Law and Legal
CRS Reports & Analysis – Cybersecurity: Cybercrime and National Security Authoritative Reports and Resources. November 14, 2017 (R44408): “As online attacks grow in volume and sophistication, the United States is expanding its cybersecurity efforts. Cybercriminals continue to develop new ways to ensnare victims, whereas nation-state hackers compromise companies, government agencies, and businesses to create espionage networks and steal information. Threats come from both criminals and hostile countries, especially China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea. Much is written on this topic, and this CRS report directs the reader to authoritative sources that address many of the most prominent issues. The annotated descriptions of these sources are listed in reverse chronological order, with an emphasis on material published in the past several years. This report includes resources and studies from government agencies (federal, state, local, and international), think tanks, academic institutions, news organizations, and other sources…”
Freedom to Tinker – “This is the first post in our “No Boundaries” series, in which we reveal how third-party scripts on websites have been extracting personal information in increasingly intrusive ways. by Steven Englehardt, Gunes Acar, and Arvind Narayanan. Update: we’ve released our data — the list of sites with session-replay scripts, and the sites where we’ve confirmed recording by third parties.”
“You may know that most websites have third-party analytics scripts that record which pages you visit and the searches you make. But lately, more and more sites use “session replay” scripts. These scripts record your keystrokes, mouse movements, and scrolling behavior, along with the entire contents of the pages you visit, and send them to third-party servers. Unlike typical analytics services that provide aggregate statistics, these scripts are intended for the recording and playback of individual browsing sessions, as if someone is looking over your shoulder. The stated purpose of this data collection includes gathering insights into how users interact with websites and discovering broken or confusing pages. However the extent of data collected by these services far exceeds user expectations; text typed into forms is collected before the user submits the form, and precise mouse movements are saved, all without any visual indication to the user. This data can’t reasonably be expected to be kept anonymous. In fact, some companies allow publishers to explicitly link recordings to a user’s real identity. For this study we analyzed seven of the top session replay companies (based on their relative popularity in our measurements. The services studied are Yandex, FullStory, Hotjar, UserReplay, Smartlook, Clicktale, and SessionCam. We found these services in use on 482 of the Alexa top 50,000 sites…” [emphasis added]
“The Trust Project is an international consortium of news organizations collaborating to use transparency to build a more trustworthy and trusted press. Led by award-winning journalist Sally Lehrman, it is hosted by Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. Search engines and social media platforms, which have become important news distributors, are participating as external partners. The Trust Project applies a user-centered design process. We gathered dozens of in-depth interviews with a diverse spectrum of public voices. Then, working with these, news executives identified and designed a system of “Trust Indicators,” or disclosures about the news outlet, author, and commitments behind a story, to make it easy for the public to identify the quality of news. Digital platforms, such as Google, Facebook and Bing, will be able to use machine-readable signals from the Trust Indicators to surface quality news to their users…”
ProPublica: “Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is a tax wonk ― and most observers of Congress know that. But knowing what interests the other 434 members of Congress is harder. To make it easier to know what issues each lawmaker really focuses on, we’re launching a new feature in our Represent database called Policy Priorities. We had two goals in creating it: To help researchers and journalists understand what drives particular members of Congress and to enable regular citizens to compare their representatives’ priorities to their own and their communities. We created Policy Priorities using some sophisticated computer algorithms (more on this in a second) to calculate interest based on what each congressperson talks ― and brags ― about in their press releases. Voting and drafting legislation aren’t the only things members of Congress do with their time, but they’re often the main way we analyze congressional data, in part because they’re easily measured. But the job of a member of Congress goes well past voting. They go to committee meetings, discuss policy on the floor and in caucuses, raise funds and ― important for our purposes ― communicate with their constituents and journalists back home. They use press releases to talk about what they’ve accomplished and to demonstrate their commitment to their political ideals. We’ve been gathering these press releases for a few years, and have a body of some 86,000 that we used for a kind of analysis called machine learning.”
See also – Represent – “Find lawmakers, votes and bills by Derek Willis, ProPublica. Updated daily. This site provides information on lawmakers, the bills they consider and the votes they take (and miss). You can browse the latest votes and bills, see how often lawmakers vote against their parties and compare voting records. Looking for data? There’s an API. Related Story.”
The Intercept – “As soon as Richard Cordray, the current director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, officially resigns — which could happen as soon as this week — we are told President Donald Trump will choose Mick Mulvaney, the current director of the Office of Management and Budget, to run the CFPB on a temporary basis. It would be a GOP dream come true. Mulvaney, who once called CFPB a “sad, sick joke,” would then be able to carry out the long-desired conservative wish to dismantle the agency that safeguards consumers from the deceptions of banks and credit card companies. Practically every media outlet has carried this report about Mulvaney to CFPB. There’s only one problem: it’s not Trump’s pick to make. That fact, and expected resistance to that fact inside the White House, could create a titanic legal battle, and a scenario with competing interim directors of the agency, which has become a political football ever since Congress created it in 2010. “This will be like the situation where you had two popes,” said Jeff Hauser, executive director of the Revolving Door Project at the Center for Economic and Policy Research. Adam Levitin, Georgetown Law professor and former CFPB adviser, was the first to point this out. The statute that created the CFPB is pretty clear: In the event of the absence of a director for the agency, the deputy director serves that role. The director appoints the deputy director; it doesn’t require Senate confirmation…”
“The Obama Administration’s 2017 plans for nuclear forces would cost about $1.2 trillion (in 2017 dollars) over the 2017–2046 period, CBO estimates. About $400 billion of that total would pay for modernization, according to CBO’s assessment of the most recent detailed plans for the Departments of Defense and Energy. This presentation analyzes options that would reduce the 30-year costs of nuclear forces by between 2 percent and 11 percent if they were implemented for the next generation of systems (and more if they were implemented now). Those options would affect the capability of nuclear forces in different ways.”
FlowingData: “Many dream of the day they can walk into their boss’s office to tell him or her what they really think and then storm out in a blaze of glory. Or, maybe there’s less bitterness involved, and you just feel like it’s time to shift the career path. Where do you go after you leave your current job? Do you stay with what you know, or do you pursue something totally different? What are the possibilities? In the charts below, I look at what people did in real life. The data comes from the Current Population Survey, between 2011 and 2016. The Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics run the survey on an ongoing basis. The survey covers a lot of topics, but we’re most interested in people’s current occupation at the time of the survey and what they were doing the previous year. Then focus on the people whose occupation the previous year is different from the current year. With this subset of the data, we get a sense of where people go, given their previous job…”
PCWorld: “The web browser is by far the most important piece of software on your PC—at least for most users. Unless you’re at a workstation crunching numbers or editing the next Star Wars you probably spend the majority of your computer time staring at a web app or a website. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’ve always got the best tool for the job, and in 2017 that does not include Internet Explorer. If you still want the built-in option for Windows that would be Edge, but it’s hard to stick strictly with Edge when you’ve got other choices including Google’s Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera. Let’s take a look at the four major (and modern) browsers to see how they stack up in the latter half of 2017. A few things have changed since we looked at the top browsers just a few short months ago. Microsoft released the Fall Creators Update in October, and in our tests it seemed to have a significant impact on browser results. The real impetus for this redux, however, is the release of Firefox 57, aka Firefox Quantum. This is an entirely overhauled version of Firefox. The browser switched to using browser extensions instead of add-ons, the interface has been tweaked, and it’s also supposed to be two times faster, and use 30 percent less memory than Chrome. Let’s dive in. (If none of these internet browsers strike your fancy, head over to PCWorld’s roundup of 10 intriguing alternative browsers.)”
Motherboard – Session replay scripts” can be used to log (and then playback) everything you typed or clicked on a website: “Most people who’ve spent time on the internet have some understanding that many websites log their visits and keep record of what pages they’ve looked at. When you search for a pair of shoes on a retailer’s site for example, it records that you were interested in them. The next day, you see an advertisement for the same pair on Instagram or another social media site. The idea of websites tracking users isn’t new, but research from Princeton University released last week indicates that online tracking is far more invasive than most users understand. In the first installment of a series titled “No Boundaries,” three researchers from Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy (CITP) explain how third-party scripts that run on many of the world’s most popular websites track your every keystroke and then send that information to a third-party server.Some highly-trafficked sites run software that records every time you click and every word you type. If you go to a website, begin to fill out a form, and then abandon it, every letter you entered in is still recorded, according to the researchers’ findings. If you accidentally paste something into a form that was copied to your clipboard, it’s also recorded…”
Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs: “People join campaigns for different reasons: electing a leader they believe in, advancing an agenda, cleaning up government, or experiencing the rush and adrenaline of campaign life. These are some of the reasons we got involved in politics. We certainly didn’t sign up because we wanted to become cyber experts and we’re guessing you didn’t either… This Cybersecurity Campaign Playbook was written by a bipartisan team of experts in cybersecurity, politics, and law to provide simple, actionable ways of countering the growing cyber threat. Cyber adversaries don’t discriminate. Campaigns at all levels – not just presidential campaigns – have been hacked. You should assume you are a target. While the recommendations in this playbook apply universally, it is primarily intended for campaigns that don’t have the resources to hire professional cybersecurity staff. We offer basic building blocks to a cybersecurity risk mitigation strategy that people without technical training can implement (although we include some things which will require the help of an IT professional). These are baseline recommendations, not a comprehensive reference to achieve the highest level of security possible. We encourage all campaigns to enlist professional input from credentialed IT and cybersecurity professionals whenever possible…”
“Foreword – On September 14, 2017, the George Washington University Center for Cyber & Homeland Security (CCHS) convened a Symposium on Trends in Technology and Digital Security. Four panels addressed emerging threats and their implications for security policy, with a focus on digital infrastructure protection and anticipatory analysis. In addition, a featured speaker from abroad presented a country-specific case study. In a series of Issue Briefs, compiled herein, CCHS shares the findings and recommendations that emerged from the Symposium, primarily on a not-for-attribution basis. The subject and title of each Brief is as follows:
- Methods of Analysis and the Utility of New Tools for Threat Forecasting
- Artificial Intelligence for Cybersecurity: Technological and Ethical Implications
- Space, Satellites, and Critical Infrastructure
- Cybersecurity in the Financial Services Sector
- Israel: The Making of a Cyber Power (Case Study)
This volume is produced in and reflective of the spirit of CCHS’s work, which is to address advanced technologies and emerging (“next generation”) cyber threats, from the standpoint of U.S. policy. CCHS functions as a network of networks, acting as a hub for upcoming companies, emerging technologists, and cutting-edge public policy.”
Tax Policy Center: “The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is working its way through Congress. On November 9, the House Ways and Means Committee passed a version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (link is external) and the entire US House of Representatives passed its version of the bill (link is external)on November 16. The Senate Finance Committee also passed its version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (link is external) on November 16. The Tax Policy Center has released distributional estimates of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to reflect the bill as passed by the Senate Finance Committee on November 16, 2017. We find the bill would reduce taxes on average for all income groups in both 2019 and 2025. In general, higher income households receive larger average tax cuts as a percentage of after-tax income, with the largest cuts as a share of income going to taxpayers in the 95th to 99th percentiles of the income distribution. On average in 2027, taxes would rise modestly for lower-income groups, change little for middle-income groups, and decrease for higher-income groups. Compared to current law, 9 percent of taxpayers would pay more in 2019, 12 percent in 2025, and 63 percent in 2027.”
“Jameel Jaffer, Executive Director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and former Deputy Legal Director for the ACLU, delivered the tenth annual Salant Lecture on Freedom of the Press at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on October 17, 2017, entitled “Government Secrecy in the Age of Information Overload.” Following is a video and transcript of the speech.”
Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse: “Very recent data from the Immigration Courts, current through September 2017, reveals that the outcome for asylum seekers continues to depend on the identity of the immigration judge assigned to hear the case. In the San Francisco as well as the Newark Immigration Courts, for example, the odds of being granted asylum during FY 2012 – FY 2017 ranged between a high of 90 percent down to a low of only 3 percent depending upon which immigration judge the asylum seeker was assigned. The two courts with the largest number of asylum cases, New York and Los Angeles, also had sizable judge-to-judge differences in asylum outcomes. In the New York Immigration Court judge denial rates ranged from a low of 3.0 percent up to a high of 58.5 percent. The disparity in asylum denial rates among the judges on the Los Angeles court ranged from a low of 29.4 percent denied to a high of 97.5 percent. Immigration judge-to-judge decision disparities have long existed and are well documented. Despite widespread concern about this problem, between 2010 and 2016 judge-to-judge decision disparities actually increased. This year’s report, updated through FY 2017, shows that disparity levels had become more extreme on both the Newark and San Francisco courts. Judge-to-judge differences for the Chicago Immigration Court also increased. The Los Angeles and San Diego courts saw modest improvement. To view results for the complete list of courts see the full report at: http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/490/. To view a particular judge’s report, go to: http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/judgereports/.”
Via LLRX – The Use and Abuse of Social Media in the Post-Truth Era – Law librarian and adjunct professor Paul Gatz provides important guidance on social media discourse and information literacy that is especially timely and instructive as we are experiencing an escalating wave of highly questionable news and data through sites such as Facebook.
Via LLRX – Ravel Law Visualization Tools First Coming to Shepard’s Results – In anticipation of the incorporation of Ravel Law visualization technology into an upcoming iteration of LexisAdvance, Reference Librarian and Professor Sarah Gotcshall shows us examples of how Ravel Law and Shepard’s graphical view work now.
“The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists published new data in the Offshore Leaks Database on close to 25,000 entities connected to the Paradise Papers investigation. The new records come from the offshore law firm Appleby and cover a period of more than six decades through to 2014 of entities registered in more than 30 offshore jurisdictions. It includes information from shareholders, directors and other officers connected to offshore companies, foundations and trusts. It also reveals the names of the real owners behind those secret structures, when available. More than 70 percent of the new records belong to entities incorporated in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. Other jurisdictions that also include hundreds of new records are the Isle of Man, Jersey and Mauritius. Most of the online registries from these jurisdictions don’t provide ownership or shareholder information. The Offshore Leaks Database also includes information from close to 500,000 additional offshore entities linked to ICIJ’s 2016 Panama Papers and Bahamas Leaks investigations and its 2013 Offshore Leaks investigation. ICIJ is publishing the information in the public interest. The data released comes from the the Paradise Papers investigation, a global journalistic collaboration that exposed offshore deals of political players and corporate giants. The team of journalists explored a trove of 13.4 million records that come from two offshore firms and 19 secret jurisdictions. The leaks were obtained by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared with ICIJ and a network of more than 380 journalists in 67 countries. ICIJ is now making available only the structured portion of the Paradise Papers connected to the offshore law firm Appleby and some politicians featured in the Paradise Papers investigation. ICIJ is not publishing the totality of the leak and is not disclosing raw documents or personal information en masse. The documents revealed offshore interests of the queen of England and more than 120 politicians around the world. It also exposed ties between Russia and U.S. President Donald Trump’s commerce secretary, the secret dealings of chief fundraiser for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and tax engineering of more than 100 multinationals, including Apple, Nike and Uber. The first data release comes almost two weeks after the first series of Paradise Papers publications, which have already captured the attention of the world and produced reactions in several countries…”
President’s Task Force on the Future of Legal Services: “The legal profession is in a period of profound change, the pace of which is intensifying. Change on this scale can be both threatening and challenging, but change can also make way for new opportunities. The IBA Task Force on the Future of Legal Services was formed to address critical issues arising from change, and to make a tangible and meaningful contribution to help our profession transition through this period. The new Task Force will not reinvent the wheel. Phase I was to quickly summarize and categorize, on a global basis, the changes found to be affecting the legal profession, as those changes may determine our future. With the aid of an experienced contracted resource, Phase I was completed. That work, “Drivers of Change for Legal Services ” may be accessed via the link below. The video guides the viewer through the Phase I presentation of findings. It was designed so that the global legal profession has an easy to comprehend, tangible current take-away presenting the world of changes affecting legal services. The Phase I findings are now being circulated for commentary to the IBA member bar associations; and to a broad group of global thought leaders in the area of change in legal services. This outreach will ensure that the findings reflect, as comprehensively as possible, the major drivers of change in legal services. In Phase 2, Task Force members will discuss, debate and identify what the IBA can do for its members to enable them to cope with change, manage change, or prevent change. This will be a value-add to the existing body of knowledge. In Phase 3, the task force will conduct independent research with the bars and IBA committees to determine the tactics likely to have the best leverage helping IBA members deal with the global changes identified. And finally, the task force will publish reports as appropriate. We hope that the Task Force on the Future of Legal Services will be a stellar example of the leadership that the IBA can take for the legal profession worldwide. This work concerns us all. Drivers of change in legal services – Powerpoint presentation with voice over commentary…”
“The original RECAP extension for Firefox was launched eight years ago. [November 13, 2017] we launched an all new version. Since the original launch in 2009, we’ve kept the system running smoothly, added a Chrome extension, and — with your help — collected and shared information about tens of millions of PACER documents. [On November 13, 2017 we announced] the future of RECAP. If you’re an existing Firefox or Chrome user, you should automatically get this update over the next 24 hours. If you’re a new user, just learning about RECAP, you can find links for Firefox or Chrome on the right, and you can learn more on the RECAP homepage. As this new system rolls out, these are the big changes:
- As you’re using PACER, the extensions will stop providing links to the Internet Archive, and will instead provide links to CourtListener and the RECAP Archive, where dockets and documents are fully text searchable.
- Links to CourtListener will be available very soon after an upload from PACER is complete — possibly within seconds or minutes. This has been the most-requested enhancement we’ve heard over the years, and we’re really happy to be bringing this today. We think it will make a huge difference to how people use RECAP. No more day-long waits for your uploads!
- The current restrictions to uploading very large dockets has been be lifted. For the first time in a very long time, we support the biggest, most important cases without issue. If you’ve struggled with this issue in the past, rejoice — things are finally better.
- For the first time ever, we are using the same extension for Chrome, Firefox, Firefox Mobile, Opera, Safari, and even IE Edge. As of today, we’ve tested our new extension on Opera, Firefox, Firefox Mobile, and Chrome. It works in all those places, and we’re looking for help to bring it to IE Edge and Safari. We are currently waiting for approval in the Opera add-on store. Expect that soon.Having one codebase for all of these browsers makes a monumental difference in how quickly we can enhance RECAP, but we do need help or financial support to make Safari and IE Edge possible…”
“Google Fiber has hit some bumps on the road to taking over the country. Other companies, like AT&T, have tried to slow it down. But the fiberoptic network is growing. You can check if it is available in your zip code here. Now for the question you didn’t ask because you don’t really care. How much is it? The price just came down to $55 in San Antonio. Google Fiber said it is not offering the price anywhere else, but Ars Technica suggested it was a test price and could mean lower prices everywhere.”