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Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002
Updated: 2 hours 47 min ago

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:

“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:

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

Torn Apart – visualize the geography of Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy in 2018

Tue, 06/26/2018 - 22:24

Digital Humanities Now – Torn Apart / Separados by Manan Ahmed, Alex Gil, Moacir P. de Sá Pereira, Roopika Risam, Maira E. Álvarez, Sylvia A. Fernández, Linda Rodriguez, and Merisa Martinez – June 26, 2018

“Torn Apart aggregates and cross-references publicly available data to visualize the geography of Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy in 2018 and immigration incarceration in the USA in general. We also draw attention to the landscapes, families, and communities riven by the massive web of immigrant detention in the United States. Working nimbly and remotely from four sites in the United States over a six-day period, our small team of researchers set about identifying sources of data on immigrant detention, from ports of entry run by Customs and Border Protection (CBP), to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers, to shelters subcontracted by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to care for children in their custody, to the financial trails left by a network of public, private, and non-profit organizations complicit with the complex infrastructure of immigrant detention in the United States. Our sources for obtaining the data were varied. Those we worked from included a FOIA-ed list of ICE facilities, publicly available lists of CBP sites, data sets of ICE detainee hearings, state childcare licensing databases, government grant awards lists, and We cross-checked our data through non-governmental sources as well: news reports about immigrant detention, business databases, tax documents for non-profit organizations, job advertisements, Google Maps entries, Facebook Places, and more. All of our data has been verified through a minimum of two sources, at least one directly from the government. What our data reveals is a shadowy network of government facilities, subcontractors from the prison-industrial complex, “non-profit” administrators paid over half a million dollars a year, and religious organizations across the country that, together, prop up the immigrant detention machine. Immigrant detention is a multi-billion dollar business and it’s happening in our own backyards. The crisis for immigrants in the United States is not only happening at the Mexico-United States border or other ports of entry. Rather, the border is everywhere. This is not to say that Torn Apart, now in alpha release, paints a complete picture of immigrant detention. Like all maps, ours is a representation of data, reflecting choices we made while designing visualizations. For example, a simple decision to place data points in the foreground rather than in the background offers a very different reading of the locations of ICE detention centers, as the map below demonstrates…”

Categories: Law and Legal

New Book Chapter by Dempsey, Malpas Considers the Future of the Academic Library 26 June 2018

Tue, 06/26/2018 - 19:55

OCLC: “Lorcan Dempsey, Vice President of the Membership and Research Division and Chief Strategist, and Constance Malpas, Strategic Intelligence Manager and Research Scientist, have authored a chapter in the book Higher Education in the Era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution just released by Springer, and available for open access download. In the chapter “Academic Library Futures in a Diversified University System,” Dempsey and Malpas consider the future of the academic library in the context of a diversifying higher education system. They explore ways in which libraries are responding to the transition from a collections-based model to a more diffuse services-based model, and describe diversification of the higher education system around poles of research, liberal education, and career preparation. The academic library is not fixed. It is changing as it adapts to the changing research and learning behaviors of its home institution, which are the principal drivers of the library service. This is in parallel with the evolving influence of the network on student, teacher and researcher practices and with the shift from print to digital. Just as the higher education system is diversifying, academic libraries similarly will diverge, with different service bundles depending on the type of educational institution they serve. This means that the model of excellence for libraries also will need to be plural, based on strategic fit to the needs of the institution they serve and not on collection size or gate count.”

Categories: Law and Legal

The Biggest Digital Heist in History Isn’t Over Yet

Tue, 06/26/2018 - 19:52

Bloomberg: Carbanak’s suspected ringleader is under arrest, but $1.2 billion remains missing, and his malware attacks live on.

“Since late 2013, this band of cybercriminals has penetrated the digital inner sanctums of more than 100 banks in 40 nations, including Germany, Russia, Ukraine, and the U.S., and stolen about $1.2 billion, according to Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency. The string of thefts, collectively dubbed Carbanak—a mashup of a hacking program and the word “bank”—is believed to be the biggest digital bank heist ever. In a series of exclusive interviews with Bloomberg Businessweek, law enforcement officials and computer-crime experts provided revelations about their three-year pursuit of the gang and the mechanics of a caper that’s become the stuff of legend in the digital underworld. Besides forcing ATMs to cough up money, the thieves inflated account balances and shuttled millions of dollars around the globe. Deploying the same espionage methods used by intelligence agencies, they appropriated the identities of network administrators and executives and plumbed files for sensitive information about security and account management practices. The gang operated through remotely accessed computers and hid their tracks in a sea of internet addresses. “Carbanak is the first time we saw such novel methods used to penetrate big financial institutions and their networks,” says James Chappell, co-founder and chief innovation officer of Digital Shadows Ltd., a London intelligence firm that works with the Bank of England and other lending institutions. “It’s the breadth of the attacks, that’s what’s truly different about this one.”…

Categories: Law and Legal

Supreme Court in 5-4 ruling backs Trumps travel ban

Tue, 06/26/2018 - 19:36
Categories: Law and Legal

NPR Music’s 35 Favorite Songs Of 2018 (So Far)

Tue, 06/26/2018 - 19:20

NPR Best Music of the Year: “The best songs from the first half of 2018 serve many functions. Some reveal pain, others relieve it. Some guide us forward through the darkness, others eradicate it like a firework. Here are 35 favorites that put in work for us, each one the personal choice of one person at NPR Music or one of our partner stations around the country. (If you’re into playlists, there’s one here.) We didn’t vote or haggle; we each reached into our hearts and picked what nestled closest. As one of these songs puts it in less printable fashion, we didn’t really care too much if no one else liked it. Well, maybe we care a little — here’s hoping you find a new favorite, too.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Artificial Intelligence: Emerging Opportunities, Challenges, and Implications for Policy and Research

Tue, 06/26/2018 - 19:02

Artificial Intelligence: Emerging Opportunities, Challenges, and Implications for Policy and Research; GAO-18-644T: Published: Jun 26, 2018. Publicly Released: Jun 26, 2018. “Artificial intelligence (AI) could improve human life and economic competitiveness—but it also poses new risks. The Comptroller General convened a Forum on AI to consider the policy and research implications of AI’s use in 4 areas with the potential to significantly affect daily life:

  • cybersecurity,
  • automated vehicles,
  • criminal justice, and
  • financial services.

“Based on our March 2018 technology assessment, we testified that AI will have far-reaching effects on society—even if AI capabilities stop advancing today. We also testified about prospects for AI in the near future and areas where changes in policy and research may be needed.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Freedom of Information Act: Agencies Are Implementing Requirements but Additional Actions Are Needed

Tue, 06/26/2018 - 18:58

Freedom of Information Act: Agencies Are Implementing Requirements but Additional Actions Are Needed, GAO-18-365: Published: Jun 25, 2018. Publicly Released: Jun 25, 2018.

“All 18 selected agencies had implemented three of six Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requirements reviewed. Specifically, all agencies had updated response letters to inform requesters of the right to seek assistance from FOIA public liaisons, implemented request tracking systems, and provided training to FOIA personnel. For the three additional requirements, 15 agencies had provided online access to government information, such as frequently requested records, 12 agencies had designated chief FOIA officers, and 12 agencies had published and updated their FOIA regulations on time to inform the public of their operations. Until these agencies address all of the requirements, they increase the risk that the public will lack information that ensures transparency and accountability in government operations. The 18 selected agencies had backlogs of varying sizes, with 4 agencies having backlogs of 1,000 or more requests during fiscal years 2012 through 2016. These 4 agencies reported using best practices identified by the Department of Justice, such as routinely reviewing metrics, as well as other methods, to help reduce their backlogs. Nevertheless, these agencies’ backlogs fluctuated over the 5-year period. The 4 agencies with the largest backlogs attributed challenges in reducing their backlogs to factors such as increases in the number and complexity of FOIA requests. However, these agencies lacked plans that described how they intend to implement best practices to reduce backlogs. Until agencies develop such plans, they will likely continue to struggle to reduce backlogs to a manageable level.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Paper – Text as Data

Tue, 06/26/2018 - 18:54
Text as Data – Matthew Gentzkow, Stanford; Bryan T. Kelly, Yale and AQR Capital Management; Matt Taddy, Chicago Booth: “An ever increasing share of human interaction, communication, and culture is recorded as digital text. We provide an introduction to the use of text as an input to economic research. We discuss the features that make text different from other forms of data, offer a practical overview of relevant statistical methods, and survey a variety of applications.” [h/t Matthew McCormick]
Categories: Law and Legal

Digital Searches, the Fourth Amendment, and the Magistrates’ Revolt

Tue, 06/26/2018 - 18:38

Berman, Emily, Digital Searches, the Fourth Amendment, and the Magistrates’ Revolt (May 30, 2018). Emory Law Journal, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN:

“Searches of electronically stored information present a Fourth Amendment challenge. It is often impossible for investigators to identify and collect, at the time a warrant is executed, only the specific data whose seizure is authorized. Instead, the government must seize the entire storage medium—e.g., a hard drive or a cell phone—and extract responsive information later. But investigators conducting that subsequent search inevitably will encounter vast amounts of non-responsive (and often intensely personal) information contained on the device. The challenge thus becomes how to balance the resulting privacy concerns with law enforcement’s legitimate need to investigate crime. Some magistrate judges have begun including in their warrants for digital searches limits on how those searches may be carried out—a development that some have referred to as a “magistrates’ revolt,” and which has both supporters and detractors. This Article argues that the magistrates’ “revolt” was actually no revolt at all. Instead, these judges simply adopted a time-honored tool—minimization—that is used to address a conceptually analogous privacy threat posed by foreign intelligence collection. I further argue that embracing both the practice and the label of “minimization” will yield at least two benefits: First, it will recast magistrates’ actions as a new instantiation of a legitimate judicial role, rather than a novel, potentially illegitimate practice. Second, it will allow magistrates to draw on lessons learned from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court’s creative use of minimization to safeguard Fourth Amendment rights in the intelligence-collection context.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Personal Data v. Big Data: Challenges of Commodification of Personal Data

Mon, 06/25/2018 - 22:34

Canellopoulou-Bottis, Maria and Bouchagiar, George, Personal Data v. Big Data: Challenges of Commodification of Personal Data (May 11, 2018). Open Journal of Philosophy, 2018, 8, pp. 206-215. Available at SSRN:

“Any firm today may, at little or no cost, build its own infrastructure to process personal data for commercial, economic, political, technological or any other purposes. Society has, therefore, turned into a privacy-unfriendly environment. The processing of personal data is essential for multiple economically and socially useful purposes, such as health care, education or terrorism prevention. But firms view personal data as a commodity, as a valuable asset, and heavily invest in processing for private gains. This article studies the potential to subject personal data to trade secret rules, so as to ensure the users’ control over their data without limiting the data’s free movement, and examines some positive scenarios of attributing commercial value to personal data.”

Categories: Law and Legal