District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis has an op-ed in today’s UT-San Diego praising yet another ‘common sense’ reform. She and other law enforcement types around the state are rallying behind a bill authored by State Senator Mark Leno, D-San Francisco that would require cellphone manufacturers to have “kill switch” technology enabled by default.
She argues that the wireless industry is fighting this legislation to protect the profits made from selling replacements for stolen smart phones. It all just sounds so logical. Until you think about her real track record–Since when did our feckless DA become a populist crusader? And haven’t we learned our lesson yet about reforms that seem too good to be true?
Fortunately for consumers and citizens the folks at the Electronic Frontier Foundation have cried foul on Sen. Leno’s SB962. It’s a bad idea wrapped up in sheep’s clothing that has the potential to make your smart phone stupid and into a tool for suppressing free speech.
Here’s Ms. Dumanis’ argument:
To end the epidemic of smartphone theft, we believe devices should have this technology enabled by default. A bill authored by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, sponsored by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office and supported by the San Diego District Attorney’s Office, is making its way through the legislative process in Sacramento right now to require exactly that.
Despite the fact that this “kill switch” technology exists, the wireless industry is dragging its feet on implementing it. In fact, the wireless industry’s powerful lobby is fighting against this important legislation.
At the same time, the industry is making tens of billions of dollars from the replacement of stolen devices, essentially profiting off the victimization of its own customers. The wireless industry has a responsibility to ensure its customers aren’t targeted simply because they’ve failed to effectively safeguard their products.
I’m no fan of the wireless industry. You just about need a lawyer to negotiate and enforce an agreement these days. Every time my family has upgraded its devices or plans we’ve spent countless hours on the phone trying to get the company (there have been several) to honor their commitments.
So I don’t want readers to think I’m disagreeing with the notion that companies are screwing people who lose their phones. It’s just that the proposed solution in this case opens doors for other problems.
Here’s a portion of the statement from the Electronic Frontier Foundation speaking to those concerns.
We focused on two issues in this particular case: “lock in” and legitimizing a technical means.
Lock in describes when a particular technology is frozen in place due to a technological mandate, so other technologies—perhaps better technologies—have no chance of competing. In this case, the smartphone security suite features dozens of options for Android, iOS, and Blackberry.
With an eye to the current landscape of security tools, if a “manufacturer or operating system provider” chooses a particular solution, innovation in this space may be discouraged—especially since the current number of “manufacturers or operating system providers” falls short of the number of security tools. Mandating any technological fix could “lock in” a less effective solution, preventing stronger third-party anti-theft applications from competing and innovating.
The second, more grave reason for not supporting this bill has to do with potential for abuse.
We were especially concerned with giving government actors any more ability to shut off cell phones after wireless service was shut off during the 2011 BART protests. In response, California passed what became Public Utilities Code § 7908, which took great steps to prevent law enforcement from cutting off communications services, though it sunsets at the end of this decade. PUC § 7908, however, also legitimized a legal process for law enforcement to interrupt communications. SB 962, by mandating kill switches in every phone, would legitimize a technical means.
SB 962 is not explicit about who can activate such a switch. And more critically, the solution will be available for others to exploit as well, including malicious actors or law enforcement.
Climate Change a Burning Question at UT-San Diego
Researchers at the non-profit Media Matters have been looking into coverage from the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News,Sacramento Bee, U-T San Diego and the Orange County Register mentioning climate change in connection with California’s wildfires. (h/t Don Bauder)
They found that while the topic has been increasing in coverage generally, the one newspaper that stood out for its lack of mentions on the subject of climate change in connection with wildfire was…ta-da!…UT-San Diego.
California’s Newspapers Increase Climate Coverage In Wildfire Stories By Over 50 Percent. Of all articles, columns and editorials analyzed, 11 percent mentioned climate change in their wildfire coverage in the three months leading up to and including California’s early fire season this year. This amount marks an improvement over coverage from the same newspapers’ coverage during an equivalent time period in 2013 when only 7 percent of wildfire stories mentioned climate change. The absolute number of stories that mentioned climate change increased by 55 percent from 9 to 14 articles. …
…U-T San Diego Mentions Climate Change Only Once, To Cast Doubt On It. Oddly enough, the newspaper that covers an area that has seen some of the most immediate and recent devastation due to the wildfires, the U-T San Diego, mentioned climate change the least. U-T San Diego mentioned climate change only once in its wildfire coverage, while questioning its existence:
If climate change is a fact, preparation [for wildfires] is more important than ever.
“These (weather) patterns are only going to get worse,” [Sheryl Landrum of the Fire Safe Council of San Diego County] says. “Be prepared.” [U-T San Diego, 5/30/14]
City to Taxi Drivers – You’re Screwed
Once upon a time the taxi industry in San Diego was an important industry. Drivers were unionized and the companies owning the fleets had plenty of clout downtown. The chief of the SDPD got a new car courtesy of Yellow Cab each year.
Times have changed. The idea of drivers making a honest living went out the window as companies changed their status from employees to contractors. But the industry’s political muscle is still a force to be reckoned with.
The 2013 study by San Diego State University and the Center On Policy Initiatives revealed just how bad things can be for drivers.
Here’s reporting from KPBS just 13 months ago:
The City of San Diego will not renew its five-year contract with the Metropolitan Transit System for regulating the taxi industry when it expires in June, but will extend it by one year to study other options. The decision comes as drivers ramp up complaints about poor working conditions, driver and passenger safety, and lax oversight that has resulted in a virtual black market for operator permits.
In a report out today, the Center on Policy Initiatives and researchers from San Diego State University say taxi drivers earn, on average, $4.45 an hour after paying for gas and weekly fees to lease their cars.
The low wage and requirements set by their car leases mean drivers work an average of 71 hours a week, with the majority driving all seven days, to cover their costs.
Here’s KPBS yesterday:
MTS will continue to regulate the industry and few changes are expected.
The city and MTS have settled on a five-year contract that absolves MTS from having to initiate any reforms to improve conditions for drivers. It says “MTS does not desire to expand its regulatory role” and will not be required to handle disputes between cab companies and their subcontractors.
That means it was status quo when cab drivers stepped into their cars after Thursday’s meeting. They had no new protections against low wages, long work hours and alleged retaliation from cab company owners.
But language in the contract does open the door for city-led reforms.
“This is just the beginning,” Councilwoman and MTS board member Marti Emerald said, who represents neighborhoods where many cab drivers live. “We have a foot in the door for some of the reforms that have been requested and we’re going to have, obviously, a robust discussion here at this board. I do believe that we’re going in the right direction.”
So they’ve had a year to examine the industry in San Diego and the reforms amount to a promise by one city councilmember for “robust discussions.”
Councilman David Alvarez was the only vote in opposition to the five-year contract.
“We’re Not Racist” and the War on Voting
I’m glad I live in California when I read stuff like this…
A study published this week by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law comes to some disturbing conclusions on the subject of voter access:
Election laws have long been prone to politicization, but for decades there were no major legislative movements to restrict voting. Indeed, the last major legislative push to cut back on voting rights was after Reconstruction. The first stirrings of a new movement to restrict voting came after the 2000 Florida election debacle. Indiana and Georgia passed restrictive photo ID laws in 2005 and 2006, respectively, and Arizona voters approved a ballot initiative in 2004 requiring registrants to provide documentary proof of citizenship when signing up.
But the 2010 election marked a major shift. From early 2011 until the 2012 election, state lawmakers across the country introduced at least 180 restrictive voting bills in 41 states. By the 2012 election, 19 states passed 27 restrictive voting measures, many of which were overturned or weakened by courts, citizen-led initiatives, and the Department of Justice before the election. States continued to pass voting restrictions in 2013 and 2014….
…Race was also a significant factor. Of the 11 states with the highest African-American turnout in 2008, 7 have new restrictions in place. Of the 12 states with the largest Hispanic population growth between 2000 and 2010, 9 passed laws making it harder to vote. And nearly two-thirds of states — or 9 out of 15 — previously covered in whole or in part by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act because of a history of race discrimination in voting have new restrictions since the 2010 election. Social science studies bear this out. According to the University of Massachusetts Boston study, states with higher minority turnout were more likely to pass restrictive voting laws. A University of California study suggests that legislative support for voter ID laws was motivated by racial bias.
Local Anti-War Activists Demonstrate
San Diego Veterans for Peace organized banners and signs opposing any new US involvement in Iraq on the 6th Avenue overpass (over I-5) on Thursday afternoon. They reported lots of good feedback. h/t Martha Sullivan. Photo via Syd Stevens Facebook.
McCain Photo: Palling Around With Terrorists
Columnist Dana Milbank’s essay on Senator John McCain’s quest for more war is published in today’s UT-San Diego. He almost makes you feel sorry for McCain…
It’s a lonely job being an interventionist these days. Not long ago, there were the three amigos — Graham, McCain and Joe Lieberman — leading a powerful group of hawks. Now Lieberman is gone, and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., leads a growing band of isolationists. Americans, exhausted by war, express more isolationist sentiment than they have in decades. President Obama shows little appetite for military conflict. And Republican congressional leaders have gone to ground. At a news conference Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, demurred on all questions about involvement in Iraq, finally saying, “I don’t need to get into the specifics.”
This left McCain to make the case for war, with assists from his loyal sidekick Graham and a few others. The problem is that nobody seems to be listening, perhaps because McCain has been a predictable voice for intervention for two decades. He has made noises about U.S. military involvement in Nigeria, Ukraine, Syria, Mali, North Korea, Iran, Libya, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Bosnia, Sudan and Iraq (multiple times).
If people were listening, they might hear that McCain is talking sensibly about the use of force in this instance. “There is no good option,” he said, acknowledging that airstrikes could exacerbate the situation, but arguing that “the worst option is to do nothing.”
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Ol’ Johnny Rotten (h/t Jon Stewart) has yet to meet a war he didn’t like. An ultra-conservative website posted this picture:
On This Day: 1941– Henry Ford recognized the United Auto Workers, signing a contract for workers at River Rouge plant. 1943 – Striking African-American auto workers were attacked by Ku Klux Klan and armed white workers at Belle Isle amusement park in Detroit. Two days of riots followed, 34 people were killed, more than 1,300 arrested 1967 – Muhammad Ali was convicted in Houston of violating Selective Service laws by refusing to be drafted. The Supreme Court later overturned the conviction.
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