Law and Legal
Via LLRX – Website privacy options aren’t much of a choice since they’re hard to find and use – Hana Habib and Lorrie Cranor of Carnegie Mellon University discuss how many sites offer the ability to ‘opt out’ of targeted advertisements, and identify why doing so isn’t easy. They advocate for simplifying and standardizing opt-outs to help improve privacy on the web.
Via LLRX – Taxonomy 101: Presented at Taxonomy Boot Camp 2019 – This presentation delivers a detailed understanding of taxonomy definitions, taxonomy value (ROI), and taxonomy design methodologies and approaches. It was originally delivered by Zach Wahl and Tatiana Cakici of Enterprise Knowledge at Taxonomy Boot Camp 2019 in Washington, DC.
CRS report via FAS – The Impeachment Process in the House of Representatives Updated November 14, 2019 – “Under the U.S. Constitution, the House of Representatives has the power to formally charge a federal officer with wrongdoing, a process known as impeachment. The House impeaches an individual when a majority agrees to a House resolution containing explanations of the charges. The explanations in the resolution are referred to as “articles of impeachment.” After the House agrees to impeach an officer, the role of the Senate is to conduct a trial to determine whether the charged individual should be removed from office. Removal requires a two-thirds vote in the Senate. The House impeachment process generally proceeds in three phases: (1) initiation of the impeachment process; (2) Judiciary Committee investigation, hearings, and markup of articles of impeachment; and (3) full House consideration of the articles of impeachment. Impeachment proceedings are usually initiated in the House when a Member submits a resolution through the hopper (in the same way that all House resolutions are submitted). A resolution calling for the impeachment of an officer will be referred to the Judiciary Committee; a resolution simply authorizing an investigation of an officer will be referred to the Rules Committee. In either case, the committee could then report a privileged resolution authorizing the investigation. In the past, House committees, under their general investigatory authority, have sometimes sought information and researched charges against officers prior to the adoption of a resolution to authorize an impeachment investigation.”
The Guardian – “Why do you choose the browser you use? Maybe you think it loads pages more quickly. Maybe it’s made by the same firm as your device and you think it’s more compatible in some way. You prefer the graphics, perhaps, or it just happened to be pre-installed on your machine. Maybe you’re not even aware that there’s a choice. In reality, two-thirds of us have been funnelled into using Google’s Chrome, but browser choice also hides a contest about the openness of the web and how data is collected about users. One organisation that has always put such issues to the forefront is Mozilla. ..The Firefox browser, which had resisted the dominance of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, found itself faced with a far hardier opponent in the shape of Google Chrome. However, the rise of the potentially monopolistic web platform also creates a new opportunity – in fact, an urgent new mission. Mozilla is no longer fighting for market share of its browser: it is fighting for the future of the web…Chrome, the world’s most popular browser, is made by the world’s fourth-most valuable company, Alphabet, the parent company of Google. The world’s second-most popular browser, Safari, is made by the world’s second-most valuable company – Apple. In third place is Firefox…
Firefox now runs sites such as Facebook in “containers”, effectively hiving the social network off into its own little sandboxed world, where it can’t see what’s happening on other sites. Baker says: “It reduces Facebook’s ability to follow you around the web and track you when you’re not on Facebook and just living your life.”…
The Atlantic: “…Social media has changed the lives of millions of Americans with a suddenness and force that few expected. The question is whether those changes might invalidate assumptions made by Madison and the other Founders as they designed a system of self-governance. Compared with Americans in the 18th century—and even the late 20th century—citizens are now more connected to one another, in ways that increase public performance and foster moral grandstanding, on platforms that have been designed to make outrage contagious, all while focusing people’s minds on immediate conflicts and untested ideas, untethered from traditions, knowledge, and values that previously exerted a stabilizing effect. This, we believe, is why many Americans—and citizens of many other countries, too—experience democracy as a place where everything is going haywire…It doesn’t have to be this way. Social media is not intrinsically bad, and has the power to do good—as when it brings to light previously hidden harms and gives voice to previously powerless communities. Every new communication technology brings a range of constructive and destructive effects, and over time, ways are found to improve the balance. Many researchers, legislators, charitable foundations, and tech-industry insiders are now working together in search of such improvements. We suggest three types of reform that might help…”
WSJ.com: “More than 100 interviews and the Journal’s own testing of Google’s search results reveal:
- Google made algorithmic changes to its search results that favor big businesses over smaller ones, and in at least one case made changes on behalf of a major advertiser, eBay Inc., contrary to its public position that it never takes that type of action. The company also boosts some major websites, such as Amazon.com Inc. and Facebook Inc., according to people familiar with the matter.
- Google engineers regularly make behind-the-scenes adjustments to other information the company is increasingly layering on top of its basic search results. These features include auto-complete suggestions, boxes called “knowledge panels” and “featured snippets,” and news results, which aren’t subject to the same company policies limiting what engineers can remove or change.
- Despite publicly denying doing so, Google keeps blacklists to remove certain sites or prevent others from surfacing in certain types of results. These moves are separate from those that block sites as required by U.S. or foreign law, such as those featuring child abuse or with copyright infringement, and from changes designed to demote spam sites, which attempt to game the system to appear higher in results.
- In auto-complete, the feature that predicts search terms as the user types a query, Google’s engineers have created algorithms and blacklists to weed out more-incendiary suggestions for controversial subjects, such as abortion or immigration, in effect filtering out inflammatory results on high-profile topics.
- Google employees and executives, including co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, have disagreed on how much to intervene on search results and to what extent. Employees can push for revisions in specific search results, including on topics such as vaccinations and autism…”
The 100 Must-Read Books of 2019 – Stirring novels and short stories, thought-provoking histories, affecting memoirs and more. These are the books that captured our attention.
Metropolis – 100,000 volumes appear to float midair across staggered honeycomb steel mezzanines. “Unlike recent university libraries which are premised on the absence of physical books, Cornell University’s new art and architecture library is an old-school print palace. Here, printed matter sets the standard. “Everything is scaled to the book,” architect Wolfgang Tschapeller explained. “As a human, you are not the main character, you are a guest between the books.” The new fit-out, officially the Mui Ho Fine Arts Library, gestated for five years at Tschapeller’s eponymous Vienna firm before its soft opening in early August. Inside, the expressive 27,000-square-foot structure hints at the intensive work that lifted a much-modified 1911 steel-and-masonry neoclassical building into the 21st century. While the exterior is a spiffier version of its old self, the interior is dramatically reconfigured. Its most prominent feature are the shelves on the main floor, where over 100,000 volumes appear to float midair across staggered honeycomb steel mezzanines. To accommodate all those books (which number less than half of the total collection), Tschapeller, as well as New York City–based architect-of-record STV, fortified the original cross-beam skeleton to hold the three floors of stacks. The configuration invites clear views across the main floor which are interrupted only by delicate steel cabling and columns. From most angles, the stacks bob slightly away from the building envelope, a graceful massing accentuated on all sides by rows of plate glass arched windows. Natural light is maximized, even on grey days…”
Majority of Americans believe online and offline activities tracked and monitored by companies and govt
Pew – Americans and Privacy: Concerned, Confused and Feeling Lack of Control Over Their Personal Information – “Majorities think their personal data is less secure now, that data collection poses more risks than benefits, and believe it is not possible to go through daily life without being tracked. “A majority of Americans believe their online and offline activities are being tracked and monitored by companies and the government with some regularity. It is such a common condition of modern life that roughly six-in-ten U.S. adults say they do not think it is possible to go through daily life without having data collected about them by companies or the government. Data-driven products and services are often marketed with the potential to save users time and money or even lead to better health and well-being. Still, large shares of U.S. adults are not convinced they benefit from this system of widespread data gathering. Some 81% of the public say that the potential risks they face because of data collection by companies outweigh the benefits, and 66% say the same about government data collection. At the same time, a majority of Americans report being concerned about the way their data is being used by companies (79%) or the government (64%). Most also feel they have little or no control over how these entities use their personal information, according to a new survey of U.S. adults by Pew Research Center that explores how Americans feel about the state of privacy in the nation…”
Law.com – A survey of more than 1,200 senior attorneys found that women leave Big Law because of law firm operational policies and implicit bias. “Many experienced women attorneys in Big Law love what they do, but often they leave firms because they’re dissatisfied with how their firm operates and treats them, according to a report by ALM Media and the American Bar Association…”
Per May Whisner the report is for sale by the ABA – Walking out the Door: the Facts, Figures, and Future of Experienced Women Lawyers in Private Practice By Roberta D Liebenberg and Stephanie A Scharf. “A report from the American Bar Association and ALM Intelligence, “Walking Out the Door” addresses why senior women are far more likely than men to leave the practice of law. Women surveyed were far more likely than men to report factors that blocked their “access to success,” including lacking access to business development opportunities, being perceived as less committed to career and being denied promotion.”
Law360 – “President Donald Trump asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday to find that he has “absolute immunity” from criminal investigations while president and to block the Manhattan district attorney’s subpoena of tax and financial records from his accounting firm. The Second Circuit found President Donald Trump’s presidential immunity from state criminal process doesn’t extend to the grand jury subpoenas at issue in the case. (AP) Trump lawyers petitioned the justices to overrule a Nov. 4 decision by the Second Circuit, which found his accounting firm, Mazars USA LLP, is required to furnish his tax returns to New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance. The tax returns and financial records are part of an investigation into hush-money payments made to two women alleged to have had affairs with Trump, according to Vance’s office. The high-profile case involves the limits of state investigative powers and the ability to obtain the president’s tax returns, an issue that’s been an object of intense scrutiny since before Trump became president and has been the subject of multiple court disputes…”
The New York Times – “The company’s tools enable researchers to track huge numbers of people. But doctors do not yet know if it will significantly improve health outcomes. “In 1976, the Harvard School of Public Health and two other major medical institutions started a study on nurses that has become one of the largest and longest research efforts ever conducted on women’s health. They have so far enrolled more than 275,000 participants. On Thursday, the Harvard school announced an even more ambitious women’s health study, one that aims to enroll a million women over a decade. The new ingredients allowing the huge scale: Apple’s iPhones, apps and money. Harvard’s new study is just one of three new large research efforts that Apple is working on with leading academic research centers and health organizations. Together, the studies, which Apple is paying for, show how the Silicon Valley giant and its popular products are reshaping medical research…Apple tools are enabling large-scale virtual studies that can follow people as they go about their daily lives. The company has developed a research app for iPhones — which participants can download from its app store — that is helping researchers quickly and easily recruit hundreds of thousands of study volunteers.
Researchers at Stanford Medicine, who studied whether an app on the Apple Watch could detect an irregular heartbeat condition, were able to enroll more than 400,000 participants in just eight months. Apple helped recruit volunteers by promoting the study, which was published on Wednesday, in its app store and emailing customers who had bought Apple Watches…”
AP – “The project will collect a pile of pooch data: vet records, DNA samples, gut microbes and information on food and walks. Five hundred dogs will test a pill that could slow the aging process. “What we learn will potentially be good for dogs and has great potential to translate to human health,” said project co-director Daniel Promislow of the University of Washington School of Medicine. If scientists find a genetic marker for a type of cancer in dogs, for instance, that could be explored in humans. For the study, the dogs will live at home and follow their usual routine. All ages and sizes, purebreds and mutts are welcome. Owners will complete periodic online surveys and take their dogs to the vet once a year, with the possibility of extra visits for certain tests. Their welfare will be monitored by a bioethicist and a panel of animal welfare advisers. To nominate a pet, owners can visit the Dog Aging Project’s website…”
everybody gardens: “…Deer have become one of the biggest problems for gardeners, mostly due to the way they forage on our treasured plants. The first line of defense is always some kind of physical barrier. In my garden the vegetable garden is a fenced haven, which has seen additions of lilies, hydrangeas and many other plants the deer love. There are shrubs bordering the garden surrounded by deer netting throughout the landscape, too. The next step is to use a repellent. My favorite is Bobbex, but there are countless formulas including sprays, granular formulations and other products. If they are not used regularly, the deer will feast on your plants. The list that follows is mostly plants grown in my own garden or by friends. They are deer-resistant, not deer-proof. In fact just about everything on the list could get tasted by deer, but they are not favorites. What is deer-resistant for one person might not be for another. Every time a list like this is put together, gardeners will contact me, explaining how the deer love one of the so-called resistant varieties…” [Good list – I have been successful with many of these plants and bulbs, and now will add more new shrubs, plants and bulbs to my gardens – enjoy!]
Google Blog: “People around the world come to Search to ask questions related to language, like looking up the definition of a word or double checking the pronunciation of a word in another language. Just this morning I’ve already searched how to define “otorhinolaryngologist” and the translation of “naranja” in Spanish to English. Now, we’re helping people pronounce tricky words and understand the meaning of those words. First, we’re launching a new experimental pronunciation feature that lets you practice word pronunciations right in Search. For the visual learners out there, we’re adding images to our English dictionary and translation features to help you better understand the meaning of a word…”
MakeUseOf: “A quick Google search for “spy software” yields over 150 million results. There is a massive interest in spying software and gadgets. Irrespective of the motivation or justification, spying is illegal. It is a gross invasion of privacy in most countries around the world. You don’t have to suffer if someone is spying on you. There are several tools that will help you find hidden spy apps and programs on your computer, smartphone, or otherwise. Here’s how to protect yourself from being spied on…”
Penn State News – “To help people spot fake news, or create technology that can automatically detect misleading content, scholars first need to know exactly what fake news is, according to a team of Penn State researchers. However, they add, that’s not as simple as it sounds. “There is a real crisis in our cultural understanding of the term ‘fake news,’ so much so that several scholars have actively moved away from that label because it’s so muddy, confusing and weaponized by certain partisan sources,” said S. Shyam Sundar, James P. Jimirro Professor of Media Effects and co-director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications.
In a study, researchers narrowed down myriad examples of fake news to seven basic categories, which include false news, polarized content, satire, misreporting, commentary, persuasive information and citizen journalism. The researchers also contrasted those types of content with real news and report their findings in the current issue of American Behavioral Scientist… [h/t Pete Weiss]
The Verge: “The US office responsible for patents and trademarks is trying to figure out how AI might call for changes to copyright law, and it’s asking the public for opinions on the topic. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published a notice in the Federal Register last month saying it’s seeking comments, as spotted by TorrentFreak. The office is gathering information about the impact of artificial intelligence on copyright, trademark, and other intellectual property rights. It outlines thirteen specific questions, ranging from what happens if an AI creates a copyright-infringing work to if it’s legal to feed an AI copyrighted material. It starts off by asking if output made by AI without any creative involvement from a human should qualify as a work of authorship that’s protectable by US copyright law. If not, then what degree of human involvement “would or should be sufficient so that the work qualifies for copyright protection?”..
Axios – “Over a two-week period, the computer networks at more than half of the Fortune 500 left a remote access protocol dangerously exposed to the internet, something many experts warn should never happen, according to new research by the security firm Expanse and 451 research...According to Coveware, more than 60% of ransomware is installed via a Windows remote access feature called Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). It’s a protocol that’s fine in secure environments but once exposed to the open internet can, at its best, allow attackers to disrupt access and, at its worst, be vulnerable to hacking itself…
The Expanse/451 study found that 53.4% of Fortune 500 companies had an RDP exposure over a two-week period scanning for open RDP ports. The technical sophistication of the companies didn’t seem to have much impact on RDP exposures. For example, around 80% of hospitality industry companies and just under 80% of defense and aerospace companies had at least one exposure, even though defense and aerospace are among the most security-conscious sectors. Cybersecurity budget, either as a percentage of the annual budget or total spending, also had no consistent effect on exposure. By percentage of budget, 43% of companies in the lowest-spending quartile had exposures, compared to 53% of those in the top spending quartile…”
The New York Times Magazine: “In this special Tech & Design Issue of The New York Times Magazine, we ponder the internet’s future at a time when that future has never felt more unsettled. It isn’t just about Facebook and the other American tech giants, which no longer enjoy the rapid growth that characterized their early days. The rise of the Chinese internet has threatened a geopolitical power shift, as a different government and national economy looks poised to become the center of the online world. Even governments that don’t “censor” the internet have begun to talk about regulating it in unprecedented ways — as with the European Union’s G.D.P.R. law, which already has given a huge swath of the developed world a subtly different set of online rules.
But perhaps the deepest shift has been a shift in attitudes: the breaking of a spell that seemed to protect Silicon Valley from distrust. After years in which questions about online privacy hardly penetrated the consumer consciousness, Americans have awakened to a feeling of deep suspicion about how companies are harvesting and using their data. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll earlier this year found that American adults, by double-digit margins, believed that social media does more to spread falsehoods than truths and more to divide the country than to unite it. Even the tech giants’ own employees have now become uneasy about the implications of their work, leading to some unusual labor movements among their highly compensated white-collar ranks…”