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Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002
Updated: 1 hour 20 min ago

Google new delete history feature is almost useless for privacy, experts warn

Wed, 10/16/2019 - 19:59

Follow up to October 15, 2019 posting – Google introducing auto-delete controls for your Location History and activity data – please note: Reclaim the Net: “It’s no secret for anyone that Google benefits from collecting and selling user data – this is a major part of their business whether we like it or not.  Whenever you’re typing something and the search engine auto-completes the term before you even finished the first word is not a coincidence, and neither when an ad of the new gadget you want seems to follow you around. Google knows what you are up to, they keep a track of your browsing history, YouTube views, and more. However, this fact has garnered them backlash and that isn’t so good for business. To deflect some of that negative attention, the company released privacy tools meant to help users to protect their privacy. One of these tools is Google’s activity controls page, where users can opt to delete web and app activity every 3 or 18 months automatically. Although the intention is good, critics and experts claim that it is kind of useless, because by that time Google has already extracted anything valuable out of it…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Your smartphone takes amazing selfies. Those selfies could tell stalkers where you live.

Wed, 10/16/2019 - 19:55 “When it comes to sensitive information, the eyes have it. That became apparent last week, when a man allegedly stalked a Japanese pop star after determining her location based on reflections seen in her eyes in social media posts, according to the Associated Press. Those images helped the suspect find her train station. He then used Google Street View and other details shared from where she lives to find her home. The incident raises serious questions about privacy in the age of ubiquitous high-resolution images and social media. Today, the average smartphone user can create incredibly detailed photos and share them with millions of people at the click of a button. The same process can also expose personal information few selfie-takers realize they are revealing…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Using Old Cellphones to Listen for Illegal Loggers

Wed, 10/16/2019 - 19:44

The New York Times -“This village in West Sumatra, a lush province of volcanoes and hilly rain forests, had a problem with illegal loggers. They were stealing valuable hardwood with impunity. At first, a group of local people put a fence across the main road leading into the forest, but it was flimsy and proved no match for the interlopers. So, residents asked a local environmental group for camera traps or some other equipment that might help. In July, they got more than they expected: A treetop surveillance system that uses recycled cellphones and artificial intelligence software to listen for rogue loggers and catch them in the act…The project, experts said in interviews, illustrates both the promise and perils of using artificial intelligence in the complex fight against deforestation…

The concept behind Mr. White’s project is simple: Used cellphones, powered by solar panels, upload audio data. It is analyzed in real time by artificial-intelligence software capable of distinguishing the sounds of chain saws, logging trucks and other telltale audio signatures of illegal activity. The software then sends rangers instant alerts, through a specialized app that, in theory, could help them make arrests…”

Categories: Law and Legal

The US military is trying to read minds

Wed, 10/16/2019 - 19:40

MIT Technology Review – A new DARPA research program is developing brain-computer interfaces that could control “swarms of drones, operating at the speed of thought”. What if it succeeds? – “In August, three graduate students at Carnegie Mellon University were crammed together in a small, windowless basement lab, using a jury-rigged 3D printer frame to zap a slice of mouse brain with electricity.  The brain fragment, cut from the hippocampus, looked like a piece of thinly sliced garlic. It rested on a platform near the center of the contraption. A narrow tube bathed the slice in a solution of salt, glucose, and amino acids. This kept it alive, after a fashion: neurons in the slice continued to fire, allowing the experimenters to gather data. An array of electrodes beneath the slice delivered the electric zaps, while a syringe-like metal probe measured how the neurons reacted. Bright LED lamps illuminated the dish. The setup, to use the lab members’ lingo, was kind of hacky. A monitor beside the rig displayed stimulus and response: jolts of electricity from the electrodes were followed, milliseconds later, by neurons firing. Later, the researchers would place a material with the same electrical and optical properties as a human skull between the slice and the electrodes, to see if they could stimulate the mouse hippocampus through the simulated skull as well. They were doing this because they want to be able to detect and manipulate signals in human brains without having to cut through the skull and touch delicate brain tissue. Their goal is to eventually develop accurate and sensitive brain-computer interfaces that can be put on and taken off like a helmet or headband—no surgery required…”

Categories: Law and Legal

AI: Algorithms and Justice

Tue, 10/15/2019 - 22:16

Berkman Kein Center – “Government institutions around the globe are beginning to explore decision automation in a variety of contexts, from determining eligibility for services; to evaluating where to deploy health inspectors and law enforcement personnel; to defining boundaries around voting districts. Use cases for technologies that incorporate AI or machine learning will expand as governments and companies amass larger quantities of data and analytical tools become more powerful. Our work on algorithms and justice (a) explores ways in which government institutions incorporate artificial intelligence, algorithms, and machine learning technologies into their decisionmaking; and (b) in collaboration with the Global Governance track, examines ways in which development and deployment of these technologies by both public and private actors impacts the rights of individuals and efforts to achieve social justice. Our aim is to help companies that create such tools, state actors that procure and deploy them, and citizens they impact to understand how those tools work. We seek to ensure that algorithmic applications are developed and used with an eye toward improving fairness and efficacy without sacrificing values of accountability and transparency.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Fantastic fall foliage and where to find it

Tue, 10/15/2019 - 20:05

Washington Post – “This is starting out as a complicated season for leaf peepers. As the East Coast sweated through record October heat, parts of the Rockies were buried under wildly early snow. Late heat and early cold can stifle some of the most photo-worthy foliage, but soon enough, large swaths of the country will be engulfed in the brilliant yellows, oranges and reds that herald an approaching winter. “Leaf peepers” and “color spotters” will swarm, cameras in hand, in search of peak fall glory. Forested areas in the United States host a variety of tree species. The evergreens shed leaves gradually, as promised in their name. The leaves of deciduous varieties change from green to yellow, orange or red before letting go entirely. Using USDA forest species data, we mapped the thickets of fall colors you may encounter in the densely wooded parts of the country…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Analysis Shows Top 1% Gained $21 Trillion in Wealth Since 1989 While Bottom Half Lost $900 Billion

Tue, 10/15/2019 - 20:01 “Adding to the mountain of statistical evidence showing the severity of U.S. inequality, an analysis published Friday found that the top one percent of Americans gained $21 trillion in wealth since 1989 while the bottom 50 percent lost $900 billion. Matt Bruenig, founder of the left-wing think tank People’s Policy Project, broke down the Federal Reserve’s newly released “Distributive Financial Accounts” data series and found that, overall, “the top one percent owns nearly $30 trillion of assets while the bottom half owns less than nothing, meaning they have more debts than they have assets.” The growth of wealth inequality over the past 30 years, Bruenig found, is “eye-popping.”

“Between 1989 and 2018, the top one percent increased its total net worth by $21 trillion,” Bruenig wrote. “The bottom 50 percent actually saw its net worth decrease by $900 billion over the same period.”…”We have the worst inequality in this country since the 1920s.”  —Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.)…”

Categories: Law and Legal

The Best Way to Search for Free Software Online

Tue, 10/15/2019 - 19:42

lifehacker:  “…you want to search for is “open-source” plus the general topic of whatever app or service you’re trying to find. This won’t always net you an app that costs you nothing, but you’re likely to have better luck. You can also search for “alternative to” a conventional app that does something you don’t want to have to pay for (or check out the similarly named website)…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Crawl data analysis of 2 billion links from 90 million domains offer glimpse into today’s web

Tue, 10/15/2019 - 19:30

SearcEngineLand: Data analysis reveals the distribution of PageRank is highly right-skewed meaning the majority of hosts have very low PageRank – “The web is not only essential for people working in digital marketing, but for everyone. We professionals in this field need to understand the big picture of how the web functions for our daily work. We also know that optimizing our customers’ sites is not just about their sites, but also improving their presence on the web, which it is connected to other sites by links. To get an overall view of information about the web we need data, lots of data. And we need it on a regular basis. There are some organizations that provide open data for this purpose like Httparchive. It collects and permanently stores the web’s digitized content and offers them as public dataset. A second example is Common Crawl, an organization that crawls the web every month. Their web archive has been collecting petabytes of data since 2011. In their own words, “Common Crawl is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to providing a copy of the internet to internet researchers, companies and individuals at no cost for the purpose of research and analysis.” In this article, a quick data analysis of Common Crawl’s recent public data and metrics will be presented to offer a glimpse into what’s happening on the web today…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Internet Archive releases 2,500 more MS-DOS games

Tue, 10/15/2019 - 19:19

Internet Archive Blogs: “Another few thousand DOS Games are playable at the Internet Archive! Since our initial announcement in 2015, we’ve added occasional new games here and there to the collection, but this will be our biggest update yet, ranging from tiny recent independent productions to long-forgotten big-name releases from decades ago.\ To browse the latest collection, hit this link and look around…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Edward Snowden – Without encryption, we will lose all privacy. This is our new battleground.

Tue, 10/15/2019 - 19:16

UK Guardian – Opinion – Edward Snowden – “In every country of the world, the security of computers keeps the lights on, the shelves stocked, the dams closed, and transportation running. For more than half a decade, the vulnerability of our computers and computer networks has been ranked the number one risk in the US Intelligence Community’s Worldwide Threat Assessment – that’s higher than terrorism, higher than war. Your bank balance, the local hospital’s equipment, and the 2020 US presidential election, among many, many other things, all depend on computer safety. And yet, in the midst of the greatest computer security crisis in history, the US government, along with the governments of the UK and Australia, is attempting to undermine the only method that currently exists for reliably protecting the world’s information: encryption. Should they succeed in their quest to undermine encryption, our public infrastructure and private lives will be rendered permanently unsafe. In the simplest terms, encryption is a method of protecting information, the primary way to keep digital communications safe. Every email you write, every keyword you type into a search box – every embarrassing thing you do online – is transmitted across an increasingly hostile internet. Earlier this month the US, alongside the UK and Australia, called on Facebook to create a “backdoor”, or fatal flaw, into its encrypted messaging apps, which would allow anyone with the key to that backdoor unlimited access to private communications. So far, Facebook has resisted this…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Google introducing auto-delete controls for your Location History and activity data

Tue, 10/15/2019 - 19:14

Google Blog – “Whether you’re looking for the latest news or the quickest driving route, we aim to make our products helpful for everyone. And when you turn on settings like Location History or Web & App Activity, the data can make Google products more useful for you—like recommending a restaurant that you might enjoy, or helping you pick up where you left off on a previous search. We work to keep your data private and secure, and we’ve heard your feedback that we need to provide simpler ways for you to manage or delete it. You can already use your Google Account to access simple on/off controls for Location History and Web & App Activity, and if you choose—to delete all or part of that data manually. In addition to these options, we’re announcing auto-delete controls that make it even easier to manage your data. Here’s how they’ll work…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Google’s new voice recorder app transcribes in real time, even when offline

Tue, 10/15/2019 - 19:10

TechCrunch: “At Google’s hardware event this morning, the company introduced a new voice recorder app for Android devices, which will tap into advances in real-time speech processing, speech recognition and AI to automatically transcribe recordings in real time as the person is speaking. The improvements will allow users to take better advantage of the phone’s voice recording functionality, as it will be able to turn the recordings into text even when there’s no internet connectivity. This presents a new competitor to others in voice transcriptions that are leveraging similar AI advances, like, Reason8, Trint and others, for example. As Google explained, all the recorder functionality happens directly on the device — meaning you can use the phone while in airplane mode and still have accurate recordings.

“This means you can transcribe meetings, lectures, interviews, or anything you want to save,” said Sabrina Ellis, VP of Product Management at Google….”

Categories: Law and Legal

Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues, October 12, 2019

Mon, 10/14/2019 - 21:18

Via LLRXPete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues, October 12, 2019 – Privacy and security issues impact every aspect of our lives – home, work, travel, education, health and medical records – to name but a few. On a weekly basis Pete Weiss highlights articles and information that focus on the increasingly complex and wide ranging ways technology is used to compromise and diminish our privacy and security, often without our situational awareness. Four highlights from this week: Americans and Digital Knowledge; 10 Tips to Avoid Leaving Tracks Around the Internet; Proving You’re You: How Federal Agencies Can Improve Online Verification; and New Report: “World’s First Deepfake Audit Counts Videos and Tools on the Open Web”

Categories: Law and Legal

Executive Privilege and Individuals outside the Executive Branch

Mon, 10/14/2019 - 18:26 – Executive Privilege and Individuals outside the Executive Branch October 9, 2019 IN11177 – “White House assertions of executive privilege for presidential communications have historically been confined to individuals who were executive branch employees when those communications occurred. While the idea that executive privilege could extend to individuals outside the executive branch predates the Trump Administration, it appears that recent testimony by Kris Kobach, former Kansas Secretary of State, and Corey Lewandowski, former manager of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, are likely the first times the executive branch has actually made such an assertion to Congress. For decades, Presidents have asserted executive privilege by instructing current and former executive branch officials to refuse to respond to congressional questions about communications with the President and the deliberations of the executive branch. While the Supreme Court recognized in United States v. Nixon that the privilege is rooted in the Constitution, it also held that the privilege is not absolute and that the value of confidentiality within the executive branch needs to be balanced against the other branches’ need for information. While the Nixon decision related only to court access to presidential records, this principle has also applied to congressional access. Since that time, Congress and the executive branch have developed a shared understanding of some aspects of executive privilege through decades of negotiations and the precedents established by self-imposed limits on executive privilege in prior presidential Administrations…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Oxford – A Report of Disinformation Initiatives

Mon, 10/14/2019 - 16:23

“This is the first report of the Oxford Technology and Elections Commission (OxTEC).  Written and researched by BBC Monitoring’s specialist Disinformation Team, the report investigates fake news landscapes around the world and analyses a range of measures adopted by governments to combat disinformation. The analysis provides geopolitical context with timely, relevant examples from 19 countries in four continents (with a particular focus on European nations).”

…Turkey ranks first in a list of countries where people complain about completely madeup stories, according to the ‘2019 Reuters Digital News Report’ (Fletcher, 2018). While Turkey has not passed any specific laws to tackle fake news, and instances of people being arrested or detained for spreading fake news are not widespread, the authorities have occasionally investigated suspects accused of such activities…”

Categories: Law and Legal

How to stop Facebook from stealing your data after you die

Mon, 10/14/2019 - 15:55

The Next Web – “Inevitably, one day you’re going to die. While you may think your online identity will go to the grave with you, that’s not always how it works out. Without setting your account to self-implode or handing your login details to a trusted person, companies like Facebook and Google will carry on storing your data and everything else they’ve got on you. Facebook gives you multiple options for what you can do with your profile once you die. One thing you can do is select someone from your friends list to manage your account once you die. Another thing you can do is set a switch to automatically delete your account — but Facebook doesn’t exactly know when you’ve died, so let us explain…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Hundreds of thousands of people read novels on Instagram. They may be the future

Mon, 10/14/2019 - 14:45

FastCompany – “Last year, the New York Public Library released an experiment to put the full text of novels in its Instagram Stories. Today, an estimated 300,000 people are reading books this way.”

“In August 2018, Instagram followers of the New York Public Library were tapping through their Insta Stories when something unexpected showed up: the full text of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, designed for a small screen, with small animations that brought the story to life as you flipped. The project, known as Insta Novels, is part of the NYPL’s goal to reach beyond its walls and convince more people to read books. In pursuit of this mission, the institution has turned to one of the largest social media platforms in the world, bringing classic literature to Instagram’s 400 million daily active users…Designed by the design agency Mother New York, Insta Novels is the winner of Fast Company‘s 2019 Innovation by Design Awards in the Apps & Games category. Since launching in August 2018, more than 300,000 people have read the NYPL’s Insta Novels, and the NYPL’s Instagram account has gained 130,000 followers. While gaining more followers was definitely part of the project’s aim, the NYPL is more excited—and surprised—that people actually read the books that it published on Instagram.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Waze thinks it can get Americans carpooling again

Mon, 10/14/2019 - 14:34

The Verge –  “A year ago, navigation app Waze made a risky bet on carpooling, a type of commuting that has waned since its heyday in the 1970s. It launched Waze Carpool, a dedicated app that lets nonprofessional drivers offer rides to people who are traveling on a similar route for a nominal fee. So how’s it been going? Pretty good it seems, according to some statistics the company released on October 10th to celebrate its first year in the carpooling business. Waze [owned by Alphabet/Google] says carpool customers completed more than 550,000 rides globally last September. (Waze Carpool is available in the US, Mexico, Brazil, and Israel.) The company predicts that it will cross 1 million monthly rides by early 2020. Carpool customers in the US collectively drove 25 million miles last year, which the company estimates helped reduce carbon emissions by 20 million pounds, thanks to combined rides. But Waze would not reveal the total number of people who are using the app, nor would it comment on its retention and turnover rates…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Paper – The effect of pollution on crime

Fri, 10/11/2019 - 19:29

The effect of pollution on crime: Evidence from data on particulate matter and ozone. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management – Available online 30 September 2019, 102267
In Press, Journal Pre-proof [paywall]. – “We estimate the effect of short-term air pollution exposure (PM2.5 and ozone) on several categories of crime, with a particular emphasis on aggressive behavior. To identify this relationship, we combine detailed daily data on crime, air pollution, and weather for an eight-year period across the United States. Our primary identification strategy employs extremely high dimensional fixed effects and we perform a series of robustness checks to address confounding variation between temperature and air pollution. We find a robust positive effect of increased air pollution on violent crimes, and specifically assaults, but no relationship between increases in air pollution and property crimes. The effects are present in and out of the home, at levels well below Ambient Air Pollution Standards, and PM2.5 effects are strongest at lower temperatures. The results suggest that a 10% reduction in daily PM2.5 and ozone could save $1.4 billion in crime costs per year, a previously overlooked cost associated with pollution.”

Categories: Law and Legal