Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Hannah Kris
Friday, June 29, 2018, 10:44 AM

California has passed a new digital privacy law that provides new online privacy rights to consumers, according to the New York Times. The bill gives consumers a right to be informed about all of the data companies are collecting about them, including what data is collected, why the data is collected, and with whom the data is shared. Consumers may also compel companies to delete their data and prohibit companies from sharing or selling their data, and consumers still have a right to the same quality of service if they pursue these options. In addition, the bill provides additional barriers to companies seeking to share or sell data belonging to children under the age of 16 and makes it easier to sue companies for data breaches. Aleecia McDonald, Stanford privacy expert, called the bill one of the most comprehensive privacy protection laws in the United States. The bill was modeled after a ballot initiative that was set to go to a vote in November unless legislation passed. Corporate opposition ultimately decided not to try to halt the bill’s passage, viewing the ballot initiative as a worse outcome for technology companies. Some privacy advocates sought more protection, including the ability of consumers to sue companies for noncompliance.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI director Christopher Wray countered assertions by House Republicans that the FBI and Justice Department had withheld information from House Committees regarding the Russia and Clinton email investigations, reports the Wall Street Journal. Wray and Rosenstein testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday in a hearing regarding a set of documents that House Republicans have demanded regarding the investigations into Russian meddling and Hillary Clinton’s private email server. The hearing was marked by testy exchanges between Rosenstein and GOP House members. In conjunction with the hearing, the House passed a resolution calling for the Justice Department to release documents requested by the House intelligence and judiciary committees earlier this month. While the resolution is not legally binding, some House Republicans are considering either impeaching Rosenstein or holding him in contempt of Congress if the Republicans do not receive the documents by the deadline. Both Rosenstein and Wray rejected assertions that their departments were hiding information, both pointing to the quantity of work required to release documents to Congress in order to protect confidential investigations, grand jury proceedings, and sensitive information sources.

EU leaders agreed to continue economic sanctions against Russia that were implemented in response to Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and backing of rebels in east Ukraine, according to Reuters. The announcement was made Friday at a summit in Brussels. Current economic sanctions prohibit EU persons and businesses from doing business with Russia’s banking, financial and energy sectors for six more months. Unless reauthorized, the sanctions will lapse at the end of January.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to maintaining Japan’s security during the implementation of the nuclear deal with North Korea, reports the Washington Post. The announcement was made as part of a press conference at Japan’s Defense Ministry as part of Mattis’ tour around Asian nations who may be affected by the North Korean deal. The reaffirmation comes as Japan expresses anxiety about concessions the U.S. may have to Kim Jong Un make in order to denuclearize North Korea as well as about Trump’s comments regarding many long-standing alliances, including South Korea. Japan Foreign Minister Taro Kono has maintained that U.N. resolutions against North Korea should remain in place until demonstrable progress toward denuclearization has been shown and that biological weapons, chemical weapons, and ballistic missiles of all ranges must also be forfeited by North Korea. In response to Japan’s concerns, Mattis said that the U.S. would continue to use its military power as leverage in diplomatic negotiations with North Korea and pointed to future talks with Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera regarding 12 Japanese nationals who were abducted and are currently held in North Korea.

Iraq executed 12 people who were convicted of terrorism-related offenses, reports Reuters. The Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called for “just retribution” on Thursday in the form of speedy executions of death-row inmates convicted of terrorism and found guilty on appeal. The call for the executions came after the bodies of eight members of the Iraqi security force were found. The eight people had been kidnapped and killed by members of the Islamic State. Protestors feared that Iraq’s leadership would use the incident for political gain. The developments come as Iraq is reeling from a controversial election and struggling to develop a new governing coalition in parliament.

Police in France thwarted a potential terrorist attack against French Muslims by a far-right cell known as Operational Forces Action, according to the New York Times. The cell, which was led by a former French police officer and consisted of nine men and one woman, had planned to attack mosques and halal grocery stores; it had already begun testing explosives. The 10 defendants were charged on Wednesday with conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism. Some were charged with manufacturing explosives and illegally possessing firearms, after authorities found 14 handguns, 22 rifles, thousands of rounds of ammunition, explosive materials, and a guide on how to make homemade napalm in the homes of the defendants. While Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right Front National party, condemned the defendants, Louis Aliot, a member of parliament in the same party as Le Pen, claimed that “if groups are forming to defend themselves, it is first and foremost because the state is being soft on radical Islam.” A website connected with the Operational Forces Action lists “upholders of the Islamic system,” “sub-Saharan Africans,” “humanists” and “Rights-of-Man types” as adversaries and paints Jews as “targets if the War of France breaks out.” French authorities reassured that the threat from groups such as Operational Forces Action—known as part of the ultra-right in France—pose a minimal threat.

Former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos’ sentencing date has been established as Sept. 7, reports Reuters. George Papadopoulos had already pleaded guilty in October to making a “materially false, fictitious and fraudulent statement” to FBI agents. The sentencing date was handed down by D.C. federal judge Randolph Moss on Thursday. The max sentence Papadopoulos faces is six months in jail and a $9,500 fine, but prosecutors said that Papadopoulos may receive a reduced sentence for his cooperation with the investigation. Papadopoulos will be the second person to be sentenced in connection with the Mueller probe. Alex van der Zwaan was sentenced to 30 days in prison and a $20,000 fine after he plead guilty to lying to investigators in April.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Ruwanthika Gunaratne and Gregory Johnsen analyzed the beginnings of the war in Yemen.

Quinta Jurecic investigated the role of the Supreme Court ruling in Korematsu v. United States in the Trump v. Hawaii ruling.

Robert Chesney and Steve Vladeck hosted a podcast on the consequences of Kennedy’s retirement, what the new Supreme Court nominee will look like, the Carpenter decision, and the Travel Ban decision.

Victoria Clark posted a livestream of the testimony of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray testifying before Congress on the Clinton email investigation.

Stewart Baker hosted a podcast in which he interviewed David Sanger on his new book “The Perfect Weapon – War, Sabotage, and Fear in the Cyber Age.”

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