Intersect Alert for the Week of November 11, 2019
Freedom of Information
A Constitutional Right to Public Information
"In the wake of the 2013 United States Supreme Court decision of McBurney v. Young (569 U.S. 221), this Article calls for policymakers at the federal and state levels to ensure governmental records remain open and accessible to the public. It urges policymakers to call not only for strengthening of the Freedom of Information Act and the various state public records law, but to pursue an amendment to the United States Constitution providing a right to public information. This Article proposes a draft of such an amendment: The right to public information, being a necessary and vital part of democracy, shall be a fundamental right of the people. The right of the people to inspect and/or copy records of government, and to be provided notice of and attend public meetings of government, shall not unreasonably be restricted. Evidence from the House’s impeachment inquiry, including testimony from Ambassador William Taylor, the chargé d’affaires for Ukraine under the Trump administration, speaks to a pattern and practice of bypassing official record-keeping procedures at the State Department. In discussing a June 28 State-organized phone call with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, Ambassador Taylor testified that, not only did the Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland exclude most of the regular interagency participants from the call, but that “Ambassador Sondland said that he wanted to make sure no one was transcribing or monitoring as they added President Zelenskyy to the call.” This is a direct violation of the State Department’s obligation under the Federal Records Act to document agency policies, decisions, and essential transactions." https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3472464 Archive, CREW, Historians Sue Pompeo and the State Department over Failure to Create Records, and More: FRINFORMSUM 11/8/2019
"The National Security Archive, together with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR), recently sued Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Department of State for violating the Federal Records Act by failing to create and preserve essential State Department records." https://unredacted.com/2019/11/08/archive-crew-historians-sue-pompeo-and-the-state-department-over-failure-to-create-records-and-more-frinformsum-11-8-2019/
Homeland Security will soon have biometric data on nearly 260 million people
"The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) expects to have face, fingerprint, and iris scans of at least 259 million people in its biometrics database by 2022, according to a recent presentation from the agency’s Office of Procurement Operations reviewed by Quartz. That’s about 40 million more than the agency’s 2017 projections, which estimated 220 million unique identities by 2022, according to previous figures cited by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a San Francisco-based privacy rights nonprofit." https://qz.com/1744400/dhs-expected-to-have-biometrics-on-260-million-people-by-2022/ ;Leaked documents show Facebook leveraged user data to fight rivals and help friends
"A cache of leaked Facebook documents shows how the company's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, oversaw plans to consolidate the social network's power and control competitors by treating its users' data as a bargaining chip. . . This trove comprises approximately 7,000 pages in total, of which about 4,000 are internal Facebook communications such as emails, web chats, notes, presentations and spreadsheets, primarily from 2011 to 2015. About 1,200 pages are marked as 'highly confidential.' Taken together, they show how Zuckerberg, along with his board and management team, found ways to tap Facebook users' data — including information about friends, relationships and photos — as leverage over the companies it partnered with. In some cases, Facebook would reward partners by giving them preferential access to certain types of user data while denying the same access to rival companies." https://www.nbcnews.com/news/all/leaked-documents-show-facebook-leveraged-user-data-fight-rivals-help-n1076986?cid=sm_npd_nn_tw_ma A detective has been granted access to an entire private DNA database
"A Florida detective was granted a warrant to access and search the nearly one million people’s genetic information held by consumer DNA site GEDmatch, even if users had opted out of appearing in police search results, according to the New York Times. The warrant, signed by a judge in Florida’s Ninth Judicial Circuit Court in July, has generated new leads in the case but no arrests, Orlando police detective Michael Fields told the paper. It seems to be the first time a judge has granted this sort of warrant, choosing to overrule a company’s DNA privacy policies." https://www.technologyreview.com/f/614684/a-detective-has-been-given-access-to-private-consumer-dna-data-for-the-first-time/
;What Federal Legislators Can Learn From California’s New Ballot Initiative
"On January 1, 2020, the nation’s strictest privacy law, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), will take effect. The law empowers consumers to (1) be informed about what personal information a company has collected about them; (2) delete that data; and (3) opt out of companies selling that data to third parties. On top of this, there’s an additional ballot initiative that’s been introduced that could further strengthen California’s privacy protections." https://www.publicknowledge.org/blog/what-federal-legislators-can-learn-from-californias-new-ballot-initiative/
GPO has digitized more than 1,300 historical Congressional Hearings dating back to 1958
“The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) has digitized more than 1,300 historical Congressional Hearings dating back to 1958 and made them available on govinfo, GPO’s one-stop site to authentic, published Government information. Through these digitization efforts, the public can access records of Congressional Hearings for free. These include the transcripts from meetings or sessions of a Senate, House, joint, or special committee of Congress, in which elected officials obtained information and opinions on proposed legislation, conducted an investigation, or evaluated the activities of a government department or the implementation of a Federal law. This project is part of a multi-year effort to digitize a collection of nearly 15,000 Congressional Hearings from Kansas State University Libraries, which serves the Nation as a Federal Depository Library. The digitized documents include many historical sessions. As part of this project, GPO plans to digitize nearly six million pages, of which approximately 230,000 pages have been completed."
https://www.bespacific.com/gpo-has-digitized-more-than-1300-historical-congressional-hearings-dating-back-to-1958/ Are facilities near you polluting the air? A new database could help
"In California, 35 local air districts are tasked with controlling air pollution from so-called “stationary sources.” These facilities include oil refineries, power plants, manufacturers and gas stations. They contribute substantially to the emissions of certain pollutants, such as fine particulate matter that can lodge deep inside lung tissue and cause serious and long-term health problems." https://www.centerforhealthjournalism.org/2019/10/15/are-facilities-near-you-polluting-air-new-database-could-help We R Native: a health resource for Native youth, by Native youth
We R Native is a comprehensive health resource for Native youth, by Native youth, providing content and stories about the topics that matter most to them. We R Native promote holistic health and positive growth in our local communities and nation at large. The site provides articles, blogs, videos, and social support on topics related to culture, mind, body, spirit, relationships, impact, and more.
https://news.nnlm.gov/bhic/2019/11/we-r-native-a-health-resource-for-native-youth-by-native-youth/ Israel: Microsoft Implementing AI in Creating Archive Of David Ben-Gurion’s Handwritten Works
"As a part of a joint initiative between Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Microsoft, the historical handwritten and printed works of the school's namesake, former prime minister David Ben-Gurion, will be easily searchable and available to researchers with a plan to create an all-ecompassing archive of the work using artificial intelligence (AI). Ben-Gurion kept meticulous records of the events that shaped the formation and early days of the Jewish state." https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Microsoft-implementing-AI-in-creating-archive-of-Ben-Gurions-handwritten-works-607013 EBSCO Information Services releases PsycTHERAPY database
"EBSCO Information Services (EBSCO) introduces PsycTHERAPY, a unique streaming video database of therapy demonstrations to support clinical and counseling psychology education. Produced by the American Psychological Association (APA), the PsycTHERAPY library offers more than 500 therapy demonstrations using the latest psychotherapy techniques. PsycTHERAPY provides clinicians, counselors, and trainees with the opportunity to observe candid psychotherapy videos. This collection includes proven methods showcasing common obstacles faced during therapy sessions. Videos are accompanied by corresponding transcripts, making it easy to search interactions within demonstrations." https://librarytechnology.org/pr/24690
Open contracting in practice: protecting digital rights and responsible emerging tech
"For anyone who thinks about urban infrastructure, the term is commonly understood to include communication and transportation systems, roadways, water, power, public buildings, and public spaces. Increasingly, cities are buying technologies to connect urban infrastructure to cloud-based computing and data collection systems. In any scenario where cities are buying products from third parties to update essential infrastructure, city decision makers are either making direct no-bid agreements with private companies or going through public procurement processes to craft contracts for public-private collaborations. In order for residents to know how city governments are connecting urban infrastructure and using it for mass data collection, city governments have to commit to open and transparent contracting and public advocates must ensure that city officials are going through processes with strong accountability mechanisms to make these agreements." https://sunlightfoundation.com/2019/11/07/open-contracting-in-practice-protecting-digital-rights-and-responsible-emerging-tech/
What is the Distant Reader and why should I care?
"The Distant Reader is a tool for reading. The Distant Reader takes an arbitrary amount of unstructured data (text) as input, and it outputs sets of structured data for analysis — reading. Given a corpus of any size, the Distant Reader will analyze the corpus, and it will output a myriad of reports enabling you to use & understand the corpus. The Distant Reader is intended to supplement the traditional reading process. The Distant Reader empowers one to use & understand large amounts of textual information both quickly & easily. For example, the Distant Reader can consume the entire issue of a scholarly journal, the complete works of a given author, or the content found at the other end of an arbitrarily long list of URLs. Thus, the Distant Reader is akin to a book’s table-of-contents or back-of-the-book index but at scale. It simplifies the process of identifying trends & anomalies in a corpus, and then it enables a person to further investigate those trends & anomalies. The Distant Reader is designed to 'read' everything from a single item to a corpus of thousand’s of items. It is intended for the undergraduate student who wants to read the whole of their course work in a given class, the graduate student who needs to read hundreds (thousands) of items for their thesis or dissertation, the scientist who wants to review the literature, or the humanist who wants to characterize a genre." http://sites.nd.edu/emorgan/2019/11/reader/ The AI hiring industry is under scrutiny—but it’ll be hard to fix
"The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate HireVue, an AI tool that helps companies figure out which workers to hire."
https://www.technologyreview.com/f/614694/hirevue-ai-automated-hiring-discrimination-ftc-epic-bias/ How Does Query Intent Classification Work?
"If I am shopping online for a shovel, there’s a big difference in my search results if I’m search for a garden shovel in the summer or a snow shovel in the winter. How does the search engine know what I mean? Query intent classification starts with a set of training data, which is a list of queries from users and important context like the user’s location and date it was when they clicked on a particular type of shovel. This data gets fed into your neural network for analysis and deep learning. Then the next time a similar user with a similar history and similar location starts a search, the system will automatically boost the intended results. This is one way neural networks help avoid hand-constructing rules, complex algorithms, potential human error, and overall headaches."
https://lucidworks.com/post/query-intent-classification/ The computing power needed to train AI is now rising seven times faster than ever before
"In 2018, OpenAI found that the amount of computational power used to train the largest AI models had doubled every 3.4 months since 2012. The San Francisco-based for-profit AI research lab has now added new data to its analysis. This shows how the post-2012 doubling compares with the historic doubling time since the beginning of the field. From 1959 to 2012, the amount of power required doubled every two years, following Moore’s Law. This means the doubling time today is more than seven times the previous rate." https://www.technologyreview.com/s/614700/the-computing-power-needed-to-train-ai-is-now-rising-seven-times-faster-than-ever-before/
Freedom House Publishes “Freedom on the Net 2019” Report
"Governments around the world are increasingly using social media to manipulate elections and monitor their citizens, tilting the technology toward digital authoritarianism. As a result of these trends, global internet freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year, according to Freedom on the Net 2019, the latest edition of the annual country-by-country assessment of internet freedom, released today by Freedom House."
The UK’s election will put Facebook’s political ad policies to the test
"As in the last UK election, just two years ago, targeted ads on social media will play a big role as the major parties try to convince wavering voters or shore up their own support. This time around, however, Facebook has a clearer (and more controversial) stance on what it will and won’t allow on its platform. Specifically, it’ll be the first major election where its policy of letting politicians lie in ads is put to the test, a stance that has come under increasing pressure since Twitter said it would ban political ads last week."
Getting ready for Open Data Day 2020 on Saturday 7th March
"Next year marks the 10th anniversary of Open Data Day! Open Data Day is the annual event where we gather to reach out to new people and build new solutions to issues in our communities using open data. Over the last decade, this event has evolved from a small group of people in a few cities trying to convince their governments about the value of open data, to a full-grown community of practitioners and activists around the world working on putting data to use for their communities." https://blog.okfn.org/2019/11/08/getting-ready-for-open-data-day-2020-on-saturday-7th-march/
Watch: The Modernization of the Library of Congress is Focus of U.S. Senate Hearing
"Three years ago, during my confirmation hearing in this very room, we discussed the many challenges and opportunities presented by technology at the Library of Congress. I am pleased today to tell you that we have significantly improved the Library’s IT. The Library is a different organization than it was just a short time ago. Over the last few years, we have stabilized and optimized our core IT infrastructure. We have streamlined and strengthened our IT management and governance. And we have centralized and professionalized our IT workforce. Altogether, that hard work has allowed us to close as implemented nearly 95% of the IT recommendations made by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in 2015, and we will keep working until we close 100%."
Affordances: Science Fiction About Algorithmic Bias and Technological Resistance
"Future Tense Fiction, a joint project of ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination and Slate, has just published Affordances, a new science fiction story by EFF Special Advisor Cory Doctorow. It's a tale of algorithmic bias, facial recognition, and technological self-determination that touches on many of EFF’s key fights."
Publishers Should be Making E-Book Licensing Better, Not Worse
"Macmillan, one of the “Big Five” publishers, is imposing new limits on libraries’ access to ebooks—and libraries and their users are fighting back." https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2019/11/publishers-should-be-making-e-book-licensing-better-not-worse
Intersect Alert for the Week of November 4, 2019
Connecting the world is seen as a humanitarian mission for some technology evangelists – but ensuring a free and open web is a harder problem to solve.
"Fifty years after the first computers were laced into an internet, and 30 years since the World Wide Web was built on top of this “network of networks”, the free and open online world envisioned by early pioneers is under attack. In the last few years, partial cuts and even total blackouts have been reported in India, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Iraq." https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20191025-the-fight-to-keep-the-internet-free-and-open-for-everyone In the Debate Over Online Speech and Security, Let’s Get to the Science
A debate is raging, in Congress and the media, over whether or not we need new regulations to try to shape how Internet platforms operate. Too often, however, the discussion is based on rhetoric and anecdote, rather than empirical research. The recently introduced National Commission on Online Platforms and Homeland Security Act is intended to change that, and we’re pleased to support its goals. https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2019/10/debate-over-online-speech-and-security-lets-get-science
Private Companies, Government Surveillance Software and Human Rights "It's old news that governments around the world are misusing private company-sold digital surveillance software track and target people for human rights abuses. Recently, Amnesty International reported finding that two prominent Moroccan human rights defenders had been targeted using Israeli-based NSO Group’s software. Just this week WhatsApp sued NSO group for using spyware, noting in the legal Complaint that NSO group counts the Kingdom of Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Mexico as customers and that WhatsApp had found targets with telephone numbers from each of those countries. Thanks to advocacy and research by EFF as well as our friends at Citizen Lab, Amnesty International, Privacy International, and others, there is now widespread understanding of the problem. But companies and activists and governments are still struggling to find solutions. All the while private companies based in the UK and Germany (FinFisher), Italy (Hacking Team), and Israel (NSO Group) continue to profit by selling “lawful interception software” to governments and law enforcement organizations in countries with unquestionably poor human rights records." https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2019/10/applying-human-rights-framework-sale-government-surveillance-software Website privacy options aren’t much of a choice since they’re hard to find and use "You’ve probably encountered a pair of shoes that won’t stop following you around the internet, appearing in advertisements on different sites for weeks. Today, the vast majority of advertising is targeted – that is, you see an ad because an advertiser thinks that you, specifically, might be interested in what they have to offer. You may have visited a store page for a pair of shoes, or maybe there’s something in your internet browsing history that places you in their target demographic." https://theconversation.com/website-privacy-options-arent-much-of-a-choice-since-theyre-hard-to-find-and-use-124631
Where Research Meets Profits "Like many academics, William Cunningham, professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, shares his own articles -- published and soon-to-be -- on his website. And like most academics, he does so in the interest of science, not personal profit. So Cunningham and hundreds of his colleagues were recently irked by a takedown notice he received from the American Psychological Association, telling him that the articles he had published through the organization and then posted on his website were in violation of copyright law. The notice triggered a chain of responses -- including a warning from his website platform, WordPress, that multiple such violations put the future of his entire website at risk. And because the APA had previously issued similar takedown notices, the threat of losing his website seemed real to Cunningham." http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2019/10/23/what-happened-when-professor-was-accused-sharing-his-own-work-his-website US Copyright Office Launches Learning Engine Video Series "The Learning Engine series of videos introduces the Copyright Office and copyright concepts to viewers who are new to these topics or who want to learn more." https://www.copyright.gov/learning-engine/?loclr=eanco
Research Tools: New Digital Resources Launch Online for Study of Human Rights (Global Access to the PEN International and English PEN Records) "Thousands of digitized records reflecting major historical events of the 20th century related to PEN International, a global writers' organization, are available online beginning this month. A project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and completed by the Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin has resulted in a new online finding aid for researchers, as well as access to teaching guides and nearly 5,000 digitized records." https://www.hrc.utexas.edu/press/releases/2019/pen-international.html 10 Little-Known Corners of the Deep Web You Might Actually Like "The dark web doesn’t have a great reputation. Dodgy online marketplaces, criminal gangs, terrorist groups—it sounds like the type of place that only the most troubled members of society would want to hang out. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, that type of content exists. But there are also plenty of dark web websites that you might actually like." https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/little-known-corners-deep-web-might-actually-like/
Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost: Preservation in the Age of Shared Print and Withdrawal Projects "This paper’s review of current issues in shared print retention and preservation identifies such shared issues as the cataloging and validation, retention and withdrawal of holdings, loss rates, current condition of holdings, recommendations for the number of copies to retain, and storage environments. Library institutions require a communitywide dialogue assessing practical retention concerns. We hope that our recommendations and discussion will serve as a call to action for further study and greater interest in strong cooperation at both institutional and repository levels, including collaborative action for multiple levels of collection assessments." https://crl.acrl.org/index.php/crl/article/view/23612
Intersect Alert October 27, 2019
Don’t Let Science Publisher Elsevier Hold Knowledge for Ransom
It’s Open Access Week and we’re joining SPARC and dozens of other organizations this week to discuss the importance of open access to scientific research publications.
An academic publisher should widely disseminate the knowledge produced by scholars, not hold it for ransom. But ransoming scientific research back to the academic community is essentially the business model of the world’s largest publisher of scientific journals: Elsevier.
Open Access Resources for Legal Research
Via Lyonette Louis-Jacques, The University of Chicago | D’Angelo Law Library – “In honor of International Open Access Week, our library created an “Open Access Resources for Legal Research” LibGuide. These are some representative free law sources. The focus is on U.S. law, but there’s a foreign and international law section.”
Major Public Library System Will Boycott Macmillan E-books
Publishers Weekly – The nation’s top digital-circulating library has said it will stop buying new release Macmillan e-books once the publishers’ two-month embargo begins next month – “With Macmillan’s controversial embargo on new release library e-books set to begin in just two weeks, PW has learned that the King County (WA) Library System has decided it will no longer purchase embargoed e-book titles from the publisher. “Despite months of discussion and advocacy, Macmillan continues its position to embargo multiple copies of e-books,” writes King County Library executive director Lisa Rosenblum, in a note sent to fellow library directors (and shared with PW). ”Therefore, effective November 1st, KCLS will no longer purchase e-books from Macmillan. Instead we will divert our e-book funds to those publishers who are willing to sell to us.” The King County Library System, headquartered in Issaquah, Washington, is one of the nation’s busiest and best library systems, circulating more than 21 million items every year. It has earned a coveted five star rating from Library Journal. And for five years running, King County has been the top digital-circulating public library system in the country, logging more than 4.8 million checkouts of e-books and digital audio in 2018. In her note, Rosenblum acknowledged differing opinions among public library staff around the country on whether to boycott Macmillan e-books, and said King County’s decision was ultimately driven by two reasons: one “pragmatic” and the other “principled.”
Diversifying your Children’s Lit Section on Purpose
This is not a new topic, but certainly one that deserves more attention. Having worked in public school libraries and now monitoring a small children’s literature collection at my community college campus library, this section always makes me smile. While working on collection development, the children’s lit section is my favorite one to review. “We Need Diverse Books” has successfully transitioned from a hashtag response to a full movement and organization, dedicated to encouraging the publication of books that serve and reflect the lives of young people - all young people.
50 Fictional Librarians, Ranked
“Here at Literary Hub, we love librarians. I mean, really everything about them—their knowledge, their kindness, their demon-slaying abilities. If you love them too, then you probably feel a little jolt of extra excitement whenever they show up in pop culture. Or, okay, maybe you aren’t a total nerd, but here you are looking at my ranking of fictional librarians, so I think it’s a fair bet that you are. (Don’t worry—it’s a good thing.) Either way, now that you’re here, please enjoy this totally unscientific, clearly incomplete, undoubtedly age-biased ranking of the best fictional librarians from film, literature, television, and the internet. Feel free to add on ad infinitum in the comments; that’s what comments are for.”
Alexa and Google Home abused to eavesdrop and phish passwords
ars technica – Amazon- and Google-approved apps turned both voice-controlled devices into “smart spies”. – “By now, the privacy threats posed by Amazon Alexa and Google Home are common knowledge. Workers for both companies routinely listen to audio of users—recordings of which can be kept forever—and the sounds the devices capture can be used in criminal trials. Now, there’s a new concern: malicious apps developed by third parties and hosted by Amazon or Google. The threat isn’t just theoretical. Whitehat hackers at Germany’s Security Research Labs developed eight apps—four Alexa “skills” and four Google Home “actions”—that all passed Amazon or Google security-vetting processes. The skills or actions posed as simple apps for checking horoscopes, with the exception of one, which masqueraded as a random-number generator. Behind the scenes, these “smart spies,” as the researchers call them, surreptitiously eavesdropped on users and phished for their passwords…”
Under digital surveillance: how American schools spy on millions of kids
UK Guardian: “Bark and similar tech companies are now monitoring the emails and documents of millions of American students, across thousands of school districts, looking for signs of suicidal thoughts, bullying or plans for a school shooting. The new school surveillance technology doesn’t turn off when the school day is over: anything students type in official school email accounts, chats or documents is monitored 24 hours a day, whether students are in their classrooms or their bedrooms. Tech companies are also working with schools to monitor students’ web searches and internet usage, and, in some cases, to track what they are writing on public social media accounts. Parents and students are still largely unaware of the scope and intensity of school surveillance, privacy experts say, even as the market for these technologies has grown rapidly, fueled by fears of school shootings, particularly in the wake of the Parkland shooting in February 2018, which left 17 people dead. Digital surveillance is just one part of a booming, nearly $3bn-a-year school security industry in the United States, where Republican lawmakers have blocked any substantial gun control legislation for a quarter century…”
Intersect Alert October 13, 2019
Why Libraries Are Eliminating Late Fees for Overdue Books [CityLab]
“Chicago libraries will no longer collect late fees starting this month, becoming the largest public library system in the U.S. to do away with overdue fines. The city is also erasing all currently outstanding fees, which is good news to the more than 343,000 cardholders whose borrowing privileges have been revoked for accruing at least $10 in unpaid fines.”
“Chicago is one of a growing number of cities trying to make access to libraries more equitable. Its own data revealed that one in three cardholders in the public library’s south district, where many of the communities are of color and living in poverty, cannot check out books. That’s compared to one in six people in the wealthier north district. It’s likely that many who have unpaid fines fail to pay them because they don’t have the disposable income to do so.”
News from the Law Library of Congress Chatbot
In Custodia Legis – “Have you tried the Law Library of Congress Chatbot lately? The chatbot provides answers to frequently asked legal reference questions through Facebook Messenger. You can interact with it by clicking through a series of menu options or you can type in a natural language question. The chatbot debuted in October 2017, and since that time we have been able to learn from user interactions with the chatbot and make revisions to improve the user experience. For example, the chatbot’s natural language abilities have substantially improved since its debut. When the chatbot was released, slight variations from questions the chatbot anticipated, such as deviations in sentence structure, would likely cause the chatbot to return the default response. With the benefit of additional development time, the chatbot’s vocabulary is much more robust and can accommodate variations in sentence structure. Give it a try and let us know what you think. If you would like to try your hand at building your own chatbot, click here for more information…”
‘Ultimate gift to future generations’: plan to laser map all land on Earth
UK Guardian – Project to record cultural, geological and environmental treasures at risk from climate crisis – “A project to produce detailed maps of all the land on Earth through laser scanning has been revealed by researchers who say action is needed now to preserve a record of the world’s cultural, environmental and geological treasures. Prof Chris Fisher, an archaeologist from Colorado State University, said he founded the Earth Archive as a response to the climate crisis. “We are going to lose a significant amount of both cultural patrimony – so archaeological sites and landscapes – but also ecological patrimony – plants and animals, entire landscapes, geology, hydrology,” Fisher told the Guardian. “We really have a limit time to record those things before the Earth fundamentally changes.”
The main technology Fisher hopes to use is aircraft-based Lidar, a scanning technique in which laser pulses are directed at the Earth’s surface from an instrument attached to an aircraft. The time it takes for the pulses to bounce back is measured, allowing researchers to work out the distance to the object or surface they strike. Combined with location data, the approach allows scientists to build 3D maps of an area…”
One Weird Law That Interferes With Security Research, Remix Culture, and Even Car Repair
How can a single, ill-conceived law wreak havoc in so many ways? It prevents you from making remix videos. It blocks computer security research. It keeps those with print disabilities from reading ebooks. It makes it illegal to repair people's cars. It makes it harder to compete with tech companies by designing interoperable products. It's even been used in an attempt to block third-party ink cartridges for printers.
It's hard to believe, but these are just some of the consequences of Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which gives legal teeth to "access controls" (like DRM). Courts have mostly interpreted the law as abandoning the traditional limitations on copyright's scope, such as fair use, in favor of a strict regime that penalizes any bypassing of access controls (such as DRM) on a copyrighted work regardless of your noninfringing purpose, regardless of the fact that you own that copy of the work.
Since software can be copyrighted, companies have increasingly argued that you cannot even look at the code that controls a device you own, which would mean that you're not allowed to understand the technology on which you rely — let alone learn how to tinker with it or spot vulnerabilities or undisclosed features that violate your privacy, for instance.
Digital Preservation Framework Released For Public Comment
“Today NARA is releasing the entirety of our digital preservation framework for public comment. This digital preservation framework consists of our approach to determining risks faced by electronic files, and our plans for preserving different types of file formats. The public is encouraged to join the discussion, September 16 through November 1, 2019, on GitHub.”
Intersect Alert October 6, 2019
600 Years of Grape Harvests Document 20th Century Climate Change
“Climate change isn’t just captured by thermometers—grapes can also do the trick. By mining archival records of grape harvest dates going back to 1354, scientists have reconstructed a 664-year record of temperature traced by fruit ripening. The records, from the Burgundy region of France, represent the longest series of grape harvest dates assembled up until now and reveal strong evidence of climate change in the past few decades. Science with Grapes As far back as the 19th century, scientists have been using records of grape harvest dates to track climatic changes. “Wine harvest is a really great proxy for summer warmth,” said Benjamin Cook, a climate scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York not involved in the research. “The warmer the summer is, the faster the grapes develop, so the earlier the harvest happens…”
Today's Document from NARA's Tumblr
“Today’s Document started as a small feature on the Archives.gov website several years ago, as a way to highlight interesting documents in our holdings—both the well-known and the obscure—and to observe historical events (usually the significant events but sometimes just the curious ones). Today’s Document is now a popular feature and has inspired a new mobile App and even an independent tribute site. Over the years we have received suggestions and requests for new documents and started this blog as a way to collect and discuss those ideas. We’ll select the most highly rated documents and use them to populate future dates…”
Ancient scrolls charred by Vesuvius could be read once again
"When Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD79 it destroyed the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum, their inhabitants and their prized possessions – among them a fine library of scrolls that were carbonised by the searing heat of ash and gas."
"But scientists say there may still be hope that the fragile documents can once more be read thanks to an innovative approach involving high-energy x-rays and artificial intelligence."
Down with Dewey
Melvil Dewey is a library icon. So why did librarians remove Dewey’s name from one of their most prestigious awards.
“In June, the American Library Association stripped a familiar name from one of its top leadership honors: the Melvil Dewey Medal. As you may recall from grade school, Dewey was the man behind the Dewey Decimal Classification system, the schema of numbers and subject areas used at libraries around the world to categorize books. Founder of the nation’s first library school, co-founder of the ALA itself, and onetime director of the New York State Library, he’s usually revered as a library icon, his name perhaps the one most strongly associated with the institution. So what drove librarians to erase it from their own award? As it turns out, despite the wholesome associations Dewey has accrued in the public imagination since his death in 1931, the man was no saint…What does this shift portend for Dewey’s intellectual contributions? The DDC might be the world’s most widely used library classification system, but like the man himself, it’s not without controversy. Critics say the subjects are heavily Eurocentric and favorable to Christianity. The 200s of the DDC, for example, are devoted to the subject of religion. But the subcategories are nearly all focused on Christianity, with one section for “other religions.”
This is how you kick facial recognition out of your town
"Bans on the technology have mostly focused on law enforcement, but there’s a growing movement to get it out of school, parks, and private businesses too."
"In San Francisco, a cop can’t use facial recognition technology on a person arrested. But a landlord can use it on a tenant, and a school district can use it on students."
"This is where we find ourselves, smack in the middle of an era when cameras on the corner can automatically recognize passersby, whether they like it or not. The question of who should be able to use this technology, and who shouldn’t, remains largely unanswered in the US. So far, American backlash against facial recognition has been directed mainly at law enforcement. San Francisco and Oakland, as well as Somerville, Massachusetts, have all banned police from using the technology in the past year because the algorithms aren’t accurate for people of color and women. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has even called for a moratorium on police use."
"Private companies and property owners have had no such restrictions, and facial recognition is increasingly cropping up in apartment buildings, hotels, and more. Privacy advocates worry that constant surveillance will lead to discrimination and have a chilling effect on free speech—and the American public isn’t very comfortable with it either. According to a recent survey by Pew Research, people in the US actually feel better about cops using facial recognition than they do about private businesses."
"Anyone waiting for a quick federal ban to take shape, either for law enforcement or private industry, is likely to be disappointed, says AI policy expert Mutale Nkonde, a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center. “From a federal perspective, anything that seems to undermine business or innovation is not going to be favored,” she says. In theory, bans in cities that have so far been aimed at cops could widen to include private interests. States could then take them up, which might finally spur action in Washington. But it’s going to take a while, if it happens at all."
"In the meantime, there is growing momentum toward curtailing private surveillance, using an array of tactics. From going toe to toe with big corporate interests to leaning on legal theory about what constitutes civil rights in America, here are three main approaches currently in play that could one day drastically change how facial recognition is used in our lives."
Intersect Alert September 29, 2019
GPO Produces U.S. Code with New Digital Publishing Technology
"GPO has taken a major step forward in the modernization of its publishing systems by beginning to publish the 2018 main edition of the United States Code through XPub, the agency’s new digital technology for XML-based publishing. With the implementation of XPub, GPO will be able to simultaneously publish all legislative documents in a variety of print and digital formats in a more timely manner. The 2018 Main Edition of the U.S. Code is the first, large-scale production job that GPO has published using the new composition system."
The Misadventure of Copyrighting State Law
"Abstract- Many states have asserted copyright over their own official state legal texts, limiting access to those materials and attempting to monetize them. This Article aims to provide helpful analysis for state officials deciding whether to pursue such policies and for courts reviewing challenges to such practices. Prior scholarship in this area has focused on the issue of whether such copyright assertions can be valid under federal law given the inherent conflicts they pose to due process and democratic ideals. This Article aims to expand this dialogue in a couple of ways — first, by situating the controversy within the broader arc of legal history, and second, by focusing on matters of present-day practicalities and economics. In so doing, the thrust of this Article is to go beyond arguing that states must surrender their copyright claims over state legal materials and to concentrate instead on providing reasons why states should see it in their own interest and the interest of their citizens to renounce such claims. The policy arguments this Article sets out — including with regard to business behavior, political engagement, and fiscal responsibility — end up providing not merely reasons for states to abstain from aggressive copyright claiming, but also reasons for reviewing courts to deny such claims, including by way of fair use analysis."
The Oldest Continuously Operating Library in the World is in this Egyptian Monastery
"One of the oldest Christian monasteries in the world still in operation, the Monastery of Saint Catherine in Sinai is home to almost 2,000 years of history — and many more years of legend: tradition claims, for example, that the main altar of the monastery is built on the spot where the Burning Bush first addressed Moses."
"But the monastery, declared a world heritage site by UNESCO, also holds other places of honor. For example, it accommodates the oldest continuously operating active library in the world."
The World’s Most-Surveilled Cities
"Cities in China are under the heaviest CCTV surveillance in the world, according to a new analysis by Comparitech. However, some residents living in cities across the US, UK, UAE, Australia, and India will also find themselves surrounded by a large number of watchful eyes, as our look at the number of public CCTV cameras in 120 cities worldwide found."
"Closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras serve many purposes, ranging from crime prevention to traffic monitoring to observing industrial operations in environments not suitable for humans. The digital age has boosted the prevalence of CCTV surveillance. Cameras are getting better and cheaper, while live video streams can be remotely accessed, stored on the internet, and passed around. The adoption of face recognition technology makes it possible for both public and private entities to instantly check the identity of anyone who passes by a CCTV camera."
This AI Reads Privacy Policies so You Don’t Have to — and It’s Actually Pretty Good
"Don’t you absolutely hate how dense and confusing privacy policies are? Considering they’re full of gotchas and intentionally obscure legalese, it’s no surprise that hardly anyone bothers to even read them — we’ve simply accepted we’re giving up our data, and with it, our sense of privacy."
"But thanks to this new policy-reading AI, things won’t have to be this way for much longer. Guard is a recurrent neural network-based app that reads and analyzes privacy terms, so you don’t have to. While it can’t yet examine policies on request, the AI has rated the privacy terms of a slew of popular services like Netflix, Instagram, Twitter, and Tinder."
30-Second Privacy Fixes: 5 Simple Ways to Protect Your Data
"These days, the products we use have an annoying way of spying on us—from inside our cars, our homes, and our offices. That smartphone game you play in the waiting room at the doctor's office, the mobile app that gives you a weather forecast, the photo you share with online friends—all have the ability to reveal intimate details about your life."
"According to a recent Consumer Reports survey, 60 percent of Americans now bar mobile apps from accessing the camera, GPS data, and contact list on their phones. And half protect their online accounts with two-factor authentication."
Thanks For Helping Us Defend the California Consumer Privacy Act
"The California Consumer Privacy Act will go into effect on January 1, 2020—having fended off a year of targeted efforts by technology giants who wanted to gut the bill. Most recently, industry tried to weaken its important privacy protections in the last days of the legislative session."
"Californians made history last year when, after 600,000 people signed petitions in support of a ballot initiative, the California State Legislature answered their constituents’ call for a new data privacy law. It’s been a long fight to defend the CCPA against a raft of amendments that would have weakened this law and the protections it enshrines for Californians. Big technology companies backed a number of bills that each would have weakened the CCPA’s protections. Taken together, this package would have significantly undermined this historic law."