Intersect Alert - 26 July 2020
Coronavirus Threatens the Luster of Superstar Cities
So even as the Covid-19 death toll rises in the nation’s most dense urban cores, economists still mostly expect them to bounce back, once there is a vaccine, a treatment or a successful strategy to contain the virus’s spread. “I end up being optimistic,” said the Harvard economist Edward Glaeser. “Because the downside of a nonurban world is so terrible that we are going to spend whatever it takes to prevent that.”
And yet there is a lingering sense that this time might be different.
The pandemic threatens the assets that make America’s most successful cities so dynamic — not only their bars, museums and theaters, but also their dense networks of innovative businesses and highly skilled workers, jumping among employers, bumping into one another, sharing ideas, powering innovation and lifting productivity.
Library of Congress Wants To Try Adding Humans to Automated Processes
The Library of Congress has automated its metadata tagging but wants to reintroduce humans to the process to ensure a level of accuracy and ethics.
Archives, Digital Preservation
UNCG launches effort to document local Black Lives Matter protests
For educators, researchers, and archivists, the surge of local and national activism has posed several important questions: Who is documenting this activism? How are we preserving the voices of Black activists? How will this story be told in the future?
In response to these questions, UNC Greensboro has launched the Triad Black Lives Matter Protest Collection to document the Black Lives Matter movement, police brutality protests, and race relations in the Triad region of North Carolina.
'There's no way we can save it all': National Archives says audio-visual records will be lost
The National Archives of Australia is preparing to lose large sections of its 117,000 hours of magnetic tape archives, including a prioritisation process to ensure archives relating to Indigenous languages and culture aren't lost.
Most Americans say social media companies have too much power, influence in politics
A majority of Americans think social media companies have too much power and influence in politics, and roughly half think major technology companies should be regulated more than they are now, according to a new Pew Research Center survey that comes as four major tech executives prepare to testify before Congress about their firms’ role in the economy and society.
It’s too late to stop QAnon with fact checks and account bans
Twitter and Facebook won't be able to deal with the 'omniconspiracy' without ‘rethinking the entire information ecosystem’
Open-access Plan S to allow publishing in any journal
Funders will override policies of subscription journals that don’t let scientists share accepted manuscripts under open licence.
New Vatican Library website aims to serve scholars, entice curious
The Vatican Library has revamped its website to serve scholars better and facilitate navigation for the curious.
Citizen science at heart of new study showing COVID-19 seismic noise reduction
Research published in the journal Science, using a mix of professional and Raspberry Shake citizen seismic data, finds that lockdown measures to slow the spread of the virus COVID-19 reduced seismic noise by 50% worldwide.
Intersect Alert - 19 July 2020
Government, Open Data
Covid-19 data is a public good. The US government must start treating it like one
Earlier this week as a pandemic raged across the United States, residents were cut off from the only publicly available source of aggregated data on the nation’s intensive care and hospital bed capacity. When the Trump administration stripped the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of control over coronavirus data, it also took that information away from the public.
Hackers Tell the Story of the Twitter Attack From the Inside
Several people involved in the events that took down Twitter this week spoke with The Times, giving the first account of what happened as a pursuit of Bitcoin spun out of control.
The Increasingly Essential Role Of The Law Librarian
Robots are not coming for law librarians’ jobs.
Hundreds of hyperpartisan sites are masquerading as local news. This map shows if there’s one near you
The growth of partisan media masquerading as state and local reporting is a troubling trend we’ve seen emerge amid the financial declines of local news organizations. But what do these outlets mean for journalism in American communities?
Using previous research and news reports as a guide, we’ve mapped the locations of more than 400 partisan media outlets — often funded and operated by government officials, political candidates, PACs, and political party operatives — and found, somewhat unsurprisingly, that these outlets are emerging most often in swing states, raising a concern about the ability of such organizations to fill community information needs while prioritizing the electoral value of an audience.
Biased algorithms on platforms like YouTube hurt people looking for information on health
I’m a professor of information systems, and my own research has examined how social media platforms such as YouTube widen such health literacy disparities by steering users toward questionable content.
Gazetteer Catalogs Ocean Features
The GEBCO Undersea Feature Names Gazetteer, hosted online by the International Hydrographic Organization’s Data Center for Digital Bathymetry (IHO DCDB), co-located with NCEI, allows the public to search for, view, and download information about more than 3,800 undersea features. The public can find information including geographic location, feature dimensions, the discoverer, and the origin of the name. The tool simplifies tracking so that if a place has already secured a name or has been christened by a discoverer, duplication in naming is less likely. The Gazetteer also reduces misidentification.
EFF Launches Searchable Database of Police Agencies and the Tech Tools They Use to Spy on Communities
The Atlas of Surveillance database, containing several thousand data points on over 3,000 city and local police departments and sheriffs' offices nationwide, allows citizens, journalists, and academics to review details about the technologies police are deploying, and provides a resource to check what devices and systems have been purchased locally.
CBP does end run around warrants, simply buys license plate-reader data
US Customs and Border Protection can track everyone's cars all over the country thanks to massive troves of automated license plate scanner data, a new report reveals—and CBP didn't need to get a single warrant to do it. Instead, the agency did just what hundreds of other businesses and investigators do: straight-up purchase access to commercial databases.
EU Court Again Rules That NSA Spying Makes U.S. Companies Inadequate for Privacy
The European Union’s highest court today made clear—once again—that the US government’s mass surveillance programs are incompatible with the privacy rights of EU citizens. The judgment was made in the latest case involving Austrian privacy advocate and EFF Pioneer Award winner Max Schrems. It invalidated the “Privacy Shield,” the data protection deal that secured the transatlantic data flow, and narrowed the ability of companies to transfer data using individual agreements (Standard Contractual Clauses, or SCCs).
What Did People Use Before Google to Search the Web?
Not just nostalgia, but a good reminder from five experts that there are different paradigms for searching the web. Web search has changed before and could change again.
Intersect Alert 12 July 2020
There are so many coronavirus myths that even Snopes can't keep up
But since then, Snopes, which delves into everything from bizarre urban legends to intricate government policies, has been overwhelmed with so many covid-19-related questions that the website can’t keep up. The company has done something that seems counterintuitive: It has scaled back operations by publishing fewer stories. There have been no furloughs or layoffs; but Snopes is encouraging employees, whose lives have been turned upside down by the pandemic, to take time off if needed.
It’s a predicament other fact-checkers and journalists are facing: As the novel coronavirus has swept the globe, so has misinformation about the virus. The World Health Organization has referred to the abundance of articles, commentary and social media postings about this one topic — some accurate, some not — as an “infodemic” which “makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it.”
Opinion: Zuckerberg Never Fails to Disappoint
Every week, it seems that the giant social network makes news, typically of the kind that makes the company look bad, and typically by declining to get out of the way of the history that is being made.
Just last week, after hundreds of advertisers joined a boycott of Facebook, its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, cavalierly shrugged off the effort by a group of concerned civil rights groups and told his employees that, “My guess is that all these advertisers will be back on the platform soon enough.”
He said this as the company’s second in charge, the chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, was reportedly going around trying to persuade those marketers to do just that.
How misinformation spreads on Twitter
We examined millions of Twitter posts for events, such as mass shootings, that result in a large, international online response. A single tweet contains more than 150 data variables including the time the tweet was posted, the tweet text, the Twitter handle, locations, and more. The hashtags and emojis can also be extracted from the “full text” of the tweets. The hashtags and emojis can also be extracted from the “full text” of the tweets. For the emojis, we mainly focus on the “yellow face” emojis, which can be sorted into different emotion categories: happiness, surprise, sadness, disgust, fear, anger, and neutral (Figure 1). These categories are based on a psychology theory developed by Paul Ekman and Wallace V. Fesen that correlates facial expressions to six primary emotions that are expressed. The other emojis can be sorted into bundles that may pertain to a specific topic, like a mask or a syringe that is associated with medical-related tweets.
What a Better Social Network Would Look Like
Tuesday evening, New York Times writer Charlie Warzel casually tweeted a version of this question to his followers, not expecting much of a response. “Odd question but: what are your most far-fetched utopian ideas for fixing social media platforms?” he asked. “The stuff that’s likely never ever gonna happen.”
More than 1,000 replies later, the thread was packed with provocative proposals, which together show that there is not only a tremendous appetite for change but a constellation of bright ideas for what that change could be.
The New Head of Simon & Schuster on Facts, Diversity, and the Future of Publishing
On Monday, Simon & Schuster announced that Dana Canedy, the administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes and a former reporter for the New York Times, will become its senior vice-president and the publisher of its flagship imprint. Canedy won a Pulitzer two decades ago, at the Times, for her work on the series “How Race is Lived in America.” Canedy also published a book, “A Journal For Jordan,” in 2008, about the death of her fiancé while he was serving in Iraq. She will become the first Black person to take over a major publishing imprint. Simon & Schuster, which is owned by ViacomCBS, is one of the largest publishers in the country, but it is also up for sale as changes and mergers continue to roil the book world.
I spoke by phone with Canedy on Wednesday, three weeks before she begins her new job. During our conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity, we discussed the different types of diversity she hopes to usher in, the ways in which the publishing industry differs from journalism, and whether she would publish President Trump’s memoirs.
Alexa, are you listening? An exploration of smart voice assistant use and privacy in libraries
Smart voice assistants have expanded from personal use in the home to applications in public services and educational spaces. The library and information science (LIS) trade literature suggests that libraries are part of this trend, however there is a dearth of empirical studies that explore how libraries are implementing smart voice assistants in their services, and how these libraries are mitigating the potential patron data privacy issues posed by these technologies. This study contributes to this gap byreporting on the results of a national survey that documents how libraries are integrating voice assistant technologies (e.g. Amazon Echo, Google home) into their services, programming, and check-out programs. The survey also surfaces some of the key privacy concerns of library workers in regard to implementing voice assistants in library services.
Internet Access, International Outlook
China's Great Firewall descends on Hong Kong internet users
At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong.
Unveiling expanded police powers as part of a contentious new national security law, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech and force internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms.
Research, International Outlook
Finding the 'invisible' millions who are not on maps
Known as the "Wikipedia for maps", anyone can download OpenStreetMap and edit it too.
"It's an amazing situation where anyone could wreck it, anyone can add to it, but what we've ended up with is a map that is the most up-to-date in some places."
According to Mr Gayton, it is the most complete and accurate map for many parts of the world, especially in rural Africa, where underinvestment means, outside of cities, there are often blank pages where millions live.
Open Access, Libraries, Publishing
Research Libraries Tell Publishers To Drop Their Awful Lawsuit Against The Internet Archive
I've seen a lot of people -- including those who are supporting the publishers' legal attack on the Internet Archive -- insist that they "support libraries," but that the Internet Archive's Open Library and National Emergency Library are "not libraries." First off, they're wrong. But, more importantly, it's good to see actual librarians now coming out in support of the Internet Archive as well. The Association of Research Libraries has put out a statement asking publishers to drop this counter productive lawsuit, especially since the Internet Archive has shut down the National Emergency Library.
Opposing view (in part): http://kcoyle.blogspot.com/2020/04/ceci-nest-pas-une-bibliotheque.html
The Whole Earth on CD-ROM in HyperCard in Your Browser
Time to show your age. Remember CD-ROMs * ? Remember the Whole Earth Catalog ** ? Remember Hypercard *** ? The wizards at the Internet Archive have made it possible to relive all three on the web.
* Ask your parents.
** It was a kind of Sears Catalog **** for hippies and their younger friends.
*** "The Web-Before-The-Web version of hyperlinks and document reading" invented by Apple Computer.
**** The Sears Catalog was like Amazon in book form.
Intersect Alert 5 July 2020
Millions track the pandemic on Johns Hopkins's dashboard. Those who built it say some miss the real story
Since launching in January, the university's Coronavirus Resource Center has exploded in scope and popularity, garnering millions of page views and popping up in news coverage and daily conversation. Through numbers, the tracker has told the story of what the virus is doing while the story is still unfolding, offering a nearly real-time picture of its silent march across the globe.
But even as data has jumped to the forefront of international discussions about the virus, the Johns Hopkins team wrestles with doubts about whether the numbers can truly capture the scope of the pandemic, and whether the public and policymakers are failing to absorb the big picture. They know what they are producing is not a high-resolution snapshot of the pandemic but a constantly shifting Etch a Sketch of the trail of covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.
International Outlook, Books and Reading
Hong Kong security law: Pro-democracy books pulled from libraries
Books by pro-democracy figures have been removed from public libraries in Hong Kong in the wake of a controversial new security law.
The works will be reviewed to see if they violate the new law, the authority which runs the libraries said.
The legislation targets secession, subversion and terrorism with punishments of up to life in prison.
Covid-19 Shows That Scientific Journals Need to Open Up
One big change brought on by Covid-19 is that virtually all the scientific research being produced about it is free to read. Anyone can access the many preliminary findings that scholars are posting on “preprint servers.” Data are shared openly via a multitude of different channels. Scientific journals that normally keep their articles behind formidable paywalls have been making an exception for new research about the virus, as well as much (if not all) older work relevant to it.
This response to a global pandemic is heartening and may well speed that pandemic to its end. But after that, what happens with scientific communication? Will everything go back behind the journal paywalls?
You Purged Racists From Your Website? Great, Now Get to Work
Truth needs an advocate and it should come in the form of an enormous flock of librarians descending on Silicon Valley to create the internet we deserve, an information ecosystem that serves the people.The blessing and curse of social media is that it must remain open so we can reap the most benefits; but openness must be tempered with the strong and consistent curation and moderation that these librarians could provide, so that everyone's voice is protected and amplified.
Due Process for Content Moderation Doesn't Mean "Only Do Things I Agree With"
There's a common theme in many proposals to amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act — the idea that companies need to just follow their terms of service consistently and fairly.
Of course, I agree. Who doesn’t? As I detailed in a paper in 2018, I believe that dominant platforms should give their users due process rights, including at times explanations of content moderation decisions, which would include an explanation of why particular pieces of content violate a platform’s terms of service, and responses to objections that platforms are behaving arbitrarily or inconsistently.
Internet Access, Libraries
Millions of Americans Depend on Libraries for Internet. Now They're Closed
Libraries are still just about the only place in America anyone can go and sit and use a computer and the internet without buying anything. All over the country, library closures during the pandemic have highlighted just how many people have no dependable source of internet on their own.
Books and Reading
As libraries go digital, paper books still have a lot to offer us
Librarians like me face challenges in maintaining traditional means of accessing and delivering information to our users while embracing innovative media.
We appreciate the value of both analogue (print books, manuscripts, maps, globes) and digital resources like Google Maps, databases and digital archives. One format captures the history of institutions in general, and of libraries, in particular. The other allows for more equitable and experimental access. Yet, being an advocate for print can be a thankless task.
Students and their professors rely increasingly on libraries’ e-resources. As libraries closed during the pandemic, they were replaced with digital spaces. Yet, what is lost when entire libraries go online?
Libraries Are Updating for Today's Digital Needs. Congress Needs to Clear the Way
Libraries have been connected to the system of copyright laws just as long. Book publishers are still required to deposit copies of their books for the use of the Library of Congress. Under copyright's first sale doctrine, libraries do not need special permission (i.e. a license) to lend out books to the public. Anyone who owns a copy of a book is free to dispose of it however they want, including by lending it out. Copyright grants to authors the right to make and distribute new copies, but not the right to control how those copies are used once purchasers (including libraries) get a hold of them. For hundreds of years, this system has nicely balanced the rights of authors with the right of people to freely use their physical property as they please.
This balance, however, has been challenged by the rise of the digital distribution of content, and people's need to access copyrighted content on all kinds of devices.
Archivists, Stop Wasting Your Ref-ing Time!
One of the most laborious yet necessary tasks of an archivist is the generation of catalogue references. This was once the bane of my life. But I now have a technological solution, which anyone can download and use for free.
The New York Public Library’s Beloved Lions, Patience and Fortitude, Wear Masks to Remind New Yorkers to Stay Safe
As the Library system prepares to begin reopening its physical locations on July 13, the lions who guard the 42nd Street library are setting an example (they’re also way more than six feet apart)
Intersect Alert 27 June 2020
How Libraries Are Supporting The Black Lives Matter Movement
NPR's Scott Simon speaks with Boston librarian Stacy Collins about how libraries are taking up issues of policing and Black Lives Matters.
Coronavirus Tests the Limits of America’s Public Libraries
With school closures and job loss, communities will need libraries more than ever. But constraints after COVID-19 mean they’ll have to rethink their role.
People are microwaving library books and masks to kill COVID-19 — and that's bad
People are getting creative when it comes to staying safe from COVID-19 and it has prompted at least one Michigan library to issue a public warning: Stop microwaving books.
UK bookshops see sales soar
Almost 4m books were sold in the UK in the first six days after bookshops reopened last week – a jump of over 30% on the same week last year as desperate readers returned to browse the aisles for the first time in three months.
California Agency Blocks Release of Police Use of Force and Surveillance Training, Claiming Copyright
Under a California law that went into effect on January 1, 2020, all law enforcement training materials must be “conspicuously” published on the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) website. However, if you visit POST’s Open Data hub and try to download the officer training materials relating to face recognition technology or automated license plate readers (ALPRs), or the California Peace Officers Association’s course on use of force, you will receive a message that the course presenter claims copyright.
The Covid-19 Vaccine Should Belong to the People
The US government has the authority under existing law to break patent monopolies.
Knowledge Mismanagement – How the Virus Won
Invisible outbreaks sprang up everywhere. The United States ignored the warning signs. The New York Times analyzed travel patterns, hidden infections and genetic data to show how the epidemic spun out of control.
Pandenomics: How open data is guiding public policy
Publicly available data sets are helping governments chart a course through the public health crisis and toward economic recovery.
Coronavirus Researchers Are Dismantling Science’s Ivory Tower—One Study at a Time
Homebound scientists were looking for ways to help battle the pandemic. I put out a call on Twitter, and the Covid-19 Dispersed Volunteer Network was born.
A new US bill would ban the police use of facial recognition
US Democratic lawmakers have introduced a bill that would ban the use of facial recognition technology by federal law enforcement agencies. Specifically, it would make it illegal for any federal agency or official to “acquire, possess, access, or use” biometric surveillance technology in the US.
The Phone Settings You Need to Know Before Protesting
You can stand strong against police requests to unlock and search your device—they’ll need a warrant for that—but you also don’t have to make things easy for them. When you’re heading out to protest, consider these settings.
Demographic report on protests shows how much info our phones give away
On the weekend of May 29, thousands of people marched, sang, grieved, and chanted, demanding an end to police brutality and the defunding of police departments in the aftermath of the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. They marched empowered by their number and the assumed anonymity of the crowd. And they did so completely unaware that a tech company was using location data harvested from their cellphones to predict their race, age, and gender and where they lived.
Crisis of Credibility in Secrecy Policy
Obsolete secrecy procedures and growing political abuse have left the national security classification system in a state of disarray and dysfunction. Most government agencies “still rely on antiquated information security management practices,” according to a new annual report from the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO).
Baseball and cybersecurity: Stealing insights from America’s pastime
Whether you have played, watched, hated, or never heard of baseball, lessons from the sport can be applied to many things in life—including cybersecurity.
Intersect Alert 20 June 2020
Libraries Are Dealing With New Demand For Books And Services During The Pandemic
Across the country, libraries have seen demand skyrocket for their electronic offerings, but librarians say they continue to worry about the digital divide and equality in access — not to mention the complicated questions that must be answered before they can reopen for physical lending.
Libraries are needed more than ever. But many aren't sure how to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic
Amid all the talk of the country reopening, libraries across the nation are struggling to reopen their doors to communities that have come to rely on them not just for books, videos and reading hours, but also for an array of social services, from literacy programs, U.S. citizenship classes, housing and tax assistance and public bathrooms for the homeless.
How COVID-19 is Changing Research Culture
The research world has moved faster than many would have suspected possible in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In five months, a volume of work has been generated that even the most intensive of emergent fields have taken years to create. The report How COVID-19 is Changing Research Culture investigates the research landscape trends and cultural changes in response to COVID-19. The report includes analysis of publication trends, geographic focal points of research, and collaboration patterns.
The pandemic threw a wrench in the 2020 Census. Advocates are trying to limit the damage.
Given the unrelenting crush of news ushered in by the COVID-19 pandemic and nationwide protests, it can be hard to remember this is a census year, or why that matters. But the 2020 Census will have a huge influence on the next decade in the U.S., on everything from how many state representatives will sit in the House of Representatives, to where hospitals and schools are built, to even how we respond to the next outbreak or pandemic.
Free Expression, Harmful Speech and Censorship in a Digital World
According to a poll from Gallup and the Knight Foundation, 80% of Americans don’t trust big tech companies to make the right decisions about what content appears on their sites.
Contact tracing without Big Brother
Smartphone-based systems can alert people who’ve been near a disease carrier without revealing who it was.
The Bigot in the Machine
Vast quantities of information are collected, sorted, shared, combined, and acted on by proprietary black boxes. These systems use machine learning to build models and make predictions from data sets that may be out of date, incomplete, and biased.
Intersect Alert 14 June 2020
Libraries Respond: Black Lives Matter
The librarian profession suffers from a persistent lack of racial and ethnic diversity that shows few signs of improving. In 2018, just 6.8 percent of librarians identified as Black or African American (Department for Professional Employees). Many people are feeling helpless, but there are many ways we can center the voices and experiences of Black library workers, the Black community, support the broader Black Lives Matter movement, fight against police violence, and help the cause of racial justice.
MIT, guided by open access principles, ends Elsevier negotiations
Standing by its commitment to provide equitable and open access to scholarship, MIT has ended negotiations with Elsevier for a new journals contract. Elsevier was not able to present a proposal that aligned with the principles of the MIT Framework for Publisher Contracts.
Academic Libraries will Change in Significant Ways
With discussions now occurring about reopening campuses, academic libraries face a paradigm shift. Librarians will be returning to a “new normal” -- one where in-person classes and service interactions may be impossible or no longer preferred, where collections in physical format may be a barrier to access, and where collaborative study is shunned in favor of social distancing in buildings that can only safely house half the people they used to.
Libraries Strive to Stay ‘Community Living Rooms’ as They Reopen
Safely lending books is just the beginning. Libraries are figuring out everything from how to remain welcoming spaces to how to respond to changing reader behavior.
Publishers Sue Internet Archive for Copyright Infringement
The online library loosened restrictions on its collection of scanned books at the end of March in response to the pandemic
Medical Device Repair Again Threatened With Copyright Claims
Hundreds of volunteers came together to create the Medical Device Repair Database posted to the repair information website iFixit, providing medical practitioners and technicians an easy-to-use, annotated, and indexed resource to help them keep devices in good repair. Steris Corporation contacted iFixit to demand that their products’ documentation be taken down on copyright grounds.
IBM has said the company will stop developing or selling facial recognition software due to concerns the technology is used to promote racism. In a letter to Congress, IBM’s CEO Arvind Krishna said the tech giant opposes any technology used “for mass surveillance, racial profiling, violations of basic human rights and freedoms.”
You Have a First Amendment Right to Record the Police
Recordings of police officers, whether by witnesses to an incident with officers, individuals who are themselves interacting with officers, or by members of the press, are an invaluable tool in the fight for police accountability. This blog post provides some practical tips to record the police legally and safely, and explains some of the legal nuances of recording the police.
Protecting Privacy in the 2020 Census
In 2018 the Census Bureau discovered that results of the 2010 census could be processed and matched with external sources in such a way as to reveal confidential personal information, in violation of the law. In order to prevent this potential privacy violation, the Census Bureau proposes to use an approach called Differential Privacy.
The Internet’s most important—and misunderstood—law, explained
Section 230 is the legal foundation of social media, and it's under attack.
Intersect Alert 6 June 2020
Google faces $5 billion lawsuit in U.S. for tracking 'private' internet use
Google was sued 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.
Surveillance Self-Defense: Attending Protests in the Age of COVID-19
In the wake of nationwide protests against the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, we urge protestors to stay safe, both physically and digitally. Our Surveillance Self Defense (SSD) Guide on attending a protest offers practical tips on how to maintain your privacy and minimize your digital footprint while taking to the streets.
Ben Franklin, FISA and the Public’s Confidence in the Integrity of Government
“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” This is a line regularly quoted by privacy advocates seeking to sunset the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act’s (“FISA”) secret wiretap provisions. In the aftermath of Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report, these same advocates make a strong case that FISA powers have been abused. But with a rejuvenating terror threat from the Middle East and aggressive efforts by our global rivals, blinding the intelligence community makes little sense.
Congress and Law Enforcement Reform: Constitutional Authority
Nationwide protests in response to the publication of video footage of a Minneapolis police officer pressing his knee into the neck of George Floyd leading to his death have generated renewed interest in the issue of reforming the policing practices of state and local officials. Several existing federal laws seek to prevent and redress constitutional violations by state and local law enforcement officials. However, because the Constitution generally grants states the authority to regulate issues of local concern—which includes policing and criminal law—Congress is limited in its ability to legislate on matters related to state and local law enforcement—limits that may inform any new laws Congress seeks to enact on this evolving issue.
Section 230 and the Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship
On May 28, 2020, President Trump issued the Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship (EO), expressing the executive branch’s views on Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act. Section 230, under certain circumstances, immunizes online content providers from liability for merely hosting others’ content. The EO stakes out a position in existing interpretive disputes about the law’s meaning and instructs federal agencies, including the Department of Commerce, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the Department of Justice, to take certain actions to implement this understanding.
The Executive Order Targeting Social Media Gets the FTC, Its Job, and the Law Wrong
The inaptly named Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship seeks to insert the federal government into private Internet speech in several ways. In particular, Sections 4 and 5 seek to address possible deceptive practices, but end up being unnecessary at best and legally untenable at worst. These provisions are motivated in part by concerns that the dominant platforms do not adequately inform users about their standards for moderating content, and that their own free speech rhetoric often doesn’t match their practices. But the EO’s provisions either don’t help, or introduce new and even more dangerous problems.
How Google Docs became the social media of the resistance
In the week after George Floyd’s murder, hundreds of thousands of people joined protests across the US and around the globe, demanding education, attention, and justice. But one of the key tools for organizing these protests is a surprising one: it’s not encrypted, doesn’t rely on signing in to a social network, and wasn’t even designed for this purpose. It’s Google Docs.
Hamid Khan has been a community organizer in Los Angeles for over 35 years, with a consistent focus on police violence and human rights. He talked to us on April 3, 2020, for a forthcoming podcast episode about artificial intelligence and policing. As the world turns its attention to police brutality and institutional racism, we thought our conversation with him about how he believes technology enables racism in policing should be published now.
Libraries Respond: COVID-19 Survey Results (May 2020)
As a follow up to PLA’s March 2020 Public Libraries Respond to COVID-19 Survey, a new American Library Association (ALA) survey of U.S. libraries documents a shift in services to support students, faculty, and communities at large during the crisis and phased preparations for the months ahead. More than 3,800 K-12 school, college and university, public, and other libraries from all 50 states responded to the survey between May 12–18, 2020.
Publishers Sue Internet Archive Over National Emergency Library
A group of publishers sued Internet Archive saying that the nonprofit group’s trove of free electronic copies of books was robbing authors and publishers of revenue at a moment when it was desperately needed. Internet Archive has made more than 1.3 million books available free online, which were scanned and available to one borrower at a time for a period of 14 days. Then in March, the group said it would lift all restrictions on its book lending until the end of the public health crisis, creating what it called “a National Emergency Library to serve the nation’s displaced learners.” But many publishers and authors have called it something different: theft.
What Happens to Powell’s Books When You Can’t Browse the Aisles?
The enormous independent bookstore in Portland, Ore., became an unlikely tourist attraction. Now that it’s shut, Emily Powell, the chief executive, is having to rethink the books business.
Intersect Alert 27 April 2020
What You Should Know About Online Tools During the COVID-19 Crisis
"A greater portion of the world’s work, organizing, and care-giving is moving onto digital platforms and tools that facilitate connection and productivity: video conferencing, messaging apps, healthcare and educational platforms, and more. It’s important to be aware of the ways these tools may impact your digital privacy and security during the COVID-19 crisis. Here are a few things you should know in order to make informed decisions about what works best for you and your communities, and ways you can use security and privacy best practices to protect yourself and others.
Misinformation During a Pandemic
BFI Working Paper: "We study the effects of news coverage of the novel coronavirus by the two most widely-viewed cable news shows in the United States — Hannity and Tucker Carlson Tonight, both on Fox News — on viewers’ behavior and downstream health outcomes. Carlson warned viewers about the threat posed by the coronavirus from early February, while Hannity originally dismissed the risks associated with the virus before gradually adjusting his position starting late February. We first validate these differences in content with independent coding of show transcripts. In line with the differences in content, we present novel survey evidence that Hannity’s viewers changed behavior in response to the virus later than other Fox News viewers, while Carlson’s viewers changed behavior earlier. We then turn to the effects on the pandemic itself, examining health outcomes across counties. First, we document that greater viewership of Hannity relative to Tucker Carlson Tonight is strongly associated with a greater number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the early stages of the pandemic. The relationship is stable across an expansive set of robustness tests."
Supreme Court Rules that Georgia Can't Copyright Annotated Code
"Georgia lost a close U.S. Supreme Court case over the state’s ability to copyright its annotated legal code, in a ruling heralded by public access advocates over dissent that lamented its disruptive impact on states’ existing business arrangements." https://news.bloomberglaw.com/us-law-week/georgia-loses-legal-code-copyright-clash-at-supreme-court
US Census Covid-19 Data Hub
"The U.S. Census Bureau released a new resource page on census.gov to help federal agencies, businesses and communities make decisions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Similar to the Census Bureau’s resource pages created during natural disasters, this resource page includes information on population demographics, economic indicators and businesses. It features a new interactive data hub that centralizes data previously released from the American Community Survey and the County Business Patterns program to facilitate users’ access to data useful in pandemic-related decision-making. The data hub, released as a beta version, will be updated periodically as the situation changes and as feedback is received from users." https://www.census.gov/topics/preparedness/events/pandemics/covid-19.html
CBO’s Current Projections of Output, Employment, and Interest Rates and a Preliminary Look at Federal Deficits for 2020 and 2021
CBO has developed preliminary projections of key economic variables through the end of calendar year 2021, based on information about the economy that was available through yesterday and including the effects of an economic boost from legislation recently enacted in response to the pandemic. In addition, CBO has developed a preliminary assessment of federal budget deficits and debt for fiscal years 2020 and 2021. CBO will provide a comprehensive analysis of that legislation and updated baseline budget projections later this year
Free online course features COVID-19 insights from Johns Hopkins experts
"Johns Hopkins University has launched a free online course for the general public about COVID-19 featuring experts from across the university—including those on the front lines of research and treatment—sharing the latest insights and evidence about the disease, its spread, and ways to stay healthy."
This study on “accidents involving flowers” is the most beautiful thing I’ve read during the pandemic
"It’s not often I find the text of an academic article to be riveting and even beautiful. Here, I was hooked: 'Virtually no research has addressed response to accidents involving flowers,' ecologists Scott Armbruster and Nathan Muchhala write. 'Yet flowering stalks are often subject to accidental collapse, as when a scape blows down in the wind or coarse litter falls onto a stem ...”'Great Darwin’s ghost! This is a scientific oversight. Armbruster and Muchhala wanted to know what happens when a flower is put in peril. Their research here also speaks to the message: Life yearns for more."
Celebrate the Library of Congress' 220th Birthday with the LOC Collections App
In addition to providing an easy, accessible way to search and explore the Library’s growing digital collections, LOC Collections allows users to curate personal galleries of items in the Library’s collections for their own reference and for sharing with others. Items currently featured on the app include audio recordings, books, videos, manuscripts, maps, newspapers, notated music, periodicals, photos, prints, and drawings."
‘We may need to quarantine our books' when libraries reopen, New York Public Library CEO says
"To reduce the spread of novel coronavirus, Americans may continue social distancing for many more months — but such precautions could last even longer for books kept at the nation’s libraries, said Tony Marx, the chief executive of the New York Public Library, the largest public library system in the U.S. Concerned that the disease can survive on surfaces like paper and transmit from one book borrower to the next, libraries once they reopen may impose a quarantine period on books that lasts as long as scientists determine the coronavirus can survive on the materials, said Marx, whose library system serves more than 17 million people each year."
Get Lost in the Stacks of These Stunning Libraries You Can Virtually Tour
"There's nothing better than getting lost in a stack of books—bonus if it's amidst impressive architecture. Given that it’s currently National Library Week, there is no better time to visit (albeit virtually) some of the most impressive libraries in the world. Below, House Beautiful has rounded up a list of virtual tours of libraries in places like England, Austria, New York, Massachusetts, Mexico, Portugal, and Prague, and we cannot wait to bask in the joy that these magnificent libraries have to offer. Happy library hopping, bibliophiles!"
Librarians Under Pandemic Duress: Layoffs, Napkin Masks, and Fear of Retaliation
"As the pandemic lurches forward, more and more libraries are doing something unexpected during a period of time when the digital services they provide are vital: they’re laying off workers or pushing them into alternate emergency jobs for which they’re untrained or unqualified. Librarians in Hennepin County, Minnesota, were told they could be assigned to work in hotel-based homeless shelters, while other systems nationwide like Cuyahoga County, Ohio, laid off or furloughed hundreds of their employees."
Free Virtual Science Science Bootcamp for Librarians
"The New England Science Bootcamp for Librarians will host a FREE virtual conference on June 11, 2020, from 9a – 4p (US Eastern Time). Topics may include: Vaccine research & manufacture Virology Making Health Devices in non-industrial settings IRB and human subjects research in the shifting landscape The schedule of topics will be finalized and sent to all registrants soon."
How Virus Surveillance And Civil Liberties Could Collide
"Because U.S. health agencies and big technology companies are still developing the public-private partnerships necessary to enable digital contact tracing, it remains to be seen whether app-based monitoring or drone usage will be challenged in court as a violation of Fourth Amendment rights to be free from unlawful search and seizure. But considering the rash of constitutional litigation already filed by churches and other groups over social distancing orders, legal experts say it’s only a matter of time before public health surveillance is tested in court." https://www.law360.com/access-to-justice/articles/1267269/how-virus-surveillance-and-civil-liberties-could-collide
Digitizing 18th Century Editions of the Encyclopedia Britannica
“The National Library of Scotland has released a dataset that digitizes the first eight editions of the Encyclopedia Britannica, which publishers issued between 1768 and 1860. The dataset contains over 155,000 image and XML file pairings and nearly 167 million words." https://data.nls.uk/data/digitised-collections/encyclopaedia-britannica/
Intersect Alert - 20 April 2020
Navigating the ‘infodemic’: how people in six countries access and rate news and information about coronavirus
"In this report, we use survey data collected in late March and early April 2020 to document and understand how people in six countries (Argentina, Germany, South Korea, Spain, the UK, and the US) accessed news and information about COVID-19 in the early stages of the global pandemic, how they rate the trustworthiness of the different sources and platforms they rely on, how much misinformation they say they encounter, and their knowledge of and responses to the coronavirus crisis." https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/infodemic-how-people-six-countries-access-and-rate-news-and-information-about-coronavirus
Hootsuite's Digital 2020
"A comprehensive look at the state of the internet, mobile devices, social media, and ecommerce." https://hootsuite.com/resources/digital-2020
Why games like Animal Crossing are the new social media of the coronavirus era
"Gentle, comforting games like Nintendo’s latest hit are perfect escapist entertainment, but they’re also helping us to connect in these strange times. These games are more than escapist entertainment, though; they’re helping to reshape how we connect in a future where social distancing might become the norm. Video games are letting people chat, connect, and meet new people. In the past month alone, graduations, wedding ceremonies, protests, and virtual meetups with pals were coordinated on lush pixelated screens. Meanwhile, students in San Antonio and the Bronx have re-created their high schools in Minecraft, and Final Fantasyplayers organized a digital memorial march when one of their own died of the coronavirus. While the pandemic and ensuing lockdown have dramatically changed the way we live our lives, video games offer a way for us to safely indulge in our basic human need to connect."
Verizon introduces open-source, big data coronavirus search engine
"As we struggle to get a grip on exactly how COVID-19 makes us ill and what we can do about it, researchers have created over 50,000 articles. That's a lot of information! So, how do you make sense of it all? Verizon Media is doing it by using Vespa. This is an open-source, big data processing program to create a coronavirus academic research search engine: CORD-19 Search." https://www.zdnet.com/article/verizon-introduces-open-source-big-data-coronavirus-search-engine/
Havard Business Review Makes Coronavirus Coverage Free for All Readers
Topics include an inverview with Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid on how Estonia’s e-Government is weathering the pandemic, leveraging AI to battle COVID-19, unemployment trends, developing public service leaders, and how to prepare for the next pandemic (starting now).
Stanford Library's Covid-19 Memo Database
"The COVID-19 crisis has generated a complex web of legal, business, and operational challenges that affect the entire economy. Law firms, auditors, and business advisors have responded with thousands of memoranda addressing a broad range of topics spanning areas as diverse as tax, antitrust, employment, and contract law. The COVID-19 Memo Database aggregates 4,199 memoranda in a searchable format designed to help users quickly identify relevant information. These memoranda were generated by leading U.S. law firms, the four major audit firms, and a leading insurance broker. For a more detailed description of the criteria used for inclusion in the database, please see the explanatory note below." https://covidmemo.law.stanford.edu/
COVID19 Spanish Language Resources
"In light of the rapidly mounting and evolving breadth of information related to COVID19, there is a need for reliable sources perhaps now more than ever. Seeing the various questions posed by the LatinX community, Nora Franco, NNLM PSR Consumer Health Librarian, responded by creating a resource guide with CDC Resources for Spanish speaking communities and those who support them. Additionally, the NNLM Greater Midwest Region worked with the Juntos Center for Advancing Latino Health to create a video addressing the concerns and misinformation surrounding COVID19."
Open Innovation in Medical Technology Will Save Lives<.h3>
"Experts from the world’s top engineering programs have come together to share knowledge about medical technology, hoping to make life-saving treatments more widely available. Importantly, they’re ensuring that patents, copyrights, and other legal restrictions don’t get between that knowledge and the people who need it most." https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2020/04/open-innovation-medical-technology-will-save-lives
A Quick Guide to Reading Data & Understanding Scholarly Research
A 2018 study estimates that every year, over 3 million articles are published in peer-reviewed, English-language journals. Regardless of their backgrounds in research analysis, professionals and policymakers in every field must increasingly make use of these articles and the key data they provide to guide their evidence-based decision making. With so many articles, and so much data, it can be hard to determine the accuracy and validity of different work. This quick, three-step guide is designed to help policymakers, advocates, and others interested in data-driven work ensure sources are trustworthy and robust. https://sunlightfoundation.com/2020/04/15/a-quick-guide-to-reading-data-understanding-scholarly-research/
The Pandemic's First Wave
"Behind every data point on a curve or chart is a name and story of the earliest victims" https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/04/12/coronavirus-first-1000-deaths/?arc404=true
How Apple And Google Are Going To Enable Contact Tracing
"This post is a technical translation of the contact tracing specification Apple and Google recently released, aimed at folks that are interested in understanding the implications for security, privacy, and usage." https://joekent.nyc/google-apple-contact-tracing
How to Cover Your Tracks Every Time You Go Online
"Venture online nowadays and your presence is immediately logged and tracked in all manner of ways. Sometimes this can be helpful—like when you want to see new movies similar to ones you've watched in the past—but very often it feels invasive and difficult to control. Here we're going to show you how to cover some of those tracks, or not to leave any in the first place. This isn't quite the same as going completely invisible online or encrypting every single thing you do. But it should help you sweep up most records of your online activity that you'd rather disappear." https://www.wired.com/story/how-to-cover-your-tracks-browsing-web-online/
Securely Collaborate and Communicate Remotely: A How-To for Lawyers
"Communicating and collaborating effectively and confidentially has always been an important part of practicing law. After all, the better you communicate with your fellow lawyers, staff, and clients about their cases, the more streamlined your work processes will be. But when faced with the uncertainty of current events, setting up a remote office that enables you to keep your colleagues and clients in the loop isn’t just a good idea, it’s necessary to keep your law firm up and running. The good news is that today’s lawyers have more choices than ever when it comes to sharing updates and collaborating with clients remotely. The key is to carefully and thoughtfully choose digital communication tools that are conducive to efficient online collaboration, while also sufficiently protecting client confidentiality." https://www.llrx.com/2020/04/securely-collaborate-and-communicate-remotely-a-how-to-for-lawyers/
Privacy-Protective Contact Tracing Depends on More Than an API
"During this pandemic, protecting users’ privacy requires a two-step solution. First, Apple and Google must take immediate and decisive action with respect to any applications who plan on using their API. In the meantime, policymakers should fill in the gaps in existing law and create an environment of transparency and accountability. If this does not occur, it won’t matter what privacy protections Apple and Google built into their API. Even if these applications don’t turn into dystopian surveillance devices, the threat that they could means less people will use them, thereby limiting the API’s effectiveness as a tool in the fight against the coronavirus. Apple and Google should ensure that applications built using their API contain strong guardrails and accountability measures — for all our sakes." https://www.publicknowledge.org/blog/privacy-protective-contact-tracing-depends-on-more-than-an-api/
Telling Police Where People With COVID-19 Live Erodes Public Health
"In some areas of the United States, local governments are sharing the names and addresses of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 with police and other first responders. This is intended to keep police, EMTs, and firefighters safe should they find themselves headed to a call at the residence of someone who has tested positive for the virus. However, this information fails to protect first responders from unidentified, asymptomatic, and pre-symptomatic cases. It may also discourage people from getting tested, contribute to stigmatization of infected people, reduce the quality of policing in vulnerable communities, and incentivize police to avoid calls for help because of fear of contracting the virus" https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2020/04/telling-police-where-people-covid-19-live-erodes-public-health
The Judge Will See You On Zoom, But The Public Is Mostly Left Out
"Monitoring court hearings has become difficult, in some cases even impossible, for dozens of court watch programs scattered throughout cities and towns in the country. They rely on volunteers to sit in open court and take notes in the interest of transparency and accountability. But they said their access has been slowed or halted as virtually every system in the country suspended or reduced public court and moved online during the pandemic."
SCOTUS to Break Tradition Hold Oral Arguments by Teleconference
"The Court will hear oral arguments by telephone conference on May 4, 5, 6, 11, 12 and 13 in a limited number of previously postponed cases. In keeping with public health guidance in response to COVID-19, the Justices and counsel will all participate remotely. The Court anticipates providing a live audio feed of these arguments to news media. Details will be shared as they become available."
Remote Courts Worldwide
"As the coronavirus pandemic spreads and courts around the world are closing, this website is designed to help the global community of justice workers - judges, lawyers, court officials, litigants, court technologists - to share their experiences of 'remote' alternatives to traditional court hearings." https://remotecourts.org/
Yes, Section 215 Expired. Now What?
"On March 15, 2020, Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act—a surveillance law with a rich history of government overreach and abuse—expired. Along with two other PATRIOT Act provisions, Section 215 lapsed after lawmakers failed to reach an agreement on a broader set of reforms to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)." https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2020/04/yes-section-215-expired-now-what
Freedom of Association in the Wake of Coronavirus
"At least 42 U.S. states have issued emergency orders directing residents to “stay at home,” with many states prohibiting gatherings of various sizes to control the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID19). Mandatory social distancing measures have prompted constitutional questions, including whether gathering bans, which restrict in-person communication, comport with the First Amendment’s protections for freedom of speech and assembly. There have already been a few legal challenges to COVID-19– related orders litigated on these grounds.This post discusses the legal standards that those courts applied as well as background First Amendment principles that are likely to continue to inform judicial review of free speech–related challenges to gathering bans." https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/LSB/LSB10451
Millions of Essential Workers Are Being Left Out of COVID-19 Workplace Safety Protections, Thanks to OSHA
"Even as the federal worker-safety agency has been inundated with complaints, it has rolled back safety standards and virtually eliminated non-health care workplaces from government protection. https://www.propublica.org/article/millions-of-essential-workers-are-being-left-out-of-covid-19-workplace-safety-protections-thanks-to-osha#943906
Attorney General Barr Refuses to Release 9/11 Documents to Families of the Victims
"Months after President Donald Trump promised to open FBI files to help families of the 9/11 victims in a civil lawsuit against the Saudi government, the Justice Department has doubled down on its claim that the information is a state secret." https://www.propublica.org/article/attorney-general-barr-refuses-to-release-9-11-documents-to-families-of-the-victims#942900
What does diversity in LIS outreach mean to you?
"At the start of this year, the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) began ramping up our outreach to Library and Information Science (LIS) students and increase diversity in the LIS pipeline. The efforts align with National Library of Medicine (NLM) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) priority areas for the network, and include outreach to this population as well as identifying, producing, and highlighting health sciences library champions. This marks the first focus on increasing diversity to LIS students and programs" https://news.nnlm.gov/bhic/2020/04/what-does-diversity-in-lis-outreach-mean-to-you/
Libraries Brace for Budget Cuts
In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, library budgets were hit hard. Cuts were widespread and ran deep. Staff, collections, equipment and facilities at even the wealthiest institutions were affected. While tough economic times call for all areas of an institution to tighten belts, libraries seemed to be particularly adversely impacted by the recession. Library budgets as a percentage of total institutional spending shrank, and in some places they never fully recovered. Now, librarians are preparing for another wave of cuts, this time prompted by the economic contraction tied to the global pandemic. https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2020/04/17/college-librarians-prepare-looming-budget-cuts-and-journal-subscriptions-could-be
Machine learning could check if you’re social distancing properly at work
Andrew Ng’s startup Landing AI has created a new workplace monitoring tool that issues an alert when anyone is less than the desired distance from a colleague. Six feet apart: On Thursday, the startup released a blog post with a new demo video showing off a new social distancing detector. On the left is a feed of people walking around on the street. On the right, a bird’s-eye diagram represents each one as a dot and turns them bright red when they move too close to someone else. The company says the tool is meant to be used in work settings like factory floors and was developed in response to the request of its customers (which include Foxconn). It also says the tool can easily be integrated into existing security camera systems, but that it is still exploring how to notify people when they break social distancing. One possible method is an alarm that sounds when workers pass too close to one another. A report could also be generated overnight to help managers rearrange the workspace, the company says. https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/04/17/1000092/ai-machine-learning-watches-social-distancing-at-work/
Innovative Launches Free Webinar Series
" Innovative, a ProQuest company and leading global provider of library software, is pleased to announce a series of webinars to offer product best practices, training, and insights for libraries. The series is entitled "Quick Hits Webinars" as a reference to the popular Quick Hits Theater at the annual Innovative User Group (IUG) conference which was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic. Topics covered in the webinar series are short, helpful sessions of about 45 minutes for Sierra and Polaris customers, as well as broader topics applicable to all customers such as Product and Support updates." https://librarytechnology.org/pr/25067
Will international companies take on Chinese censorship after the pandemic?
"As China struggles with coronavirus, will there be any change in the attempts it makes to get international companies to censor their content before operating within its borders?" https://www.indexoncensorship.org/2020/04/businesstakeonchinesecensorship/
Intersect Alert - 13 April 2020
We dug into the COVID-19 data in Florida. Here’s how to see what’s happening in your state.
"In late March, with the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Florida climbing, my editor and I sat down with the data and tried to make sense of it. Our goal was to get a clear picture of the epidemic in Florida — and determine where it might be headed. It wasn’t obvious. We knew the overall number of confirmed cases in Florida lagged far behind states like New York and New Jersey. But we also knew it was growing at an alarmingly fast rate. We could have drawn from an existing model like the tool developed by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. But were less interested in looking at projections and more interested in evaluating the curve as it actually existed in Florida." https://www.centerforhealthjournalism.org/2020/04/09/we-dug-coronavirus-data-florida-here-s-how-you-can-see-what-s-happening-your-state
Types, sources, and claims of COVID-19 misinformation
"In this factsheet we identify some of the main types, sources, and claims of COVID-19 misinformation seen so far. We analyse a sample of 225 pieces of misinformation rated false or misleading by fact-checkers and published in English between January and the end of March 2020, drawn from a collection of fact-checks maintained by First
Microsoft Releases Remote Work Trend Report; 2.7 Billion Microsoft Teams Meeting Minutes on One Day
"As I write this, millions of people around the world are adjusting to full-time remote work and learning. Working remotely full-time can challenge us as humans because we are hardwired for connection. Here at Microsoft, we did a study a couple years back that asked 14,000 people in seven countries to name the form of communication that makes them happiest. No surprise, in-person meetings ranked number one over email, chat, or texting across all generations. In a moment where meeting face-to-face is impossible, how do we continue to connect to one another? Over the past weeks, we’ve been inspired by the ways our customers are connecting during meetings in Microsoft Teams. We’ve seen bosses show up to meetings as virtual potato heads and team stand-ups turn delightfully silly. From teams of workers sharing shift updates to students and teachers connecting in virtual classrooms and CEOs conducting town hall Q&As with thousands of employees, we’re all finding new ways to come together when we have to work and learn apart. This idea is reflected in the sheer number of meetings happening in Microsoft Teams each day. We’ve seen a new daily record of 2.7 billion meeting minutes in one day,1 a 200 percent increase from 900 million on March 16. And as students and teachers turn to Teams for distance learning, there are 183,000 tenants in 175 countries using Teams for Education."
Virtual Programs at the National Archives
Even though our research rooms, museums, and Presidential Libraries are closed due to the ongoing health crisis, many of our resources are available online. Our staff put together a selection of activities accessible from home.
Caselaw Access Project Links Case Citations
"The Caselaw Access Project is taking its first steps to create links to case citations in our collection of 6.7 million cases.
We also created a cites_to field in the Caselaw Access Project API. This new field shows which cases an opinion cites to."
Library workers fight for safer working conditions amid coronavirus pandemic
"Despite the American Library Association recommending in a statement March 17 that libraries close to the public, many librarians and support staff are still being asked to travel to work or risk being laid off, organizers say, even though many services could be delivered remotely. Libraries in states across the country, including in New York, Iowa, Florida, California and Minnesota, have started offering curbside pickups to reduce contact between workers and patrons. Organizers believe this puts librarians at an unnecessary risk."
Google Searches Can Help Us Find Emerging Covid-19 Outbreaks
"Every day, millions of people around the world type their health symptoms into Google. We can use these searches to help detect unknown Covid-19 outbreaks, particularly in parts of the world with poor testing infrastructure. To see the potential information lying in plain sight in Google data, consider searches for “I can’t smell.” There is now strong evidence that anosmia, or loss of smell, is a symptom of Covid-19, with some estimates suggesting that 30-60 percent of people with the disease experience this symptom. In the United States, in the week ending this past Saturday, searches for “I can’t smell” were highest in New York, New Jersey, Louisiana, and Michigan — four of the states with the highest prevalence of Covid-19."
WhatsApp is limiting message forwarding to combat coronavirus misinformation
"WhatsApp has said it will implement new limits on message forwarding amid growing concerns that it is being used to spread misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic. From today, messages identified as “highly forwarded” can be forwarded to only a single person as opposed to five, the company, which is owned by Facebook, said in a blog post. The idea is to slow the spread of viral information, giving truth a chance to catch up with falsehoods. WhatsApp is private and end-to-end encrypted, which is a boon for security but makes it a particularly potent breeding ground for misinformation, as there’s no way to see the content of messages."
How open data and civic participation helped Taiwan slow Covid
"In a JAMA article from early March, a group of researchers report that the Taiwan government integrated national health and travel databases to help identify cases, made patient travel histories available to hospitals and clinics, used online reporting of travel history and symptoms to help classify infectious risk, and even monitored people in quarantine via cell phone. Some of these efforts would no doubt raise flags in Europe or North America, but Taiwan’s approach to data hasn’t all been top-down. Writing in Foreign Affairs, Jaron Lanier and E. Glen Weyl of Microsoft explain that, by making some Covid-related data publicly accessible, Taiwan empowered its civic tech community to create dozens of tools, including a popular map of mask availability. Lanier and Weyl argue that this bottom-up response has “been central to the country’s success”:
By communicating challenges faced by the government, rather than projecting an aura of invincibility, it encouraged a range of decentralized actors to contribute to solutions and build on official information."
The Challenge of Proximity Apps For COVID-19 Contact Tracing
"Around the world, a diverse and growing chorus is calling for the use of smartphone proximity technology to fight COVID-19. In particular, public health experts and others argue that smartphones could provide a solution to an urgent need for rapid, widespread contact tracing—that is, tracking who infected people come in contact with as they move through the world. Proponents of this approach point out that many people already own smartphones, which are frequently used to track users’ movements and interactions in the physical world." https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2020/04/challenge-proximity-apps-covid-19-contact-tracing
How to Protect Privacy When Aggregating Location Data to Fight COVID-19
As governments, the private sector, NGOs, and others mobilize to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen calls to use location information—typically drawn from GPS and cell tower data—to inform public health efforts. Among the proposed uses of location data, one of the most widely discussed is analyzing aggregated data about which locations people are visiting, whether they are traveling less, and other collective measurements of individuals’ movement. This analysis might be used to inform judgments about the effectiveness of shelter-in-place orders and other social distancing measures. Projects making use of aggregated location data have graded residents of each state on their social distancing and visualized the travel patterns of people on returning from spring break. Most recently, Google announced that it would publish ongoing “COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports,” which draw on the company’s store of location data to report on changes at a community level in people’s travel to various locations such as grocery stores, parks, and mass transit stations.
We need mass surveillance to fight covid-19—but it doesn’t have to be creepy
"The Australian National University (ANU), at which I work, is moving quickly in response to covid-19. Our classes have gone online, and we have sent our staff home; we are all navigating a new world of digital intermediation and distance. For the students who remain in the residence halls, locked in a country that has closed its borders and to which airlines no longer fly, it is an ever-changing situation. Keeping them safe is a big priority; there is social distancing, and increased cleaning and temporal staggering of access to services. There are rules and prescriptions and the looming reality of daily temperature checks. And apparently there is a contact log in which I will now feature, and which could be turned over to the local health services at a later point."
Apple and Google are building coronavirus tracking into iOS and Android
"Apple and Google are jointly building software into iPhone and Android devices to help track the spread of coronavirus by telling users if they contacted an infected person and are potentially sick themselves. The new project is slated for release in May."
‘We need an army’: Hiring of coronavirus trackers seen as key to curbing disease spread
"Combined with more widespread testing, contact tracing is seen as an essential part of the strategy for keeping the coronavirus in check after the first wave recedes and the economy reopens. But the work is highly labor-intensive, and public health departments across the U.S. have been woefully underfunded for years."
Twitter Removes Privacy Option, and Shows Why We Need Strong Privacy Laws
"Twitter greeted its users with a confusing notification this week. “The control you have over what information Twitter shares with its business partners has changed,” it said. The changes will “help Twitter continue operating as a free service,” it assured. But at what cost?"
Sharing Our Common Culture in Uncommon Times
"We are in an unprecedented time. People are being told to stay home as much as possible. Some of us are lucky enough to have jobs that can be done remotely, schools are closed and kids are home, and healthcare, grocery, or other essential workers are looking for respite where they can safely find it. All of which means that, for now, for many of us, the Internet is not only our town square, but also our school, art gallery, museum, and library."
America’s digital divide is even more urgent during the pandemic
"From Zoom calls with middle school teachers to ordering grocery delivery online, much of daily life during the Covid-19 pandemic in the United States is now digital. But for the millions of Americans who live in its sparsely populated rural regions, easy and affordable options for high-speed internet simply don’t exist." https://qz.com/1836040/americas-digital-divide-is-more-urgent-during-a-pandemic/
‘No longer a luxury’: As life moves online, the offline fall behind
"When Amy Olsen wants to have a video chat with her family, she has to drive four miles to the parking lot of the Lowell, Vermont, town clerk to use the free Wi-Fi. None of Lowell’s 879 or so residents have access to direct broadband service, according to BroadbandNow, a company that helps people find and compare internet service providers. The closest anyone there can get is “fixed wireless,” which uses outdoor directional antennas to broadcast radio signals to residential Wi-Fi gateways. But for that, you need to live close enough to an antenna. Ms. Olsen doesn’t."
California Legislator Introduces Fiber Broadband for All Bill
"Senator Lena Gonzalez has introduced legislation (SB 1130), which would allow the California state government to actively promote the transition of the state’s legacy communications infrastructure into a multi-gigabit fiber network that is competitive, affordable, and available to all residents lacking high-speed access. It does so by reforming the current California Advanced Services Fund (CASF): raising the fund's minimum standards of what constitutes being “served” by broadband, requiring that any broadband network funded by the state to be high-capacity, and holding companies subject to open-access rules that promote competition. The legislation would put California on par with its international competitors, end the digital divide for Californians, and prevent a repeat of the lack of connectivity challenges residents have faced as they engage in social distancing, remote education, and working from home."
Freedom of Information
Freedom of Information in the Time of COVID-19
"In principle, the COVID-19 outbreak could provide a compelling new justification for expediting the processing of certain Freedom of Information Act requests related to the pandemic. But it is more likely to slow down the handling of most requests as agency employees work remotely and other concerns are understandably prioritized." https://fas.org/blogs/secrecy/2020/03/foia-covid/
Pentagon Asks to Keep Future Spending Secret
"The Department of Defense is quietly asking Congress to rescind the requirement to produce an unclassified version of the Future Years Defense Program (FYDP) database. Preparation of the unclassified FYDP, which provides estimates of defense spending for the next five years, has been required by law since 1989 (10 USC 221) and has become an integral part of the defense budget process. But the Pentagon said that it should no longer have to offer such information in an unclassified format, according to a DoD legislative proposal for the pending FY 2021 national defense authorization act."
Pentagon denies it seeks to hide future budget information
The Pentagon is pushing back on reports that it seeks to classify previously public information about its future spending plans, with the department insisting that the transparency of this information that is public as part of the regular budget rollout process will not change. The Future Years Defense Program provides spending projections for how the Department of Defense plans to invest its money over the coming five-year period. While the numbers are not locked in and regularly change year by year, the projections can provide valuable information to the public and industry about what the department views as priorities and where programs might be going.
Office Hours: Narrative Inquiry
"What’s your story? That question could lead to better understanding professional learning experiences (PLEs) for librarians and the experiences of the community we serve. Each of us can tell a unique story. For librarians, we all have different learning needs, varying personal relationships to learning and a unique set of experiences, workplace environments and career objectives that inform our perspective and approach. One of the best ways to gain first-hand knowledge of both librarian experience and the specific stories of our community is through narrative inquiry (NI)."
Work notes: “Free” for COVID-19 and resource management
"During crisis, it’s important to hold your values steady–though it should be said the distance between an organization’s articulated versus lived values is expansive and on full display in this moment. For my work, this means being even more deliberate and thoughtful about resource management. Collecting for a master’s comprehensive is a challenge under the best circumstances, and the first weeks of working from home saw a deluge of offers from vendors as the library moved dozens of physical reserves online or worked to find suitable alternatives for teaching faculty and students. It’s tempting to turn it all on and forget about it, but that isn’t how crisis management, content management, or library ecosystems function."
SUNY, UNC Chapel Hill Step Away From the “Big Deal” with Elsevier
Both The State University of New York and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill will not renew their bundled journal subscription deal with publisher Elsevier. http://slcny.libguides.com/slc/elsevier2020update https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2020/04/10/unc-chapel-hill-cancels-big-deal-elsevier
Intersect Alert - 7 April 2020
Harden Your Zoom Settings to Protect Your Privacy and Avoid Trolls
"Whether you are on Zoom because your employer or school requires it or you just downloaded it to stay in touch with friends and family, people have rushed to the video chat platform in the wake of COVID-19 stay-at-home orders—and journalists, researchers, and regulators have noticed its many security and privacy problems. Zoom has responded with a surprisingly good plan for next steps, but talk is cheap. Zoom will have to follow through on its security and privacy promises if it wants to regain users’ trust. In the meantime, take these steps to harden your Zoom privacy settings and protect your meetings from “Zoombombing” trolls."
A Feature on Zoom Secretly Displayed Data From People’s LinkedIn Profiles
"For Americans sheltering at home during the coronavirus pandemic, the Zoom videoconferencing platform has become a lifeline, enabling millions of people to easily keep in touch with family members, friends, students, teachers and work colleagues."
Library of Congress Coronavirus Resource Guide
"This is intended as a guide to laws, regulations and executive actions in the United States, at both the federal and the state level, and in various countries with respect to the new coronavirus and its spread. We are also including links to Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports that provide information to Congress about the novel coronavirus. In addition, we provide links to relevant federal agency websites. We intend to update this guide on at least a weekly basis for the immediate future." https://blogs.loc.gov/law/2020/03/coronavirus-resource-guide/
COVID-19, Copyright and Library Superpowers Part I
"If you work in any of the higher ed institutions that are preparing to move online – maybe your copyright world has exploded in a range of questions on fair use, e-reserves, online access, scanning, digitization, and more! I am sure many of you, especially in the library community, are working towards the best solution for students, faculty, staff, and patrons in this time of crisis. To help you navigate this process, over the next few posts (working as I go) I will offer reminders of all the super awesome legal tools libraries have for copyright as “stewards of access” in our communities."
The hunt for a coronavirus cure is showing how science can change for the better
"While cities are locked down and borders are closed in response to the coronavirus outbreak, science is becoming more open. This openness is already making a difference to scientists’ response to the virus and has the potential to change the world. But it’s not as simple as making every research finding available to anyone for any purpose. Without care and responsibility, there is a danger that open science can be misused or contribute to the spread of misinformation.
U.S. Government: Update Chrome 80 Now, Multiple Security Concerns Confirmed
"The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has advised users to update Google Chrome as new high-rated security vulnerabilities have been found."
Google Searches Can Help Us Find Emerging Covid-19 Outbreaks
"Every day, millions of people around the world type their health symptoms into Google. We can use these searches to help detect unknown Covid-19 outbreaks, particularly in parts of the world with poor testing infrastructure."
Film Treasures, Streaming Courtesy of the Library of Congress
"The biggest library in the world, The Library of Congress has an extraordinary trove of online offerings — more than 7,000 videos — that includes hundreds of old (and really old) movies. With one click, you can watch Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show parade down Fifth Avenue in 1902; click again to giggle at Krazy Kat and Ignatz Mouse in a 1916 cartoon. And while the library is temporarily closed to the public, its virtual doors remain open. It remains one of my favorite places to get lost in."
Online classes to take in April:
"Preserve This" April Classes
Event Information: Scientific Literacy, Citizenship, and History: Analyzing Primary Sources from the Library of Congress
Medical Librarian Association Webinars and Classes
Intersect Alert – 29 March 2020
Note: It seems as if the coronavirus is all we're thinking about now. I hope this selection of news (mostly) about coronavirus and information is useful for you.
How Librarians Continue Their Work Digitally Even as Coronavirus Closes Libraries
Libraries are temporarily closing their doors due to coronavirus—like so many other institutions in the wake of a growing pandemic. (Here is a frequently updated list of closures and other news.)
And like schools and colleges, they are trying to move operations online as much as they can.
But what does it mean for librarians to serve patrons without a library?
Intellectual Property, Books and Reading
Internet Archive offers 1.4 million copyrighted books for free online
Massive online library project is venturing into uncharted legal waters.
"The Internet Archive will suspend waitlists for the 1.4 million (and growing) books in our lending library by creating a National Emergency Library to serve the nation’s displaced learners," the Internet Archive wrote in a Tuesday post. "This suspension will run through June 30, 2020, or the end of the US national emergency, whichever is later."
The copyright implications of book scanning have long been a contentious subject.
COVID-19 Pushes Up Internet Use 70% And Streaming More Than 12%, First Figures Reveal
The first internet streaming and usage figures are coming in as the coronavirus pandemic places a quarter of the world’s population under lockdown. As millions of people go online for entertainment and more, total internet hits have surged by between 50% and 70%, according to preliminary statistics. Streaming has also jumped by at least 12%, estimates show.
Libraries, Books and Reading, Publishing
Publisher Macmillan Backs Off Policy Restricting E-Book Sales To Libraries
Publishing house Macmillan is backing off a controversial policy restricting e-book sales to libraries, announcing in a letter to librarians, authors, illustrators and agents on Tuesday that "There are times in life when differences should be put aside."
Books and Reading
Readers stuck at home need books — and community. Here’s how to access them
If there’s a silver lining to the sudden need to hunker down as the novel coronavirus upends normal life, it’s that maybe — finally — you’ll have time to read. Provided you have enough books.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to access new reading material without leaving the house, and to stay engaged with the bookish community even as libraries and bookstores shutter their doors. Here’s a guide.
The Fate of the News in the Age of the Coronavirus
The shift to paywalls has been a boon for quality journalism. Instead of chasing trends on search engines and social media, subscription-based publications can focus on producing journalism worth paying for, which has meant investments in original reporting of all kinds. A small club of élite publications has now found a sustainable way to support its journalism, through readers instead of advertisers. The Times and the Post, in particular, have thrived in the Trump era. So have subscription-driven startups, such as The Information, which covers the tech industry and charges three hundred and ninety-nine dollars a year. Meanwhile, many of the free-to-read outlets still dependent on ad revenue—including former darlings of the digital-media revolution, such as BuzzFeed, Vice, HuffPost, Mic, Mashable, and the titles under Vox Media—have labored to find viable business models.
Check out these virtual tours of museums around the world
Our much-loved museums and art galleries may be closing their doors due to the current outbreak, but don’t despair. Tech-savvy curators are getting creative with how the public can access their collections, and many are catering to an online audience with insanely good virtual tours.
Top-tier institutions around the world have vast online archives, meaning you can take a digital stroll through art history wearing just your pants (or even less if you really want).
Want to Keep America Home? Give Everyone Free Basic Broadband
Medical experts agree that the most important thing we can do to support the efforts against the COVID-19 outbreak is a medical protocol known by the acronym STHH, or “Stay the Heck Home.” To keep Americans home, we need everyone to have broadband. It’s really that simple. Without telework, the economy would shut down completely. We would lose half a school year without distance education. But the value of everyone having a residential broadband connection goes well beyond that in the current crisis. Want to keep people off the streets to flatten the curve? Make it possible for them to shop online? Want them to access forms to receive government aid during this economic crisis? Cut down on physical doctor appointments to avoid infecting others? Fill out the 2020 Census so we don’t need armies of Census Takers going door-to-door? That all takes broadband.
Freedom of Information
The California Public Records Act Is an Essential Right, Even During a State of Emergency
As Californians shelter-at-home up and down the state, the journalists and citizen watchdogs who file California Public Records Act (CPRA) requests know that trade-offs must be made. We know that local agencies may be understaffed at this time and that they may be slow to respond to our letters. They may need to restrict our ability to inspect records in person at City Hall, and public records lawsuits may stall as courts restrict hearing dates.
But where we draw the line is when government agencies announce they will suspend the public records request process altogether, a move telegraphed by several agencies in a recent Los Angeles Times story.
Privacy, Social Media
The Right to Anonymity is Vital to Free Expression: Now and Always
“There are myriad reasons why individuals may wish to use a name other than the one they were born with. They may be concerned about threats to their lives or livelihoods, or they may risk political or economic retribution. They may wish to prevent discrimination or they may use a name that’s easier to pronounce or spell in a given culture.”
These words, from a blog post we published nine years ago during my first year at EFF, remain as true as ever. Whether we’re talking about whistleblowers, victims of domestic violence, queer and trans youth who aren’t out to their local communities, or human rights workers, secure anonymity is critical for these individuals, even life-saving.
The History of the URL
On the 11th of January 1982 twenty-two computer scientists met to discuss an issue with ‘computer mail’ (now known as email). Attendees included the guy who would create Sun Microsystems, the guy who made Zork, the NTP guy, and the guy who convinced the government to pay for Unix. The problem was simple: there were 455 hosts on the ARPANET and the situation was getting out of control.
Intersect Alert – 22 March 2020
Note: It seems as if the coronavirus is all we're thinking about now. I hope this selection of news (mostly) about coronavirus and information is useful for you.
COVID-19: How the enterprise is adapting to disruption
As many organizations across the globe employ significant measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, such as cancelling major conferences, enforcing employee travel bans and telecommuting, the C-suite is reminded that it's always a good idea to have updated business continuity and disaster recovery plans at the ready.
Companies must plan and prepare for risks that may be involved with business continuity interruptions such as cancelled business travel plans, ill employees, and possible data loss.
So We're Working From Home. Can the Internet Handle It?
As millions of people across the United States shift to working and learning from home this week to limit the spread of the coronavirus, they will test internet networks with one of the biggest mass behavior changes that the nation has experienced.
That is set to strain the internet's underlying infrastructure, with the burden likely to be particularly felt in two areas: the home networks that people have set up in their residences, and the home internet services from Comcast, Charter and Verizon that those home networks rely on.
New to remote work? These tools will make your transition to working from home easier
As the coronavirus outbreak continues (even appearing in newsrooms), organizations are asking employees to work from home when they can.
For some, this may mean discovering gaps in your toolstacks. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of tools that might help you address different needs your team may have in staying connected and effective at work.
The Coronavirus Crisis Is Showing Us How to Live Online
I expected my first week of social distancing to feel, well, distant. But I’ve been more connected than ever. My inboxes are full of invitations to digital events — Zoom art classes, Skype book clubs, Periscope jam sessions. Strangers and subject-matter experts are sharing relevant and timely information about the virus on social media, and organizing ways to help struggling people and small businesses. On my feeds, trolls are few and far between, and misinformation is quickly being fact-checked.
Social Media, Technology
Coronavirus Disrupts Social Media's First Line of Defense
Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube all announced this week that thousands of content moderators are being sent home — leaving more of our feeds in the hands of machines.
Here's how social media can combat the coronavirus ‘infodemic’
In the middle of a massive and growing coronavirus shutdown, social media is more important than ever. With soft quarantines in place, Facebook, Twitter, and other services are taking on an entirely new valence as the foundation for our everyday lives—a crucial conduit between families, friends, and coworkers, as well as much-needed entertainment. As we become more isolated physically, social media and the web will also have to shoulder the world’s information needs as more and more people seek timely and local information.
Over 24,000 coronavirus research papers are now available in one place
Today researchers collaborating across several organizations released the Covid-19 Open Research Dataset (CORD-19), which includes over 24,000 research papers from peer-reviewed journals as well as sources like bioRxiv and medRxiv (websites where scientists can post non-peer-reviewed preprint papers). The research covers SARS-CoV-2 (the scientific name for the coronavirus), Covid-19 (the scientific name for the disease), and the coronavirus group. It represents the most extensive collection of scientific literature related to the ongoing pandemic and will continue to update in real time as more research is released.
The database is now available on AI2's Semantic Scholar website.
LitCovid is a curated literature hub for tracking up-to-date scientific information about the 2019 novel Coronavirus. It is the most comprehensive resource on the subject, providing a central access to 1528 (and growing) relevant articles in PubMed. The articles are updated daily and are further categorized by different research topics and geographic locations for improved access. You can read more at Chen et al. Nature (2020) and download our data here.
Open-source project spins up 3D-printed ventilator validation prototype in just one week
In a great example of what can happen when smart, technically-oriented people come together in a time of need, an open-source hardware project started by a group including Irish entrepreneur Colin Keogh and Breeze Automation CEO and co-founder Gui Calavanti has produced a prototype ventilator using 3D-printed parts and readily available, inexpensive material. The ventilator prototype was designed and produced in just seven days, after the project spun up on Facebook and attracted participation from over 300 engineers, medical professionals and researchers.
Why You Should Use Two Browsers for Your Daily Browsing
Most people choose and use one browser for all Web activities. Even though it’s convenient, it makes it easier for you to be tracked and identified. Using one browser allows organizations to follow you from site to site and get your personal information from websites you are logged into when you browse to other sites.
A security practice that is becoming more widespread for people who are concerned about privacy is using browser compartmentalization.
Intersect Alert – 15 March 2020
Major Publishers Take Down Paywalls for Coronavirus Coverage
Midterm elections, massive snowstorms and now coronavirus. Those are the coverage areas so important to the public that publications have been willing to make articles about these things free to read.
U.S.-based media organizations have been tasked with bending to the quick-moving whims of coronavirus all week as more cases of the virus are discovered in the U.S., working to give guidelines to journalists on best reporting practices as they repackage and create new products to address the widespread pandemic.
Q&A: When misinformation spreads faster than the virus itself, trusted sources are key
In an era where the news and social media cycles are spinning faster than ever, it's very tempting for the public to constantly search for new information, said University of Washington professor Carl Bergstrom, an infectious disease biologist who tracks the spread of misinformation.
But, trusting social media, online rumors, news reports and even official channels without carefully considering the evidence behind their claims can lead to confusion and misinformation— something he’s seen proliferate as coronavirus cases grow.
Social Media, Technology
How Facebook uses machine learning to detect fake accounts
In 2019, Facebook took down on average close to 2 billion fake accounts per quarter. Fraudsters use these fake accounts to spread spam, phishing links, or malware. It’s a lucrative business that can be devastating for any innocent users that it snares.
Facebook is now releasing details about the machine-learning system it uses to tackle this challenge.
The EARN IT Bill Is the Government's Plan to Scan Every Message Online
Imagine an Internet where the law required every message sent to be read by government-approved scanning software. Companies that handle such messages wouldn’t be allowed to securely encrypt them, or they’d lose legal protections that allow them to operate.
That's what the Senate Judiciary Committee has proposed and hopes to pass into law. The so-called EARN IT bill, sponsored by Senators Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), will strip Section 230 protections away from any website that doesn’t follow a list of "best practices," meaning those sites can be sued into bankruptcy. The "best practices" list will be created by a government commission, headed by Attorney General Barr, who has made it very clear he would like to ban encryption, and guarantee law enforcement "legal access" to any digital message.
Information studies prof works to address mental illness among librarians
One study found that more than half of academic librarians surveyed reported having a diagnosed mental illness. But these mental illnesses are scarcely discussed in the library community, said Abigail Phillips, assistant professor in the School of Information Studies.
There is an “emotional labor” that comes with being a librarian, Phillips said. Libraries are a refuge for stressed community members, the homeless and the mentally ill, she said, and librarians must constantly face these challenges.
Who Should Decide What Books Are Allowed In Prison?
Tafolla was released from Danville Correctional Center in 2018. Not long after, in January 2019, officials at the Illinois prison censored Illegal and about 200 other books, removing them from the library of a college-in-prison program. Officials were concerned about "racially motivated" material, according to documents obtained by Illinois Public Media.
Experts say this is just one example of the kind of arbitrary book censorship that incarcerated people face nationwide — censorship that can make it harder to get an education behind bars.
Librarian of Congress Seeks Input on Register of Copyrights
The public will have the opportunity to provide input to the Library of Congress on expertise needed by the next Register of Copyrights, the Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden, announced today.
Beginning today, March 2, a form to solicit this feedback is online and open to the public. The form will be posted through Friday, March 20.
Technology, International Issues
Europe Wants a 'Right to Repair' Smartphones and Gadgets
The bloc announced an ambitious plan on Wednesday that would require manufacturers of electronic products, from smartphones to tumble driers, to offer more repairs, upgrades and ways to reuse existing goods, instead of encouraging consumers to buy new ones.
The "right to repair," part of a wide-ranging policy package known as the Green Deal that was introduced this month, is the latest example of the European Union’s ambitions to promote more sustainable economic growth and to prevent waste. It extends standards brought in last year that put “right to repair” obligations on the manufacturers of some large appliances.
The Scientific Paper Is Outdated
Contemporary science faces several interrelated crises. Competition for tenure-track jobs is getting stiffer every year, thanks to an ever-increasing supply of talented, young Ph.D. students; not enough is being done to prepare doctoral students for jobs outside of academe; candidates for junior faculty positions must submit so many research papers that journals, editors, and reviewers can’t keep up; and too many published results aren't reproducible. All of that is inseparable from the decline in mental health of graduate students, driven largely by feelings of loneliness and isolation.
To deal with those issues, we should look at the axis around which the whole academic enterprise spins — the publication process, specifically of papers, which are the gold standard of scientific productivity. We must unbind the sharing of scientific knowledge from the traditional journal format and explore radically creative new ways to communicate with our colleagues. Software is one obvious solution.
Intersect Alert – 8 March 2020
The best, and the worst, of the coronavirus dashboards
If you’ve been on the web to learn more about the latest pandemic, chances are you’ve stumbled upon at least one or two coronavirus dashboards. These are the landing pages for interactive maps and visuals that show where the virus has spread, as well as numbers on the latest in infection rates and deaths, breakdowns of what countries are suffering from new cases and what regions are likely seeing new outbreaks, and much more.
Not all dashboards are created equal, nor do all people have access to the same dashboards (for instance, US sanctions prevent Iranians from accessing the one run by Johns Hopkins University). Some present data you won’t find elsewhere. Some are easier to navigate than others. Some are simply much more stunning to look at.
Libraries Could Preserve Ebooks Forever, But Greedy Publishers Won’t Let Them
But why can only one person borrow one copy of an ebook at a time? Why are the waits so damn interminable? Well, it might not surprise you at all to learn that ebook lending is controversial in certain circles: circles of people who like to make money selling ebooks. Publishers impose rules on libraries that limit how many people can check out an ebook, and for how long a library can even offer that ebook on its shelves, because free, easily available ebooks could potentially damage their bottom lines. Libraries are handcuffed by two-year ebook licenses that cost way more than you and I pay to own an ebook outright forever.
Why You Should Dox Yourself (Sort Of)
When your home address or the name of your child’s school starts circulating on social media amid an onslaught of threats, the absurdity of distinguishing between harassment “online” and “in the real world” becomes crystal clear. Doxing, or dropping docs, is the public posting of private information, and it’s more than just online nastiness—it’s outright abuse. Someone who has your address can locate you or your family. Someone with your cellphone number or email can bombard you with messages that disrupt your ability to communicate with your support network. And someone with your name, birthday, and Social Security number is one step closer to being able to hack into your accounts or steal your identity.
For the past 18 months, I’ve been traveling the country to equip writers and journalists with strategies and resources to defend against online abuse.
Some Election-Related Websites Still Run on Vulnerable Software Older Than Many High Schoolers
These aging systems reflect a larger problem: A ProPublica investigation found that at least 50 election-related websites in counties and towns voting on Super Tuesday — accounting for nearly 2 million voters — were particularly vulnerable to cyberattack. The sites, where people can find out how to register to vote, where to cast ballots and who won the election, had security issues such as outdated software, poor encryption and systems encumbered with unneeded computer programs. None of the localities contacted by ProPublica said that their sites had been disrupted by cyberattacks.
The census goes digital – 3 things to know
[C]ollecting data online carries some significant risks that are new to the census and may undermine the accuracy of the count and the public’s trust in the process.
Ninth Circuit: Private Social Media Platforms Are Not Bound by the First Amendment
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently held in Prager University v. Google that YouTube is not a government actor bound by First Amendment limits simply because it hosts a forum for public speech. Rather, as EFF argued in an amicus brief, YouTube is a private entity whose editorial decisions cannot be challenged under the First Amendment, because YouTube itself has First Amendment rights to manage its platform as it sees fit.
How Much Data Is Too Much Data? — Federating Data in the Age of Connectivity
It is projected that every day humans produce approximately 2.5 quintillion bytes of data. With this insane amount of new data, surely some of it must be redundant, right? For data science, analytics, and machine learning, this increase in the amount of data available leads to previously unthinkable new avenues for research. But while more and more data is being harvested for a variety of reasons, could better curation of the data we have already collected lead to better outcomes for research?
Representation Beyond Books
[A]lthough buying diverse books is critical, representation in libraries means much more. Diversity in staffing can also help create a library that is truly for all. . . . Employing staff members who look like and speak the languages of their minority community members makes the library and staff more approachable.
The Archive Of Contemporary Music — And Its 3 Million Recordings — Is Leaving NY
Located in New York, the Archive of Contemporary Music (ARC) has a collection of popular music that rivals that of the Library of Congress, housing more than three million recordings. The archive is independent and gets no money from state or local governments and because of rising rents, it's being forced to vacate its longtime Manhattan headquarters. News of its predicament brought offers from all over the country, and the archive has just announced that it will be moving to two different locations outside of the city.
Love Zombies? Thank the Public Domain
With more than 3.1 million views to date, “Night of the Living Dead” is among the most popular feature films on the Internet Archive. The 1968 movie is also generally acknowledged as one of the landmark films of the horror genre, as well as the work that single handedly created the modern conception of the zombie. But none of that would have been possible without a mistake—one that landed the film firmly in the public domain.
Intersect Alert – 29 February 2020
AI & Machine Learning
Digital Transformation: Exploring AI
Have you seen the administration’s 2020 Federal Data Strategy? It emphasizes the need for federal agencies to leverage our data as strategic assets. Action 8 of the plan specifically speaks to improving data in order to support artificial intelligence (AI) research in federal agencies. Good data is a critical building block for AI. As you would expect from the National Archives and Records Administration, we have focused on standards from the beginning of our existence.
How to know if artificial intelligence is about to destroy civilization
Could we wake up one morning dumbstruck that a super-powerful AI has emerged, with disastrous consequences? Books like Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom and Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark, as well as more recent articles, argue that malevolent superintelligence is an existential risk for humanity. But one can speculate endlessly. It’s better to ask a more concrete, empirical question: What would alert us that superintelligence is indeed around the corner?
The Lost 110 Words of Our Constitution
The U.S. Constitution is famously short—a mere 7,591 words, including its 27 amendments. That makes it all the more remarkable that 110 of those words have been, in effect, lost to the ages. These forgotten words form Section 2 of the 14th Amendment, which was designed to guard against the infringement of voting rights. The lost provision is simple: States that deny their citizens the right to vote will have reduced representation in the House of Representatives.
Chief FOIA Officers Council’s Technology Committee Releases Best Practices and Recommendations
In response to a recommendation by the 2016-2018 term of the FOIA Advisory Committee, the Archivist of the United States directed that the cross-agency Council establish a technology subcommittee in partnership with the Chief Information Officer (CIO) Council, to study the use and deployment of technology in agency FOIA programs and identify best practices and recommendations that can be implemented across agencies. In September 2018, the Council established the Technology Subcommittee (later renamed the Technology Committee). Members hail from five Cabinet-level agencies and six independent agencies and met throughout Fiscal Year 2019.
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA): A Legal Overview
Originally enacted in 1966, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) establishes a three-part system that requires federal agencies to disclose a large swath of government information to the public. First, FOIA directs agencies to publish substantive and procedural rules, along with certain other important government materials, in the Federal Register. Second, on a proactive basis, agencies must electronically disclose a separate set of information that consists of, among other things, final adjudicative opinions and certain “frequently requested” records. And lastly, FOIA requires agencies to disclose all covered records not made available pursuant to the aforementioned affirmative disclosure provisions to individuals, corporations, and others upon request.
Apple, Tell Us More About Your App Store Takedowns
EFF and 10 human rights organizations called out Apple for enabling China's censorship and surveillance regime through overly broad content restrictions on the App Store in China, and for its decision to move iCloud backups and encryption keys to within China. In a letter to Philip Schiller, Apple senior vice president and App Store lead, the groups asked for more transparency about App Store takedowns and to meet with Apple executives to discuss the company's decisions and ways Apple can rectify harms against Apple users most affected by the removals.
Empty Promises Won’t Save the .ORG Takeover
The Internet Society’s (ISOC) November announcement that it intended to sell the Public Interest Registry (PIR, the organization that oversees the .ORG domain name registry) to a private equity firm sent shockwaves through the global NGO sector. The announcement came just after a change to the .ORG registry agreement—the agreement that outlines how the registry operator must run the domain—that gives PIR significantly more power to raise registration fees and implement new measures to censor organizations’ speech.
Smithsonian Releases 2.8 Million Images Into Public Domain
The Smithsonian Institution is inviting the world to engage with its vast repository of resources like never before. nFor the first time in its 174-year history, the Smithsonian has released 2.8 million high-resolution two- and three-dimensional images from across its collections onto an open access online platform for patrons to peruse and download free of charge.
The first three dimensions—length, height, and depth—are included on all topographical maps. The “fourth dimension,” or time, is also available on the website of the Swiss Federal Office of Topography (Swisstopo). In the “Journey Through Time,” a timeline displays 175 years of the country’s cartographic history, advancing in increments of 5-10 years. Over the course of two minutes, Switzerland is drawn and redrawn with increasing precision: inky shapes take on hard edges, blues and browns appear after the turn of the century, and in 2016, the letters drop their serifs.
EFF Files Comments Criticizing Proposed CCPA Regulations
EFF joined a coalition of privacy advocates in filing comments with the California Attorney General regarding its ongoing rulemaking process for the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). The CCPA was passed in 2018, and took effect on January 1, 2020. Later this year, the Attorney General (AG) will finalize regulations that dictate how exactly the law will be enforced.
Firefox enables network privacy feature for users in US
Mozilla has begun enabling a Firefox privacy feature for everyone in the US that should make it harder for ISPs or others to track you online. The technology, called DNS over HTTPS -- DOH for short -- protects a crucial internet addressing technology with encryption.
Intersect Alert – 23 February 2020
Reevaluating the DMCA 22 Years Later: Let’s Think of the Users
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is 22 years old this year and the Senate Subcommittee on Intellectual Property is marking that occasion with a series of hearings reviewing the law and inviting ideas for “reform.” In EFF’s letter to the Committee, we explained that Section 1201 of the DMCA has no redeeming value. It has caused a lot of damage to speech, competition, innovation, and fair use. However, the safe harbors of Section 512 of the DMCA have allowed the Internet to be an open and free platform for lawful speech.
Open access journals get a boost from librarians—much to Elsevier’s dismay
A quiet revolution is sweeping the $20 billion academic publishing market and its main operator Elsevier, partly driven by an unlikely group of rebels: cash-strapped librarians.
Law Libraries and the Future of Public Access to Born-Digital Government Information
As government publications have shifted from print to electronic, mechanisms for guaranteeing the public’s right to access government information have not kept pace. Because legal resources are among the publications most at risk of loss, law libraries should participate in efforts to ensure that born-digital government information remains freely available to all.
Public Library of Science, University of California Announce Transformational OA Agreement
On February 19, the nonprofit, open access (OA) publisher Public Library of Science (PLOS) and the University of California (UC) announced a transformational agreement that will make UC researchers’ path to publication in PLOS journals easier. Under the two-year pilot, which will be implemented this spring, UC Libraries will automatically pay the first $1,000 of any article processing charge (APC) for UC researchers choosing to publish in a PLOS journal. Authors who do not have research funding available to pay the APC can request funding for the full amount, which will be paid by UC Libraries—eliminating APCs as a barrier.
American Library Association’s $2 Million Shortfall Prompts Demands for Transparency, Reform
ALA announced a significant budget shortfall during their annual meeting, raising serious concerns.
Classification Systems vs. Taxonomies
Is a taxonomy the same as a classification scheme or system? Or, to put it another way, is a classification system, such as the Dewey Decimal System, a kind of taxonomy? Both of these kinds of knowledge organization systems have the feature of arranging topical terms in a hierarchy of multiple levels, without having related-term relationships or necessarily synonyms/nonpreferred terms, which are features of thesauri. So, it appears as if the only difference is that classification systems have some kind of notation or alphanumeric code associated with each term, and taxonomies do not. The differences, however, are greater than that.
Join us on a Presidential Libraries Road Trip!
In celebration of Presidents Day, the US National Archives features a series of Citizen Archivist tagging and transcription missions using Catalog records from each Presidential Library: a Presidential Libraries Road Trip!
Why Amazon Knows So Much About You
An Amazon super-user tracks the company’s rise as a data collector
Gillibrand Proposes Federal Data Protection Agency
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) on February 12 introduced the Data Protection Act of 2020, new legislation that would create the Data Protection Agency (DPA), an independent federal agency that “would serve as a ‘referee’ to define, arbitrate, and enforce rules to defend the protection of [U.S. citizens’] personal data,” she announced in a post on Medium.
AI & Machine Learning
Machine Learning + Libraries Summit Event Summary
On Friday, September 20, 2019, the Library of Congress hosted the Machine Learning + Libraries Summit. This one-day conference convened 75 cultural heritage professionals (roughly 50 from outside the Library of Congress and 25 staff from within) to discuss the on-the-ground applications of machine learning technologies in libraries, museums, and universities. Hosting this conference was part of a larger effort to learn about machine learning and the role it could play in helping the Library of Congress reach its strategic goals, such as enhancing discoverability of the Library’s collections, building connections between users and the Library’s digital holdings, and leveraging technology to serve creative communities and the general public.
The messy, secretive reality behind OpenAI’s bid to save the world
The AI moonshot was founded in the spirit of transparency. This is the inside story of how competitive pressure eroded that idealism.
ACUS, Stanford Law School, and NYU School of Law Announce Report on Artificial Intelligence in Federal Agencies
The report, entitled Government by Algorithm: Artificial Intelligence in Federal Administrative Agencies, examines the growing role that machine learning and other AI technologies are playing in federal agency adjudication, enforcement, and other regulatory activities. Based on a wide-ranging survey of federal agency activities and interviews with federal officials, the report maps current uses of AI technologies in federal agencies, highlights promising uses, and addresses challenges in assuring accountability, transparency, and non-discrimination.
The European Union’s newly released white paper containing guidelines for regulating AI acknowledges the potential for artificial intelligence to “lead to breaches of fundamental rights,” such as bias, suppression of dissent, and lack of privacy.
Google AI no longer uses gender binary tags on images of people
Google’s image-labeling AI tool will no longer label pictures with gender tags like “man” and “woman,” according to an email seen by Business Insider. In the email, Google cites its ethical rules on AI as the basis for the change.
EFF Calls For Disclosure of Secret Financing Details Behind $1.1 Billion .ORG Sale, Asks FTC To Scrutinize Deal
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Americans for Financial Reform (AFR) Education Fund today called on ICANN and private equity firm Ethos Capital to make public secret details—hidden costs, loan servicing fees, and inducements to insiders—about financing the $1.1 billion sale of the .ORG domain registry.
Google redraws the borders on maps depending on who’s looking
Google’s corporate mission is “to organize the world’s information,” but it also bends it to its will. From Argentina to the United Kingdom to Iran, the world’s borders look different depending on where you’re viewing them from. That’s because Google — and other online mapmakers — simply change them.
Fighting Disinformation Online: Building the Database of Web Tools
Today's information ecosystem brings access to seemingly infinite amounts of information instantaneously. It also contributes to the rapid spread of misinformation and disinformation to millions of people. In response to this challenge and as part of the RAND Corporation's Truth Decay initiative, RAND researchers worked to identify and characterize the universe of online tools targeted at online disinformation, focusing on those tools created by nonprofit or civil society organizations. This report summarizes the data collected by the RAND team in 2018 and 2019 and serves as a companion to the already published web database.
Intersect Alert February 9, 2020
While the country was riveted by the President’s impeachment trial, a Washington rumor was quietly bubbling about a potential executive order that, if implemented, would profoundly affect the future of federal architecture. RECORD has obtained what appears to be a preliminary draft of the order, under which the White House would require rewriting the Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture, issued in 1962, to ensure that “the classical architectural style shall be the preferred and default style” for new and upgraded federal buildings. Entitled “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again,” the draft order argues that the founding fathers embraced the classical models of “democratic Athens” and “republican Rome” for the capital’s early buildings because the style symbolized the new nation’s “self-governing ideals” (never mind, of course, that it was the prevailing style of the day). The draft decries the quality of architecture under the General Service Administration’s (GSA) Design Excellence Program for its failure to re-integrate “our national values into Federal buildings” which too often have been “influenced by Brutalism and Deconstructivism.” The draft document specifically cites the U.S. Federal Building in San Francisco (2007, by Morphosis), the U.S. Courthouse in Austin, Texas (2012, by Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects), and the Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr. U.S. Courthouse in Miami (2007, by Arquitectonica) for having “little aesthetic appeal.”..
Should the public pay a dime for access to court records?
The federal judiciary charges 10 cents per page to pull up court files from its online record repository. The fees can add up quickly, and users must consider whether each click to view a public record is worth the cost.
But a lawsuit in court Monday in Washington challenges the government’s paywall to search online for case documents through the service known as PACER, an acronym for Public Access to Court Electronic Records.
“The best policy is to make PACER free,” a group of retired federal judges told the court.
Congress Must Stop the Graham-Blumenthal Anti-Security Bill
Border Agency Gets OK to Hide Previously Public Info from FOIA, and Much More
The Trump administration has designated Customs and Border Protection (CBP) a “security agency”, a move that puts CBP in the same category as the Secret Service and the FBI, among others. And the new designation grants CBP increased leeway in withholding information from the public.
A January 31, 2020 memo from CBP Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan, which was obtained by The Nation’s Ken Klippenstein, states, “I am pleased to announce CBP has been designated as a Security Agency under Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) official Data Release Policy, effective immediately. Previously, only frontline law enforcement, investigative, or intelligence positions held this designation. This policy change now protects all CBP employee names from subsequent responses to Freedom of Information Act requests or other public disclosures for CGP employee data.”
How Academic Science Gave Its Soul to the Publishing Industry
America’s globally preeminent university research enterprise is constructed on two bedrock principles of self-governance. The first is autonomy: academic scientists should be left free to determine their own research agendas. The second is internal accountability: the quality of academic science is best assessed by academic scientists. The commitment to scientific self-governance carries with it a policy requirement as well: support for research will mostly have to come from the federal government; companies will never make the necessary investments in undirected research because they cannot capture the economic benefits for themselves.
Content Ownership Is King: That’s Why Movie, TV & Music Libraries Are In Such High Demand
Netflix and all of its new mega streaming challengers bring consumers more movie and television choice and experiences than ever before. At the same time, streaming of songs accelerates consumer engagement of music and returns the music industry to its past glories.
Content, of course, sits in the center of it all - in all forms of media. Content is king like never before, and content creators and ownership have never been in higher demand because of it. Ownership means control, after all. Ownership drives new engagement possibilities. Ownership drives new monetization opportunities. And, if you don’t already own the content you need - or the creators you need to produce it - just go out and acquire it and them.
New Bill Goes After “Drag Queen Story Hour” at Local Libraries
Public library employees in Missouri could face a fine or jail time for providing “age-inappropriate sexual material” under a bill proposed by a state lawmaker.
The bill, known as the “Parental Oversight of Public Libraries Act,” has drawn criticism by library and freedom-of-speech groups since it was introduced last month by State Representative Ben Baker, a Republican.
The bill proposes that libraries create a parental review panel that would evaluate whether content provided by the library is “age-inappropriate sexual material.” The panels would be made up of five residents who are not library employees.
Intersect Alert February 2, 2020
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) issued a public apology for having displayed an altered photograph at the National Archives Museum in Washington, DC.
Copyright, Fair Use, and Competition in Oracle v. Google
The ongoing Oracle v. Google case is headed to the Supreme Court, and Public Knowledge submitted an amicus brief in support of Google. Oracle sued Google in 2010, accusing the tech giant of copying over 11000 lines of code from Oracle’s Java programming language application programming interface (API). Google deployed the code in Android, now the most popular mobile operating system in the world. Public Knowledge believes this case should be resolved on copyrightability grounds, not the fair use doctrine.
Many Reports to Congress May Go Online
Many of the hundreds or thousands of reports that are submitted to Congress by executive branch agencies each year may be published online pursuant to a provision in the new Consolidated Appropriations Act (HR 1158, section 8092).
Confronting Foreign Threats to Basic Research
Foreign scientists working in the U.S. are a vital part of the U.S. scientific research enterprise, a new report from the JASON scientific advisory panel said, and this country could hardly do without them. Yet in some cases they pose a challenge to the integrity of U.S. research programs. But some foreign scientists — often, but not only, from China — violate U.S. norms of scientific ethics by improperly sharing sensitive research information and technology without authorization.
Artificial intelligence, geopolitics, and information integrity
Much has been written, and rightly so, about the potential that artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to create and promote misinformation. But there is a less well-recognized but equally important application for AI in helping to detect misinformation and limit its spread. This dual role will be particularly important in geopolitics, which is closely tied to how governments shape and react to public opinion both within and beyond their borders. And it is important for another reason as well: While nation-state interest in information is certainly not new, the incorporation of AI into the information ecosystem is set to accelerate as machine learning and related technologies experience continued advances.
New Bill Would Make Needed Steps Toward Curbing Mass Surveillance
The Safeguarding Americans’ Private Records Act is a Strong Bill That Builds on Previous Surveillance Reforms
Sens. Ron Wyden (D–Oregon) and Steve Daines (R–Montana) along with Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D–California), Warren Davidson (R–Ohio), and Pramila Jayapal (D–Washington) introduced the Safeguarding Americans’ Private Records Act (SAPRA), H.R 5675. This bipartisan legislation includes significant reforms to the government’s foreign intelligence surveillance authorities, including Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act allows the government to obtain a secret court order requiring third parties, such as telephone providers, Internet providers, and financial institutions, to hand over business records or any other “tangible thing” deemed “relevant” to an international terrorism, counterespionage, or foreign intelligence investigation. If Congress does not act, Section 215 is set to expire on March 15.
Intersect Alert January 26, 2020
"We're taking part in Copyright Week, a series of actions and discussions supporting key principles that should guide copyright policy. Every day this week, various groups are taking on different elements of copyright law and policy, addressing what's at stake and what we need to do to make sure that copyright promotes creativity and innovation"
"What if a single parking ticket carried a fine of up to a year's salary? What if there were no way to know consistently how much the fine would be before you got it? And what if any one of thousands of private citizens could decide to write you a ticket? What would happen? People would start avoiding public parking and stay home more often. Business would decline. The number of false or unfair tickets would rise. Everyone would lose confidence in the system—and in the law—as parking became a huge gamble.""Something very close to this scenario is a reality in copyright law. Copyright holders who sue for infringement can ask for "statutory damages." That means letting a jury decide how big of a penalty the defendant will have to pay—anywhere from $200 to $150,000 per copyrighted work, without requiring any evidence of actual financial losses or illicit profits. That's a big problem for anyone who uses works in lawful but non-traditional ways. Musicians, bloggers, video creators, software developers, and others gamble with these massive damages whenever their art or technology touches another’s work. They risk unpredictable, potentially devastating penalties if a copyright holder objects and a court disagrees with their well-intentioned efforts."
Discovering millions of datasets on the web
"Across the web, there are millions of datasets about nearly any subject that interests you. If you’re looking to buy a puppy, you could find datasets compiling complaints of puppy buyers or studies on puppy cognition. Or if you like skiing, you could find data on revenue of ski resorts or injury rates and participation numbers. Dataset Search has indexed almost 25 million of these datasets, giving you a single place to search for datasets and find links to where the data is. Over the past year, people have tried it out and provided feedback, and now Dataset Search is officially out of beta."
Maps of Every Single Street in Any City
"Andrei Kashcha’s City Roads tool will draw you a map of just the roads in any city around the world."
How to Be a Better Web Searcher: Secrets from Google Scientists
"Researchers who study how we use search engines share common mistakes, misperceptions and advice."
"In a cheery, sunshine-filled fourth-grade classroom in California, the teacher explained the assignment: write a short report about the history of the Belgian Congo at the end of the 19th century, when Belgium colonized this region of Africa. One of us (Russell) was there to help the students with their online research methods."
"I watched in dismay as a young student slowly typed her query into a smartphone. This was not going to end well. She was trying to find out which city was the capital of the Belgian Congo during this time period. She reasonably searched [ capital Belgian Congo ] and in less than a second she discovered that the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo is Kinshasa, a port town on the Congo River. She happily copied the answer into her worksheet."
"But the student did not realize that the Democratic Republic of Congo is a completely different country than the Belgian Congo, which used to occupy the same area. The capital of that former country was Boma until 1926, when it was moved to Léopoldville (which was later renamed Kinshasa). Knowing which city was the capital during which time period is complicated in the Congo, so I was not terribly surprised by the girl’s mistake."
"The deep problem here is that she blindly accepted the answer offered by the search engine as correct. She did not realize that there is a deeper history here."
Small Libraries, Big Impact: How the NNLM Can Help Small & Rural Libraries Support the Health Information Needs in Their Communities
"This webinar will introduce the Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL) members to the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM), the outreach arm of the National Library of Medicine (NLM). Presenters will provide attendees with a step-by-step guide on how they can leverage NNLM to support the health information needs of rural and small communities by introducing several trusted NLM consumer health information resources and showing ARSL Members how they can take advantage of NNLM funding opportunities, training, resources, and partnerships. Attendees will also learn about NNLM’s partnership with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) All of Us Research Program and talk about opportunities for ARLS members to leverage this partnership to support access to quality health information in their own communities."
In U.S. Library Visits Outpaced Trips to Movies in 2019
- Library most frequented by young adults, women and low-income households
- Average U.S. adult attended five movies and five live sporting events
- Age and income among key factors in frequency of activities
Intersect Alert January 12, 2020
Australia’s fires have pumped out more emissions than 100 nations combined
Climate change is driving climate change.
"The wildfires raging along Australia’s eastern coast have already pumped around 400 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, further fueling the climate change that’s already intensifying the nation’s fires."
"Differences in the way healthy and cognitively impaired individuals used their smartphones were enough to tell them apart."
"How they did it: Apple researchers monitored the app usage of 113 adults between the ages of 60 and 75 over 12 weeks. Thirty-one of them had clinically diagnosed cognitive impairment; 82 were healthy. For every session—from the moment users unlocked their phones to the moment they locked them again—the researchers logged the sequences of apps used and categorized the sessions into different types. The data was used to train a machine-learning model."
Via EFF - "You may have heard from a lot of businesses telling you that they’ve updated their privacy policies because of a new law called the California Consumer Privacy Act. But what’s actually changed for you?"
"EFF has spent the past year defending this law in the California legislature, but we realize that not everyone has been following it as closely as we have. So here are answers to ten frequently asked questions we’ve heard about the CCPA."
“The 3D Digital Modeling, Imaging, and Printing Working Group was created to explore the use of 3D technologies to expand access to the Library’s collections. In Fall 2019, the working group launched a pilot in which a limited selection of items from the online collections were 3D scanned and the 3D models made publicly available. In the blog post below, I share what it was like to be trained to build 3D models alongside other Library staff, how we collaborated as a cross-functional working group, and lay out the potential uses of the models we created as part of the LOC 3D pilot project.
Library’s 3D models go live!
Ask anyone what is held in the Library of Congress collections and they will give you the obvious answer: books. Lots and lots of books. Up until last month, I would’ve said the same thing. Since joining the Library of Congress 3D Digital Modeling, Imaging, and Printing Working Group, however, I’ve discovered that the world’s largest library in fact houses many three-dimensional objects ranging from casts of President’s hands to banjos to medieval vellum manuscripts. What’s more—you can now see some of them online as 3D objects! The core purpose of the 3D Working Group chaired by Educational Resource Specialist Stephen Wesson is to explore ways to bring these physical artifacts to life online for users. I was lucky enough to come aboard just as the group launched a pilot project to create and display 3D models of objects held in our collections. To this end, 13 staff from all across the Library’s service units became certified in photogrammetry, a process that combines photography and the use of software to create digital, web-viewable 3D models…”
Books and Reading
Dictionaries and the Law
“The law is a profession built on words, so it is no surprise that dictionaries repre-sent a key component of our professional literature. From John Rastell’s Termes de la Ley in the sixteenth century to Bryan A. Garner’s most recent edition of Black’s Law Dictionary, dictionaries have helped lawyers and judges grapple with words and phrases that are often challenging and obscure. For law students, dictionaries—general or law-specific, online or in print—can help with the daunting task of learning a new professional language with old roots, often in Latin and French..”
Intersect Alert January 5, 2020
"Tens of thousands of Australians are fleeing their homes as hundreds of fires rage across the continent’s southeast coast. And yes, climate change is almost certainly to blame for the extent of the disaster."
This NASA satellite image shows the extent of Australia’s devastating wildfires
"The context: Some of the worst wildfires in decades have been burning across Australia in recent months, exacerbated by hot, dry, windy conditions and rising global temperatures. Almost 15 million acres of land have burned so far, compared with two million acres in California in 2018. But to get a visual sense of the sheer scale of the fires, it’s worth looking at them from space. This NASA image, taken on Saturday, shows smoke billowing from country's east coast."
Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues January 5, 2020
Via LLRX - "Privacy and security issues impact every aspect of our lives – home, work, travel, education, health and medical records – to name but a few. On a weekly basis Pete Weiss highlights articles and information that focus on the increasingly complex and wide ranging ways technology is used to compromise and diminish our privacy and security, often without our situational awareness. Four highlights from this week: The 5 Best Authenticator Apps for Protecting Your Accounts; Major US companies breached, robbed, and spied on by Chinese hackers; US Army bans soldiers from using TikTok over security worries; and 7 types of virus – a short glossary of contemporary cyberbadness."
Vox Populi – “Before there was the internet, there was la Bibliothèque nationale de France (the National Library of France) in Paris: an ever-expanding collection of books, manuscripts, maps and other cultural artifacts that has been operating continuously since the 15th century. The documentary Toute la mémoire du monde (All the Memory in the World), made by the influential and celebrated French filmmaker Alain Resnais in 1956, is an astounding tour of the institution before digitisation, when the world’s largest well of information wasn’t at our fingertips, but fastidiously collected and sorted behind library walls. Resnais focuses not only on the imposing scope of the library’s holdings, but also explores the vast enterprise of maintaining it for centuries to come, as well as the facility’s role as a bustling home for curiosity and enquiry. Through moody black-and-white cinematography of the library’s collection, architecture and meticulous processes, the film explores a place that, like human knowledge itself, is ‘destined to be forever a work in progress’. A dramatic score by Maurice Jarre – by turns pulsing, soaring and delicate – acts as a further guide through the labyrinth of the library, and the film itself.” Director: Alain Resnais
Bats Are Hanging Out in the Library. What Gives?
In Wales and Portugal, flying mammals have taken roost in unusual places.
"High above the Mondego River, in Portugal’s interior, a colony of common pipistrelles bats wings out of a library, soars over the cobbled university square, and disappears into the night. These are perhaps the most famous residents of the University of Coimbra. By day, they doze in the stacks of the European baroque Joanina Library, home to such ancient works as the first edition of Dionysius of Halicarnassus’s Roman Antiquities and Homer’s Opera Omnia. Come nightfall, they emerge to feed on flies and gnats and other pests within the library, before swooping out the windows in search of water. Every evening, the librarians here—some who claim they can even hear the bats “singing” late in the afternoon on days when the weather changes rapidly to rain—cover the library’s 18th-century tables with a heavy animal-skin fabric. Every morning, they wash away whatever droppings the bats have left behind."
"Bats have been in residence at the Joanina Library since at least the 19th century, perhaps longer: The librarians know this because they still hold the receipt for that protective fabric that was imported from Russia 200 years ago. Today, as then, the effect of these flittermice, combined with difficult-to-penetrate oak bookcases decorated meticulously in Chinese motifs, is an environment nearly free of destructive bookworms, so to speak."
“In legal technology, it was a decade of tumult and upheaval, bringing changes that will forever transform the practice of law and the delivery of legal services. Feisty startups took on established behemoths. The cloud dropped rain on legacy products. Mobile tech untethered lawyers. Clients demanded efficiency and transparency. Robots arrived to take over our jobs. “Alternative” became a label for new kinds of legal services providers. An expanding justice gap fueled efforts at ethics reform. Investment dollars began to pour in. Data got big. Every year, I write a year-end wrap-up of the most significant developments in legal technology. But as we reach the end of a decade, I decided to look back on the most significant developments of the past 10 years. Looking back, it may well have been the most tumultuous decade ever in changing how legal services are delivered. (Here are my prior years’ lists of the most important developments: For several years now, I’ve closed out the year with a round-up of the 10 most important legal developments 2018, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013. In 2017, I bypassed the list to focus on a single overarching development, The Year of Women in Legal Tech.)…”
Intersect Alert December 22, 2019
The Year We Fought to Get Net Neutrality Back: 2019 Year in Review
“Ever since the FCC repealed net neutrality protections in 2017, we’ve been fighting to return as many protections to as many Americans as possible. In 2019, the battles in the courts and Congress both kept those committed to a free and open Internet very busy.”
Smart Home Tech, Police, and Your Privacy: Year in Review 2019
“If 2019 confirmed anything, it is that we should not trust the microphones and cameras that large corporations sell us to put inside and near our homes. Thanks to the due diligence of reporters, public records requesters, and privacy researchers and activists, consumers have been learning more and more about how these “smart” home technologies can be hacked, exploited, or utilized by the police and other law enforcement agencies.”
2020 Open Educational Resources (OER) Sources and Tools
Via LLRX – 2020 Open Educational Resources (OER) Sources and Tools – “This is a comprehensive listing of Open Educational Resources (OER) sources and tools available in the United States and around the world, by Marcus P. Zillman. His guide includes references to: search engines, directories, initiatives, books, E-books, E-textbooks, free online seminars and webinars, subject guides, open and distance learning, open access papers and research, as well as related costs and metrics to identify and choose reliable, subject matter expert sources for free and open continuing education and research on the internet.”
FRB launches new Twitter account highlighting research published in Board’s working papers and notes series
“The Federal Reserve Board on Wednesday, December 18, 2019 – launched a new Twitter account aimed at increasing access to the research done by the more than 400 economists and other research staff at the Board. The new account—@FedResearch—will highlight research published in the Board’s working papers and notes series, other staff articles, and conferences. Staff members at the Board conduct research on a wide variety of topics in economics and finance. The Board’s Finance and Economics Discussion Series and its International Finance Discussion Papers—along with the FEDS Notes series—offer a venue for Board staff to publish their work to stimulate discussion. The papers and notes reflect the views of the individual authors and do not communicate policy positions of the Board or the Federal Reserve System. The Board’s @FederalReserve Twitter account will continue to provide official news and information about the Board…”
IMLS Receives $10 Million Increase in FY2020
Congressional appropriators needed overtime to complete the FY2020 budget, but the result brought good news for libraries: a $10 million increase for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), including $6.2 million for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA)–the largest increase in LSTA funding in 12 years. The final federal spending bill also includes increases for other library programs. The budget bill now heads to the president, who is expected to sign it.
For the third year in a row, American Library Association (ALA) advocates called, emailed, tweeted, and met with their members of Congress in Washington, D.C., and at home. ALA President Wanda Kay Brown said in a December 19 statement, “This is your win!”
Congress appropriated $252 million for IMLS, including a $6.2 million increase dedicated to LSTA. Highlights from the $195.4 million for LSTA include:
$166.8 million for LSTA Grants to States ($160.8 million in FY2019)
$5.3 million for LSTA Native American Library Services ($5.1 million in FY2019)
$10 million for LSTA Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian grants ($10 million in FY2019)
$13.4 million for LSTA National Leadership for Libraries ($13.4 million in FY2019)
The biggest technology failures of 2019
What would the holidays be without the Grinch? And what would MIT Technology Review be without our annual list of the year's sorriest tech fails?
This year’s list includes the deadly, the dishonest, and the simply daft.
Merchant Marine Records Document Maritime Service
“SAINT LOUIS, December 16, 2019 — The public now has access to previously unavailable information concerning former merchant mariners and their maritime service through Merchant Marine Licensing Files, made available by the National Archives at St. Louis.”
“The public can access these records in two ways: through a request made via an offsite reference request (with reproduction provided for a fee), or via onsite viewing at the National Archives at St. Louis Research Room. The collection opened to the public on December 2, 2019.”
Intersect Alert December 8, 2019
How do I protect my online privacy from 'surveillance capitalism'?
“Chris wants to better protect his privacy. What can he easily do besides de-Googling his online life?”
“On Monday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation published a 17,000-word report on this topic. Behind the One-Way Mirror: A Deep Dive Into the Technology of Corporate Surveillance, by Bennett Cyphers and Gennie Gebhart, covers both online privacy problems and the growth of real-word surveillance.”
The laws protecting our data are too weak
“The latest in a long line of privacy scandals happened last week, after Google was found to have been pulling unredacted data from one of America’s largest healthcare providers to use in one of its projects. Despite assurances that it won’t use this information to supplant its ad business, that’s not the issue here. How was Google able to acquire this knowledge in the first place? Professor Sandra Wachter is an expert in law, data and AI at the University of Oxford’s Internet Institute. She says that every time your data is collected, “you leave something of yourself behind.” She added that anyone can use your online behavior to “infer very sensitive things about you,” like your ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and health status. It’s bad enough when the companies use those inferences for targeted ads. But it gets a lot worse when they gain access to very private data. For instance, would you feel comfortable if Google started displaying ads for fertility treatments in your emails after a trip to the doctor? Or if your healthcare provider could access your browser history without your knowledge to determine how suitable you are for insurance…”
Books and Reading
Financial Times Best Books of 2019
“This site is paywalled, but if you have online access – do visit the Financial Times Best Books of 2019 – the extensive subject matter annotated list includes: economics, health, history, art, mysteries, thrillers, fiction, non-fiction, technology, sport, poetry, science, art, gardens, and more – well done.”
Britain has closed almost 800 libraries since 2010, figures show
Annual survey shows sharp cuts to local authority funding have led to the loss of 17% of branches, alongside sharp staff and funding shortfalls
Libraries in the archive: snapshots of reading in Britain 1930s-1990s
The news that Britain has closed almost 800 libraries since 2010 has prompted us to look back at images of libraries in the Guardian and Observer archives. These are a few highlights, with snippets from their original captions and related headlines.
ProQuest to Acquire Innovative Interfaces
“In a move that further consolidates the library technology industry, Ex Libris announced on December 5 that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Innovative Interfaces from its private equity investors.”
“Since December 2015, Ex Libris has been owned by ProQuest. In addition to its role as a major content provider to libraries, ProQuest is now responsible for a growing portfolio of library technology products, including major systems for resource management, content discovery, materials acquisition, reading list integration, and research services. While ProQuest faces major competition for each of its product categories, this move substantially strengthens its position in the sector and broadens its scope to include public libraries.”
“Ex Libris is a wholly owned business of ProQuest, which is in turn owned by Cambridge Information Group (CIG) and Atairos. The acquisition of Innovative comes on the heels of Atairos’ new major investment in ProQuest. With the infusion of new capital, it is also not surprising to see the company expand through acquisitions and product developments.”
Intersect Alert for the Week of November 25th, 2019
What Tweets and Emojis Did to the Novel
"Until the 2010s, if you were reading, it generally meant you weren’t doing it online. Though change had been in the offing, this was the decade that irreversibly altered how we consume text — when the smartphone transformed from a marvel to a staple. Suddenly, the sharpest cultural and political analysis came in the form of a distracted boyfriend meme. Racists deployed a playful cartoon frog to sugar their messages. From the Arab Spring onward, the best reporters were often panicked bystanders with Twitter accounts.
It would seem as if few times in history could be less hospitable to literature. Not even 20 years ago we mostly read about things in lag, on thin slices of tree, whereas now we do — well, this, whatever this is. Yet instead of technology superannuating literature once and for all, it seems to have created a new space in our minds for it.
Tim Berners-Lee unveils global plan to save the web
"Sir Tim Berners-Lee has launched a global action plan to save the web from political manipulation, fake news, privacy violations and other malign forces that threaten to plunge the world into a “digital dystopia”.
The Contract for the Web requires endorsing governments, companies and individuals to make concrete commitments to protect the web from abuse and ensure it benefits humanity."
The flat-Earth conspiracy is spreading around the globe. Does it hide a darker core?
"People in every pocket of this spherical planet are rejecting science and spreading the word that the Earth is flat. There's no clear study indicating how many people have been convinced -- and flat Earthers like Weiss will tell you without evidence there are millions more in the closet anyway, including Hollywood A-listers and commercial airline pilots -- but online communities have hundreds of thousands of followers and YouTube is inundated with flat-Earth content creators, whose productions reach millions."
Victory: Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules Police Can’t Force You to Tell Them Your Password
"The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a forceful opinion today holding that the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects individuals from being forced to disclose the passcode to their devices to the police. In a 4-3 decision in Commonwealth v. Davis, the court found that disclosing a password is “testimony” protected by the Fifth Amendment’s privilege against self-incrimination."
About Face: Ending Government Use of Face Surveillance
"Many forms of biometric data collection raise a wealth of privacy, security, and ethical concerns. Face surveillance ups the ante. We expose our faces to public view every time we go outside. Paired with the growing ubiquity of surveillance cameras in our public, face surveillance technology allows for the covert and automated collection of information related to when and where we worship or receive medical care, and who we associate with professionally or socially."
The Council of Europe Shouldn’t Throw Out Our Privacy Rights Just to Speed Up Police Access
"Foreign police often want to investigate a crime by gathering potential evidence from Internet companies located in another country. What if police in Poland want to get a user’s data from an ISP in Germany, Philippines, Japan—or vice versa? Can they do this? Under what rules, and with what kind of oversight?"
It’s not the first time Iran has shut down the internet, but this time, it’s different "
This time, the shutdown is different. Iran is cut almost completely off of the grid, and according to numerous groups in the internet outage measurement community, the method Iran used to carry out this specific shutdown diverges from a “typical” blanket shutdown and its comprehensive nature makes it harder to circumvent. That makes what is already an inherently disproportionate interference with Iranians’ human rights even more harmful and dangerous. "
A Lehigh University-Led Partnership Releases Open Web Database of 160,000 Pages Of High-Resolution, Full-Color Manuscripts Dating to the Ninth Century
"Scholars and aficionados can now search, download and study 160,000 pages of high-resolution, full-color manuscripts dating to the ninth century, thanks to library partnerships.
From tattoos to video games to Game of Thrones, medieval iconography has long inspired fascination, imitation and veneration. Now, thousands of original medieval manuscript and early modern images are available for free online, for scholars and aficionados to search, download and study."
10,000 Yiddish Books Now Fully Searchable Online
"fter years of work by a small team of linguists, computer programmers, and volunteer editors, visitors to the Yiddish Book Center’s website can now search millions of pages of digitized Yiddish books with the aid of a newly launched computer program. The program, Jochre, allows users to search for a specific word or phrase and instantly find every mention of it in more than 10,000 Yiddish books. Previously the books, which have been available online in PDF form for a decade, were only searchable by title and author name. It’s no exaggeration, note Yiddish scholars, to say that the software will revolutionize their field."
Federal Research: Additional Actions Needed to Improve Public Access to Research Results (GAO Report)
"The 19 agencies that GAO reviewed have made progress implementing their plans to increase public access to federally funded research results (publications and data), as called for in a 2013 Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) memorandum. However, some agencies have not fully implemented some aspects of their plans, in particular those related to data access and mechanisms to ensure researchers comply with public access requirements."
Carnegie Mellon University Announces a Transformative Agreement with Elsevier
"Under the terms of the agreement, which is the first of its kind between Elsevier and a university in the United States, Carnegie Mellon scholars will have access to all Elsevier academic journals. Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, articles with a corresponding CMU author published through Elsevier also will be open access."
Changes to Department of Labor and Healthcare.gov websites foreshadowed formal LGBTQ policy shifts
"Our newest report is a deep dive into how federal web messaging related to the LGBTQ community has evolved under the Trump administration. The report noted a reduction in information specific to the LGBTQ community and changes in language usage related to freighted terms like “gender” and “sex,”” as well as a marked increase in the use of terms related to “religious freedom” on HHS.gov.
Some of the most notable changes we observed were related to federal prohibitions on discrimination, particularly against transgender people, which came amid an ongoing flurry of rulemaking related to anti-discrimination protections at the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor. Each of the rulemaking efforts ties into one of the Trump administration’s central policy themes — initiatives designed to protect “religious freedom” — and each has significant implications for the rights of the LGBTQ community."
Librarianship at the Crossroads of ICE Surveillance
"Information capitalism, the system where information, a historically, largely free and ubiquitous product of basic communication, is commodified by private owners for profit, is entrenched in our society. Information brokers have consolidated and swallowed up huge amounts of data, in a system that leaves data purchase, consumption, and use largely unregulated and unchecked. This article focuses on librarian ethics in the era of information capitalism, focusing specifically on an especially insidious arena of data ownership: surveillance capitalism and big data policing. While librarians value privacy and intellectual freedom, librarians increasingly rely on products that sell personal data to law enforcement, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Librarians should consider how buying and using these products in their libraries comports with our privacy practices and ethical standards. "
Transparency vs. Good Government
"It is usually taken for granted that transparency is a prerequisite to good government. The idea seems obvious. “Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing,” said President Obama in 2009. “Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.” But in practice, that is not always true. Demands for transparency can sometimes be used to undermine the values of an open society, and current events compel a more nuanced understanding of the concept."
No Love for White Gloves, or: the Cotton Menace
There is a unique joy in watching a video or reading a news story with images of a librarian handling a rare book. Rare books, unlike many museum objects, are still used today in the same way that they would have been when they were new centuries ago – they’re held and opened, and their pages are turned. It would make sense that these historical objects should be handled with white gloves to keep them clean, right?
WRONG! Well, mostly. But we’ll get to that part later."
A Lehigh University-Led Partnership Releases Open Web Database of 160,000 Pages Of High-Resolution, Full-Color Manuscripts Dating to the Ninth Century
"Scholars and aficionados can now search, download and study 160,000 pages of high-resolution, full-color manuscripts dating to the ninth century, thanks to library partnerships.
From tattoos to video games to Game of Thrones, medieval iconography has long inspired fascination, imitation and veneration. Now, thousands of original medieval manuscript and early modern images are available for free online, for scholars and aficionados to search, download and study.
Silicon Valley Archives Update
"Many communities have contributed to Silicon Valley, and in many ways. Unfortunately, their lives and work are not always represented in the archival collections that have been amassed to date. It will be a major priority of the SVA to address areas of under-representation in the archival record. Achieving this goal will require a series of efforts focused on identifying and working with groups that until now have not been represented in terms of race, gender identity, immigration, and so forth. Our second initiative therefore is a project focused on the multiple histories of African Americans in Silicon Valley."
This is the first global map of Saturn’s moon Titan
"Old data acquired by NASA’s Cassini mission has given us our most complete look yet at the mysterious moon. The new map, in Nature Astronomy, offers new insights into how the moon’s methane cycle has shaped the surface."
Intersect Alert for the Week of November 18, 2019
Pew: Americans and Privacy: Concerned, Confused and Feeling Lack of Control Over Their Personal Information
"A majority of Americans believe their online and offline activities are being tracked and monitored by companies and the government with some regularity. It is such a common condition of modern life that roughly six-in-ten U.S. adults say they do not think it is possible to go through daily life without having data collected about them by companies or the government." <https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/wp-content/uploads/sites/9/2019/11/Pew-Research-Center_PI_2019.11.15_Americans-and-Privacy_FINAL.pdf
Who Stole My Face? The Risks Of Law Enforcement Use Of Facial Recognition Software "Last week, RIT philosophy professor and expert on the ethical and privacy implications of technology, Evan Selinger, spoke to a group of lawyers in Rochester, New York, about the dangers presented by facial recognition software. The presentation, “Who Stole My Face? The Privacy Implications of Facial Recognition Technology,” was hosted by the committee that I chair for the Monroe County Bar Association, the Technology and Law Practice Committee, and was the brainchild of committee member Aleksander Nikolic, a Rochester IP attorney."
Google almost made 100,000 chest X-rays public — until it realized personal data could be exposed
"Two days before Google was set to publicly post more than 100,000 images of human chest X-rays, the tech giant got a call from the National Institutes of Health, which had provided the images: Some of them still contained details that could be used to identify the patients, a potential privacy and legal violation. Google abruptly canceled its project with NIH, according to emails reviewed by The Washington Post and an interview with a person familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity. But the 2017 incident, which has never been reported, highlights the potential pitfalls of the tech giant’s incursions into the world of sensitive health data."
Video: The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University Hosts Conversation with Edward Snowden
"On October 29, 2019, Knight First Amendment Institute’s Jameel Jaffer and The New Yorker’s Amy Davidson Sorkin spoke to Edward Snowden, the former intelligence contractor who leaked top-secret documents about the National Security Agency to the press in 2013. Snowden spoke via Skype about the rise of mass surveillance, his thoughts on the recent whistleblower case and how we should protect our privacy. The event at The Forum was open to the public and well attended. "
The Dark Psychology of Social Networks
"Facebook’s early mission was “to make the world more open and connected”—and in the first days of social media, many people assumed that a huge global increase in connectivity would be good for democracy. As social media has aged, however, optimism has faded and the list of known or suspected harms has grown: Online political discussions (often among anonymous strangers) are experienced as angrier and less civil than those in real life; networks of partisans co-create worldviews that can become more and more extreme; disinformation campaigns flourish; violent ideologies lure recruits." https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/12/social-media-democracy/600763/
The Internet Dream Became a Nightmare. What Will Become of It Now?
"As the technology critic Evgeny Morozov noted in his trenchant 2013 book, “To Save Everything, Click Here,” the distance between the quotidian reality of the internet and the utopian set of notions we projected onto it had become so vast that quotation marks ought to separate the idealized version from the real thing. “The internet” was going to empower the masses, overthrow hierarchies, build a virtual world that was far superior to the terrestrial one that bound us. But the actual internet was never capable of any of that, and once it fell into the hands of plutocrats and dictators, all the gauzy rhetoric around it only served their interests."
The New PubMed is Here
"An updated version of PubMed is now available at https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ (see Figure 1). The new PubMed will become the default in spring 2020 and will ultimately replace the legacy version." https://www.nlm.nih.gov/pubs/techbull/nd19/nd19_pubmed_new.html
Springer Nature First Publisher to Implement Seamlessaccess.Org Service. "For a scientist working on their university’s campus, accessing a paywalled journal article is painless and invisible, if their institution subscribes. The article automatically appears because the publisher recognizes that the request came from the university’s internet address. But many researchers gripe that the minute they step off campus and try to access the same article—through a home internet provider, a coffee shop’s WiFi, or a cellphone—they often face a frustrating experience. Even though many universities allow remote users to gain access by logging in through an online portal, many articles don’t clearly flag that possibility, and following the steps can be cumbersome."
Huntington Acquires Two Major Collections of Slavery and Abolition Materials
"The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens announced today that it has acquired two collections related to abolition and slavery in 19th-century America, including an exceptionally rare account book from the Underground Railroad.
The first group of materials includes the papers of Zachariah Taylor Shugart (1805–1881), a Quaker abolitionist who operated an Underground Railroad stop at his farm in Cass County, Michigan. The centerpiece of the collection is an account ledger which contains the names of 137 men and women who passed through Shugart's farm while trying to reach freedom in Canada; these names are recorded amid everyday details of Shugart's business life, including the number of minks he trapped and the debts he was owed.
The second collection is the archive of some 2,000 letters and accounts documenting the history of the Dickinson & Shrewsbury saltworks, a major operation founded in 1808 in what is now Kanawha County, West Virginia. The records shed light on an industry that was not plantation-based but still relied heavily on slave labor. . .The two collections, which were purchased recently at auction, are currently being cataloged and will be made available to scholars in the near future. Some materials, including Shugart's ledger, will be digitized."
Just Launched: Independent Documentary Filmmakers from China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan Web Archive "Chinese independent filmmakers from mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong have long been crucial to bringing attention to social and political developments in their areas, but due to the sensitive nature of their work, their web presences are at risk of disappearing at any time. Created to capture and preserve these ephemeral primary source materials, the archive contains websites, blogs, and video feeds belonging to notable filmmakers from mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, all made available for future research and access."
Old dogs, new tricks: 10,000 pets needed for science "Can old dogs teach us new tricks? Scientists are looking for 10,000 pets for the largest-ever study of aging in canines. They hope to shed light on human longevity too. The project will collect a pile of pooch data: vet records, DNA samples, gut microbes and information on food and walks. Five hundred dogs will test a pill that could slow the aging process." https://apnews.com/4bee7e617c2b44b397e79f4a16523877
New Landscapes on the Road of Open Science: 6 key issues to address for research data management in the Netherlands
"The road to Open Science is not a short one. As the chairman of the Executive Board of the European Open Science Cloud, Karel Luyben, is keen to point out, it will take at least 10 or 15 years of travel until we reach a point where Open Science is simply absorbed into ordinary, everyday science. Within the Netherlands, and for research data in particular, we have made many strides towards that final point. We have knowledge networks such as LCRDM, a suite of archives covered by the Research Data Netherlands umbrella, and the groundbreaking work done by the Dutch Techcentre for Life Sciences. But there is still much travel to be done; many new landscapes to be traversed. Data sharing is still far from being the norm."
Wikiview is a Powerful Photo Browser for Exploring Wikimedia Commons
"Wikimedia Commons has millions of public domain and freely-licensed photos available to the world, and now there’s a powerful new tool that helps you dive into the ocean of imagery for exploring or locating exactly what you’re looking for. It’s called wikiview, and it’s a graph-based visual image navigator." https://petapixel.com/2019/11/07/wikiview-is-a-powerful-photo-browser-for-exploring-wikimedia-commons/
C-SPAN Provides Near Real-Time Keyword Searchable Video of Today’s U.S. House Impeachment Hearing with Former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch
"C-SPAN and the C-SPAN Video Library are providing near real-time searchable video (using text transcripts generated from the closed-captioning) of today’s U.S. House Impeachment Hearing with former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch."
New Report: Spoken Word Audio Share in the U.S. Up 20% Since 2014; Audiobook Listening Hits All-Time High
"The share of time spent listening to spoken word audio has increased 20% since 2014, while time spent with music across the same period decreased 5%. This shift is led by a dramatic increase in spoken word audio consumption on mobile devices across age groups, and increases in spoken word share among those ages 13-34. These findings are part of The Spoken Word Audio Report from NPR and Edison Research."
A First Try at ROI: Ranking 4,500 Colleges
"Using data from the expanded College Scorecard, this report ranks 4,500 colleges and universities by return on investment. A First Try at ROI: Ranking 4,500 Colleges finds that bachelor’s degrees from private colleges, on average, have higher ROI than degrees from public colleges 40 years after enrollment. Community colleges and many certificate programs have the highest returns in the short term, 10 years after enrollment, though returns from bachelor’s degrees eventually overtake those of most two-year credentials."
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."
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.
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."
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."
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."