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Legislative Update

New Cybersecurity Bill Passed by Senate Creates Privacy Concerns

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cybersecurity

A new bill called the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) was passed by the Senate on Tuesday. Its main goal is to stop hackers by getting companies to share information with the federal government about any cyber attacks they face. Basically, CISA works by works by letting companies share “cyber threat indicators” with the Department of Homeland Security, which then sends out a red alert to warn other people of the threat.

You may be thinking: Don’t companies already have initiatives in place to share threat information? Yes. But what makes CISA different is that Homeland Security can now share the report with the National Security Agency and other spy agencies.

One huge concern is that nowhere in the bill does it say customers’ personally identifiable information has to be left out of the report. In fact, of the countless amendments made to the bill, one necessary amendment that actually failed on Tuesday would have made it mandatory to remove that information before a company could share information about threats.

Here’s another catch: Although a company’s cooperation in sharing information is voluntary, the bill gives companies a nice incentive to do so by eliminating legal liability. For example, if a company ends up sharing too much information about its customers, it won’t have to worry about private lawsuits or antitrust laws.

CISA opposers believe that the bill ignores the goal of encouraging companies to increase their cybersecurity standards and puts more responsibility on a “generalized public-private secret information sharing network.” In other words, opponents say CISA creates a new law in the wrong places.

Learn more here: http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2015/10/27/452338925/senate-approves-cybersecurity-bill-what-you-need-to-know

Florida’s Harsh 10-20-Life Law on the Road to Reform

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10-20-life

Florida’s harsh 10-20-Life mandatory minimum sentencing law is on a long road to reform, but small steps are being taken to give judges more authority in certain cases.

The 10-20-Life law strictly punishes anyone who is in possession of or actually uses a firearm while committing a crime by imposing a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years, 20 years, or 25 years to life depending on the nature of the crime. For example, if a person simply pulled out a weapon while committing a crime, he or she would have to serve 10 years in jail regardless of the circumstances.

One example of why the 10-20-Life law is too harsh is the August 2010 case involving Marissa Alexander. Alexander shot what she called a warning shot near her ex-husband, who was physically abusive towards her and sent her threatening text messages. The shot did not hurt her ex-husband, yet Alexander was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a firearm. Under the 10-20-Life law, she was sentenced to 20 years in prison despite having no criminal past. Fortunately, after serving just 3 years in prison, Alexander was released due to a faulty jury instruction in her case.

Although things ended well for Alexander, this is not the typical outcome in most cases. That is why the proposal of a new bill (HB 135) by Florida legislators is a great step in the right direction.  The bill, called the Self-Defense Protection Act, makes exceptions to certain mandatory minimum sentences if the defendant had a justifiable reason to use a firearm.

The bill will not eliminate the entire problem, of course. Some defendants will still be harshly punished under the 10-20-Life law because judges cannot change the sentence to match circumstances, but at least progress is being made and judges will be able to act fairly in the cases in which it applies.

Learn more here: http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/news/opinion/editorial-proposed-bill-chips-away-at-harsh-mandat/nnyLQ/#modal-8250266

Supreme Court Case Could Result in Change in Florida’s Death-Penalty Laws

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Florida, Delaware and Alabama are the only states that do not require a unanimous jury decision when sentencing someone to death.  A U.S. Supreme Court case with a ruling expected in 2016, however, could change Florida’s death penalty procedure.

Timothy Hurst, a man currently on Death Row for murder, is appealing his death sentence. Jurors in his case recommended death by a 7-5 vote, but Hurst’s attorneys argue that allowing this sentence without a unanimous jury is a violation of Hurst’s Sixth Amendment rights.

The sentencing of hundreds of other people on Florida’s Death Row could be impacted if the Supreme Court rules in favor of Hurst. Former Jacksonville State Attorney Harry Shorstein said the impact of the issue could be avoided if it is fixed legislatively instead of in court.

Legislation that would change the law to require a unanimous jury recommendation of death has already been introduced into the Florida House and Senate, however. The issue with both bills is that they have been sponsored by Democrats, and the majority of people in the Florida House and Senate are Republican.

Rep. Rob Bradley, who is on the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, does not believe legislation regarding the death penalty is likely to pass during the 2016 legislative session. He voted for a similar bill in 2015, but the legislation went nowhere in the House.

Bradley personally believes that the Supreme Court will deem Florida’s sentencing procedures unconstitutional in the Hurst case, which makes it more likely that the issue will be dealt with in the 2017 regular session.

For more information, please read: http://jacksonville.com/news/crime/2015-10-11/story/former-jacksonville-state-attorney-joins-others-calling-change-florida.

Supreme Court Ruling Makes Same-Sex Marriage a Right Nationwide

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The United States Supreme Court jurisprudence has evolved over the last fifteen years.

On June 26, 2003 in Lawrence v. Texas, the Supreme Court ruled a state cannot ban same-sex sexual activity.

On June 26, 2013 in United States v. Windsor, the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law that defined marriage to be between one man and one woman, which served to deny health benefits to same-sex couples.

Finally, on June 26, 2015, history was made when the United States Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that same-sex couples nationwide have the constitutional right to marry.

“No longer may this liberty be denied,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority. “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.”

Some major reasons the justices gave for the decision include:

1. The 14th Amendment states that no State shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Same-sex couples may not be deprived of the liberty or fundamental right to marry.

2. The ban on interracial marriage was invalidated in Loving v. Virginia, where a unanimous court upheld that marriage is “one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.” Same-sex couples should also be able to exercise the right to personal choice regarding marriage.

3. Protecting the right to marry also protects children and families. This is because not all heterosexual married couples have children and they are definitely not required by law to do so. For gay couples who do want to have children through methods such as adoption or surrogacy, telling them that their unions are less than marriage creates a “more difficult and uncertain family life. The marriage laws at issue thus harm and humiliate the children.”

4. Marriage develops along with law and society. “The history of marriage is one of both continuity and change. That institution—even as confined to opposite-sex relations—has evolved over time,” Justice Kennedy wrote.

Although gay rights leaders all over the world have been celebrating the ruling, they still hope to tackle other major challenges that remain for their movement, such as the expansion of federal civil-rights laws to protect gays in the workplace.

Florida’s new drone privacy bill affects multiple industries

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drone

The global market for non-military drones has recently been estimated as a $2.5 billion industry that is continuing to grow. While Fortune 500 companies such as Amazon are investigating potential drone use for their delivery service, less publicized industries are also prepared for drone operation. The benefits of drones to the agriculture, construction, energy and mining industries are immeasurable say experts who study the commercial impact of drones.

GoFarm LLC, a Michigan-based agri-data business, performs field surveys by using drones to collect imagery in visible and non-visible bands to determine health of crops (see video here).  The imagery that the company collects can be used to provide detailed assessments of fields and individual plants.

There is, however, great risk that comes with collecting data using drones. Beyond the obvious risk of property damage from wayward drones, many jurisdictions are passing legislation aimed at privacy concerns. On May 14, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a drone privacy bill into law. The bill establishes a private right of action for people photographed in their homes by drones without their consent.

Laws such as this one affect more than just drone-based companies. Chuck Tobin, a partner with Holland & Knight LLP and leader of the firm’s drone practice team, said the law infringes on the rights of the news media.

“It has no consideration of news events, news value, or any real thought of vantage point from public places,” he told the Business Journal in a phone interview. “It’s riddled with First Amendment issues.”

Tobin also said that using drones for photography is a much cheaper and safer way for broadcast news outlets to gather news than from a helicopter, which have actually killed reporters in crashes.

Now that the new law is in place, companies must alter their operations to comply with local rules and regulations, and members of the press must be careful not to upset homeowners when utilizing drone images in news stories.

Learn more about how the new law is affecting the news media here: http://www.bizjournals.com/jacksonville/news/2015/05/18/floridas-new-drone-laws-could-create-big-problems.html

Learn more about how the new law is affecting drone-based companies here: http://nationallawforum.com/2015/05/21/as-drones-hit-the-sky-lawsuits-predicted-to-fly/

 

New law makes traffic ticket quotas illegal in Florida

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It is not uncommon to see police officers implementing speed traps in areas where the speed limit drops drastically within short distances. Sometimes, officers feel the need to implement these speed traps in order to meet monthly traffic ticket quotas.

Fortunately for motorists, Gov. Rick Scott signed a law this week that forbids local governments from having ticket quotas. The law will take effect on July 1 and requires law enforcement to submit reports to the Legislature if their traffic ticket revenues cover more than one third of the costs of operating their agencies. They may also be audited and face investigation by the state attorney general.

Supporters of the law believe that it will ensure transparency in government and prevent the exploitation of motorists.

To learn more, read the full article on: http://www.wesh.com/news/new-law-makes-traffic-ticket-quotas-illegal-in-florida/33089614

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