Law and Legal
“Google staff are instructed not to reward certain workers with perks like T-shirts, invite them to all-hands meetings, or allow them to engage in professional development training, an internal training document seen by the Guardian reveals. The guide instructs Google employees on the ins and outs of interacting with its tens of thousands of temps, vendors and contractors – a class of worker known at Google as TVCs. “Working with TVCs and Googlers is different,” the training documentation, titled the The ABCs of TVCs, explains. “Our policies exist because TVC working arrangements can carry significant risks.” The risks Google appears to be most concerned about include standard insider threats, like leaks of proprietary information, but also – and especially – the risk of being found to be a joint employer, a legal designation which could be exceedingly costly for Google in terms of benefits. Google’s treatment of TVCs has come under increased scrutiny by the company’s full-time employees (FTEs) amid a nascent labor movement at the company, which has seen workers speak out about both their own working conditions and the morality of the work they perform. American companies have long turned to temps and subcontractors to plug holes and perform specialized tasks, but Google achieved a dubious distinction this year when Bloomberg reported that in early 2018, the company did not directly employ a majority of its own workforce….”
Kosseff, Jeff, Cybersecurity of the Person (October 31, 2018). First Amendment Law Review, 2019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3276218
“U.S. cybersecurity law is largely an outgrowth of the early-aughts concerns over identity theft and financial fraud. Cybersecurity laws focus on protecting identifiers such as driver’s licenses and social security numbers, and financial data such as credit card numbers. Federal and state laws require companies to protect this data and notify individuals when it is breached, and impose civil and criminal liability on hackers who steal or damage this data. In this paper, I argue that our current cybersecurity laws are too narrowly focused on financial harms. While such concerns remain valid, they are only one part of the cybersecurity challenge that our nation faces. Too often overlooked by the cybersecurity profession are the harms to individuals, such as revenge pornography and online harassment. Our legal system typically addresses these harms through retrospective criminal prosecution and civil litigation, both of which face significant limits. Accounting for such harms in our conception of cybersecurity will help to better align our laws with these threats and reduce the likelihood of the harms occurring.”
maketecheasier: “When you’re doing research on a topic, it’s vital to ensure your sources are up to date. If you’re writing an academic paper, dates of publication are often required in the citations. The majority of the time, getting the date is easy: simply look on the site and find the “published on” date to find out how recent it was. Things get a little more complicated when there is no date listed on the webpage. When this happens, how do you know when the page was published?…”
Wired: “Few places in Antarctica are more difficult to reach than Thwaites Glacier, a Florida-sized hunk of frozen water that meets the Amundsen Sea about 800 miles west of McMurdo. Until a decade ago, barely any scientists had ever set foot there, and the glacier’s remoteness, along with its reputation for bad weather, ensured that it remained poorly understood. Yet within the small community of people who study ice for a living, Thwaites has long been the subject of dark speculation. If this mysterious glacier were to “go bad”—glaciologist-speak for the process by which a glacier breaks down into icebergs and eventually collapses into the ocean—it might be more than a scientific curiosity. Indeed, it might be the kind of event that changes the course of civilization…Glaciers like Thwaites that terminate in the ocean tend to follow a familiar pattern of collapse. At first, water gnaws at the ice shelf from below, causing it to weaken and thin. Rather than sitting securely on the seafloor, it begins to float, like a beached ship lifted off the sand. This exposes even more of its underside to the water, and the weakening and thinning continue. The shelf, now too fragile to support its own weight, starts snapping off into the sea in enormous chunks. More ice flows down from the glacier’s interior, replenishing what has been lost, and the whole cycle starts over again: melt, thin, break, retreat; melt, thin, break, retreat…”
DHS Office of Inspector General Audit – CBP’s Searches of Electronic Devices At Ports of Entry / Redacted, December 3, 2018: “Between April 2016 and July 2017, CBP’s [U.S. Customs and Border Protection] Office of Field Operations (OFO) did not always conduct searches of electronic devices at U.S. ports of entry according to its SOPs. Specifically, because of inadequate supervision to ensure OFO officers properly documented searches, OFO cannot maintain accurate quantitative data or identify and address performance problems related to these searches. In addition, OFO officers did not consistently disconnect electronic devices, specifically cell phones, from the network before searching them because headquarters provided inconsistent guidance to the ports of entry on disabling data connections on electronic devices. OFO also did not adequately manage technology to effectively support search operations and ensure the security of data. Finally, OFO has not yet developed performance measures to evaluate the effectiveness of a pilot program, begun in 2007, to conduct advanced searches, including copying electronic data from searched devices to law enforcement databases.
These deficiencies in supervision, guidance, and equipment management, combined with a lack of performance measures, limit OFO’s ability to detect and deter illegal activities related to terrorism; national security; human, drug, and bulk cash smuggling; and child pornography…”
Grist: “Businesses say risks to their bottom line from climate climate add up to tens of billions of dollars. That may seem like a lot, but their actual risks to business are at least 100 times higher, according to a study just published in Nature Climate Change. Trillions, instead of billions. The mismatch between those numbers could liquify the money you’ve been saving for retirement. Company climate plans “give little inkling that up to 30 percent of manageable assets globally may be at risk,” researchers wrote. Climate change could soon be “the defining issue for financial stability” according to Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England and former head of the Financial Stability Board, the international body established to make recommendations to prevent financial collapse. To take that out of econo-speak: Failure to fully comprehend climate risks — droughts, floods, heat waves — could lead to an economic crisis that makes the Great Recession look like a joyride. The researchers had access to a treasure trove of data, environmental disclosures from 1,630 companies worth more than more than two-thirds of the world’s stock markets added together. It’s the biggest and most comprehensive study of this kind ever done. Some 83 percent of businesses said that they faced real risks from climate change, but only 21 percent had quantified those risks.
It’s fascinating to see how the one in five companies that have crunched the numbers anticipate climate change will affect their business. For example, Samsung estimated that if a cyclone shut down one of their semiconductor factories for a single day it would cost $110 million. And when monsoon floods stopped Hewlett-Packard’s hard drive manufacturing in Thailand, back in 2011, it cost the company $4 billion...the estimates of investor risk come from the Economist Intelligence Unit, academic research, and the World Economic Forum, not Conservation International. In this paper, the researchers simply tallied up all the adaptations companies are making…”
“For taking great risks in pursuit of greater truths, for the imperfect but essential quest for facts, for speaking up and for speaking out, the Guardians — Jamal Khashoggi, the Capital Gazette, Maria Ressa, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo — are TIME’s Person of the Year…” The article includes a section on each of the subjects, as well as a video. It is truly heartbreaking.
2018 Headlines: Effects of persistent Arctic warming continue to mount – “Continued warming of the Arctic atmosphere and ocean are driving broad change in the environmental system in predicted and, also, unexpected ways. New emerging threats are taking form and highlighting the level of uncertainty in the breadth of environmental change that is to come. Highlights
- Surface air temperatures in the Arctic continued to warm at twice the rate relative to the rest of the globe. Arctic air temperatures for the past five years (2014-18) have exceeded all previous records since 1900.
- In the terrestrial system, atmospheric warming continued to drive broad, long-term trends in declining terrestrial snow cover, melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet and lake ice, increasing summertime Arctic river discharge, and the expansion and greening of Arctic tundra vegetation.
- Despite increase of vegetation available for grazing, herd populations of caribou and wild reindeer across the Arctic tundra have declined by nearly 50% over the last two decades.
- In 2018 Arctic sea ice remained younger, thinner, and covered less area than in the past. The 12 lowest extents in the satellite record have occurred in the last 12 years.
- Pan-Arctic observations suggest a long-term decline in coastal landfast sea ice since measurements began in the 1970s, affecting this important platform for hunting, traveling, and coastal protection for local communities.
- Spatial patterns of late summer sea surface temperatures are linked to regional variability in sea-ice retreat, regional air temperature, and advection of waters from the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
- In the Bering Sea region, ocean primary productivity levels in 2018 were sometimes 500% higher than normal levels and linked to a record low sea ice extent in the region for virtually the entire 2017/18 ice season.
- Warming Arctic Ocean conditions are also coinciding with an expansion of harmful toxic algal blooms in the Arctic Ocean and threatening food sources.
- Microplastic contamination is on the rise in the Arctic, posing a threat to seabirds and marine life that can ingest debris..”
Collaboration with Amazon Web Services enhances data access – “NOAA generates thousands of datasets as part of its mission to collect information on environments that span from the surface of the sun to the depths of the ocean floor. More than 68,000 datasets are made publicly available from NOAA with the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) providing access to more than half of those datasets. With such vast holdings, NOAA faces the challenge of providing access to the data in an efficient and scalable manner.
NOAA’s Big Data Project (BDP) helps address this challenge by collaborating with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform, IBM, Microsoft, and the Open Commons Consortium to host NOAA’s public data on their cloud platforms. By providing access to the data in this manner, the BDP aims to enhance data discoverability and accessibility, improve efficiency for NOAA and users, as well as spur innovation and economic growth. AWS helps the BDP to achieve these goals by hosting the data on its Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) cloud platform as part of its Public Dataset Program…”
LC – In Custodia Legis: “The Library of Congress Web Archiving Program is dedicated to providing reliable access to historical web content from the legislative branch. To that end, the Library has just released an update to the United States Congressional Web Archive. The archive, which includes member sites from the House and Senate, as well as House and Senate Committee websites, now includes content for the 113th and 114th Congresses. The archive has also added subject facets for the 105th and 106th Congresses to enhance access to the older content in the archive.
ABC.Net.Au: “Melbourne gave 70,000 trees email addresses so people could report on their condition. But instead people are writing love letters, existential queries and sometimes just bad puns…” Please take a couple of minutes and read this article – you may cry, you may appreciate how important trees are in our urban areas (and if so – I encourage you to give to non profit groups such as Casey Trees – who have planted thousands of trees in Washington, DC.), and you will also experience the positive power of email. You will understand what I mean when you read the article.
Greetings friends, colleagues: my blog BeSpacific has been nominated (4 years in a row) in the category Best Legal Legal Tech Blog.
Please take a minute this week and vote for BeSpacific here – https://www.theexpertinstitute.com/legal-blog/bespacific/ and share this request with your friends and colleagues as well.
There are no prizes or $$ – just “job well done.” I research every day to achieve that goal, and will continue to do so. My readers are the Best!
Many thanks for your support.
Marsden, Gregory, Doing Law School Wrong: Case Teaching and an Integrated Legal Practice Method (November 15, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3284875 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3284875
“Since its inception, the Langdellian case method has been used to teach legal analysis and reasoning to generations of U.S. law students. For nearly as long, business school students have used their own version of the case method to learn and practice management decision-making. In law school, a ‘case’ is an appellate court decision, which students must analyze in preparation for Socratic questioning. To business students, a ‘case’ is a narrative problem they must solve, before debating and defending their solutions in a moderated classroom discussion. This paper contrasts the two case methods, first defining the methods themselves, as well as related concepts including Socratic dialogue and problem-based learning. It then asserts that neither the law school nor the business school case method is optimal to prepare students for bar admission and the practice of law. Following a detailed examination of both methods, with particular emphasis on the role of group work, the focus then shifts to a proposed Integrated Legal Practice Method. This proposed method draws on business-school case teaching, in an effort to address the shortcomings of current U.S. legal education by providing students not only with substantive and adjective legal knowledge, but also with the skills necessary for legal practice.”
Pew: “Experts say the rise of artificial intelligence will make most people better off over the next decade, but many have concerns about how advances in AI will affect what it means to be human, to be productive and to exercise free will. Digital life is augmenting human capacities and disrupting eons-old human activities. Code-driven systems have spread to more than half of the world’s inhabitants in ambient information and connectivity, offering previously unimagined opportunities and unprecedented threats. As emerging algorithm-driven artificial intelligence (AI) continues to spread, will people be better off than they are today? Some 979 technology pioneers, innovators, developers, business and policy leaders, researchers and activists answered this question in a canvassing of experts conducted in the summer of 2018. The experts predicted networked artificial intelligence will amplify human effectiveness but also threaten human autonomy, agency and capabilities. They spoke of the wide-ranging possibilities; that computers might match or even exceed human intelligence and capabilities on tasks such as complex decision-making, reasoning and learning, sophisticated analytics and pattern recognition, visual acuity, speech recognition and language translation. They said “smart” systems in communities, in vehicles, in buildings and utilities, on farms and in business processes will save time, money and lives and offer opportunities for individuals to enjoy a more-customized future…”
EveryCRSReport.com: Right to Try: Access to Investigational Drugs, November 27, 2018 – “The Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina Right to Try (RTT) Act of 2017 became federal law on May 30, 2018. Over the preceding five years, 40 states had enacted related legislation. The goal was to allow individuals with imminently life-threatening diseases or conditions to seek access to investigational drugs without the step of procuring permission from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Another goal—held by the Goldwater Institute, which led the initiative toward state bills, and some of the legislative proponents—was focused more on the process: to eliminate government’s role in an individual’s choice. The RTT Act (P.L. 115-176) offers eligible individuals and their physicians a pathway other than FDA’s expanded access procedures to acquiring investigational drugs. It defines an eligible patient as one who (1) has been diagnosed with a life-threatening disease or condition, (2) has exhausted approved treatment options and is unable to participate in a clinical trial involving the eligible investigational drug (as certified by a physician who meets specified criteria), and (3) has given written informed consent regarding the drug to the treating physician. It defines an eligible investigational drug as an investigational drug (1) for which a Phase 1 clinical trial has been completed, (2) that FDA has not approved or licensed for sale in the United States for any use, (3) that is the subject of a new drug application pending FDA decision or is the subject of an active investigational new drug application being studied for safety and effectiveness in a clinical trial, and (4) for which the manufacturer has not discontinued active development or production and which the FDA has not placed on clinical hold…”
“Dimensions.Guide is a comprehensive reference database of dimensioned drawings documenting the standard measurements and sizes of the everyday objects and spaces that make up our built environment. Created as a universal resource to better communicate the basic properties, systems, and logics of our world, Dimensions.Guide is a free platform for increasing public and professional knowledge of life and design. Updated daily. [Take a look – you will be amazed – and return again and again – my favorite of the moment – and it changes daily, is the dimensions of the giant turtle.]
“This year marks the 50th anniversary of Doug Engelbart’s groundbreaking 1968 Demo – also known as “The Mother of All Demos.” It was there at the 1968 Fall Joint Computer Conference that Doug and his team at SRI first presented their seminal work in personal and collaborative computing to the world – this was the debut of the mouse, windows, hypermedia, file sharing, teleconferencing, and much, much more. Use #theDemoat50 on Social Media Planning is in the works for some exciting ways to celebrate, including events this December in Silicon Valley, Tokyo, and more. See our Events page for details, and Activities for fun things to do and see online…”
The New York Times – “The millions of dots on the map trace highways, side streets and bike trails — each one following the path of an anonymous cellphone user. One path tracks someone from a home outside Newark to a nearby Planned Parenthood, remaining there for more than an hour. Another represents a person who travels with the mayor of New York during the day and returns to Long Island at night. Yet another leaves a house in upstate New York at 7 a.m. and travels to a middle school 14 miles away, staying until late afternoon each school day. Only one person makes that trip: Lisa Magrin, a 46-year-old math teacher. Her smartphone goes with her. An app on the device gathered her location information, which was then sold without her knowledge. It recorded her whereabouts as often as every two seconds, according to a database of more than a million phones in the New York area that was reviewed by The New York Times. While Ms. Magrin’s identity was not disclosed in those records, The Times was able to easily connect her to that dot. The app tracked her as she went to a Weight Watchers meeting and to her dermatologist’s office for a minor procedure. It followed her hiking with her dog and staying at her ex-boyfriend’s home, information she found disturbing. “It’s the thought of people finding out those intimate details that you don’t want people to know,” said Ms. Magrin, who allowed The Times to review her location data. Like many consumers, Ms. Magrin knew that apps could track people’s movements. But as smartphones have become ubiquitous and technology more accurate, an industry of snooping on people’s daily habits has spread and grown more intrusive…”
BBC News: “The National Health Service will be banned from buying fax machines from next month – and has been told by the government to phase out the machines entirely by 31 March 2020. In July, the Royal College of Surgeons revealed nearly 9,000 fax machines were in use across the NHS in England. The Department of Health said a change to more modern communication methods was needed to improve patient safety and cyber security. An RCS spokesman said they supported the government’s decision. In place of fax machines, the Department of Health said secure email should be used. Richard Kerr, who is the chair of the RCS’s commission on the future of surgery, said the continued use of the outdated technology by the NHS was “absurd”. He added it was “crucial” that the health service invested in “better ways of communicating the vast amount of patient information that is going to be generated” in the future. The group’s report from earlier this year found the use of fax machines was most common at the Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Trust, which still relied on 603 machines. Three-quarters of the trusts in England replied to the survey – 95 in total. Ten trusts said that they did not own any fax machines, but four in ten reported more than 100 in use…”