Saturday, December 29, 2012

Childhood, Uncensored; New York Times, 12/28/12

Catherine Saint Louis, New York Times; Childhood, Uncensored: "Last year, Ms. Myracle’s so-called Internet girls series — consisting of the titles ”ttyl,” “ttfn,” and “l8r, g8r” (ask a young person to decipher the texting language) — topped the list of challenged and banned books nationwide, according to the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. (Angela Maycock, its assistant director, estimated that only 20 to 25 percent of challenges to books on school or public library shelves are reported.) Earning such a ranking requires a groundswell of people going to their libraries and declaring, “This is trash,” Ms. Maycock explained."

Newspaper on Cape Cod Apologizes for a Veteran Reporter’s Fabrications; New York Times, 12/28/12

Katherine Q. Seelye, New York Times; Newspaper on Cape Cod Apologizes for a Veteran Reporter’s Fabrications: "In their apology, the publisher and editor wrote, “Clearly, we placed too much trust in a reporter and did not verify sourcing with necessary frequency.” To prevent it from happening again, they said they would make spot checks of sources more often and hold ethics training sessions. Mr. Pronovost said he had expected “to get hammered” by critics “as the latest example of lax standards,” citing past cases of plagiarism and fabrications at other publications, including The New York Times. Instead his newspaper was praised in journalism circles and received positive messages for the front-page apology and response."

Blogger Christopher Fountain Hits Back Against Gun Owners' Map, Publishes Addresses Of Journal News Staff;, 12/27/12; Blogger Christopher Fountain Hits Back Against Gun Owners' Map, Publishes Addresses Of Journal News Staff: "Blogger Christopher Fountain retaliated against a New York newspaper, which recently published the addresses of local gun owners, by publishing the addresses and phone numbers of the newspaper's staff. The Journal News published the names and addresses of legal gun owners in Westchester and Rockland counties. The paper has been criticized for allegedly putting people in danger."

Cranberry man files suit against LinkedIn; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12/27/12

Rich Lord, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Cranberry man files suit against LinkedIn: "A Cranberry man who heads a local foundation has filed suit against the networking firm LinkedIn Corp. to find out who put his name, personal cell phone and email on the popular site. And so far, LinkedIn won't tell him. Rick D. Senft, president and CEO of the Passavant Memorial Home Foundation, filed suit today in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh."

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Shocking Amazing Spider-Man Plot Twist That Inspired Death Threats;, 12/27/12

Laura Hudson,; The Shocking Amazing Spider-Man Plot Twist That Inspired Death Threats: "Poor Spider-Man. Five years after the webslinging superhero was forced to retroactively erase his marriage to Mary Jane in a desperate deal with the devil (true story), things are about to get even worse for Peter Parker in Amazing Spider-Man #700, a issue so controversial that it inspired numerous death threats against the book’s long-time writer Dan Slott. So what could happen to Spidey that would make his satanic retroactive divorce look tame in comparison?"

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Netflix Social Sharing Bill Passes Without Email Privacy Protection;, 12/26/12; Netflix Social Sharing Bill Passes Without Email Privacy Protection: "The "Netflix amendment" to the Video Privacy Protection Act is headed to President Barack Obama's desk for his signature after it was unanimously passed by the Senate on Dec. 20. The bill was crafted to let the movie rental giant allow users to share their online viewing habits on social networking sites like Facebook. Privacy protections imposed after Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork had his video rental history exposed in 1987 had prohibited users from doing that."

New York Journal News Publishes Gun Owners' Names In Westchester, Rockland Counties;, 12/25/12

Rebecca Shapiro,; New York Journal News Publishes Gun Owners' Names In Westchester, Rockland Counties: "Some critics felt the Journal News article put people in danger. "Do you fools realize that you also made a map for criminals to use to find homes to rob that have no guns in them to protect themselves? What a bunch of liberal boobs you all are," one commenter wrote on the newspaper's website. Others worried that the names would expose law enforcement officials. "You have judges, policemen, retired policemen, FBI agents — they have permits. Once you allow the public to see where they live, that puts them in harm’s way," Paul Piperato, the Rockland county clerk, told Journal News reporter Worley."

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

When Media’s Decision in the Face of Events Is to Say Nothing About Them; New York Times, 12/23/12

Will Storey, New York Times; When Media’s Decision in the Face of Events Is to Say Nothing About Them: "For the previous decade, The A.P. had been adjusting to an increasing demand for entertainment-related news. There was frustration in the newsroom about reporting entertainment news, but widespread recognition that the industry was changing and that they had to reconsider what was newsworthy. “The A.P. was feeling our way through this transition,” Mr. Washington said. “What do we cover? What do we not cover? Do we dip our toe or go in waist-deep?” He went on to point out that reporters make decisions about what is news and what is not news every day, and that as the industry evolves, the types of news that are covered change. “Everyone knew that J.F.K. and Marilyn Monroe were sleeping together,” he said, “but no one reported it.”... “In some ways, it’s commendable,” said Edward Wasserman, a professor of journalism ethics at Washington and Lee University. “What they’re doing is making public the criteria they’re applying; they are inviting the public to consider whether the criteria they are applying are valid.” On the other hand, he added, “To say, ‘I don’t care what he has to say, he’s a clown’ — you run the risk of giving insufficient consideration to potential newsmakers.”"

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Giving Mom’s Book Five Stars? Amazon May Cull Your Review; New York Times, 12/22/12

David Streitfeld, New York Times; Giving Mom’s Book Five Stars? Amazon May Cull Your Review: "Amazon has not said how many reviews it has killed, nor has it offered any public explanation. So its sweeping but hazy purge has generated an uproar about what it means to review in an era when everyone is an author and everyone is a reviewer. Is a review merely a gesture of enthusiasm or should it be held to a higher standard? Should writers be allowed to pass judgment on peers the way they have always done offline or are they competitors whose reviews should be banned? Does a groundswell of raves for a new book mean anything if the author is soliciting the comments?"

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

As Debt Rises and Job Prospects Dim, Some Say It's Time to Put a Warning Label on Graduate School; Chronicle of Higher Education, 12/9/12

Stacey Patton, Chronicle of Higher Education; As Debt Rises and Job Prospects Dim, Some Say It's Time to Put a Warning Label on Graduate School: "The student-debt problem, coupled with the dearth of jobs, has sparked a national conversation about whether going to graduate school is worth it. Attendees at the conference said it is unethical to keep admitting students to programs and training them for jobs that don't exist while they are racking up piles of debt only to risk finding university employment as just an adjunct, or obtaining some other low-wage job for which a graduate degree is not necessary, or ending up on food stamps."

eBooks For Libraries Web Site Relaunches, Focus is Now Public Awareness About Issues; Library Journal, 12/11/12

Gary Price, Library Journal; eBooks For Libraries Web Site Relaunches, Focus is Now Public Awareness About Issues: ""The eBooks For Libraries web site, sponsored by Library Renewal and the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library in Kansas, has relaunched and will now provide public awareness and news about ebooks for libraries. David Lee King writes, “Our goal isn’t to complain, but to share information about the current ebook landscape, and how it affects libraries. We’ll explain current issues, and what they actually MEAN for libraries... We do hope eBooks For Libraries takes some time to explain privacy concerns with ebooks (including borrowing them from the library and reading on a Kindle) with those who visit their site. Libraries have earned a lot of well-deserved praise for keeping reader records private. We, at the very least, should make users clear about what ebook information is shared and with whom. In other words, be transparent, informative, and clear. That’s all.”"

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Basketball Players’ Night Off Makes a Stand for Sitting Out; New York Times, 11/30/12

Sam Borden, New York Times; Basketball Players’ Night Off Makes a Stand for Sitting Out: "“I don’t think he did anything unethical,” said W. Michael Hoffman, the executive director of the center for business ethics at Bentley University in Waltham, Mass. “I’d also say that if Stern decides to sanction, that would be closer to an ethical discussion. To sanction him for Popovich trying to do his job the best way he determines? That is what leaders of any organization are hired to do. Popovich’s primary obligation is to the team.”...Hoffman acknowledged the conflicting ethical obligations in the Spurs’ situation — Stern’s emotion came from what he apparently perceived as an act disrespectful to the fans and the game, while Popovich felt compelled to act in the best interest of his team — but cautioned that imposing discipline was wrong if there were no specific guidelines given ahead of time."

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Can a Professor Require Civility?; Inside Higher Ed, 11/19/12

Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed; Can a Professor Require Civility? : "Robert Kreiser, senior program officer at the American Association of University Professors and adjunct history professor at George Mason University, said civility clauses resemble speech codes. The association rejects such codes as inconsistent with the principles of academic freedom. Although he acknowledged differences between Canadian and U.S. free speech laws, Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, said it has long been established that student free speech can't be limited on U.S. public university campuses "in the name alone of 'conventions of decency.’ ” The precedent was set by 1973's Supreme Court case Papish v. Board of Curators of the University of Missouri, which found that students can’t be punished for offensive speech that doesn’t disrupt campus order or interfere with others’ rights."

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Educator Aided Others at Cheating, U.S. Charges; New York Times, 11/26/12

Motoko Rich, New York Times; Educator Aided Others at Cheating, U.S. Charges: "Federal prosecutors in Memphis are investigating an educator who they say ran a test cheating ring in three Southern states for teachers and prospective teachers who wanted to pass standardized certification exams."

Sunday, November 18, 2012

YouTube Refuses to Yank Israeli Kill Video as Hamas Attacks Jerusalem;, 11/16/12

Noah Shachtman,; YouTube Refuses to Yank Israeli Kill Video as Hamas Attacks Jerusalem: "Israel launched its “Operation Pillars of Defense” on Wednesday by blowing up Ahmed al-Jabari as he was driving his car down the street in Gaza. Hours later, aerial footage of the kill shot was posted to YouTube — and instantly went viral, racking up nearly two million views. The video not only kicked of a fierce battle of opinion on social media that’s roughly paralleling the rockets-and-airstrikes conflict. It also appeared to violate YouTube’s community guidelines, which tells users: “if your video shows someone being physically hurt, attacked, or humiliated, don’t post it.” But a YouTube employee, speaking on condition of anonymity, says the guidelines are just that — guidelines, not hard-and-fast rules. Users can flag a video as potentially objectionable, but the decision to take a clip down ultimately rests with YouTube’s global team of reviewers. The calculations get complicated, especially for warzone footage. “We look at videos on a case-by-case videos when they’re flagged,” the employee tells Danger Room. “And we look at the context, the intent with which something is posted.”"

Many Rural AT&T Customers Still Lack High-Speed Internet Despite Merger Promise;, 11/18/12

Gerry Smith,; Many Rural AT&T Customers Still Lack High-Speed Internet Despite Merger Promise: "The disconnect here in rural Mississippi highlights a major shortcoming of American telecommunications policy, consumer advocates say. Time and again, regulators have approved enormous mergers in exchange for promises that companies will extend high-speed Internet to underserved communities. Time and again, companies have pocketed the profits from those deals while regulators have failed to enforce their obligations."

You Can’t Say That on the Internet; New York Times, 11/16/12

Evgeny Morozov, New York Times; You Can’t Say That on the Internet: "Thanks to Silicon Valley, our public life is undergoing a transformation. Accompanying this digital metamorphosis is the emergence of new, algorithmic gatekeepers, who, unlike the gatekeepers of the previous era — journalists, publishers, editors — don’t flaunt their cultural authority. They may even be unaware of it themselves, eager to deploy algorithms for fun and profit. Many of these gatekeepers remain invisible — until something goes wrong... The limitations of algorithmic gatekeeping are on full display here. How do you teach the idea of “fair use” to an algorithm? Context matters, and there’s no rule book here; that’s why we have courts."

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Online Privacy Issue Is Also in Play in Petraeus Scandal;, 11/13/12

Scott Shane,; Online Privacy Issue Is Also in Play in Petraeus Scandal: "The F.B.I. investigation that toppled the director of the C.I.A. and has now entangled the top American commander in Afghanistan underscores a danger that civil libertarians have long warned about: that in policing the Web for crime, espionage and sabotage, government investigators will unavoidably invade the private lives of Americans. On the Internet, and especially in e-mails, text messages, social network postings and online photos, the work lives and personal lives of Americans are inextricably mixed. Private, personal messages are stored for years on computer servers, available to be discovered by investigators who may be looking into completely unrelated matters."

Apple Bans 'Erotic' Book Cover From iTunes;, 11/16/12; Apple Bans 'Erotic' Book Cover From iTunes: "Apple has censored books before. Earlier this year, Naomi Woolf's Vagina, a feminist analysis of female anatomy, was asterisked in their store, written as "V****a." They've also eliminated portions of Ulysses, Moby Dick and the Kama Sutra. What makes the removal of Salwa Al Neimi's book unique is that it was censored not due to its content, but its supposedly pornographic cover."

Friday, October 26, 2012

China Blocks Web Access to Times After Article; New York Times, 10/25/12

Keith Bradsher, New York Times; China Blocks Web Access to Times After Article: "The Chinese government swiftly blocked access Friday morning to the English-language and Chinese-language Web sites of The New York Times from computers in mainland China in response to an article in both languages describing wealth accumulated by the family of the country’s prime minister... China maintains the world’s most extensive and sophisticated system for Internet censorship, employing tens of thousands of people to monitor what is said, delete entries that contravene the country’s extensive and unpublished regulations and even write new entries that are favorable to the government. Rebecca MacKinnon, a senior fellow specializing in Internet free expression and privacy issues at the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan group headquartered in Washington, said that the Chinese interruption of Internet access was typical of the response to information that offended leaders. “This is what they do: they get mad, they block you,” she said."

Thursday, October 25, 2012

UNC’s Erik Highsmith caught plagiarizing 11-year-olds; Yahoo Sports, 10/23/12

Graham Watson, Yahoo Sports; UNC’s Erik Highsmith caught plagiarizing 11-year-olds: "Per a report in the News & Observer, North Carolina receiver Erik Highsmith plagiarized content from four 11-year-olds in order to fill a class requirement. Highsmith was required to add posts to blog for 30 percent of his grade and wrote about poultry farming and people and pets — the poultry piece was originally written and posted by kids in grade school."

Teachers make extra money selling materials on the Web; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/20/12

Donna Gordon Blankinship, Associated Press via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Teachers make extra money selling materials on the Web: "While most characterize these sites as an inexpensive way for teachers to supplement textbook materials, some teachers may get pushback from administrators for their entrepreneurial efforts. Seattle Public Schools recently revised its ethics policy, with the new policy prohibiting teachers from selling anything they developed on district time, district spokeswoman Teresa Wippel said. "Anything created on their own time could also cross a gray line, depending on the item and how closely tied it is to classroom work," she said. currently has about 300,000 items for sale plus more than 50,000 free items. All told, more than 1 million teachers have bought or sold items on since it began. After paying the site fees, teachers have collectively earned more than $14 million on the site since it was founded."

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Twitter Removes Anti-Semitic Postings, French Jewish Group Says; New York Times, 10/19/12

Steven Erlanger and Alan Cowell, New York Times; Twitter Removes Anti-Semitic Postings, French Jewish Group Says: "Several Twitter users posting under the hashtag criticized the decision to delete the anti-Semitic posts, calling it censorship. A user calling himself Andre said: “Better to educate than censure. Shame on you Twitter.” Another, Craig McLeod, asked, “Who decides what is anti-Semitic and abusive?” Asked for comment, Twitter repeated its standard policy statement: “Twitter does not mediate content. If we are alerted to content that may be in violation of our terms of service, we will investigate each report and respond according to the policies and procedures outlined in our support pages.” No one at Twitter would talk on the record about the French posts, but it has its own criteria for regulating content and will sometimes suspend an individual account or withhold individual posts."

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Free Speech in the Age of YouTube; New York Times, 9/22/12

Somini Sengupta, New York Times; Free Speech in the Age of YouTube: "COMPANIES are usually accountable to no one but their shareholders. Internet companies are a different breed. Because they traffic in speech — rather than, say, corn syrup or warplanes — they make decisions every day about what kind of expression is allowed where. And occasionally they come under pressure to explain how they decide, on whose laws and values they rely, and how they distinguish between toxic speech that must be taken down and that which can remain. The storm over an incendiary anti-Islamic video posted on YouTube has stirred fresh debate on these issues. Google, which owns YouTube, restricted access to the video in Egypt and Libya, after the killing of a United States ambassador and three other Americans. Then, it pulled the plug on the video in five other countries, where the content violated local laws."

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Twitter’s Free Speech Defender; New York Times, 9/2/12

Somini Sengupta, New York Times; Twitter’s Free Speech Defender:

"At a time when Internet companies control so much of what we can say and do online, can Twitter stand up for privacy, free expression and profitability all at the same time?

“They are going to have to monetize the data that they have and they can’t rock the boat maybe,” said Ryan Calo, a law professor at the University of Washington. “I don’t predict Twitter is going to lose its way, but it’s a moment to watch.”

Jonathan Zittrain, one of his former professors at Harvard Law School, called it both a challenge and opportunity for Mr. Macgillivray, widely known as @amac, his handle on Twitter, and one that could influence the Internet industry at large."

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Tweeting Up Controversy in 'Socialympics'; New York Times, 7/31/12

Eric Pfanner, New York Times; Tweeting Up Controversy in 'Socialympics':

"In the run-up to the Summer Olympics in London, the International Olympic Committee hailed the dawn of the first “conversational” Games, saying social media would make possible new ways of “sharing and connecting.”

Only a few days into the Games, the conversation is getting messy — especially on Twitter, the microblogging platform."

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Lehrer Apologizes for Recycling Work, While New Yorker Says It Won’t Happen Again; New York Times, 6/20/12

Jennifer Schuessler, New York Times; Lehrer Apologizes for Recycling Work, While New Yorker Says It Won’t Happen Again:

"The science writer Jonah Lehrer, author of the runaway bestseller “Imagine: How Creativity Works,” has become the latest high-profile journalist to be caught up in a plagiarism scandal, with a counterintuitive twist that could come right out of his own books: The journalist he has been accused of borrowing from is himself...

The news of Mr. Lehrer’s journalistic infractions arrive at a moment when social science is wrestling with its own credibility problems...

More recently, the psychologist Brian Nosek of the University of Virginia, began an effort, informally known as the Reproducibility Project, to replicate research findings, a high percentage of which he has estimated may not hold up."

Jonah Lehrer Resigns From The New Yorker After Making Up Dylan Quotes for His Book; New York Times, 7/30/12

Julie Bosman, New York Times; Jonah Lehrer Resigns From The New Yorker After Making Up Dylan Quotes for His Book:

"An article in Tablet magazine revealed that in his best-selling book, “Imagine: How Creativity Works,” Mr. Lehrer had fabricated quotes from Bob Dylan, one of the most closely studied musicians alive. Only last month, Mr. Lehrer had publicly apologized for taking some of his previous work from The Wall Street Journal, Wired and other publications and recycling it in blog posts for The New Yorker, acts of recycling that his editor called “a mistake.”"

Journalism’s Misdeeds Get a Glance in the Mirror; New York Times, 7/29/12

David Carr, New York Times; Journalism’s Misdeeds Get a Glance in the Mirror:

"Now would seem to be journalism’s big moment to turn that light on itself, with deeply reported investigative articles about how things went so wrong: the failures of leadership, the skewed values and the willingness of an industry to treat the public with such contempt. The Guardian correctly suggested that the arrests were unprecedented in the history of newspapers."

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Why Do the Chinese Copy So Much?; International Herald Tribune, 7/25/12

Didi Kirsten Tatlow, International Herald Tribune; Why Do the Chinese Copy So Much? :

"As news spread in Austria and around the world that a copy of the medieval town’s market square, a church and other important buildings had been erected in Boluo, Guangdong province (part of a bigger development designed to attract wealthy buyers to expensive villas built by Minmetals Land), a debate began in media and in private conversations: Was it OK for the Chinese to do this? And why do they copy so much, anyway?

As I report in my latest Page Two column, the Chinese didn’t ask permission: five Chinese architects walked around incognito, photographing the town, then returned to Boluo where the town square was copied at high speed.

And it’s not just a question of architecture and iPads.

In China, academic journals are riddled with plagiarism."

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Japanese Anesthesiologist Completely Faked 172 Papers; PopSci, 7/3/12

Bob Nosowitz, PopSci; Japanese Anesthesiologist Completely Faked 172 Papers:

"Scientific papers are faked sometimes. That's obviously dangerous, especially when the researcher works for the pharmaceutical industry or has a clear agenda. But we've never seen anything quite like this: a Japanese anesthesiologist named Yoshitaka Fujii has been found to have fabricated a hundred and seventy-two papers over the course of 19 years, more than even Joachim Boldt, who fabricated 90.

As reported by Science Insider, Fujii's work included 126 instances of completely fabricated studies and trials. (Of his other work, only three papers were proven legitimate; 37 could not be proven either way.) Some scientists listed as co-authors on his work were never even consulted, and their signatures forged. Patients were invented."

Grade Changes Spark Dispute at Tennessee State U.; Chronicle of Higher Education, 7/11/12

Chronicle of Higher Education; Grade Changes Spark Dispute at Tennessee State U.:

"More than 100 students who took mathematics courses at Tennessee State University last fall had their marks switched from “incomplete” to letter grades, and university leaders are questioning who authorized the changes and whether or not they were ethical, reports The Tennessean."

Friday, June 15, 2012

Why Privacy Matters Even if You Have 'Nothing to Hide'; Chronicle of Higher Education, 5/15/11

Daniel J. Solove, Chronicle of Higher Education; Why Privacy Matters Even if You Have 'Nothing to Hide' :

"When the government gathers or analyzes personal information, many people say they're not worried. "I've got nothing to hide," they declare. "Only if you're doing something wrong should you worry, and then you don't deserve to keep it private."

The nothing-to-hide argument pervades discussions about privacy. The data-security expert Bruce Schneier calls it the "most common retort against privacy advocates." The legal scholar Geoffrey Stone refers to it as an "all-too-common refrain." In its most compelling form, it is an argument that the privacy interest is generally minimal, thus making the contest with security concerns a foreordained victory for security."

Monday, May 21, 2012

Psychiatrist’s Apology Stands Out From Typical Scientific Regrets; Chronicle of Higher Education, 5/18/12

Josh Fischman, Chronicle of Higher Education; Psychiatrist’s Apology Stands Out From Typical Scientific Regrets:

"Dr. Spitzer, on the other hand, has a keen awareness of the larger effects of his work. His study was taken up by anti-homosexual activists and therapists who said they could “cure” patients of their sexual orientation. (Mr. Arana, the American Prospect journalist and a gay man, spent years in such therapy.) Dr. Spitzer also apologized to those patients. He said he did not start the study to show that homosexuality could be done away with. He did it, rather, to debunk the claim that “reparative therapy” was completely ineffective in changing sexual orientation.

But he did so with bad science. He interviewed 200 people who said they used to be gay, and asked them if therapy helped them make the switch. There was, he now says, no way to determine if they were telling the truth, and no comparison group of people who didn’t undergo therapy. And there was no replication of the study. It didn’t validate anti-gay therapy for most scientists, but it did give ammunition to anti-gay groups. So he asked Mr. Arana to print his retraction. Dr. Spitzer wants not only to set the research record straight, but correct a mistaken cultural idea.

Bad science then, but few could say a bad scientist now."

Ex-Rutgers student webcam spy sentenced to 30 days in jail;, 5/21/12

Cyrus Farivar,; Ex-Rutgers student webcam spy sentenced to 30 days in jail:

"Dharun Ravi, the former Rutgers student who was convicted in March of spying on and intimidating his gay roommate, has been sentenced to 30 days in jail by a New Jersey judge."

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Wikipedia Kills Page Linking Obama Slogan to Socialist Movement; New York Times, 5/8/12

Noam Cohen, New York Times; Wikipedia Kills Page Linking Obama Slogan to Socialist Movement:

"After a debate among readers who also cast votes on the issue, the Wikipedia administrator essentially killed the page by having it redirect to the general article on the Obama-Biden presidential campaign; all that is left of the original article is the simple statement: “On April 30, 2012, the campaign announced that its slogan would be ‘Forward.’”"

Saturday, May 19, 2012

In the Undoing of a C.E.O., a Puzzle; New York Times, 5/18/12

James B. Stewart, New York Times; In the Undoing of a C.E.O., a Puzzle:

"Mr. Thompson now joins a lengthy and puzzling list of prominent people who have embroidered or falsified their résumés and were felled for doing so, including a former Notre Dame football coach, chief executives of RadioShack and Bausch & Lomb, a director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and an MIT admissions director.

While the Yahoo matter remains under investigation, how and why Mr. Thompson’s résumé came to reflect the false claim that he had a degree in computer science remains a mystery. If it wants to solve it, Yahoo may need to add a psychologist to its investigative team."

Yahoo’s Chief Said to Tell Executives He Did Not Submit a Résumé; New York Times, 5/10/12

Michael J. De La Merced, New York Times; Yahoo’s Chief Said to Tell Executives He Did Not Submit a Résumé:

"Yahoo‘s embattled chief executive, Scott Thompson, told the company’s senior management on Thursday that he never submitted a résumé or falsified his academic credentials, a person briefed on the matter said.

Mr. Thompson’s comments are the latest in an effort to quell the firestorm of controversy surrounding his credentials."

Third Point Demands Records From Yahoo’s C.E.O. Search; New York Times, 5/7/12

Michael J. De La Merced, New York Times; Third Point Demands Records From Yahoo’s C.E.O. Search:

"Third Point sent Yahoo a request for records relating to its selection of Scott Thompson, a former eBay executive, as its chief executive, after the besieged technology company admitted that it had misstated its leader’s academic credentials.

The request follows Yahoo’s admission, after prodding by the activist hedge fund, that while Mr. Thompson’s official biography said that he had earned degrees in accounting and computer science from Stonehill College, in reality he held only the former.

Yahoo also conceded that the director in charge of finding and hiring Mr. Thompson, Patti Hart, also had factual errors in the description of her academic record."

Loeb Accuses Yahoo Officials of Résumé Padding; New York Times, 5/3/12

Kevin Roose, New York Times; Loeb Accuses Yahoo Officials of Résumé Padding:

"In a letter sent to Yahoo’s board on Thursday, Mr. Loeb, the founder of the hedge fund Third Point, said that Yahoo’s chief executive, Scott Thompson, had falsified his résumé to include a degree in computer science that Mr. Thompson never earned.

Mr. Thompson, who was appointed to head Yahoo in January, has a “bachelor’s in accounting and computer science from Stonehill College,” according to his official biography on Yahoo’s Web site.

But according to Mr. Loeb’s letter, Mr. Thompson’s credentials don’t mesh with information listed on other online sites – a discrepancy that led Mr. Loeb to do some digging. A representative of Stonehill College, Mr. Loeb wrote, told Third Point that Mr. Thompson had graduated with a degree in accounting only, and that the school did not even award degrees in computer science until 1983 – “four years after Mr. Thompson graduated.”"

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Woman Donates Kidney for Boss; Boss Fires Her; Fair?;, 4/23/12

Isa-Lee Wolf,; Woman Donates Kidney for Boss; Boss Fires Her; Fair? : "Should the law allow a boss to ask an employee for something as staggering as an organ? As with any relationship based in a power dynamic, the request alone feels like it holds implications: Donate an organ or you don't have a job. And what about job security once the organ has been donated? While the legality of Stevens' firing is layered, the morality seems far more clear. Then again, should donating an organ to your boss grant an employee blanket job security?"

Friday, April 20, 2012

On Tribal Lands, Digital Divide Brings New Form Of Isolation;, 4/20/12; On Tribal Lands, Digital Divide Brings New Form Of Isolation: "Native Americans have long experienced disconnection from the rest of the country -- their reservations are generally placed on remote lands with little economic potential, separated from modern-day markets for goods, as well as higher education and health care. The dawn of the Internet was supposed to bridge this gap, according to the promises of prominent public officials. Fiber optics cables along with satellite and wireless links would deliver the benefits of modernity to reservations, helping lift Native American communities out of isolation and poverty. But the rise of the web as an essential platform in American life has instead reinforced the distance for the simple reason that most Native Americans have little access to the online world. Less than 10 percent of homes on tribal lands have broadband Internet service -- a rate that is lower than in some developing countries. By contrast, more than half of African Americans and Hispanics and about three-fourths of whites have high-speed access at home, according to the Department of Commerce."

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Rochester’s ridiculous banned book controversy;, 3/20/12

Mary Elizabeth Williams,; Rochester’s ridiculous banned book controversy:

"One of the American Library Association’s most challenged books of the last decade has disappeared from yet another library. It’s a tome that topped the ALA’s list last year, and has made waves ever since its publication. Yet the book that so concerned a Rochester-area parent that the public school system there yanked it earlier this month wasn’t Lauren Myracle’s gritty, haunting “Shine.” It wasn’t Suzanne Collins’ intense, violent Mockingjay series. It was a picture book about a penguin family. Hide your kids!...

The district will hold a full public hearing on whether the book should stay or go on April 10. But it’s an encouraging sign that locals are now interested enough in the book – and the subject matter it addresses with tenderness and sensitivity – to get it wait-listed at the public library."

The Delhi child servant scandal that has outraged India; Guardian, 4/7/12

Gethin Chamberlain, Guardian; The Delhi child servant scandal that has outraged India:

"The outcry over the Delhi maid was encouraging, said Ribhu, in that it opened people's eyes to the reality of what is going on. But he is not getting too excited about the arrests. They were, he said, an anomaly in a country where many people simply do not understand that using children as servants is wrong."Recently, I was in a mall where I saw a couple with a 10- or 11-year-old girl taking care of their baby while they were eating. When I confronted them, the lady replied that: 'She is in such a good condition here – she would starve to death in her village. Who will go feed her there? And she has even been taught English'," he said. "When I asked her if she realised that she was committing a crime, she replied that the girl was being kept just like her own daughter and she is 'even brought to the mall … can anyone in her village even dream of such a luxury, of going to the mall?' "I explained as nicely as possible to her husband that if I were to call the police to their house, they would be arrested, and if the girl was 'like their daughter', why was she not eating with them at the same table? And he had no answer.""

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Panel Says Flu Research Is Safe to Publish; New York Times, 3/30/12

Denise Grady, New York Times; Panel Says Flu Research Is Safe to Publish:

"After a public furor over experiments that made a dangerous flu virus more contagious, a panel of scientific advisers reversed itself on Friday and recommended that full details of the research be published in scientific journals.

Dr. Paul Keim, acting chairman of the panel, said the new manuscripts made it clear that the experiments were not as dangerous as they originally appeared to be and that the benefits of the research were greater. The benefits come from information that can be used to help predict which flu viruses circulating in the environment may be developing pandemic potential."

[Op-Ed] When Stealing Isn’t Stealing; New York Times, 3/28/12

[Op-Ed] Stuart P. Green, New York Times; When Stealing Isn’t Stealing:

"The problem is that most people simply don’t buy the claim that illegally downloading a song or video from the Internet really is like stealing a car. According to a range of empirical studies, including one conducted by me and my social psychologist collaborator, Matthew Kugler, lay observers draw a sharp moral distinction between file sharing and genuine theft, even when the value of the property is the same."

Tracking Twitter, Raising Red Flags; New York Times, 3/30/12

Pete Thamel, New York Times; Tracking Twitter, Raising Red Flags:

"“Every school, we work to customize their keyword list,” said Sam Carnahan, the chief executive of Varsity Monitor, which has offices in Seattle and New York and also provides educational programs to universities. “We look for things that could damage the school’s brand and anything related to their eligibility.”

Yet what may look to some like a business opportunity, and to universities and their athletic departments like due diligence, appears to others to be an invasion of privacy.

“I think it’s violating the Constitution to have someone give up their password or user name,” said Ronald N. Young, a Maryland state senator who has sponsored a bill that would make it harder for universities to monitor their athletes online. “It’s like reading their mail or listening to their phone calls.”"

David Vitter Undermined Public Trust, Senate Ethics Panel Rules;, 3/30/12

Larry Margasak,; David Vitter Undermined Public Trust, Senate Ethics Panel Rules:

"Sen. David Vitter undermined public trust when he blocked a raise for Interior Secretary Ken Salazar unless he issued more deep-water exploratory drilling permits in the Gulf of Mexico after the BP oil spill, the Senate ethics committee said in a letter released Friday.

The committee called the Louisiana Republican's actions unprecedented but spared him charges of rules violations because no guidance had been issued on such a tactic."

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Amazon Web Services’ Big Free Genetic Database; New York Times, 3/29/12

Quentin Hardy, New York Times; Amazon Web Services’ Big Free Genetic Database:

"Amazon’s cloud computing unit, Amazon Web Services, will store for public use the entire contents of the National Institutes of Health’s 1000 Genomes Project, a survey of genetic information from 1,700 individuals that is some 200 terabytes in size. Anyone can access the information for free, and there is no requirement to share any research results.

Amazon is incurring significant costs here, and providing a useful service: While the government data would commonly be accessible by anyone, downloading and storing this sequenced DNA information is a long and expensive process."

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Nelson Mandela archive launches digital treasure trove; Guardian, 3/27/12

David Smith, Guardian; Nelson Mandela archive launches digital treasure trove:

"Ndileka [mandela] rejected suggestions that the publication of the 93-year-old's papers to a global audience could be an invasion of his privacy. "Madiba has always been portrayed as a political figure. It's time people knew him as a man with aunts and uncles and other family members. Not only he suffered, but his family suffered too."...

The head of its memory programme, Verne Harris, said: "We avoid bothering Madiba these days, but we discussed with him over several years the issues of public access to these materials.""

'Social-Media Blasphemy'; Chronicle of Higher Education, 3/25/12

Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education; 'Social-Media Blasphemy' :

"...Mr. Terry has decided to take action, protesting the ethos of Facebook by literally rewiring the service. Or at least, adding the ability to declare "enemies."

"It's social-media blasphemy, in that we're suggesting that you share differences you have with people and share things that you don't like instead of what you do like," he told me last week. "I think social media needs some disruption. It needs its shot of Johnny Rotten."

Here's what he's done. Last month he and a student released a Facebook plug-in called EnemyGraph, which users can install free and name their enemies, which then show up in their profiles. "We're using 'enemy' in the same loose way that Facebook uses 'friends,'" Mr. Terry explained. "It really just means something you have an issue with."

Justices Send Back Gene Case; New York Times, 3/26/12

Andrew Pollack, New York Times; Justices Send Back Gene Case:

"The Supreme Court on Monday ordered an appeals court to reconsider its decision to uphold patents held by Myriad Genetics on two genes associated with a high risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

The appeals court was told to take another look at the case in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling last week that a certain diagnostic test was not eligible for patents because it was a simple application of a law of nature.

The case, Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, No. 11-725, is being closely watched because it involves the ethically charged but commercially important question of whether genes can be patented."

U.S. Agency Seeks Tougher Consumer Privacy Rules; New York Times, 3/26/12

Tanzina Vega and Edward Wyatt, New York Times; U.S. Agency Seeks Tougher Consumer Privacy Rules:

"[T]he Federal Trade Commission, called on Congress to enact legislation regulating so-called data brokers, which compile and trade a wide range of personal and financial data about millions of consumers from online and offline sources. The legislation would give consumers access to information collected about them and allow them to correct and update such data.

The agency also sent a cautionary signal to technology and advertising companies regarding a “Do Not Track” mechanism that allows consumers to opt out of having their online behavior monitored and shared. It warned that if companies did not voluntarily provide a satisfactory Do Not Track option, it would support additional laws that mandate it.

School District Told to Replace Web Filter Blocking Pro-Gay Sites; New York Times, 3/26/12

Michael Winerip, New York Times; School District Told to Replace Web Filter Blocking Pro-Gay Sites:

"The way it worked: the URLBlacklist filter classified gay organizations in the “sexuality” category. The sexuality filter also screened out pornography. As a result, when URLBlacklist filtered pornography, it also filtered Web sites supportive of gay causes.

On the other hand, antigay Web sites were typically classified under “religion” or not categorized at all and so were allowed through the filter."

After Cheating Scandal, SAT and ACT Will Tighten Testing Security; New York Times, 3/27/12

James Barron, New York Times; After Cheating Scandal, SAT and ACT Will Tighten Testing Security:

"Stung by a cheating scandal involving dozens of Long Island high school students, the SAT and ACT college entrance exams will now require students to upload photos when they sign up for the exams, and officials will check that image against the photo identification the students present when they arrive to take the test, the Nassau County district attorney said Tuesday...

The new rules apply nationwide, and the Nassau County district attorney, Kathleen M. Rice, said in a statement that they would take effect in the fall."

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Story of a Suicide; New Yorker, 2/6/12

Ian Parker, New Yorker; The Story of a Suicide:

"On September 28th, the Middlesex County prosecutor’s office charged Ravi and Wei with invasion of privacy for the momentary viewing on September 19th. Ravi alone was charged for an attempted viewing on September 21st. Even if one doubts that these charges would have been brought if Clementi had not died, or questions that men are revealing “sexual parts” by removing their shirts, the charges made some legal sense: Ravi and Wei had admitted seeing the video images. But to some an “invasion of privacy” charge seemed insufficient; Equality Forum, a national gay-rights organization, released a statement that called the actions of Ravi and Wei “shocking, malicious, and heinous,” and urged “the prosecutor to file murder by reckless manslaughter charges.” Paula Dow, then New Jersey’s Attorney General, said, “Sometimes the laws don’t always adequately address the situation. That may come to pass here.” Bruce J. Kaplan, the Middlesex County prosecutor, announced, “We will be making every effort to assess whether bias played a role in the incident.”

In April, 2011, a grand jury indicted Ravi on fifteen counts, including two charges of second-degree bias intimidation. Two weeks later, Wei made a deal with prosecutors: the charges against her would be dropped if she agreed to attend counselling, serve three hundred hours of community service, and testify against Ravi, if called. Before the end of May, Ravi was offered a plea bargain for a three-to-five-year sentence; he rejected it. A second offer was made in December: no jail time, an effort to protect him against deportation, and six hundred hours of community service. This, too, was rejected. “You want to know why?” Steven Altman, Ravi’s lawyer, said to reporters, outside the courthouse, on December 9th. “Simple answer, simple principle of law, simple principle of life: he’s innocent.” Ravi’s trial, starting a week before his twentieth birthday, is expected to last a month."

Rutgers Verdict Repudiates Notion of Youth as Defense; New York Times, 3/17/12

William Glaberson, New York Times; Rutgers Verdict Repudiates Notion of Youth as Defense:

"[T]he jerky-kid defense failed miserably on Friday with the conviction of Mr. Ravi in a New Jersey court on bias intimidation, invasion of privacy and other charges. Lawyers said the conviction gave new potential to hate-crimes prosecutions for cyberbullying and digital spying largely because it seemed to repudiate the notion that youth was a defense.

“The debate in this case was, Was this a stupid college prank or criminal intimidation? And the jury gave a clear answer,” said Suzanne B. Goldberg, a gender law expert at Columbia Law School.

Lawyers said the verdict would encourage other hate-crime prosecutions involving young defendants...

Ms. Goldberg, the Columbia law professor, said the prosecution had posed an important challenge to the sense in many schools and colleges that youthfulness provided a kind of immunity for activities and speech in the online world. She said many students seemed to believe the ideas put forth by Mr. Ravi’s defense, that being a kid meant there were few limits to how offensive they might be when using digital devices.

“This reinforces that social media can cause great harm and that its misuse can be criminal,” Ms. Goldberg said. She said she expected that the lessons of the courtroom conviction would probably be studied broadly, including in discussions at college orientations across the country in the fall."

Mike Daisey Admits To 'Shortcuts' With 'Apple Factory' Story Pulled From This American Life;, 3/17/12; Mike Daisey Admits To 'Shortcuts' With 'Apple Factory' Story Pulled From This American Life:

"The firestorm started after Ira Glass, the host of the popular public radio show "This American Life," aired an interview in which Daisey acknowledged some claims in his one-man show "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs" weren't true, and Glass said he couldn't vouch for the truth of a Jan. 6 broadcast based on the show.

The New York Times, The Associated Press and dozens of other media and entertainment outlets, from MSNBC to Bill Maher's show on HBO, also were misled.

The revelations are unlikely to halt scrutiny of Chinese factories that make Apple products since news outlets including the Times have reported dangerous working conditions there, including explosions inside iPad plants where four people were killed and 77 were injured."

Friday, March 16, 2012

[Editorial] Books Without Borders; New York Times, 3/15/12

[Editorial]; New York Times; Books Without Borders:

"Mr. Diaz is the impresario behind an inspiring act of indignation and cultural pride. His bus-and-car caravan is “smuggling” books by Latino authors into Arizona. It’s a response to an educational mugging by right-wing politicians, who enacted a state law in 2010 outlawing curriculums that “advocate ethnic solidarity,” among other imagined evils. That led to the banning of Mexican-American studies in Tucson’s public schools last year."

Defendant in Rutgers Spying Case Guilty of Hate Crimes; New York Times, 3/16/12

New York Times; Defendant in Rutgers Spying Case Guilty of Hate Crimes:

"A former Rutgers University student was convicted on Friday on all 15 charges he had faced for using a webcam to spy on his roommate having sex with another man, a verdict poised to broaden the definition of hate crimes in an era when laws have not kept up with evolving technology.

“It’s a watershed moment, because it says youth is not immunity,” said Marcellus A. McRae, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice."

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Worker Who Hid Lottery Win Must Share $38.5 Million Prize; New York Times, 3/14/12

James Barron and Tim Stelloh, New York Times; Worker Who Hid Lottery Win Must Share $38.5 Million Prize:

"The verdict did not surprise people at the convenience store in Union, N.J., where Mr. Lopes bought the ticket. One customer at the store, a BuyRite in 2009 that is now the Magie Mart Food Store and Deli, said it had reinforced his approach:

“I play by myself because I don’t trust people,” said the man, who would give his name only as Sean, explaining that he regularly played Mega Millions and other games. “Am I shocked he tried to keep the money for himself? No. It’s human nature.”"

Public Exit From Goldman Raises Doubt Over a New Ethic; New York Times, 3/14/12

Nelson Schwartz, New York Times; Public Exit From Goldman Raises Doubt Over a New Ethic:

"Behind closed doors, it is a conversation that has been taking place with increasing urgency on Wall Street in recent years: making money is good, but is making more money always better, even if it comes at the expense of clients?

That question is now out in the open, exposed anew by an Op-Ed article in The New York Times on Wednesday by Greg Smith of Goldman Sachs. It could re-ignite public suspicion that the culture of Wall Street has swung so sharply to the short-term side of the ledger that clients have not been coming in first, or even second, but dead last."

[Op-Ed] Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs; New York Times, 3/14/12

[Op-Ed] Greg Smith, New York Times; Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs:

"I hope this can be a wake-up call to the board of directors. Make the client the focal point of your business again. Without clients you will not make money. In fact, you will not exist. Weed out the morally bankrupt people, no matter how much money they make for the firm. And get the culture right again, so people want to work here for the right reasons. People who care only about making money will not sustain this firm — or the trust of its clients — for very much longer."

Lawyers Give Final Presentations in Dorm Spying Case; New York Times, 3/13/12

Kate Zernike, New York Times; Lawyers Give Final Presentations in Dorm Spying Case:

"Mr. Altman and the prosecution were making their final presentations to a jury before it considers the charges against Mr. Ravi, which include invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, and trying to cover up his actions by tampering with evidence and a witness. He is not charged in the death of Mr. Clementi, who was 18 when he jumped from the George Washington Bridge in 2010.

Neither the prosecution nor the defense mentioned his suicide, three days after Mr. Ravi viewed him on a webcam, in its summation. But it has in many ways defined the case, which has attracted international attention as a symbol of the struggles facing gay, lesbian and bisexual teenagers."

Monday, March 12, 2012

[Editorial] A Way Forward on Judicial Ethics; New York Times, 3/11/12

[Editorial] New York Times; A Way Forward on Judicial Ethics:

"Last Tuesday, an alliance of government watchdog groups delivered 100,000 signatures to the Supreme Court along with a letter from hundreds of law professors calling on the justices to voluntarily adopt the code of conduct that applies to all other federal judges and to reform how they handle requests for recusals."

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Google's Safari Tracking Debacle: Reality Check; PC World, 2/17/12

Ian Paul, PC World; Google's Safari Tracking Debacle: Reality Check:

"Google reportedly breached the privacy of millions of Apple Safari users by fooling the web browser into accepting tracking cookies it normally wouldn't take. Google, however, says this is an unhappy accident and that Google never intended to track its users in this manner.

It's a classic case of he said, she said. Here's what's going on."

Despite Safety Worries, Work on Deadly Flu to Be Released; New York Times, 2/17/12

Denise Grady, New York Times; Despite Safety Worries, Work on Deadly Flu to Be Released:

"The full details of recent experiments that made a deadly flu virus more contagious will be published, probably within a few months, despite recommendations by the United States that some information be kept secret for fear that terrorists could use it to start epidemics."

Friday, February 17, 2012

Split Board Backs Kean University’s Leader, Under Fire for Résumé; New York Times, 2/15/12

Richard Perez-Pena, New York Times; Split Board Backs Kean University’s Leader, Under Fire for Résumé:

"Resisting mounting pressure from professors to fire the president of Kean University, Dawood Farahi, the deeply divided board of trustees voted on Wednesday night to keep him, dismissing allegations that he had falsified his academic credentials as no more than evidence of “carelessness.”"

Saturday, February 4, 2012

[Editorial] Congress Moves on Ethics; New York Times, 2/3/12

[Editorial] New York Times; Congress Moves on Ethics:

"The measure, passed by a 96-to-3 vote, seemed imperiled even the day before by a barrage of extraneous amendments to the bill. Perhaps realizing that their feeble standing with the public would only grow worse by blocking an ethics bill, senators went all-out in a bipartisan competition to go beyond the ban. They voted to open lawmakers’ market transactions to monthly online reporting; to disclose their personal home mortgage details; and to include thousands of ranking executive branch workers in this overdue transparency."

[Op-Ed] Don’t Censor Influenza Research; New York Times, 2/1/12

[Op-Ed] Howard Markel, New York Times; Don’t Censor Influenza Research:

"The censorship of influenza research will do little to prevent its misuse by evildoers — and it may well hinder our ability to stop influenza outbreaks, whether natural or otherwise, when they do occur.

In this case, censorship is too little, too late. The data generated by one of the research teams was already presented at a conference in Malta in September, where copies of the paper were distributed. But even if the data weren’t already available, the key details could likely be inferred from other information that is already available."

Friday, February 3, 2012

Senate Approves Ban on Insider Trading by Congress; New York Times, 2/2/12

Robert Pear, New York Times; Senate Approves Ban on Insider Trading by Congress:

"The Senate passed a sweeping new ethics bill on Thursday that would ban insider trading by members of Congress and require prompt disclosure of stock transactions by lawmakers and by thousands of officials in the executive branch of government.

The 96-to-3 vote followed three days of impassioned debate in which senators tried to outdo one another in proclaiming their support for ethics in government."

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Gaming the College Rankings; New York Times, 1/31/12

Richard Perez-Pena and Daniel E. Slotnik, New York Times; Gaming the College Rankings:

"[S]everal colleges in recent years have been caught gaming the system — in particular, the avidly watched U.S. News & World Report rankings — by twisting the meanings of rules, cherry-picking data or just lying.

In one recent example, Iona College in New Rochelle, north of New York City, acknowledged last fall that its employees had lied for years not only about test scores, but also about graduation rates, freshman retention, student-faculty ratio, acceptance rates and alumni giving."

College Says It Exaggerated SAT Figures for Ratings; New York Times, 1/30/12

Daniel E. Slotnik and Richard Perez-Pena, New York Times; College Says It Exaggerated SAT Figures for Ratings:

"Claremont McKenna College, a small, prestigious California school, said Monday that for the past six years, it has submitted false SAT scores to publications like U.S. News & World Report that use the data in widely followed college rankings."

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Censoring of Tweets Sets Off #Outrage; New York Times, 1/27/12

Somini Sengupta, New York Times; Censoring of Tweets Sets Off #Outrage:

"[T]his week, in a sort of coming-of-age moment, Twitter announced that upon request, it would block certain messages in countries where they were deemed illegal. The move immediately prompted outcry, argument and even calls for a boycott from some users.

Twitter in turn sought to explain that this was the best way to comply with the laws of different countries. And the whole episode, swiftly amplified worldwide through Twitter itself, offered a telling glimpse into what happens when a scrappy Internet start-up tries to become a multinational business...

The announcement signals the choice that a service like Twitter has to make about its own existence: Should it be more of a free-speech tool that can be used in defiance of governments, as happened during the Arab Spring protests, or a commercial venture that necessarily must obey the laws of the lands where it seeks to attract customers and eventually make money?"

Thursday, January 26, 2012

New Romney Ad Focuses on Gingrich’s Ethics Violation; New York Times, 1/26/12

Jim Rutenberg, New York Times; New Romney Ad Focuses on Gingrich’s Ethics Violation:

"Moving on to Phase 2 of its aggressive campaign to stop Newt Gingrich’s momentum before the primary here on Tuesday, former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts is beginning to show a new, bruising advertisement focusing on the Congressional ethics finding against Mr. Gingrich in the 1990s."

Scientist Plays Down Danger of Flu Strain; New York Times, 1/25/12

Donald G. McNeil Jr., New York Times; Scientist Plays Down Danger of Flu Strain:

"...[A] flu expert who serves on an American scientific advisory panel that looked at both Dr. Fouchier’s work and Dr. Kawaoka’s said the panel still believed key details should be censored from both papers before they are published to keep terrorists or rogue scientists from being to replicate the work, since the gene-manipulation techniques and intermediate mutations are as potentially dangerous as the end products.

Some scientists believe that Dr. Fouchier created what is potentially the most lethal virus in history — a flu that would transmit through a sneeze and kill more than 50 percent of those who caught it. That has led to calls for restrictions. Some — including the editorial board of The New York Times — have argued that the virus stocks should be destroyed; others want the virus restricted to a small number of laboratories with the highest biosecurity levels."

[Editorial] A Wisconsin Judge’s Refusal to Recuse; New York Times, 1/24/12

[Editorial] New York Times; A Wisconsin Judge’s Refusal to Recuse:

"Justice Michael Gableman of the Wisconsin Supreme Court announced last week that he will not retroactively recuse himself by taking back his vote in one of the court’s highly divisive recent cases. The decision is indefensible...

To regain the public’s trust, the court must disqualify him if he does not face up to his impropriety and recuse himself."

[Slideshow] Ten Surprisingly Banned Books;, 1/20/12

[Slideshow]; Ten Surprisingly Banned Books:

"Not that we’d ever advocate censorship, but some banned books you look at and think: yeah, I see why that’s ruffled a few feathers.

Salman Rushdie’s religiously provocative Satanic Verses is still being kept out of India – as is its author. Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita was kicked out of France for two years in 1956 for a storyline that involved sex with a 12-year-old. And you can see why Walt Whitman’s poetry was considered a bit saucy for its day.

But the books on this list should come as much more of surprise. From beloved children’s classics to bestsellers you can’t go through an airport lounge without tripping over, these surprisingly banned books have all, for a variety of surprising reasons, been outlawed."

Who Gets to See Published Research?; Chronicle of Higher Education, 1/22/12

Jennifer Howard, Chronicle of Higher Education; Who Gets to See Published Research? :

"The battle over public access to federally financed research is heating up again. The basic question is this: When taxpayers help pay for scholarly research, should those taxpayers get to see the results in the form of free access to the resulting journal articles?...

In Congress, meanwhile, U.S. Reps. Darrell E. Issa, a Republican of California, and Carolyn B. Maloney, a Democrat of New York, introduced the Research Works Act (HR 3699) last month. The bill would forbid federal agencies to do anything that would result in the sharing of privately published research—even if that research is done with the help of taxpayer dollars—unless the publisher of the work agrees first. That would spell the end of policies such as the National Institutes of Health's public-access mandate, which requires that the results of federally supported research be made publicly available via its PubMed Central database within 12 months of publication."

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Google overhauls its privacy policies; San Jose Mercury News, 1/24/12

Mike Swift, San Jose Mercury News; Google overhauls its privacy policies:

"Google (GOOG) on Tuesday said it would consolidate and simplify its large litter of privacy policies into a single umbrella statement, reflecting the company's plan to increasingly meld what were once separate services into a single experience.

But while the Internet giant is following a course recommended by many privacy advocates, it's unclear whether the new effort will find broad support among privacy advocates.

Google said it would consolidate more than 60 separate privacy policies into one, describing how Google collects and uses data from and about its hundreds of millions of users. The change cuts by more than 80 percent the number of words consumers will have to read. The company plans to put its new privacy policy into effect March 1."

Why Supreme Court's GPS ruling will improve your privacy rights; CNet, 1/23/12

Declan McCullagh, CNet; Why Supreme Court's GPS ruling will improve your privacy rights:

"This morning's unanimous ruling (PDF) says the customary law enforcement practice of installing GPS trackers without judicial approval--which has become more common as prices have fallen--violates Americans' Fourth Amendment rights to be free from warrantless searches.

That reasoning suggests police also need to obtain warrants before tracking the locations of cell phones and mobile devices, another contentious topic currently before the courts, said Greg Nojeim, an attorney at the Center for Democracy and Technology."

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Scientists to Pause Research on Deadly Strain of Bird Flu; New York Times, 1/20/12

Denise Grady, New York Times; Scientists to Pause Research on Deadly Strain of Bird Flu:

"The scientists who altered a deadly flu virus to make it more contagious have agreed to suspend their research for 60 days to give other international experts time to discuss the work and determine how it can proceed without putting the world at risk of a potentially catastrophic pandemic.

Suspensions of biomedical research are almost unheard of; the only other one in the United States was a moratorium from 1974 to 1976 on some types of recombinant DNA research, because of safety concerns.

A letter explaining the flu decision is being published in two scientific journals, Science and Nature, which also plan to publish reports on the research, but in a redacted form, omitting details that would let other researchers copy the experiments."

I Disclose ... Nothing; New York Times, 1/21/12

Elisabeth Rosenthal, New York Times; I Disclose ... Nothing:

"IN New York and a growing number of American cities, diners are encountering sanitary grades in restaurants’ windows — A, B or C. That system is an example of helpful disclosure, researchers say: information that is simple and comprehensible, important to recipients and easily acted upon. I recently chose between outwardly identical Japanese noodle shops on East Ninth Street in Manhattan based on the system, walking into the A rather than the B.

But as greater disclosure has become the go-to solution for a wide range of problems — from unethical campaign financing to rising corporate carbon emissions — it has often delivered lackluster results, researchers say.

Just last week, the Obama administration announced plans to require drug companies to disclose a wide variety of payments and gifts to doctors, from speaking fees to the purchase of breakfasts for office staffs, in the hope of reducing commercial influence on prescribing practices. President Obama has promised to run the most open, transparent administration in history. But is more disclosure the solution?"

Potential SOPA/PIPA Revisions; New York Times, 1/22/12

Brian McFadden, The Strip, New York Times; Potential SOPA/PIPA Revisions

Saturday, January 21, 2012

U.S. Supreme Court won't hear appeals in students' online rants; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 1/18/12

Taryn Luna, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; U.S. Supreme Court won't hear appeals in students' online rants:

"The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday refused the school districts' request to hear the two cases and another of a West Virginia teenager who disparaged a fellow student online.

The Supreme Court decision upholds earlier rulings from the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in favor of the Pennsylvania students from June 2011.

The court had ruled that each district breached the student's freedom of speech when they were punished for actions that occurred off school grounds and on home computers."

Friday, January 20, 2012

For Online Privacy, Click Here; New York Times, 1/19/12

Tanzina Vega, New York Times; For Online Privacy, Click Here:

"On Friday, the Digital Advertising Alliance, a group of digital advertising trade organizations, will unveil its first ad campaign ever explaining what the icon is and how it helps users control ads they see online. The campaign, one of the largest domestic consumer privacy campaigns to date, comes as advertisers, technology companies and privacy advocates await a final report from the Federal Trade Commission on online privacy...

In addition to the commission’s final report, the White House is expected to prepare its own report on digital privacy."

What’s the Best Way to Protect Against Online Piracy?; New York Times, 1/20/12

New York Times; What’s the Best Way to Protect Against Online Piracy? :
"In response to online protests on Wednesday, several key Congressional lawmakers withdrew support for two anti-Web piracy measures — the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect Intellectual Property Act — both of which have the backing of powerful commercial lobbies. Although the reaction was a victory for new media, online intellectual piracy remains a serious issue.

What’s the best way to protect against online piracy? Is there a better alternative to these two bills?"

Senate Postpones Vote on Internet Anti-Piracy Bill; New York Times, 1/20/12

Jonathan Weisman, New York Times; Senate Postpones Vote on Internet Anti-Piracy Bill:

"Taking to the medium that helped organize extensive protests against the legislation, Mr. Reid, Democrat of Nevada, announced a delay in the vote via the social media Web site Twitter. But he indicated the issue, which had been scheduled for a vote Tuesday, had not died...

In the House, Representative Lamar Smith, the Texas Republican who is chairman of the Judiciary Committee, called off plans to formally draft his version of the anti-piracy bill next month."

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Can We Really Unplug?; Slate,com, 1/3/12

Katie Roiphe,; Can We Really Unplug? :

"We don’t use the Internet; it uses us. It takes our empty lives, our fruit fly attention spans, and uses them for its infinite glittering preoccupations. Solutions like Freedom or a couple of days at a Benedictine monastery can’t remake us into peaceful, moderate, contented inhabitants of the room we are in. If you ask any 60-year-old what life was like before the Internet they will likely say they “don’t remember.” How can they not remember the vast bulk of their adult life? The advent of our online lives is so transforming, so absorbing, so passionate that daily life beforehand is literally unimaginable. We can’t even envision freedom, in other words, the best we can hope for is Freedom."

How I’m Surviving (or Trying to) Without Wikipedia at My Fingertips; New York Times, 1/18/12

David Carr, New York Times; How I’m Surviving (or Trying to) Without Wikipedia at My Fingertips:

"Wikipedia is neither the definitive source nor the only one in a world with billions of links. As a matter of policy, my daughter can’t use a Wikipedia citation for schoolwork, and if I use the site as a primary source for my work, I will end up in the naughty corner. No, I can’t just lift stuff from there; all I can do with Wikipedia is gain an understanding of dozens of things I know nothing about...

Wikipedia is the Web, an amazing tool of digitally enabled networked intelligence. It may be one of humankind’s crowning achievements; most of us have come to think of it as a public utility and it generally pitches itself as one."

[Podcast] Pico Iyer On Unplugging; NPR's On Point, 1/17/12

[Podcast] NPR's On Point; Pico Iyer On Unplugging:

"We text, we tweet, we carry cell phones like they’re life lines. We check our e-mails, our Facebook pages, our online status six different ways. And then we start again. We’ve known for a while now that the digital world – great as it is – could be addictive. Overwhelming. An obsession. A leash. A prison.

Some people are breaking out. Letting go. Staying off. Travel writer Pico Iyer is one. He moved cell-phone-free to the boondocks of Japan for a reason. Better to go slow, go quietly, go off the digital grid."

[Podcast] Act One. Trickle Down History; This American Life, 1/14/11

[Podcast] This American Life; Act One. Trickle Down History:

"Reporter Starlee Kine observes what would have happened if the U.S.-led invasion of Grenada in 1983 had been decided not by Ronald Reagan, but by a bunch of middle schoolers...and she remembers a class trip to the Nixon library, where Nixon aide HR Haldeman spoke. (20 minutes)"

Young, in Love and Sharing Everything, Including a Password; New York Times, 1/17/12

Matt Richtel, New York Times; Young, in Love and Sharing Everything, Including a Password:

"The digital era has given rise to a more intimate custom. It has become fashionable for young people to express their affection for each other by sharing their passwords to e-mail, Facebook and other accounts. Boyfriends and girlfriends sometimes even create identical passwords, and let each other read their private e-mails and texts...

Counselors typically advise against the practice, and parents often preach the wisdom of password privacy. Winifred Lender, a child psychologist in Santa Barbara, had her three sons sign “digital contracts” that outline terms for how much media they will consume, how they will behave online and that they will not share passwords."

Wikipedia goes dark for 24 hours to protest web piracy bills;, 1/18/12; Wikipedia goes dark for 24 hours to protest web piracy bills:

"Can the world live without Wikipedia for a day?

The online encyclopedia is one of the Internet's most visited sites, and at midnight Eastern Standard Time it began a 24-hour "blackout" in protest against proposed anti-piracy legislation that many leading websites -- including Reddit, Google, Facebook, Amazon and others -- contend will make it challenging if not impossible for them to operate."

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Digitizing Health Records, Before It Was Cool; New York Times, 1/14/12

Milt Freudenheim, New York Times; Digitizing Health Records, Before It Was Cool:

"Ms. Faulkner understands why it’s taken much longer for the health care industry than, say, banks and airlines to move to electronic data. In banking, the types of data are much more limited and known, she says. In health care, by contrast, data is constantly changing based on information from doctors, nurses, patients and others. New discoveries, protocols and government requirements add even more complexity.

The way this data is stored and used can literally be a matter of life and death — which is why the transition to electronic health records is so sensitive. And why it’s so important, Ms. Faulkner says. Computerized record systems can actively search for and analyze information in ways that paper files never can, thereby improving patients’ health, she says...

Concerns about security are hardly groundless. A government Web site known as the “Wall of Shame” has documented hundreds of breaches that threatened patients’ privacy."

A TV Debate on Antipiracy; New York Times, 1/15/12

Brian Stelter, New York Times; A TV Debate on Antipiracy:

"A pair of bills that would strengthen antipiracy laws — and that could effectively censor the Internet, according to heavyweights like Google — have received scant coverage from the major television networks. The parent companies of the TV networks are among the chief supporters of the bills, having lobbied Congress to write them in the first place.

Those two facts, taken together, have caused conspiracy theories to flourish online about corporate interference in news coverage."

Fighting Antipiracy Measure, Activist Group Posts Personal Information of Media Executives; New York Times, 1/13/12

Amy Chozick, New York Times; Fighting Antipiracy Measure, Activist Group Posts Personal Information of Media Executives:

"In protest of antipiracy legislation currently being considered by Congress, the group has posted online documents that reveal personal information about Jeffrey L. Bewkes, chairman and chief executive of Time Warner, and Sumner M. Redstone, who controls Viacom and the CBS Corporation. Those companies, like almost every major company in the media and entertainment industry, have championed the Stop Online Piracy Act, the House of Representatives bill, known as SOPA, and its related Senate bill, called Protect I.P."

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Do Robots Have Ethics?; NPR, 1/5/12

Barbara J. King, NPR; Do Robots Have Ethics? :

"Most scientists think a lot about ethics. We adhere to, and constantly work to improve, guidelines for codes of good conduct in our dealings with people and other animals.

And now, according to a new book edited by philosophers Patrick Lin and Keith Abney, and computer scientist George A. Bekey, more of us had better think about the ethics of dealing with robots, too."

Man Wins Web Squatting Suit Involving His Name; New York Times, 1/6/12

Brian X. Chen, New York Times; Man Wins Web Squatting Suit Involving His Name:

"A New York man on Friday won a lawsuit against a woman whom he accused of registering Web addresses incorporating his name and demanding $1 million for each of them."

Marine biologist could get 20 years in prison for feeding whales; Yahoo News, 1/6/12

Eric Pfeiffer, Yahoo News; Marine biologist could get 20 years in prison for feeding whales:

"A California marine biologist is facing up to 20 years in prison and half a million dollars in fines for allegedly feeding a group of killer whales and then altering footage of the incident and lying to authorities."

Friday, January 6, 2012

[Editorial] Judicial Ethics and the Supreme Court; New York Times, 1/5/12

[Editorial] New York Times; Judicial Ethics and the Supreme Court:

"It is not enough for the justices to rely on their own “constant vigilance and good judgment,” as Chief Justice Roberts contends. It is disingenuous for him to claim that “no compilation of ethical rules can guarantee integrity” when no code currently applies to the court. Adopting a conduct code would clarify the rules that apply to the justices and greatly bolster public confidence in the court."

Internet Access Is Not a Human Right; New York Times, 1/4/12

Vincent G. Cerf, New York Times; Internet Access Is Not a Human Right:

"Over the past few years, courts and parliaments in countries like France and Estonia have pronounced Internet access a human right.

But that argument, however well meaning, misses a larger point: technology is an enabler of rights, not a right itself. There is a high bar for something to be considered a human right. Loosely put, it must be among the things we as humans need in order to lead healthy, meaningful lives, like freedom from torture or freedom of conscience. It is a mistake to place any particular technology in this exalted category, since over time we will end up valuing the wrong things."

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Questions About Trips Sponsored by Education Publisher; New York Times, 1/1/11

Michael Winerip, New York Times; New Questions About Trips Sponsored by Education Publisher:

"For several weeks, New York State’s attorney general has been investigating similar trips involving two dozen education officials from around the country who traveled to Singapore; London; Helsinki, Finland; China and Rio de Janeiro as guests of the Pearson Foundation. The trips, and the fact that most of these officials come from states that have multimillion contracts with Pearson, were the subject of two of my columns this fall.

Last month, the attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, issued subpoenas to the Manhattan offices of the Pearson Foundation and Pearson Education. Mr. Schneiderman is looking into whether the nonprofit, tax-exempt foundation, which is prohibited by state law from undisclosed lobbying, was used to benefit Pearson Education, a profit-making company that publishes standardized tests, curriculums and textbooks, according to people familiar with the inquiry."