Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Access denied: Reporters say federal officials, data increasingly off limits; Washington Post, 3/30/15

Paul Farhi, Washington Post; Access denied: Reporters say federal officials, data increasingly off limits:
"Tensions between reporters and public information officers — “hacks and flacks” in the vernacular — aren’t new, of course. Reporters have always wanted more information than government officials have been willing or able to give.
But journalists say the lid has grown tighter under the Obama administration, whose chief executive promised in 2009 to bring “an unprecedented level of openness” to the federal government.
The frustrations boiled over last summer in a letter to President Obama signed by 38 organizations representing journalists and press-freedom advocates. The letter decried “politically driven suppression of news and information about federal agencies” by spokesmen. “We consider these restrictions a form of censorship — an attempt to control what the public is allowed to see and hear,” the groups wrote.
They asked for “a clear directive” from Obama “telling federal employees they’re not only free to answer questions from reporters and the public, but actually encouraged to do so.”
Obama hasn’t acted on the suggestion. But his press secretary, Josh Earnest, defended the president’s record, noting in a letter to the groups that, among other things, the administration has processed a record number of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, established more protection for whistleblowers and posted White House visitor logs for the first time."

Leaders Of Indiana Companies 'Deeply Concerned' Over LGBT Discrimination Law; Huffington Post, 3/30/15

Sam Levine, Huffington Post; Leaders Of Indiana Companies 'Deeply Concerned' Over LGBT Discrimination Law:
"In a letter to Gov. Mike Pence (R) and state Republican leaders on Monday, the CEOs of nine different large companies headquartered in Indiana expressed concern that the state's controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act would lead to discrimination against employees.
The law would allow corporations or private citizens to cite their religious beliefs as a defense if they are sued, which many say would make discrimination against LGBT individuals permissible. While Pence has said that the intent of the law was not to discriminate, the CEOs said on Monday that intent was not relevant.
"Regardless of the original intention of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, we are deeply concerned about the impact it is having on our employees and on the reputation of our state," the executives, which included leaders from Angie's List and Eli Lilly, wrote in the letter. "All of our companies seek to promote fair, diverse and inclusive workplaces. Our employees must not feel unwelcome in the place where they work and live.""

Sunday, March 29, 2015

ALA President responds to House proposal to eliminate IMLS; American Library Association (ALA) News, 3/25/15

Jazzy Wright, American Library Association (ALA)News; ALA President responds to House proposal to eliminate IMLS:
"The budget resolution released this week by the U.S. House Budget Committee proposes to eliminate the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the agency that administers federal funding support for more than 123,000 libraries in virtually every community in the nation. American Library Association (ALA) President Courtney Young today released the following statement in response:
"We are shocked and appalled that the U.S. House Budget Committee would call for the elimination of federal support for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the agency that administers federal funding to libraries. Our nation’s public libraries receive more than 1.5 billion in-person visitors(pdf) each year from students, parents, job-seekers and seniors alike. Through grant-making and federal funding, IMLS aids libraries in supporting lifelong learning and equitable access for all. Since its founding, IMLS has provided invaluable leadership and expert oversight to libraries and supported libraries in providing dynamic services to their patrons, such as workforce training, maker spaces, coding classes and entrepreneurship resources.
"ALA calls on every member of the Budget Committee, and of Congress, to recognize the enormous benefits that IMLS creates for libraries and constituents in their own communities. In Chairman Tom Price’s (R-GA) own district, for example, IMLS helped establish and now helps fund a hugely efficient and successful statewide library catalog that gives millions of Georgians and every library in the state access to everything in every other library’s collection. The State Librarian of Georgia estimates that replacing this statewide PINES network with individual systems would cost over $100 million over the next ten years alone."

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Major publisher retracts 43 scientific papers amid wider fake peer-review scandal; Washington Post, 3/28/15

Fred Barbash, Washington Post; Major publisher retracts 43 scientific papers amid wider fake peer-review scandal:
"A major publisher of scholarly medical and science articles has retracted 43 papers because of “fabricated” peer reviews amid signs of a broader fake peer review racket affecting many more publications.
The publisher is BioMed Central, based in the United Kingdom, which puts out 277 peer-reviewed journals. A partial list of the retracted articles suggests most of them were written by scholars at universities in China, including China Medical University, Sichuan University, Shandong University and Jiaotong University Medical School. But Jigisha Patel, associate editorial director for research integrity at BioMed Central, said it’s not “a China problem. We get a lot of robust research of China. We see this as a broader problem of how scientists are judged.”
Meanwhile, the Committee on Publication Ethics, a multidisciplinary group that includes more than 9,000 journal editors, issued a statement suggesting a much broader potential problem. The committee, it said, “has become aware of systematic, inappropriate attempts to manipulate the peer review processes of several journals across different publishers.” Those journals are now reviewing manuscripts to determine how many may need to be retracted, it said."

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Naspa’s Annual Conference Was Going Well. Then Yik Yak Showed Up; Chronicle of Higher Education, 3/24/15

Andy Thomason, Chronicle of Higher Education; Naspa’s Annual Conference Was Going Well. Then Yik Yak Showed Up:
"Student-affairs professionals flocked to New Orleans this week for the annual meeting of Naspa — Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. It’s one of the few times of the year they can get away from students and their annoying habits like, say, their use of the anonymous messaging app (and frequent powder keg of vulgarity) Yik Yak. Sounds like a great getaway, right?
Foolish student-affairs professionals. When will they learn? Yik Yak knows no borders.
The conference — which, again, is attended by people who have spent time mopping up Yik Yak messes — has been at least partially derailed by some colorful posts on the app. The activity was so pronounced that the association had to put out a statement responding to the posts..."

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Poll Finds Little Support for Cuomo’s Policy on Purging State Emails; New York Times, 3/23/15

Thomas Kaplan, New York Times; Poll Finds Little Support for Cuomo’s Policy on Purging State Emails:
"New York State voters overwhelmingly disagree with the Cuomo administration’s policy of automatically deleting state workers’ emails after 90 days, according to a poll released Monday.
Eighty percent of voters said emails should be saved for a significantly longer period of time, according to the poll, which was conducted by Siena College. Only 16 percent supported the speedy email purges.
In Albany, the email policy has drawn loud criticism in recent weeks from government watchdog groups as well as some lawmakers, who have proposed legislation to stop the email purges. The policy has also reinforced Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s reputation for seeking to tightly control information, a defining trait of his administration."

Bill Would Limit Use of Student Data; New York Times, 3/22/15

Natasha Singer, New York Times; Bill Would Limit Use of Student Data:
"Is the digital revolution in the classroom giving the education technology industry carte blanche to exploit student data?
That was the question some teacher and parents groups have posed in their public responses to the news last week that Pearson, the education publisher, had been covertly monitoring social media sites to identify students who might have disclosed questions from its assessment tests.
In an effort to ease parent and teacher concerns, two congressmen are planning to introduce a bill on Monday that would place limits on how education technology companies can use information about kindergarten through 12th-grade students.
Called the Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act, the bill would prohibit companies that operate school services — like online homework portals, digital grade books for teachers or student email programs — from knowingly using or disclosing students’ personal information to tailor advertisements to them. It would also bar them from collecting or using student data to create marketing profiles."

Saturday, March 21, 2015

India: 600 Expelled for Test Cheating; Associated Press via New York Times, 3/20/15

Associated Press via New York Times; India: 600 Expelled for Test Cheating:
"About 600 high school students in eastern India were expelled this week for cheating on pressure-packed 10th-grade examinations, education authorities said Friday. The scandal received widespread attention after Indian television footage showed parents and friends of students scaling the outer walls of school buildings to pass cheat sheets to students inside taking exams."

Online ‘Swatting’ Becomes a Hazard for Popular Video Gamers and Police Responders; New York Times, 3/20/15

Nick Wingfield, New York Times; Online ‘Swatting’ Becomes a Hazard for Popular Video Gamers and Police Responders:
"Swatting has become enough of a drain on local resources that the state’s attorney for Will County in Illinois, James W. Glasgow, recently proposed state legislation that would require defendants found guilty of swatting to pay back municipalities for calling on emergency responders. Swatting victims say they have been able to prevent repeated raids at their homes by asking the police to note in records available to emergency dispatchers that they are likely targets.
Tracking the culprits behind the pranks is difficult. While bomb scares and other hoaxes have been around for decades, making threats anonymously has never been so easy.
Swatters use text messages and online phone services like Skype to relay their threats, employing techniques to make themselves hard to trace. They obtain personal addresses for their victims through property records and other public databases, or by tricking businesses or customer service representatives at a victim’s Internet provider into revealing the information."

The case for quitting e-mail; Washington Post, 3/20/15

Anne Applebaum, Washington Post; The case for quitting e-mail:
"What to do? Increasingly, the answer — not just for government officials but for all of us — is going to be: Don’t use e-mail. Or at least don’t use e-mail for anything that you wouldn’t put on a postcard. And maybe don’t use e-mail for anything that you wouldn’t mind seeing published in a newspaper. Although we are used to thinking of e-mail as a “private” form of communication, it’s just become too easy to steal and will only become more so.
As a result, these methods have become readily available to all kinds of people, not just those who work for governments. The same is true of bugs and recording devices, many of which are now so cheap, small and portable that they don’t require special investment to install, let alone special espionage training. In London, the Sunday Mirror is on trial for hacking into celebrities’ telephones, repeatedly, over many years. If tabloid journalists can do it, anybody can. Recording a telephone conversation is easy, bugging a restaurant or a hotel room even easier. Public officials are just now waking up to the fact that they live in a world of total surveillance. It won’t be long before the rest of us are going to discover the same thing.
Technology may eventually provide solutions, perhaps in the form of user-friendly encrypted e-mail systems, perhaps in the form of new-generation sweepers that can detect the latest bugs. The legal system may eventually catch up, too. But until then, life for anyone who wants to be protected from any kind of prying — from snooping companies, from governments, from media, from ex-spouses — will have to move in the opposite direction and use less technology. If you don’t want to be overheard, it’s not enough anymore to stay away from Facebook: Don’t use e-mail, don’t talk on the phone and do speak in person, preferably outside. Above all, write letters. The postman might read it, but the government, your colleagues and the Sunday Mirror probably won’t."

Letter From the Editor: Illuminating Gay America; New York Times, 3/20/15

David Leonhardt, New York Times; Letter From the Editor: Illuminating Gay America:
"Last year, we began looking for a more detailed portrait of gay and lesbian America. The Census Bureau doesn’t have it, because it doesn’t ask about sexual orientation. And most national polls don’t have a large enough sample to say anything meaningful on a local level. But Gallup itself surveys thousands and thousands of people every month, and it ultimately told us that it was planning to release data about sexual orientation and metropolitan areas. Claire Cain Miller and I have an article about that data.
The new data is not the last word on gay America, because it doesn’t get any more detailed than metropolitan areas and covers only the 50 largest ones. But it’s the most detailed statistical portrait that’s yet to be released. (Previous work has tended to cover only same-sex couples.)...
Eventually, I expect that the Census Bureau will solve this data problem. As Americans become more accepting of gays and lesbians, sexual orientation seems likely to join race, income and other subjects included on the census. But that can’t happen until 2020 — the date of the next decennial census — at the earliest. Until then, we’ll have to rely on other sources of data to understand the country’s full demographics."

The Metro Areas With the Largest, and Smallest, Gay Populations; New York Times, 3/20/15

David Leonhardt and Claire Cain Miller, New York Times; The Metro Areas With the Largest, and Smallest, Gay Populations:
"The Census Bureau asks Americans about subjects as varied as race, age, annual income and even their source of home heating. But there is one glaring demographic omission: The census does not ask people about their sexual orientation. As a result, there has long been a shroud of uncertainty around the geography of gay and lesbian Americans.
A new analysis of Gallup survey data offers the most detailed estimates yet about where people who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender live."

Friday, March 20, 2015

Democrats Renew Push For Colleges To Establish Cyberbullying Policies That Cover LGBT Students; Huffington Post, 3/18/15

Tyler Kingkade, Huffington Post; Democrats Renew Push For Colleges To Establish Cyberbullying Policies That Cover LGBT Students:
"Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the top Democrat on the Senate's education committee, wants to require colleges to establish policies prohibiting cyberbullying and harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Murray, along with Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), unveiled legislation Wednesday they say would help mitigate harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students by requiring universities to adopt policies banning students from using online communication to taunt their peers. The lawmakers point to the death of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi, who committed suicide in 2010 after being a victim of cyberbullying, as an example of what they hope to prevent.
The Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act of 2015 would force colleges taking federal money -- which is nearly all of them -- to establish policies that prohibit harassment based on actual or perceived race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or religion. The bill would also require schools to have policies banning cyberbullying, which is defined as any harassment taking place through electronic or mobile communication services.
Nearly one in five college students are victims of cyberbullying, according to a 2014 study published by SAGE Publications. One in four LGBT students -- and one-third of transgender students -- face harassment in college, a 2010 survey by the advocacy group Campus Pride found."

Monica Lewinsky Is Back, but This Time It’s on Her Terms; New York Times, 3/19/15

Jessica Bennett, New York Times; Monica Lewinsky Is Back, but This Time It’s on Her Terms:
"Recently, she took part in an anti-bullying workshop at the Horace Mann School, and joined a feminist networking group. (“I consider myself a feminist with a lowercase ‘f,’ ” she told me. “I believe in equality. But I think I’m drawn to the issues more than the movement.”)
Perhaps most interestingly, in October, onstage at a Forbes conference, she spoke out for the first time about the digital harassment (or cyberbullying) that has affected everyone from female bloggers to Jennifer Lawrence to ... her: “I lost my reputation. I was publicly identified as someone I didn’t recognize. And I lost my sense of self,” she told the crowd."

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Bonuses unearned: Awards to dishonest VA workers must be retrieved; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 3/17/15

Editorial Board, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Bonuses unearned: Awards to dishonest VA workers must be retrieved:
"Some Department of Veterans Affairs employees got bonuses by manipulating reports so they would qualify for the extra pay. Now that the truth is out, who thinks those people should get to keep the money? Would anyone but those workers answer “yes”?
Not likely. But in the lumbering bureaucracy that is the VA, it will take an act of Congress to get the money back. Fortunately, there is support in the House and Senate for retrieving the taxpayer dollars that the workers acquired by being dishonest.
The House recently passed a measure that would authorize VA Secretary Robert McDonald to rescind bonuses and recoup payments from employees who contributed to poor veteran care. A measure in the Senate has a similar goal, but it is more narrow and would apply only to employees in the scandal involving waiting lists for medical appointments."

U.S. Sets New Record For Denying, Censoring Government Files; Associated Press via Huffington Post, 3/18/15

Associated Press via Huffington Post; U.S. Sets New Record For Denying, Censoring Government Files:
"The Obama administration set a new record again for more often than ever censoring government files or outright denying access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, according to a new analysis of federal data by The Associated Press.
The government took longer to turn over files when it provided any, said more regularly that it couldn't find documents, and refused a record number of times to turn over files quickly that might be especially newsworthy.
It also acknowledged in nearly 1 in 3 cases that its initial decisions to withhold or censor records were improper under the law — but only when it was challenged."

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Pitt, CMU and UPMC hope to remake health care via new big data alliance; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 3/16/15

Bill Toland, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Pitt, CMU and UPMC hope to remake health care via new big data alliance:
"Pittsburgh is making a big bet on big data.
UPMC, the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University on Monday announced the formation of the Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance to “revolutionize health care and wellness” by using data to detect potential outbreaks as well as create health care innovations that will spawn spinoff companies...
The universities and UPMC acknowledged that security of personal health information is a paramount concern. For research purposes, clinical data is usually scrubbed of personal identifiers, but when devices are gathering and sending data from smartphones and other wearable technologies, the potential for a breach is heightened."

Thursday, March 12, 2015

What’s Wrong With the ‘Blurred Lines’ Copyright Ruling; New York Times, 3/11/15

Jon Caramanica, New York Times; What’s Wrong With the ‘Blurred Lines’ Copyright Ruling:
"Besides, in an age in which popular music is incredibly diverse, with more sonic references, instruments and digital trickery available than ever, using sheet music as a measure of a song’s originality is a weak tactic, and possibly an irresponsible one. The “Blurred Lines” verdict is a victory for an outmoded law, but also an outmoded way of thinking about music.
There are untold things that static sheet music can’t capture: tone, feel and intensity or texture, all of which are as important to modern songwriting as the notes, and probably more so. Relying on the sheet music exposes a generational bias, too — implicit in the premise of the case is that Mr. Gaye’s version of songwriting is somehow more serious than what Mr. Williams does, since it is the one that the law is designed to protect.
There is, it should be said, a similarity in the bass lines of the two songs, and perhaps, more broadly, in their shared lite-funk feel. And it’s likely that Mr. Thicke and Mr. Williams didn’t help their case by contending in interviews around the song’s release — including one in The New York Times — the psychic and literal debts they owed Mr. Gaye, and specifically “Got to Give It Up.” (Mr. Thicke testified, though, that he had barely any input in the writing of the song, a different explanation from what he gave the news media.) Often in the credits that come with an album, the phrase “contains an interpolation of” will appear. That generally means the song borrows from something else, but in a way that’s less than an actual sample or a heavily repurposed lyric or melody. It can feel like a legally codified version of a good-will gesture — certainly “Blurred Lines” might have benefited from such a designation up front."

Expulsion of Two Oklahoma Students Over Video Leads to Free Speech Debate; New York Times, 3/11/15

Manny Fernandez and Eric Eckholm, New York Times; Expulsion of Two Oklahoma Students Over Video Leads to Free Speech Debate:
"The University of Oklahoma’s decision to expel two fraternity members who led a racist chant on a bus provoked criticism Wednesday from several legal experts who said that the students’ words, however odious, were protected by the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech...
Eugene Volokh, a constitutional law expert at the University of California, Los Angeles, and prominent legal blogger, wrote that “similar things could be said about a vast range of other speech,” including praise for Muslim groups like Hamas that call for destruction of Israel, which could make Jews uncomfortable, or calls by black students for violent resistance to white police officers, which white students could interpret as hostile.
A university spokesman said the students were told they could appeal to the university’s equal opportunity officer. On Wednesday, Mr. Boren said he was creating a vice president for diversity in his administration, a position planned before the controversy over the chant. The vice president will oversee all diversity programs, including admissions, officials said. Mr. Boren was in talks to fill the post with an African-American candidate."

Calls to End Quick Purge of New York State Workers’ Email; New York Times, 3/12/15

Thomas Kaplan, New York Times; Calls to End Quick Purge of New York State Workers’ Email:
"The legislators were annoyed. The state official testifying before them did not have many answers. And the subject of her appearance — the “multiyear transformation” of New York’s information technology system — had been pretty much cast aside.
Instead, the official, Maggie Miller, newly appointed as chief information officer, faced a barrage of questions on a newly delicate matter: Why had Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration put in place a policy of automatically deleting state workers’ emails after 90 days?
“All I can say is that I fully support the policy,” Ms. Miller told one lawmaker at the hearing on Feb. 26.
Another asked her whether “any other government, anywhere” had a comparable policy; she cited no government, nowhere. And she was also asked: Who came up with the idea in the first place?
“It was already in place, I’m afraid, so I don’t know,” she replied.
Frustrated at the meager explanation and alarmed at the prospect of a virtual incineration of records, some lawmakers are looking to rewrite state law to forbid the email purges. Government watchdog groups have denounced the purges as a threat to transparency and accountability in a capital that has seen more than its share of troubles."

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

No Classified Emails by Clinton? Some Experts Are Skeptical; New York Times, 3/11/15

Scott Shane, New York Times; No Classified Emails by Clinton? Some Experts Are Skeptical:
"“As a longtime critic of the government’s massive overclassification, I thought it was a refreshing touch that the secretary of state conducted all her email in unclassified form,” said Thomas S. Blanton, director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University. He spoke with a hint of sarcasm — his nonprofit organization has battled the government for decades to overcome classification claims and try to make important official documents public.
Mrs. Clinton insisted that she kept classified information out of her email, as the law required. Storing classified information in a personal, nongovernment email account on a private computer server, like the one at Mrs. Clinton’s home, would be a violation of secrecy laws.
And relations with other countries are particularly subject to secrecy claims. “Foreign government information” — information received from another government with the expectation that it will be held in confidence — is an official category of classified information in secrecy regulations.
A former senior State Department official who served before the Obama administration said that while it was hard to be certain, it seemed unlikely that classified information could be kept out of the more than 30,000 emails that Mrs. Clinton’s staff identified as involving government business.
“I would assume that more than 50 percent of what the secretary of state dealt with was classified,” said the former official, who would speak only on the condition of anonymity because he did not want to seem ungracious to Mrs. Clinton. “Was every single email of the secretary of state completely unclassified? Maybe, but it’s hard to imagine.”
Steven Aftergood, who directs the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, said he suspected that if there had been no fuss and a researcher or journalist had sought all of Mrs. Clinton’s emails under the Freedom of Information Act, the answer might have been different."

Hillary Clinton Tries to Quell Controversy Over Private Email; New York Times, 3/10/15

Amy Chozick and Michael S. Schmidt, New York Times; Hillary Clinton Tries to Quell Controversy Over Private Email:
"“I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two,” she explained. She asked, in effect, that voters trust that she was disclosing more of them than she needed to — and even to credit her with an unusual degree of transparency.
Mrs. Clinton said she turned over some 30,490 emails to the State Department in December, nearly two years after leaving office. But she said she had deleted nearly 32,000 others.
Her confirmation that she and her aides had chosen which emails to make available to the State Department raised new concerns about Mrs. Clinton’s power to decide which records of her tenure as secretary would be available to congressional investigators, to journalists filing Freedom of Information Act requests, and to history."

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Stricter Oversight Ordered for Animal Research at Nebraska Center; New York Times, 3/9/15

Michael Moss, New York Times; Stricter Oversight Ordered for Animal Research at Nebraska Center:
"A federal animal-research center in Nebraska will not be allowed to start any new experimental projects until it strengthens its procedures and internal oversight, the secretary of agriculture, Tom Vilsack, said Monday.
The decision came as a report ordered by Mr. Vilsack found that an oversight panel at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, in Clay Center, Neb., “was not adequately fulfilling its intended role” of scrutinizing experiments to ensure that they minimized pain and suffering for the animals. The report, however, said that during a three-day visit to the center in February, an investigating committee found no evidence of animal mistreatment. “Without exception,” it said, “the panel observed health and well cared-for animals.”
The report was prompted by a Jan. 19 article in The New York Times that raised concerns about the treatment of farm animals at the center, a 50-year-old unit of the Agriculture Department that aids the meat industry by developing livestock that are more productive and profitable. Interviews and internal records revealed that experiments and everyday handling of animals at the center have often resulted in illness, pain and premature death, and that the center lacked the careful oversight that many universities and meat producers have exercised over their own research.
Since the article was published, several members of Congress from both parties have pushed a bill to extend the federal Animal Welfare Act to shield cows, pigs, sheep and other animals used for agricultural research at federal facilities like the Nebraska center. The law, enacted in 1966, excluded those animals, focusing largely on cats and dogs used in laboratory research. Some animal-rights groups have urged that the center be closed."

Stop Spying on Wikipedia Users; New York Times, 3/10/15

Jimmy Wales and Lila Tretikov, New York Times; Stop Spying on Wikipedia Users:
"TODAY, we’re filing a lawsuit against the National Security Agency to protect the rights of the 500 million people who use Wikipedia every month. We’re doing so because a fundamental pillar of democracy is at stake: the free exchange of knowledge and ideas.
Our lawsuit says that the N.S.A.’s mass surveillance of Internet traffic on American soil — often called “upstream” surveillance — violates the Fourth Amendment, which protects the right to privacy, as well as the First Amendment, which protects the freedoms of expression and association. We also argue that this agency activity exceeds the authority granted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that Congress amended in 2008."

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Associated Press Threatens Legal Action Over Request for Hillary Clinton Information; New York Times, 3/4/15

Ravi Somaiya, New York Times; Associated Press Threatens Legal Action Over Request for Hillary Clinton Information:
"The Associated Press said Wednesday that it was considering legal action over unfulfilled Freedom of Information Act requests for government documents covering Hillary Rodham Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.
In its requests, the AP asked for her full schedules and calendars and for details on the State Department’s decision to grant a special position to a longtime Clinton aide, Huma Abedin, among other documents. The oldest request, the news organization said, was made in March 2010.
“We believe it’s critically important that government officials and agencies be held accountable to the voters,” said AP’s general counsel, Karen Kaiser. “In this instance, we’ve exhausted our administrative remedies in pursuit of important documents and are considering legal action.”"

Youth Symphony Cancels Program That Quotes ‘Horst Wessel’ Song; New York Times, 3/4/15

Michael Cooper, New York Times; Youth Symphony Cancels Program That Quotes ‘Horst Wessel’ Song:
"Jonas Tarm had won the kind of opportunity most young composers can only dream of: the New York Youth Symphony had commissioned a piece from him and planned to play it this Sunday at Carnegie Hall. But the youth symphony pulled his piece this week after learning that it includes a musical quotation from the “Horst Wessel” song, the Nazi anthem.
Mr. Tarm, a 21-year-old junior at the New England Conservatory of Music, said that his nine-minute piece, which is about conflict, totalitarianism and nationalism, also incorporated the anthem of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, with each one quoted for about 45 seconds. In a telephone interview he said that he was stunned by the symphony’s decision to pull the piece, which he described as an act of censorship...
The orchestra’s decision was criticized by the National Coalition Against Censorship.
“Some audience members may have painful memories associated with the official music of oppressive regimes, but that should not mean that any work that references this music must be silenced,” Svetlana Mintcheva, the coalition’s director of programs, said in a statement. “Attempts to sanitize contemporary art do not protect young people or survivors of oppressive regimes; they can only succeed in suppressing the voice and violating the vision of creative artists, as well as in impoverishing public conversation about important, though disturbing, issues.“"

Popular Yik Yak App Confers Anonymity and Delivers Abuse; New York Times, 3/8/15

Jonathan Mahler, New York Times; Popular Yik Yak App Confers Anonymity and Delivers Abuse:
"Eastern Michigan is one of a number of universities whose campus has been roiled by offensive “yaks.” Since the app’s introduction a little more than a year ago, it has been used to issue threats of mass violence on more than a dozen college campuses, including the University of North Carolina, Michigan State University and Penn State. Racist, homophobic and misogynist “yaks” have generated controversy at many more, among them Clemson, Emory, Colgate and the University of Texas. At Kenyon College, a “yakker” proposed a gang rape at the school’s women’s center...
“Yik Yak is the Wild West of anonymous social apps,” said Danielle Keats Citron, a law professor at University of Maryland and the author of “Hate Crimes in Cyberspace.” “It is being increasingly used by young people in a really intimidating and destructive way.”
Colleges are largely powerless to deal with the havoc Yik Yak is wreaking. The app’s privacy policy prevents schools from identifying users without a subpoena, court order or search warrant, or an emergency request from a law-enforcement official with a compelling claim of imminent harm. Schools can block access to Yik Yak on their Wi-Fi networks, but banning a popular social media network is controversial in its own right, arguably tantamount to curtailing freedom of speech. And as a practical matter, it doesn’t work anyway. Students can still use the app on their phones with their cell service."

What Happens When Mein Kampf's Copyright Expires?; New Republic, 3/6/15

Gavriel D. Rosenfeld, New Republic; What Happens When Mein Kampf's Copyright Expires? :
"Later this year, the official copyright for Mein Kampf expires—70 years after the demise of its author. Since 1945, the Bavarian State (which owns the copyright) has refused to allow anyone to publish the volume. But in expectation of the copyright’s expiration (and in the hope of getting a jump on neo-Nazis who may try to publish their own slanted versions of the text) the esteemed Munich and Berlin-based Institute for Contemporary History decided some years ago to publish its own, critically annotated version. The move has generated some opposition, with some arguing against the release of any new version; “Can you annotate the Devil?” one critic asks."

Best state: Delaware, where Internet is in the fast lane; Delaware Online, 3/7/15

Reid Wilson, Delaware Online; Best state: Delaware, where Internet is in the fast lane:
"Delaware, Washington and Connecticut have Internet connections that average more than 15 Mbps, Akamai’s threshold for what it calls “4K Readiness,” meaning they’re fast enough to stream ultra-high-definition video. Globally, just 12 percent of Internet connections met the 4K Readiness standard; in Delaware, 39 percent of connections did.
Delaware has invested heavily in improving broadband connections. The legislature passed a measure in 2013 to bulk up broadband service to schools, libraries and rural areas that were otherwise underserved by cable companies. New fiber-optic infrastructure runs the length of the state, from Wilmington to Georgetown, funded in part by the state’s economic development office...
By contrast, Alaska, Arkansas and Kentucky – three largely rural states where building Internet infrastructure is costly – are at the bottom of the rankings."

Monday, March 2, 2015

Hillary Clinton Used Personal Email at State Dept., Possibly Breaking Rules; New York Times, 3/2/15

Michael S. Schmidt, New York Times; Hillary Clinton Used Personal Email at State Dept., Possibly Breaking Rules:
"Hillary Rodham Clinton exclusively used a personal email account to conduct government business as secretary of state, State Department officials said, and may have violated federal requirements that officials’ correspondence be retained as part of the agency’s record.
Mrs. Clinton did not have a government email address during her four-year tenure at the State Department. Her aides took no actions to have her personal emails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act."