Author Archive: Brian Sanchez

Sweeping U.K. snooping bill becomes law

In Britain, Big Brother just got bigger.

After months of wrangling, Parliament has passed a contentious new snooping law that gives authorities — from police and spies to food regulators, fire officials and tax inspectors — powers to look at the internet browsing records of everyone in the country.

The law requires telecoms companies to keep records of all users’ web activity for a year, creating databases of personal information that the firms worry could be vulnerable to leaks and hackers.

Civil liberties groups say the law establishes mass surveillance of British citizens, following innocent internet users from the office to the living room and the bedroom.

Tim Berners-Lee, the computer scientist credited with inventing World Wide Web, tweeted news of the law’s passage with the words: “Dark, dark days.”

The Investigatory Powers Bill — dubbed the “snoopers’ charter” by critics — was passed by Parliament this month after more than a year of debate and amendments. It will become law when it receives the formality of royal assent in the coming week. But big questions remain about how it will work, and the government acknowledges it could be 12 months before internet firms have to start storing the records.

“It won’t happen in a big bang next week,” Home Office official Chris Mills told a meeting of internet service providers on Thursday. “It will be a phased program of the introduction of the measures over a year or so.”

The government says the new law “ensures powers are fit for the digital age,” replacing a patchwork of rules.

In a move taken by few other nations, it requires telecommunications companies to store for a year the web histories known as internet connection records — a list of websites each person has visited and the apps and messaging services they used, though not the individual pages they looked at or the messages they sent.

The government has called that information the modern equivalent of an itemized phone bill. But critics say it’s more like a personal diary.

Julian Huppert, a former Liberal Democrat lawmaker who opposed the bill, said it “creates a very intrusive database.”

“People may have been to the Depression Alliance website, or a marriage guidance website, or an abortion provider’s website, or all sorts of things which are very personal and private,” he said.

Officials won’t need a warrant to access the data, and the list of bodies that can see it includes not just the police and intelligence services, but government departments, revenue and customs officials and even the Food Standards Agency.

“My worry is partly about their access,” Huppert said. “But it’s much more deeply about the prospects for either hacking or people selling information on.”

James Blessing, chairman of the Internet Services Providers Association, said the industry has “significant questions” on how the law will work — including “how to keep the vast new data sets secure.”

He warned that if the law is not implemented in a “proportionate, considered way, there is a real danger the U.K. could lose its status as a world-leading digital economy.”

Some aspects of the new law remain clouded by secrecy. Not all internet companies will have to comply — only those that are asked to by the government. The government won’t say who is on that list, and the firms involved are forbidden from telling their customers.

Service providers are also concerned by the law’s provision that firms can be asked to remove encryption to let spies access communications. Internet companies say that could weaken the security of online shopping, banking and a host of other activities that rely on encryption.

The new law also makes official — and legal — British spies’ ability to hack into devices and harvest vast amounts of bulk online data, much of it from outside the U.K. In doing so, it both acknowledges and sets limits on the secretive mass-snooping schemes exposed by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

The government says the law incorporates protections against intrusion, including an investigatory powers commissioner to oversee the system, and judges to scrutinize government-approved warrants to hack into electronic devices or look at the content of communications.

David Anderson, a lawyer who serves as Britain’s independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, said the new law “creates powerful new safeguards” and “achieves world-leading standards of transparency by putting on a detailed statutory basis all the powers which police and intelligence agencies already use.”

Privacy groups battled to stop the new legislation, and now say they will challenge it in court. But public opposition has been muted, in part because the bill’s passage through Parliament has been overshadowed by Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and the upheaval that has followed.

Renate Samson, chief executive of the group Big Brother Watch, said it would take time for the full implications of the law to become clear to the public.

“We now live in a digital world. We are digital citizens,” Samson said. “We have no choice about whether or not we engage online.

“This bill has fundamentally changed how we are able to privately and securely communicate with one another, communicate with business, communicate with government and live an online life. And that’s a real, profound concern.”

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Revealed: Thirty Scots firms fronting for what police call Britain's biggest internet scam

THIRTY Scottish shell companies are fronting for “all or nothing” financial gambling sites of a kind police believe are part of Britain’s biggest internet scam.

An investigation by the Sunday Herald has identified a total of around 130 UK-registered firms providing an EU smokescreen of respectability to unregulated “binary options” websites, many run from call centres in Israel. Scottish firms make up more than a quarter of the total.

International watchdogs believe the industry has cost investors – or punters – hundreds of millions of pounds over the last decade, with English police earlier this autumn saying they believe an average of two scams they uncover a day were just the “tip of the iceberg”. It is believed that thousands of Britons have been conned out of money by the sites, many of which are rigged so that their customers lose.

The Scottish firms acting as formal owners of the website are all limited partnerships or SLPs, a kind of business which allows their owners to be secret, file no accounts and pay no taxes.

UK Security Minister Ben Wallace last week told MPs that “intelligence assessments from law enforcement” on the abuse of SLPs were “very concerning”. The Sunday Herald and its sister paper The Herald have named scores of SLPs involved in criminal or unethical behaviour over the last two years, including the alleged $1bn looting of banks in Moldova and Ukraine’s arms export mafia.

Ben Wallace MP

HeraldScotland: Minister of State for Security Ben Wallace MP during his visit to Waltham Forest Town Hall. Walthamstow.

A Dundee SLP called T.S.I.E is now acting as front for a website called DGI Market, which earlier this month was fined half a million shekels – more than £125,000 – by the Israeli Securities Authority in the first major crackdown on binary options operators in Tel Aviv. DGI was found to have provided financial services in Israel without a licence. Most of the firms do most of their business outside Israel, but have faced numerous bans across the world, including in Belgium and America.

Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has issued a blanket warning on using such sites.

Roger Mullin, the SNP’s Treasury spokesman and a campaigner for the reform of SLPs, wants the UK to follow other nations and ban binary options.

He said: “Masquerading as investment opportunities, binary options are unregulated, unethical gambling on financial markets, but where the investor-punters are systematically stripped of all of their funds.

“That some are now using SLPs to give a smokescreen of legitimacy while hiding the identity of the crooks running such operations, is doubly concerning.”

Mullin believes the UK Government is now moving towards acting on SLPs, control over which is reserved to Westminster. “I will be ensuring ministers are fully aware of these binary option scams which serve to emphasise the need for urgent action,” he said.

Formal ownership of the con has been migrating to Scotland and the rest of the UK from traditional Pacific tax havens in recent months.

Scam watchers believe this may be because credit card companies are happier processing transactions from an address in Edinburgh than in the Marshall Islands.

Writing for our website, Simona Weinglass, the investigative journalist for The Times of Israel who uncovered the scale of the binary options industry there, said Scotland had a clear role to play in stopping scammers processing credit card payments.

She said: “Fraudulent binary options and other cyber scams only work because the scammers are able to process credit card payments.

“Thus, if a binary options company in Bulgaria can pass itself off as a company that sells electronic equipment in Scotland, the transaction is much more likely to be approved by Visa and MasterCard. All of this happens algorithmically, with no humans involved. At the human level, victims are more likely to ‘trust’ a company with a Scottish address than one in, say, the British Virgin Islands.”

Israeli lawmaker Ksenia Svetlova, who represents the centre-left Zionist camp in the Knesset, said: “Tax havens and the dodgy businesses being incorporated around the world, and now in Scotland as well, must make us all lose sleep, especially when there is money coming from Israel involved.

“Vast sums of money are changing hands, crossing continents clandestinely, and this is because government authorities are not doing enough to expose this activity. It’s clear that the purpose of transferring the money is dubious, otherwise there would be no need for tax havens.”

Ksenia Svetlova

HeraldScotland: Svetlova is proposing Israeli legislation to impose tighter controls on lawyers and accountants who provide company formation services. As revealed in this newspaper, such businesses, some based in Scotland, have been advertising off-the-peg SLPs globally as vehicles for secret ownership and tax avoidance

The FCA in its warnings on binary options stressed such websites frequently presented themselves as being British.

It said: “Fraudulent firms operating in the binary options market without the necessary authorisations or licenses tend to be based outside the UK yet often claiming to have some kind of presence here, often at prestigious City of London addresses.”

SLPs acting for binary options are clustering around two addresses, one in Bath Street, Glasgow, and another in St Vincent Street, Edinburgh. Both are mail drops and the partnerships concerned have no physical presence in the country bar their virtual “brass plates”.

England’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau’s head of crime, Detective Chief Inspector Andy Fyfe, has described offshore binary options scams as the biggest fraud in the UK. Speaking in September, he said: “People have been persuaded to cash in some of their pensions and invest in rubbish. The vast majority of the non-UK based binary firms are operating from Israel.”

Fyfe said the average UK loss was £16,000.

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A voice from Israel: How Scottish firms are fronting for scam financial gambling sites run from Tel Aviv

Twenty years ago, only 180 million people worldwide had access to the Internet. Today, amazingly, that number is 3 billion, yet in many nations, including Scotland, people are worried about growing inequality and whether the digital economy will rob them of their job. To add insult to injury, the Internet has become the source of scams for the too trusting or too unlucky, with an estimated one in ten Britons falling victim to online fraud.

Indeed, Action Fraud UK, the national cybercrime reporting centre run by the London police, lists dozens of scams to be wary of, including advance-fee fraud, malware, miracle health scams and romance scams.

But the worst scam currently affecting Britons, according to UK police, is binary options, a con in which customers are led to believe they are successfully trading assets online, but usually lose most or all of their money.

As a reporter at The Times of Israel, I have been covering binary options and forex trading scams since February of this year, when a whistleblower approached me and said he had worked in an online trading firm where his job was to call hundreds of people around the world and persuade then to invest in a financial product called “binary options.” He was told to pass himself off as a professional broker who had worked at the Bank of Scotland, and to say he was calling from London, when in fact he was sitting in an office in Herzliya, Israel.

He was not supposed to tell customers that the company made money when they lost, that the trading platform was rigged to make them lose, and that even if they won money on the computer screen, they would be unlikely to ever see it again. Once a fraudulent binary options company feels it can no longer get money out of a client, it will typically cut off all contact. When the victim tries to track down the people he spoke to, he discovers that the names, address on the website and nationality they gave are all fake.

After some investigation, The Times of Israel discovered that fraudulent binary options is a vast criminal enterprise, employing thousands of people in over 100 companies, many of them in Israel, but also in countries like Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine and the Philippines. The industry is thought to earn hundreds of millions, if not billions of pounds a year and victims worldwide are believed to number in the millions.

I have spoken to a number of British victims of the fraud. One lost £400,000 and has hired an Israeli lawyer to track down the real identities of the company’s owners and sue them. Another woman, a widow from Shropshire, lost£190,000 pounds, most of her life’s savings and was forced to sell her house.

“Some days I think I would like to walk into the river and not come out,” she told me.

After ten years of inexplicable inaction, the Israeli government is slowly waking up to the scale of the fraud. As a direct consequence of our reporting at the Times of Israel, the Prime Minister’s Office last month condemned the industry’s “unscrupulous practices” and called for it to be outlawed worldwide.

Two weeks ago, Israel Securities Authority chairman Shmuel Hauser told us that consultations had begun on the framing of legislation to bar all Israel-based binary options operations from targeting anybody, anywhere. (Israeli firms are already banned from targeting Israelis.) The consultations have extended to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and to the government, he said.

Nevertheless, only a handful of companies in Israel have been shut down, while the rest continue to operate as usual.

And while this scam does not originate in Scotland, a loophole in Scottish law is being exploited by criminals to process payments and launder money for the crime.

Fraudulent binary options and other cyber scams only work because the scammers are able to process credit card payments. Thus, if a binary options company in Bulgaria can pass itself off as a company that sells electronic equipment in Scotland, the transaction is much more likely to be approved by Visa and Mastercard.

All of this happens algorithmically, with no humans involved. At the human level, victims are more likely to “trust” a company with a Scottish address than one in, say, the British Virgin Islands.

In addition, merchants outside of Europe pay higher transaction fees to process major credit cards. Having a company anywhere in the EU lowers these costs. The news agency Reuters recently published an article about a British town whose unemployed residents made money acting as nominee directors for dodgy offshore companies. One man looked himself up one day to learn the company he represented specialized in hardcore porn.

One observer of the binary options industry recently explained to me that it is modular, meaning its component parts are easily replaceable. “If a government or too many lawsuits shut down one brokerage, say, XYZOptions, it will simply pop up elsewhere with a different name. If Israel outlaws binary options, the companies will migrate to Cyprus or eastern Europe. Even the companies that franchise the trading platforms are replaceable. But if you cut off their ability to process credit cards and launder money, the industry is finished.”

In that respect, Scotland has a major role to play.

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E-commerce firms will have to deduct TCS on payments to suppliers

NEW DELHI: The model GST law has proposed significant changes in taxation of e-commerce business wherein firms like Flipkart and Snapdeal will have to deduct TCS (tax collected at source) while making payments to their suppliers.

Explaining the changes in the provision, experts said the proposal will increase the compliance burden on e-commerce operators as they will have to deduct 2 per cent TCS and deposit it with the government.

The measure, Nangia & Co Director Rajat Mohan said, will not increase the incidence of taxation on consumers as the supplier will get tax credit for the TCS.

The model GST law provides for 1 per cent TCS and a similar amount will have to be levied for inter-state sale of goods under the IGST.

Mohan further said in case of return of goods by the consumer the e-commerce companies will not have to deduct TCS as there is no actual sale.

The draft model GST law, however, did not provide any definition of aggregators saying that that the government would later come out with a notification specifying which type of businesses would be covered under the word ‘aggregator’.

Aggregators mainly include Ola, Uber, Urban Clap which works as a platform for providing transport and other services. The TCS provision will not apply on aggregators.

The E-commerce companies will also have to file returns on the TCS deductions.

The model law has defined ‘electronic commerce’ as supply of goods or services including digital products over electronic network.

‘Electronic commerce operator’ would mean those persons who own, operate or manage digital or electronic facility or platform for electronic commerce.

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Sweeping UK spy bill becomes law

The law requires telecoms companies to keep records of all users’ web activity for a year

This photo-illustration shows the web flash pages for GCHQ, the British governments communications and electronic surveillance headquarters and The Security Service (MI5), the governments internal security service, on a computer and smartphone in London. After months of wrangling, Parliament has passed a contentious new snooping law that gives authorities — from police and spies to food regulators, fire officials and tax inspectors — powers to look at the internet browsing records of everyone in the country.

London: In Britain, Big Brother just got bigger.

After months of wrangling, Parliament has passed a contentious new snooping law that gives authorities — from police and spies to food regulators, fire officials and tax inspectors — powers to look at the internet browsing records of everyone in the country.

The law requires telecoms companies to keep records of all users’ web activity for a year, creating databases of personal information that the firms worry could be vulnerable to leaks and hackers.

Civil liberties groups say the law establishes mass surveillance of British citizens, following innocent internet users from the office to the living room and the bedroom.

Tim Berners-Lee, the computer scientist credited with inventing World Wide Web, tweeted news of the law’s passage with the words: “Dark, dark days.”

The Investigatory Powers Bill — dubbed the “snoopers’ charter” by critics — was passed by Parliament this month after more than a year of debate and amendments. It will become law when it receives the formality of royal assent next week. But big questions remain about how it will work, and the government acknowledges it could be 12 months before internet firms have to start storing the records.

“It won’t happen in a big bang next week,” Home Office official Chris Mills told a meeting of internet service providers on Thursday. “It will be a phased program of the introduction of the measures over a year or so.”

The government says the new law “ensures powers are fit for the digital age,” replacing a patchwork of rules.

In a move taken by few other nations, it requires telecommunications companies to store for a year the web histories known as internet connection records — a list of websites each person has visited and the apps and messaging services they used, though not the individual pages they looked at or the messages they sent.

The government has called that information the modern equivalent of an itemised phone bill. But critics say it’s more like a personal diary.

Julian Huppert, a former Liberal Democrat lawmaker who opposed the bill, said it “creates a very intrusive database.”

“People may have been to the Depression Alliance website, or a marriage guidance website, or an abortion provider’s website, or all sorts of things which are very personal and private,” he said.

Officials won’t need a warrant to access the data, and the list of bodies that can see it includes not just the police and intelligence services, but government departments, revenue and customs officials and even the Food Standards Agency.

“My worry is partly about their access,” Huppert said. “But it’s much more deeply about the prospects for either hacking or people selling information on.”

James Blessing, chairman of the internet Services Providers Association, said the industry has “significant questions” on how the law will work — including “how to keep the vast new data sets secure.”

He warned that if the law is not implemented in a “proportionate, considered way, there is a real danger the UK could lose its status as a world-leading digital economy.”

Some aspects of the new law remain clouded by secrecy. Not all internet companies will have to comply — only those that are asked to by the government. The government won’t say who is on that list, and the firms involved are forbidden from telling their customers.

Service providers are also concerned by the law’s provision that firms can be asked to remove encryption to let spies access communications. Internet companies say that could weaken the security of online shopping, banking and a host of other activities that rely on encryption.

The new law also makes official — and legal — British spies’ ability to hack into devices and harvest vast amounts of bulk online data, much of it from outside the UK. In doing so, it both acknowledges and sets limits on the secretive mass-snooping schemes exposed by former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

The government says the law incorporates protections against intrusion, including an investigatory powers commissioner to oversee the system, and judges to scrutinise government-approved warrants to hack into electronic devices or look at the content of communications.

David Anderson, a lawyer who serves as Britain’s independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, said the new law “creates powerful new safeguards” and “achieves world-leading standards of transparency by putting on a detailed statutory basis all the powers which police and intelligence agencies already use.”

Privacy groups battled to stop the new legislation, and now say they will challenge it in court. But public opposition has been muted, in part because the bill’s passage through Parliament has been overshadowed by Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and the upheaval that has followed.

Renate Samson, chief executive of the group Big Brother Watch, said it would take time for the full implications of the law to become clear to the public.

“We now live in a digital world. We are digital citizens,” Samson said. “We have no choice about whether or not we engage online.

“This bill has fundamentally changed how we are able to privately and securely communicate with one another, communicate with business, communicate with government and live an online life. And that’s a real, profound concern.”

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Sweeping U.K. spy bill dubbed 'snoopers' charter' becomes law

Jill Lawless, The Associated Press


Published Saturday, November 26, 2016 8:39AM EST

LONDON — In Britain, Big Brother just got bigger.

After months of wrangling, Parliament has passed a contentious new snooping law that gives authorities — from police and spies to food regulators, fire officials and tax inspectors — powers to look at the internet browsing records of everyone in the country.

The law requires telecoms companies to keep records of all users’ web activity for a year, creating databases of personal information that the firms worry could be vulnerable to leaks and hackers.

Civil liberties groups say the law establishes mass surveillance of British citizens, following innocent internet users from the office to the living room and the bedroom.

Tim Berners-Lee, the computer scientist credited with inventing World Wide Web, tweeted news of the law’s passage with the words: “Dark, dark days.”

The Investigatory Powers Bill — dubbed the “snoopers’ charter” by critics — was passed by Parliament this month after more than a year of debate and amendments. It will become law when it receives the formality of royal assent next week. But big questions remain about how it will work, and the government acknowledges it could be 12 months before internet firms have to start storing the records.

“It won’t happen in a big bang next week,” Home Office official Chris Mills told a meeting of internet service providers on Thursday. “It will be a phased program of the introduction of the measures over a year or so.”

The government says the new law “ensures powers are fit for the digital age,” replacing a patchwork of often outdated rules and giving law-enforcement agencies the tools to fight terrorism and serious crime.

In a move taken by few other nations, it requires telecommunications companies to store for a year the web histories known as internet connection records — a list of websites each person has visited and the apps and messaging services they used, though not the individual pages they looked at or the messages they sent.

The government has called that information the modern equivalent of an itemized phone bill. But critics say it’s more like a personal diary.

Julian Huppert, a former Liberal Democrat lawmaker who opposed the bill, said it “creates a very intrusive database.”

“People may have been to the Depression Alliance website, or a marriage guidance website, or an abortion provider’s website, or all sorts of things which are very personal and private,” he said.

Officials won’t need a warrant to access the data, and the list of bodies that can see it includes not just the police and intelligence services, but government departments, revenue and customs officials and even the Food Standards Agency.

“My worry is partly about their access,” Huppert said. “But it’s much more deeply about the prospects for either hacking or people selling information on.”

James Blessing, chairman of the Internet Services Providers Association, said the industry has “significant questions” on how the law will work — including “how to keep the vast new data sets secure.”

He warned that if the law is not implemented in a “proportionate, considered way, there is a real danger the U.K. could lose its status as a world-leading digital economy.”

Some aspects of the new law remain clouded by secrecy. Not all internet companies will have to comply — only those that are asked to by the government. The government won’t say who is on that list, and the firms involved are forbidden from telling their customers.

Service providers are also concerned by the law’s provision that firms can be asked to remove encryption to let spies access communications. Internet companies say that could weaken the security of online shopping, banking and a host of other activities that rely on encryption.

The new law also makes official — and legal — British spies’ ability to hack into devices and harvest vast amounts of bulk online data, much of it from outside the U.K. In doing so, it both acknowledges and sets limits on the secretive mass-snooping schemes exposed by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

The government says the law incorporates protections against intrusion, including an investigatory powers commissioner to oversee the system, and judges to scrutinize government-approved warrants to hack into electronic devices or look at the content of communications.

David Anderson, a lawyer who serves as Britain’s independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, said the new law “creates powerful new safeguards” and “achieves world-leading standards of transparency by putting on a detailed statutory basis all the powers which police and intelligence agencies already use.”

Privacy groups battled to stop the new legislation, and now say they will challenge it in court. But public opposition has been muted, in part because the bill’s passage through Parliament has been overshadowed by Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and the upheaval that has followed.

Renate Samson, chief executive of the group Big Brother Watch, said it would take time for the full implications of the law to become clear to the public.

“We now live in a digital world. We are digital citizens,” Samson said. “We have no choice about whether or not we engage online.

“This bill has fundamentally changed how we are able to privately and securely communicate with one another, communicate with business, communicate with government and live an online life. And that’s a real, profound concern.”

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UK Parliament clears new spy law dubbed ‘snoopers’ charter’

By: PTI | London |
Published:November 26, 2016 7:12 pm


Internet, cyber attack, delete your online presence, clean your online presence, Google OAuth protocol, deseat website, deseat.me, email accounts, technology, technology news The law forces UK internet providers to store browsing histories, including domains visited for one year, in case of police investigations.

British Parliament has passed a new snooping law which, if gets royal assent, will give authorities power to access the internet browsing history of everyone in the UK. The new Investigatory Powers Bill has been dubbed the snooper’s charter for its sweeping nature of access to the British public’s internet history. The law forces UK internet providers to store browsing histories, including domains visited for one year, in case of police investigations.

The bill, which will come into force after receiving royal assent from Queen Elizabeth II next week, was introduced by then UK home secretary Theresa May in 2012, and took two attempts to get passed following breakdowns in the previous Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government.

“It won’t happen in a big bang next week. It will be a phased programme of the introduction of the measures over a year or so,” UK Home Office official Chris Mills told a meeting of internet service providers on Thursday. The law requires telecom companies to keep records of all users’ web activity for a year, creating databases of personal information that the firms worry could be vulnerable to leaks and hackers.

“The task of law enforcement and security and intelligence agencies has become vastly more demanding in this digital age. It is right that those protecting us have the powers they need to do so but it is the role of government and Parliament to ensure there are limits to those powers,” said Prime Minister May in the House of Commons recently.

Welcoming the bill as a decisive moment in updating Britain’s surveillance laws, she said “There should be no area of cyberspace which is a haven for those who seek to harm us to plot, poison minds and peddle hatred under the radar”. “I am also clear that the exercise and scope of investigatory powers should be clearly set out and subject to stringent safeguards and robust oversight, including ‘double-lock’ authorisation for the most intrusive capabilities. This bill will establish world-leading oversight to govern an investigatory powers regime which is more open and transparent than anywhere else in the world,” she said.

However, civil liberty groups have long criticised the bill, with some arguing that the law will let the UK government document everything online. Organisations including the UK Food Standards Agency and the Department for Work and Pensions will be able to see UK citizens’ entire internet browsing history within weeks.

Those internet connection records ICRs in effect serve as a full list of every website that people have visited, rather than collecting which specific pages are visited or what’s done on them. ICRs will be made available to a wide range of government bodies including law enforcement agencies such as the police, the military and the secret service. It also includes the Food Standards Agency, the Gambling Commission, councils and the Welsh Ambulance Services National Health Service Trust.

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Elkhart Co. Firms Weigh in On Fate Of OT Rule

Reaction to a courts ruling in Indiana’s Elkhart County that blocks a new federal overtime rule from coming into effect Dec. 1 was swift.

The Elkhart Truth reported that U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Walorski, R-2, said she was “thrilled” and that the rule change was an “erroneous, over the top regulation” by President Barack Obama’s administration.

“This rule change was going to decimate companies and non-profits,” she said. “I knew once it got in front of a judge it wouldn’t pass a litmus test.”

 Deemed the “Overtime Rule” by the U.S. Department of Labor, employers had until Dec. 1 to reformat how they pay salaried employees that make less than $47,476 annually or face paying overtime for any hours over 40-per-week. The Labor Department says the rule was changed due to the lack of value the current level of $23,660 has on salaried employees.

“The real value of the salary level has fallen significantly since it was set 12 years ago,” the Labor Department said in a statement. “Today, the standard salary level is below the 2015 poverty threshold for a family of four.”

While businesses can breathe a large sigh of relief, the rule change still has some life to it. The injunction in place could be appealed and it might end up in the U.S. Supreme Court, one that could include some of president-elect Donald Trump’s nominees.

Walorski said she doesn’t think the rule will ever go into affect.

“This regulation came out of the blue and had people really stressed,” she said. “With the new administration in place I don’t see this rule change ever happening.”

Local industries are taking a more of a wait-and-see approach.

“The rule is not dead so we are just going to continue to evaluate our position and find the right approach,” said Ken Julien, human resource director for Elkhart-based Thor Industries Inc., one of the nation’s top manufacturer of recreational vehicles.

Julien said he had no numbers available for how many employees were going to be affected by the rule change, but that there were some that might see raises to get up to the salary threshold and others that were salaried employees and going to be switched to hourly employees.

“The bottom line is we would have complied with the law,” he said.

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Sweeping UK spy bill dubbed 'snoopers' charter' becomes law

AP Photo
AP Photo/Alastair Grant

LONDON (AP) — In Britain, Big Brother just got bigger.

After months of wrangling, Parliament has passed a contentious new snooping law that gives authorities – from police and spies to food regulators, fire officials and tax inspectors – powers to look at the internet browsing records of everyone in the country.

The law requires telecoms companies to keep records of all users’ web activity for a year, creating databases of personal information that the firms worry could be vulnerable to leaks and hackers.

Civil liberties groups say the law establishes mass surveillance of British citizens, following innocent internet users from the office to the living room and the bedroom.

Tim Berners-Lee, the computer scientist credited with inventing World Wide Web, tweeted news of the law’s passage with the words: “Dark, dark days.”

The Investigatory Powers Bill – dubbed the “snoopers’ charter” by critics – was passed by Parliament this month after more than a year of debate and amendments. It will become law when it receives the formality of royal assent next week. But big questions remain about how it will work, and the government acknowledges it could be 12 months before internet firms have to start storing the records.

“It won’t happen in a big bang next week,” Home Office official Chris Mills told a meeting of internet service providers on Thursday. “It will be a phased program of the introduction of the measures over a year or so.”

The government says the new law “ensures powers are fit for the digital age,” replacing a patchwork of often outdated rules and giving law-enforcement agencies the tools to fight terrorism and serious crime.

In a move taken by few other nations, it requires telecommunications companies to store for a year the web histories known as internet connection records – a list of websites each person has visited and the apps and messaging services they used, though not the individual pages they looked at or the messages they sent.

The government has called that information the modern equivalent of an itemized phone bill. But critics say it’s more like a personal diary.

Julian Huppert, a former Liberal Democrat lawmaker who opposed the bill, said it “creates a very intrusive database.”

“People may have been to the Depression Alliance website, or a marriage guidance website, or an abortion provider’s website, or all sorts of things which are very personal and private,” he said.

Officials won’t need a warrant to access the data, and the list of bodies that can see it includes not just the police and intelligence services, but government departments, revenue and customs officials and even the Food Standards Agency.

“My worry is partly about their access,” Huppert said. “But it’s much more deeply about the prospects for either hacking or people selling information on.”

James Blessing, chairman of the Internet Services Providers Association, said the industry has “significant questions” on how the law will work – including “how to keep the vast new data sets secure.”

He warned that if the law is not implemented in a “proportionate, considered way, there is a real danger the U.K. could lose its status as a world-leading digital economy.”

Some aspects of the new law remain clouded by secrecy. Not all internet companies will have to comply – only those that are asked to by the government. The government won’t say who is on that list, and the firms involved are forbidden from telling their customers.

Service providers are also concerned by the law’s provision that firms can be asked to remove encryption to let spies access communications. Internet companies say that could weaken the security of online shopping, banking and a host of other activities that rely on encryption.

The new law also makes official – and legal – British spies’ ability to hack into devices and harvest vast amounts of bulk online data, much of it from outside the U.K. In doing so, it both acknowledges and sets limits on the secretive mass-snooping schemes exposed by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

The government says the law incorporates protections against intrusion, including an investigatory powers commissioner to oversee the system, and judges to scrutinize government-approved warrants to hack into electronic devices or look at the content of communications.

David Anderson, a lawyer who serves as Britain’s independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, said the new law “creates powerful new safeguards” and “achieves world-leading standards of transparency by putting on a detailed statutory basis all the powers which police and intelligence agencies already use.”

Privacy groups battled to stop the new legislation, and now say they will challenge it in court. But public opposition has been muted, in part because the bill’s passage through Parliament has been overshadowed by Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and the upheaval that has followed.

Renate Samson, chief executive of the group Big Brother Watch, said it would take time for the full implications of the law to become clear to the public.

“We now live in a digital world. We are digital citizens,” Samson said. “We have no choice about whether or not we engage online.

“This bill has fundamentally changed how we are able to privately and securely communicate with one another, communicate with business, communicate with government and live an online life. And that’s a real, profound concern.”

Follow Jill Lawless on Twitter at http://Twitter.com/JillLawless


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Pomerantz Law Firm Reminds Shareholders with Losses on their Investment in Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. of Class Action Lawsuit and Upcoming Deadline – ALXN

NEW YORK, Nov. 25, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Pomerantz LLP announces that a class action lawsuit has been filed against Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (“Alexion” or the “Company”)(NASDAQ: ALXN) and certain of its officers. The class action, filed in United States District Court, Southern District of New York, and docketed under 16-cv-08946, is on behalf of a class consisting of all persons or entities who purchased or otherwise acquired Alexion between February 10, 2014 and November 9, 2016, both dates inclusive (the “Class Period”), seeking to recover compensable damages caused by Defendants’ violations of the federal securities laws and to pursue remedies under Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”) and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder.

If you are a shareholder who purchased Alexion during the Class Period, you have until January 17, 2017 to ask the Court to appoint you as Lead Plaintiff for the class. A copy of the Complaint can be obtained at www.pomerantzlaw.com. To discuss this action, contact Robert S. Willoughby at rswilloughby@pomlaw.com or 888.476.6529 (or 888.4-POMLAW), toll free, ext. 9980. Those who inquire by e-mail are encouraged to include their mailing address, telephone number, and number of shares purchased.

[Click here to join this class action]

Alexion, a biopharmaceutical company, develops and commercializes therapeutic products. Among the Company’s products is Soliris (eculizumab), a monoclonal antibody for the treatment of paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH), a genetic blood disorder, and atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS), a genetic disease.

The Complaint alleges that throughout the Class Period, Defendants made materially false and misleading statements regarding the Company’s business, operational and compliance policies. Specifically, Defendants made false and/or misleading statements and/or failed to disclose that: (i) Alexion employed improper sales practices with respect to Soliris; (ii) consequently, the Company’s revenues from Soliris sales were unlikely to be sustainable; and (iii) as a result of the foregoing, Alexion’s public statements were materially false and misleading at all relevant times.

On November 4, 2016, Alexion cancelled an appearance at the Credit Suisse Healthcare Conference, scheduled for November 6-8, 2016, telling Leerink Partners LLC only that “something came up.” Following the cancellation, analysts noted that Alexion had also failed to file its Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q with the SEC within two days of its earnings announcement on October 27, 2016, a break from the Company’s historical practice.

On this news, Alexion’s share price fell $8.95, or 6.94%, to close at $120.05 on November 7, 2016, the following trading day.

On November 9, 2016, post-market, Alexion issued a press release and filed a Current Report on Form 8-K with the SEC concerning certain of the Company’s financial and operating results for the quarter ended September 30, 2016 (the “Q3 2016 8-K”) and filed a Form NT 10-Q with the SEC (the “Q3 2016 NT 10-Q”), announcing that the Company would not be able to timely file its financial and operating results for the quarter ended September 30, 2016.

On this news, Alexion’s share price fell $0.28, or 0.22%, to close at $126.88 on November 10, 2016. As the market continued to digest the significance of Alexion’s announced investigation, Alexion’s share price fell an additional $13.26, or 10.45%, to close at $113.62 on November 11, 2016.

The Pomerantz Firm, with offices in New York, Chicago, Florida, and Los Angeles, is acknowledged as one of the premier firms in the areas of corporate, securities, and antitrust class litigation. Founded by the late Abraham L. Pomerantz, known as the dean of the class action bar, the Pomerantz Firm pioneered the field of securities class actions. Today, more than 80 years later, the Pomerantz Firm continues in the tradition he established, fighting for the rights of the victims of securities fraud, breaches of fiduciary duty, and corporate misconduct. The Firm has recovered numerous multimillion-dollar damages awards on behalf of class members. See www.pomerantzlaw.com

CONTACT:
Robert S. Willoughby
Pomerantz LLP
rswilloughby@pomlaw.com

To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/shareholder-alert–pomerantz-law-firm-reminds-shareholders-with-losses-on-their-investment-in-alexion-pharmaceuticals-inc-of-class-action-lawsuit-and-upcoming-deadline–alxn-300368225.html

SOURCE Pomerantz LLP


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