Law and Legal
Vox: “…The company announced on Wednesday that auto-delete will be the default setting for user account activity settings. That said, this “default” setting only applies to new accounts or existing accounts that now turn on data retention after having it disabled. And the default auto-delete time still gives Google as much as three years of your data, as opposed to manual auto-delete settings that keep as little as three months’ worth. Google also announced that its account privacy and security settings will soon be accessible through its search page. You’ll also be able to switch over to Chrome’s Incognito mode in its apps more easily — simply press down on your profile photo for a second or two. Incognito mode lets you browse the internet “privately,” which means Google Chrome won’t save your history or cookies on your computer. It does not, however, mean that the websites you visit or the server you use can’t see what you’re doing. The Google announcement comes just a couple days after rival Apple announced some new privacy features for its software. More on that in a second. If you have a Google account and use Google products like Gmail, YouTube, or Chrome, you’re probably logged in all the time. In this case, your activity while using those apps and services can be tracked by Google, which will then use that data to target ads to you, among other things. Over the years, Google has introduced privacy controls over the data you send the company and has made efforts to make those features more obvious to users. You can find most of these privacy controls in your account settings by clicking on “Manage your data & personalization.” From there, you can click on “Manage your activity controls.” This is the section where you can save your web and app activity, location history, and YouTube history if you want Google to use that data to give you what it calls a “more personalized experience.” Or you can just ask Google not to save anything and have an impersonal, but more private, experience…”
Law.com – “A Harvard Law student has filed a class action against the university, arguing that students should be charged a lower tuition for online classes on the grounds that they are inferior to in-person instruction. Harvard is the latest target in a wave of litigation focused on college and university tuition reimbursements amid the COVID-19 pandemic—at least 100 campuses have been sued thus far. Plaintiffs firms Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, which is representing incoming second-year law student Abraham Barkhordar, has also filed suit against 13 other universities. Barkhordar’s complaint, which seeks to represent all Harvard students and not just those who attend the law school, takes issue not only with the fact that students were not issued tuition refunds last spring when classes shifted online, but also that the law school plans to keep tuition at the same level of $65,875 even though the fall semester will be entirely remote. “While Plaintiff’s coursework requires group projects and collaboration, such teamwork is now significantly harder to orchestrate,” reads the complaint, filed June 22 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. “Plaintiff has also been unable to connect with professors and classmates on the same level online as he had in-person and is similarly lacking the intellectual stimulation of the in-person learning environment.”…
Wired – “…We decided to formally launch our effort with a weekend hackathon. Other groups had organized similar events to develop diagnostic tests and help with the shortage of medical equipment, so why not do the same for research? From the beginning, we knew we’d have to shake up the usual way of doing things. In a traditional lab environment, the structure tends to be hierarchical: A principal investigator sets the agenda and divvies up tasks for the group. Our hope was to proceed more democratically. We didn’t want to scare off people who were donating their spare evenings and weekends, an immensely precious commodity at a time when everyone’s lives had been upended. And we suspected that a group as diverse as ours, encompassing a wealth of disciplines, 20 different native languages, and 25 self-identified ethnicities, would work best with minimal limits on its ingenuity. More than 30 volunteers across dozens of different institutions signed up for the event. We started by hosting an all-hands meeting on Zoom, where the oversight committee laid out some of the unanswered questions we’d encountered in our own research: Could we use smartphone mobility data to gauge whether people were adhering to lockdown orders? What might internet search query data reveal about the public’s interest in coronavirus treatment scams?
The participants sorted themselves into groups, settled on eight different projects, and got to work. They kept at it for 54 hours; shockingly, no one quit. Many of their studies will soon be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. One team, made up of epidemiologists and computer programmers, decided to perform a meta-analysis of clinical and epidemiological parameters associated with Covid-19, then develop an interactive online interface to visualize their results. A tool like this can help public health decisionmakers predict where the disease will go next, and it makes the same knowledge accessible to the general public. This kind of cross-institutional, almost cross-cultural, work is very much at odds with academia’s usual way of doing things. Prior to the pandemic, it was rare that any of us ventured outside the bubble of our own universities and hospitals. Over the decades, this siloed approach to research has shaped the way science gets done—and who gets to do it. The system tends to favor the career advancement of those who belong to a select few institutions over all others, irrespective of the depth of their skills or training. A growing body of literature suggests that underrepresented minorities are less likely to attend prestigious universities, even when they are equally qualified to do so. As a result, scientific research suffers from a lack of diversity—despite the fact that deeply diverse teams appear to produce better solutions to problems…”
CRS Sidebar via LC – “No-Knock”Warrants and Other Law Enforcement Identification Considerations, June 23, 2020: “In the wake of protests over the death of George Floyd while in police custody, some Members of Congress have expressed interest in passing legislation that would alter the policing practices of federal, state, and local law enforcement officers. One set of practices addressed in recently introduced reform legislation concerns law enforcement identification. The issue has arisen in at least two recent contexts. First, reports of federal law enforcement officers responding to protest activity without displaying badges or other identifying information have prompted questions about whether police may forego such identification when acting in an official capacity in public. Second, questions have arisen as to when officers are required to identify themselves before entering a home when executing a search warrant. An issue of particular focus in this context has been so-called “no-knock”warrants—that is, warrants that permit law enforcement officers to enter a home without the need to identify their authority and purpose beforehand. In one case that has received renewed attention, a Louisville woman named Breonna Taylor was shot and killed in her home by police during execution of such a warrant. Given congressional interest and legislation that has recently been introduced on both fronts, this Legal Sidebar provides an overview of law enforcement identification issues in the context of (1) public identification and (2) identification prior to execution of a warrant. This Sidebar additionally considers how several bills in the 116th Congress could alter practices on both fronts.”
Law.com – “Remote clerkship interviewing went so well last week that some law school career services officials hope it remains an option even after COVID-19 subsides…”
Via LLRX – Pete Recommends Weekly highlights on cyber security issues June 21, 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: Zoom Finally Caves, Lets Free Users Have End-to-End Encryption; Researchers Create a Tool That Can Perfectly Depixelate Faces; North Korea Kim Jong Un cyber army more effective than nuclear weapons; Outrage over police brutality has finally convinced Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM to rule out selling facial recognition tech to law enforcement.
“The National Conference of State Legislatures provides you with up-to-date, real-time information on law enforcement legislation that has been introduced in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The database contains policing bills and executive orders introduced as of May 25, 2020, that are in response to recent events. You can search legislation for by state, topic, keyword, year, status or primary sponsor. Policing topics include oversight and data, training, standards and certification, use of force, technology, policing alternatives and collaboration, executive orders and other timely issues. Bill information for the current year is updated each Tuesday. New measures are added as they are introduced or identified by NCSL staff. Bills may appear twice in carryover states. In these states, please check the last date of action to ensure the status of the bill reflects the appropriate years. For faster performance, please use the fields below to filter your results. If you select nothing, the default search will pick up all topics and states in the most recent session year available. The full text of bills is available by clicking on the bill number. This feature is available for bills from 2015 and later…” [ht/t Library Boy]
US News: Her dashboard lets people track the spread in near real-time. She had no idea it would get this big. “The woman behind what may be the world’s most famous coronavirus tracker isn’t a medical professional – she’s a civil engineer. Since launching in late January, Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 dashboard – a black and gray map pierced by red dots marking COVID-19 cases, deaths and recoveries in 188 countries and regions – has become central to efforts to fight the pandemic in the U.S. Public health authorities, researchers and policymakers up to the White House have cited the map; and it’s become a go-to resource for journalists and the general public, with some 640 million page views to date. Lauren Gardner, an associate professor of civil and systems engineering at Hopkins and the map’s creator, says she didn’t expect how uniquely authoritative the tracker, built in one day, would become. But it took off immediately, allowing people to follow the pandemic in near-real time, as it lept from China around the globe. There have been more than 9 million COVID-19 cases and 469,000 deaths worldwide to date…Gardner says she thinks her map, devoid of any spin or analysis, has provided a simple way for everyday people to track the pandemic through “authentic, transparent sources.” Its popularity, she says, proves there’s an appetite for data on demand – which could be critical when fighting other global health threats…”
CRS report via LC – Conducting Research on Federal Real Property: A Guide to Selected Resources, June 22, 2020: “This report is designed to introduce congressional staff to selected sources published by the General Services Administration (GSA) that may be useful in conducting research on federal real property—land, buildings, and structures owned, operated, or leased by the federal government—in a particular geographic area.Sources include the Federal Real Property Profile Dataset for civilian and non civilian agencies, the Federal Real Property Map, GSA Lease Inventory, Federal Real Property Summary Reports, Inventory of Leased and Owned Properties, and several real property disposal resources. Federal real property consists of land, buildings, and structures owned, operated, or leased by the federal government. Established by the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949, the General Services Administration (GSA) provides real property services—including the acquisition, operation, and disposal of buildings and land—to any federal agency that lacks the authority to do so itself. As part of the agency’s real property asset management program, GSA aggregates data in a number of resources, including the Federal Real Property Profile, to help agencies better understand the federal inventory…”
Rutgers Egaleton Institute of Politics: “The CAWP Women Elected Officials Database represents the most complete collection of information anywhere in the world about women elected officials in the United States [please see the FAQ for all the details]. The database includes full historical listings for women who have held office at the congressional, statewide elected executive, and state legislative levels nationwide. For each woman officeholder, the database includes their geographic information, party identification, and race identification where available. This tool expands on the officeholder database that the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) has long kept and shared with researchers, and, crucially, transforms it into a searchable, online format for public access. It contains entries for more than eleven thousand women officeholders dating back to 1893 when women first served in territorial legislatures…”
Law360 – “New York City kicked off the second phase of its reopening plan Monday, freeing many companies to bring employees back into the office, but some law firms say ongoing coronavirus concerns are holding them back. “We’re in no rush to reopen in New York,” said Richard Hans, the head of DLA Piper‘s Manhattan office. Citing a recent spike in coronavirus cases across the country, as well the risks of hopping on a crowded subway, Hans told Law360 that the office is sticking with its mandatory telework policy until at least July 10. “There are a number of individuals who are uncomfortable taking mass transit,” Hans said. “So even were we to address all of the safety concerns within the office, which we are doing, they are hesitant to commute back into or across the city on trains or buses.” DLA Piper’s Manhattan office is its largest in the country, with roughly 220 attorneys and 120 staffers. The firm has already begun to reopen a handful of U.S. offices — in Atlanta; Wilmington, Delaware; Houston; Dallas; and Raleigh, North Carolina — but Hans said it’s not yet ready to reopen in Manhattan, which became the national epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic after the disease reached the U.S. in January. The city still tops the charts, reporting nearly 210,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus since the first one was reported in March, and more than 22,000 coronavirus-related deaths. When DLA Piper leaders eventually roll back the Manhattan office’s mandatory telework policy, Hans said they’re going to ease into it. “Even when we do reopen, it will be purely on a voluntary basis,” he said, adding that this initial reopening strategy will probably run through the summer…”
See also Law360 – Coronavirus: How Law Firms Are Handling The Downturn, updated June 18, 2020.
Poynter: “What disabilities must you prove to avoid having to wear a mask? Can an employer force you to wear one? Do you have a constitutional right to not? The answer is “yes.” In a pandemic, governments have the authority to do a lot of things that would otherwise be questionable. Think of it like this: The government has the right to ban smoking in public places because your smoking can affect my health. And some places have signs that say, “No shirt, no shoes, no service.” Just add “no mask” to the sign. However, there are exceptions. If you cannot wear a mask for health reasons or if you are in a “protected class,” then you might get a mask pass. Syracuse.com turned to a prosecutor for advice: “All businesses have the right to refuse service so long as it is not violating one of those protected classes,” said Robert Mascari, chief assistant district attorney in Madison County. “You can’t refuse to serve me because I’m half Italian and half Irish. You can refuse to serve me if I’m being an idiot.”
Anti-maskers (I just made up that word) have claimed a “disability” to avoid wearing face masks. Doron Dorfmann, a Syracuse University law professor who specializes in disability law, told Syracuse.com: There may be legitimate disabilities that would prevent someone from wearing a mask: someone with autism who has sensory issues, for example, or someone with a respiratory problem for which a mask would make breathing difficult. Under the (federal Americans with Disabilities Act), he said, store managers must be cautious in questioning anyone who says they have a disability. The manager, for example, can’t ask what the disability is. Shop keepers can ask two questions of that person, Dorfman said: “Is (not wearing a mask) an accommodation? What kind of benefit do you get from not wearing a mask?”…
“This guide is an overview of digital security considerations specific to journalists covering protests. For EFF’s comprehensive guide to digital security, including advice for activists and protesters, visit ssd.eff.org. Legal advice in this post is specific to the United States. As the international protests against police killings enter their third week, the public has been exposed to shocking videos of law enforcement wielding violence against not only demonstrators, but also the journalists who are tasked with documenting this historic moment. EFF recently issued Surveillance Self-Defense tips for protesters who may find their digital rights under attack, either through mass surveillance of crowds or through the seizure of their devices. However, these tips don’t always reflect the reality of how journalists may need to do their jobs and the unique threats journalists face. In this blog post, we attempt to address the digital security of news gatherers after speaking with reporters, photographers, and live streamers who are on the ground, risking everything to document these protests…”
Second Great Depression. At least 4 major factors are terrifying economists and weighing on the recovery.
The Atlantic: “The American economy is reopening. In Alabama, gyms are back in business. In Georgia, restaurants are seating customers again. In Texas, the bars are packed. And in Vermont, the stay-at-home order has been lifted. People are still frightened. Americans are still dying. But the next, queasy phase of the coronavirus pandemic is upon us. And it seems likely that the financial nadir, the point at which the economy stops collapsing and begins growing again, has passed. What will the recovery look like? At this fraught moment, no one knows enough about consumer sentiment and government ordinances and business failures and stimulus packages and the spread of the disease to make solid predictions about the future. The Trump administration and some bullish financial forecasters are arguing that we will end up with a strong, V-shaped rebound, with economic activity surging right back to where it was in no time. Others are betting on a longer, slower, U-shaped turnaround, with the pain extending for a year or three. Still others are sketching out a kind of flaccid check mark, its long tail sagging torpid into the future. Excitement about reopening aside, that third and most miserable course is the one we appear to be on. The country will rebound, as things reopen. The bounce will seem remarkable, given how big the drop was: Retail sales rose 18 percent in May, and the economy added 2.5 million jobs. But absent dramatic policy action, a pandemic depression is possible: the Congressional Budget Office anticipates that the American economy will generate $8 trillion less in economic activity over the next decade than it projected just a few months ago, and that a full recovery might not take hold until the 2030s…”
See also NPR – Why Reopening Isn’t Enough To Save The Economy – “…key insights of a blockbuster study that was dropped late last week by a gang of economists led by Harvard University’s Raj Chetty…If you don’t know who Chetty is, he’s sort of like the Michael Jordan of policy wonks. He’s a star economist. He and his colleagues assemble and crunch massive data sets and deliver insights that regularly shift core economic debates about inequality and opportunity. This new study focuses on the economic impact of COVID-19 and the government response. To us nerds, this is like Game 7 of the NBA Finals, and Chetty just swooped in at a crucial moment to drop some threes…”
Forbes – “The persistence of the pay gap for women and minorities has called for new policies and research in recent years as pressures mount across industries hoping to level the playing field. A new study at Boston University, released this week, might point to one solution: salary history bans. Many who study labor law believe that when employers ask prospective employees for their previous salary, potential disparities in pay as a result of race, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability are passed on. That’s why, in recent years, advocates for equal pay began calling for salary history bans in the hiring process. Massachusetts was the first state to prohibit potential employers from asking about applicants’ salary history before making a job offer in 2018. Since then, 18 other states have enacted state-wide bans, and 21 local municipalities have put their own ordinances forbidding the practice in place. Three researchers at the Boston University School of Law Technology and Policy Research Initiative were exploring an increase in job postings that listed salaries around the same time that salary history bans were being implemented. The group was investigating the link between the two happenings, and that work eventually led to continued research into the effectiveness of salary history bans in combating pay inequities…”
Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS): “In the first phase of a project to disseminate and develop science-based information about how materials can be handled to mitigate exposure to staff and visitors, scientists have found that the virus SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19 is not detectable on five common library materials after three days. The findings are part of the Reopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums (REALM) Project designed to generate scientific information to support the handling of core museum, library, and archival materials as these institutions begin to resume operations and reopen to the public. The first phase of the research is focusing on commonly found and frequently handled materials, especially in U.S. public libraries. Over the past few weeks, scientists at Battelle tested the virus on a variety of surfaces, in environments with standard temperature and relative humidity conditions typically found in air-conditioned office space. Materials tested in phase one included the cover of hardcover books (buckram cloth), the cover of softback books, plain paper pages inside a closed book, mylar protective book cover jackets, and plastic DVD cases. Battelle tests found the virus undetectable after one day on the covers of hardback and softback books as well as the DVD case. The virus was undetectable on the paper inside of a book and mylar book jackets after three days. “It’s below the limit of detection on our viability assay,” said Battelle Principal Research Scientist Will Richter. Lab testing of physical items followed literature reviews conducted by Battelle to help define the scope of the project’s research and the information needs of libraries, archives, and museums. Last week, the REALM Project released “Systematic Literature Review of SARS-CoV-2: Spread, Environmental Attenuation, Prevention, and Decontamination,” prepared by Battelle. This is an in-depth review of published literature on virus transmission, attenuation, and decontamination methods that can inform discussion and decisions about operations in archives, libraries, and museums…”
Federal Reserve announces FraudClassifier Model to help organizations classify fraud involving payments
Federal Reserve Board: “The Federal Reserve today published the FraudClassifier model—a set of tools and materials to help provide a consistent way to classify and better understand the magnitude of fraudulent activity and how it occurs across the payments industry. The model was developed by the Fraud Definitions Work Group, which was comprised of Federal Reserve and payments industry fraud experts. “The FraudClassifier model can help address the industrywide challenge of inconsistent classifications for fraud involving ACH, wire, or check payments,” said Jim Cunha, secure payments strategy leader and senior vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. “The FraudClassifier model enables payments stakeholders to classify fraud in a simple and similar manner. It can be applied across an organization to help ensure greater internal consistency in fraud classification, more robust information and better fraud tracking.” The key advantage of the FraudClassifier model is the ability for organizations to use it to classify fraud independently of payment type, payment channel or other payment characteristics. The model presents a series of questions, beginning with who initiated the payment to differentiate payments initiated by authorized or unauthorized parties. Each of the classifications is supported by definitions that allow for consistent application of the FraudClassifier model across the industry. The Fraud Definitions Work Group also developed and recommended an industry adoption roadmap, which outlines a strategy and potential steps to encourage voluntary industrywide use of the FraudClassifier model.
- Learn more—and sign up to access educational resources and support tools for the FraudClassifier model—by visiting FedPaymentsImprovement.org.”
Medium: “Accessing decentralized, uncensorable websites has long been touted as one of the potential uses for Ethereum. In recent years, projects such as ENS and Unstoppable Domains have made large strides in this area. Users are now able to access these sites by simply entering human-readable names instead of long-winded IPFS hashes. One challenge remains: users of such sites lack easy ways of discovery. Imagine looking up a topic on the Internet. You wouldn’t need to type an exact URL. Your browser’s native search engine picks out countless suggestions for any particular search item you look for. The same cannot be said of decentralized websites, where even entering exact URLs may not get you to the website you want on mainstream browsers. Enter Blockscan. The team at Blockscan have for years focused on making decentralized information accessible to end users. With Etherscan and other explorers, we made this possible for blockchains. We now make our foray into the same for decentralized websites. This version is a first iteration starting with 3 popular blockchain domains: .eth, .crypto, and .zil. It comes with a directory of 150 known websites for users to explore…”
Tech Crunch: “Apple’s newest version of iOS is bringing a host of new features to Maps, including a dedicated cycling option that will optimize paths for bicyclists and even let users know if the route includes challenging hills. Apple unveiled the new feature Monday at a virtual version of WWDC 2020, the company’s annual developer conference. Apple Maps has included public transit and walking in previous iterations. But the biking option has been the most requested, according to Apple senior director Stacey Lysik…”
See also via Tech Crunch – Apple Maps gets electric vehicle routing to find EV chargers -“Apple has added a routing feature to Maps that’s designed for electric vehicle owners. The EV routing feature, which will be available in the newest version of iOS, is one of several improvements that Apple is making to Maps. Apple unveiled the new feature Monday at a virtual version of WWDC 2020, the company’s annual developer conference. The EV routing aims to eliminate range anxiety — the fear of running out of charge — by showing charging stations compatible to a user’s electric vehicle along their route. Maps on iOS 14 will track the user’s current charge and factor in things like elevation and whether to automatically add charging stops along their route..”
“This year’s Global Fact conference will be the largest worldwide gathering of fact-checkers. More than 150 speakers from more than 40 different countries will discuss the state and the future of fact-checking. The week-long virtual gathering kicks off Monday, June 22, 2020 Global Fact 7, an annual conference organized by the International Fact-Checking Network, will be held virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was originally scheduled to be held in person between June 24-27 in Oslo, Norway after being held in London, Buenos Aires, Madrid, Rome, and Cape Town since 2014 Its pivot to a virtual gathering may have been a blessing in disguise. Join us this year and be a part of the discussion at Global Fact 7 (virtual)!”
Read more about Global Fact 7 (virtual)