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Author Archives: Sabrina I. Pacifici

Banning facial recognition – it is not enough to ensure privacy

The New York Times Opinion – We’re Banning Facial Recognition. We’re Missing the Point. The whole point of modern surveillance is to treat people differently, and facial recognition technologies are only a small part of that. “…These efforts are well intentioned, but facial recognition bans are the wrong way to fight against modern surveillance. Focusing… Continue Reading

Election Hacks

Rolling Stone – Hackers Are Coming for the 2020 Election — And We’re Not Ready: “..Four years ago, for an embarrassingly modest price, Russia pulled off one of the more audacious acts of election interference in modern history. The Internet Research Agency, the team of Kremlin-backed online propagandists, spent $15 million to $20 million and… Continue Reading

Top Trends in State Criminal Justice Reform, 2019

“In Top Trends in State Criminal Justice Reform, 2019, Nicole D. Porter highlights key changes in criminal justice policy achieved in 2019. Highlights include: Sentencing: California repealed a one-year sentence enhancement for each prior prison or county jail felony term, impacting 10,000 people. Felony Disenfranchisement: Nevada and New Jersey expanded voting rights to people on… Continue Reading

Reporters Cmte and 57 news orgs urge Senate to reconsider impeachment trial press restrictions

Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press: “In a letter sent Thursday night, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, joined by 57 news organizations, asked the Senate to reconsider press restrictions during the impeachment trial that have been the subject of growing criticism over the past week. “Absent an articulable security rationale,” the… Continue Reading

How the Chinese government mobilizes students and media to burnish its image

Custer, S., Prakash, M., Solis, J., Knight, R., and J. Lin. (2019). Influencing the Narrative: How the Chinese government mobilizes students and media to burnish its image. Williamsburg, VA. AidData at William & Mary: “Chinese leaders have mobilized an impressive array of government agencies, media outlets, and educational institutions at home and abroad as a… Continue Reading

It’s Time to Stop Making Excuses for Amazon’s Disposable Tech

IFixit: “Amazon doesn’t repair their own products for customers outside their return or warranty periods. The company doesn’t make parts available. Need a new battery for your old but still functional Kindle Paperwhite? That’s too bad, Amazon doesn’t sell them directly (though you can roll the dice on a number of third-party vendors). The same… Continue Reading

2020 Edelman Trust Barometer

“The 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals that despite a strong global economy and near full employment, none of the four societal institutions that the study measures—government, business, NGOs and media—is trusted. The cause of this paradox can be found in people’s fears about the future and their role in it, which are a wake-up call… Continue Reading

An algorithm that learns through rewards may show how our brain does too

MIT Technology Review: “…In a paper published in Nature today, DeepMind, Alphabet’s AI subsidiary, has once again used lessons from reinforcement learning to propose a new theory about the reward mechanisms within our brains. The hypothesis, supported by initial experimental findings, could not only improve our understanding of mental health and motivation. It could also… Continue Reading

The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It

The New York Times – “A little-known start-up helps law enforcement match photos of unknown people to their online images — and “might lead to a dystopian future or something,” a backer says. Until recently, Hoan Ton-That’s greatest hits included an obscure iPhone game and an app that let people put Donald Trump’s distinctive yellow… Continue Reading

Oversight Committee Finds Widespread Ethics Issues at EPA

On January 17, 2020 “Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Rep. Harley Rouda, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment, sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) releasing new information in the Committee’s investigation into the Trump Administration’s use of ethics waivers to allow political appointees… Continue Reading