Law and Legal
San Francisco Chronicle: “California Attorney General Xavier Becerra released a series of draft regulations Thursday aimed at getting businesses to comply with the state’s landmark data privacy law, scheduled to take effect Jan. 1. Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, signed into law in June 2018, businesses must disclose to consumers the various kinds of data they collect about them. Companies must stop selling consumer data to third parties if customers ask them to, delete personal data on request, and explicitly seek consent from consumers aged 16 or younger to sell personal information. The bill also states that consumers who exercise their rights under the law cannot be discriminated against…”
UK Guardian – Project to record cultural, geological and environmental treasures at risk from climate crisis – “A project to produce detailed maps of all the land on Earth through laser scanning has been revealed by researchers who say action is needed now to preserve a record of the world’s cultural, environmental and geological treasures. Prof Chris Fisher, an archaeologist from Colorado State University, said he founded the Earth Archive as a response to the climate crisis. “We are going to lose a significant amount of both cultural patrimony – so archaeological sites and landscapes – but also ecological patrimony – plants and animals, entire landscapes, geology, hydrology,” Fisher told the Guardian. “We really have a limit time to record those things before the Earth fundamentally changes.”
The main technology Fisher hopes to use is aircraft-based Lidar, a scanning technique in which laser pulses are directed at the Earth’s surface from an instrument attached to an aircraft. The time it takes for the pulses to bounce back is measured, allowing researchers to work out the distance to the object or surface they strike. Combined with location data, the approach allows scientists to build 3D maps of an area…”
In Custodia Legis – “Have you tried the Law Library of Congress Chatbot lately? The chatbot provides answers to frequently asked legal reference questions through Facebook Messenger. You can interact with it by clicking through a series of menu options or you can type in a natural language question. The chatbot debuted in October 2017, and since that time we have been able to learn from user interactions with the chatbot and make revisions to improve the user experience. For example, the chatbot’s natural language abilities have substantially improved since its debut. When the chatbot was released, slight variations from questions the chatbot anticipated, such as deviations in sentence structure, would likely cause the chatbot to return the default response. With the benefit of additional development time, the chatbot’s vocabulary is much more robust and can accommodate variations in sentence structure. Give it a try and let us know what you think. If you would like to try your hand at building your own chatbot, click here for more information…”
Two-thirds of North American birds are at increasing risk of extinction from global temperature rise
Auduban – Survival by Degrees: 389 Species on the Brink: “If we take action now, we can improve the chances for hundreds of bird species. By stabilizing carbon emissions and holding warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, 76 percent of vulnerable species will be better off, and nearly 150 species would no longer be vulnerable to extinction from climate change…”
Vox – recode: “…The changes remote work has introduced have happened so gradually you may not have noticed. But its growing popularity is remaking how we work, the tools we use to work, how we communicate at work, and even the hours we work. It’s also connected to population shifts from big cities to less populated areas, and it’s upending sectors of commercial real estate, both in terms of how spaces are designed and where they’re located. What was once a rarity among a select set of workers is quickly becoming a defining feature of the future of work…”
“MIT graduate student Karly Bast shows off a scale model of a bridge designed by Leonardo da Vinci that she and her colleagues used to prove the design’s feasibility.”
Media Smarts – “Twenty years ago, some tiny hippos got a lot of attention from Canadians, and got us talking about the fine line between what is fact and what is fiction. In today’s digital world, critical thinking is more important than ever. Here you’ll find a variety of resources to help you figure out what’s real and what’s fake in the stories you experience online. Learn four easy ways to fact-check, watch videos and download your favourite house hippo shareables!…”
The New York Times – See driving-related emissions in your metro area, road by road – “These findings come from a New York Times analysis of new data released through Boston University’s Database of Road Transportation Emissions. The database provides the most detailed estimates available of local on-road CO2 over the past three decades. The map above shows emissions in 2017. Transportation is the largest source of planet-warming greenhouse gases in the United States today and the bulk of those emissions come from driving in our cities and suburbs. The map [in this article] shows a year’s worth of CO2 from passenger and freight traffic on every road in the Even as the United States has reduced carbon dioxide emissions from its electric grid, largely by switching from coal power to less-polluting natural gas, emissions from transportation have remained stubbornly high. The bulk of those emissions, nearly 60 percent, come from the country’s 250 million passenger cars, S.U.V.s and pickup trucks, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Freight trucks contribute an additional 23 percent…”
Eichensehr, Kristen, The Law & Politics of Cyberattack Attribution (September 15, 2019). UCLA Law Review, Vol. 67, (2020, Forthcoming); UCLA School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 19-36. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3453804“Attribution of cyberattacks requires identifying those responsible for bad acts, prominently including states, and accurate attribution is a crucial predicate in contexts as diverse as criminal indictments, insurance coverage disputes, and cyberwar. But the difficult technical side of attribution is just the precursor to highly contested legal and policy questions about when and how to accuse governments of responsibility for cyberattacks. Although politics may largely determine whether attributions are made public, this Article argues that when cyberattacks are publicly attributed to states, such attributions should be governed by legal standards. Instead of blocking the development of evidentiary standards for attribution, as the United States, United Kingdom, and France are currently doing, states should establish an international law requirement that public attributions must include sufficient evidence to enable cross-checking or corroboration of the accusations. This functionally defined standard harnesses both governmental and non-governmental attribution capabilities to shed light on states’ actions in cyberspace, and understanding state practice is a necessary precondition to establishing norms and customary international law to govern state behavior. Moreover, setting a clear evidentiary standard for attribution in the cybersecurity context has the potential to clarify currently unsettled general international law on evidentiary rules…”
The Next Web: “Google Docs is one of the few online applications that I’m deeply dependent on for my everyday work. Like millions of other people, I use it to write, edit, collaborate, and to archive my documents. There’s no arguing on the convenience that Google Docs provides, whether you’re a professional writer, an account manager, an academic researcher, or just a random person taking inventory of your thoughts. But like every other piece of useful technology, Google Docs can cause unwanted security and privacy problems. The convenience of Google Docs often leads users to let their guard down and ignore security issues. If you’re using Google Docs to store business secrets, the next best-selling novel, or a future award-winning research paper, here are some tips that will make sure your documents are secure….”
“A majority of U.S. adults can answer fewer than half the questions correctly on a digital knowledge quiz, and many struggle with certain cybersecurity and privacy questions. A new Pew Research Center survey finds that Americans’ understanding of technology-related issues varies greatly depending on the topic, term or concept. While a majority of U.S. adults can correctly answer questions about phishing scams or website cookies, other items are more challenging. For example, just 28% of adults can identify an example of two-factor authentication – one of the most important ways experts say people can protect their personal information on sensitive accounts. Additionally, about one-quarter of Americans (24%) know that private browsing only hides browser history from other users of that computer, while roughly half (49%) say they are unsure what private browsing does. This survey consisted of 10 questions designed to test Americans’ knowledge of a range of digital topics, such as cybersecurity or the business side of social media companies. The median number of correct answers was four. Only 20% of adults answered seven or more questions correctly, and just 2% got all 10 questions correct…”
WSJ.com [paywall] – Citizens in a new study blame U.S. politics for stress, depression, lost sleep and other physical and mental problems….Americans are stressed and politics is a major cause, according to psychologists, psychiatrists and recent surveys. A study published in September in the journal PLOS One found that politics is a source of stress for 38% of Americans. “The major takeaway from this is that if our numbers are really anywhere in the ballpark, there are tens of millions of Americans who see politics as exacting a toll on their social, psychological, emotional and even physical health,” says Kevin Smith, lead author of the study and chair of the political science department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The study included 800 people in a nationally representative poll and asked them 32 questions. Among the findings:
- 11.5% say politics has adversely affected their physical health.
- 18.3% say they’ve lost sleep because of politics.26.4% say they have become depressed when a preferred candidate lost.
- 26.5% say politics has led them to hate some people.
- 20% say differences in views have damaged a valued friendship…”
Bloomberg – “Where’s the best place to hide a body? The second page of a Google search… The gallows humor shows that people rarely look beyond the first few results of a search, but Lee Griffin isn’t laughing. In the 13 years since he co-founded British price comparison website GoCompare, the 41-year-old has tried to keep his company at the top of search results, doing everything from using a “For Dummies” guide in the early days to later hiring a team of engineers, marketers and mathematicians. That’s put him on the front lines of a battle challenging the dominance of Alphabet’s Google in the search market — with regulators in the U.S. and across Europe taking a closer look. Most of the sales at GoCompare, which helps customers find deals on everything from car and travel insurance to energy plans, come from Google searches, making its appearance at the top critical. With Google — whose search market share is more than 80% — frequently changing its algorithms, buying ads has become the only way to ensure a top spot on a page. Companies like GoCompare have to outbid competitors for paid spots even when customers search for their brand name…
“Google’s brought on as this thing that wanted to serve information to the world,” Griffin said in an interview from the company’s offices in Newport, Wales. “But actually what it’s doing is to show you information that people have paid it to show you.” GoCompare is far from the only one to suffer from Google’s search dominance. John Lewis, a high-end British retailer, last month alluded to the rising cost of climbing up in Google search results. In the U.S., IAC/InterActive, which owns internet services like Tinder, and ride-hailing company Lyft have signaled Google’s stranglehold on the market…”
CBS News: “American workers are more productive than ever, but their paychecks haven’t kept pace. Researchers with the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco have a culprit: robots. Economists Sylvain Leduc and Zheng Liu theorize that automation is sapping employees’ bargaining power, making it harder for them to demand higher wages. Companies across a range of industries increasingly have the option of using technology to handle work formerly done by people, giving employers the upper hand in setting pay. The result — a widening gulf between wages and productivity. The research may bolster proposals for universal basic income, which is a government cash stipend that typically doesn’t come with requirements. Andrew Yang, a Democratic presidential candidate who’s running on a platform of giving every American adult $1,000 per month in basic income, tweeted about the economic findings, writing that automation is “making it hard for workers to ask for more.”…”
Legal Executive Institute – “…What makes the Dark Web “dark,” are not the nefarious things that sometimes occur there; rather, it is the anonymity it offers. Most search engines keep a very close eye on who you are and what you are searching for. Plenty of ad trackers also want to eavesdrop on your Web life. Websites and e-mail communications have auditable chains between sender and receiver. Indeed, almost all of your online life is conducted and tracked by someone, but it doesn’t have to be. Thanks to some clever software and heavy-duty encryption, the Dark Web empowers users to search and communicate without detection by either the authorities or the ever-snooping search engines and trackers that report back to online ad agencies. Undetectable Web activity is obviously valuable to a criminal, but it is equally valuable for many “normal” users…All of this secrecy makes the Dark Web a handy tool for legal researchers. Anonymous browsing is terrific for such everyday research tasks as conducting competitive intelligence gathering, tracking down infringement of copyright or trademarks without tipping off the target, or locating sensitive subjects without revealing your identity. Anonymity also is very helpful for gathering information on individuals or looking around for clues to identity theft. Putting on a disguise before searching the Web is just another way legal researchers can locate useful information effectively yet secretly. The question is: How do you travel these virtual back alleys safely and legally?…”
The UK Guardian- Dawn Fitch: “For most of us, the library is a source of books and information. The core factor of the work of a librarian is absolutely vital and should never be forgotten. But something else is happening in our libraries, with repercussions for library workers. I worked for a long time in public libraries and most of my day was not spent shelving books (or reading them). As much of my time was spent dealing with human beings as printed volumes. A passion for books and reading first drew me to library work, but empathy, belief in human rights and the importance of social activism kept me working in them. I’ve worked in libraries of all sizes, from large city ones to tiny mobile ones, but what they all had in common was how much they meant to the most vulnerable in their communities…”
News Literacy Project – “The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Facebook plans to exempt satire and opinion content from its fact-checking program. This would mean that posts that contain demonstrably false claims, but which the platform deems to be either satire or opinion, would not be referred to its network of third-party fact-checkers. Thus, Facebook would not downgrade this content in its algorithm, and fact-checks would not appear alongside them. News of the expected policy change came just a week after Facebook, citing a “newsworthiness exemption,” said it would continue to exempt politicians’ posts from its fact-checking program. The exemption would not apply if the politician shares “previously debunked content.” In such cases Facebook would demote the post and would display fact-checking information. It also follows several contentious incidents involving satirical and opinion content and the company’s third-party fact-checking partner. This includes a debate in July between Snopes and the Christian satire site The Babylon Bee. Another example is a disagreement in August between Health Feedback, which focuses on accuracy in health and medical coverage, and Live Action, an anti-abortion group…”
Knowledge@Wharton: [Omar Aguilar, strategic cost transformation global market offering leader at Deloitte Consulting], you’ve recently done your second biennial global cost survey. How long have you been doing these surveys, globally and in the U.S.?
Omar Aguilar: We’ve been doing it since 2008 in the U.S. and globally over the last couple of years. We did the first Biennial Global Survey in 2017, and we have now released the second Biennial Global Survey. We also do regional and sector updates. So, we’ve been at it for 10 years. And the reason we did this is that there’s no empirical-based evidence and no facts on cost management in the market…
“The problem is around architecting the transformation programs and implementing them. Companies architect an aggressive program but then they implement it tactically.” …
“Any reader of Artificial Lawyer would recognize that contracts are one of the biggest puzzles a business needs to solve. Every stage of the contract lifecycle – from creation, through collaboration, negotiation, agreement, tracking and renewal – can create friction. It’s well known now that according to the IACCM, 83% of people are dissatisfied with the contract process. Solving this is why Juro exists, but in working to fix it, we’ve been fortunate enough to learn an enormous amount about how to actually make contracts work for everyone. That’s why we decided to wrap it all together and share it with the community – download your copy of the Modern Contract Handbook here…”
Nicole Black – MyCase: “Is your firm due for a software upgrade? If you’re not sure, why not conduct a technology audit? Technology, including legal software, plays a big part in ensuring that your firm runs smoothly on a day-to-day basis. The right tools can make all the difference, and outdated technology can lead to redundancies and time-consuming inefficiencies that result in lost productivity. This, in turn, can affect your firm’s bottom line…”