Watch And Learn: Why (And How) You Should Record Your Speeches And Presentations

Olga Mack writes for Above the Law, November 12, 2018

Hindsight is 20/20, and we often walk away from speeches or presentations thinking about what we could do differently. While you can’t turn back the clock, there is another way to benefit from this reflection: watching recordings of your speeches. Whenever possible, make sure you record your speeches or presentations. You can enhance your public speaking skills drastically by watching your recording and identifying ways to improve in areas that went poorly.

Obscure concealed-carry group spent millions on facebook political ads

Ann Ravel quoted in Wired, November 19, 2018

But the opacity of Concealed Online’s business also exposes a blind spot for Facebook and for the regulation of digital political ads in general, says Ann Ravel, a UC Berkeley law professor and former FEC commissioner under President Obama.

Despite all of the noise about protecting elections in Washington and Silicon Valley over the last two years, digital political ads remain largely unregulated. “The law doesn’t cover them,” she says. “My opinion is that it should. This is the essence of where campaigning has gone now.”

Ravel says Facebook’s archive is “not sufficient.” As the case of Concealed Online shows, Facebook’s database can tell you what entity placed the ad, but it reveals little about who’s really behind it. That’s an issue that’s hardly specific to Concealed Online.

Online Lenders Charge Minority Borrowers Higher Rates, Just Like Humans Do

Robert Bartlett quoted in Hartford Courant, November 20, 2018

“Even controlling for credit worthiness, we see discriminatory effects in the rates at which borrowers obtain mortgages,” Bartlett said.

Researchers said the racial disparities could result from algorithms that use machine learning and big data to charge higher interest rates to borrowers who may be less likely to shop around. For example, the algorithms may take into account a borrower’s neighborhood — noting who lives in banking deserts — or other characteristics such as their high school or college. The consumers least likely to comparison shop also happen to be black or Latino.

Study: Minority homebuyers pay higher interest rates

Robert Bartlett quoted in HousingWire, November 20, 2018

Robert Bartlett, co-author of the study and professor at Berkeley Law, suggested there could be legal implications for lenders using these algorithms.

Bartlett said fair lending laws prohibit price discrimination and that courts have ruled that pricing variations can only be justified by credit risk.

“The novelty of our empirical design is that we can rule out the possibility that these pricing differences are due to differences in credit risk among borrowers,” Bartlett said.

Alameda County Ends Criminal Justice Fees

Stephanie Campos-Bui quoted in OaklandPost, December 14, 2018

According to Stephanie Campos-Bui, supervising attorney with the Policy Advocacy Clinic at Berkeley Law, “Research has shown that fees can undermine public safety by increasing recidivism. This move by the Board will free up money to pay for basic necessities like housing, food, and clothing, and help ensure that people exiting the system will have a better chance of successfully reentering into their communities.”

Crime solvers embraced genetic genealogy

Andrea Roth mentioned in ScienceNews, December 17, 2018

Innocent people looking for long-lost family may be surprised to find that putting their DNA on a public website opens them and their relatives to police scrutiny, says Andrea Roth, a professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley Law.

She and other critics charge that genetic genealogy searches put too many people under police scrutiny and should be regulated like law enforcement databases. For instance, California allows police to do family searches of law enforcement databases only as a last resort for the most serious crimes and limits what material can be used. Roth would go a step further: People whose DNA is collected as part of a genetic genealogy investigation and are not linked to the crime must have their data wiped from police databases.

Should Smart Contract Developers Be Held Responsible?

Olga Mack writes for Above the Law, December 17, 2018

Smart contracts, self-executing code based on “if-then” encoded logic, provide an alternative way to transact. Increasingly though, regulators ask, “Who should be held responsible? Who should be held accountable?”

Florida Executes Inmate As Report Cites ‘Continuing Erosion’ Of Death Penalty

Elisabeth Semel quoted in NPR, December 14, 2018

In an interview with NPR, Elisabeth Semel, director of the Death Penalty Clinic at Berkeley Law school said that despite the fact that executions are up slightly from a 25-year low in 2016, “there’s no question that this is a dramatic downward trend.” Semel said Americans’ support of the death penalty has chilled since it reached a fervor during the “tough on crime” mentality of the 1980s and 90s. “I think there’s been a reassessment, just as there’s been a reassessment about mass incarceration,” Semel said. “It’s become less of a battle cry for politicians than it used to be.”

Berkeley scientists developing artificial intelligence tool to combat ‘hate speech’ on social media

Erwin Chemerinsky quoted in [your]NEWS, December 17, 2018

But no matter how well intentioned, any attempt to control speech raises Constitutional issues. And the First Amendment is clear on the matter, says Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of Berkeley Law.

“First, the First Amendment applies only to the government, not to private entities,” Chemerinsky stated in an email to California. “Second, there is no legal definition of hate speech. Hate speech is protected by the First Amendment.”