Are you a PhD with interest in "the intersection of digital technology and public life, including experts in computer science, sociology, economics, law, political science, public policy, information studies, communication, and other related disciplines?" Princeton's CITP has three open job postings for 10-month residences starting Sept 1, 2019.
Read the rest
He'll serve under the brilliant Megan Smith, the CTO. Read the rest
PACER is America's all-but-inaccessible public database of court records. Carl Malamud explains the problem—and the solution: you.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation continues to publish its excellent series of Copyright Week posts (here's yesterday's installment). Today, Corynne McSherry describes the fight over copyrighted laws. Not copyright laws -- laws about copyright -- but, rather, laws that are copyrighted, and that can't be read without paying hefty fees.
This odd situation crops up often in the realm of public safety standards (the last kind of law you'd want to hide away from the public, really): lawmakers commission private standards bodies to write these standards, then write a law that reads, "In order to comply with the law, you must follow standard such-and-such." So now you've got this weird situation where the law is a secret, it is proprietary, it cannot be published, and you can't see it or know what it says unless you're willing to pay the standards body.
But that's just the beginning: Read the rest
The glorious Ed Felten, Princeton professor and RIAA taunter extraordinaire--"Your DRM smells of elderberries, ha!"--has been appointed the Federal Trade Commission's first Chief Technologist. He will advise the agency on emerging tech issues and policy. Felten currently directs Princeton's Center for Information Technology Policy, and has educated decades' worth of students about how to examine off-limit topics in security for the benefit of us all, such as electronic voting booths and DMCA-protected encryption systems. Felten champions the Happy Mutant notion that devices you own are yours to explore. At the FTC, I hope he will reveal colleagues' poorly-chosen passwords on a projector as guests enter the building. Read the rest
Carl Malamud sez,
Earlier this year, 20 million pages of the U.S. Federal Court's PACER database were downloaded, audited for privacy violations, and submitted as evidence to the Judicial Conference, the policy-making body of the courts. That incident led to a Senate investigation, clean-up by 30 district courts, and PACER now requires each lawyer to click at each login that they understand their privacy requirements.
(Scribd, PDF )
When public data is locked up behind a cash register, nobody has an incentive to fix privacy problems. Only when the public got access to the data did privacy problems begin to be fixed. When public data becomes public, we also start to see real innovation.
A great example is today's release by Princeton's Center for Information Technology Policy of RECAP, a Firefox plugin. RECAP is a public domain proxy that allows professional PACER users--lawyers, journalists, and law students--to save money on access charges and at the same time create a public domain archive. RECAP lets lawyers do good by doing good.
Here's how it works. The 20 million pages harvested earlier this year have been unfolded into the Internet Archive by the Princeton team in a format that includes extras like metadata and SHA1 hashes. When you use the RECAP plugin to access uscourts.gov, if somebody already grabbed this doc, you get it for free. If not, you pay $0.08/page, but the doc gets recycled so the next user gets it free.
Better Access to Public Court Records
Previously on Boing Boing:
Carl Malamud, rogue archivist, in Wired
California construction codes liberated
US Judiciary opts to spend millions on accessing its own records, which are now available on the Web for free Read the rest