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Reuters: “Google was sued on Tuesday in a proposed class action accusing the internet search company of illegally invading the privacy of millions of users by pervasively tracking their internet use through browsers set in “private” mode. The lawsuit seeks at least $5 billion, accusing the Alphabet Inc unit of surreptitiously collecting information about what people view online and where they browse, despite their using what Google calls Incognito mode. According to the complaint filed in the federal court in San Jose, California, Google gathers data through Google Analytics, Google Ad Manager and other applications and website plug-ins, including smartphone apps, regardless of whether users click on Google-supported ads. This helps Google learn about users’ friends, hobbies, favorite foods, shopping habits, and even the “most intimate and potentially embarrassing things” they search for online, the complaint said. Google “cannot continue to engage in the covert and unauthorized data collection from virtually every American with a computer or phone,” the complaint said…”
- Brown et al v Google LLC et al, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 20-03664.
“Today the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) released a letter that is being sent to local and state election officials and state party officials around the country. This letter highlights key aspects of Election Mail delivery processes — and ways to help educate the public on what to expect when using the mail to vote. The letter, signed by USPS General Counsel and Executive Vice President Thomas J. Marshall, is a continuation of an ongoing outreach effort aimed at educating all interested parties about the Postal Service’s mailing requirements and services in advance of the 2020 elections. “It is critical that the Postal Service’s delivery standards be kept in mind when informing voters how to successfully participate in an election using the mail,” says Marshall, noting the importance of this information “when state and local election officials are making decisions as to the establishment of deadlines and the means used to send a piece of Election Mail to voters.”
The letter and the accompanying Publication 632, State and Local Election Mail — User’s Guide, are intended to provide boards of election and other election officials the tools needed to make the upcoming elections more successful when voting by mail. These guides are a follow-up to the more extensive 2020 Official Election Mail Kit (Kit 600), which was distributed to 11,500 election officials in March. All of these materials are also available on the Postal Service’s Election Mail website, about.usps.com/election-mail/election-mail-resources.htm. Publication 632 includes an overview of how to properly use the mail during the election process, the mailing standards of the Postal Service, postmarking guidelines and the specifics of military, diplomatic and overseas mailing instructions. The Postal Service has personnel ready to assist election officials with mailpiece design and everything else needed for a successful election cycle…”
CRS report via LC – Women in Congress, 1917-2020: Service Dates and Committee Assignments by Member, and Lists by State and Congress, Updated June 1, 2020: “In total 366women have been elected or appointed to Congress, 247 Democrats and 119Republicans. These figures include six nonvoting Delegates, one each from Guam, Hawaii, the District of Columbia, and American Samoa, and two from the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as one Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico. Of these 366 women, there have been
- 309 (211 Democrats, 98 Republicans) women elected only to the House of Representatives;
- 41 (25 Democrats, 16 Republicans) women elected or appointed only to the Senate; and
- 16 (11 Democrats, 5 Republicans) women who have served in both houses.
A record 131 women were initially sworn in for the 116th Congress. One has since resigned, and one has been appointed. Of 131 women currently in Congress, there are
- 26 in the Senate (17 Democrats and 9 Republicans);
- 101 Representatives in the House (88 Democrats and 13 Republicans); and
- 4 women in the House (2 Democrats and 2 Republicans) who serve as Delegates or Resident Commissioner, representing the District of Columbia, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.
- This report includes brief biographical information, committee assignments, dates of service, district information, and listings by Congress and state, and (for Representatives) congressional districts of the 366 women who have been elected or appointed to Congress. It will be updated when there are relevant changes in the makeup of Congress…”
Of Dollars and Data – Nick Maggiulli – “As riots erupt across America following the murder of George Floyd, race relations have once again taken center stage in the United States. Though there is a lot of focus on the social inequalities occurring in the U.S., we should also take a deeper look at the economic inequalities as well. Because it is my belief that many of the social issues experienced by people of color throughout America would be greatly mitigated if they had more economic power. Before we get to that discussion, let’s examine the size of the racial wealth gap to see where things stand currently…”
“The National Police Accountability Project (NPAP) condemns the use of overwhelming force by law enforcement to block legitimate protest against the racist and unconstitutional use of deadly force against Black Americans and other minorities. We denounce the president of the United States for using armed military units to clear the streets of peaceful demonstrators in order to create a photo op for him to spew his divisive and hateful rhetoric. Tear gas, pepper gas, so-called “rubber” bullets, and truncheons will not create an atmosphere in which needed changes can be made or healing occur. Unless and until we address the underlying causes of an epidemic of violence against Black persons, our society will not be at peace and cannot be united. The racism that leads to police violence is systemic and deeply rooted in our society, not merely the result of individual rogue officers. NPAP president Michael Avery stated, “We have seen case after case in which Black men and women are murdered or severely injured by police officers. It must stop. The police must be held accountable. All four officers who participated in the murder of George Floyd must be prosecuted and brought to justice.”…
@ABCNewsPolitics: “Attorney General Bill Barr releases statement on protests in Washington, D.C., saying, “there will be even greater law enforcement resources and support in the region tonight…”
- Meanwhile our area remains under consistent surveillance overhead by military helicopters, planes and drones.
- Via Wired – The Feds Are Now Using ‘Stingrays’ in Planes to Spy on Our Phone Calls
- Via Elizabeth Warren – “AG William Barr reportedly ordered law enforcement to clear Lafayette Square for Trump’s photo-op himself. He should resign. And @JusticeOIG should investigate the role that AG Barr & @TheJusticeDept personnel played in this ugly propaganda event.”
“The Drug Enforcement Administration has been granted sweeping new authority to “conduct covert surveillance” and collect intelligence on people participating in protests over the police killing of George Floyd, according to a two-page memorandum obtained by BuzzFeed News. Floyd’s death “has spawned widespread protests across the nation, which, in some instances, have included violence and looting,” the DEA memo says. “Police agencies in certain areas of the country have struggled to maintain and/or restore order.” The memo requests the extraordinary powers on a temporary basis, and on Sunday afternoon a senior Justice Department official signed off. Attorney General William Barr issued a statement Saturday following a night of widespread and at times violent protests in which he blamed, without providing evidence, “anarchistic and far left extremists, using Antifa-like tactics,” for the unrest. He said the FBI, DEA, US Marshals, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives would be “deployed to support local efforts to enforce federal law.”…
The New York Times – By Anthony W. Marx, president of the New York Public Library. To stay true to their mission during the coronavirus pandemic, libraries should offer more digital services. “As we face tragedy, devastating economic turmoil and dislocation, public libraries will play a key part in the recovery of our country, cities and lives. Libraries offer all people — regardless of background or circumstance — free access to the tools and knowledge they need to open doors of opportunity and be productive members of society. To remain true to their mission, all libraries must undergo radical change. To serve the public in the face of unprecedented challenges, libraries will need to transition their services to the virtual space and explore new avenues to serve the public and bring people together, even while we are apart. Since the New York Public Library has invested for years in digital offerings, we have been able to quickly transition and expand a wide variety of online services. Our goal has been to replicate, as best we can, the unique experience of being in a library while at home. We offer online story times, tutoring and other educational tools for parents coping with remote learning, virtual book clubs, author talks, a book discussion podcast, virtual consultations with reference librarians, interactive online book recommendations and small business and job search webinars that have attracted thousands of participants. We worked with vendors to provide at-home access to research databases, made available thousands of special collections and improved access to hundreds of thousands of free e-books to browse and borrow instantly via our e-reader. And that is only scratching the surface…”
“#LIBREV says library workers make libraries as institutions possible. The COVID-19 crisis has made it clear that it is time to recenter the conversation in our field. Libraries will be necessary and important to their communities as we begin to strategize and recover from this crisis. It’s time to treat library staff as if we are necessary and important, too.
In hopes of building affinity and solidarity among similar groups, and helping like-minded folks find their collective power in this challenging time, we are attempting to continue the momentum built at the May 4, 2020 #LIBREV conference in a different kind of space.
This is an invitation to join us in our online community. It may become something more, but here’s a place to start. Let’s get to work on building a better future together.”
Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues, May 31, 2020 – Four highlights from this week: A flood of coronavirus apps are tracking us. Now it’s time to keep track of them; Johns Hopkins releases report on digital contact tracing to aid COVID-19 response; Coronavirus stimulus payments mistaken for junk mail; IRS issues clarification; and Reality bites: Data privacy edition.
“Reuters today announced that TASS, the Russian news agency, has become a partner on its award-winning digital content marketplace, Reuters Connect here” [thoughts on impact on WestLaw and customer usage]
“Employment data for the graduating law class of 2019 as reported by American Bar Association-approved law schools to the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar is now publicly available. An online table provides select national outcomes and side-by-side comparisons for the classes of 2018 and 2019. Further reports on employment outcomes, including links to individual school outcomes and spreadsheets aggregating those reports, are available on the ABA Required Disclosures page of the section’s website. Each year’s employment outcomes measure law graduate employment on March 15, which is approximately 10 months after spring graduation. For the class of 2019, this date occurred just as the United States began experiencing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, the data reported for the class of 2019 reflects law graduate employment outcomes on March 16, 2020 — the first business day after March 15 — and may not reflect current law graduate outcomes in today’s changed economic environment. For the class of 2019, the aggregated school data shows that 80.6% of the 2019 graduates of the 198 law schools enrolling students and approved by the ABA to offer the J.D. degree were employed in full-time, long-term Bar Passage Required or J.D. Advantage jobs roughly 10 months after graduation. That compares to 77.7% of the graduates reporting similar full-time, long-term jobs last year…”
“The American Association of Law Libraries’ Foreign, Comparative & International Law Special Interest Section will be hosting a webinar on international responses to COVID-19 on June 18, 2020 at 11 am and 2 pm US/Central. Please join us for Law Librarians Combatting Infodemic during the COVID-19 Pandemic! Here is the description:As the legal response to COVID-19 constantly evolves, it can be difficult to keep track of the rapidly shifting legal landscape. In two paired webinars on June 18, 2020, law librarians will provide an overview of legal responses to COVID-19 worldwide, introduce tools for tracking the international legal response, and explain how to evaluate sources of information in connection with this crisis. At 11 am US/Central, Alex Zhang (Washington & Lee), Alison Shea (Cornell), Yemisi Dina (Osgoode Hall Law School, York University), and Mariya Badeva-Bright (Laws.Africa) will update viewers on COVID-19 responses in Asia, Europe, and Africa, highlighting especially interesting responses that you may have missed and resources for learning more. At 2 pm US/Central, Marcelo Rodríguez (US Courts for the 2nd Circuit), Dr. Michele A. L. Villagran (San José State University), and Victoria De La Torre (AALL Latino Caucus Chair) will introduce viewers to Law Librarians Monitoring COVID-19, their project tracking COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean, and provide updates on COVID-19 responses in the Americas. Please register now for the Law Librarians Combatting Infodemic during the COVID-19 Pandemic webinars on June 18 at 11 am and 2 pm US/Central. [via Caitlin Hunter, FCIL-SIS Continuing Education Committee Chair Caitlin, Reference Librarian Hugh & Hazel Darling Law Library | UCLA School of Law]”
The New York Times – “The attorney general has long held an expansive view of presidential power. With multiple crises converging in the run-up to the 2020 election, he is busy putting his theories to work…Now nearing the end of his career, Barr did not take his current job for the glory. He had already been attorney general once, in President George H.W. Bush’s administration, winning him a reputation as a wise old man — a reputation that, in the eyes of some, his tenure in the Trump administration has tarnished. Nor is he doing it for the money. His time in corporate America earned him tens of millions of dollars in compensation and stock options, and his bearing is still that of a Fortune 500 counsel, cozy manners wrapped around a harder core…
As far as what Barr is hoping to do with his canvas, [Stuart] Gerson [former head of DOJ Civil Division] says he is committed to the “hierarchical” and “authoritarian” premise that “a top-down ordering of society will produce a more moral society.” That isn’t too far away from what Barr himself articulated in a 2019 speech at the University of Notre Dame. In Barr’s view, piety lay at the heart of the founders’ model of self-government, which depended on religious values to restrain human passions. “The founding generation were Christians,” Barr said. Goodness flows from “a transcendent Supreme Being” through “individual morality” to form “the social order.” Reason and experience merely serve to confirm the infallible divine law. That law, he said, is under threat from “militant secularists,” including “so-called progressives,” who call on the state “to mitigate the social costs of personal misconduct and irresponsibility.” At their feet, Barr places mental illness, drug overdoses, violence and suicide. All these things, he said, are getting worse. All are “the bitter results of the new secular age.”…
Publishers File Suit Against Internet Archive for Systematic Mass Scanning and Distribution of Literary Works
Association of American Publishers: “Today, member companies of the Association of American Publishers (AAP) filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Internet Archive (“IA”) in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. The suit asks the Court to enjoin IA’s mass scanning, public display, and distribution of entire literary works [Internet Archive Blog Posting], which it offers to the public at large through global-facing businesses coined “Open Library” and “National Emergency Library,” accessible at both openlibrary.org and archive.org. IA has brazenly reproduced some 1.3 million bootleg scans of print books, including recent works, commercial fiction and non-fiction, thrillers, and children’s books. The plaintiffs—Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, John Wiley & Sons and Penguin Random House—publish many of the world’s preeminent authors, including winners of the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, Newbery Medal, Man Booker Prize, Caldecott Medal and Nobel Prize.
- Despite the self-serving library branding of its operations, IA’s conduct bears little resemblance to the trusted role that thousands of American libraries play within their communities and as participants in the lawful copyright marketplace. IA scans books from cover to cover, posts complete digital files to its website, and solicits users to access them for free by signing up for Internet Archive Accounts. The sheer scale of IA’s infringement described in the complaint—and its stated objective to enlarge its illegal trove with abandon—appear to make it one of the largest known book pirate sites in the world. IA publicly reports millions of dollars in revenue each year, including financial schemes that support its infringement design…”
Vox: “The video is horrific. George Floyd lies on the ground, facing the back end of a police SUV, as three cops kneel on his body. One of them, Derek Chauvin, has his knee on Floyd’s neck as the helpless man begs for his life. “I can’t breathe, man. Please understand. Please, man.” It’s a sadly familiar scene, and quite like one that played out in 1976 after Los Angeles police officers pulled over Adolph Lyons for a broken taillight. Like Floyd, Lyons was black. The officers met him with guns drawn and ordered him to face the car, spread his legs, and place his hands on top of his head. Not long after Lyons complained that a ring of keys that he held in his hands was causing him pain, one of the officers wrapped his forearm around Lyons’s throat and began to choke him. Lyons passed out. He woke up facedown on the ground, covered in his own urine and feces. The officers released him with a citation for the broken taillight.
- Lyons brought a federal lawsuit against the city and officers who assaulted him. But that case, City of Los Angeles v. Lyons (1983), did not end well for him. Decades later, the 5-4 decision still stands as one of the greatest obstacles to civil rights lawyers challenging police brutality in cases like George Floyd’s…”
Axios: “The ways Americans capture and share records of racist violence and police misconduct keep changing, but the pain of the underlying injustices they chronicle remains a stubborn constant.
Driving the news: After George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police sparked wide protests, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said, “Thank God a young person had a camera to video it.”
Why it matters: From news photography to TV broadcasts to camcorders to smartphones, improvements in the technology of witness over the past century mean we’re more instantly and viscerally aware of each new injustice.
- But unless our growing power to collect and distribute evidence of injustice can drive actual social change, the awareness these technologies provide just ends up fueling frustration and despair…”
CRS report via LC – Digital Contact Tracing Technology:Overview and Considerations for Implementation, May 29, 2020: “Contact tracing” is a public health measure used to control disease spread. Trained public health workers assist patients with an infectious disease recall their close contacts within a given time frame, notify them of potential exposure, and provide advice to patients and contacts. Given the scale of the COVID-19 pandemic, some public health authorities are automating part of the tracing process with smartphone applications (apps). Some apps take advantage of Bluetooth signals to track individuals proximity to one another, otherwise known as “digital exposure notification (DEN)” Bluetooth allows short-range wireless communications between electronic devices. Apps may also be used by public health authorities to enable “digital contact tracing” (DCT), which may also use location data…Discussion of U.S. digital contact tracing has identified a number of challenges related to its use, including Bluetooth limitations, app effectiveness versus personal privacy, interoperability,and coverage. Each poses a different challenge to effective use of digital tracing capabilities…”
Police Accountability Tool – “Use the data on this page to hold Police Chiefs and Mayors accountable for ending police violence in your city. The charts below use data from January 2013 through December 2019 to show which police departments are most – and least – likely to kill people. You can also compare police departments operating in jurisdictions with similar levels of crime to show that, even under similar circumstances, some police departments are much more likely to kill people than others. And after you’ve explored this tool, click here to learn about police violence in your state…”
Popular Science: “Social media networks know a lot about you. In fact, that’s their primary job. They want to collect information about you and use that to sell advertisements that you can’t resist. In return for your data, these companies give you a chance to interact with other users and share your life no matter how interesting or banal. Recently, instructions have been floating around the web about how to see the secret interests Instagram thinks you want to see ads about. The results are sometimes hilariously wrong, but they can also be worryingly accurate. Your information is a product that companies leverage. In a perfect world, this exchange would result in a harmonious civilization in which people find others with similar interests and we enjoy our hobbies in peace. In real life, however, our information crawls around the dark corners of the web where it’s compromised, sold, leveraged, and otherwise abused. And that’s not even mentioning what happens when one of these social media sites flickers out of existence and takes all of your stuff with it. This article provides a quick primer on how to see what data sites have collected about you, as well as how to download and delete it. It’s handy information to have before the next site shuts down or accidentally tells a bunch of bad guys your favorite movie and your cellphone number…”