Author Archives: Michael Froomkin

Take That!

A Judge got mad. Something good (and, sadly, unusual) resulted:

The Court would have granted Petitioners a stay of removal, but was informed that Petitioners were removed earlier today. The government is hereby ordered to use its best efforts to intercept Petitioners when they land tonight in Guatemala City and to return Petitioners to the United States immediately. If the government is unable to intercept Petitioners at the airport, they must locate Petitioners in Guatemala and return them to the United States as quickly as possible. Upon their return, Petitioners are granted a stay of removal pending disposition of their petition for review. If, upon contact, Petitioners inform the government that they do not want to return to the United States, the government shall secure a written memorialization to that effect — even if that writing is in Spanish.

Too often, spiriting the petitioner out of the country is held to moot the case. I like this outcome better. Full text of Chief Judge Theodore McKee’s order for the Third Circuit.)

(spotted via SDFLA Blog)

Posted in Law: Everything Else | Leave a comment

Only Disconnect

As a public service,
This QR code will invite your Android phone to install Disconnect, a privacy app that Google has banned from its ‘play store’. (More info here.)

To install the app you will need to navigate to your device’s Settings, select Security or Applications (depending on device) and check the Unknown Sources box.

There is also an iOS version.

Posted in Android | 1 Comment

Sums Up the Case for Pseudonyms

Posted in ID Cards and Identification | Leave a comment

Should I Surrender?

There’s this company that calls my office over and over. And over. And leaves messages asking me to go on their site and ‘claim my profile” that they have already concocted for me. It’s been going on for weeks, always at times I happened to be out. Note that it never sounded like robo-calling, but rather like call-center humans.

Finally, I happened to be in the office recently and answered a call from them (it was a human). I asked, begged, pleaded, to be put on their Do Not Call list.1

Begging didn’t work. There’s a message from them on my voice mail again today.

So far, I’m standing strong, not giving in, not registering on their web site. Even if would shut them up. But I’m also a bit afraid to name them here, because it seems to me that that given their less-than-perfect authentication methods–which include linking to social media on which I do not have accounts–there is a substantial impersonation risk.

Should I just give in and ‘claim my profile’?


  1. This leaves aside the question whether the calls violate state or federal ‘do not call’ rules; I’m signed up for both, but since they are not actually selling anything or asking for money, they might be off the hook? 

Posted in ID Cards and Identification, Internet | 1 Comment

Be Warned

EDRi, Microsoft’s new small print – how your personal data is (ab)used:

Summing up these 45 pages, one can say that Microsoft basically grants itself very broad rights to collect everything you do, say and write with and on your devices in order to sell more targeted advertising or to sell your data to third parties. The company appears to be granting itself the right to share your data either with your consent “or as necessary”.

This was particularly ominous:

Also, when device encryption is on, Windows automatically encrypts the drive Windows is installed on and generates a recovery key. The BitLocker recovery key for the user’s device is automatically backed up online in the Microsoft OneDrive account.

That said, there will be a few things you can turn off by deep diving into your computer’s settings and the Privacy Dashboard. And, I suspect, by not having a Microsoft Account or a OneDrive at all.

Microsoft’s new services agreement goes into effect on 1 August 2015, only a couple of days after the launch of the Windows 10 operating system on 29 July.

Posted in Law: Privacy, Software | Leave a comment

Nutty, Even By Relaxed Modern Standards

TPM, With Eye on Fiscal Armageddon, Texas Set to ‘Repatriate’ Its Gold To New Texas Fort Knox.

On Friday, Gov. Greg Abbott signed legislation that will create a state-run gold depository in the Lone Star State – one that will attempt to rival those operated by the U.S. government inside Fort Knox and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s vault in lower Manhattan. “The Texas Bullion Depository,” Abbott said in a statement, “will become the first state-level facility of its kind in the nation, increasing the security and stability of our gold reserves and keeping taxpayer funds from leaving Texas to pay for fees to store gold in facilities outside our state.” Soon, Abbott’s office said, the state “will repatriate $1 billion of gold bullion ((As you will see if you read the article, this is malarky. There is no such $1 billion in gold from the Federal Reserve in New York to Texas.” In other words, when it comes preparing for the currency collapse and financial armeggedon, Abbott’s office really seems to think Texas is a whole ‘nother country

Just read it. And weep.

PS. Bonus crazy:

Indeed, Texas has no gold bars in the Federal Reserve’s New York vault. And what the state has is not worth a billion dollars. Instead some 4,200 gold bars bought in 2011 by the University of Texas’s endowment fund (the second largest in the country after Harvard’s) are stored in the basement vault of HSBC’s headquarters at 450 5th Avenue in New York City, just south of the New York Public Library. For the last four years, the endowment has paid an estimated $1 million per year to store their gold there. (If it had been at the New York Fed the cost would have totaled about $15,400 over that period). And the new depository law does not require the university’s endowment fund to relocate the gold to Texas.

How did UT end up holding actual gold?

In 2010 and 2011, … the University of Texas Investment Management Company’s board of directors … put nearly 5% of the then-$19 billion university and pension fund they manage into physical gold by converting options into bullion. …

When the endowment fund bought the gold, their basis for calculating a return – called their cost basis – was $1,150.17 per ounce. The fund eventually traded a third of their physical gold stake for gold futures and other equities, but never reduced their overall exposure to gold. That’s why they still own about 4,200 bars worth just under $500 million. After a significant run-up and subsequent fall in 2012, gold traded on Monday at $1,186. Over more than four years that just a 3% gain for the fund before you account for the cost of housing the gold in New York [which is $1 million / year] and the transaction costs that will be incurred if and when the endowment fund ships the bars back to Texas or sells them to a buyer. Over the same period, the S&P 500 index – a broad measure of owning stocks – gained 60%.

Posted in Econ & Money, Politics: The Party of Sleaze, Politics: Tinfoil | 3 Comments

Obamacare Decision Harbinger?

“Our job is to follow the text even if doing so will supposedly undercut a basic objective of the statute,” says a five-Justice majority in Baker Botts v. ASARCO, LLC, slip op. at 13 (quoting from the dissent!). Justice Sotomayor concurred in the opinion — except as to that section. Breyer, Ginsburg, and Kagan dissented.

Is this an indication of the likely result in King v. Burwell, the Obamacare decision due in the next few days? That case turns on whether to read one line out of context of the rest of the statute. (Non-jargony summary of the issues here.)

Justice Kennedy, the swing vote, signed on to the formalist view in yesterday’s bankruptcy decision. On the other hand, there was less evidence that Congress intended to let the Bankruptcy bar bill for defending fee petitions than there is about the intentions of Congress in the Affordable Care Act — if, that is, you are willing to read beyond the clause at issue.

Posted in Law: The Supremes | 16 Comments