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Category Archives: Civil Liberties

Online identification is getting more and more intrusive

The Economist [paywall] – Phones can now tell who is carrying them from their users’ gaits

“…LexisNexis Risk Solutions, an American analytics firm, has catalogued more than 4 billion phones, tablets and other computers in this way for banks and other clients. Roughly 7% of them have been used for shenanigans of some sort. But device fingerprinting is becoming less useful. Apple, Google and other makers of equipment and operating systems have been steadily restricting the range of attributes that can be observed remotely. That is why a new approach, behavioral biometrics, is gaining ground. It relies on the wealth of measurements made by today’s devices. These include data from accelerometers and gyroscopic sensors, that reveal how people hold their phones when using them, how they carry them and even the way they walk. Touchscreens, keyboards and mice can be monitored to show the distinctive ways in which someone’s fingers and hands move. Sensors can detect whether a phone has been set down on a hard surface such as a table or dropped lightly on a soft one such as a bed. If the hour is appropriate, this action could be used to assume when a user has retired for the night. These traits can then be used to determine whether someone attempting to make a transaction is likely to be the device’s habitual user…”

Commentary – Put Harriet Tubman on the $20 Bill

Cato Institute: “Washington’s latest symbolic battle is looming. America’s money celebrates its early political leaders, white males all. There’s now a campaign to provide for greater currency diversity. The group Women on 20s held a poll on what woman should be added: the victor was famed antislavery activist Harriet Tubman, who narrowly beat out First… Continue Reading

Democracy in Retreat Freedom in the World 2019

“In 2018, Freedom in the World recorded the 13th consecutive year of decline in global freedom. The reversal has spanned a variety of countries in every region, from long-standing democracies like the United States to consolidated authoritarian regimes like China and Russia. The overall losses are still shallow compared with the gains of the late… Continue Reading

Burgeoning Workloads for Immigration Judges Inbox x

“The hiring pace for new judges continues to be insufficient to keep up with the Immigration Court’s workload. As a result, the court’s backlog continues to climb – up 65 percent since President Trump assumed office. A total of only 424 judges face a backlog of 892,517 cases on the courts’ active dockets as of… Continue Reading

Study – Climate crisis more politically polarizing than abortion for US voters

The Guardian – Democrats ranked global heating as the third most important issue on their list, while Republican voters ranked it last in a Yale poll: “Surging concern among Americans about an overheating planet has done little to shift a political polarization that has now reached a stunning extreme: climate breakdown divides Democrats and Republicans… Continue Reading

PBS Frontline – Supreme Revenge

Season 37: Episode 14 – “Inside the no-holds-barred war for control of the Supreme Court. From Brett Kavanaugh to Robert Bork, an investigation of how a 30-year-old grievance transformed the court and turned confirmations into bitter, partisan conflicts.” See also Law.com [subscription req’d] – New Documentary Examines Supreme Court Confirmations From Bork to Kavanaugh. “The… Continue Reading

Finland is winning the war on fake news. What it’s learned may be crucial to Western democracy.

CNN – “…Finland has faced down Kremlin-backed propaganda campaigns ever since it declared independence from Russia 101 years ago. But in 2014, after Moscow annexed Crimea and backed rebels in eastern Ukraine, it became obvious that the battlefield had shifted: information warfare was moving online. Toivanen, the chief communications specialist for the prime minister’s office,… Continue Reading

The Lack of Diversity on the Magistrate Judge Bench

Jennifer L. Thurston, Black Robes, White Judges: The Lack of Diversity on the Magistrate Judge Bench, 82 Law and Contemporary Problems 63-102 (2019) [h/t Mary Whisner] “…From 2009 to 2016, females on the district court bench increased 13.2%, from 19.4% to 32.6%, and non-white district judges increased 10.6%, from 16.4% to 27.0%.24 During this same… Continue Reading

What happened to the MSPB?

U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board Congressional Budget Justification FY 2020: “Over the last year, the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB or Board) has worked to improve the effectiveness and long-term impact of its missions function in response to the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) memorandum M-17-22, “Comprehensive Plan for Reforming the Federal Government… Continue Reading

Civil Liability for Cyberbullying

Perry, Ronen, Civil Liability for Cyberbullying (April 12, 2019). UC Irvine Law Review, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3371020 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3371020 “Cyberbullying has become a notorious epidemic, culminating in widely publicized suicides. Whether a new and distinct problem or an old one in a new guise, the technological setting has undoubtedly generated new challenges and, at… Continue Reading

Auditing for Bias in Resume Search Engines

Investigating the Impact of Gender on Rank in Resume by Le Chen, Ruijun Ma, Anikó Hannák and Christo Wilson “In this work we investigate gender-based inequalities in the context of resume search engines, which are tools that allow recruiters to proactively search for candidates based on keywords and filters. If these ranking algorithms take demographic features into account… Continue Reading