to do in Australia but we do worry about some areas of the law in terms of potential consequences."
Microsoft worried about privacy in Australia
Mr Smith said he did not believe the laws intended to create a so-called "backdoor" that would undermine encryption technology, but described the legislation as vague.
"There is this wonderful phrase about enabling companies to avoid creating a systemic weakness but that phrase is not defined," he said.
"Until it is defined I think people will worry and we will be among those who will worry because we do feel it is vitally important we protect our customerʼs privacy."
Mr Smith said it was in the interests of the Australian Government to ease concerns about the legislation or to amend it.
The Australian technology industry has this week renewed its calls for the laws to be amended before the election, arguing there should be more oversight and reduction in scope.
The Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) has rejected claims the laws give security agencies unfettered power, or that technology companies will be forced overseas.
"Australia is not the first country to enact this sort of legislation — and we will not be the last," ASD Director-General Mike Burgess said.
"Agencies in the UK already have similar powers and other nations are considering their options.
"The claims the legislation will drive tech companies offshore are similarly flawed."
Topics: government-and-politics, federal-government, computers-and-technology, internet-technology, information-technology, australia
First posted March 28, 2019 00:39:42
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“ #Redflag ” #gun #confiscation #laws #violate every #principle of #liberty upon which our country was founded. There is no #dueprocess associated with “red flag” laws. A #judge’s order to #seize the #firearms from an #American citizen who has not been accused of a #crime, charged with a crime, #convicted of a crime—or who never even threatened to commit a crime—based on the accusation of a single individual is anything but due process.commentary:
Our accuser could be a disgruntled employee, a bitter ex-spouse or relative, a vengeful neighbor, an #anti-gun #liberal or even an anti-gun #policeman. By definition, “red flag” laws use mere suspicion of what one “might” do as justification to seize a person’s #firearms. Tactics such as these have been used in virtually every despotic regime of history. In the name of protecting society, the #rights and #liberties of individuals were denied. Eventually, these repressive governments included #political or #religious persuasion as triggering “red flags,” which led to their #disarmament—all in the name of public safety, of course.
#Senator Lindsey #Graham (R-SC) has announced that the #Senate #Judiciary #Committee is scheduled to begin conducting hearings next Tuesday, March 26, on Senate Bill 7, the #Extreme #Risk #Protection #Order and #Violence #Prevention Act of 2019—otherwise known as a national “red flag” gun confiscation bill. The bill was introduced in the Senate by Marco Rubio (R-FL). If this gun #confiscation bill passes the U.S. Senate, it will most certainly pass the #Democrat -controlled U.S. House of Representatives, and President Donald #Trump absolutely WILL sign it into law.#3-22-19
Yesterday it was Colorado, today, it's the entire country. sad, stupid morons.
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19296619
Posted by Ibethewalrus (karma: 1059)
Post stats: Points: 140 - Comments: 25 - 2019-03-03T20:26:09Z
#HackerNews #data #documents #facebooks #global #laws #leaked #privacy #reveal #war
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We take a look at the differing firearm regulations in each country and take into account potential factors that could have an effect on this trend.
Article word count: 2496
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19297132
Posted by egusa (karma: 464)
Post stats: Points: 109 - Comments: 102 - 2019-03-03T21:45:17Z
#HackerNews #gun #guns #laws #lives #most #take #the #where
A study released last year revealed that just six countries make up over half of all gun-related deaths, and they’re all in the Americas. Topped by Brazil with 42,000 deaths, the macabre list is followed by the United States, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela and Guatemala.
One in four people murdered annually is a Brazilian, Colombian, Mexican or Venezuelan, reported the Igarape Institute, and although Latin America only holds 8% of the world’s population, 38% of the world’s murders occur on the continent. Between 2000 and 2006 in South America, 53% of all murders were committed with a firearm, a statistic which skyrockets to 78% in Central America. The global average is 32%.
Why are firearm deaths so prevalent in these six countries? We take a look at the differing firearm regulations in each country and take into account potential factors that could have an effect on this trend.
Despite ex-President Lula Da Silva’s attempt to place stronger restrictions on gun ownership in 2003, a 2005 referendum showed that 64% of Brazilians did not want to ban the sale of guns and ammunition to civilians. Newly-inaugurated President Jair Bolsonaro used this as leverage to sign new legislation in January making it much easier to obtain and use firearms. The reason, Bolsanaro explained according to Reuters, is “to guarantee citizens’ legitimate right to defense.”
Some constraints from previous legislation do still apply, such as restricting the purchasing age to 25. To obtain a permit it is also necessary to pass a psychological test, maintain consistent employment, show proof of a fixed residence and a clean criminal record.
However, Bolsonaro’s new legislation created new categories that warrant citizens’ possession of a firearm in their house or business. These include gun collectors, hunters, those living in rural or urban areas with high homicide rates, as well as those responsible for commercial or industrial establishments. The new measure is temporary and will have to be ratified by congress within 180 days.
Brazil has one of the highest murder rates in the world, with 27.8 people in each 100,000 murdered in 2016 and 19.4 of those being deaths caused by firearms, reported a JAMA report on Global Mortality from Firearms.
A 2015 Map of Violence commissioned by ex-President Dilma Rousseff found that there were around 15 million guns in Brazil (eight per 100 residents), with 6.8 million legally registered and 8.5 million illegal firearms. The study estimated that at least 3.8 million were in the hands of criminals.
The Economist stated that rapid urbanisation and inequalities in wealth distribution were some of the largest factors in violent crime, and as one of the most unequal countries on the planet, Brazil backs up this claim. A UNESCO study states that between 2006 and 2013, the top 1% of the richest people in Brazil accrued 25% of all incomes. The Igarape study on Citizen Security in Latin America reported that 90.6% of Brazilian citizens live in cities, and that of the 50 most murderous cities on earth in 2016, Brazilian cities occupied 27 places on the list.
Article 10 in the Mexican Constitution states that Mexicans “have the right to possess firearms in their home, for their security and legitimate defense, with exception to those prohibited by Federal Law.”
A member of the Mexican security forces. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.
In order to legally acquire a gun, an individual must obtain a one-year gun permit within 30 days of purchasing a firearm. Requirements for this include being 18-years old, passing mental and physical capacity tests, having fulfilled military service. and holding no criminal convictions. The gun owner must also be part of a shooting club, can get permits for up to 10 weapons and can only buy ammunition for the calibres of guns owned.
However, there is a loophole. In a country of nearly 132 million people, there is only one shop that sells firearms, which is located in Mexico City. Despite this limiting factor, Small Arms Survey reported that in 2017, Mexico had 12.9 guns per 100 civilians, although of the 16,809,000 guns estimated in circulation in that year, only 3,118,592 were legally registered.
This high level of unregistered firearms has been attributed to Mexico’s proximity with the United States, as thousands of gun retailers sit just over the border. A report on gun trafficking between the US and Mexico revealed that almost 90% of the guns recovered and identified from Mexican crime scenes can be traced back to firearm dealers in the neighbouring country.
The Central American country is notorious for its rising crime rates, and Reuters reported that 2018 was the most violent year in Mexican history with over 34,000 homicides. This has been attributed, in part, to struggles between splintered drugs cartels and conflict over the rising market of stolen fuel.
In Colombia, according to article 233 of the National Constitution, only the government can control the distribution and fabrication of arms, as well as exercising the right to give licences.
To legally acquire a firearm, an individual must be over 18, and will have to prove that the weapon is either necessary for self-defense or is required for their profession. A permit is valid for 10 years, which requires the applicant to pass a background check which considers mental health, physical health as well as criminal and addiction records.
However, although possession of guns in the home is allowed, in 2015, then-President Juan Manuel Santos signed a decree that suspended civilian’s ability to carry guns. Due to a subsequent “decreasing trend in homicides and injuries caused by firearms,” this was extended year-by-year, however, on December 24, 2018, President Iván Duque added exceptions to the decree.
Decree 2652 will allow the Ministry of Defense more flexibility to give carry permits “for urgent or security reasons […] taking into account, among other factors, the individual conditions of each application.” Publimetro reported that special evaluation committees will be created in order to provide carry permits, which will also be subject to quarterly assessments.
The JAMA report states that in 2016 there were 25.9 deaths by firearm per 100,000 people. Gun violence remains problematic in the country, as there is a large disparity between registered and illegal guns in Colombia. The country is estimated to have 4,971,000 guns in circulation, but only 706,210 of them are registered with the Ministry of Defense.
Despite its gun woes, Colombia has come a long way from the 1990s when it held the title as “most dangerous country in the world,” and Forbes estimated that there were 300 murders per 100,000 inhabitants.
In Venezuela, civilians are not allowed to possess weapons of war, although what this refers to is not specifically defined. Handguns are allowed under licence, and automatic and semi-automatic guns are not specifically prohibited and may be allowed at the discretion of the authorities.
In 2002, Congress passed the Law of Disarmament, which aimed to collect illegal weapons as well as prohibiting them in public spaces and where alcohol is sold.
It also raised the age for gun possession to 25, as well as added certain prerequisites such as a clean criminal record, passing a psychological exam, gaining a training certificate, and showing legal proof of purchase of the firearm. Gun permits must be renewed every two years and holders may only have one gun with 50 bullets per year.
Nicolas Maduro created another disarmament campaign when he came into power in 2013, where citizens were encouraged to hand in their unlicensed guns, and according to Noticias 24 over 26,000 guns were destroyed in 2014.
However, as the country entered into crisis, the government stopped releasing official data. The JAMA study states that there are 18.5 guns per 100 citizens, and estimated the amount of guns in the country at 5,895,000 although there is no data available to determine how many of these are legally registered with the government.
The Igarape study also revealed that Venezuela is internally perceived as one of the most dangerous countries, as only 14% of citizens said they felt safe. In 2015, the study continued, just 19% of Venezuelans reported being confident in the police – the lowest score of any country on the planet.
The Economist stated that perceived danger and a lack of trust in security forces are influencing factors for increased gun use in society, as citizens feel they need to take matters into their own hands. JAMA reported that there are 38.7 firearm deaths per 100,000 people, the second highest among these six countries.
At least 17 of the top most violent countries in the world are Central American or Caribbean, and Guatemala is no exception. It is one of the most dangerous countries on this list, with 32.3 deaths by firearm per 100,000 residents, and as of 2016, the capital city of Guatemala was ranked the 9th most homicidal in the world.
Guatemalan law states that “all citizens have the right to have firearms in their place of living,” although they can only be acquired by licensed gun owners. No reason is required to possess a firearm, but owning one for personal security reasons does require government approval. Minimum age is not defined for gun ownership, although there is a minimum age of 25 for carrying firearms, and across the country there are 12.1 firearms per 100 civilians.
A gun licence requires proof that the applicant does not suffer from any mental illnesses, that they haven’t deserted either the Guatemalan army or police force, and they must have a clean police record. Carrying guns in public places is permitted with a license.
Across Latin America there are more private security guards than police officers – Igarape puts the ratio at 3.8 million private guards to 2.6 million police officers. In Guatemala, this is even more pronounced, as 120,000 private guards massively outnumber the 19,900-strong police force. A lax public attitude to vigilante behaviour also exists, as over 30% of Guatemalans agree with “taking the law into their own hands.”
The United States is the only developed country on the list, yet still has a high rate of firearm death at 10.6 per 100,000 citizens. This is higher than other wealthy nations which have similar gun laws, such as Canada (2.1) and much higher than the United Kingdom’s 0.3 or Japan’s 0.2, whose firearm regulation is much stricter.
Another difference, which also follows the trend of developed countries, is that most gun deaths (6.5 per 100,000 citizens) were suicides, whereas globally they are more likely to be homicides.
The rest of the countries on this list have “restrictive” gun regulation, according to Gun Policy, whereas in the United States, it is “permissive.”
The right to bear arms is an intrinsic part of the United States constitution, and owning semi-automatic guns and handguns is permitted without a license in almost all states. Fully automatic weapons, however, are subject to federal licensing and registration. The age restriction is 18-years old for rifles and shotguns, and 21-years for other types of firearm.
Individuals are not allowed to bear arms if they have been sentenced to a year of imprisonment in a federal court or two year’s imprisonment in a state court, unless the crime was due to regulation of business practices. The right to own a firearm is also not permitted if the buyer has been convicted of domestic violence or have been discharged under dishonorable conditions from the US armed forces.
The Small Arms Survey reports that there are more guns than civilians in the United States, with 120.5 guns per 100 citizens. That adds up to an estimated 393.3 million guns, of which only 1 million are registered. This is due to the fact that guns don’t need to be registered upon purchase in most states.
Guns have symbolic, cultural, and economic importance in the United States, where ownership provides a sense of security, allows participation in traditional sports such as hunting, and the industry employs hundreds of thousands of Americans, reported RAND research and analysis group.
Normally, as a country becomes wealthier and develops stronger governmental institutions, the rate of firearm death reduces, but this is not the case for the United States. The Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) suggests there is a simple answer to this: “where there are more guns there is more homicide.”
“With less than 5% of the world’s population, the United States is home to roughly 35–50 per cent of the world’s civilian-owned guns,” the Small Arms Survey stated in 2007. “[…] Therefore, any discussion of civilian gun ownership must devote disproportionate attention to the United States.”
Is there a correlation between gun regulation and firearm deaths?
All the Latin American countries on the list have restrictive gun policies, but this is counteracted by large amounts of unregistered and illegal firearms, and in Mexico’s case, guns trafficked from the U.S.
The Economist reported that Latin America is the most urbanised part of the developing world. This recent and concentrated movement of people from the countryside to urban areas has been dogged by inequality, unemployment, poor government services and easy access to firearms. This created a fertile breeding ground for violence, which was left unchecked by government security forces who never managed to gain citizen’s trust.
For the United States, the situation is a little different. According to a 2018 Gallup poll, only 15% of Americans have very little or no confidence in the police, with 54% having a “great deal/quite a lot” of confidence, making the police force the third most trusted institution in the country. Although income inequality is on the rise in the US according to the 2018 World Inequality Report, it is still far below countries such as Brazil.
Despite this, gun crime remains high. The correlation between high gun ownership and high gun crime could be the primary factor, something which often holds true among wealthy nations even when the US is removed from the equation, reported the HSPH. Among the top 25 countries with the highest firearm-to-civilian ratio, Uruguay was the only country in Latin America to make it on the list.
Ultimately, where there are guns there will be gun crime, and limited regulations are likely to exacerbate the issue. Muggah echoed this sentiment in his criticism of Bolsonaro’s recent loosening of gun laws.
“There is no hard evidence that loosening access to firearms improves public safety or security,” he told Reuters. “By contrast, there is considerable evidence that responsible regulations are associated with reductions in gun-related homicide of civilians and police officers alike.”
The causes of gun crime cannot be limited solely to gun restrictions. However, in developed countries such as the United States, which has much higher rates of gun crime than other wealthy nations with more restrictive policies, it could be a factor to consider. But for Latin American countries, where restrictive policies are already in place, what is clear is a lack trustworthy government institutions and internal security that can effectively monitor gun use.
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Social network targeted legislators around the world, promising or threatening to withhold investment
Article word count: 1164
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19289381
Posted by sorokod (karma: 1116)
Post stats: Points: 132 - Comments: 24 - 2019-03-02T14:27:07Z
#HackerNews #against #data #facebooks #global #laws #lobbying #privacy
Facebook has targeted politicians around the world – including the former UK chancellor, George Osborne – promising investments and incentives while seeking to pressure them into lobbying on Facebook’s behalf against data privacy legislation, an explosive new leak of internal Facebook documents has revealed.
The documents, which have been seen by the Observer and Computer Weekly, reveal a secretive global lobbying operation targeting hundreds of legislators and regulators in an attempt to procure influence across the world, including in the UK, US, Canada, India, Vietnam, Argentina, Brazil, Malaysia and all 28 states of the EU. The documents include details of how Facebook:
• Lobbied politicians across Europe in a strategic operation to head off “overly restrictive” GDPR legislation. They include extraordinary claims that the Irish prime minister said his country could exercise significant influence as president of the EU, promoting Facebook’s interests even though technically it was supposed to remain neutral.
• Used chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg’s feminist memoir Lean In to “bond” with female European commissioners it viewed as hostile.
• Threatened to withhold investment from countries unless they supported or passed Facebook-friendly laws.
The documents appear to emanate from a court case against Facebook by the app developer Six4Three in California, and reveal that Sandberg considered European data protection legislation a “critical” threat to the company. A memo written after the Davos economic summit in 2013 quotes Sandberg describing the “uphill battle” the company faced in Europe on the “data and privacy front” and its “critical” efforts to head off “overly prescriptive new laws”.
Most revealingly, it includes details of the company’s “great relationship” with Enda Kenny, the Irish prime minister, one of a number of people it describes as “friends of Facebook”. Ireland plays a key role in regulating technology companies in Europe because its data protection commissioner acts for all 28 member states. The memo has inflamed data protection advocates, who have long complained about the company’s “cosy” relationship with the Irish government.
The memo notes Kenny’s “appreciation” for Facebook’s decision to locate its headquarters in Dublin and points out that the new proposed data protection legislation was a “threat to jobs, innovation and economic growth in Europe”. It then goes on to say that Ireland is poised to take on the presidency of the EU and therefore has the “opportunity to influence the European Data Directive decisions”. It makes the extraordinary claim that Kenny offered to use the “significant influence” of the EU presidency as a means of influencing other EU member states “even though technically Ireland is supposed to remain neutral in this role”.
Chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg
Chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In was seen as a possible way of bonding with female legislators, the memos suggest. Photograph: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call,Inc.
It goes on: “The prime minister committed to using their EU presidency to achieve a positive outcome on the directive.” Kenny, who resigned from office in 2017, did not respond to the Observer’s request for comment.
John Naughton, a Cambridge academic and Observer writer who studies the democratic implications of digital technology, said the leak was “explosive” in the way it revealed the “vassalage” of the Irish state to the big tech companies. Ireland had welcomed the companies, he noted, but became “caught between a rock and a hard place”. “Its leading politicians apparently saw themselves as covert lobbyists for a data monster.”
A spokesperson for Facebook said the documents were still under seal in a Californian court and it could not respond to them in any detail: “Like the other documents that were cherrypicked and released in violation of a court order last year, these by design tell one side of a story and omit important context.”
The 2013 memo, written by Marne Levine, who is now a Facebook senior executive, was cc-ed to Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s then head of policy and global communications, the role now occupied by Nick Clegg. As well as Kenny, dozens of other politicians, US senators and European commissioners are mentioned by name, including then Indian president Pranab Mukherjee, Michel Barnier, now the EU’s Brexit negotiator, and Osborne.
The then chancellor used the meeting with Sandberg to ask Facebook to invest in the government’s Tech City venture, the memo claims, and Sandberg said she would “review” any proposal. In exchange, she asked him to become “even more active and vocal in the European Data Directive debate and really help shape the proposals”. The memo claims Osborne asked for a detailed briefing and said he would “figure out how to get more involved”. He offered to host a launch for Sandberg’s book in Downing Street, an event that went ahead in spring 2013.
Osborne told the Observer: “I don’t think it’s a surprise that the UK chancellor would meet the chief operating officer of one of the world’s largest companies … Facebook and other US tech firms, in private, as in public, raised concerns about the proposed European Data Directive. To your specific inquiry, I didn’t follow up on those concerns, or lobby the EU, because I didn’t agree with them.”
He noted it was “not a secret” that he had helped launch Sandberg’s book at 11 Downing Street and added: “The book’s message about female empowerment was widely praised, not least in the Guardian and the Observer.”
The documents say Facebook believed it enjoyed a ‘great relationship’ with Ireland’s former prime minister, Enda Kenny. Photograph: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images
In fact, the memo reveals that Sandberg’s feminist memoir was perceived as a lobbying tool by the Facebook team and a means of winning support from female legislators for Facebook’s wider agenda.
In a particularly revealing account of a meeting with Viviane Reding, the influential European commissioner for justice, fundamental rights and citizenship, the memo notes her key role as “the architect of the European Data Directive” and describes the company’s “difficult” relationship with her owing to her being, it claims, “not a fan” of American companies.
“She attended Sheryl’s Lean In dinner and we met with her right afterwards,” the memo says, but notes that she felt it was a “very ‘American’ discussion”, a comment the team regarded as a setback since “getting more women into C-level jobs and on boards was supposed to be how they bonded, and it backfired a bit”.
The Davos meetings are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of Facebook’s global efforts to win influence. The documents reveals how in Canada and Malaysia it used the promise of siting a new data centre with the prospect of job creation to win legislative guarantees. When the Canadians hesitated over granting the concession Facebook wanted, the memo notes: “Sheryl took a firm approach and outlined that a decision on the data center was imminent. She emphasized that if we could not get comfort from the Canadian government on the jurisdiction issue, we had other options.” The minister supplied the agreement Facebook required by the end of the day, it notes.
Additional research by Matt Fowler
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Like any other field, the world of Software Development has some interesting and famous rules, principles and laws.
Article word count: 1131
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19245485
Posted by pplonski86 (karma: 3714)
Post stats: Points: 212 - Comments: 83 - 2019-02-25T13:36:52Z
#HackerNews #development #famous #laws #software
Famous laws of Software development
Like any other field, the world of Software Development has some interesting and famous rules, principles and laws. Programmers, developers, managers and architects often use these in conversations, meetings and chats. More than often we tend to nod along, not willing to let our conversation partner know weʼve actually never heard of these Brook, Moore or Wirth characters.
These laws consist of rules, principles, or famous words from great and inspiring persons in the development world. At the same time they are interesting, funny, worth knowing, and all have great back-stories which are amazing to read.
In this post I am going to share my collection, interpretation and thoughts on the most famous and most used laws in Software Development.
This is kind-off a big post, so Iʼve included an index if you want to skip some:
Probably one of the most famous of all laws, mostly because it is not only applicable to Software Development.
If something can go wrong, it will.
First derivation: If it works, you probably didnʼt write it.
Second derivation: Cursing is the only language all programmers speak fluently.
Conclusion: A computer will do what you write, not what you want.
Defensive programming, version control, doom scenarioʼs (for those damned zombie-server-attacks), TDD, MDD, etc. are all are good practices for defending against this law.
Most developers will -either knowingly or unknowingly- have experience with Brookʼs law, which states:
Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.
If a project is running late, simply adding manpower will most likely have disastrous results. Looking and reviewing the level of programming efficiency, the software methodology, the technical architecture, etc. will almost always have better outcomes. Or not, which probably means Hofstadterʼs Law is also in play.
The Hofstadterʼs law was written by Douglas Hofstadter and named after him.
This law is -off course- not to be confused with Leonard Hofstadter from the Big Bang theory. Even though his quotation will make sense to some you.
The rule states:
It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadterʼs Law.
The "law" is a statement regarding the difficulty of accurately estimating the time it will take to complete tasks of substantial complexity. The recursive nature of the law is a reflection of the widely experienced difficulty of estimating complex tasks despite all best efforts, including knowing that the task is complex.
Thatʼs why you must always have a buffer before you give any sort of estimation. If you want to know more on how to provide better estimations, read my post on the subject: Estimation Wizardry.
Any piece of software reflects the organizational structure that produced it.
Or even more clearly:
Organizations which design systems are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations.
In many organizations teams are divided according to their functional skills. So youʼll have teams of front-end developers, backend-developers and database developers. Simply stated, itʼs hard for someone to change something if the thing he/she wants to change is owned by someone else.
It is much better, and more and more implemented as such, to deploy teams around a bounded context. Architectures such as microservices structure their teams around service boundaries rather than siloed technical architecture partitions.
So, structure teams to look like your target architecture, and it will be easier to achieve it. Thatʼs how you defend against Conwaysʼs law.
Postelʼs Law aka Robustness principle
Be conservative in what you send, be liberal in what you accept
Jon Postel originally articulated this as a principle for making TCP implementations robust. This principle is also embodied by HTML which many attribute as a cause of its success and failure, depending on who you ask.
In todayʼs highly charged political environment, Postelʼs law is a uniter.
Pareto Principle aka The 80-20 rule
For many phenomena, 80% of consequences stem from 20% of the causes.
This is the principle behind the painful truth that 80% of the bugs in the code arise from 20% of the code.
Otherwise stated, 80% of the work done in a company is performed by 20% of the staff. The problem is you donʼt always have a clear idea of which 20%.
The Peter Principle
A pretty depressing and at times frustrating law, certainly if you happen to have firsthand experience.
In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.
Just read Dilbert (or watch The Office) to get some examples of this in action.
As for Dilbert, this one is far out my favorite!
In cryptography, a system should be secure even if everything about the system, except for a small piece of information - the key - is public knowledge.
This is the main principle underlying public key cryptography.
Named after Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux, this law states:
Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.
This law was described using the famous The Cathedral and the Bazaar essay, explaining the contrast between two different free software development models:
* The Cathedral model, in which source code is available with each software release, but code developed between releases is restricted to an exclusive group of software developers. * The Bazaar model, in which the code is developed over the Internet in view of the public.
The conclusion? The more widely available the source code is for public testing, scrutiny, and experimentation, the more rapidly all forms of bugs will be discovered.
The power of computers per unit cost doubles every 24 month.
The most popular version states:
The number of transistors on an integrated circuit will double in about 18 months.
The processing speed of computers will double every two years!
Software gets slower faster than hardware gets faster.
Take that Mooreʼs Law!
The first 90% of the code takes 10% of the time. The remaining 10% takes the other 90% of the time
So true. Anyone who does not agree with this?
Knuthʼs optimization principle
Premature optimization is the root of all evil.
First you write code, then you identify bottlenecks, then you fix!
Any technology that surpasses 50% penetration will never double again (in any number of months).
I love these ʼlawsʼ as they each have their own story, their own background. And as a consultant or architect you have to familiarize yourself with them. So for me, and possibly for you, I know have a list of the most used and most famous laws in Software Development!
Did I miss your favorite law? Do (or donʼt) you agree with each law, or have any (funny) experience with one of them? What is your favorite? Let me know using the comment section!
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Australia no longer 'respects right to privacy'.
Article word count: 363
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19242698
Posted by qzervaas (karma: 2565)
Post stats: Points: 115 - Comments: 72 - 2019-02-25T03:39:42Z
#HackerNews #anti-encryption #calls #customers #faces #fastmail #laws #loses #move #over
FastMail loses customers, faces calls to move over anti-encryption laws
Hosted email provider FastMail says it has lost customers and faces “regular” requests to shift its operations outside Australia following the passage of anti-encryption laws.
The Victorian company, which offers ad-free email services to users in 150 countries, told a senate committee that the now-passed laws were starting to bite.
“The way in which [the laws] were introduced, debated, and ultimately passed ... creates a perception that Australia has changed - that we are no longer a country which respects the right to privacy,” FastMail CEO Bron Gondwana said. [pdf]
“We have already seen an impact on our business caused by this perception.
“Our particular service is not materially affected as we already respond to warrants under the
“Still, we have seen existing customers leave, and potential customers go elsewhere, citing this bill as the reason for their choice
“We are [also]regularly being asked by customers if we plan to move.”
Gondwana’s comments are similar to those of Senetas, which said it now “regularly fields questions” from customers about how encryption-busting laws might impact the products they have installed and are using. Senetas also said that its sales pipeline had dulled.
FastMail also used its submission to the senate committee to raise concerns that secretive “technical capabilities” added to products and services to aid law enforcement were unlikely to stay secret for long.
Moreover, he said that technical capabilities could be removed and destroyed internally by coders not privy to those capabilities even existing in the code base.
“Our staff are curious and capable - if our system is behaving unexpectedly, they will attempt to understand why. This is a key part of bug discovery and keeping our systems secure,” Gondwana said.
“Technology is a tinkerer’s arena. Tools exist to monitor network data, system calls, and give computer users more observability than ever before.
“Secret data exfiltration code may be discovered by tinkerers or even anti-virus firms looking at unexpected behaviour.
“[Additionally, as code is refactored and products change over time, ensuring that a technical capability isn’t lost means that everybody working on the design and implementation needs to know that the technical capability exists and take it into account.”
HackerNewsBot debug: Calculated post rank: 100 - Loop: 65 - Rank min: 100 - Author rank: 67
I think this illustrates that there is no such thing as a "free" market and that markets need as much governance as any other complex system.
Without governance, markets left unchecked favor those with systemic market power where those with less are exploited through collective bargaining at the top of the food chain.
And if we think about markets like ecosystems where the powerful are the predators, and those with less capital are the prey (as is largely the case), in capitalism, the predators will feast until they threaten their own ecosystem with systemic collapse (great depression & great recession for example.)
Capitalist with intelligence and foresight saw during the Great Depression that there was a need to protect their prey if they wanted to continue thriving as predators - and the largest middle class in recorded history grew, fattening the wealth of nations, predators and the prey like we've never seen.
In this pervasive comfort, the predators grew stupid and greedy and are dangerously close to catastrophic collapse of global markets - all because capitalist are over-hunting their prey.
After 2008, the smartest among the capitalist tried to implement safeguards - to provide sanctuary for their prey to flourish and insure bountiful hunting for generations to come but brutish, ignorant and religious (whether Objectivist or some other free market fundamentalism) held more power and were hellbent in their blood lust.
♲ Irreverent Monk (email@example.com):
This is interesting. AI can collude with each other, without being set up that way.[l]
They learn how to maximize profit, and to do that - don't go into a price war with your competitor...
https://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/robots/a26309827/left-to-their-own-devices-pricing-algorithms-resort-to-collusion/#algorithms #onlineshopping #legal #laws
This is interesting. AI can collude with each other, without being set up that way.[l]
They learn how to maximize profit, and to do that - don't go into a price war with your competitor...
https://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/robots/a26309827/left-to-their-own-devices-pricing-algorithms-resort-to-collusion/#algorithms #onlineshopping #legal #laws
9/3/05 From The #Lord, Our #God and #Savior
The #Word of The Lord Spoken to Timothy
For All Those Who Have Ears to Hear
These questions were asked of The Lord: Lord, is #capital #punishment OK? Are those who are #cremated lost?
Thus says The Lord: The #penalty of #sin is #death. Thus all who have sinned shall surely die, all shall lie down in death. Yet there is a #people who shall not #sleep, nor shall they lie down in death; a people who shall be #awake at My coming, a people who have received of the #divine #gift, a people who know Me and in whom I am known, for I see of Myself within them. They shall be lifted up, not preceding those who have fallen asleep in #Messiah. This is the first #harvest and #resurrection. For there is but One #Way, One #Truth, and One #Life; from the beginning, there is but One.
Yet there is one who is cast down, who goes about to and fro in all the #earth, perpetuating lies and spreading forth abomination, leading many away from the Truth. From the very beginning, #satan was a deceiver and a murderer; he has never been on the side of truth. From the beginning, he has sought to ensnare My people and destroy My #nation. For the #heart of #man is easily swayed, on #account of his #flesh he becomes entangled. Thus his #idolatries are many, and his #adulteries have no end.
Behold, #hand in hand they #march toward their #destruction, embracing #lies and rejecting Truth, as they #parade their #transgressions openly in the #streets. For the #wisdom of the #wise has perished, and the #knowledge of the #prudent has turned to #dust. For the people are void, they all have itching #ears. As #cattle to the #slaughter, or as a #bird hastens to the #snare, they give heed to those of clever words, failing to perceive it will #cost them their #life. Therefore the #mouth of #Sheol is open, the #pit is dug deep, and the #generation of My #wrath shall surely be cast into it! Indeed, they shall all #walk through the #valley, until death comes to claim them and the #grave hides them away, says The Lord.
Therefore hear the Word of My mouth and #humble yourselves, O sons and daughters of men, that you may see with new #eyes and restored #vision: If you #kill for the sake of #justice, though you yourselves remain unjust, have you not transgressed twice in your #spirit? Yea three times, you have sinned against The Lord your God. For man knows not the justice of God, nor can he comprehend the #judgment of The Most High. YOU SLOTHFUL AND MOST WICKED GENERATION, YOU ARE ALL MURDERERS! Even to #murder the murderer is murder! You do always transgress! You know nothing of the #power of God, nor of My #mercy revealed in The #Messiah, whom you call #Christ, nor are you able to search the #hearts of #men!
O foolish and deceived #generation, if a man has committed murder and you put him to death, you have placed yourselves in the #seat of judgment, making yourselves equal with God! Thus “BLASPHEMY” shall be written upon your #heads, and “MURDERER” your new #name! Yes punish the man who has committed murder, yet kill him not, lest he turn to Me in sincere #repentance, in The Messiah’s name, and be #forgiven. Shall you then #slaughter the #sons of God, piercing the hearts of those made new?!
O peoples of the earth, how long shall you tread the wide #path?! How long shall you walk in the way of #Cain and run greedily in the error of #Balaam, holding fast in your rebellion as #Korah?! For your sins are many; behold, they are increased beyond #measure!
Shall sin #judge sin, and institute
The punishment before the #time?!...
Is not My judgment, that of #capital punishment,
For all who have sinned, and #annihilation
For all who refuse to repent?!...
Yet I sent My Only Begotten #Son
To suffer your sentences for you;
Therefore, you do greatly err...
Peoples of the earth, where are your hearts?!
Err on the side of #hope and #salvation
In Messiah, where one can not err!
Therefore concerning those who kill the #body, yet can not harm the #soul, I say this: He who murders his #brother has committed great #evil. Even he who has conceived of murder in his heart is guilty. And those who carry out capital punishment are of the same. For they have put themselves in the judgment #seat; behold, they have placed themselves upon My #throne! Yet you know not what #tomorrow will bring, nor can you look upon the heart of man; even all his thoughts are hidden from you. Thus only I shall make an end of evil. Only I shall destroy the wicked of heart and cast the sons of satan into #eternal darkness, into the void of lifeless nothingness. For only The One who grants #life can take it away. I AM THE LORD! Or have you forgotten whom you shall #fear, The One alone who can destroy both body and soul?
Behold, the sins of this #generation reach unto #heaven, a murderous and most wicked people, a great multitude who stand in #agreement, a whole generation seeking the #penalty of death as they shake their #fists at #Heaven! Yes, by your own admission you are guilty! Behold, according to your own #laws, YOU should be put to death, YOU are the ones who should be sitting in the #chair! HYPOCRITES! You have destroyed yourselves!
FOOLISH GENERATION, YOUR LIFE IS NOT YOUR OWN! Apart from Me, there is no wisdom! Apart from The #Holy One, there is no life! Apart from The #Vine, there are no #branches! Behold, the #leaves wither and the #fruit has been cast down, for the people have no favor with God. Thus every dry #branch must be broken off and cast into the #fire, all corrupt fruit must be left and tread down. For the #temple of God has lost its form; its comeliness has departed, every #chamber is empty. For the heart of man is void, his countenance unyielding. Thus the #pride of man has become a chasm, both deep and wide, says The Lord.
Therefore, thus says The Lord your Redeemer, The Holy One of #Israel: Tear down the temple of God, and I shall raise it up again! For all who have died but #sleep, yet I shall raise them up again. And of those who are Mine, I shall not lose one, for I am The Lord and I shall raise them up again. Even those #cremated and those long since turned to #dust shall rise. For from the dust you came forth, by My knowledge were you made, and by My #breath you became living #souls. Can not God raise up #children to #Abraham, from the very #stones, if He so chooses? This I have already told you. Why then, O peoples of the earth, do you #rant and #rave and #wail like the #heathen, as one with no hope? Where is your #trust? Indeed, you have forgotten your God, and are greatly deceived; you do not know Me, nor will you believe. For if you knew Me, then you would know The #Father also, and understand that all #things are possible with God.
Therefore, let those who ask in #faith receive, and let those who #believe have understanding. For the fear of The Lord is indeed the beginning of wisdom. For I have already told you, that neither man nor #angel can truly kill another, nor is satan able to raise the dead. Only The One who formed it can raise it up again, and only by the hand of Him who #created it shall it be utterly destroyed. Thus if one refuses to be restored in the #image of God, which I am, he shall surely perish. He shall be blotted out, his life forfeit. Indeed, it shall be as though he had never been.
Therefore #repent, and receive of Me as I am,
And not as you would have Me be,
That you may be truly #born again...
For I am the perfect reflection of The Father,
The image of The #Invisible God...
I died, behold, I am #risen,
And by My life are you #saved...
That you might become the perfect #reflection of Me,
The One alone in whom is everlasting life...
Says The Lord.
#prophecy #prophet #Jesus #Yeshua #Christ #Messiah #God #church #bible #scripture #christian #christianity #JesusChrist #HolySpirit #Savior #Saviour #Lord