Hasta La Vistas, ROSS Intelligence

January 7, 2021

Artificial intelligence is useful for all fields, especially for legal professionals. Legal-based AI is specifically designed to process legal research, including litigation. ROSS Intelligence developed a legal research product using AI, but lawsuit from Thomson Reuters forced the company to shutdown. LawSites shares more details in: “Legal Research Company ROSS To Shut Down Under Pressure OF Thomson Reuters’ Lawsuit.”

In May 2020, Thomson Reuters sued ROSS because they alleged ROSS stole Westlaw data. ROSS “stole” the Westlaw data to design their own competing product.

“Within a day of the lawsuit, ROSS responded with a vigorous denial of the allegations. Cofounders Andrew Arruda, CEO, and Jimoh Ovbiagele, CTO, asserted that TR’s lawsuit was nothing more than an anticompetitive tactic by TR to squelch an up-and-coming competitor. ‘By filing this lawsuit despite its lack of merit, Westlaw is interfering with our chances of securing more funding or merging with other companies, which we need to do in order to innovate and compete with Westlaw,’ they said at the time. ;This is not the first time Westlaw has used litigation as a weapon.’”

The lawsuit prevented ROSS from starting another round of funding. They were forced to send their clients to other legal research platforms and fire their staff. ROSS will continue to battle Thomson Reuters in court using insurance money.

Will Westlaw use litigation as a business method in the future? Do lawyers send invoices?

Whitney Grace, January 7, 2021

Backscratching: No Big Deal, Of Course, Among Science Club Members

January 1, 2021

I read “Facebook : Inside the Google-Facebook Ad Deal at the Heart of a Price-Fixing Lawsuit.” The write up is interesting because it reveals how high school science club thinking operates. I learned:

Header bidding helped website publishers circumvent Google’s exchanges for buying and selling ads across the web. The exchange auctions ad space to the highest bidder during the split second it takes a webpage to load. Header bidding allowed the publishers to directly solicit bids from multiple ad exchanges at once, leading to more favorable prices for publishers. By 2016, about 70% of major publishers used the tool, according to the states’ lawsuit. Google worried a big rival might embrace header bidding, such as the Facebook Audience Network ad service, or FAN, cracking Google’s profitable monopoly over ad tools, the states allege. The Facebook service said it paid publishers $1.5 billion in 2018, the last time it provided such details on its financial payouts.

This seems to boil down to a slick way to ensure that maximum money rolls in from certain types of advertisers.

Here’s the swizzle:

the states allege in the final suit, Google gave Facebook special treatment. Among other things, it allowed Facebook to send bids directly into Google’s widely used software, known as an ad server, the draft lawsuit says. Typically, bidders go through an exchange, which sends the winner on to Google’s server. By circumventing the middleman, Facebook could face less competition and save money. Google charged Facebook 5% to 10% on each transaction compared with the standard fee on Google’s exchange of around 20%, and it barred Facebook from discussing pricing terms publicly, according to the draft lawsuit.

What’s up? Nothing. Think of the deal as the lunch at one of those College Bowl type of competitions for science club members.

No big deal, of course.

Stephen E Arnold, December 31, 2020

Oracle: Has It Put Extra Flavor in the Cinnamon Java Ordered Up for Google?

December 25, 2020

I read “Oracle’s Hidden Hand Is Behind the Google Antitrust Lawsuits.” (Note: This is a paywalled info item from a “real” news outfit.) I am not sure if the write up is on the money, but it is entertaining to thing that a giant company can hold a grudge for a decade and trigger a monopoly mindset. The main point is that Oracle has been working away to get Google into monopoly jail. That’s an okay idea I assume.

But the nifty part of the story in my opinion is this statement:

Oracle has fallen behind the tech giants in the marketplace, yet is notching one legal and regulatory win after another against them, Google especially. While Google, Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp. have experienced double-digit revenue growth in recent years, Oracle’s annual sales have stayed relatively flat at just under $40 billion. Earnings last fiscal year totaled roughly $12.7 billion, a fraction of its rivals’.

Wow. I thought that Oracle’s challenges stemmed from its core product, its support policies, and its founder’s flying his jet over Santa Clara when aircraft were to be asleep in their hangers. Then there is the Oracle versus open source database world. And there have been minor spats like the dust up with MarkLogic. Yeah, MarkLogic! Big time. I won’t mention the big house or the racing yachts.

Is it accurate to say that times are tough for outfits like Hewlett Packard, IBM, SAP, and similar dinosaur-style firms.

From my viewshed, Google is falling prey to management seppuku. Oracle’s efforts — assuming they were effective — are not going to exact revenge. Oracle probably believes they are. Nope, Oracle’s perception — like that of other fading technology giants’ about their future — is a digital Ptolemaic theory. Interesting but a bit off base.

Stephen E Arnold, December 25, 2020

Google: High School Science Club Mini Revolt. Mini? Why Not Maxi?

December 17, 2020

Ah, remember the good old days. No one knew about thumb typing. High school students contented themselves with chemistry experiments, electronics kits, and weird tin girder thingies. Now the HSSC has grown up, but has failed to leave behind the beliefs, precepts, and insights of their youth.

I thought about the then and now perspective when I read “Google AI Researchers Lay Out Demands, Escalating Internal Fight.” As if the assorted lawsuits were not enough to bedevil the senior management of the Google. I know the allegations about fiddling with online advertising are colorful, but just maybe that’s another facet of what I call HSSCMM or the high school science club management method. The idea is that teen spirit allows some bright young people to discard history, expected behaviors, and social conventions in order to demonstrate the superiority of the young mind.

Yeah, how is that working out?

Let’s recap:

  1. Google management seems to have an issue with staff who want to explain how smart software can become biased. How does this get fixed? Just work through the weird explanations emitted by Google and then ask the question, “Are there other ways to ignite a social issue powder keg?” The answer is, “Well, probably.”
  2. How can a company find itself in the litigation hot seat in multiple jurisdictions? Easy. Treat the European Community as if they were slightly dull and non-Googley critics of the world’s largest online ad system. Create a situation which allows the company to come to the attention of 40 US states attorneys general. Recite the mantra about competition and a free service. Are there other ways to catch attention of people who sue for a living? The answer is, “Well, probably.”
  3. A couple of days ago, the Google infrastructure with Chubby, Sawzall, and their pals crashed. Nifty. Some can get by without Gmail, but what about the father who used the fine tweeter system to share this thought: “I’m sitting here in the dark in my toddler’s room because the light is controlled by @Google Home. Rethinking… a lot right now.”

Does it seem that the HSSCMM is fraying at the edges?

Am I concerned? Nope. Just amused. I think there are lessons to be learned from these Google missteps just as there are from the SolarWinds’ misstep. (What’s the cost of remediating this minor hiccup? A few bucks? An ad like Facebook’s in the Wall Street Journal? Or an AT&T telemarketing promotion of its outstanding video service?)

Integrity, ethical behavior, and an effort to deliver solutions that work are not priorities. That’s too bad. Once upon a time, high school science clubs meant something sort of positive. Today the sort of negative has won.

That explains a great deal about the social and technical environment in which these almost comical actions are unfolding.

Do you have a HSSCMM T shirt? Messrs. Brin and Page may be wearing theirs now.

Stephen E Arnold, December 17, 2020

FTC List of Entities of Interest

December 15, 2020

I read “FTC Issues Orders to Nine Social Media and Video Streaming Services Seeking Data About How They Collect, Use, and Present Information.” In the write up are the names of the entities about which information is sought. Here these organizations are:

  • Amazon
  • ByteDance (TikTok)
  • Discord Inc.
  • Facebook, Inc.
  • Reddit, Inc.
  • Snap Inc.
  • Twitter, Inc.
  • WhatsApp Inc. (This is a Facebook property)
  • YouTube LLC. (This is a Google property)

What interesting to me is that the FTC is taking action at this time. Here’s the list with the date on which the company began operating:

  • Amazon, 1994, 26 years ago
  • ByteDance (TikTok), 2012, 8 years ago
  • Discord Inc., 2015, 5 years ago
  • Facebook, Inc., 16 years ago
  • Reddit, Inc., 15 years ago
  • Snap Inc., 9 years ago
  • Twitter, Inc., 14 years ago
  • WhatsApp Inc., 2009, 11 years ago
  • YouTube LLC., 15 years ago.

What’s this date information reveal? The mean time for the FTC to recognize a potential issue and begin an investigation is the lifespan of a boxer dog.

A Federal investigation, the legal proceedings, and the appeals if necessary can reach eight years. Thus, it is possible that by 2028, the action begun in 2020 may be resolved.

What’s this suggest, gentle reader? Act now, apologize if snagged by a legal hook, and keep movin’ on down the information highway.

Lax regulation and what it fosters may not permit appropriate, prompt resolution.

Stephen E Arnold, December 15, 2020

Snowden Speaks on Whistleblowers and the Criminalization of Journalism

December 11, 2020

Edward Snowden, somewhat of an expert on high-profile whistle blowing and its aftermath, recently shared his thoughts on the freedom of the press with journalist Glenn Greenwald. Citing the interview, Newsweek reports, “Edward Snowden Says ‘War on Whistleblowers’ Trend Shows a ‘Criminalization of Journalism.’” The trend described by the former CIA worker spans the political spectrum, beginning under President George W. Bush, expanding during President Obama’s two terms, and continuing (to put it mildly) under the current administration. Reporter Meghan Roos quotes Snowden:

“‘The threats against the press go far beyond physical violence,’ Snowden said, pointing to the spike in attacks on journalists catalogued by the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker. Snowden serves on the board of directors of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, which oversees the tracker. ‘What we see is an increasing tendency to silence journalists who say things that are in the minority,’ he said. ‘You see threats against journalism—particularly female journalists—online, social media, just because people don’t like what’s being reported. They don’t like the facts that are being brought to them,’ Snowden said.”

Greenwald asked whether Snowden is concerned that President Elect Biden, who of course was President Obama’s Vice President, will continue the persecution. He replies that, until there is a real policy shift, the freedom of the press will continue to erode. Snowden continues:

“Trying to silence the publication of facts—which are valuable and important to the public, to the continuation of democracy, but uncomfortable to government—when they understand that that is something that must be accepted, that is what defines a democracy, rather than going, ‘No, we need to shut these people up; we’re going to throw them in a hole, we’re going to ruin their life, whatever. We’re going to de-platform them,’ or whatever the new tactic is, this is going to continue to be a problem, and the freedom of our press is going to continue to decline.”

Newsweek requested comment from Biden’s team, but had not heard back by the article’s deadline. We are also curious to know the President Elect’s position on the issue.

Cynthia Murrell, December 11, 2020

Financial Crime: Who Is Winning? Banks, Bad Actors, or Enforcement Authorities

November 17, 2020

I read “Only 1% of Laundered Cash in EU Is Detected — ABN AMRO Wants to Improve That.” The article reports:

Detecting money laundering is like mixing the perfect cocktail.

And how many outstanding mixologists in addition to a high profile outfit like a certain bank in Hong Kong or a top dog in Manhattan are there in the financial crime enforcement units around the world? If the data in the write up are accurate, not too many.

The article points out:

Globally, estimates suggest between $800 billion and $2 trillion in laundered money flows through the financial system every year, and an overwhelming majority of it goes undetected. The Netherlands alone sees $16 billion in criminal money flowing through its financial system.

Then this item of information is provided:

…the European Commission found just 1% of an estimated $190 billion in laundered funds were successfully confiscated between 2010 and 2014.

What are the principal conduits for money transfers? Let’s see. Maybe banks? What is ABN AMRO? According to Wikipedia, the entity is — wait for it — a bank. Why does ABN AMRO, the number three bank in the Netherlands want to do better in this sphere of activity? Just a “good” bank I assume.

Stephen E Arnold, November 17, 2020

Google Allegedly Sucking User Data: Some Factoids from the Taylor Legal Filing

November 16, 2020

I read the legal filing by Taylor et al v. Google. The case is related to Google’s use of personal data for undisclosed reasons without explicit user permission to consume the user’s bandwidth on a mobile network. You can download the 23 page legal document from this link, courtesy of The Register, a UK online information service. Here’s a rundown a few of the factoids  in the document which I found interesting:

  • Google’s suck hundreds of megabytes of data is characterized as a “dirty little secret.” Hundreds of megabytes of data does not seem to me to be “little.”
  • Google allegedly conducts “passive information transfers which are not initiated by any action of the user and are performed without their knowledge.” I think this means taking data surreptitiously.
  • Taking the data uses for fee network connections. I think this means that the user foots the bill for the data sucking.
  • Android has a 54.4 percent of the US smartphone market.
  • The volume of data “transferred” is about nine megabytes per 24 hours when an Android device is stationary and not in active use.

This graphic appears in the filing on page 11:

image

The big bar shows Google’s data sucking compared to Apple’s.

The document states:

Google has concealed its misappropriate of Plaintiffs’ cellular data.

I wonder if Google’s senior executives are aware of what the Android phones are allegedly doing. Google was not aware of a number of employee activities, most recently the leak of ideas for thwarting EU regulators.

Is this another example of entitlement management; that is, acting in a manner of a high school science club confident in its superiority over lesser mortals?

Stephen E Arnold, November 16, 2020

Are Big Tech Companies Like Countries? Not Exactly

November 11, 2020

The BBC published “China to Clamp Down on Internet Giants.” The article explains that China has figured out that online outfits may pose a challenge to government officials, procedures, and methods. The article explains:

China has proposed new regulations aimed at curbing the power of its biggest internet companies. The regulations suggest increasing unease in Beijing with the growing influence of digital platforms.

China has taken steps to make sure ants won’t ruin the government picnic. Other companies are affected as well. Europe is taking a similar, but uniquely European approach. Plus, the United States, asleep at the regulatory switch for a couple of decades, has heard the regulatory bleats as well.

The proposed rule changes in China, according to the BBC:

…will also take aim at companies that treat customers differently based on their data and spending habits.

Are big tech companies like countries? No, no they are not. Some big tech companies may not agree until the regulators grab their insect spray and zap the ants and other creatures buzzing in an annoying manner.

Stephen E Arnold, November 11, 2020

Microsoft: The Joy of Figuring Out What Code Can Do

October 26, 2020

DarkCyber finds Microsoft in an interesting spot. On one hand, Microsoft wants to be open sourcey. The idea of community created and community supported software provides a useful source of ready-to-microwave code nuggets, hints about whom to hire, and an opportunity to reduce the maintenance cost of certain components.

On the other hand, monitoring what’s on GitHub and, more importantly, how code can be used is a sticky wicket.

“RIAA Blitz Takes Down 18 GitHub Projects Used for Downloading YouTube Videos” explains:

Microsoft-owned GitHub has removed today 18 projects from its code-hosting portal following a legal request filed by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)….In a letter sent to GitHub, RIAA argued that the “clear purpose of this source code [the youtube-dl library]” was to “circumvent the technological protection measures used by authorized streaming services such as YouTube” and to allow users to “reproduce and distribute music videos and sound recordings […] without authorization.”

The issue is likely to be a thorny one. Code can be used for many things:

  • To perform a function
  • A way to learn how to do a task
  • Create software unrelated to the GitHub offering.

Microsoft has removed the “offending” software. But the problem could become the seed of a giant junk maple in the main Redmond campus green space. The article makes this point, and it is an important one:

RIAA isn’t alleging the library infringed on its rights, but that the library is illegal in itself.

Just as Microsoft wants to get open sourcey and more social, it finds itself in an interesting spot. Who or what will fertilize and water this tiny take down seed? Exactly what can code do? Exactly to what purposes can code be put? What about software which includes code which can do something a third-party defines as illegal? So many questions for the JEDI knights.

Stephen E Arnold, October 26, 2020

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