Tag Archives: law

Technology – Can the Law Keep Up?

Technology is moving faster than the ability to our laws to keep track of it. A good example of this is the so called high-tech glasses made by Google, commonly known as Google Glass.[1]
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Google Glass is a computer that looks like a pair of glasses. As a device, it offers many of the same functions as smartphones, making it possible for people to read emails, take photos and record audio and video. Most of these functions respond to verbal command, which of course makes the glasses very convenient to use.

I believe most of us welcome this new technology, however, from legal point of view one cannot help but wonder how the law should deal with devices such as Google Glass. Google itself is of course lobbying officials to stop any proposed restrictions on – for instance – driving with headsets such as Google Glass.[2]

Courts are just beginning to consider the matter. In January this year a woman’s traffic ticket for wearing Google Glass behind the wheel was dismissed because there was no proof the device was operating at the time.[3]

Another concern is that the devices will erode privacy since Google Glass wearers may take photos or shoot video instantaneously. The use of audio recording could possibly even be considered violating wiretapping laws in some states.[4]

The Google Glass also is seen as posing a privacy threat by making it harder than ever for people to remain anonymous. There is already a facial recognition app, which allows Glass wearers to scan faces of strangers against several databases.[5] And even though Google officially bans facial recognition apps, people who tinker with the device’s software can get around the company’s policy pretty easy.

However, some lawyers believe that technology is not a foe but rather a great tool that can be used to enhance the legal practice.[6] In the end, it is not as much about as technology as it is about who is in control of it.

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[1] http://www.google.com/glass/start/

[2] http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/25/us-google-glass-lobbying-idUSBREA1O0P920140225

[3] http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/google_glass_is_already_causing_legal_experts_to_see_problems

[4] http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/google_glass_is_already_causing_legal_experts_to_see_problems

[5] http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/facial-recognition-app-scans-strangers-faces-for-dating-profiles-criminal-background-9049568.html

[6] http://www.lxbn.com/2014/02/07/google-glass-used-lawyers-msu-law-student-andy-ninh/

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Marijuana & the Law – Legal or Illegal?

Up to this day, Colorado and Washington are the only two states to have legalized recreational use of marijuana. Numerous other states have voted to allow it for medical purposes and many of them will most likely legalize it for recreational use during elections in 2014 and 2016.[1]
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It is fair to say that the states have taken progressive actions in dealing with the issue of marijuana legislation. So far so good, but there is just one small problem; it is still a federal felony to grow, sell or possess cannabis in the United States. State-licensed growers and sellers are thereby criminals in the eyes of federal law.[2]

In August 2013, a memo was issued by U.S. Deputy Attorney General James Cole where he stated that prosecutions should focus on drug cartels and other criminal organizations that are growing and distributing marijuana.[3] Meaning that state-licensed distributers have nothing fear. This is, however, not entirely correct since the federal law making marijuana illegal is still on the books. The next presidential administration could easily – though not very likely – change this policy whenever they like to.

But even if the next presidential administration would change its policy on marijuana, the Justice Department does not have the capacity to control illegal production of marijuana in each and every state without help of state and local police since federal drug law enforcement is only small part of the national drug enforcement effort.[4]

What we have here is thereby a substance that is both legal and illegal at the same time. From a strict legal perspective this ‘conflict of laws’ raise a lot of interesting questions. One question that many attorneys and lawyers have asked themselves is whether it is OK to work with marijuana businesses or not. Until recently, this question was pretty much up for debate. Since this week however, at least Colorado’s lawyers have the state’s permission to work with marijuana businesses, after the Colorado Supreme Court approved a rule change.[5]

The new rule in Colorado states that lawyers may assist a client in conduct that the lawyer reasonably believes is permitted by these constitutional provisions and the statues, regulations, orders, and other state and local provisions implementing them. Translated into English this simply means that lawyers have the right to work with marijuana businesses as long as they do not help these businesses to break state law.
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[1] http://www.delawareonline.com/story/opinion/columnists/2014/02/14/confused-about-the-state-of-pot-so-is-the-law/5495125/

[2] http://www.baynews9.com/content/news/baynews9/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2013/12/27/politifact_is_medica.html?cid=rss

[3] http://www.justice.gov/iso/opa/resources/3052013829132756857467.pdf

[4] http://www.delawareonline.com/story/opinion/columnists/2014/02/14/confused-about-the-state-of-pot-so-is-the-law/5495125/

[5] http://www.courts.state.co.us/userfiles/file/Court_Probation/Supreme_Court/Rule_Changes/2014/2014(05)%20redlined.pdf

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Förbud mot homosexualitet i Indien

Indiens högsta domstol har i dag slagit fast att homosexualitet fortfarande är olagligt i landet. Beslutet upphäver därmed en tidigare dom från 2009, där det konstitutionella förbudet mot homosexualitet hävdes. ”Det är en mycket svart dag för oss”, säger Anjali Gopalan, grundare av the Naz Foundation.
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Att högsta domstolen väljer att upphäva
beslutet från 2009 har sin förklaring i att förbudet mot homosexualitet stadgas i Indiens konstitution, det vill säga i Indiens grundlag. Domstolen anser sig därför inte ha befogenhet att upphäva bestämmelsen. För de fall sex mellan människor av samma kön ska göras lagligt anser domstolen att det ska göras enligt parlamentarisk ordning.

Förbudet mot homosexualitet är från kolonialtiden och brukar i folkmun kallas för ”avsnitt 377”. Enligt förbudet är det ”mot naturens ordning” att ha sex med människor av samma kön, varför sådana handlingar är straffbara med upp till 10 års fängelse.

Att domstolsbeslutet nu hävs behöver emellertid inte enbart vara av ondo. Inte heller är beslutet juridiskt komplicerat. Högsta domstolen upprätthåller enbart en viktig rättslig princip som säger att en grundlagsbestämmelse inte ska kunna åsidosättas hur som helst. Normalt sett ska en grundlag vara svårare att ändra än andra lagar.

Likväl är det naturligtvis så att förbudet i sig är förkastligt. Däremot kan domstolens agerande medföra att det indiska parlamentet tar sitt ansvar och ser över landets konstitution.

Vi kan väl hoppas.

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Niklas Lewenhard Gren
contact@lewenhards.nu

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