Trump vs. Twitter: An Interesting Legal Theory

Anyone remember back in 2018 when Trump got sued for blocking critics on Twitter?

The judge’s ruling against Trump was based on a key point. I’ll let Judge Buchwald explain.

We hold that portions of the @realDonaldTrump account — the “interactive space” where Twitter users may directly engage with the content of the President’s tweets — are properly analyzed under the “public forum” doctrines set forth by the Supreme Court, that such space is a designated public forum, and that the blocking of the plaintiffs based on their political speech constitutes viewpoint discrimination that violates the First Amendment.

This ruling was specific to @realDonaldTrump account, not Twitter generally, contrary to several confused snooze reports on the case. But it means Trump’s account is something special, subject to rules that don’t necessarily apply to other accounts.

Lately, Twitter has been blocking views of some of Trump’s tweets, based on content: Trump’s political speech.

If Trump blocking folks “constitutes viewpoint discrimination that violates the First Amendment,” what about Twitter doing just that on that special “designated public forum”?

I’d tweet this at @realDonaldTrump, but Twitter is permanently blocking me because I won’t delete a tweet they won’t let anyone see anyway (a link to a We The People petition; go figure).

Any real attorneys reading this who’d like to weigh in?

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HOAs Behaving B/a/d/l/y/ Criminally

I’ve seen some bad HOA reports, but this one takes the cake house.

“As a result of your actions, we will be invoking section II, Article 4 of the Bylaws, which allows the Board to foreclose on any property that is in violation.
If you are an owner, you or your tenants must vacate the property by April 30, 2020. You will still be responsible for any liens on your property, including mortgages.

Attorneys, please weigh in. I think I see a few issues here.

1. First off, the eviction notice appears to violate Tennessee eviction law, which I understand requires allow the resident an opportunity to “cure” the alleged offense, not to mention certain time frames (and specific reasons which don’t seem to include working from home in an emergency).

2. The HOA will “foreclose”? The HOA is the mortgage holder? That seems unlikely, as buyers normally get their own mortgages from whomever will give them the best rate.

3. Now, if the HOA believes that working from home during a pandemic somehow damages the Association so badly that they are entitled to these homes in recompense, wouldn’t they need to file a lawsuit and win, first?

4. If the HOA is the mortgage holder, and can theoretically foreclose, even that must follow state and federal law. This appears not to.

5. If the HOA is simply deciding to take the home, leaving the owner of record on the hook for the mortgage — presumably so it can resell the home to another sucker — that would seem to my unlawyerly mind to be theft (the unauthorized taking) and fraud (selling someone else’s property to another party). Isn’t that massively criminal?

6. Assuming #5, isn’t this a an organization (the HOA company/corporation) conducting an organized criminal action? Looks like a RICO case to me.

OK, attorneys; tell me where and how I’m wrong. Or right.

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3D-Printed “Guns”: Questions for Lawyers

What with various state and federal bills intended to ban 3D-printed firearms…

Suppose someone prints up the parts for a working firearm, and is arrested.

At trial, he argues that it is not a firearm, but mere a model to make a lawful injection molded — with a stronger, Barium sulfate infused, fiber-filled polymer — firearm. And he presents as evidence the mold made with the 3D-printed parts…

…complete with metallic serial number plate and a metal insert to comply with the Undetectable Firearm Act.

Perhaps the model parts could even be assembled into a “firearm” that could get one shot off before blowing up. But they weren’t printed to be assembled other than to test for fit.

1. Is that collection of 3D-printed parts a firearm?

Now let’s take this a little further. What about the 3D printer files; the instruction set that tells the printer how to build the part. Those files got called munitions under ITAR, and Internet distribution got shut down. Then back up. Then the Trump administration moved to take them off the ITAR list altogether. The last I heard a judge in Washington state ordered an injunction against the change.

Rep. Douche [D-FL] is trying to moot the whole thing with H.R.3265 – 3D Printed Gun Safety Act of 2019, to

“(aa) It shall be unlawful for any person to intentionally distribute, over the Internet or by means of the World Wide Web, digital instructions in the form of Computer Aided Design files or other code that can automatically program a 3-dimensional printer or similar device to produce a firearm or complete a firearm from an unfinished frame or receiver.”.

But now the file is an instruction set for a model, from which a mold can be made, which in turn is used to injection mold a federally compliant handgun.

2. Does this file dodge HR 3265?

These questions would also apply to polymer “80% frames” like plastic Glock-compatible kits.

Please discuss in comments below. Have fun.

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We don’ need no steenkin’ equal protection under the law

District Attorney Vance & Police Commissioner O’Neill Speak Out Against the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act
“Concealed carry reciprocity is an attack on local law enforcement, and an attack on local laws,” said District Attorney Vance. “The same laws that apply to rural areas should not apply to urban areas with millions of people and thousands of police.

Well, it’s NYC. “Equal protection” always yielded to money and political connections.

Someone who goes to the trouble of undergoing background checks, fingerprinting, photography, paying fees, getting trained is a threat? The freaking law-abiding are the threat?!

Let’s roll with that: Next time they whine about “90% of Americans want background checks,” let’s point out that those folks are exactly the ones the cops consider the real danger.

The wrong question

Update: My first analysis was based on excerpts from the judges order published in the media. I’ve now read the whole order. And it’s worse than I thought. See edits below.

In response to the federal judge’s order that Apple create code to disable the countdown timer on iPhone’s password input routine (thus, allowing the FBI to mount a brute force attack without fear of the security routine wiping everything), people have asked — in a properly sarcastic manner — “What could possibly go wrong?”

They should be asking, “What could possibly go right?”

In case you haven’t kept up, if one enters the wrong password into an iPhone too many times, it assumes the phone is in the wrong hands and self-wipes. The FBI has a phone that belong to one of the shall-not-be-named San Bernardino terrorists, but the password is set.

Enter an idiot judge. The Honorable Dumber N. Boxofrox ordered Apple to develop new code to disable the countdown feature, and to tailor it to work only on the single terrorist’s phone by hard coding it to only work with a couple of identification strings associated with that phone, and install it there. Sounds nice, right? Limited scope.

Correction: The ordered change to disable countdown (and eliminate delays in entering password attempts) is not limited to the terrorist’s iPhone. In addition to the new “FBiOS,” Apple is required to provide a separate data recovery/backup/”Software Image File” application to copy everything in flash memory. That application is the only thing required to work only on the single instrument.

Now let me explain what would really happen. Apple would basically be writing a new variant of the operating system. They would install it (as an update) to the phone in the FBI’s custody. FBI eventually unlocks phone, images everything on the phone.


That is inevitably going to include the operating system, which means the FBI would now be in possession of the security-bypassing OS. They could turn it over to hackers to decompile the code, then scan for the two hard-coded ID strings. At this point, they could either type in two new strings for whatever other iPhone they might have laying around in an unrelated case, or change the code to not require the IDs at all. A brand new electronic forensic tool, provided free of charge by Apple.

Correction: No need to reverse engineer anything. Plus, the FBiOS must allow the Feds to enter passwords via WiFi or Bluetooth; i.e.- remotely, just as the FBiOS would be uploaded remotely. Once they have the OS in hand, the FBI can do it to anyone without even the need to reverse engineer the FBiOS. They’re demanding a turnkey mass covert surveillance tool from Apple.

But the Feds would never steal some company’s code, would they? Or go sneaking around spying without a warrant. And it would never occur to them to use a variant of a Stingray to generally access other phones and surreptitiously upload their little bit of malware.

Hell, you know they would. Personally, I suspect that’s exactly what they want. Since the terrorists were savvy enough to kill their data trail by disappearing their computer hard drive, I doubt they left anything useful on the iPhone. At most contacts, which the FBI can already get by subpoenaing their billing records from the phone company.

So let’s assume for the sake of discussion that they do this. We’ll even give the Feebs enough credit to say they don’t get hacked by another 16yo kid who steals data from them… you know, like new OS code.

But in this hypothetical scenario, they’ve released the code into the wild. Into iPhones whose security has been crippled by definition. Don’t lose your phone or get it stolen Correction: With remote access, no one has to physically steal your iPhone; whoever ends up with it can get any data…just as easily as the Feds. Or install malware (keystroke loggers, audiovisual bugs, GPS tracking, etc.) on it and return the iPhone they “found.”

I suspect jealous spouses and significant others would be a ready market, as well.

And recall that Apple programmers say that what the Feds are demanding would work on newer iPhones, too; not just the older generation terrorist’s smartphone, of which there are probably millions in use anyway.

What with people jailbreaking phones anyway, it would only be a matter of time before some hacker generated his own malOS. For that matter, maybe the FBI should hire that 16yo to hack that phone for them.

Oh. Wait. Then they’d have to pay him. When they can force Apple to do it free.

My cringer, however, is still intact

Ken White of Popehat strikes again.

Popehat Signal: Urologist Threatens Penis-Enhancement Forum
Last April a user wrote a post describing a harrowing experience with surgical penis enhancement. How harrowing? I read it and I cringed so much my cringer broke. I am completely without cringe now. I can watch primary debates without any change to my affect.

I started to read the account out of morbid curiosity. I stopped. And that was without seeing the dozens of photos (they don’t display for me; possibly because I’m not logged in) with which the guy documented his woes.

From there, we learn that not only did Dr. James Elist — attention Streisand Effect — reportedly botch the process, but Dr. Elist was apparently foolish enough to hire a seemingly incompetent lawyer (who, I guess, never heard of Section 230 of the CDA nor Streisand) to threaten the web site. And he wants the name of the suffering poster so he can go after him, too. Again.

White raised the Popehat signal and found two attorneys to represent Thundersplace pro bono.*

I’m pretty sure, based on the report and the baseless legal threat, that I would never, ever avail myself of A B C D E-list doctor James Elist’s services, even if I ever felt the need for enhancement.

No penis jokes or double entendres. No profound observations.

I’m just doing my part in introducing Doctor James Elist to Streisand. Pass it on.

* Believe me, resisting that joke was hard.

Stupid, stupid, stupid

My first reaction to seeing someone blame gun dealers for a death is to call, “Bulls**t!”

Straw Gun Sales Blamed for Oregon Slaying
Vivian Englund sued World Pawn Exchange and online gun broker J&G II dba J&G Sales on Jan. 7 in Multnomah County Court. She also sued pawn shop owner Richard James Sinatra, and Diane Boyce, the mother of Jeffrey Boyce, who killed Englund’s sister, Kirsten.

But keep reading.

“She came in and said the gun was for her,” Reed said. “We said OK, we can’t prove her wrong. And her background check cleared. Then when the incident happened, the ATF investigated and cleared her and us.”
Englund says the pawn shop let Jeffrey Boyce pay for two of the guns with his credit card. The shop’s invoice for one of the guns states: “SOLD TO: JEFFREY BOYCE FOR TRANSFER,” according to the complaint.

According to the law suit, Boyce was a convicted felon. If I’m reading this right, and the allegations are true, it sure looks like they knew Boyce’s mother wasn’t the actual purchaser. It’s tagged for him and he paid, but they ran the NICS check on mommy?

J&G Sales should be dropped from the suit. They correctly transferred the firearm to an FFL: World Pawn. World Pawn is the one who screwed up, and apparently documented it. I am curious about the pawn shop’s statement that the ATF investigated and cleared them, though. Given the ATF’s willingness to imposed sanctions and lift licenses for any number of minor violations, I have to question the accuracy of the suit’s claims.

Feel free to dispute whether any such laws should be. But if someone chooses to be an FFL and agree to those rules, they bloody well should make some effort to follow them.

I’m looking forward to seeing what comes of this suit.

Lawsuit: “We’re too damned stupid to turn off our engines.”

I don’t much like keyless ignition systems, but for other reasons.

Keyless Ignition Used in Millions of Cars a Deadly Safety Defect: Lawsuit
According to the complaint filed in Los Angeles federal court, carbon monoxide is emitted when drivers leave their vehicles running after taking their electronic key fobs with them, under the mistaken belief that the engines will shut off.

RTFM, dumbasses.