Bill granting ZECs to nuclear power plants passed: New Jersey state legislature

On April 12, the New Jersey state legislature passed three bills designed to maintain and enhance access to low-carbon resources in the Garden State. The bill states that the nuclear power plants in New Jersey are necessary to meet the Energy Master Plan of New Jersey’s goal of 100 percent clean energy generation by 2050 and the Global Warming Response Act’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050. The bill also states that “the retirement of nuclear power generation will inevitably result in an immediate increase in air emissions within New Jersey due to increased reliance on natural gas-fired generation and coal fired generation.” The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities is directed to create a community solar program and evaluate the ZEC program within 10 years. The legislation also provides for up to $100 million in tax credits for qualified wind energy projects in an eligible wind energy zone. If the bill holds up, New Jersey will become the latest state to implement a Zero-Emission Certificate (ZEC) program for struggling nuclear plant operators, following in the steps of New York and Illinois. Nuclear power plants who wish to participate in the program will have to be certified by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.…
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Florida governor signs gun-safety bill into law after school shooting

On March 9, Florida Governor Rick Scott, a faithful ally of the National Rifle Association (NRA), signed into law, a bill imposing a 21-year-old age limit and three-day waiting period on all gun purchases and allowing the arming of some school employees. After a gunman opened fire with a semiautomatic assault-style rifle at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public in Parkland, Florida, killing 14 students and three faculty members, the law has been passed. Currently, the U.S. Senate has no gun control bill scheduled for debate, and the only measure moving in the House of Representatives is a bill seeking for more training for students and teachers to address the school shooting. The law raises the minimum age to purchase all firearms from 18 to 21 years – a move opposed by the powerful National Rifle Association lobby group that bans modification devices which make a semi-automatic weapon fully automatic and expands mental health funding. “I am going to do what I think are common sense solutions,” Scott said after the signing. “I think this is the beginning. There is now going to be a real conversation about how we make our schools safe.” The aim of the program is for staff such as coaches and school personnel, with teachers eligible if they have military or law enforcement experience.…
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Washington becomes first state to enact its own net-neutrality requirements

With Washington’s Governor Jay Inslee, a Democrat, signing on a bill on March 5, Washington became the first state to enact its own net-neutrality requirements, which ban Internet providers from blocking content or interfering with online traffic, after U.S. regulators repealed Obama-era rules designed to keep the Internet an even playing field. Before signing the bipartisan measure, Gov. Inslee said, “We know that when D.C. fails to act, Washington State has to do so.” According to a press release issued by the governor’s office, “Washington’s new law, House Bill 2282, protects those net neutrality rules at the state level, ensuring that Internet providers cannot advantageously manipulate Internet speeds and access to content. The law will prohibit companies that offer Internet services from blocking legal content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices. It will prohibit them from impairing — or throttling — Internet traffic based on the content Internet users consume, or the apps, services, and devices they use. And it will prohibit them from favoring certain traffic for the company’s own benefit, a practice referred to as paid prioritization.” The new law also requires Internet providers to disclose information about their management practices, performance and commercial terms. Violations would be enforceable under the state’s Consumer Protection Act.…
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Tech companies challenge FCC’s rollback of net neutrality protections

On March 5, several tech companies, including Etsy (ETSY), Kickstarter, Foursquare, and Shutterstock (SSTK), filed a petition in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals challenging the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) rollback of net neutrality protections. Notably, many states are also taking the FCC to court over the issue. Shutterstock General Counsel Heidi Garfield said, “Net neutrality is essential to empower anyone, regardless of economic status, with access to information and resources to contribute to the digital economy. Progress often comes through disruption and collaboration and a free and open Internet facilitates both.” In January, Attorneys General of more than 20 states had filed a petition to stop the repeal of net neutrality protections. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman had then said, “The repeal of net neutrality would turn Internet service providers into gatekeepers, allowing them to put profits over consumers while controlling what we see, what we do, and what we say online.” Net neutrality repeal is scheduled to formally take effect on April 23.…
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Pennsylvania AG sues Uber over 2016 data breach

Among the several lawsuits facing Uber over the issue of massive 2016 data breach, the most recent one appears to be filed on March 5 by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. Shapiro alleges that Uber violated the Pennsylvania Breach of Personal Information Notification Act, which requires companies to notify people impacted by a data breach within a reasonable amount of time. That specific law enables the Attorney General’s office to seek up to $1,000 for each violation. According to Shapiro, at least 13,500 Uber drivers were affected in Pennsylvania, whose first name, last name, and driver’s license numbers were stolen during the October 2016 data breach. Uber did not notify the drivers and consumers until November 21, 2017. And before Uber reported the breach, the company paid off hackers to destroy the data. That means Shapiro can seek up to $13.5 million from Uber. Shapiro thus said, “Uber violated Pennsylvania law by failing to put our residents on timely notice of this massive data breach. Instead of notifying impacted consumers of the breach within a reasonable amount of time, Uber hid the incident for over a year – and actually paid the hackers to delete the data and stay quiet. That’s just outrageous corporate misconduct, and I’m suing to hold them accountable and recover for Pennsylvanians.”…
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GOP pushes net neutrality law to preempt state net neutrality rules

Republicans in Congress are continuing to push a net neutrality law that would preempt state net neutrality rules and let Internet service providers charge online services for prioritized access to Internet users. The Open Internet Preservation Act would prohibit ISPs from blocking or throttling lawful Internet content but clear the way for paid prioritization or “fast lanes.” US Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) declared that “some cable companies and content providers aren’t going to be happy with this bill because it prohibits them from blocking and throttling Web content.” In reality, Comcast and other ISPs have generally said they won’t block or throttle lawful Internet traffic. The Open Internet Preservation Act was previously introduced in the House by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.). Kennedy filed the Senate version on March 8. The bill’s summary notes that the blocking and throttling bans “do not prevent providers from offering specialized services that are offered over the same network and may share network capacity with the broadband Internet access service.” Net neutrality advocacy group Demand Progress called on Kennedy to drop the bill. “This legislation would be disastrous for net neutrality, opening the door for large Internet providers to create fast and slow lanes online, which would destroy innovation and stifle free expression,” the group said in a statement.…
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Legal standard to decide if someone is an “insider” for bankruptcy proceedings

On March 5, in US Bank National Association v. Village at Lakeridge, the US Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the correct standard of review for determining whether an individual is an “insider” for bankruptcy proceeding purposes is clear error. This is another decision affecting Chapter 11 cases. This case involves the purchase of a claim against a debtor, Robert Rabkin, who had a romantic relationship with the principal individual of the bankrupt, Kathleen Bartlett, at the time of the transaction. Bankruptcy Code Section 101(31) describes various relationships that parties may have with a debtor that would qualify those parties as “insiders” of a debtor. Courts have also found that other parties not covered by Section 101(31), such as parties who did not transact with a debtor at arms’ length, fall into the category of “non-statutory insiders.” Determination of whether transactions were conducted at arm’s length is a mixed question of fact and law that may require extensive factual analysis. The designation of a creditor as an “insider” takes on particular importance in the context of Section 1129(a)(10) cramdown plans, where an impaired accepting class must accept the debtor’s plan. Insiders do not count for the purposes of determining whether an impaired accepting class exists.…
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Equifax breach becomes largest data breach of personal information in history

Equifax has confirmed that the massive data breach it announced last year is larger than previously thought, affecting an additional 2.4 million U.S. consumers. New details of the breach were announced by the credit reporting company on March 01, taking the total number of victims to 147.9 million. The company says the additional consumers only had their names and part of their driver’s license numbers stolen, unlike the original 145.5 million Americans who had their Social Security numbers impacted. Attackers were unable to get the state where the license was issued, the date of issuance or its expiration date. “This information was partial because, in the vast majority of cases, it did not include consumers’ home addresses, or their respective driver’s license states, dates of issuance, or expiration dates,” the company explained in a statement. Equifax confirmed the initial cybersecurity incident in September 2017, noting that criminals exploited a U.S. website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files. It remains the largest data breach of personal information in history. Security experts have voiced their concern about the worsening scale of the data breach. Tom Kemp, CEO of identity and access management specialist Centrify, described the 147.9 million affected consumers as an “alarming” number.…
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World’s largest recorded DDoS attack hits 1.7 Tbps

The increasing number and magnitude of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks now seem to be a very critical security concern. Days after GitHub, a web-based hosting service for version control using git, was hit by the world’s largest recorded DDoS attack, the same memcached reflection/amplification attack vector that made up the GitHub attack was used to direct an even larger attack at a customer of a U.S.-based Service Provider. The attack was reported by Netscout Arbor and came just days after the March 1 report of the then largest DDoS attack at 1.35 Tbps against GitHub. According to DDoS protection outfit Arbor Networks, the U.S.-based Service Provider survived an attack that reached an unprecedented 1.7 Tbps. Earlier, Arbor, Cloudflare, and Akamai reported an uptick in amplification attacks that abuse memcached servers to ramp up the traffic by a factor of 50,000. Within a day of Cloudflare reporting that attackers were abusing open memcached servers to power DDoS attacks, GitHub was taken offline for about 10 minutes by an attack that peaked at 1.35 Tbps. According to Carlos Morales, Vice President of Global Sales Engineering and Operations at Arbor Networks, memcached attacks won’t be going away any time soon because of the number of exposed memcached servers.…
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EPA appointee’s outside contracts present ‘financial conflict of interest’

A top aide appointed to work in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Public Affairs has been allowed to take outside consulting work for private clients whose names remain redacted. The aide, John Konkus, was a part of the Trump administration’s transition team after the 2016 election and was appointed as the associate administrator for the EPA’s Office of Public Affairs in early 2017. This summer, the EPA’s ethics lawyer signed off on Konkus’ request to take outside work from private clients, but according to a leading English Daily, the in-house lawyer noted that “Konkus’ outside contracts presented a ‘financial conflict of interest’.” The ethics lawyer barred Konkus “from participating in matters at EPA that would have a ‘direct and predictable’ financial benefit for his clients,” the leading English Daily noted. However, it’s unclear what those matters are and when Konkus would encounter them in his daily work. The memo from the EPA’s ethics lawyer approving Konkus’ work was sent to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, six months after the committee requested information on conflicts of interest within the agency. According to a letter published by Democrats on that committee, the memo that the EPA sent to Congress had the names redacted of the two clients for whom Konkus wanted to work.…
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BlackBerry sues Facebook for seven software patent infringements

BlackBerry, the once-great smartphone maker that exited the hardware business in 2016, is suing Facebook for patent infringement in the United States District Court for the Central District of California. BlackBerry owns a portfolio of broad software patents that cover some of the most basic features of modern smartphone messaging services—and the company says it wants Facebook to pay up. Facebook “created mobile messaging applications that coopt BlackBerry’s innovations, using a number of the innovative security, user interface, and functionality-enhancing features that made BlackBerry’s products such a critical and commercial success in the first place,” BlackBerry’s lawsuit claims. The lawsuit argues that Facebook’s subsidiaries Instagram and WhatsApp infringe BlackBerry’s patents in addition to Facebook’s own messaging apps. It’s not unusual for technology companies that lose their lead in the marketplace to turn to patent licensing as an alternative way to make money. Yahoo sued Facebook for patent infringement in 2012, for example, while Nokia sued Apple for patent infringement in 2016. BlackBerry began its own campaign of patent litigation in 2016, suing the little-known Android phone maker BLU and the Internet telephony company Avaya. BLU agreed to pay up last year, and BlackBerry is now moving on to Facebook—potentially a much more lucrative target.…
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Coinbase hit by class action lawsuit over alleged insider trading

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has been hit by a class action lawsuit over alleged insider trading during its launch of bitcoin cash. According to a document by the United States District Court for the Northern District of California dated March 1, the case has been brought by Jeffery Berk, representing a group of investors that placed trading orders on Coinbase or its order book trading platform GDAX from Dec. 19-21, 2017. Based on the complaint, the case takes aim at Coinbase’s launch of bitcoin cash (BCH) trading in the same month, with the plaintiffs accusing the company of tipping off insiders ahead of the formal launch. As such, the group accuses the firm of negligence, and is seeking damages, the amount of which will be decided at trial. As previously reported, San Francisco-based Coinbase first announced in August that it would support bitcoin cash – a new crypto asset that was forked from the bitcoin blockchain in November. At the time, the exchange said the new service would go live by Jan. 1, after which investors would be able to withdraw bitcoin cash. When Coinbase launched BCH trading on December 20, BCH prices spiked just prior to the announcement and accusations soon appeared on social media suggesting that employees of the firm might have tipped off others in advance.…
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