Laws and regulations

  • Iranian court orders man's eyes to be gouged, and nose and one ear cut off

    An Iranian court sentenced a main who poured acid on a young girl’s face to having his eyes gouged out and his right ear and nose cut off. The man was convicted last October of intentionally attacking the girl with acid, causing her to lose her eyesight and right ear.

  • NIST’s voluntary cybersecurity framework may be regarded as de facto mandatory

    The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) voluntary cybersecurity frameworkissued in February establishes best practices for companies that support critical infrastructure such as banking and energy. Experts now warn that recommendations included in the framework may be used by courts, regulators, and even consumers to hold institutions accountable for failures that could have been prevented if the cybersecurity framework had been fully implemented by the respective institution.

  • Google asks court to allow reposting of anti-Islamic film on YouTube

    Google on Friday asked a U.S. appeals court to allow the reposting of an anti-Islamic movie on YouTube pending a re-hearing of the copyright case which led to the movie removal. Last Wednesday the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered Google to remove the movie from YouTube. Google told the court it has complied with the court’s earlier “unprecedented sweeping injunction,” but argued that irreparable harm is being done to Constitutional rights of YouTube, Google, and the public.

  • Google to fight order to take down Islamophobic movie

    The amateurish anti-Islamic movie “Innocence of Muslims” triggered a wave of violence in the Middle East and North Africa when it was released in 2012. The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco accepted the copyright claim of an actress who said she was duped into appearing in the movie, and ordered Google to remove a trailer for it from YouTube. Google complied, but said it would fight the decision.

  • Secure Communities triggers deportation of undocumented immigrants with no criminal records

    The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Secure Communitiesprogram sends fingerprint data from local law enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigationto immigration officers to identify and deport illegal immigrants who commit major crimes. The program has expanded from fourteen jurisdictions in 2008 to more than 3,000 today. Immigration advocates say that the program’s emphasis on identifying and deporting undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes in the United States notwithstanding, it has also triggered the deportation of 5,964 undocumented immigrants with no criminal records.

  • U.S. to use more discretion applying terrorism-related inadmissibility immigration rules

    The Obama administration has relaxed the rules for would-be asylum-seekers, refugees, and individuals who want to come to the United States or remain in the country despite their classification as having provided “limited material support” to terrorists or terrorist organizations.DHS says that rigorous s security and background checks will still be applied to asylum seekers, including those already in the United States, but officials will take into consideration“routine commercial transactions or routine social transactions,” Arab Spring-related anti-regime activities, and more. Current rules already allow exemptions for providing medical care to terrorists or acting under duress.As of 2011, 4,400 immigration cases are on hold as a result of the old terrorism-related inadmissibility rules.

  • W.Va. spill leads lawmakers, industry to look at reforming toxic substances law

    The government was slow to respond to the 9 January 2014 massive chemical spill in West Virginia because the law governing such response, the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), limits regulatory agencies’ authority to investigate such spills.Under TSCA, the EPA must first prove that a chemical poses an unreasonable risk to health or the environment before it can require the needed testing that would show a potential risk. One observer called this a Catch-22, telling a congressional panel that “This is like requiring a doctor to prove that a patient has cancer before being able to order a biopsy.”

  • Israeli legal expert urges development of ethics code for cyberwarfare

    Col. Sharon Afek, former deputy military advocate general, says that countries would benefit from developing an ethics code to govern cyber warfare operations. He notes that existing law already prohibits cyber operations which would directly lead to loss of life, injury, or property damage, such as causing a train to derail or undermining a dam. “Israel faces a complex and challenging period in which we can expect both a cyber arms race with the participation of state and non-state entities, and a massive battle between East and West over the character of the future legal regime,” he writes. He acknowledges, though, that only a catastrophic event like “Pearl Harbor or Twin Towers attack in cyberspace” would accelerate developments in this area.

  • Lawmakers want mandatory security standards for national grid

    Lawmakers have urged the imposition of federal security standards on grid operator in order to protect the U.S. national electric grid from attack. The new push follows stories, first reported in the Wall Street Journal reported last Wednesday, about a 16 April 2013sniper attack which disabled seventeen transformer in a San Jose, California substation for twenty-seven days, causing about $16 million in damage. Federal cybersecurity standards for protecting the grid are in place and mandated, but rules for protecting physical sites such as transformers and substations are voluntary.

  • Nevada trial of Sikh terrorist postponed by two years to clarify FISA-related issues

    Balwinder Singh, 39, who received asylum in the United States in 1997, was indicted as a member of Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) and Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF). Both groups use bombings, kidnappings, and murders in a campaign to establish an independent Sikh state in the Punjab region of India, to be called Khalistan. U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks agreed with the prosecution and defense that the trial should be postponed from February 2014 to February 2016 so that issues related to FISA-authorized NSA surveillance of Singh could be clarified. Judge Hicks said that “the ends of justice served by this continuance outweighs the defendant’s and public’s best interests in a speedy trial.”

  • Kansas debating expanding definition of terrorism

    Lawmakers in Kansas are debating a bill to expand the definition of “furtherance of terrorism” and allow victims of acts of terrorism to seek civil penalties from those convicted of terrorism. House Bill 2463 is modeled after an Arkansas law passed following an attack on a military recruiting office by Abdulhakim Mohamed. The foiled bomb plot at the Wichita airport in December 2013 gave Kansas persuaded lawmakers to emulate Arkansas’ example.

  • Florida mulling banning school collection of students’ biometric information

    Some school districts in Florida, including Polk County and Pinellas County, are using scanners to collect fingerprints and hands, eyes, and voice characteristics from students. Pinellas County school district allows students to use palm scans instead of cash to pay for meals in the cafeteria. The collection of students’ biometric information has alarmed many parents who are concerned that students’ identity or personal records may be stolen or sold to private companies. Florida state legislators are debating a proposal which would stop school districts from collecting biometric information from students.

  • Arizona lawmaker pushes measure to limit NSA operations in the state

    Arizona State Senator Kelli Ward, a tea party Republican representing the Lake Havasu area, is pushing a bill in the State Senate which would impose limits on the ability of the NSA to operate in Arizona. In December Ward became the first legislator in the nation to declare she would introduce legislation to limit NSA activities in the state, and so far legislators in twelve other states have introduced similar bills. Arizona SB 1156 would. Among other things, prohibit local and state law enforcement officials from cooperating with the NSA and would prevent state or local prosecutors from using NSA-collected information which had not been obtained with a warrant. The bill would also withhold funds from state universities and colleges supporting the NSA with research or recruitment. Legal scholars say the courts would in all likelihood strike down Ward’s measure because Arizona, in essence, is trying to regulate the federal government.

  • U.S. will seek death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

    The U.S. Justice Department announced that the United States will seek the death penalty against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the 20-year-old accused of detonating two bombs the Boston Marathon last Aril, killing three people and injuring more than 200 others. The younger Tsarnaev faces thirty counts in the bombing, including use of a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death and the bombing of a public place. Since 1964, the federal government has only executed three people, including Timothy Mc­Veigh who was convicted in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

  • A first: Constitutionality of NSA warrantless surveillance challenged by terrorism suspect

    Jamshid Muhtorov, a refugee from Uzbekistan now facing terrorism charges in Colorado, is the first criminal defendant who, as part of his lawyers’ defense strategy, is challenging the constitutionality of the NSA’s warrantless surveillance program. Muhtorov filed a motion Wednesday in federal court in Denver to suppress any evidence obtained through the agency’s surveillance program on grounds that it was unlawful. In July 2013 the Justice Department reversed an earlier policy, and now informs defendants whether the case against them, in whole or in part, is based on information obtained through warrantless surveillance. To date, six months after the review process at Justice was launched, Muhtorov and Mohamed Mohamud, a Portland, Oregon teenager who had been convicted after an FBI sting operation of attempting to detonate a bomb at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony, are the only defendants to receive such a disclosure.