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

Category Archives: Government Documents

Who is “Public” Data Really For?

LitHub: “…Both words—“public” and “open”—invite a question: For whom? Despite the efforts of Mae and Gareth, and Tom Grundner and many others, the internet as it exists is hardly a public space. Many people still find themselves excluded from full participation. Access to anything posted on a city web page or on a .gov domain is restricted by barriers of cost and technical ability. Getting this data can be particularly hard for communities that are already marginalized, and both barriers—financial and technical—can be nearly impassable in places with limited resources and literacies. Data.gov, the United States’ “open data portal,” lists nearly 250,000 data sets, an apparent bounty of free information. Spend some time on data.gov and other portals, though, and you’ll find out that public data as it exists is messy and often confusing. Many hosted “data sets” are links to URLs that are no longer active. Trying to access data about Native American communities from the American Community Survey on data.gov brought me first to a census site with an unlabeled list of file folders. Downloading a zip file and unpacking it resulted in 64,086 cryptically named text files each containing zero kilobytes of data. As someone who has spent much of the last decade working with these kinds of data, I can tell you that this is not an uncommon experience. All too often, working with public data feels like assembling particularly complicated Ikea furniture with no tools, no instructions, and an unknown number of missing pieces…” [h/t Barclay Walsh]

Science and Technology Issues in the 117th Congress

CRS Report – Science and Technology Issues in the 117th Congress. May 5, 2021: “The federal government supports scientific and technological advancement directly by funding and performing research and development, and indirectly by creating and maintaining policies that encourage private sector efforts. Additionally, the federal government regulates many aspects of S&T activities. This report briefly… Continue Reading

A State-by-State Look at Coronavirus in Prisons

The Marshall Project: “…By May 4, at least 396,693 people in prison had tested positive for the illness, an increase of less than 1 percent from the week before. Our understanding of the full toll of the pandemic on incarcerated people is limited by the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ policy of removing cases and deaths… Continue Reading

Key facts about Asian Americans, a diverse and growing population

Pew – “The U.S. Asian population is diverse. A record 23 million Asian Americans trace their roots to more than 20 countries in East and Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent, each with unique histories, cultures, languages and other characteristics. The 19 largest Asian origin groups in the United States together account for 97% of… Continue Reading

Views About National Identity Becoming More Inclusive in U.S., Western Europe

Pew – “Large ideological divides persist on views of tradition, national pride and discrimination, especially in the U.S.  As issues about culture and identity continue to be at the center of heated political debates in the United States and Europe, a new Pew Research Center survey finds that views about national identity in the U.S.,… Continue Reading

US supports vaccine patent waiver proposal at World Trade Organization

CNN: “The Biden administration, in a major decision Wednesday, said it would support easing patent rules on Covid-19 vaccines after intense internal debate and strong pushback from American drugmakers, potentially expanding the global supply and narrowing the vaccination gap between rich and poor nations. The move is preliminary and will not guarantee the global patent… Continue Reading

How one phony vaccine website tried to capture your personal information

Tech Republic – “In a news release published Monday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland revealed that it had seized a website called freevaccinecovax.org. Allegedly the site of a real biotechnology firm developing a COVID-19 vaccine, it was actually set up to collect personal data from visitors and use that information for… Continue Reading

NOAA unveils new U.S. climate ‘normals’ that are warmer than ever

Washington Post – “On Tuesday May 4, 2021, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released an updated set of climate averages for the contiguous United States based on the 30-year period from 1991 to 2020, including more than 9,000 daily reporting stations. It refers to these averages* as “climate normals,” and updates them once every… Continue Reading

New Report on Recognition of Foreign Passports Published

In Custodia Legis: “We recently published a report on the Recognition of Foreign Passports on our website. The report, produced by specialists and analysts of the Global Legal Research Directorate, surveys 20 jurisdictions around the world as well as international law, and focuses on the rules and approaches for recognizing foreign passports. In addition, the… Continue Reading