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Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002
Updated: 25 min 22 sec ago

The Rhetoric of the Civil Rights Movement

Wed, 08/26/2020 - 22:31

Penn State – via Pete Weiss: “This web site aims to supply teachers, students, and citizens with the raw materials necessary to sustain their own investigations of the civil rights movement: Here you will find primary materials, background information, and research assistance related to individual speeches or songs or documents or images associated with the African American Freedom Struggle, especially from 1955 to 1972…”

Categories: Law and Legal

How Facebook and Other Sites Manipulate Your Privacy Choices

Wed, 08/26/2020 - 22:15

Wired: “…Dark patterns show up all over the web, nudging people to subscribe to newsletters, add items to their carts, or sign up for services. But, says says Colin Gray, a human-computer interaction researcher at Purdue University, they’re particularly insidious “when you’re deciding what privacy rights to give away, what data you’re willing to part with.” Gray has been studying dark patterns since 2015. He and his research team have identified five basic types: nagging, obstruction, sneaking, interface interference, and forced action. All of those show up in privacy controls. He and other researchers in the field have noticed the cognitive dissonance between Silicon Valley’s grand overtures toward privacy and the tools to modulate these choices, which remain filled with confusing language, manipulative design, and other features designed to leech more data…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Popular Dogs as Trees (that we can plant in your yard for free!)

Wed, 08/26/2020 - 19:58

Casey Trees: “In honor of National Dog Day on August 26 [apologies for the delay on my part], we decided to have a little lighthearted fun – after all, dogs bring so much joy and joy many laughs to our lives. Without further ado, a collection of our residential program trees as popular dog breeds (thanks to the American Kennel Club for the descriptions!)…”

Categories: Law and Legal

The Broken Algorithm That Poisoned American Transportation

Wed, 08/26/2020 - 18:11

Vice: “…Although there are many reasons the Ohio River Bridges Project was a total urban planning debacle, one that has not gotten much attention is the role travel demand models played in putting lipstick on the $2.5 billion pig. One potential reason for that is because those who work in the field have come to expect nothing less. To be sure, not everyone who works in the field feels this way. Civil engineers in particular are more likely to defend the models as a useful tool that gets misapplied from time to time. University of Kentucky civil engineering professor Greg Erhardt, who has spent the better part of two decades working on these models, said at their best they are “a check on wishful thinking.” But other experts I spoke to, especially urban planners, tend to view the models as aiding and abetting the wishful thinking that more highways and wider roads will reduce traffic. Either way, nearly everyone agreed the biggest question is not whether the models can yield better results, but why we rely on them so much in the first place. At the heart of the matter is not a debate about Travel Demand Modeling / TDMs or modeling in general, but the process for how we decide what our cities should look like…”


Categories: Law and Legal

License plate tracking for police set to go nationwide

Wed, 08/26/2020 - 17:48

cnet – “…On Tuesday, Flock Safety, which makes a license plate reader, announced the “Total Analytics Law Officers Network,” or TALON. The network looks to connect the 400 law enforcement agencies using its cameras, allowing agencies that opt in to view camera data from other regions.  You may unsubscribe at any time. The company said it has cameras in 700 cities, essentially creating a nationwide camera network for tracking car movements if they’re all connected.  License plate readers are a powerful surveillance tool, raising privacy concerns for people driving on public streets. Documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union in March 2019 showed that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents used license plate readers to track people’s movements, accessing a database that logs 150 million to 200 million scans every month…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Cyber Alert on Latest North Korea Bank Robbing Scheme

Wed, 08/26/2020 - 17:18

“The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Department of the Treasury (Treasury), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) are issuing a joint technical alert and a malware analysis reports about an ongoing automated teller machine (ATM) cash-out scheme by North Korean government cyber actors – referred to by the U.S. government as “FASTCash 2.0: North Korea’s BeagleBoyz Robbing Banks.” The joint alert provides important, new details about the resumption of a North Korean cyber-enabled bank robbery scheme targeting banks in multiple countries to initiate fraudulent international money transfers and ATM cash outs. It gives an overview of the group responsible for this activity, in-depth technical analysis and detection and mitigation recommendations to counter this ongoing threat to the financial services sector. Accompanying this alert are three malware analysis reports that disclose variants used by North Korea to gain unauthorized access to victim networks, ATMs or point of sale systems. USCYBERCOM is uploading the associated malware samples of the reports on its VirusTotal account…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Package Lockers Deliver Homeowners Some Peace of Mind

Wed, 08/26/2020 - 17:07 video via Twitter– “As Americans buy more things online, there’s more room for failed deliveries and package thefts.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Microsoft’s new Transcribe in Word feature is designed for students, reporters, and more

Tue, 08/25/2020 - 22:50

The Verge: “Microsoft is adding an audio transcription feature into Word for the web today. Transcribe in Word will appear in the online version of Word for Microsoft 365 subscribers, providing an easy way to automatically transcribe audio. Microsoft is supporting existing audio files, or even the ability to record conversations directly within Word for the web and have them automatically transcribed. Once a conversation is transcribed, Microsoft’s AI will separate out each speaker and break the conversation into sections that are easy to play back, edit, and insert into a Word document. Transcribe also supports audio or video that you’ve captured elsewhere, with support for up to 200MB of MP3, WAV, M4A, or MP4 files. Processing time will obviously vary considerably if you’re uploading separate audio, but I’ve been testing the feature for recording meetings and it’s a matter of seconds for transcription to complete if you’ve been recording within Word itself…”

Categories: Law and Legal

This reusable mask is designed to fix the 28 major problems with the N95

Tue, 08/25/2020 - 21:45

Fast Company: “During the SARS outbreak in Toronto in 2003, healthcare workers raised concerns about N95 masks, saying that the respirators were uncomfortable to wear for long shifts and could lead to headaches and shortness of breath. In the aftermath of SARS, the U.S. government issued a report arguing that the masks needed to be redesigned for future epidemics, citing 28 ways the masks needed to improve. Then the fear of pandemics faded from most people’s minds. But Tobias Franoszek and Natasha Duwin were working on making a new mask that fulfilled those benchmarks. “N95 masks and mask technology hadn’t really changed in a very long time,” says Franoszek, cofounder of Octo Safety Devices, the company making the new mask, called the Octo Respirator Mask, or ORM. Three years ago, long before the emergence of COVID-19, Franoszek and Duwin started exploring alternatives, acquiring the rights to a new mask design that eventually became the ORM. Unlike an N95, the mask is designed for reuse and can be sterilized by boiling…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Can You Get a Flu Shot Now? Yes, and Doctors Say You Should

Tue, 08/25/2020 - 20:01

The New York Times -“You could help prevent a “twindemic” of influenza and Covid-19, they say. Doctors have specific advice for people over 65, pregnant women and those with egg allergies. Here’s what you need to know…”

Categories: Law and Legal

OSHA Need To Improve Its Handling of Whistleblower Complaints During the Pandemic

Tue, 08/25/2020 - 19:58

U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General Audit – OSHA Need To Improve Its Handling of Whistleblower Complaints During the Pandemic. August 14, 2020: “We found the pandemic has significantly increased the number of whistleblower complaints OSHA has been receiving. OSHA was challenged to complete investigations in a timely manner before the pandemic, and the potential exists for even greater delays now. While the pandemic has increased significantly the number of whistleblower complaints OSHA has received, the Whistleblower Program’s full time employment has decreased. According to investigators we interviewed, no more than 20 open investigations at once would be the optimal caseload per investigator. Depending on the region, investigators reported the number of open investigations ranged from 15 to 40 in 2019, but 19 to 45 in 2020. Consequently, the potential exists for even greater delays in closing investigations. Amid this challenge, OSHA needs to improve its handling of whistleblower complaints. When OSHA fails to respond in a timely manner, it could leave workers to suffer emotionally and financially, and may also lead to the erosion of key evidence and witnesses.Prior to the pandemic, OSHA began a triage pilot intended to expedite the complaint screening process and also reassigned older complaints from regions with large backlogs to regions with lesser backlogs. However, OSHA had not utilized a similar approach during the pandemic to more evenly distribute whistleblower complaints…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Autonomous Systems as Legal Agents

Tue, 08/25/2020 - 19:53

Autonomous Systems as Legal Agents: Directly by the Recognition of Personhood or Indirectly by the Alchemy of Algorithmic Entities By Dalton Powell. Cite: 18 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 306
“At its core, agency law governs fiduciary relationships between two distinct parties (the principal and agent) in interactions with third parties. The three separate relationships within agency (principal-agent, agent-third party, and principal-third party) create binding legal rights and obligations. To be a principal or agent, one must be a person. The Restatement (Third) of Agency’s definition of person attempts to distinguish legally recognized persons from purely organizational entities and mere instrumentalities. The emergence of AI computing, and the ongoing development of truly autonomous computer systems, will test traditional agency law with questions like who or what can be a person. At present, the Restatement views computer programs as mere instrumentalities of the using person and thus not a separate person capable of being a principal or agent. This Note will analyze the tension created within agency law’s definition of personhood by the existence of autonomous systems.” [h/t Mary Whisner]

Categories: Law and Legal

Facial recognition designed to detect around face masks have varying results

Tue, 08/25/2020 - 19:34

cnet– “Many facial recognition companies have claimed they can identify people with pinpoint accuracy even while they’re wearing face masks, but the latest results from a study show that the coverings are dramatically increasing error rates.  In an update Tuesday, the US National Institute of Standards and Technology looked at 41 facial recognition algorithms submitted after the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in mid-March. Many of these algorithms were designed with face masks in mind, and claimed that they were still able to accurately identify people, even when half of their face was covered…While every facial recognition algorithm suffered a higher error rate once masks got added, some error rates were as low as 3%, indicating that it’s not impossible for algorithms to identify people even when their faces are covered…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Meet the National Parks’ ‘Ranger of the Lost Art’

Tue, 08/25/2020 - 18:22

The New York Times – Doug Leen has made it his life’s work to discover, restore and reproduce W.P.A. renderings of America’s threatened public lands. “Hundreds of thousands of sweaty, athleisure-clad national park visitors have entered the park gift shop after a hike and immediately gravitated toward one particular display: the vintage-looking magnets, postcards and posters with the park’s name in blocky lettering, its best-known vista or features rendered in simple contours and pastels. The style, which has become shorthand for old-school travel posters, can be traced back to one series of 14 posters, created for 13 parks and monuments in the 1930s and ’40s by Works Progress Administration artists. But those original designs were almost completely lost to time and neglect. Most of the credit for their survival lies with a bespectacled, retired backcountry dentist named Doug Leen who homesteads on an island in southeast Alaska. (“I should probably get going, my tide’s just about in,” he said at the end of one interview, hanging up to pilot his boat into town for some errands.) Mr. Leen, 74, has made it his life’s work to track down as many of the original W.P.A. national park posters as he can, after they were scattered across the country for 70 years with few records…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Postal Service delays of prescription drugs put thousands of American lives at risk

Tue, 08/25/2020 - 18:13

NBC News: “…The Postal Service manages 1.2 billion prescription drug shipments a year — or about 4 million each day, six days a week — the National Association of Letter Carriers reported earlier this year. That number has grown during the pandemic, and many recipients are accusing President Donald Trump and the White House of orchestrating mail delays to undermine mail-in voting. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said last week that he would suspend any operational changes to the Postal Service [this has widely reported to be untrue – until after the election to avoid any impact on voting by mail. But that doesn’t address secondary effects, such as delayed prescriptions and the economic fallout on small businesses. Erin Fox, a pharmacotherapy professor at the University of Utah, emphasized that most prescriptions fulfilled through the mail treat chronic conditions, rather than short-term prescriptions, like a course of antibiotics. She said these medications often treat cholesterol or high blood pressure — and without them, patients could have heart attacks or strokes — but also consist of inhalers, insulin and anti-rejection medicines for people who have had organ transplants…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Chief Acuary Warns Terminating payroll tax could end Social Security benefits in 2023

Tue, 08/25/2020 - 15:43

NBC News – “The federal government’s ability to pay Social Security benefits could stop by mid-2023 if President Donald Trump were to permanently terminate the payroll tax and not offer another revenue source, the chief actuary of the Social Security Administration said Monday. The chief actuary, Stephen Goss, offered the prediction in a letter to a group of Senate Democrats who requested an analysis of what would happen if the payroll tax is eliminated with no other funding stream for Social Security benefits…”

Categories: Law and Legal

If You Wait Until Your State’s Deadline To Mail Your Ballot, You May Be Too

Tue, 08/25/2020 - 14:22

FiveThirtyEight – Late Check the USPS’s recommendations before dropping your vote or paperwork in the mail. “The post office has long-standing guidelines (which predate DeJoy) that recommend how much time voters and election officials should allow to apply for, send and receive mail-in ballots. “We’ve been working on this for a while across the country to encourage states to update their laws to reflect the realities of how the post office actually works,” said Amber McReynolds, CEO for the National Vote At Home Institute, a nonprofit organization that lobbies for policies that make it easier for voters to cast absentee ballots. In almost all states, even people who meet the deadline to request or mail back their ballot run the risk of their ballot not arriving on time simply because of how long the mail takes. The USPS recommends voters allow one week between when they request their ballot and when they would like to receive it, and another week between when they put their completed ballot in the mail and the state’s deadline for receiving it. But many states allow mail ballots to be requested up until a few days before Election Day, which this year falls on Nov. 3, even if the deadline for returning the ballot is the day of the election. “The reality is that voters are going to fail if election officials are being asked to mail ballots out that late,” said McReynolds…”

Categories: Law and Legal

One Twitter Account’s Quest to Proofread The New York Times

Tue, 08/25/2020 - 14:13

The Ringer – “In 2017, the Times dissolved its copy desk, possibly permitting more typos to slip through. Meet the anonymous lawyer who’s correcting the paper of record one untactful tweet at a time. …The proud pedant behind @nyttypos is, as his Twitter bio proclaims, an “appellate lawyer and persnickety dude.” While working for a government office on appeals for the federal courts of appeals and the Supreme Court, he has diligently, competently, and caustically grammar-policed the paper of record in his spare time, producing more than 20,000 tweets over the past 11 months. His account is a cross between an ego trip, a crusade, and a compulsion. His quixotic quest to flag the words that weren’t fit to print has attracted roughly 8,000 followers, yielded countless corrections, and made its anonymous owner the object of some fascination within the walls and Slack chats of the Times, while exposing the trade-offs in copy quality that competitive publishing in the age of algorithms demands…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Why going back to work isn’t going to work

Mon, 08/24/2020 - 20:38

ZDNet – The COVID-19 virus and our reaction to it have accelerated an emerging shift in our conventional ways of doing things. “Companies that return to the old ways without understanding that shift are likely to fail. The Next Normal is vastly different than the normal before the pandemic…To repeat, as soon as we stopped forming in groups, the economy fell apart. And it wasn’t just the economy. Despite all the obvious differences between commerce, education, healthcare, entertainment, travel and hospitality, religion and other institutions, they were all organized in the exact same way; a commercial, cultural and social world based on physical grouping, aggregation, massing, or centralization of employees, customers, students, patients, worshipers, travelers, fans and spectators, old people, prisoners, and others, into controlled environments where the associated functions (employment, commerce, education, healthcare, religion, etc.) took place. In a nutshell, our economy and our Old Normal were built on and were dependent on centralization. The second part of the story, the part about our current state, is more complicated. It’s complicated because it wasn’t planned, intentional or chosen, and because it isn’t “normal.” We are, in effect, in an extended state of emergency, an abnormal or exceptional set of circumstances. No one believes that this is a way to run an economy or live a social life…”

Categories: Law and Legal

5 companies that want to track your emotions

Mon, 08/24/2020 - 19:48

Fortune: “Faced with ongoing social isolation, a turbulent economic climate, and continued uncertainty about when life will return to a simulacrum of normalcy—and what that normal will even look like—many adults are exhibiting mounting signs of clinical anxiety and depression during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. As the world’s public health and economic crises give rise to a mental health one, researchers are exploring a bevy of innovative solutions to help people monitor and regulate their emotions. Case in point: Researchers at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, recently created a new app that users can download to keep tabs on their mental well-being. The app analyzes data like users’ voice recordings, keystrokes, and sleep patterns. This is part and parcel of a larger trend: Thanks to new advances in technology, human emotions are becoming increasingly measurable and quantifiable. From emotion-sensing robots to cars with sensors to digital wristbands, the field of emotion detection technologies is blossoming, with forecasters projecting that the market size will surge from $21.6 billion in 2019 to $56 billion by 2024…”

Categories: Law and Legal