NA Top 40 member involved in Intel lawsuit over security defect

The National Advocates Top 40 Under 40 member Leslie Pescia is on a legal team that has filed a lawsuit against computer chipmaker Intel because of a security flaw, according to a news release from the Beasley Allen law firm.

MONTGOMERY, ALA. (January 9, 2018) – Lawyers from Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C., have filed a federal lawsuit against Intel Corporation after the company admitted a defect in its central processing units (CPU) used in personal computers leaves users’ sensitive, private and secure information vulnerable to hackers. Shortcuts the company used while designing the processors created the defect known as “Meltdown.”

The complaint alleges that Intel deceptively marketed its processors as some of the fastest available on the market, despite knowing the flawed design would require a “patch,” which can slow personal computer processing down by as much as 30 percent. Beasley Allen lawyers W. Daniel “Dee” Miles, III, who is head of the firm’s Consumer Fraud Section, and National Advocates Top 40 Under 40 member Leslie Pescia represent named Plaintiff PC users Richard Reis and Zachary Finer in the class action litigation.

“Untold millions of computer owners have just learned that their computer product contains a significant defect in the Intel CPU that has caused a glaring security risk in their computer. Even if it is allegedly repaired by Intel software updates, it will suffer significant performance degradation,” Miles said. “Simply, purchasers of these products either must replace their computer or suffer from poor performance on their defective computer, neither of which they bargained for when they purchased a computer with the Intel CPU.”

Earlier this month, PC users learned about the defect that was discovered last June by Jann Horn, a security analyst working for Google.

Among its many functions, the CPU allows the computer’s operating system to interact with its hardware. The CPU dedicates some of its processing power for this task, which is called kernel memory. When a PC user executes a command the kernel memory carries out the command. This requires the PC to switch between different modes – an action Intel worked to make as fast and efficient as possible.

During the design, Intel introduced shortcuts, or design defects, that sacrificed security for processor speed in all its CPUs manufactured since 2004. The design defects allow low-privilege processes access to the kernel memory.

Because of the design defects, hackers and the malicious software they develop gain the ability to spy on computer processes and any information preserved on the PC’s or server’s physical memory. Hackers can easily gain access to information including passwords, usernames and sensitive personal information – making users vulnerable to fraud and identity theft. Information may even be vulnerable in real time.

Companies that design operating systems are currently developing the “patches” that can help protect users against the vulnerability “Meltdown” created, but the added security will reverse the feature that made the CPUs fast.

The complaint is filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division, case number CV-00074-SVK.

200,000 Salvadorans face deportation

The Trump administration says it will bring an end to the provisional residency status of about 200,000 Salvadorans who have been living in the US since at least 2001, according to the Washington Post. The move means the Salvadorans will now face deportation unless they meet a September 2019 deadline to either leave the country or find a way to obtain a green card. It’s the latest step by the Trump administration to limit the number of immigrants living in the US, either by limiting the number allowed to enter the country or by forcing those without legal status to leave. The Salvadorans affected by the move had been granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) after earthquakes ravaged the South American country in 2001.

Bipartisan DACA plan unveiled

A compromise plan on immigration that would affect the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and border security has been unveiled by a bipartisan pair of House members, CNN reports. Texas Republican Will Hurd and California Democrat Pete Aguilar have been “quietly working for weeks” on the legislation, according to CNN. Both Representatives say they hope their proposal can speed up talks revolving around how to handle “Dreamers,” or young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children.

Justice Dept. revokes guidance on ADA

Attorney General Jeff Sessions plans to rescind 25 guidance documents issued by the Justice Department, including some which clarify the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), according to Disability Scoop. The revoked documents include guidance on several issues related to the disabled, including employment, service animals and access to buildings. Sessions said the affected documents are “improper or unnecessary,” and go beyond the scope of the law. The move by the Justice Department has created concern among some disability advocates. Read more about how the changes may affect disabled Americans here.

AG claims Motel 6 gave guest info to immigration agents

The attorney general for the state of Washington alleges that Motel 6 gave information about thousands of guests to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in a lawsuit filed on Wednesday, according to HuffPost. Washington state AG Bob Ferguson had his agents investigate Motel 6’s practices after it was reported that the motel chain gave ICE agents in Arizona information about people who were registered as guests.

Ferguson’s office found that Motel 6 locations in Washington were also providing ICE with customers’ names, room numbers, license plate numbers and dates of birth, in violation of consumer protection and discrimination laws, the attorney general said.

Details on the AG’s lawsuit are available at HuffPost.

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More states considering shared custody

divorceThe tradition of a father getting once or twice-a-month weekends with his children following divorce may be changing. The Washington Post reports that more are agreeing to collaborative parenting in their divorce. Legislatures in 20 states will consider bills to encourage shared parenting or make it a legal presumption, even when parents can’t agree. It follows years of lobbying by fathers’ rights advocates who say divorced fathers feel estranged from their children and overburdened by child support payments. Read more about the trend in this story at The Washington Post.

How the estate tax treats black-owned businesses unfairly

As House Republicans work to repeal the estate tax as part of the GOP’s tax reform package, an opinion piece at The Hill says that the estate tax treats black-owned businesses unfairly. According to contributor Harry Alford, many black-owned businesses are first generation, and “These business owners do not want to sell out at fire sale prices to pay the estate tax and eliminate the livelihoods for the next generation in addition to the jobs for those who they employ.” Read the complete analysis at The Hill.