Law and Legal

Dark patterns, the tricks websites use to make you say yes, explained

Vox: “How design can manipulate and coerce you into doing what websites want. If you’re an Instagram user, you may have recently seen a pop-up asking if you want the service to “use your app and website activity” to “provide a better ads experience.” At the bottom there are two boxes: In a slightly darker shade of black than the pop-up background, you can choose to “Make ads less personalized.” A bright blue box urges users to “Make ads more personalized.” This is an example of a dark pattern: design that manipulates or heavily influences users to make certain choices. Instagram uses terms like “activity” and “personalized” instead of “tracking” and “targeting,” so the user may not realize what they’re actually giving the app permission to do. Most people don’t want Instagram and its parent company, Facebook, to know everything they do and everywhere they go. But a “better experience” sounds like a good thing, so Instagram makes the option it wants users to select more prominent and attractive than the one it hopes they’ll avoid…”

Categories: Law and Legal

12 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do in Firefox

Gizmodo: “We’re coming up on the 20th anniversary of Mozilla’s Firefox web browser next year, and a lot of features have come and gone in that time. If you’re using Firefox as your daily driver, make sure you’re using it to its full potential by checking out some of these lesser-known tools, options, and features…”

Categories: Law and Legal

What You Need to Know About Your Vaccine Card

The New York Times – “For now, the best way to show that you’ve been inoculated against the coronavirus is a simple white card. Here, your key questions answered. As vaccinations become more widely available for people in the United States and travel starts picking up, many people have started sharing their simple white vaccination cards on social media as prized new possessions. With some destinations, cruise lines and venues already requiring travelers to provide proof of vaccination against Covid-19, keeping that record is key. In New York, for example, proof of vaccination or a recent negative test will be required for entry into large venues or catered events when they are allowed to reopen at reduced capacity on April 2. Proof will be required at events with more than 100 people, so anyone having a wedding or Sweet 16 with more attendees will have to ask guests for evidence that they are complying with the rules. There are already a number of vaccination “passport” initiatives underway that would make vaccination status easy to share digitally…”

See also Mashable – “With vaccine passports on the horizon, pushback — reasonable and otherwise — grows. As the last few years have demonstrated, the loudest voices in the room have a tendency to drown out the more reasoned ones. When it comes to the growing controversy surrounding vaccine passports, that often ill-informed or conspiratorial bluster has the potential to foster a serious global health problem.There are real concerns being raised by actual subject matter experts around vaccine passports — ones of equity, privacy, and segregation — but those warnings are at risk of being drowned out by the conspiracy-theory noise. With vaccination rates on the upswing and a post-pandemic future appearing possible, now is the time to ensure the world waiting at the other end of this collective nightmare is one guided by those experts — and not whoever can simply make the most noise…”
Categories: Law and Legal

A Computer Scientist Who Tackles Inequality Through Algorithms

Qanta Magazine: “When Rediet Abebe arrived at Harvard University as an undergraduate in 2009, she planned to study mathematics. But her experiences with the Cambridge public schools soon changed her plans. Abebe, 29, is from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital and largest city. When residents there didn’t have the resources they needed, she attributed it to community-level scarcity. But she found that argument unconvincing when she learned about educational inequality in Cambridge’s public schools, which she observed struggling in an environment of abundance….Today, Abebe uses the tools of theoretical computer science to help design algorithms and artificial intelligence systems that address real-world problems. She has modeled the role played by income shocks, like losing a job or government benefits, in leading people into poverty, and she’s looked at ways of optimizing the allocation of government financial assistance. She’s also working with the Ethiopian government to better account for the needs of a diverse population by improving the algorithm the country uses to match high school students with colleges.  Abebe is a co-founder of the organizations Black in AI — a community of Black researchers working in artificial intelligence — and Mechanism Design for Social Good, which brings together researchers from different disciplines to address social problems…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Another lockdown, but this time Parisians demand bookstores stay open

Boston Globe: “In France, the price of a baguette is protected by French law, and so is the price of a book. This says a lot about the place of reading in French life. In 1981, the loi Lang, named for then-president François Mitterand’s flamboyant minister of culture, Jack Lang, mandated that all booksellers, whether chains or independent (the law now also applies to online retailers), charge the same price as their competitors. The maximum discount allowed for books is 5 percent. The law not only protects independent bookshops from larger chain outlets, it ensures cultural diversity, guaranteeing that a wide range of titles can be published, including books that have cultural value but won’t become bestsellers. (Thirteen other European countries also have fixed prices for books.)…A poll conducted during the second lockdown found that 52 percent of the population considered bookshops essential businesses. Many shops created a “click and collect” workaround to sell books in spite of the closures — the way restaurants sold takeout. And when that lockdown was lifted in December, bibliophiles showed their love for their booksellers, buying 35 percent more books than they did during the same time the previous year…”

Categories: Law and Legal

9 Legal Ways to Watch Movies Online for Free

Make Use Of: “There are many illegal options. Want to stay within the law? Here are several legal ways to watch movies online. Gone are the days when Netflix was the sole player in the media streaming space. Nowadays, there are plenty of on-demand streaming services available to the average consumer. The only catch is that most of them are paid. To make matters worse, all these platforms try to secure exclusive deals with popular films. It means that you have to subscribe to multiple services in order to enjoy the greatest variety of content. ng.””However, there are some free streaming services that let you watch all the movies you’d ever want, all while remaining on the correct side of the law. Here are the best free legal movie streaming services…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Why Informal Information Sharing is Holding Your Organization Back

Why Informal Information Sharing is Holding Your Organization Back, By Mary Ellen Bates: “Regardless of copyright licensing policies within most enterprises, there’s one thing that can’t be denied: there is a lot of informal collaboration going on right now. According to the 2020 Information Seeking and Consumption Study conducted by Outsell Inc., an estimated two-thirds of people surveyed report working at home during the pandemic, and a third of those individuals report sharing and using more content than they did when they were in the office. With so many people working remotely, looking at materials together or discussing an article at the water cooler have been replaced by virtual collaboration. There’s a common perception, particularly in R&D-intensive companies, that researchers are responsible for most collaboration around published information. The 2020 Outsell data showed that those at the executive level – not just knowledge workers – are sharing content far more than others – an average of 25 times a week and with an average of 12 other people. In addition to the prolific use of content by executive leadership, here are a few other ways published information is being used throughout organizations that you may not have considered..”

Categories: Law and Legal

Amtrak proposed map of new and expanded service under Biden infrastructure plan

Amtrak connects U.S. – a vision to grow rail service across America: “New or improved routes to add millions more passengers over 15 years. With a growing and diverse population, a global climate crisis and longer traffic jams, America needs a rail network that offers frequent, reliable, sustainable, and equitable train service. Amtrak has the vision and expertise to deliver it. Better rail service means cleaner air, less traffic, and happier people…”

Categories: Law and Legal

2021 Edelman Trust Barometer

“After a year of unprecedented disaster and turbulence – the Covid-19 pandemic and economic crisis, the global outcry over systemic racism and political instability – the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals an epidemic of misinformation and widespread mistrust of societal institutions and leaders around the world. Adding to this is a failing trust ecosystem unable to confront the rampant infodemic, leaving the four institutions – business, government, NGOs and media – in an environment of information bankruptcy and a mandate to rebuild trust and chart a new path forward. The Covid-19 pandemic, with more than 1.9 million lives lost and joblessness equivalent to the Great Depression, has accelerated the erosion of trust around the world. This is evident in the significant drop in trust in the two largest economies: the U.S. and China. The U.S. (40 percent) and Chinese (30 percent) governments are deeply distrusted by respondents from the 26 other markets surveyed. And most notable is the drop in trust among their own citizens, with the U.S., already in the bottom quartile for trust, experiencing an additional 5-point drop since its presidential election in November 2020 and China seeing an 18-point drop since May 2020…”

Categories: Law and Legal

If You Care About Privacy, It’s Time to Try a New Web Browser

The New York Times – “Most of us use web browsers out of habit. If you surf the web with Microsoft Edge, that may be because you use Windows. If you use Safari, that’s probably because you are an Apple customer. If you are a Chrome user, that could be because you have a Google phone or laptop, or you downloaded the Google browser on your personal device after using it on computers at school or work. In other words, we turn to the browsers that are readily available and familiar. It’s easy to fall into browser inertia because these apps are all fast, capable and serve the same purpose: visiting a website. So if the differences are minimal, why bother looking for something else? By the end of this column, I hope to persuade you to at least try something else: a new type of internet navigator called a private browser. This kind of browser, from less-known brands like DuckDuckGo and Brave, has emerged over the last three years. What stands out is that they minimize the data gathered about us by blocking the technologies used to track us…”

Categories: Law and Legal

The Case for Law Practice Management Software

Via LLRXThe Case for Law Practice Management Software – The software that lawyers relied on to run their firms used to be premise-based, but as reported by Nicole L. Black, in 2021 cloud computing software is the most prevalent. In fact, even before the pandemic, lawyers were adopting cloud-based legal software at higher rates than ever before. According to the 2020 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report, 59% of lawyers surveyed were already already using cloud-based software pre-COVID. Notably, the results of another survey conducted by MyCase in mid-2020, showed the social distancing requirements of the pandemic have only served to accelerate this trend.

Categories: Law and Legal

CRS – Biometric Technologies and Global Security

CRS In Focus – Biometric Technologies and Global Security March 30, 2021: “Biometric technologies use unique biological or behavioral attributes—such as DNA, fingerprints, cardiac signatures, voice or gait patterns, and facial or ocular measurements—to authenticate an individual’s identity. Although biometric technologies have been in use for decades, recent advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and Big Data analytics have expanded their application. As these technologies continue to mature and proliferate, largely driven by advances in the commercial sector, they will likely hold growing implications for congressional oversight, civil liberties, U.S. defense authorizations and appropriations, military and intelligence concepts of operations, and the future of war…”

Categories: Law and Legal

CRS – Mergers and Acquisitions in Digital Markets

Mergers and Acquisitions in Digital Markets, March 30, 2021: “Some Members of Congress have expressed concern about mergers and acquisitions in digital markets, specifically those involving “Big Tech”—Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft. Mergers can be separated into three categories: (1) a merger between competitors (i.e., horizontal merger), (2) a merger with a firm in the supply chain (i.e., vertical merger), and (3) a merger with a firm in an unrelated or adjacent market. Some Members have specifically raised concern about Big Tech companies’ acquisitions of nascent firms, which can occur across all three categories. A merger could potentially increase or decrease competition in digital markets, depending on the characteristics of the markets involved…Any legislative action, including a decision not to take action, could have significant effects on digital markets. Congress is not the only legislative body concerned about competition in digital markets; stateand foreign laws and regulations could also affect mergers involving U.S. companies..”

Categories: Law and Legal

How can we better dispose of PPE so it doesn’t keep polluting our oceans?

Fast Company: “Six months after the Ocean Conservancy added a PPE category to its waste collection app, beach cleaners said they collected 107,219 such items. It’s another sad reality of the COVID-19 era that some of the steps we’re taking to stay safe and combat the coronavirus spread are often in opposition to hard-fought efforts to curb the use of plastics for a cleaner planet. Early in the pandemic, as the use of reusable items was scaled back for fear of the virus spreading via objects, planned plastic bag bans were rolled back or postponed across the country. What’s more, an entirely new form of plastic pollution has surged—waste from PPE, or personal protective equipment—and we’re just starting to understand its impact. PPE waste was mostly anecdotal in the early stages of the pandemic, but now the Ocean Conservancy, a nonprofit environmental group, has concrete data based on waste collection trends by individuals around the world. Anyone can download the group’s app, Clean Swell, and log the items they pick up on beaches and coastlines—and since July 2020, the app has contained a new PPE category. In the six months between July and December, according to a new report published by the group, users reported a total of 107,219 items of PPE waste collected…”

Categories: Law and Legal

U.S. High Tide Flooding Probability Scenarios Through 2100

ESRI.com – “High tide flooding today mostly affects low-lying and exposed assets or infrastructure, such as roads, harbors, beaches, public storm-, waste- and fresh-water systems and private and commercial properties. Due to rising relative sea level (RSL), more and more cities are becoming increasingly exposed and evermore vulnerable to high tide flooding, which is rapidly increasing in frequency, depth and extent along many U.S. coastlines. Today, high tide flooding is likely more disruptive (a nuisance) than damaging. The cumulative effects, however, are becoming a serious problem in several locations including many with strategic importance to national security such as Norfolk, Virginia, San Diego, California and Kwajalein Island in the U.S. Marshall Islands.  The National Ocean Service (NOS) Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (COOPS) provides the National infrastructure, science, and technical expertise to collect and distribute observations and predictions of water levels and currents to ensure safe, efficient and environmentally sound maritime commerce. The Center provides the set of water level and tidal current products required to support NOS’ Strategic Plan mission requirements, and to assist in providing operational oceanographic data/products required by NOAA’s other Strategic Plan themes. This information was obtained from NOAA Technical Report NOS CO-OPS 086: Patterns and Projections of High Tide Flooding Along the U.S. Coastline Using a Common Impact Threshold.”

Categories: Law and Legal

FDA authorizes cheap rapid at-home COVID-19 tests

Engadget – “The details on COVID-19 at-home testing are changing, and in a way that could have a major impact on our ability to deal with the pandemic. The FDA has now authorized multiple rapid tests for over the counter use (meaning, without a prescription or doctor pre-approval) to screen people who don’t have symptoms of the disease. According to the FDA, “The addition of the OTC and POC tests for screening will give schools, workplaces, communities and others several options for serial screening tests that are accurate and reliable.” The first tests cleared for at-home screening are the Quidel QuickVue and Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Self Test. They had already received authorization for testing of people who already show symptoms, but now they’re approved to do routine screening on a regular basis of people who don’t show any symptoms. They can also be used to get negative results before people return to school or work and are around others…”

Categories: Law and Legal

The 82 coolest virtual backgrounds to use in Zoom or Teams meetings

Tech Republic – “Ready to mix it up with a new virtual background? Here’s a selection of images you can use on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. You can opt for serious, or mix it up with something fun. It’s easy to switch images depending on the type of meeting, too. Opt for serious and more serene for something with the boss and VPs, and sit at Leslie Knope’s desk if you’re chatting with colleagues. Working from home a bit more fun when you can do it on The Simpson’s couch or while hanging out on retired Admiral Jean-Luc Picard’s bridge aboard the USS Enterprise or even dialing in from the Batcave. Or, if you’re a sports fan, iconic scenes related to the NCAA March Madness might appeal…”

See also How to choose a Zoom virtual background

Categories: Law and Legal

How to back up your Gmail: The ultimate guide for 2021

ZDNet – “Want to make sure you have a local or backup copy of all that mission-critical business and personal history in your Gmail archives? David Gewirtz takes you through an array of options. Many of you asked the one question that did have me a bit bothered: How to do backups of a Gmail account? While Google has a strong track record of managing data, the fact remains that accounts could be hacked, and the possibility does exist that someone could get locked out of a Gmail account. Many of us have years of mission-critical business and personal history in our Gmail archives, and it’s a good idea to have a plan for making regular backups. In this article (and its accompanying gallery), I will discuss a number of excellent approaches for backing up your Gmail data. By the way, I’m distinguishing Gmail from Workspace (formerly known as G Suite), because there are a wide range of Workspace solutions. Even though Gmail is the consumer offering, so many of us use Gmail as our hub for all things, that it makes sense to discuss Gmail on its own merits…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Federal ‘Brain Drain’ Examined by Science Committee

[March 17, 2021] “… during the Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee hearing, “Brain Drain: Rebuilding the Federal Scientific Workforce,” Subcommittee Chairman Bill Foster (D-IL) submitted a Majority staff report into the record on trends in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) workforce within federal science agencies following the sequestration in the early 2010s that impacted staffing within federal agencies and workforce-related actions taken by the Trump Administration that contributed to destabilizing the federal STEM workforce over the last four years. The staff report, “Scientific Brain Drain: Quantifying the Decline of the Federal Scientific Workforce,” evaluates how STEM civil service employment has expanded or contracted over the past decade at the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Department of Homeland Security’s Science & Technology Directorate (DHS S&T), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Department of Energy (DOE), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Gender, racial, and ethnic diversity trends within STEM fields are also evaluated in the report. The report finds significant declines in the STEM workforce at EPA, particularly within the Office of Research and Development, DOE, and NOAA, as well as that racial and ethnic employment gaps are significant in STEM fields compared to the total federal workforce. These trends suggest the United States may need to recommit to promoting U.S. competitiveness in science and innovation, especially as China redoubles its investments in advanced technology and commitment to a pipeline of highly educated STEM workers.”
Categories: Law and Legal

The hybrid office is here to stay. The shift could be more disruptive than the move to all-remote work.

Washington Post – “Citigroup, Ford, TIAA, Target: A growing number of bellwether companies are outlining their hybrid return-to-work plans. The post-vaccine workplace is taking shape, and for many it’s going to be a hybrid model, allowing more remote work but with clear expectations that some days a week will be in the office. Workforce experts are bracing for a whole new set of post-pandemic upheavals, in some instances more transformative than the unplanned move to working from home last March, with some making efforts to avoid pre-pandemic remote-work mistakes. “In a lot of ways it’s going to be more disruptive than when we went all remote,” said Brian Kropp, vice president of research at Gartner. New videoconferencing technology will be added to help in-person and remote workers feel as if they’re on a level playing field. Managers will undergo extensive training to fight against the instinct to give workers in the office preferential treatment. Logistics will be coordinated to ensure those who go into the office don’t get there and find the building empty, perhaps by setting core hours or days for on-site work…”

Categories: Law and Legal

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