Law and Legal

Parler Users Breached Deep Inside U.S. Capitol Building, GPS Data Shows

Gizmodo: “At least several users of the far-right social network Parler appear to be among the horde of rioters that managed to penetrate deep inside the U.S. Capitol building and into areas normally restricted to the public, according to GPS metadata linked to videos posted to the platform the day of the insurrection in Washington. The data, obtained by a computer hacker through legal means ahead of Parler’s shutdown on Monday, offers a bird’s eye view of its users swarming the Capitol grounds after receiving encouragement from President Trump — and during a violent breach that sent lawmakers and Capitol Hill visitors scrambling amid gunshots and calls for their death. GPS coordinates taken from 618 Parler videos analyzed by Gizmodo has already been sought after by FBI as part of a sweeping nationwide search for potential suspects, at least 20 of whom are already in custody. The siege on January 6, which lasted approximately two hours, resulted in five deaths, including that of a Capitol police officer whom authorities say was bludgeoned with a fire extinguisher and later succumbed to his injuries. Windows were smashed, tables overturned, and graffiti scrawled and scratched into the walls of the 220-year-old building—some calling for the murders of journalists sheltering in place nearby. Gizmodo has mapped nearly 70,000 geo-located Parler posts and on Tuesday isolated hundreds published on January 6 near the Capitol where a mob of pro-Trump supporters had hoped to overturn a democratic election and keep their president in power. The data shows Parler users posting all throughout the day, documenting their march from the National Mall to Capitol Hill where the violent insurrection ensued…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Joint Chiefs remind military of duty to support and defend Constitution

CBSNews.com: “The Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest-ranking officers in each branch of the military, sent a remarkable memo to all members of the armed forces on Tuesday reminding them of their duty to uphold the Constitution and reaffirming that President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated on January 20. “The American people have trusted the Armed Forces of the United States to protect them and our Constitution for almost 250 years. As we have done throughout our history, the U.S. military will obey lawful orders from civilian leadership, support civil authorities to protect lives and property, ensure public safety in accordance with the law, and remain fully committed to protecting and defending the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” the generals and admiral said in their memo. The memo denounced the attacks on the Capitol on January 6, during which supporters of President Trump overran the building in a violent assault that resulted in the deaths of five people…”

Categories: Law and Legal

The 6 browser extentions will protect your privacy online

Tech Crunch: “The internet is not a private place. Ads try to learn as much about you to sell your information to the highest bidder. Emails know when you open them and which links you click. And some of the biggest internet snoops, like Facebook and Amazon, follow you from site to site as you browse the web. But it doesn’t have to be like that. We’ve tried and tested six browser extensions that will immediately improve your privacy online by blocking most of the invisible ads and trackers. These extensions won’t block every kind of snooping, but they will vastly reduce your exposure to most of the efforts to track your internet activity. You might not care that advertisers collect your data to learn your tastes and interests to serve you targeted ads. But you might care that these ad giants can see which medical conditions you’re looking up and what private purchases you’re making. By blocking these hidden trackers from loading, websites can’t collect as much information about you. Plus by dropping the unnecessary bulk, some websites will load faster. The tradeoff is that some websites might not load properly or refuse to let you in if you don’t let them track you. You can toggle the extensions on and off as needed, or you could ask yourself if the website was that good to begin with and could you not just find what you were looking for somewhere else?…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Everything Is Different Now

The Atlantic – Tom JunodThe U.S. Capitol did not fall the way the Twin Towers did, but the American idea it embodies was brutalized. “We must remember 1/6 the way we remember 9/11….The attack on the U.S. Capitol was not a shock, because the people who perpetrated it did not come from out of the sky. They had been talking about their plans for weeks, and in broader terms for years; he, the most audible man in the world, had been talking about it, tweeting about it, ever since he lost the election—indeed, even before. A reckoning is coming, he said; the day is coming. He didn’t have to say that his people were coming, because he had made the pact between them explicit enough for their plans to be implicit. They all knew January 6 was going to be “wild,” as he put it, and that was the key word, the tip-off that the bacchanal of his rallies, indeed the liberation of his rallies, would now be visited upon the city where the buildings were—along with the American idea….The Capitol yielded easily to a horde of Americans—our brothers and sisters—in red hats and horned helmets and shirts proclaiming the persuasive triumph of the 17th letter of the alphabet. They were vandals in the halls where American Ciceros were supposed to have spoken, and yet now the halls were abandoned and, but for a brave few, bereft even of the dignity of resistance, while the vandals had the time of their lives. How could the idea that the Capitol is supposed to embody be perishable this way? My stomach turned and my hands trembled in fear and disgust, as I realized my prophecy for the day had been fulfilled not by the imposition of martial law but by the possibility of a stranger in a Camp Auschwitz shirt taking a shit in my house….”

Categories: Law and Legal

House introduces article of impeachment against President for ‘Incitement of Insurrection’

“U.S. Congressmen David N. Cicilline (RI-01), Ted Lieu (CA-33), and Jamie Raskin (MD-08) introduced an article of impeachment against President Donald Trump this morning. The impeachment resolution is sponsored by Cicilline, with Lieu and Raskin serving as the two lead co-sponsors. It is also co-sponsored by another 211 members of the U.S. House. The article of impeachment charges the outgoing President with a count of “Incitement of Insurrection” for his actions on January 6, 2021, when he delivered a speech inciting his supporters to lay siege to the United States Capitol, an action that temporarily halted the counting of Electoral College votes and resulted in the deaths of five individuals, including an officer of the United States Capitol Police. A copy of the article of impeachment introduced today can be downloaded by clicking here. Last Wednesday marked one of the darkest days in the history of our country. After months of agitation and propaganda against the results of the 2020 election, the United States Capitol – the citadel of our democracy – was attacked as President Trump’s supporters attempted to stage a coup and overturn the results of our free and fair presidential election,” said the members, who serve together on the House Judiciary Committee. “We cannot allow this unprecedented provocation to go unanswered. Everyone involved in this assault must be held accountable, beginning with the man most responsible for it – President Donald Trump. We cannot begin to heal the soul of this country without first delivering swift justice to all its enemies – foreign and domestic.”

See also Washington Post – What Trump said before his supporters stormed the Capitol, annotated

Categories: Law and Legal

Scraped Parler data is a metadata gold mine

Tech Crunch: “Embattled social media platform Parler is offline after Apple, Google and Amazon pulled the plug on the site after the violent riot at the U.S. Capitol last week that left five people dead. But while the site is gone (for now), millions of posts published to the site since the riot are not. A lone hacker scraped millions of posts, videos and photos published to the site after the riot but before the site went offline on Monday, preserving a huge trove of potential evidence for law enforcement investigating the attempted insurrection by many who allegedly used the platform to plan and coordinate the breach of the Capitol…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Quintessential of Hybrid Legal Library: A Case Analysis of Miyetti Law Library

Anyim, Wisdom O., Quintessential of Hybrid Legal Library: A Case Analysis of Miyetti Law Library (2019). Electronic Research Journal of Engineering, Computer and Applied Sciences, Volume 1 (2019) Posted: 5 Dec 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3735633

“The paper attempts to discuss the fast development of Information Technology and its application in the legal library services with the Miyetti Law library as a case study. Miyetti law library is a typical example of a hybrid legal library equipped with necessary resources in order to accomplish the newly Information Technology based services. Hybrid legal libraries with adequate Information Technology-enabled services facilitate the fulfillment of the information needs of the users at the right time without the barrier of distance and space. The paper discusses emerging technologies, services, and retrieval tools that make hybrid library worth implemented.”
Categories: Law and Legal

Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues, January 10, 2020

Via LLRXPete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues, January 10, 2020 – Privacy and security issues impact every aspect of our lives – home, work, travel, education, health and medical records – to name but a few. On a weekly basis Pete Weiss highlights articles and information that focus on the increasingly complex and wide ranging ways technology is used to compromise and diminish our privacy and security, often without our situational awareness. Four highlights from this week: SolarWinds Hackers Got Into More Than 3,000 DOJ Email Accounts; Sealed U.S. Court Records Exposed in SolarWinds Breach; CISA: Hackers access to federal networks without SolarWinds; and State Department Approves Creation of Cyber Bureau.

Categories: Law and Legal

The Capitol riot and its aftermath makes the case for tech regulation more urgent, but no simpler

TechCrunch: “Last week and throughout the weekend, technology companies took the historic step of deplatforming the president of the United States in the wake of a riot in which the US Capitol was stormed by a collection of white nationalists, QAnon supporters, and right wing activists. The decision to remove Donald Trump, his fundraising and moneymaking apparatus, and a large portion of his supporters from their digital homes because of their incitements to violence in the nation’s Capitol on January 6th and beyond, has led a chorus of voices to call for the regulation of the giant tech platforms. They argue that private companies shouldn’t have the sole power to erase the digital footprint of a sitting president. But there’s a reason why the legislative hearings in Congress, and the pressure from the president, have not created any new regulations. And there’s also a reason why — despite all of the protestations from the president and his supporters — no lawsuits have effectively been brought against the platforms for their decisions. The law, for now, is on their side…”

Categories: Law and Legal

The Social Security Administration’s Death Data: In Brief

CRS report via LC – The Social Security Administration’s Death Data: In Brief, Updated January 11, 2021: “The Social Security Administration (SSA) acquires and maintains death data to administer the Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs, including preventing the improper payment of benefits to deceased individuals and identifying individuals who are potentially eligible for survivor benefits. SSA collects death data from sources such as state vital statistics bureaus, funeral home directors, family members, and financial institutions and adds about2.9million new death reports to its records each year. These records prevent over $50 million in Social Security and SSI improper payments each month. SSA, under authority granted and limitations imposed by the Social Security Act,shares its death information with qualifying federal and state agencies for particular programmatic purposes and with certain external parties for research and statistical purposes. SSA also provides a limited extract of its death data, referred to as the Death Master File (DMF), to the Department of Commerce’s National Technical Information Service (NTIS), which in turn distributes it to authorized users. The DMF contains only those death records obtained from non-state sources. Until the enactment of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (P.L. 116-260),on December 27, 2020, SSA did not have legal authority to share its full file of death information(which includes state-reported deaths) with the Treasury Department’s Do Not Pay (DNP) portal, a centralized hub that would permit access by numerous federal agencies. However, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, includes a requirement for SSA to share its full file of death information (including state-reported death data) with DNP for a period of three years beginning three years after enactment and also provides for recipient agencies (including DNP) to fully reimburse SSA for the cost of both obtaining and sharing death data…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Experts explain how disinformation online helped fuel the attack on the Capitol

Poynter – How did we get here?: “The world changed last week after rioters infiltrated the U.S. Capitol building and disrupted our legislative and democratic process. It was an event most people did not see coming, but others have worried about for months, if not years. Disinformation and misinformation researchers, online content verification analysts and beat reporters who monitor the darkest corners of the internet have watched the spread of conspiracy theories online and their accelerated move to the mainstream in 2020. But for the average American, it can be more difficult to make the connection between disinformation online and its tangible, direct impact on real life. There are very few examples of such a direct connection in the U.S. The most famous is the QAnon-fueled “pizzagate” incident in December 2016. Abroad, there are more examples, like journalists who are fighting disinformation in the Philippines threatened with jail time and misinformation leading to a mob killing in India. Here in the U.S., how do you explain exactly how conspiracy theories online led to events like we saw at the Capitol last week? That’s what I asked a group of preeminent disinformation and misinformation experts to explain, in the simplest terms, and to unpack why this is so important. What follows is their responses last week, in their own words, lightly edited for clarity and brevity…”

Categories: Law and Legal

How will you actually know when it’s your turn to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Fast Company: “….a real issue: a gap in vaccination information, and fears about what a lack of public knowledge could mean for vaccine uptake. It’s down to the states to plan vaccine distribution, and most have adopted a version of the CDC’s recommended phasing plan, to prioritize certain populations. But what’s less clear is how those states will notify residents—if at all—when it’s their turn. Some states have been more transparent, while others are purposely holding out on information so as not to create confusion or misinformation…“Because public health in this country is run locally, there’s going to be a ton of variability for how well it’s working,” says John Brownstein, chief information officer at Boston Children’s Hospitals, and a professor of biomedical informatics at Harvard. “Fifty different states, 50 different strategies.” Tara Kirk Sell, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says that every state has such different distribution plans, even down to the local level. “Some states are communicating a little bit better than others,” she says…”

Categories: Law and Legal

These were the top 10 fastest growing websites in 2020

Fast Company: “Website market intelligence firm SimilarWeb is out with an interesting report that highlights the fastest growing websites in 2020. The list was compiled by tracking the year-over-year traffic growth of websites that had at least 100,000 visits in 2019 and at least 100,000 million in 2020…”

Categories: Law and Legal

How to Change Your Political Party Affiliation

Lifehacker: “Aside from one Republican Senator who’s currently mulling a decision to switch her political affiliation, Wednesday’s assault on the U.S. Capitol hasn’t necessarily compelled Republican lawmakers to flee the party en masse. The Trump era, with its normalization of incendiary rhetoric, only saw a handful of lawmakers switch their affiliations out of contempt for the president; one notable example is former Michigan House Representative Justin Amash, who abandoned the Republican party to become an Independent in 2019 and then switched again to Libertarian last year. Regardless of the underlying context, switching your political party is a right afforded to any registered voter in this country, and it’s something you can do with a few simple actions…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Domestic Terrorism Prosecutions Reach All-Time High in FY 2020

“Because of the January 6 attack on the Capitol, the public is highly interested in government’s wider enforcement response to acts of domestic terrorism. In fact, last year in the wake of protests surrounding the death of George Floyd at the hands of police, there has been a large jump in federal prosecutions classified as domestic terrorism. FY 2020 saw 183 domestic terrorism prosecutions filed by U.S. Attorneys’ offices around the country – the highest total since government tracking began a quarter of a century ago. This compares with 69 such prosecutions in fiscal 2017, the first year of the Trump Administration, 63 domestic terrorism prosecutions during FY 2018, and 90 such prosecutions during FY 2019. These figures are based on case-by-case government records obtained and analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University after successful court litigation. The data show that cases U.S. Attorneys’ offices categorized as domestic terrorism were brought using a variety of lead charges, including 18 U.S.C. 111 for assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers or employees; 18 U.S.C. 871 for threats against the President and successors; 18 U.S.C. 1752 for knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds; 18 U.S.C. 844 involving the importation and storage of explosives; 18 U.S.C. 231 civil disorders; 18 U.S.C. 875, interstate communications; and 18 U.S.C. 876, making threatening communications. In addition, regulatory violations were sometimes the lead charge, such as failure to comply with official signs or creating any hazard on property to persons or things. U.S. Attorneys’ offices vary greatly in their numbers of domestic terrorism prosecutions. The largest during 2020, a total of 78 prosecutions, were brought in Oregon federal courts. However, many U.S. Attorneys’ offices across the country brought no domestic terrorism suits, or just a single suit in all of FY 2020. This includes the U.S. Attorney in the Western District of Washington (Seattle) who was recorded as bringing only a single domestic terrorism suit, although protests there similar to those in nearby Portland, Oregon, had figured prominently in the news. For additional details, including information on domestic terrorism prosecutions for each federal judicial district, go to: https://trac.syr.edu/tracreports/crim/636

Categories: Law and Legal

A Civilian’s Guide to Insurrection Legalese

The Marshall Project – Everyone’s talking about sedition, treason and conspiracy. Here’s what these terms actually mean and how they’ve been enforced. “In the 24 hours since a mob incited by the president of the United States stormed the Capitol attempting to halt the functioning of American democracy, the news media and everyone else have been at a loss for words to describe what happened. Was it a coup, or an insurrection? Did anyone commit treason, or sedition? What exactly does it mean to incite a crime, or to riot? These aren’t just word games. Knowing how these terms are specifically defined under federal law will have consequences for the most violent of the rioters who have been or could be arrested by federal authorities—and also for Donald Trump and others who instigated the crowd’s actions. To be sure, the most likely federal charges that could be levied against Trump supporters fall under the broad—and less serious—ban on committing “unlawful activities” on Capitol grounds, from “violent entry” to property destruction to disorderly conduct. Here’s a Marshall Project roundup of some of the terms in U.S. criminal law being batted around this week…”

Categories: Law and Legal

The deplatforming of President Trump

Tech Crunch: A review of an unprecedented and historical week for the tech industry: “After years of placid admonishments, the tech world came out in force against President Trump this past week following the violent assault of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington D.C. on Wednesday. From Twitter to PayPal, more than a dozen companies have placed unprecedented restrictions or outright banned the current occupant of the White House from using their services, and in some cases, some of his associates and supporters as well. The news was voluminous and continuous for the past few days, so here’s a recap of who took action when, and what might happen next…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Advanced Searches Using Legislative Action Codes on Congress.gov

In Custodia Legis: “The following is a guest post by senior legal reference librarian Beth Osborne. Recently, one of my colleagues from the blog team asked me if I knew of any “hidden treasures” at the Law Library of Congress that I wanted to mention in her recent post. Of course, I realized she was asking about something special—but perhaps often overlooked—from our wonderfully vast physical collection. However, my first thought was, “Congress.gov Action Codes!” So even though action codes did not quite fit the hidden treasures post, I thought I would take a few moments to talk about this powerful advanced search feature from Congress.gov. First—a brief background. Thousands of pieces of legislation are introduced in a two-year Congress, though relatively few are ever enacted into law. From the introduction of a measure to its passage, failure, or death, many different legislative actions can occur. Every bill or resolution that is uploaded to Congress.gov has information about the actions taken during the legislative process (for example, see the list of “All Actions” taken on S. 24, the Government Employee Fair Treatment Act of 2019). The Congress.gov data on legislative actions is largely pulled from the Congressional Record. Congress.gov enables researchers to search within certain categories of information (fields), and “legislative actions” is one such category. A task such as identifying all bills that were “introduced in the House of Representatives” is easy because that action is available from the left-hand menu as you look at a list of search results. However, if you want to craft a search based on less common legislative actions, or based on multiple legislative actions, using action codes in the advanced search feature may work for you. Action codes are numerical codes assigned to certain types of legislative actions. One benefit that action codes have over keywords is that they efficiently encapsulate similar actions described in different ways. For example, if you wanted to know how many bills had received floor consideration in the House, you could do a keyword search for every word or phrase that conceivably qualifies as a floor action (such as taking up, amending, debate, voting, passage, amendments between the chambers, conference actions, etc.). But, this would be an unwieldy and inefficient search. Instead, you can execute your search using the action code that represents “house floor actions” (actionCode:7000) and quickly capture all variants of floor actions that have taken place in the House. To use action codes, start on the page for advanced search of legislation and jump or scroll to the menus under “Action/Status.” You will likely need to scan the list of action codes to familiarize yourself with what is available and find the code or codes suitable for your search. Additionally, you can find a list of action search scope notes, which provide explanatory notes on action codes, as well as a large set of prepared queries featuring action code search fields. When using an action code, you need to use the prefix actionCode:XXXX, where XXXX is the code. If you are using more than one action code, you can use parentheses and connect them with a search operator…”

Categories: Law and Legal

What is Signal? The basics of the most secure messaging app

Mashable: “…Over the past three years, Signal has also been investing in more infrastructure and features to support its users. That’s a good thing: Signal first saw an increase in users in the spring as people participating in anti-racist protests around the killing of George Floyd realized how closely law enforcement was surveilling them and asking companies to hand over user data. It’s only become more popular since then. As of this writing, Signal is at the top of the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, and its two-factor authentication onboarding system even got briefly delayed Thursday because so many people were trying to sign up. So, thinking about joining Signal? Bottom line: If you care about privacy, it’s a good idea. Here’s what you need to know…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Mayor Bowser’s Letter to DHS Acting Sec Chad Wolf Regarding Inauguration Preparations

Sunday, January 10, 2021 (WASHINGTON, DC) – “Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser released her letter to U.S. Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf regarding inauguration preparations. The full letter is below.

Dear Acting Secretary Wolf: Following the unprecedented terrorist attack on the United States Capitol on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, and the continued threat of related violence in the District of Columbia, we are extremely concerned about the upcoming National Special Security Event (NSSE) led by the United States Secret Service. We believe strongly that the 59th Presidential Inauguration on January 20 will require a very different approach than previous inaugurations given the chaos, injury, and death experienced at the United States Capitol during the insurrection. While I will be reaching out to a broad range of local, regional, and federal partners to enhance cooperation among our bodies, I strongly urge the United States Department of Homeland Security to adjust its approach to the Inauguration in several specific ways…”

Categories: Law and Legal

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