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Category Archives: Civil Liberties

‘Extremely aggressive’ internet censorship spreads in the world’s democracies

“The largest collection of public internet censorship data ever compiled shows that even citizens of what are considered the world’s freest countries aren’t safe from internet censorship. The University of Michigan team used its own Censored Planet tool, an automated censorship tracking system launched in 2018, to collect more than 21 billion measurements over 20 months in 221 countries. They recently presented a paper [see below] on the findings at the 2020 ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security. “We hope that the continued publication of Censored Planet data will enable researchers to continuously monitor the deployment of network interference technologies, track policy changes in censoring nations, and better understand the targets of interference,” said Roya Ensafi, U-M assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science who led the development of the tool…”

See also – “Censored Planet: An Internet-wide, Longitudinal Censorship Observatory.” The research team also included former U-M computer science and engineering student Prerana Shenoy and Katharina Kohls, an assistant professor at Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. The research was supported in part by the U.S. National Science Foundation, Award CNS-1755841. “Remote censorship measurement techniques offer capabilities for monitoring Internet reachability around the world. However, operating these techniques continuously is labor-intensive and re-quires specialized knowledge and synchronization, leading to limited adoption. In this paper, we introduce Censored Planet, an online censorship measurement platform that collects and analyzes measurements from ongoing deployments of four remote measurement techniques (Augur, Satellite/Iris, Quack, and Hyperquack). Censored Planet adopts a modular design that supports synchronized baseline measurements on six Internet protocols as well as customized measurements that target specific countries and websites.Censored Planet has already collected and published more than 21.8 billion data points of longitudinal network observations over20 months of operation. Censored Planet complements existing censorship measurement platforms such as OONI and ICLab by offering increased scale, coverage, and continuity. We introduce anew representative censorship metric and show how time series analysis can be applied to Censored Planet’s longitudinal measurements to detect 15 prominent censorship events, two-thirds of which have not been reported previously. Using trend analysis, we find increasing censorship activity in more than 100 countries, andwe identify 11 categories of websites facing increasing censorship,including provocative attire, human rights issues, and news media.We hope that the continued publication of Censored Planet data helps counter the proliferation of growing restrictions to online freedom.”

Cheating-detection companies made millions during the pandemic. Now students are fighting back.

Washington Post -“With remote proctors watching them take tests, some worry that even leaving for the bathroom will brand them as cheats…“Online proctoring” companies saw in coronavirus shutdowns a chance to capitalize on a major reshaping of education, selling schools a high-tech blend of webcam-watching workers and eye-tracking software designed to catch students cheating on… Continue Reading

Employee surveillance software demand increased as workers transitioned to home working

ZDNet – “What does the rise of intrusive tools such as employee surveillance software mean for workers at home? A new study shows that the demand for employee surveillance software was up 55% in June 2020 compared to the pre-pandemic average. From webcam access to random screenshot monitoring, these surveillance software products can record almost… Continue Reading

Proposal to install spyware in university libraries to protect copyrights shocks academics

Coda Story – “A recent proposal recommending the deployment of surveillance software in order to monitor those accessing academic material has drawn fire from digital rights advocates and scientists. The plan was outlined on October 22 during a virtual webinar hosted by a consortium of the world’s leading publishers of scientific journals, featuring security experts discussing the threats posed… Continue Reading

Mehlman Castagnetti – America Decided – America’s Divided

PowerPoint – America Decided – America’s Divided – MAIN TAKEAWAYS “Voters wanted more competent but also more moderate leadership:  Trump lost for failing to manage COVID competently & excessive chaos / division  • House Democrats lost where voters feared overly-aggressive Progressivism Our nation remains narrowly & deeply divided: • Senate & House nearly tied, key… Continue Reading

The Degradation of American Democracy And the Court

134 Harv. L. Rev. 1 Volume 134, November 10 2020 –  The Supreme Court Term 2019 – The Degradation of American Democracy — And the Court – Foreword by Michael J. Klarman. “On June 25, 2013, the Supreme Court invalidated the geographic coverage formula of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, effectively abrogating the preclearance requirement… Continue Reading

Growing Discomfort at Law Firms Representing Trump in Election Lawsuits

The New York Times via MSN – “There was Big Tobacco. There was the Bin Laden family. There was even the hated owner of the Cleveland Browns football team as he moved the franchise to Baltimore. Now Jones Day is the most prominent firm representing President Trump and the Republican Party as they prepare to… Continue Reading

2020’s record voter turnout in the US is still lower than many other countries

Quartz: “At least 158.8 million people voted in this year’s US presidential election. That’s some 20 million more than the 137.5 million Americans who voted in 2016, and 25 million more than the 132.9 million who voted in 2012. The big difference in this election was that close to 102 million people voted early—either in person… Continue Reading

National Archives Launches Voting Rights Records Portal

NARA – “A new resource on Archives.gov highlights National Archives records related to voting rights and the African American vote. The portal, which launched last week, allows users to more easily access the documents that trace the country’s voting history, with a focus on several searchable sections: Laws and Court Cases, Organizations, People and Icons,… Continue Reading

The State of Race, Police Brutality and Gun Violence in America

Free ABA Webinar [this link includes list of speakers]- “George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many victims have died because of police brutality and gun violence. The surge in police brutality and gun violence against the Black population recently led all people to come together to peacefully march against these tragedies. This moderated… Continue Reading

Election 2020: How to spot misinformation while you wait for results

CNET – “As expected, Tuesday night didn’t bring a final result in the presidential election, so we’re still targets for people trying to confuse the issue. The 2020 presidential election wasn’t over when the polls closed on Tuesday night. Calling the winner — President Donald Trump or challenger Joe Biden — is taking longer than… Continue Reading