Law and Legal
The Conversation: “…How often do we hear that libraries aren’t just about books anymore? They are makerspaces with 3-D printers, scanners, laser vinyl cutters and routers. They provide green rooms, sewing machines, button makers, and tools like drills, saws and soldering irons. They are places to borrow seeds, fishing rods, cake making supplies, binoculars, laptops and tablets, radon detectors, musical instruments, bicycles and take-home wifi hotspots. They are important sites for learning with services dedicated to today’s newest literacies — coding, gaming, robotics and how to spot fake news. There are consequences of these ideas and news that push books and reading to the margins in the commentary on the latest trends in public libraries. One such consequence might be the disavowal of public librarians’ unique, professional knowledge base related to books and reading. Another might be the abdication of a mandate related to the promotion of reading as a social good. Today’s libraries do build community, support healthy living, promote knowledge and provide space for city sanctuaries. But it is critical that libraries continue to be about books and reading, and that Canadians understand the high value of well-staffed, well-stocked and well-funded libraries. The news isn’t that library services and programs have moved beyond books, it’s that public libraries are still very much about books.
There are so many reasons why reading matters. As UCLA literacy scholar Maryanne Wolf so compellingly argues, learning how to read and the habits of deep reading connect in important ways to brain circuitry related to our capacities for critical thinking, empathy and reflection. Reading matters for the ways our brains develop, and being able to read deeply affects the way we think and feel. This has consequences for how we live our lives, but also for how we make judgements about the world and our places in it. The habit of reading carries many other rewards, among them improved language acquisition and other literacy advantages, as well as therapeutic benefits related to mental wellbeing. We know that reading brings comfort to readers. One large-scale study even found that people who read books also live longer lives in which to read them. In my research I’ve interviewed young adults about the role of reading in their lives. They told me that reading helps them to explore and understand their identities. It allows them to exercise autonomy and independence. Reading gives them knowledge and experience of the world which, in turn, shows them new possibilities for their own lives…”
The New York Times – As Facebook and Twitter face scrutiny, the site for job seekers remains a controversy-free zone. Is the office the future of social media? ” Twitter helps the powerful discover their worst selves and leaves everyone else vulnerable. Facebook brings people together only to subject them to marketing and manipulation. Our social feeds aren’t ready for the 2020 election. None of them are even ready for today. In recent months, they have faced serious scrutiny from Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike. Except one. Is there anything the rest of the internet can learn from LinkedIn?
Today, a Facebook-style news feed, complete with like, comment and share buttons, is often the first thing users see when they open LinkedIn. The company’s internal editorial team, which writes and curates business content, has a staff of 65. They’re flanked by a massive slate of influencers — business leaders, subject-area experts and marketing gurus — who post regularly, the most popular of whom have millions of followers apiece.
At the end of 2018, the company said that, in one day, “over 2 million posts, videos and articles course through the LinkedIn feed.” Now LinkedIn claims to have more than 645 million users, 180 million of them residing in North America. Last year, it produced more than $5.3 billion in revenue for Microsoft. (For scale, that’s about one-tenth the revenue of Facebook, Inc., about half of Instagram’s and almost twice Twitter’s.)…”
BuzzFeedNews – Zillow made more than 40% of its revenue last quarter from selling homes: “Zillow, the real estate search and advertising platform, has gotten into the house-flipping business in a big way. That means the company earned about 41.5% of its revenue from selling homes in the three months ending June 30, according to its most recent earnings report. Zillow made $599.6 million in revenue last quarter, $248.9 million of which came from its Homes segment, which refers to the “buying and selling of homes directly through the Zillow Offers service,” which it kicked off in 2018. Zillow is now buying thousands of properties, investing in minor repairs, and then selling them — essentially flipping houses — in 15 markets around the country, with plans to be in 26 markets by mid-2020. It collects a fee from the seller with each of these transactions. The company sold 786 homes and bought 1,535 homes from April to June…”
“The Computing Community Consortium (CCC) is pleased to release the completed Artificial Intelligence (AI) Roadmap, titled A 20-Year Community Roadmap for AI Research in the US – An HTML version is available here. This roadmap is the result of a year long effort by the CCC and over 100 members of the research community, led by Yolanda Gil (University of Southern California and President of AAAI) and Bart Selman (Cornell University and President Elect of AAAI). Comments on a draft report of this roadmap were requested in May 2019. Thank you to everyone in the community who participated in workshops, helped write the report, submitted comments, and edited drafts. Your input and expertise helped make this roadmap extremely comprehensive. From the Roadmap – Major Findings:
I – Enabled by strong algorithmic foundations and propelled by the data and computational resources that have become available over the past decade, AI is poised to have profound positive impacts on society and the economy.
II – To realize the potential benefits of AI advances will require audacious AI research, along with new strategies, research models, and types of organizations for catalyzing and supporting it.
III – The needs and roles of academia and industry, and their interactions, have critically important implications for the future of AI.
IV – Talent and workforce issues are undergoing a sea change in AI, raising significant challenges for developing the talent pool and for ensuring adequate diversity in it.
V – The rapid deployment if AI-enabled systems is raising serious questions and societal challenges encompassing a broad range of capabilities and issues.
VI – Significant strategic investments in AI by the United States will catalyze major scientific, technological, societal, and economic progress…”
Instagram’s lax privacy practices let trusted partner track millions of users’ physical locations, secretly save their stories, flout its rules
- A buzzy San Francisco startup has been secretly saving what appears to be millions of Instagram users’ stories and tracking their locations.
- The marketing firm Hyp3r has been scraping huge quantities of data off the Facebook-owned app and using it to build up detailed profiles of people’s movements and interests.
- The situation highlights how Facebook is still struggling to protect users’ data and oversee developers accessing its platform, more than a year after the Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed important privacy lapses.
- Instagram has now issued Hyp3r a cease and desist, kicked it off its platform, and made changes to its platform to protect user data.
- EDITOR’S NOTE: This story would normally be exclusive to BI Prime members. However, because of the public interest in this reporting, we’re making this story free to read for a limited time…”
“The number of open source (OS) online publishing platforms, i.e. production and hosting systems for scholarly books and journals, launched or in development, has proliferated in the last decade. Many of these publishing infrastructure initiatives are well-developed, stable, and supported by a small but vigorous distributed community of developers, but promising new ventures have also recently launched.
The notable increase in the number of OS platforms suggest that an infrastructure ‘ecology’ is emerging around these systems. Distinguishing between systems that may evolve along competitive lines and those that will resolve into a service ‘stack’ of related, complementary service technologies will help potential adopters understand how these platforms can or should interoperate.
In 2018 the MIT Press secured a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon foundation to conduct a landscape analysis of open source publishing systems, suggest sustainability models that can be adopted to ensure that these systems fully support research communication and provide durable alternatives to complex and costly proprietary services. John Maxwell at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver conducted the environmental scan and compiled this report.
We are posting the final report on PubPub and invite readers to share their comments on the findings and recommendations.” [Note – to access each portion of the report, please scroll down the page.]
FastCompany: “Looking for a specific podcast has always been a straightforward process: Plug in the title or the host’s name in an app store or search engine and you’re golden. But when you’re not sure what you’re looking for or just want to peruse your options based on a topic, you’ve had to rely on articles with roundups of different shows, random Twitter recommendations, or bounce from platform to platform with your query. Sites like Listen Notes and Audiosear.ch (until it shut down in 2017), among many other startups determined to crack podcast discovery, were created to solve this problem by aspiring to be the Google for podcasts. But now Google wants to be the Google for podcasts…”
GAO Watch Blog – “These days, internet access is crucial for students both in and out of the classroom. “Underconnected” students—those with limited or no internet access at home—may have difficulty completing homework assignments. This puts them at risk of falling behind better-connected students. With back to school season on the horizon, today’s WatchBlog looks at our report on how school districts are attempting to address this “homework gap,” and the role the federal government is playing in those efforts…” [h/t Pete Weiss]
“The IPCC will be considering Climate Change and Land: an IPCC special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems on 2 – 6 August 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland. The press conference to present the approved Summary for Policymakers is scheduled for 10am (CEST) on 8 August 2019.”
Morse, Susan C., When Robots Make Legal Mistakes (July 22, 2019). Oklahoma Law Review, Vol. 72, 2019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3424110
“The questions presented by robots’ legal mistakes are examples of the legal process inquiry that asks when the law will accept decisions as final, even if they are mistaken. Legal decision-making robots include market robots and government robots. In either category, they can make mistakes of undercompliance or overcompliance. A market robot’s overcompliance mistake or a government robot’s undercompliance mistake is unlikely to be challenged. On the other hand, government enforcement can challenge a market robot’s undercompliance mistake, and an aggrieved regulated party can object to a government robot’s overcompliance mistake. Especially if robots cannot defend their legal decisions due to a lack of explainability, they will have an incentive to make decisions that will avoid the prospect of challenge. This incentive could encourage counterintuitive results. For instance, it could encourage market robots to overcomply and government robots to undercomply with the law. “
IRS Tax Estimator: “The IRS encourages everyone to use the Tax Withholding Estimator to perform a quick “paycheck checkup.” This is even more important following the recent changes to the tax law for 2018 and beyond. The Estimator helps you identify your tax withholding to make sure you have the right amount of tax withheld from your paycheck at work. There are several reasons to check your withholding:
- Checking your withholding can help protect against having too little tax withheld and facing an unexpected tax bill or penalty at tax time next year.
- At the same time, with the average refund topping $2,800, you may prefer to have less tax withheld up front and receive more in your paychecks.
If you are an employee, the Tax Withholding Estimator helps you determine whether you need to give your employer a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate (PDF). You can use your results from the Estimator to help fill out the form and adjust your income tax withholding. If you receive pension income, you can use the results from the estimator to complete a Form W-4P (PDF) and give it to your payer…”
Life Hacker – “When your wifi is bad, you know it—oh, do you know it. And getting it working well again isn’t always as simple as unplugging and replugging your router, one of our favorite troubleshooting techniques for all things technological. You don’t have to memorize every setting in your router to set up a killer wireless network at home, but there are quite a few things you’ll want to know about wifi in order to get the best possible performance on your many devices. To help you out, we’ve put together a special page—Lifehacker’s Complete Guide to Wifi—that you can bookmark and refer to whenever you’re messing around with your wifi (or find that your connection feels slower, but you have no idea why)…”
ars technica – Parsing email headers needs care and knowledge—but it requires no special tools: “I pretty frequently get requests for help from someone who has been impersonated—or whose child has been impersonated—via email. Even when you know how to “view headers” or “view source” in your email client, the spew of diagnostic wharrgarbl can be pretty overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re looking at. Today, we’re going to step through a real-world set of (anonymized) email headers and describe the process of figuring out what’s what. Before we get started with the actual headers, though, we’re going to take a quick detour through an overview of what the overall path of an email message looks like in the first place. (More experienced sysadmin types who already know what stuff like “MTA” and “SPF” stand for can skip a bit ahead to the fun part!)…”
FastCompany: “For just over a year, Google’s hardware design team has been working inside a new, highly classified design studio. Only a small fraction of Google’s employees are allowed inside this beautiful, birchwood-framed space—a team of around 150, who are hard at work designing the next Pixel phones, Google Home assistants, and all sorts of other things the public (and Google’s competitors) haven’t seen yet. As you can read in our exclusive first visit here, the Design Lab has areas devoted to every aspect of the design process, from precise color evaluation to a materials library that allows team members to handle over 1,000 material swatches. As this dedicated design lab was being developed, Google vice president and head of hardware design Ivy Ross also had another request for the design team: a library, with actual paper books that her designers could grab and read. Each designer was asked to bring in six of the most influential books in their lives, and write a line inside the cover about it. Some are rare art and design tomes. Others are children’s storybooks and pieces of literature. We asked Google to share a small selection of the library’s offerings with us. Think of it as your summer reading list, presented in no particular order, compliments of Google’s hardware design team…”
Forbes – Kalev Leetaru: “Computer science curriculums have long emphasized the power of data, encouraging its harvesting and hoarding, pioneering new ways of mining and manipulating users through it, reinforcing it as the path to riches in the modern economy and proselytizing the idea of data being able to solve all of society’s ills. In contrast, library and information science curriculums have historically emphasized privacy, civil liberties and community impact, blending discussion of public data management with private data minimization. Tomorrow’s future technology leaders could learn much from their library-minded colleagues. As a young computer science student at what was then the #4-ranked computer science program in the nation (today #5), my coursework was filled with all manner of practice and theory on how to acquire, manage and mine the world’s largest datasets. The focus was on capability, of what “could” be done with data, rather than what “should” be done with data. The idea that a technical achievement should be avoided because it might harm society was never even whispered. The idea that data should be minimized to protect privacy was not even a concept. Secure systems design emphasized how to safeguard data from unauthorized access, but never the concept of how to safeguard the users whose data that was from harm. Never once was the concept of an Institutional Review Board or the concept of assessing the societal harm of research ever presented, even while security and architectural review boards were a topic of regular discussion…”
StreetsBlogNYC – The city’s $8-an-hour fees, residential permits, and limits to car ownership made it the world’s cycling capital. Is New York brave enough to try it? – “Reminder: Amsterdam wasn’t Amsterdam until it was Amsterdam. The famed “bike capital” of the world was once as congested and car-choked as the worst Western cities. So how did it became so renowned for its livability and sustainability? The simple answer: by narrowing roads and ending free parking. It’s not rocket science: The city’s technical solutions for overcoming car dominance can be applied to any city — that’s one lesson I teach many American university students who come here to study sustainable transportation. The harder part is how.
…It wasn’t until the 1980s that a perfect storm of events — strong advocacy, violent citizen protests, and an oil embargo — forced Amsterdam planners and politicians to advance an agile, car-reduction policy. For example, an intensive, neighborhood-based traffic-calming plan was implemented. The city also built out sidewalks and narrowed residential streets to tight, one-way lanes with humps, keeping speeds at 19 mph or slower…”
Atlas Obscura – The artisans of Aleppo keep plying their ancient trade, one bar at a time: “The Syrian Civil War has been raging for eight years now. In that time it has decimated the ancient tradition of soap-making in Aleppo. Nearly the entire industry’s workforce was forced to flee when the fighting started—some to other cities, some to new countries altogether. Today, though the war rages on in parts of Syria, government forces have mostly regained control of Aleppo, and the city is slowly coming back to life—and going back to work. That includes some of Aleppo’s traditional soap-makers, who are renovating their workshops and reviving production. With help from government organizations and charitable funds, the soap is again becoming a popular and profitable Syrian export. Aleppo soap, known as ghar in Arabic, or Savon d’Alep, is revered by aficionados around the world. Many historians consider it to be the world’s first modern soap bar—solid, rectangular, and used for bathing and personal hygiene. Made by hand, it contains just three ingredients: olive oil, laurel oil, and a tincture of lye. It has no animal fats or derivatives, no harmful chemicals or artificial colors. The result? An intensely moisturizing and delicate balsam widely used by those with sensitive skin, including small babies and those who suffer from eczema, psoriasis, and acne…”
Educopia Institute -“This report [Mapping the Scholarly Communication Landscape – 2019 Census] documents the design, methods, results, and recommendations of the 2019 Census of Scholarly Communication Infrastructure Providers (SCIP), a Census produced by the “Mapping the Scholarly Communication Infrastructure” project team (Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Middlebury College, 2018-19). The SCIP Census was created to document key components comprising the organizational, business, and technical apparatuses of a broad range of Scholarly Communication Resources (SCRs) – the tools, services, and systems that are instrumental to the publishing and distribution of the scholarly record.
Using Community Cultivation – A Field Guide (Educopia, 2018) as a framework, we designed a Conceptual Model detailing the impact and outcomes the SCIP Census would address. We then produced and tested a survey instrument with 123 questions that delves into an SCR’s mission, vision, and scoping; technical development and design; administrative and financial scaffolding; community engagement activities; and governance model. The instrument took between 1-3.5 hours for each SCR respondent to complete; variability in time was largely based on the structure, complexity, and availability of an SCR’s organizational, fiscal, and technical information. We conducted the Census through direct invitations, contacting just over 200 identified scholarly communication resource providers by email to participate. The Census remained open for a condensed, month-long collection period (February 18-March 22, 2019). More than 60 SCRs responded to us during this period, and more than 40 tools, services, and platforms ultimately participated in the Census…
Outside – The Trump administration is trying to remove public input from Forest Service decision-making – “The Trump administration is quietly trying to strip public input from the decision-making process used by the U.S. Forest Service. Doing so would mean that logging companies could clear-cut at many as 4,200 acres at a time, and you wouldn’t know about it until you turned up at your favorite spot to find it decimated. But you have one last chance to stop that from happening.
“This is a speak-now-or-forever-lose-your-ability-to-have-input situation,” says Sam Evans, a senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC). The organization has put together an easy tool that will enable you to participate in what’s potentially the last public-comment period about the vast majority of decisions affecting national forests. If the public doesn’t speak up now and stop this proposed logging rule from going forward, it won’t have a chance to weigh in when logging, roads, or even pipelines threaten the lands where they recreate. Way back in 1969, Richard Nixon signed into law the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires all federal agencies to begin considering the environmental impacts of any projects they undertake. Part of that is a requirement to solicit public input and look for less impactful alternatives. NEPA is one of the mechanisms that makes federal management of public lands so much more robust and democratic than state management. Everyone with a stake in national-forest management, including local users, has a right to comment. And the agency is supposed to be accountable to those people…”
The New York Times – “When the most consequential law governing speech on the internet was created in 1996, Google.com didn’t exist and Mark Zuckerberg was 11 years old. The federal law, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, has helped Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and countless other internet companies flourish. But Section 230’s liability protection also extends to fringe sites known for hosting hate speech, anti-Semitic content and racist tropes like 8chan, the internet message board where the suspect in the El Paso shooting massacre posted his manifesto. The First Amendment protects free speech, including hate speech, but Section 230 shields websites from liability for content created by their users. It permits internet companies to moderate their sites without being on the hook legally for everything they host. It does not provide blanket protection from legal responsibility for some criminal acts, like posting child pornography or violations of intellectual property. Now, as scrutiny of big technology companies has intensified in Washington over a wide variety of issues, including how they handle the spread of disinformation or police hate speech, lawmakers are questioning whether Section 230 should be changed…”