Law and Legal

Legal Linked Data Ecosystems and the Rule of Law

Springer Professional Open Access E-Book: 5.1 Introduction: The Rule of Law in a New Brave World – We will expand in this chapter some ways of implementing linked democracy on legal and political bases. Linked democracy is not only a theoretical approach incorporating open linked data to theories of democracy. It consists of practices and the real behaviour of people exercising their political rights on everyday bases. Thus, it also possesses a personal and cultural dimension that should be valued and protected. Law is an obvious element. Behaviour on the web should be ‘fair’ and ‘legal’. What does it mean? Different states have different jurisdictions, and despite the international trends of the global market, law has been, and still is, dependent on national states. How could we incorporate regulatory forms of empowering people on the web? How could algorithmic governance , data analytics, and semantics be used to foster the principles of linked democracy that we have just presented at the end of Chap. 4“…

Categories: Law and Legal

Using Lexis Advance’s Legislative Outlook to Predict if a Bill Will Become Law

RIPS Law Librarian Blog – Sarah Gostchall – “…Lexis Advance, with its relatively new (2016) predictive analytics Legislative Outlook feature, was the clear winner. Though Bloomberg Law has a number of statutory tracking features for select areas of law, such as banking, tax, IP, etc., it doesn’t have a Arizona bill tracking database with all Arizona bills. And Westlaw Edge has the same old same old – alerts and Arizona Bill Tracking database reports appear unchanged after the revamp.

Only Lexis Advance has invested in state bill tracking in recent times, adding a predictive analytics feature to its traditional state bill tracking reports. Predictive analytics are, of course, all the rage in the research world! Descriptive analytics are great for understanding and visualizing the past, but the next step is to harness the knowledge to inform the future…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Titles of 13 New “Secret Laws” Revealed

“The Project On Government Oversight has obtained new details about legal opinions from the Justice Department’s secretive Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), including 13 previously unreleased memo titles, and the dates of memos whose titles remain redacted. Obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the newly released memo titles reveal some of the subjects this influential office has considered in the last two decades, from war powers to the board of the Kennedy Center. OLC interprets the law for executive branch agencies, issuing memos the agencies often use to guide policymaking and are expected to follow. The office’s opinions have been instrumental in greenlighting numerous controversial—and, in some cases, arguably unconstitutional—policies and programs, including torturewarrantless mass surveillance, and drone strikes. Critically, many OLC opinions are never made public, or even made available to Congress. The new records reflect the latest progress in POGO’s continuing efforts to chip away at this office’s excessive secrecy.

The 13 titles POGO obtained come as part of the most up-to-date listing of official OLC legal memos dating back to 1998, although the list remains far from comprehensive. The material POGO obtained ranges from a 2001 title on the “Kennedy Center Board of Trustees” to more politically charged titles from 2001 and 2003, respectively, on “The Constitutional Separation of Powers Over Foreign Affairs and National Security,” and “The President’s Authority to Provide Military Equipment and Training to Allied Forces and Resistance Forces in Foreign Countries.”…

Categories: Law and Legal

Want to feel less anxious about the state of the world? Try diversifying your online news sources

NeimanLab – “Participants who reported actively trying to diversify their online news streams by interacting with people and content espousing different points of view also reported lower levels of anxiety related to current events. “A new study suggests that consumers who actively take steps to diversify their news consumption — following accounts and news outlets that post a wide range of viewpoints, and interacting online with people who have different views from their own — feel less anxious about current events than people who don’t take such actions. Hunkering down in a self-created news echo chamber, however, does not seem to reduce anxiety. Democrats also report feeling more anxious about current events than Republicans, which isn’t surprising considering who’s in the White House.

The paper is “Factors motivating customization and echo chamber creation within digital news environments,” by Brooke Auxier and Jessica Vitak of the University of Maryland. Using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, they surveyed 317 U.S. adults about their news consumption habits, categorizing whether they were “echo chamber builders” or “diversity seekers.” The echo chamber folks “find content providers (both people and news sources or other websites) they agree with and follow them; when they come across a person or source they disagree with, that content or user is removed.” The “diversity seekers,” meanwhile, “purposefully seek out a variety of perspectives in their content feeds. These users’ responses suggest they view social media as a way to expand their world view and engage with unlike others.”…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Metadata is the biggest little problem plaguing the music industry

The Verge – Metadata is the biggest little problem plaguing the music industry – It’s a crisis that has left, by some estimations, billions on the table unpaid to musicians – “Recently, a musician signed to a major indie label told me they were owed up to $40,000 in song royalties they would never be able to collect. It wasn’t that they had missed out on payments for a single song — it was that they had missed out on payments for 70 songs, going back at least six years. The problem, they said, was metadata. In the music world, metadata most commonly refers to the song credits you see on services like Spotify or Apple Music, but it also includes all the underlying information tied to a released song or album, including titles, songwriter and producer names, the publisher(s), the record label, and more. That information needs to be synchronized across all kinds of industry databases to make sure that when you play a song, the right people are identified and paid. And often, they aren’t. Metadata sounds like one of the smallest, most boring things in music. But as it turns out, it’s one of the most important, complex, and broken, leaving many musicians unable to get paid for their work. “Every second that goes by and it’s not fixed, I’m dripping pennies,” said the musician, who asked to remain anonymous because of  “the repercussions of even mentioning that this type of thing happens.”

“Every second that goes by and it’s not fixed, I’m dripping pennies” Entering the correct information about a song sounds like it should be easy enough, but metadata problems have plagued the music industry for decades. Not only are there no standards for how music metadata is collected or displayed, there’s no need to verify the accuracy of a song’s metadata before it gets released, and there’s no one place where music metadata is stored. Instead, fractions of that data is kept in hundreds of different places across the world…”

Categories: Law and Legal

The Books of College Libraries Are Turning Into Wallpaper

The Atlantic – University libraries around the world are seeing precipitous declines in the use of the books on their shelves. – Vice Provost for Information Collaboration at Northeastern University

“…These stark statistics present a conundrum for those who care about libraries and books. At the same time that books increasingly lie dormant, library spaces themselves remain vibrant—Snell Library at Northeastern now receives well over 2 million visits a year—as retreats for focused study and dynamic collaboration, and as sites of an ever wider array of activities and forms of knowledge creation and expression, including, but also well beyond, the printed word. It should come as no surprise that library leadership, in moments of dispassionate assessment often augmented by hearing from students who have trouble finding seats during busy periods, would seek to rezone areas occupied by stacks for more individual and group work. Yet it often does come as an unwelcome surprise to many, especially those with a powerful emotional attachment to what libraries should look like and be. What’s happening here is much more complicated than an imagined zero-sum game between the defenders of books and library futurists. The decline in the use of print books at universities relates to the kinds of books we read for scholarly pursuits rather than pure pleasure, the rise of ebooks and digital articles, and the changing environment of research. And it runs contrary to the experience of public libraries and bookstores, where print continues to thrive…”

Categories: Law and Legal

HHS Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force Report

Final Report – Updates, Gaps, Inconsistencies, and Recommendations: “Patients with acute and chronic pain in the United States face a crisis because of significant challenges in obtaining adequate care, resulting in profound physical, emotional, and societal costs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 50 million adults in the United States have chronic daily pain, with 19.6 million adults experiencing high-impact chronic pain that interferes with daily life or work activities. The cost of pain to our nation is estimated at between $560 billion and $635 billion annually. At the same time, our nation is facing an opioid crisis that, over the past two decades, has resulted in an unprecedented wave of overdose deaths associated with prescription opioids, heroin, and synthetic opioids.

The Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force (Task Force) was convened by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs with the Office of National Drug Control Policy to address acute and chronic pain in light of the ongoing opioid crisis. The Task Force mandate is to identify gaps, inconsistencies, and updates and to make recommendations for best practices for managing acute and chronic pain. The 29-member Task Force included federal agency representatives as well as non federal experts and representatives from a broad group of stakeholders. The Task Force considered relevant medical and scientific literature and information provided by government and non government experts in pain management, addiction, and mental health as well as representatives from various disciplines. The Task Force also reviewed and considered patient testimonials and public meeting comments, including approximately 6,000 comments from the public submitted during a 90-day public comment period and 3,000 comments from two public meetings.The Task Force emphasizes the importance of individualized patient-centered care in the diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic pain. This report is broad and deep and will have sections that are relevant to different groups of stakeholders regarding best practices. See the table of contents and the sections and subsections of this broad report to best identify that which is most useful for the various clinical disciplines, educators, researchers, administrators, legislators, and other key stakeholders….”

Categories: Law and Legal

Here’s a prediction: In the future, predictions will only get worse

Quartz: “The Australian election produced a winner no pollster predicted: Prime minister Scott Morrison’s ruling coalition remained in power, despite all expectations to the contrary. After the surprise outcomes of the Brexit referendum and the election of Donald Trump as US president, what now feels like the most predictable outcome of any election is that the pollsters will be wrong. There are many reasons why they keep getting it wrong, including confirmation bias, when journalists and pollsters looking for data that validates their prior beliefs. It could also be the nature of some of these events is so unusual they were impossible to predict.

Forecasts rely on data from the past, and while we now have better data than ever—and better techniques and technology with which to measure them—when it comes to forecasting, in many ways, data has never been more useless. And as data become more integral to our lives and the technology we rely upon, we must take a harder look at the past before we assume it tells us anything about the future. To some extent, the weaknesses of data has always existed. Data are, by definition, information about what has happened in the past. Because populations and technology are constantly changing, they alter how we respond to incentives, policy, opportunities available to us, and even social cues. This undermines the accuracy of everything we try to forecast: elections, financial markets, even how long it will take to get to the airport…

We are in the age of big data that offers to promise of more accurate predictions. But it seems in some of the most critical aspects of our lives, data has never been more wrong…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Google Maps adds ability to see speed limits and speed traps in 40+ countries

TechCrunch: “Google Maps is gaining some features previously exclusive to Google’s navigation app, Waze. The company confirmed it’s rolling out the ability for Google Maps users to see speed limits, speed cameras and mobile speed cameras in more than 40 countries worldwide — an expansion of its earlier launch of these features, which were previously limited to select markets. The change was noted earlier by ZDNet and, of course, Reddit.

Google confirmed with TechCrunch the full list of supported countries now seeing the speed cameras, which currently includes: Australia, Brazil, U.S., Canada, U.K., India, Mexico, Russia, Japan, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Tunisia, and Zimbabwe…”

Categories: Law and Legal

8 Great Reasons to Co-Work in a Library

BookRiot: “The news keeps reporting back on the gig economy and the ways in which working remotely is becoming an increasingly available option. With more and more jobs that are focused primarily on having a laptop and access to an electrical outlet, it is no wonder that people are seeking out the best spot they can find for a change of scenery from working on the couch. For book lovers, there is no better place to work remotely than in the local public library. Even a fellow Rioter has commented on how the trend of “co-working spaces” actually fits what public libraries have been for ages. Here are eight reasons why working from my public library fills me with a lot of bookish joy and inspiration…”

Categories: Law and Legal

What’s the state of state public records law?

MuckRock – “Explore our four-part series detailing crucial aspects of state records law.  Over the last nine months, our FOIA Fellow Jessie Gomez has been looking at public records law across the nation through our State of State Public Records Law project. Today, we’ll be exploring the major takeaways from her reporting. Primarily, our coverage has dealt with ambiguities within records law, barriers to access, legislative efforts to reform state records law, and the notable players that have made transparency a reality. Our series will take a look at all of these components and their contributions to your state’s law…Join us as we take the pulse on records law as a whole!
Part One: Barriers to access
Part Two: Legislative reform
Part Three: Transparency advocates
Part Four: Public interest
Categories: Law and Legal

How to limit iPhone app tracking

Follow up to While you’re sleeping, your iPhone stays busy snooping on you – via the Washington Post – “Apps tracking your activity — even while you sleep — is a pervasive practice, including on Apple’s iPhone. What can you do to limit some of it?…

Categories: Law and Legal

Dog Owners Get More Exercise

The New York Times – Dog owners spent close to 300 minutes each week walking with their dogs, about 200 more minutes of walking than people without dogs. “Dog owners are about four times more likely than other people to meet today’s physical activity guidelines, according to a large-scale new study of dogs and exercise. The study, which involved hundreds of British households, suggests that having a dog can strongly influence how much people exercise. But it also raises questions about why some dog owners never walk their pets or otherwise work out and whether any of us should acquire a dog just to encourage us to move. Most people who live with dogs, including me, are familiar with their joy at ambling along paths, trails and sidewalks. We also have to deal with their jowly dejection when our work deadlines or other issues interfere with walks….So, for the new study, which was published in April in Scientific Reports, they first turned to a neighborhood near Liverpool and began asking families in the area about their lives and pets. The researchers focused on a single community, so that everyone involved should share approximately the same local environment with similar access to sidewalks, parks or other amenities that might affect their exercise routines. They wound up with almost 700 participants from 385 neighboring households, half of them women and most middle-aged, although about 70 children also participated. About a third of these people owned a dog….” [Note: please consider rescue or adoption – and walk, walk, enjoy the outdoors – meet your neighbors and their dogs – and forget about the phone.]

Categories: Law and Legal

Photos: The Incredible Ice Formations of Lake Baikal

The Atlantic – “Lake Baikal, in the Russian region of Siberia, is a massive body of water—the world’s deepest and most voluminous freshwater lake. Its location and the surrounding geography can lead to fascinating phenomena in the winter, as ferocious winds and cycles of melting and refreezing build and sculpt works of structural beauty—stones supported on wind-worn pedestals, undulating surface ice, encrusted beaches, crazy icicles, frozen methane bubbles, and more. [In this article you see] a [stunning ]collection…of images from the clear ice of Lake Baikal.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Lessons Learned Trying to Secure Congressional Campaigns

Idle Worlds: “You know how it happens. You try to secure one Congressional campaign, and then another, and pretty soon you can’t stop. You’ll fly across the country just to brief a Green Party candidate in a district the Republicans carried by 60 points. You want more, more, always looking for that next fix.This is the situation I found myself in from late 2017 to 2018, when I was part of an effort that delivered a basic, hour-long campaign security training to 41 Democratic Congressional campaigns. It was exciting! I traveled the country like Johnny Yubikey, distributing little blue security tokens from a sack. The campaigns ranged from beyond-long-shot candidates running from their den, all the way up to some nationally prominent figures. I took a selfie with Bernie! I wrote an opinion piece in the Washington Post! I don’t believe I accomplished much, but I made so many friends along the way! And I learned a lot about the idiosyncratic world of Congressional campaigns; knowledge that I want to now hand over to you, the next person willing to take a swing at this piñata of futility.

This article is specificaly about campaign security, or how to keep candidates and their staff and families safe from people trying to break into social media, read their email, or wire their campaign war chest to Nauru. There are a lot of even more hopeless problems, like election security, but as you will see there is plenty to lose hope about just in this corner of the problem space…”

Categories: Law and Legal

A People Map of the US

The Pudding – Where city names are replaced by their most Wikipedia’ed resident. “Data for this story were collected and processed using the Wikipedia API. The period of collection was from July, 2015–May, 2019, from English Wikipedia. It was inspired in part by this map. Person/city associations were based on the thousands of “People from X city” pages on Wikipedia. The top person from each city was determined by using median pageviews (with a minimum of 1 year of traffic). We chose to include multiple occurrences for a single person because there is both no way to determine which is more accurate and people can “be from” multiple places.”

Categories: Law and Legal

New Historic Publications on

“New featured titles have been added to the Historic Publications page for Spring 2019. Hop over to to see some of the interesting publications added to the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications this quarter including, ‘A Summer in the Life of Wild Mallards,’ contributed by the Washington State Library.”

Categories: Law and Legal

MapChecking – Crowd size estimation

MapChecking – “This tool helps you estimate (and fact-check) the maximum number of people standing in a given area. Click on the map to start delimiting the area. Copy the URL to share the result.” [Note – this links to the map of Washington, DC so be sure to enter a location of your choice in the search field located in the upper left hand corner of the homepage.]

Categories: Law and Legal

Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues May 26, 2019

Via LLRX – 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: Finland is winning the war on fake news. Other nations want the blueprint; Ari Mahairas and Peter Beshar on AI and 5G security risks; Age of fraud: Are seniors more vulnerable to financial scams?; Concern Growing Over ‘Nefarious’ Website Offering Individuals’ Personal Information, Reputation Rating.

Categories: Law and Legal


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