Law and Legal
Stewardship in the “Age of Algorithms [via First Monday] – This paper explores pragmatic approaches that might be employed to document the behavior of large, complex socio-technical systems (“algorithms”) that involve some mixture of personalization, opaque rules, and machine learning components. Thinking rooted in traditional archival methodology — focusing on the preservation of physical and digital objects, and perhaps the accompanying preservation of their environments to permit subsequent interpretation or performance — has been a total failure for many reasons. If we are to successfully cope with the new “Age of Algorithms,” there must be shift from artifacts requiring mediation and curation, to experiences. Specifically, it must focus on making pragmatic sense of an incredibly vast number of unique, personalized performances that can potentially be recorded.”
24/7 Wall St: “The United States is not known for its bike-friendly infrastructure. Next to cities like Copenhagen, Denmark and Amsterdam, Netherlands, where bikes often outnumber cars and where biking is common across all demographics, U.S. cities appear car-obsessed places, where biking is reserved for athletes and young adults. Despite the nation’s relatively poor bike system, the number of Americans riding bikes is on the rise, and the vast majority of large cities are remarkably safe for cyclists. Over the decade after 2000, the number of people commuting by bike increased by 60%, from approximately 488,000 to 786,000. Bike infrastructure has expanded over that time and roads have generally become safer for cyclists. In 2015, there were 818 biking deaths, comprising 2.3% of the total traffic deaths that year of 35,092. About 70% of fatal cyclist crashes occurred in urban areas. Because riding a bike is relatively more dangerous — and common — in large cities in particular, we limited our comparison to the 32 U.S. cities with populations of 500,000 or greater. Zero cyclists were killed in traffic accidents in three of the cities on this list. While injury statistics are not available at the city level, 35,000 cyclists were injured in traffic accidents nationwide. Injuries are likely more common in cities where fatalities are more common. The popularity of commuting to work by bike does not appear to be associated with the likelihood of a fatal accident. For instance, approximately 2.5% of working-age residents commute by bike in Boston, where no biking fatalities occurred in 2015. The same percentage of workers commute by bike in Tucson, which had the second most biking fatalities of U.S. cities. The vast majority of bicyclists killed in traffic accidents are men, especially male cyclists 55 to 59 years old, according to the Department of Transportation.”
Moody’s: Climate change is forecast to heighten US exposure to economic loss placing short-and long-term credit pressure on US states and local governments
News release: New York, November 28, 2017 – “The growing effects of climate change, including climbing global temperatures, and rising sea levels, are forecast to have an increasing economic impact on US state and local issuers. This will be a growing negative credit factor for issuers without sufficient adaptation and mitigation strategies, Moody’s Investors Service says in a new report. The report differentiates between climate trends, which are a longer-term shift in the climate over several decades, versus climate shock, defined as extreme weather events like natural disasters, floods, and droughts which are exacerbated by climate trends. Our credit analysis considers the effects of climate change when we believe a meaningful credit impact is highly likely to occur and not be mitigated by issuer actions, even if this is a number of years in the future. Climate shocks or extreme weather events have sharp, immediate and observable impacts on an issuer’s infrastructure, economy and revenue base, and environment. As such, we factor these impacts into our analysis of an issuer’s economy, fiscal position and capital infrastructure, as well as management’s ability to marshal resources and implement strategies to drive recovery. Extreme weather patterns exacerbated by changing climate trends include higher rates of coastal storm damage, more frequent droughts, and severe heat waves. These events can also cause economic challenges like smaller crop yields, infrastructure damage, higher energy demands, and escalated recovery costs. “While we anticipate states and municipalities will adopt mitigation strategies for these events, costs to employ them could also become an ongoing credit challenge,” Michael Wertz, a Moody’s Vice President says. “Our analysis of economic strength and diversity, access to liquidity and levers to raise additional revenue are also key to our assessment of climate risks as is evaluating asset management and governance.” One example of climate shock driving rating change was when Hurricane Katrina struck the City of New Orleans (A3 stable). In addition to widespread infrastructure damage, the city’s revenue declined significantly and a large percentage of its population permanently left New Orleans. “US issuer resilience to extreme climate events is enhanced by a variety of local, state and federal tools to improve immediate response and long-term recovery from climate shocks,” Wertz says. For issuers, the availability of state and federal resources is an important element that broadens the response capabilities of local governments and their ability to mitigate credit impacts. As well, all municipalities can benefit from the deployment of broader state and federal aid, particularly disaster aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help with economic recovery. Moody’s analysts weigh the impact of climate risks with states and municipalities’ preparedness and planning for these changes when we are analyzing credit ratings. Analysts for municipal issuers with higher exposure to climate risks will also focus on current and future mitigation steps and how these steps will impact the issuer’s overall profile when assigning ratings. The report “Environmental Risks — Evaluating the impact of climate change on US state and local issuers,” is available to Moody’s subscribers at http://www.moodys.com/researchdocumentcontentpage.aspx?docid=PBM_1071949.”
“These findings should be a wake up call for journalists, platforms and regulators. Rebuilding trust will require all interested parties to work together. We need better incentives to create and showcase more accurate and more trusted content.” – Report Co-author Nic Newman.
“Even in a world where people increasingly get news from social media, the professional news media is still seen as largely to blame for low trust according to a new report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, which examines the underlying reasons for trust and distrust in the news media (and in social media) across nine countries. Bias, spin and hidden agendas come across as the main reasons for lack of trust in the news media along with a perceived decline in journalistic standards driven by greater competition and some online business models. These concerns are strongest with the young and with those on low incomes. Trust in the news that people find in social media is lower still, but similar trends are at play – bias, agendas and low quality information. The report argues that this is largely a function of a model that allows anybody to publish without checks, and algorithms that sometimes favour extreme or contentious content. The study is based on analysing thousands of open-ended responses from the 2017 Reuters Institute Digital News Report, where respondents were asked to give their reasons for low trust in their own words, using open-ended text fields. By coding and analysing responses, the report categorises the specific issues that are driving public concern across countries as well as those that build trust such as journalistic processes, strong brands and quality journalism delivered over time.”
“Facebook said it would temporarily stop advertisers from being able to exclude viewers by race while it studies the use of its ad targeting system. “Until we can better ensure that our tools will not be used inappropriately, we are disabling the option that permits advertisers to exclude multicultural affinity segments from the audience for their ads,” Facebook Sheryl Sandberg wrote in a letter to the Congressional Black Caucus. ProPublica disclosed last week that Facebook was still allowing advertisers to buy housing ads that excluded audiences by race, despite its promises earlier this year to reject such ads. ProPublica also found that Facebook was not asking housing advertisers that blocked other sensitive audience categories — by religion, gender, or disability — to “self-certify” that their ads were compliant with anti-discrimination laws. Under the Fair Housing Act of 1968, it’s illegal to “to make, print, or publish, or cause to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement, or advertisement, with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.” Violators face tens of thousands of dollars in fines…”
[November 30, 2017– DOJ]: “OIP [Office of Information Policy] published updated guidance for agency FOIA websites. This new guidance, Agency FOIA Websites 2.0, encourages agencies to review their FOIA websites to ensure they contain essential resources, and are informative and user-friendly. While the Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 1996 required agencies to use electronic information technology to enhance the public availability of their FOIA “reading room” records, agencies now use their websites as a primary way to communicate with the public. Since OIP issued its first guidance for FOIA websites nearly ten years ago, agency websites have evolved as technical capabilities have improved over time, allowing agencies to post more information online. Additionally, diverse website styles have led to differences in how agencies display similar information about their FOIA administration. The FOIA Websites 2.0 guidance establishes standard minimum requirements for FOIA websites, while recognizing that agencies may organize and style their websites in the way that best serves their mission and community of users. The guidance encourages agencies to include a clear link to their FOIA website on the agency’s main homepage and to ensure their FOIA websites contain key information and resources. FOIA website content should cover three primary areas: proactive disclosures, instructions for submitting or inquiring about a request, and information about the agency’s administration of the FOIA. For proactive disclosures, the agency’s FOIA website should contain its FOIA Library and links to any component FOIA Libraries. The page explaining how to make a request or inquire about an existing request should also include or link to the agency’s FOIA Reference Guide, FOIA regulations, and FOIA contact information. Finally, agencies should post information about their administration of the FOIA, specifically including their Annual FOIA Reports and Chief FOIA Officer Reports. The new guidance also encourages agencies to adopt consistent styling, use plain language, regularly review their websites for accuracy, and collaborate with others in the agency to identify areas for improvement. By carefully reviewing their websites in light of this guidance, agencies can help the public locate information with greater ease, better understand the FOIA process, and submit requests to the correct place. The full text of the guidance, along with all other guidance issued by OIP, is available HERE. If you have any questions regarding this new guidance, please contact OIP’s FOIA Counselor Service at (202) 514-FOIA (3642).”
ThinkProgess: “Treasury watchdog to investigate why analysis of GOP tax bill was never made public. Sen. Warren said the department has “grossly misled” the public. The Treasury Department’s inspector general has opened an inquiry into why the department’s analysis of the Republican tax plan hasn’t been released to the public, following a request from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) Thursday. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has been a strong advocate for the plan. As Warren notes in her letter, he has made sweeping promises about its effects, including saying that the plan will “pay for itself with growth” and pay down debt. Both claims have been disproven by a number of independent economists. On Thursday [November 3, 2017], the Joint Committee on Taxation (a nonpartisan congressional committee) released its own analysis that estimated that the tax cuts Republicans hope to pass will add $1 trillion to the deficit, and even the most generous analyses assuming strong economic growth do not show that the bill would “pay for itself.” “Despite a lack of evidence to support his assertions, has claimed that ‘100 people are working around the clock on running scenarios for us’ to show that these corporate tax cuts will pay for themselves,” Warren writes in her Thursday letter to Inspector General Eric Thorson that called for an inquiry. Mnuchin, as Warren notes, has promised to release the department’s analysis, but, she writes in her letter, “as Senate Republicans prepare to vote within the next day on the tax plan, the Department of the Treasury has failed to produce any economic analysis” supporting his claims…”
Via Secrecy News/Steven Aftergood – “Short-term funding of the government is currently set to expire on December 8. If funding is not extended by Congress, then most government operations would have to cease. The processes and procedures by which such a shutdown would be executed, as well as its broader implications, were described in a newly updated report from the Congressional Research Service. “Government shutdowns have necessitated furloughs of several hundred thousand federal employees, required cessation or reduction of many government activities, and affected numerous sectors of the economy,” the CRS report said. “The longest such shutdown lasted 21 full days during FY1996, from December 16, 1995, to January 6, 1996. More recently, a funding gap commenced on October 1, 2013, the first day of FY2014, after funding for the previous fiscal year expired.” It lasted 16 days. See Shutdown of the Federal Government: Causes, Processes, and Effects, November 30, 2017. See also – Funding Gaps and Government Shutdowns: CRS Experts, November 28, 2017.”
Via FAS – The Net Neutrality Debate: Access to Broadband Networks, Angele A. Gilroy, Specialist in Telecommunications Policy. November 22, 2017.
“As congressional policymakers continue to debate telecommunications reform, a major discussion point revolves around what approach should be taken to ensure unfettered access to the Internet. The move to place restrictions on the owners of the networks that compose and provideaccess to the Internet, to ensure equal access and non discriminatory treatment, is referred to as “net neutrality.” While there is no single accepted definition of “net neutrality,” most agree that any such definition should include the general principles that owners of the networks that compose and provide access to the Internet should not control how consumers lawfully use that network, and they should not be able to discriminate against content provider access to that network…”
GPO produces official photographs of President and Vice President to be hung in federal office buildings
“The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) produces the official photographs of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. These photographs will be hung in more than 1,600 Federal buildings managed by the General Services Administration (GSA), military installations, and other Federal facilities. GPO will print more than 65,000 photographs, which include four sizes: 8×10, 11×14, 20×24, and 16×20. As in previous administrations, GPO is also making these official photographs available for sale to the public. Federal agencies can order photos: https://beta.gpo.gov/docs/default-source/notices/gpo-official-portrait-notice.pdf“
NeimanLab, Ricardo Bilton: – The role of gun thefts in crimes in is a big, complex issue in the U.S., and to cover it, single-topic gun issues news site The Trace needed some help. Last week, the site published Missing Pieces, the product of a deep, yearlong investigation into how stolen firearms have been used to commit crimes. The numbers are staggering: After poring through the data, reporters found more than 23,000 stolen firearms recovered by police between 2010 and 2016 — most of which had been used in crimes, including carjackings, kidnappings, and armed robberies. Gun owners had bought guns to fight off crime, but were unwittingly helping people commit it. The Trace didn’t reach these findings alone. To produce the story, the organization teamed up with over a dozen local NBC television stations, which each took the lead in chasing down data in their respective markets. The partners together collected more than 800,000 records from 1,054 law enforcement agencies in 36 states and the District of Columbia. It’s a valuable, if incomplete, set of data that The Trace hopes other reporters and researchers can build on. Along with its reporting, the organization also uploaded the entire dataset to its website for free…”
“The National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD), the authority on boardroom practices representing more than 17,000 board members, today released its 2017–2018 NACD Public Company Governance Survey, an annual survey that looks through a board lens into the chief areas of concern for corporate directors. Industry disruption, business-model disruption, changing global conditions, and cybersecurity threats topped the list of concerns in this survey of 587 corporate directors representing 520 public companies. Asked which five trends they foresee having the greatest effect on their companies in 2018, fully 58 percent of respondents identified significant industry change as one of the trends, pointing to technology disruption, industry consolidation, and shifting regulations as key drivers of this change. The following trends also ranked among the top five:
- Business model disruption – 46 percent
- Changing global economic conditions – 46 percent
- Cybersecurity threats – 38 percent
- Competition for increasingly scarce talent – 36 percent…”
The evolving landscape of Federated Research Data Infrastructures, Stephane Goldstein.
“This report, commissioned from Knowledge Exchange (KE), is an overview and synthesis of the evolving landscape of Federated Research Data Infrastructures (FRDIs) in the six KE partner countries: Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The fieldwork and study underlying the report were undertaken by InformAll CIC during the first half of 2017, on the basis of interviews with experts from a range of organisations that run federated infrastructures in the respective countries. The report reaches nine broad conclusions. It first considers the issues and background to the study, then the methodology deployed, before synthesising and analysing the information gathered during the fieldwork. This information is structured to address the following: what is understood by ‘federated’; drivers for FRDIs (push factors and meeting demand); operation of the infrastructures; data-related practices; training and skills; challenges and obstacles; outcomes and impact; and implications for the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC).”
Defense Civil Support: DOD Needs to Address Cyber Incident Training Requirements, GAO-18-47: Published: Nov 30, 2017. Publicly Released: Nov 30, 2017. “The Department of Defense (DOD) did not develop a comprehensive plan for U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM); instead, the department submitted a report consisting of a collection of documents that fully addressed two of the six statutorily required elements; partially addressed three elements; and did not address the sixth element on DOD training activities.”
Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse: “Very recent Immigration Court records reveal that the proportion of asylum seekers who are unable to obtain representation has risen markedly. Ten years ago during FY 2007, only 13.6 percent were unrepresented. Five years ago (FY 2012), 15.8 percent were unrepresented. In FY 2017 the unrepresented figure was 20.6 percent. At the same time, asylum decisions were up sharply during FY 2017. A total of 30,179 cases were decided by judges last year, a marked increase from 22,312 cases in FY 2016. This is the largest number of asylum cases decided in any one year since FY 2005. While asylum grants increased, denials grew even faster. This pushed the percent who were denied asylum to 61.8 percent. This is the fifth year in a row that denial rates have risen. Five years ago the denial rate was just 44.5 percent. Without representation, the deck is stacked against an asylum seeker. Statistically, only one out of every ten win their case. With representation, nearly half are successful. During FY 2012 – FY 2017, Jamaica had the highest denial rate (91.4%), followed closely by Laos (89.9%), the Philippines, (89.7%) and Mexico (88.0%). At the other extreme, the Soviet Union had the lowest denial rate (9.5%), with Byelorussia and Egypt with almost as low denial rates at 11.1 percent each. More details on national trends, plus the impact of representation status and nationality on asylum outcome, are available in the second of TRAC’s two-part series available at: http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/491/“
Washington Post – “A team of computer scientists has derived accurate, neighborhood-level estimates of the racial, economic and political characteristics of 200 U.S. cities using an unlikely data source — Google Street View images of people’s cars. Published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the report details how the scientists extracted 50 million photographs of street scenes captured by Google’s Street View cars in 2013 and 2014. They then trained a computer algorithm to identify the make, model and year of 22 million automobiles appearing in neighborhoods in those images, parked outside homes or driving down the street…”
Via LLRX – Bail in Justice: Innocence, Indigence and Incarceration – Ken Strutin’s exemplary research once again advances our understanding of critical issues pertaining to our justice system in the United States. According to Strutin: ‘the number of innocent people in post-conviction confinement is counted in the thousands, the pre-trial population of the unconvicted is in the millions. Every accused has constitutional rights to liberty, dignity and innocence, and yet, confinement often arrives before conviction. Money bail has the unfortunate effect of monetizing personal liberty and alchemizing human beings into negotiable instruments. This is the slippery slope of criminal justice, the erosion of liberty and due process. So it is that excessive bail bars the way to fully realize constitutional rights and increases the risk of wrongful conviction. Present efforts to improve pretrial release and detention practices have inspired some legislative and policy changes as well as bail funds and advocacy programs. This guide and annotated bibliography covers noteworthy legislation, court decisions, reports and guides, news articles and other sources concerning bail reforms and practices.”
Via LLRX – eReference Library Link Dataset Toolkit 2018 – Marcus Zillman’s guide is a comprehensive link dataset toolkit of electronic reference resources and services currently available on the Internet. Zillman provides researchers with a wide ranging A-Z pathfinder of subject matter specific sources, sites and services that provide researchers with actionable information on topical issues including: business, dictionaries and digital archives, the economy, education, energy, governance, law and legislation, news, online services provided by librarians, information maintained by US and global organizations (public, private, industry, news, academic/scholarly, government), sciences, and more.
“As many as 375 million workers around the world may need to switch occupational categories and learn new skills…McKinsey Global Institute’s latest report, Jobs lost, jobs gained: Workforce transitions in a time of automation (PDF–5MB), assesses the number and types of jobs that might be created under different scenarios through 2030 and compares that to the jobs that could be lost to automation…”
“Calling all shoppers: The holidays are just around the corner. And whether you like to meander through the mall or search for deals online, the FTC has a gift for you — shopping tips to help you watch your wallet, shop wisely, and protect your personal information.
- Make a list and a budget. Include incidentals, like cards, wrapping paper and eating out.
- Check out websites that compare prices for items sold online, and at stores in your area.
- Look for rebates. Some can be redeemed at checkout, but most require you to send documentation to the manufacturer to get your rebate.
- Make sure the scanned price is right. Overcharges cost you money and time, especially if you don’t notice them right away.
- Consider customer reviews carefully. The law says reviewers should disclose their connection to a company, but not all of them do. Before you buy anything based on a review, search online for information from sources you trust. Compare reviews from a variety of websites.
- Giving jewelry? Take some time to learn the terms used in the industry so you can get the best quality and value.
- If you use a mobile device or computer to shop for deals, be aware that some unexpected emails, texts or posts may lead to fraudulent sites claiming bargains on brand name products.
- Save receipts. When you’re shopping online, keep copies of your order number, the refund and return policies, shipping costs and warranties.
- Billed for merchandise that wasn’t received? Here’s what to do.
- If money’s tight, consider layaway. You typically make a deposit and pay over time; the retailer holds the merchandise until you’ve paid for the item in full.”