Author Archives: Michael Froomkin

Tor’s Matrix

Tor, the SF&F publisher, just sent out a funny chart (under the headline “fear is the cat-killer”) that I felt like sharing:

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I’m on the ‘This Week in Health Law’ Podcast

Nicholas Terry of Indianan University was kind enough to ask me to join him and other experts on episode 151 (!) of  his podcast, This Week in Health Law (TWIHL) which was devoted to AI and health care:


I am joined by Abbe Gluck, Professor of Law and the Faculty Director of the Solomon Center for Health Law and Policy at Yale Law School. In November 2018 her team pulled together an excellent roundtable on “The Law and Policy of AI, Robotics, and Telemedicine in Health Care.” This episode of TWIH is the first of two taking a deeper dive into just a few of the  issues that were so well presented at the roundtable. Here we were joined by Michael Froomkin, the Laurie Silvers and Mitchell Rubenstein Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Miami School of Law and by Nicholson Price, Assistant Professor of Law at The University of Michigan Law School. Topics ranged from consent in the next generation of healthcare research to data protection, and appropriate regulatory models.

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CDT is Doing Something About Voting Security

This is really cool: the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) is launching VotingWorks — a public interest non-profit that wants to build better, i.e. safe and secure, voting machines. I love it.

VotingWorks aims to shake up the voting equipment market by creating a new non-profit voting systems manufacturer with the mission of being the public works for voting systems. VotingWorks will do this by developing voting equipment that 1) embody the state-of-the-art in usability, security, design, and development; 2) are affordable to maximize any benefit to all sizes of election jurisdictions; 3) allow speedy, efficient voting processes; and, 4) that is extensible to the needs of all types of localities. And all of this will be developed in the open for the public good.

The need here is very real. Election officials often find themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place when choosing a new voting system; there are often few expensive choices that come with serious limitations in how these systems can be used, modified, improved, and studied. CDT has advised localities in procurement decisions in the past and contributed to efforts where jurisdictions are designing their own voting systems – such as the Los Angeles County VSAP project – and the common factor in all these cases is the wide variety of needs and requirements that elections present, and how few systems can meet them all.

CDT will serve as a home for VotingWorks until it becomes its own non-profit entity. This partnership means VotingWorks is working closely with the CDT’s experienced team to rapidly ramp up operations and begin in earnest the development of affordable, secure, open-source voting machines for use in US public elections.

Two thumbs up from here.  We need this.

Posted in Law: Elections, Sufficiently Advanced Technology | Leave a comment

My Brother Imagines a Hypothetical World in Which Republicans Answer Hypothetical Questions

Dan has a whole bunch of sensible questions that reporters should be asking members of Congress from both parties about what they believe constitutes an impeachable offense. I agree they should be asking them.

So rather than asking Republican members of Congress about impeaching Trump, we should be getting them to say what they themselves consider impeachable offenses – arguably locking them in, when and if Mueller can prove they were committed.

These are straightforward yes-or-no questions:

  • If a president is found to have solicited or knowingly accepted help from a foreign government to influence an American election, isn’t that an impeachable offense?
  • If a president fires a special prosecutor investigating him, isn’t that an impeachable offense?
  • If a president directly orders the Justice Department to prosecute his political rivals, isn’t that an impeachable offense?
  • If a president pardons himself, isn’t that an impeachable offense?1
  • If a president promises pardons to potential witnesses against him, isn’t that an impeachable offense?

And, bonus essay question:

  • What level of presidential lying to you consider an impeachable offense?

But I think I know what most of the answers will be: “I don’t want to get into hypothetical questions.”

Even so, reporters should be asking them. Maybe the follow-up should be: “Wait, you mean you think there’s actually a sufficient probability of this that you consider the question hypothetical?”


Bonus xkcd on hypotheticals:


  1. Note by MF: For the record, I think there are two good arguments that if a President pardons himself the pardon is invalid. First there is the idea that ‘no man should be the judge in his own cause.’ Second there’s the idea that a pardon is a thing one person confers on another, so a self-pardon just is incoherent. []
Posted in Dan Froomkin, Law: Reading the Constitution, Trump | Leave a comment

A New Low

I try so hard to ignore all of the tweets from Donald Trump.  The administration’s actions are bad enough.

But every so often one blows up my RSS feed, and breaks through.

This retweet today seems especially awful on several levels.

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Laughter is Precious in These Times

Onion

I knew it wasn’t real, but I laughed anyway: Depressed Mueller Wonders What It Is About Him That Makes Everyone Lie To Him

These too:

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