Law and Legal

As Understanding of Russian Hacking Grows, So Does Alarm

The New York Times – Those behind the widespread intrusion into government and corporate networks exploited seams in U.S. defenses and gave away nothing to American monitoring of their systems.  “On Election Day, General Paul M. Nakasone, the nation’s top cyberwarrior, reported that the battle against Russian interference in the presidential campaign had posted major successes and exposed the other side’s online weapons, tools and tradecraft. “We’ve broadened our operations and feel very good where we’re at right now,” he told journalists. Eight weeks later, General Nakasone and other American officials responsible for cybersecurity are now consumed by what they missed for at least nine months: a hacking, now believed to have affected upward of 250 federal agencies and businesses, that Russia aimed not at the election system but at the rest of the United States government and many large American corporations. Three weeks after the intrusion came to light, American officials are still trying to understand whether what the Russians pulled off was simply an espionage operation inside the systems of the American bureaucracy or something more sinister, inserting “backdoor” access into government agencies, major corporations, the electric grid and laboratories developing and transporting new generations of nuclear weapons. At a minimum it has set off alarms about the vulnerability of government and private sector networks in the United States to attack and raised questions about how and why the nation’s cyberdefenses failed so spectacularly. Those questions have taken on particular urgency given that the breach was not detected by any of the government agencies that share responsibility for cyberdefense — the military’s Cyber Command and the National Security Agency, both of which are run by General Nakasone, and the Department of Homeland Security — but by a private cybersecurity company, FireEye.

This is looking much, much worse than I first feared,” said Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia and the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “The size of it keeps expanding. It’s clear the United States government missed it.” “And if FireEye had not come forward,” he added, “I’m not sure we would be fully aware of it to this day.” Interviews with key players investigating what intelligence agencies believe to be an operation by Russia’s S.V.R. intelligence service revealed these points: The breach is far broader than first believed. Initial estimates were that Russia sent its probes only into a few dozen of the 18,000 government and private networks they gained access to when they inserted code into network management software made by a Texas company named SolarWinds. But as businesses like Amazon and Microsoft that provide cloud services dig deeper for evidence, it now appears Russia exploited multiple layers of the supply chain to gain access to as many as 250 networks…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Does working from home make employees more productive?

The Economist [paywall] – “Yes, according to new research, and they should be paid accordingly. Remote working, relatively uncommon before the pandemic, has gone mainstream. Before covid-19 roughly 5% of Americans worked from home. By May the figure had risen to 62%. By October 40% were still shunning the office. Both employers and employees have grumbled that the shift to home-working has been disruptive. But according to new research by Natalia Emanuel and Emma Harrington, two doctoral students in economics at Harvard, firms may be better off…” From the paper  “Working” Remotely? Selection, Treatment, and the Market Provision of Remote Work:

“Why was remote work so rare prior to Covid-19’s lockdown? One possibility is that working remotely reduces productivity. Another is that remote work attracts unobservably less productive workers. In our setting of call-center workers at a Fortune 500 retailer, two natural experiments reveal positive productivity effects of remote work. When Covid-19closed down the retailer’s on-site call-centers, a difference-in-difference design suggests the transition from on-site to remote work increased the productivity of formerly on-site workers by 8% to 10% relative to their already remote peers. Similarly, when previously on-site workers took up opportunities to go remote in 2018-2019, their productivity rose by 7%. These two natural experiments also reveal negative selection into remote work.While all workers were remote due to Covid-19, those who were hired into remote jobs were 12% less productive than those hired into on-site jobs. Extending remote opportunities to on-site workers similarly attracted less productive workers to on-site jobs. Our model allows us to characterize the counterfactual in which remote workers were not adversely selected. Without adverse selection, the retailer would have hired 57% more re-mote workers and worker surplus from remote work would have been 32% greater. Given the central role of selection, Covid-19’s effect on remote work will persist if the lockdown disproportionately causes more productive workers to be willing to work remotely.”

Categories: Law and Legal

14 Million Doses Shipped, 2.6 Million Injected: The Lag in U.S. Vaccines

The New York Times –  “The distribution of vaccines in the United States has gotten off to a slower-than-expected start, federal health officials acknowledged in a news conference on Wednesday, though they also voiced confidence that the pace would accelerate in the coming weeks. As of Wednesday, more than 14 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines had been sent out across the United States, up from 11.4 million doses on Monday morning. But just 2.1 million people had received their first dose as of Monday morning, according to a dashboard maintained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We agree that that number is lower than what we hoped for,” said Moncef Slaoui, scientific adviser of Operation Warp Speed, the federal effort to accelerate vaccine development and distribution. He added, “We know that it should be better, and we’re working hard to make it better.” The 2.1 million administered doses reported by the C.D.C. is an underestimate of the true number because of lags in reporting. And a C.D.C. official said in a separate news conference on Wednesday that 2.6 million people had received their first dose. Whatever the number, it falls far short of the goal that federal officials put forward as recently as this month to have 20 million people vaccinated by the end of this year…”

Washington Post – “Shots are slow to reach arms as Trump administration leaves final steps of mass vaccination to beleaguered states. Federal and state officials say the pace will soon accelerate, but the logistical challenges are also expected to intensify in the new year.”

Categories: Law and Legal

The Most Dangerous People on the Internet in 2020

Wired: “For many of us, 2020 has been a very dangerous year. Alongside the usual headline grabbers like wars, violent crime, and terrorism, we also faced more insidious, creeping threats: a pandemic that has claimed more than 300,000 American lives, and the lives of 1.5 million people worldwide, thanks in part to waves of viral lies dismissing Covid-19’s deathly serious effects. Hackers who have spied on, attacked, and extorted countless companies and government institutions—including even hospitals—during a global health crisis. And a US president who has sought to fundamentally undermine both the response to the Covid-19 pandemic and democracy itself with nakedly self-serving, corrosive misinformation. In a locked-down and socially distanced year that for many of us was spent more online than off, the presence of those dangers on the internet has never felt more real. Digital threats and information warfare were, in 2020, some of the most harmful forces in our society. Every year, WIRED assembles a list of the most dangerous people on the internet. In some respects, the actions of this year’s candidates resemble those of years past, from destructive hacking to sowing disinformation. But in a year where human society seemed more fragile than ever, the consequences of those actions have never been more grave…”

Categories: Law and Legal

US Government Policy and Supporting Positions (Plum Book), 2020

United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions (Plum Book), 2020: “Every four years, just after the Presidential election, the United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions, commonly known as the Plum Book, is published, alternately, by the Senate and the House. The Plum Book is used to identify presidentially appointed positions within the Federal Government.” [h/t Pete Weiss]

Categories: Law and Legal

Here are the top tech trends of 2021, according to 30+ top experts

Fast Company – “During the year ahead, technology will help us emerge from the pandemic in ways big and small, obvious and surprising. As we come to the end of a crazy 2020, many of us are suffering from COVID-19 exhaustion. But as two vaccines begin their rollouts, we’ve also begun to visualize what post-pandemic life might be like. Most would agree that the new normal that begins to take shape in 2021 won’t be the old one. By forcing us from our routines, the pandemic has prompted us to reexamine the ways we live and work, and how we mix life and work together. The changes that grow from that reflection will be reflected in the technologies we use going forward. I asked startup CEOs, executives at big companies, investors, and other experts for their predictions for the year ahead, from collaboration services to medical innovations to fresh ideas in AI, commerce, and even the tools we use to sustain our democracy. Of course, even the smartest forecasts can be disrupted by reality. A year ago, I asked tech experts to tell us what 2020 would be like; the clear and logical picture they painted would soon get bent sideways, refracted through the weird prism of COVID-19. With any luck, 2021–however it pans out—won’t be so full of rude surprises…”

Categories: Law and Legal

The U.S. Internet Is Being Starved of Its Potential

EFF: “Over a year ago, EFF raised the desperate need for the United States to have a universal fiber infrastructure plan in order to ensure that all Americans can obtain access to 21st century communications technology. Since then, we’ve produced technical research showing why fiber is vastly superior to all the alternative last mile broadband options in terms of its future potential, published legal research on how the U.S. regulatory system started getting it wrong (as far back as 2005), and suggested a path forward at the federal and state level (including legislation) for transitioning the U.S. communications infrastructure toward a fiber-for-all future…”

Categories: Law and Legal

COVID-19: Potential Implications for International Security Environment—Overview of Issues and Further Reading for Congress

CRS report via LC. COVID-19: Potential Implications for International Security Environment—Overview of Issues and Further Reading for Congress, Updated December 30, 2020: “Some observers argue the COVID-19 pandemic could be a world-changing event with potentially profound and long-lasting implications for the international security environment and the U.S. role in the world. Other observers are more skeptical that the COVID-19 pandemic will have such effects. Observers who argue the COVID-19 pandemic could be world-changing for the international security environment and the U.S. role in the world have focused on several areas of potential change, including the following, which are listed here separately but overlap in some cases and can interact with one another:

  • world order, international institutions, and global governance;
  • U.S. global leadership and the U.S. role in the world;
  • China’s potential role as a global leader;
  • U.S. relations and great power competition with China and Russia, including the use of the COVID-19 pandemic a s a theme or tool for conducting ideological competition;
  • the relative prevalence of democratic and authoritarian or autocratic forms of government;
  • societal tension, reform, transformation, and governmental stability in various countries;
  • the world economy, globalization, and U.S. trade policy;
  • the characteristics and conduct of conflict;
  • allied defense budgets and U.S. alliances;
  • the cohesion of the European Union;
  • the definition of, and budgeting for, U.S. national security;
  • U.S. defense strategy, defense budgets, and military operations;
  • U.S. foreign assistance programs and international debt relief;
  • activities of non-state actors;
  • the amount of U.S. attention devoted to ongoing international issues other than the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • and the role of Congress in setting and overseeing the execution of U.S. foreign and defense policy….”
Categories: Law and Legal

Americans Remain Distrustful of Mass Media

Gallup Poll: “At a time when Americans are relying heavily on the media for information about the coronavirus pandemic, the presidential election and other momentous events, the public remains largely distrustful of the mass media. Four in 10 U.S. adults say they have “a great deal” (9%) or “a fair amount” (31%) of trust and confidence in the media to report the news “fully, accurately, and fairly,” while six in 10 have “not very much” trust (27%) or “none at all” (33%).

Categories: Law and Legal

Associate Layoffs, A New Court, And Racial Unrest: 2020 In Review

Above the Law – 2020 In The Legal Industry Was Just As Awful As In The World Writ Large. By Kathryn Rubino – “As part of Above the Law’s 2020 in review each of the editors are throwing together our own list of top stories of 2020. Of course, 2020 was a dumpster fire, so almost all of the stories on my personal list are a reminder of awful. With that depressing note, here it is: my top stories of 2020…”

Categories: Law and Legal

COVID-19 vaccine facts: Hidden costs, when you can get vaccinated, choosing vaccine brands

CNET – “Now that there are two vaccines granted for emergency approval, where’s your place in line? Will you have to pay anything? What can you do after you’re vaccinated? Here’s what you need to know. This month, two COVID-19 vaccines were authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use in the US — Moderna and Pfizer. All 50 states have already received millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses, with states already administering the first set of shots, with the first person already receiving their second shot. Government leaders in the nation’s capital have also been receiving their first round of shots — President-elect Joe Biden received his on Dec. 21. As you wait for your turn, there are a lot of questions we can help answer. Is a vaccination completely free or will you have to pay? How long will you personally have to wait to receive it, when will you know when you can get it and where, and is there anyone who shouldn’t get a COVID-19 vaccine right now? There’s plenty we don’t know yet, but we’re keeping a close eye on the situation and will update this story as we learn more about the vaccine against COVID-19. Note that this story isn’t intended to serve as medical advice…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Masks and mandates: How individual rights and government regulation are both necessary for a free society

Via LLRXMasks and mandates: How individual rights and government regulation are both necessary for a free society – Professor Martha Ackelsberg is political theorist – she studies how communities are organized, how power is exercised and how people relate to one another in and between communities. Through talking to friends, and thinking about the protests against COVID-19-related restrictions that have taken place around the country – she concluded that many people do not understand that individual rights and state power are not really opposites. The laws and policies that governments enact set the framework for the exercise of our rights. So, inaction on the part of government does not necessarily empower citizens. It can, effectively, take away our power, leaving us less able to act to address our needs.

Categories: Law and Legal

Top 5 legal technology stories of 2020

Via LLRX – Top 5 legal technology stories of 2020Nicole L. Black discusses the wide ranging effects on the legal technology space from the pandemic across all corners of the legal technology world. The shift to remote work had a dramatic impact on both the practice of law and the business of law, resulting in the rapid—and singularly remarkable—adoption of technology at rates never before seen. In some cases, the transition was a smooth one, and in others, it was a spectacular disaster. Good or bad, the results of the pandemic’s impact were undoubtedly notable—and newsworthy. In her article Black focuses on a few topics that especially resonated with her tech savvy readers and colleagues.

Categories: Law and Legal

Financial Sources on the Internet 2021

Via LLRXFinancial Sources on the Internet 2021Marcus P. Zillman, new guide comprises a list of actionable financial resources from the U.S. and abroad, organized by four subject areas: Corporate Conference Calls Resources, Financial Sources, Financial Sources Search Engines, and Venture Capital Sources. Content includes: sources for news and updates on business, corporations and marketplaces; sources from the NGO/IGO sectors; data, databases and charts; search applications; resources for investors and money management; and market analysis tools.

Categories: Law and Legal

New At-Home Covid Test Gets Green Light From FDA

The New York Times – “The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday issued an emergency authorization for the country’s first coronavirus test that can run from start to finish at home without the need for a prescription. People as young as 2 years old are cleared to use the test, which takes just 15 to 20 minutes to deliver a result. Unlike many similar products, which are only supposed to be used by people with symptoms of Covid-19, this test is authorized for people with or without symptoms. The test, developed by the Australian company Ellume, detects bits of coronavirus proteins called antigens. It’s slightly less accurate than gold standard laboratory tests designed to look for coronavirus genetic material with a technique called polymerase chain reaction, or P.C.R. But in a clinical study of nearly 200 people, Ellume’s product was able to detect 95 percent of the coronavirus infections found by P.C.R., regardless of whether the infected people felt sick. It also correctly identified 97 percent of the people who received negative laboratory test results. Ellume, which was awarded a $30 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, said it planned to manufacture and deliver about 20 million home coronavirus tests to the United States within the first half of 2021. Each kit, which tests a single swab sample, is expected to cost about $30 or less, said Bella Zabinofsky, a spokeswoman for the company. In a statement, the F.D.A. commissioner Dr. Stephen M. Hahn called Ellume’s authorization “a major milestone in diagnostic testing for Covid-19” in light of the coronavirus’s persistent grip on the nation. The product will be available in drugstores, Dr. Hahn noted, and gives Americans “more testing options from the comfort and safety of their own homes.”…

Categories: Law and Legal

To lock down or not to lock down? An evidence-based approach to anti-covid measures

Science and Philosophy – Massimo Pigliucci: “As you might have noticed, we have been in the middle of a pandemic for about nine months now. There has been much talk, and much controversy, about what does and does not work to counter the spread of the covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) inducing agent, known as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Just the other day I was having a conversation about this with a follower on Twitter, who was rather skeptical of government lock-downs. He presented me with some home generated graphs drawn from public databases that seemed to make his point. I was, however, a bit skeptical of his skepticism. At some point I thought, wait a minute, surely by now there are serious peer reviewed studies on this! Let’s take a look. Sure enough, a quick Google Scholar search turned out a number of peer reviewed papers. I picked two in particular, on the basis of three criteria: they are very recent (both published this month), they are fairly comprehensive in terms of datasets and anti-covid interventions, and they were published in the two top scientific journals in the world: Nature and Science. You can download the full articles here (Nature) and here (Science), but of course they are fairly technical, especially in terms of methodology and statistical analyses. So I’ll do my best to summarize the key findings, because they have tremendous consequences for public discourse on covid as well as on the implementation of public policies…”

Categories: Law and Legal

60 Minutes profiles ascendant pianist Igor Levit

“The pandemic not only took his audiences away, its restrictions against gatherings also made millions of people lonely. So German pianist Igor Levit found a way to overcome the pandemic’s effects on him and ease people’s loneliness at the same time by streaming his world-renowned music on Twitter. The Grammy hopeful spoke to Jon Wertheim for a 60 Minutes profile to be broadcast Sunday, January 3 at 7:30 p.m. ET and 7 p.m. PT on CBS. Typical reviews of the 33-year-old’s performances use words like “fiery,” “magical” and “elegant.” Levit says his music, at least emotionally for him, depends on people hearing it. “I can’t just make music for myself. It’s just not the way I operate. I can’t, emotionally,” he tells Wertheim. “So I had this idea to bring one of the most classic ways of music-making, which is the house concert… into the 21st century. So how do I do it?… I invite the people into my living room…”

Levit turned his Berlin apartment into a mini concert hall using only a cheap camera stand for his iPhone. Then he learned the basics in streaming. This virtuoso was now virtual for worldwide audiences on Twitter. The first concert reached 350,000. He was playing for his largest audience ever and it couldn’t have been more simple and, on some level, more intimate, he says. “It was just me, no hall, no questions about acoustics, no questions about an instrument, no questions about, you know, pre-printed programs, nothing. No boundaries, just myself and the people,” says Levit. He played for 52 consecutive nights. He broadened his repertoire by adding jazz, soul and rock to his performances. “It’s completely transformed me, who I am, how I see the world.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Biased language models can result from internet training data

Search Engine Land – “The controversy around AI researcher Timnit Gebru’s exit from Google, and what biased language models may mean for the search industry. George Nguyen on December 29, 202 – Last year, Google announced BERT, calling it the largest change to its search system in nearly five years, and now, it powers almost every English-based query. However, language models like BERT are trained on large datasets, and there are potential risks associated with developing language models this way. AI researcher Timnit Gebru’s departure from Google is tied to these issues, as well as concerns over how biased language models may affect search for both marketers and users…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Researchers developed an AI system that predicts the likelihood people will spread misinformation based on words they use

Poynter: “University of Sheffield researchers Yida Mu and Dr. Nikos Aletra report they’ve developed an artificial intelligence system to help identify Twitter users who are more likely to share unreliable news sources. In their study published in the journal PeerJ Computer Science, the researchers found strong correlations between specific language patterns and the propensity to share false information. Users who shared dubious information tended to use the words, “media,” “government,” “truth,” “Israel,” “liberal,” “muslim” and “Islam” in their tweets. Users who shared more reliable information sources tended to use more personal words such as “myself,” “feel,” “excited,” “mood,” “mom” and “okay.” Topics related to politics such as political ideology, government and justice are correlated with users that propagate unreliable sources. “We also observe a high correlation of such users with the topic related to impolite personal characterizations. This corroborates results of a recent study that showed political incivility on Twitter is correlated to political polarization,” the study authors wrote. The researchers based their findings on the analysis of over 1 million tweets from approximately 6,200 Twitter users. This data helped the researchers develop a “new natural language processing methods.”…

Categories: Law and Legal

COVID-19 Vaccinations in the United States​

CDC COVID Data Tracker / Vaccinations

  • Doses Distributed – 11,445,175
  • People Initiating Vaccination (1st dose received) 2,127,143
  • CDC | Updated: 12/28/2020 As of 9:00am ET
Categories: Law and Legal

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