"Why are people so mean on the Internet? It’s a question we have been trying to answer for more than a decade, but the matter seems to be reaching a cultural boiling point. Listen to episode No. 545 of “This American Life,” entitled “If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say, SAY IT IN ALL CAPS,” about the pain people can cause online. Watch Monica Lewinsky’s TED talk, “The Price of Shame,” in which she pleads that “public shaming as a blood sport has to stop.” Read the new book by Jon Ronson, “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed,” chronicling people whose lives have been obliterated by Twitter mobs. And listen to Louis CK, the comedian who recently quit Twitter, saying, “It didn’t make me feel good.” Sure, the topic of cyberbullying is not new, but it feels different this time. The debate is happening everywhere: on radio shows, movies, books, talks, TV shows, blogs, book reviews and especially on social media. “I think this conversation has been going on for awhile, but it’s getting this particular kind of attention now because it’s coming to the fore that anyone can be a victim of that kind of shaming,” said Jacqui Shine, a writer in Chicago who has written about online shaming and minorities."
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Nick Bilton, New York Times; When the Cyberbully Is You:
Natasha Singer, New York Times; Legislators Introduce Student Digital Privacy Bill:
"Months after President Obama proposed to strengthen digital privacy protection for students, two legislators on Wednesday introduced a comprehensive bill in Congress intended to accomplish that goal. Titled the Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act of 2015, the bill would prohibit operators of websites, apps and other online services for kindergartners through 12th graders from knowingly selling students’ personal information to third parties; from using or disclosing students’ personal information to tailor advertising to them; and from creating personal profiles of students unless it is for a school-related purpose. The bill would give parents access to information held about their children and allow them to correct it; to delete information about their children that schools do not need to retain; and to download any material their children have created."
Saturday, April 25, 2015
Nick Stockton, Wired; America Needs to Figure Out the Ethics of Gene Editing Now:
"In an international first, researchers in China have reported doing experiments that involve editing the genome of a human embryo. Ever since scientists developed the ability to cut and splice DNA, they have worried over the safety and ethical implications of applying those techniques to the human genome. Now, though the reported work was preliminary and not completely successful, researchers will have to contend with a challenging set of questions about this newly-opened genetic frontier... Within the past few months, several groups of scientists around the world have called varying levels of caution1 on just this type of research—calling for no more human embryo modification. They’re worried about all the science-fiction problems you’d imagine: The technology has the potential to erase genetic diseases, but it could also be used to make designer humans. And this kind of genome editing is on what’s called the “germ line,” which is to say, the edits get passed along to subsequent generations. WIRED spoke to many of the people who called for moratoriums in two of world’s top scientific journals, to see what they thought about this Chinese research, and what it means for prioritizing the national discussion on the ethics of germline editing."
Friday, April 24, 2015
Claire Zillman, Forbes; Supreme Court ethics bill takes aim at justices’ ‘dubious’ behavior:
"Every judge in America must abide by a code of ethics, except for the nine justices that make up the nation’s highest court." The Supreme Court has no official ethics rules, which means the justices are free to engage in political activity, speak at fundraising events, or become a member of a club that discriminates based on race, sex, or religion, if they so choose. Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, and Congresswoman Louis Slaughter, a Democrat from New York, want that to change. On Thursday, they introduced a bill that calls on the high court to adopt a code of ethics. “There is absolutely no reason why Supreme Court Justices shouldn’t be subject to the same code of conduct as all other federal judges,” Murphy said in a statement. “This bill will make the court more accountable and more transparent, and will help guarantee the integrity of our country’s highest court.”"
Once Comcast’s Deal Shifted to a Focus on Broadband, Its Ambitions Were Sunk; New York Times, 4/23/15
Jonathan Mahler, New York Times; Once Comcast’s Deal Shifted to a Focus on Broadband, Its Ambitions Were Sunk:
"If there was a single moment when the winds seemed to shift against Comcast, it came in November, when President Obama released a video on the White House website in which he spoke about the future of the Internet. For the first time, Mr. Obama, who had long offered support for the idea of net neutrality but had always stopped short of suggesting how it might be achieved, was unambiguously clear about what he wanted. He called on the Federal Communications Commission to adopt “the strongest possible rules” to regulate the Internet. “For almost a century, our law has recognized that companies who connect you to the world have special obligations not to exploit the monopoly they enjoy over access into and out of your home or business,” he said. “It is common sense that the same philosophy should guide any service that is based on the transmission of information — whether a phone call or a packet of data.”... It meant that a lot of Americans living in rural areas no longer had what qualified as high-speed Internet access — making Comcast’s already large share of the broadband market considerably larger."
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Rich Lord, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Are city surveillance camera regulations being ignored? :
Kathy Ehrich Dowd, People; Students Reportedly Organize 'Anti-Gay Day' at Pittsburgh-Area High School:
"A group of students in a Pittsburgh-area high school are under scrutiny for reportedly organizing an "anti-gay day" at the school last week in response to the nationally observed "Day of Silence," which supports the LGBT community. According to WPXI, a group of students at McGuffey High School in Claysville, Pennsylvania, were encouraging people to wear flannel shirts and write "Anti-Gay" on their hands late last week. The students apparently organized themselves just after the school's Gay-Straight Alliance arranged for students to take part in the "Day of Silence," a national event organized by the national Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools."
Lisa Peet, Library Journal; Faculty Rallies to Support University of Oregon Archivist:
"More than 100 faculty members at the University of Oregon (UO) have signed a letter to the university administration supporting archivist James Fox, who has been informed that his contract will not be renewed in June. Fox, along with digital archivist Kira Homo, is at the center of a controversy involving the release of some 22,000 pages of unfiltered UO presidential archives to professor of economics Bill Harbaugh in November 2014."
Ben DiPietro, Wall Street Journal; Ford’s ‘Right Way’ for Ethics and Compliance:
"Raphael Richmond, Ford Motor Co.’s global director of compliance, has progressed from defending the company in court to working on its compliance with Securities and Exchange Commission rules to overseeing compliance for the company’s 187,000 employees worldwide. She talks to Risk & Compliance Journal about how the company instills ethics and compliance–“The Right Way”–throughout its workforce. What is ‘The Right Way’ and how does the new ‘Right Way’ app change the way the company spreads compliance? Ms. Richmond: Our global brand promise is ‘Go Further’–Ford Motor Co. will go further for our customers. When we thought about raising awareness within the company about compliance and ethics, we decided to build on that brand promise–go further the right way. We communicate around that idea with video messages from our CEO and other key executives. We are relying on the app because we’ve got a global workforce with lots of different levels of experience with the company, in lots of different countries and markets. Most people carry their phones with them pretty constantly–our philosophy is less-effort compliance, let’s make it easy for you to do the right thing and more difficult for you to go outside the bounds and do something we wouldn’t approve of. I can train you over and over again on warning signals to look for for in business transactions, then what I need is for you to have this app handy so when you see warning signals you have a way to connect to get policy summaries that are bite-sized and easily digestible. We’ve got information on gifts and favors, specific anti-bribery and anti-corruption advice, information on working together, and we even managed to include information about signs to look for with regard to human trafficking. The app launched [in March]. We’re aiming it at our workforce but also suppliers, dealers, anyone who might have an interest in seeing how we are doing things."
Friday, April 17, 2015
Editorial Board, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Privacy matters: The RadioShack outcry offers a consumer lesson:
In its recent bankruptcy filings, the troubled electronics retailer listed customer information among its assets up for auction, including 13 million email addresses and 65 million physical addresses in its database. But outrage ensued from attorneys general in 25 states, including Pennsylvania, so RadioShack changed course and announced it would exclude the data from this week’s sale of 1,700 stores to Standard General... Stores increasingly gather information on their customers, either by asking for it outright at checkout or, more deviously, by offering a chance to win a prize if they evaluate their service online. Consumers do so willingly, but often without thinking of what happens to the data, or how it can multiply... However, the legal quandaries presented in the era of Big Data are just beginning, as are the potential abuses."
Thursday, April 16, 2015
Nicholas Kristof, New York Times; Starving for Wisdom:
"“We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom.” That epigram from E.O. Wilson captures the dilemma of our era. Yet the solution of some folks is to disdain wisdom... So, to answer the skeptics, here are my three reasons the humanities enrich our souls and sometimes even our pocketbooks as well... My second reason: We need people conversant with the humanities to help reach wise public policy decisions, even about the sciences. Technology companies must constantly weigh ethical decisions: Where should Facebook set its privacy defaults, and should it tolerate glimpses of nudity? Should Twitter close accounts that seem sympathetic to terrorists? How should Google handle sex and violence, or defamatory articles?... Likewise, when the President’s Council on Bioethics issued its report in 2002, “Human Cloning and Human Dignity,” it cited scientific journals but also Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea.” Even science depends upon the humanities to shape judgments about ethics, limits and values."
Margot E. Kaminski, New York Times; Don’t Keep the Trans-Pacific Partnership Talks Secret:
"WHEN WikiLeaks recently released a chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, critics and proponents of the deal resumed wrestling over its complicated contents. But a cover page of the leaked document points to a different problem: It announces that the draft text is classified by the United States government. Even if current negotiations over the trade agreement end with no deal, the draft chapter will still remain classified for four years as national security information. The initial version of an agreement projected by the government to affect millions of Americans will remain a secret until long after meaningful public debate is possible. National security secrecy may be appropriate to protect us from our enemies; it should not be used to protect our politicians from us. For an administration that paints itself as dedicated to transparency and public input, the insistence on extensive secrecy in trade is disappointing and disingenuous. And the secrecy of trade negotiations does not just hide information from the public. It creates a funnel where powerful interests congregate, absent the checks, balances and necessary hurdles of the democratic process. Free-trade agreements are not just about imports, tariffs or overseas jobs. Agreements bring complex national regulatory systems together, such as intellectual property law, with implications for free speech, privacy and public health."
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
New State of America’s Libraries Report finds shift in role of U.S. libraries; American Library Association (ALA), 4/12/15
Macey Morales, American Library Association (ALA); New State of America’s Libraries Report finds shift in role of U.S. libraries:
"A current analysis of book challenges recorded by ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) from 2001 – 2013, shows that attempts to remove books by authors of color and books with themes about issues concerning communities of color are disproportionately challenged and banned. A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that a book or other material be restricted or removed because of its content or appropriateness. In 2014, the OIF received 311 reports regarding attempts to remove or restrict materials from school curricula and library bookshelves. Eighty percent of the 2014 Top Ten List of Frequently Challenged Books reflect diverse authors and cultural content. The 2014 Top Ten List of Frequently Challenged Books include..."
David Brooks, New York Times; The Lost Language of Privacy:
"Privacy is important to the development of full individuals because there has to be an interior zone within each person that other people don’t see. There has to be a zone where half-formed thoughts and delicate emotions can grow and evolve, without being exposed to the harsh glare of public judgment. There has to be a place where you can be free to develop ideas and convictions away from the pressure to conform. There has to be a spot where you are only yourself and can define yourself. Privacy is important to families and friendships because there has to be a zone where you can be fully known. There has to be a private space where you can share your doubts and secrets and expose your weaknesses with the expectation that you will still be loved and forgiven and supported. Privacy is important for communities because there has to be a space where people with common affiliations can develop bonds of affection and trust. There has to be a boundary between us and them. Within that boundary, you look out for each other; you rally to support each other; you cut each other some slack; you share fierce common loyalties. All these concentric circles of privacy depend on some level of shrouding. They depend on some level of secrecy and awareness of the distinction between the inner privileged space and the outer exposed space. They depend on the understanding that what happens between us stays between us."
Monday, April 13, 2015
Drive-by data: Motorists deserve limits on plate camera collection; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 4/13/15
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Drive-by data: Motorists deserve limits on plate camera collection:
"Seventy percent of law-enforcement agencies now have license-plate cameras, and they have an impressive track record on everything from recovering stolen cars to tracking down motorists who endanger others by blowing through red lights. Even the American Civil Liberties Union concedes that they’re useful and legal. But what happens after the data is collected raises legitimate privacy concerns. Motorists deserve to know what kind of information is collected, who can see it and how long it is retained. Every law enforcement agency with license-plate readers should have a detailed policy, publicly shared."
Sunday, April 12, 2015
Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Washington Post; Inside the evangelical push to rally around animal ethics:
"Leaders cite the influence of historical figures admired by evangelicals, including William Wilberforce and Hannah More, who both worked to end slavery in England in the 19th century and also wrote about their concern for animals. On Thursday, the Humane Society hosted a gathering of evangelical women to discuss animal ethics. The evening included a reading from Karen Swallow Prior, who recently wrote a book called “Fierce Convictions” about More. She read from a chapter that discussed how 19th century abolitionists also promoted the fair treatment of animals, and drew a connection to contemporary concerns. “I think years from now when we face this issue and look back at it in history, we will wonder how we could’ve tolerated it so long in the same way we wonder today how people could have tolerated slavery,” said Prior, an English professor at Liberty University. “I’m not sure how long we will get away with the excuse that we don’t know what is going on in factory farming.”"
Friday, April 10, 2015
Emails are records: The state policy on deleting them hurts the public; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 4/10/15
Editorial Board, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Emails are records: The state policy on deleting them hurts the public:
"The open records law is supposed to give citizens access to information that shows how government conducts business on their behalf. The state’s highest court should decide sooner rather than later that the email policy improperly neuters the law by allowing the premature destruction of records. Failing that, the Legislature should amend the law to require state agencies to retain public records for a reasonable period and that employees who send and receive the emails should not be the ones responsible for deciding if they’re worth keeping."
Thursday, April 9, 2015
William D. Cohan, New York Times; In Rise of Yik Yak App, Profits and Ethics Collide:
"Do venture capitalists and other highly sophisticated and compensated investors, like those controlling large private equity and hedge funds, have any moral or ethical responsibility for the investments they make?..." More than 78,000 people have signed an online petition urging that Yik Yak be shut down. Just as we do not allow someone to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater, shouldn’t there be limits to hateful, anonymous speech that can unfairly tarnish a life forever or cut one short? And shouldn’t the Sequoia Capitals and Tim Drapers of the world bear some responsibility for financing businesses where such behavior is not only permitted but also actively encouraged through the cover of anonymity?"
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Tara Siegel Bernard, New York Times; Giving Out Private Data for Discount in Insurance:
"John Hancock and Vitality, which is owned by Discovery, said the information would not be sold and would be shared only with entities that help with the program’s administration, though the aggregate data could be used to inform the development of new insurance products. Nonetheless, some specialists expressed privacy concerns. “All of a sudden, everything you do and everything you eat, depending on which bits of the information they collect, is sitting in someone’s database,” said Anna Slomovic, lead research scientist at the Cyber Security Policy and Research Institute at George Washington University and a former chief privacy officer at Equifax and Revolution Health."
Kim Lyons, Pittsburgh post-Gazette; Privacy woes at top of list of unmanned aerial vehicle concerns:
"Using a drone for business purposes poses a host of potential legal issues, with privacy concerns at the top of the list, according to Reed Smith attorney Doug Wood. He recently co-authored a white paper titled, “Crowded Skies,” which explores the legal implications for companies using drones in the course of doing business. “There’s a level of clandestine surveillance these things offer,” said Mr. Wood, managing partner of Reed Smith’s New York office. “You don’t hear them coming.” The FAA’s draft rules, released in February, are now subject to a public comment period that ends April 24, according to agency spokesman Jim Peters. Under the proposed rules, commercial drones under 55 pounds would have to be registered with the FAA, and operators would have to pass a written proficiency test and pay a fee."
Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Ced Kurtz, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Ced Kurtz’s Techman Texts: Computer surveillance is a trade-off:
"Bruce Schneier is a world-renowned cryptographer, computer security and privacy specialist, and author of numerous books on security. So when he speaks, TechMan tends to listen. In his latest book, “Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World,” his point is well worth taking note of: Surveillance and data collections are a trade-off between individual value and group value. You give Google personal information in return for free search, free email, free maps and all the other free things Google provides... Although hackers tend to get the headlines for the personal data they steal, a far bigger issue is the personal data you give away freely every day in return for convenience. Mr. Schneier points out that all those data are saved in massive databases that can be data-mined by businesses, government and law enforcement and sold to other agencies. And although the point is always made that data collected are not tied to your identity, Mr. Schneier shows that, with enough data about you, identifying you is not difficult."
Monday, April 6, 2015
Natasha Singer, New York Times; Online Test-Takers Feel Anti-Cheating Software’s Uneasy Glare:
Stuart Taylor, Jr., Brookings Essay; The Big Snoop: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Terrorists:
"In addition, there must be a critical mass of the public willing to live with not just one permanent conundrum but two. The first, which is at the heart of the problem, is the inherent tension between national security and individual privacy. The second, which is evident in the search for a solution, is the severe limit on the degree to which transparency can be reconciled with functions of government that must be opaque — that is, secret — in order to be effective. The challenge is captured in the most famous sentence that F. Scott Fitzgerald ever wrote, in an essay three-quarters of a century ago: "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function." That is also the test of a first-rate intelligence agency in the service of a robust democracy."
Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Alan Blinder, New York Times; Atlanta Educators Convicted in School Cheating Scandal:
"In a dramatic conclusion to what has been described as the largest cheating scandal in the nation’s history, a jury here on Wednesday convicted 11 educators for their roles in a standardized test cheating scandal that tarnished a major school district’s reputation and raised broader questions about the role of high-stakes testing in American schools. On their eighth day of deliberations, the jurors convicted 11 of the 12 defendants of racketeering, a felony that carries up to 20 years in prison. Many of the defendants — a mixture of Atlanta public school teachers, testing coordinators and administrators — were also convicted of other charges, such as making false statements, that could add years to their sentences. Judge Jerry W. Baxter of Fulton County Superior Court ordered most of the educators jailed immediately, and they were led from the courtroom in handcuffs."