Law and Legal
Via LLRX – Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues January 12, 2020 – Privacy and security issues impact every aspect of our lives – home, work, travel, education, health and medical records – to name but a few. On a weekly basis Pete Weiss, highlights articles and information that focus on the increasingly complex and wide ranging ways technology is used to compromise and diminish our privacy and security, often without our situational awareness. Four highlights from this week: FBI, Homeland Security warn of Iranian terror and cyber threat in new intelligence bulletin; Police are buying hidden cameras disguised as rocks, trees, tombstones; ‘Shattered’: Inside the secret battle to save America’s undercover spies in the digital age; and Cities, states face costly cybersecurity landscape after attacks spiked in 2019.
Joseph Savirimuthu, “Book review: Blockchain and the Law: The Rule of Code”, (2019) 16:1 SCRIPTed 95 https://script-ed.org/?p=3748 DOI: 10.2966/scrip.160119.95. Download PDF
“Blockchains, distributed ledger technologies, bitcoins and peer-to-peer networks have reignited old debates and arguments about the implications of decentralisation for social, economic and political ordering. Blockchain and the Law: The Rule of Code sets out to map the landscape of this technology that enables its readers to assess the opportunities and regulatory challenges. The coverage is impressive, well-researched and key issues are examined and analysed with rigor and clarity. This book will appeal to technology and innovation scholars, policymakers and lawyers. It is also likely to be suitable for academic and policy programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate level. The book is well-structured with an overriding goal – to define and explain the rationale and goals of the law in seeking to regulate the technology. As observers of the innovation opportunities and challenges will attest, the quest to formulate optimal strategies is complex and far from straightforward. It is a point that needs to be kept in mind that Blockchain and the Law will not resolve ongoing arguments about the mismatch between technological innovation and the ability of law to keep pace. The book is structured with five Parts, beginning with an account of the characteristics of blockchain technology (Part 1) before proceeding to examine financial and contractual instruments (Part 2), security standards and protocols (Part 3), the institutional and organizational infrastructure (Part 4) and governance (Part 5). Whether the regulatory responses to blockchains will culminate in a lex cryptographica is merely a springboard for an examination of how the problems of associated with the automated and decentralised architecture are to be mitigated. For those with long memories of peer-to-peer file sharing services in the 1990s and 2000, one may need to be more circumspect about whether the distinctive decentralised software infrastructure upon which blockchain applications sit, will succeed in creating “order without law” (p. 5).
Hyperallergic: “Paris Musées announced yesterday that it is now offering 100,000 digital reproductions of artworks in the city’s museums as Open Access — free of charge and without restrictions — via its Collections portal. Paris Musées is a public entity that oversees the 14 municipal museums of Paris, including the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Petit Palais, and the Catacombs. Users can download a file that contains a high definition (300 DPI) image, a document with details about the selected work, and a guide of best practices for using and citing the sources of the image…”
ProPublica – “TurboTax and other tax prep services advertised themselves as “free,” but we found several ways that they tricked people into paying. Here’s our guide to preparing and filing your taxes without falling into a trap.”
The New York Times: “…The relevant difference is not age but rather how we describe these events, the stories we tell ourselves about them. Twenty-year-olds don’t think, “Oh dear, this must be early-onset Alzheimer’s.” They think, “I’ve got a lot on my plate right now” or “I really need to get more than four hours of sleep.” The 70-year-old observes these same events and worries about her brain health. This is not to say that Alzheimer’s- and dementia-related memory impairments are fiction — they are very real — but every lapse of short-term memory doesn’t necessarily indicate a biological disorder. In the absence of brain disease, even the oldest older adults show little or no cognitive or memory decline beyond age 85 and 90, as shown in a 2018 study. Memory impairment is not inevitable. Some aspects of memory actually get better as we age. For instance, our ability to extract patterns, regularities and to make accurate predictions improves over time because we’ve had more experience. (This is why computers need to be shown tens of thousands of pictures of traffic lights or cats in order to be able to recognize them). If you’re going to get an X-ray, you want a 70-year-old radiologist reading it, not a 30-year-old one…”
TechCrunch: Every day, millions of new medical images containing the personal health information of patients are spilling out onto the internet. Hundreds of hospitals, medical offices and imaging centers are running insecure storage systems, allowing anyone with an internet connection and free-to-download software to access over 1 billion medical images of patients across the world. About half of all the exposed images, which include X-rays, ultrasounds and CT scans, belong to patients in the United States. Yet despite warnings from security researchers who have spent weeks alerting hospitals and doctors’ offices to the problem, many have ignored their warnings and continue to expose their patients’ private health information.
The problem is well-documented. Greenbone found 24 million patient exams storing more than 720 million medical images in September, which first unearthed the scale of the problem as reported by ProPublica. Two months later, the number of exposed servers had increased by more than half, to 35 million patient exams, exposing 1.19 billion scans and representing a considerable violation of patient privacy. But the problem shows little sign of abating. “The amount of data exposed is still rising, even considering the amount of data taken offline due to our disclosures,” said Schrader. If doctors fail to take action, he said the number of exposed medical images will hit a new high “in no time.”
Digital Trends – “The biggest draw for me was, of course, the fact that Mozilla Firefox can finally go toe-to-toe with Google Chrome on the performance front, and often manages to edge it out as well. But that didn’t happen overnight. Since Firefox’s 2017 overhaul, Mozilla has been pushing updates around the clock. Today, in addition to being fast, Firefox is resource-efficient, unlike most of its peers. I don’t have to think twice before firing up yet another tab. It’s rare that I’m forced to close an existing tab to make room for a new one. On Firefox, my 2015 MacBook Pro’s fans don’t blast past my noise-canceling headphones, which happened fairly regularly on Chrome as it pushed my laptop’s fans to their helicopter-like limits to keep things running. This rare balance of efficiency and performance is the result of the countless under-the-hood upgrades Firefox has rolled out in the last couple of years. One of the recent major performance updates arrived in May when Mozilla natively integrated a handful of clever optimizations for which users previously had to rely on third-party extensions…”
Brain Pickings – Oliver Sacks on the Psychological and Physiological Consolations of Nature – “…“After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, love, and so on — have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear — what remains? Nature remains; to bring out from their torpid recesses, the affinities of a man or woman with the open air, the trees, fields, the changes of seasons — the sun by day and the stars of heaven by night.” Those unmatched rewards, both psychological and physiological, are what beloved neurologist and author Oliver Sacks (July 9, 1933–August 30, 2015) explores in a lovely short essay titled “Why We Need Gardens,” found in Everything in Its Place: First Loves and Last Tales (public library) — the wondrous posthumous collection that gave us Sacks on the life-altering power of libraries. He writes:
As a writer, I find gardens essential to the creative process; as a physician, I take my patients to gardens whenever possible. All of us have had the experience of wandering through a lush garden or a timeless desert, walking by a river or an ocean, or climbing a mountain and finding ourselves simultaneously calmed and reinvigorated, engaged in mind, refreshed in body and spirit. The importance of these physiological states on individual and community health is fundamental and wide-ranging. In forty years of medical practice, I have found only two types of non-pharmaceutical “therapy” to be vitally important for patients with chronic neurological diseases: music and gardens…”
San Diego’s massive, 7-year experiment with facial recognition technology appears to be a flop – “Since 2012, the city’s law enforcement agencies have compiled over 65,000 face scans and tried to match them against a massive mugshot database. But it’s almost completely unclear how effective the initiative was, with one spokesperson saying they’re unaware of a single arrest or prosecution that stemmed from the program…Now, after the California legislature instituted a three-year ban on police use of mobile facial recognition technology, one of the nation’s most overhyped and least well-understood policing tools has been switched off…”
Davis, Laurel, “Dictionaries and the Law” (2019). Rare Book Room Exhibition Programs. 33. “Exhibition program from a Spring 2019 exhibit presented in the Daniel R. Coquillette Rare Book Room at the Boston College Law Library. The exhibit focused on the history of legal dictionaries published over the last 500 years.”
“The law is a profession built on words, so it is no surprise that dictionaries repre-sent a key component of our professional literature. From John Rastell’s Termes de la Ley in the sixteenth century to Bryan A. Garner’s most recent edition of Black’s Law Dictionary, dictionaries have helped lawyers and judges grapple with words and phrases that are often challenging and obscure. For law students, dictionaries—general or law-specific, online or in print—can help with the daunting task of learning a new professional language with old roots, often in Latin and French..”
EveryCRSReport.com: U.S. Killing of Qasem Soleimani: Frequently Asked Questions. January 8, 2020. “The January 2, 2020, U.S. killing in Iraq of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) Commander Qasem Soleimani, generally regarded as one of the most powerful and important officials in Iran, has potentially dramatic implications for the United States. For Congress, it raises possible questions about U.S. policy in the Middle East, broader U.S. global strategy, U.S. relations with partners and allies, the authorization and legality of U.S. military action abroad, U.S. measures to protect its service members and diplomatic personnel, and congressional oversight of these and related issues. This report provides background information in response to some frequently asked questions related to the strike and its aftermath.”
LC blog – The Signal: “The 3D Digital Modeling, Imaging, and Printing Working Group was created to explore the use of 3D technologies to expand access to the Library’s collections. In Fall 2019, the working group launched a pilot in which a limited selection of items from the online collections were 3D scanned and the 3D models made publicly available. In the blog post below, I share what it was like to be trained to build 3D models alongside other Library staff, how we collaborated as a cross-functional working group, and lay out the potential uses of the models we created as part of the LOC 3D pilot project. Library’s 3D models go live! Ask anyone what is held in the Library of Congress collections and they will give you the obvious answer: books. Lots and lots of books. Up until last month, I would’ve said the same thing. Since joining the Library of Congress 3D Digital Modeling, Imaging, and Printing Working Group, however, I’ve discovered that the world’s largest library in fact houses many three-dimensional objects ranging from casts of President’s hands to banjos to medieval vellum manuscripts. What’s more—you can now see some of them online as 3D objects! The core purpose of the 3D Working Group chaired by Educational Resource Specialist Stephen Wesson is to explore ways to bring these physical artifacts to life online for users. I was lucky enough to come aboard just as the group launched a pilot project to create and display 3D models of objects held in our collections. To this end, 13 staff from all across the Library’s service units became certified in photogrammetry, a process that combines photography and the use of software to create digital, web-viewable 3D models…”
WPS – “Water insecurity is increasing worldwide. A third of the world’s people now live in countries that experience high levels of water stress, with droughts affecting around 50 million people and causing more than $5 billion in damage annually. These numbers are expected to rise as population growth, rapid urbanisation, increasing climate change and growing economic demands for water intensify existing pressures. In most cases these threats are not merely a consequence of changes in weather but also manifest issues around inadequate water management and governance. These multiple interacting factors render vulnerable communities more susceptible to short-term water scarcity and longer-term droughts, while directly affecting local economies and social relations…
The WPS partnership generates understanding about the risks of water-related security threats by using cutting-edge technologies such as big data, artificial intelligence (AI), remote sensing and other tools to support complex analysis. This generates crucial information for policymakers, including early warning signals and decision tools that indicate both where and when risks are increasing, and how they might be addressed. You can find out more about the WPS partnership and how we use data, AI and other tools to support complex analysis here:
Fortune: “Walking into Caroline Weaver’s empire in New York City feels like stepping into an Instagram photo. It’s ironic, given that her shop is dedicated to a tool many consider to be a relic of a time gone by—a product rendered obsolete by the same invention: the Internet, which in turn gave way to Instagram. But CW Pencil Enterprise is possibly the only pencil specialty shop of its kind worldwide. And it turns out people are still buying pencils. “I can’t do much market research because there is no other shop [like ours],” says Weaver. “But there’s somebody in every demographic of person in the world who uses pencils and cares deeply about them.” The paradox of leading a successful retail business in the era of all things online isn’t lost on Weaver, 29, who believes that specialty shops will stay relevant as long as their competence in their chosen specialty is kept paramount..,
Weaver must find a way to narrow down the over 250 pencils available in the shop during any given day. These hail from at least 15 different countries and, contrary to popular belief, not all pencils are created equal. Although the traditional wood-cased pencil has been made the same since the 1800s (graphite, clay, and water), companies around the globe have been trying to perfect the product—and define what that perfection even looks like—in recent times..”
Documentary via YouTube – “In the warm Pacific just off the coast of Maui, a hump whale mother has paired and given birth to her baby. Now, the time has come, whereby she has to take her baby on a 5.500-kilometre-long journey to the grazing grounds off Alaska. The animal has already lost 30% of its weight, but she still has to constantly feed her calf. Their destination is in Alaska’s south, where the whale mother will hunt herrings with the other humpback whales. Together, they create so-called air nets and surround the herrings: This is known as bubble net feeding. Orcas go fishing here for herrings, too, but also hunt down whale calves. Again and again, prior to each bubble net, one can hear the humpback whales singing. This is drowned out only by the sounds of thousands of seagulls that nest in the cliffs close by. Employing various tricks and much to the consternation of the humpback whales, puffins and northern sea lions attempt to benefit from the prey in the bubble net. In the south of the bay, belugas have arrived at the salmon rivers, in order to hunt salmon. We manage to dive and capture them on camera. In contrast to the humpbacks, they are extremely tame and enjoy con-tact with humans. A unique cat-and-mouse game begins…”
BuzzFeedNews: “Facebook will not make any changes to its policies around political advertising, including ones that allow politicians to lie in ads and micro-target specific audiences, the company announced on Thursday. Facebook’s announcement follows intense pressure from lawmakers in the last few months over the company’s decisions to allow politicians to lie in Facebook ads. Other large internet companies have changed their policies. In October 2019, Twitter banned all political advertising from its platform, and Google restricted micro-targeting of political ads on certain products.
“Ultimately, we don’t think decisions about political ads should be made by private companies, which is why we are arguing for regulation that would apply across the industry,” wrote Rob Leathern, Facebook’s director of product management, in a blog post announcing the company’s decision. “In the absence of regulation, Facebook and other companies are left to design their own policies. We have based ours on the principle that people should be able to hear from those who wish to lead them, warts and all, and that what they say should be scrutinized and debated in public.”
The Center for Public Integrity – “Do you know if a bill introduced in your statehouse — it might govern who can fix your shattered iPhone screen or whether you can still sue a pedophile priest years later — was actually written by your elected lawmakers? Use this new tool to find out. Spoiler alert The answer may well be no. Thousands of pieces of “model legislation” are drafted each year by business organizations and special interest groups and distributed to state lawmakers for introduction. These copycat bills influence policymaking across the nation, state by state, often with little scrutiny. This news application was developed by the Center for Public Integrity, part of a year-long collaboration with USA TODAY and the Arizona Republic to bring the practice into the light…”
Inside Higher Ed: “Two grad students convinced the University of Virginia to save and store its library’s card catalog, arguing that researchers and historians can use the cards. The card catalog for the University of Virginia’s Alderman Library was once the only way to find needed books. Over four million cards cataloged each book’s location and from where it was donated. Today, students and researchers use a digital catalog to find library materials, as is typical with most academic libraries. The card catalog, all 68 cabinets of it, was taken out of commission in 1989. The university’s library is set to undergo major renovations over the next three years, and for a while, the future of the card catalog seemed uncertain. “There was no real disagreement on the potential research value of the card catalog,” said John Unsworth, dean of libraries at Virginia. “The question wasn’t, ‘Is it worth saving?’ It was, ‘Can we afford to save it?’” There wasn’t going to be enough room in the renovated Alderman Library for the massive set of cards, and scanning each card was estimated to cost almost half a million dollars. The university’s administration planned to discard the collection. Neal Curtis and Sam Lemley, two graduate students at the university who had worked previously with the card catalog, felt compelled to act. They presented a plan to load the card catalog into boxes, store it at a facility in Waynesboro, Va., during renovations, and then keep it in university-owned high-density storage. The estimated cost of this proposal was around $75,000, a good deal less than scanning the cards would be, although it would require about 180 hours of labor…”
Book Riot: “Everyone—you, your grandma, your best frenemy—should buy used books. In fact, I will go so far as to say that everyone should buy used books as often as they can, reserving purchases of new paper books for special occasions, gifting, and those rare, delicious occasions when you get a gift certificate for your family’s particular gifty holiday. The reasons transcend thrift! Everyone already understands that a $30 new book is at best prohibitive, at worst impossible. Buying used means more than the sticker price. It speaks to our humanity. It’s an act of social and economic heroism. It’s the way we all need to think from now on, not just for our personal bookshelves, but for how we view ourselves as readers, our critical thinking abilities, and our planet’s continued livability…”
Stratechery: “The story tech most loves to tell about itself is the story of disruption: sure, companies may appear dominant today, but it is only a matter of time until they are usurped by the next wave of startups. And indeed, that is exactly what happened half a century ago: IBM’s mainframe monopoly was suddenly challenged by minicomputers from companies like DEC, Data General, Wang Laboratories, Apollo Computer, and Prime Computers. And then, scarcely a decade later, minicomputers were disrupted by personal computers from companies like MITS, Apple, Commodore, and Tandy. The most important personal computer, though, came from IBM, with an operating system from Microsoft. The former provided a massive distribution channel that immediately established the IBM PC as the most popular personal computer, particularly in the enterprise; the latter provided the APIs that created a durable two-sided network that made Microsoft the most powerful company in the industry for two decades.
That reality, though, was not permanent: first the Internet shifted the most important application environment from the operating system to the web, and then mobile shifted the most important interaction environment from the desk to the pocket. Suddenly it was Google and Apple that mattered most in the consumer space, while Microsoft refocused on the cloud and a new competitor, Amazon…”