From the abstract for Hans Morten Haugen, Is Internet Access a Human Right? For Everyone or Just Persons with Disabilities?:

Allegations that Internet access is a human right is a popular perception, reflected in media reports. The most explicit basis is found in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Acknowledging that private actors are essential in providing Internet services, the CRPD Article 21(c) explicitly urges them to provide information and services in accessible and usable formats. It is not common that human rights treaties specify the role of private actors with such explicit wording. A review of relevant international law sources, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), finds that there is no basis in international law for stating that Internet access is a human rights. On the other hand, rights and obligations on Internet access and accessibility is clearly outlined in the CRPD, finding that there is a human right to the Internet – with corresponding State obligation – for persons with disabilities. The article then identifies States’ compliance with its CRPD obligations in the realm of Internet, and finds severe weaknesses in public policies, but the adoption of a treaty on copyright exceptions applying to use by persons with disabilities is a positive recent development.

States are addressing cybersecurity through various initiatives, such as providing more funding for improved security measures, requiring government agencies or businesses to implement specific types of security practices, increasing penalties for computer crimes, addressing threats to critical infrastructure and more. NCSL compiles a 50-state survey of legislation each year. Here is the 2018 survey.

According to the 2018 survey’s introduction at least 35 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico introduced/considered more than 265 bills or resolutions related to cybersecurity. Some of the key areas of legislative activity include:

  • Improving government security practices.
  • Providing funding for cybersecurity programs and initiatives.
  • Restricting public disclosure of sensitive government cybersecurity information.
  • Promoting workforce, training, economic development.

At least 22 states have enacted 52 bills so far in 2018

American Libraries has published a state legislative survey of bills, statutes and executive orders intended to protect net neutrality at the state level. More than 35 states have introduced legislation to protect net neutrality. Four (California, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington) have passed laws and six governors have issued executive orders. View the survey here.

From the abstract for Daniel Susser, Beate Roessler & Helen Nissenbaum, Online Manipulation: Hidden Influences in a Digital World (Jan. 8, 2019):

Privacy and surveillance scholars increasingly worry that data collectors can use the information they gather about our behaviors, preferences, interests, incomes, and so on to manipulate us. Yet what it means, exactly, to manipulate someone, and how we might systematically distinguish cases of manipulation from other forms of influence — such as persuasion and coercion — has not been thoroughly enough explored in light of the unprecedented capacities that information technologies and digital media enable. In this paper, we develop a definition of manipulation that addresses these enhanced capacities, investigate how information technologies facilitate manipulative practices, and describe the harms — to individuals and to social institutions — that flow from such practices.

We use the term “online manipulation” to highlight the particular class of manipulative practices enabled by a broad range of information technologies. We argue that at its core, manipulation is hidden influence — the covert subversion of another person’s decision-making power. We argue that information technology, for a number of reasons, makes engaging in manipulative practices significantly easier, and it makes the effects of such practices potentially more deeply debilitating. And we argue that by subverting another person’s decision-making power, manipulation undermines his or her autonomy. Given that respect for individual autonomy is a bedrock principle of liberal democracy, the threat of online manipulation is a cause for grave concern.

From the summary of Broadband Internet Access and the Digital Divide: Federal Assistance Programs (RL30719, Jan. 9, 2019):

Broadband technologies are currently being deployed primarily by the private sector throughout the United States. While the numbers of new broadband subscribers continue to grow , studies and data suggest that the rate of broadband deployment in urban/suburban and high-income areas is outpacing deployment in rural and low-income areas. Some policymakers, believing that disparities in broadband access across American society could have adverse economic and social consequences on those left behind, assert that the federal government should play a more active role to address the “digital divide” in broadband access.

To the extent that the 116th Congress may consider various options for further encouraging broadband deployment and adoption, a key issue is how to strike a balance between providing federal assistance for unserved and underserved areas where the private sector may not be providing acceptable levels of broadband service, while at the same time minimizing any deleterious effects that government intervention in the marketplace may have on competition and private sector investment.

From AAAS, Who Shared Fake News on Facebook During the 2016 US Presidential Election?:

Although most Facebook users did not share any fake news articles during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, a new study reveals that the small number who did were mostly Americans over the age of 65. The findings suggest the need for renewed attention to educate particular vulnerable subgroups, such as those over the age of 65, about fake news. So-called fake news – false, misleading information that appears to resemble a news article – gained prominence during and after the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and scientists have raised concerns about fake news’ spread and its influence over public discourse. However, much remains unknown about the mechanics behind the spread of fake news during the election.

H/T Gary Price’s INFOdocket post.

Here’s the top 5 most viewed LLB posts in 2018:

  1. Surveillance and Legal Research Providers: What You Need to Know
  2. What! Is LexisNexis discriminating against law libraries that cancel Lexis Advance?
  3. Acquiring only what we need and can afford: Getting to “yes” with a vendor behaving like LexisNexis requires one shared imperative that is missing right now
  4. ‘Invited to Find New Employers:’ Widespread Layoffs at Thomson Reuters Legal
  5. LexisNexis’s Role in ICE Surveillance and Librarian Ethics

The ABA’s Free Legal Answers is a virtual legal advice clinic. Qualifying users post their civil legal question to their state’s website. Users will then be emailed when their question receives a response. Attorney volunteers, who must be authorized to provide pro bono assistance in their state, log in to the website, select questions to answer, and provide legal information and advice. Volunteer attorneys will not answer criminal law questions. Participating states have their own page where qualifying residents will post their question. Look at your state’s page, listed below, for more information.

Current list of Free Legal Answers websites








Idaho (coming online soon)












New Hampshire (coming online soon)

New Mexico

New York

North Carolina


South Carolina

South Dakota



U.S. Virgin Islands (coming online soon)




West Virginia



From the abstract for Orly Lobel, The Law of the Platform ___ Minnesota Law Review ___ (2016):

New digital platform companies are turning everything into an available resource: services, products, spaces, connections, and knowledge, all of which would otherwise be collecting dust. Unsurprisingly then, the platform economy defies conventional regulatory theory. Millions of people are becoming part-time entrepreneurs, disrupting established business models and entrenched market interests, challenging regulated industries, and turning ideas about consumption, work, risk, and ownership on their head. Paradoxically, as the digital platform economy becomes more established, we are also at an all-time high in regulatory permitting, licensing, and protection. The battle over law in the platform is therefore both conceptual and highly practical. New business models such as Uber, Airbnb, and Aereo have received massive amounts of support from venture capitalists but have also received immense pushback from incumbent stakeholders, regulators, and courts. This article argues that the platform economy is presenting not only a paradigm shift for business but also for legal theory. The platform economy does not only disrupt regulated industries but also demands that we inquire into the logic of their correlated regulations. It requires that we go back to first principles about public intervention and market innovation. The article thus poses a foundational inquiry: Do the regulations we have carry over to the platform economy? By unpacking the economic and social drives for the rise of the platform economy, the article develops a new framework for asking whether digital disruptions comprise loopholes akin to regulatory arbitrage, most prominently studied in the tax field, circumvention akin to controversial copyright protection reforms, or innovation-ripe negative spaces akin to design-around competition in patent law. Bringing together these different bodies of law, the article offers a contemporary account of the relevance of regulation for new business models. The article concludes that, as a default, legal disruption by the platform economy should be viewed as a feature rather than a bug of regulatory limits.


govinfo is a redesign of the FDsys public website, with a focus on implementing feedback from users and improving overall search and access to electronic Federal Government information. The redesigned, mobile-friendly website incorporates innovative technologies and includes several new features for an overall enhanced user experience. GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys) website will be retired and replaced with govinfo on Dec. 14, 2018. Here’s answers to frequently ask questions about the transition.

The Center for Digital Government announced the results of its 2018 Digital States Survey, a biennial evaluation of the technology practices of all 50 states, last month. The Digital States Survey evaluates states’ use of technology to improve service delivery, increase capacity, streamline operations and reach policy goals and assigns each state a grade based on quantifiable results. Since the last biennial survey in 2016, grades improved in 17 states, declined in 6 and stayed the same in 27. Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Utah maintained their A grade and Georgia moved up to A designation.

Thirty-four civil rights, consumer, and privacy organizations have united to release this set of privacy legislation principles. The privacy principles outline four concepts that any meaningful data protection legislation should incorporate at a minimum:

  1. Privacy protections must be strong, meaningful, and comprehensive.
  2. Data practices must protect civil rights, prevent unlawful discrimination, and advance equal opportunity.
  3. Governments at all levels should play a role in protecting and enforcing privacy rights.
  4. Legislation should provide redress for privacy violations.

H/T InfoDocket.