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Category Archives: Civil Liberties

The Best Law You’ve Never Heard Of

The New York Times – Taking back control of our personal data can feel like a lost cause. But there’s hope! “Americans should feel angry about companies harvesting every morsel of our data to sell us sneakers or rate our creditworthiness. But a data protection law that few of us know about should also give us hope. I’m talking about the Biometric Information Privacy Act of Illinois, or BIPA. It’s one of the toughest privacy laws in the United States. And it passed in 2008, when most of us didn’t have smartphones and couldn’t have imagined Alexa in our kitchens. It applies only to Illinois residents and limits no more than what companies do with data from our bodies, like face scans and fingerprints. But its principles and legacy show that effective laws can wrest a measure of control from information-hogging companies. BIPA may also show that states can be America’s best laboratory for tackling the downsides of digital life. The law’s pedestrian origin belies how consequential it came to be. In 2007, a company that let customers pay in stores with their fingerprints went bust, and it discussed selling the fingerprint database. People who thought that was creepy wanted to stop such activities Few outsiders paid attention to negotiations over BIPA, and this may have been the secret to its success. Now, tech companies unleash armies to deflect or shape proposed regulations. The law’s text is simple but profound, Adam Schwartz, a senior staff attorney with Electronic Frontier Foundation, told me…”

Experts Say the ‘New Normal’ in 2025 Will Be Far More Tech-Driven, Presenting More Big Challenges

Pew – “A plurality of experts think sweeping societal change will make life worse for most people as greater inequality, rising authoritarianism and rampant misinformation take hold in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. Still, a portion believe life will be better in a ‘tele-everything’ world where workplaces, health care and social activity improve…Asked to… Continue Reading

The Coup We Are Not Talking About

The New York Times – We can have democracy, or we can have a surveillance society, but we cannot have both. Dr. Shoshana Zuboff, a professor emeritus at Harvard Business School, is the author of “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism.” “I have spent exactly 42 years studying the rise of the digital as an economic… Continue Reading

Abortion: Judicial History and Legislative Response

CRS Report – Abortion: Judicial History and Legislative Response, Updated February 8, 2021: “In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded in Roe v. Wade that the U.S. Constitution protects a woman’s decision to terminate her pregnancy. In a companion decision, Doe v. Bolton, the Court found that a state may not unduly burden the exercise… Continue Reading

NYT Op – Lawyers Enabled Trump’s Worst Abuses

The New York Times Opinion By Sherrilyn A. Ifill – Ms. Ifill is a lawyer and author. She is president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc., a civil rights legal organization. “The legal profession must reckon with its complicity in Trump’s attack on democracy. Every day, we learn more about… Continue Reading

Women in National Governments Around the Globe: Fact Sheet

CRS Report – Women in National Governments Around the Globe: Fact Sheet, Updated February 8, 2021: ‘Women and girls make up half of the world’s population; however, in most countries, women are under represented in the political process at the national level. As this report shows, women currently hold 25.4% of legislative seats around the… Continue Reading

Federal Statutes Protecting Domesticated and Captive Animals

CRS Report – Federal Statutes Protecting Domesticated and Captive Animals, February 5, 2021 – “A number of federal laws aim to protect the health, safety, and well-being of animals under human control. These laws extend to pets, domesticated livestock, service animals, test subjects, and wild animals kept for exhibition, scientific, or educational purposes, among others.… Continue Reading

Accountability 2021 – Restoring accountability in the federal government

Open the Government  – 40 Advocacy Organizations & Experts Release Accountability 2021 Reform Agenda for Biden Administration – “The Accountability 2021 effort recognizes that the President has the power to create a government that is both responsive to and representative of the public—and demands that whoever sits in the Oval Office take steps to do… Continue Reading

Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied: Judges Fail To Rule in a Timely Manner on FOIA Cases

The FOIA Project at the Newhouse School TRAC/Syracuse University Report – “The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was passed to ensure the public’s right to know what their government was doing. Response delays have become a perennial problem. Federal officials increasingly ignore FOIA deadlines for responding, forcing FOIA requesters to take them to court. As… Continue Reading

Police in Libraries: What the Cop-Free Library Movement Wants

Teen Vogue: “In cities like Los Angeles, activists are working to end contracts between local police forces and public libraries…Cop-free library movements in St. Louis, New York City, and at Ivy League University libraries are similarly calling for police divestment. Libraries for All STL activists pressured the St. Louis County Library to terminate its contract… Continue Reading

As U.S. Capitol investigators use facial recognition, it begs the question: Who owns our faces?

Via LLRX – As U.S. Capitol investigators use facial recognition, it begs the question: Who owns our faces? – In the age of Big Tech, we need to grapple with what expectations we can and should have about who has access to our faces. The recent riot at the U.S. Capitol has put the question… Continue Reading