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  • Geebo 8:06 am on July 2, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , lawsuit, University of Chicago Medical Center   

    Did a major hospital expose medical records to Google? 

    Did a major hospital expose medical records to Google?

    Last week, The University of Chicago Medical Center and Google had a class action lawsuit filed against them. The suit contends that when the Medical Center entered into a partnership with Google it allegedly exposed hundreds of thousands of medical records to the search giant. At the heart of the lawsuit is the allegation that the medical records provided to Google contained identifiable patient information which violates the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA as it’s better known.

    According to reports, The University of Chicago Medical Center entered into this partnership with Google in order to assist with Google’s artificial intelligence researchers. The researchers are looking for a way to help doctors better diagnose patients with the help of AI. The medical records provided to Google were said to be stripped of all identifiable information which is permitted under HIPAA. However, the lawsuit claims that the dates of service the patients were seen at the medical center were contained within the medical records. The law firm that has filed the suit states that Google could easily identify a patient with just the dates they were seen because of their knowledge of their users’ search histories.

    So is this a legitimate concern or is this a frivolous lawsuit filed by a paranoid patient? While theoretically, it could be possible for Google to determine a patient’s identity through the records received and their own resources it doesn’t make sense for them to do so. Google has an incalculable number of users and many of them don’t even sign into Google when using the service for search. It also makes no financial sense as Google would not only be open to lawsuits like this but the wrath of the government as well. HIPAA violators tend to be fined very heavily and right now, the government and Google aren’t exactly on the best of terms. So until there is better evidence that Google acted maliciously, it appears that your medical records are currently safe.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 26, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: alternative medicine, cancer, dementia, , , lawsuit   

    Hospitals suing patients over bills and more! 

    Hospitals suing patients over bills and more!

    Today we’re bringing you some healthcare news that could not only affect your wallet but your overall well being too.

    First up is a story from NPR about a number of non-profit hospitals that are taking their patients to court for unpaid bills. In the legal sense, these hospitals do have the right to pursue unpaid medical expenses, however, the majority of people being sued are those who are already struggling to cover expenses as it is. These are the same people who usually only seek medical help if it’s absolutely necessary or life-threatening due to the financial strain of just a routine doctor visit. This practice is said to betray the spirit of many of the early hospitals in our country. Many of those hospitals were opened by churches to provide medical treatment to anyone who needed it regardless of social status. Now, some of these hospitals are just adding to the suffering of many low-income families.

    The Washington Post brings us a report about the misleading health information that can be found on many social media outlets. The article specifically talks about many of the supposed all-natural remedies that claim to cure cancer. One woman who had posted videos on her ‘cures’ later succumbed to cancer, yet her family left the videos up believing in the power of snake oil over medicine. You’ll find this on just about all social networks with claims that everything from baking soda to essential oils, to small doses of bleach, can cure cancer. They can’t. There is no cure for cancer and it can only go into remission with treatment from medical professionals. There are diets that can help fight cancer but they can’t stop cancer alone. If you want good medical advice, turn to your doctor and not social media.

    Lastly is probably the most worrying story for today. The New York Times tells us about a study that claims the use of several well-known medications could lead to dementia in older patients. The most notable of these medications are diphenhydramine, better known as Benadryl, and the antidepressant Paxil. It needs to be mentioned that the study doesn’t claim that these medications and others like them will definitely lead to dementia, however, if you’re 55 or over and take one of the medications mentioned in the study regularly, you may want to consult with your doctor about potential risks and other treatments.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , lawsuit, , wisconsin,   

    The ‘craigslist of guns’ held harmless in domestic murder 

    The 'craigslist of guns' held harmless in domestic murder

    Image via the New York Post

    Previously, we’ve discussed how a lawsuit in Wisconsin was moving forward against Armslist, the so-called ‘craigslist of guns.’ Armslist facilitates the sales of firearms between private owners and buyers. This is a legal loophole that allows people with criminal records to bypass background checks when purchasing a firearm. In the past few years, a number of guns sold through Armslist have been used in some high-profile crimes such as the murder of a Chicago Police Captain.

    Around this time last year, The Wisconsin Court of Appeals ruled that a lawsuit against Armslist could move forward. The suit was brought about after the 2012 murder of Zina Daniel Haughton by her estranged husband Radcliffe Haughton. Haughton had a domestic violence injunction against him which prevented him from legally owning a gun at the time. Instead, Haughton bought a gun from an Armslist dealer and murdered his wife at her workplace in Brookfield, Wisconsin.

    Yesterday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that Armslist was held harmless in the murder in a 5-1 decision. The ruling mostly stated that Armslist could not be held liable due to the Communications Decency Act of 1996 which holds website owners harmless if their site is used for illegal activity by its users. However, the lone dissenting opinion came from Justice Ann Walsh Bradley. She said…

    “The majority errs in its interpretation of the CDA by basing its decision, not on the actual claims pled…but on its own manufactured interpretation of those claims. As a result, it fails to recognize that here the design itself is the creation of the content.”

    It’s been argued in the past that Armslist was specifically designed to allow buyers to circumvent background checks.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , lawsuit, Salesforce   

    Fifty women sue company that helped Backpage out of slump 

    Fifty women sue company that helped Backpage out of slump

    Backpage is no stranger to lawsuits. Currently, they’re being sued by numerous women and girls who were sold into sexual slavery on their website while Backpage reaped the rewards. The most prominent of these lawsuits is the one filed by the family of Desiree Robinson. Desiree was only 16 when a Backpage john murdered her rather than pay her. Meanwhile, her pimp, who could be sentenced to life for human trafficking, was more concerned about finding a replacement for her. Dozens of other Backpage victims have since come forward and are currently suing Backpage damages sustained while being trafficked. Now, dozens more are suing a company who allegedly assisted Backpage while at the same time claimed to fight human trafficking.

    The 50 women are former trafficking victims who had been forcibly sold for sex on Backpage. They contend that software giant Salesforce

    … designed and implemented a heavily customized enterprise database tailored for Backpage’s operations, both locally and internationally. With Salesforce’s guidance, Backpage was able to use Salesforce’s tools to market to new ‘users’ — that is, pimps, johns, and traffickers — on three continents.”

    When Backpage sales were slumping in 2013, Backpge enlisted the help of Salesforce to get Backpage back in business. And let’s not forget what Backpage’s business was. Some people may not see what the problem is. Salesforce was just a business providing a service to another business. Let’s not kid ourselves. By 2013, everyone knew what Backpage’s business was and it wasn’t trying to help you sell your old couch. The people at Salesforce are obviously not stupid, so they had to have known who they were getting into bed with, so to speak.

    The worst part is that Salesforce once bragged about how their software was being used to combat human trafficking.

    Craigslist and Backpage made similar claims back in the day too. They claimed that they were actually helping police fight human trafficking while being the main platforms for it. Back then we coined the terms ‘craigslist conundrum’ and ‘Backpage paradox’ to show how their statements and actions were at odds with each other. Now with more companies getting into the same argument, we may just add them all together under the classification of ‘Schrödinger’s Pimp‘.

    The question that remains to be seen is will the lawsuit hold up under scrutiny? While it can be argued that Salesforce made money off the suffering of others through Backpage, it can also be argued that, at the time, there was no concrete evidence that’s where Backpage’s money was coming from.

    So what do you think? Is Salesforce complicit in the trafficking of these women or were they just doing a job for a website that paid them?

     
  • Geebo 10:21 am on March 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , lawsuit, Motel 6   

    Facebook sued by human trafficking victim 

    Facebook sued by human trafficking victim

    Social media has long been a tool that human traffickers use to approach their victims. Even going back to the days of MySpace pimps and traffickers would use social media to groom underage victims to come to work for them. These predators look for any vulnerability in their victims to exploit to get their victims to believe in working for the pimps. Most pimps offer a lifestyle of money and luxury while others promise them a better life than what the victims parents are currently providing. So, the question that needs to be asked is should social media platforms be held responsible for the messages sent between traffickers and their underage victims?

    An attorney in Houston thinks the answer to that question is yes. She is suing Facebook on behalf of Jane Doe #19 claiming that Facebook allowed the traffickers to message the then 12-year-old girl for six months before convincing the girl to meet them at a local Motel 6. She was then put up for sale on Backpage where she, unfortunately, was forced to meet with multiple johns. In response to this suit, Facebook released the following statement…

    “Human trafficking is abhorrent and is not allowed on Facebook. We use technology to thwart this kind of abuse and we encourage people to use the reporting links found across our site so that our team of experts can review the content swiftly. Facebook also works closely with anti-trafficking organizations and other technology companies, and we report all apparent instances of child sexual exploitation to NCMEC.”

    Backpage and Motel 6 have also been named in the suit and on those instances, we think the suit has merit. Backpage for the obvious reasons and Motel 6 because they allegedly told the girl’s parents that the victim wasn’t there. However, we’re not so sure that Facebook should be held responsible in this matter. For one, while we sympathize with the victim, no 12-year-old girl should be on Facebook as their terms of service state that a user must be 13-years-old to use their service. I know that sounds like splitting hairs but it’s almost guaranteed it will be brought up by Facebook’s attorneys. Secondly, Facebook, in this case, is just a form of communication. If the girl had been texted by her traffickers should the phone company be sued for allowing traffickers to text her? Then if Facebook starts to monitor messages between users there will be another backlash against Facebook over privacy issues.

    While we hope this girl is able to receive some form of justice with her suits against Backpage and Motel 6, we believe the suit against Facebook holds no merit.

     
  • Geebo 10:04 am on February 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , lawsuit, motels   

    Trafficking victim sues Backpage and motel where she was trafficked 

    Trafficking victim sues Backpage and motel where she was trafficked

    As we have stated in the past, just because Backpage is gone that doesn’t mean that the damage they’ve done to their victims has magically disappeared. Many of the victims of Backpage sex trafficking have had to deal with both physical and psychological damage done to them by their traffickers who Backpage helped facilitate. To that end, a number of lawsuits have been filed against Backpage seeking damages for the suffering Backpage allegedly had a hand in creating. One lawsuit recently filed even seeks damages against the motel where the victim was trafficked through Backpage. This is not the first of such lawsuits.

    In this instance, the victim is suing a motel in Albuquerque, New Mexico along with Backpage. The unidentified victim is alleging that not only did Backpage actively edit their ads to remove any reference to the trafficking of underage girls, but the motel “had a duty to exercise reasonable care in discovering that the danger of human trafficking.” The victim, in this case, was 17 when a man claiming to be her boyfriend prostituted her through Backpage at the motel in question.

    The attorneys for the victim state that…

    …the motel failed to properly train staff to look for signs of human trafficking, failed to prevent traffickers from renting a room and didn’t install security devices that could have helped deter or identify human traffickers.

    While there are many motel and hotel chains that are trained in recognizing the signs of human trafficking there are many more who either aren’t trained or just don’t care. I’m sure we can all think of a motel in our own areas that are used primarily for such purposes. Lawsuits like these should be a lesson for other motels to put an end to this practice whether the victims were trafficked online or not.

     
  • Geebo 10:19 am on January 28, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: AMA, , , lawsuit, ,   

    AMA criticizes Armslist in legal brief 

    AMA criticizes Armslist in legal brief

    If you’re unfamiliar with Armslist they are a website that facilitates the sale of firearms between private sellers and buyers. Many have referred to Armslist as the ‘craigslist of guns’. Since there are many states that do not require background checks or waiting periods on private gun sales a number of people who were forbidden from owning guns have used Armslist to circumvent background checks. On more than one occasion, guns purchased through Armslist have been used in a mass shooting. Here is Armslist’s owner commenting on a mass shooting that took place in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 2015 where the shooter had purchased guns through Armslist.

    If any of that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the same ‘free speech’ tactic used by Backpage when they were trying to defend their ‘right’ to profit from human trafficking. As has been famously said, patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

    This hasn’t prevented people from trying to claim legal recourse against Armslist. A lawsuit has been filed in Wisconsin against Armslist. In 2012, Radcliffe Haughton stormed his estranged wife’s workplace in Brookfield, Wisconsin, shooting and killing his wife, Zina Daniel Haughton, and two other victims before turning the gun on himself and taking his own life. Haughton had a domestic violence injunction against him which prevented him from legally owning a gun. Zina’s daughter, Yasmeen Daniel, had previously tried to sue Armslist for their role in facilitating the gun sale but the suit was dismissed due to the Communications Decency Act of 1996, again, another Backpage tactic. Back in April of last year, an appeals court ruled that suit can continue claiming that it can be argued that Armslist is designed to facilitate illegal gun sales.

    More recently, the American Medical Association has filed an amicus brief in support of the lawsuit against Armslist. In the brief, the AMA states that “facilitating illegal arms sales does not fall under “traditional publisher functions,” and that the claim of aiding a murder “does not depend on whether Armslist is treated as a publisher.”

    While Armslist doesn’t physically sell firearms to people, they do very little to discourage the illegal sale of firearms outside of making users click on a button that says they’re over 18 and they’re legally able to purchase a gun. That’s not exactly what should be called reasonable steps to help prevent illegal gun sales. That seems to be enough for Armslist through as they continue to make money off of the blood of shooting victims.

     
  • Geebo 10:05 am on October 29, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , lawsuit, Mozilla,   

    California to hold back on net neutrality, for now 

    California to hold back on net neutrality, for now

    California Gov. Jerry Brown

    Always being the trendsetter, the state of California recently passed the most stringent net neutrality laws in the country, defying the edict handed down by the FCC stating that states could not enforce their own net neutrality laws. When the FCC repealed net neutrality protections for consumers they also issued an edict that the individual states could not make their own laws regarding net neutrality which many see as an abuse of power by the FCC. After California Governor Jerry Brown signed California’s net neutrality into law, not only was the Golden State sued by the Trump Administration and a consortium of broadband providers. But now, a third lawsuit has arisen which has caused California to take pause.

    California’s net neutrality was supposed to go into effect on January 1, 2019, however, this past Friday the state of California announced they would be holding off on enforcing net neutrality until a certain lawsuit is settled. Mozilla, the non-profit behind the Firefox browser, is suing the FCC stating that their repeal of net neutrality protections “violates both federal law as well as harms internet users and innovators.” To put it in simpler terms, Mozilla is claiming that it’s beyond the FCC’s scope of powers to interfere with a state’s rights to pass their own legislation on net neutrality.

    So, this isn’t a defeat for net neutrality in California. The state is merely awaiting the outcome of Mozilla’s lawsuit before determining how to move forward with net neutrality as the Mozilla lawsuit could have national ramifications on the states’ rights to enforce net neutrality. Once again, I find it ironic that an administration that supposedly champions states rights is so quick to try to quash those rights when it goes against financial backers who helped get them to the office, to begin with.

     
  • Geebo 9:21 am on October 24, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , lawsuit,   

    Lawsuits over net neutrality fall along party lines 

    Lawsuits over net neutrality fall along party lines

    Ever since the FCC repealed the net neutrality regulations put in place by the Obama administration, a number of states have either enacted their own net neutrality legislation or have sued the FCC to restore the previous federal legislation. If you’ll recall, when the FCC, backed by Chairman Ajit Pai, repealed the protections the FCC claimed that the states could make no laws in regard to net neutrality which many see as the FCC overstepping their legal authority. With states enacting their own legislation in defiance of the FCC this has led to a coalition of internet providers to file their own lawsuits against some states such as California and more recently Vermont.

    22 State Attorneys General and the Attorney General of the District of Columbia have filed a lawsuit against the FCC arguing that the FCC’s decision to repeal net neutrality was arbitrary and capricious and that the FCC can not preempt state laws. Now, the Attorneys General of three other states, Texas, Arkansas, and Nebraska respectively, have filed a brief in support of the FCC’s decision claiming that the states “have an interest in protecting both consumers and purveyors of Internet services.” Somehow, I doubt the esteemed Attorneys General from these three states have the consumers best interest at heart.

    So what’s the difference between the 23 Attorneys General who are suing the FCC and the three that support them? Well, the 23 who are suing are all Democrats while the three in support of the repeal are Republican. While I would never tout one political party over the other if you care about a free an open internet I think it’s obvious where your votes should go next month if this is an issue that matters to you. Even if you’re a Republican party loyalist you have to take notice of the fact that only three red states have weighed in on this matter as the rest have decided to remain on the sidelines.

     
  • Geebo 9:05 am on October 19, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Kurt Stokinger, lawsuit,   

    Armslist sued by Boston cop shot by illegal gun 

    Armslist sued by Boston cop shot by illegal gun

    Armslist, the so-called ‘craigslist of guns, is back in the news once again. Previously, Armslist has been tied to a domestic violence-related murder and the murder of a Chicago police commander. In both cases, the guns used to commit these crimes were purchased through Armslist by people who were forbidden by law from owning a gun. Much like Backpage did before it was seized by federal investigators, Armslist hides behind the Communications Decency Act of 1996 claiming that they’re not responsible for their users’ actions. A new lawsuit is looking to change Armslist’s tired tune.

    In 2016, Boston Police Officer Kurt Stokinger was shot in the leg by a known drug dealer. The incident left Officer Stokinger with considerable medical issues. The gun used to shoot Officer Stokinger was not only bought through Armslist but the seller had sold over 60 guns with the serial numbers removed. Officer Stokinger is suing Armslist, the shooter, and the seller. The lawsuit claims…

    “Armlist chose to establish an online firearms marketplace which facilitated sales to illegal purchasers and did not include reasonable safeguards to minimize the risks of illegal and dangerous conduct.”

    As has been mentioned before, Armslist falls under the gun show loophole where firearm sales from private sellers do not require a background check. In my opinion, there’s no way Armslist could have gotten into this business without realizing that their platform would be used for a plethora of illegal sales. Much like how Backpage was well aware that they were dealing in the human trafficking trade. And much like how the time eventually came for Backpage, the time will come for Armslist as well if they don’t change their policy of allowing anonymous firearm sales with no regard for human life.

     
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