A seven-month investigation by KrebsOnSecurity revealed that more than 1,300 customers of SSNDOB, an ID theft service, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars looking up SSNs, birthdates, and driver license records and unauthorized credit and background reports obtained by hacking into LexisNexis, D&B and other major data brokers. The finding is based on a copy of the SSNDOB database that became available after the ID theft service was itself hacked.
According to the SSNDOB’s online dashboard, the hackers had access to LN’s internal networks as far back as April 10, 2013 and D&B’s at least as far back as March 27, 2013. For details, see KrebsOnSecurity’s Data Broker Giants Hacked by ID Theft Service. See also Dan Goodin’s How LexisNexis and others may have unwittingly aided identity thieves (Ars Technica).
OASIS members are discussing the feasibility of designing an open standard data model and markup model for legal citations that can be used in electronic texts.The importance of addressing this issue should be obvious to legal information professionals. See Draft Proposal for a New OASIS Technical Committee (Legalcite) which is accompanied by a backgrounder.
Quoting from an email by Chet Ensign, Director of Standards Development and TC Administration, OASIS Open:
A standard model for tagging citations could simplify software development and become the foundation for new innovations in legal authoring, linking, annotating, searching, and citation analysis, all without requiring that the display text on the page be changed in any way.
If this is of interest to you, your organization, or any of your colleagues, we would be pleased to hear from you. Feedback — supportive, skeptical or critical — is key to launching an effort with the right scope to deliver an open standard that the legal field can use. If you are interested in learning more about how you can participate in the effort, we would like to hear from you as well.
See Chet’s web profile to contact him directly. Thanks for the heads-up.
In Link Rot within SCOTUS Opinions and Law Reviews [SSRN], Jonathan Zittrain and Kendra Albert found that 49% of URLs in surveyed SCOTUS opinions no long send the reader to the cited web source. Raizel Liebler and June Liebert’s recently published article, Something Rotten in the State of Legal Citation: The Life Span of a United States Supreme Court Citation Containing an Internet Link (1996-2010), 15 YALE J.L. & TECH. 273 (2013), reports a SCOTUS link rot rate of 29%. Obviously there’s a problem. But it is not with the difference in survey findings. Clearly SCOTUS must get its act together by linking to a self-hosted openly accessible archive of the web content that was cited and currently only stored in the Court’s files. How about naming the archive “Last Visited On”?
Zittrain and Albert’s article is recommended but I found Liebler and Lieber’s much more informative. Here’s the abstract for Something Rotten in the State of Legal Citation: The Life Span of a United States Supreme Court Citation Containing an Internet Link (1996-2010):
Citations are the cornerstone upon which judicial opinions and law review articles stand. Within this context, citations provide for both authorial verification of the original source material at the moment they are used and the needed information for later readers to find the cited source. The ability to check citations and verify that citations to the original sources are accurate is integral to ensuring accurate characterizations of sources and determining where a researcher received information. However, accurate citations do not always mean that a future researcher will be able to find the exact same information as the original researcher. Citations to disappearing websites cause serious problems for future legal researchers. Our present mode of citing websites in judicial cases, including within U.S. Supreme Court cases, allows such citations to disappear, becoming inaccessible to future scholars. Without significant change, the information in citations within judicial opinions will be known solely from those citations. Citations to the U.S. Supreme Court are especially important of the Court’s position at the top of federal court hierarchy, determining the law of the land, and even influencing the law in international jurisdictions. Unfortunately and disturbingly, the Supreme Court appears to have a vast problem with link rot, the condition of internet links no longer working. We found that number of websites that are no longer working cited to by Supreme Court opinions is alarmingly high, almost one-third (29%). Our research in Supreme Court cases also found that the rate of disappearance is not affected by the type of online document (pdf, html, etc) or the sources of links (government or non-government) in terms of what links are now dead. We cannot predict what links will rot, even within Supreme Court cases.
Hat tip to Adam Liptak’s In Supreme Court Opinions, Web Links to Nowhere (NYT, Sept. 23, 2013).
Welcome to Law Librarians (thinking out loud in the Blogosphere) or LLB for short. If that sounds familiar it’s because Mark Giangrande and I have moved our blogging activities from old LLB to here. We will be writing on the same topics we did since old LLB was launched in 2005. Nothing has changed except the URL.
To all our friends who emailed us after noticing that we hadn’t been publishing, the answer to your question — “is everything OK?” — is yes. Thanks for your concern. We’re alive and kicking. Hope you stop by to read our posts here. LLB’s syndication widgets are located in the right sidebar.