Law and Legal
Consumer Report: “Amazon’s agreement to buy the wireless router manufacturer Eero could make it easier for homeowners to manage a wide array of wireless devices, like smart thermostats and video doorbells, according to analysts and Consumer Reports’ in-house experts. But some of them expressed concern over how often high-profile startups get bought by the tech world’s behemoths…The Eero three-pack, $500, is one of the highest-ranked wireless routers in our ratings, with our testers noting strong performance (depending on the wireless network range), easy-to-use controls, and automatic firmware updates, which helps keep you and your data safe from hackers…Routers sit at the center of your home network and necessarily handle all of the internet traffic entering and leaving your home. Amazon collects data through its Echo speakers, Fire tablets, and other devices, and it’s technically possible for a router to do that, too. “All of these issues will have to be dealt with appropriately, with things like privacy policies, consumer choice, and voluntary opt-in, in a way that consumer confidence is not eroded,” says Russell of Parks Associates…” [h/t Pete Weiss]
Next City: “Before 2009, the San Francisco Public Library’s bathrooms often became spaces of contention, with security staff escorting patrons out of the library, sometimes arresting them if they were found bathing, sleeping or injecting. But that year, the library hired the first library social worker in the United States, Leah Esguerra, marking a shift in attitudes that have since spread to library systems across the country…the San Francisco Public Library now has a team of Health and Safety Associates (now known as HASAs) who use the bathrooms as outreach space. HASAs have since expanded their work outside bathrooms and provide outreach on all seven floors of the main branch. They also work at other branches to support staff and inform patrons about resources and services. The program has placed at least 130 patrons into stable housing, Esguerra says. San Francisco’s experience directly inspired change at the Denver Public Library. In 2012, the Homeless Services Action Committee — an internal working group with the Denver library — made recommendations to add a social worker to staff. The library eventually hired social worker Elissa Hardy in 2015 to begin building the library’s Community Resource program, bringing on additional social workers and peer navigators. The program has gone from serving 434 library customers in 2015, when it was just Hardy, to 3,500 served in 2018…
And across the country, there’s been increasing discussion of how libraries can address homelessness and mental health issues. A 2018 report by the Chicago Tribune estimated there are now more than 30 library systems across the country with full-time social workers. “In social work we have this term called a ‘protective factor,’” says Hardy. “The library is a protective factor for people, which is basically a place or a thing where we’re helping to support people, and not change things negatively for them.” One of the key lessons from San Francisco and Denver so far: as much as possible, hiring peer navigators and HASAs who have come with lived experiences of homelessness and other adverse life challenges, making them uniquely qualified to do outreach at the library…”
The Washington Post – “The Senate on Tuesday passed the most sweeping conservation legislation in a decade, protecting millions of acres of land and hundreds of miles of wild rivers across the country and establishing four new national monuments honoring heroes including Civil War soldiers and a civil rights icon. The 662-page measure [S.47, Natural Resources Management Act] which passed 92 to 8, represented an old-fashioned approach to dealmaking that has largely disappeared on Capitol Hill. Senators from across the ideological spectrum celebrated home-state gains and congratulated each other for bridging the partisan divide…”
…it makes all federal lands open to hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting unless otherwise specified. Jesse Deubel, executive director of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, said in an interview that expanding wilderness in his state will be a powerful lure for hunters seeking bighorn sheep, mule deer, quail and other animals. “People will travel to these places to pursue game in this wild, untamed habitat.”
“In recent years, dozens of U.S. cities have released pools of public data. It’s an effort to improve transparency and drive innovation, and done well, it can succeed at both: Governments, nonprofits, and app developers alike have eagerly gobbled up that data, hoping to improve everything from road conditions to air quality to food delivery. But what often gets lost in the conversation is the idea of how public data should be collected, managed, and disseminated so that it serves everyone—rather than just a few residents—and so that people’s privacy and data rights are protected. That’s where librarians come in. “As far as how private and public data should be handled, there isn’t really a strong model out there,” says Curtis Rogers, communications director for the Urban Library Council (ULC), an association of leading libraries across North America. “So to have the library as the local institution that is the most trusted, and to give them that responsibility, is a whole new paradigm for how data could be handled in a local government.”..”
Charged: “Particularly as Facebook traffic began cratering, leaving publishers scrambling to find new sources of traffic. What’s never really discussed, however, is how those platforms work, and how news sources end up getting mountains of traffic from them, let alone approved for them in the first place. Google News is one of the biggest news platforms on the internet, and you’re seeing it almost every day even if you don’t know it. Any time you search for a newsworthy term like “iPhone” you’ll get a carousel of top news about the term at the top of the page, right above every other result, which is visually distinct with images and logos to draw you in. But, how does one actually appear in the carousel? As I’ve found out, it’s non-trivial.
Well, it’s not easy. Google doesn’t want you to know, and it doesn’t disclose how it works, even to the publishers trying to use it. Not only does this carousel drive a disgusting amount of traffic, how it actually works on the back-end is a mysterious process with hidden rules, gotchas and changing goal posts, designed only to allow the largest, well-known of publishers in. If you are whitelisted, you’ll receive an avalanche of traffic, special search-related features, and priority in the algorithm as a result. If you’re not, good luck fighting it out with all the other small sites…”
DOJ news release: Huawei Corporate Entities Conspired to Steal Trade Secret Technology and Offered Bonus to Workers who Stole Confidential Information from Companies Around the World A 10-count Indictment unsealed [January 28, 2019] in the Western District of Washington State charges Huawei Device Co., Ltd. and Huawei Device Co. USA with theft of trade secrets conspiracy, attempted theft of trade secrets, seven counts of wire fraud, and one count of obstruction of justice. The indictment, returned by a grand jury on January 16, details Huawei’s efforts to steal trade secrets from Bellevue, Washington based T-Mobile USA and then obstruct justice when T-Mobile threatened to sue Huawei in U.S. District Court in Seattle. The alleged conduct described in the indictment occurred from 2012 to 2014, and includes an internal Huawei announcement that the company was offering bonuses to employees who succeeded in stealing confidential information from other companies.
According to the indictment, in 2012 Huawei began a concerted effort to steal information on a T-Mobile phone-testing robot dubbed “Tappy.” In an effort to build their own robot to test phones before they were shipped to T-Mobile and other wireless carriers, Huawei engineers violated confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements with T-Mobile by secretly taking photos of “Tappy,” taking measurements of parts of the robot, and in one instance, stealing a piece of the robot so that the Huawei engineers in China could try to replicate it. After T-Mobile discovered and interrupted these criminal activities, and then threatened to sue, Huawei produced a report falsely claiming that the theft was the work of rogue actors within the company and not a concerted effort by Huawei corporate entities in the United States and China. As emails obtained in the course of the investigation reveal, the conspiracy to steal secrets from T-Mobile was a company-wide effort involving many engineers and employees within the two charged companies…”
The many challenges to maintaining stored information and ways to overcome them. Raymond Blum with Betsy Beyer, acmque – February 6, 2019 Volume 16, issue 6 – “Digital permanence has become a prevalent issue in society. This article focuses on the forces behind it and some of the techniques to achieve a desired state in which “what you read is what was written.” While techniques that can be imposed as layers above basic data stores—blockchains, for example—are valid approaches to achieving a system’s information assurance guarantees, this article won’t discuss them. First, let’s define digital permanence and the more basic concept of data integrity.
Data integrity is the maintenance of the accuracy and consistency of stored information. Accuracy means that the data is stored as the set of values that were intended. Consistency means that these stored values remain the same over time—they do not unintentionally waver or morph as time passes. Digital permanence refers to the techniques used to anticipate and then meet the expected lifetime of data stored in digital media. Digital permanence not only considers data integrity, but also targets guarantees of relevance and accessibility: the ability to recall stored data and to recall it with predicted latency and at a rate acceptable to the applications that require that information. To illustrate the aspects of relevance and accessibility, consider two counterexamples: journals that were safely stored redundantly on Zip drives or punch cards may as well not exist if the hardware required to read the media into a current computing system isn’t available. Nor is it very useful to have receipts and ledgers stored on a tape medium that will take eight days to read in when you need the information for an audit on Thursday…”
Macalester Today – “Ada Lovelace probably didn’t foresee the impact of the mathematical formula she published in 1843, now considered the first computer algorithm. Nor could she have anticipated today’s widespread use of algorithms, in applications as different as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign and Mac’s first-year seminar registration. “Over the last decade algorithms have become embedded in every aspect of our lives,” says Shilad Sen, professor in Macalester’s Math, Statistics, and Computer Science (MSCS) Department. How do algorithms shape our society? Why is it important to be aware of them? And for readers who don’t know, what is an algorithm, anyway?…”
The Atlantic – In a new study, researchers uncovered female programmers who made important but unrecognized contributions to genetics. “Over the past few years, a team of students led by Emilia Huerta-Sánchez from Brown University and Rori Rohlfs from San Francisco State University has been searching through two decades’ worth of acknowledgments in genetics papers and discovering women who were never given the credit that would be expected for today’s researchers. They identified dozens of female programmers who made important but unrecognized contributions. Some were repeatedly thanked in the acknowledgments of several papers, but were never recognized as authors. They became literal footnotes in scientific history, despite helping make that history…”
Foreign Affairs – Jill Lepore: “…The United States is different from other nations—every nation is different from every other—and its nationalism is different, too. To review: a nation is a people with common origins, and a state is a political community governed by laws. A nation-state is a political community governed by laws that unites a people with a supposedly common ancestry. When nation-states arose out of city-states and kingdoms and empires, they explained themselves by telling stories about their origins—stories meant to suggest that everyone in, say, “the French nation” had common ancestors, when they of course did not. As I wrote in my book These Truths, “Very often, histories of nation-states are little more than myths that hide the seams that stitch the nation to the state.”…
“The history of the United States at the present time does not seek to answer any significant questions,” [Stanford historian Carl] Degler told his audience some three decades ago. If American historians don’t start asking and answering those sorts of questions, other people will, he warned. They’ll echo Calhoun and Douglas and Father Coughlin. They’ll lament “American carnage.” They’ll call immigrants “animals” and other states “shithole countries.” They’ll adopt the slogan “America first.” They’ll say they can “make America great again.” They’ll call themselves “nationalists.” Their history will be a fiction. They will say that they alone love this country. They will be wrong.”
The New York Times – ‘A Woman, Just Not That Woman’: How Sexism Plays Out on the Trail – “Women are conscious that small elements of how they present themselves are subject to scrutiny. Representative Madeleine Dean — one of four Democratic women elected to the House last year from Pennsylvania, whose congressional delegation was previously all-male — said an aide would stand in the back of the room during her campaign events, holding up a cardboard sign with a smiley face to remind her to shift the serious expression she naturally wore while listening to voters. She was also coached, “though I did not take his coaching, not to cross my arms in front of myself because then you look mad,” Ms. Dean said. These sorts of criticisms were common in the 2016 campaign, not only against Mrs. Clinton but also against Carly Fiorina, who ran in the Republican primary. “Look at that face,” Mr. Trump said at one point, openly mocking Ms. Fiorina’s appearance. “Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?” (Mr. Trump subsequently claimed he had been talking about her persona. Ms. Fiorina, who did not respond to interview requests for this article, said at the time, “I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.”)
Because these judgments are so superficial, and their gendered nature so obvious, they draw substantial backlash. But that doesn’t mean they stop. “The women who run are still going to be, I think, more scrutinized about their appearance,” said Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. “I would love to think that they won’t get the kind of comments that Hillary Clinton got about, ‘Why is she yelling at me?’ ‘Why doesn’t she smile more?’ I’d love to think that that’s all gone now, but I don’t believe that to be true.”…”
Wired: “The mirrorworld doesn’t yet fully exist, but it is coming. Someday soon, every place and thing in the real world—every street, lamppost, building, and room—will have its full-size digital twin in the mirrorworld. For now, only tiny patches of the mirrorworld are visible through AR headsets. Piece by piece, these virtual fragments are being stitched together to form a shared, persistent place that will parallel the real world. The author Jorge Luis Borges imagined a map exactly the same size as the territory it represented. “In time,” Borges wrote, “the Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it.” We are now building such a 1:1 map of almost unimaginable scope, and this world will become the next great digital platform. Google Earth has long offered a hint of what this mirrorworld will look like. My friend Daniel Suarez is a best-selling science fiction author. In one sequence of his most recent book, Change Agent, a fugitive escapes along the coast of Malaysia. His descriptions of the roadside eateries and the landscape describe exactly what I had seen when I drove there recently, so I asked him when he’d made the trip. “Oh, I’ve never been to Malaysia,” he smiled sheepishly. “I have a computer with a set of three linked monitors, and I opened up Google Earth. Over several evenings I ‘drove’ along Malaysian highway AH18 in Street View.” Suarez—like Savage—was seeing a crude version of the mirrorworld…The mirrorworld will raise major privacy concerns. It will, after all, contain a billion eyes glancing at every point, converging into one continuous view. The mirrorworld will create so much data, big data, from its legions of eyes and other sensors, that we can’t imagine its scale right now. To make this spatial realm work—to synchronize the virtual twins of all places and all things with the real places and things, while rendering it visible to millions—will require tracking people and things to a degree that can only be called a total surveillance state…”
The Washington Post: “A record 7 million Americans are 90 days or more behind on their auto loan payments, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported Tuesday, even more than during the wake of the financial crisis. Economists warn that this is a red flag. Despite the strong economy and low unemployment rate, many Americans are struggling to pay their bills. “The substantial and growing number of distressed borrowers suggests that not all Americans have benefited from the strong labor market,” economists at the New York Fed wrote in a blog post. A car loan is typically the first payment people make because a vehicle is critical to getting to work, and someone can live in a car if all else fails. When car loan delinquencies rise, it is usually a sign of significant duress among low-income and working-class Americans…”
McClatchy: “The 12-month period starting Feb. 14, 2018, saw nearly 1,200 lives snuffed out. That’s a Parkland every five days, enough victims to fill three ultra-wide Boeing 777s. The true number is certainly higher because no government agency keeps a real-time tally and funding for research is restricted by law. The Trace, an online nonprofit news organization that covers firearms issues, wanted to commemorate those lost lives. It assembled a team of more than 200 journalists — kids themselves — to research and write short portraits of every victim, 18 and under. On the anniversary of the Parkland massacre, The Trace is publishing those portraits. In conjunction, the Miami Herald and McClatchy are presenting a series of stories on the year in gun violence against children…
When they weren’t taking cover from school shooters, young Americans died as a result of murder-suicides, jealous rages, indiscriminate drive-bys, targeted attacks and horrific preventable accidents. Several died in explosive video game disputes. One young man was killed when, according to a witness, a loose gun inside a box he was hauling discharged. A 10-year-old girl was gunned down while scampering toward an ice cream truck. A father shot his 6-year-old girl by accident while cleaning his gun. Older teens were more commonly victims, followed by small children, ages 2 and 3. Cities were deadlier than rural areas. Although the data collected didn’t include race and ethnicity, it is clear that most victims were minorities in communities awash in firearms. “This is America. Anyone who wants a gun will be able to obtain one and at competitive prices,” said Thomas Hargrove, founder of the Murder Accountability Project, whose searchable website murderdata.org features homicide data and analytic tools. “That’s simply the truth.”..”
Medium: “Over the past year, data journalists on the BBC Visual and Data Journalism team have fundamentally changed how they produce graphics for publication on the BBC News website. In this post, we explain how and why we have used R’s ggplot2 package to create production-ready charts, document our process and code and share what we learned along the way. Data journalists on the BBC News’ Visual and Data Journalism team have been using R for complex and reproducible data analysis and to build prototypes for some time. For example, we used R to extract, wrangle, clean and explore data from hundreds of spreadsheets on whether NHS targets are being hit, for the award-winning NHS tracker project. R was our go-to when in 2017 we analysed more than eight million residential property transactions in England and Wales for a project looking at how house prices have changed in real terms, a project that received an award from the Royal Statistical Society last year. But when it comes to making graphics, it’s been another story.
We used R and in particular R’s data visualisation package ggplot2 for data exploration, to visualise patterns and help us understand the data and find stories. But we stopped short of building charts in the BBC News graphics style ready for publication on the site. To create graphics to accompany stories on the BBC News website, we had two main options: if there was enough time, we could commission graphics from our design team. If we needed a quick turnaround, opt for our in-house chart tool instead. In the first months of 2018 some curious members of the data team started experimenting, diving deep into the internals of the ggplot2 package in a bid to figure out how close we could get to replicating the BBC’s in house style…”
Berkman-Klein Center: “A new working paper from participants in the AI-Health Working Group out of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School, and the AI Ethics Lab sets forth a research agenda for stakeholders to proactively collaborate and design AI technologies that work with users to improve their health and wellbeing. From the paper:
AI-enabled health technology holds significant promise for improving health outcomes and clinical workflows. However, it also generates challenges for health data governance and security. More specifically, apps that involve AI health coaching (e.g., an AI-mediated dialogue between the user and healthcare providers) evoke concerns about medical paternalism and privacy as well as the need for encompassing a broad range of individual understandings of what constitutes a good life. Leveraging a transdisciplinary approach, this paper sets forth a research agenda for stakeholders to proactively collaborate and design AI technologies that work with users to improve their health and wellbeing.
This research agenda is put forward in hopes of convening a range of stakeholders (researchers, practitioners, entrepreneurs, policy makers, etc.) who seek to deliberate and shape the ethically and technically-intricate digital health field. Please send comments as well as proposals for collaboration to firstname.lastname@example.org or petrie-flom@law. harvard.edu or email@example.com or contact one of the authors.”
“The Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) of the Lauder Institute at the University of Pennsylvania conducts research on the role policy institutes play in governments and civil societies around the world. Often referred to as the “think tanks’ think tank,” TTCSP examines the evolving role and character of public policy research organizations. Over the last 27 years, the TTCSP has developed and led a series of global initiatives that have helped bridge the gap between knowledge and policy in critical policy areas such as international peace and security, globalization and governance, international economics, environmental issues, information and society, poverty alleviation, and healthcare and global health. These international collaborative efforts are designed to establish regional and international networks of policy institutes and communities that improve policy making while strengthening democratic institutions and civil societies around the world.
The TTCSP works with leading scholars and practitioners from think tanks and universities in a variety of collaborative efforts and programs, and produces the annual Global Go To think Tank Index that ranks the world’s leading think tanks in a variety of categories. This is achieved with the help of a panel of over 1,796 peer institutions and experts from the print and electronic media, academia, public and private donor institutions, and governments around the world. We have strong relationships with leading think tanks around the world, and our annual think Tank Index is used by academics, journalists, donors and the public to locate and connect with the leading centers of public policy research around the world. Our goal is to increase the profile and performance of think tanks and raise the public awareness of the important role think tanks play in governments and civil societies around the globe.”
Worries about ISIS and North Korea persist, as fears about American power grow: “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report last year expressing serious concerns about the possible impacts of climate change, both in the near and distant future. Broadly speaking, people around the world agree that climate change poses a severe risk to their countries, according to a 26-nation survey conducted in the spring of 2018. In 13 of these countries, people name climate change as the top international threat. But global warming is just one of many concerns. Terrorism, specifically from the Islamic extremist group known as ISIS, and cyberattacks are also seen by many as major security threats. In eight of the countries surveyed, including Russia, France, Indonesia and Nigeria, ISIS is seen as the top threat. In four nations, including Japan and the United States, people see cyberattacks from other countries as their top international concern. One country, Poland, names Russia’s power and influence as its top threat, but few elsewhere say Russia is a major concern…These are among the findings of a Pew Research Center survey conducted among 27,612 respondents in 26 countries from May 14 to Aug. 12, 2018…”
Recode – Bad maps mean federal money isn’t being spent where it should be to build out broadband connectivity. “High-speed internet is not really available where the government says it is. And that misinformation means that a lot of Americans, especially those in poor and rural areas, can’t get access to broadband — a service that is becoming more and more integral to daily life in the US. The Federal Communications Commission, the government body charged with overseeing internet connectivity, among other things, uses data that is self-reported by the internet service providers. Even if we assume that these ISPs are reporting accurately, what they’re required to report isn’t very helpful. And bad data means that federal money isn’t being spent where it should be to build out broadband access. ISPs have to report whether a census block — an imprecise geographic area that ranges from a tenth of a mile to 8,500 miles and can contain anywhere from zero to 600 people — has access to “advertised” broadband download speeds of at least 25 megabits per second, the minimum requirement to be considered broadband…”