Monday, March 08, 2010

Today is the Birthday of Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Born on March 8, 1841 in Boston

Via the Britannica Facebook feed for today March, 8, 2010, we are informed that the great judge Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., also known as "The Great Dissenter" was:

"born March 8, 1841, Boston died March 6, 1935, Washington, D.C.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. [Credit: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.] Justice of the United States Supreme Court, U.S. legal historian and philosopher who advocated judicial restraint. He stated the concept of “clear and present danger” as the only basis for limiting free speech."

Read the rest at the Britannica Online
.

__________

The Wikipedia has some paragraphs which contain some of the better known of Holmes' famous quotes:
"According to Holmes, 'men make their own laws; that these laws do not flow from some mysterious omnipresence in the sky, and that judges are not independent mouthpieces of the infinite....'

As a justice of US Supreme Court, Holmes introduced a new method of constitutional interpretation. He challenged the traditional concept of constitution. Holmes also protested against the method of abstract logical deduction from general rules in the judicial process.

According to Holmes, lawyers and judges are not logicians and mathematicians. The books of the laws are not books of logic and mathematics.

He writes: "The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience. The felt necessities of the time, the prevalent moral and political theories, intuitions of public policy, avowed or unconscious, and even the prejudices which judges share with their fellow-men, have had a good deal more to do than syllogism in determining the rules by which men should be governed. The law embodies the story of a nation's development through many centuries, and it cannot be dealt with as if it contained only the axioms and corollaries of a book of mathematics...."

Holmes, also insisted on the separation of 'ought' and 'is' which are obstacles in understanding the realities of the law. As an ethical sceptic, Holmes tells us that if you want to know the real law, and nothing else, you must consider it from the point of view of 'bad man' who cares only from material consequences of the courts' decisions, and not from the point of view of good man, who find his reasons for conduct "in the vaguer sanctions of his conscience"....

EDGE: "Europe, Where the Idea of Competition in the Internet Space Appears to Focus on Litigation, Legislation, Regulation, and Criminalization"

Does Europe especially need to reconsider their approach to the Internet? EDGE would say yes:

Edge: TIME TO START TAKING THE INTERNET SERIOUSLY By David Gelernter: "Introduction: Our Algorithmic Culture" by John Brockman:
"Edge was in Munich in January for DLD 2010 and an Edge/DLD event entitled 'Informavore' — a discussion featuring Frank Schirrmacher, Editor of the Feuilleton and Co-Publisher of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Andrian Kreye, Feuilleton Editor of Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Munich; and Yale computer science visionary David Gelernter, who, in his 1991 book Mirror Worlds presented what's now called 'cloud computing.'

The intent of the panel was to discuss — for the benefit of a German audience — the import of the recent Frank Schirrmacher interview on Edge entitled 'The Age of the Informavore.' David Gelernter, who predicted the Web, and who first presented the idea of 'the cloud', was the scientist on the panel along with Schirrmacher and Kreye, Feuilleton editors of the two leading German national newspapers, both distinguished intellectuals....

Take a look at the photos from the recent Edge annual dinner and you will find the people who are re-writing global culture, and also changing your business, and, your head. What do Evan Williams (Twitter), Larry Page (Google), Tim Berners-Lee (World Wide Web Consortium), Sergey Brin (Google), Bill Joy (Sun), Salar Kamangar (Google), Keith Coleman (Google Gmail), Marissa Mayer (Google), Lori Park (Google), W. Daniel Hillis (Applied Minds), Nathan Myhrvold (Intellectual Ventures), Dave Morin (formerly Facebook), Michael Tchao (Apple iPad), Tony Fadell (Apple/iPod), Jeff Skoll (formerly eBay), Chad Hurley (YouTube), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Jeff Bezos (Amazon) have in common? All are software engineers or scientists.

So what's the point? It's a culture. Call it the algorithmic culture. To get it, you need to be part of it, you need to come out of it. Otherwise, you spend the rest of your life dancing to the tune of other people's code. Just look at Europe where the idea of competition in the Internet space appears to focus on litigation, legislation, regulation, and criminalization. [emphasis added]"

Read the whole thing here.

Hat tip to the Encyclopaedia Britannica at Facebook.

Mobile Patent Lawsuits Increasing Dramatically

Nick Bilton at the New York Times Bits Blog discusses the Explosion of Mobile Patent Lawsuits in the last year, writing inter alia:
"On Tuesday when I spoke with Eric Von Hippel, a professor of technological innovation at M.I.T.’s Sloan School of Management. He pointed out that patent lawsuits had turned particularly unpleasant lately as a result of companies that only buy and sell patents."
Read the whole thing here.

Hat tip to TechDirt.

This was all foreseeable years ago and we wrote about it. Now, you have a gigantic - then avoidable - problem at your doorstep which is no longer avoidable.

Paranoid on Privacy: Legitimate Law Enforcement Data Retention in the European Union Dealt an Extreme Blow by Germany's Constitutional Court

EU DATA RETENTION for LAW ENFORCEMENT PURPOSES

The European Union EU Data Retention Directive, Directive 2006/24/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2006 on the retention of data generated or processed in connection with the provision of publicly available electronic communications services or of public communications networks and amending Directive 2002/58/EC requires telecommunications data storage by EU Member States for law enforcement and anti-terrorism purposes. Each EU Member State is required by the Directive to enact legislation in accordance with the Directive. Article 4 on Access to Data provides in addition that privacy safeguards are to be adopted:
"Member States shall adopt measures to ensure that data retained in accordance with this Directive are provided only to the competent national authorities in specific cases and in accordance with national law. The procedures to be followed and the conditions to be fulfilled in order to gain access to retained data in accordance with necessity and proportionality requirements shall be defined by each Member State in its national law, subject to the relevant provisions of European Union law or public international law, and in particular the ECHR as interpreted by the European Court of Human Rights."
Germany implemented that Directive in the "Gesetz zur Neuregelung der Telekommunikationsüberwachung und anderer verdeckter Ermittlungsmaßnahmen sowie zur Umsetzung der Richtlinie 2006/24/EG", effective January 1, 2008.

On March 2, 2010, the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany ruled that German law unconstitutional, essentially on the grounds of "vagueness" and ordered the destruction of all data thus far retained - an extreme decision without seeming practical necessity.

A nice summary of the court decision is found at the Privacy and Information Security Law Blog by Hunton and Williams LLP.

The Spiegel Online International in Defending Privacy: German High Court Limits Phone and E-Mail Data Storage writes (March 3, 2010):
Germany's highest court has rejected a controversial law requiring data on telephone calls and e-mail traffic to be stored for six months for possible use by law enforcement. Data stored so far must be deleted immediately, and strict controls must be put in place before the law can come into force again."
Lance Whitney at CNET's Politics and Law in German court rules against data retention policy writes:
"The German court found that the law, as implemented, went beyond the intent of the original directive and has ordered all customer data to be removed immediately. The new ruling suspends the directive but doesn't knock it down permanently. The German court indicated that tighter controls would be needed to ensure the security of the data as well as a clear intention and control over what the data would be used for."
The German Federal Constitutional Court decision follows a similar line of provincial thinking found in the article German Minister Warns Against the Power of Internet Giants, as written by Spiegel Online International:
"German Consumer Protection Minister Ilse Aigner has launched an attack on the Internet economy, warning that the likes of Google, Microsoft and Apple store vast amounts of personal information on Web users that can be used for financial gain, and can hurt people's chances of getting jobs or bank loans."
In a comparably paranoid vein, there is also pressure in Germany and in the EU on Google's Street View. As reported in CNET's Does Google Street View see a future in Europe:
"Faced with European Union demands that Google reduce the time it stores its Street View images from 12 months to 6 months, Google Chief Technology Advocate Michael Jones said this week that the company may choose not to map any new photos in Europe unless an agreement on data retention can be reached. Jones, who is also Google's former chief technologist of Google Maps, Google Earth, and Local Search, made his comments in an interview with Bloomberg News at the Cebit Technology Fair in Germany."
People's aversion to Google's Street View must be one of the most puzzling developments ever, as we find Street View to be one of the greatest features in geographic mapping ever devised, adding a new cartographic dimension to our planet of incalculable value.

The conception that data storage of valid cartographic material GENERALLY violates rights of privacy is simply absurd in all but the most exceptional cases (we leave room open for such a possibility since exceptions always - validly - surface.)

Someone will ALWAYS have this data stored somewhere, but if the data controllers limit it, YOU and I won't have it, be sure of that, and only someone ELSE will have it. I am not sure how putting cartographic data into the power of unknown data controllers increases my privacy, whereas I do know for sure that limits on Street View greatly limit my world.

Maybe I want to be able to see and show to others - online - the street where I grew up without having to fly there half-way around the world. Or maybe I want to be able to examine thoroughly a future vacation locale or a possible real estate purchase, like a home, without finding that a hotel is next to an oil refinery, or that the home is directly on a highway. Or maybe I want to check out local amenities and circumstances, like schools, shopping, dining, sports, recreation, etc., for a future change of residence or for a visit. There are many, many legitimate uses to Google Street View. I am at a loss to understand how the privacy of anyone is wrongfully infringed by showing the world as that world actually is - in its entirety - presuming of course that what is shown can be seen from public property and shows nothing that a normal passer-by could not see. That is why people who want greater privacy than is normal build hedges around their houses. Well, let them. But do not deny Street View to those of us who want to have it and who find it a welcome addition to the "real world".

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