Weeknote 2, 2023

§1: The Law Library of Congress Report Examines the Canadian Emergencies Act

A recently published Law Library of Congress report, entitled Canada: the Emergencies Act, examines the history and operation of emergency legislation at the federal level in Canada

… The report is part of the Legal Reports (Publications of the Law Library of Congress) collection which contains to date more than 3,000 current and historical reports, authored by Law Library of Congress specialists and analysts on a variety of legal topics.

Law Library of Congress Report Examines the Canadian Emergencies Act
November 30, 2022 by Kelly Goles

I learned about this report from Judith Gaskell‘s 2022 Year-End Roundup of U.S. and Other Legal Research Information on Slaw.

§2: Data Cartels

book cover: Data Cartels

Sarah Lamdan’s Data Cartels is the first book I finished in 2023. I would consider it mandatory reading for law librarians.

§3: Make sure you know how to properly redact your PDFs

Officials usually redact sections of text in documents because those parts contain people’s personal information, or they decide the information shouldn’t be released to protect an organization’s interests. Court documents may redact names of confidential informants or whistleblowers; policy documents may redact information that could damage national security if it is made public.

During the new research, which has been published as a preprint, the team analyzed 11 popular redaction tools. They discovered that PDFzorro and PDFescape Online allowed full access to text that had allegedly been redacted. All they needed to do to access the text was copy and paste it. The researchers registered CVE numbers—used to catalog unique security vulnerabilities—for both of the issues.

Redacted Documents Are Not as Secure as You Think“, WIRED Magazine, Matt Burgess, 25.11.2022

Make sure you know how to properly redact your PDFs as you don’t want to “accidentally” dox anyone on Twitter.

§4: The volume of fear-mongering crime news

From The Present Age with Parker Molly, I discovered an exceptional essay: The Volume of News by Alec Karakatsanis. The byline is The number, timing, frequency, and delivery method of news stories matters. The context is the US, but what Alec describes looks familiar when I look at my own local media landscape.

The article begins,

A few years ago, when I was first investigating the rise of modern debtors’ prisons across the U.S., I had a conversation with a news editor that I’ll never forget.

As I did to anyone who was unlucky enough to speak with me during that period of my life, I explained that 100,000s of human beings were being jailed each year across the U.S. solely because they owed debts. This was a huge story for many reasons, I said, including because it was illegal, because it was separating families and killing people, and because it revealed widespread racist and predatory behavior by local police, prosecutors, judges, and private debt-collection and probation companies in several thousand cities. I asked the editor to do a story on it. The editor declined. Why? According to the news outlet, another reporter who I had worked with had “already covered the debtors’ prison story a few months ago.”

I have had many dozens of conversations like this since then, but that was the first time in my career I had been forced viscerally to confront questions about what is considered “newsworthy” and what isn’t.

§5: The Society for the promotion of radical analogue games

As the new year progresses, I hope that I will be able to share more of what I have been doing at work each week so that these can be proper weeknotes.

Here’s one thing I did this past week: I took part in the first virtual meet-up of SPRAG, the Society for the promotion of radical analogue games.