Justice Beat: Hidden mics, un-deleted messages and a lake with legal personality


Justice Beat

The CrowdJustice Team

posted on 01 Mar 2019

Does your home have a device with a microphone you don’t know about? Are your deleted messages really deleted? This week’s Justice Beat will help you find out.

Quote of the day

“The law is wholly inhuman and should be changed.” - Sarah Ewart is challenging restrictive abortion laws in Northern Ireland.

Someone listening in?

1. Google has had to apologise after users of a home-security device realised it contains a microphone which Google failed to mention since the gadget went on sale in 2017, The Atlantic reports. A recent Google announcement that a software update to its Nest Guard would activate a built-in microphone has left startled users asking “Have I had a device with a hidden microphone in my house this entire time?” The answer, apparently, is yes.

2. Speaking of covert espionage, a judicial review of a policy allowing children to be recruited by the police to provide information on gangs and criminal activity has been granted permission to proceed to a full merits hearing. Just for Kids Law is challenging the Home Office's safeguarding procedure. They raised over £5,000 on CrowdJustice and have instructed Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC and Sam Jacobs of Doughty Street Chambers.

Please delete

3. Big Brother seems to be everywhere these days, as a security researcher claimed this week that Twitter has been secretly retaining logs of deleted messages, the Independent reports. Downloading an archive of Twitter data revealed that ‘deleted’ direct messages were actually just hidden from the user interface. Retention of this data seems at odds with Twitter’s privacy policy, which states that people who deactivate their account will have their data deleted after 30 days.

Long live the lake

4. A community in Ohio, USA has come up with a novel way to protect a local lake from major environmental damage: granting the lake legal rights normally reserved for persons. Vox reports that the measure, which passed easily in a special election, means that citizens will be able to sue on behalf of the lake whenever its right to flourish is threatened.

Algorithmic justice

5. Could an algorithm help to clear 250,000 criminal convictions? A pilot programme in the US is set to find out. Following a 2016 voter initiative to legalise the use of cannabis, San Francisco’s District Attorney’s office has been retroactively clearing marijuana convictions dating back to 1975 using an algorithm which determines eligibility for record clearance, fills out the required forms and generates a completed motion to be filed at court, Artificial lawyer reports.

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This week on CrowdJustice

A group of Scottish farmhouse cheesemakers is raising funds to challenge new guidance regulating raw milk cheese production, an animal rescue centre is raising funds for legal representation to oppose a noise abatement notice, and a community group in Gloucestershire is fundraising to challenge the County Council’s waste incinerator contract.

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