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Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002
Updated: 45 min 51 sec ago

Google Knows Where You’ve Been, but Does It Know Who You Are?

Sun, 09/16/2018 - 16:30

Google Knows Where You’ve Been, but Does It Know Who You Are? (New York Times Magazine)

“The overwhelming volume of this information demonstrates just how deep, and inescapable, our relationships with the company have become. And it can be sneakily transformative. To see months of your own search history repeated back to you in list form is to suffer a strange mixture of your most mundane and anxious—and largely forgotten—moments….

“We’re often aware that Google is logging our whereabouts. Google Search, for example, helps us find all sorts of things, and it uses our location to try to supply more relevant information (by guessing the language we speak, for starters). Obviously Google Maps gives us particulars about where we are and where we’re going. The more creative, indirect ways in which Google employs our location data can be noticeably helpful, too, or at least technically impressive. (Yes, Google, good guess. That is the restaurant I went to — but I would not like to review it, thanks.) More often, however, the details of place and movement are being processed in the background, where that information is recorded because it can be, and made available to tools we largely take for granted. These tools are good at showing us what Google wants, as well at what it thinks it knows. It is something else to see what Google hasWhen you stare down from on high at the last few years of your life — as recorded by your laptop and phone, and then self-subpoenaed from your Google account — your first impulse is forensic. And whether you assume the role of defense, prosecution, judge or juror, you’ll have plenty to work with. If you fully opt in to certain Google products (in my case, various Google apps on an iPhone, including Google Maps), years of location history will be rendered as glowing circles, shaded from violet to green to yellow to red and overlaid on a map of the world. To explore this data is to toggle, in seconds, among wildly disparate emotional states: surprise, disorientation, curiosity, disappointment…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Hard Words Why aren’t kids being taught to read?

Sun, 09/16/2018 - 16:21

American Public Media Reports – “…The basic assumption that underlies typical reading instruction in many schools is that learning to read is a natural process, much like learning to talk. But decades of scientific research has revealed that reading doesn’t come naturally. The human brain isn’t wired to read. Kids must be explicitly taught how to connect sounds with letters — phonics. “There are thousands of studies,” said Louisa Moats, an education consultant and researcher who has been teaching and studying reading since the 1970s. “This is the most studied aspect of human learning.” But this research hasn’t made its way into many elementary school classrooms. The prevailing approaches to reading instruction in American schools are inconsistent with basic things scientists have discovered about how children learn to read. Many educators don’t know the science, and in some cases actively resist it. The resistance is the result of beliefs about reading that have been deeply held in the educational establishment for decades, even though those beliefs have been proven wrong by scientists over and over again. Most teachers nationwide are not being taught reading science in their teacher preparation programs because many deans and faculty in colleges of education either don’t know the science or dismiss it. As a result of their intransigence, millions of kids have been set up to fail….” [includes a Podcast]

See also the Nation’s Report Card – National Achievement-Level Results

Categories: Law and Legal

The Marine Conservation Planning Database

Sun, 09/16/2018 - 16:12

The Conservation Planning Database: “Given international policy targets and growing recognition of a biodiversity crisis, the number and total extent of protected areas is set to increase significantly in the next few decades. To ensure this planned expansion is effective in halting biodiversity loss, it is critical that new protected areas (and other conservation actions) are well designed and effectively implemented. Systematic conservation planning (SCP), which takes into account ecological and socioeconomic aspects of conservation, is regarded as best practice for identifying conservation priorities and has been widely used to design protected area systems. Applications of SCP cover terrestrial, freshwater and marine realms, including planning initiatives in developed and developing countries across the world. Over the last three decades, hundreds of SCP studies have been produced, yet there is no structured or reliable way of finding information on SCP methods, trends, and progress. This rapid growth in SCP literature inhibits distillation of best practices and understanding of trends in methods and applications. Furthermore, bridging the well-recognized gap between SCP research and implementation requires systematic and continuous monitoring of plan development and implementation. The Marine Conservation Planning Database project aims to create a global database to help track the development, implementation, and impact of SCP applications, and improve scholarship in the field. Consolidating a global database can play a critical role in advancing SCP theory and practice, thus facilitating more effective area-based conservation initiatives with real benefits for biodiversity and human well-being.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Costs of Government Interventions in Response to the Financial Crisis: A Retrospective, updated September 12, 2018

Sun, 09/16/2018 - 16:02 – Costs of Government Interventions in Response to the Financial Crisis: A Retrospective, updated September 12, 2018.

“In August 2007, asset-backed securities (ABS), particularly those backed by subprime mortgages, suddenly became illiquid and fell sharply in value as an unprecedented housing boom turned into a housing bust. Losses on the many ABS held by financial firms depleted their capital. Uncertainty about future losses on illiquid and complex assets led to firms having reduced access to private liquidity, sometimes catastrophically. In September 2008, the financial crisis reached panic proportions, with some large financial firms failing or needing government assistance to prevent their failure. Initially, the government approach was largely ad hoc, addressing the problems at individual institutions on a case-by-case basis. The panic in September 2008 convinced policy makers that a system-wide approach was needed, and Congress created the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) in October 2008. In addition to TARP, the Treasury, Federal Reserve (Fed) and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) implemented broad lending and guarantee programs. Because the crisis had many causes and symptoms, the response tackled a number of disparate problems and can be broadly categorized into programs that (1) increased financial institutions’ liquidity; (2) provided capital directly to financial institutions for them to recover from asset write-offs; (3) purchased illiquid assets from financial institutions to restore confidence in their balance sheets and thereby their continued solvency; (4) intervened in specific financial markets that had ceased to function smoothly; and (5) used public funds to prevent the failure of troubled institutions that were deemed systemically important, popularly referred to as “too big to fail.” The primary goal of the various interventions was to end the financial panic and restore normalcy to financial markets, rather than to make a profit for taxpayers. In this sense, the programs were arguably a success. Nevertheless, an important part of evaluating the government’s performance is whether financial normalcy was restored at a minimum cost to taxpayers. By this measure, the financial performance of these interventions was far better than initial expectations that direct losses to taxpayers would run into the hundreds of billions of dollars. Initial government outlays are a poor indicator of taxpayer exposure, because outlays were used to acquire or guarantee income-earning debt or equity instruments that could eventually be repaid or sold, potentially at a profit…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Even in Better Times, Many Americans Are Farther Behind. Here’s Why.

Sun, 09/16/2018 - 15:56

The New York Times: “Americans’ household earnings are finally stretching back to their pre-recession heights. But feeling secure and comfortable isn’t only a measure of how much money you have. It’s also a measure of how much you have compared with others. For many, that is one reason that recent financial progress may seem overshadowed by the gains they’ve missed out on and a needling sense that they’ve lost ground. As new research illustrates, two groups in particular have stalled: whites without a college degree, and blacks and Hispanics with one. Both are being far outpaced by college-educated whites. “America has been a story of getting ahead, of progress,” said Morris P. Fiorina, a political scientist at Stanford University. “There’s been no story of progress — for them.” The findings, part of a study on the demographics of wealth between 1989 and 2016 from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis [see link below], show significant advances in education and earnings among white, black and Hispanic Americans over that period. A Census Bureau report this week also showed continued income gains last year. But the study highlights the growing importance of relative shifts in position up or down the income ladder at a time when the economy’s riches are flowing increasingly to the wealthiest sliver…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Ten years after Lehman’s collapse, these ten risks could cause the next crisis

Sun, 09/16/2018 - 15:49

Quartz: “On Sept. 15, 2008, a credit crunch turned into a full-blown crisis when New York-based investment bank Lehman Brothers collapsed. The global recession that followed is still too fresh in many people’s memories to be considered history. But 10 years on, the state of the financial system suggests that the crisis has been relegated to the history books for many in the industry. In 2018, Wall Street is enjoying another heyday. Bonuses for bankers have returned to pre-crisis levels, profits for commercial banks are at a record high, the stock market is in its longest bull run in history, the US economy is humming, and deregulation and tax cuts rule the day in Donald Trump’s administration. Around the world, regulators and policymakers say that measures taken in recent years have made banks safer than ever, with more capital and targeted oversight informed by mistakes made before Lehman went bust. That said, there are still plenty of potentially dangerous risks brewing in the financial system. Aggressive financial engineering in the pursuit of profit is alive and well. Complacency could lead to trouble, as it always does. The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority just gave a timely reminder that the onset of a crisis can be sudden. “Most if not all of the firms which failed had been reporting relatively robust financial positions right up to the point when they did fail, with financial statements signed off by their boards and large audit firms,” Charles Randall, chair of the British regulator, said earlier this month. On the 10th anniversary of Lehman’s bankruptcy, these are the things that market watchers believe could cause the next crisis…”


Categories: Law and Legal

50-state survey of social media privacy legislation

Sun, 09/16/2018 - 13:49

“Social media and related issues in the workplace can be a headache for employers. Seyfarth Shaw LLP’s Social Media Practice Group is pleased to provide you with an easy-to-use guide to social media privacy legislation and what employers need to know. The Social Media Privacy Legislation Desktop Reference 2017-2018: [h/t Joe]

  • Describes the content and purpose of the various states’ social media privacy laws.
  • Delivers a detailed state-by-state description of each law, listing a general overview, what is prohibited, what is allowed, the remedies for violations, and special notes for each state.
  • Provides an easy-to-use chart listing the states that have enacted social media privacy laws and the features of the law in all such states.
  • Offers our thoughts on the implications of this legislation in other areas, including trade secret misappropriation, bring your own device issues and concerns, social media discovery and evidence considerations, and use of social media in internal investigations.”
Categories: Law and Legal

Satellite Images and Shadow Analysis: How The Times Verifies Eyewitness Videos

Sun, 09/16/2018 - 12:52

The New York Times: Understanding the times Visual investigations based on social media posts require a mix of traditional journalistic diligence and cutting-edge internet skills.
“Visual investigations based on social media posts require a mix of traditional journalistic diligence and cutting-edge internet skills. In an effort to shed more light on how we work, The Times is running a series of short posts explaining some of our journalistic practices. Read more of this series here. Was a video of a chemical attack really filmed in Syria? What time of day did an airstrike happen? Which military unit was involved in a shooting in Afghanistan? Is this dramatic image of glowing clouds really showing wildfires in California. These are some of the questions the video team at The New York Times has to answer when reviewing raw eyewitness videos, often posted to social media. It can be a highly challenging process, as misinformation shared through digital social networks is a serious problem for a modern-day newsroom. Visual information in the digital age is easy to manipulate, and even easier to spread. What is thus required for conducting visual investigations based on social media content is a mix of traditional journalistic diligence and cutting-edge internet skills, as can be seen in our recent investigation into the chemical attack in Douma, Syria. The following provides some insight into our video verification process. It is not a comprehensive overview, but highlights some of our most trusted techniques and tools…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Security Risks of Government Hacking

Sun, 09/16/2018 - 12:48

Schneider on Security: “Some of us — myself included — have proposed lawful government hacking as an alternative to backdoors. A new report from the Center of Internet and Society looks at the security risks of allowing government hacking. They include:

  • Disincentive for vulnerability disclosure
  • Cultivation of a market for surveillance tools
  • Attackers co-opt hacking tools over which governments have lost control
  • Attackers learn of vulnerabilities through government use of malware
  • Government incentives to push for less-secure software and standards
  • Government malware affects innocent users.

These risks are real, but I think they’re much less than mandating backdoors for everyone. From the report’s conclusion:

Government hacking is often lauded as a solution to the “going dark” problem. It is too dangerous to mandate encryption backdoors, but targeted hacking of endpoints could ensure investigators access to same or similar necessary data with less risk. Vulnerabilities will never affect everyone, contingent as they are on software, network configuration, and patch management. Backdoors, however, mean everybody is vulnerable and a security failure fails catastrophically. In addition, backdoors are often secret, while eventually, vulnerabilities will typically be disclosed and patched.

The key to minimizing the risks is to ensure that law enforcement (or whoever) report all vulnerabilities discovered through the normal process, and use them for lawful hacking during the period between reporting and patching. Yes, that’s a big ask, but the alternatives are worse. This is the canonical lawful hacking paper.

Categories: Law and Legal

Secretary Zinke and the Great Public Lands Wholesale

Sun, 09/16/2018 - 12:13

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will offer up nearly 4 million acres of public lands for lease this year, much of it for dirt cheap

“The United States is now likely the world’s largest oil producer. Even so, the Trump administration continues its sprint to lease the nation’s public lands to energy companies. From September through the end of the year, the Bureau of Land Management will offer leases for oil and gas drilling on nearly 3 million acres of public lands, according to government statistics compiled by the Wilderness Society and Center for Western Priorities. That would mean, according to the Center for Biological Diversity, that for the entire year the administration will have offered for lease almost 4 million acres in the Lower 48 alone. That’s a nearly four-fold increase over 2016, the last year of the Obama administration. And that doesn’t include lease sales in Alaska and in public waters such as the Gulf of Mexico, where Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has vigorously pushed leasing as part of the administration’s policy of energy dominance. To that end, Zinke has directed BLM offices, which oversee the public’s oil and gas deposits, to hold lease sales every quarter. Master leasing plans, or broader planning for the landscape, have been scuttled. Opportunities for the public to comment have been shortened, or dispensed with altogether. The energy industry has cheered these changes, saying the old ways were sclerotic and discouraged sensible development.

For the Interior Department this kind of wholesale leasing seems to be what they most loudly tout. Earlier this month it issued a press release crowing about third-quarter lease sales in New Mexico that brought in nearly $1 billion. “Critics of the Administration’s American Energy Dominance policy often falsely claim there is little to no interest in Federal oil and gas leases,” Zinke said in the release. “Today, they are eating their words and once again President Trump’s policies are bearing fruit for the American people. The people of New Mexico will see about a half a billion dollars of this right back into their roads, schools and public services…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Your Social Security Number isn’t suspended. Ever.

Sun, 09/16/2018 - 11:50 “A caller says that he’s from the government and your Social Security Number (SSN) has been suspended. He sounds very professional. So you should do exactly what he says to fix things…right? Wrong. The FTC has gotten reports about scammers trying to trick people out of their personal information by telling them that they need to “reactivate” their supposedly “suspended” SSNs. The scammers say the SSN was suspended because of some connection to fraud or other criminal activity. They say to call a number to clear it up – where they’ll ask you for personal information. Thing is, Social Security Numbers do not get suspended. This is just a variation of a government imposter scam that’s after your SSN, bank account number, or other personal information. In this variation of the scheme, the caller pretends to be protecting you from a scam while he’s trying to lure you into one. Here are a few tips to protect yourself:

  • Never give out or confirm personal information over the phone, via email or on a website until you’ve checked out whoever is asking you for it.
  • Do not trust a name, phone number, or email address just because it seems to be connected with the government. Con artists use official-sounding names and may fake caller ID or email address information to make you trust them. Besides, the government normally contacts people by postal mail.
  • Contact government agencies directly, using telephone numbers and website addresses you know to be legitimate.

If someone has tried to steal your personal information by pretending to be from the government, report it to the FTC.”

Categories: Law and Legal

31 Highest Paying Companies

Thu, 09/13/2018 - 23:26

“Almost every day, nearly 112 million Americans wake up and go to work. The vast majority of them do so to put a roof over their head, food on the table, and otherwise support their chosen lifestyle. While full-time U.S. workers by definition clock in for at least 35 hours a week, the amount of money those workers earn for that time depends largely on the company that writes their paychecks. The federal government has set the minimum wage at $7.25 an hour. Someone working full-time in a minimum wage job would earn just over $15,000 in an year. Many major companies pay their entry-level associates the legally required minimum, as a result, average salaries at these companies are often less than $40,000. There are also dozens of companies at the other end of the spectrum, where entry-level workers and all other positions — from junior associates to senior management — are paid more. At these companies, the average salary across all positions extends well into the six-figure range. To identify the 31 highest paying companies, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the average pay in over 1,200 organizations with operations in the United States from compensation data company Payscale. The companies with the highest average salaries span a range of industries, including oil and gas, financial services, and computer software. The companies on this list offer generous compensation packages for good reason. Generally speaking, common positions at these businesses require highly skilled personnel who are in high demand. By paying high salaries, these companies can attract top talent. Additionally, acquiring the skills needed for many jobs at high-paying companies can be expensive. A software developer at Apple, research scientist at pharmaceutical company Novartis, or drilling engineer at ExxonMobil — all companies on this list — typically have some form of an advanced degree, in addition to a bachelor’s degree. The high salaries at these companies make the initial investment in education worthwhile for potential candidates…”

Click here to see the 31 highest paying companies.

Categories: Law and Legal

Anti-Discrimination Center – new page mapping housing segregation

Thu, 09/13/2018 - 23:00

The Anti-Discrimination Center: May 3, 2018 – Segregated, really segregated, or ultra-segregated? — “The 50th anniversary of the passage of the Fair Housing Act has come and gone, but startling new maps from the Anti-Discrimination Center vividly show the depth and breadth of residential segregation in the United States.  Powered by Social Explorer, the maps allow exploration at the state, county, census tract, and census block group levels. Together and individually, these three interactive maps uncover extreme segregation in ways that most previous mapping has not. Maps of the African American and Latino populations highlight areas of disproportionately low and disproportionately high concentrations of those respective groups, allowing a clear picture to emerge of the longstanding phenomenon of residential segregation. These custom maps are best used on a large format device; we recommend especially using a desktop or laptop (in some cases, these maps do not render properly on tablets). We recommend not using on a phone: in the full country view, a phone loses too much of the detail. If you do run these maps on a tablet or phone, please make sure you allow a map to load fully before you switch maps or go to a different level of geography (for example, from county to block group).

Categories: Law and Legal

White House’s website deleted the whole archive of its daily newsletters

Thu, 09/13/2018 - 22:42

Quartz: “American citizens can get daily updates on the government directly from the White House’s “1600 Daily” newsletter, which was launched in March 2017. The newsletter shares daily updates from the White House, together with a feed of positive news about Donald Trump’s administration (primarily from conservative outlets supportive of the government, such as Breitbart or the Washington Times.) Plus there’s an occasional satirical item (it once shared an article making fun of the president’s policies, which was presumably an accident.) The past issues of the newsletters used to be accessible online, but those pages have been taken down in connection with a White House site redesign in December 2017, according to a report from the Web Integrity Project (WIP) of the Sunlight Foundation, a bipartisan organization focused on government accountability and transparency, released today (Sept. 13). WIP co-director Toly Rinberg told Quartz that his team actively monitors 30,000 pages of federal websites for changes, periodically looking at information that has been removed or altered. The White House website underwent an overhaul, the report found (though it didn’t analyze the full scope of the changes), including removing the old editions of the daily newsletter, which were previously archived under their own URL. The removed posts are still available on Wayback Machine’s archive, though the original links have been leading to an error 404 page until Sept. 12, when they were redirected to the current issue of the newsletter…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Facebook Expanding Fact-Checking to Photos and Videos

Thu, 09/13/2018 - 22:38

Facebook Newsroom: “We know that people want to see accurate information on Facebook, so for the last two years, we’ve made fighting misinformation a priority. One of the many steps we take to reduce the spread of false news is working with independent, third-party fact-checkers to review and rate the accuracy of content. To date, most of our fact-checking partners have focused on reviewing articles. However, we have also been actively working to build new technology and partnerships so that we can tackle other forms of misinformation. Today, we’re expanding fact-checking for photos and videos to all of our 27 partners in 17 countries around the world (and are regularly on-boarding new fact-checking partners). This will help us identify and take action against more types of misinformation, faster…”

See also via Quartz: Facebook has problems fact-checking words, but now it wants to check photos and videos

Categories: Law and Legal

This clever and stylish 1960 film is the most fun you’ll ever have at a physics lecture

Thu, 09/13/2018 - 19:39

This clever and stylish 1960 film is the most fun you’ll ever have at a physics lecture

“Directed by the pioneering UK documentarian Richard Leacock, Frames of Reference is a slick and surreal dive into physics fundamentals and, in particular, why everything is indeed relative. Produced for high-school physics classes, the 1960 film features the physics professors Patterson Hume and Donald Ivey of the University of Toronto explaining, through an intertwined series of lectures and clever demonstrations, how frames of reference shape perspective. Using rotating sets, camera tricks and a visual style that suggests the film noir of Alfred Hitchcock, this is perhaps the most peculiarly entertaining half-hour physics lecture you’ll ever have.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Testimony – Transparency at CBO: An Update

Thu, 09/13/2018 - 19:21

Testimony on Transparency at CBO: An Update | Congressional Budget Office – Keith Hall, Director Before the Committee on the Budget United States Senate September 13, 2018.

“…Transparency can mean many different things, so letme begin by highlighting CBO’s three goals in being transparent:
  • First, we aim to enhance the credibility of our work by showing how it relies on data, professional research, and expert feedback.
  • Second, we seek to promote a thorough understanding of our analyses by sharing information in an accessible, clear, and detailed manner.
  • Third, we want to help people gauge how our estimates might change if policies or circumstances were different…”
Categories: Law and Legal

California just replaced cash bail with algorithms

Thu, 09/13/2018 - 18:44

Quartz: “Instead of leaving cash as collateral for freedom before a trial in court, those accused of crimes in California will be graded by an algorithm, starting in October 2019. A county official will then take that grade and use it to recommend whether the accused should be released or remain in jail. California governor Jerry Brown signed SB 10 into law last week, a bill that replaces cash bail with an algorithmic system. Each county will have to put in place a system to ascertain a suspect’s risk of flight or committing another crime during the trial process, whether that means using a system from a third-party contractor or developing one themselves before the October 2019 deadline. Activists have railed against cash bail for years, which should have made this legislation a sweeping win for civil rights organizations. Their argument is that cash bail makes justice an uneven playing field, incarcerating the poor while allowing those with money or assets avoid jail time…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Are Audiobooks As Good For You As Reading? Here’s What Experts Say

Thu, 09/13/2018 - 17:38

TIME: “Even for people who love books, finding the opportunity to read can be a challenge. Many, then, rely on audiobooks, a convenient alternative to old-fashioned reading. You can listen to the latest bestseller while commuting or cleaning up the house. But is listening to a book really the same as reading one? “I was a fan of audiobooks, but I always viewed them as cheating,” says Beth Rogowsky, an associate professor of education at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. For a 2016 study, Rogowsky put her assumptions to the test. One group in her study listened to sections of Unbroken, a nonfiction book about World War II by Laura Hillenbrand, while a second group read the same parts on an e-reader. She included a third group that both read and listened at the same time. Afterward, everyone took a quiz designed to measure how well they had absorbed the material. “We found no significant differences in comprehension between reading, listening, or reading and listening simultaneously,” Rogowsky says. Score one for audiobooks? Maybe. But Rogowsky’s study used e-readers rather than traditional print books, and there’s some evidence that reading on a screen reduces learning and comprehension compared to reading from printed text. So it’s possible that, had her study pitted traditional books against audiobooks, old-school reading might have come out on top…”

Categories: Law and Legal