Law and Legal
TechCrunch: Every day, millions of new medical images containing the personal health information of patients are spilling out onto the internet. Hundreds of hospitals, medical offices and imaging centers are running insecure storage systems, allowing anyone with an internet connection and free-to-download software to access over 1 billion medical images of patients across the world. About half of all the exposed images, which include X-rays, ultrasounds and CT scans, belong to patients in the United States. Yet despite warnings from security researchers who have spent weeks alerting hospitals and doctors’ offices to the problem, many have ignored their warnings and continue to expose their patients’ private health information.
The problem is well-documented. Greenbone found 24 million patient exams storing more than 720 million medical images in September, which first unearthed the scale of the problem as reported by ProPublica. Two months later, the number of exposed servers had increased by more than half, to 35 million patient exams, exposing 1.19 billion scans and representing a considerable violation of patient privacy. But the problem shows little sign of abating. “The amount of data exposed is still rising, even considering the amount of data taken offline due to our disclosures,” said Schrader. If doctors fail to take action, he said the number of exposed medical images will hit a new high “in no time.”
Digital Trends – “The biggest draw for me was, of course, the fact that Mozilla Firefox can finally go toe-to-toe with Google Chrome on the performance front, and often manages to edge it out as well. But that didn’t happen overnight. Since Firefox’s 2017 overhaul, Mozilla has been pushing updates around the clock. Today, in addition to being fast, Firefox is resource-efficient, unlike most of its peers. I don’t have to think twice before firing up yet another tab. It’s rare that I’m forced to close an existing tab to make room for a new one. On Firefox, my 2015 MacBook Pro’s fans don’t blast past my noise-canceling headphones, which happened fairly regularly on Chrome as it pushed my laptop’s fans to their helicopter-like limits to keep things running. This rare balance of efficiency and performance is the result of the countless under-the-hood upgrades Firefox has rolled out in the last couple of years. One of the recent major performance updates arrived in May when Mozilla natively integrated a handful of clever optimizations for which users previously had to rely on third-party extensions…”
Brain Pickings – Oliver Sacks on the Psychological and Physiological Consolations of Nature – “…“After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, love, and so on — have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear — what remains? Nature remains; to bring out from their torpid recesses, the affinities of a man or woman with the open air, the trees, fields, the changes of seasons — the sun by day and the stars of heaven by night.” Those unmatched rewards, both psychological and physiological, are what beloved neurologist and author Oliver Sacks (July 9, 1933–August 30, 2015) explores in a lovely short essay titled “Why We Need Gardens,” found in Everything in Its Place: First Loves and Last Tales (public library) — the wondrous posthumous collection that gave us Sacks on the life-altering power of libraries. He writes:
As a writer, I find gardens essential to the creative process; as a physician, I take my patients to gardens whenever possible. All of us have had the experience of wandering through a lush garden or a timeless desert, walking by a river or an ocean, or climbing a mountain and finding ourselves simultaneously calmed and reinvigorated, engaged in mind, refreshed in body and spirit. The importance of these physiological states on individual and community health is fundamental and wide-ranging. In forty years of medical practice, I have found only two types of non-pharmaceutical “therapy” to be vitally important for patients with chronic neurological diseases: music and gardens…”
San Diego’s massive, 7-year experiment with facial recognition technology appears to be a flop – “Since 2012, the city’s law enforcement agencies have compiled over 65,000 face scans and tried to match them against a massive mugshot database. But it’s almost completely unclear how effective the initiative was, with one spokesperson saying they’re unaware of a single arrest or prosecution that stemmed from the program…Now, after the California legislature instituted a three-year ban on police use of mobile facial recognition technology, one of the nation’s most overhyped and least well-understood policing tools has been switched off…”
Davis, Laurel, “Dictionaries and the Law” (2019). Rare Book Room Exhibition Programs. 33. “Exhibition program from a Spring 2019 exhibit presented in the Daniel R. Coquillette Rare Book Room at the Boston College Law Library. The exhibit focused on the history of legal dictionaries published over the last 500 years.”
“The law is a profession built on words, so it is no surprise that dictionaries repre-sent a key component of our professional literature. From John Rastell’s Termes de la Ley in the sixteenth century to Bryan A. Garner’s most recent edition of Black’s Law Dictionary, dictionaries have helped lawyers and judges grapple with words and phrases that are often challenging and obscure. For law students, dictionaries—general or law-specific, online or in print—can help with the daunting task of learning a new professional language with old roots, often in Latin and French..”
EveryCRSReport.com: U.S. Killing of Qasem Soleimani: Frequently Asked Questions. January 8, 2020. “The January 2, 2020, U.S. killing in Iraq of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) Commander Qasem Soleimani, generally regarded as one of the most powerful and important officials in Iran, has potentially dramatic implications for the United States. For Congress, it raises possible questions about U.S. policy in the Middle East, broader U.S. global strategy, U.S. relations with partners and allies, the authorization and legality of U.S. military action abroad, U.S. measures to protect its service members and diplomatic personnel, and congressional oversight of these and related issues. This report provides background information in response to some frequently asked questions related to the strike and its aftermath.”
LC blog – The Signal: “The 3D Digital Modeling, Imaging, and Printing Working Group was created to explore the use of 3D technologies to expand access to the Library’s collections. In Fall 2019, the working group launched a pilot in which a limited selection of items from the online collections were 3D scanned and the 3D models made publicly available. In the blog post below, I share what it was like to be trained to build 3D models alongside other Library staff, how we collaborated as a cross-functional working group, and lay out the potential uses of the models we created as part of the LOC 3D pilot project. Library’s 3D models go live! Ask anyone what is held in the Library of Congress collections and they will give you the obvious answer: books. Lots and lots of books. Up until last month, I would’ve said the same thing. Since joining the Library of Congress 3D Digital Modeling, Imaging, and Printing Working Group, however, I’ve discovered that the world’s largest library in fact houses many three-dimensional objects ranging from casts of President’s hands to banjos to medieval vellum manuscripts. What’s more—you can now see some of them online as 3D objects! The core purpose of the 3D Working Group chaired by Educational Resource Specialist Stephen Wesson is to explore ways to bring these physical artifacts to life online for users. I was lucky enough to come aboard just as the group launched a pilot project to create and display 3D models of objects held in our collections. To this end, 13 staff from all across the Library’s service units became certified in photogrammetry, a process that combines photography and the use of software to create digital, web-viewable 3D models…”
WPS – “Water insecurity is increasing worldwide. A third of the world’s people now live in countries that experience high levels of water stress, with droughts affecting around 50 million people and causing more than $5 billion in damage annually. These numbers are expected to rise as population growth, rapid urbanisation, increasing climate change and growing economic demands for water intensify existing pressures. In most cases these threats are not merely a consequence of changes in weather but also manifest issues around inadequate water management and governance. These multiple interacting factors render vulnerable communities more susceptible to short-term water scarcity and longer-term droughts, while directly affecting local economies and social relations…
The WPS partnership generates understanding about the risks of water-related security threats by using cutting-edge technologies such as big data, artificial intelligence (AI), remote sensing and other tools to support complex analysis. This generates crucial information for policymakers, including early warning signals and decision tools that indicate both where and when risks are increasing, and how they might be addressed. You can find out more about the WPS partnership and how we use data, AI and other tools to support complex analysis here:
Fortune: “Walking into Caroline Weaver’s empire in New York City feels like stepping into an Instagram photo. It’s ironic, given that her shop is dedicated to a tool many consider to be a relic of a time gone by—a product rendered obsolete by the same invention: the Internet, which in turn gave way to Instagram. But CW Pencil Enterprise is possibly the only pencil specialty shop of its kind worldwide. And it turns out people are still buying pencils. “I can’t do much market research because there is no other shop [like ours],” says Weaver. “But there’s somebody in every demographic of person in the world who uses pencils and cares deeply about them.” The paradox of leading a successful retail business in the era of all things online isn’t lost on Weaver, 29, who believes that specialty shops will stay relevant as long as their competence in their chosen specialty is kept paramount..,
Weaver must find a way to narrow down the over 250 pencils available in the shop during any given day. These hail from at least 15 different countries and, contrary to popular belief, not all pencils are created equal. Although the traditional wood-cased pencil has been made the same since the 1800s (graphite, clay, and water), companies around the globe have been trying to perfect the product—and define what that perfection even looks like—in recent times..”
Documentary via YouTube – “In the warm Pacific just off the coast of Maui, a hump whale mother has paired and given birth to her baby. Now, the time has come, whereby she has to take her baby on a 5.500-kilometre-long journey to the grazing grounds off Alaska. The animal has already lost 30% of its weight, but she still has to constantly feed her calf. Their destination is in Alaska’s south, where the whale mother will hunt herrings with the other humpback whales. Together, they create so-called air nets and surround the herrings: This is known as bubble net feeding. Orcas go fishing here for herrings, too, but also hunt down whale calves. Again and again, prior to each bubble net, one can hear the humpback whales singing. This is drowned out only by the sounds of thousands of seagulls that nest in the cliffs close by. Employing various tricks and much to the consternation of the humpback whales, puffins and northern sea lions attempt to benefit from the prey in the bubble net. In the south of the bay, belugas have arrived at the salmon rivers, in order to hunt salmon. We manage to dive and capture them on camera. In contrast to the humpbacks, they are extremely tame and enjoy con-tact with humans. A unique cat-and-mouse game begins…”
BuzzFeedNews: “Facebook will not make any changes to its policies around political advertising, including ones that allow politicians to lie in ads and micro-target specific audiences, the company announced on Thursday. Facebook’s announcement follows intense pressure from lawmakers in the last few months over the company’s decisions to allow politicians to lie in Facebook ads. Other large internet companies have changed their policies. In October 2019, Twitter banned all political advertising from its platform, and Google restricted micro-targeting of political ads on certain products.
“Ultimately, we don’t think decisions about political ads should be made by private companies, which is why we are arguing for regulation that would apply across the industry,” wrote Rob Leathern, Facebook’s director of product management, in a blog post announcing the company’s decision. “In the absence of regulation, Facebook and other companies are left to design their own policies. We have based ours on the principle that people should be able to hear from those who wish to lead them, warts and all, and that what they say should be scrutinized and debated in public.”
The Center for Public Integrity – “Do you know if a bill introduced in your statehouse — it might govern who can fix your shattered iPhone screen or whether you can still sue a pedophile priest years later — was actually written by your elected lawmakers? Use this new tool to find out. Spoiler alert The answer may well be no. Thousands of pieces of “model legislation” are drafted each year by business organizations and special interest groups and distributed to state lawmakers for introduction. These copycat bills influence policymaking across the nation, state by state, often with little scrutiny. This news application was developed by the Center for Public Integrity, part of a year-long collaboration with USA TODAY and the Arizona Republic to bring the practice into the light…”
Inside Higher Ed: “Two grad students convinced the University of Virginia to save and store its library’s card catalog, arguing that researchers and historians can use the cards. The card catalog for the University of Virginia’s Alderman Library was once the only way to find needed books. Over four million cards cataloged each book’s location and from where it was donated. Today, students and researchers use a digital catalog to find library materials, as is typical with most academic libraries. The card catalog, all 68 cabinets of it, was taken out of commission in 1989. The university’s library is set to undergo major renovations over the next three years, and for a while, the future of the card catalog seemed uncertain. “There was no real disagreement on the potential research value of the card catalog,” said John Unsworth, dean of libraries at Virginia. “The question wasn’t, ‘Is it worth saving?’ It was, ‘Can we afford to save it?’” There wasn’t going to be enough room in the renovated Alderman Library for the massive set of cards, and scanning each card was estimated to cost almost half a million dollars. The university’s administration planned to discard the collection. Neal Curtis and Sam Lemley, two graduate students at the university who had worked previously with the card catalog, felt compelled to act. They presented a plan to load the card catalog into boxes, store it at a facility in Waynesboro, Va., during renovations, and then keep it in university-owned high-density storage. The estimated cost of this proposal was around $75,000, a good deal less than scanning the cards would be, although it would require about 180 hours of labor…”
Book Riot: “Everyone—you, your grandma, your best frenemy—should buy used books. In fact, I will go so far as to say that everyone should buy used books as often as they can, reserving purchases of new paper books for special occasions, gifting, and those rare, delicious occasions when you get a gift certificate for your family’s particular gifty holiday. The reasons transcend thrift! Everyone already understands that a $30 new book is at best prohibitive, at worst impossible. Buying used means more than the sticker price. It speaks to our humanity. It’s an act of social and economic heroism. It’s the way we all need to think from now on, not just for our personal bookshelves, but for how we view ourselves as readers, our critical thinking abilities, and our planet’s continued livability…”
Stratechery: “The story tech most loves to tell about itself is the story of disruption: sure, companies may appear dominant today, but it is only a matter of time until they are usurped by the next wave of startups. And indeed, that is exactly what happened half a century ago: IBM’s mainframe monopoly was suddenly challenged by minicomputers from companies like DEC, Data General, Wang Laboratories, Apollo Computer, and Prime Computers. And then, scarcely a decade later, minicomputers were disrupted by personal computers from companies like MITS, Apple, Commodore, and Tandy. The most important personal computer, though, came from IBM, with an operating system from Microsoft. The former provided a massive distribution channel that immediately established the IBM PC as the most popular personal computer, particularly in the enterprise; the latter provided the APIs that created a durable two-sided network that made Microsoft the most powerful company in the industry for two decades.
That reality, though, was not permanent: first the Internet shifted the most important application environment from the operating system to the web, and then mobile shifted the most important interaction environment from the desk to the pocket. Suddenly it was Google and Apple that mattered most in the consumer space, while Microsoft refocused on the cloud and a new competitor, Amazon…”
Science: “Academic journals in Russia are retracting more than 800 papers following a probe into unethical publication practices by a commission appointed by the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS). The moves come in the wake of several other queries suggesting the vast Russian scientific literature is riddled with plagiarism, self-plagiarism, and so-called gift authorship, in which academics become a co-author without having contributed any work. The RAS commission’s preliminary report documenting the problems and journals’ responses to them is “a bombshell,” says Gerson Sher, a former staffer at the U.S. National Science Foundation and the author of a recent book on U.S.-Russia science cooperation. The report, released yesterday, “will reinforce the suspicions and fears of many—that their country is not going down the right path in science and that it’s damaging its own reputation,” says Sher, who applauds RAS for commissioning the investigation…”
VentureBeat: “During a press briefing at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show, executives from Twitter outlined policy changes that’ll affect the social network’s over 330 million users in the months to come. Twitter product lead Kayvon Beykpour focused on three core tenets in his presentation: health, conversations, and interest. “Public conversation is only valuable if it’s healthy enough that people would want to participate in the first place,” he said. “[We need to] ensure the integrity of the information that people are consuming on the platform is high.”..
Vice: “Amazon-owned home security camera company Ring has fired employees for improperly accessing Ring users’ video data, according to a letter the company wrote to Senators and obtained by Motherboard. The news highlights a risk across many different tech companies: employees may abuse access granted as part of their jobs to look at customer data or information. In Ring’s case this data can be particularly sensitive though, as customers often put the cameras inside their home.
“We are aware of incidents discussed below where employees violated our policies,” the letter from Ring, dated January 6, reads. “Over the last four years, Ring has received four complaints or inquiries regarding a team member’s access to Ring video data,” it continues. Ring explains that although each of these people were authorized to view video data, their attempted access went beyond what they needed to access for their job…”
Brand, Ronald A., Online Dispute Resolution (December 18, 2019). A paper based on the author’s presentation at the Summer School in Transnational Commercial Law & Technology, Verona, Italy, May 30-June 1, 2019 – (scheduled for publication by the University of Verona School of Law, Marco Torsello, editor) ; U. of Pittsburgh Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2019-31. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3506094
“This chapter was prepared from a presentation given by the author at the 2019 Summer School in Transnational Commercial Law & Technology, jointly sponsored by the University of Verona School of Law and the Center for International Legal Education (CILE) of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. In the paper, I review online dispute resolution (ODR) by considering the following five questions, which I believe help to develop a better understanding of both the concept and the legal framework surrounding it: A. What is ODR?; B. Who does ODR?; C. What is the legal framework for ODR?; D. What are the developing legal issues regarding ODR?; E. What is the future of ODR? I give particular consideration to the negotiations that led to the 2017 UNCITRAL Technical Notes on Online Dispute Resolution,1 as well as recent developments across the globe. I also consider whether the development of ODR is likely to occur most usefully in the private sector, as compared to development through national or international legal process.”
Inside Higher Education: The many bottlenecks that the commercial monopoly on research information has imposed are stimulating new strategies, write James W. Weis, Amy Brand and Joi Ito. “Science and technology are propelled forward by the sharing of knowledge. Yet despite their vital importance in today’s innovation-driven economy, our knowledge infrastructures have failed to scale with today’s rapid pace of research and discovery. For example, academic journals, the dominant dissemination platforms of scientific knowledge, have not been able to take advantage of the linking, transparency, dynamic communication and decentralized authority and review that the internet enables. Many other knowledge-driven sectors, from journalism to law, suffer from a similar bottleneck — caused not by a lack of technological capacity, but rather by an inability to design and implement efficient, open and trustworthy mechanisms of information dissemination. Fortunately, growing dissatisfaction with current knowledge-sharing infrastructures has led to a more nuanced understanding of the requisite features that such platforms must provide. With such an understanding, higher education institutions around the world can begin to recapture the control and increase the utility of the knowledge they produce…”