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Daily Archives: September 13, 2023

You Should Worry About the Data Retailers Collect About You

The Atlantic [free to read]: “…Smartphones gave stores even more refined information about their customers, facilitating new kinds of in-store spying that most people probably don’t even know exists. Mousetrap-size radio transmitters called beacons ping off apps on your phone and can track your location down to the inch inside a store, giving retailers granular insight into what types of products you linger over. This information, combined with other data the store has collected itself and bought from third parties, can paint a vivid picture of who you are and what you might be persuaded to buy for what price in the moment: In principle, you can linger over the sugary cereals in the grocery store, opt for the whole grains, and then be served an ad on your phone for 10 percent off Lucky Charms, which the ad may remind you are actually part of a balanced breakfast. Retailers have also started to test facial- and voice-recognition technologies in stores, giving them yet another way to track customer behavior. In-store Wi-Fi helps with the signal-inhibiting effects of many stores’ concrete-and-steel construction, but it also allows stores to collect your email address and browsing traffic, and in some cases to install cookies on your device that track you long after you leave the store and its network. Store-specific apps offer deals and convenience, but they also collect loads of information via features that allow you to make shopping lists or virtually “try on” clothing or makeup by scanning your likeness. Club cards enable stores to log every item your household purchases and analyze your profile for trends and sales opportunities. Ordinary people may not realize just how much offline information is collected and aggregated by the shopping industry rather than the tech industry. In fact, the two work together to erode our privacy effectively, discreetly, and thoroughly. Data gleaned from brick-and-mortar retailers get combined with data gleaned from online retailers to build ever-more detailed consumer profiles, with the intention of selling more things, online and in person—and to sell ads to sell those things, a process in which those data meet up with all the other information big Tech companies such as Google and Facebook have on you. “Retailing,” Joe Turow told me, “is the place where a lot of tech gets used and monetized.” The tech industry is largely the ad-tech industry. That makes a lot of data retail data. “There are a lot of companies doing horrendous things with your data, and people use them all the time, because they’re not on the public radar.” The supermarket, in other words, is a panopticon just the same as the social network…”

A comprehensive and distributed approach to AI regulation

Brookings – Alex Engler August 31, 2023 – Proposing the Critical Algorithmic Systems Classification (CASC) A defining challenge of AI regulation is creating a framework that is comprehensive, but still results in rules that are tailored to the nuances of AI in different applications, such as in educational access, hiring, mortgage pricing, rent setting, or healthcare… Continue Reading

How to finally ditch Chrome and move all your data and bookmarks to another browser

PopSci: “The latest version of Google Chrome introduced new settings that have raised privacy concerns. Google says these tools “give you more choice over the ads you see,” which sounds nice. But it’s also a jargony way to say the browser will track your web surfing and share some of your data with advertisers so… Continue Reading

Why the Global Stocktake is a Critical Moment for Climate Action

“The global stocktake is a critical turning point in our battle against the escalating climate crisis – a moment to take a long, hard look at the state of our planet and chart a better course for the future. “The global stocktake is an ambition exercise. It’s an accountability exercise. It’s an acceleration exercise,” said… Continue Reading

Political contributions, enhanced

Jeremy Singer-Vine, Data is Plural: “Political scientist Adam Bonica’s Database on Ideology, Money in Politics, and Elections (DIME) gathers “500 million itemized political contributions made by individuals and organizations to local, state, and federal elections covering from 1979 to 2020.” The project, which received a major update last month, “is intended to make data on… Continue Reading

How to Use Large Language Models for Empirical Legal Research

Choi, Jonathan H., How to Use Large Language Models for Empirical Legal Research (August 9, 2023). Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (Forthcoming), Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper No. 23-23, Available at SSRN: “Legal scholars have long annotated cases by hand to summarize and learn about developments in jurisprudence. Dramatic recent improvements in the… Continue Reading

Large Language Models and the Future of Law

Charlotin, Damien, Large Language Models and the Future of Law (August 22, 2023). Available at SSRN: or “Large Language Models (LLMs) have crashed into the scene in late 2022, with ChatGPT in particular bringing to the mainstream what has before this remained within the domain of the initiates. This paper introduces the main… Continue Reading

Contextualizing Deepfake Threats to Organizations

Joint CSI – Contextualizing Deepfake Threats to Organizations – Executive summary. “Threats from synthetic media, such as deepfakes, present a growing challenge for all users of modern technology and communications, including National Security Systems (NSS), the Department of Defense (DoD), the Defense Industrial Base (DIB), and national critical infrastructure owners and operators. As with many… Continue Reading

Introducing State Court Report

“We’re excited to introduce you to State Court Report, a nonpartisan source for news, resources, and commentary focused on state courts and state constitutional development. All too often, popular commentary has treated the U.S. Supreme Court as the only word that matters on constitutional rights. But recent federal court rulings limiting or eliminating rights under… Continue Reading