November 30, 2016 nº 1,817 - Vol. 13

"Surround yourself with people who believe in you more than you do in yourself."

Gaby Natale

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  • Top News

UK mass surveillance bill becomes law

The UK's Investigatory Powers Bill was given royal assent and became law on Tuesday. The bill gives the UK's intelligence agency a wide variety of tools to monitor the online activity of all UK citizens. The bill will require Internet providers and phone companies in the UK to retain logs of every citizen's communications and online activity in a massive database for one year. The bill makes it lawful for authorities to access communications data without judicial approval, except to uncover journalistic sources. The government defined communications data as "the context, but not the content of a communication." It also allows for targeted equipment interference (EI), accessing specific devices such as mobile phones and computers, with the approvals of a law enforcement chief and judicial commissioner. Another section allows agencies to seek communications data or EI in bulk by applying for a warrant. The bill's supporters argue that the bill is necessary for enforcement agencies to keep up with the rapid technological advancements being made all over the world. Critics of the bill, however, have already began circulating a petition calling for it to be repealed. The petition is nearing 140,000 signatures, passing the 100,000 signature threshold required to compel a discussion on the matter by Parliament.

Law enforcement's secret "super search engine" amasses trillions of phone records for decades

Although the government still hides too much information about a secret telephone records surveillance program known as Hemisphere, we have learned through EFF's Freedom of Information Act lawsuits that police tout the massive database of private calls as "Google on Steroids". Hemisphere, which AT&T operates on behalf of federal, state, and local law enforcement, contains trillions of domestic and international phone call records dating back to 1987. AT&T adds roughly four billion phone records to Hemisphere each day, including calls from non-AT&T customers that pass through the company's switches. The Drug Enforcement Agency and other federal, state and local police use Hemisphere to not only track when and who someone is calling, but to perform complicated traffic analysis that can dynamically map people's social networks and physical locations. This even includes knowing when someone changes their phone number. And federal officials often do it without first getting permission from a judge. Indeed, Hemisphere was designed to be extremely secret, with police instructed to do everything possible to make sure the program never appeared in the public record. After using Hemisphere to obtain private information about someone, police usually cover up their use of Hemisphere by later obtaining targeted data about suspects from phone providers through traditional subpoenas, a process the police call "parallel construction" and that EFF calls "evidence laundering."

  • Crumbs

1 - Apple wins battle with Australian banks over mobile payments - click here.

2 - Australia to impose lower 'backpacker tax' after outcry - click here.

3 - Amazon and eBay sellers' VAT fraud rife despite crackdown - click here.

4 - WTO rules Boeing's state subsidies illegal - click here.


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  • MiMIC Journal

Can foreign parties sue China's technology cos. for violating the law?

With China's passage this month of its Cyber Security Law, much of the attention in the international business community has focused on how business obligations will change for mainland China operations and how the law will generally affect cross-border handling of customer, operations, and other data. To what extent may foreign businesses and individuals use the Law's mandates to seek relief for data breaches and other cyber security compromises? Recent reports have identified concerns over particular companies in China that manufacture Internet of Things (IoT) devices and distribute online application software, which implicate the security of Internet infrastructure companies outside of China and privacy for users overseas. The Law does not take effect until June 1, 2017, and presumably would not affect the IoT manufacturer or firmware company at issue in these reports (that is, unless the issues identified in these reports are not rectified by that date). These incidents, however, are not likely to cease; if anything, it is more likely that they will proliferate in volume and variety. Under the Law, an IoT manufacturer may be considered to be a "network operator" (as a "network service provider" under Art. 76) or a provider of "network products" or perhaps "critical network equipment" or "specialized network security products" (Arts. 22-23). In turn, a firmware administrator could be considered to be a "network operator" or "application software download service provider" (Art. 48). Depending on how the company is viewed, the Law imposes security obligations.


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  • Historia Verdadera


El presidente brasileño Michel Temer promulgó la ley que permitirá a la iniciativa privada la explotación de yacimientos de petróleo en aguas profundas, que hasta ahora sólo podía realizar la petrolera estatal Petrobras. (Presione aquí)


Un total de ocho empresas en lo individual y siete consorcios conformados por 17 empresas de 12 países participarán en la apertura de propuestas de licitación por 10 licencias petroleras y una sociedad o farmout con Petróleos Mexicanos en aguas profundas del Golfo de México, el próximo 5/12. La Comisión Nacional de Hidrocarburos aprobó la lista final de licitantes que podrán presentar ofertas por estos campos, en la cual se destaca la participación de Pemex, que quedó inscrita para presentar ofertas por alguno de los seis campos en las Cuencas Salinas y los cuatro del área Cinturón Plegado Perdido. La estatal se inscribió para participar sola así como en consorcio con la estadounidense Chevron. En lo individual se registraron la australiana BHP Billiton, la británica BP, China Offshore Oil Corporation, la estadounidense Exxon Mobil, la malaya PC Carigali, la noruega Statoil y la francesa Total. En tanto, los consorcios están conformados por : la estadounidense Atlantic Rim con la holandesa Shell; la italiana ENI con la rusa Lukoil; las también estadounidenses Murphy Sur y Ophir con la malaya PC Carigali y la mexicana Sierra Offshore; nuevamente, PC Carigali, en un consorcio sólo con Sierra Offshore; la noruega Statoil en consorcio con BP y Total, y, de nuevo Total, en un consorcio más con Exxon Mobil.


Para hacer frente a la crisis que cada vez aprieta más el cinto de los venezolanos, el gobierno de Nicolás Maduro, por decreto, abrió las puertas a los dólares del turismo, el mismo que estaba controlado bajo un sistema cambiario que rige poco más de tres años. (Presione aquí)

Disciplina fiscal

En medio de fuertes protestas contra las medidas de austeridad del gobierno de Michel Temer, el Senado de Brasil aprobó el martes en la primera ronda de votación un estricto límite al gasto federal, lo que representa una oportuna victoria para el presidente Michel Temer en su campaña por restablecer la disciplina fiscal en medio de una recesión económica y una crisis política. El Senado respaldó, por 61 votos a favor y 14 en contra, una enmienda a la Constitución que limitaría el gasto federal a la tasa de inflación durante 20 años.

  • Brief News

US election 2016: Could recounts change result?

Thanks to the efforts of Green Party candidate Jill Stein, a recount of presidential ballots is about to get under way in several key states won by Donald Trump in America's general election. Could this process reveal evidence of election fraud or even hand the presidency to Hillary Clinton? That seems highly unlikely. But it hasn't prevented some considered thought, more than a bit of wild speculation. For Clinton to be declared the victor would require a swing of more than 100,000 votes across the three states - a move that would dwarf all previous recount results. Examining the physical evidence - even if they find nothing amiss - will help allay doubt and give voters justified confidence that the results are accurate. The Clinton team made headlines this weekend when it announced that it would co-operate with Stein's recount efforts. That only means the Clinton campaign will ensure it has representatives in any legal proceedings arising from the recount and observers on hand during the process. "Because we had not uncovered any actionable evidence of hacking or outside attempts to alter the voting technology, we had not planned to exercise this option ourselves, but now that a recount has been initiated in Wisconsin, we intend to participate in order to ensure the process proceeds in a manner that is fair to all sides," Clinton campaign said. If there's one thing the impending recounts have revealed, it's that post-election Donald Trump will behave largely like pre-election Donald Trump - quick to take to Twitter to air grievances and settle perceived slights. He alleged that his loss to Clinton in the total popular vote tabulations was due to "millions of people who voted illegally" and that there was "serious voter fraud" in three states that Clinton carried - Virginia, New Hampshire and California. There are found discrepancies in voter registration databases - but no concrete evidence that they led to voting fraud.

Germany lawyers file suit against Syria president for war crimes in Aleppo

A group of German lawyers on Monday announced the filing of charges against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, alleging that he committed war crimes in Aleppo. As Germany has the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows countries to sue foreigners for international crimes, they are allowing the suit on that ground. The lawyers, citing reports from Amnesty International, allege that there is overwhelming evidence that Assad has committed war crimes such as bombings of hospitals, attacks on civilians, and forced expulsions. One lawyer was quoted saying that "[w]e're experiencing genocide in Aleppo in slow motion."

CIA chief warns Trump: Scrapping Iran deal 'height of folly'

The director of the CIA has warned US President-elect Donald Trump that ending the Iran nuclear deal would be "disastrous" and "the height of folly". John Brennan also advised the new president to be wary of Russia's promises, blaming Moscow for much of the suffering in Syria. In his campaign, Trump threatened to scrap the Iran deal and also hinted at working more closely with Russia. Brennan will step down in January after four years leading the CIA.

Colombian Senate backs new Farc peace deal

Colombia's Senate has approved a revised peace accord with the country's largest rebel group, the Farc. The first agreement was narrowly rejected in a referendum last month. President Juan Manuel Santos says the new proposals are stronger and take into account the changes demanded by opponents of the scheme. Those opponents, led by former President Alvaro Uribe, say the revised deal is still too lenient on Farc leaders.

No expat deal before Article 50

The status of UK and EU expats after Brexit can be resolved only once formal negotiations have started, the European Council president has said. In a letter the 81 MPs and peers accused the EU Commission of "standing in the way" of a "reciprocal" deal. But Donald Tusk, the European Council president, said their criticism had "nothing to do with reality". Brexit - not the stance taken by EU negotiators - had created "anxiety and uncertainty", saying the best way to "dispel the fears and doubts of all the citizens concerned" was to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which begins a two-year negotiation process. Europe's leaders are united in their determination to keep their negotiating cards close to their chests until the UK triggers Article 50, and are adamant that there will be no side deals or talks on individual issues until Britain makes the first move.

Egypt court approves new law regulating NGOs

The Egyptian State council, a part of the Egyptian judicial system tasked with reviewing proposed legislation, approved a bill Monday regulating and restricting non government organizations (NGO) operating in Egypt. The bill would require NGOs to "agree with the state's plan, development needs and priorities" and ensure that "all data on financing sources, activities, protocols, and programmes" is reported to the government. The bill would also restrict in which areas NGOs can work, exclude work that covers political parties and require NGOs to receive prior permission from the Egyptian government before conducting activities such as field work or surveys.

Supreme Court rules double jeopardy clause allows retrial for inconsistent verdicts

The US Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in Bravo-Fernandez v. US that the double jeopardy clause does not bar the government from retrying defendants after a jury has returned inconsistent verdicts and the convictions are later vacated due to legal error unrelated to the inconsistency of the jury. The court relied heavily on the precedent set by Ashe v. Swenson that the issue-preclusion component of the double jeopardy clause does not mean that defendants cannot be retried on acquittal unless it is "determined by a valid and final judgment of acquittal."

Philip Morris could stop making conventional cigarettes

Philip Morris has launched a new, potentially less harmful cigarette in the UK which it says could mean halting sales of its conventional products. The so called IQOS product heats tobacco rather than burning it. The tobacco giant claims this means smokers get the same nicotine hit, but 90% less of the nasty toxins that come with cigarette smoke. It says trials - not yet externally verified - found the new cigarette had the same impact as quitting smoking. The firm is not pushing that finding, saying only that the new product is likely to cause less harm. Philip Morris International (PMI) has spent $3bn on creating the substitute cigarette. PMI says it would like to work with governments towards the "phase-out" of conventional cigarettes.

Car firms to build electric charge network

Several large car firms are working together to create a high-powered, electric-vehicle-charging network across Europe. BMW, Daimler, Ford and Volkswagen Group, including Audi and Porsche, say they will build 400 charging sites. The plug-in points will provide ultra-fast charging for cars along major roads. Tesla cars will not be able to use the charge points as they use different systems. The network will be based on combined charging system standard technology. Drivers will be able to top up using plugs charging at a speed of 350 kW, which is considerably faster than the current market leader. A statement from the car companies said their goal was the quick build-up of a sizeable number of stations in order to enable long-range travel for battery electric vehicle drivers.

More law degrees for women, but fewer good jobs

Women currently occupy nearly half of all the seats in American law schools, gaining credentials for a professional career once all but reserved for men. Female law students tend to be clustered in lower-ranked law schools, a new study found, putting them at a disadvantage in landing top legal jobs.

Brazil president claims he will block corruption amnesty bill

Brazilian President Michel Temer said Sunday that he will block a controversial bill that would grant amnesty to politicians who received illegal campaign donations. Temer, along with Speaker of the Lower House of Congress, Rodrigo Maia, and Speaker of the Senate, Renan Calheiros, stated that it would be "impossible" to sanction such a proposal and that to allow such a bill to pass would go against the "voice of the people." Temer called on congress to focus instead on economic initiatives.

Australia appoints first female chief justice

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Monday named Susan Kiefel Australia's chief Justice, marking the first time that a woman will hold the highest position on the High Court since its inception in 1903. The vacancy was created after Chief Justice Robert French announced that he would step down from the court in January. Kiefel did not have the typical path to becoming chief justice, dropping out of school at the age of 15. She then entered a technical college where she learned secretarial skills. She held multiple jobs while finishing high school, then studied law at night. She is now the longest serving member on the High Court, which also includes two other women. (Click here)

Samsung Electronics, pushed by investors, will consider restructuring

Samsung Electronics has confirmed it is considering dividing the company into two separate firms. The company has been under pressure from some investors to break itself into a holding unit and an operating company to boost shareholder value. The South Korean technology giant also announced plans to increase dividends and said it would continue to buy back more shares. Restructuring pressure had been mounting after the Note 7 fiasco. In October, the company was forced to stop production of its flagship smartphone model after failing to resolve battery problems leading to overheating and the devices catching fire.

In Europe, is Uber a transportation service or a digital platform?

The European Court of Justice will hear arguments that will most likely determine how the ride-sharing service can operate across the European Union. The stakes couldn't be much higher, as the company fights being regulated as a transportation provider in the European Court of Justice, its business model effectively on trial. (Click here)

Cravath doesn't change bonuses

Elite law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP told its junior lawyers Monday that year-end bonuses will be the same as last year's, a sign that law firms continue to tread somewhat carefully in the post-recession world.


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