Law and Legal

Public Comments to the Federal Communications Commission About Net Neutrality Contain Many Inaccuracies and Duplicates

Pew Report – Fully 57% of comments used temporary or duplicate email addresses, and seven popular comments accounted for 38% of all submissions. “For the second time in less than four years, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering regulations regarding net neutrality – the principle that internet service providers must treat all data the same, regardless of the origin or purpose of that data. Opponents of net neutrality regulations argue that ISPs should have the right to prioritize traffic and charge for their services as they wish. Meanwhile, supporters of net neutrality suggest that so-called fast lanes are anti-competitive and would prevent start-ups and smaller companies from competing with more well-established companies that can afford to pay for prioritized web traffic…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Pushed beyond breaking: US newsrooms use mobile alerts to define their brand

Columbia Journalism Review – “The aim of this research is to provide a comprehensive overview of how U.S. news outlets are using mobile push alerts to reach their audiences. Its objectives are to better understand how and why news outlets are using mobile push alerts, the decision-making process and workflows behind their use, how metrics inform strategy, and the major challenges presented by push alerts and how outlets have tackled them. The study intends to provide a detailed understanding of the use of mobile push alerts by news outlets of all sizes and backgrounds. This research took part in two phases. [h/t Pete Weiss]

Categories: Law and Legal

Unrestricted Text and Data Mining with allofPLOS

PLOS news release: “…With more than 200,000 fully Open Access research articles available for content mining, PLOS can help advance the discussion and application of content mining through real-world experiences. Through our API we provide article text and meta-data in a single XML file format according to the Journal Article Tag Suite (JATS), the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) standard tag suite for archiving and exchanging journal article content. The new allofPLOS project is a step forward in providing researchers easier opportunities for new discovery and illumination of non-obvious connections between data, research articles and fields of study. With allofPLOS, in addition to the content of every PLOS article (excluding Figures or Supplemental Data) provided in JATS XML format, the XML parsing tools are provided. By including tags, content and parsing tools together, we hope to simplify and streamline the process for those wanting to experiment with content mining and TDM tools. With content mining, scientists, educators, policymakers and others can identify and map patterns and trends across millions of articles, extract the information they want, and gain new insights to advance research. TDM results can be shared as a new research article or as a database for others to use…Visit the PLOS Text and Data Mining page to download the PLOS research article corpus and XML parsing tools, and stay tuned to this space for upcoming stories of how researchers are using these tools. Download one of the HowOpenIsIt?®  Open Access Spectrum guides to see where various permissions for machine readability fall on the Open Access continuum.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Federal Weapons Prosecutions Rise for Third Consecutive Year

“The latest case-by-case records from the Justice Department covering all of FY 2017 indicate that federal criminal prosecutions for weapons offenses grew by 10.8 percent over the levels seen during FY 2016. This is the third year in a row to see an increase in federal weapons prosecutions. Prosecutions during FY 2016 had risen a comparable rate – with 11.5 percent more than in FY 2015. This follows the March 8, 2017 memorandum that Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent Department of Justice prosecutors directing them to “partner with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement to specifically identify the criminals responsible for significant violent crime in their districts” and singled out statutes penalizing firearms offenses as among the “substantial tools at their disposal.” The recent growth in federal criminal prosecutions for weapons offenses marks a return to the levels of weapons prosecutions last seen ten years ago in FY 2007, but it is still far below the peak level of federal weapons prosecutions reached in 2004. However, it is important to keep in mind that most gun prosecutions occur at the state and local level, and federal prosecutions are almost certainly dwarfed by anything that is done by the state and local governments. To read the full report, go here.”

Categories: Law and Legal

NPR – Supreme Court Considers Cellphones And Digital Privacy

NPR – “A Supreme Court case, a big one for cellphone users, examines whether police must obtain a warrant in order to get historical cell-site location information from cellphone providers.”

SCOTUSBlog: Argument analysis: Drawing a line on privacy for cellphone records, but where? The Supreme Court heard oral argument this morning in an important privacy-rights case. The defendant in the case, Timothy Carpenter, was convicted and sentenced to 116 years in prison for his role in a series of armed robberies in Indiana and Michigan. At his trial, prosecutors introduced Carpenter’s cellphone records, which confirmed that his cellphone connected with cell towers in the vicinity of the robberies. Carpenter argued that prosecutors could not use the cellphone records against him because they had not gotten a warrant for them, but the lower courts disagreed. Today the Supreme Court seemed more sympathetic, although they were clearly uncertain about exactly what to do. As Justice Stephen Breyer put it at one point, “This is an open box. We know not where we go…The transcript in Carpenter v. United States is available on the Supreme Court’s website.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Class Action Campaign Against Google Seeks Compensation For iPhone Privacy Violations

The Telegraph: “Google could be forced to pay over five million iPhone users £2.7 billion in compensation as it is accused of selling their data without their consent. A new consumer campaign called “Google You Owe Us” is launching a class action against the web giant over allegedly unlawfully harvesting the browsing histories of iPhone users without their permission. A group of at least 5.4 million affected consumers could be owed hundreds of pounds each in compensation, according to Richard Lloyd, former Which? executive director and Government adviser, who is spearheading the action…”

Categories: Law and Legal

GPO Issues Digital Releases of Federal Register for 1970s

“The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) and the National Archives’ Office of the Federal Register (OFR) digitally release historic issues of the Federal Register from 1970-1979. The complete collection of issues of the Federal Register from 1970 to present is now available digitally on GPO’s govinfo – here. This project is digitizing a total of 14,587 individual issues, dating back to the first Federal Register in 1936. Nearly two million pages are being digitized. The 1970s era of the Federal Register covers the Administrations of Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter, and includes such highlights as:

  • Pardon of President Richard Nixon by President Gerald Ford: September 10, 1974
  • Embargo by the Postmaster General on acceptance of mail of all classes destined for New York City and outlying areas due to a work stoppage at the Post Office Department: March 21, 1970
  • A final rule to establish the quantity of California-Arizona lemons that can be sent to market from April 8-14, 1979, due to marketing situation in the lemon industry: April 6, 1979.”
Categories: Law and Legal

Staggering Variety of Clandestine Trackers Found in Popular Android Apps

The Intercept: “Researchers at Yale Privacy Lab and French nonprofit Exodus Privacy have documented the proliferation of tracking software on smartphones, finding that weather, flashlight, ride-sharing, and dating apps, among others, are infested with dozens of different types of trackers collecting vast amounts of information to better target advertising. Exodus security researchers identified 44 trackers in more than 300 apps for Google’s Android smartphone operating system. The apps, collectively, have been downloaded billions of times. Yale Privacy Lab, within the university’s law school, is working to replicate the Exodus findings and has already released reports on 25 of the trackers. Yale Privacy Lab researchers have only been able to analyze Android apps but believe many of the trackers also exist on iOS, since companies often distribute for both platforms. To find trackers, the Exodus researchers built a custom auditing platform for Android apps, which searched through the apps for digital “signatures” distilled from known trackers. A signature might be a telltale set of keywords or string of bytes found in an app file, or a mathematically derived “hash” summary of the file.”

Categories: Law and Legal

The Golden Age of the Illustrated Book Dust Jacket

The Illustrated Dust Jacket, 1920-1970 chronicles the rise of the book dust jacket from disposable object to a creative platform for publishing design.
“…The Illustrated Dust Jacket, 1920-1970 by Martin Salisbury, out now from Thames & Hudson, chronicles how this once disposable object became a major creative force in publishing.Salisbury has identified numerous book illustrators, yet a large number of the dust jackets were unsigned, their creators now anonymous. And as he notes in The Illustrated Dust Jacket, even a successful designer such as Edward McKnight Kauffer, known for his use of form and geometry on covers for The Invisible Man (1952) and Intruder in the Dust (1948), was not “widely appreciated during his own lifetime in his native America.” The Illustrated Dust Jacket argues for celebrating the design and art of the dust jacket, and the often obscure creators behind these innovative covers…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Google Study Says Phishing Attacks Are the Biggest Threats to Web Users

DeepDotWeb: “A study by Google discovered that phishing attacks through fake emails were as effective as compared to data breaches that exposed usernames and passwords. Cyber criminals or cyber groups manage to steal over 25,000 valid sets of web credentials for Gmail accounts every week, painting a picture of the extent this problem has reached. Hackers are constantly searching for, and are able to obtain over millions of different platform’s usernames and passwords on dark web marketplaces. This study was as a result of a team effort with the University of California at Berkeley and the International Computer Science Institute. The study focused on discovering the most common way in which user accounts get hacked. It also emphasized on the numerous hacking techniques available and which of them was the biggest threat to web users. “We find that the risk of a full email takeover depends significantly on how attackers first acquire a victim’s (reused) credentials,” the researchers stated. A 12-month investigation of login and account data found on websites and criminal forums, (or which had been harvested by hacking tools) observed more than 12 million instances of account theft as a result of a phishing attack

Categories: Law and Legal

AI Can Help Hunt Down Missile Sites in China

Wired – AI Can Help Hunt Down Missile Sites in China

“Intelligence agencies have a limited number of trained human analysts looking for undeclared nuclear facilities, or secret military sites, hidden among terabytes of satellite images. But the same sort of deep learning artificial intelligence that enables Google and Facebook to automatically filter images of human faces and cats could also prove invaluable in the world of spy versus spy. An early example: US researchers have trained deep learning algorithms to identify Chinese surface-to-air missile sites—hundreds of times faster than their human counterparts. The deep learning algorithms proved capable of helping people with no prior imagery analysis experience find surface-to-air missile sites scattered across nearly 90,000 square kilometers of southeastern China. Such AI based on neural networks—layers of artificial neuron capable of filtering and learning from huge amounts of data—matched the overall 90 percent accuracy of expert human imagery analysts in locating the missile sites. Perhaps even more impressively, the deep learning software helped humans reduce the time needed to eyeball potential missile sites from 60 hours to just 42 minutes. “The algorithms were used to find the locations where they said there is a high confidence of a missile site, and then humans reviewed the results for accuracy and figured out how much time the algorithms saved,” says Curt Davis, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science, and director of the Center for Geospatial Intelligence, at the University of Missouri. “To my knowledge that’s never been studied before: How much time did you save, and how does that ultimately impact the human performance?” The University of Missouri study, published on October 6 in the Journal of Applied Remote Sensing, comes at a time when satellite imagery analysts are figuratively drowning in a deluge of big data. DigitalGlobe, a leading commercial satellite imagery company, generates about 70 terabytes of raw satellite imagery each day, never mind all the imagery data coming from other commercial satellites and government spy satellites…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Pew – Public Defenders Fight Back Against Budget Cuts, Growing Caseloads

Pew Charitable Trusts: “Public defenders have complained for decades they’ve got too many cases and not enough money — or time — to do their clients justice. Now, more public defense advocates are suing states for more funding. Overwhelmed public defenders also are increasingly trying other tactics: refusing to take on new cases, raising money through crowdfunding, even trying to assign a case to a sitting governor. “It’s been a huge national failure,” said William Leahy, New York’s chief public defender, of the whole public defense system, which provides legal representation for poor people charged with more serious crimes, a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. With declining budgets and crushing caseloads, juggling clients has become a Sisyphean task, public defenders say. In New Orleans, for example, 60 public defenders manage roughly 20,000 cases a year. And overburdened public defenders, they argue, can’t mount a vigorous defense for their clients. As poor defendants languish in jails awaiting representation that’s months or years away, even some conservatives wonder whether it’s time to change the system. “If the government can bring charges against you and you’re unable to have someone represent and defend you, that’s the route to totalitarianism. You’re stripped of your rights,” said Pat Nolan, director of the Center for Criminal Justice Reform at the American Conservative Union Foundation, the advocacy group that hosts the annual Conservative Political Action Conference…”

Categories: Law and Legal

10 Microsoft Word Hacks For Legal Professionals

“When you’re working hard to meet tight deadlines, you don’t have time to painstakingly bold every title in your document or fiddle with mysterious formatting inconsistencies at the 11th hour. Word can do more than you think. There are plenty of options for getting the program to work for you so that you always meet your deadlines and are confident in the accuracy of your documents. Here are 10 simple Microsoft Word features that every lawyer should know…”
Categories: Law and Legal

HBS – How Independent Bookstores Have Thrived in Spite of Amazon.com

Harvard Business School: “Ryan Raffaelli set out to discover how independent bookstores managed to survive and even thrive in spite of competition from Amazon and other online retailers. His initial findings reveal how much consumers still value community and personal contact.”

“When Amazon.com burst onto the nascent online retail scene in 1995, the future seemed bleak for brick-and-mortar independent bookstores—which already faced competition from superstores like Barnes & Noble and Borders. Indeed, between 1995 and 2000, the number of independent bookstores in the United States plummeted 43 percent, according to the American Booksellers Association (ABA), a nonprofit trade association dedicated to the promotion of independent bookstores. But then a funny thing happened. While pressure from Amazon forced Borders out of business in 2011, indie bookstores staged an unexpected comeback. Between 2009 and 2015, the ABA reported a 35 percent growth in the number of independent booksellers, from 1,651 stores to 2,227…Here are some of Raffaelli’s key findings so far, based on what he has found to be the “3 C’s” of independent bookselling’s resurgence: community, curation, and convening…”

Categories: Law and Legal

The Generalized Specialist: How Shakespeare, Da Vinci, and Kepler Excelled

Read the entire article at Farnam Street

“…A generalist is a person who is a competent jack of all trades, with lots of divergent useful skills and capabilities. This is the handyman who can fix your boiler, unblock the drains, replace a door hinge, or paint a room. The general practitioner doctor whom you see for any minor health problem (and who refers you to a specialist for anything major). The psychologist who works with the media, publishes research papers, and teaches about a broad topic. A specialist is someone with distinct knowledge and skills related to a single area. This is the cardiologist who spends their career treating and understanding heart conditions. The scientist who publishes and teaches about a specific protein for decades. The developer who works with a particular program. In his original essay, Berlin writes that specialists “lead lives, perform acts and entertain ideas that are centrifugal rather than centripetal; their thought is scattered or diffused, moving on many levels, seizing upon the essence of a vast variety of experiences and objects … seeking to fit them into, or exclude them from, any one unchanging, all embracing … unitary inner vision.” The generalist and the specialist are on the same continuum; there are degrees of specialization in a subject. There’s a difference between someone who specializes in teaching history and someone who specializes in teaching the history of the American Civil war, for example. Likewise, there is a spectrum for how generalized or specialized a certain skill is. Some skills — like the ability to focus, to read critically, or to make rational decisions — are of universal value. Others are a little more specialized but can be used in many different careers. Examples of these skills would be design, project management, and fluency in a foreign language. The distinction between generalization and specialization comes from biology. Species are referred to as either generalists or specialists, as with the hedgehog and the fox. A generalist species can live in a range of environments, utilizing whatever resources are available. Often, these critters eat an omnivorous diet. Raccoons, mice, and cockroaches are generalists. They live all over the world and can eat almost anything. If a city is built in their habitat, then no problem; they can adapt. A specialist species needs particular conditions to survive. In some cases, they are able to live only in a discrete area or eat a single food. Pandas are specialists, needing a diet of bamboo to survive. Specialist species can thrive if the conditions are correct. Otherwise, they are vulnerable to extinction…”

Categories: Law and Legal

IssueVoter supports direct communications between voters and elected officials

FastCompany: “A site called IssueVoter is designed to make it much simpler to follow what elected officials are doing, easily share opinions about proposed bills, and track the results of votes.“I use this analogy: When you hire someone, and you pay and promote them, you get to see their work and evaluate the work they’re doing,” says Maria Yuan, IssueVoter founder and CEO. “But when we vote for someone we don’t necessarily see the work they’re doing, yet we do continue to reelect our elected officials.” Before a vote, the site sends users targeted alerts outlining the arguments for and against the bill. After reading the details, users can click a simple “oppose” or “support” button to send their representative’s office an anonymous message with their opinion. (Contrary to some stereotypes, legislators do care what voters think about issues–and staffers keep tallies of constituent sentiment).

Via IssueVoter: “When we vote, we’re hiring our elected officials. We pay their salaries with our tax dollars. Imagine hiring an employee, paying and promoting them, yet never seeing any of their work. That’s essentially what we’re all doing when we vote & re- elect. And incumbents are re-elected over 90% of the time. We’re living with an outdated system

  • Bills are difficult to research and understand,
  • Contacting reps still involves snail mail, picking up the phone, or filling out long forms online,
  • Petitions don’t work. To elected officials, petitions are merely a list of names – you may not be one of their voters, and the person signing the petition has no way to track outcomes

Engage with Your Political Process
Track your rep’s activity. We tell you how your rep voted, how often your representative agrees with you, and whether or not they’ve attended a vote. Encourage open discussion. You can share an issue on your favorite social network, without revealing your personal opinion. Act on issues that don’t make headlines. We don’t only tell you about what is breaking the news; we check for updates every hour to make sure you have the latest information. Become an informed voter. Using IssueVoter year-round informs you before elections and keeps money’s influence out of your opinion. Only re-elect reps who truly represented you.”

Categories: Law and Legal

WSJ – The 6 Laws of Technology Everyone Should Know

Professor who summarized the impact of technology on society 30 years ago seems prescient now, in the age of smartphones and social media – “Three decades ago, a historian wrote six laws to explain society’s unease with the power and pervasiveness of technology. Though based on historical examples taken from the Cold War, the laws read as a cheat sheet for explaining our era of Facebook, Google, the iPhone and FOMO. You’ve probably never heard of these principles or their author, Melvin Kranzberg, a professor of the history of technology at Georgia Institute of Technology who died in 1995. What’s a bigger shame is that most of the innovators today, who are building the services and tools that have upended society, don’t know them, either. Fortunately, the laws have been passed down by a small group of technologists who say they have profoundly impacted their thinking. The text should serve as a foundation—something like a Hippocratic oath—for all people who build things…”

  1. ‘Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral..’
  2. ‘Invention is the mother of necessity…’
  3. ‘Technology comes in packages, big and small…
  4. ‘Although technology might be a prime element in many public issues, nontechnical factors take precedence in technology-policy decisions…’
  5. ‘All history is relevant, but the history of technology is the most relevant…’
  6. ‘Technology is a very human activity…’
Categories: Law and Legal

Consumer Protection Bureau Now Has Two Interim Acting Directors

The New York Times: “Mick Mulvaney, President Trump’s budget director, was named the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on November 24, 2017…moving to take control of the agency hours after its departing leader had taken steps to install his own choice for acting chief. By the end of the night, an agency born of the financial meltdown — and one Republicans have tried to kill from the start — had dueling directors, and there was little sense of who actually would be in charge Monday morning (November 27, 2017) . The bureaucratic standoff began Friday afternoon (November 24, 2017) when Richard Cordray, the Obama-appointed leader of the bureau, abruptly announced he would leave the job at the close of business, a week earlier than anticipated. He followed up with a letter naming his chief of staff, Leandra English, as the agency’s deputy director. The announcement came with a twist. Under the law, he said, that appointment would make the new deputy director the agency’s acting director. The move was seen as an effort to delay Mr. Trump from appointing his own director, whose confirmation could take months. The White House retaliated, saying that the budget director, Mick Mulvaney, who once characterized the consumer protection bureau as a “sad, sick joke,” would be running the agency. He would also keep his current job as head of the Office of Management and Budget. Mr. Mulvaney said he would assume the additional role until a permanent successor was found…In a letter to the consumer protection agency’s staff, Mr. Cordray named Ms. English as deputy director. Under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, which established the regulatory agency, the deputy director is to serve as acting director in the absence of a permanent leader, Mr. Cordray said. The conflicting appointments were a fitting development for an agency under constant attack from Republican leaders, and it leaves supporters wondering about the agency’s future with Mr. Trump in the White House and Republicans in control of both houses of Congress. The bureau was proposed in 2007 by Elizabeth Warren, then a Harvard law professor, but she was passed over to lead the agency after Obama administration officials became concerned that she would not be able to overcome resistance from Republicans during the confirmation process. Instead, President Barack Obama chose Mr. Cordray, a former attorney general of Ohio whom Ms. Warren had picked to be the agency’s enforcement director. But for two years, Republicans prevented the confirmation of a director to lead the agency. The agency’s creation was also largely opposed by the banking industry, which sought to prevent Mr. Cordray’s confirmation. In July 2013, the Senate finally agreed to allow the confirmation of Mr. Cordray, cementing a new era of expansive federal oversight of companies that lend money to consumers. On Friday, Ms. Warren defended Mr. Cordray’s decision on Facebook: “President Trump can’t override that. He can nominate the next CFPB Director — but until that nominee is confirmed by the Senate, Leandra English is the Acting Director under the Dodd-Frank Act.”

  • The Hill: “The Justice Department released a memo on Saturday arguing that it is well within President Trump’s authority to appoint White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney as the interim director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). In a memo dated Nov. 25, Steven Engel, the assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel, said that the 1998 Federal Vacancies Act gives the president full authority to appoint an acting director to the watchdog agency, regardless of the CFPB’s established line of succession. The 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, which established the CFPB, states that the deputy director is to head the agency in the absence of a permanent director…”
Categories: Law and Legal

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

Connaway, Lynn Silipigni, Vanessa Kitzie, Erin M. Hood and William Harvey. 2017. The Many Faces of Digital Visitors & Residents: Facets of Online Engagement. With contributions from Allison Benedetti, Agustí Canals, Liliana Gregori, Eva Ortoll Espinet, Daniel Lozano, Melissa Man, Josep Cobarsí Morales, Sara Giuliana Ricetto, Riccardo Melgrati, Eva M. Méndez Rodríguez, Andrea Sada, Peter Sidorko, Paolo Sirito, Virginia Steel, Titia van der Werf, and Esther Woo. Dublin, OH: OCLC Research. doi:10.25333/C3V63F

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

Categories: Law and Legal

AALL – Budgets, Staffing for Law Libraries on the Rise

AALL news release: ” Law library information budgets and full-time law library staff are both increasing, according to the AALL Biennial Salary Survey & Organizational Characteristics study  (purchase req’d) conducted by the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL). The study, the 13th conducted by AALL, provides the only comprehensive, comparative salary information designed by and for legal information professionals at law schools, law firm/corporate law offices and government law libraries.“In addition to contextualizing the average income of certain library information roles across multiple U.S. regions, this comprehensive analysis of our industry demonstrates that the value of law library information professionals and services is on the rise,” noted AALL President Greg Lambert. “Contrary to many assumptions tied to the digitization of law libraries, the need for these professionals and legal research resources continues to grow.” The 146-page report revealed the average total information budget for law libraries increased for the first time since 2009, rising by 4.1 percent compared to the AALL Salary Survey findings of 2015. Total government and law firm/corporate law information budgets grew the most, rising 27 percent and 10 percent, respectively…”

Categories: Law and Legal

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