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Microsoft defends email privacy in Fed. Court

July 31, 2014 --

microsoftNW software giant Microsoft is in federal court today over the privacy of emails.  The issue revolves around the protection of emails held outside U.S. borders and whether a US warrant can force access.  Below is a defense of email privacy by Brad Smith who represents general counsel for Microsoft.

By Brad Smith

Microsoft will oppose the U.S. government at a hearing in federal court in New York, arguing that it can’t force American tech companies to turn over customer emails stored exclusively in company data centers in other countries. This dispute should be important to you if you use email, because it could well turn on who owns your email—you or the company that stores it in the cloud. In December the government sent Microsoft a search warrant seeking a consumer’s emails as part of a narcotics investigation. While the company appreciates the vital importance of public safety, it seeks to ensure that governments access customers’ communications only through a valid legal process. In this case, the emails are stored in Dublin, Ireland, where Microsoft maintains a data center to service some of its customers outside the U.S.

Microsoft believes you own emails stored in the cloud, and that they have the same privacy protection as paper letters sent by mail. This means, in our view, that the U.S. government can obtain emails only subject to the full legal protections of the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment. It means, in this case, that the U.S. government must have a warrant. But under well-established case law, a search warrant cannot reach beyond U.S. shores.

Read the full article and discuss it »

“Homesharing” no threat to cities, hotels

July 30, 2014 --

Cascade Policy Institute

By Everet Rummel, research associate

On July 2, the Portland City Council held a hearing on proposed amendments to the Zoning Code concerning short-term rentals. The council chambers were packed with citizens who support legalizing renting one or two bedrooms from a primary residence.

An emerging sector of many local economies is “homesharing,” or renting space in your home to strangers on a short-term basis, usually for a few nights. Smartphone apps such as Airbnb allow owners to list their homes for renters to see. Homesharing is controversial because it remains informal in most places and presents a challenge to the status quo of residential living and conventional hotels.

In Portland, homesharing falls under traditional bed and breakfast regulations. These may be too expensive for the typical homeowner short on cash, so many homesharers operate illicitly.

Read the full article and discuss it »

Ore. venture funding hits new high

July 29, 2014 --

By Technology Association of Oregon.

Venture capital funding in Oregon hit a high in the first six months of 2014, raising more investment dollars in the first half of the year than in all of 2013. According to the Oregonian, Dow Jones VentureSource reported that Oregon startups raised $174 million in venture capital investment from January through June this year, while 2013’s yearlong total was $162 million. However, this half-year’s big numbers were buoyed by major investments in just two startups: almost half of this year’s investment total is comprised of Act-On Software’s $42 million round and Puppet Lab’s $40 million investment. Still, it’s an impressive showing of VC interest in the Portland area’s thriving startup scene, and the best may be yet to come.

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Hidden problems of Paid Sick Law

July 28, 2014 --

healthycommunitiesinitiativeDennis Morgan, Volunteer Executive Director
Healthy Communities Initiative (HCI)

Employers of all sizes understand that employees need time off to address personal or family health issues, which is why the vast majority of employers voluntarily offer generous paid leave benefits. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 83 percent of private sector employees have access to paid illness leave. At the same time, employers face economic realities and must balance leave benefits with other compensation offered to employees, such as wages and health benefits.

The Eugene Mandatory Sick Leave ordinance (EMSL) would mandate that all employers regardless of the number of employees provide a one-size-fits-all paid sick time mandate of up to 40 hours of paid sick time annually. A paid sick time mandate would limit an employer’s flexibility in designing a compensation and benefits package that meets the needs of their unique workforce, resulting in significant costs for employers as well as a potential loss to employees who prefer other benefits rather than paid sick time. Moreover, the EMSL seems to incorporate some of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) concepts that have caused the most significant problems for employers with respect to scheduling, including the ability to use this paid sick leave on an unscheduled basis, with little or no notice of an absence.

Increased costs and reduced flexibility are serious concerns for employers, but legislation such as the EMSL also raises other implementation concerns as outlined below.

Impact on Small Employers: This legislation represents an unprecedented expansion of employment mandates on small employers, applying to those with as few as 1 employee.

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Service dogs & workplace accommodation

July 24, 2014 --

bullard-law2By Bullard Law,
Portland law firm

ADA Dog Days – Service Animals and Reasonable Accommodation

The Bullard Edge loves dogs. My pup Jimmy turns 2 today and I have attached his picture (a black and brown mini Dachshund).

Jimmy also relates (allow me some leeway here) to this week’s question in the (fictional) mailbag. Joe Barkley, the HR Manager at Big Towne Mall, is not sure how to respond to an employee who may be requesting reasonable accommodation or who may be looking for a way to bring his dog to work. Here is Joe’s question.

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Ore. breaks beer record & leads nation

July 23, 2014 --

By Oregon Brewers Guild

The Oregon Brewers Guild announced that Oregonians bought more than 500,000 barrels of beer produced in Oregon in 2013, setting a new record in Oregon craft beer history and leading the U.S. in percentage of dollars spent on craft beer. Oregon’s breweries crafted a little more than 1,400,000 barrels of beer during 2013, an 8 percent increase from the previous year. Oregon employment figures continue to strengthen, with the state’s brewing companies adding more than 200 jobs in 2013 and directly employing more than 6,600 people.



“We live in a unique state where we have the largest number of breweries per capita and also the highest percentage of dollars spent on craft beer in the U.S.,” says Brian Butenschoen, executive director of the Oregon Brewers Guild. “Oregon is also a destination for beer tourists where in Bend, 40 percent of its visitors said visiting a brewery or doing the Ale Trail was something they did when they visited. We have a city that just launched the fourth Ale Trail in Oregon in Eugene with the Eugene Ale Trail. Hood River has a brewery for every 1,433 residents and Portland has more breweries than any other city in the world.”

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Walden votes for permanent internet tax ban


Congressman Greg Walden & House pass Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Actwalden-greg2
Oregon Congressman Greg Walden,
Press Release

The Internet is possibly the most important technological advancement since the printing press. Governments’ hands off approach has enabled the internet to rapidly grow into a powerful engine for our economy.

At the beginning of the internet revolution, Congress passed a law preventing state and local governments from imposing taxes on internet access. That ban is scheduled to expire in November, though, and I don’t support opening the door to more internet taxation that would harm Oregon families and small businesses.

Read the full article and discuss it »

State AG sues 5-hour Energy Drink makers

July 22, 2014 --

5hrdrnkBy Oregon Department of Justice

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum filed a lawsuit against Living Essentials and Innovation Ventures, the makers of the energy drink 5-Hour ENERGY®. The lawsuit alleges that the companies repeatedly violated the Oregon Unlawful Trade Practices Act (UTPA) by making deceptive and misleading claims about their 5-hour ENERGY® products. The suit also alleges that the company used print, television, Internet and radio advertising to claim that 5-hour ENERGY® contains a unique blend of ingredients that provide consumers with energy, alertness and focus, when in reality the only ingredient that provides any effect is the concentrated dose of caffeine.

Read the full article and discuss it »

Portland venture fund remains a mystery

July 21, 2014 --

By Joel Grey
Cascade Policy Institute

The Portland Seed Fund started as a public-private venture intended to close a funding gap for small loans to entrepreneurs. The City of Portland, the City of Hillsboro, and the State of Oregon provided a majority of the funds for the first Seed Fund and a significant portion of the second Seed Fund. It was sold as a way for public entities to help private companies begin, with the expectation that the Fund would earn money.

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A way Obama can reform immigration w/o Congress

July 18, 2014 --

obamaBy Alex Nowrasteh
Cato Institute

President Obama seems poised to act on immigration, with or without the help of Congress. Last week, he announced that he’s “beginning a new effort to fix as much of our immigration system as I can on my own, without Congress.” Critics have decried this very pledge as illegal. But there are legal executive actions he can take to improve our dysfunctional immigration system now.

Granted, without Congress, Obama’s options are limited. Like making small repairs on a totaled vehicle, he’s left tinkering around the edges of a broken system so long as Congress remains deadlocked. Still, even relatively small fixes could improve the lot of millions of immigrants and smooth out some of the rough patches in our overly restrictive system.

For example, Obama could allow some illegal immigrants to apply for green cards through the current immigration system. Currently, unlawful immigrants can’t earn a green card because, in order to apply, they have to leave the country. This then triggers a legal catch-22 that bars them from re-entering.

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