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With Trump's Border Plans, Security And Surveillance Firms Eye Bigger Profits

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Hiro Yazawa of Japan Cell displays a spotlight weapon that sells for $5,000 at the Border Security Expo in San Antonio on Tuesday.

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There’s a lot of excitement at the Border Security Expo in San Antonio, where vendors schmooze with government buyers and peddle their wares.

This year, the White House is asking Congress for billions of dollars for border security, and it could include thousands of new federal agents, many miles of a formidable wall and the latest surveillance and reconnaissance technology. And the vendors here in the exhibition hall at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center are ready.

The Homeland Security Department is already the largest federal law enforcement agency with the biggest budget, and it may get even bigger. With that in mind, booths here are packed with cameras mounted on telescoping poles, facial recognition and biometric software, vehicle scanners, license plate readers and lots of drones.

Unmanned Systems and Solutions, in Hinsdale, Ill., sells heavy-lift (up to 30 pounds) unmanned aerial vehicles that get their power from a tethered cord instead of in-flight batteries.

“We had plans to come to the expo before the presidential election, but we definitely came when this administration came into office,” says Pete Dwyer, a partner in the company.

At the expo, merchants are showing off rubber guns, real guns and a peculiar, sci-fi-looking spotlight gun.

“It’s for border control, for searching for people, and … also for blinding eyes,” says Hiro Yazawa, representing the Tokyo-based manufacturer, Japan Cell. The spotlight weapon — priced at $5,000 — has had a hard time finding U.S. customers, though Yazawa says the Japanese military uses them.

The largest item is a mammoth, $750,000, camo-colored truck and trailer that sleeps 33; it’s for deployment in remote areas. Mike Pine of CT Defense says he wants to sell the trucks to the Border Patrol. Trump’s focus on Southwest border defense got his attention and this is his first time at the expo.

“We’ve got another 5,000 [Border Patrol] agents that are coming on board,” Pine says. “The question is how will they deploy these agents to the front lines? … Today, the agency is using trailers and shipping containers.”

For a reality check, there are certainly “bad hombres” crossing illegally into the country, as the president claims. But most unauthorized immigrants are men looking for work in jobs like landscaping crews or Central American mothers with small children in tow seeking asylum. Nevertheless, the booths at the expo bristle with military-style tactical gear.

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Mike Pine and Denise Germann of CT Defense at the expo with a $750,000 mobile command post they hope to sell to the U.S. Border Patrol.

John Burnett/NPR


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“We hope a bad guy shoots one of our remote-controlled mounted cameras instead of an agent,” says Dennis Smith, of AgileMesh Inc.

One of those looking to buy is Gabe Acosta, assistant chief patrol agent in Laredo, Texas. He is looking for new, high-tech law enforcement gear, and he says so far his favorite “is a certain night vision optic, which allows you to see color at night, versus your standard green screen.”

Walking around the exhibit hall, you realize this is not a conference for wall builders. In fact, Trump’s “big, beautiful wall” is not especially popular at the expo. Jay Ahern, former acting customs commissioner, called it “dumb physical infrastructure” during his panel at the gathering.

“While the wall gets a lot of play publicly,” Ahern said, “I think the technology piece will be critically important.”

Far from San Antonio, dozens of contractors are designing prototypes of a border wall, ranging from 18 to 30 feet high, that must withstand sledgehammers and blowtorches. But here at the expo, current and former Homeland Security officials are looking for a smart border that may depend more on computer screens than on steel and concrete.

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Small law firms battle it out for the big prize at…

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With the Leicestershire Law Society Awards fast approaching, we can reveal the finalists for the Small Law Firm of the Year award.

Crystal Law Solicitors and Emery Johnson Astills will be vying for the coveted award.

Crystal Law, based in Charles Street, Leicester, specialises in social welfare law and the current partners were previously heads of the welfare benefits and family departments at the Community Legal Advice Centre, which closed in 2013 due to legal aid cuts.

They set up Crystal Law to help individuals and communities who might otherwise miss out on legal help.

City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby officially opened the firm’s city office in January 2016.

Sir Peter said at the time: “This is a very exciting time for a young vibrant firm to open in the heart of Leicester to help people access justice at a time when there have been drastic cutbacks in legal aid.

“Providing high quality advice to marginalised communities and individuals is what Crystal Law was founded upon.”

The firm has a niche specialism in civil benefit fraud and is an expert of choice attracting recommendations from larger established practices.

In 2016 alone, Crystal Law saved its clients more than £400,000 in wrongly accused fraud allegations and has prevented numerous prosecutions.

In 2015, Leicester City Council invited Crystal Law to hold weekly pro bono clinics at Belgrave Library.

Two fully funded pro bono cases a month are provided for the benefit of local residents and one partner regularly offers free support and advice with the Family Lives project, a registered charity.

Making law crystal clear and wanting clients to become part of the Crystal Law family has allowed the firm to go from strength to strength.

In 2013, Emery Johnson and Astills merged to launch a shared commitment to the delivery of client care and excellence while specialising in different areas of work.

The firm prides itself on its down to earth but efficient ethos, which has brought it recognition on a local and national level with founder and managing partner, Helen Johnson, being named solicitor advocate of the year in the national Law Society Excellence awards for England and Wales in 2016.

She was recognised for high profile representation of defendants in the criminal courts and her contribution to the legal and wider community.

The firm is very active in the broader community and has trustees in local charities including Warning Zone, Abbeyfields and Homefield College, as well as involvement in other community initiatives like the racial equality group, LGBT Leicester.

It also takes part in the annual Leicester schools courts competition giving local school pupils the chance to take part in a trial involving real judges, barristers and solicitors.

The small firms category is being sponsored by KCH Garden Square Barristers.

The winner will be revealed at a glamorous awards dinner at Athena, Leicester, on May 19.

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New legal powerhouse as JCP Solicitors merges with Glamorgan Law

South west Wales law firm JCP Solicitors has acquired Glamorgan Law in a move that expands its reach across South Wales.

JCP Solicitors has already positioned itself as a leading legal businesses in the region, with offices Swansea, Carmarthen and throughout Pembrokeshire.

The coming together of the two businesses will see JCP Solicitors extend its geographical reach throughout south east Wales, by investing in Glamorgan Law’s existing offices in Caerphilly, Cardiff, Cowbridge and Pontypridd.

Glamorgan Law brings with it 8 directors and 50 additional members of staff, with senior partners Peter Davies and Richard Beech taking equity in JCP.

The value of the deal has not been disclosed.

The newly merged law firm will have a turnover in excess of £10m. The deal is projected to make it one of the UK’s top 200 law firms.

19 top women at the helm of the once male-dominated professional services sector in Wales

JCP director and chief executive, Hayley Davies, said: “We are very pleased to announce the continued expansion of JCP Solicitors via our merger with Glamorgan Law.

“Growth has always been our strategy, but the hallmark of all of our mergers has been to ensure that any new alliance completely emulates the JCP ethos, culture and client offering.

“This merger sees us broaden into a new area geographically but we will continue to retain and nurture the strong community ties to all the areas in which we operate.

“The very strong personal relationships that we enjoy with our clients throughout South and West Wales are important to us.

“This merger creates opportunities for further career progression for team members at both JCP Solicitors and Glamorgan Law.

Law firms in Wales that are recruiting and winning new business

Mr Davies: “This is a very pleasing progression for Glamorgan Law and we are delighted to be merging with a company we have so much respect for.

“Both Glamorgan Law and JCP Solicitors bring much legal expertise and experience to the table.

“I am confident that this merger marks the beginning of a new era for us as a business and I and my colleagues look forward to offering an enhanced range of services to our clients.”

JCP Solicitors and Glamorgan Law will merge on April 21.

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Strategy: An employment attorney breaks down the NYC law that just eliminated everyone's least-favorite interview question

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Pretty soon, businesses won’t be able to ask employees or job candidates about their salary history in New York City.

The New York City Council recently passed public advocate Letitia James’s bill, effectively killing compensation-related interview questions.

Business Insider spoke with Jason Habinsky, a New York-based employment lawyer and a partner at the law firm Haynes and Boone, about what organizations, employees, and job candidates can expect going forward.

Changes won’t happen straightaway

To become a law, the bill still needs a signature from New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio. He’s expected to sign the legislation shortly. After that, there will be a 180 day roll out period.

“It gives some time for employers to make sure they’re in compliance,” Habinsky says.

Employers will need to do a careful review

The new law will prohibit employers from requesting a job applicant or employee’s salary history and using that information to determine their new salary. In order to comply with those new roles, Habinsky says that employers must make sure they do a thorough internal review.

“First of all, employers need to promptly audit and review their documentation regarding the hiring process,” he says. “In other words, make sure that their job applications, their background check documents, the policies and procedures, all do not include questions regarding salary history and compensation history. They should do a very specific review and audit of their information to make sure those questions aren’t included.”

He also notes that employees, especially human resources personnel or any staffers involved in the hiring process, should probably receive additional training.

“Make sure they know about the new law and what it entails and what it prohibits,” Habinsky says. “Make sure those employees aren’t asking those questions or addressing those questions in interviews during the hiring process.”

… and check with their third-party recruiters, hiring firms, or background check companies

“Employers should make sure to be in communication with any third parties or outside vendors who participate in the hiring process, if they use placement firms or recruiters, to make sure those organizations or individuals aren’t supplying this information,” he says. “Even if the employer isn’t asking about or looking for this salary information, all it would take is for a recruiter to send over the information in an email or document.”

There are a few exceptions to the law

The law doesn’t go both ways. Employees and job candidates are still free to share their salary history.

“Then, in fact, the employer has that information and can react to that and use that,” Habinsky says. “That’s a clear exception in the law.”

What’s more, employers can ask an employee or prospective hire about their expectations regarding compensation, without asking about prior salaries.

“There can be some discussion, but you have to be very careful not to cross the line,” he says.

The penalties for violating the ban are pretty serious

Habinsky says that the law essentially amends the New York City Human Rights Law, which prohibits discrimination in several categories, including employment.

As a result, there are two ways in which individuals can bring action against employers who violate the rule. People can file an action with the City Commission on Human Rights, who would investigate their claims. If city officials found probable cause for a violation, a hearing would take place and the commission would determine whether the employer was liable.

Individuals can also file a complaint in court. Either way, if the city or court rules in favor of the plaintiff, they could be in line to receive damages. The city can also choose to issue civil penalties against the employer. Habinsky says that if the city found that the employer was “willful and malicious” about violating the law, the penalties could clock in at $250,000.

It’s important to watch what happens in Philadelphia

As Philly.com reported, Philadelphia’s Chamber of Commerce is pushing back against a similar ruling by stating their plans to file a lawsuit against the city.

“There’s definitely two sides to the argument,” Habinsky says. “Some employers will see this as depriving them of information which they could use to make good decisions.”

He says that it’s possible that some entity will attempt to pursue similar action in New York City, but they might be waiting to see the outcome of the Philadelphia suit.

The legislation could clear the way for big lawsuits

Habinsky broke down a hypothetical scenario involving an employer that breaks the law by leaving a question about salary information on their job applications. He says that the nature of the rule could leave such an organization open for a major lawsuit.

“That’s not just a violation against one person, but against every employee they’ve hired during that period of time,” he says. “It does open up the door for group actions or collective actions.”

It could also have an impact beyond New York

Many international and national businesses operate within New York City. As a result, the law may end up sending aftershocks far beyond the Big Apple.

“One easy way to make sure you’re in compliance with employment laws nationwide or state-wide, depending on how vast your business is, is to pick the strictest law and then comply with that across the board,” Habinsky says. “In other words, even if other states or cities don’t have a requirement or a ban on requesting salary information, you apply it universally or uniformly, outside of New York City as well. It’s a lot easier to administer and there are also good reasons for doing it. The purpose of the law is to not perpetuate discrepancies or gaps in pay and equity. There’s a good reason behind it and you can accomplish that beyond the state or city where it’s required.”

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Power distribution firms can't charge compensatory tariff: SC

The Supreme Court today said that power distribution firms like Adani Power Ltd and Tata Power Ltd cannot charge “compensatory tariff” from consumers and set aside the appellate tribunal’s judgement in this regard.

Tata Power’s wholly owned subsidiary Coastal Gujarat Power Ltd and Adani Power had originally moved the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) seeking higher tariff on the grounds that their input costs had gone up due to rupee devaluation and higher costs of coal imported from Indonesia, owing to a regulation passed by the Southeast Asian nation.

The apex court did not agree with the contentions of these firms which referred to the findings of the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity that rise in coal price consequent to change in the Indonesian law was a factor that entitled them to claim compensatory tariff.

While setting aside the appellate tribunal’s judgement as well as the CERC’s order, a bench of Justices P C Ghose and R F Nariman said that an unexpected rise in coal price would not absolve the firms from adhering to the contract as they had knowingly taken the risk while submitting their bids.

“The fact that fuel supply agreement has to be appended to the PPA (power purchase argeement) is only to indicate that the raw material for the working of the plant is there and is in order,” the court said in its 65-page verdict.

“It is clear that an unexpected rise in the price of coal will not absolve the generating companies from performing their part of the contract for the very good reason that when they submitted their bids, this was a risk they knowingly took,” it said.

Referring to the PPA entered into by the power distribution firms, the court said the fundamental basis of the agreements remains unaltered and “nowhere do the PPAs state that coal is to be procured only from Indonesia at a particular price”.

“In fact, it is clear on a reading of the PPAs as a whole that the price payable for the supply of coal is entirely for the person who sets up the power plant to bear,” it noted.

“Consequently, we are of the view that neither clause 12.3 nor 12.7 of section 32 of the Contract Act, will apply so as to enable the grant of compensatory tariff to the respondents,” it said.

The bench also said that during the period of the PPA, compensation for any increase or decrease in the cost to the seller shall be determined and be effective from such date as decided by the CERC.

“This being the case, we are of the view that though change in Indonesian law would not qualify as a change in law under the guidelines read with the PPA, change in Indian law certainly would,” it said.

“The CERC will, as a result of this judgement, go into the matter afresh and determine what relief should be granted to those power generators which fall within clause 13 of the PPA as has been held by us in this judgment,” the bench said.

The court also noted the contentions of these firms that pursuant to a change in law in Indonesia in 2010, the coal price had increased.

Several power distribution companies in Rajasthan, Punjab and Maharashtra had moved the apex court challenging the electricity tribunal’s decision which had held that power producers were entitled to compensatory tariff and referred the case to the CERC for calculating the compensatory tariff.

Referring to the order, Adani Power informed the BSE that the company will decide further course of action once the final order of the apex court is available to it.

It, however, said preliminary analysis reveals that the company will get benefit in respect of its PPA (1424 MW) to Haryana power distribution firms and PPA (3,300 MW) with such Maharashtra companies as also with PPA (1200 MW) with Rajasthan firms.

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Power distribution firms can’t charge compensatory tariff: Supreme Court

By: PTI | New Delhi |
Published:April 11, 2017 9:53 pm


indus water treaty, supreme court, indus water plea, indus water hearing, india pakistan water treaty, indian express news, india news Supreme Court (File Photo)

The Supreme Court today said that power distribution firms like Adani Power Ltd and Tata Power Ltd cannot charge “compensatory tariff” from consumers and set aside the appellate tribunal’s judgement in this regard.

Tata Power’s wholly owned subsidiary Coastal Gujarat Power Ltd and Adani Power had originally moved the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) seeking higher tariff on the grounds that their input costs had gone up due to rupee devaluation and higher costs of coal imported from Indonesia, owing to a regulation passed by the Southeast Asian nation.

The apex court did not agree with the contentions of these firms which referred to the findings of the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity that rise in coal price consequent to change in the Indonesian law was a factor that entitled them to claim compensatory tariff.

While setting aside the appellate tribunal’s judgement as well as the CERC’s order, a bench of Justices P C Ghose and R F Nariman said that an unexpected rise in coal price would not absolve the firms from adhering to the contract as they had knowingly taken the risk while submitting their bids.

“The fact that fuel supply agreement has to be appended to the PPA (power purchase argeement) is only to indicate that the raw material for the working of the plant is there and is in order,” the court said in its 65-page verdict.

“It is clear that an unexpected rise in the price of coal will not absolve the generating companies from performing their part of the contract for the very good reason that when they submitted their bids, this was a risk they knowingly took,” it said.

Referring to the PPA entered into by the power distribution firms, the court said the fundamental basis of the agreements remains unaltered and “nowhere do the PPAs state that coal is to be procured only from Indonesia at a particular price”.

“In fact, it is clear on a reading of the PPAs as a whole that the price payable for the supply of coal is entirely for the person who sets up the power plant to bear,” it noted.

“Consequently, we are of the view that neither clause 12.3 nor 12.7 of section 32 of the Contract Act, will apply so as to enable the grant of compensatory tariff to the respondents,” it said.

The bench also said that during the period of the PPA, compensation for any increase or decrease in the cost to the seller shall be determined and be effective from such date as decided by the CERC.

“This being the case, we are of the view that though change in Indonesian law would not qualify as a change in law under the guidelines read with the PPA, change in Indian law certainly would,” it said.

“The CERC will, as a result of this judgement, go into the matter afresh and determine what relief should be granted to those power generators which fall within clause 13 of the PPA as has been held by us in this judgment,” the bench said.

The court also noted the contentions of these firms that pursuant to a change in law in Indonesia in 2010, the coal price had increased.

Several power distribution companies in Rajasthan, Punjab and Maharashtra had moved the apex court challenging the electricity tribunal’s decision which had held that power producers were entitled to compensatory tariff and referred the case to the CERC for calculating the compensatory tariff.

Referring to the order, Adani Power informed the BSE that the company will decide further course of action once the final order of the apex court is available to it.

It, however, said preliminary analysis reveals that the company will get benefit in respect of its PPA (1424 MW) to Haryana power distribution firms and PPA (3,300 MW) with such Maharashtra companies as also with PPA (1200 MW) with Rajasthan firms.

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An employment attorney breaks down the NYC law that just eliminated everyone's least-favorite interview question


Pedestrians Brooklyn Bridge
Here’s everything you need
to know about the new law.

Drew
Angerer/Getty Images


Pretty soon, businesses won’t be able to ask employees or job
candidates about their
salary history in New York City.

The New York City Council recently passed public advocate

Letitia James’s bill, effectively killing
compensation-related interview questions.

Business Insider spoke with
Jason Habinsky, a New York-based employment lawyer and a
partner at the law firm Haynes and Boone, about what
organizations, employees, and job candidates can expect going
forward.

Changes won’t happen straightaway

To become a law, the bill still needs a signature from New York
City Mayor Bill De Blasio. He’s expected to sign the legislation
shortly. After that, there will be a 180 day roll out period.

“It gives some time for employers to make sure they’re in
compliance,” Habinsky says.

Employers will need to do a careful review

The new law will prohibit employers from requesting a job
applicant or employee’s salary history and using that information
to determine their new salary. In order to comply with those new
roles, Habinsky says that employers must make sure they do a
thorough internal review.

“First of all, employers need to promptly audit and review their
documentation regarding the hiring process,” he says. “In other
words, make sure that their job applications, their background
check documents, the policies and procedures, all do not include
questions regarding salary history and compensation history. They
should do a very specific review and audit of their information
to make sure those questions aren’t included.”

He also notes that employees, especially human resources
personnel or any staffers involved in the hiring process, should
probably receive additional training.

“Make sure they know about the new law and what it entails and
what it prohibits,” Habinsky says. “Make sure those employees
aren’t asking those questions or addressing those questions in
interviews during the hiring process.”

… and check with their third-party recruiters, hiring firms, or
background check companies

“Employers should make sure to be in communication with any third
parties or outside vendors who participate in the hiring process,
if they use placement firms or recruiters, to make sure those
organizations or individuals aren’t supplying this information,”
he says. “Even if the employer isn’t asking about or looking for
this salary information, all it would take is for a recruiter to
send over the information in an email or document.”

There are a few exceptions to the law

The law doesn’t go both ways. Employees and job candidates are
still free to share their salary history.

“Then, in fact, the employer has that information and can react
to that and use that,” Habinsky says. “That’s a clear exception
in the law.”

What’s more, employers can ask an employee or prospective hire
about their expectations regarding compensation, without asking
about prior salaries.

“There can be some discussion, but you have to be very careful
not to cross the line,” he says.

The penalties for violating the ban are pretty serious

Habinsky says that the law essentially amends the New York City
Human Rights Law, which prohibits discrimination in several
categories, including employment.

As a result, there are two ways in which individuals can bring
action against employers who violate the rule. People can file an
action with the City Commission on Human Rights, who would
investigate their claims. If city officials found probable cause
for a violation, a hearing would take place and the commission
would determine whether the employer was liable.

Individuals can also file a complaint in court. Either way, if
the city or court rules in favor of the plaintiff, they could be
in line to receive damages. The city can also choose to issue
civil penalties against the employer. Habinsky says that if the
city found that the employer was “willful and malicious” about
violating the law, the penalties could clock in at $250,000.

It’s important to watch what happens in Philadelphia

As
Philly.com reported, Philadelphia’s Chamber of Commerce
is pushing back against a similar ruling by stating their plans
to file a lawsuit against the city.

“There’s definitely two sides to the argument,” Habinsky says.
“Some employers will see this as depriving them of information
which they could use to make good decisions.”

He says that it’s possible that some entity will attempt to
pursue similar action in New York City, but they might be waiting
to see the outcome of the Philadelphia suit.

The legislation could clear the way for big lawsuits

Habinsky broke down a hypothetical scenario involving an employer
that breaks the law by leaving a question about salary
information on their job applications. He says that the nature of
the rule could leave such an organization open for a major
lawsuit.

“That’s not just a violation against one person, but against
every employee they’ve hired during that period of time,” he
says. “It does open up the door for group actions or collective
actions.”

It could also have an impact beyond New York

Many international and national businesses operate within New
York City. As a result, the law may end up sending aftershocks
far beyond the Big Apple.

“One easy way to make sure you’re in compliance with employment
laws nationwide or state-wide, depending on how vast your
business is, is to pick the strictest law and then comply with
that across the board,” Habinsky says. “In other words, even if
other states or cities don’t have a requirement or a ban on
requesting salary information, you apply it universally or
uniformly, outside of New York City as well. It’s a lot easier to
administer and there are also good reasons for doing it. The
purpose of the law is to not perpetuate discrepancies or gaps in
pay and equity. There’s a good reason behind it and you can
accomplish that beyond the state or city where it’s required.”

eNCA | France's Macron says would step up security demands on tech firms

PARIS – French presidential candidate and frontrunner Emmanuel Macron said on Monday he would step up efforts to get technology firms such as Google or Facebook to share encrypted content from messaging services with authorities.

Governments around the world are increasingly looking at how they can lean on major US tech companies in their efforts to prevent militant attacks and beef up security, including by asking them to do more to stop hate speech and extremist activities online.

That has sparked a debate over users’ privacy, however.

Macron, a centrist and favoured to win France’s two-part election if he makes it to a run-off on May 7, said he would require firms like Google, Apple, Facebook and Twitter to rapidly remove any extremist propaganda from their sites.

READ: Google embarrassed by Holocaust denial glitch

Outlining his policies on security in France, which has been hit by several deadly Islamist attacks in the past two years, Macron added that he would strengthen measures requiring tech companies to give law enforcement access to encrypted material.

“If I get elected, France will as of this summer undertake a major initiative aimed at the big internet companies so that they accept a legal framework for requisitions of encrypted services in the context of counter-terrorism efforts,” Macron told a news conference.

He said he wanted to build on this effort alongside other European countries.

British officials demanded last month that tech firms do more to help police gain access to messaging services and track suspects’ communications, after an attack in Westminster, London, where the perpetrator had used encrypted communications.

READ: Google sorry for adverts alongside extremist content

Germany is planning a new law calling for social networks like Facebook and Twitter to remove hate speech quickly or face fines of up to 50 million euros ($54 million).

Google declined to comment. Facebook, Apple and Twitter did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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