Law and Legal
The New York Times: “The last time America watched an impeachment inquiry, it was largely an analog affair. When the House voted to begin impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton in 1998, only one in four American homes had internet access. AOL and Yahoo were the biggest websites in the world, and “tweet” was a sound birds made. If the inquiry opened by House Democrats this week results in a formal impeachment of Mr. Trump, it will be the first of the social media era. In many ways, it is a made-for-the-internet event. The political stakes are high, the dramatic story unspools tidbit by tidbit and the stark us-versus-them dynamics provide plenty of fodder for emotionally charged social media brawls.
As impeachment looms, disinformation experts are bracing for a fresh cyclone of chaos, complete with fast-twitch media manipulation, droves of false and misleading claims, and hyper-polarized audiences fiercely clinging to their side’s version of reality…”
engadget – “It’s the largest photogrammetry capture ever done on the site. Versailles palace is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world, but fighting those crowds in person can be frustrating. Now, Google and the Château de Versailles have teamed up to take VR users on a private tour of Louis XIV’s royal residence. It’s the largest photogrammetry project ever done at the castle, with 21 rooms and 387,500 square feet of internal surfaces captured. HTC Vive and Oculus Rift users can handle and inspect over 100 sculptures, paintings and other works of art and see them with incredible close-up detail…”
The women (and men) who came forward about sexual assault and harassment tell about everything that came after
The Cut – Is It Still? Will It Ever Be? The women (and men) who came forward about sexual assault and harassment tell about everything that came after. By Irin Carmon and Amelia Schonbek Additional reporting by Sarah Jones. “In the two years since the New York Times published a story detailing allegations against Harvey Weinstein, Me Too has become a verb, a movement, a flashpoint. What has been lost in the relatively recent reckoning about sexual assault has been the steep cost — both literal and emotional — for those very people on whose testimony the movement has been built. New York interviewed 25 of them, whose stories date back to the 1970s and up to the present day, to find out what happened after they spoke up and everyone else moved on…”
TechLaw Crossroads: “Earlier this month, the 2019 LexisNexis CounselLink Enterprise Legal Management Trend Report was released. This is the 7th year the Report, which looks at data from invoices of over $33 billion in legal spending processed through the CounselLink platform, was compiled and issued…Kris Satkunas, Director of Strategic Consulting and author of the Report about the finding…noted that when it comes to median hourly rates, larger firms are gaining, and smaller firms are losing. Firms with over 750 lawyers average over 50% higher rates than smaller firms in 2018; the year before, this gap was 45%. Combined with this was a shift of more higher rate work from smaller firms to the 750+ person law firms. The result, according to Satkunas, is that the median and overall rates of smaller firms are dropping because they are losing this higher paying work—not because the larger firms are raising their rates disproportionately…”
Axios – “A landmark privacy law in California, which kicks in Jan. 1, will give Golden State residents the right to find out what a company knows about them and get it deleted — and to stop the company from selling it. Why it matters: It could effectively become a national privacy law, since companies that are racing to comply with it may give these privileges to non-Californians, too. The California Consumer Privacy Act will apply to companies with at least $25 million in revenue, personal information on at least 50,000 people, or earning at least half their money by selling consumers’ personal information.
- Next year, any Californian will be able to demand that a company disclose what data it’s keeping on them — and knock it off.
- Starting next July, Californians will be allowed to sue businesses for certain data breaches, and the California attorney general will be able to bring enforcement actions…”
Via LLRX – How Congress turns citizens’ voices into data points – Samantha McDonald, University of California, Irvine focuses our attention on an increasingly critical issue – big technology companies like Amazon, Facebook and Google aren’t the only ones facing huge political concerns about using citizen data: So is Congress. Reports by congressional researchers over the last decade describe an outdated communication system that is struggling to address an overwhelming rise in citizen contact.
Via LLRX – Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues, September 28, 2019 – 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: ‘Perfectly real’ deepfake videos are 6 months away: report; ‘Nightmare’ for global postal system if Trump pulls out, U.N. body says; Most Health Data Breaches Expose Sensitive Information; and The Extended Corporate Mind: When Corporations Use AI to Break the Law.
Oseid, Julie A. and Vorenberg, Amy and Koenig, Melissa Love, Ok, Google, Will Artificial Intelligence Replace Human Lawyering? (2019). 102 Marquette Law Review 1269 (2019); U of St. Thomas (Minnesota) Legal Studies Research Paper No. 19-13; Marquette Law School Legal Studies Paper No. 19-13. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3449500 – “Will Artificial Intelligence (AI) replace human lawyering? The answer is no. Despite worries that AI is getting so sophisticated that it could take over the profession, there is little cause for concern. Indeed, the surge of AI in the legal field has crystalized the real essence of effective lawyering. The lawyer’s craft goes beyond what AI can do because we listen with empathy to clients’ stories, strategize to find that story that might not be obvious, thoughtfully use our imagination and judgment to decide which story will appeal to an audience, and creatively tell those winning stories. This article reviews the current state of AI in legal practice and contrasts that with the essence of exclusively human lawyering skills—empathy, imagination, and creativity. As examples, we use three Supreme Court cases to illustrate these skills.”
Department of Justice Announces Interim Policy on Emerging Method to Generate Leads for Unsolved Violent Crimes, September 24, 2019: “…the Department of Justice announced its Interim Policy on forensic genetic genealogy (FGG), an emerging investigative technique that will combine technological advancements in DNA analysis and searching with traditional geneology research. FGG is a unique investigative method that can generate leads used by law enforcement to not only identify unknown suspects but to help identify the remains of homicide victims….The Department’s policy, which will go into effect on Nov. 1, 2019, is designed to balance the Department’s relentless commitment to solving violent crimes and protecting public safety against equally important public interests – such as preserving the privacy and civil liberties of all citizens. In order to do so, the Department’s Interim Policy on Forensic Genetic Genealogical DNA Analysis and Searching provides the first comprehensive guidance to law enforcement on the use of FGG.
The Interim Policy contains nine sections that lay out critical requirements for the use of FGG by law enforcement, including the collaborative interdisciplinary use of the technique, the criteria a case must meet in order to use FGG, and how the practice is used to generate leads for unsolved crimes. As genetic genealogy websites become more popular and individuals continue to voluntarily submit their DNA or enter their genetic profiles onto publically available genetic genealogy sites, the more biological information there is to compare with DNA samples from crime scenes. In essence, a DNA sample taken from the scene of a violent crime that does not match any samples available in the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) will not generate a lead for law enforcement. FGG provides an alternative option. However, FGG requires a type of DNA testing that Department laboratories currently do not perform, so the sample must be outsourced to a vender laboratory. After the vender laboratory completes a more comprehensive analysis on the sample, the resulting genetic profile is entered into one or more publicly-available genetic genealogy services and compared by automation against the genetic profiles of individuals who have voluntarily submitted their own samples. The computer’s algorithm then evaluates potential familial relationships between the sample donor and the website’s users. If an association is detected, it generates a lead. Subsequently, law enforcement can use that lead to advance their investigation using traditional investigative and genealogical methods…”
The New York Times – “…The conventional wisdom is that computer science and engineering majors have better employment prospects and higher earnings than their peers who choose liberal arts. This is true for the first job, but the long-term story is more complicated. The advantage for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) majors fades steadily after their first jobs, and by age 40 the earnings of people who majored in fields like social science or history have caught up. This happens for two reasons. First, many of the latest technical skills that are in high demand today become obsolete when technology progresses. Older workers must learn these new skills on the fly, while younger workers may have learned them in school. Skill obsolescence and increased competition from younger graduates work together to lower the earnings advantage for STEM degree-holders as they age. Second, although liberal arts majors start slow, they gradually catch up to their peers in STEM fields. This is by design. A liberal arts education fosters valuable “soft skills” like problem-solving, critical thinking and adaptability. Such skills are hard to quantify, and they don’t create clean pathways to high-paying first jobs. But they have long-run value in a wide variety of careers. [emphasis added along with a heavy sign – it has been a very long-run…]
mycase – Jared Correia – “Lawyers are fantastic at substantive law practice. They should be. They spend the entirety of their law school and bar exam preparation experience on the topic. If you come out of law school, and you’re not good at practicing substantive law, something has gone terribly wrong. But, you know what you’ve probably never said: “Wow, that lawyer reminds me so much of Steve Jobs!” And, that’s because lawyers don’t operate as business managers with anything like the precision they exert over their substantive legal work. That’s not entirely on the attorneys, though. Lawyers are not trained to be business managers; and, the vast majority of managing attorneys don’t pick up the business management skills they need over time, either. The average attorney cranks away, head-down, on billable hours, every workday, because that’s what they understand, and that’s what they’re good at. Meanwhile, their businesses crumble slowly around then; they’re fiddling with .6s while Rome burns down. If managing attorneys instead operated their businesses with the same precision they researched precedent, or conducted witness interviews, or defended criminal clients, this script would flip entirely. The reason lawyers fail as business owners is because they do something in running their businesses that they would never do in their substantive case work: they guess, all the time. Imagine an attorney making an assumption about a particular case disposition without looking it up. Impossible, right! But, managing attorneys do that all the time in managing their businesses…”
Rhys Dipshan, Hello Brave New World, Corp. Counsel Mag., Oct. 2019, at 40.
The Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College – “The Drone Databook [September 2019] is an in-depth survey of the military drone capabilities of over 90 countries around the globe that are known to possess and operate unmanned aircraft. This study includes information about each country’s active drone inventories, drone units, training programs, active acquisition and development efforts, infrastructure, drone exports, and operational experiences.”
“…Once a novelty, drones have become standard military equipment, spawning a global network of units, bases, and test sites. Battlefields in Ukraine, Syria, and Yemen, as well as zones of geopolitical conflict such as the Persian Gulf and the East China Sea, are increasingly crowded with drones of varying size and sophistication. Whether they are used for intelligence gathering, aerial strikes, artillery spotting, or electronic warfare, drones are a leading contributor to the changing character of modern war. The Drone Databook is a study of military drone capabilities. It is comprised of profiles of 101 countries in seven regions – Asia and Oceania, Eurasia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa, North America, and Sub-Saharan Africa – as well as two appendixes that address military drone infrastructure around the globe and the technical specifications of more than 170 drones currently in use by these countries. The Databook evaluates the military drone capabilities of each country in terms of six categories: inventory and active acquisition programs, personnel and training programs, infrastructure, operational experience, aircraft research and development programs, and exports…”
House Committee on the Judiciary Hearing held September 26, 2019 – The Federal Judiciary in the 21st Century: Ensuring the Public’s Right of Access to the Courts – Statement by The Honorable Audrey G. Fleissig</a, >U.S. District Judge, Eastern District of Missouri
“…Based on the experiences of California and the FBI, upgrading the current Judiciary filing system, as directed by the bill, could easily cost $2 billion to accomplish and could take more than 10 years to complete. Significantly, the legislative proposals do not include a funding mechanism to finance consolidation costs, thus creating a huge unfunded mandate which would adversely impact the Judiciary’s ability to create the consolidated system Congress is seeking. Allowing unlimited free access to PACER could create system risks. In addition to funding concerns, we have identified other policy and technical issues thatmust be carefully considered. The elimination of the PACER fee, coupled with the legislation’s requirement that CM/ECF be consolidated into a single system, could have a negative and severe impact on the speed and reliability of the system. The current fee-based system, which requires users to register and allows traffic t o be monitored, prevents users from downloading unlimited and voluminous content – unless they are willing to pay for that access. Completely free access for all members of the public (who could download as much information as they want with no cost constraints) could dangerously strain the system’s capacity and performance…”
Quartz – “Some corporations have always cared how their employees feel—if only because happier workers are more productive than those who are miserable. Others have only recently begun to wake up to the fact that they need to address wellbeing in meaningful ways. This focus raises a question: How can a company tell whether the people who work there are happy? A small Toronto-based company called Receptiviti is suggesting a tech solution. Unlike more traditional methods, like employee surveys, its method hinges entirely on analyzing the language used in employees’ everyday workplace communications, be that emails, Slack messages, or even voice. But what makes Receptiviti’s method interesting is that while it uses natural language processing, a branch of machine learning, to analyze language, it’s not sifting communications for sentiment. Rather, the company employs a branch of linguistic research that suggests passive parts of speech—the bits we use without thinking, like prepositions and pronouns—hold the key to how happy we are. Rather than looking at what people are saying to one another, it examines how they’re saying it…”
The New York Times – “…Despite increased efforts by internet platforms like Facebook to combat internet disinformation, the use of the techniques by governments around the world is growing, according to a report released Thursday by researchers at Oxford University. Governments are spreading disinformation to discredit political opponents, bury opposing views and interfere in foreign affairs. The researchers compiled information from news organizations, civil society groups and governments to create one of the most comprehensive inventories of disinformation practices by governments around the world. They found that the number of countries with political disinformation campaigns more than doubled to 70 in the last two years, with evidence of at least one political party or government entity in each of those countries engaging in social media manipulation. In addition, Facebook remains the No. 1 social network for disinformation, the report said. Organized propaganda campaigns were found on the platform in 56 countries…”
- The Global Disinformation Order 2019 Global Inventory of Organised Social Media Manipulation – Samantha Bradshaw . University of Oxford Philip N. Howard . University of Oxford
OCLC – by Brian Lavoie – “In this position paper, Lavoie traces the contours of the US and Canadian collective print book collection—the collective print book holdings of all libraries in the US and Canada whose collections are registered in WorldCat, the world’s largest shared registry of library collections. Collective collections are growing in importance as a source of intelligence about services that operate across collection boundaries, such as shared print management, group-scale discovery, and resource sharing. This position paper examines the US/Canadian collective print book collection for insight and trends. Findings include:
- The collection includes 59.2 million distinct print book publications, based on 994.3 million holdings, and is growing.
- The collection is becoming more dilute, in terms of holdings duplication.
- The collection is globally diverse in terms of country of publication and language of content.
- The collection’s largest regional concentration is in the northeastern US. In most regions within the US and Canada, growth in print book publications exceeded growth in print book holdings.
- The collection’s size and scope are a result of contributions from all libraries in the US and Canada, not just the leading research institutions.
- The position paper also includes a new rendering of the mega-regional map of US and Canadian Collective Print Book Collections. Read the full position paper for more insights and findings.”
“Roughly a quarter of U.S. adults (27%) say they haven’t read a book in whole or in part in the past year, whether in print, electronic or audio form, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted Jan. 8 to Feb. 7. Who are these non-book readers? Several demographic traits correlate with non-book reading, Pew Research Center surveys have found. For instance, adults with a high school diploma or less are far more likely than those with a bachelor’s or advanced degree to report not reading books in any format in the 12 months before the survey (44% vs. 8%). Adults with lower levels of educational attainment are also among the least likely to own smartphones, a device that saw a substantial increase in usage for reading e-books from 2011 to 2016. (College-educated adults are more likely to own these devices and use them to read e-books.) Adults whose annual household income is $30,000 or less are more likely than those living in households earning $75,000 or more a year to be non-book readers (36% vs. 14%). Hispanic (40%) and black (33%) adults are more likely than whites (22%) to report not having read a book in the past 12 months. But there are differences between Hispanics born inside and outside the United States: 56% of foreign-born Hispanics report not having read a book, compared with 27% of Hispanics born in the U.S…”
Google Blog: “…So-called “deepfakes“—produced by deep generative models that can manipulate video and audio clips—are one of these. Since their first appearance in late 2017, many open-source deepfake generation methods have emerged, leading to a growing number of synthesized media clips. While many are likely intended to be humorous, others could be harmful to individuals and society. Google considers these issues seriously. As we published in our AI Principles last year, we are committed to developing AI best practices to mitigate the potential for harm and abuse. Last January, we announced our release of a dataset of synthetic speech in support of an international challenge to develop high-performance fake audio detectors. The dataset was downloaded by more than 150 research and industry organizations as part of the challenge, and is now freely available to the public. Today, in collaboration with Jigsaw, we’re announcing the release of a large dataset of visual deepfakes we’ve produced that has been incorporated into the Technical University of Munich and the University Federico II of Naples’ new FaceForensics benchmark, an effort that Google co-sponsors. The incorporation of these data into the FaceForensics video benchmark is in partnership with leading researchers, including Prof. Matthias Niessner, Prof. Luisa Verdoliva and the FaceForensics team. You can download the data on the FaceForensics github page…”