Lawyers almost made 'click to accept TOS' boxes disappear forever

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Could simply visiting a website bind you to its terms of service? Luckily, not in the near future. A controversial vote of the American Law Institute on Tuesday on a sweeping change to consumer contract law was postponed after hours of heated debate and not much consensus. If approved, the nearly 134-page Restatement Project would have opened the door for businesses to take data from unknowing consumers. Critics of the project, including consumer rights groups, more than 23 state attorneys general and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) had called for it to be voted down.

An ALI spokesman told Engadget in an email that the vote on the project has been pushed back to next year’s annual meeting after the group ran out of time. ALI members, which at Tuesday’s vote included more than 300 practicing lawyers, judges and legal scholars, only approved the project’s definitions.

Penn Record reported that consumer advocate Adam Levitin, who opposes the project, offered an amendment that would make contracts invalid if they were particularly egregious or out of line, or if they fell outside of what “any reasonable consumer would expect”. After a long debate, the amendment was defeated by a vote of 206–144.

But when it came to the substantive meat of the draft, the group was unable to reach a consensus. “We ran out of time before we could complete discussion of the draft. The first motion to approve the Sections of the draft that were discussed was to approve §§ [Sections] 1 and 2. After it was pointed out that the discussion on § [Section] 2 had not been completed, the motion was amended to seek approval of Section 1 only. A motion to defer the motion to approve Section 1 until a subsequent to Annual Meeting was defeated 144–142,” wrote the ALI spokesman. Deepak Gupta, a member of ALI who was present at Tuesday’s meeting, tweeted that there was “vigorous, civil debate”, but none of the project’s substantive sections were approved.

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Ben Carson mixed up the real estate term 'REO' with Oreo cookies

Can you picture a scenario in which Oreo cookies are discussed at a House Financial Services Committee hearing?

No? That’s OK. No need to imagine hypotheticals, because as it turns out, on Tuesday HUD Secretary Ben Carson name-dropped the popular Nabisco sandwich cookie on the stand. He accidentally mixed Oreo cookies up with REO, a common real estate term. Casual!

After California Congresswoman Katie Porter asked Carson to explain a disparity in REO rates, she took the time to confirm that he actually knew what REO stood for. And it’s a good thing she double checked, because Carson most certainly did not know.

“Do you know what an REO is?” Porter asked.

“An Oreo?” Carson replied.

“No, not an Oreo. An REO. R-E-O,” she clarified.

“Real estate…” he guessed.

“What’s the ‘O’ stand for?” Porter pressed.

“Organization?” he ventured.

“Owned. Real estate owned. That’s what happened when a property goes into foreclosure,” Porter explained.

Oy vey.

For those who aren’t fluent in real estate lingo, like Carson it seems, an REO, or “real estate owned,” references a certain property that’s “foreclosed-upon” such as a house, apartment, or piece of land that ends up in a lender portfolio after an unsuccessful sale. The lender, oftentimes a bank, becomes the owner of the property.

According to Porter, who tweeted the exchange later in the afternoon, REO is “a basic term related to foreclosure” that HUD Secretary Carson should have known.

Bottom line: Carson messed up.

After the hearing, Carson tried to recover from the blunder by obtaining a pack of Oreo cookies and offering them, along with a thank you note, to Porter. He even tweeted some photos to charm people.

It was a valid attempt to make amends, but also a royally embarrassing one, especially since the hearing was focused on the foreclosure of homes, which is no laughing matter.

In true brand fashion, the official Oreo Twitter account was quick to get in on the action, tweeting an alternate definition of REO: “Really excellent OREO (cookie).”

Ughhhhhhh. Read the room, everyone. And when in doubt, remember, you don’t always have to tweet.

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Nintendo pulls two mobile games in Belgium due to loot box laws

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Nintendo is pulling two of its popular mobile games in Belgium due to the nation’s anti-gambling laws aimed at loot boxes. Fire Emblem Heroes and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp will be removed from app stores on August 27th, according to an announcement on the company’s website. Upon that date, neither game will be available to download or play. Players who have Orbs or Leaf Tickets can still use them until the game’s removal. Due to the law, Nintendo also will not release any future games with similar earnings models in Belgium.

Fears that the mix of gambling and gaming is fueling addiction has lead to lawmakers in the US and Europe calling for the ban of in-game loot boxes. But so far, only Belgium and the Netherlands have been successful. Belgium passed a law last year that banned video game loot boxes, which allow players to pay cash to unlock rewards. The nation’s gambling commission ordered several popular games that came with in-game revenue models, including Overwatch, Counterstrike: Global Offensive, and FIFA 18 to remove their loot boxes in Belgium. If publishers didn’t comply with the law, they could face a fine of €800,000 and up to five years in prison.

Most game developers like Blizzard, Valve and 2K have satisfied requirements by releasing a version sans loot boxes. Others are pulling the games from Belgium entirely. Last year, Square Enix pulled three mobile games from Belgium: Kingdom Hearts Union X, Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia and Mobius Final Fantasy.

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California's Senate may ban facial recognition tech in police body cameras

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The state of California’s legislature is considering a new bill that would ban the use of facial recognition technology in police body cameras, according to CNBC. The proposal, which has already passed the state Assembly and now awaits a vote from the Senate, would follow in the footsteps of the city of San Francisco, which took action to forbid government agencies from adopting facial recognition software earlier this month.

Supporters of the legislation hold that facial recognition and other biometric technology has proven inaccurate in many cases. San Francisco Assemblyman Phil Ting specifically has criticized Rekognition, the face-identifying technology developed by Amazon. Last month, Ting told a California Assembly public safety panel that the software falsely matched 28 sitting members of Congress with people in a mug shot database and “disproportionately misidentified” people of color.

A study conducted by the MIT Media Lab earlier this year found that Amazon’s facial analysis tools are too often inaccurate. Researchers found Rekognition classified women as men one-fifth of the time and identified darker-skinned women as men in one out of every three tests.

Assembly Bill 1215 has the support of a number of privacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and Electronic Frontier Foundation, but it will have hurdles to pass still before it is made into law. It must make it through several Senate committees before the full chamber votes on it. It will likely face some opposition, as the broad language of the bill may affect how biometric checks used by the federal government, including facial recognition systems that are present at California airports. If the bill passes through the Senate, it will require Governor Gavin Newsom to sign it into law.

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Huawei may debut its Android alternative as soon as this fall

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Huawei’s consumer business CEO Richard Yu reportedly said the company’s own mobile OS will debut as early as this fall. Huawei hasn’t confirmed plans to launch its OS, and Yu supposedly shared the information in a private WeChat group. But that timeline wouldn’t be surprising given the recent US trade restrictions and Google’s subsequent decision to suspend Huawei’s Android support.

It’s no secret that Huawei has been developing its own mobile OS, or that it was doing so in case it were ever cut off from Android. With that hypothetical situation becoming a reality, Huawei’s need for its own OS appears more urgent than ever.

It isn’t surprising that Huawei could have its system up and running soon, as it’s been in development for years. Huawei does still have access to the Android Open Source Project, but we don’t know whether its OS will be based on that, or if it will be entirely different. As Engadget’s Cherlynn Low pointed out, software isn’t Huawei’s strong suit, so even if it can get its backup OS running by this fall, chances are it won’t meet customers’ expectations.

Engadget has reached out to Huawei for comment.

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