New Jersey Bill Would Allow Customers to Opt Out of Smart Meter Technology, Undermine Federal Program

New Jersey Bill Would Allow Customers to Opt Out of Smart Meter Technology, Undermine Federal Program By Michael Maharrey A bill filed in the New Jersey Assembly would allow utility customers in the sate to opt-out of installing “smart meter” technology on homes and businesses. Passage of this bill would enable New Jersey residents to protect their own privacy, and it would take a step toward blocking a federal program in effect. A bipartisan coalition of three assemblymembers introduced Assembly Bill 5884 (A5884) on Nov. 14. The legislation would create…

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We’re Being Blinded to the Danger of Facial Recognition

We’re Being Blinded to the Danger of Facial Recognition By Michael Maharrey We’ve become increasingly comfortable with facial recognition technology. We use it to unlock our phones and to skip the security line at the airport. But the convenience of facial recognition is blinding us to its dangers. Georgetown University School of Law privacy expert Clare Garvie put together a video that explains why you should be concerned about the growing use of facial recognition technology, even if you think you have “nothing to hide.” According to Garvie, police databases…

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Utah Committee Hold Hearing on Facial Recognition

Utah Committee Hold Hearing on Facial Recognition By Michael Maharrey Last week, a joint Utah legislative committee held a hearing on facial recognition technology, and legislators plan to consider at least two bills addressing the invasive surveillance technology during the upcoming legislative session. The interim Government Operations Committee hearing was prompted by a recent report by the Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy and Technology and reported by the Washington Post revealing that Utah was one of several states running facial recognition on its drivers’ license photos. According to the report,…

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Oakland City Council Bans Facial Recognition

Oakland City Council Bans Facial Recognition By Michael Maharrey Yesterday, the Oakland City Council gave final approval for a ban of facial recognition technology by the city. The new ordinance not only increases privacy in Oakland; it also takes a step toward limiting a massive federal surveillance program. The ordinance prohibits Oakland government agencies, including police, from “acquiring, obtaining, retaining, requesting, or accessing” facial recognition technology. The ban includes accessing information obtained through facial recognition technology used by agencies outside of the city. The ordinance defines facial recognition as “an automated or…

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Proposed Federal Agency Would Create Criteria to “Identify” Potentially Violent People

Proposed Federal Agency Would Create Criteria to “Identify” Potentially Violent People By Michael Maharrey There is a push on for the creation of another unconstitutional federal agency that would create systems to identify “early signs of changes in people with mental illness that could lead to violent behavior.” Coupled with “red flag” laws, this sounds like the beginning of a dystopian nightmare. According to the Washington Post, the proposal is part of a larger initiative known as the Health Advanced Research Projects Agency (HARPA). The agency would operate under the…

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New Illinois Law Expands Medical Marijuana Program Despite Federal Prohibition

New Illinois Law Expands Medical Marijuana Program Despite Federal Prohibition By Michael Maharrey Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has signed two bills into law that expand the state’s medical-marijuana program despite federal prohibition. A coalition of six Democrats sponsored Senate Bill 455 (SB455). The legislation amends a 2018 law known as “Ashley’s Law” authorizing schools to allow guardians or other caregivers to administer cannabis-infused products students authorized to use medical marijuana. SB455 expands the law by requiring schools to allow school nurses or administrators to administer medical marijuana. Students will also…

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Delaware Bill Expands Marijuana Decriminalization Despite Federal Prohibition

Delaware Bill Expands Marijuana Decriminalization Despite Federal Prohibition By Michael Maharrey DOVER, Del. (Aug 8, 2019) – Last week, Delaware Governor John Carney signed a bill to decriminalize marijuana possession by minors in the state despite federal prohibition. Sen. Trey Paradee (D-Dover), sponsored Senate Bill 45 (SB45) along with 16 fellow Democrats. Delaware decriminalized the possession or consumption of a “personal-use quantity” of marijuana for adults 21 or over in 2015, making it a civil violation subject to a fine. But under that law, possession of a personal-use quantity of…

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California Committee Approves Measure to Create Banking Alternative for Cannabis Industry, Bypass Federal Reserve

California Committee Approves Measure to Create Banking Alternative for Cannabis Industry, Bypass Federal Reserve By Michael Maharrey Last week, a second California Assembly committee unanimously passed a bill that would establish limited state-chartered banks to serve the cannabis industry. Final passage of this legislation would remove a major federal roadblock in front of the developing industry in the state and further nullify federal prohibition in practice. Sen. Bob Hertzberg, (D-Van Nuys), along with a bipartisan coalition of eight cosponsors, filed Senate Bill 51 (SB51) on Dec. 4.  The legislation would create a…

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Signed as Law: Kansas Removes Barrier to the Use of Gold and Silver as Money

Signed as Law: Kansas Removes Barrier to the Use of Gold and Silver as Money By Michael Maharrey TOPEKA, Kan. (May 22, 2019) – Last week, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly signed a bill exempting gold and silver bullion, and other precious metals, from the state sales tax. Passage of this legislation eliminates one barrier to using gold and silver in everyday transactions, a foundational step for people to undermine the Federal Reserve’s monopoly on money. Rep. Jim Kelly (R-Independence) introduced House Bill 2140 (HB2140) on Feb. 5. The new law exempts…

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Signed as Law: Utah Bans Warrantless Access to Information in the Cloud

Signed as Law: Utah Bans Warrantless Access to Information in the Cloud By Michael Maharrey Last week, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed a bill into law that requires police to get a warrant before accessing data stored in the “cloud.” The new law will not only increase privacy protections in Utah; it will also hinder the federal surveillance state. Rep. Craig Hall (R-West Valley City) sponsored House Bill 57 (HB57). The new law prohibits law enforcement agencies from accessing electronic information or data transmitted to a “remote computing service” without a warrant…

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