Law and Legal

Court Recognizes First Amendment Right to Anonymity Even After Speakers Lose Lawsuits

Aaron Mackey – EFF: “Anonymous online speakers may be able to keep their identities secret even after they lose lawsuits brought against them, a federal appellate court ruled last week. The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Signature Management Team, LLC v. John Doe is a victory for online speakers because it recognized that the First Amendment’s protections for anonymous speech do not end once a party suing the anonymous speaker prevails. Instead, the court ruled that revealing anonymous speakers’ identities has far-reaching consequences that must be weighed against opposing parties’ and the general public’s rights to learn speakers’ names once they’ve been found to have violated the law. This is good news, because many vulnerable speakers will self-censor unless they have the ability to speak anonymously and thereby avoid retaliation for their whistleblowing or unpopular views. The ruling, however, is not all good news for anonymous speech. The test announced by the court sets unmasking as the default rule post-judgment, placing the burden on the anonymous party to argue against unmasking. Additionally, the court expanded the competing First Amendment right of access to judicial proceedings and records—which EFF strongly supports—to a novel right to learn the identity of an anonymous litigant—which we do not support…”

Categories: Law and Legal

A New (Beta) Interface for the UK Web Archive

“The UK Web Archive has a new user interface!

What’s new?

  • For the first time you can search both the ‘Open UK Web Archive [The Open UK Web Archive was started in 2005 and comprises of approximately 15,000 websites that can be viewed anywhere] and the ‘Legal Deposit Web Archive’ [The Legal Deposit Web Archive was started in 2013 and comprises millions of websites but these can only be viewed in the Reading Rooms of UK Legal Deposit Libraries] from the same search box
  • We have improved the search and have included faceting so that it’s easier to find what you are looking for
  • A simple, clean design that (hopefully) allows the content to be the focus
  • Easily browsable ‘Special Collections’ (curated groups of websites on a theme, topic or event..”
Categories: Law and Legal

Improving Search and discovery on Google

Google Blog: “Search is not just about answering your questions—it’s also about discovery. We search to explore new topics of interest, to find new angles to ideas or things we think we already know, or even to uncover information that we didn’t even think to ask about. Over the years, we’ve developed many features to help you discover more on your journeys through the web, starting with related searches almost 10 years ago, to more recent additions such as related questions (Related questions are labeled “People also ask” in search results). In the last few weeks, we’ve made three new additions to help you explore further, including expanded Featured Snippets, improved functionality of Knowledge Panels, and suggested content as you search for a particular topic. Featured Snippets are algorithmically generated highlights of what’s available on the web that provide quick, relevant answers for your queries. Today, we’ve added more images and related searches inside select Featured Snippets to help you learn even more about your topic, or to discover new things related to your interest…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Politico – highest posting twitter accounts by US elected official and hashtags from activist orgs

“YEAR-END NUMBERS FROM TWITTER — Top tweeted U.S. elected officials: 1. @RealDonaldTrump … 2. @VP … 3. @SpeakerRyan … 4. @BarackObama … 5. @TedLieu … 6. @SenJohnMcCain … 7. @SenWarren … 8. @SenateMajLdr 9. … @SenSanders … 10. @SenSchumer … Top tweeted news outlets and the top tweeted journalist/commentator at each: 1. @FoxNews — @SeanHannity … 2. @CNN — @JakeTapper … 3. @NYTimes — @MaggieNYT … 4. @MSNBC — @JoyAnnReid … 5. @WashingtonPost — @Fahrenthold … 6. @TheHill — @JoeConchaTV … 7. @NBCNews — @BraddJaffy … 8. @ABC — @GStephanopoulos … 9. @POLITICO — @ddiamond … 10. @AP — @ZekeJMiller …

… Most tweeted activism hashtags in the U.S.: 1. #Resist … 2. #MAGA … 3. #ImpeachTrump … 4. #TrumpTrain … 5. #WomensMarch … 6. #NotMyPresident … 7. #BlackLivesMatter … 8. #NoDAPL … 9. #TakeAKnee … 10. #BoycottNFL”

Categories: Law and Legal

BeSpacific – ABA Best 100 Law Blogs 2017 and Expert Witness Best Legal Tech Blog 2017

I am starting this post with a deeply appreciative and respectful Thank You to Robert Ambrogi who has logged 15 years and counting of blogging at his legendary Law Sites. Bob’s unflagging support has been a touchstone for me as I too completed 15 years of blogging here at my site, BeSpacific. In a welcome follow-up to 2016, BeSpacific is again included in the American Bar Association (ABA) Web 100: Best law blogs for 2017. In addition, BeSpacific received more than 600 votes to place a very respectable Third in the 2017 Best Legal Tech Blog category via The Expert Institute’s Best Legal Blog contest – the “annual competition that showcases the very best that the legal blogging world has to offer.” Thank you to all who voted. Reminder, please vote again in 2018!

I am a full time Knowledge Manager, Law/Financial/Congressional/Regulatory/Research Services Librarian and Senior News Analyst in my “day job,” and after walking the collies at night, I focus on BeSpacific every evening. From among more than several hundred sources I read regularly, I identify some twenty or thirty that I determine merit inclusion in my database of 45,000 postings (and growing), as they pertain to research, knowledge management, and expert subject matter sources on topics that include: law, technology, high profile government documents and legislation, civil liberties, legal research, cybersecurity, privacy, climate change and environmental law. The sources I do not include on BeSpacific I post on my LLRX twitter feed [with over 14,500 postings- please feel free to subscribe] and via emails that my friends and colleagues thankfully indulge me by reading. Kudos and thanks to all of these folks as well. As I remind myself daily, it is crucial to “be specific” in this work – to identify, locate, review and deliver to my readers the primary documents, reliable commentary and analysis, and actionable resources that will continuously assist them in their work. I created BeSpacific in no small measure so that I could provide a searchable, content rich, accurate and reliable database to communities of best practice that would always be available, up-to-date, and of tangible value. This effort has been supported by the superlative server host who maintains both BeSpacific and LLRX. In closing, stepping off tiny soap box with gratitude – and always maintaining hope for the future. Peace.

Categories: Law and Legal

Use of Public Libraries continues to increase

Use of Public Libraries (Updated September 2016) [see this link for all the respective data included in this article]: “In addition to making a wide variety of reading, audio, video, reference, and archival materials available to children and adults, public libraries nationwide have been developing programs to reinforce their value to the community. As the Institute of Museum and Library Services notes, public libraries support lifelong learning by “offer[ing] a wide range of programs for people of all ages, including story time for toddlers and preschoolers, homework and after-school programs for teens, author book readings, and computer classes for adults and seniors.” Findings and Trends – After rising steadily for almost a decade and a half, per capita visits to libraries declined 13% from 2009 to 2014 (Indicator V-8a). Circulation also declined, but beginning a year later. From 2010 to 2014, per capita circulation dropped 9%. Despite declines in per capita visits and per capita circulation, library programs attracted growing numbers of participants (Indicator V-8b). The trend in children’s programs is particularly important, as such events attract the majority of library program attendees. (A May 2013 survey from the Pew Internet and American Life Project shows that children and their parents are more likely to use the library than are others in the population.) From 1995 to 2009, attendance at children’s programs grew in every year but two; however, a drop in attendance at children’s programs in 2010 contributed to a brief plateau in total attendance at library programs. Since that time, growing attendance brought children’s programming to its highest recorded level, 229 per 1,000 members of the U.S. population—44% higher than in 1995. Total program attendance at public libraries has also been rising rapidly since 2010. Programs for young adults constitute a relatively small portion of attendance at public library activities, but attendance has grown considerably since numbers were first recorded in 2009. Attendance increased 52% from 2009 to 2014—from 14.8 to 21.8 per 1,000 members of the national population. Use of public libraries varied considerably among the states for each of the five use measures discussed above. The customizable visualizations under Indicator V-8c and Indicator V-8d allow Humanities Indicators users to compare states with respect to annual number of visits, circulation, and attendance at different types of library programs.”

Categories: Law and Legal

S.177 – Data Security and Breach Notification Act of 2015

Data Security and Breach Notification Act of 2015Requires the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to promulgate regulations requiring commercial entities, nonprofit and for-profit corporations, estates, trusts, cooperatives, and other specified entities that own or possess data containing personal information (covered entities), or that contract to have a third-party maintain or process such data for the entity, to implement information security policies and procedures for the treatment and protection of personal information. Establishes procedures to be followed in the event of an information security breach. Requires a covered entity that discovers a breach to notify the FTC (unless the covered entity has already notified a federal entity designated by the Department of Homeland Security [DHS] to receive such information) and affected individuals. Sets forth requirements concerning such notification, including methods of notification and timeliness requirements. Allows an exemption from notification requirements if such entity reasonably concludes that there is no reasonable risk of identity theft, fraud, or other unlawful conduct. Establishes a presumption that there is no such risk for encrypted data. Directs DHS to designate a federal entity that covered entities would be required to notify if a security breach involves: (1) the personal information of more than 10,000 individuals, (2) a database containing the personal information of more than 1 million individuals, (3) federal government databases, or (4) the personal information of federal employees or contractors known to be involved in national security or law enforcement.”

Proposed law would jail execs who fail to report data breaches

Categories: Law and Legal

Special Counsel’s Office Statement of Expenditures: May 17, 2017 – Sept. 30, 2017

DOJ – “Please find the link to the Special Counsel’s Office Statement of Expenditures, May 17, 2017 to September 30, 2017 here.  This statement has also been provided to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and the House Committee on the Judiciary. As required by regulation, the Special Counsel, with the assistance of the Department’s Justice Management Division, developed a proposed budget, which was then reviewed and approved by the Deputy Attorney General. The Statement reflects the Special Counsel’s spending within the approved budget.  Consistent with past practice, the Statement showing actual spending is being made public today. The Justice Management Division will conduct a similar review every six months. The next Statement of Expenditures will be released after March 31, 2018.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Urban Institute State Economic Monitor

The State and Local Finance Initiative’s State Economic Monitor tracks and analyzes economic and fiscal trends at the state level. Its interactive graphics highlight particular differences across all 50 states and the District of Columbia in employment, earnings, housing, and taxes.”

Categories: Law and Legal

First-time internet users: Who they are and what they do when they get online

“Decades after internet access became widely available, Pew Research Center surveys show that about a tenth of American adults (12%) remain offline. But what happens when some of them take the plunge and connect? A new analysis provides a glimpse of the online behaviors of those who are new to the internet. The Center provided internet-connected tablet computers to 112 people who are members of our American Trends Panel. These panelists, who previously received our surveys through the mail, had never used the internet under any circumstances. This change allowed these respondents to become internet users if they wished by using the tablets for online activities other than taking surveys. This is not a large sample. Still, these newly internet-enabled adults answered some questions that provide insight into who late adopters of the internet are, the online activities they perform and their struggles with new devices. Here is what we learned about this modest sample of new users…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Law on the Market? Abnormal Stock Returns and Supreme Court Decision-Making

Law on the Market? Abnormal Stock Returns and Supreme Court Decision-Making. Daniel Martin Katz, Michael J. Bommarito II, Tyler Soellinger, James Ming Chen. Illinois Institute of Technology – Chicago Kent College of Law, CodeX – The Stanford Center for Legal Informatics. Michigan State University College of Law. May 16, 2017.

“What happens when the Supreme Court of the United States decides a case impacting one or more publicly-traded firms? While many have observed anecdotal evidence linking decisions or oral arguments to abnormal stock returns, few have rigorously or systematically investigated the behavior of equities around Supreme Court actions. In this research, we present the first comprehensive, longitudinal study on the topic, spanning over 15 years and hundreds of cases and firms. Using both intra- and interday data around decisions and oral arguments, we evaluate the frequency and magnitude of statistically-significant abnormal return events after Supreme Court action. On a per-term basis, we find 5.3 cases and 7.8 stocks that exhibit abnormal returns after decision. In total, across the cases we examined, we find 79 out of the 211 cases (37%) exhibit an average abnormal return of 4.4% over a two-session window with an average |t|-statistic of 2.9. Finally, we observe that abnormal returns following Supreme Court decisions materialize over the span of hours and days, not minutes, yielding strong implications for market efficiency in this context. While we cannot causally separate substantive legal impact from mere revision of beliefs, we do find strong evidence that there is indeed a “law on the market” effect as measured by the frequency of abnormal return events, and that these abnormal returns are not immediately incorporated into prices.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Database of Trump administration officials’ personal finances grows

“The Center for Public Integrity today added more than 100 new Trump administration officials’ financial disclosures to a searchable, sortable database first launched in April. The database allows anyone to easily understand the wealth, assets and business interests of many of the people working for President Donald Trump. These include Senate-confirmed appointees, White House aides and members of so-called “beachhead teams” sent to prepare executive agencies for the new administration. Among the prominent Trump allies included in the database update: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Transportation Secretary Eliane Chao and White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Diversity in the Technology Sector: Federal Agencies Could Improve Oversight of Equal Employment Opportunity Requirements

Diversity in the Technology Sector: Federal Agencies Could Improve Oversight of Equal Employment Opportunity Requirements, GAO-18-69: Published: Nov 16, 2017. Publicly Released: Nov 30, 2017.

“The estimated percentage of minority technology workers increased from 2005 to 2015, but GAO found that no growth occurred for female and Black workers, whereas Asian and Hispanic workers made statistically significant increases (see figure). Further, female, Black, and Hispanic workers remain a smaller proportion of the technology workforce—mathematics, computing, and engineering occupations—compared to their representation in the general workforce. These groups have also been less represented among technology workers inside the technology sector than outside it. In contrast, Asian workers were more represented in these occupations than in the general workforce. Stakeholders and researchers GAO interviewed identified several factors that may have contributed to the lower representation of certain groups, such as fewer women and minorities graduating with technical degrees and company hiring and retention practices. Both the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) have taken steps to enforce equal employment and affirmative action requirements in the technology sector, but face limitations. While EEOC has identified barriers to recruitment and hiring in the technology sector as a strategic priority, when EEOC conducts investigations, it does not systematically record the type of industry, therefore limiting sector-related analyses to help focus its efforts. EEOC has plans to determine how to add missing industry codes but has not set a timeframe to do this. In addition, OFCCP’s regulations may hinder its ability to enforce contractors’ compliance because OFCCP directs contractors to set placement goals for all minorities as a group rather than for specific racial/ethnic groups. OFCCP also has not made changes to its establishment-based approach to selecting entities for review in decades, even though changes have occurred in how workplaces are structured. Without taking steps to address these issues, OFCCP may miss opportunities to hold contractors responsible for complying with affirmative action and nondiscrimination requirements.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Open source journal articles combined with topical search engines change paradigm of pay to read

Wired: “…But most science is still paywalled. More than three quarters of published journal articles—114 million on the World Wide Web alone, by one (lowball) estimate—are only available if you are affiliated with an institution that can afford pricey subscriptions or you can swing $40-per-article fees. In the last several years, though, scientists have made strides to loosen the grip of giant science publishers. They skip over the lengthy peer review process mediated by the big journals and just … post. Review comes after. The paywall isn’t crumbling, but it might be eroding. The open science movement, with its free distribution of articles before their official publication, is a big reason. Another reason, though, is stealthy improvement in scientific search engines like Google Scholar, Microsoft Academic, and Semantic Scholar—web tools increasingly able to see around paywalls or find articles that have jumped over. Scientific publishing ain’t like book publishing or journalism. In fact, it’s a little more like music, pre-iTunes, pre-Spotify. You know, right about when everyone started using Napster…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Analysis of the Long-Term Costs of the Administration’s Goals for the Military

CBO estimates that inflation-adjusted costs for the Department of Defense would climb from the $575 billion requested in 2018 to $688 billion in 2027 if DoD pursued goals that Administration officials have articulated for the military.

“This report describes CBO’s analysis of the costs and budgetary consequences through 2027 of the current Administration’s goals for increasing the readiness, size, and capabilities of the military. The report draws from the fiscal year 2018 budget request submitted by the Department of Defense (DoD) and from other official documents, including Congressional testimony presented by DoD officials. The 2018 budget request calls for $640 billion in funding for the department. Of that total, $575 billion would fund base-budget activities (such as day-to-day military and civilian operations and developing and procuring weapon systems) and $65 billion would fund overseas contingency operations (OCO, mostly for the conflicts in Afghanistan and in Iraq and Syria). The base-budget funding request is 3 percent more than the amount that would have been requested for 2018 under the Obama Administration’s final Future Years Defense Program, the 2017 FYDP, after adjusting for inflation.”

Categories: Law and Legal

New Way to Browse the Federal Courts Web Archive

In Custodia Legis/Library of Congress/Robert Bremmer: “The Law Library and the Library of Congress Web Archiving team launched the Federal Courts Web Archive back in September. We are excited to bring you a new way to browse the archive. If you visit the new browse page, you will find the Federal courts arranged in a list. If you click on a court in the table of contents at the top of the screen, it will take you to the link to the archive for that court. If you are searching for a United States district or bankruptcy court, you can use the clickable map or drop down menu to choose a state or territory to drop down to link to the archive for that court.”

Categories: Law and Legal

The Many Faces of Digital Visitors and Residents: Facets of Online Engagement

This OCLC Research Report challenges the digital natives vs. digital immigrants paradigm; that is, the common assumption that younger people prefer to conduct research in a digital space while older people rely on physical sources for information. The report continues the work of the Digital Visitors and Residents project, which included the development of a mapping tool to help participants identify which technology they use as visitors (i.e., access to complete a certain task and then leave without a digital trace) or as residents (i.e., express themselves, interact with others, and establish personas that persist beyond active engagement). Using these maps, semi-structured individual interviews, diaries, and online surveys, the researchers analyzed the technology engagement of undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty members in the United States, United Kingdom, Spain, and Italy at a range of educational institutions.
Key findings:

  • Humans are a valued source of information.
  • Convenience is a priority when making decisions about what tools and sources to use.
  • Context and situation influence behavior and decision making.
  • Participants report extensive use of search engines, especially Google, and take them for granted.
  • Wikipedia is used by individuals in all educational stages to familiarize themselves with a subject or topic but often not cited or mentioned in references.
  • Library sources are used but not recognized or attributed to the library.”
Categories: Law and Legal

Cybersecurity Research Report – Improving Science, Engineering, and Institutions

Additional Observations on Foundational Cybersecurity Research: Improving Science, Engineering, and Institutions: An Annex: Unclassified Abbreviated Version of a Classified Report: “At the request of the Special Cyber Operations Research and Engineering (SCORE) Interagency Working Group and sponsored with assistance from the National Science Foundation and from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine appointed an expert committee to explore future research goals and directions for cybersecurity. The committee for this multi-phased sequential study considered future research goals and directions for foundational science in cybersecurity, and included relevant efforts in economics and behavioral science as well as more “traditional” cybersecurity topics. It considered major challenge problems, explored proposed new directions, identified gaps in the current portfolio, considered the complementary roles of research in unclassified and classified settings, and considered how foundational work in an unclassified setting can be translated to meet national security objectives. This abbreviated annex provides background information on the full classified annex resulting from the study.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Mozilla releases Common Voice project datasets to expand new voice enabled applications

Mozilla Common Voice: “We are building an open and publicly available dataset of voices that everyone can use to train speech-enabled applications. We believe that large and publicly available voice datasets foster innovation and healthy commercial competition in machine-learning based speech technology. This is a global effort and we invite everyone to participate. Our aim is to help speech technology be more inclusive, reflecting the diversity of voices from around the world.”

Categories: Law and Legal

New open data directory collects standards from around the world

statescoop – “A partnership between two civic data groups has led to the launch of a free directory of open data standards with the goal of making it easier for governments to find specifications that suit their open data needs. The Open Data Standards Directory has about 60 entries of open data standards governments could use to publish data on transit, infrastructure, crime, elections and other information that might interest the public. The directory, launched earlier this month, is a partnership between Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Government Excellence (GovEX) and Geothink, a Canadian open data research group…”

Categories: Law and Legal


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