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Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002
Updated: 26 min 30 sec ago

Facebook gave 61 companies access to sensitive user data

Sun, 07/01/2018 - 15:42

WSJ (paywall) – “Facebook Inc. disclosed it gave dozens of companies special access to user data, detailing for the first time a spate of deals that contrasted with the social network’s previous public statements that it restricted personal information to outsiders in 2015. The deals with app developers, device and software makers, described in 747 pages of documents released to Congress late on Friday / govdoc no paywall [June 29, 2018] represent Facebook’s most granular explanation of exemptions that previously had been revealed by The Wall Street Journal and other news organizations. The revelations come as lawmakers have demanded accountability at Facebook for allowing companies access to data on its billions of users without their knowledge, and questioned how far the universe of firms extends. Facebook said in Friday’s document that the special deals were required to give app developers time to become compliant with changes in its policies, and to enable device and software makers to create versions of the social network for their products. The company revealed it was still sharing information of users’ friends, such as name, gender, birth date, current city or hometown, photos and page likes, with 61 app developers nearly six months after it said it stopped access to this data in 2015. Facebook said it gave these 61 firms—which ranged from the dating app Hinge to shipping giant United Parcel Service Inc.—a six-month extension for them to “come into compliance” with the 2015 policy. In addition, five other companies “theoretically could have accessed limited friends’ data” because of access they received as part of a Facebook experiment, the company said in the document…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Whistleblower’s guilty plea and unmistakable trail of watermarks

Sun, 07/01/2018 - 15:20

Axios: “Reality Winner has pleaded guilty: “All of my actions I did willfully, meaning I did so of my own free will,” she told a court on Tuesday, per the New York Times‘ report. The former Air Force linguist earned the distinction of being the first person prosecuted by the Trump administration on charges of leaking classified information under the Espionage Act. Her defense struck a deal with the Justice Department that would have her serve 63 months in prison and three years of supervised release. (A judge must now decide whether to approve the sentence.) Federal authorities accused Winner last year of leaking a classified report concerning Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. They believed her to have sent the document to The Intercept, a news outlet funded by Ebay billionaire Pierre Omidyar, which published it online in full. For all its talk of protecting whistleblowers, The Intercept made a rookie mistake: uploading a scanned copy of the original report, which contained telltale, electronic traces all but confirming Winner as the culprit. The pages bore unmistakable watermarks—printer microdots—that identified their source. Although the FBI did not mention the dots in its court filings, the agency did say it was able to determine the leaked document was a printout thanks to crease marks. The dots no doubt clinched the case. Whatever your stance on Winner’s situation may be, her undoing at least provides a valuable lesson to would-be whistleblowers and media outlets: Heed the dots. Indeed, already there are workarounds. A new paper authored by four German researchers at the Technical University of Dresden describes a method for overcoming these watermarks. Having decoded a variety of dot arrangements, the team suggests adding additional dots in precise ways so as to thwart the tagging technique, rendering output anonymous. You can test out the group’s obfuscation tools here…”

Categories: Law and Legal

NYT – How conservatives weaponized the First Amendment

Sun, 07/01/2018 - 13:57

How conservatives weaponized the First Amendment: “…The Citizens United campaign finance case, for instance, was decided on free-speech grounds, with the five-justice conservative majority ruling that the First Amendment protects unlimited campaign spending by corporations. The government, the majority said, has no business regulating political speech. The dissenters responded that the First Amendment did not require allowing corporate money to flood the political marketplace and corrupt democracy. “The libertarian position has become dominant on the right on First Amendment issues,” said Ilya Shapiro, a lawyer with the Cato Institute. “It simply means that we should be skeptical of government attempts to regulate speech. That used to be an uncontroversial and nonideological point. What’s now being called the libertarian position on speech was in the 1960s the liberal position on speech.” And an increasingly conservative judiciary has been more than a little receptive to this argument. A new analysis prepared for The New York Times found that the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has been far more likely to embrace free-speech arguments concerning conservative speech than liberal speech. That is a sharp break from earlier eras. As a result, liberals who once championed expansive First Amendment rights are now uneasy about them. “The left was once not just on board but leading in supporting the broadest First Amendment protections,” said Floyd Abrams, a prominent First Amendment lawyer and a supporter of broad free-speech rights. “Now the progressive community is at least skeptical and sometimes distraught at the level of First Amendment protection which is being afforded in cases brought by litigants on the right.” Many on the left have traded an absolutist commitment to free speech for one sensitive to the harms it can inflict…To the contrary, free speech reinforces and amplifies injustice, Catharine A. MacKinnon, a law professor at the University of Michigan, wrote in “The Free Speech Century,” a collection of essays to be published this year…”

And an increasingly conservative judiciary has been more than a little receptive to this argument. A new analysis prepared for The New York Times found that the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has been far more likely to embrace free-speech arguments concerning conservative speech than liberal speech. That is a sharp break from earlier eras.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Crossing the Big Data / Data Science Analytics Chasm

Fri, 06/29/2018 - 00:01

Data Science Central: “The key of any organization’s digital transformation is becoming more effective at leveraging data and analytics to power their business models. That is, how can organizations exploit the growing bounty of internal and external data sources to uncover new sources of customer, product, service, operational and market insights that they can use to optimize key business and operational processes, mitigate compliance and cybersecurity risks, uncover new monetization opportunities, and create a more compelling, differentiated customer experience..”

Categories: Law and Legal

Legal Writing Tools for Mac Lawyers

Thu, 06/28/2018 - 23:45

Law Technology Today: “Mac computers are now the preferred choice for young professionals, including young lawyers and law students. And many other firms have become Mac enthusiasts. Whether you love the interface, the physical design, or whether you got fed up with the Blue Screen of Death and slow forced updates, it’s great to know that more legal tech developers are bringing their products to the Mac platform…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Congress.gov New, Tip, and Top for June 2018, Part 2

Thu, 06/28/2018 - 23:44

In Custodia Legis: “Earlier this month, Andrew provided an update on the Congress.gov enhancements, including that the date of the “Previous Meeting” on the homepage is now linked to a list of items that were on the House or Senate floor that day. The previous release also included errata, a published correction for a committee report that, if applicable, will display in the overview box of the committee report. In this release,  you will find that ”On the Floor” reports are now linked from the “Yesterday in Congress” browse, so you can quickly locate detailed information about what was considered on the previous legislative day. We’re also introducing Congress.gov notifications that users can subscribe to in order to receive news and information about new Congress.gov features and system maintenance…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Little Things and Big Challenges: Information Privacy and the Internet of Things

Thu, 06/28/2018 - 23:37

Brill, Hillary and Jones, Scott, Little Things and Big Challenges: Information Privacy and the Internet of Things (June 1, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3188958 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3188958

“The Internet of Things (IoT), the wireless connection of devices to ourselves, each other, and the Internet, has transformed our lives and our society in unimaginable ways. Today, billions of electronic devices and sensors collect, store, and analyze personal information from how fast we drive, to how fast our hearts beat, to how much and what we watch on TV. Even children provide billions of bits of personal information to the cloud through “smart” toys that capture images, recognize voices, and more. The unprecedented and unbridled new information flow generated from the little things of the IoT is creating big challenges for privacy regulators. Traditional regulators are armed with conventional tools not fully capable of handling the privacy challenges of the IoT. A critical review of recent Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforcement decisions sheds light on a recommended path for the future regulation of the IoT. This Article first examines the pervasiveness of the IoT and the data it collects in order to clarify the challenges facing regulators. It also highlights traditional privacy laws, principles, and regulations and explains why those rules do not fit the novel challenges and issues resulting from the IoT. Then it presents an in-depth analysis of four key FTC enforcement decisions to highlight how the FTC has and can regulate the IoT without undermining the innovation and benefits that this technology — and the data it provides — brings to our society.”

Categories: Law and Legal

New rule covers purchasing authority for cyber emergencies

Thu, 06/28/2018 - 23:33

FCW.com: “The federal government is moving to expand emergency procurement authority for purchases used to respond to or recover from a cyberattack, according to a new proposed rule in the Federal Register. The change places cyberattacks against the United States in the same category as nuclear, biological, chemical or radiological attacks. It would allow federal procurement officials to spend up to $20,000 for domestic purchases and $30,000 for international purchases under micropurchasing rules, as well as $750,000 and $1.5 million for simplified acquisition purchases, provided the work has “a clear and direct relationship to the support of a contingency operation.” The notice — put out by the Department of Defense, General Services Administration and NASA — implements several provisions from the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act that increase the dollar threshold for agency purchases that are in support of federal efforts to respond to an emergency or a disaster…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Report – How tech companies use dark patterns to discourage us from exercising our rights to privacy

Thu, 06/28/2018 - 23:05
The Norwegian Consumer Council (Forbrukerrådet) – “In this report, we analyze a sample of settings in Facebook, Google and Windows 10, and show how default settings and dark patterns, techniques and features of interface design meant to manipulate users, are used to nudge users towards privacy intrusive options. The findings include privacy intrusive default settings, misleading wording, giving users an illusion of control, hiding away privacy-friendly choices, take-it-or-leave-it choices, and choice architectures where choosing the privacy friendly option requires more effort for the users. Facebook and Google have privacy intrusive defaults, where users who want the privacy friendly option have to go through a significantly longer process. They even obscure some of these settings so that the user cannot know that the more privacy intrusive option was preselected. The popups from Facebook, Google and Windows 10 have design, symbols and wording that nudge users away from the privacy friendly choices. Choices are worded to compel users to make certain choices, while key information is omitted or downplayed. None of them lets the user freely postpone decisions. Also, Facebook and Google threaten users with loss of functionality or deletion of the user account if the user does not choose the privacy intrusive option. The GDPR settings from Facebook, Google and Windows 10 provide users with granular choices regarding the collection and use of personal data. At the same time, we find that the service providers employ numerous tactics in order to nudge or push consumers toward sharing as much data as possible…”
Categories: Law and Legal

A Twitter Bot Has Joined the Immigration Battle to Fight ICE With Facts

Thu, 06/28/2018 - 22:48

Gizmodo: “A bot on Twitter is sharing images of all 212 immigration detention centers along with the address and demographic information of each location, tossing cold, hard facts into the heated online debate over immigration in America. Artist Everest Pipkin created the bot, @Abolish_ICE_Now, on Friday, about two months after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the “zero tolerance” policy that has resulted in U.S. Border Patrol agents separating thousands of undocumented children from their parents—an unspeakably cruel policy child health care professionals have characterized as “a form of child abuse.”…

Categories: Law and Legal

Database of 340 Million Customer Records Leaks onto Web

Thu, 06/28/2018 - 19:36

The time is long over due to cease talking about data privacy – we have none – and move forward, now, to develop and implement standards to secure our metadata from organizations that collect, aggregate, sell, buy and trade every facet of our “data” without our knowledge and consent, with ramifications that continue to remain opaque to all too many Americans. Via Wired: “You’ve probably never heard of the marketing and data aggregation firm Exactis. But it may well have heard of you. And now there’s also a good chance that whatever information the company has about you, it recently leaked onto the public internet, available to any hacker who simply knew where to look. Earlier this month, security researcher Vinny Troia discovered that Exactis, a data broker based in Palm Coast, Florida, had exposed a database that contained close to 340 million individual records on a publicly accessible server. The haul comprises close to 2 terabytes of data that appears to include personal information on hundreds of millions of American adults, as well as millions of businesses. While the precise number of individuals included in the data isn’t clear—and the leak doesn’t seem to contain credit card information or Social Security numbers—it does go into minute detail for each individual listed, including phone numbers, home addresses, email addresses, and other highly personal characteristics for every name. The categories range from interests and habits to the number, age, and gender of the person’s children.

 

Categories: Law and Legal

Pew Survey – Public Attitudes Toward Technology Companies

Thu, 06/28/2018 - 19:32

“A majority of Republicans say technology firms support the views of liberals over conservatives and that social media platforms censor political viewpoints. Still, Americans tend to feel that these firms benefit them and – to a lesser degree – society In the midst of an ongoing debate over the power of digital technology companies and the way they do business, sizable shares of Americans believe these companies privilege the views of certain groups over others. Some 43% of Americans think major technology firms support the views of liberals over conservatives, while 33% believe these companies support the views of men over women, a new Pew Research Center survey finds. In addition, 72% of the public thinks it likely that social media platforms actively censor political views that those companies find objectionable. The belief that technology companies are politically biased and/or engaged in suppression of political speech is especially widespread among Republicans. Fully 85% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents think it likely that social media sites intentionally censor political viewpoints, with 54% saying this is very likely. And a majority of Republicans (64%) think major technology companies as a whole support the views of liberals over conservatives. On a personal level, 74% of Americans say major technology companies and their products and services have had more of a positive than a negative impact on their own lives. And a slightly smaller majority of Americans (63%) think the impact of these companies on society as a whole has been more good than bad. At the same time, their responses highlight an undercurrent of public unease about the technology industry and its broader role in society. When presented with several statements that might describe these firms, a 65% majority of Americans feel the statement “they often fail to anticipate how their products and services will impact society” describes them well – while just 24% think these firms “do enough to protect the personal data of their users.” Meanwhile, a minority of Americans think these companies can be trusted to do the right thing just about always (3%) or most of the time (25%), and roughly half the public (51%) thinks they should be regulated more than they are now. These are among the key findings of this Pew Research Center survey, conducted May 29-June 11 among 4,594 U.S. adults…”

Categories: Law and Legal

NSA Reports Data Deletion

Thu, 06/28/2018 - 19:29

NSA/CSS Statement, June 28, 2018: “Consistent with NSA’s core values of respect for the law, accountability, integrity, and transparency we are making public notice that on May 23, 2018, NSA began deleting all call detail records (CDRs) acquired since 2015 under Title V of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The Government relies on Title V of FISA to obtain CDRs, which do not include the content of any calls. In accordance with this law, the Government obtains these CDRs, following a specific court-authorized process. NSA is deleting the CDRs because several months ago NSA analysts noted technical irregularities in some data received from telecommunications service providers. These irregularities also resulted in the production to NSA of some CDRs that NSA was not authorized to receive. Because it was infeasible to identify and isolate properly produced data, NSA concluded that it should not use any of the CDRs. Consequently, NSA, in consultation with the Department of Justice and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, decided that the appropriate course of action was to delete all CDRs. NSA notified the Congressional Oversight Committees, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, and the Department of Justice of this decision. The Department of Justice, in turn, notified the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The root cause of the problem has since been addressed for future CDR acquisitions, and NSA has reviewed and revalidated its intelligence reporting to ensure that the reports were based on properly received CDRs.”

Categories: Law and Legal

From a Natural Language to a Controlled Contract Language

Wed, 06/27/2018 - 23:29

Finnegan, Milva, From a Natural Language to a Controlled Contract Language (May 24, 2018). Jusletter IT May 24 2018. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3184366

“Readability of contracts is a challenge. Over time a natural set of traditional words and writing style has developed. A controlled language is derived from a natural language and usually consists of a dictionary and a set of writing rules in a controlled document. This article introduces the idea of a controlled contract language for contract drafting. The comparative model examined is ASD-100STE, used in the aerospace industry for writing technical manuals. ASD-100STE’s goal is to enhance document readability to assure comprehension across all writers and users.”

Categories: Law and Legal

The World Lost 40 Football Fields of Tropical Trees Every Minute in 2017

Wed, 06/27/2018 - 23:25

Yale Environment 360: “Despite international efforts to reduce deforestation, the world’s tropical forests lost 39 million acres of trees in 2017, an area roughly the size of Bangladesh, according to new data from the environmental monitoring group Global Forest Watch. That is equal to losing 40 football fields of tropical trees every minute for an entire year — making 2017 the second-worst year for tropical deforestation on record, just behind 2016. According to The New York Times, the satellite images used by Global Forest Watch track only forest loss, not regrowth following storms, fires, and logging, offering only a partial picture of the health of the world’s forests. But several studies confirm that tropical forests are shrinking worldwide. Colombia experienced one of the most dramatic increases in tree loss last year, with a 46 percent increase in deforestation from 2016, and double its loss rate from 2001-2015. Brazil had its second-highest tree loss on record, driven largely by a record-breaking number of forest fires set by people in the Amazon to clear land for pasture and agriculture. On the positive front, deforestation in Indonesia declined to its lowest level in more than a decade, including a 60 percent reduction in primary forest loss…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Federal Government Releases National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Plan

Wed, 06/27/2018 - 22:51

NASA: “A new multiagency report outlines how the U.S. could become better prepared for near-Earth objects — asteroids and comets whose orbits come within 30 million miles of Earth — otherwise known as NEOs. While no known NEOs currently pose significant risks of impact, the report is a key step to addressing a nationwide response to any future risks. NASA, along with the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and several other governmental agencies collaborated on this federal planning document for NEOs. The 20-page document is titled “The National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan,” and organizes and coordinates efforts related to the NEO efforts within the federal government during the next 10 years to ensure the nation can more effectively respond in case this type of very low-probability but very high-consequence natural disaster should occur. NASA’s Near-Earth Object Observation Program funds asteroid detection and tracking efforts at observatories across the U.S. and in space, and collaborates with other observatories around the world. The NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, maps and publishes the orbits of all detected objects so that everyone can understand the potential risk. NASA also is studying approaches for deflecting (turning aside) or disrupting (breaking up) asteroids. By completing the action plan, NASA and several other departments and agencies will evaluate and begin development of various approaches and technologies for defending Earth from a significant impact…”

The National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan is available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/National-Near-Earth-Object-Preparedness-Strategy-and-Action-Plan-23-pages-1MB.pdf

Categories: Law and Legal

Trillion Dollar Inheritance: The World’s Biggest Family Fortunes

Wed, 06/27/2018 - 19:44

Bloomberg – Walmart, Samsung, Koch Industries and Hermes have built some of the biggest fortunes to ever be handed down between generations. “From Mars bars to Hermes scarves, supermarkets to hotels and data firms to drug makers, the source of this wealth is varied and its scale is startling: more than the market cap of Apple Inc., all the deposits held by Citigroup Inc. or the entire GDP of Indonesia…”

Categories: Law and Legal

OSHA launches database of workplace chemical information

Wed, 06/27/2018 - 19:09

OSHA Safety and Health: “A new database from OSHA offers access to safety profiles and information on workplace chemicals. Pooling data from various government agencies and organizations, the OSHA Occupational Chemical Database offers chemical identification, physical properties, permissible exposure limits, sampling information and additional resources for each substance. OSHA calls the webpage its “premier one-stop shop for occupational chemical information.” Users can search chemicals by name or identification number and group them by PEL, carcinogenic level, or immediately dangerous to life and health air concentration value…”

Categories: Law and Legal

BBC releases computer history archive

Wed, 06/27/2018 - 18:53

BBC Technology – “A slice of computing history has been made public, giving people the opportunity to delve into an archive that inspired a generation of coders. The Computer Literacy Project led to the introduction of the BBC Micro alongside programmes which introduced viewers to the principles of computing. It included interviews with innovators such as Bill Gates and Steve Wozniak. The BBC hopes the 1980s archive will encourage today’s youngsters to become involved in computing. With the release of the archive, viewers can now search and browse all of the programmes from the project. They will be able to:

  • watch any of the 267 programmes
  • explore clips by topic or text search
  • run 166 BBC Micro programmes that were used on-screen
  • find out the history of the Computer Literacy Project…”
Categories: Law and Legal

Free Law Project Trump’s Supreme Court List

Wed, 06/27/2018 - 18:44

“On June 27, 2018, Associate Justice Kennedy informed President Trump that he would be retiring from the Supreme Court effective July 31st. In response to this announcement, President Trump stated that his next Supreme Court nomination would come from his existing list of potential Supreme Court justices. In our Judge and Appointment database, we have compiled extensive information about American judges, including their biographical data, the roles they have held before, during and after their time in the judicial branch, their political affiliations, and their campaign finance information (if applicable). The judges are also linked to the opinions they have authored. Here are links to every judge in our database that is on President Trump’s list. For a few judges, we have not yet completed this work, and so there’s no link.”

Categories: Law and Legal

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