Law and Legal
StatNews: “For a veteran epidemiologist, an authority on homeland security, and a global health reporter, the outbreak of the novel coronavirus is the type of emergency they had long anticipated. But now that it is here, the three experts said Friday, they still couldn’t help but feel the monumentality of what they were watching unfold. “It’s the most daunting virus that we’ve contended with in half a century or more,” Michael Mina, an epidemiologist at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said at a panel discussion Friday at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Helen Branswell, STAT’s infectious diseases and public health reporter, has covered emerging pathogens since the 2003 SARS outbreak.
But with the new coronavirus, Branswell said during the panel, “It’s bizarre but I find myself startled. Having written about the possibility of something like this for years, I still find myself really startled that it’s happening, and I don’t know why that is.” She compared the circumstances now to the summer of 2014, when Ebola was racing through West Africa and the world didn’t seem to have a plan to stop it. “Except that I never worried then about Ebola spreading in the city I lived in,” she said. “It’s different now.”…”
Via LLRX – Pete Recommends Weekly highlights on cyber security issues March 8, 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: How to Dox Yourself on the Internet; Apple Bans Clearview Facial Recognition App From Its Store; You’re about to be scammed; and Robo lawyer will sue organizations that will not delete your personal info.
“Digital Collections is your all-in-one portal into the UC Berkeley Library’s digital gems. The digital materials you find here — images, text, audio, and video — enrich and support the work of Berkeley’s faculty, researchers, students, and staff. Digital Collections stems from the vision of the Digital Lifecycle Program, which serves the Library’s mission to preserve, protect, and provide access to the information it holds. This includes digital collections, archival records, and other materials that provide enduring value for intellectual inquiry, research, and discovery…”
EveryCRSReport – Workplace Leave and Unemployment Insurance for Individuals Affected by COVID-19, March 6, 2020: “This Insight provides a brief overview of the current availability of job-connected assistance to individuals, which may be relevant to the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Specifically, this product discusses workplace leave, paid and unpaid, that may be available to workers affected by the virus, as well as unemployment insurance (UI) benefits. It also discusses policy options to amend or expand existing UI programs to be more responsive to the effects of COVID-19…”
FastCompany – “The wondrous, whimsical World Wide Web is still wonderful after all these years. And there are still plenty of helpful and powerful sites out there to discover. Here are eight that deserve a place on your bookmarks bar.”
Mysterious Light Sources Alex Altair: “I got my first telescope in 2017, in time for the Great American Eclipse. I started paying attention to the concept of light pollution, including finding detailed maps of what places had high or low amounts of light pollution. After looking up nearby areas that were potentially good for stargazing, I got curious, and started just looking around at what all the light pollution was from. Of course, the vast majority of light pollution is from cities: street lights, industrial zones, parking lots. But sometimes, it’s from something else…”
BBC published a visual guide that you can post, share and discuss – please take a look – it answers many questions and provides sound guidance on how to protect yourself and others as well as how to identify if you may have the virus.
TPM – Josh Marshall: “This seems to be the best and really only source of information I’ve seen with detailed and frequently updated data on the rate of COVID-19 testing and infections broken down by states within the United States. This is the breakdown by states. This is the daily cumulative update. In each case you have total tests, positives, negatives and pending. In a better world, the CDC or some other government agency would be publishing this information. But that’s not happening.
A few more points about why this is a reliable source. Everything is moving quickly. I’m not involved with this project. So I can’t vouch for it directly. But I’ve looked at it closely. It’s run by serious, named people. The project combines one started by Jeff Hammerbacher, a data person from the biotech field, and another started by Alexis Madrigal of The Atlantic. They’re both now working together on the joint project. It’s being updated regularly. They’ve published a brief discussion of methodology along with links to state and county sources of information where most of the information is drawn from. There are also helpful notes in a comments field on sources of data and what different states are or are not reporting. (They’re actually looking for volunteers to work on the project.)..”
The surveillance technology can already be found in Argentina, India, and soon the United States – “…While it’s become common for law enforcement, from local police to the federal government, to use facial recognition, it’s often used retrospectively. That means instead of scanning everyone’s face whose face appears in a live video, they analyze an image of a suspect’s face from a crime scene and compare it against a mugshot database, or some other database of face images, to find out who it is. But that reluctance to embrace live facial recognition is changing — it already has changed around the world. We’ve seen that in Surat, India, and Buenos Aires, Argentina, live facial recognition is already here. In Buenos Aires, it has been used to detain nearly 600 people, and not all of them are even real suspects. One man was detained for six days for having the same name as a suspect in a crime, which police mistakenly entered incorrectly into the watch list. That same technology is coming to police body cameras, as I wrote in OneZero [March 5, 2020]. A body camera company in southern California called Wolfcom has started marketing live facial recognition as a feature in its hardware. It’s already being tested in New Mexico. Privacy advocates oppose live facial recognition, especially in body cameras worn by police. “Body cameras were promised to communities as a tool for officer accountability. They should not be twisted into surveillance systems to be used against communities,” the ACLU wrote on Twitter in response to OneZero’s story.
MIT Technology Review: “In the unprecedented outbreak of a new coronavirus sweeping the world, the germ’s genetic material may ultimately tell the story not just of where it came from, but of how it spread and how efforts to contain it failed.By tracking mutations to the virus as it spreads, scientists are creating a family tree in nearly real time, which they say can help pinpoint how the infection is hopping between countries. When scientists in Brazil confirmed that country’s first case of coronavirus late in February, they were quick to sequence the germ’s genetic code and compare it with over 150 sequences already posted online, many from China. The patient, a 61-year-old from São Paulo, had traveled in Italy’s northern Lombardy region that month, so Italy was likely where he acquired the infection. But the sequence of his virus suggested a more complex story, linking his illness back to a sick passenger from China and an outbreak in Germany. As a virus spreads, it mutates, developing random changes in single genetic letters in its genome. By tracking those changes, scientists can trace its evolution and learn which cases are most closely related. The latest maps already show dozens of branching events.
The data is being tracked on a website called Nextstrain, an open-source effort to “harness the scientific and public health potential of pathogen genome data.” Because scientists are posting data so quickly, this is the first outbreak in which a germ’s evolution and spread have been tracked in so much detail, and almost in real time.
booksprice.com: “BooksPrice is a free-of-charge website that enables users to search for the best deals as related to prices of books, CDs, DVDs and other products offered by thousands of stores across the Web. BooksPrice specializes in conducting comparisons of multiple books, CDs and DVDs as part of one single search. BooksPrice is an independent website that is not owned or controlled to any extent by any other business entities. Therefore, all search results are completely objective…”
Libraries 2020: “As designated essential disaster services, libraries are poised to serve a role in the national response to the Coronavirus and COVID-19. Some changes to libraries as a public gathering place may be temporarily required, but our mission of sharing information will likely continue unchanged. They will remain great resources to access credible medical information and connect to resources to help you and your community. Libraries: Open for Information – Your local library is a great place to turn for information about COVID-19, the disease caused by the Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). Not only are libraries a trusted source of vetting information, there is a long history of libraries as a destination for answers to health questions.
In the case of a public health situation like the COVID-19 outbreak, your local library is especially beneficial because it is local. In the United States, public health is addressed at a county level with statewide organizations. That means your local library is typically already connected to the local public health officials. Depending on local measures put into place, some changes to library programs may be required, but online services like medical databases, eBooks, digital audiobooks, will still be accessible with a library card allowing you to find credible information and even entertainment…”
Oxford University Press Blog – Femi Cadmus Archibald and Frances Rufty Research Professor of Law & Assoc Dean Info Svcs & Tech, Duke University School of Law: “For well over a century, law librarians have been a force in leading research initiatives, preservation, and access to legal information in academia, private firms, and government. While these traditional skills emerged in a predominantly print era, there has been a perceptible expansion and recent acceleration of technological expertise. The profession has progressively become infused with new digital tools, evidenced by librarians leading strategies in competitive intelligence, knowledge management, artificial intelligence, and legal analytics. It has become clear that skills in research, collections, data curation, retrieval, and accessibility have meshed well in an ever-increasing data-driven world…”
EPA Guidance Documents – “On October 9, 2019, President Trump signed Executive Order 13891, “Promoting the Rule of Law Through Improved Agency Guidance Documents.” Among other things, the Executive Order directs federal agencies to make active guidance documents available via an online guidance document portal. On October 31, 2019, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued implementing guidance M-20-02 (PDF), which set deadlines and related information for establishing the searchable, indexed online database for all active guidance documents. This website provides links to all of EPA’s active guidance documents. EPA’s guidance documents lack the force and effect of law, unless expressly authorized by statute or incorporated into a contract. The agency may not cite, use, or rely on any guidance that is not posted on this web area, except to establish historical facts…”
“For 72 years, TIME named a Man of the Year. With a few exceptions, it was almost always a man, usually a President or a Prime Minister or perhaps a titan of industry. Throughout history, these are the kinds of men who have wielded influence over the world. In 1999, Man of the Year gave way to Person of the Year. While the name rightly changed, too often the choice was the same. With this 100 Women of the Year project, we’re spotlighting influential women who were often overshadowed. This includes women who occupied positions from which the men were often chosen, like world leaders Golda Meir and Corazon Aquino, but far more who found their influence through activism or culture. As former TIME editor-in-chief Nancy Gibbs writes, this project is an exercise in looking at the ways in which women held power due to systemic inequality. “Women,” Gibbs writes, “were wielding soft power long before the concept was defined.” To recognize these women, we have created 89 new TIME covers, many of which were designed by prominent artists. We left intact the 11 covers for women who had been named Person of the Year. The 100 choices in this project are the result of a months-long process that began with more than 600 nominations submitted by TIME staff; experts in the field; our creative partner, filmmaker Alma Har’el; and a committee of notable women from various backgrounds.
This process prompted just as many questions as answers: “What does it mean to be a woman?” “How has society failed to acknowledge the contributions of women?” One answer came from feminist organizer Gloria Steinem, whom we picked for 1970, and whom we asked to revisit a piece she wrote that year in TIME called “What It Would Be Like If Women Win”—a rare opportunity to reflect on 50 years of change…”
protocol: “U.S. law enforcement agencies signed millions of dollars worth of contracts with a Virginia company after it rolled out a powerful tool that uses data from popular mobile apps to track the movement of people’s cell phones, according to federal contracting records and six people familiar with the software. The product, called Locate X and sold by Babel Street, allows investigators to draw a digital fence around an address or area, pinpoint mobile devices that were within that area, and see where else those devices have traveled, going back months, the sources told Protocol. They said the tool tracks the location of devices anonymously, using data that popular cell phone apps collect to enable features like mapping or targeted ads, or simply to sell it on to data brokers…”
The New York Times – Before Clearview Became a Police Tool, It Was a Secret Plaything of the Rich – Investors and clients of the facial recognition start-up freely used the app on dates and at parties — and to spy on the public.
Fortune: “In January, a new law gave consumers the power to stop companies collecting their personal information. The law, known as the California Consumer Privacy Act (or the CCPA), can be a powerful tool for privacy, but it comes with a catch: Consumers who want to exercise their CCPA rights must contact every data broker individually, and there are more than a hundred of them. But now they have an easier option. On Thursday March 5, 2020, a startup called DoNotPay unveiled a service it calls Digital Health that automates the data-deletion process. Priced at $3 a month, the service will contact more than 100 data brokers on your behalf and demand they delete your and your family’s personal information. It will also show you the types of data the brokers have collected—such as phone number or location info—and even initiate legal proceedings if the firms fail to comply. The monthly fee also gives subscribers access to DoNotPay’s other automated avenging services, like appealing parking tickets in any city, claiming compensation for poor in-flight Wi-Fi, and Robo Revenge, which sues robocallers…”
The Verge: “Google is beginning to roll out its article-reading feature on Google Assistant that will read webpages aloud. This was previewed back at CES in January and is becoming available globally starting today. To use the feature, users can simply say, “Hey Google, read it” or “Hey Google, read this page” for Assistant to read the text on your screen. The screen will also highlight the text that Assistant is currently reading so users can follow along on the page as it’s being read out loud. To skip to a different section, tap the screen to move forward. Or if you’re the kind of person who listens to podcasts at two times the speed, you can also adjust Google Assistant’s reading pace for faster or slower cadences…”
“As the Wuhan coronavirus and the disease it causes — also known as COVID-19 — spread across the globe, so does disinformation and misinformation. Follow the spread of this dangerous information with NewsGuard’s new Coronavirus Misinformation Tracking Center. Listed below are all the news and information sites in the U.S., the U.K., France, Italy, and Germany that we have so far identified as publishing materially false information about the virus. You’ll find websites that are notorious for publishing false health content, and political sites whose embrace of conspiracy theories extends well beyond politics. Troublingly, you’ll also see some sites that generally stick to the facts but in this case have published unvetted, poorly sourced stories that turned out to be false. To read our full review of each website, click on its name to see its NewsGuard Nutrition Label (some labels include highlighted sections of coronavirus-related content)…”
Human Resources – The good, the bad and the downright inappropriate – “Emojis are everywhere nowadays. When words fail us or we want to lighten the mood, very often we turn to emojis. In fact even in a professional work setting, 71% of respondents in Perkbox’s latest survey feel emojis should be encouraged. Polling 1000 UK workers, the research found that the ‘thumbs up’ emoji came top as the best way to convey a ‘well done’ (51%), followed by the ‘OK’ (16%), ‘starry eyes’ (13%), ‘smiley face’ (11%) and ‘raised hands’ emoji (10%). When it came to what emoji was the biggest compliment – in first place was the ‘party popper’ emoji, followed by ‘raised hands’, ‘bicep’, ‘thumbs up’, ‘clap’ and somewhat surprisingly the ‘star’ in final place. However, more than one in four employee says they still prefer to receive praise the ‘old school way’ through a written email. Of those who said they prefer an informal chat using emoji (49%), 27% believe it should only apply if the recipient is a Millennial or younger, with one in five of the respondents saying this group believes emojis are more heartfelt…”