Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002

Author Archives: Sabrina I. Pacifici

DHS has FOIA backlog in excess of 50,000 requests

Freedom of Information Act: DHS Needs to Reduce Backlogged Requests and Eliminate Duplicate Processing, GAO-20-209T: Published: Oct 17, 2019. Publicly Released: Oct 17, 2019. “The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires federal agencies to provide the public with access to government records. The Department of Homeland Security continues to receive the largest number of FOIA… Continue Reading

Computers have an unlikely origin story: the 1890 census

FastCompany – David Lindsay Roberts – “The inventor of punched cards, which led to the first computers and companies like IBM, was aiming to solve a gnarly problem at the time: data collection for the census…The U.S. Constitution requires that a population count be conducted at the beginning of every decade. This census has always been charged… Continue Reading

BYU Law creates language database to help interpret Constitution

The Daily Universe: “The Constitution is America’s central legal document. However, it was written a long time ago, and language has since evolved. Changing language can make the law difficult for lawyers and judges to interpret.  What does it really mean to “bear arms?” How should readers understand the phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors?” BYU… Continue Reading

How Amazon.com moved into the business of U.S. elections

Reuters: “The expansion by Amazon Web Services into state and local elections has quietly gathered pace since the 2016 U.S. presidential vote. More than 40 states now use one or more of Amazon’s election offerings, according to a presentation given by an Amazon executive this year and seen by Reuters. So do America’s two main… Continue Reading

New study pinpoints and maps the places most at risk on a warming planet

Grist: “As many as five billion people will face hunger and a lack of clean water by 2050 as the warming climate disrupts pollination, freshwater, and coastal habitats, according to new research published last week in Science. People living in South Asia and Africa will bear the worst of it. Climate activists have been telling… Continue Reading

The Wayback Machine: Fighting Digital Extinction in New Ways

Internet Archive Blogs: Extinction isn’t just a biological issue. In the 21st century, it’s a technical, even digital one, too. The average web page might last three months before it’s altered or deleted forever. You never know when access to the information on these web pages is going to be needed. It might be three… Continue Reading

The Little-Known ‘Slow Fire’ That’s Destroying All Our Books

LitHub: “…It’s called a “slow fire,” this continuous acidification and subsequent embrittlement of paper that was created with the seeds of its own ruin in its very fibers. In a 1987 documentary on the subject, the deputy Librarian of Congress William Welsh takes an embrittled, acid-burned book and begins tearing pages out by the handful,… Continue Reading

Peel back the layers of Twitter with this freshly updated tool

Poynter – A person or organization’s social media account reveals two layers of information – “The first is, obviously, the contents of the posts themselves. The second — much harder to obtain at a glance — is the structure and patterns contained within those messages. The latter can often enhance or, more common than you’d… Continue Reading

Bird populations have crashed. Here’s what you can do to help.

Washington Post – “…A study by ornithologists and other scientists released last month told us bird populations have crashed. Since 1970, the United States and Canada have lost nearly 3 billion, close to 30 percent fewer individuals. The losses are across habitats and species, though hardest hit are birds that inhabit the grasslands from Texas north… Continue Reading

An AI that writes convincing prose risks mass-producing fake news

MIT Technology Review – Fed with billions of words, this algorithm creates convincing articles and shows how AI could be used to fool people on a mass scale – “…The researchers set out to develop a general-purpose language algorithm, trained on a vast amount of text from the web, that would be capable of translating… Continue Reading

Germany’s cyber-security agency recommends Firefox as most secure browser

ZDNet – “Firefox is the only browser that received top marks in a recent audit carried out by Germany’s cyber-security agency — the German Federal Office for Information Security (or the Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik — BSI). The BSI tested Mozilla Firefox 68 (ESR), Google Chrome 76, Microsoft Internet Explorer 11, and Microsoft Edge… Continue Reading