Monday, June 30, 2014

It will be interesting to see how big a fuss this makes. There appears to be no specific benefit to Facebook (unlikely to attract new users or increase profits) Are there enough Facebook friends to tip the “emotional contagion” into a Class Action lawsuit or perhaps a lynch mob? (Announcement timed for a weekend to reduce the number of people who see it?)
Facebook is learning the hard way that with great data comes great responsibility
Facebook released the results of a study where its data scientists skewed the positive or negative emotional content that appeared in the news feeds of nearly 700,000 users over the course of a week in order to study their reaction. The study found evidence of “emotional contagion,” in other words, that the emotional content of posts bled into user’s subsequent actions.

Professions online.
Maanvi Singh reports on the uptick in online psychotherapy services, but notes that there are concerns not only about efficacy, but licensing and privacy. With respect to privacy, Singh reports:
Some studies suggest that therapy online can be as effective as it is face to face. “We have a lot of promising data suggesting that technology can be a very good means of providing treatment,” says Lynn Bufka, a clinical psychologist who helps develop health-care policy for the American Psychological Association.
“I don’t think we have all the answers yet,” Bufka says. There are cases where therapy online may not work, she notes. Therapists usually don’t treat people with severe issues online, especially if they are contemplating suicide. That’s because in case of a crisis, it’s much harder for online therapists to track down their patients and get them help. [Clearly, they have not been paying attention to GPS tracking. Bob]
Privacy is another a concern. Instead of Skype, many online therapy companies choose to use teleconferencing software with extra security. Arthur at Pretty Padded Room says her company takes measures to protect her clients’ records.
But it can be hard for people to know exactly how secure the website they’re using really is, Bufka says.
Read more on NPR.

Worth reading
Last week’s National Post features an op-ed written by Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Dr. Ann Cavoukian and the founder and co-chair of the Future of Privacy Forum think tank Christopher Wolf commenting if a recent European Court of Justice judgement requiring Internet search providers to remove links to embarrassing information should also be applied to Canadian Citizens. The full article is below:
A man walks into a library. He asks to see the librarian. He tells the librarian there is a book on the shelves of the library that contains truthful, historical information about his past conduct, but he says he is a changed man now and the book is no longer relevant. He insists that any reference in the library’s card catalog and electronic indexing system associating him with the book be removed, or he will go to the authorities.
The librarian refuses, explaining that the library does not make judgments on people, but simply offers information to readers to direct them to materials from which they can make their own judgment in the so-called “marketplace of ideas.” The librarian goes on to explain that if the library had to respond to such requests, it would become a censorship body — essentially the arbiter of what information should remain accessible to the public. Moreover, if it had to respond to every such request, the burden would be enormous and there would be no easy way to determine whether a request was legitimate or not. The indexing system would become swiss cheese, with gaps and holes. And, most importantly, readers would be deprived of access to historical information that would allow them to reach their own conclusions about people and events.
The librarian gives this example: What if someone is running for office but wants to hide something from his unsavory past by blocking access to the easiest way for voters to uncover those facts? Voters would be denied relevant information, and democracy would be impaired.
The man is not convinced, and calls a government agent. The government agent threatens to fine or jail the librarian if he does not comply with the man’s request to remove the reference to the unflattering book in the library’s indexing system.
Is this a scenario out of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four? No, this is the logical extension of a recent ruling from Europe’s highest court, which ordered Google to remove a link to truthful information about a person, because that person found the information unflattering and out of date. (The scale of online indexing would of course be dramatically more comprehensive than a library indexing system.)
The European Court of Justice ruled that Google has a legal obligation to remove, from a search result of an individual’s name, a link to a newspaper containing a truthful, factual account of the individual’s financial troubles years ago. The individual, a Spanish citizen, had requested that Google remove the newspaper link because the information it contained was “now entirely irrelevant.” This concept has been described as the “right to be forgotten.” While one may have sympathy for the Spanish man who claimed he had rehabilitated his credit and preferred that his previous setback be forgotten, the rule of law that the highest European Court has established could open the door to unintended consequences such as censorship and threats to freedom of expression.
The European Court relied on the fundamental rights to privacy and to the protection of personal data contained in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, without so much as citing, much less analyzing, one of the other fundamental rights contained in the Charter, namely the right to free expression.
Moreover, the Court did not provide sufficient instruction on how the “right to be forgotten” should be applied. When do truthful facts become “outdated” such that they should be suppressed on the Internet? Do online actors other than search engines have a duty to “scrub” the Internet of unflattering yet truthful facts? The Court didn’t say. The European Court of Justice has mandated that the Googles of the world serve as judge and jury of what legal information is in the public interest, and what information needs to be suppressed because the facts are now dated and the subject is a private person. Under penalty of fines and possibly jail time, online companies may err on the side of deleting links to information, with free expression suffering in the process.
The European Court’s own Advocate General argued that a right to be forgotten “would entail sacrificing pivotal rights such as freedom of expression and information” and would suppress “legitimate and legal information that has entered the public sphere.” Further, the Advocate General argued, this would amount to “censuring” published content. In the First Amendment parlance of the U.S. Supreme Court, the European Court’s decision may amount to “burning the house to roast the pig.” [Being quite literate, I recognize this as a reference to “A Dissertation Upon Roast Pig,” by Charles Lamb (Just showing off) Bob]
You might think this problem is limited to Europe, and that the search results in North America will remain unaffected by the Court’s ruling. But earlier European efforts to cleanse the Internet (in the context of hate speech) suggested that even materials on North American domains would be subject to European law.
As privacy advocates, we strongly support rights to protect an individual’s reputation and to guard against illegal and abusive behaviour. If you post something online about yourself, you should have the right to remove it or take it somewhere else. If someone else posts illegal defamatory content about you, as a general rule, you have a legal right to have it removed. But while personal control is essential to privacy, empowering individuals to demand the removal of links to unflattering, but accurate, information arguably goes far beyond protecting privacy. Other solutions should be explored to address the very real problem posed by the permanence of online data.
The recent extreme application of privacy rights in such a vague, shotgun manner threatens free expression on the Internet. We cannot allow the right to privacy to be converted into the right to censor.

A few items in the slideshow that I hadn't thought of. I'm clearly not thinking “ubiquitously” enough.
The Internet of Things at home: Why we should pay attention
What is the Internet of Things (IoT), exactly? If you're a consumer, then the first thing that leaps to mind might be a Nest Wi-Fi thermostat, or perhaps those smart health bands that let you monitor your activity level from an app on your smartphone.
That's part of it. But if you're an engineer, you might think of the smart sensors that General Electric embeds in locomotives and wind turbines, while a city manager might be considering smart parking meters, and a hospital administrator might envision swallowable smart pill sensors that monitor how much medication you've taken or blood pressure cuffs and blood glucose monitors that can monitor patient health in the field and wirelessly stream updates into clinical systems.
[[Note: This article accompanies our slideshow The Internet of Things at home: 14 smart products that could change your life; you can get more info about these products by checking out The Internet of Things at home: 14 smart products compared.]]

Perhaps the MPAA has outlived its usefulness? (Was it ever more that a source of amusement?)
The MPAA Targets A Subreddit & Opens Everyone’s Eyes To Free Movies
SOPA and PIPA terrified those of us who cherish the Internet for what it has become today. In light of these bills, the MPAA embarrassed itself on numerous occasions, once even citing countries like China, Iran, and Syria as role models of sorts when it comes to how they think the Internet should be censored by the US.
This week, they’re at it again, opening our eyes to a beautiful example of the Streisand effect
… The MPAA’s latest attempt at thwarting the piracy of movies on the Internet sent them after a subreddit that many people never even knew existed.
That subreddit is /r/fulllengthfilms, which up until a couple hours from before I started this post was unkempt, had an obscenity in the header, and included CSS and a general color scheme that made you want to claw your eyes out.
… In this particular case, what the MPAA needs to consider is that Reddit is not a content delivery network. The things that are posted and linked on Reddit are not uploaded or hosted on Reddit. The only things that you’ll find on Reddit are links and text. Everything linked in the /r/fulllengthfilms subreddit is hosted on servers away from Reddit, and these are the websites that they should first be targeting. [If they had gone after the hosting servers, there would have been no “Reddit kerfuffle.” Makes you wonder if this was deliberate rather than merely stupid. Bob]

We push our students to use Linkedin...
New on LLRX – Fourteen LinkedIn Tips for (the Rest of) 2014
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Jun 29, 2014
With over 300 million users, LinkedIn is the most popular social media platform for business and professional use, and attorneys Dennis Kennedy and Allison C. Shields clearly and concisely outline how to leverage this space with smart, targeted and effective ways that positively identify you in communities of best practice, proactively communicate with peers and potential clients, and expand your business reach.

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