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.

Holochain is a protocol for encrypted computer communications that is designed to run entirely on distributed networks of home computers and smartphones, on a peer-to-peer, give-and-take basis. Because apps built using the holochain protocol will live exclusively on distributed networks of consumer-owned computers, these apps won’t need to interact with corporate server farms at all. That means the corporations that own those server farms won’t be able to strip-mine your personal data as it passes through their corporate computers, because your data won’t pass through those computers.

Who knows, holochain may be one killer app away from replacing blockchain for some uses. For a not too technical overview, see WTF is Holochain. For a detailed discussion, see Bitrates two-part series: Part One and Part Two.

From Freedom House’s Freedom on the Net 2018: The Rise of Digital Authoritarianism: “Disinformation and propaganda disseminated on-line have poisoned the public sphere. The unbridled collection of personal data has broken down traditional notions of privacy. And a cohort of countries is moving toward digital authoritarianism by embracing the Chinese model of extensive censorship and automated surveillance systems. As a result of these trends, global internet freedom declined for the eighth consecutive year in 2018.”

H/T to beSpacific.

5G is coming to a compatiable device near you. On October 1, Verizon launched the first 5G network providing 5G home service in Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento. AT&T and other carriers will start to launch 5G networks within a year. But what exactly is 5G? For background, see one or more of the below backgrounders.

From the blurb for P. W. Singer and Emerson Brooking, LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media (Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Oct. 2, 2018):

P. W. Singer and Emerson Brooking tackle the mind-bending questions that arise when war goes online and the online world goes to war. They explore how ISIS copies the Instagram tactics of Taylor Swift, a former World of Warcraft addict foils war crimes thousands of miles away, internet trolls shape elections, and China uses a smartphone app to police the thoughts of 1.4 billion citizens. What can be kept secret in a world of networks? Does social media expose the truth or bury it? And what role do ordinary people now play in international conflicts?

Delving into the web’s darkest corners, we meet the unexpected warriors of social media, such as the rapper turned jihadist PR czar and the Russian hipsters who wage unceasing infowars against the West. Finally, looking to the crucial years ahead, LikeWar outlines a radical new paradigm for understanding and defending against the unprecedented threats of our networked world.

Disinformation, ‘Fake News’ and Influence Campaigns on Twitter analyzed more than 10 million tweets from 700,000 Twitter accounts that linked to more than 600 fake and conspiracy news outlets. Crucially, the study compares fake and conspiracy news both before and after the election, allowing us to measure how the fake news ecosystem has evolved since November 2016. The study, commissioned by the Knight Foundation, found that Twitter is still rife with “fake news” a month out from the 2018 midterms, with more than 80 percent of the accounts that regularly spread misinformation in 2016 still active. The study found that those accounts together still publish upward of a million tweets a day.

Social Media Adoption by Members of Congress: Trends and Congressional Considerations (R45337, Oct. 9, 2018) examines Member adoption of social media broadly. Because congressional adoption of long-standing social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube is nearly ubiquitous, this report focuses on the adoption of other, newer social media platforms. These include Instagram, Flickr, and Google+, which have each been adopted by at least 2.5% of Representatives and Senators. Additionally, Members of Congress have adopted Snapchat, Medium, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Periscope, and Tumblr at lower levels. This report evaluates the adoption rates of various social media platforms and what the adoption of multiple platforms might mean for an office’s social media strategy. Data on congressional adoption of social media were collected by an academic institution in collaboration with the Congressional Research Service during the 2016-2017 academic year.

In Evolution of law students, law blogs and social media, Kevin O’Keefe, founder of LexBlog which has just launched a network of blogs numbering some 19,000 law bloggers, suggests that law students could be getting help soon in establishing a social media presence. He writes

It’s going to take boots on the ground in the form of knowledgeable and experienced law students at the law schools with the support from the mothership in Seattle – LexBlog.

Westlaw has had student reps, and so has LexNexis [sic]. We’re seeing newer legal tech companies such as casetext with student reps.

LexBlog student reps could be at a law school to help a fellow student spin up for a free professional blog in minutes through the expedited LexBlog system. They could show fellow students the social media to use from Twitter, Facebook, to LinkedIn and how to use these networking tools effectively.

A good idea I think. However on-site law librarians probably would make better LexBlog representatives.

From the abstract for Kyle Langvardt, A New Deal for the Online Public Sphere, 26 George Mason Law Review ___ (2019):

Social media platforms have emerged as formidable regulators of online discourse, and their influence only grows as more speech activity migrates to online spaces. The platforms have come under heavy criticism, however, after revelations about Facebook’s role in amplifying disinformation and polarization during the 2016 presidential election. Policymakers have begun to discuss an official response, but what they envision – namely, a set of rules for online political ads – addresses only a small corner of a much wider set of problems. Their hesitancy to go deeper is understandable. How would government even go about regulating a social platform, and if it did, how would it do so without intruding too far on the freedom of speech?

This Article takes an early, panoramic view of the challenge. It begins with a conceptual overview of the problem: what kinds of risks do online platforms present, and what makes these risks novel compared to traditional First Amendment concerns? The Article then outlines the eclectic and sometimes exotic policies regulators might someday apply to problems including false news, private censorship, ideological polarization, and online addiction. Finally, the Article suggests some high-level directions for First Amendment jurisprudence as it adapts to online platforms’ new and radically disruptive presence in the marketplace of ideas.

From the abstract for From Town Square to Twittersphere: The Public Forum Doctrine Goes Digital, 25 B.U. J. Sci. & Tech. L. (2019), Forthcoming, by Dawn Carla Nunziato:

This Article examines whether and to what extent government officials’ use of social media sites to interact with their constituents constitutes a public forum and what this forum analysis means for the ability of government officials to block or censor constituents on their social media sites. Such issues have recently arisen in the context of President Donald Trump’s blocking of constituents with whom he disagrees on his @realDonaldTrump/Twitter account. Similar issues have arisen in the context of Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s and Virginia County Commissioner Phyllis Randall’s blocking of constituents on their Facebook pages, in response to being asked challenging questions. The recent Supreme Court case of Packingham v. North Carolina sheds some light on the application of the public forum doctrine to social media sites and the use and misuse of such sites by government officials. In particular, Justice Kennedy’s opinion for the Court in Packingham extends his functional, expansive conception of the public forum doctrine to non-traditional forums that function as forums for public discourse. In Part I of this Article, I examine in detail the circumstances surrounding recent incidents in which government officials have blocked constituents from following them on Twitter and from commenting on their Facebook pages. Part II undertakes an analysis of the historical development of the public forum doctrine, its recent development in the digital age, as well as the government speech doctrine and the contrast between public forums and government speech. In Part III, I apply the forum analysis developed in Part II to the recent incidents of government officials’ blocking constituents from accessing their social media sites, with an in-depth analysis of the Trump/Twitter lawsuit in particular, and conclude that such social media sites constitute public forums in which viewpoint discrimination is illegal. Part IV provides suggestions to government officials for developing policies governing social media accounts that comply with the dictates of the First Amendment, and a brief conclusion follows.

— Joe

From the blurb for The Social Media Privacy Legislation Desktop Reference (Seyfarth Shaw, 2016-17):

Social media and related issues in the workplace can be a headache for employers. Seyfarth Shaw LLP’s Social Media Practice Group is pleased to provide you with an easy-to-use guide to social media privacy legislation and what employers need to know. The Social Media Privacy Legislation Desktop Reference:

• Describes the content and purpose of the various states’ social media privacy laws.
• Delivers a detailed state-by-state description of each law, listing a general overview, what is prohibited, what is allowed, the remedies for violations, and special notes for each state.
• Provides an easy-to-use chart listing the states that have enacted social media privacy laws and the features of the law in all such states.
• Offers our thoughts on the implications of this legislation in other areas, including trade secret misappropriation, bring your own device issues and concerns, social media discovery and evidence considerations, and use of social media in internal investigations.

— Joe

On Sept. 10, LexBlog announced that it has launched a legal news blogs network headed by law blogging pioneer Bob Ambrogi in an attempt to build “the world’s largest and most comprehensive legal news and information network by drawing on the contributions of legal bloggers worldwide.” Some 19,000 legal bloggers already participate in the network. Recent additions to the network include LawSites, 3 Geeks and a Law Blog and Dewey B Strategic.

The new network features both curated and real-time posts from lawyers, law professors, law librarians, law students, legal-industry executives, legal marketers, legal consultants, legal technologists and others, providing news, insights and analysis on virtually every legal and practice topic according to LexBlog. Powering the network is LexBlog’s custom-built syndication engine that allows it to aggregate blog content from any source, regardless of whether the blog is hosted by LexBlog on its own blogging platform or externally on any other blogging platform.

In her Dewey B Strategic post, Move over ALM and Law360 – LexBlog is Launching a Legal News Network, Jean O’Grady notes that the LexBlog legal news network may offer digital legal news comsumers a competitive reprieve from LexisNexis’ near monopoly of the US legal news ecosystem (Law360, ALM, Wall Street Journal, MLex, Newsdesk). She writes

Both [Thomson Westlaw and BloombergBNA] do publish news. BloombergBNA has a serious newsletter business and TR has a variety 0f newsy publications and alerts – but neither has made a dent in the Lexis dominance of what I would call “water cooler” legal news.

LexBlog will also compete with Findlaw blogs and the Law Professor Blogs Network. This should be interesting. — Joe

After 13 years of podcasting at Lawyer2Lawyer, Bob Ambrogi is focusing his attention on his new podcast show LawNext. In this Lawsites post, Bob recounts the history of Lawyer2Lawyer noting, for example, that the show changed its name from Coast2Coast to Lawyer2Lawyer “due to the little matter of a cease-and-desist letter from the eponymous paranormal radio show.” — Joe