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Category Archives: Legal Research

To Break Google’s Monopoly on Search, Make Its Index Public

Bloomberg – The tech giant doesn’t have to be dismantled. Sharing its crown jewel might reshape the internet. ” Recognition is growing worldwide that something big needs to be done about Big Tech, and fast. More than $8 billion in fines have been levied against Google by the European Union since 2017. Facebook Inc., facing an onslaught of investigations, has dropped in reputation to almost rock bottom among the 100 most visible companies in the U.S. Former employees of Google and Facebook have warned that these companies are “ripping apart the social fabric” and can “hijack the mind.” Adding substance to the concerns, documents and videos have been leaking from Big Tech companies, supporting fears—most often expressed by conservatives—about political manipulations and even aspirations to engineer human values. Fixes on the table include forcing the tech titans to divest themselves of some of the companies they’ve bought (more than 250 by Google and Facebook alone) and guaranteeing that user data are transportable. But these and a dozen other proposals never get to the heart of the problem, and that is that Google’s search engine and Facebook’s social network platform have value only if they are intact. Breaking up Google’s search engine would give us a smattering of search engines that yield inferior results (the larger the search engine, the wider the range of results it can give you), and breaking up Facebook’s platform would be like building an immensely long Berlin Wall that would splinter millions of relationships.

With those basic platforms intact, the three biggest threats that Google and Facebook pose to societies worldwide are barely affected by almost any intervention: the aggressive surveillance, the suppression of content, and the subtle manipulation of the thinking and behavior of more than 2.5 billion people. I’m focused here on Google, which I’ve been studying for more than six years through both experimental research and monitoring projects. (Google is well aware of my work and not entirely happy with me. The company did not respond to requests for comment.) Google is especially worrisome because it has maintained an unopposed monopoly on search worldwide for nearly a decade. It controls 92 percent of search, with the next largest competitor, Microsoft’s Bing, drawing only 2.5%…”

Donald Trump and the Plot to Take Over the Courts

The Nation – How the 45th president has packed the courts with ultraconservatives—and reshaped the judiciary for a generation. “…Trump’s Court—the collection of judges and justices now swarming our judicial system, nominated and confirmed to lifetime appointments on his recommendation—will linger, like an infected wound poisoning the body politic even after the initial injury has… Continue Reading

French Law Banning Analytics About Judges Restricts Legitimate Use of Public Data

Center for Data Innovation – “Earlier this year, France adopted a law which forbids anyone from analyzing data about judges’ court decisions with violators facing up to five years in jail. Supporters of the ban say it is necessary to protect the privacy of judges because statistical analysis may reveal troubling patterns about how certain… Continue Reading

GSA Offers First Look at Unique IDs to Replace DUNS

NextGov – The General Services Administration gives a first look at the new Unique Entity ID, the validation system that will replace the long-standing DUNS number. [h/t Tom Johnson] “The U.S. government is moving to a new unique entity identifier for federal awards management, including, but not limited to, contracts, grants, and cooperative agreements, which… Continue Reading

European Legislation Identifier (ELI)

European Commission – ELI – Advancing the access, shareability and interoperability of legal information published through regional, national European and global legal information systems – “When is this solution for you?  You represent a governmental legal information system: you seek a tool to facilitate interoperable and inclusive legal information sharing. You are a legal professional… Continue Reading

Truth Decay Part 2: News in a Digital Age

WhoWhatWhy – “Eighteen months ago, WhoWhatWhy talked with political scientist Jennifer Kavanagh — a researcher at RAND Corporation — about the think tank’s report titled “Truth Decay.” The report details a set of very specific trends that has reshaped the media landscape. It looks at how, amidst the cacophony of 24/7 news and information that… Continue Reading

Decoupling debunked – Evidence and arguments against green growth as a sole strategy for sustainability

Via – EEB – Europe’s largest network of environmental NGOs, bringing together around 150 civil society organisations from more than 30 European countries (virtually all EU Member States plus some accession and neighbouring countries), including a growing number of European networks. “Is it possible to enjoy both economic growth and environmental sustainability? This question is… Continue Reading

Daily Infographic

“At Daily Infographic we strive to curate the most interesting infographics on the web. We scour the internet for data visualizations [on more than two dozen topics] with the best content and design to bring easily consumed facts and figures to our users. For seven years Daily Infographic has provided the web with knowledge and… Continue Reading

This Is Palantir’s Top-Secret User Manual for Cops

Motherboard obtained a Palantir user manual through a public records request, and it gives unprecedented insight into how the company logs and tracks individuals – “Palantir is one of the most significant and secretive companies in big data analysis. The company acts as an information management service for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, corporations like JP… Continue Reading

AP Exclusive: New Election Systems Use Vulnerable Software

AP via US News – “Pennsylvania’s message was clear: The state was taking a big step to keep its elections from being hacked in 2020. Last April, its top election official told counties they had to update their systems. So far, nearly 60% have taken action, with $14.15 million of mostly federal funds helping counties… Continue Reading

New Report on the Regulation of Artificial Intelligence

“Everybody seems to be talking about artificial intelligence (AI). Some people laud its possibilities, whereas others envisage nightmare scenarios where robots take over. But what is AI exactly and how are countries dealing with it? The Oxford Dictionary defines AI as “the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human… Continue Reading

Compiling a Federal Legislative History: A Beginner’s Guide

Library of Congress research guide – A comprehensive research guide on finding federal legislative history documents, including congressional committee reports and hearings, presidential signing statements, and the debates of Congress Authors: Barbara Bavis, Bibliographic and Research Instruction Librarian, Law Library of Congress; Robert Brammer, Senior Legal Information Specialist, Law Library of Congress Continue Reading