Berkman Buzz: May 11, 2015

May 11, 2015

The Berkman Buzz is a weekly collection of work, conversations, and news from around the Berkman community.
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Cyberlaw Clinic presents at WeRobot 2015

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Spring 2015 Cyberlaw Clinic students Jack Xu and Cecillia Xie joined the Clinic's Managing Director Chris Bavitz on a trip to Seattle last month to participate in the WeRobot 2015 robotics law and policy conference at University of Washington School of Law in Seattle. Accompanied by Chelsea Barabas of the MIT Center for Civic Media, the Clinic's representatives attended the conference to present their working draft paper entitled, "Legal and Ethical Issues in the Use of Telepresence Robots: Best Practices and Toolkit."[PDF] J. Nathan Matias, also of the Center for Civic Media, contributed to the paper but was unable to attend the event.

Watch a video of the presentation


From the blog post, "Cyberlaw Clinic Presents at WeRobot 2015"
About the Cyberlaw Clinic | @cyberlawclinic

Josephine Wolff reflects on technology and remembrance


The month after my grandmother died, I received several emails from her. Not from her, of course, but from an old AOL email account of hers that had been taken over by spammers. My mother and other family members called to ask me - the granddaughter who studies computer security - to make the emails stop. We were all strangely unsettled by these messages from beyond the grave, by my grandmother's sudden appearance in our inboxes so soon after we'd lost her. More than just spam, this felt like a ghost in the machine.


From her New York Times piece "The Ghost in the Machine".
About Josephine | @josephinecwolff

Susan Crawford argues for open access fiber networks


[I]f fiber-optic lines ran to every business and residence in the country, we'd have a cloud of unlimited WiFi connectivity everywhere we work, live and play. Only fiber can handle the tsunami of data uploaded by all the devices and sensors Americans are going to use.

Last month, the F.C.C. took a major step in the direction of this vision by voting to open up a wide swath of frequencies for WiFi use that had been previously controlled by the Department of Defense. But this will make little difference for consumers if the wires needed to facilitate WiFi access in America are second-rate and controlled by the cable industry, and there is no plan for the country to upgrade to fiber.


From her New York Times piece, "We Need Better Infrastructure for Better WiFi"
About Susan | @scrawford

Berkman community members react to new Facebook study


From David Weinberger's blog:

Facebook researchers have published an article in Science, certainly one of the most prestigious peer-reviewed journals. It concludes (roughly) that Facebook's filtering out of news from sources whose politics you disagree with does not cause as much polarization as some have thought. Unfortunately, a set of researchers clustered around the Berkman Center think that the study's methodology is deeply flawed, and that its conclusions badly misstate the actual findings. Here are three responses well worth reading:

The Facebook "It's Not Our Fault" Study by Christian Sandvig
How Facebook's Algorithm Suppresses Content Diversity (Modestly) and How the Newsfeed Rules Your Clicks by Zeynep Tufekci
Why doesn't Science publish important methods info prominently? by Eszter Hargittai


Vivek Krishnamurthy argues against weakening encryption


RE "DAN Conley warns Congress over Apple, Google encryption" (April 29): Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley's call for a ban on digital devices with encryption that law enforcement can’t break is dangerously misguided. Just as with physical locks, weak digital locks put us at risk because online predators can pick them just as easily as the police.

If Apple and Google weaken their encryption for law enforcement, they'd be undermining the protections that keep foreign governments from spying on a Cabinet member's smartphone, or cybercriminals from stealing health records from a doctor's iPad.


From his letter to the editor in the Boston Globe, "DA's bid for law enforcement to bypass encryption raises concern"
About Vivek | @vivekdotca

Lawrence Lessig on Creative Commons and its new partnership with Medium


When the Net was born, its code was its norms. Its architecture enabled sharing. Its users shared wildly.

Many celebrated this freedom. Some fought it fiercely. Shared creativity was also copyrighted creativity. And under the rules of copyright, to share is to require the permission of the copyright owner - unless (in America at least) that sharing is "fair use."

When this battle first exploded, it presented itself in binary terms. People were, the story went, either for copyright, or against it. And if you were for "sharing," that meant you were against copyright. The norms of the net, it followed for many, had to be changed if the rules of copyright were to be respected.


From his post, "Why I'm excited for Medium's partnership with Creative Commons"
About Lawrence | @lessig

Philippines Deports Thai Worker for Insulting Filipinos on Facebook


A Thai worker in the Philippines was deported after he posted racist and anti-Filipino statements on Facebook. Many cheered the deportation but some also described it as an attack on free speech....

The Bureau of Immigration also reacted quickly by issuing a deportation charge against the Thai national for "undesirability" over his offensive posts on Facebook. Koko Narak surrendered and opted for voluntary deportation. He was included in the agency's blacklist, barring re-entry into the country.


From Global Voices | @globalvoices

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May 15, 2015