Monday, December 30, 2013

An Ethics for the Future of Genetic Testing; Atlantic, 12/30/13

Sara Hendren, Atlantic; An Ethics for the Future of Genetic Testing: "The available prenatal testing technologies for expectant parents are constantly changing in dramatic and subtle ways, and 2013 saw its share of those changes. These tests are tricky territory, especially when it comes to genetic screening. What can these technologies reliably offer to those anxiously hoping for news of a healthy, “normal” fetus? 23andMe caused an uproar this year when it patented a “designer baby” platform, even while it disavowed any intention to develop it. It’s still just an idea—by a company whose services have temporarily been suspended by the FDA—but it sparked plenty of bioethical hand-wringing about the lurking dystopian future it threatens... Bioethical debates have accompanied this technology, too: If genetic information is available at such an early point in a pregnancy, prospective parents can more privately choose to selectively abort a fetus based on genetic traits alone."

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Whose Responsibility Is It Anyway? A New Approach to Fighting Cyberbullying;, 12/23/13

Joanna Finkelstein,; Whose Responsibility Is It Anyway? A New Approach to Fighting Cyberbullying: "A 2011 study by researchers at Ohio University, University of North Carolina, and University of Pennsylvania found that people are less likely to help someone if there is someone else present and if they strongly fear embarrassment... Anti-cyberbullying campaigns should focus more on the bystanders. They should emphasize that no one should encourage or support the bully and that it is each individual's responsibility to intervene when she/he witnesses cyberbullying. Helping a victim should be seen as something positive and empowering, not embarrassing. Further, it should be portrayed as what should be done and what is done. Once one person helps a victim, the false consensus is destroyed and others are much more likely to also help the victim. Observers could calmly confront the bully, support the victim, or use an anonymous resource to report the bullying. These are simple and effective steps that are likely to spread and become even more powerful. Even if the current campaigns are preventing some bullying, they are not eliminating it. In order to end bullying, the observers need to play a more prominent role. The current bystanders can become active fighters in stopping and preventing future cyberbullying."

Ethics Panel Hands Down Holiday Gift Rules — In Rhyme; NPR, 12/9/13

Peter Overby, NPR; Ethics Panel Hands Down Holiday Gift Rules — In Rhyme: "Time was when business-suited Santas would spend December roaming the corridors of Congress, bestowing all sorts of goodies upon their elected friends, prospective friends and staffers: baskets of food, bottles of booze, even high-priced tickets to sports events. That last item is the kind of thing that sent uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff to prison. It also brought the House of Representatives a new set of ethics rules — stern and often complex limits on accepting gifts. And so every December, the House Ethics Committee sends out its "," an ethics memo known in Capitol Hill parlance as a pink sheet."

The Price Is Wrong And You Know It: Do You Buy That Ticket?; NPR, 12/27/13

Mark Memmott, NPR; The Price Is Wrong And You Know It: Do You Buy That Ticket? : ""Delta To Honor Extremely Cheap Mistake Fares." The news, says the Associated Press, is that: "From about 10 a.m. to noon ET [Thursday], certain Delta fares on the airline's own website and other airfare booking sites were showing up incorrectly, offering some savvy bargain hunters incredible deals. A roundtrip flight between Cincinnati and Minneapolis for February was being sold for just $25.05 and a roundtrip between Cincinnati and Salt Lake City for $48.41. The correct price for both of those fares is more than $400." It isn't known just how many folks snapped up the bargains, but Delta says it will honor the fares. As we said, this kind of snafu isn't that unusual. So we want to focus on one particular aspect of the story that doesn't seem to get mentioned much: Why would it be all right, ethically, to purchase tickets at prices that were so obviously wrong? Is it just because "you" weren't to blame and no human being was involved at the other end?"

Is the Internet a Mob Without Consequence?; New York Times, 12/24/13

Nick Bilton, New York Times; Is the Internet a Mob Without Consequence? : "Ms. Sacco was tried and judged guilty in a public square of millions and soon attacked in a way that seemed worse than her original statement. Within hours, people threatened to rape, shoot, kill and torture her. The mob found her Facebook and Instagram accounts and began threatening the same perils on photos she had posted of friends and family. Not satisfied, people began threatening her family directly. The incident was a trending topic on Twitter and a huge forum thread on Reddit. This all happened while Ms. Sacco was on a 12-hour flight without Wi-Fi to Africa. When she landed, it was game over. She deleted her entire social footprint online, including her Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and was fired from her job, effective 12 hours earlier. “This default to hate, this automatic mockery and derision, needs to be viewed with the same hatred as Sacco’s tweet,” wrote Tauriq Moosa, a tutor in ethics, bioethics and critical thinking at the University of Cape Town, South Africa."

Academics Who Defend Wall St. Reap Reward; New York Times, 12/27/13

David Kocieniewski, New York Times; Academics Who Defend Wall St. Reap Reward: "What Mr. Pirrong has routinely left out of most of his public pronouncements in favor of speculation is that he has reaped financial benefits from speculators and some of the largest players in the commodities business, The New York Times has found. While his university’s financial ties to speculators have been the subject of scrutiny by the news media and others, it was not until last month, after repeated requests by The Times under the Freedom of Information Act, that the University of Houston, a public institution, insisted that Mr. Pirrong submit disclosure forms that shed some light on those financial ties... Mr. Pirrong’s research was cited extensively by the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by Wall Street interests in 2011 that for two years has blocked the limits on speculation that had been approved by Congress as part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. During that same time period, Mr. Pirrong has worked as a paid research consultant for one of the lead plaintiffs in the case, the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, according to his disclosure form... On his blog, Mr. Pirrong has dismissed suggestions that his work for a school that trains future oil industry executives creates a conflict of interest. “Uhm, no, dipstick,” he wrote in 2011, replying to a reader who had questioned his objectivity. “I call ’em like I see ’em.”... When asked about Mr. Pirrong’s disclosure, Richard Bonnin, a university spokesman said only that all employees were given annual training on the school’s policy, which requires researchers to report paid outside consultant work. Professors as Pitchmen Concerns about academic conflicts of interest have become a major issue among business professors and economists since the financial crisis. In 2010, the documentary “Inside Job” blasted a handful of prominent academic economists who did not reveal Wall Street’s financial backing of studies which, in some cases, extolled the virtues of financially unsound assets. Two years later, the American Economic Association adopted tougher disclosure rules."

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Can you be too ethical?; Guardian, 12/27/13

Andrew Brown, Guardian; Can you be too ethical? : "The essence of virtue, then, is moderation, or perhaps just proportion. Framing it this way avoids the obvious retort – so often heard in discussion of ethics here – that you can have far too much moderation because you can't have too much justice. And neither, properly speaking, can we ever be too ethical. We're lucky if we can just be ethical enough."

"Duck Dynasty" Pits Free Speech Against Shifting Cultural Taboos;, 12/26/13

Cathy Young,; "Duck Dynasty" Pits Free Speech Against Shifting Cultural Taboos: "There are at least two lessons to be learned from the “Duck Dynasty” debacle, in which reality TV star Phil Robertson got indefinitely suspended from the A&E hit show after making anti-gay remarks in a GQ magazine interview. One: on freedom of speech, hypocrisy and double standards are rampant across the political spectrum (the title of 1992 book by the great civil libertarian Nat Hentoff, “Free Speech for Me But Not for Thee,” remains ever-relevant). Two: while some speech will always be regarded as beyond the pale in even the freest society, the rapid shifting of those boundaries is sure to generate intense cultural anxiety and conflict."

Monday, December 23, 2013

When ‘60 Minutes’ Checks Its Journalistic Skepticism at the Door; New York Times, 12/22/13

David Carr, New York Times; When ‘60 Minutes’ Checks Its Journalistic Skepticism at the Door: "Coming as it does on the heels of the now-discredited Benghazi report — in which “60 Minutes” said it was fooled by an eyewitness who was apparently nothing of the kind — the N.S.A. segment raises the question of whether the program has not just temporarily lost its mojo, but its skepticism as well. It didn’t help that the day after the piece aired, a federal judge ruled that the agency’s program of collecting phone records was most likely unconstitutional... Let’s stipulate that “60 Minutes” has been and continues to be a journalistic treasure, which just this year has done hard-hitting pieces on the damaging practices of credit report agencies, the high rate of suicide among returning veterans, and how tainted pain medication that caused fungal meningitis killed dozens and sickened hundreds... Historically, the news that “60 Minutes” was in the lobby or on the phone has struck fear in the hearts of both the stalwart and the venal. The show made its targets quake and audiences thrill as it did the hard, often amazing work of creating consequence and accountability. But in the last few months, there have been significant lapses into credulousness, when reporters have been more “gee whiz” than “what gives?” The news that “60 Minutes” is calling could be viewed as less ominous and more of an opportunity. More than once this year, the show has traded skepticism for access."

China To Media: Don't Report 'Wrong Points Of View'; Reuters via Huffington Post, 12/23/13

Reuters via Huffington Post; China To Media: Don't Report 'Wrong Points Of View' : "...[S]ince Xi Jinping became party chief and then national president, he has overseen a media crackdown to bring newspapers in particular back in line. Under new guidelines to enforce "core socialist values", the media must "steadfastly uphold the correct guidance of public opinion". "Strengthen the management of the media, do not provide channels for the propagation of the wrong points of view," read the guidelines, which were published by the official Xinhua news agency... Xi has also taken a tough line on internet censorship, and the new guidelines implied that would continue."

You Can’t Save Them All; New York Times, 12/22/13

Chris Suellentrop, New York Times; You Can’t Save Them All: "You don’t play video games, but you’re curious about them. How should you get started? That’s a question that Steve Gaynor, the writer and director of the independent game Gone Home, has taken to asking guests on his podcast (Tone Control: Conversations with Video Game Developers): What would they recommend to someone who is entirely new to the medium? It’s an interesting and difficult query that highlights how forbidding many games can be to inexperienced players... The Walking Dead game, however, is excellent even if it’s not challenging. It’s particularly good as an example of how to give a player interpretive freedom without undermining the integrity of the story or the characters — or relying on black-and-white “moral choices.” The right, or best, course of action in The Walking Dead is rarely clear."

Leave These Southwest Ruins Alone; New York Times, 12/22/13

David Roberts, New York Times; Leave These Southwest Ruins Alone: "By now, all that saves the still-pristine sites such as the one on the Navajo reservation is their obscurity and the difficulty of getting to them. With my fellow aficionados of the canyon country, I adhere to a rigid ethic: When you visit the ruins and rock art, disturb nothing, and if you write about them, be deliberately vague about where they are... The most ominous new trend is the proliferation of websites giving the GPS coordinates of those prehistoric ruins and rock art panels. Armed with those numbers, the most casual curiosity seeker need not even read a map: One can simply home in on the place with device in hand. And it is those folks, I believe, like the climber on Flickr with the self-portrait of his illegal climb into the forbidden ruin, who are most likely to take home potsherds or arrowheads as souvenirs, or to damage the stone-and-adobe rooms as they clamber through them. Can anything be done to reverse this trend?... Educating the public may be the only hope."

Sunday, December 22, 2013

After Beijing And Marrakesh, WIPO Copyright Committee Feels The Pressure; Intellectual Property Watch, 12/17/13

Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch; After Beijing And Marrakesh, WIPO Copyright Committee Feels The Pressure: "Expectations are high this week on the outcome of discussions of the World Intellectual Property Organization committee on copyright. On the agenda is a potential new treaty protecting broadcasting organisations, and limitations and exceptions to copyright for libraries, archives, and education. In the mix is a new proposal by Japan to include computer networks in protected broadcasts. After two consecutive successes in Beijing in 2012, with the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances, and in Marrakesh in 2013, with the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled, the committee is expected to continue work on a treaty that would protect broadcasting organisations and has been under discussion for the last 15 years... For developing countries, the issue of limitations and exceptions to copyright for libraries and archives, educational, teaching and research institutions, and persons with other disabilities, is of central importance, according to several opening statements, such as the Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries (GRULAC), the Asia and Pacific Group, and the African Group. Algeria, on behalf of the African Group, said the international copyright system should respond to both private and public interests and should help the universal propagation of knowledge. The Marrakesh treaty, the delegate said, paved the way towards this goal. No delegations “can dispute the need for developing countries to have greater access to knowledge,” she said."

Government Requests to Remove Online Material Increase at Google; New York Times, 12/19/13

Claire Cain Miller, New York Times; Government Requests to Remove Online Material Increase at Google: "Governments, led by the United States, are increasingly demanding that Google remove information from the Web... Often, the requests come from judges, police officers and politicians trying to hide information that is critical of them. The most common request cites defamation, often of officials... Government requests to remove information increased most significantly in Turkey and Russia because of online censorship laws, according to Google... Google also said officials were resorting to new legal methods to demand that Google remove content, such as citing copyright law to take down transcripts of political speeches or government news releases."

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Roboticist Illah Nourbakhsh explores the dark side of our "robot futures"; Pittsburgh City Paper, 12/18/13

Bill O'Driscoll, Pittsburgh City Paper; Roboticist Illah Nourbakhsh explores the dark side of our "robot futures" : "Illah Nourbakhsh studies and designs robots for a living. But if you expect his new book, Robot Futures, to depict a care-free Tomorrowland of electronic butlers and automated fun, look elsewhere. The lively and accessible Robot Futures ($24.95, MIT Press) warns of a society warped by our relationships with a new "species" that knows more about us than we know about it ... and whose representatives are often owned by someone profiting at our expense. The problem, says Nourbakhsh, is that we're racing into our Robot Future without considering the social, moral and legal implications."

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Should a Student Conceal Her Lesbian Identity in College Application Essays?; New York Times, 12/3/13

Steven Petrow, New York Times; Should a Student Conceal Her Lesbian Identity in College Application Essays? : "Q. Dear Civil Behavior: Our daughter is a senior in high school and quite comfortable with her lesbian identity. We support her 100 percent, but we know the world is not always so tolerant. As she’s writing her college application essays this fall, she’s “coming out” in them — and we think that’s a bad idea. You just never know who’s reading these essays, so why risk revealing your orientation to someone who might be biased against you? We’ve strongly suggested she think over the ramifications of what she’s doing, but she doesn’t seem to have any doubt about it. Deadlines are approaching and we are at an impasse. How can we persuade her to keep some things private if they might hurt her chances of admission?” — Anonymous... A...The Common App invites applicants to share “a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it.” I can think of several such topics that may feel core to a high school senior. If your daughter had been adopted, had had a life-altering accident, or were biracial, would you discourage her from writing about it? I doubt it. As one gay student told me, “My parents did something similar and it gave me a sense of shame, that there was something wrong with me that needed to be hidden.” In the end, the strategic question probably can’t be definitely answered — nor may it be the best one to ask. In 20 years will she remember what her essay was about? I doubt it. As one mother wrote me, “In the end it actually matters very little what she decides to write in her application, but it matters a lot if she starts to think that her parents want her to hide who she is from the world.” Clearly you’ve given your daughter a strong sense of self and the confidence to be who she is, even if the world is not as tolerant as we’d all hope. Sure, one of a parent’s jobs is to worry, but after 17 or so years you can’t be there for every important decision in life. So, please reconsider what message you are sending to her when you ask her to conceal her identity."

Rights Group Is Seeking Status of ‘Legal Person’ for Captive Chimpanzee; New York Times, 12/2/13

James Gorman, New York Times; Rights Group Is Seeking Status of ‘Legal Person’ for Captive Chimpanzee: "The Nonhuman Rights Project has been working on this legal strategy for years, sifting through decisions in all 50 states to find one that is strong on what is called common law, and one that recognizes animals as legal persons for the purpose of being the beneficiary of a trust. The leader of the project, Steven M. Wise, who has written about the history of habeas corpus writs in the fight against human slavery and who views the crusade for animal rights as a lifelong project, said New York fit the bill... Laurence H. Tribe, a professor at Harvard Law School, said in an email that in seeking rights for nonhuman animals, “The classic writ of habeas corpus is as good a place to begin as any.”... Chimps were granted certain legal rights by the Spanish Parliament in 2008, and sporadic efforts in other countries, like India, have had some successes."

Monday, November 25, 2013

Already Anticipating ‘Terminator’ Ethics; New York Times, 11/24/13

John Markoff, New York Times; Already Anticipating ‘Terminator’ Ethics: "What could possibly go wrong? That was a question that some of the world’s leading roboticists faced at a technical meeting in October, when they were asked to consider what the science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov anticipated a half-century ago: the need to design ethical behavior into robots... All of which make questions about robots and ethics more than hypothetical for roboticists and policy makers alike. The discussion about robots and ethics came during this year’s Humanoids technical conference. At the conference, which focused on the design and application of robots that appear humanlike, Ronald C. Arkin delivered a talk on “How to NOT Build a Terminator,” picking up where Asimov left off with his fourth law of robotics — “A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.” While he did an effective job posing the ethical dilemmas, he did not offer a simple solution. His intent was to persuade the researchers to confront the implications of their work."

Weighing Free Speech in Refusal to Photograph Lesbian Couple’s Ceremony; New York Times, 11/18/13

Adam Liptak, New York Times; Weighing Free Speech in Refusal to Photograph Lesbian Couple’s Ceremony: "A New Mexico law forbids businesses open to the public to discriminate against gay people. Elaine Huguenin, a photographer, says she has no problem with that — so long as it does not force her to say something she does not believe. In asking the Supreme Court to hear her challenge to the law, Ms. Huguenin said that she would “gladly serve gays and lesbians — by, for example, providing them with portrait photography,” but that she did not want to tell the stories of same-sex weddings. To make her celebrate something her religion tells her is wrong, she said, would hijack her right to free speech."

Monday, November 18, 2013

Activists say they have found way round Chinese internet censorship; Guardian, 11/18/13

Jonathan Kaiman, Guardian; Activists say they have found way round Chinese internet censorship: "Cyber-activists have retaliated against Chinese authorities' censorship of foreign media websites by exposing an apparent weakness in the country's vast internet control apparatus. China blocked the Wall Street Journal and Reuters Chinese-language websites on Friday after a New York Times exposé revealed business ties between JP Morgan and the daughter of the former premier Wen Jiabao. Both websites appear to still be blocked on Monday. The New York Times's English and Chinese-language websites have been blocked in China since 2012. Charlie Smith, the co-founder of, a website which monitors internet censorship in China, says he has helped discover a strategy to make these sites available in mainland China without the aid of firewall-circumventing software."

Trending: The ethics of live-tweeting a break-up; BBC News, 11/18/13

BBC News; Trending: The ethics of live-tweeting a break-up: "The apparent break-up of a young couple in New York has been documented by their neighbour - a comedian - who live-tweeted the whole episode. His tweets have been widely shared. But is it OK to live-tweet something you just happen to overhear? Eavesdroppers who turn to Twitter have made waves several times in the past, for example the tweeting of off-the-record briefings by a former National Security Agency (NSA) chief... City University journalism professor Roy Greenslade says social media has magnified the issues faced by traditional newspapers in the past. Some journalists might violate people's privacy to focus only on public interest issues, but others do it to uncover salacious human interest stories."

Pa. student newspaper editors ban ‘Redskins’ nickname _ and get sent to principal’s office; Associated Press via Washington Post, 11/16/13

Associated Press via Washington Post; Pa. student newspaper editors ban ‘Redskins’ nickname _ and get sent to principal’s office: "The Playwickian editors started getting heat from school officials after an Oct. 27 editorial that barred the use of the word “Redskins” — the nickname of the teams at Neshaminy, a school named for the creek where the Lenape Indians once lived... Nonetheless, Principal Robert McGee ordered the editors to put the “Redskins” ban on hold, and summoned them to a meeting after school Tuesday, according to junior Gillian McGoldrick, the editor-in-chief... I don’t think that’s been decided at the national level, whether that word is or is not (offensive). It’s our school mascot,” said McGee, who said he’s consulted with the school solicitor and others. “I see it as a First Amendment issue running into another First Amendment issue... Both the student law center and the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania believe school districts are on shaky ground if they try to compel students to use a given word, especially one the students deem offensive.”

Friday, November 15, 2013

Facebook Amends Privacy Policies; New York Times, 11/15/13

Vindu Goel, New York Times; Facebook Amends Privacy Policies: "Facebook pressed ahead on Friday with changes to its privacy policies, first proposed in August, that make it clear that users’ postings on the service and other personal data can be used in advertising on the site. But the company deleted controversial language that had declared that any teenager using the service was presumed to have gotten parental permission for their data to be used in advertising. The company says it already has that permission from other terms of use... Facebook’s use of teenagers’ information in ads is particularly sensitive for privacy advocates, who say that children are especially vulnerable to marketing messages and are more likely to respond to endorsements from friends."

Thursday, November 7, 2013

IFLA Signs on to Major International Document regarding Human Rights and Surveillance; IFLA, 10/30/13

IFLA; IFLA Signs on to Major International Document regarding Human Rights and Surveillance: "IFLA has become a signatory to the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance. The Principles document is the product of a year-long negotiation process between Privacy International, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Access, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, and the Association for Progressive Communications. The document spells out how existing human rights law applies to modern digital surveillance and gives civil society groups, industry, lawmakers and observers a benchmark for measuring states' surveillance practices against long-established human rights standards. It contains 13 principles which have now been endorsed by over 260 organizations from 77 countries, from Somalia to Sweden."

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

In Bullying Case, Questions on N.F.L. Culture; New York Times, 11/4/13

John Branch and Ken Belson, New York Times; In Bullying Case, Questions on N.F.L. Culture: "Their unfolding saga is forcing the National Football League to uncomfortably turn its gaze toward locker room culture and start defining the gray areas between good-natured pranks and hurtful bullying."

Medical Ethics Have Been Violated at Detention Sites, a New Report Says; New York Times, 11/4/13

Denise Grady and Benedict Carey, New York Times; Medical Ethics Have Been Violated at Detention Sites, a New Report Says: "A group of experts in medicine, law and ethics has issued a blistering report that accuses the United States government of directing doctors, nurses and psychologists, among others, to ignore their professional codes of ethics and participate in the abuse of detainees in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The report was published Monday by the Institute on Medicine as a Profession, an ethics group based at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, and the Open Society Foundations, a pro-democracy network founded by the billionaire George Soros. The authors were part of a 19-member task force that based its findings on a two-year review of public information. The sources included documents released by the government, news reports, and books and articles from professional journals."

Rand Paul’s plagiarism allegations, and why they matter; Washington Post, 11/4/13

Aaron Blake, Washington Post; Rand Paul’s plagiarism allegations, and why they matter: "Over the last week, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has been accused of multiple counts of plagiarism — both in speeches he gave and in a book he wrote. So what has happened, and what does it mean going forward? Here’s what you need to know."

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Ethics is Leadership Work;, 10/31/13

Terry Newell,; Ethics is Leadership Work: "Pressed in recent days on his reaction to the revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been spying on the personal phone calls of the leaders of friendly governments, President Obama remarked that it is obvious that "what we could do is not necessarily what we should do." From a president who launched his first administration with a clarion call for more ethical governance, it's disconcerting that his NSA team missed this core distinction. That distinction is the classic definition of an ethical dilemma. What you can do is not always what you should do - capability is not character. Nor is this a question of what is legal. It does not appear that the NSA did anything illegal. But not everything that is legal is ethical. Jim Crow laws were legal until the 1960s. Male-only job postings in newspapers were legal even longer. But they were not ethical."

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Warily, Schools Watch Students on the Internet; New York Times, 10/28/13

Somini Sengupta, New York Times; Warily, Schools Watch Students on the Internet: "Now, as students complain, taunt and sometimes cry out for help on social media, educators have more opportunities to monitor students around the clock. And some schools are turning to technology to help them. Several companies offer services to filter and glean what students do on school networks; a few now offer automated tools to comb through off-campus postings for signs of danger. For school officials, this raises new questions about whether they should — or legally can — discipline children for their online outbursts. The problem has taken on new urgency with the case of a 12-year-old Florida girl who committed suicide after classmates relentlessly bullied her online and offline... Educators find themselves needing to balance students’ free speech rights against the dangers children can get into at school and sometimes with the law because of what they say in posts on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Courts have started to weigh in."

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Stop Watching Us: The Video; Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), 10/23/13

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF); Stop Watching Us: The Video: " is a coalition of more than 100 public advocacy organizations and companies from across the political spectrum. Join the movement at This video harnesses the voices of celebrities, activists, legal experts, and other prominent figures in speaking out against mass surveillance by the NSA. Please share widely to help us spread the message that we will not stand for the dragnet surveillance of our communications."

New code of police ethics follows Plebgate; Guardian, 10/23/13

Sandra Laville, Guardian; New code of police ethics follows Plebgate: "A tough new code of ethics for the police service will be heralded by the home secretary after three officers at the centre of allegations that they lied to discredit Andrew Mitchell refused repeatedly to apologise to him during an interrogation by MPs. Alex Marshall, the chief executive of the College of Policing, will publish the code – equivalent to a Hippocratic oath for police officers – on Thursday and Theresa May is to mark the event with a speech. The much awaited code is designed to force national standards of honesty and integrity on police officers. It is being published as the reputation of the service was put under the spotlight by the Commons home affairs select committee."

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Not-So-Great Expectations; Inside Higher Ed, 10/18/13

Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed; Not-So-Great Expectations: "Politics aside, Slocum’s case and others like it in recent months raise an important question: In the age of social media and smartphones, what expectations – if any – should professors have for privacy for lectures and communications intended for students? Very little, said Slocum – but that’s “an acknowledgement of fact, of the way the Internet works, rather than a normative statement.” Privacy and intellectual property experts agreed, saying that such communications are fair game for students to share. Higher education has a complicated relationship with copyright and other ownership questions, experts said, due to historical concerns about academic freedom. Legally, however, most all of what professors say to students in lectures and in e-mails would pass the "fair use" doctrine test, making it O.K. for students to record, share and comment on even copyrighted material for non-commercial purposes. “All of us have to figure out what our expectations should be in an age of smartphones and the Internet,” said Jessica Litman, a professor of law and information at the University of Michigan who specializes in intellectual property -- professors included."

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Some News Organizations Decline to Publish Minors’ Names; New York Times, 10/15/13

Christine Haughney, New York Times; Some News Organizations Decline to Publish Minors’ Names: "The liberal public records laws that have made Florida a helpful destination for media organizations divided journalists this week over the question of whether some public information is too public. On Monday, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office released the names of two girls, ages 12 and 14, charged with a felony in the online bullying related to the suicide in September of 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick. Carrie Eleazer, a spokeswoman for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, said that releasing these minors’ names was standard practice for a juvenile “charged with a felony or three or more misdemeanors.” She added that making these names public was simply a result of the broad and open Florida public records laws. “We release juveniles who have been charged with felonies almost every day,” said Ms. Eleazer. But not all news organizations felt comfortable revealing the names."

Felony Counts for 2 in Suicide of Bullied 12-Year-Old; New York Times, 10/15/13

Lizette Alvarez, New York Times; Felony Counts for 2 in Suicide of Bullied 12-Year-Old: "For the Polk County sheriff’s office, which has been investigating the cyberbullying suicide of a 12-year-old Florida girl, the Facebook comment was impossible to disregard. In Internet shorthand it began “Yes, ik” — I know — “I bullied Rebecca nd she killed herself.” The writer concluded that she didn’t care, using an obscenity to make the point and a heart as a perverse flourish. Five weeks ago, Rebecca Ann Sedwick, a seventh grader in Lakeland in central Florida, jumped to her death from an abandoned cement factory silo after enduring a year, on and off, of face-to-face and online bullying... Both were charged with aggravated stalking, a third-degree felony and will be processed through the juvenile court system. Neither had an arrest record."

Redskins’ Owner Stubbornly Clings to Wrong Side of History; New York Times, 10/12/13

William C. Rhoden, New York Times; Redskins’ Owner Stubbornly Clings to Wrong Side of History: "[Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder's] refusal to change an offensive name is emblematic of our society’s tendency to wrap ourselves in the armor of self-interest regardless of who might be wounded or offended. Sports has historically been a vehicle to bring us together. Increasingly, the enterprise is becoming one more tool of divisiveness. Those of us who are appealing to Snyder’s sense of ethics and morals are barking up the wrong tree. If this were about morality, Snyder would not need surveys and handpicked American Indians to validate his point. He would stand alone on principle. Snyder’s fight is an economic issue, revolving around licensing, marketing and branding. His stridency is based in money, not morality. When you follow your wallet and ignore your conscience, you’re headed for moral bankruptcy."

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A World Without Privacy; New York Times, 10/14/13

Joe Nocera, New York Times; A World Without Privacy: "Dave Eggers’s new novel, “The Circle,” also has three short, Orwellian slogans, and while I have no special insight into whether he consciously modeled “The Circle” on “1984,” I do know that his book could wind up being every bit as prophetic. Eggers’s subject is what the loss of privacy would look like if taken to its logical extreme. His focus is not on government but on the technology companies who invade our privacy on a daily basis. The Circle, you see, is a Silicon Valley company, an evil hybrid of Google, Facebook and Twitter, whose cultures — the freebies, the workaholism, the faux friendliness — Eggers captures with only slight exaggeration. The Circle has enormous power because it has become the primary gateway to the Internet. Thanks to its near-monopoly, it is able to collect reams of data about everyone who uses its services — and many who don’t — data that allows The Circle to track anyone down in a matter of minutes."

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Advocacy group asks conventions to ‘protect our secret identities’;, 10/15/13

Kevin Melrose,; Advocacy group asks conventions to ‘protect our secret identities’ : "In response to New York Comic Con’s controversial use of attendees’ Twitter accounts to send promotional messages, and the implementation of technology allowing organizers to track individual badges, a staff member for a leading digital-rights group has written an open letter asking all pop-culture conventions to “protect our secret identities.” “You can still have a convention at the cutting edge of culture, without bleeding your attendees’ privacy away,” wrote David Maass, media relations coordinator of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The twin issues are linked to radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips, implemented by NYCC this year in an effort to clamp down on fraudulent badges and badge-sharing among exhibitors."

Monday, October 14, 2013

False equivalence: how 'balance' makes the media dangerously dumb; Guardian, 10/11/13

Bob Garfield, Guardian; False equivalence: how 'balance' makes the media dangerously dumb: "Let us state this unequivocally: false equivalency – the practice of giving equal media time and space to demonstrably invalid positions for the sake of supposed reportorial balance – is dishonest, pernicious and cowardly."

Privacy Fears Grow as Cities Increase Surveillance; New York Times, 10/13/13

Somini Sengupta, New York Times; Privacy Fears Grow as Cities Increase Surveillance: "Federal grants of $7 million awarded to this city were meant largely to help thwart terror attacks at its bustling port. But instead, the money is going to a police initiative that will collect and analyze reams of surveillance data from around town — from gunshot-detection sensors in the barrios of East Oakland to license plate readers mounted on police cars patrolling the city’s upscale hills. The new system, scheduled to begin next summer, is the latest example of how cities are compiling and processing large amounts of information, known as big data, for routine law enforcement. And the system underscores how technology has enabled the tracking of people in many aspects of life."

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Opting to Blow the Whistle or Choosing to Walk Away; New York Times, 9/20/13

Alina Tugend, New York Times; Opting to Blow the Whistle or Choosing to Walk Away: "WHISTLE-BLOWERS have been big news lately — from Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Pfc. Bradley Manning, to Edward J. Snowden. Yet, for most people, the question of whether to expose unethical or illegal activities at work doesn’t make headlines or involve state secrets. Stephen Kohn, of the National Whistleblowers Center, says true whistle-blowing is when people report seeing something that is against the law. But that doesn’t make the problem less of a quandary. The question of when to remain quiet and when to speak out — and how to do it — can be extraordinarily difficult no matter what the situation. And while many think of ethics violations as confined to obviously illegal acts, like financial fraud or safety violations, the line often can be much blurrier and, therefore, more difficult to navigate. According to the Ethics Resource Center, a nonprofit research organization, the No. 1 misconduct observed — by a third of 4,800 respondents — was misuse of company time. That was closely followed by abusive behavior and lying to employees. The findings were published in the organization’s 2011 National Business Ethics Survey, which interviewed, on the phone or online, employees in the commercial sector who were employed at least 20 hours a week."

Cheating’s Surprising Thrill; New York Times, 10/7/13

Jan Hoffman, New York Times; Cheating’s Surprising Thrill: "When was the last time you cheated? Not on the soul-scorching magnitude of, say, Bernie Madoff, Lance Armstrong or John Edwards. Just nudge-the-golf-ball cheating. Maybe you rounded up numbers on an expense report. Let your eyes wander during a high-stakes exam. Or copied a friend’s expensive software. And how did you feel afterward? You may recall nervousness, a twinge of guilt. But new research shows that as long as you didn’t think your cheating hurt anyone, you may have felt great. The discomfort you remember feeling then may actually be a response rewritten now by your inner moral authority, your “should” voice. Unethical behavior is increasingly studied by psychologists and management specialists. They want to understand what prompts people to abrogate core values, why cheating appears to be on the rise, and what interventions can be made. To find a powerful tool to turn people toward ethical decisions, many researchers have focused on the guilt that many adults feel after cheating. So some behavioral ethics researchers were startled by a study published recently in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology by researchers at the University of Washington, the London Business School, Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania. The title: “The Cheater’s High: The Unexpected Affective Benefits of Unethical Behavior.”"

For Faculty Free Speech, the Tide Is Turning; Chronicle of Higher Education, 9/30/13

Thomas Sullivan and Lawrence White, Chronicle of Higher Education; For Faculty Free Speech, the Tide Is Turning: "Those and other cases prompted the AAUP in 2009 to issue a report observing that "the lower federal courts have so far largely ignored the Garcetti majority's reservation, posing the danger that, as First Amendment rights for public employees are narrowed, so too may be the constitutional protection for academic freedom at public institutions, perhaps fatally." In the past two years, however, the tide appears to have turned. Two recent decisions by federal appellate courts explicitly hold that the Garcetti standard does not apply in faculty-free-speech cases... The trend is encouraging. As a legal principle and sound postulate of institutional governance, academic freedom should be deemed to protect the expression of faculty views even when they are deemed by some to be unhelpful or provocatively stated. This is especially compelling given the uniqueness of our universities as marketplaces of ideas where we seek to discover new knowledge and understanding and make it available to others."

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Doctorate furor continues for Fox Chapel Area School District superintendent; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/8/13

Mary Niederberger, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Doctorate furor continues for Fox Chapel Area School District superintendent: "Legal arguments over whether Fox Chapel Area School District superintendent Anne Stephens must turn her dissertation over to a resident will be made Wednesday in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court. Patricia Weaver of Fox Chapel requested a copy in June after it was disclosed that Ms. Stephens' doctoral degree came from LaSalle University in Mandeville, La., an unaccredited school that was raided in 1996 by the FBI, which claimed it was a diploma mill. Its founder pleaded guilty to fraud and tax evasion."

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Mugged by a Mug Shot Online; New York Times, 10/5/13

David Segal, New York Times; Mugged by a Mug Shot Online: "It was only a matter of time before the Internet started to monetize humiliation. In this case, the time was early 2011, when mug-shot Web sites started popping up to turn the most embarrassing photograph of anyone’s life into cash. The sites are perfectly legal, and they get financial oxygen the same way as other online businesses — through credit card companies and PayPal. Some states, though, are looking for ways to curb them. The governor of Oregon signed a bill this summer that gives such sites 30 days to take down the image, free of charge, of anyone who can prove that he or she was exonerated or whose record has been expunged. Georgia passed a similar law in May. Utah prohibits county sheriffs from giving out booking photographs to a site that will charge to delete them. But as legislators draft laws, they are finding plenty of resistance, much of it from journalists who assert that public records should be just that: public. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press argues that any restriction on booking photographs raises First Amendment issues and impinges on editors’ right to determine what is newsworthy. That right was recently exercised by newspapers and Web sites around the world when the public got its first look at Aaron Alexis, the Navy Yard gunman, through a booking photograph from a 2010 arrest."

Thursday, October 3, 2013

As F.B.I. Pursued Snowden, an E-Mail Service Stood Firm; New York times, 10/2/13

Nicole Perlroth and Scott Shane, New York Times; As F.B.I. Pursued Snowden, an E-Mail Service Stood Firm: "On Aug. 8, Mr. Levison closed Lavabit rather than, in his view, betray his promise of secure e-mail to his customers. The move, which he explained in a letter on his Web site, drew fervent support from civil libertarians but was seen by prosecutors as an act of defiance that fell just short of a crime. The full story of what happened to Mr. Levison since May has not previously been told, in part because he was subject to a court’s gag order. But on Wednesday, a federal judge unsealed documents in the case, allowing the tech entrepreneur to speak candidly for the first time about his experiences. He had been summoned to testify to a grand jury in Virginia; forbidden to discuss his case; held in contempt of court and fined $10,000 for handing over his private encryption keys on paper and not in digital form; and, finally, threatened with arrest for saying too much when he shuttered his business. Spokesmen for the Justice Department and the F.B.I. said they had no comment beyond what was in the documents. Mr. Levison’s battle to preserve his customers’ privacy comes at a time when Mr. Snowden’s disclosures have ignited a national debate about the proper limits of surveillance and government intrusion into American Internet companies that promise users that their digital communications are secure."

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The World According to Team Walt; New York Times, 9/28/13

Ross Douthat, New York Times; The World According to Team Walt: "In the online realms where hit shows are dissected, critics who pass judgment on Walt’s sins find themselves tangling with a multitude of commenters who don’t think he needs forgiveness... The allure for Team Walt is not ultimately the pull of nihilism, or the harmless thrill of rooting for a supervillain. It’s the pull of an alternative moral code, neither liberal nor Judeo-Christian, with an internal logic all its own. As James Bowman wrote in The New Atlantis, embracing Walt doesn’t requiring embracing “individual savagery” and a world without moral rules. It just requires a return to “old rules” — to “the tribal, family-oriented society and the honor culture that actually did precede the Enlightenment’s commitment to universal values.” Those rules seem cruel by the lights of both cosmopolitanism and Christianity, but they are not irrational or necessarily false. Their Darwinian logic is clear enough, and where the show takes place — in the shadow of cancer, the shadow of death — the kindlier alternatives can seem softheaded, pointless, naïve."

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Expanding Privacy Legislation to Include Ebooks; American Libraries, July/August 2013

Mariam Pera, American Libraries; Expanding Privacy Legislation to Include Ebooks: "While privacy continues to be an issue on the national scene, at least two states—Arizona and New Jersey—have taken steps to expand their library privacy laws to include ebooks... Arizona and New Jersey follow in the footsteps of California, which in 2011 passed the Reader Privacy Act, extending library records protections to print-book and ebook purchases."

Facebook “Like” button just as protected as written speech, court rules;, 9/18/13

Cyrus Farivar,; Facebook “Like” button just as protected as written speech, court rules: "In a unanimous decision on Wednesday, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s decision, declaring that a Facebook “Like” is protected under the First Amendment, like other forms of speech. The Virginia case involves a former deputy sheriff in Hampton, Virginia, who claimed that he had been fired for “liking” his boss’ rival in a political campaign for county sheriff. In the original lawsuit, a federal district judge tossed the case, saying that a Facebook “Like” was “insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection.”"

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Girl’s Suicide Points to Rise in Apps Used by Cyberbullies; New York Times, 9/13/13

Lizette Alvarez, New York Times; Girl’s Suicide Points to Rise in Apps Used by Cyberbullies: "For more than a year, Rebecca, pretty and smart, was cyberbullied by a coterie of 15 middle-school children who urged her to kill herself, her mother said. The Polk County sheriff’s office is investigating the role of cyberbullying in the suicide and considering filing charges against the middle-school students who apparently barraged Rebecca with hostile text messages. Florida passed a law this year making it easier to bring felony charges in online bullying cases...“It’s a whole new culture, and the thing is that as adults, we don’t know anything about it because it’s changing every single day,” said Denise Marzullo, the chief executive of Mental Health America of Northeast Florida in Jacksonville, who works with the schools there on bullying issues. No sooner has a parent deciphered Facebook or Twitter or Instagram than his or her children have migrated to the latest frontier. “It’s all of these small ones where all this is happening,” Ms. Marzullo said. In Britain, a number of suicides by young people have been linked to, and online petitions have been started there and here to make the site more responsive to bullying. The company ultimately responded this year by introducing an easy-to-see button to report bullying and saying it would hire more moderators."

Friday, September 13, 2013

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The NSA's next move: silencing university professors?; Guardian, 9/10/13

Jay Rosen, Guardian; The NSA's next move: silencing university professors? : "In commenting critically on a subject he is expert in, and taking an independent stance that asks hard questions and puts the responsibility where it belongs, Matthew Green is doing exactly what a university faculty member is supposed to be doing. By putting his thoughts in a blog post that anyone can read and link to, he is contributing to a vital public debate, which is exactly what universities need to be doing more often. Instead of trying to get Matthew Green's blog off their servers, the deans should be trying to get more faculty into blogging and into the public arena. Who at Johns Hopkins is speaking up for these priorities? And why isn't the Johns Hopkins faculty roaring about this issue? (I teach at New York University, and I'm furious.)"

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Whither Moral Courage?; New York Times, 4/27/13

Salman Rushdie, New York Times; Whither Moral Courage? : " Rohinton Mistry’s celebrated novel “Such a Long Journey” was pulled off the syllabus of Mumbai University because local extremists objected to its content. The scholar Ashis Nandy was attacked for expressing unorthodox views on lower-caste corruption. And in all these cases the official view — with which many commentators and a substantial slice of public opinion seemed to agree — was, essentially, that the artists and scholars had brought the trouble on themselves. Those who might, in other eras, have been celebrated for their originality and independence of mind, are increasingly being told, “Sit down, you’re rocking the boat.”... It’s a vexing time for those of us who believe in the right of artists, intellectuals and ordinary, affronted citizens to push boundaries and take risks and so, at times, to change the way we see the world. There’s nothing to be done but to go on restating the importance of this kind of courage, and to try to make sure that these oppressed individuals — Ai Weiwei, the members of Pussy Riot, Hamza Kashgari — are seen for what they are: men and women standing on the front line of liberty. How to do this? Sign the petitions against their treatment, join the protests. Speak up. Every little bit counts."

Saturday, April 13, 2013

BBC Won’t Ban ‘Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead,’ Adopted as Anti-Thatcher Anthem; New York Times, 4/12/13

Robert Mackey, New York Times; BBC Won’t Ban ‘Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead,’ Adopted as Anti-Thatcher Anthem: "The BBC on Friday rejected loud calls to ban the song “Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead” from its airwaves after the apparent success of a Facebook campaign to celebrate the death of Margaret Thatcher, the divisive former prime minister, by driving sales of the tune from “The Wizard of Oz” up the British singles chart."

Study of Babies Did Not Disclose Risks, U.S. Finds; New York Times, 4/10/13

Sabrina Tavernise, New York Times; Study of Babies Did Not Disclose Risks, U.S. Finds: "A federal agency has found that a number of prestigious universities failed to tell more than a thousand families in a government-financed study of oxygen levels for extremely premature babies that the risks could include increased chances of blindness or death."

Sunday, April 7, 2013

India’s Novartis Decision; New York Times, 4/4/13

Editorial Board, New York Times; India’s Novartis Decision: "The ruling will allow the sale of generic versions of Gleevec in India and other countries where it is not patented at less than one-20th of the roughly $70,000 a year it costs in the United States. It will not affect the price of the drug in America. This case is unique because it concerns an innovative and useful drug whose creation happened to straddle the change in Indian patent law. The ruling is important, nonetheless, because it establishes a limited precedent that requires drug companies to show real improvements in efficacy before they can get patent protection on updates to existing drugs in India. That could help poor patients get drugs at prices they can afford while preserving an incentive for true innovation."

Why Rutgers Blinked; New York Times, 4/5/13

Joe Nocera, Why Rutgers Blinked; Why Rutgers Blinked: "Pernetti is said to be one of the bright lights of college sports. Around the same time as he was dealing with both the Big Ten and the Rice video, he was on a panel at New York University School of Law at which he spoke — passionately, it seemed to me (I was on the same panel) — about the importance of putting the needs of the “student-athlete” first, and hiring “the right people.” Yet, faced with a moment of truth, he blinked. Just like Joe Paterno, another supposed good guy, blinked. Just like they all blink when their professed ideals bump up against the ever-increasing pressure to generate cold, hard cash. The N.C.A.A., it turns out, isn’t the only hypocrite in college sports."

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Ex-Schools Chief in Atlanta Is Indicted in Testing Scandal; New York Times, 3/29/13

Michael Winerip, New York Times; Ex-Schools Chief in Atlanta Is Indicted in Testing Scandal: "It is not just an Atlanta problem. Cheating has grown at school districts around the country as standardized testing has become a primary means of evaluating teachers, principals and schools. In El Paso, a superintendent went to prison recently after removing low-performing children from classes to improve the district’s test scores. In Ohio, state officials are investigating whether several urban districts intentionally listed low-performing students as having withdrawn even though they were still in school. But no state has come close to Georgia in appropriating the resources needed to root it out."

The Emily Posts of the Digital Age; New York Times, 3/29/13

Alex Williams, New York Times; The Emily Posts of the Digital Age: "Are manners dead? Cellphones, Twitter and Facebook may be killing off the old civilities and good graces, but a new generation of etiquette gurus, good-manner bloggers and self-appointed YouTube arbiters is rising to make old-fashioned protocols relevant to a new generation... But perhaps the fastest-growing area of social advice — one that has spawned not just videos but also Web sites, blogs and books — is the Internet itself, and the proper displays of what’s been termed “netiquette.” There are YouTube videos on using emoticons in business e-mails, being discreet when posting on someone’s Facebook wall, limiting baby photos on Instagram, retweeting too many Twitter messages and juggling multiple online chats. “We’re living in an age of anxiety that’s a reflection of the near-constant change and confusion in technology and social mores,” said Steven Petrow, an author of five etiquette books including “Mind Your Digital Manners: Advice for an Age Without Rules,” to be published in 2014. (Mr. Petrow is a regular contributor to The New York Times, writing an advice column on gay-straight issues for the Booming blog.)"

Monday, March 25, 2013

In Leak Case, State Secrecy in Plain Sight; New York Times, 3/24/13

David Carr, New York Times; In Leak Case, State Secrecy in Plain Sight: "Reporters covering the government’s prosecution of Pfc. Bradley Manning, who is being court-martialed for conveying secret information to WikiLeaks, have spent a year trying to pierce the veil of secrecy in what is supposed to be a public proceeding. In pretrial hearings at Fort Meade, Md., basic information has been withheld, including dockets of court activity, transcripts of the proceedings and orders issued from the bench by the military judge, Col. Denise Lind. A public trial over state secrets was itself becoming a state secret in plain sight. Finally, at the end of last month, in response to numerous Freedom of Information requests from news media organizations, the court agreed to release 84 of the roughly 400 documents filed in the case, suggesting it was finally unbuttoning the uniform a bit to make room for some public scrutiny."

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, the Sequel; New York Times, 3/23/13

Rebecca Skloot, New York Times; The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, the Sequel: "Imagine if someone secretly sent samples of your DNA to one of many companies that promise to tell you what your genes say about you. That report would list the good news (you’ll probably live to be 100) and the not-so-good news (you’ll most likely develop Alzheimer’s, bipolar disorder and maybe alcoholism). Now imagine they posted your genetic information online, with your name on it. Some people may not mind. But I assure you, many do: genetic information can be stigmatizing, and while it’s illegal for employers or health insurance providers to discriminate based on that information, this is not true for life insurance, disability coverage or long-term care. “That is private family information,” said Jeri Lacks-Whye, Lacks’s granddaughter. “It shouldn’t have been published without our consent.”"

A Family’s Secrets Bared, on Camera; New York Times, 3/22/13

Elizabeth Jensen, New York Times; A Family’s Secrets Bared, on Camera: "More problematic for the filmmakers was that early on in the filming Darian made a wrenching charge: her father, Anthony Charboneau III, had sexually abused her. As a filmmaker, said Lois Vossen, the series producer of “Independent Lens,” “your natural instinct is to want to use that.” At the same time “you want to help somebody, not put them in harm’s way.” When editing got under way, Ms. Aronson-Rath said, “we had a really robust editorial discussion around both Darian and also her brother. We thought long and hard about it. We listened to David Sutherland for days and days and days about his decision making and the level of access that he had and the trust that he had built between them. And we were convinced that there was a real trust there, that Robin was acting on behalf of her children in a way that was responsible, from what we could tell.”"

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Read this: Jane Goodall caught in plagiarism scandal; Washington Post, 3/20/13

Amy Argetsinger, Washington Post; Read this: Jane Goodall caught in plagiarism scandal: "Jane Goodall, the groundbreaking primatologist and wildlife-documentary superstar, is the latest high-profile author caught in a plagiarism scandal — and this one is really embarrassing, reports Steve Levingston. Among the passages her new book apparently rips off (as discovered by a critic for the Washington Post) are ones stolen from Wikipedia, some marketing material for an organic-tea company, and an astrology Web site."

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Google Concedes That Drive-by Prying Violated Privacy; New York Times, 3/12/13

David Streitfeld, New York Times; Google Concedes That Drive-by Prying Violated Privacy: "Google on Tuesday acknowledged to state officials that it had violated people’s privacy during its Street View mapping project when it casually scooped up passwords, e-mail and other personal information from unsuspecting computer users. In agreeing to settle a case brought by 38 states involving the project, the search company for the first time is required to aggressively police its own employees on privacy issues and to explicitly tell the public how to fend off privacy violations like this one. While the settlement also included a tiny — for Google — fine of $7 million, privacy advocates and Google critics characterized the overall agreement as a breakthrough for a company they say has become a serial violator of privacy."

Monday, March 11, 2013

Harvard Search of E-Mail Stuns Its Faculty Members; New York Times, 3/10/13

Richard Perez-Pena, New York Times; Harvard Search of E-Mail Stuns Its Faculty Members: "News of the e-mail searches prolonged the fallout from the cheating scandal, in which about 70 students were forced to take a leave from school for collaborating or plagiarizing on a take-home final exam in a government class last year. Harry R. Lewis, a professor and former dean of Harvard College, said, “People are just bewildered at this point, because it was so out of keeping with the way we’ve done things at Harvard.”... Last fall, the administrators searched the e-mails of 16 resident deans, trying to determine who had leaked an internal memo about how the deans should advise students who stood accused of cheating. But most of those deans were not told that their accounts had been searched until the past few days, after The Boston Globe, which first reported the searches, began to inquire about them."

Harvard Searched E-Mails for Source of Media Leaks; New York Times, 3/9/13

Richard Perez-Pena, New York Times; Harvard Searched E-Mails for Source of Media Leaks: "Harvard secretly searched the e-mail accounts of several of its staff members last fall, looking for the source of news media leaks about its recent cheating scandal, but did not tell them about the searches for several months, people briefed on the matter said on Saturday. The searches, first reported by The Boston Globe, involved the e-mail accounts of 16 resident deans, but most of them were not told of the searches until the last few days, after The Globe inquired about them."

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Keeping an Eye on Online Test-Takers; New York Times, 3/2/13

Anne Eisenberg, New York Times; Keeping an Eye on Online Test-Takers: "The issue of online cheating concerns many educators, particularly as more students take MOOCs for college credit, and not just for personal enrichment. Already, five classes from Coursera, a major MOOC provider, offer the possibility of credit, and many more are expected...The developing technology for remote proctoring may end up being as good — or even better — than the live proctoring at bricks-and-mortar universities, said Douglas H. Fisher, a computer science and computer engineering professor at Vanderbilt University who was co-chairman of a recent workshop that included MOOC-related topics. “Having a camera watch you, and software keep track of your mouse clicks, that does smack of Big Brother,” he said. “But it doesn’t seem any worse than an instructor at the front constantly looking at you, and it may even be more efficient.”"

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Senator Seeks More Data Rights for Online Consumers; New York Times, 2/28/13

Natasha Singer, New York Times; Senator Seeks More Data Rights for Online Consumers: "Before his planned retirement from Congress at the end of next year, Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, the West Virginia Democrat, intends to give American consumers more meaningful control over personal data collected about them online. To that end, Mr. Rockefeller on Thursday introduced a bill called the “Do-Not-Track Online Act of 2013.” The bill would require the Federal Trade Commission to establish standardized mechanisms for people to use their Internet browsers to tell Web sites, advertising networks, data brokers and other online entities whether or not they were willing to submit to data-mining. The bill would also require the F.T.C. to develop rules to prohibit online services from amassing personal details about users who had opted out of such tracking."

Alan F. Westin, Who Transformed Privacy Debate Before the Web Era, Dies at 83; New York Times, 2/22/13

Margalit Fox, New York Times; Alan F. Westin, Who Transformed Privacy Debate Before the Web Era, Dies at 83: "Alan F. Westin, a legal scholar who nearly half a century ago defined the modern right to privacy in the incipient computer age — a definition that anticipated the reach of Big Brother and helped circumscribe its limits — died on Monday in Saddle River, N.J. He was 83... A lawyer and political scientist, Mr. Westin was at his death emeritus professor of public law at Columbia, where he had taught for nearly 40 years. Through his work — notably his book “Privacy and Freedom,” published in 1967 and still a canonical text — Mr. Westin was considered to have created, almost single-handedly, the modern field of privacy law. He testified frequently on the subject before Congress, spoke about it on television and radio and wrote about it for newspapers and magazines. “He was the most important scholar of privacy since Louis Brandeis,” Jeffrey Rosen, a professor of law at George Washington University and the legal affairs editor of The New Republic, said in a telephone interview on Thursday. “He transformed the privacy debate by defining privacy as the ability to control how much about ourselves we reveal to others.”"

Rebecca Marino quits tennis following cyberbullying incidents; (Toronto) Star, 2/20/13

Daniel Girard, (Toronto) Star; Rebecca Marino quits tennis following cyberbullying incidents: "Marino, who took a seven-month break from the game beginning in February 2012, said that while she believes “social media is actually a really important part of our society and there can be a lot of good that comes out of it,” it proved too “distracting” to her. She talked of receiving tweets that she should “go die,” “go burn in hell” and had cost bettors lots of money. “That’s just scratching the surface,” she said of the online assaults, but added she still believes she’s a person with “a thick skin.” On Monday, Marino deleted both her Twitter and Facebook accounts. While admitting that “in a way I wish I hadn’t joined social media,” she said she has no regrets about being part of it and may even return one day. Marino said neither social media nor depression, which she said still prevents her from getting out of bed some days, is the main reason she quit. “The reason I’m stepping back is just because I don’t think that I’m willing to sacrifice my happiness and other parts of my life to tennis,” she said."

Canadian ‘pork chop’ bullying video goes viral; (Toronto) Star, 2/21/13

Lesley Ciarula Taylor, (Toronto) Star; Canadian ‘pork chop’ bullying video goes viral: "Canadian poet Shane Koyczan has hit a nerve in the public psyche with his newly illustrated video on bullying. Koyczan, who electrified audiences with his performance at the Vancouver Olympics, describes bullied kids as growing up “believing no one would ever fall in love with us, that we would be lonely forever.” In two days, more than 1 million people have watched the seven-minute video, part of the anti-bullying campaigner’s “To This Day Project.”"

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Supreme Court Appears to Defend Patent on Soybean; New York Times, 2/19/13

Adam Liptak, New York Times; Supreme Court Appears to Defend Patent on Soybean: "A freewheeling and almost entirely one-sided argument at the Supreme Court on Tuesday indicated that the justices would not allow Monsanto’s patents for genetically altered soybeans to be threatened by an Indiana farmer who used them without paying the company a fee. The question in the case, Bowman v. Monsanto Company, No. 11-796, was whether patent rights to seeds and other things that can replicate themselves extend beyond the first generation. The justices appeared alert to the consequences of their eventual ruling not only for Monsanto’s very lucrative soybean patents but also for modern agriculture generally and for areas as varied as vaccines, cell lines and software."

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Scholar Finds Flaws in Work by Archenemy of Comics; New York Times, 2/19/13

Dave Itzkoff, New York Times; Scholar Finds Flaws in Work by Archenemy of Comics: "Carol L. Tilley, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science, reviewed Wertham’s papers, housed in the Library of Congress, starting at the end of 2010, shortly after they were made available to the public. In a new article in Information & Culture: A Journal of History, Dr. Tilley offers numerous examples in which she says Wertham “manipulated, overstated, compromised and fabricated evidence,” particularly in the interviews he conducted with his young subjects. Drawing from his own clinical research and pointed interpretations of comic-book story lines, Wertham argued in the book that comics were harming American children, leading them to juvenile delinquency and to lives of violence, drugs and crime. “Seduction of the Innocent” was released to a public already teeming with anti-comics sentiment, and Wertham was embraced by millions of citizens who feared for America’s moral sanctity; he even testified in televised hearings. Yet according to Dr. Tilley, he may have exaggerated the number of youths he worked with at the low-cost mental-health clinic he established in Harlem, who might have totaled in the hundreds instead of the “many thousands” he claimed. Dr. Tilley said he misstated their ages, combined quotations taken from many children to appear as if they came from one speaker and attributed remarks said by a single speaker to larger groups. Other examples show how Wertham omitted extenuating circumstances in the lives of his patients, who often came from families marred by violence and substance abuse, or invented details outright."

Good Samaritan returns $1,200 he found in hardware store - and gets rude reaction instead of a thank-you; Daily Mail, 2/15/13

Daily Mail; Good Samaritan returns $1,200 he found in hardware store - and gets rude reaction instead of a thank-you: "A Missouri man found an envelope containing $1,200 in his local hardware store last week. But when Kyle Osborn, 29, tracked down and returned the money to its rightful owner, he didn't get the grateful reaction he was expecting. Instead of a smile or a thank you, the man looked at Osborn, who describes himself as 'tattooed, bearded and dirty', and said: 'I hope it's all there.'"

Falling Far Short of the Whole Truth; New York Times, 2/13/13

Russ Buettner, New York Times; Falling Far Short of the Whole Truth: "Questions were asked, which Ms. Sengupta, who was, in fact, in her late 40s at the time, declined to answer. Eventually, it became clear that she had not only shaved nearly two decades off her age but that nearly everything about her work and education history was not as she had claimed. Ms. Sengupta had, in fact, submitted many phony documents. The fraud was so comprehensive that the Bar Standards Board of England and Wales threw out an element of the application process that presumed a certain level of honor among its applicants; the board now requires that college transcripts come directly from the schools in a sealed envelope, without passing through an applicant’s hands."

Prof. bans Fox News: Classes not allowed to cite station;, 2/15/13

Effie Orfanides,; Prof. bans Fox News: Classes not allowed to cite station: "A prof. bans Fox News at West Liberty University and tells her students that the "biased" station makes her "cringe." On Feb. 15, the Daily Called [sic] reported that Stephanie Wolfe, a visiting assistant professor, made her class rules loud and clear, making sure that her students did not cite the news station in any of their work for the semester. "DO NOT use: 1) The Onion — this is not news this is literally a parody 2) Fox News — The tagline “Fox News” makes me cringe. Please do not subject me to this biased news station. I would almost rather you print off an article from the Onion (sic)," reads part of Professor Wolfe's syllabus."

Q. and A. With Viviane Reding; New York Times, 2/2/13

New York Times; Q. and A. With Viviane Reding. "Viviane Reding, the vice president of the European Commission and the justice commissioner of the European Union, was asked to comment on trans-Atlantic data protection issues for the Slipstream column by Natasha Singer in the Sunday Business section. The following is Vice President Reding’s full statement, sent on Jan. 31, 2013. Q. Why do Europeans feel so strongly about privacy and data rights? Why was it important for you to make data protection one of your signature issues? A. Data protection legislation has a long history in Europe: the European Union has had common rules to protect personal data since 1995. Personal data protection is a fundamental right for all Europeans — this is inscribed in the E.U.’s Charter of Fundamental Rights. The principles on which our laws are found are still valid. The main problem is that our rules predate the digital age and it became increasingly clear in recent years that they needed an update."

Data Protection Laws, an Ocean Apart; New York Times, 2/2/13

Natasha Singer, New York Times; Data Protection Laws, an Ocean Apart: "OVER the years, the United States and Europe have taken different approaches toward protecting people’s personal information. Now the two sides are struggling to bridge that divide. On this side of the Atlantic, Congress has enacted a patchwork quilt of privacy laws that separately limit the use of Americans’ medical records, credit reports, video rental records and so on. On the other side, the European Union has instituted more of a blanket regulatory system; it has a common directive that gives its citizens certain fundamental rights — like the right to obtain copies of records held about them by companies and institutions — that Americans now lack."

Son’s Suicide Leads to Aid for Students; New York Times, 2/1/13

Kate Zernike, New York Times; Son’s Suicide Leads to Aid for Students: "Jane and Joe Clementi once considered suing Rutgers University. Their son Tyler, a freshman, had discovered that his roommate used a webcam to spy on him having sex with another man and had jumped off the George Washington Bridge a few days later, setting off wide debate about cyberbullying and the struggles of gays and lesbians coming of age. But on Monday, over two years after Mr. Clementi’s suicide, his parents will stand alongside university officials to announce that they are working together through the newly created Tyler Clementi Center at Rutgers... The center will hold conferences and sponsor academic research on students making the transition from home to college. The Clementis and university officials said the work would examine not only bullying and youth suicides, but also topics like how young people use, and abuse, new technologies. “Part of what was such an interest in Tyler’s story was that it affected so many people on so many different levels,” Ms. Clementi said. “It’s the transitional period, it’s the cyberbullying, it’s how our youth are dealing with this new technology, L.G.B.T. issues, suicide.”

Students Disciplined in Harvard Scandal; New York Times, 2/1/13

Richard Perez-Pena, New York Times; Students Disciplined in Harvard Scandal: "Harvard has forced dozens of students to leave in its largest cheating scandal in memory, the university made clear in summing up the affair on Friday, but it would not address assertions that the blame rested partly with a professor and his teaching assistants. Harvard would not say how many students had been disciplined for cheating on a take-home final exam given last May in a government class, but the university’s statements indicated that the number forced out was around 70. The class had 279 students, and Harvard administrators said last summer that “nearly half” were suspected of cheating and would have their cases reviewed by the Administrative Board. On Friday, a Harvard dean, Michael D. Smith, wrote in a letter to faculty members and students that, of those cases, “somewhat more than half” had resulted in a student’s being required to withdraw... The Administrative Board’s Web site says that forced withdrawals usually last two to four semesters, after which a student may return."

Staying Private on the New Facebook; New York Times, 2/6/13

Somini Sengupta, New York Times; Staying Private on the New Facebook: "Facebook is a personal vault that can contain photos of your firstborn, plans to bring down your government and, occasionally, a record of your indiscretions. It can be scoured by police officers, partners and would-be employers. It can be mined by marketers to show tailored advertisements. And now, with Facebook’s newfangled search tool, it can allow strangers, along with “friends” on Facebook, to discover who you are, what you like and where you go. Facebook insists it is up to you to decide how much you want others to see. And that is true, to some extent. But you cannot entirely opt out of Facebook searches."

Police Call Match-Fixing Widespread in Soccer; New York Times, 2/4/13

Sam Borden, New York Times; Police Call Match-Fixing Widespread in Soccer: "Soccer is known throughout much of the world as the beautiful game. But the sport’s ugliest side — the scourge of match-fixing — will not soon go away. With the 2014 World Cup in Brazil drawing closer, a European police intelligence agency said Monday that its 19-month investigation, code-named Operation Veto, revealed widespread occurrences of match-fixing in recent years, with 680 games globally deemed suspicious. The extent was staggering: some 150 international matches, mostly in Africa, Asia and Latin America; roughly 380 games in Europe, covering World Cup and European championship qualifiers as well as two Champions League games; and games that run the gamut from lower-division semiprofessional matches to contests in top domestic leagues.

As Extremists Invaded, Timbuktu Hid Artifacts of a Golden Age; New York Times, 2/3/13

Lydia Polgreen, New York Times; As Extremists Invaded, Timbuktu Hid Artifacts of a Golden Age: "“This is the record of the golden ages of the Malian empire,” Ms. Bokova said. “If you let this disappear, it would be a crime against all of humanity.” The cultural artifacts in Timbuktu — whose population of around 50,000 has shrunk with the latest troubles — have faced many dangers over the centuries. Harsh climate, termites and the ravages of time have taken a toll, along with repeated invasions — by the Songhai emperors, nomadic bandits, Moroccan princes and France. Yet many of the antiquities have endured. “It is a miracle that these things have survived so long,” Mr. Essayouti said... It turned out the worries were not unwarranted. In the chaotic final days of the Islamist occupation, all that changed. A group of militants stormed the library as they were fleeing and set fire to whatever they could find. Fortunately, they got their hands on only a tiny portion of the library’s collection. “They managed to find less than 5 percent,” he said. “Thank God they were not able to find anything else.”"

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Exclusive: Eric Schmidt Unloads on China in New Book; Wall Street Journal, 2/1/13

Tom Gara, Wall Street Journal; Exclusive: Eric Schmidt Unloads on China in New Book: "With the Arab uprisings rolling onward, “The New Digital Age” picks up where that previous essay left off, taking a big-picture view on how everything from individual identities to corporate strategy, terrorism and statecraft will change as information seeps ever deeper. And in this all-Internet world, China, the book says again and again, is a dangerous and menacing superpower. China, Schmidt and Cohen write, is “the world’s most active and enthusiastic filterer of information” as well as “the most sophisticated and prolific” hacker of foreign companies. In a world that is becoming increasingly digital, the willingness of China’s government and state companies to use cyber crime gives the country an economic and political edge, they say. “The disparity between American and Chinese firms and their tactics will put both the government and the companies of the United States as a distinct disadvantage,” because “the United States will not take the same path of digital corporate espionage, as its laws are much stricter (and better enforced) and because illicit competition violates the American sense of fair play,” they claim. “This is a difference in values as much as a legal one.” The U.S. is far from an angel, the book acknowledges. From high-profile cases of cyber-espionage such as the Stuxnet virus that targeted Iranian nuclear facilities, to exports of surveillance software and technology to states with bad human rights records, there is plenty at home to criticize."

Twitter Hacked: Data for 250,000 Users May Be Stolen; New York Times, 2/1/13

Nicole Perlroth, New York Times; Twitter Hacked: Data for 250,000 Users May Be Stolen: "Twitter announced late Friday that it had been breached and that data for 250,000 Twitter users was vulnerable. The company said in a blog post that it detected unusual access patterns earlier this week and found that user information — usernames, e-mail addresses and encrypted passwords — for 250,000 users may have been accessed in what it described as a “sophisticated attack.” “This attack was not the work of amateurs, and we do not believe it was an isolated incident,” Bob Lord, Twitter’s director of information security, said in a blog post."

Washington Post Joins List of News Media Hacked by the Chinese; New York Times, 2/1/13

Nicole Perlroth, New York Times; Washington Post Joins List of News Media Hacked by the Chinese: "Security experts said that in 2008, Chinese hackers began targeting American news organizations as part of an effort to monitor coverage of Chinese issues. In a report for clients in December, Mandiant, a computer security company, said that over the course of several investigations it found evidence that Chinese hackers had stolen e-mails, contacts and files from more than 30 journalists and executives at Western news organizations, and had maintained a “short list” of journalists for repeated attacks. Among those targeted were journalists who had written about Chinese leaders, political and legal issues in China and the telecom giants Huawei and ZTE...In her final meeting with reporters, Mrs. Clinton addressed a question about China’s efforts to infiltrate computer systems at The New York Times. “We have seen over the last years an increase in not only the hacking attempts on government institutions but also nongovernmental ones,” she said, adding that the Chinese “are not the only people who are hacking us.”"

Hacking the Old Gray Lady;, 1/31/13

Farhad Manjoo,; Hacking the Old Gray Lady: "The most important outcome here might be the chilling effect: Now that a Chinese attack on the New York Times is international news, any dissident or potential whistle-blower in China will be wary of talking to journalists at the paper—or, for that matter, all journalists. In other words, the hack worked. Indeed, the attack on the New York Times points out why cyberattacks are such a spectacularly diabolical and effective weapon, especially when they’re aimed at journalists. Until now, when a government or criminal enterprise didn’t like something a reporter wrote, it had two options—it could shut down the outlet or kill the journalist. Hacking presents a third option, one that’s far more nuanced and effective."

Sunday, January 27, 2013

In a French Case, a Battle to Unmask Twitter Users; New York Times, 1/24/13

Eric Pfanner and Somini Sengupta, New York Times; In a French Case, a Battle to Unmask Twitter Users: "A French court on Thursday told Twitter to identify people who had posted anti-Semitic and racist entries on the social network. Twitter is not sure it will comply. And the case is yet another dust-up in the struggle over speech on the Internet, and which countries’ laws prevail."

Saturday, January 26, 2013

On the Media: How social should the media be?; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 1/25/13

Maria Sciullo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; On the Media: How social should the media be? : "Five years ago, it was unlikely any news organization had formal social media policies. Today, most -- including the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette -- have fluid guidelines that address incidents on a case-by-case basis. "We don't have a formal social media policy, but we do have a social media editor who is our guide on training and advising people in the newsroom on best practices," said Susan Smith, Post-Gazette managing editor. "Basically we tell our staffers to use their best judgment and not to do anything on social media that would violate basic journalistic principles of fairness and non-partisanship or that is simply in bad taste and would reflect negatively on them and the Post-Gazette... Times associate managing editor for standards Philip B. Corbett responded with a staff memo. After reminding reporters, "your online behavior should be appropriate for a Times journalist," he quoted the paper's ethical journalism policy: "Civility applies whether an exchange takes place in person, by telephone, by letter or online.""

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Restaurants Turn Camera Shy; New York Times, 1/22/13

Helene Stapinski, New York Times; Restaurants Turn Camera Shy: "Mr. Chang is one of several chefs who either prohibit food photography (at Ko in New York) or have a policy against flashes (at Seiobo in Sydney, Australia, and Shoto in Toronto). High-end places like Per Se, Le Bernardin and Fat Duck discourage flash photography as well, though on a recent trip to the Thomas Keller restaurant Per Se, flashes were going off left and right, bouncing off the expansive windows overlooking Columbus Circle. “It’s reached epic proportions,” says Steven Hall, the spokesman for Bouley and many other restaurants, who has worked in the business for 16 years. “Everybody wants to get their shot. They don’t care how it affects people around them.” Moe Issa, the owner of Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, said he banned photography several months after opening when it became too much of a distraction to the other diners at his 18-seat restaurant... Jordy Trachtenberg, because of what he described as his obsessive-compulsive disorder and his love of food, has documented every bowl of ramen he’s eaten in the past two years and posted it on his blog, Ramentology. He was flabbergasted to learn there are restaurants that prohibit photography. “It’s shocking,” he said. “Is that even legal?”"

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Daily Report: Even if It Outrages the Boss, Social Net Speech Is Protected; New York Times, 1/22/13

New York Times; Daily Report: Even if It Outrages the Boss, Social Net Speech Is Protected: "Employers often seek to discourage comments that paint them in a negative light. Don’t discuss company matters publicly, a typical social media policy will say, and don’t disparage managers, co-workers or the company itself. Violations can be a firing offense. But in a series of recent rulings and advisories, labor regulators have declared many such blanket restrictions illegal. The National Labor Relations Board says workers have a right to discuss work conditions freely and without fear of retribution, whether the discussion takes place at the office or on Facebook."

In New Ad, Conservative Group Questions Hagel’s Ethics; New York Times, 1/22/13

Jim Rutenberg, New York Times; In New Ad, Conservative Group Questions Hagel’s Ethics: "The American Future Fund, a conservative group opposed to the nomination of Chuck Hagel as defense secretary, is opening up a new front in its effort against him with a national television campaign painting him as ethically challenged."

Mixed Response to Comcast in Expanding Net Access; New York Times, 1/20/13

Amy Chozick, New York Times; Mixed Response to Comcast in Expanding Net Access: "Internet Essentials is not a government program, although that would be difficult to tell from the poster. Instead, it is a two-year-old program run by Comcast, the country’s largest Internet and cable provider, meant to bring affordable broadband to low-income homes. Any family that qualifies for the National School Lunch Program is eligible for Internet service at home for $9.95 a month. The families also receive a voucher from Comcast to buy a computer for as little as $150. The program is not charity: Comcast started Internet Essentials in order to satisfy a regulatory requirement to provide Internet access to the poor, which also happens to be one of the few remaining areas for growth for cable companies across the country. More than 100,000 households in Atlanta, Philadelphia, Boston, Seattle, San Francisco and other major markets have signed up for Internet Essentials. But as the program gains popularity, the company has come under criticism, accused of overreaching in its interactions with local communities — handing out brochures with the company logo during parent-teacher nights at public schools, for instance, or enlisting teachers and pastors to spread the word to students and congregations."

Pauline Phillips, Flinty Adviser to Millions as Dear Abby, Dies at 94; New York Times, 1/17/13

Margalit Fox, New York Times; Pauline Phillips, Flinty Adviser to Millions as Dear Abby, Dies at 94: "Long before the Internet — and long before the pervasive electronic confessionals of Dr. Ruth, Dr. Phil, Dr. Laura, et al. — the Dear Abby column was a forum for the public discussion of private problems, read by tens of millions of people in hundreds of newspapers around the world. It is difficult to overstate the column’s influence on American culture at midcentury and afterward: in popular parlance, Dear Abby was for decades an affectionate synonym for a trusted, if slightly campy, confidante."

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Swarming a Book Online; New York Times, 1/20/13

David Streitfeld, New York Times; Swarming a Book Online: "“Books used to die by being ignored, but now they can be killed — and perhaps unjustly killed,” said Trevor Pinch, a Cornell sociologist who has studied Amazon reviews. “In theory, a very good book could be killed by a group of people for malicious reasons.” ...Attack reviews are hard to police. It is difficult, if not impossible, to detect the difference between an authentic critical review and an author malevolently trying to bring down a colleague, or organized assaults by fans. Amazon’s extensive rules on reviewing offer little guidance on what is permissible in negative reviews and what is not."

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Company Takes A Fair Shot At Facebook, LinkedIn, With Social Networking Patents; Intellectual Property Watch, 1/15/13

William New, Intellectual Property Watch; Company Takes A Fair Shot At Facebook, LinkedIn, With Social Networking Patents: "A Virginia-based company in the midst of a multi-million dollar merger is asserting patents on fundamental aspects of social networking it says have been infringed by Facebook, LinkedIn and three other companies. But even if the patents have validity, they come at a time of what may be a backlash against such lawsuits."

Alan Moore's Neonomicon censored by US library; Guardian, 12/6/12

Alison Flood, Guardian; Alan Moore's Neonomicon censored by US library: ""In looking at it (Neonomicon) again, as I say, it was purchased on the basis of being an award winner and on the reputation of the author, but then with further consideration, we decided that those qualifications were outweighed by some of the disturbing content of the item," the library's access services manager Barbara Yonce told WSPA. Neonomicon sees two FBI agents, Brears and Lamper, investigating a series of ritual murders. An exploration of the works of HP Lovecraft, it looks at issues of race and sexuality and contains a brutal rape scene. It is also the winner of the Bram Stoker award for Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel. In June, the National Coalition Against Censorship and other free speech organisations said that the authors' "deliberately disturbing depictions of sexual violence are included as a critical comment on how such subject matter is handled elsewhere within the genre", and that the book's "critical acclaim testifies to its artistic value which is aided, not eclipsed, by its sexual content". Learning of the library's decision to remove the book this month, Acacia O'Connor, project coordinator for the Kids' Right to Read Project, said that "they may be calling it 'deselection' but we have another name for it: censorship"."

New Jersey Symphony President Quits After Questions on His Past; New York Times, 1/11/13

New York Times; New Jersey Symphony President Quits After Questions on His Past: "The development came as a New York Times investigation into Mr. Dare’s background raised questions about aspects of his résumé and business accomplishments. Former associates have suggested that he exaggerated the extent of his business dealings, and evidence to support some of his claims — like his having testified frequently before Congress — could not immediately be found."