Of Interest

  • Facebook Fourth Estate? Two Questions Lawyers Should Answer

    In the wake of recent reporting of Facebook’s alleged liberal curation of its trending newsfeed and Sen. John Thune’s subsequent letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg seeking answers about these allegations and demanding a meeting, constitutional scholars, press advocates, and civil libertarians have mobilized the First Amendment in the company’s defense. The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF) Sophia Cope argued that the letter constitutes “an improper intrusion into editorial freedom,” and Stanford Law lecturer Thomas Rubin wrote in Slate that “we should be concerned about this federal intrusion into an independent organization’s editorial process.”

  • Facebook, Congress and the First Amendment

    The Facebook Trending Topics controversy has been analyzed from many angles, but there's been virtually no attention paid to the single most troubling aspect of the story: a Senate inquiry into Facebook's editorial decision-making process. My Slate column on the issue is here.

  • Artificial Intelligence: Law and Policy (Past Event)

    May 24, 2016
    Seattle, WA

    The University of Washington School of Law is delighted to announce a public workshop on the law and policy of artificial intelligence, co-hosted by the White House and UW’s Tech Policy Lab. The event places leading artificial intelligence experts from academia and industry in conversation with government officials interested in developing a wise and effective policy framework for this increasingly important technology. The event is free and open to the public but requires registration. -

  • Ars Technica Live #2 - Surveillance (Past Event)

    May 18, 2016
    San Francisco

    If you're in the Bay Area, come out to the filming of our second episode of Ars Technica Live, a monthly interview series with fascinating people who work at the intersection of tech, science, and culture. Join us this Wednesday, May 18, in Oakland, California, from 7 to 9pm for a discussion with law professor Elizabeth Joh about technology, surveillance, and law enforcement.

    Ars Technica Live #1: Anthropologist Krish Seetah on humanity's relationship with butchery.

  • Paying without passwords and PINs

    Date published: 
    May 16, 2016

    Back in 2000, ING Direct Canada – the digital bank that became Tangerine Bank – piloted a “biometric” mouse that would scan users’ fingerprints to help bypass the need for passwords.

    “Installing the mouse involved 16 different registry changes,” says Charaka Kithulegoda, Tangerine’s chief information officer, referring to changes to computer settings. “We said, ‘The tech works great, the concept works, but the experience is awful.’”

  • Meet ‘Ross,’ the newly hired legal robot

    Date published: 
    May 16, 2016

    "A future where ROSS, or similar robot lawyers, is used across the country might not be too far away, according to Ryan Calo, a law professor and writer who focuses on the intersection of technology and law. “The use of complex software in the practice of law is commonplace — for instance, in managing discovery,” said Calo. “Watson is a tool — in law or medicine or another context — to assist professionals in making judgments. Eventually, I bet not using these systems will come to be viewed as antiquated and even irresponsible, like writing a brief on a typewriter.”'

  • Your call and text records are far more revealing than you think

    Date published: 
    May 16, 2016

    ""The study has important implications for surveillance law and policy," says Arvind Narayanan, a computer scientist and data privacy expert at Princeton University. "Our intuition for terms such as 'two hops,’ [and how it limits the number of people connected to you], proves wildly inaccurate when applied to modern telephone networks." And he notes that NSA has vastly more data and resources than academic researchers.

  • “Tool Without a Handle: “Tools for Terror, Tools for Peace,” part II

    This blog continues the analysis of how to respond to terrorist activity (including recruitment and planning of attacks) using network information technology, in particular social media. As noted earlier, I think promising avenues to investigate include three areas:
    1) Countering misinformation
    2) Active recruitment to alternative missions
    3) Areas beyond communication - e.g., algorithmic adjustments by social media platforms

    While information technologies, and the business platforms that deploy them have a central role, the core of the best responses to violent extremism may turn out not to be tools, but people.

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