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Nov 8, 2016

David Robinson (@dgrobinson) is a Principal at Upturn, a public interest technology and policy consulting firm. Prior to co-founding UpTurn, David was the Associate Director of Princeton's Center for Information Technology Policy. He also launched The American, a national magazine of business and economics at the American Enterprise Institute, growing The American's website to more than 1.5 million unique visits in its first year.

David holds a JD from Yale, was a Rhodes Scholar, and graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Philosophy from Princeton.

In this episode we discussed:

  • what predictive policing is.
  • how predictive policing technologies fall short of their marketing claims.
  • how predictive policing enables disparities within the criminal justice system.
  • what policymakers should consider as they incorporate predictive policing technologies into their law enforcement activities.



Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey



Julia Angwin and Terry Parris Jr. at Pro Publica raised a lot of red flags last week when they reported that Facebook allows advertisers to exclude audience segments on the basis of race. Angwin and Parris discovered a chilling echo of race-based redlining in real estate where African Americans and other minority groups were prevented from buying real estate in predominantly white neighborhoods. Angwin and Parris purchased an ad on Facebook targeting Facebook users who are house hunting and allowed them to exclude anyone who was African American, Asian-American or Hispanic.

But the Fair Housing Act of 1968 makes it illegal “"to make, print, or publish, or cause to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement, or advertisement, with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.”

Facebook says it does what it can to prevent discrimination.


Did FBI Director James Comey break the law when he announced 11 days before the election that his agency was re-opening the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails? Several leading experts say it was. Passed in 1939, the Hatch Act limits federal employees, with a few exceptions, such as the President, from engaging in activities that would impact the outcome of an election.

Legal experts such as former Chief White House Ethics attorney Richard Painter, who filed a formal ethics complaint against Comey and the FBI last week, think there was no other reason for Comey to make the disclosure other than to impact the outcome of the election.

Comey did, however, announce to members of Congress on Sunday that the agency will not recommend charges against Hillary Clinton based on the emails discovered on former Congressman Anthony Weiner's computer.

Lauren Hodges has the story reporting for NPR. You should also read Painter’s Op-Ed in The New York Times.


1.4 million people “checked in” to Standing Rock on Facebook, even though they weren’t actually there, to support opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Rumors had spread that the police were monitoring Facebook to crack down on protesters. But how exactly do the police use social media data to surveil protests?  Jeff Landale has the analysis in Christian Science Monitor.


A new University of Washington and Stanford study of 1,500 rides found Uber and Lyft drivers discriminate against black passengers. For example, blacks waited 30% longer for rides--5 minutes and 15 seconds--versus 4 minutes for white passengers, according to the study. The ride cancellation rate was also 6 points higher, or 10.1 %, for black sounding names compared to white sounding names. Elizabeth Weise has the story at USA Today.


Mobile browsing as surpassed desktop browsing for the first time. This is according to a new report from StatCounter. Mobile browsing now accounts for over 51% of all online browsing actvitiy. Check Samuel Gibbs’ story in the Guardian.


Black Lives Matter is opposing the Trans Pacific Partnership arguing the trade deal would further disenfranchise blacks by sending capital to nations with lower wages and poorer working conditions,  allowing employers to avoid domestic courts, increase mobility for workers with higher paying jobs but no one else, and prevent the formation of unions.


AT&T had a tough legal and regulatory week

The Dodgers Channel, owned by Time Warner Cable, offered customers exclusive access to live Dodgers games.  Even though Time Warner Cable owned the Dodgers Channel, the company attempted to license it to other cable providers, which would have provided each licensees’ customers access to the games.  But, as Brian Fung reports in the Washington Post, the Department of Justice is now suing AT&T and its subsidiary, DirectTV, for colluding with their LA competitors, including Cox and Charter, to make sure none of them agreed to license the Dodgers Channel from Time Warner Cable. This way, the three companies could take comfort in knowing they wouldn’t lose subscribers.  Charter of course has now acquired Time Warner Cable.


Finally,  the FCC says AT&T incorrectly interpreted FCC rules when it sued the City of Louisville in federal court for granting Google access to utility poles in order to build out its fiber network. AT&T had said the FCC’s pole attachment rules pre-emept state rules.  However, the FCC submitted a statement of interest to the Department of Justice saying the federal pole attachment rules do not pre-empt state rules at all and, in fact, defer to state regulations where states show they have the situation under control with its own regulations. John Brodkin has the story in Ars Technica.