Friday, February 28, 2014

At Newark Airport, the Lights Are On, and They’re Watching You; New York Times, 2/17/14

Diane Cardwell, New York Times; At Newark Airport, the Lights Are On, and They’re Watching You:
"To customers like the Port Authority, the systems hold the promise of better management of security as well as energy, traffic and people. But they also raise the specter of technology racing ahead of the ability to harness it, running risks of invading privacy and mismanaging information, privacy advocates say.
Fred H. Cate, director of the Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research at Indiana University, described the potential for misuse as “terrifying.”
His concern derived not from the technology itself but from the process of adopting it, driven by, he said, “that combination of a gee-whiz technology and an event or an opportunity that makes it affordable.” As a result, he said, there was often not enough thought given to what data would actually be useful and how to properly manage it.
At Newark Airport, the Port Authority will own and maintain the data it collects. For now, it says, no other agencies have access to it, and a law enforcement agency can obtain it only through a subpoena or written request."

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Chilling Phone Call Adds to Hurdles of Publishing Xi Jinping Book; New York Times, 2/19/14

Chris Buckley, New York Times; A Chilling Phone Call Adds to Hurdles of Publishing Xi Jinping Book:
"The exiled writer Yu Jie takes a bleak view of President Xi Jinping of China. In his latest book, still awaiting publication, Mr. Yu describes Mr. Xi as a thuggish politician driven by a dangerous compound of Maoist nostalgia and authoritarian, expansionist impulses.
No wonder Mr. Yu’s jeremiad, “Godfather of China Xi Jinping,” has no chance of appearing in mainland Chinese bookstores. But Mr. Yu, who lives in Virginia, has said plans to publish the book have encountered worrisome hurdles in Hong Kong, the self-administered territory that preserved a robust tradition of free speech after returning to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. One Hong Kong publisher who planned to issue the book was arrested when he visited mainland China, and now a second has abandoned plans to publish it after receiving a menacing phone call, Mr. Yu said."

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

An Education in Ethics;, 2/25/14

John T. Delaney,; An Education in Ethics:
"...The Wolf of Wall Street demonstrates why ethics is another tool whose importance cannot be overstated.
Some students are skeptical about how ethical scenarios presented in class apply to real life, and there is debate among faculty about whether or not ethics can be taught to college students. While it is agreed that everyone will face an ethical dilemma at some point in their career, their degree of difficulty will vary. These situations aren't convenient, often require quick and strong action and can cause much collateral damage if handled improperly...
Despite the obstacles, ethical education is more important than ever. Tomorrow's business leaders must deal with technological intrusions and vulnerabilities that were not imagined 10 years ago, as well as the wake of ethical lapses that caused the 2008 financial crisis. Business schools have given lip service to ethics for more than 50 years. We must begin to walk the talk or we will continue to see ethical lapses and greater government regulation."

Monday, February 24, 2014

Concern Grows Over Academic Freedom in Egypt; Chronicle of Higher Education via New York Times, 2/23/14

Ursula Lindsey, Chronicle of Higher Education via New York Times; Concern Grows Over Academic Freedom in Egypt:
"The indictment here of a well-known professor on charges of espionage has sparked new concerns about academic freedom in Egypt. The military-backed government is carrying out a widespread crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group that until last year governed the country. Some political scientists say they can no longer speak freely for fear of being accused of supporting the Brotherhood.
That is what Emad el-Din Shahin, a professor of public policy at the American University in Cairo, said happened to him. Mr. Shahin, editor in chief of The Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Politics and a former visiting professor at Harvard University and the University of Notre Dame, is a defendant in what prosecutors have dubbed “the greatest espionage case in the country’s modern history...”
The Committee on Academic Freedom of the Middle East Studies Association of North America issued a statement this month calling on the Egyptian government to drop the charges.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Edward Snowden leaks spur new privacy industry; Financial Times, 2/21/14

Hannah Kuchler, Financial Times; Edward Snowden leaks spur new privacy industry:
"The Edward Snowden leaks revealing a US mass surveillance programme have helped kick-start a new privacy industry as companies rush to fulfil a rising demand for products that protect privacy."

Booksellers bare all to protest censorship attempt of ‘Everybody Gets Naked’ children’s book; New York Daily News, 2/20/14

Michael Walsh, New York Daily News; Booksellers bare all to protest censorship attempt of ‘Everybody Gets Naked’ children’s book:
" Book lovers would rather be stripped of their clothes than their right to read freely.
A group of French booksellers and publishers took off their clothes Wednesday to protest conservative politician Jean-François Copé's call to censor a children's book from 2011 called "Everybody Gets Naked" (Tous à Poil), the Local reported.
The storybook shows that everyone takes off their clothes sometimes to calm children's fears about their own bodies, according to authors Claire Franek and Marc Daniau."

Some Bot to Watch Over Me; New York Times, 2/19/14

Steven Kurutz, New York Times; Some Bot to Watch Over Me:
"No parent wants a child smoking pot in the den with a gang of delinquents while he or she is at work. Still, is it a good thing that parents can so effortlessly watch children who are at home and unsupervised?
Torin Monahan, an associate professor of communication studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the co-author of “SuperVision,” a book about surveillance in society, said that today’s youth are almost inured to being monitored, particularly when it comes to social media. But the justifications for doing so in this case are questionable, he said, because they are fear-based. And because of that there are developmental implications: “We don’t allow youth as much agency as perhaps they need to develop identities fully apart from their families.”
“Invariably people will spy on family members,” Mr. Monahan added. “I worry it could undermine trust relationships in families.”
Adam Sager, a security-industry veteran and one of the creators of Canary, disagrees with that assessment.
“The way we look at it — and we feel strongly about this — we believe Canary brings families and people closer,” Mr. Sager said."

Microsoft denies global censorship of China-related searches; Reuters, 2/12/14

Paul Carsten, Reuters; Microsoft denies global censorship of China-related searches:
"Microsoft Corp denied on Wednesday it was omitting websites from its Bing search engine results for users outside China after a Chinese rights group said the U.S. firm was censoring material the government deems politically sensitive., a China-based freedom of speech advocacy group, said in a statement on Tuesday that Bing was filtering out both English and Chinese language search results for terms such as "Dalai Lama", the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader whom Beijing brands as a violence-seeking separatist, charges he denies.
Microsoft, responding to the rights group's allegations, said a system fault had removed some search results for users outside China. The company has in the past come under fire for censoring the Chinese version of internet phone and messaging software Skype."

Bing censoring Chinese language search results for users in the US; Guardian, 2/11/14

Dominic Rushe, Guardian; Bing censoring Chinese language search results for users in the US:
"Microsoft’s search engine Bing appears to be censoring information for Chinese language users in the US in the same way it filters results in mainland China.
Searches first conducted by anti-censorship campaigners at FreeWeibo, a tool that allows uncensored search of Chinese blogs, found that Bing returns radically different results in the US for English and simplified Chinese language searches on a series of controversial terms.
These include Dalai Lama, June 4 incident (how the Chinese refer to the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989), Falun Gong and FreeGate, a popular internet workaround for government censorship."

Muzzling Speech in India; New York Times, 2/20/14

Editorial Board, New York Times; Muzzling Speech in India:
"The decision last week by Penguin India to withdraw from publication and pulp copies of “The Hindus: An Alternative History” is only the latest assault on free speech in India. The publisher’s move is likely to encourage more demands for censorship.
India’s 1949 Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and expression. But colonial-era laws restricting that freedom are eagerly being exploited by self-appointed guardians of religious orthodoxy. Penguin India said it pulled the book by Wendy Doniger off the market because it faced criminal and civil suits under a 1927 amendment to British India’s 1860 penal code, which makes it a crime to outrage “the religious feeling” of Indians. Both Hindus and Muslims have invoked this law to ban books they deem offensive."

College could see funds cut for choice of gay-themed ‘Fun Home’;, 2/20/14

Kevin Melrose,; College could see funds cut for choice of gay-themed ‘Fun Home’ :
"A South Carolina university that came under fire over the summer for including the gay-themed Fun Home as recommended reading for incoming freshmen now may see its state funding reduced for the decision.
The Charleston Post and Courier reports the state House Ways and Means committee on Wednesday approved a budget that would cut $52,000 from the College of Charleston’s summer reading program in retaliation for recommending Alison Bechdel’s Eisner Award-winning 2006 memoir as part of “The College Reads!” (Contrary to widespread reports, the graphic novel wasn’t required reading.)
According to the newspaper, the 13-10 vote came after a lengthy debate in which “some House members accused the college of promoting a gay agenda and forcing pornography on its students.”

Monday, February 10, 2014

Pentagon vexed by inability to solve ethics lapses; Politico, 2/10/14

Philip Ewing, Politico; Pentagon vexed by inability to solve ethics lapses:
"“I don’t think there is one simple answer to the issue of ethics, values, a lapse in some of those areas that we do know about,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters the other day at the Pentagon. “That’s why we’re taking a hard look at this.”...
So when Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert was asked last week why he thought a cadre of 30 senior nuclear power instructors in Charleston, S.C., might risk their jobs by potentially cheating on their exam, he shook his head.
“If I knew that answer, I would be doing all kind of things within the Navy,” Greenert said. He vowed that this investigation would go as deep or wide as necessary to keep it from happening again. “We will be very introspective on this.”...
According to documents described at the time by The Associated Press, the anonymous sailor who complained about the Memphis’s cheating did so because he thought it was unfair that he’d been singled out for punishment when it was so commonplace among the crew. He argued that his reprimand was comparable to being caught driving at 60 miles per hour in a 55 zone and losing his license for life, while all the other drivers kept on speeding.
The head of the Navy’s submarine force, then-Vice Adm. John Richardson, cited the Memphis case at the time as an example of why the fleet depends on integrity."

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Pitt Professor Aims for Grads to Pack Core Values for Entrepreneurial Pursuits; Diverse Issues in Higher Education, 2/5/14

Reginald Stuart, Diverse Issues in Higher Education; Pitt Professor Aims for Grads to Pack Core Values for Entrepreneurial Pursuits:
"Today, Harper, 43, is a clinical assistant professor of business administration, organizations and entrepreneurship at the University of Pittsburgh. He is one of less than a handful of Ph.D. academicians of color nationwide stressing ethics and values as an integral part of their teaching of entrepreneurship and feels his role for his generation and the one behind him is to strengthen their appreciation for these concepts while nurturing their interest and grasp of non-traditional business strategies...
Harper explains that entrepreneurship is a way of being innovative and solving problems, but he emphasizes that Black Americans need to start thinking about being more than owners of hair salons or small property management companies.
“[Black Americans are] so caught up defending the old modes of entrepreneurship that we can’t start focusing on tech-backed, high-growth potential business[es],” he says. “The employment market is now demanding [that] programs train students in ethics, strategy and entrepreneurship. Those are your growth areas.”
Ethics and education
Good ethics education goes beyond students and includes administrators and trustees, notes Harper. Such value-driven approaches help business leaders — a group that includes college presidents and administrators — avoid many pitfalls that could derail their larger goals and personal careers."

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Hagel adds urgency to push for ethics crackdown; Associated Press via Washington Post, 2/5/14

Associated Press via Washington Post; Hagel adds urgency to push for ethics crackdown:
"Concerned that ethical problems inside the military might run deeper than he realized, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered service leaders Wednesday to add urgency to their drive to ensure “moral character and moral courage” in a force emerging from more than a decade of war.
Almost a year into his tenure as Pentagon chief, Hagel had been worried by a string of ethics scandals that produced a wave of unwelcome publicity for the military. But in light of new disclosures this week, including the announcement of alleged cheating among senior sailors in the nuclear Navy, Hagel decided to push for a fuller accounting...
"The Navy announced on Tuesday that it had opened an investigation into cheating allegations against about 30 senior sailors representing about one-fifth of its instructors at a Charleston, S.C.,-based school for naval nuclear power reactor operators.
Unlike an Air Force cheating probe that has implicated nearly 100 officers responsible for land-based nuclear missiles that stand ready for short-notice launch, those implicated in the Navy investigation have no responsibility for nuclear weapons.
The Navy said its implicated sailors are accused of having cheated on written tests they must pass to be certified as instructors at the nuclear propulsion school. A number of them are alleged to have transmitted test information to other instructors from their home computers, which if verified would be a violation of restrictions on the use and transmission of classified information.
The matter is being probed by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service."

Russian laws choking free speech must be repealed now; Guardian, 2/5/14

Guardian; Russian laws choking free speech must be repealed now:
"The story of modern Russia is the story of dramatic, almost seismic change. Russian voices, both literary and journalistic, have always striven to make themselves heard above the clamour of their nation's unfolding story – commenting on it, shaping it and, in doing so, contributing to the political and intellectual shape of the world far beyond their country's borders. But during the last 18 months, Russian lawmakers have passed a number of laws that place a chokehold on the right to express oneself freely in Russia. As writers and artists, we cannot stand quietly by as we watch our fellow writers and journalists pressed into silence or risking prosecution and often drastic punishment for the mere act of communicating their thoughts.
Three of these laws specifically put writers at risk: the so-called gay "propaganda" and "blasphemy" laws, prohibiting the "promotion" of homosexuality and "religious insult" respectively, and the recriminalisation of defamation. A healthy democracy must hear the independent voices of all its citizens; the global community needs to hear, and be enriched by, the diversity of Russian opinion. We therefore urge the Russian authorities to repeal these laws that strangle free speech, to recognise Russia's obligations under the international covenant on civil and political rights to respect freedom of opinion, expression and belief – including the right not to believe – and to commit itself to creating an environment in which all citizens can experience the benefit of the free exchange of opinion."

Sochi 2014: world authors join protest against Putin; Guardian, 2/5/14

Alison Flood and Shaun Walker, Guardian; Sochi 2014: world authors join protest against Putin:
"More than 200 prominent international authors, including Günter Grass, Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood and Jonathan Franzen, have joined forces to denounce the "chokehold" they say Russia's anti-gay and blasphemy laws place on the freedom of expression, amid a growing swell of protest on the eve of the opening of the Sochi Winter Olympics.
The authors' open letter, published in the Guardian on Thursday, comes as athletes and journalists from around the world descend on the Black Sea resort before the lavish opening ceremony at a specially built stadium on Friday evening. President Vladimir Putin has spoken of the Games as a personal project to show the world Russia's greatness and its ability to host such major events, but the build-up has been marred by controversy over corruption and rights abuses in Russia.
The open letter to Russia condemns the recently passed gay propaganda and blasphemy laws, which respectively prohibit the "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations" among minors and criminalise religious insult, as well as the recent recriminalisation of defamation. The three laws "specifically put writers at risk", say the authors, and they "cannot stand quietly by as we watch our fellow writers and journalists pressed into silence or risking prosecution and often drastic punishment for the mere act of communicating their thoughts".

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Big Data’s Dangerous New Era of Discrimination; Harvard Business Review, 1/29/14

Michael Schrage, Harvard Business Review; Big Data’s Dangerous New Era of Discrimination:
"But the law, ethics and economics leave unclear where value-added personalization and segmentation end and harmful discrimination begins. Does promotionally privileging gay male customers inherently and unfairly discriminate against their straight counterparts? Is it good business — let alone fair — to withhold special offers from African-American women because, statistically and probabilistically, they are demonstrably less profitable than Asian and Hispanic female customers?
Big Data analytics renders these questions less hypothetical than tactical, practical and strategic. In theory and practice, Big Data digitally transmutes cultural clichés and stereotypes into empirically verifiable data sets. Combine those data with the computational protocols of “Nate Silver-ian” predictive analytics and organizations worldwide have the ability — the obligation? — to innovatively, cost-effectively and profitably segment/discriminate their customers and clients."...
Tomorrow’s Big Data challenge isn’t technical; it’s whether managements have algorithms and analytics that are both fairly transparent and transparently fair. Big Data champions and practitioners had better be discriminating about how discriminating they want to be."

Monday, February 3, 2014

Ethics Questions Arise as Genetic Testing of Embryos Increases; New York Times, 2/3/14

Gina Kolata, New York Times; Ethics Questions Arise as Genetic Testing of Embryos Increases:
"Genetic testing of embryos has been around for more than a decade, but use of the procedure has soared in recent years as methods have improved and more disease-causing genes have been discovered. The in vitro fertilization and testing are expensive — typically about $20,000 — but they make it possible for couples to ensure that their children will not inherit a faulty gene and to avoid the difficult choice of whether to abort a pregnancy if testing of a fetus detects a genetic problem.
But the procedure also raises unsettling ethical questions that trouble advocates for the disabled and have left some doctors struggling with what they should tell their patients...
Preimplantation diagnosis often goes unmentioned by doctors. In a recent national survey, Dr. Robert Klitzman, a professor of clinical psychiatry and bioethicist at Columbia University, found that most internists were unsure about whether they would suggest the method to couples with genes for diseases like cystic fibrosis or breast cancer...
“In the medical community, the lack of knowledge about P.G.D. is a serious concern,” said Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, a dementia researcher at Duke University Medical Center and an author of the new paper, referring to preimplantation genetic diagnosis. In his area — brain disorders — he adds, there are no guidelines about using the method, even though there are hundreds of inherited neurological conditions. Ms. Kalinsky, a nurse, and her husband, a doctor, only learned about the testing from a genetic counselor.
Ethicists are divided about use of the method."

Military Makes Ethics a Priority; Wall Street Journal, 2/2/14

Julian E. Barnes, Wall Street Journal; Military Makes Ethics a Priority:
"The U.S. military is intensifying its focus on ethics training in the wake of a series of investigations of military brass, the Pentagon's top uniformed officer said.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that as part of this new emphasis, the military needs to place more importance on officers' character when weighing promotions...
In addition, the Joint Staff has pushed the military services to overhaul how they prepare future leaders. Pentagon officials have been developing a new kind of performance review that will use peer and subordinate comments to provide feedback to officers.
Known as 360-degree reviews, these evaluations are controversial within the military. Legal restrictions likely will block the use of anonymous comments by subordinates in consideration of promotions. But Col. Thomas said that the reviews would help officers identify and correct behavior that could cause problems later in their careers.
The recent ethical lapses, Gen. Dempsey said, weren't directly related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But he said the high rate of deployments of officers and the need to focus on training for the next tours of duty have resulted in the military spending less time reinforcing professional standards.
"It is not the war that has caused this," said Gen. Dempsey. "It is the pace, and our failure to understand that at that pace, we were neglecting the tools that manage us as a profession over time.""

Ethical Concerns Hit Oscar Races; New York Times, 2/2/14

Michael Cieply, New York Times; Ethical Concerns Hit Oscar Races:
"Next week, about 6,000 Oscar voters will start casting ballots for their favorite films of 2013 and those who made them. Will they make moral judgments as well as artistic ones with their votes?...
Together, the two controversies are this year’s contribution to an emerging insistence by many who watch the Oscar process, and some who participate in it, that Academy members should take into account moral, ethical and social factors when marking a ballot or enforcing the rules.
Asked to comment on Ms. Farrow’s claims, an Academy spokeswoman wrote in an email, “The Academy honors achievement in film, not the personal lives of filmmakers and artists.”
But Dylan Farrow, through her letter, now insists that accountability, at least as she sees it, be part of the package."

Sunday, February 2, 2014

F.C.C. Says It Will Double Spending on High-Speed Internet in Schools and Libraries; New York Times, 2/1/14

Edward Wyatt, New York Times; F.C.C. Says It Will Double Spending on High-Speed Internet in Schools and Libraries:
"The Federal Communications Commission will double the amount of money it devotes to adding high-speed Internet connections in schools and libraries over the next two years, in an effort to meet President Obama’s promise to provide broadband service for an estimated 20 million American students in 15,000 schools, officials said Saturday.
Financing for the new spending will come from restructuring the $2.4 billion E-Rate program, which provides money for “advanced telecommunications and information services” using the proceeds of fees paid by telecommunications users. The proportion that goes to broadband service in schools and libraries will increase to $2 billion a year from $1 billion...
A 2010 survey conducted for the F.C.C. by Harris Interactive found that roughly half of schools receiving E-Rate funds connected to the Internet at speeds of three megabits per second or less — too slow to stream many video services. The commission wants to give all schools access to broadband connections of 100 megabits per second by 2015, and connections of up to one gigabit per second by the end of the decade. Another survey, by the American Library Association, found that 60 percent of libraries reported their speeds failed to meet their patrons’ needs some or most of the time."

High-school ethics bowl a first for Washington state; Seattle Times, 2/1/14

Coral Garnick, Seattle Times; High-school ethics bowl a first for Washington state:
"In the first Washington State High School Ethics Bowl, 100 students spent their Saturday discussing topics from the legalization of marijuana to forgiving political sex scandals to supporting research on genetically engineered meat...
“In the age of the Internet, we are really exposed to the media, current events and political scandal,” Thongmee said. “I think high-schoolers these days just care more about ethical issues and want to talk about them.”
With Saturday’s event, Washington joins a growing list of states holding high-school ethics bowls. Last year, the first National High School Ethics Bowl was organized by the Parr Center for Ethics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The bowls encourage high-school students to think about ethical issues, promote critical thinking and show young people there are many ways to see the world, said Jana Mohr Lone, event organizer and director of University of Washington’s Center for Philosophy for Children...
Ethics bowls are competitions in which students have a dialogue about and analyze a series of wide-ranging ethical dilemmas. It is not to be confused with debate team, which many high schools offer, Lone said.
“People’s first assumption is always to say, ‘Oh it is like a debate,’ ” Lone said. “But we are not assigning sides of the issue. The teams’ views and perspectives may be very similar, but they are judged on their ability to offer articulate, well-informed and reasonable arguments.”
For Hannah Kortbawi, also of the Lakeside team, the Ethics Bowl was an opportunity to think critically and discuss topics that came up in her bioethics class last semester. When her teacher told her she should join the club and compete, she didn’t hesitate.
“Ethics are so hard to talk about, but that is what makes it so fun,” Kortbawi, 18, said. “It makes me feel like a better person for thinking about it.”"