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Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002
Updated: 34 min 47 sec ago

AI and Big Data: A Blueprint for a Human Rights, Social and Ethical Impact Assessment

Thu, 08/30/2018 - 21:51

Mantelero, Alessandro, AI and Big Data: A Blueprint for a Human Rights, Social and Ethical Impact Assessment (May 12, 2018). (2018) 34(4) Computer Law & Security Review 754-772 . Available at SSRN:

“The use of algorithms in modern data processing techniques, as well as data-intensive technological trends, suggests the adoption of a broader view of the data protection impact assessment. This will force data controllers to go beyond the traditional focus on data quality and security, and consider the impact of data processing on fundamental rights and collective social and ethical values. Building on studies of the collective dimension of data protection, this article sets out to embed this new perspective in an assessment model centred on human rights (Human Rights, Ethical and Social Impact Assessment-HRESIA). This self-assessment model intends to overcome the limitations of the existing assessment models, which are either too closely focused on data processing or have an extent and granularity that make them too complicated to evaluate the consequences of a given use of data. In terms of architecture, the HRESIA has two main elements: a self-assessment questionnaire and an ad hoc expert committee. As a blueprint, this contribution focuses mainly on the nature of the proposed model, its architecture and its challenges; a more detailed description of the model and the content of the questionnaire will be discussed in a future publication drawing on the ongoing research.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Finding Open Access Articles – Tools & Tips

Thu, 08/30/2018 - 21:00

LITA Blog – Ashley Farley – This guide is meant to help individuals, of any background, search more easily for open access articles.

“One of the pillars of libraries is facilitating access to the large corpus of existing knowledge. Typically this requires accessing gated information through a publisher or other service provider. Each institution can manage access to subscriptions in a way that works best for their communities – usually either by IP authentication or login credentials. This can be cumbersome for affiliates when not working onsite as there are often additional barriers to subscription access. Often this can require using Remote Desktop or a VPN to connect to a network before access is recognized. For the institution where I work this involves 10 – 15 clicks with two verification steps (one login and one requiring verification clicks on a mobile phone). This is how each off site journal access begins. I can’t help but think in these moments that open access is just technically easier. Often it is one or two clicks – no additional verification needed. It eliminates the need to know whether or not your institution hosts a specific subscription. You know you have access and you have access now. However, the discovery process for open access articles isn’t necessarily the same as subscription searching. Especially if you do not have access to specific subscription databases.”

Categories: Law and Legal

New bilingual Google Assistant with new smart home devices

Thu, 08/30/2018 - 20:47

Google Blog: “This summer, we’ve brought the Google Assistant to more devices across Europe and the rest of the world to help you get answers and get things done in more languages (most recently supporting Spanish, Swedish and Dutch). At IFA 2018, we’re adding multilingual support, so that the Assistant will be able to understand and speak more than one language at a time. Additionally, we’ll be introducing new phones and a broad range of devices and appliances for the home that support the Assistant from our growing ecosystem of partners in Europe…”

Categories: Law and Legal

DOJ Warns It Might Not Be Able to Prosecute Voting Machine Hackers

Thu, 08/30/2018 - 20:43

Motherboard: “…After more than a decade of headlines about the vulnerability of US voting machines to hacking, it turns out the federal government says it may not be able to prosecute election hacking under the federal law that currently governs computer intrusions. Per a Justice Department report issued in July from the Attorney General’s Cyber Digital Task Force, electronic voting machines may not qualify as “protected computers” under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the 1986 law that prohibits unauthorized access to protected computers and networks or access that exceeds authorization (such as an insider breach)…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Bias of Big Tech news not substantiated by the facts

Thu, 08/30/2018 - 18:20

NextDraft: “…This week, President Trump has been attacking Google (and by extension, all of big tech) for being biased against him and the other “victims” who support him. As Kara Swisher rightfully explains in the NYT, “the idea that Google and Twitter are rigging their platforms against him is patently false.” In The Atlantic, Alexis Madgridal adds, “There is a reason that Microsoft’s Bing News or Apple News have nearly the same mix of news sources as Google News: By reasonable, measurable standards, those organizations are the ones reporting the state of the world best.” Madrigal and Swisher are two of our best tech reporters and they clearly explain why the president’s attacks are dead wrong. Here’s the problem with this situation: The point of Trump’s attacks on Google are not intended to ‘prove’ bias at tech companies. Like all the manufactured controversies before it, this one is intended to get Americans to argue the issue, which gives validity to the debate, and ultimately leaves the masses wondering if anyone or anything can be trusted. It’s not about definitive proof or objective truth. It’s about broad confusion and general mistrust…”

See also the Atlantic – Trump Has Changed How Teens View the News – “Young people can see the president’s tweets as jokes, but they still often share his negative feelings about the press.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Study – Climate change could render many of Earth’s ecosystems unrecognizable

Thu, 08/30/2018 - 18:10

Washington Post: “… researchers are reporting Thursday in the journal Science [in a] sweeping survey [that] global fossil and temperature records from the past 20,000 years suggests that Earth’s terrestrial ecosystems are at risk of another, even faster transformation unless aggressive action is taken against climate change…”

“Even as someone who has spent more than 40 years thinking about vegetation change looking into the past … it is really hard for me to wrap my mind around the magnitude of change we’re talking about,” said ecologist Stephen Jackson, director of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center and the lead author of the new study…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Confronting the Ripple Effects of Felony Disenfranchisement

Wed, 08/29/2018 - 23:42
  • Confronting the Ripple Effects of Felony Disenfranchisement: “Today, I was interviewed on Democracy Now! discussing felony disenfranchisement policies with Crystal Mason, a Texas woman sentenced to five years for mistakenly casting a provisional ballot while on parole. In a letter published by the New York Times, in response to an article about similar cases in North Carolina, I argue states must enact notification policies for people who lose their rights to vote and educate them on how their rights can be restored.
  • How Defense Attorneys Can Eliminate Racial Disparities in Criminal Justice: In the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ journal, The Champion, senior research analyst Nazgol Ghandnoosh suggests that defense attorneys can help tackle racial disparities by assessing their casework for bias; engaging in public education, litigation, and advocacy; and by reforming hiring, admissions, and discipline policies in the institutions to which they belong.
  • Cell Phones and ‘Excessive Contact’: The Contradictory Imperatives Facing California’s Parole-Eligible Lifers: Nazgol also published an article in Criminal Justice Policy Review, explaining how parole and prison policies create an incentive for California’s parole-eligible lifers to break prison rules by using cell phones and engaging in physical contact with visitors that’s deemed “excessive.” When detected, these behaviors delay their parole prospects. Nazgol argues that to effectively reduce these forms of misconduct, policymakers and practitioners should address excessive incarceration and expand phone access and family contact.”
Categories: Law and Legal

The Internet of Garbage

Wed, 08/29/2018 - 23:35

Nilay Patel, editor-in-chief, The Verge: “Today, The Verge is publishing an interim edition of Sarah Jeong’s The Internet of Garbage, a book she first published in 2015 that has since gone out of print. It is a thorough and important look at the intractable problem of online harassment. After a year on The Verge’s staff as a senior writer, Sarah recently joined The New York Times Editorial Board to write about technology issues. The move kicked off a wave of outrage and controversy as a group of trolls selectively took Sarah’s old tweets out of context to inaccurately claim that she is a racist. This prompted a further wave of unrelenting racist harassment directed at Sarah, a wave of coverage examining her tweets, and a final wave of coverage about the state of outrage generally. This is all deeply ironic because Sarah laid out exactly how these bad-faith tactics work in The Internet of Garbage. Lost in all of this noise was the fact that Sarah Jeong is an actual person — a person who was an integral and beloved part of The Verge’s team and a deeply respected journalist for years before that. Her extensive reporting on online communities, norms, and harassment is rigorous and insightful in a way that few others have ever matched. Discussing Sarah’s tweets in a vacuum without contending with her life’s actual work in the very field of online communities and harassment is, quite frankly, ridiculous. The Internet of Garbage provides an immediate and accessible look at how online harassment works, how it might be categorized and distinguished, and why the structure of the internet and the policies surrounding it are overwhelmed in fighting it. Sarah has long planned to publish an updated and expanded second edition, but in this particular moment, I am pleased that she’s allowed us to publish this interim edition with a new preface…”

In that new preface, Sarah stresses that her original text was written from a place of optimism. But the years since have not been kind to internet culture. She writes that the tactics of Gamergate, so clearly on display during the harassment campaign waged against her over the last few weeks, have “overtaken our national political and cultural conversations.” That new culture is driven by the shape of the internet and the interactions it fosters. “We are all victims of fraud in the marketplace of ideas,” she writes.

I hope everyone with a true and sincere interest in improving our online communities reads The Internet of Garbage and contends with the scope of the problem Sarah lays out in its pages. We are making the entire text of The Internet of Garbage 1.5 available for free as a PDF, ePub, and .mobi ebook file, and for the minimum allowed price of $.99 in the Amazon Kindle store. Below, we have excerpted Chapter 3, “Lessons from Copyright Law.”

Categories: Law and Legal

The Story of the American Inventor Denied a Patent Because He Was a Slave

Wed, 08/29/2018 - 23:27
The Story of the American Inventor Denied a Patent Because He Was a Slave, Paleofuture (Aug. 28, 2018) Brian L. Frye

“The world of invention is famous for its patent disputes. But what happens when your dispute wasn’t with another inventor but whether the Patent Office saw you as a person at all? In 1864, a black man named Benjamin T. Montgomery tried to patent his new propeller for steamboats. The Patent Office said that he wasn’t allowed to patent his invention. All because he was enslaved. Benjamin T. Montgomery was born into slavery in Virginia in 1819. It’s believed that he learned to read and write from a young age, something not permitted of most slaves because white slaveowners believed that knowledge might lead to rebellions. Montgomery’s literacy gave him a leg up in his later pursuit of everything from surveying to architectural drafting. He even became the first black public official in the state of Mississippi after the Civil War as a Justice of the Peace. But it was his proficiency with machines that would make him notable for the history books—provided mainstream American history books covered such things. Montgomery invented a number of machines, and documents from the 19th century claim that they involved incredibly high levels of skill to manufacture. But the precise number of inventions by Montgomery has been lost to history. The one invention that we now know the most about was his new propeller for steamboats. He tried to patent it in 1864 but the U.S. Patent Office rejected his application because he was a slave…” [h/t Mary Whisner]

  • See also Invention of a Slave, 68 Syracuse L. Rev. 181 (2018) – “On June 10, 1858, the Attorney General issued an opinion titled Invention of a Slave concluding that a slave owner could not patent a machine invented by his slave, because neither the slave owner nor his slave could take the required patent oath. The slave owner could not swear to be the inventor, and the slave could not take an oath at all. The Patent
    Office denied at least two patent applications filed by slave owners, one of which was filed by Senator Jefferson Davis of Mississippi,
    who later became the President of the Confederate States of America. But it also denied at least one patent application filed by a free African-American inventor, because African-Americans could not be citizens of the United States under Dred Scott…”
Categories: Law and Legal

Metadata infrastructure Planning

Wed, 08/29/2018 - 23:17

“Metadata infrastructure planning should start by focusing on the “big picture”, which is the objective of the metadata program, and plan all the MME layers to maintain focus on the objective. Successful technical metadata management requires a solid infrastructure, one that has been planned before it is implemented. In this Focus on Foundations’ article titled Metadata Infrastructure Planning, Douglas Viverito begins a short series on the need for metadata infrastructure as the basis for all metadata management. We encourage you to check out our Data Management Moments professional development video series. Our current series on Metadata Management Failures Top 10 List concludes this month with the # 1 reason why metadata management programs fail. These 2 minute videos have generated great feedback from the data management community! Come back to DataManagementU next week when we introduce our newest author Martin Frappolli, who provides a unique focus and insight on a particular data-intensive industry, insurance…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Maps from around the world – in pictures

Wed, 08/29/2018 - 23:14

The Guardian: “Every two years, a new volume of The Atlas of Design is released, showcasing some of the world’s most intriguingly designed maps. In the latest edition, a new set judged by an expert panel is unveiled, with each accompanied by author commentary…”

Categories: Law and Legal

When Westlaw Fuels Ice Surveillance: Ethics in the Big Data Policing Era

Wed, 08/29/2018 - 22:57
Lamdan, Sarah, When Westlaw Fuels Ice Surveillance: Ethics in the Big Data Policing Era (August 14, 2018). New York University Review of Law & Social Change, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: “Legal research companies are selling surveillance data and services to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other law enforcement agencies. This article discusses ethical issues that arise when lawyers buy and use legal research services sold by the vendors that build ICE’s surveillance systems. As the legal profession collectively pays millions of dollars for computer assisted legal research services, lawyers should consider whether doing so in the era of big data policing compromises their confidentiality requirements and their obligation to supervise third party vendors.”
Categories: Law and Legal

A neuroscientist explains what tech does to the reading brain

Wed, 08/29/2018 - 22:48

The Verge – “For anyone who has ever been a reader, there’s much to sympathize with in Maryanne Wolf’s Reader, Come Home. The UCLA neuroscientist, a great lover of literature, tries to read Hermann Hesse’s Glass Bead Game, an old favorite, only to realize that she finds him boring and too complex. She wonders why he ever won a Nobel. And Wolf, who previously wrote Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain, is horrified that this is what has happened to her ability to concentrate. Reader, Come Home is about, as its subtitle states, “the reading brain in a digital world.” The Verge spoke to Wolf about how technology is changing the brain, what we lose when we lose deep attention, and what to do about it...”

Categories: Law and Legal

Here’s How Much Time You’ll Waste Commuting in Your Lifetime (by City)

Wed, 08/29/2018 - 22:44

How Many Days Americans Waste Commuting In The Course Of A Lifetime, Mapped By City

“Commuting is the most stressful part of the day for many people. It’s like a recurring nightmare — day after day, week after week, year after year spent sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic, stuck behind the wheel instead of spending time with family and friends doing the things you love. It takes a serious toll on the mind and body and on relationships. Not to mention, it can be seriously damaging to your health, leading to headaches, backaches, sleep problems, fatigue, mental health problems, and more. The worst part? Commute times are only getting worse all across the country. In the US, the average worker spends 52.2 minutes a day commuting to and from work, but in many parts of the country, things are even worse. Over the course of just a week, that’s 4.35 hours a week spent commuting.

That got us thinking — how many days does the average person spend commuting to and from work over the course of their life? We did the math for nearly 1,000 US cities. The average American loses 408 days of their life commuting, and in many areas, the toll is even higher. Using the interactive map below, you can see how many days of your life you can expect to spend to commuting in the city where you live. Caution: the answer might depress you.”

1. The Map
2. Methodology
3. How to Use the Map

Categories: Law and Legal

Using Twitter to Visualize Polarization

Tue, 08/28/2018 - 23:08

Center for Data Innovation“MIT Technology Review has created a set of visualizations that uses data about Twitter activity to illustrate the polarization of political discourse in the United States. The visualizations include multiple cluster maps demonstrating that accounts that follow each other tweet similar content. In addition, diagrams show that the most partisan accounts, which include bot accounts that tweet hundreds of times a day, tweet significantly more than accounts in the political center. The visualizations also show the polarization of Turkish and Russian accounts.”

Categories: Law and Legal

This Browser Extension Is Like an AntiVirus for Fake Photos

Tue, 08/28/2018 - 23:05

Wired: “…Doctored images are the scourge of the web-wide fight against fake news. Tech companies and researchers can analyze the behavior of a typical bot in order to sniff out new ones. They can limit the reach of news outlets that perpetually share stories flagged as false. They can see when accounts are coordinating their activity and wipe out whole networks at once. But determining whether a photo that’s been meme-ified and screenshotted a thousand times over depicts something real requires a different level of forensic analysis. Researchers are beginning to develop software that can detect altered images, but they’re locked in an arms race with increasingly skillful creators of fake images.

What we really need, says Ash Bhat, is a tool that proactively tells people when their media diet has become infected with misinformation, at the very moment they’re seeing it. So Bhat and his business partner, Rohan Phadte, both UC Berkeley undergrads, came up with a browser plug-in that does just that. Called SurfSafe, the plug-in, which launches today, allows people to hover over any image that appears in their browser, whether that’s on Facebook or a site like WIRED. SurfSafe instantly checks that photo against more than 100 trusted news sites and fact-checking sites like Snopes to see whether it’s appeared there before. The photo of Bennett burning the flag, for instance, would surface nine other articles where the image appeared, including fact checks from Snopes and…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States: 2018

Tue, 08/28/2018 - 22:52

Lott, John R., Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States: 2018 (August 14, 2018). Available at SSRN:

“Despite the expectations of many after the 2016 elections, the number of concealed handgun permits has increased for the second year in a row. In 2018, the number of concealed handgun permits soared to now over 17.25 million – a 273% increase since 2007. 7.14% of American adults have permits. Unlike surveys that may be affected by people’s unwillingness to answer some personal questions, concealed handgun permit data is the only really “hard data” that we have on gun ownership across the United States. Still, an even larger number of people carry because in 14 states people don’t need a permit to carry in all or virtually all those states. Permits for women and blacks are increasing much faster than they are for men and whites. There are also significant differences in not only the number of permits issued but also who gets them when politicians have discretion in granting them. We also provide evidence on how incredibly law-abiding permit holders are.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Fanning the Flames of Hate: Social Media and Hate Crime

Tue, 08/28/2018 - 22:50

Müller, Karsten and Schwarz, Carlo, Fanning the Flames of Hate: Social Media and Hate Crime (May 21, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

“This paper investigates the link between social media and hate crime using Facebook data. We study the case of Germany, where the recently emerged right-wing party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) has developed a major social media presence. We show that right-wing anti-refugee sentiment on Facebook predicts violent crimes against refugees in otherwise similar municipalities with higher social media usage. To further establish causality, we exploit exogenous variation in major internet and Facebook outages, which fully undo the correlation between social media and hate crime. We further find that the effect decreases with distracting news events; increases with user network interactions; and does not hold for posts unrelated to refugees. Our results suggest that social media can act as a propagation mechanism between online hate speech and real-life violent crime.”
Categories: Law and Legal