Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002

Daily Archives: March 7, 2023

The privacy loophole in your doorbell

Politico: “…As networked home surveillance cameras become more popular, Larkin’s case, which has not previously been reported, illustrates a growing collision between the law and people’s own expectation of privacy for the devices they own — a loophole that concerns privacy advocates and Democratic lawmakers, but which the legal system hasn’t fully grappled with. Questions of who owns private home security footage, and who can get access to it, have become a bigger issue in the national debate over digital privacy. And when law enforcement gets involved, even the slim existing legal protections evaporate. “It really takes the control out of the hands of the homeowners, and I think that’s hugely problematic,” said Jennifer Lynch, the surveillance litigation director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights advocacy group. In the debate over home surveillance, much of the concern has focused on Ring in particular, because of its popularity, as well as the company’s track record of cooperating closely with law enforcement agencies. The company offers a multitude of products such as indoor cameras or spotlight cameras for homes or businesses, recording videos based on motion activation, with the footage stored for up to 180 days on Ring’s servers. They amount to a large and unregulated web of eyes on American communities — which can provide law enforcement valuable information in the event of a crime, but also create a 24/7 recording operation that even the owners of the cameras aren’t fully aware they’ve helped to build. “They are part of an ever-expanding web of surveillance in communities across America,” Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said in a statement to POLITICO about Ring’s products. “I’ve been ringing alarms about this company’s threats to our privacy and civil liberties for years.”

Stored video footage is generally governed by data privacy laws, which are still new in the U.S. and largely limited to the state level. So far, all the U.S. state privacy laws, from the strictest regulations in California to the industry-backed law in Virginia, include exemptions if law enforcement comes asking. The most ambitious federal law so far proposed in Congress — the American Data Privacy and Protection Act, which died in committee last year — included the same loophole. As private surveillance grows, this loophole looks bigger and bigger to privacy advocates and security-minded homeowners like Larkin. When it comes to Ring in particular, the company hasn’t just been a passive actor in that growth, or in law enforcement’s interest. As its doorbell cams grew more popular, Ring developed a symbiotic relationship with police, who realized that the privately owned cameras were generating valuable surveillance footage that they could leverage for investigations. Local police departments would often give away Ring doorbells, which the company provided for free in some cases. Ring has an app called Neighbors, where users can upload and post clips, like a virtual neighborhood watch. In 2018, it started partnering with local police departments, with features specifically for officers on the app, allowing them to send public safety alerts and requests for video footage to users in a specific area. By 2023, Ring had nearly 2,350 police departments on its Neighbors network…”

DuckDuckGo Releases Its Own ChatGPT-Powered Search Engine, DuckAssist

Gizmodo: “DuckDuckGo launched a beta version of an AI search tool powered by ChatGPT Wednesday called DuckAssist. The addition to the company’s privacy-focused search engine uses ChatGPT’s language parsing capability to generate answers scraped from Wikipedia and related sources like the Encyclopedia Britannica. The tool is free and available on the DuckDuckGo web browsing apps… Continue Reading

Talk to Wikipedia using chatGPT

“wikipediaGPT allows you to talk to version of chatGPT that has access all of Wikipedia! It’s actually based on “Simple English Wikipedia” with some limitations due to financial constraits. If you’d like to help extend this to ALL of Wikipedia get in touch! Unline chatGPT this website can’t make stuff up and will only answer… Continue Reading

A Four-Day Workweek Reduces Stress without Hurting Productivity

Scientific American: “Working four days instead of five—with the same pay—leads to improved well-being among employees without damaging the company’s productivity. That’s the recently reported result of a four-day workweek test that ran for six months, from June to December 2022, and involved a total of 61 U.K. companies with a combined workforce of about… Continue Reading

The CEPS EurLex dataset

The CEPS EurLex dataset: “142.036 EU laws from 1952-2019 with full text and 22 variables: The dataset contains 142.036 EU laws – almost the entire corpus of the EU’s digitally available legal acts passed between 1952 – 2019. It encompasses the three types of legally binding acts passed by the EU institutions: 102.304 regulations, 4.070… Continue Reading

The Open Contracting Data Standard

“The Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS), is a free, non-proprietary open data standard for public contracting, implemented by over 30 governments around the world. It is the only international open standard for the publication of information related to the planning, procurement, and implementation of public contracts and has been endorsed by the G20, the G7… Continue Reading

Google’s Plan to Catch ChatGPT Is to Stuff AI Into Everything

Bloomberg: “A new internal directive requires “generative artificial intelligence” to be incorporated into all of its biggest products within months. Artificial intelligence was supposed to be Google’s thing. The company has cultivated a reputation for making long-term bets on all kinds of far-off technologies, and much of the research underpinning the current wave of AI-powered… Continue Reading

On social media platforms, more sharing means less caring about accuracy

MIT News: “..As a social media user, you can be eager to share content. You can also try to judge whether it is true or not. But for many people it is difficult to prioritize both these things at once. That’s the conclusion of a new experiment led by MIT scholars, which finds that even… Continue Reading