Law and Legal
Via LLRX.com – The Practice Of Law, Theory, And Our Mess – Ken Grady discusses how the lack of a theory supporting the delivery of legal services has contributed to “a mess” in respect to the goal of achieving organizational operational excellence.
Via LLRX.com – Surveillance and Legal Research Providers: What You Need to Know – Legal research companies are selling surveillance data and services to law enforcement agencies including ICE. Their participation in government surveillance raises ethical questions about privacy, confidentiality and financial support: How private is your search history when your legal research vendors also sell surveillance data? Are you funding products that sell your patrons’ and clients’ data to ICE and other law enforcement agencies? Law professor professor and faculty services librarian Sarah Lamdan’s article focuses on how librarians uphold their privacy and intellectual freedom standards when they rely on surveillance companies for their research resources.
“Scholars have studied the citation patterns for law journal articles from many angles. This year, I’m jumping into the fray, using Law Library Journal‘s “Practicing Reference” column as a forum to share findings from several modest investigations. I got started when a professor who was teaching seminars for law journal students asked if I could give him lists of often-cited student pieces in environmental law and in IP and tech law (the topics of the two journals). Here I discuss the process for that project and its results. I also take a look at articles. I list the most-cited articles from 2012 and discuss some challenges of studying what each cites—a question I wanted to answer but wasn’t able to. I compare the results from HeinOnline’s ScholarCheck, Westlaw’s KeyCite, Lexis’s Shepard’s, and Web of Science. There’s overlap, but not as much as you might think.”
EFF: “We’ve long known that the FBI is heavily invested in developing face recognition technology as a key component in its criminal investigations. But new records, obtained by EFF through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, show that’s not the only biometric marker the agency has its eyes on. The FBI’s wish list also includes image recognition technology and mobile devices to attempt to use tattoos to map out people’s relationships and identify their beliefs. EFF began looking at tattoo recognition technology in 2015, after discovering that the National Institute for Standards & Technology (NIST), in collaboration with the FBI, was promoting experiments using tattoo images gathered involuntarily from prison inmates and arrestees. The agencies had provided a dataset of thousands of prisoner tattoos to some 19 outside groups, including companies and academic institutions, that are developing image recognition and biometric technology. Government officials instructed the groups to demonstrate how the technology could be used to identify people by their tattoos and match tattoos with similar imagery. Our investigation found that NIST was targeting people who shared common beliefs, with a heavy emphasis on religious imagery. NIST researchers, we discovered, had also bypassed basic oversight measures. Despite rigid requirements designed to protect prisoners who might be used as subjects in government research, the researchers failed to seek sign-off from the in-house watchdog before embarking on the project…”
University of Wisconsin – Madison: “Thousands of miles of buried fiber optic cable in densely populated coastal regions of the United States may soon be inundated by rising seas, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Oregon. The study, presented here today (July 16, 2018) at a meeting of internet network researchers, portrays critical communications infrastructure that could be submerged by rising seas in as soon as 15 years, according to the study’s senior author, Paul Barford, a UW-Madison professor of computer science. “Most of the damage that’s going to be done in the next 100 years will be done sooner than later,” says Barford, an authority on the “physical internet” — the buried fiber optic cables, data centers, traffic exchanges and termination points that are the nerve centers, arteries and hubs of the vast global information network. “That surprised us. The expectation was that we’d have 50 years to plan for it. We don’t have 50 years.” The study, conducted with Barford’s former student Ramakrishnan Durairajan, now of the University of Oregon, and Carol Barford, who directs UW-Madison’s Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment, is the first assessment of risk of climate change to the internet. It suggests that by the year 2033 more than 4,000 miles of buried fiber optic conduit will be underwater and more than 1,100 traffic hubs will be surrounded by water. The most susceptible U.S. cities, according to the report, are New York, Miami and Seattle, but the effects would not be confined to those areas and would ripple across the internet, says Barford, potentially disrupting global communications…”
Bloomberg News – “Jeff Bezos is the richest person in modern history. The Amazon.com Inc. founder’s net worth cracked $150 billion in New York on Monday, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. That’s about $55 billion more than Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates, the world’s second-richest person. Bezos, 54, also has topped Gates in inflation-adjusted terms. The $100 billion mark that Gates hit briefly in 1999 at the height of the dot-com boom would be worth about $149 billion in today’s dollars. That makes the Amazon chief executive officer richer than anyone else on earth since at least 1982, when Forbes published its inaugural wealth ranking…”
- See also – Washington Post – Worker strikes and a site crash dent Amazon’s Prime Day shopping bonanza – “Thousands of employees worldwide have walked off the job on the company’s biggest sales day of the year to bring attention to working conditions and benefits.
- See also -CNBC – Amazon suffers glitches at the start of Prime Day, its biggest shopping day of the year. [Some users saw an error page featuring the “dogs of Amazon” and were initially unable to enter the site. – Yes that would be me – The collies were not amused!]
- See also – BBC News – Shoppers thinking of taking part in internet giant Amazon’s Prime Day are being warned that not all the items on sale could be the bargains they seem.
“Many booksellers on Amazon strive to sell their wares as cheaply as possible. That, after all, is usually how you make a sale in a competitive marketplace. Other merchants favor a counterintuitive approach: Mark the price up to the moon. “Zowie,” the romance author Deborah Macgillivray wrote on Twitter last month after she discovered copies of her 2009 novel, “One Snowy Knight,” being offered for four figures. One was going for “$2,630.52 & FREE Shipping,” she noted. Since other copies of the paperback were being sold elsewhere on Amazon for as little as 99 cents, she was perplexed. “How many really sell at that price? Are they just hoping to snooker some poor soul?” Ms. Macgillivray wrote in an email. She noted that her blog had gotten an explosion in traffic from Russia. “Maybe Russian hackers do this in their spare time, making money on the side,” she said.
Zowie. Amazon is selling copies of my One Snowy Knight for $1,558.59 + $5.49 shipping + $0.00 estimated tax or $2,630.52 & FREE Shipping + $0.00 estimated tax Hang in there, it’s being reprinted in July for MUCH less…lol pic.twitter.com/eEqWUzg7kf
— Deborah Macgillivray (@Scotladywriter) June 5, 2018
Amazon is by far the largest marketplace for both new and used books the world has ever seen, and is also one of the most inscrutable. The retailer directly sells some books, while others are sold by third parties. The wild pricing happens with the latter. Books were Amazon’s first product. They made the company’s reputation and powered Jeff Bezos’ ascent to his perch as the world’s richest person. Amazon sold books so cheaply that land-based shops could not compete. It controls about half the market for new books, more than any bookseller in the history of the United States…”
“Amazon is driving us insane with its willingness to allow third-party vendors to sell authors’ books with zero oversight,” said Vida Engstrand, director of communications for Kensington, which published “One Snowy Knight.” “It’s maddening and just plain wrong.”
This site has been archived and remains available via the Internet Archive – https://web.archive.org/web/20180713143753/https://guideline.gov/
“The AHRQ National Guideline Clearinghouse (NGC, guideline.gov) Web site will not be available after July 16, 2018 because federal funding through AHRQ will no longer be available to support the NGC as of that date. AHRQ is receiving expressions of interest from stakeholders interested in carrying on NGC’s work. It is not clear at this time, however, when or if NGC (or something like NGC) will be online again. In addition, AHRQ has not yet determined whether, or to what extent, the Agency would have an ongoing role if a stakeholder were to continue to operate the NGC. We will continue to post summaries of new and updated evidence-based clinical practice guidelines until July 2, 2018. For any questions, please contact Mary.Nix@ahrq.hhs.gov“
“Facebook’s Artificial Intelligence Research (FAIR) group has published a dataset to support a project called Talk the Walk, which aims to train AI systems to serve as virtual tour guides. The dataset includes maps of New York City neighborhoods, 360-degree photos of the neighborhoods, and sample text of humans guiding other humans through them. The goal of Talk the Walk is to advance research into localization, goal-oriented dialogue, visual perception, and other challenges in developing AI agents that can interact seamlessly with humans.”
“Data Thesaurus: All – Welcome to the Data Thesaurus, a resource connecting and defining concepts, services, and tools relevant to librarians working in data-driven discovery. A definition, relevant literature, and web resources accompany each term along with links to related terms. Search by term or keyword on the right or browse the 70 terms below.”
Berkman Klein Center: “Regulators and policymakers are increasingly involved in making important decisions about the governance of automated vehicles (AVs). Policymakers need to design comprehensive policies to deliver the benefits of AVs and to foresee and address potential unintended consequences; however, this is not an easy task. Especially given the complexity of the technology, AVs require a sophisticated analysis: beyond the apparent safety and security issues, AVs have significant potential to a ect issues related to privacy, accessibility, the environment, and land management. Understanding and balancing the potential benefits of AVs against their challenges would help with the problem of delivering comprehensive policies on AVs. In addition, leveraging governments’ strengths and identifying their weaknesses would help also with the problem of delivering more effective AV policies, influencing the ways in which this technology is adopted, and at what pace. This policy primer explores governments’ most relevant strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) in relation to AVs in the form of a SWOT analysis, which may expand policymakers’ governance toolbox and help them design comprehensive policies to proactively address the unintended consequences of AVs. It intends to inform regulators and policymakers, bridging information asymmetries between policymakers and technologists. It also aims at expanding policymakers’ governance toolbox to help them create more effective policies and regulations.”
Government Reorganization: Key Questions to Assess Agency Reform Efforts GAO-18-427: Published: Jun 13, 2018. Publicly Released: Jul 13, 2018.
“A March 2017 executive order requiring executive branch agency reorganization is intended to improve efficiency and effectiveness. If it works, it could save billions of dollars—but similar reform efforts in the past have not always come to fruition. Our prior work on government reform indicates that agencies can change if they follow an effective process allocate sufficient implementation resources consider workforce needs during and after the reform In this report, we provide questions that Congress can ask in its critical oversight role to determine whether agencies are on track for effective change.”
“Modern threats have emerged from the prevalence of social networks. Hostile actors, such as extremist groups or foreign governments, utilize these networks to run propaganda campaigns with different aims. For extremists, these campaigns are designed for recruiting new members or inciting violence. For foreign governments, the aim may be to create instability in rival nations. Proper social network counter-measures are needed to combat these threats. Here we present one important counter-measure: penetrating social networks. This means making target users connect with or follow agents deployed in the social network. Once such connections are established with the targets, the agents can influence them by sharing content which counters the influence campaign. In this work we study how to penetrate a social network, which we call the follow-back problem. The goal here is to find a policy that maximizes the number of targets that follow the agent. We conduct an empirical study to understand what behavioral and network features affect the probability of a target following an agent. We find that the degree of the target and the size of the mutual neighborhood of the agent and target in the network affect this probability. Based on our empirical findings, we then propose a model for targets following an agent. Using this model, we solve the follow-back problem exactly on directed acyclic graphs and derive a closed form expression for the expected number of follows an agent receives under the optimal policy. We then formulate the follow-back problem on an arbitrary graph as an integer program. To evaluate our integer program based policies, we conduct simulations on real social network topologies in Twitter. We find that our polices result in more effective network penetration, with significant increases in the expected number of targets that follow the agent.”
CNET: “When you sign up for Facebook on your phone, the app isn’t just giving you the latest updates and photos from your friends and family. In the background, it’s utilizing the phone’s gyroscope to detect subtle movements that come from breathing. It’s measuring how quickly you tap on the screen, and even looking at what angle the phone is being held. Sound creepy? These are just some of the ways that Facebook is verifying that you’re actually human and not one of the tens of millions of bots attempting to invade the social network each day. That Facebook would go to such lengths underscores the escalation of the war between tech companies and bots that can cause chaos in politics and damage public trust. Facebook isn’t alone. Twitter on Wednesday began removing millions of blocked accounts, and Google is looking to stamp out malicious trolls on YouTube. The road to salvation, they believe, is paved with artificial intelligence. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg repeatedly pointed to AI as a solution to his social network’s flaws during his testimony before Congress and again at the company’s F8 developers conference. Google wants to be an AI-first company and Twitter likewise wants to use the technology to stamp out trolls.
“It is already pretty much a fundamental part of everyday life,” Michael Connor, the executive director of Open MIC, a technology policy nonprofit, said. “AI is becoming part of the way we listen to music, how we handle our medical issues, and how we drive our cars.”
Magnificent photos – 2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
“On October 30, 2017, the first cases brought by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III were unsealed. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia unsealed an indictment against Paul Manafort and Richard Gates, as well as the full docket of a second case against George Papadopoulos, in which the defendant had already pled guilty. The court also unsealed an opinion in a third case, which discussed the attorney–client privilege. The full Manafort docket was unsealed the next day. As selected documents and full dockets from these and other cases brought by the Special Counsel’s Office become available in Free Law Project’s RECAP Archive, we are linking to them on this page. In many cases, the Special Counsel’s Office posts documents on their own web page before they are unsealed to the public, or in some instances filed in PACER; the RECAP links below are only as up-to-date as PACER. When the D.C. District unseals materials in an otherwise sealed case, it posts them at on its Unsealed Opinions in Sealed Cases or Unsealed Documents in Sealed Cases webpages (not in PACER); we have mirrored or linked to some such documents here…”
The Open Library Blog: “Open Library now lets you search inside the text contents of over 4M books. Many book websites, like Amazon and Goodreads, give you the ability to search for books by title and author, but they don’t make it easy to find books based on their contents. This type of searching is called “Full-Text Search”…When you search across 40M documents, it can be a challenge to find the one you’re looking for. One feature which Open Library has been missing is a way to limit Internet Archive’s full-text search to only include results from books on Open Library. So for the last two years, Open Library has patiently waited to take full advantage of full-text search for its users. Earlier this week, Giovanni Damiola (@giovannidamiola) released an improvement to our full-text search engine which lets us get around this historical limitation — and so we jumped on this opportunity to improve our search on openlibrary.org! With the help of Razzi Abuissa, Open Library volunteer, and Mek, Open Library’s project lead, you can now search inside more than 4M Open Library books…”
CRS report via FAS – Who Interprets Foreign Law in U.S. Federal Courts? Stephen P. Mulligan, Legislative Attorney. July 9, 2018.
“Federal courts are frequently called upon to evaluate foreign law in a variety of contexts—from routine breach of contract and tort claims to complex cases implicating the judicial branch’s role in international affairs. In Animal Science Products, Inc. v. Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., the Supreme Court announced the standard of deference for U.S. federal courts to apply when considering a foreign government’s interpretation of its own law. Prior to the Court’s ruling, federal courts took a range of approaches on the degree of deference given to a foreign government’s official explanation of its domestic law. Some courts viewed a foreign nation’s interpretation as effectively binding (at least as long as it was reasonable), but others were willing to deviate from the nation’s position if it was inconsistent with prior statements or not supported by affidavits and expert testimony. In Animal Science Products, Inc., the Supreme Court unanimously held that federal courts must give “respectful consideration” to a foreign government’s interpretation, but they are not “bound to defer” to that position…”
WSJ (paywall) – “…We’re moving toward a world in which everything with a plug or battery can respond to a voice command. Apple’s next AirPods could have many of the capabilities that Vesper claims its microphones will enable, such as built-in noise cancellation. (In the past, Apple has used several suppliers for its microphones.) Meanwhile, the CEO of Samsung’s consumer-electronics division recently told The Wall Street Journal that by 2020 his company plans to equip every single device it sells—from TVs to refrigerators—with microphones. It could be unnerving to be surrounded by listening devices, but the paradox is that as the technology develops, so does our ability to free these gadgets from having to connect to the internet. Consider the voice-controlled trash can from Simplehuman. Say “Open can” and it opens—and then closes on its own once the user walks away. That’s it. While it’s easy to make fun of a high-tech trash can, especially one that costs $200, this one tackles one of the biggest concerns that comes with smart assistants: the fact that they record what we tell them and send it back to their parent companies. Simplehuman’s trash can doesn’t do this, says Guy Cohen, the company’s director of electronics engineering. That’s because the latest microphones and their attached microprocessors process human speech in the gadget itself, without connecting to the cloud…”
The Congressional Review Act: Determining Which “Rules” Must Be Submitted to Congress – July 5, 2018 R45248
“The Congressional Review Act (CRA) allows Congress to review certain types of federal agency actions that fall under the statutory category of “rules.” The CRA requires that agencies report their rules to Congress and provides special procedures under which Congress can consider legislation to overturn those rules. A joint resolution of disapproval will become effective once both houses of Congress pass a joint resolution and it is signed by the President, or if Congress overrides the President’s veto. The CRA generally adopts a broad definition of the word “rule” from the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), defining a rule as “the whole or a part of an agency statement of general or particular applicability and future effect designed to implement, interpret, or prescribe law or policy or describing the organization, procedure, or practice requirements of an agency.” The CRA, however, provides three exceptions to this broad definition: any rule of particular applicability, including a rule that approves or prescribes for the future rates, wages, prices, services, or allowances therefor, corporate or financial structures, reorganizations, mergers, or acquisitions thereof, or accounting practices or disclosures bearing on any of the foregoing; any rule relating to agency management or personnel; or any rule of agency organization, procedure, or practice that does not substantially affect the rights or obligations of non-agency parties. The class of rules the CRA covers is broader than the category of rules that are subject to the APA’s notice-and-comment requirements. As such, some agency actions, such as guidance documents, that are not subject to notice-and-comment rulemaking procedures may still be considered rules under the CRA and thus could be overturned using the CRA’s procedures. The effect of Congress disapproving a rule that is not subject to notice-and-comment rulemaking may be subject to debate, given that such rules are generally viewed to lack any legal effect in the first place. Nonetheless, the CRA does encompass some such rules, as highlighted by the recent enactment of a CRA resolution overturning a bulletin from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that was not subject to the notice-and-comment procedures. Even if an agency action falls under the CRA’s definition of “rule,” however, the expedited procedures for considering legislation to overturn the rule only become available when the agency submits the rule to Congress. In many cases in which agencies take actions that fall under the scope of a “rule” but have not gone through notice-and-comment rulemaking procedures, agencies fail to submit those rules. Thus, questions have arisen as to how Members can avail themselves of the CRA’s special fast-track procedures if the agency has not submitted the action to Congress. To protect its prerogative to review agency rules under the CRA, Congress and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) have developed an ad hoc process in which Members can request that GAO provide a formal legal opinion on whether a particular agency action qualifies as a rule under the CRA. If GAO concludes that the action in question can be considered a rule under the CRA, Congress has treated the publication of the GAO opinion in the Congressional Record as constructive submission of the rule. In other words, an affirmative opinion from GAO can allow Congress to use the CRA procedures to consider legislation overturning an agency action despite the agency not submitting that action to Congress.”