Law and Legal
The surveillance technology can already be found in Argentina, India, and soon the United States – “…While it’s become common for law enforcement, from local police to the federal government, to use facial recognition, it’s often used retrospectively. That means instead of scanning everyone’s face whose face appears in a live video, they analyze an image of a suspect’s face from a crime scene and compare it against a mugshot database, or some other database of face images, to find out who it is. But that reluctance to embrace live facial recognition is changing — it already has changed around the world. We’ve seen that in Surat, India, and Buenos Aires, Argentina, live facial recognition is already here. In Buenos Aires, it has been used to detain nearly 600 people, and not all of them are even real suspects. One man was detained for six days for having the same name as a suspect in a crime, which police mistakenly entered incorrectly into the watch list. That same technology is coming to police body cameras, as I wrote in OneZero [March 5, 2020]. A body camera company in southern California called Wolfcom has started marketing live facial recognition as a feature in its hardware. It’s already being tested in New Mexico. Privacy advocates oppose live facial recognition, especially in body cameras worn by police. “Body cameras were promised to communities as a tool for officer accountability. They should not be twisted into surveillance systems to be used against communities,” the ACLU wrote on Twitter in response to OneZero’s story.
MIT Technology Review: “In the unprecedented outbreak of a new coronavirus sweeping the world, the germ’s genetic material may ultimately tell the story not just of where it came from, but of how it spread and how efforts to contain it failed.By tracking mutations to the virus as it spreads, scientists are creating a family tree in nearly real time, which they say can help pinpoint how the infection is hopping between countries. When scientists in Brazil confirmed that country’s first case of coronavirus late in February, they were quick to sequence the germ’s genetic code and compare it with over 150 sequences already posted online, many from China. The patient, a 61-year-old from São Paulo, had traveled in Italy’s northern Lombardy region that month, so Italy was likely where he acquired the infection. But the sequence of his virus suggested a more complex story, linking his illness back to a sick passenger from China and an outbreak in Germany. As a virus spreads, it mutates, developing random changes in single genetic letters in its genome. By tracking those changes, scientists can trace its evolution and learn which cases are most closely related. The latest maps already show dozens of branching events.
The data is being tracked on a website called Nextstrain, an open-source effort to “harness the scientific and public health potential of pathogen genome data.” Because scientists are posting data so quickly, this is the first outbreak in which a germ’s evolution and spread have been tracked in so much detail, and almost in real time.
booksprice.com: “BooksPrice is a free-of-charge website that enables users to search for the best deals as related to prices of books, CDs, DVDs and other products offered by thousands of stores across the Web. BooksPrice specializes in conducting comparisons of multiple books, CDs and DVDs as part of one single search. BooksPrice is an independent website that is not owned or controlled to any extent by any other business entities. Therefore, all search results are completely objective…”
Libraries 2020: “As designated essential disaster services, libraries are poised to serve a role in the national response to the Coronavirus and COVID-19. Some changes to libraries as a public gathering place may be temporarily required, but our mission of sharing information will likely continue unchanged. They will remain great resources to access credible medical information and connect to resources to help you and your community. Libraries: Open for Information – Your local library is a great place to turn for information about COVID-19, the disease caused by the Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). Not only are libraries a trusted source of vetting information, there is a long history of libraries as a destination for answers to health questions.
In the case of a public health situation like the COVID-19 outbreak, your local library is especially beneficial because it is local. In the United States, public health is addressed at a county level with statewide organizations. That means your local library is typically already connected to the local public health officials. Depending on local measures put into place, some changes to library programs may be required, but online services like medical databases, eBooks, digital audiobooks, will still be accessible with a library card allowing you to find credible information and even entertainment…”
Oxford University Press Blog – Femi Cadmus Archibald and Frances Rufty Research Professor of Law & Assoc Dean Info Svcs & Tech, Duke University School of Law: “For well over a century, law librarians have been a force in leading research initiatives, preservation, and access to legal information in academia, private firms, and government. While these traditional skills emerged in a predominantly print era, there has been a perceptible expansion and recent acceleration of technological expertise. The profession has progressively become infused with new digital tools, evidenced by librarians leading strategies in competitive intelligence, knowledge management, artificial intelligence, and legal analytics. It has become clear that skills in research, collections, data curation, retrieval, and accessibility have meshed well in an ever-increasing data-driven world…”
EPA Guidance Documents – “On October 9, 2019, President Trump signed Executive Order 13891, “Promoting the Rule of Law Through Improved Agency Guidance Documents.” Among other things, the Executive Order directs federal agencies to make active guidance documents available via an online guidance document portal. On October 31, 2019, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued implementing guidance M-20-02 (PDF), which set deadlines and related information for establishing the searchable, indexed online database for all active guidance documents. This website provides links to all of EPA’s active guidance documents. EPA’s guidance documents lack the force and effect of law, unless expressly authorized by statute or incorporated into a contract. The agency may not cite, use, or rely on any guidance that is not posted on this web area, except to establish historical facts…”
“For 72 years, TIME named a Man of the Year. With a few exceptions, it was almost always a man, usually a President or a Prime Minister or perhaps a titan of industry. Throughout history, these are the kinds of men who have wielded influence over the world. In 1999, Man of the Year gave way to Person of the Year. While the name rightly changed, too often the choice was the same. With this 100 Women of the Year project, we’re spotlighting influential women who were often overshadowed. This includes women who occupied positions from which the men were often chosen, like world leaders Golda Meir and Corazon Aquino, but far more who found their influence through activism or culture. As former TIME editor-in-chief Nancy Gibbs writes, this project is an exercise in looking at the ways in which women held power due to systemic inequality. “Women,” Gibbs writes, “were wielding soft power long before the concept was defined.” To recognize these women, we have created 89 new TIME covers, many of which were designed by prominent artists. We left intact the 11 covers for women who had been named Person of the Year. The 100 choices in this project are the result of a months-long process that began with more than 600 nominations submitted by TIME staff; experts in the field; our creative partner, filmmaker Alma Har’el; and a committee of notable women from various backgrounds.
This process prompted just as many questions as answers: “What does it mean to be a woman?” “How has society failed to acknowledge the contributions of women?” One answer came from feminist organizer Gloria Steinem, whom we picked for 1970, and whom we asked to revisit a piece she wrote that year in TIME called “What It Would Be Like If Women Win”—a rare opportunity to reflect on 50 years of change…”
protocol: “U.S. law enforcement agencies signed millions of dollars worth of contracts with a Virginia company after it rolled out a powerful tool that uses data from popular mobile apps to track the movement of people’s cell phones, according to federal contracting records and six people familiar with the software. The product, called Locate X and sold by Babel Street, allows investigators to draw a digital fence around an address or area, pinpoint mobile devices that were within that area, and see where else those devices have traveled, going back months, the sources told Protocol. They said the tool tracks the location of devices anonymously, using data that popular cell phone apps collect to enable features like mapping or targeted ads, or simply to sell it on to data brokers…”
The New York Times – Before Clearview Became a Police Tool, It Was a Secret Plaything of the Rich – Investors and clients of the facial recognition start-up freely used the app on dates and at parties — and to spy on the public.
Fortune: “In January, a new law gave consumers the power to stop companies collecting their personal information. The law, known as the California Consumer Privacy Act (or the CCPA), can be a powerful tool for privacy, but it comes with a catch: Consumers who want to exercise their CCPA rights must contact every data broker individually, and there are more than a hundred of them. But now they have an easier option. On Thursday March 5, 2020, a startup called DoNotPay unveiled a service it calls Digital Health that automates the data-deletion process. Priced at $3 a month, the service will contact more than 100 data brokers on your behalf and demand they delete your and your family’s personal information. It will also show you the types of data the brokers have collected—such as phone number or location info—and even initiate legal proceedings if the firms fail to comply. The monthly fee also gives subscribers access to DoNotPay’s other automated avenging services, like appealing parking tickets in any city, claiming compensation for poor in-flight Wi-Fi, and Robo Revenge, which sues robocallers…”
The Verge: “Google is beginning to roll out its article-reading feature on Google Assistant that will read webpages aloud. This was previewed back at CES in January and is becoming available globally starting today. To use the feature, users can simply say, “Hey Google, read it” or “Hey Google, read this page” for Assistant to read the text on your screen. The screen will also highlight the text that Assistant is currently reading so users can follow along on the page as it’s being read out loud. To skip to a different section, tap the screen to move forward. Or if you’re the kind of person who listens to podcasts at two times the speed, you can also adjust Google Assistant’s reading pace for faster or slower cadences…”
“As the Wuhan coronavirus and the disease it causes — also known as COVID-19 — spread across the globe, so does disinformation and misinformation. Follow the spread of this dangerous information with NewsGuard’s new Coronavirus Misinformation Tracking Center. Listed below are all the news and information sites in the U.S., the U.K., France, Italy, and Germany that we have so far identified as publishing materially false information about the virus. You’ll find websites that are notorious for publishing false health content, and political sites whose embrace of conspiracy theories extends well beyond politics. Troublingly, you’ll also see some sites that generally stick to the facts but in this case have published unvetted, poorly sourced stories that turned out to be false. To read our full review of each website, click on its name to see its NewsGuard Nutrition Label (some labels include highlighted sections of coronavirus-related content)…”
Human Resources – The good, the bad and the downright inappropriate – “Emojis are everywhere nowadays. When words fail us or we want to lighten the mood, very often we turn to emojis. In fact even in a professional work setting, 71% of respondents in Perkbox’s latest survey feel emojis should be encouraged. Polling 1000 UK workers, the research found that the ‘thumbs up’ emoji came top as the best way to convey a ‘well done’ (51%), followed by the ‘OK’ (16%), ‘starry eyes’ (13%), ‘smiley face’ (11%) and ‘raised hands’ emoji (10%). When it came to what emoji was the biggest compliment – in first place was the ‘party popper’ emoji, followed by ‘raised hands’, ‘bicep’, ‘thumbs up’, ‘clap’ and somewhat surprisingly the ‘star’ in final place. However, more than one in four employee says they still prefer to receive praise the ‘old school way’ through a written email. Of those who said they prefer an informal chat using emoji (49%), 27% believe it should only apply if the recipient is a Millennial or younger, with one in five of the respondents saying this group believes emojis are more heartfelt…”
Freedom House – A Leaderless Struggle for Democracy – “Democracy and pluralism are under assault. Dictators are toiling to stamp out the last vestiges of domestic dissent and spread their harmful influence to new corners of the world. At the same time, many freely elected leaders are dramatically narrowing their concerns to a blinkered interpretation of the national interest. In fact, such leaders—including the chief executives of the United States and India, the world’s two largest democracies—are increasingly willing to break down institutional safeguards and disregard the rights of critics and minorities as they pursue their populist agendas. As a result of these and other trends, Freedom House found that 2019 was the 14th consecutive year of decline in global freedom. The gap between setbacks and gains widened compared with 2018, as individuals in 64 countries experienced deterioration in their political rights and civil liberties while those in just 37 experienced improvements. The negative pattern affected all regime types, but the impact was most visible near the top and the bottom of the scale. More than half of the countries that were rated Free or Not Free in 2009 have suffered a net decline in the past decade…The unchecked brutality of autocratic regimes and the ethical decay of democratic powers are combining to make the world increasingly hostile to fresh demands for better governance. A striking number of new citizen protest movements have emerged over the past year, reflecting the inexhaustible and universal desire for fundamental rights. However, these movements have in many cases confronted deeply entrenched interests that are able to endure considerable pressure and are willing to use deadly force to maintain power. The protests of 2019 have so far failed to halt the overall slide in global freedom, and without greater support and solidarity from established democracies, they are more likely to succumb to authoritarian reprisals…”
Overview: How a changing relationship with cars may shape the future of transportation – “Automobiles make up 70% of the emissions from all forms of transportation. There are an estimated 1 billion cars on the planet, with around 80 million new cars sold each year. Despite continually strong sales, experts suggest we have reached ‘Peak Car’ – meaning the average distance traveled per person in cars has peaked, and will continue to fall over time. There are many different factors contributing to this trend, such as a global shift towards urban living, new forms of mobility, new government policies for reducing traffic, and a slowing expansion of road networks…” [Note – the aeriel photos are amazing]
Smithsonian Magazine – The National Park Service predicts the pink-and-white blossoms will reach peak bloom between March 27 and 30 – “very spring, the 3,800 cherry trees along Washington, D.C.’s Tidal Basin burst into a symphony of pink-and-white blossoms. Because this picturesque period lasts, on average, just four to seven days, the spectacle is a much-anticipated annual event, with local horticulturalists and cherry blossom enthusiasts alike predicting the timing of peak bloom ahead of the National Park Service’s (NPS) official announcement. This year, reports the NPS, peak bloom—when more than 70 percent of Yoshino cherry trees, the most common species in the area, open their buds—is projected to begin between March 27 and 30…”
See also the National Park Service Twitter feed – https://twitter.com/hashtag/BloomWatch?src=hashtag_click
The New York Times – The latest Apple and Google models have software that automatically enhances your photos, but you can also take control to get your perfect shot: “It’s getting harder to take a truly bad photo on a good smartphone. Thanks to better lenses, robust processors and integrated computational photography software to process images under the hood, even scenes in low-light, no-flash situations that used to be hopelessly murky can now turn out nicely. Your phone’s native camera app makes it simple to grab a picture with just a couple of taps. But if you’ve recently upgraded your device and want to dive deeper into the latest hardware and software, here are a few tips — illustrated by two current models, Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro Max and Google’s Pixel 4 XL…”
Citizen Lab – Censored Contagion – “Key Findings:
- YY, a live-streaming platform in China, began to censor keywords related to the coronavirus outbreak on December 31, 2019, a day after doctors (including the late Dr. Li Wenliang) tried to warn the public about the then unknown virus.
- WeChat broadly censored coronavirus-related content (including critical and neutral information) and expanded the scope of censorship in February 2020. Censored content included criticism of government, rumours and speculative information on the epidemic, references to Dr. Li Wenliang, and neutral references to Chinese government efforts on handling the outbreak that had been reported on state media.
- Many of the censorship rules are broad and effectively block messages that include names for the virus or sources for information about it. Such rules may restrict vital communication related to disease information and prevention…”
Via CDC Public Health Media Library – “Healthcare professionals, labs, and health departments, learn the most current information about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): outbreak locations, risk assessment, and travel guidance.”
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Summary – This is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation and CDC will provide updated information as it becomes available, in addition to updated guidance.
The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse – “The latest available case-by-case records from the Department of Justice show that the prosecution of white-collar offenders in January 2020 reached an all-time low since tracking began during the Reagan Administration. Only 359 defendants were prosecuted. Almost all of these were individuals rather than businesses. January 2020’s prosecutions continued a downward slide, dropping 8 percent from a year ago, and were down 25 percent from just five years ago. On an annual basis, during the Obama Administration they reached over 10,000 in FY 2011. If prosecutions continue at the same pace for the remainder of FY 2020, they are projected to fall to 5,175 – about half the level of their Obama-era peak. These comparisons are based on case-by-case information obtained by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University after successful litigation against the Justice Department under the Freedom of Information Act.
Prosecutors chiefly pursue individuals when prosecuting white-collar crimes. Corporations and other business organizations are rarely prosecuted. Yet white-collar crimes typically involve some form of fraud or anti-trust violations involving financial, insurance or mortgage institutions; health care providers; securities and commodities firms; or frauds committed in tax, federal procurement or federal programs among others. Since separate tracking for business entities began in FY 2004, businesses made up just 1 out of every 100 prosecutions. Mirroring overall trends, the number of white-collar offenses that business entities have been prosecuted for have also been generally falling…”
The NYT Open Team – A step-by-step guide to finding and removing your personal information from the internet. “No one wants their home address on the internet. That is personal information we typically only give out to friends, family and maybe our favorite online stores. Yet, for many of us, that information is available and accessible to anyone with an internet connection. And increasingly for journalists, public figures and activists, this kind of information is dug up and posted to online forums as a form of harassment, or doxxing. Doxxing (also sometimes called “doxing”) is a low-level tactic with a high-impact outcome: it often does not require much time or many resources, but it can cause significant damage to the person targeted. Once sensitive information — such as home address, phone number, names of family members or email addresses — about a targeted individual is posted to public forums, it can be used by others for further targeting…When our team begins looking into the personal information that is available online for a colleague, we think like doxxers and use some of the same readily available online resources that doxxers may use to surface personal information…” [h/t Barclay Walsh]