Law and Legal
Fast Company – iOS offers more tools than ever to defend yourself against hackers, nosy sites, and other intruders. Here’s why they matter and how to benefit from them. “If one object you own encapsulates who you are, how you think, and what you do, it’s your smartphone. Our phones not only contain our contacts and messages, but capture and store countless other metrics about our lives, from financial records to health data to myriad communications with everyone we know. Smartphones also contain data about the places we go (and the routes we took to get there) as well as the searches we make and websites we browse (revealing what’s on our minds). Thanks to journaling and to-do apps, they even document our goals, hopes, and dreams. And smartphones aren’t just data-retention devices; the apps and services we use on them broadcast data about us to third parties. That’s why it’s so important to understand what privacy and security protections the smartphone you use offers—and to make sure you have such protections enabled. I’ve written before that Apple is unique among modern tech giants in that it builds its products with privacy at the forefront. But many of those protections and tools available on every iPhone only make a difference if you’re aware of them—and judging from my conversations with friends, many people aren’t. If you’re an iPhone user, these are the security and privacy features you need to know about—and should be using…”
CNBC: “Go to law school, pass the bar, become a lawyer and retire at 65 with a gold watch? For decades, this was one of the clearest professional pathways students could pursue, but that’s changing. While law school graduates out-earn those with just a high school or bachelor’s degree on average, the legal profession is not immune to the same technological trends that have touched essentially every industry. Advances in technology such as artificial intelligence allow modern software to scan legal documents, streamline communications and find relevant casework for lawyers. McKinsey estimates that 23% of work done by lawyers can be automated by existing technology. The cost of law school, like the cost of undergraduate programs, has steadily increased over the past several decades, making it more expensive for students to consider a profession in law. Among the 187 law schools that report tuition and fees data to U.S. News & World Report, the average for annual tuition and fees during the 2018-2019 academic year was $48,869 at private law schools, $40,725 at public law schools for out-of-state students and $27,591 at public law schools for in-state students…”
Washington, D.C., Stanford, Calif., and New York, February 18, 2020 — The Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS), Stanford Law School, and New York University School of Law are pleased to announce the release of a major report exploring federal agencies’ use of artificial intelligence (AI) to carry out administrative law functions. This is the most comprehensive study of the subject ever conducted in the United States. The report, entitled Government by Algorithm: Artificial Intelligence in Federal Administrative Agencies, examines the growing role that machine learning and other AI technologies are playing in federal agency adjudication, enforcement, and other regulatory activities. Based on a wide-ranging survey of federal agency activities and interviews with federal officials, the report maps current uses of AI technologies in federal agencies, highlights promising uses, and addresses challenges in assuring accountability, transparency, and non-discrimination. Stanford Law School Professors David Freeman Engstrom and Daniel Ho, NYU Law Professor Catherine Sharkey, and California Supreme Court Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar served as principal advisors on the report. They received research assistance from 30 Stanford law, computer science, and engineering students, and five NYU Law students, who participated in the Spring 2019 Stanford policy lab, Administering by Algorithm: Artificial Intelligence in the Regulatory State. Stanford’s Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence, with which Engstrom, Ho, and Cuéllar are affiliated, also provided seed funding for the report…”
The Guardian – The industry says its containers are safe but some experts point to a lack of data and warn that plastic and heat aren’t a good mix: “Many of us have an overflowing kitchen cupboard of plastic containers to store our leftovers.But as awareness grows over the health and environmental pitfalls of plastic, some consumers may be wondering: is it time to ditch that stash of old deli containers? Only 9% of all the plastic waste ever created has been recycled. From its contributions to global heating and pollution, to the chemicals and microplastics that migrate into our bodies, the food chain and the environment, the true cost of this cheap material is becoming more apparent. There are thousands of compounds found in plastic products across the food chain, and relatively little is known about most of them. But what we do know of some chemicals contained in plastic is concerning.
Phthalates, for example, which are used to make plastic more flexible and are found in food packaging and plastic wrap, have been found by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in measurable levels across the US population (including in the body of Guardian journalist Emily Holden). They have been linked to reproductive dysfunction in animal studies and some researchers have suggested links to decreased fertility, neurodevelopmental issues and asthma in humans…”
ZDNet- From disorganised crime to state-backed hackers these groups can make the internet a dangerous place. Here’s a guide to the major menaces to avoid. “Criminals are drawn to the internet for as many different reasons as the rest of us. Some of them just want to break things, many want to get rich, and some want to change the world. Some are lone wolves, some are part of sophisticated criminal gangs and some even work with the tacit approval and support of their governments. But thanks to the borderless nature of the internet you could be unlucky enough to find that some — or all — of these groups could be targeting you. Just as the rise of the web created new business models and allowed existing firms to sell and communicate globally, so it has also created new types of crime that didn’t exist before, as well as giving existing crimes a turbo boost by allowing crooks to perpetrate them from anywhere in the world…”
ZDNet – A new report suggests that vulnerabilities in medical devices could put hospital patients at risk from hackers – but there are some simple ways to protect against these attacks: “Connected medical devices are twice as likely to be vulnerable to the BlueKeep exploit than other devices on hospital networks, putting patients and staff at additional risk from cyber attacks. This is especially concerning when healthcare is already such a popular target for hacking campaigns. BlueKeep is a vulnerability in Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) service which was discovered last year, and impacts Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2008. Microsoft issued a patch for BlueKeep after it came to light in May 2019, and security authorities including the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) issued urgent warnings about patching vulnerable systems. It was feared that BlueKeep could be deployed as a worm in a similar fashion to EternalBlue — the exploit that powered WannaCry. This cyber attack affected organisations around the world, but one of the most high-profile victims was the UK’s National Health Service, which saw a number of hospital networks taken offline by the incident. However, despite warnings over a potential repeat, large numbers of standard Windows systems – and bespoke medical devices running Windows — remain vulnerable to BlueKeep attacks…”
AUSTIN, Texas, Feb. 18, 2020 – “American Bar Association President Judy Perry Martinez delivered a strong defense Monday of the judiciary and prosecutors in remarks to the ABA House of Delegates, the association’s policy-making body, on the final day of the ABA Midyear Meeting. “The personal attacks on our judges and prosecutors must cease,” she said. “No one, no one, should interfere with the fair administration of justice. And no one, no one, should have to live in fear for following the law and upholding our Constitution of the United States.” Martinez also noted that Americans of all backgrounds are paying renewed attention to issues of justice. “They’re talking about due process, evidence, attorney-client privilege, fair trials and just punishment; the imperative of the oath to protect and defend the Constitution, no better demonstrated than when lawyers and public servants operating within the framework of law are able to do so free from obstruction, intimidation and retribution,” she added.”
Fast Company – “At a time when the average company on the S&P 500 only survives for two decades, it’s surprising to see that there are companies that have existed for centuries around the world. The oldest company still operating today is in Japan. It’s a construction firm called Kongo Gumi that dates to 578 and has specialized in building temples for 14 centuries. Today, though the company has been bought by a construction conglomerate, temples still account for 80% of its business. This is one fascinating insight from a series of maps published by the British publication Business Financing, which lays out the oldest companies still in existence in each country. The organization conducted its own research and did not work with any professional historians or academic institutions, so take their findings with a grain of salt. But in the broadest sense, they offer a glimpse into the industries that helped shape each country’s economy. In many cases, they also reveal the darker aspects of history, as nations accrued wealth through slavery and colonialism…”
PCWorld: “You’re not the first person who’s wondered what it would be like to have a giant desktop monitor. Think of all the multi-tasking and immersive gaming you could manage if you had a 50- or 60-inch monitor instead of a standard 24-inch monitor! But you’ve probably noticed that as monitors get bigger, they also tend to get prohibitively expensive. You’ve probably already got a big screen in your house, though—a TV. At the end of the day, isn’t an HDTV just a giant, living-room-oriented computer monitor? Not exactly. While you can use a TV as a computer monitor in most cases, that doesn’t mean it’s the best option. In fact, it’s likely less attractive, convenient, and usable than you think (not to mention, probably not that cheap). There’s a reason dirt-cheap 32-inch HDTVs aren’t flying off the shelves to be used as budget-friendly jumbo screens. You definitely can use an HDTV as your PC’s display, though. Here’s everything you need to know about how to set up a TV as a computer monitor—and why you might not want to…”
Wired: “…Today, Wikipedia is the eighth-most-visited site in the world. The English-language version recently surpassed 6 million articles and 3.5 billion words; edits materialize at a rate of 1.8 per second. But perhaps more remarkable than Wikipedia’s success is how little its reputation has changed. It was criticized as it rose, and now makes its final ascent to … muted criticism. To confess that you’ve just repeated a fact you learned on Wikipedia is still to admit something mildly shameful. It’s as though all those questions that used to pepper think pieces in the mid-2000s—Will it work? Can it be trusted? Is it better than Encyclopedia Britannica?—are still rhetorical, when they have already been answered, time and again, in the affirmative. Of course, muted criticism is far better than what the other giants at the top of the internet are getting these days. Pick any inflection point you like from the past several years—the Trump election, Brexit, any one of a number of data breaches, alt-right feeding frenzies, or standoffish statements to Congress—and you’ll see the malign hand of platform monopolies. Not too long ago, techno-utopianism was the ambient vibe of the elite ideas industry; now it has become the ethos that dare not speak its name. Hardly anyone can talk abstractly about freedom and connection and collaboration, the blithe watchwords of the mid-2000s, without making a mental list of the internet’s more concrete negative externalities…Yet in an era when Silicon Valley’s promises look less gilded than before, Wikipedia shines by comparison. It is the only not-for-profit site in the top 10, and one of only a handful in the top 100. It does not plaster itself with advertising, intrude on privacy, or provide a breeding ground for neo-Nazi trolling. Like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, it broadcasts user-generated content. Unlike them, it makes its product de-personified, collaborative, and for the general good. More than an encyclopedia, Wikipedia has become a community, a library, a constitution, an experiment, a political manifesto—the closest thing there is to an online public square. It is one of the few remaining places that retains the faintly utopian glow of the early World Wide Web. A free encyclopedia encompassing the whole of human knowledge, written almost entirely by unpaid volunteers: Can you believe that was the one that worked?…”
ars technica: “A quiet revolution is sweeping the $20 billion academic publishing market and its main operator Elsevier, partly driven by an unlikely group of rebels: cash-strapped librarians. When Florida State University cancelled its “big deal” contract for all Elsevier’s 2,500 journals last March to save money, the publisher warned it would backfire and cost the library $1 million extra in pay-per-view fees. But even to the surprise of Gale Etschmaier, dean of FSU’s library, the charges after eight months were actually less than $20,000. “Elsevier has not come back to us about ‘the big deal’,” she said, noting it had made up a quarter of her content budget before the terms were changed. Mutinous librarians such as Ms. Etschmaier remain in a minority but are one of a host of pressures bearing down on the subscription business of Elsevier, the 140-year-old publisher that produces titles including the world’s oldest medical journal, The Lancet. The company is facing a profound shift in the way it does business, as customers reject traditional charging structures. Open access publishing—the move to break down paywalls and make scientific research free to read—is upending the funding model for journals, at the behest of regulators and some big research funders, while online tools and the illicit Russian pirate-site Sci-Hub are taking readers…”
gizmodo: “How phones track location is changing – if you’ve upgraded to the latest Android 10 or iOS 13 updates, you may have noticed more prompts around what apps can do with data about your whereabouts. Here’s what those new prompts mean, and how you can get your phone’s location tracking settings set up in a way that you’re comfortable with…”
Center for Data Innovation – “Bloomberg has created a climate data dashboard that features a series of data visualizations that update in real-time. The dashboard includes visualizations that show that arctic sea ice is melting faster than scientists’ projections and that the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere continues to increase rapidly. The visualizations also show that the world lost enough trees in 2018 to cover a landmass larger than the UK.”
ABA news release: “The American Bar Association House of Delegates approved a resolution today that would encourage states and other jurisdictions to consider innovative approaches to expanding access to justice with the goal of improving affordability and quality of civil legal services. By voice vote, the 596-member House, which is the association’s policy-making body, overwhelmingly supported Resolution 115 after revisions to the initial proposal. Overall, the House adopted more than three dozen measures that included recommendations for governments to review deadly force policies, curb gun violence and lessen the burden for release after a conviction and before sentencing on criminal charges. The all-day session concluded the ABA Midyear Meeting, which began Feb. 13. Proposed by the ABA Center for Innovation and supported by several standing committees of the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility, Resolution 115 calls for state regulators and bar associations to continue to explore regulatory innovations that have the potential to improve the accessibility, affordability and quality of civil legal services…
Of voter-related measures approved by the House, Resolution 108 urges governmental bodies to enact legislation that would allow eligible youth between 16- and 18-years-old to preregister to vote and urges governments to automatically add preregistered teens to the voter rolls when they reach the legal voting age. Two voting proposals — Resolution 112 and Resolution 114 — ask governments to remove voting barriers for Native Americans and Alaska Natives and change residency requirements to make it easier for those without street addresses to use alternative forms of an address to register to vote. The fourth measure related to voting, Resolution 118, urges Congress to protect the security and integrity of U.S. elections by approving legislation that provides for funding for the National Institute of Standards and Technology to improve election security, including developing appropriate cybersecurity standards and certification processes. The gun safety measures recommend a ban on “ghost guns,” which are firearms made by individuals, without serial numbers or other identifying markings (Resolution 107A); urge stronger gun permitting laws (Resolution 107B); and endorse more awareness and regulations for safe storage of firearms (Resolution 107C)…”
The Accidental Taxonomist: “Is a taxonomy the same as a classification scheme or system? Or, to put it another way, is a classification system, such as the Dewey Decimal System, a kind of taxonomy? Both of these kinds of knowledge organization systems have the feature of arranging topical terms in a hierarchy of multiple levels, without having related-term relationships or necessarily synonyms/nonpreferred terms, which are features of thesauri. So, it appears as if the only difference is that classification systems have some kind of notation or alphanumeric code associated with each term, and taxonomies do not. The differences, however, are greater than that…”
Slate – I’ve fought for a free internet for 30 years. Here’s where I think we went wrong, and right. By Mike Godwin – “…I’ve come to believe our society should take reasonable steps to limit intentionally harmful speech, but I also find myself increasingly embracing a broader, more instrumentalist vision of freedom of speech than I typically championed in the 1990s. Back then, I was much more focused on encouraging tolerance and pluralism—the idea that an open, democratic society should be willing to let people say outrageous things, to the extent possible, because we ought to be strong enough in our democratic convictions to endure disturbing dissent. I still believe that, but here in 2020 I’m also haunted by the challenges we face everywhere in the world in this century, ranging from climate change to income inequality to the (not-unrelated) resurgence of populist xenophobia and even genocidal movements…”
Artificial Lawyer – “A survey by ContractPodAi, the AI-powered contract lifecycle management platform, has found that 62% of companies are still using Excel, SharePoint or email to manage their business’s contract data. ContractPodAi gathered responses from 50 large corporate legal departments, that each manage more than 10,000 active contracts, and asked them about how they dealt with this complex mass of legal data that enabled their businesses to keep operating, and which enabled General Counsel (GC) to know their risks and obligations…”
Via LLRX – Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues February 15, 2020 – Privacy and security issues impact every aspect of our lives – home, work, travel, education, health and medical records – to name but a few. On a weekly basis Pete Weiss highlights articles and information that focus on the increasingly complex and wide ranging ways technology is used to compromise and diminish our privacy and security, often without our situational awareness. Four highlights from this week: 2019 Internet Crime Report Released; The silent threat of the coronavirus: America’s dependence on Chinese pharmaceuticals; Equifax breach: How Chinese army hackers allegedly stole personal info; and How to Share Files Securely Online: Dropbox, Firefox Send, and More.
The New York Times – “…Mr. Zhao and Ms. Zheng are computer science professors at the University of Chicago, and …with the help of an assistant professor, Pedro Lopes, they designed a piece of digital armor: a “bracelet of silence” that will jam the Echo or any other microphones in the vicinity from listening in on the wearer’s conversations. The bracelet is like an anti-smartwatch, both in its cyberpunk aesthetic and in its purpose of defeating technology. A large, somewhat ungainly white cuff with spiky transducers, the bracelet has 24 speakers that emit ultrasonic signals when the wearer turns it on. The sound is imperceptible to most ears, with the possible exception of young people and dogs, but nearby microphones will detect the high-frequency sound instead of other noises.
“It’s so easy to record these days,” Mr. Lopes said. “This is a useful defense. When you have something private to say, you can activate it in real time. When they play back the recording, the sound is going to be gone.”
“While armies have seized enemy records and rare texts as booty throughout history, it was only during World War II that an unlikely band of librarians, archivists, and scholars traveled abroad to collect books and documents to aid the military cause. They collected enemy texts, followed advancing armies to capture records, and seized Nazi works from bookstores and schools. When the war ended, they found and helped restitute looted collections hidden in cellars and caves. In Information Hunters, cultural historian Kathy Peiss reveals how book and document collecting became part of the new apparatus of intelligence and national security, military planning, and postwar reconstruction.”