Law and Legal
The New York Times – Dog owners spent close to 300 minutes each week walking with their dogs, about 200 more minutes of walking than people without dogs. “Dog owners are about four times more likely than other people to meet today’s physical activity guidelines, according to a large-scale new study of dogs and exercise. The study, which involved hundreds of British households, suggests that having a dog can strongly influence how much people exercise. But it also raises questions about why some dog owners never walk their pets or otherwise work out and whether any of us should acquire a dog just to encourage us to move. Most people who live with dogs, including me, are familiar with their joy at ambling along paths, trails and sidewalks. We also have to deal with their jowly dejection when our work deadlines or other issues interfere with walks….So, for the new study, which was published in April in Scientific Reports, they first turned to a neighborhood near Liverpool and began asking families in the area about their lives and pets. The researchers focused on a single community, so that everyone involved should share approximately the same local environment with similar access to sidewalks, parks or other amenities that might affect their exercise routines. They wound up with almost 700 participants from 385 neighboring households, half of them women and most middle-aged, although about 70 children also participated. About a third of these people owned a dog….” [Note: please consider rescue or adoption – and walk, walk, enjoy the outdoors – meet your neighbors and their dogs – and forget about the phone.]
The Atlantic – “Lake Baikal, in the Russian region of Siberia, is a massive body of water—the world’s deepest and most voluminous freshwater lake. Its location and the surrounding geography can lead to fascinating phenomena in the winter, as ferocious winds and cycles of melting and refreezing build and sculpt works of structural beauty—stones supported on wind-worn pedestals, undulating surface ice, encrusted beaches, crazy icicles, frozen methane bubbles, and more. [In this article you see] a [stunning ]collection…of images from the clear ice of Lake Baikal.”
Idle Worlds: “You know how it happens. You try to secure one Congressional campaign, and then another, and pretty soon you can’t stop. You’ll fly across the country just to brief a Green Party candidate in a district the Republicans carried by 60 points. You want more, more, always looking for that next fix.This is the situation I found myself in from late 2017 to 2018, when I was part of an effort that delivered a basic, hour-long campaign security training to 41 Democratic Congressional campaigns. It was exciting! I traveled the country like Johnny Yubikey, distributing little blue security tokens from a sack. The campaigns ranged from beyond-long-shot candidates running from their den, all the way up to some nationally prominent figures. I took a selfie with Bernie! I wrote an opinion piece in the Washington Post! I don’t believe I accomplished much, but I made so many friends along the way! And I learned a lot about the idiosyncratic world of Congressional campaigns; knowledge that I want to now hand over to you, the next person willing to take a swing at this piñata of futility.
This article is specificaly about campaign security, or how to keep candidates and their staff and families safe from people trying to break into social media, read their email, or wire their campaign war chest to Nauru. There are a lot of even more hopeless problems, like election security, but as you will see there is plenty to lose hope about just in this corner of the problem space…”
The Pudding – Where city names are replaced by their most Wikipedia’ed resident. “Data for this story were collected and processed using the Wikipedia API. The period of collection was from July, 2015–May, 2019, from English Wikipedia. It was inspired in part by this map. Person/city associations were based on the thousands of “People from X city” pages on Wikipedia. The top person from each city was determined by using median pageviews (with a minimum of 1 year of traffic). We chose to include multiple occurrences for a single person because there is both no way to determine which is more accurate and people can “be from” multiple places.”
“New featured titles have been added to the Historic Publications page for Spring 2019. Hop over to FDLP.gov to see some of the interesting publications added to the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications this quarter including, ‘A Summer in the Life of Wild Mallards,’ contributed by the Washington State Library.”
MapChecking – “This tool helps you estimate (and fact-check) the maximum number of people standing in a given area. Click on the map to start delimiting the area. Copy the URL to share the result.” [Note – this links to the map of Washington, DC so be sure to enter a location of your choice in the search field located in the upper left hand corner of the homepage.]
Via LLRX – 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: Finland is winning the war on fake news. Other nations want the blueprint; Ari Mahairas and Peter Beshar on AI and 5G security risks; Age of fraud: Are seniors more vulnerable to financial scams?; Concern Growing Over ‘Nefarious’ Website Offering Individuals’ Personal Information, Reputation Rating.
MuckRock -“Last week, we saw a lot of progress on our new tool for monitoring government agency websites. Building off data from the MuckRock API, it checks and grades agency web pages on criteria such as privacy, accessibility, and speed. For previous site improvements, check out all of MuckRock’s release notes, and if you’d like to get a list of site improvements every Tuesday – along with ways to help contribute to the site’s development yourself – subscribe to our developer newsletter here.
…We’re working on a website that scans government websites to check on how well they’re doing on a number of important factors, ranging from mobile friendliness and accessibility to ease of contacting them. Since we already have a database of over 10,000 agencies and an API to access information about them, this gives us a chance to do more with data we’ve just had sitting around collecting dust (and, er, FOIA requests).
- Check out the source code for this project here, and then join us Tuesday evenings or in the #MuckRock channel on the Code for Boston Slack.
- Last week, we added an updated README file to explain the project, set it up so that the scrapers push data to the backend via an API, and merged in a few other nifty tweaks.”
More often than you might think – Keith Whittington |The Volokh Conspiracy: “As I noted last week, there once was a robust political and scholarly debate over the answer to the question of how often the U.S. Supreme Court had struck down a provision of a federal statute. The question was thought to matter because the history implied something about how legitimate the power of judicial review might be and how aggressively the courts should use it. The answer was disputed because neither the Court nor Congress kept track of how often a law had been struck down and the correct count was not obvious…I decided to start from scratch and read thousands of U.S. Supreme Court cases that could plausibly have said something about the constitutional limits to the legislative power of Congress. From that, I have constructed a new Judicial Review of Congress database that tries to provide a comprehensive list of every instance in which the U.S. Supreme Court substantively reviewed the constitutionality of the application of a provision of a federal statute, identified the constitutional boundaries of the legislative power of Congress, and either upheld the statute against constitutional challenge or refused to apply the statute due to constitutional defect….
The Judicial Review of Congress Database is now publicly available. It includes a list of all the cases in which the Court has substantively reviewed the constitutionality of an act of Congress from 1789 through the spring of 2018, as well as a variety of associated information such as identifying information about the statute that was reviewed, a measure of its importance, and the length of time between the passage of the statutory provision and its review by the Supreme Court. The details of the standard for case selection and the process of identifying instances of judicial review are elaborated in the appendix to my book, Repugnant Laws. Over time I expect to update the database, add new variables, and create some more reader-friendly lists of the some 1300 cases in which the Court exercised the power of judicial review over Congress…”
The Supreme Court’s legal abuse of Native Americans set the stage for America’s poor treatment of many of its vulnerable populations. By Maggie Blackhawk. Ms. Blackhawk is an assistant professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania. “The first two years of the Trump administration have brought us horror story after horror story about our government: children separated from their families, men and women detained without due process, communities punished because of their faith. These horrors may seem new, but in fact these abuses — and in particular the law that authorizes them — have been part of our constitutional order since the founding of this country. In many ways, America is just beginning to reckon with slavery and Jim Crow segregation. But at least we have reformed the laws that allowed these abuses. We have overruled the Dred Scott and Plessy v. Ferguson court decisions, banishing the doctrines of overt racism and “separate but equal” from our law, if not from our society. No government would cite these doctrines to justify its actions today.
But we have not yet fully dismantled the legal infrastructure that permitted abuse of Native Americans. On reservations starting in the mid-19th century, the United States established military-run detention camps where the executive branch held limitless power. In these camps, children were forcibly separated from their families and sent to federally run boarding schools that used violence to “kill the Indian in him, and save the man,” as Capt. Richard Henry Pratt, founder of Carlisle Indian Industrial School, put it in 1892. Native Americans were incarcerated for practicing their faith. Naming ceremonies were forbidden for children, whose hair was cut at the schools, where they were also forced to practice Christianity.
We have not yet reformed the laws that allowed for such abuse of Native Americans. For example, the Dred Scott of federal Indian law, United States v. Rogers (1846), has not been explicitly overruled. Rogers — drafted by the same infamous justice, Roger Taney, who wrote the Dred Scott decision — established the “plenary power doctrine.”…
The Federal Bureau of Investigation: Just the Facts – May 12, 2017: “The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has more than 36,000 employees and describes itself as an “intelligence-driven, threat-focused national security organization.”It is a part of the Department of Justice and the Director of the FBI reports to the U.S. Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence. Broad changes to FBI operations and structure since the September 11, 2001,terrorist attacks in the United States (9/11)have underscored its dual law enforcement and intelligence missions, among which counter terrorism is the first priority…”
See also the Washington Post – James Comey – former director of the FBI and a former deputy attorney general: No ‘treason.’ No coup. Just lies — and dumb lies at that. “It is tempting for normal people to ignore our president when he starts ranting about treason and corruption at the FBI. I understand the temptation. I’m the object of many of his rants, and even I try to ignore him. But we shouldn’t, because millions of good people believe what a president of the United States says. In normal times, that’s healthy. But not now, when the president is a liar who doesn’t care what damage he does to vital institutions. We must call out his lies that the FBI was corrupt and committed treason, that we spied on the Trump campaign, and tried to defeat Donald Trump. We must constantly return to the stubborn facts.
Russia engaged in a massive effort to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Near as I can tell, there is only one U.S. leader who still denies that fact. The FBI saw the attack starting in mid-June 2016, with the first dumping of stolen emails. In late July, when we were hard at work trying to understand the scope of the effort, we learned that one of Trump’s foreign policy advisers knew about the Russian effort seven weeks before we did…”
And your iPhone doesn’t only feed data trackers while you sleep. In a single week, I encountered over 5,400 trackers, mostly in apps, not including the incessant Yelp traffic. According to privacy firm Disconnect, which helped test my iPhone, those unwanted trackers would have spewed out 1.5 gigabytes of data over the span of a month. That’s half of an entire basic wireless service plan from AT&T…”
The New York Times – We know that. But the “privacy paradox” means we still act like we are. “…To fully apprehend our vulnerabilities as digital creatures would require far too much time and energy. More than that: It would require an entirely new set of instincts, a radically different cognitive framework from the one we now possess…So we carry on. Even though everyone is mutely collecting our queries, preferences, fetishes, anxieties. Google. Amazon. Facebook. YouTube. Pandora. Pinterest. The Weather Channel. Reddit. Wikipedia. Major League Baseball. PornHub. Zillow. Your newspaper. Your bank. Your phone carrier. Everyone. Danah Boyd, the founder of the Data & Society Research Institute, perhaps put it best when she wrote we are “public by default, private through effort.”…
Washington Post – More than a quarter of these key lawmakers won’t say. “Rep. Justin Amash broke ranks with fellow Republicans when he said special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report shows that President Trump took actions that “meet the threshold for impeachment,” arguing that the stark partisan divide over the findings was because “few members of Congress have read the report.” While it’s common for politicians to draw very different conclusions from the same set of facts, the Michigan congressman’s suggestion in several tweetstorms this past week is bolder — that most lawmakers simply ignored Mueller’s report.
o how many lawmakers actually read the entire 448-page, redacted report released on April 18? A Washington Post canvass of House and Senate members on the relevant committees — the Judiciary and Intelligence committees in both chambers — found most saying they have read the publicly released report in its entirety, but over 3 in 10 declined to respond to five yes-or-no questions after repeated contact attempts, offered unclear answers or said they have not read the full report. Three out of the four Republican chairmen or ranking GOP members on the Judiciary and Intelligence committees did not respond when asked how they reviewed the report, while one senior Democratic senator said he has read the executive summaries but not the full report with redactions…”
Center on National Security and the Law Launches Online, Searchable Database of Foreign Intelligence Law Collection
“On May 23, Georgetown Law’s Center on National Security and the Law launched the Foreign Intelligence Law Collection — a publicly available, online searchable database of all declassified and redacted U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and Court of Review opinions; all Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) statutes; legislative history; associated regulations, guidelines, executive orders, and presidential directives; all publicly available reports on FISA implementation, and more.
“It was built as a resource for…anyone and everyone seeking to know more about foreign intelligence law,” said Nadia Asancheyev, the center’s executive director. The practitioners and academics who came to inspect the product clearly welcomed the new resource, which will also be useful to journalists, government lawyers, members of Congress and their staffers. Adjunct Professor Carrie Cordero, senior fellow and general counsel of the Center for a New American Security — who moderated the discussion with Professor Laura Donohue and Research Librarian Jeremy J. McCabe — called the collection “an incredible public service.”
“I was a FISA practitioner, and if only there had been a resource like this…,” Cordero said, adding that the practitioners, those who practice before the court, the judges, the law clerks…”not even to mention the academic and scholarly community, and journalistic community [will] be interested in this valuable collection.”…
The Digital Public Library of America has re-released the Mueller Report as a well-formatted ebook instead of a crappy PDF
BoingBoing: “Back in April, Andrew Albanese from Publishers Weekly wrote a column deploring the abysmal formatting in the DoJ’s release of the Mueller Report, and publicly requesting that the Digital Public Library of America produce well-formatted ebook editions, which they have now done! Albanese writes,
To me, this is an important development, because with the DPLA’s publication, a major barrier to access has been eliminated: unlike the DOJ’s poor quality PDF, the DPLA e-book edition is a good reading experience, flowing on any digital device, fully functional, searchable. And, of course, it’s free. I can’t imagine why every media outlet that links to the DOJ version, wouldn’t link to this version instead if they are actually interested in having people actually read the report.
Maybe I’m wrong, but I have a feeling that we’re just beginning to scratch the surface of how important of The Mueller Report will turn out to be. And citizens can now turn to the place they’ve traditionally turned when they need access to important, trustworthy information—the library. To me, this is a pretty big deal, that libraries have picked up where the government slacked off. I mean, we live in the e-book age. The technology is cheap, and ubiquitous. There is really no excuse for bad pdfs to be the standard for how important government information like this is released.
Mueller Report [Digital Public Library of America]”
MegaPixels – an art and research project investigating the ethics, origins, and individual privacy implications of face recognition datasets created “in the wild
“MegaPixels is an art and research project first launched in 2017 for an installation at Tactical Technology Collective’s GlassRoom about face recognition datasets. In 2018 MegaPixels was extended to cover pedestrian analysis datasets for a commission by Elevate Arts festival in Austria. Since then MegaPixels has evolved into a large-scale interrogation of hundreds of publicly-available face and person analysis datasets, the first of which launched on this site in April 2019.
MegaPixels aims to provide a critical perspective on machine learning image datasets, one that might otherwise escape academia and industry funded artificial intelligence think tanks that are often supported by the several of the same technology companies who have created datasets presented on this site. MegaPixels is an independent project, designed as a public resource for educators, students, journalists, and researchers. Each dataset presented on this site undergoes a thorough review of its images, intent, and funding sources. Though the goals are similar to publishing an academic paper, MegaPixels is a website-first research project, with an academic publication to follow.
One of the main focuses of the dataset investigations presented on this site is to uncover where funding originated. Because of our emphasis on other researcher’s funding sources, it is important that we are transparent about our own. This site and the past year of research have been primarily funded by a privacy art grant from Mozilla in 2018. The original MegaPixels installation in 2017 was built as a commission for and with support from Tactical Technology Collective and Mozilla. The research into pedestrian analysis datasets was funded by a commission from Elevate Arts, and continued development in 2019 is supported in part by a 1-year Researcher-in-Residence grant from Karlsruhe HfG, as well as lecture and workshop fees….”
Via Library Boy: Primary Research Group, a New York-based publisher of research reports and surveys about law libraries, is surveying law libraries in the USA and Canada about their plans for their print materials collections.
“Survey data is aggregated and respondents are not identified in open ended questions unless they identify themselves. We do encourage you to identify yourself by starting the open ended question with the name of your institution if you would like readers to know your identity.”