pipeline

Ces dames préfèrent le mambo

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Behavioural patterns of Londoners going about their daily business are being tracked and recorded an unprecedented scale, internet expert Ben Green warns. […]

Large-scale London data-collection projects include on-street free Wi-Fi beamed from special kiosks, smart bins, police facial recognition and soon 5G transmitters embedded in lamp posts.

Transport for London announced this week they would track, collect and analyse movements of commuters around 260 Tube stations starting from July by using mobile Wi-Fi data and device MAC addresses to help improve journeys. Customers can opt out by turning off their Wi-Fi. 

{ Standard | Continue reading }

previously { The Business of Selling Your Location }

art { Poster for Autechre by the Designers Republic, 2016 }

At the end of the drama, as Faust and Mephistopheles flee the dungeon, a voice from heaven announces Gretchen’s salvation

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Misdemeanor cases affect far more people than felony cases, outnumbering felony cases by more than three to one. Yet very little empirical information exists on many aspects of misdemeanor prosecutions.

This Article provides the first quantitative look at appellate review in misdemeanor cases, nationwide. It uses data drawn from a random sample of direct criminal appeals decided by every state appellate court in the nation, unpublished aggregate data on misdemeanor trial court cases provided by the Court Statistics Project, and published state court statistics.

We provide the first estimate of the rate of appellate review for misdemeanors, concluding that appellate courts review no more than eight in 10,000 misdemeanor convictions, and disturb only one conviction or sentence out of every 10,000 misdemeanor judgments. This level of oversight is much lower than that for felony cases, for reasons we explain.

Additional findings include new information about the rate of felony trial court review of lower court misdemeanor cases, ratios of appeals to convictions for various misdemeanor-crime categories, detailed descriptive information about misdemeanor cases that reach state appellate courts, the results of a complete statistical analysis examining which features are significantly associated with a greater or lesser likelihood of success, including crime type, claim raised, judicial-selection method, and type of representation, and the first quantitative look at how misdemeanor appeals differ from felony appeals.

{ LawArXiv | Continue reading }

watercolor on paper { JMW Turner, A Wreck, possibly related to Longships Lighthouse, Land’s End, c.1834 }

previously { The Federalist Society — A 30-Year Plan to Transform the Courts }

Facebook algorithm can recognise people in photographs even when it can’t see their faces

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In Shenzhen, the local subway operator is testing various advanced technologies backed by the ultra-fast 5G network, including facial-recognition ticketing.

At the Futian station, instead of presenting a ticket or scanning a QR bar code on their smartphones, commuters can scan their faces on a tablet-sized screen mounted on the entrance gate and have the fare automatically deducted from their linked accounts. […]

Consumers can already pay for fried chicken at KFC in China with its “Smile to Pay” facial recognition system, first introduced at an outlet in Hangzhou in January 2017. […]

Chinese cities are among the most digitally savvy and cashless in the world, with about 583 million people using their smartphones to make payment in China last year, according to the China Internet Network Information Center. Nearly 68 per cent of China’s internet users used a mobile wallet for their offline payments.

{ South China Morning Post | Continue reading }

photo { The Collection of the Australian National Maritime Museum }

‘We are all deep in a hell each moment of which is a miracle.’ –Cioran

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Beer bottles are often used in physical disputes. If the bottles break, they may give rise to sharp trauma. However, if the bottles remain intact, they may cause blunt injuries. […]

We tested the fracture properties of beer bottles in a drop-tower. Full bottles broke at 30 J impact energy, empty bottles at 40 J. These breaking energies surpass the minimum fracture-threshold of the human neurocranium. […]

The phenomenon of empty beer bottles breaking at higher energies than full ones is explainable by two factors. Firstly, beer is an almost incompressible fluid. Even a slight deformation of the bottle due to the impact of the steel ball leads to an increase of the pressure within the bottle and its destruction. Another possibly major additional factor may be that beer is carbonated.

{ Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine | Continue reading }

photo { Stephen Shore, Miami, Oklahoma, July 1972 }

the moyles and moyles of it

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Products developed by companies such as Activtrak allow employers to track which websites staff visit, how long they spend on sites deemed “unproductive” and set alarms triggered by content considered dangerous. […]

To quantify productivity, “profiles” of employee behaviour — which can be as granular as mapping an individual’s daily activity — are generated from “vast” amounts of data. […]

If combined with personal details, such as someone’s age and sex, the data could allow employers to develop a nuanced picture of ideal employees, choose whom they considered most useful and help with promotion and firing decisions. […]

Some technology, including Teramind’s and Activtrak’s, permits employers to take periodic computer screenshots or screen-videos — either with employees’ knowledge or in “stealth” mode — and use AI to assess what it captures.

Depending on the employer’s settings, screenshot analysis can alert them to things like violent content or time spent on LinkedIn job adverts. 

But screenshots could also include the details of private messages, social media activity or credit card details in ecommerce checkouts, which would then all be saved to the employer’s database. […]

Meanwhile, smart assistants, such as Amazon’s Alexa for Business, are being introduced into workplaces, but it is unclear how much of office life the devices might record, or what records employers might be able to access.

{ Financial Times | Continue reading }

Google uses Gmail to track a history of things you buy. […] Google says it doesn’t use this information to sell you ads.

{ CNBC | Continue reading }

unrelated { Navy Seal’s lawyers received emails embedded with tracking software }

photo { Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Paris, 1996 }

Not a soul but ourselves

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[I]nside of a Google server or a Facebook server is a little voodoo doll, avatar-like version of you […] All I have to do is simulate what conversation the voodoo doll is having, and I know the conversation you just had without having to listen to the microphone.

{ Quartz | Continue reading }

…a phenomenon privacy advocates have long referred to as the “if you build it, they will come” principle — anytime a technology company creates a system that could be used in surveillance, law enforcement inevitably comes knocking. Sensorvault, according to Google employees, includes detailed location records involving at least hundreds of millions of devices worldwide and dating back nearly a decade.

The new orders, sometimes called “geofence” warrants, specify an area and a time period, and Google gathers information from Sensorvault about the devices that were there. It labels them with anonymous ID numbers, and detectives look at locations and movement patterns to see if any appear relevant to the crime. Once they narrow the field to a few devices they think belong to suspects or witnesses, Google reveals the users’ names and other information. […]

Google uses the data to power advertising tailored to a person’s location, part of a more than $20 billion market for location-based ads last year.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

The “panopticon” refers to an experimental laboratory of power in which behaviour could be modified

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We’ve all been making some big choices, consciously or not, as advancing technology has transformed the real and virtual worlds. That phone in your pocket, the surveillance camera on the corner: You’ve traded away a bit of anonymity, of autonomy, for the usefulness of one, the protection of the other.

Many of these trade-offs were clearly worthwhile. But now the stakes are rising and the choices are growing more fraught. Is it O.K., for example, for an insurance company to ask you to wear a tracker to monitor whether you’re getting enough exercise, and set your rates accordingly? Would it concern you if police detectives felt free to collect your DNA from a discarded coffee cup, and to share your genetic code? What if your employer demanded access to all your digital activity, so that it could run that data through an algorithm to judge whether you’re trustworthy?

These sorts of things are already happening in the United States.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

Revenge, more revenge, and CoCos

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Foreign Minister José Valencia and Interior Minister María Paula Romo accused Assange of riding scooters around the cramped embassy hallways, insulting staff and smearing feces on the walls.

{ CNN | Continue reading }

Mr. Moreno accused Mr. Assange of installing electronic distortion equipment in the embassy, blocking security cameras, confronting and mistreating guards and gaining access to security files without permission.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

In Norway, you can look up your neighbor’s income on the Internet

During a guided tour of Mount Vernon last April, Trump learned that Washington was one of the major real-estate speculators of his era. So, he couldn’t understand why America’s first president didn’t name his historic Virginia compound or any of the other property he acquired after himself.

“If he was smart, he would’ve put his name on it,” Trump said, according to three sources briefed on the exchange. “You’ve got to put your name on stuff or no one remembers you.”

The VIPs’ tour guide for the evening, Mount Vernon president and CEO Doug Bradburn, told the president that Washington did, after all, succeed in getting the nation’s capital named after him.

{ Politico | Continue reading }

related { Donald Trump trademarked “Central Park” }

“The White House called me to advise to help change the system of clemency,” Kim Kardashian-West said. “And I’m sitting in the Roosevelt Room with, like, a judge who had sentenced criminals and a lot of really powerful people and I just sat there, like, Oh, shit. I need to know more.”

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A man who had just bought an $8 million island off of Key West was arrested Saturday for participating in what police described as a scheme to steal $300 in household items from Kmart.

Officials at Kmart called Key West police April 5 after they say Andrew Francis Lippi, 59, had purchased several items, including a Keurig coffee maker and light bulbs, and returned the original boxes for a refund. But police say the boxes were stuffed with other items. For example, store officials said a basketball was inside the Keurig box. […]

The Miami Herald reports Lippi bought Thompson Island, which had been the home to the family of philanthropist Edward B. Knight. Lippi also owns the “Real World” house in Key West, where MTV shot its 17th season in 2006. […]

Lippi told the Herald the theft allegation is “complicated” and he’d rather not talk about it.

{ CBS News | Continue reading }

images { Grant Wood, American Gothic, 1930 | Dexter, Episode 7, Season 6 }

I got a letter from the government, the other day, I opened and read it, it said they were suckers

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An April 2016 Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) report advocated raising the minimum wage to deter crime. […]

Our results provide no evidence that minimum wage increases reduce crime. Instead, we find that raising the minimum wage increases property crime arrests among those ages 16-to-24, with an estimated elasticity of 0.2. This result is strongest in counties with over 100,000 residents and persists when we use longitudinal data to isolate workers for whom minimum wages bind.

Our estimates suggest that a $15 Federal minimum wage could generate criminal externality costs of nearly $2.4 billion.

{ National Bureau of Economic Research | Continue reading }

still { Death Wish, 1974 }

A few million dollars doesn’t move the needle for me

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If you know that a public company has done a bad thing, and no one else knows about it, how can you use that knowledge to make money? […]

This is a financial column, so we tend to focus on the financial-markets answers: You can short the company’s stock, or buy put options, or buy credit-default swaps. Then you can either sit back and let the market discover the bad thing, or you can bring it to the market’s attention, by announcing the bad thing and maybe also by taking some extra steps—generally suing or calling up a regulator—to get the ball rolling. This approach has some crucial advantages; most notably, if the company is very big and the thing is very bad, this is a good way to make a whole lot of money. But there are disadvantages too. You tend to need a lot of capital to make a lot of money doing this; if you don’t have enough money to make a big bet against the company, you’ll probably have to sell your idea to a hedge fund that does, and you’ll get only a portion of the upside. There are all the general financial risks of short selling: The stock could go up for reasons unrelated to the bad thing, “the market can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent,” etc. There are the specific risks of noisy short selling: The company will accuse you of fraud, people won’t believe your revelations because you have money at stake, etc. There is also the risk of insider trading: Depending on how you came to know of the secret bad thing, there may be some legal risk to you from trading on it.

But those are just the markets-y ways to make money from misbehavior. There are also lots of lawyer-y ways. There are whistleblower programs that can reward you for telling regulators—particularly the Securities and Exchange Commission—about the bad thing. (The SEC’s program focuses on securities fraud, of course, but everything is securities fraud so you can be creative.) If you are a lawyer looking to profit from the bad thing, you can find a victim of the bad thing and sue for damages (and take a cut), or you can find holders of the company’s securities and sue for securities fraud (and take a bigger cut), because, again, everything is securities fraud. […]

The really long game, if you are a lawyer, is that you can become a federal prosecutor, investigate the company for misconduct, push it to hire a fancy law firm staffed with former federal prosecutors to conduct an expensive internal investigation, and enter into a non-prosecution agreement that requires the company to pay millions of dollars to an outside monitor who is also a former federal prosecutor. Do a few of these—expanding the scope of criminal liability for corporations, and normalizing the notion that corporations should resolve their criminal liability by hiring ex-prosecutors as monitors and investigators—and then leave for a private law firm where you get paid to do the investigations and the monitoring, while the next generation of prosecutors creates business for you. […]

Avenatti clearly did not do a good enough job of making the extortion look like something else to satisfy prosecutors. I don’t know if he did enough to satisfy a jury; perhaps we’ll find out. But he didn’t do nothing; the complaint contains some gestures in the direction of Avenatti being a legitimate lawyer with a legitimate case from a legitimate client trying to reach a legitimate settlement. He didn’t just ask for money; he demanded that Nike do an internal investigation and that he be in charge of it. (And be paid a lot.) It’s not pure, naked blackmail; it is a settlement negotiation that gets a little deeper into blackmail territory than you’d ideally like. But any settlement negotiation is, you know, “give me money or I will sue and that will be embarrassing for you,” so it is a matter of degrees.

{ Matt Levine/Bloomberg | Continue reading }

pigment ink on cotton paper { Aneta Grzeszykowska, Beauty Mask #10, 2017 }