Law and Legal

Preview – 2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

Via The Atlantic – these breathtaking photographs will no doubt bring you back to the finale – “The National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest is underway, with entries being accepted for just one more day—the competition closes at noon, EDT, on May 31. The grand-prize winner will be awarded $10,000 (USD). National Geographic was once again kind enough to allow me to share some of this year’s entries with you here, gathered from three categories: Nature, Cities, and People. The photos and captions were written by the photographers, and lightly edited for style.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Bye, Chrome: Why I’m switching to Firefox and you should too

Note – I switched long ago – and while you are at it – stop using Google as well! Moving on – Bye, Chrome: Why I’m switching to Firefox and you should too – By Katharine Schwab: “…Google already runs a lot of my online life–it’s my email, my calendar, my go-to map, and all my documents. I use Duck Duck Go as my primary search engine because I’m aware of how much information about myself I voluntarily give to Google in so many other ways. I can’t even remember why I decided to use Chrome in the first place. The browser has become such a default for American internet users that I never even questioned it. Chrome has about 60% of the browser market, and Firefox has only 10%. But why should I continue to use the company’s browser, which acts as literally the window through which I experience much of the internet, when its incentives–to learn a lot about me so it can sell advertisements–don’t align with mine?…I spoke to Madhava Enros, the senior director of Firefox UX, and Peter Dolanjski, a product manager for Firefox, to learn more about how Mozilla’s browser builds privacy into its architecture. Core to their philosophy? Privacy and convenience don’t have to be mutually exclusive…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Teens, Social Media & Technology 2018

YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat are the most popular online platforms among teens. Fully 95% of teens have access to a smartphone, and 45% say they are online ‘almost constantly’

“Until recently, Facebook had dominated the social media landscape among America’s youth – but it is no longer the most popular online platform among teens, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Today, roughly half (51%) of U.S. teens ages 13 to 17 say they use Facebook, notably lower than the shares who use YouTube, Instagram or Snapchat. This shift in teens’ social media use is just one example of how the technology landscape for young people has evolved since the Center’s last survey of teens and technology use in 2014-2015. Most notably, smartphone ownership has become a nearly ubiquitous element of teen life: 95% of teens now report they have a smartphone or access to one. These mobile connections are in turn fueling more-persistent online activities: 45% of teens now say they are online on a near-constant basis. The survey also finds there is no clear consensus among teens about the effect that social media has on the lives of young people today. Minorities of teens describe that effect as mostly positive (31%) or mostly negative (24%), but the largest share (45%) says that effect has been neither positive nor negative…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Largest federal employee union sues Trump over rollback of union protections

Washington Post – Largest federal employee union sues Trump over rollback of union protections – “The American Federation of Government Employees claims that Trump’s executive order violates the First Amendment guarantee of the right to freedom of association and oversteps the president’s constitutional authority.” …On Friday [May 25, 2018  President Trump]…used his ultimate weapon, his power to issue executive orders, with three directives — two targeting labor organizations and another on firing feds faster. The orders were just the latest  steps designed to weaken unions, federal employee compensation and civil service protections. Along with other moves, including imposing a contract on a union local against its will, Trump’s orders potentially could make him one of the more consequential of recent presidents on federal workforce issues.

With that alarming thought in mind, here’s what the executive orders do:

  • Sharply cut “official time,” which Trump wants to redefine as “taxpayer-funded union time.” Official time allows union officials to represent all the members of a bargaining unit, whether they are union members or not, in grievances and matters of broad interest to the workforce.
  • Rebuke collective bargaining agreements, saying union contracts “often make it harder for agencies to reward high performers, hold low-performers accountable, or flexibly respond to operational needs.” A labor relations group of administration officials will develop “government-wide approaches to bargaining issues,” including a reduction in official time. Agency officials are instructed to prepare contract renegotiation recommendations that are “not subject to disclosure” to union representatives.
  • Encourage managers to hasten dismissals of employees, instead of suspending them, while discouraging “progressive discipline,” which allows for increasingly severe corrective measures. Grievance procedures are diluted…”
News release: “The largest union representing federal government workers, the American Federation of Government Employees, sued the Trump administration Wednesday in response to an executive order President Trump issued last o deny workers their legal right to representation at the worksite. “This president seems to think he is above the law, and we are not going to stand by while he tries to shred workers’ rights,” AFGE said. “This is a democracy, not a dictatorship. No president should be able to undo a law he doesn’t like through administrative fiat.” On Friday, May 25, President Trump signed executive orders that chip away at due process and collective bargaining rights for federal employees; a third executive order, which impedes employee representation at the job site, is the focus of the lawsuit. AFGE filed the lawsuit May 30 in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The lawsuit challenges the executive order as violating the right to freedom of association guaranteed by the First Amendment, and as exceeding the president’s authority under the Constitution of the United States. “Congress passed these laws to guarantee workers a collective voice in resolving workplace issues and improving the services they deliver to the public every day – whether it’s caring for veterans, ensuring our air and water are safe, preventing illegal weapons and drugs from crossing our borders, or helping communities recover from hurricanes and other disasters,” AFGE said. “We will not stand by and let this administration willfully violate the Constitution to score political points.”
Categories: Law and Legal

2018 Artificial Intelligence in Finance The Road Ahead

Future Perfect Machine – Artificial Intelligence in Finance: The Road Ahead. May 2018
  • “Artificial intelligence is reshaping how we work, interact and share information and content. AI technologies are increasingly being incorporated into many of our daily activities. AI opportunities in financial services are broad-based addressing needs in risk assessment, financial analysis, portfolio management, credit approval process, know your client (KYC) & anti-money laundering (AML) systems, various operational and customer interaction processes and system/data security.
  • AI can present a threat to incumbent financial firms as well as create opportunities. A competitive challenge is that technology firms (Alibaba, Amazon, Apple, Baidu, Facebook, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Tencent and others) could expand their reach into financial services by leveraging their global presence, technical expertise, innovative platforms, customer data sets and brand loyalty.
  • Momentum for AI will continue to build as data becomes more available, algorithms improve, developer skill sets broaden and computing power accelerates . However, concerns about AI include limited transparency about how systems work, bias in application logic, data quality and negative impact to employment.
  • Our report includes: AI use cases in finance; perspectives from market participants; survey results with business decision makers and informational videos.”
Categories: Law and Legal

‘Legal Knowledge – That Which Can’t Be Measured’

Chang Zi Qian, Co-Founder, and team, at Singapore-based legal knowledge companyIntelllex.“…A law firm’s most valuable assets are its clients, lawyers and knowledge. Of these, knowledge is arguably the least well managed. This can be partially attributed to the perception that knowledge is intangible. Its intangibility obfuscates its management, which in turn impinges on firms’ ability to measure the business impact of effective Knowledge Management (KM). In an earlier post, we established the importance of filtering information to extract for knowledge. In this post, we hope to add clarity on how to manage knowledge, and how to achieve success in implementing an effective KM strategy.

Right knowledge. Right person. Right time.

Having ploughed through volumes of literature on this topic, our distilled definition of KM is:making the right knowledge available to the right person when they need it. The devil is in the detail, and we will cover this in more depth over our next few posts. Expanding on this understanding, we can see that effective KM must therefore cover a few activities:

  • Consolidating explicit knowledgeand documenting tacit knowledge(e.g. consolidating the ideas expressed in the volumes of work into this article)
  • Developing an organizational memory and providing access to it with appropriate retrieval facilities (e.g. posting this article on Medium, rather than leaving it in my personal computer)
  • Facilitating the re-use of existing knowledge according to the different needsof knowledge reusers (e.g. applying the appropriate tags to this article so it can be better discovered)
  • Identifying the right knowledge worker to share the appropriate knowledge, either by way of push or pull…”
Categories: Law and Legal

Investigating the Effects of Google’s Search Engine Result Page in Evaluating the Credibility of Online News Sources

Investigating the Effects of Google’s Search Engine Result Page in Evaluating the Credibility of Online News Sources, Emma Lurie and Eni Mustafaraj. WebSci’18, May 27-30, 2018, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

“Recent research has suggested that young users are not particularly skilled in assessing the credibility of online content. A follow up study comparing students to fact checkers noticed that students spend too much time on the page itself, while fact checkers performed “lateral reading”, searching other sources. We have taken this line of research one step further and designed a study in which participants were instructed to do lateral reading for credibility assessment by inspecting Google’s search engine result page (SERP) of unfamiliar news sources. In this paper, we summarize findings from interviews with 30 participants. A component of the SERP noticed regularly by the participants is the so-called Knowledge Panel, which provides contextual information about the news source being searched. While this is expected, there are other parts of the SERP that participants use to assess the credibility of the source, for example, the freshness of top stories, the panel of recent tweets, or a verified Twitter account. Given the importance attached to the presence of the Knowledge Panel, we discuss how variability in its content affected participants’ opinions. Additionally, we perform data collection of the SERP page for a large number of online news sources and compare them. Our results indicate that there are widespread inconsistencies in the coverage and quality of information included in Knowledge Panels.

Categories: Law and Legal

Internet Trends 2018 Mary Meeker

Mary Meeker’s 2018 internet trends report

“Context:

  • We use data to tell stories of business-related trends we focus on. We hope others take the ideas, build on them & make them better. At 3.6B, the number of Internet users has surpassed half the world’s population. When markets reach mainstream, new growth gets harder to find-evinced by 0% new smartphone unit shipment growth in 2017.
  • Internet usage growth is solid while many believe it’s higher than it should be. Reality is the dynamics of global innovation & competition are driving product improvements, which, in turn, are driving usage & monetization. Many usability improvements are based on data-collected during the taps / clicks /movements of mobile device users. This creates a privacy paradox…Internet Companies continue to make low-priced services better, in part, from user data.
  • Internet Users continue to increase time spent on Internet services based on perceived value. Regulators want to ensure user data is not used ‘improperly.’
  • Scrutiny is rising on all sides-users / businesses / regulators. Technology-driven trends are changing so rapidly that it’s rare when one side fully understands the other…setting the stage for reactions that can haveunintended consequences. And, not all countries & actors look at the issues through the same lens.
  • We focus on trends around data + personalization; high relative levels of tech company R&D + Capex Spending; E-Commerce innovation + revenue acceleration; ways in which the Internet is helping consumers contain expenses + drive income (via on-demand work) + find learning opportunities. We review the consumerization of enterprise software and, lastly, we focus on China’s rising intensity & leadership in Internet-related markets…”
Categories: Law and Legal

Law Firm Data is Catnip for Hackers

Security Boulevard: “Dig into a law firm, and you’ll find secrets. Sometimes these secrets are mundane, like who’s getting divorced, or who’s getting cut out of the will. Sometimes, however, these secrets can shake nations and economies.  Huge companies are merging and getting acquired, national leaders are hiding graft in numbered accounts, and you might find all those secrets within the server at a nondescript law firm – which might be possibly the most unsafe place to hide it. Law firms may be extremely discrete when protecting their clients’ identities from judges, the media, and other lawyers, but their track record is less than stellar when it comes to the digital realm. Those who’ve heard of the firm Mossack Fonseca or the Panama Papers (a 2TB data leak that exposed how the wealthy avoid paying taxes) may know that the firm in question was:

  • Running a version of WordPress that was 2 years out of date.
  • Running a version of Drupal that was three years out of date.
  • Running its web server on the same network as its mail server.
  • Running its web server without a firewall.
  • Running an out-of-date plugin known as “Revolution Slider,” which contained a file upload vulnerability that had been documented since 2014.

This multitude of sins collectively led to a scandal that, among other things, brought down the Icelandic Prime Minister. What’s more troubling, however, is that Mossack Fonseca wasn’t a standout among law firms. Many if not most law firms have an equally bad security posture…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Why we can’t give up the traditional Qwerty keyboard

BBC – The Economics of Change: “The Dvorak has a cult following. Its supporters say it’s faster, easier to learn and better for your poor, overworked fingers. They say 70% of keystrokes are on the home row – the keys where typists rest their fingers – on the Dvorak, versus 31% on a Qwerty. They say you can type thousands of words on a Dvorak’s home row, but only a few hundred on a Qwerty’s. They cite studies showing its superiority… It was a Milwaukee printer Christopher Latham Sholes who invented the typewriter, and over a number of years developed Qwerty, which he sold to the manufacturer Remington. The best-known explanation for why Qwerty doesn’t seem to resemble the alphabet is that he separated the most commonly used key combinations in an effort to stop the machine from jamming. Alternatively, Japanese historians Koichi Yasuoka and Motoko Yasuoka have suggested the needs of telegraph operators influenced the design, as did compromises between inventors and producers, and intellectual property issues. Either way, it wasn’t aimed at creating the fastest or easiest standard. Stanford University economist Paul David argued that it became dominant because early “touch typing” techniques were most closely associated with Qwerty. Schools taught touch typing on Qwerty. Companies bought Qwerty typewriters because there was a pool of typists who knew how to use them. Typists would learn it knowing it would probably get them a job. Qwerty was suddenly everywhere, supported by a series of self-reinforcing relationships. By the time Dvorak came along, it was too late…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Why ABC reacted so swiftly to Roseanne’s racist tweet

The ConversationAnjana Susarla Associate Professor of Information Systems, Michigan State University: “ABC Entertainment, which produced the revamped version of “Roseanne,” is the latest company to learn the challenge of doing business in an age when citizen activism is amplified by social media. The network canceled the hit show after its star, Roseanne Barr, sent a racist tweet – since deleted – that prompted outrage and a potential ad boycott. Other networks have chosen to axe reruns of the original “Roseanne.” While ABC’s swift decision stunned observers, it suggests companies are learning from recent PR stumbles by the likes of United Airlines and Uber. Incidents that not so long ago would have been relatively isolated are inflaming public sentiment at a breathtaking pace, catching companies wrong-footed and significantly raising the stakes of such missteps. As my research into online social networks shows, these incidents illustrate the challenges for companies in dealing with the fallout of bad publicity as social media amplifies both the reach and range of responses available to concerned individuals… [h/t Pete Weiss]

Categories: Law and Legal

EU Member States agree on monitoring & filtering of internet uploads

EDRI: “On 25 May, the European Council agreed to a negotiating position on the draft copyright directive. This  will allow the presidency of the Council to start negotiations with the European Parliament on mass monitoring and filtering of internet uploads and a chaotic new “ancillary copyright” measure that will make it harder to link to and quote news sources. Despite a large number of demands from a wide range of different stakeholders (including EDRi and  Copyright for Creativity) to keep working on the text in order to create some semblance of balance, the Council decided to finalise its position with a flawed text. This position, as well as the mandate to the Council to negotiate, was voted against by Germany, Finland, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Belgium and Hungary. [Update on 30 May] Now it is the turn of the European Parliament to adopt its negotiating position. The Legal Affairs committee of the European Parliament (JURI) is voting on 20 and 21 June to agree on their standpoint. There is still time to act to prevent the most dangerous parts of the proposal. In the table below and here, you can find the mapping prepared by the MEP Julia Reda on where political parties in the EP stand regarding both the snippet tax and the censorship machine proposals. Due to the relative size of the groups and the splits in some of them, the balance is in favour of these measures, so there is a realistic danger that these policies can become law…”

See also: Don’t let the EU break our Internet – tell your MEP  to save it before 20 June – “On 20-21 June, the European Parliament will vote on the Copyright Directive. Members of the parliament are the only ones that can stand in the way of bad copyright legislation. Tell them you need them to protect your Internet against surveillance and censorship machines!”

Categories: Law and Legal

INTERPOL information database inquiries jump 200 percent

Homeland Preparedness News: “Use of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) global databases has been on the rise in recent years amid growing threats of terrorist attacks in Europe, with inquiries to stolen and lost travel documents data increasing by more than 200 percent since 2014. Delegates recently met at the 48th INTERPOL European Regional Conference in Dublin. Drug trafficking, online child sexual abuse, organized crime, and cybercrime were all addressed the three-day event that drew 130 senior law enforcement officers from 52 countries…”

Categories: Law and Legal

The GDPR: Everything you wanted to know

Search the FAQs – “GDPR explained. What’s the GDPR? What does the new regulation mean for you as an individual? What does it mean for you as a company or organisation? Read our FAQs to find out more, or send us a question and we’ll try and answer it here!”

Categories: Law and Legal

US recycling hits a wall – China’s ban on imported waste

The New York Times: Plastics and papers from dozens of American cities and towns are being dumped in landfills after China stopped recycling most “foreign garbage.
“…as part of a broad antipollution campaign, China announced last summer that it no longer wanted to import “foreign garbage.” Since Jan. 1 it has banned imports of various types of plastic and paper, and tightened standards for materials it does accept. While some waste managers already send their recyclable materials to be processed domestically, or are shipping more to other countries, others have been unable to find a substitute for the Chinese market. “All of a sudden, material being collected on the street doesn’t have a place to go,” said Pete Keller, vice president of recycling and sustainability at Republic Services, one of the largest waste managers in the country…Recyclers in Canada, Australia, Britain, Germany and other parts of Europe have also scrambled to find alternatives. Still, across much of the United States, including most major cities, recycling is continuing as usual. Countries like India, Vietnam and Indonesia are importing more of the materials that are not processed domestically. And some waste companies have responded to China’s ban by stockpiling material while looking for new processors, or hoping that China reconsiders its policy. Americans recycle roughly 66 million tons of material each year, according to the most recent figures from the Environmental Protection Agency, about one-third of which is exported. The majority of those exports once went to China, said David Biderman, the executive director of the Solid Waste Association of North America, a research and advocacy group…”

Categories: Law and Legal

The Safety and Quality of Abortion Care in the United States

National Academies Press: “Abortion is a legal medical procedure that has been provided to millions of American women. Since the Institute of Medicine first reviewed the health implications of national legalized abortion in 1975, there has been a plethora of related scientific research, including well-designed randomized clinical trials, systematic reviews, and epidemiological studies examining abortion care. This research has focused on examining the relative safety of abortion methods and the appropriateness of methods for different clinical circumstances. With this growing body of research, earlier abortion methods have been refined, discontinued, and new approaches have been developed. The Safety and Quality of Abortion Care in the United States offers a comprehensive review of the current state of the science related to the provision of safe, high-quality abortion services in the United States. This report considers 8 research questions and presents conclusions, including gaps in research.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Personal Data Protection and the EU GDPR

Library of Congress – Personal Data Protection and the EU GDPR May 25, 2018 by Jenny Gesley

“Everyone is talking about the European Union‘s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which takes effect today. Recent news reports about misuse of personal data suggest that rules to protect personal data are essential in today’s interconnected (online) world. But what is the GDPR exactly? And why should you care about an EU law if you live in the United States?…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Rethinking Legal Taxonomies for the Gig Economy

Adams, Abi and Freedman, Judith and Prassl, Jeremias, Rethinking Legal Taxonomies for the Gig Economy: Tax Law, Employment Law, and Economic Incentives (May 1, 2018). Oxford Review of Economic Policy (Forthcoming); Oxford Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12/2018. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3177075 – “Recent labour market changes, from an increase in the number of individuals running their own business to the fragmentation of traditional employment relationships into short-term, intermittent work for multiple engagers (“gigs”) have brought a host of challenges for regulators. The law struggles not least because long-established taxonomies used in tax and employment law are coming under increasing pressure. Legal regulation in these areas divides the labour market into a number of predetermined categories, to which benefits and obligations (rights and duties) are then attached. The tests determining into which category an individual falls are unclear and too easily manipulated. In particular, there is a real lack of clarity as to how categories in employment and tax law should map onto each other. In one sense, there is little new about these challenges: classification has been the holy grail of legal labour market regulation since the inception of employment law. With technology increasingly facilitating easy shifts between legal forms in response to skewed incentives, however, the underlying questions have become more salient than ever. In order to put forward a framework for a more coherent approach, this article is structured as follows. A first section explores recent market labour trends using evidence from the Labour Force Survey, providing key evidence of changes in rates of self-employment and incorporation, as well as exploring why these changes may have occurred. We then turn to the policy incentives underpinning the different regulatory regimes of tax and employment law as a starting point for reform principles. Section II considers these competing objectives with a view to distilling a set of principles to guide reform. Section III, finally, applies these norms to the UK context, suggesting how reform should be oriented towards a reshaping of legal taxonomies in line with each regulatory system’s underlying goals.”
Categories: Law and Legal

Federal Cybersecurity Risk Determination Report and Action Plan

NextGov: “Many federal agencies don’t know how hackers are targeting them, can’t tell when hackers steal large amounts of their data and aren’t efficiently spending the cybersecurity money they have, according to a report and action plan released last week. Roughly three-quarters of federal agencies’ cybersecurity programs are currently “at risk” or “at high risk,” according to the report, which was mandated in a 2017 executive order from President Donald Trump. That order stated that top agency leaders would be held responsible for preventable cyber incidents that happened on their watch. Yet, most agencies, when polled, “did not, or could not, elaborate in detail on leadership engagement above the [chief information officer] level,” this month’s review found…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Will Alberto affect your area? Get your local forecast from NOAA’s National Weather Service

NOAA – Heavy Rain from Alberto Continues to Bring Threat of Inland Flooding – “Subtropical Depression Alberto continues to weaken, however, significant rainfall will continue to threaten many areas that are already saturated. Heavy rain may lead to flash flooding, landslides, and falling trees over the next several days. Greatest threats today are in the Gulf, Ohio Valley, and Appalachians, and will spread into the Great Lakes and the Middle Atlantic mid-week. Read More

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Categories: Law and Legal

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