Friday, July 31, 2015

U.S. Psychologists Urged to Curb Questioning Terror Suspects; New York Times, 7/30/15

James Risen, New York Times; U.S. Psychologists Urged to Curb Questioning Terror Suspects:
"The board of the American Psychological Association plans to recommend a tough ethics policy that would prohibit psychologists from involvement in all national security interrogations, potentially creating a new obstacle to the Obama administration’s efforts to detain and interrogate terrorism suspects outside of the traditional criminal justice system.
The board of the of the A.P.A., the nation’s largest professional organization for psychologists, is expected to recommend that members approve the ban at its annual meeting in Toronto next week, according to two members, Nadine Kaslow and Susan H. McDaniel, the group’s president-elect. The board’s proposal would make it a violation of the association’s ethical policies for psychologists to play a role in national security interrogations involving any military or intelligence personnel, even the noncoercive interrogations now conducted by the Obama administration. The board’s proposal must be voted on and approved by the members’ council to become a policy."

Killer of Cecil the Lion Finds Out That He Is a Target Now, of Internet Vigilantism; New York Times, 7/29/15

Christina Capecchi and Katie Rogers, New York Times; Killer of Cecil the Lion Finds Out That He Is a Target Now, of Internet Vigilantism:
"In the hours since Dr. Walter J. Palmer apologized for killing the lion, he has gone from a dentist and longtime hunting enthusiast to a villain at the center of a firestorm over the ethics of big-game trophy hunting...
Erin Flior, who specializes in crisis management at the public relations firm Levick, said that frequent cases of widespread social media outrage had made digital crisis and reputation management a growing specialty. She recalled cases in which clients had to move or consider changing their names.
“The fact that it crosses my desk at all means it happens too much, in my opinion,” Ms. Flior said. “It really tends to be instances where a very educated, tech-savvy crowd has jumped on board that those kind of instances get taken to that level where personal information is being released.”"

Death of Zimbabwe’s Best-Loved Lion Ignites Debate on Sport Hunting; National Geographic, 7/21/15

Adam Cruise, National Geographic; Death of Zimbabwe’s Best-Loved Lion Ignites Debate on Sport Hunting:
"Legal or not, the death of Cecil, who has been a wildlife icon in the area for years, has been condemned both locally and internationally. Many people have taken to online media to express their horror and denuciation of the hunt. The condemnation comes in the immediate wake of the controversy surrounding Hwange’s parks authorities capturing and exporting 23 baby elephants to China.
Cecil’s death has also caused deep concern among many conservationists and has re-ignited the ethics surrounding lion trophy hunting, especially near protected areas.
In a press release, Beks Ndlovo, CEO of the African Bush Camps group of companies, a private, owner-run African-based safari company, stated: “In my personal capacity… I strongly object and vehemently disagree with the legalising and practice of hunting lions in any given area. I will personally be encouraging Zimbabwe National Parks and engaging with Government Officials to stop the killing of lions and with immediate effect.”"

Thursday, July 30, 2015

New Hampshire university's language guide launches war of words; Reuters, 7/29/15

Reuters; New Hampshire university's language guide launches war of words:
"The university's president, Mark Huddleston, said on Wednesday that the guide was not school policy.
"I am troubled by many things in the language guide, especially the suggestion that the use of the term 'American' is misplaced or offensive," Huddleston said in a statement. "The only UNH policy on speech is that it is free and unfettered on our campuses. It is ironic that what was probably a well-meaning effort to be 'sensitive' proves offensive to many people, myself included."
According to its authors, the guide seeks to "invite inclusive excellence" at the university.
"This guide is not a means to censor but rather to create dialogues of inclusion where all of us feel comfortable and welcomed," states the guide, which is posted on the university’s website."

First student to plead in Chinese test-taking scandal deported; New York Times, 7/29/15

Torsten Ove, New York Times; First student to plead in Chinese test-taking scandal deported:
"The lead defendant in a scheme by Chinese students to cheat on university entrance tests pleaded guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court to his role as an organizer, and a second member of the conspiracy was deported to China.
Han Tong, 24, who gained admittance to the University of Pittsburgh in 2011 by having someone in China take an English test for him, admitted that he either took entrance tests for others or found impostors to take the tests, each time using counterfeit passports manufactured in China and sent to him in Oakland.
He pleaded to conspiracy, making and using a forged passport and wire fraud before U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti."

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Why Ethics Codes Fail; Inside Higher Ed, 7/21/15

Laura Stark, Inside Higher Ed; Why Ethics Codes Fail:
"Last week, an independent investigation of the American Psychological Association found that several of its leaders aided the U.S. Department of Defense’s controversial enhanced interrogation program by loosing constraints on military psychologists. It was another bombshell in the ongoing saga of the U.S. war on terror in which psychologists have long served as foot soldiers. Now, it appears, psychologists were among its instigators, too.
Leaders of the APA used the profession’s ethics policy to promote unethical activity, rather than to curb it. How? Between 2000 and 2008, APA leaders changed their ethics policy to match the unethical activities that some psychologists wanted to carry out -- and thus make potential torture appear ethical...
The APA’s current ethics mess is a problem inherent to its method of setting professional ethics policy and a problem that faces professional organizations more broadly. Professions’ codes of ethics are made to seem anonymous, dropped into the world by some higher moral authority. But ethics codes have authors. In the long term, the APA’s problems will not be solved by repeating the same process that empowers a select elite to write ethics policy, then removes their connection to it.
All ethics codes have authors who work to erase the appearance of their influence. Personal interests are inevitable, if not unmanageable, and it may be best for the APA -- and other professional groups -- to keep the link between an ethics policy and its authors. Take a new lesson from the Hippocratic oath by observing its name. The APA should make its ethics policies like most other papers that scientists write: give the code of ethics a byline."

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Twitter Archive at the Library of Congress: Challenges for information practice and information policy; First Monday, 7/6/15

Michael Zimmer, First Monday; The Twitter Archive at the Library of Congress: Challenges for information practice and information policy:
In April 2010, the U.S. Library of Congress and the popular micro-blogging company Twitter announced that every public tweet, since Twitter’s inception in March 2006, will be archived digitally at the Library and made available to researchers. The Library of Congress’ planned digital archive of all public tweets holds great promise for the research community, yet, over five years since its announcement, the archive remains unavailable. This paper explores the challenges faced by the Library that have prevented the timely realization of this valuable archive, divided into two categories: challenges involving practice, such as how to organize the tweets, how to provide useful means of retrieval, how to physically store them; and challenges involving policy, such as the creation of access controls to the archive, whether any information should be censored or restricted, and the broader ethical considerations of the very existence of such an archive, especially privacy and user control."

U.S. Program Will Connect Public Housing Residents to Web; New York Times, 7/15/15

Dionne Searcey and Peter Baker, New York Times; U.S. Program Will Connect Public Housing Residents to Web:
"The program is an extension of the president’s ConnectED initiative, which was announced in 2013. It aimed to link 99 percent of the students from kindergarten through 12th grade to high-speed Internet in classrooms and libraries over the next five years.
The housing secretary, Julián Castro, in his first public speech in the role last year, cited expanding broadband access as a priority, mentioning how people lean against the windows outside a library in the Bronx in search of free Wi-Fi for their phones.
Mr. Castro on Wednesday also announced rules that would require new public housing and major renovations to include infrastructure to support broadband connections. He noted that while computers are not being provided to residents now, the agency is exploring opportunities with partners to do so. “We’re not just making the Internet more accessible, but more meaningful,” he said."

American Universities Are Failing at Ethics; Time, 7/17/15

James Keenan, Time; American Universities Are Failing at Ethics:
"In other forms of professional life, we have long recognized a strong connection between the lack of professional ethics in a particular institutional setting and the lack of an ethical consciousness in that culture.
I believe that the absence of professional ethics is evidence of and symptomatic of a culture disinterested in ethics. For instance, as we come out of the sexual abuse scandals that have ripped apart the churches, we see that the disinterest in professional ethical accountability of bishops and priests was sustained by the church’s clerical culture that was more attuned to advancement than it was to ethical responsibility and transparency.
A similar culture is part and parcel of the contemporary American university.
Simply put, the American university does not hold its employees to professional ethical standards because it has not created a culture of ethical consciousness and accountability at the university. This is in part because of the nature of the contemporary university and because it needs ethics.
The contemporary university functions not as an integrated, transparent community but as a medieval set of fiefdoms in which transparency and accountability are singularly to “the person upstairs”: that is, to the chair, the dean or a vice president. Faculty and administrators are not accountable to any colleague, but only to a higher administrator.
Moreover, this accountability is only one-directional. For all the compliance, accountability and collaborative models that university faculty teach in their ethics courses to physicians, nurses, managers and lawyers, the university itself remains averse to developing any true accountability structures."

CA College Student Challenges Graphic Novel Syllabus; Library Journal, 7/20/15

Anna Murphy, Library Journal; CA College Student Challenges Graphic Novel Syllabus:
"The administration at Crafton Hills College, a community college in Yucaipa, CA, recently denied a student’s request to remove what she considered objectionable material from a college course on graphic novels. After enrolling in the course and purchasing her books, Tara Schultz was surprised to learn that some of the titles included mature material. “I expected Batman and Robin, not pornography,” she told the Redland Daily Facts (RDF). The four books on the syllabus she found objectionable included: Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel (Houghton Mifflin, 2006); Y: The Last Man, Vol. 1, by Brian Vaughan (Vertigo, 2003); The Sandman, Vol. 2: The Doll’s House, by Neil Gaiman (1990, DC Comics); and Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon, 2004)...
Deborah Caldwell-Stone of the American Library Association (ALA) Office of Intellectual Freedom feels that warnings regarding content unfairly influence readers. “Librarians have always had a concern with labeling that tends to prejudice a reader against a book,” she said. “We shouldn’t need labels that say something might be offensive because someone said so. Everyone is free to close a book at any time.”"

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Surveillance Society: Who has the rights to your face?; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 7/13/15

Rich Lord, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Surveillance Society: Who has the rights to your face? :
"Facebook’s handling of your headshot is now the subject of class action lawsuits that pose the question: When someone turns your mug into data, are those digits theirs or yours?
Filed in April and May, the lawsuits claim that when Facebook started converting the geometry of your profile picture into what it calls “a unique number,” it broke a 2008 Illinois law giving residents certain rights when their biometric information is collected.
Facebook is disputing the claims, and fired its first legal salvos this month. That developing legal fight, plus the meltdown last month of a government effort to come up with standards for the use of facial recognition technology, suggests that the distances between your eyes, nose and mouth are hot battlegrounds in the privacy wars."

Monday, July 13, 2015

Facebook's video plan? Grow like hell, deal with copyright later; Forbes, 7/10/15

Jeff John Roberts, Forbes; Facebook's video plan? Grow like hell, deal with copyright later:
"The challenge of chasing down copyright infringers has led content owners, in general, to claim the safe harbor rules are too lax, and that platforms like YouTube should do more to take down unauthorized videos. Studios have filed a spate of lawsuits to argue that more websites should be liable under a “red flag” provision in the copyright law, which can strip a site’s legal immunity in the event they obviously should have known about the infringement, or if they are directly making money from it.
But so far those lawsuits, including a long-running one against YouTube, have not really changed websites’ responsibilities when it comes to copyright, according to Lothar Determann, a copyright lawyer with Baker & McKenzie in San Francisco. He added more broadly that the law’s larger goal of protecting tech platforms still applies, and courts will not order websites to conduct copyright investigations.
The freebooter issue for Facebook, then, appears to be less of a legal problem than a moral one. Video owners may come to blame Facebook – safe harbors notwithstanding – for using their content to get rich while flouting their copyright concerns. Such claims, whether fair or not, have dogged Google and YouTube for years, and led to legal and political headaches."

Monday, July 6, 2015

Internet access “not a necessity or human right,” says FCC Republican;, 6/26/15

Jon Brodkin,; Internet access “not a necessity or human right,” says FCC Republican:
"Federal Communications Commission member Michael O’Rielly yesterday argued that "Internet access is not a necessity or human right" and called this one of the most important "principles for regulators to consider as it relates to the Internet and our broadband economy."...
World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee says that Web access should be considered a human right.
"Access to the Web is now a human right," Berners-Lee said in a 2011 speech. "It's possible to live without the Web. It's not possible to live without water. But if you've got water, then the difference between somebody who is connected to the Web and is part of the information society, and someone who (is not) is growing bigger and bigger."
A United Nations report in 2011 said disconnecting people from the Internet is a human rights violation. Vint Cerf, who co-created the networking technology that made the Internet possible, wrote that Internet access is not a human right, arguing that "technology is an enabler of rights, not a right itself... at one time if you didn’t have a horse it was hard to make a living. But the important right in that case was the right to make a living, not the right to a horse. Today, if I were granted a right to have a horse, I’m not sure where I would put it.""

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Machine ethics: The robot’s dilemma; Nature, 7/1/15

Boer Deng, Nature; Machine ethics: The robot’s dilemma:
"How ethical robots are built could have major consequences for the future of robotics, researchers say. Michael Fisher, a computer scientist at the University of Liverpool, UK, thinks that rule-bound systems could be reassuring to the public. “People are going to be scared of robots if they're not sure what it's doing,” he says. “But if we can analyse and prove the reasons for their actions, we are more likely to surmount that trust issue.” He is working with Winfield and others on a government-funded project to verify that the outcomes of ethical machine programs are always knowable.
By contrast, the machine-learning approach promises robots that can learn from experience, which could ultimately make them more flexible and useful than their more rigidly programmed counterparts. Many roboticists say that the best way forward will be a combination of approaches. “It's a bit like psychotherapy,” says Pereira. “You probably don't just use one theory.” The challenge — still unresolved — is to combine the approaches in a workable way."