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Lawyers Went to Rahm Emanuel, Then Quashed the Laquan McDonald Video

Compliments of The Daily Beast 

City of Chicago lawyers, after meeting with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, demanded the Laquan McDonald family bury the video showing the killing of their son by a police officer.

Emanuel said last month that Stephen Patton, Chicago’s corporation counsel, briefed him “towards the end of March” about what the dashboard-camera video showed and about the proposed $5 million settlement with McDonald’s estate. After that briefing, Patton’s second-in-command, Thomas Platt, drafted settlement language to keep the dash-cam video hidden for at least several years, according to emails reviewed by The Daily Beast (PDF).

Michael Robbins, an attorney for the McDonald estate, balked at the demand.

“The provision as drafted, that we maintain the confidentiality, of the materials—principally the dash-cam-video—until the criminal charges are concluded, which could be in effect for years, is entirely unreasonable,” he wrote to Platt on April 6. “Nor was any such broad sweeping confidentiality provision discussed during our meetings.”

“I’ll call you,” Platt wrote Robbins on April 7.

That was the same day that Emanuel was fighting for his political life in a runoff election after he failed to win 50 percent of the primary vote in the February. (Emanuel won with 56 percent against Chuy Garcia.)

Emanuel had maintained since McDonald’s death that he has never seen the dash-cam video, but the emails prove the mayor knew exactly what the footage showed when city lawyers negotiated a deal that would at least delay the video’s release. Attorneys for McDonald’s estate sent Platt screenshots of the video and a detailed description:

“After Laquan immediately spun to the ground, graphic puffs of smoke from ricochet shots establishes that Officer Van Dyke continued to fire his weapon for approximately 16 seconds after Mr. McDonald laid helplessly in the street.”

Emanuel’s lawyers were offering $5 million in hush money to keep this hidden just weeks before the runoff election. And the biggest part of the deal—that McDonald family attorneys agreed to keep the video to themselves until criminal proceedings were concluded—just so happened to be inked the day after Emanuel was re-elected.

The first draft was sent to the McDonald estate’s lawyers by Platt on March 31. The draft said that the estate would only be free to release the video after potential charges were dismissed by a prosecutor or after a criminal trial was over. Emanuel and his underlings at the Law Department would have preferred this, because it meant the video would have been buried under lengthy legal proceedings that could have taken years.

On April 8, one day after Platt’s phone call, the McDonald estate’s attorneys suddenly agreed to keep the dash-cam video hidden. The only thing that changed in the settlement agreement regarding the video was the deletion of a line that said the estate agreed with the city releasing video would harm ongoing criminal investigations.

One week later, the City Council voted unanimously to approve the $5 million settlement in just 36 seconds. Emanuel banged a gavel to mark the approval and the end—or so he thought—of the greatest threat to his mayoralty.

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How One Deal Changed Nevada’s Solar Initiative

Compliments of Solar Thermal Magazine 

Following the decision by Governor Brian Sandoval’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to terminateNevada’s rooftop solar industry just days before Christmas, SolarCity®  announced that it has been forced to eliminate more than 550 jobs in the state. Where possible, the company will relocate affected employees to business-friendly states.

The PUC’s decision to change the rules to punish existing solar customers after the state encouraged them to go solar with rebates is particularly callous and leaves Nevadans to question whether the state would ever place the financial security of regular citizens above the financial interests of NV Energy.

“I contacted Governor Sandoval multiple times after the ruling because I am convinced that he and the PUC didn’t fully understand the consequences of this decision, not only on the thousands of local jobs distributed solar has created, but on the 17,000 Nevadans that installed solar with the state’s encouragement,” said Lyndon Rive, SolarCity’s CEO. “I’m still waiting to speak to the Governor but I am convinced that once he and the Commissioners understand the real impact, that they will do the right thing.”

SolarCity announced on December 23 that as a result of the PUC decision, it had to cease solar sales and installation in the state effective immediately. Other Nevada solar companies with higher cost structures than SolarCity are expected to collectively lay off thousands of additional Nevadans in the coming months.

“Telling employees they can no longer work for SolarCity is the hardest thing we’ve ever done,” continued Rive. “These are hard-working Nevadans and a single government action has put them out of work. This is not how government is supposed to work.”

SolarCity has also closed a training center in West Las Vegas that it opened a little over a month ago. The November press release announcing its opening contained this statement from Governor Sandoval: “I’m proud to celebrate the opening of SolarCity’s new training center, which will makeNevada the regional hub for training workers in the jobs of the 21st century. Our homegrown solar industry has already created over 6,000 good Nevada jobs, and has tremendous potential to continue driving innovation, economic diversification, and opportunity in the Silver State.”

Fortunately, there are other voices speaking up for solar employees and customers.  The Nevada Bureau of Consumer Protection is attempting to protect Nevadans by filing a motion to halt implementation of the PUC’s ruling, stating that the order’s impact “is not consistent with the Governor’s stated objectives of SB 374 or the Governor’s initiatives and focus to increase jobs and employment forNevada residents.”

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Lumosity’s $2 Million Dollar Placebo Affect

Compliments of FTC 

The creators and marketers of the Lumosity “brain training” program have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges alleging that they deceived consumers with unfounded claims that Lumosity games can help users perform better at work and in school, and reduce or delay cognitive impairment associated with age and other serious health conditions.

As part of the settlement, Lumos Labs, the company behind Lumosity, will pay $2 million in redress and will notify subscribers of the FTC action and provide them with an easy way to cancel their auto-renewal to avoid future billing.

“Lumosity preyed on consumers’ fears about age-related cognitive decline, suggesting their games could stave off memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s disease,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “But Lumosity simply did not have the science to back up its ads.”

According to the FTC’s complaint, the Lumosity program consists of 40 games purportedly designed to target and train specific areas of the brain. The company advertised that training on these games for 10 to 15 minutes three or four times a week could help users achieve their “full potential in every aspect of life.” The company sold both online and mobile app subscriptions, with options ranging from monthly ($14.95) to lifetime ($299.95) memberships.

Lumosity has been widely promoted though TV and radio advertisements on networks including CNN, Fox News, the History Channel, National Public Radio, Pandora, Sirius XM, and Spotify. The defendants also marketed through emails, blog posts, social media, and on their website,, and used Google AdWords to drive traffic to their website, purchasing hundreds of keywords related to memory, cognition, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease, according to the complaint.

The FTC alleges that the defendants claimed training with Lumosity would 1) improve performance on everyday tasks, in school, at work, and in athletics; 2) delay age-related cognitive decline and protect against mild cognitive impairment, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease; and 3) reduce cognitive impairment associated with health conditions, including stroke, traumatic brain injury, PTSD, ADHD, the side effects of chemotherapy, and Turner syndrome, and that scientific studies proved these benefits.

The complaint also charges the defendants with failing to disclose that some consumer testimonials featured on the website had been solicited through contests that promised significant prizes, including a free iPad, a lifetime Lumosity subscription, and a round-trip to San Francisco.

The proposed stipulated federal court order requires the company and the individual defendants, co-founder and former CEO Kunal Sarkar and co-founder and former Chief Scientific Officer Michael Scanlon, to have competent and reliable scientific evidence before making future claims about any benefits for real-world performance, age-related decline, or other health conditions.

The order also imposes a $50 million judgment against Lumos Labs, which will be suspended due to its financial condition after the company pays $2 million to the Commission. The order requires the company to notify subscribers who signed up for an auto-renewal plan between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2014 about the FTC action and to provide a means to cancel their subscription.

The Commission vote authorizing the filing of the complaint and proposed stipulated order was 4-0, withCommissioner Julie Brill issuing a separate concurring statement. The FTC filed the complaint and proposed order in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division.

The FTC is a member of the National Prevention Council, which provides coordination and leadership at the federal level regarding prevention, wellness, and health promotion practices. This case advances the National Prevention Council’s goal of increasing the number of Americans who are healthy at every stage of life. This case is part of the FTC’s ongoing efforts to protect consumers from misleading health advertising.

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In Defense Of Food Stamps: Why The White House Sings SNAP’s Praises

Compliments of NPR 

Early this month, House Speaker Paul Ryan asked a crowd in Washington, D.C., “What kind of country do we want to be?” As he unfurled his sweeping 2016 agenda, he returned to one of his signature issues: public benefit programs. There are just too many, and they don’t work, he said: “We are trapping people in poverty.”

Among the programs in Ryan’s sights is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the federal government program also known as food stamps. But a few days after his speech, the White House came to SNAP’s defense. The Council of Economic Advisers published a report painting a picture of an effective, albeit limited, program that feeds the hungry and thwarts poverty.

“New research has come out that is really compelling,” says co-author and CEA member Sandra Black. “We think it is important to show that both the benefits of this program are huge and it’s insufficient as it is.”

Today 46.5 million Americans get SNAP benefits — on average about $125 a month per person to buy food from authorized retailers. The CEA report finds SNAP is best at doing what it’s intended to do: keep people from going hungry. But it also reduces poverty overall. According to the authors, in 2014 the program kept close to 5 million people out of poverty, 2 million of them kids.

Children whose parents are in the program start to reap benefits before birth, the report notes. Access to SNAP increased birth weight and reduced neonatal mortality; later in life it was linked to a reduced incidence of obesity and diabetes, a higher IQ, better education and higher income. For adults, the program can free up money for preventive medical care. One study found participants have more medical checkups compared with low-income people who didn’t receive benefits.

Despite the positive impacts, the CEA says the benefits don’t last through the month. When they run out, studies show, hospitalizations for hypoglycemia spike while kids’ test scores drop off.

The report comes as budget proposals by Ryan and others have sought to cut the $73 billion program by 20 percent and transform it. Currently, it’s an entitlement program with a flexible spending model that extends benefits to anyone who’s eligible. The proposal is to change it to a block grant, which fixes funding and limits enrollment. Meanwhile, the House Agriculture Committee has hosted a series of hearings on SNAP as part of a full review. Next year, around a million people stand to lose benefits as provisions that kicked in during the recession expire.

Calls to reform SNAP have grown louder since rolls ballooned during the recession. Rates of food insecurity and SNAP participation haven’t dropped to pre-recession rates, and politicians like Ryan say they are sick of the program’s big price tag.

Proponents argue that the spike in participation just means the program is actually doing its job and responding to economic instability. Some 70 percent of SNAP users are in families with children; most participants are white, though African-Americans and Latinos are disproportionately represented, and many are employed.

“SNAP is associated with lots of working poor, more than it used to be,” says Elaine Waxman, a food assistance expert with the Urban Institute. “That reflects the struggle people have to live on the available hours and wages.”

While battles over the scope of the program aren’t new, SNAP has generally enjoyed broad support. But there’s real concern in some corners that it’s dissipating. “I would not underestimate the potential threat that the program is under politically at this point,” says James Ziliak, director of the nonpartisan Center for Poverty Research at the University of Kentucky and editor of a new book titled SNAP Matters: How Food Stamps Affect Health and Well-Being.

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The Same Pill That Costs $1,000 in America Sells for $4 in India

Compliments of Bloomberg 

Outsiders don’t want their daughters to marry any local boys, according to the village elders swapping stories in a tailor’s shop behind the Sikh temple, because most residents are infected with black jaundice.

That’s what they call hepatitis C, which is so common in parts of India’s Punjab state that the tailor-shop gossips might not be off base in their estimate. But prevalence could be something of an advantage these days. Drugmakers have made the village of Lande Rode one of the theaters in a battle to grab market share for sofosbuvir, a miracle cure that Gilead Sciences Inc. sells in the U.S. as Sovaldi at a retail price of $1,000 a pill. Gilead licensed 11 Indian companies to make generic versions, and they sealed marketing deals with others. Competition has been so fierce it’s driven down the cost and spurred thousands to be tested.

Manufacturers “want more and more patients” and are willing to wheel and deal on price, said Nirmaljeet Malhi, a gastroenterologist at Apollo Hospitals in Ludhiana, about 200 kilometers (124 miles) from Lande Rode. “If one agrees to it, the others will also have to. It’s a race where one cannot say no — because then they’re going to lose the business.”

The companies sponsor screening drives, hand out free test kits to hospitals and offer bulk discounts to entire villages. Sofosbuvir was cheap by most any standard when it hit the market in Punjab at $10 in March. Then the cost kept dropping, to as low as $4.29, and doctors predict it will continue to fall.

Game Changer

That’s in contrast to the situation in the U.S., where Gilead set off a firestorm in December 2013 by listing Sovaldi at $84,000 for a 12-week course regimen. It’s a game-changing drug, often wiping out an infection in three months, and without the debilitating side effects of earlier treatments that took longer. Still, the cost started the latest backlash over high medicine prices. Dozens of state Medicaid plans limited access to the drug, and a U.S. Senate report chastised the company. Gilead, which has said it priced Sovaldi responsibly and thoughtfully, is giving insurers and bulk purchasers discounts.

Like others in the industry, the company arranges to make life-saving cures available in some parts of the world for far less; laws and pressure introduced so-called tiered pricing after expensive anti-HIV treatments became available in the ’90s and reduced deaths in rich countries and not poor ones. In exchange for a 7 percent cut of sales, Gilead gave companies including Mylan NV, Cipla Ltd. and Natco Pharma Ltd. rights to make generics for distribution in 101 developing nations where hepatitis C is often untreated and $1,000 is more than people might earn in a year. The company wants to “foster competition in the marketplace” in low-income areas, according to spokesman Nathan Kaiser.

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Final tally: Police Shot and Killed 986 People in 2015

Compliments of Washington Post 

On the afternoon of New Year’s Eve, Las Vegas police cornered Keith Childress Jr., who was wanted for a number of violent felonies. They opened fire on the black 23-year-old after he refused to drop the object in his hands, which turned out not to be a gun but a cellphone.

And with that, the nation logged what is probably its final police shooting death of 2015, a year in which 986 such killings occurred, well more than double the average number reported annually by the FBI over the past decade.

The shooting is the final one to be counted as part of The Washington Post’s year-long project tracking on-duty police killings by firearm, an issue that has taken on new urgency after a number of high-profile killings of unarmed African American men. The Post sought to document every shooting death at the hands of police in 2015, revealing troubling patterns in the circumstances that lead to such shootings and the characteristics of the victims.

The project will continue this year. Embarrassed federal officials have announced plans to improve their data collection, but the new initiative will not be in place until 2017. Already, The Post has tallied 11 fatal police shootings in 2016.

Over the past year, The Post found that the vast majority of those shot and killed by police were armed and half of them were white. Still, police killed blacks at three times the rate of whites when adjusted for the population where these shootings occurred. And although black men represent 6 percent of the U.S. population, they made up nearly 40 percent of those who were killed while unarmed.

Regardless of race, about a quarter of those killed displayed signs of mental illness. December was the fourth-deadliest month in 2015 for police shootings, with 89 shootings. There was only one state without a fatal police shooting last year: Rhode Island.

The number of shooting deaths may yet rise for 2015. The Post is tracking a few cases where it’s unclear whether police gunfire killed someone or whether the person committed suicide. And new cases that have gone unreported could always emerge.

Childress’s death in many ways encapsulates the complex nature of these incidents. On one hand, the young man was unarmed, carrying nothing but a cellphone. At the same time, he had a history that suggested a capacity for violence, and he behaved suspiciously, ignoring officers’ commands for a full two minutes and advancing even as the officers threatened to shoot.

And like an increasing number of police interactions with citizens, the incident was partially captured on a camera worn by one of the police officers.

Two weeks before his death, Las Vegas police said, Childress failed to show up for a sentencing hearing in Phoenix. In December, a jury had convicted him of a litany of charges, including kidnapping and robbery in connection with a 2013 home invasion in which he and several others posed as bounty hunters and robbed a house at gunpoint.

“Based on the fact that Childress was facing a lengthy stay in prison, it appears he skipped the sentencing and fled to Las Vegas to avoid prison time,” Undersheriff Kevin McMahill of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department told reporters during a briefing this week.

Childress was staying with close friends in Las Vegas when the U.S. Marshals Service became aware of his location, McMahill said. But when the marshals attempted to approach him, he fled, prompting the federal agents to seek help from local police.

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Money Troubles? You Are Not Alone

Compliments of Marketwatch 

Americans are starting 2016 with more job security, but most are still theoretically only one paycheck away from the street.

Approximately 63% of Americans have no emergency savings for things such as a $1,000 emergency room visit or a $500 car repair, according to a survey released Wednesday of 1,000 adults by personal finance website, up slightly from 62% last year. Faced with an emergency, they say they would raise the money by reducing spending elsewhere (23%), borrowing from family and/or friends (15%) or using credit cards to bridge the gap (15%).

This lack of emergency savings could be a problem for millions of Americans. More than four in 10 Americans either experienced a major unexpected expense over the past 12 months or had an immediate family member who had an unexpected expense, Bankrate found. (The survey didn’t specify the impact of that expense.) “Without emergency savings, you may not have money to cover needed home repairs,” says Signe-Mary McKernan, senior fellow and economist at the Urban Institute, a nonprofit organization that focuses on social and economic policy. “Similarly, without emergency savings, people could raid their retirement account.”

The findings are strikingly similar to two other reports, one by the U.S. Federal Reserve survey of more than 4,000 adults released in 2014. “Savings are depleted for many households after the recession,” it found. Among those who had savings prior to 2008, 57% said they’d used up some or all of their savings in the Great Recession and its aftermath. And another survey of 1,000 adults released last year by personal finance website found that most Americans (62%) have less than $1,000 in their savings account (although that doesn’t include retirement or other investment accounts).

Why aren’t people saving? Millions of Americans are struggling with student loans, medical bills and other debts, says Andrew Meadows, a San Francisco-based producer of “Broken Eggs,” a documentary about retirement. Central bankers hiked their short-term interest rate target last month to a range of 0.25% to 0.50% from near-zero, but that’s still a small return for savings left in bank accounts. Indeed, personal savings rates as a percentage of disposable income dropped from 11% in December 2012 to 4.6% in August 2015, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and now hover at 5.5%.

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Mexico First to Approve Prostate Cancer Drug Invented at Weizmann Institute

Compliments of Haaretz

Mexico has become the first nation to approve a drug based on bacterial chlorophyll to treat early-stage prostate cancer. The breakthrough technique invented by Israeli scientists, which seems to involve no side effects to speak of and can preclude prostate removal, is also undergoing approval processes in Europe.

The combined therapy of the novel drug, Tookad Soluble, and laser illumination was invented at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot. Clinical development was done together with Steba Biotech, a Luxembourg company specializing in prostate cancer therapies.

The therapy, provided as an outpatient procedure lasting just a few hours, has been approved by the Mexican health authority Cofepris for the focal treatment of early-stage prostate cancer, Weizmann announced Monday.

Focal treatment is a cousin of targeted treatment. The idea is to treat diseased tissue while not touching noncancerous tissue, since many of the cancer therapies are generally poisonous or otherwise obnoxious to the body. It is the latest wrinkle in prostate cancer therapy, as an alternative to whole-gland therapy, culminating in radical excision of the offending gland.

The therapy paradigm developed by Prof. Yoram Salomon of the Biological Regulation Department and Prof. Avigdor Scherz of the Plant and Environmental Sciences Department at Weizmann consists of an intravenous Tookad infusion, immediately followed by shining near-infrared laser light “inserted” into the sick tissue using thin optic fibers, guided by ultrasound.

Plants famously use chlorophyll to turn sunlight energy into food. Certain bacteria can do the same. Scherz is the one who first cooked up Tookad in his lab from bacteriochlorophyll.

Chlorophyll-containing bacteria are microscopic, but here we see they can proliferate to the point of being noticed by NASA: A bloom of cyanobacteria forming around Fiji. Norman Kuring, NASA Earth Observatory, Wikimedia Commons.

Once the drug is administered, the laser light “turns on” the circulating drug locally. The result is the extensive generation of unstable toxic molecules, oxygen and nitric oxide radicals, which damage the blood vessels feeding the tumor. Starved for blood and oxygen, the tumor tissue dies but nearby tissues remain unaffected.
Where the light is not shined on the drug, it circulates around the patient’s blood system doing nothing much until being totally cleared after some three to four hours.

“The use of near-infrared illumination, together with the rapid clearance of the drug from the body and the unique non-thermal mechanism of action, makes it possible to safely treat large, deeply embedded cancerous tissue using a minimally invasive procedure,” Weizmann stated.

The marketing approval follows success in the Phase III clinical trial in Mexico, Peru and Panama, involving 80 patients. The test confirmed efficacy and the “minimal side effects” previously found in Phase II clinical trials, Weizmann stated.

Pressed by Haaretz, the Weizmann team explained that the side effects found were “transient and were related to the procedure itself” – meaning, not the drug. They included, for instance, the side effects that may be caused by insertion of a catheter, such as burning when urinating shortly afterwards. Others may feel nausea after anesthesia, but the Tookad itself was not seen to have side effects.
Meanwhile in Europe, a second Phase III clinical trial was recently wrapped up. The study compared disease progression, the rate of freedom from cancer and urinary and erectile functions in patients treated with Tookad and those undergoing active surveillance with a follow-up of two years, among more than 400 patients in 11 European countries. The findings are being evaluated by the European Medicines Agency.

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Kuwait Becomes Latest Saudi Ally to Downgrade Ties With Iran

Compliments of Washington Post 

Kuwait became the latest in a growing list of Saudi Arabian allies to cut or downgrade ties with Iran, saying Tuesday that it has recalled its ambassador to Tehran in solidarity with the kingdom as tensions deepen.

The widening rifts — opened by the execution of a prominent Shiite cleric in Saudi Arabia on Saturday — have pitted Saudi Arabia and its Sunni allies against Tehran’s Shiite leadership. The confrontations could push the region dangerously closer to conflict and imperil critical objectives including peace efforts in Syria and the fight against the Islamic State.

Calls for restraint have come from around the world as each side digs in.

Bahrain and Sudan earlier joined Saudi Arabia in severing diplomatic relations with Iran on Monday. The United Arab Emirates, a key Iranian trading partner, recalled its ambassador, and then Kuwait followed suit.

Shiite-led protests, meanwhile, have flared across the Middle East. In Tehran, the Saudi Embassy was ransacked and burned just hours after the cleric, Nimr Baqr al-Nimr, was put to death.

Nimr was a leading voice among Saudi Arabia’s Shiite minority, which has complained of discrimination and other pressures at the hands of the kingdom’s Sunni rulers. Saudi authorities convicted Nimr of terrorism-related acts.

Among the worries is whether the impasse could set back attempts at finding a political formula to end the civil war in Syria, where Iran backs the government of President Bashar al-Assad and Saudi Arabia is on the opposite side as a major supporter of anti-Assad factions.

After emergency talks in Riyadh, the United Nations’ special envoyfor Syria, Staffan de Mistura, said Tuesday that Saudi leaders had expressed “clear determination” not to let the disputes derail Syrian peace bids. De Mistura next travels to Tehran to assess whether the talks between rival Syrian factions can go ahead as scheduled Jan. 25.

The diplomatic feud also could become an unwelcome distraction for Washington and its Western allies in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

The Obama administration, caught in the middle by its quest for a closer relationship with Iran and its long-standing alliance with Saudi Arabia, said it hoped Tehran and Riyadh would dial back the hostile rhetoric that has fueled the worst crisis between the regional rivals in decades.

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Dutch Government Backs Strong Encryption, Condemns Backdoors

Compliments of The Daily Dot 

The Netherlands government issued a strong statement on Monday against weakening encryption for the purposes of law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

The move comes as governments in the United Kingdom andChina act to legally require companies to give them access to wide swaths of encrypted Internet traffic. U.S. lawmakers are alsoconsidering introducing similar legislation.

The Dutch executive cabinet endorsed “the importance of strong encryption for Internet security to support the protection of privacy for citizens, companies, the government, and the entire Dutch economy,” Ard van der Steur, the Dutch minister of security and justice, wrote in the statement. “Therefore, the government believes that it is currently not desirable to take legal measures against the development, availability and use of encryption within the Netherlands.”

Encryption scrambles data so that only those with the keys to unscramble it can access it. For example, Internet users utilize encryption whenever they access a website that has an HTTPS connection, which protects their Web traffic from interception, and Apple iOS devices and Google Android devices are encrypted by default when the user turns on the lock screen.

Last month, the Netherlands parliament committed €500,000 in funding to OpenSSL, a free set of encryption tools used widely and sponsored in part by the United States government.

“Confidence in secure communication and storage data is essential for the future growth potential of the Dutch economy, which is mainly in the digital economy,” Van der Steur wrote.

“Encryption supports respect for privacy and the secret communication of citizens by providing them a means to communicate protected data confidentially and with integrity. This is also important for the exercise of the freedom of expression. For example, it enables citizens, but also allows empowers important democratic functions like journalism by allowing confidential communication.”

Encryption is protected under privacy laws in Articles 10 and 13 in the Dutch constitution, Van der Steur argued, as well as Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Articles 7 and 8 in the European Union Charter.

Weakening encryption will also expose Internet traffic to eavesdropping by criminals, terrorists, and foreign intelligence services, Van der Steur said. That’s an argument supported by awide variety of technologists warning against the weakening of encryption.

“The protection of these fundamental rights is applicable to the digital world,” he wrote.

The minister of security and justice described at length the virtues of encryption, from protecting laptops against theft to allowing the Dutch government itself to communicate online safely with its citizens about taxes and digital IDs.

“Cryptography is key to security in the digital domain,” Van der Steur argued.

The rights are not absolute, however, and “infringement is permissible” given “a legitimate purpose” as well as regulation and restriction by law, he said.

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