beSpacific - Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002
Axios: “A malfunctioning dog leash could end up creating billions of dollars of potential liabilities for online marketplaces, with Amazon front and center. Background: A dog leash sold and shipped by The Furry Gang, one of the millions of small sellers that operate on Amazon’s marketplace, snapped, permanently blinding the buyer in her left eye.
- Amazon is responsible for the injury, according to a 2-1 decision from Philadelphia’s Third Circuit Court of Appeals.
- “Amazon’s involvement in transactions extends beyond a mere editorial function; it plays a large role in the actual sales process,” the opinion states.
- Our thought bubble: This ruling challenges the company’s longtime practice of effectively outsourcing quality control to its customers and their reviews. Amazon could now be held liable for all the random things that get sold on its site.
- What to watch: This isn’t just bad news for Amazon. The whole e-commerce sector — including companies like Walmart, eBay and Shopify — could come under fire.”
“Legal reasoning, the core of legal practice in many countries, is “stare decisis” and its soundness is usually strengthened by relevant case law consulted. However, the task of relevant case law access and retrieval is tiring to legal practitioners and constitutes a serious drain on their productivity. Existing efforts at addressing this problem are conceptional, restrictive or unreliable. Specifically, existing semantic retrieval (SR) systems for case law are desirous of exceptional retrieval precision. Ontology promises to meet this desire, if introduced to the SR system. As a consequence, an ontology-based SR system for case law has been built using the systems analysis and design methodology. In particular, the component-based software engineering and the agile methodologies are employed to implement the system. Finally, the search and retrieval performance of the resultant SR system has been evaluated using the heuristics evaluation method. The retrieval system has shown to have a search and retrieval performance of about 94 % precision, 80 % recall and 84 % F-measure. Overall, the paper implements the SR system for case law with excellent precision and affirms the superiority of ontology approach over other semantic approaches to SR systems for document retrieval in the legal domain.”
Via LLRX – Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues July 7, 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: The Strange Politics of Facial Recognition; U.S. Congress expands probe of White House personal email use; All the countries where someone managed to shut down the entire internet — and why they did it; and Over 80% of facial recognition suspects flagged by London’s Met Police were innocent, report says.
Wired – “…The facial recognition plan in US airports is built around the Customs and Border Protection Biometric Exit Program, which utilizes face-scanning technology to verify a traveler’s identity. CBP partners with airlines—including Delta, JetBlue, American Airlines, and others—to photograph each traveler while boarding. That image gets compared to one stored in a cloud-based photo-matching service populated with photos from visas, passports, or related immigration applications.
The Biometric Exit Program is used in at least 17 airports, and a recently-released Department of Homeland Security report states that CBP anticipates having the ability to scan the faces of 97 percent of commercial air passengers departing the United States by 2023. This rapid deployment of facial recognition in airports follows a 2017 executive order in which President Trump expedited former President Obama’s efforts to use biometric technology. The Transportation Security Administration has since unveiled its own plan to improve partnership with CBP and to introduce the technology throughout the airport. The opportunity for this kind of biometric collection infrastructure to feed into a broader system of mass surveillance is staggering, as is its ability to erode privacy…”
Washington Post – A cache of records shared with The Washington Post reveals that agents are scanning hundreds of millions of Americans’ faces without their knowledge or consent – “Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Immigration and Customs Enforcement have turned state driver’s license databases into a facial-recognition gold mine, scanning through hundreds of millions of Americans’ photos without their knowledge or consent, newly released documents show. Thousands of facial-recognition requests, internal documents and emails over the past five years, obtained through public-records requests by Georgetown Law researchers and provided to The Washington Post, reveal that federal investigators have turned state Department of Motor Vehicles databases into the bedrock of an unprecedented surveillance infrastructure. Police have long had access to fingerprints, DNA and other “biometric data” taken from criminal suspects. But the DMV records contain the photos of a vast majority of a state’s residents, most of whom have never been charged with a crime. Neither Congress nor state legislatures have authorized the development of such a system, and growing numbers of Democratic and Republican lawmakers are criticizing the technology as a dangerous, pervasive and error-prone surveillance tool.
“Law enforcement’s access of state databases,” particularly DMV databases, is “often done in the shadows with no consent,” House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) said in a statement to The Post…”
BuzzFeedNews – This is everything (we know of) owned by “The Everything Store.” – “Everything about Amazon in 2019 is inconceivably big: Amazon will make up an estimated 38% of the US e-commerce market this year, according to the online commerce research firm eMarketer, and already dominates 67% of the online books, music, and video market; 46% of the online computer and electronics market; 45% of the online toy market; and 34% of online furniture sales. And with more than $25 billion in revenue just from Amazon Web Services last year, Amazon is the world’s largest cloud services provider. Its sheer size and influence has caught the attention of regulators and lawmakers like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who proposed a plan to break up Amazon and other technology companies in March. In its defense, Amazon said it makes up just 4% of all US retail sales. But taken as a whole, Amazon is much more than a retail platform. The company — which originally incorporated on July 5, 1994, under the business name “Cadabra” and started selling books under the new name Amazon on July 16, 1995 — has expanded into a complex web of businesses and subsidiaries that make it easy to walk into and difficult to walk out of. Its reach stretches from review sites like Goodreads to shoe sales on Zappos to devices like Ring to baby clothing sold in its marketplace to educational tools for teachers, like entire math curriculums.
Few corners of business are untouched by Amazon. You might be shopping on an Amazon-owned site even if you don’t think you are, or be looking at a website or using an app that uses one of many of Amazon’s web services…”
The New York Times – Includes recommendations in genres including: thrillers, travel, true crime, sports, music, historical fiction, horror, cooking, and the great outdoors. Read on!
Digital Information World: “Before you go through this entire piece, imagine a figure in your mind (and note it down on a piece of paper) as how much data – according to you – gets generated in a minute. According to Domo (cloud-based operating system), the internet users have risen from 2.2 billion in 2012 to whopping 3.8 billion in 2017. That is nearly 48% of the entire world’s population. In its 6th Data Never Sleeps report, Domo took into consideration online consumer behavior besides analyzing the amount of data which gets generated in a minute across various platforms. The graph for social media has predictably gone way up as Snapchat witnessed a sharp and enormous increase of 294% in the amount of pictures which are shared every minute. On average, 2.1 million are shared in a minute while roughly 474,000 tweets are shared. When it comes to Instagram and Tumblr, the posts shared every minute go up to neatly 50,000 and 80,000 respectively. Since 2017, Americans have augmented their internet usage by 18%. Some of their preferred platforms are Snapchat, Twitter, Netflix and YouTube. In terms of streaming hours, Netflix observed an amplification of gigantic 40% since last year. On the other hand, YouTube videos have grasped 4.3 million views per 60 seconds…”
See this related infographic – Data Never Sleeps – 6.0
USPTO, May 7, 2019 – The assigned trademark examining attorney has reviewed the referenced application and has determined the following: “…Registration is refused because the applied-for mark is a slogan or term that does not function as a trademark or service mark to indicate the source of applicant’s goods and/or services and to identify and distinguish them from others. Trademark Act Sections 1, 2, 3, and 45, 15 U.S.C. §§1051-1053, 1127. In this case, the applied-for mark is a commonplace term, message, or expression widely used by a variety of sources that merely conveys an ordinary, familiar, well-recognized concept or sentiment…The attached evidence from Redbubble®, Etsy®, Teepublic®, Society6®, Refinery 29®, People®, USA Today ®, Urban Dictionary ® and Dictionary.com ®, shows that this term or expression is commonly used in the drag community and by celebrities as an alternate way of saying “OK” or “something that is said to affirm when someone is being put in their place”. Because consumers are accustomed to seeing this term or expression commonly used in everyday speech by many different sources, they would not perceive it as a mark identifying the source of applicant’s goods and/or services but rather as only conveying an informational message…” [The word Cardi B sought to register is “Okurrr.” Note – I do have a trademark on both beSpacific® and LLRX® – go figure…]
The Atlantic – Arthur C. Brooks – president of AEI: “…In The Happiness Curve: Why Life Gets Better After 50, Jonathan Rauch, a Brookings Institution scholar and an Atlantic contributing editor, reviews the strong evidence suggesting that the happiness of most adults declines through their 30s and 40s, then bottoms out in their early 50s. Nothing about this pattern is set in stone, of course. But the data seem eerily consistent with my experience: My 40s and early 50s were not an especially happy period of my life, notwithstanding my professional fortunes So what can people expect after that, based on the data? The news is mixed. Almost all studies of happiness over the life span show that, in wealthier countries, most people’s contentment starts to increase again in their 50s, until age 70 or so. That is where things get less predictable, however. After 70, some people stay steady in happiness; others get happier until death. Others—men in particular—see their happiness plummet. Indeed, depression and suicide rates for men increase after age 75…
According to research by Dean Keith Simonton, a professor emeritus of psychology at UC Davis and one of the world’s leading experts on the trajectories of creative careers, success and productivity increase for the first 20 years after the inception of a career, on average. So if you start a career in earnest at 30, expect to do your best work around 50 and go into decline soon after that…” [Note – each individual is unique – as is each career. One may practice a profession(s) productively and with passion long after a respective ‘career’ has ‘peaked’.]
Custers, Bart, Methods of Data Research for Law (October 28, 2018). Custers B.H.M. (2018), Methods of data research for law. In: Mak V., Tjong Tjin Tai E., Berlee A. (Eds.) Research Handbook in Data Science and Law. Research Handbooks in Information Law Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. 355-377. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3411873
“Data science and big data offer many opportunities for researchers, not only in the domain of data science and related sciences, but also for researchers in many other disciplines. The fact that data science and big data are playing an increasingly important role in so many research areas raises the question whether this also applies to the legal domain. Do data science and big data also offer methods of data research for law? As will be shown in this chapter, the answer to this question is positive: yes, there are many methods and applications that may be also useful for the legal domain. This answer will be provided by discussing these methods of data research for law in this chapter. As such, this chapter provides an overview of these methods.”
Burnett, Anne and Wolfson, Stephen, “An Introduction to Legal Research” (2019). Presentations. 170. “Presented in Classroom L to UGA Summer Academy Legal Camp students on June 12th and June 19th. These two sessions were sponsored by and in collaboration with UGA School of Law’s Office of Admissions.
Abstract – As part of UGA Summer Academy Legal Camp two law librarians teamed up to give an introduction to legal research to high school students from across the country, including tips and strategies for using Google effectively.”
Cortez, Nathan, Information Mischief Under the Trump Administration (May 21, 2019). Chicago-Kent Law Review, Vol. 94, No. 2, 2019; SMU Dedman School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 418. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3391965“The Trump administration has used government information in more cynical ways than its predecessors. For example, it has removed certain information from the public domain, scrubbed certain terminology from government web sites, censored scientists, manipulated public data, and used “transparency” initiatives as a pretext for anti-regulatory policies, particularly environmental policy. This article attempts to tease out an emerging “information policy” for the Trump administration, explain how it departs from the information policies of predecessors, and evaluate the extent to which both legal and non-legal mechanisms might constrain executive discretion.”
The Verge – What is a tracking pixel and what was Superhuman up to? Is it true that an app called Superhuman lets me spy on people using email? That’s what we heard, too: When you sent an email using this $30-a-month invite-only app, it automatically tracked every time a recipient looks at that email, and even showed you their location. That’s because it uses hidden pixel trackers, according to a viral blog post from Mike Davidson, former VP of design at Twitter. BTW we love your energy here, already assuming you’re going to be the one spying. That’s an excellent analogy for what Superhuman was doing with email trackers. They were on by default, tracking anyone you send email to, whether that was your intention or not…”
BBC – “Bitcoin uses as much energy as the whole of Switzerland, a new online tool from the University of Cambridge shows. The tool makes it easier to see how the crypto-currency network’s energy usage compares with other entities. However, one expert argued that it was the crypto-currency’s carbon footprint that really mattered. Currently, the tool estimates that Bitcoin is using around seven gigawatts of electricity, equal to 0.21% of the world’s supply. That is as much power as would be generated by seven Dungeness nuclear power plants at once. Over the course of a year, this equates to roughly the same power consumption as Switzerland…”
The New York Times – Advertisers are increasingly turning to an invisible method that pulls together information about your device to pinpoint your identity. “Fingerprinting involves looking at the many characteristics of your mobile device or computer, like the screen resolution, operating system and model, and triangulating this information to pinpoint and follow you as you browse the web and use apps. Once enough device characteristics are known, the theory goes, the data can be assembled into a profile that helps identify you the way a fingerprint would.
And here’s the bad news: The technique happens invisibly in the background in apps and websites. That makes it tougher to detect and combat than its predecessor, the web cookie, which was a tracker stored on our devices. The solutions to blocking fingerprinting are also limited…”
The New Yorker – “When you ask experts how bots influence politics—that is, what specifically these bits of computer code that purport to be human can accomplish during an election—they will give you a list: bots can smear the opposition through personal attacks; they can exaggerate voters’ fears and anger by repeating short simple slogans; they can overstate popularity; they can derail conversations and draw attention to symbolic and ultimately meaningless ideas; they can spread false narratives. In other words, they are an especially useful tool, considering how politics is played today.
On July 1st, California became the first state in the nation to try to reduce the power of bots by requiring that they reveal their “artificial identity” when they are used to sell a product or influence a voter. Violators could face fines under state statutes related to unfair competition. Just as pharmaceutical companies must disclose that the happy people who say a new drug has miraculously improved their lives are paid actors, bots in California—or rather, the people who deploy them—will have to level with their audience…By attempting to regulate a technology that thrives on social networks, the state will be testing society’s resolve to get our (virtual) house in order after more than two decades of a runaway Internet…”
Washington Post – How do you read ancient scrolls too brittle to unfurl? An American scientist may have an answer. “If the technology works, it could decode the only large collection of original texts to survive from Greco-Roman antiquity…”