- Singapore law restricting so-called fake news “could force companies to tell the government what websites users have viewed” [Jennifer Daskal, New York Times] Ruling People’s Action Party “is notorious for its practice of bringing lawsuits against opposition members,” sometimes “for defamation upon criticizing the PAP,” while blog authors are “often pressured to register as members of political bodies if their posts touch upon national issues.” [Sally Andrews, The Diplomat]
- Australian federal police raid national broadcaster, seize files over story exposing alleged killings of unarmed civilians by special forces [Matthew Lesh, Spiked]
- U.K.: “Man investigated by police for retweeting transgender limerick” [Camilla Tominey and Joani Walsh, Daily Telegraph; Jack Beresford, Irish Post; Ophelia Benson followup on “Harry the Owl” case; earlier here, here, etc.]
- From President John Adams’s time to our own, rulers around the world have used alarms over fake news as excuse for measures against political opponents [J.D. Tuccille, Reason]
- “In a world first, Facebook to give data on hate speech suspects to French courts” [Mathieu Rosemain, Reuters, Jacob Mchangama on Twitter]
- Michael Jackson fan clubs sue sex-abuse complainants “under a French law against the public denunciation of a dead person,” good example of why laws like that are a bad idea [AP/GlobalNews]
- Turkish “Academics for Peace” initiative of 2016: “Of the petition’s more than 2,000 signatories, nearly 700 were put on trial and over 450 were removed from their posts by government decree or direct action from their own university.” [Brennan Cusack, New York Times]
The United Kingdom’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has “instituted a ban on gender stereotypes ‘that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence.'”
According to the ASA’s overview, setups that will likely be in violation of the law include but are not limited to:
* An ad that depicts a man with his feet up and family members creating mess around a home while a woman is solely responsible for cleaning up the mess.
* An ad that depicts a man or a woman failing to achieve a task specifically because of their gender e.g. a man’s inability to change nappies [diapers]; a woman’s inability to park a car.
* Where an ad features a person with a physique that does not match an ideal stereotypically associated with their gender, the ad should not imply that their physique is a significant reason for them not being successful, for example in their romantic or social lives.
* An ad that seeks to emphasise the contrast between a boy’s stereotypical personality (e.g. daring) with a girl’s stereotypical personality (e.g. caring) needs to be handled with care.
* An ad aimed at new mums which suggests that looking attractive or keeping a home pristine is a priority over other factors such as their emotional wellbeing.
It will not be a defense of a stereotype that it is by and large true — that, for example, persons whose physique departs significantly from social expectations might genuinely face worse average outcomes in their romantic lives.
The rules do allow a few exceptions; for example, it will still be fine for advertisers in Britain to invoke gender stereotypes for purposes of challenging them. [Billy Binion, Reason]
Happy Independence Day!
I’ve got a piece in Thursday’s Washington Examiner on a remarkable new law enforcement tool in Britain:
It’s like, “Your papers, please,” but for things you own.
Authorities in Britain have begun trying out a new police power called unexplained wealth orders under a law that took effect last year. The police go to a court and say you’re living way above any known legitimate income. The judge then signs an order compelling you to show that your possessions (whether a house, fancy car, or jewelry) have been obtained honestly and not with dirty money. In the meantime, the boat or artwork or other assets get frozen, and you can’t sell them until you’ve shown you obtained them innocently.
The kicker: The burden of proof falls on you, not the government. If you don’t prove the funds were clean, Her Majesty may be presumed entitled to keep the goodies….
Related to the flipping of the burden of proof, the law says information dug up via one of the orders can’t then be used in criminal charges against the target.
…advocates want this to be the start of hundreds of seizure actions against other rich foreigners in the British capital.
Some are already calling for bringing a law like this to the United States, and maybe we’re halfway there already. Asset forfeiture laws, blessed by the Supreme Court, already let police seize your property on suspicion of involvement in a crime and make you go to court to get it back. We’ve been chipping away at financial privacy in this country for decades, through Know Your Customer, suspicious-activity reports, and FATCA (expatriate tax) rules.
Ironically — though recent enactments by Parliament may be changing this, too — Britain’s own peripheral territories and dependencies, including the Channel Islands, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, etc. have long made a good business out of furnishing the rest of the world with the means of financial privacy.
The reversal of the presumption of innocence troubles many Britons, too. For the moment, use of the orders is limited to a few elite law enforcement agencies. One of those agencies, however, is Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs — the tax collectors. It’s not wrong to worry about where this idea is headed.
Yesterday we conducted weapons sweeps,dealt with a person injured from a van reversing on them, reported a burglary and collected all these from @scope charity shop who diligently didn’t want them to get into the wrong hands & disposed of correctly & safely pic.twitter.com/GNfxZd6iGd
— Regents Park Police (@MPSRegentsPark) May 14, 2019
From a verified police account in London, a city that’s been pursuing an anti-knife campaign. Note the foil (or is it an épée?), the spoon, and enough chef’s, paring, bread, and steak knives to get a half-dozen households launched on a lifelong mission of eating well.
- “Banana Costume Copyright Assailed at Third Circuit” [Emilee Larkin, Courthouse News, earlier]
- In a new piece for The Bulwark, I sort through some comments by presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg critical of identity politics;
- Supreme Court’s decision in Apple v. Pepper, with Justice Brett Kavanaugh joining four liberals, takes a little nick out of Illinois Brick doctrine limiting antitrust suits [my new Cato post]
- Ninth Circuit will soon hear case in which judge ordered Idaho prison system to provide inmate with transgender surgery; I’m quoted saying lower court decision amounted to battle of the experts [Amanda Peacher, NPR/KBSX, plus followup piece (“medical necessity” not a fixed standard, definitions of cruel and unusual punishment hitched in some ways to public opinion) and NPR “Morning Edition”; audio clip]
- “The Moral Panic Behind Internet Regulation” [Matthew Lesh, Quillette] “A Single Global Standard for Internet Content Regulation Is a Recipe for Censorship” [Jacob Mchangama, Quillette] And Jonah Goldberg on right-wing rage at social media platform moderation;
- Some politicos in Britain engage in “‘karaoke Thatcherism’, preaching low-tax, low-regulation mantras divorced from new challenges or detail,” then falling for truly bad ideas like laws to assure real estate tenants indefinite tenure against owners’ wishes [Ryan Bourne]
- London ban on transit ads depicting “bad” foods winds up nixing images of Wimbledon strawberries and cream, bacon, butter, cheese, jam, honey, and Christmas pudding [Scott Shackford]
- And more: British medical journal The Lancet wants to do some highly non-consensual poking and jabbing at your midsection, with the aim of making you lose weight; highlights include funding activist campaigns, cutting business out of policy discussions, and routing policy through the least accountable international organizations [Christopher Snowdon, The Spectator; more from Snowdon on state-subsidized anti-food advocacy in Britain; Nina Teicholz]
- Pushing back on the Lancet panel’s guideline that each person be allowed no more than one egg and less than 3.5 ounces of red meat a week [Mark Hemingway]
- “The Problem With Nudging People to Happiness” [Randy Barnett reviews Cass Sunstein’s On Freedom]
- “Pharmaceutical Freedom: Why Patients Have a Right to Self Medicate”, Cato Daily Podcast with Jessica Flanigan and Caleb Brown;
- “Proposed Anti-Soda Bills in California Would Ban Big Gulps, Mandate Warning Labels on Vending Machines” [Christian Britschgi] “Medical Groups Endorse New Taxes and Marketing Restrictions on Soda — For the children, of course” [Baylen Linnekin]
- “30 Years After the Rushdie Fatwa, Europe Is Moving Backward” on speech that gives religious offense [Jacob Mchangama and Sarah McLaughlin, Foreign Policy] Whether you call it blasphemy or hate speech, chilling effects on expression are the same [Helen Dale, Unherd]
- British writer faces police inquiry after “deadnaming” transgender activist online [Katie Herzog, The Stranger; Sophie Law, Daily Mail on Graham Linehan case] Social media “like” contributes to another police call [James Kirkup, The Spectator]
- How American law came to recognize hate speech as part of the zone of protected free speech: a look at the history [Flemming Rose, Cato Institute]
- Labour MP introduces bill to ban private Facebook groups [Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner]
- Far-right French politico Marine Le Pen, prosecuted over speech on Twitter, “ordered to undergo a psychiatric examination as part of the investigation.” Say what? [Jacob Sullum]
- The U.K.’s new anti-terrorism efforts should be terrifying to anyone who cares about free speech [J.D. Tuccille, Reason]
- “Sandwiches and main meal salads will be capped at 550 calories, ready meals will be capped at 544 calories and main courses in restaurants will be capped at 951 calories.” Guidelines from Public Health England aren’t mandatory yet, but expect U.K. government pressure on supermarkets and restaurants [Christopher Snowdon, Baylen Linnekin, Scott Shackford, Ryan Bourne]
- “We are not saying they can never give children a chocolate or biscuit ever again,” says the Public Health England official. “But it cannot be a daily occurrence.” And more from “2018: The [mostly U.K.] nanny state year in review” [Snowdon]
- Research paper on Philadelphia soda tax: cross-border shopping completely offsets in-city reduction in beverage sales, “no significant reduction in calorie and sugar intake.” [Stephan Seiler, Anna Tuchman, and Song Yao, SSRN via Caron/TaxProf] More: owner blames tax for closure of Philly supermarket [Eric Boehm]
- Alternative headline: feds act to curb food waste by giving local schools more freedom to offer lunches kids will willingly eat [Jaden Urbi, CNBC]
- “Los Angeles councilmember Paul Koretz [has] introduced a bill that, if passed, would require entertainment and travel venues around town to put at least one vegan dish on their menus.” [Clint Rainey, Grub Street; Scott Shackford]
- “Dollar stores are the latest target of advocates who want to improve food offerings by limiting them” [Baylen Linnekin]
- “Lawsuit: Licorice Twizzlers caused man’s heart disease” [WDRB; earlier on dismissal of German lawsuit filed by customer who ate nearly a pound a day of the candy]
- Empirical study of how personal injury claims are pursued in Great Britain [Richard Lewis, SSRN]
- How attorney Marc Lanier got that $4.7 billion talc/baby powder verdict [Daniel Fisher, Forbes] “Attorney sees lawyers’ role in judge selection process as helping fuel rise in lawsuits in ‘Sue Me State'” [Devin Watkins on Missouri; Angela Underwood, St. Louis Record]
- “$12.8M suit filed by estate of man killed in WWII tank blast” [AP]
- “Stan Chesley’s law firm admits ‘unjust enrichment,’ agrees to $23 million settlement” [Kevin Grasha, Cincinnati Enquirer; earlier]
- “Sweeping new arbitration study: ‘Enterprising’ plaintiffs’ lawyers adapt” [Alison Frankel, Reuters]
From the U.K. — and a Conservative government, at that. “Pizzas must shrink or lose their toppings under Government plans to cap the calories in thousands of meals sold in restaurants and supermarkets. Pies, ready meals and sandwiches will also be subject to the new proposed calorie limits…. Under the draft proposals, a standard pizza for one should contain no more than 928 calories – far less than many sold by takeaways, restaurants and shops.” For the moment the restrictions would not be mandatory, but in a parallel initiative concerning sweet foods failures to meet the targets “have prompted warnings from ministers that tougher steps may be taken.”