Legal, Laws, and Regs

Drew’s lawyer files response in court

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

The lawyer for Lori Drew has filed a response in California, to the charges that Drew violated MySpace’s rules and terms of service. If you don’t remember who Lori Drew is, she was the woman accused of “hounding” the 13 year old Megan Meier to death. I used the word “hounded” facetiously, as there’s much more to this story than a tale of a lost little girl done wrong by a Big Bad Woman. The event happened here in Missouri, and has been a very major story, as well as source of contention.

These charges are absurd, as well as being potentially devastating to any and all online web usage. From the filing, and quoted in the St. Louis Today report:

“If violating user agreements is a crime, millions of Americans are probably committing crimes on a daily basis and don’t know it,” the filings says.

Steward also says that laws have to make clear what is prohibited, and the one being used against Drew doesn’t. The terms “access” and “unauthorized” aren’t defined in the law. The law fails to warn the public of what is prohibited and establish standards that would prevent it from being enforced in an arbitrary and capricious manner, he wrote.

“A reasonable person could never know whether their conduct violates the statute,” the filings say, and the law is “ripe for discriminatory enforcement.”

Steward also writes that it is unconstitutional to delegate governmental powers to private parties. Prosecutors’ interpretation of the law would allow Web site owners unlimited authority to decide what was unauthorized.

“Almost any computer owner can set up whatever arbitrary and unique rules they want, and a violation of those rules can lead to a. . . prosecution,” Steward wrote

In other words, you could not only lose access to a web service by not following the “rules” of the service, you could thrown in prison for not following the rules. How absolutely insane is that?

More from Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. In addition, copies of the filings: Failure to State Offencedelegation of authority, and vagueness.


Thankfully, Homeland Security is not interested in Missouri

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

From MarketWatch, in light of today’s Hurricane Dolly landfall along the Texas/Mexican border:

As Hurricane Dolly bears down on the Texas Rio Grande Valley, the chairman of the Texas Border Coalition (TBC) today protested construction of the border wall by the Department of Homeland Security during the hurricane season and urged the government to refocus its efforts on rebuilding the levees that should protect the people of the Valley.

“It is unbelievably foolish for the government to be attempting to destroy and rebuild the Rio Grande River levees in the middle of hurricane season,” said Eagle Pass Mayor and TBC Chairman Chad Foster. “The footings of the levees are being destroyed in the construction process so that the Department of Homeland Security can erect 18-foot concrete walls in their place. It is incredibly short-sighted that the government would open the levees at the same time that the danger is highest for devastating floods in the middle of hurricane season.”

Illegal immigration is a big thing here in Missouri, for some unknown reason. Like the folks in Texas, we are also more at risk for floods than the possibility that some terrorist will cross over the border between Mexico and the US.

Dolly is set to hit directly on the border between the US and Mexico, at the mouth of the Rio Grande. Along the Rio Grande are the colonias, including Cameron Park outside of Brownsville, considered the poorest community in the US. The people there make an average of $4,000, annually. Most live in shacks without electricity and running water, on land sold by shady developers who promised these hard working people a decent community with all the utilities, took their money, and then skipped town.

What’s sadder, is this is the community that now President Bush wouldn’t visit, or even acknowledge, when he was governor of Texas.

Ignored then. Ignored now.


Liar, liar

Scott at Lazycoder writes on his recent job interview experiences.

Certification and licensing should be about setting a base level of competency. You shouldn’t have to ask someone what the difference between a div and a span element is during a phone screen if they are a licensed web developer. You shouldn’t ask a C++ developer to find the memory leak in a given piece of code. What you really want to know are the intangibles. Are they a cowboy coder? Are they continuously trying to improve their skills or are they set in their ways? Will they speak up during a meeting if they see a bottleneck or problem coming or will they just ignore the problem? We, as a group of professionals, need to determine a structure and governing body that will allow us to not wonder if an applicant is lying on their resume, but instead focus on whether or not a person will be a good fit with the rest of the team.

Most tech interviewers haven’t a clue how to interview. Instead, they set up some code, and allow the code to do the interviewing. Worse, they set up the interview in such a way as to make themselves look good, while making the process as difficult and painful as possible for the interviewee. Rather than a co-worker, the interviewer sees the interviewee as a potential competitor, and acts accordingly.

It’s the only field I know of that uses this approach. Most other fields are populated by people who genuinely care about finding the best person for the job.