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“Microsoft has unseated Google at the top of the 2019 RDR Corporate Accountability Index. Telefónica outpaced Vodafone among telecommunications companies. Yet despite progress, most companies still leave users in the dark about key policies and practices affecting privacy and freedom of expression, according to the 2019 Ranking Digital Rights Corporate Accountability Index, released today.
The 2019 RDR Index evaluated 24 of the world’s most powerful internet, mobile ecosystem, and telecommunications companies on their disclosed commitments, policies, and practices affecting users’ freedom of expression and privacy, including governance and oversight mechanisms. Research showed that in the past year a majority of companies improved and clarified policies affecting users’ privacy—a trend that appears to be driven by new data protection regulations in the EU and elsewhere. But even the leading companies fell short in key areas. Few scored higher than 50 percent, failing to even meet basic transparency standards, leaving users across the globe in the dark about how their personal information is collected and protected—and even profited from.
Companies evaluated by the 2019 RDR Index collectively provide products and services used by more than half of the world’s 4.3 billion internet users, thus providing a snapshot of the extent to which users’ rights are protected and respected across the globe. The RDR Index methodology sets minimum standards for what companies should disclose about their rules and processes for enforcing them, data privacy and security policies and practices, and how they handle government demands to remove or block content, to shut down internet services, or to access user information and communications…”
“This study constitutes an update of its predecessor released last year. The silken thread, being drawn a second time, this new document should be reviewed in relation to its 2018 first edition. Releasing any successor version recommends dual explanation: what has not changed and what has changed. The former far outnumbers the latter. First among matters not changed is study objective. Institutions still must make data base acquisition decisions – and need to know what they are buying. Vendors build these systems – and need feedback enabling improvements. These considerations recommend a method for objective evaluation. The present effort aims at offering one such method.
Study method has not changed, except in one detail. This time, six legal databases are addressed: CASEMAKER, FASTCASE, LEXIS, WESTLAW, GOOGLE SCHOLAR, and BLOOMBERG LAW. The approach remains a combination of inductive and deductive logic. Induction operates from the “back forty” wherein six topics embedding similar questions are run through these systems. Deduction operates from the “front forty” wherein data, empirically derived, draws back into general overview…”
POGO – “In light of the House Judiciary Committee’s important hearing today on executive privilege and Congressional oversight, we have excerpted portions of When Congress Comes Calling, The Constitution Project at the Project On Government Oversight’s study on legislative inquiry. The author of When Congress Comes Calling, Morton Rosenberg, served for over 35 years at the Congressional Research Service.
As these sections explain, while executive privilege has an important place in the separation of powers, history and case law show that it is far from absolute, and that Congress can, and has in the past, overcome many claims of privilege.
The following excerpts outline the legal and practical balance between Congressional access and executive prerogatives, discussing the presidential communications, attorney-client, and deliberative process privileges. They also examine the merits, or lack thereof, of other executive branch objections to Congressional inquiries, particularly in the context of oversight of the Department of Justice…”
Pew FactTank – “Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes made headlines this month when he argued that the tech giant he helped establish 15 years ago has become a “monopoly” and should be broken up. Democratic presidential candidates have also weighed in, but Facebook itself has rejected such calls. Here are 10 facts about Americans and Facebook, based on Pew Research Center surveys conducted in 2018 and 2019…”
Ask Me Anything: Promoting Archive Collections On Reddit. Sara May, 4 Marketing Libraries Journal, Vol. 3, Issue 1, Winter 2019. Rochester Institute of Technology.
“Social media is an important marketing and outreach tool for many libraries. While Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are commonly used, Reddit is underutilized despite its popularity and high user engagement. Special collections can use Reddit to reach and engage with their target audiences, no matter how niche. This article explains how to use Reddit and host an event called “Ask Me Anything” (AMA), using as a model a successful AMA hosted by archivists at the Rochester Institute of Technology. It also provides practical tips including how to choose an appropriate “subreddit” (or Reddit community), promote the AMA, and respond to difficult questions.”
make tech easier – “We put up with Google because the apps are awesome. But there are downsides to living in the panopticon. If you’d prefer not to have a corporation and all its buddies breathing down your neck, consider these privacy-focused alternatives to Google’s services [the include: Gmail, Google Maps, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Google Chrome, Google Translate, and more]
Notes on Our Suggestions – While free services were preferred in our analysis, paid services are the reality of the privacy-first space. Companies can’t make money off your data, so advertisers don’t pay the bills. It’s up to you to pay. “If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.” We’ve recommended several Apple apps on this list, which might rankle those that distrust Five Eyes corporations on principle. However, Apple has a credible claim to its advertised title as a privacy-focused company: we wouldn’t recommend their services otherwise. Do spend some time considering why you won’t use Apple services before assuming they’re insufficient or ill-suited to your needs. The most secure option will often be hosting your own service, provided you are competent enough to secure it against intrusion. But since that’s unrealistically complicated for most Google users, we haven’t suggested it here. Motivated users are encouraged to seek out the many open-source self-hosted options for these services….”
From industry dominating mergers to legacy second-acts, the world’s highest-revenue-generating companies make moves that reverberate. – Consider this fact: Just 500 companies—the ones on this year’s Fortune 500 list, to be precise—produced enough revenue last year to equal two-thirds of the entire economic output of the United States. Think about that a minute: just 500 companies. These same American businesses sold an astounding $13.7 trillion worth of goods and services, a record sum whether you measure it in nominal dollars or adjusted for inflation. But focus in on the numbers and you’ll discover something yet more remarkable: that just a tenth of these companies account for nearly half (48%) of that total revenue. Sharpen your microscope a bit more, and you’ll see that profits among the group are more concentrated still—with a mere 40 companies responsible for 52% of the combined earnings. Twenty-seven of these household names earned at least $10 billion in their most recent fiscal year. Six, moreover, are as rich as mighty nations, with at least $1 trillion in assets on their balance sheets.
Each year, it seems, America’s biggest companies look more and more like a set of matryoshka dolls; companies that a generation ago would have been seen as corporate titans now appear as if they could be swallowed up as midday snacks by the real behemoths. That’s one of the takeaways from this year’s Fortune 500 ranking—the 65th running of the list: The big are getting bigger, and the rich are getting richer. And, as Erika Fry explores in an opening essay, there are a host of reasons why—from the rise of corporate ecosystems, to the increasing competitive need for scale, to the power-concentrating effect of data and information technology…”
The Fortune 500 Has More Female CEOs Than Ever Before “In the latest Fortune 500 list, published Thursday, you’ll find a new record: As of June 1, 33 of the companies on the ranking of highest-grossing firms will be led by female CEOs for the first time ever. To be sure, that sum represents a disproportionately small share of the group as a whole; just 6.6%. But it also marks a considerable jump from last year’s total of 24, or 4.8%…”
WSJ Podcast [no paywall] – “Our phones give us instant gratification. But there’s a cost: loss of attention and productivity. WSJ’s Daniela Hernandez goes on a quest to understand the science of distractions and what you can do stay be more focused and productive.”
Axios – The Office of Government Ethics has released President Trump’s 2018 financial disclosure form, shedding light into how much money he made in the second full year of his presidency. [the full text document is embedded in this article] “Quick take: Income at Trump’s D.C. golf club was up $500,000 to about $13.3 million, while his D.C. hotel made about $40.8 million. Trump National Doral Miami resort, the flagship property and biggest moneymaker for the Trump Organization, made $75 million — down from almost $116 million in 2016. Mar-a-lago brought in $22 million, down from $37 million two years ago. Trump also took out a loan from Professional Bank of between $5 million and $25 million to finance a <a “https://www.trumpinternationalrealty.com/listings/palm-beach/rx-10434403-1125-s-ocean-boulevard-palm-beach-33480/”>mansion property next door to Mar-a-lago, which was reportedly purchased by his sons Eric and Donald Trump Jr.”
“Cyberbullying has become a notorious epidemic, culminating in widely publicized suicides. Whether a new and distinct problem or an old one in a new guise, the technological setting has undoubtedly generated new challenges and, at the same time, new opportunities for legal response. Regrettably, while delegation of power to educational institutions and criminalization of cyber-misconduct are relatively common, at least in public discourse, the potential impact of civil liability has been downplayed. This Article puts the underexplored regulatory tool under the spotlight. It provides systematic legal and economic analyses of civil liability for cyberbullying, based on a trichotomy of potential defendants—primary wrongdoers, real-life supervisors (parents, schools), and virtual supervisors (mostly online platform operators).
Ultimately, the Article lays the foundations for an efficiency-oriented model which integrates technological features to reduce supervisors’ information costs. In order to incentivize parents to reasonably use advanced surveillance applications, the proposed model imposes liability when failure to employ such tools results in juvenile cyber-wrongdoing, in addition to standard liability for not taking reasonable precautions upon learning about the risk. The model also imposes liability on schools for cyberbullying through school devices if they failed to: (1) enforce reliable identification of users, (2) employ advanced surveillance tools, or (3) take reasonable measures to prevent harm upon notification of possible misconduct. Finally, the model holds a virtual supervisor liable if the victim has insufficient information to identify the wrongdoer, the victim gave notice of the complaint, and the virtual supervisor did not properly respond.”
Investigating the Impact of Gender on Rank in Resume by Le Chen, Ruijun Ma, Anikó Hannák and Christo Wilson
“In this work we investigate gender-based inequalities in the context of resume search engines, which are tools that allow recruiters to proactively search for candidates based on keywords and filters. If these ranking algorithms take demographic features into account (directly or indirectly), they may produce rankings that disadvantage some candidates. We collect search results from Indeed, Monster, and CareerBuilder based on 35job titles in 20 U. S. cities, resulting in data on 855K job candidates. Using statistical tests, we examine whether these search engines produce rankings that exhibit two types of indirect discrimination:individual and group unfairness. Furthermore,we use controlled experiments to show that these websites do not use inferred gender of candidates as explicit features int heir ranking algorithms.”
Wallet Hub: “Post-college debts represent one of the biggest financial burdens to Americans. In fact, student loans make up the second highest form of household debt after mortgages, totaling $1.5 trillion. But how burdensome are the individual loans? According to one study, the share of students graduating with $50,000 or more in student loan debt has more than tripled since the year 2000. High balances combined with a payoff timeline that lasts into middle age force many graduates to significantly delay or forego other financial goals such as saving for retirement or buying a home. That’s the unfortunate reality for many student-loan borrowers who cannot keep up with their payments. According to Forbes, 40% of borrowers may default on their student loans by 2023. Surprisingly, though, students with smaller debts are more likely to default than those with larger ones.
Student-loan debts are more unsustainable in some places than others. WalletHub therefore compared the median student-loan balance against the median earnings of adults aged 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree in each of 2,510 U.S. cities to determine where Americans are most overleveraged on their college-related debts. Read on for our findings, expert advice from a panel of researchers and a full description of our methodology. If you’re considering borrowing money for college or are in danger of defaulting, we advise using a Student Loan Calculator to determine an affordable payment amount and realistic payoff timeline. In addition, you can set up a free WalletHub account to ensure your timely payments are reflected accurately in your credit report and score. Maintaining “excellent” credit will help you minimize unnecessary debt costs and pay your student loans in the fastest time possible…”
Phys.org: “A University of Bristol academic has succeeded where countless cryptographers, linguistics scholars and computer programs have failed—by cracking the code of the ‘world’s most mysterious text’, the Voynich manuscript. Although the purpose and meaning of the manuscript had eluded scholars for over a century, it took Research Associate Dr. Gerard Cheshire two weeks, using a combination of lateral thinking and ingenuity, to identify the language and writing system of the famously inscrutable document. In his peer-reviewed paper, The Language and Writing System of MS408 (Voynich) Explained, published in the journal Romance Studies, Cheshire describes how he successfully deciphered the manuscript’s codex and, at the same time, revealed the only known example of proto-Romance language. “I experienced a series of ‘eureka’ moments whilst deciphering the code, followed by a sense of disbelief and excitement when I realised the magnitude of the achievement, both in terms of its linguistic importance and the revelations about the origin and content of the manuscript…”
Make Use Of – The Best Free Online Proxy Servers You Can Use Safely – “Proxy sites and proxy servers allow internet users to bypass internet restrictions and access content that would otherwise be blocked. Lots of free proxy providers exist, but which are the best? Are there any risks of using a free online proxy? And what alternatives are available? Why Use a Free Proxy Server? We’ve all experienced blocked sites. Schools, companies, public Wi-Fi networks, ISPs, and governments restrict access to certain types of content. A free proxy is one of the many ways to circumvent restrictions if content is being blocked based on your geolocation. They route your traffic through a server in a different country, thus hiding your true location…”
Library of Congress – “Historical news reports and breaking news bulletins published by the Washington bureau of The Associated Press from 1915 to 1930, documenting a full chronology of world and national events, have been digitized and are now available online from the Library of Congress. The collection includes news dispatches from key moments in history, from the sinking of the Lusitania ocean liner in 1915, drawing the U.S. into World War I, through the roaring 1920s to the stock market crash of 1929 and the outbreak of the Great Depression. The AP collection includes 375 volumes of wire copy, totaling more than 387,000 images. It is online at: loc.gov/collections/associated-press-news-dispatches-1915-to-1930/about-this-collection/. The Associated Press was formed in 1846 by five newspapers in New York City. Other regional AP associations soon followed, as did individual bureaus in major American cities, as the telegraph and the railroad began linking the country together in the 1860s. Eventually, these later merged into one national news cooperative, headquartered in New York…”
Washington Post – In 10 years, Little Free Libraries have made a big impact – “Want a book? Head to a rocket ship in Boulder, Colorado, a fairy-tale cottage near Ghent, Belgium, or a tree in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. These are just three of the more than 80,000 Little Free Libraries in more than 90 countries. Unlike traditional libraries, these typically small structures aren’t buildings where people check out books from a librarian. “A Little Free Library is a box full of books that, when you find one, you can take a book home with you,” explains Margret Aldrich, Little Free Library spokeswoman. “Or if you have a book to share, you can leave it for someone else to read.” Little Free Libraries are everywhere: outside homes, inside recreational centers, beside coffee shops. The first was set on a post in front of Todd Bol’s home in Hudson, Wisconsin, 10 years ago. The miniature schoolhouse Bol built held free books anyone could enjoy…”
BuzzFeedNews: “…Thanks to its open, freewheeling public platform, and stance on free speech, Twitter has been a hothouse for ginning up disinformation, harassment, and outrage. A lot of these problems were caused, the company’s leadership believes, by product decisions made early in its existence. And in very Silicon Valley fashion, the San Francisco–based company is now trying to solve these institutional problems with product fixes, without killing its platform’s open, real-time magic. But it isn’t exactly sure what those fixes are, and it knows that massive changes to its product, rolled out widely, might even make things worse. So, yes, the company is fundamentally overhauling its product, but it’s starting with baby steps on twttr…”
“Today, the EU adopted the 2018 Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the world. This report provides a snapshot of the EU’s engagement and actions in 2018, ranging from the flagship campaigns like the one for the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, or the launch of the Good Human Rights Stories Initiative at the United Nations, to focused actions which benefit local communities in Bangui, Tijuana, Manila or Beirut…”
“A new data tool–International Trade and Investment Country Facts Application–on the Bureau of Economic Analysis website gives users a snapshot of statistics on trade and investment between the United States and another country by simply clicking on a world map. These fast facts at your fingertips can include:
- Total exports, imports and trade balance between the United States and the country you select.
- The top five categories of goods and services the United States buys from and sells to that country.
- Country level data on U.S. direct investment abroad and foreign direct investment in the United States and on the activities of multinational enterprises such as employment and sales.
- To access the new international data tool, visit http://bea.gov/international/factsheet/…”
POGO – “Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election has been public for nearly three weeks. Since then, Members of Congress on both sides of the political aisle have debated the report’s findings, and there are many disturbing issues raised in it that Congress could continue to investigate and address legislatively. Unlike the Justice Department, Congress is uniquely positioned to conduct oversight and craft legislative solutions to ensure that our democracy, laws, elections, and citizens are better protected. The report examines violations of current laws and exposes fissures in our democratic system that our Founding Fathers and other lawmakers from the past never anticipated. The constitutional separation of powers dictates that the executive branch enforces the laws, and now it is up to Congress to consider creating or amending laws to address vulnerabilities and weaknesses in election security, foreign lobbying, campaign finance, obstruction of justice, conflicts of interest, transition team transparency, personal electronic security, and the regulations governing special counsels. Each of these issues is ripe for Congressional action…The following are ten key issues found in the special counsel’s report that Congress could look into, and where applicable, could consider strengthening existing laws…”