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Nov 5 / Amy Greschaw

Michigan’s Wolves

by Grace Caruso

Propaganda:  ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one’s cause or to damage an opposing cause;

Wolf -  cry wolf – Little Red Riding Hood – wolf hunt – endangered – howl – carnivore – pups – pack -  family – fairy tales -  who’s afraid of the big bad wolf -  the wolf is at the door.

The wolf is native to Michigan and was once found in all 83 counties. The wolf became scarce in the lower peninsula by 1935 when a bounty was paid as part of a state wide predator control program. The last wolf pups were born in 1954 near what is now the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. In 1960 the state discontinued the bounty program and the state Legislature granted full legal protection to the wolf in 1965. The federal government listed the gray wolf as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 1973. At that time there were six wolves in the UP, and an isolated population on Isle Royale. An attempt to reintroduce four wolves in to the Upper Peninsula in 1974, ended when  all four animals were killed by humans. In the 1980s there was a natural emigration of wolves from Minnesota, Ontario and Wisconsin to the Upper Peninsula.  There are currently  700 wolves in Michigan distributed across the UP. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources monitors the number  and location of the wolf packs.  In fact the wolf has been so successful it currently occupies fully 5% of it’s ancient range. Because of this success it is time to consider our ancient habits and hunt them.

There has been a great deal of controversy about the wolf hunt in Michigan with several competing interests appealing to the legislature and the public by providing information from a specific point of view – scientific, emotional, econiomic, and sporting. The question for the public, as we continue to determine whether the wolf will be hunted or not, is:  who should we believe. Is what you hear or read true, partially true, slanted in one direction or another? Do some groups withhold or provide information that seems scientific  but comes from institutions that have not been scientific in the past. Is the question of wolf hunting surrounded by propaganda?

Elected officials have made the wolf hunt possible with state law. (MCLA, PA 520 of 2012, Section 324.43528b). The state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) claims to be scientifically managing the wolf population and believes that a controlled hunt in specific areas will not hurt the population. Since this is a “management “ agency that provided the bounties on wolf kills in the past, is the information they provide truly scientific or is it biased in favor of a strong sport hunting groups  who provide a great deal of project funding. Is it slanted towards the idea of management for people and not the survival of the wolf population.

Native American cultural and religious interests have not often been primary concerns;  are there enough voters who understand the tribal desire to protect the wolf as a symbol. The wolf  has been the the bad guy of fairy tale and legend for centuries. Since much of the rhetoric about the wolf is related to wolf-human contact,  do Michigan voters know that according to reports on wolf-human contact, there has not been a person killed by wolves in North America during the 20th century? (International Wolf Center, 2013)  In Michigan, people are already allowed to shoot a wolf who is attacking stock or domestic animals and  farmers are compensated if it is proved that wolves are responsible for killing livestock.

Keep Michigan Wolves Protected, is the combined group of local and national animal rights organizations who have funded the campaign to stop the wolf hunt in Michigan. The Humane Society of the United States is leading this group. Their ads and the page of their web site devoted to the Michigan wolf holds a petition you can sign, a way to donate money, and two beautiful pictures of the wolf as an adult and as a pup.  This is a highly emotional appeal which has worked for them in protecting other animals. Certainly the picture of a wolf pup is compelling. (HSUS ,2014)

The United Conservation Clubs on the other hand publishes their “don’t worry” philosophy on this issue and a complete belief that there will be a wolf hunt, that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with hunting the wolf  and that it will continue. They say that the outside interests that are interfering with the scientific management of the wolf will lose any court case. Through licensing fees and voluntary donations, this group has purchased and rehabilitated of wildlife habitat in many areas of the state and represent powerful economic and sporting interests.

Between these two competing interests stands the Michigan Department of Natural Resources the “managers” of the wolf.  Is this state department  neutral and scientific? In the past the state has had a bounty on the wolf, paying hunters, farmers and anyone who cared to kill one until the wolf disappeared almost completely from Michigan. While the DNR could provide the scientific option, economic interests have prevailed in other  similar struggles  (Woziniak, 2013) and there is other evidence of difficulty with animal management;  consider the difficulties with deer diseases and overpopulation .

There are certainly competing interests and advocates. Is the public being given the facts or the facts colored by the interests of the information providers; which is propaganda after all.

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Reference List

PA 520 of 2012, amending Act 451 of 1994. Section 324.95163

Removal, capture, or use of lethal means to destroy gray wolf; conditions; procedure.

Section 324.40110b Legislative findings and declaration; establishment of first open season for wolf.

Section 324.43528b Wolf hunting license; eligibility beginning March 1, 2014; fee; kill tag.

Section 324.43540e Wolf management advisory council.

Section 324.95153 Gray wolves; removal, capture, or use of lethal force; report to department official; violations as misdemeanors; penalties; photographs; response by department official; use of hotline to report taking of gray wolf.

Outdoors: Biologist says wolf hunt vote ‘makes no sense’

August 25, 2014 /  MUCC Staff  /  Make A Comment  /  BlogIssuesRight to Hunt, Fish, Trap, Shoot,

https://secure.humanesociety.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=5833.

 

 http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-153-10370_12145_12205_63607_63608-292026–,00.html#Michigan History.

Are Wolves Dangerous to Humans?  http://www.wolf.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Are-Wolves-Dangerous-to-Humans.pdf.

Lisa Wozniak: Take Hartwick Pines State Park off of the Auction Block http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/story/opinion/contributors/outlook/2014/09/06/lisa-wozniak-take-hartwick-pines-state-park-auction-block/15231133.

Michigan Wolf News and Habitat, Michigan Department of Natural Resources. http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-153-10370_12145_12205_63607_63608-292027–,00.html

Nov 3 / Erin Vader

Facebook Messenger App: Information Privacy Concern

by Jessica Judd

The new Facebook Messenger application has the ability to access personal information and record conversations without notifying users (Brown, 2014).  Many users are uncertain of their privacy online and whether or not Facebook is accessing information without their knowledge or consent.

The Facebook Messenger app has access to users’ cameras and microphones.  This access becomes available when a user accepts the notification to allow access.  “The app will also be able to access your contact list, and see your phone call log including who you called and how long the call lasted” (Brown, 2014).  Is this an invasion of privacy?  If a user decides not to download the Facebook Messenger, which they do have that option, the user will not be able to send messages through the Facebook application itself.

When the Facebook Messenger was released, some may think what specifically makes this app different from others I have downloaded.  I believe most applications can access personal information.  Milston (2014) gives examples of another application that accesses a users’ personal information.  Instagram allows its users to send pictures back and forth, which means the user has given the app permission to access their photos.  Below are some of the personal data Facebook can access, which is mentioned in their Terms of Service (Fiorella, 2013).

  • Allows the app to change the state of network connectivity
  • Allows the app to call phone numbers without intervention
  • Allows the app to send SMS messages-which may result in unexpected changes
  • Allows the app to take pictures and videos with the camera
  • Allows the app to read data about your contacts stored on a user’s phone
  • Allows the app to read personal profile information stored on a device, such as name and contact information
  • Allows the app to retrieve a list of accounts known by the phone

Despite these privacy points in Facebook’s Terms of Service, there may be cause for concern by Facebook users.  Facebook argues that it needs to access some of these things, such as the camera, so a user can send pictures or the user’s contact information so, if a user is playing a game, the call will not interrupt where they left off.

While some users may think they are forced to give up their personal information and privacy, they are not actually allowing access to any more than the actual Facebook app already has access to.  Facebook’s Terms of Service is presented to each and every user, so they are made aware of the privacy policy and guidelines before they choose to download the application.  Privacy is a major concern for Facebook users when downloading the new messenger application.  Users should read the guidelines listed in the application and be self-aware of what Facebook can and cannot access.

Helpful Sources

Albergotti, Reed.   “Facebook Messenger Privacy Fears? Here’s What You Need to Know.”The Wall Street Journal.   8 August 2014.

Dewey, Caitlin.   “Yes, the Facebook Messenger App Requests Creepy, Invasive Permissions.”The Washington Post.   5 August 2014

Techdirt.   “To Read All of the Privacy Policies You Encounter …”20 April 2012.

References

Fiorella, Sam.   “The Insidiousness of Facebook Messenger’s Mobile App Terms of Service.” The Huffington Post.   1 December 2013.

Brown, S. (August 8, 2014). New Facebook Messenger app raises privacy concerns.Retrieved from http://wtvr.com/2014/08/08/facebook-messenger-app-raises-privacy-concerns/

 

Nov 3 / Amy Greschaw

The Politics of Information: Battling Freedom of Information

Written by Cindy Wyckoff

The Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), governed and managed by the Office of the President of the United States and the Executive Branch since 1967, allows for access to governmental documents and records through specific requests made to governmental agencies (United States Department of Justice, n.d.).  As the citizens of not only the United States, but also globally, desire easier access to more information, the current President, Barack Obama, “pledged to make this the most transparent Administration in history” (United States Department of Justice, n.d.).  Despite this vow to a more open American government, more lawsuits were filed seeking enforcement of the FOIA in requests for information under the last two years of the first Obama Administration than in the last two years of the second Bush Administration (The FOIA Project, 2012).

The Freedom of Information Act allows federal agencies to withhold some information.  There are nine specific exemptions and three categories of exclusion (see Tables 1 and 2).  Federal agencies may deny the release of records containing information ranging from national security to trade secrets to personal privacy, among other protected areas (White House, n.d.).  Records that are requested often have not previously been available for public viewing; hence, the submission of a FOIA request.  Consequently, how is the public to know whether this withholding of information from public release is a matter of security or politics?

 

table1

table2

The advocacy group, Cause of Action, is currently suing twelve federal government agencies alleging the White House works with agencies receiving FOIA requests of information in order to delay release of records that may be “politically sensitive or embarrassing to the Administration” (Ehley, 2014).  Specifically, the nonprofit organization cites in its Complaint:

[a] previously undisclosed White House memorandum from April 2009 written by the then-Counsel to the President, in which the White House advised all federal agency and department general counsels to consult with the White House on all document requests that may involve documents with “White House equities” (Cause of Action v. IRS, 2014).

Cause of Action is hopeful the information requested and now demanded in the lawsuit “will reveal” “whether and how the White House politicizes records requests sent to federal agencies”” (Cohen, 2014).

Despite receiving a written response from a governmental agency as to a denial of release of information, it is extremely difficult to know the true cause of the denial given the current allegations in the Cause of Action lawsuit.  Regardless of a political or protective purpose, in my work as a legal assistant handling many Freedom of Information Act requests, my colleagues and I have experienced first-hand what a challenge it can be to locate and obtain information.  Time delays usually occur with a request to a federal agency and many times receive a denial in response.  These responses can impact our work whether discovery in a lawsuit, an environmental compliance issue, or the progress of real estate development.  While the Cause of Action litigation may not provide a solid winner or loser to the battle of politics versus freedom of information, all advocates to information access may be one step closer to a more “open government.”

 

References

Cause of Action v. Internal Revenue Service, et al. (2014). Retrieved from http://causeofaction.org/assets/uploads/2014/08/ECF-No.-1-Complaint.pdf

Cohen, K. (2014, August 18). Cause of Action sues 12 departments that allowed White House to intervene in FOIA responses. Washington Examiner. Retrieved from http://washingtonexaminer.com/cause-of-action-sues-12-departments-that-allowed-white-house-to-intervene-in-foia-responses/article/2552131

Ehley, B. (2014, August 19). Group sues Obama over access to information. The Fiscal Times. Retrieved from http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2014/08/19/Group-Sues-Obama-Over-Access-Information

FOIA Project, The. (2012, December 20). FOIA lawsuits increase during Obama administration. Retrieved from http://foiaproject.org/2012/12/20/increase-in-foia-lawsuits-during-obama-administration/

United States Department of Justice. (n.d.). What is FOIA? Retrieved from http://www.foia.gov/about.html

White House. (n.d.). About the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA): FOIA exemptions and exclusions. Retrieved from http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ostp/library/foia/about#FOIA%20Exemptions

Nov 3 / Erin Vader

Data Security on Mobile Phones

by Srikar Vemuri

The newest version of IOS, Apple’s mobile device software platform, will encrypt private data on mobile devices with a user’s passcode. This will render the company unable to access any information on a user’s device without passcode and subsequently released to law enforcement and other organizations. Google’s stated that its popular Android platform will follow suit with it new release (Love & Solanga, 2014). This comes on the heels of several high profile cases in which confidential data on the mobile devices of several notable celebrities was compromised. (Celebrity hacking, 2014)  Even with additional encryption there is no foolproof way of completely securing confidential data on mobile devices, data backed up to Apple iCloud service can still be accessed without a passcode for example.

This brings up the interesting topic of reasonable expectations for privacy on mobile devices, and whether it is user responsibility to monitor what they do and store on their mobile devices. In the past confidential data was mainly stored on physical mediums affording individuals much more security in that for the most part it was stored in a physical location which was known only to who the owner of the data informed and allowed access to. Although theft is possible in these cases as well, the thief or hacker would have to physically go to the location the data was stored in order to steal it. In contrast in today’s day and age most data is in electronic format and to determine a set physical location for it is extremely difficult and in some cases impossible. While I believe that everyone has the right to privacy and the freedom to access any information that is in accordance with the law, I think that individual users should take more responsibility on how they use their mobile devices. The essential function of a mobile communication device is for communication, collaboration, and sharing of information. To expect to get 100% privacy on a platform such as this seems to go against the nature of what these devices are for. I personally feel that any highly private or confidential data a user does not want shared or collaborated should be stored on other types of media such as, electronic devices that do not communicate externally, physical media etc.

While some may argue that responsibility lies with the companies that manufacture and provide services for these devices to provide security for the data on them, at some point common sense of the end user has to take over.  I think individuals, and society as a whole, needs to determine a balance between the convenience and increased productivity that comes from the ability to collaborate and share data instantly and our desire to have and store confidential and private data. We can’t have it both ways as it simply contradicts the main purpose of what mobile and electronic communication devices were designed for. While I am a firm believer that everyone should have the ability to store and access confidential information as long is it is accordance with the law, I don’t think that this is an issue can be addressed by government organizations or private firms. Rather it is up to every individual to make educated decisions on where and how to store private and confidential data and risks involved with this task. While information policies to regulate how companies that manufacture and provide services for these devices protect secure data may be effective in forcing companies to take additional precautions that may help reduce data theft, at this time there is no 100% foolproof way to secure information on these devices.  Therefore any information put into place to combat this issues should include clear disclaimers to end users on what they should and should not be storing on these devices.

References

Love, J., & Solanga, R. (2014, October 1). Law enforcement grapples with iPhone’s enhanced encryption.The ViewPoint . Retrieved October 27, 2014, from http://neviewpoint.com/2014/10/01/law-enforcement-grapples-with-iphones-enhanced-encryption/

Celebrity hacking clouds iPhone 6 launch – The Times of India. (2014, September 3). The Times of India. Retrieved October 27, 2014, from http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tech/tech-news/Celebrity-hacking-clouds-iPhone-6-launch/articleshow/41601067.cms

Nov 3 / Erin Vader

Enterprise Cloud Computing: Worth the Risk?

by Kristin Ziska

With the rise of cloud computing, people have become dependent upon being able to access their files, music, pictures, and other digital information from wherever they are located.  Currently, even cell phones back up to this virtual “place” known as the cloud.  Companies, both large and small, are gravitating to this cost-effective and simple solution for their own information storage needs.  As with anything that concerns information and sensitive data, the cloud also brings up serious concerns about security which may be hindering entities from fully taking advantage of such a convenience.

According to a survey conducted by Columbus (2013), almost seventy percent of the companies participating have predicted budget increases for cloud computing.  This mirrors the thirty-six percent compound annual growth the author claims the industry predicts for cloud computing through the year 2016.  The number one focus for projects in the survey was the internal private cloud for employees.

Yet with all of this growth, concerns around security remain high.  When asked what stands in the way of further adoption in this survey, Columbus (2013) states the highest percentage of respondents stated security apprehensions plague both the IT workers and the common employee.  Vijayan (2014) sees a much similar trend in the large business consortium surveyed.  Forty percent of the “cloud wary” companies see security as a threat while even fifteen percent of the “cloud savvy” enterprises also view this same threat.

With these numbers, it is no surprise there is now a large amount of money going into cloud security.  According to Bora (2014), spending on security has increased 7.9 percent in the last year.  It is predicted spending on security will rise another 8.2 percent in 2015.  This equals over $71 billion invested into a new endeavor:  to make the cloud a safe place to store information.  By 2018, it is predicted more than half of the organizations will contract with outside firms to secure and protect their cloud data. (Bora, 2014)

The focus on security comes after a tumultuous year in cloud security.  Last year, five of the top ten cloud hacks occurred.  Each of these hacks had an average of $112.4 million in jeopardy.  Hackers are beginning to use more sophisticated methods and malware to access private information stored in the cloud.  Exploitation of flaws such as the Heartbleed Security Flaw has placed millions of individuals’ private information at risk.  (Bora, 2014)

Even more recently, hackers have cracked Apple’s iCloud and stolen risqué pictures of celebrities.  These photos were acquired by using a combination of social engineering and a deep understanding of technology.  According to Tsukayama (2014), individual users can protect themselves quite easily by being cognizant and utilizing security tools and options available for many popular sites with hackers such as Facebook, Bank of America, Google, and Paypal.  Munro (2014), also suggests familiarizing yourself and your company with hacker methods like social engineering.  There is no way to fully be protected, especially when dealing with off-site storage, but utilizing knowledge and all security available, information should be relatively safe.  (Tsukayama, 2014)

What, then, should companies who are interested in cloud computing do to safeguard themselves?  Ashford (2013) suggests creating a security plan first.  Plans should then be put into place to cover breach notification, data management at rest, data protection in motion, encryption key management, access controls, and long-term encryption resiliency.  Vijayan (2014) speaks to the same protections stating that security breaches all start from a company’s failure, not cloud provider’s failure.

Vijayan (2014) also suggests not simply utilizing cloud computing because it is an emerging technology.  Move forward with the pursuit only if it makes sense for your particular company.  Depending upon the type of information the company wishes to move to the cloud, it may not be the right time in the development of cloud computing for them.  This is evident especially when dealing with government requests for information, which has not been fully developed as of yet.

However, Google gives quite a good compromise for these companies.  By moving public information into the cloud, this will allow companies to concentrate on the local critical information and keep it safe, encrypted, and out of hacker’s hands.  Add this into the vigilance that is necessary for an IT department when dealing with information, and this may be a compromise that will allow use of the new cloud technology while keeping what needs to be safe close at hand.  (Vijayan, 2014)

Cloud security, due to recent events, will remain on the forefront of many business agendas as more and more enterprises seek to move from local information storage to cloud-based storage.  There are steps companies can take to ensure their cloud is secure and safe from hackers.  However, movement to the cloud may not be the correct choice for all companies.  There are still some very serious concerns revolving around the security and available protection for sensitive information in the cloud.

Discussion Questions

  1. What are some concerns that the private sector may have concerning information privacy in enterprise cloud computing?
  2. Would stiffer punishments for hacking deter people from attempting to access private enterprise cloud storage?  If so, what stiffer punishments should be implemented?  If not, what do you think would?

Kristin Ziska is a student in her last semester at Wayne State University.  She is pursuing a Master of Library and Information science degree concentrating in Systems Design and Analysis.  She is also completing a Graduate Certificate in Information Management.  As a teacher and Technology Manager for a national online K-12 school, she is responsible for instructional design, systems maintenance, and testing systems design.  Her academic interests involve cloud computing, emerging technologies, gamification, and software design and analysis.  In her free time, she is a foster parent for giant breed dogs and an avid backpacker and snowboarder.

References

Ashford, W. (2013, March 22). Six security issues to tackle before encrypting cloud data. Retrieved September 6, 2014, from http://www.computerweekly.com/news/2240180087/Six-security-issues-to-tackle-before-encrypting-cloud-data

Bora, K. (2014, August 22). Worldwide Spending On Information Security To Surpass $70B By End Of 2014: Report. Retrieved September 6, 2014, from http://www.ibtimes.com/worldwide-spending-information-security-surpass-70b-end-2014-report-1666030

Columbus, L. (2013, September 4). Predicting Enterprise Cloud Computing Growth – Forbes. Retrieved September 6, 2014, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/louiscolumbus/2013/09/04/predicting-enterprise-cloud-computing-growth/

Munro, D. (2014, September 1). Over 90% Of Cloud Services Used In Healthcare Pose Medium To High Security Risk – Forbes. Retrieved September 6, 2014, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/danmunro/2014/09/01/over-90-of-cloud-services-used-in-healthcare-pose-medium-to-high-security-risk/

Passary, S. (2014, June 15). Cloud computing is the future but not if security problems persist : PERSONAL TECH : Tech Times. Retrieved September 6, 2014, from http://www.techtimes.com/articles/8449/20140615/cloud-computing-is-the-future-but-not-if-security-problems-persist.htm

Tsukayama, H. (2014, September 2). Three ways to step up your own cloud security – The Washington Post. Retrieved September 6, 2014, from http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2014/09/02/three-ways-to-step-up-your-own-cloud-security/

Vijayan, J. (2014, February 27). Cloud security concerns are overblown, experts say | Computerworld. Retrieved September 6, 2014, from http://www.computerworld.com/article/2488086/cloud-security/cloud-security-concerns-are

 

Nov 3 / Erin Vader

Introducing Students to Researching in the Library

by Priscilla Dahl Melesco

The American Library Association defines an information literate individual as a person who:

  1. Determines the extent of information needed
  2. Accesses the needed information effectively and efficiently
  3. Evaluates the information and its sources critically
  4. Incorporates selected information into one’s knowledge base
  5. Uses information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose
  6. Understands the economic, legal and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and uses information ethically and legally. [1]

This essay provides an example of how to integrate the definition of an information literate individual into the development of a presentation on successful researching practices.  The presentation will be given to students who are unfamiliar with investigating a library’s collection. Searching library resources can be presented in a manner which is approachable and convenient. Following the American Library Association’s standards, librarians can begin to address the needs of the students through a reference interview. Once a conversation on the topics of research has begun, it is possible to provide not only the resources but also to impart the skills of locating information to the students.

It is important for students to be able to function in both the physical library space and also in a virtual collection. Begin with defining the topic in a general way and if possible, more specifically. A search of the ILS or library catalog to find the books on topic held by the library is a lesson in keyword and Boolean search techniques and an opportunity to familiarize a student with library layout and classification system. Depending on the Library’s search system, a second step in locating relevant research could be entering the topic into a single search bar or accessing the online databases of journal articles, reference materials, digital images and e-books. Searching and finding information relating to the subject of study, research question or search term is an opportunity to refine and clarify the required analysis. This is also an opportunity to determine whether the source has credible, correct and current information. What is the origin of the information? Is it scholarly, commercial, or for entertainment?  All these sources provide information, knowing the context of the publication will allow students to organize the research appropriately.

Once a research topic has been clarified and supporting documentation found, it is necessary to understand the process of developing and writing a research paper which references other sources. A basic understanding of Section 107 of the United States Copyright Code, known as “Fair Use” will provide a student with the foundation for ethical study. The standards of Fair Use include the purpose and character of the use, whether it is for a commercial or nonprofit educational purpose, the nature of the copyrighted work, the amount of the work used in comparison to the work as a whole and the effect upon the potential market value of the copyrighted work.[2] The format for citation is also a necessary skill to know and practice. The American Psychological Association provides the APA guidelines for citation of supporting documentation in research writing.[3] Citations can be generated in plain text, or with the use of software such as EndNote and RefWorks.

Thoughtful consideration of the manner in which this process is introduced to students can affect their experiences and the final outcome of their time spent researching in the library. A broad, general idea may take some winnowing to become a well-researched thought, and the resources available through public, special and academic libraries are vast indeed. Approaching the process of researching can be intimidating, so it is a worthwhile practice to provide instruction and support to students.

Discussion Questions

1. Does it make sense to teach students to search a broad array of resources when there are search systems which cover a variety of sources from one location?

2. Research is a time consuming process which familiarizes the student with on-topic and off-topic information. Is there value in encouraging students to follow a topic even if it does not exactly fit their search?

References

[1.] American Library Association. (2000) Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education, Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/informationliteracycompetency

[2.] U.S. Copyright Office. Copyright Law of the United States of America,  Retrieved from http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#107

[3.] American Psychological Association. APA Style, Retrieved from http://www.apastyle.org/

Priscilla Dahl Melesco is completing her Master in Library and Information Science with an Information Management Certificate. She is currently a Library and Information Services intern at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. Her  goal is to work with patrons to increase information literacy. She enjoys web design, cataloging and collection development.

Nov 3 / Erin Vader

The Implications of the Celebrity Photo Hack on Information Policy

by Tiffany Sonnier

The celebrity photo hack could be the catalyst for creating better defined policies on information privacy, or it could emphasize the disparity between user and developer responsibility.  The celebrity photo hack appears to have occurred when hackers broke into the iCloud accounts of 100 female celebrities, copied nude photos, and disseminated the photos across the internet, according to reports on the Huffington Post Blog.  There has been public outrage at the lack of stronger security measures in place on Apple devices and software.  The debate stems from whether it is the responsibility of the developer to monitor user accounts for fraudulent activity, or if it is the responsibility of the user to create secure accounts through strong passwords and limiting what is stored in those accounts.

While a report of this nature can seem inconsequential to the non-celebrity members of the population, it is evident that policies surrounding information remain complex at best.  For instance, how will the “hackers” be punished?  After all, this was not a theft of personal finances.  Monetary theft is easy to identify and the punishment is obvious.  Stealing photos from an unsecure storage facility is less straightforward.  We tend to place the blame on the victim, either for taking nude photos in the first place, or by not properly securing them online.

In Elizabeth Orna’s article, Information Policies: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow (2008), she defines information policy as “the principles on which [an organization] will manage information, employ human resources and technology in using it, and assign a value to it” (p. 555).  The goal of a clearly defined information policy would provide guidelines as to who is responsible for maintaining the privacy and security of information posted online, or posted to Cloud technology.  It would also define the consequences to violating the privacy and security of said information.  Furthermore, such an information policy should be made easily accessible by users of Cloud technology so that they know what to expect in the event of a hack.

As emphasized by the comments found on social media regarding the Celebrity Photo Hack, there are two main viewpoints.  One believes that individuals should be responsible in managing the security of their personal photos.  The other believes that developers such as Apple should enforce stronger security measures, such as requiring two-step verification or stronger passwords for accessing storage technology.  I am of the opinion information policy is not one or the other, but rather some combination of both.  As Orna states in Information Policies (2008), “information policies are meant to be used as a basis for action…for avoiding risks (financial losses from incomplete and uncoordinated exploitation of information, wasted time, failures of innovation, and reputation loss); and for positive benefits, including negotiation and openness among those responsible for different aspects of information management” (p. 555).  To adequately avoid risks, in this case, the stealing and dissemination of personal photos, requires that the developer provides stronger security measures and that the user adheres to those measures.

While the celebrity photo hack is an unfortunate incident, it opens up the discussion on Cloud technology and information policy.  Developers will learn from this incident to increase security measures, and users will be made more aware of the necessity of managing and securing their personal information online.  The hack demonstrates just how much technology should not be taken for granted, and how both users and developers need to think about the value of their personal information and storage options.

Discussion Questions

  1. What value do we assign personal photos stored on Cloud technology?
  2. Who manages this type of information: the individual or the developer, such as Apple?  And how is a theft of the information punished, and who monitors the theft?

Tiffany Sonnier is in her final year as a grad student at Wayne State University.  She is pursuing her MLIS with certificates in Information Management and Public Library Services to Children and Young Adults.  Currently, she lives in Sacramento, California and works as an underwriter for an automobile insurance company.  She is a first-time momma to a 9 month old baby girl.  She recently completed her fifth half marathon in Vancouver, BC.

References

Orna, E. (2008). Information policies: Yesterday, today, tomorrow. Journal of Information Science, 34 (4), 547-565.

Butcher, M. (2014). Here’s What We Know So Far About The Celebrity Photo Hack. Retrieved from http://techcrunch.com/2014/09/01/heres-what-we-know-so-far-about-the-celebrity-photo-hack/

Karlin, L. (2014). You Know Who’s Not To Blame For Jennifer Lawrence’s Nude Photo Leaks? Jennifer Lawrence.Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/02/jennifer-lawrence-leaks_n_5749562.html

 

Nov 3 / Erin Vader

Addressing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Backlog and Reduction Plans

by Claire Cheng

Enacted in 1966, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a federal law that gives any person the right to have access to federal government records, unless they are protected by public disclosure (FOIA.gov, 2010).  To keep citizens in the know about their government’s affairs and decisions, government agencies and departments are required to disclose information upon request as well as release certain information automatically so that it is publicly available.  Under the FOIA, interested parties submit written requests, known as FOIA requests, in which they detail the information they want as well as the format they want it in (FOIA.gov, 2010).

In January 2009, President Barack Obama issued a memorandum entitled, “Transparency and Open Government,” which directed departments and agencies to adopt the presumption of openness principle when responding to FOIA requests.  Essentially, this pledge placed the transparency responsibility on the shoulders of the executive departments and agencies, making them obligated to develop and/or improve policies and initiatives related to requester responsiveness  and proactive disclosure (actively providing information to the public thereby reducing FOIA request submissions) (Chief FOIA Officer Report, 2013).  For many years, departments and agencies have been operating under significant FOIA backlogs, struggling to address response and delivery delays.  The FOIA backlog not only puts pressure on the government to reevaluate and improve their FOIA programs, it makes it harder for the American public to obtain information they want and need from the government in a timely manner. The Freedom of Information Act serves as a bridge to government transparency, thus heightening the responsibility of departments and agencies to generate efficient FOIA backlog solutions while simultaneously improve FOIA operations and services.

The utilization of information technology (IT) plays an important role in government strategies regarding FOIA backlog and requester responsiveness. Maintaining an online presence for FOIA-related matters is an effective strategy to communicate information to the public as well as to specific FOIA requesters. The U.S. Department of State’s FOIA workflow is “highly dependent” on technology to track FOIA cases in all phases of the request process and to communicate with bureaus, external agencies and requesters (Department of State FOIA Backlog Reduction Plan, 2008). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses technology to facilitate an electronic FOIA workflow process and to make records available proactively on the agency’s website (HHS.gov/Open, n.d.). Technology implementation has helped to support FOIA processing and to facilitate overall FOIA efficiency, allowing FOIA requesters to file requests online on the agency’s website and to use advanced searching tools to find information.  On the government’s end, agencies have been able to adopt the use of enhance electronic scanning and automatic redaction capabilities, both of which help to move the FOIA processing forward much more quickly.  Steps have been taken to also improve the online FOIA process with open source software resources. A FOIA Task Force that consists of representatives from the Department of Justice, Environmental Protection Agency and the Office of Science and Technology Policy are looking at tools that will help improve the FOIA request submission user experience and will make it easier for requesters to search for records and other information that have already been uploaded to the agency’s website (Federal News Radio, 2014).

Ensuring the delivery of excellent customer service to FOIA requesters is another FOIA backlog reduction solution.  An agency’s personnel needs to work together as well as be well-versed in current and updated FOIA operating procedures.  Coordinated communication between FOIA response team members can improve the response time to requesters so that agencies can meet the 20-day time period.  Records delivery is a service and the investment of time is a way of maintaining customer relations and bolstering the public perception of the government agency.

The Obama Administration made FOIA reform the centerpiece of his open and transparent government agenda, which was intended to fulfill his presidential campaign promise to be the “most transparency administration in history.” The agencies that are subject to FOIA have their own rules and guidelines for how they respond to and handle public demands for government information. Working with multiple agencies that have their own regulations can cause mass confusion and inconvenience for the FOIA requester.  As of March 2014, the Justice Department’s Office of Information Policy will focus on removing some of the inconsistency FOIA requesters face when dealing with various FOIA regulations. A standard regulatory framework for FOIA operations and procedures as well as a more efficient request processing system will hopefully serve to mitigate FOIA backlog and improve FOIA request responsiveness.

Discussion Questions:

1)                   How can government departments and agencies utilize information technology to confront FOIA backlog?

2)                   What are some other strategies the government can use to improve requester responsiveness as well as the overall FOIA program?

Claire Cheng expects to graduate with an MLIS degree from Wayne State University in May 2015. She is interested primarily in digital libraries and records management. Currently, she works as the Circulation Lead and Assistant Project Manager at the U.S. EPA Region 9 Superfund Records Center in San Francisco, CA.

References

Department of State (2008, June). FOIA backlog reduction plan. Retrieved October 24, 2014, from http://foia.state.gov/_docs/EO13392/110772.pdf

Leigh, E. (2013, August 23). Report: Agencies Use Cloud Tech to Reduce FOIA Backlog. Retrieved September 8, 2014, from Report: Agencies Use Cloud Tech to Reduce FOIA Backlog – See more at:http://www.executivegov.com/2013/08/report-agencies-use-cloud-tech-to-reduce-foia-backlog/#sthash.MTRdWpQs.dpuf

McGuire, C. (2013, January 11). Dealing with Surplus in a Time of Scarcity: Reducing FOIA Backlogs. Retrieved September 8, 2014, fromhttp://blogs.archives.gov/foiablog/2013/01/11/dealing-with-surplus-in-a-time-of-scarcity-reducing-foia-backlogs/

Miller, J. (2014, September 8). A growing forest of innovation labs. Retrieved September 8, 2014, fromhttp://www.federalnewsradio.com/445/3697218/A-growing-forest-of-innovation-labs

Moore, J. (2014, August 15). A surge in FOIA requests brings new business to open records specialists. Retrieved September 8, 2014, fromhttp://searchitchannel.techtarget.com/feature/A-surge-in-FOIA-requests-brings-new-business-to-open-records-specialists

Obama, B. (2009, January 15). Transparency and Open Government. Retrieved September 8, 2014, fromhttp://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/TransparencyandOpenGovernment

Office of Personnel Management (2013). Chief FOIA officer report – 2013. Retrieved October 24, 2014, from http://www.opm.gov/information-management/freedom-of-information-act/reports/chief-foia-officer-report-2013.pdf

Nov 3 / Erin Vader

Cloud Security: Are Companies Helping Users to Understand It?

by Krystal Tosch

Recently, hackers have exposed nude photographs of well-known celebrities, including, Kate Upton, Justin Verlander, Ariana Grande and Jennifer Lawrence. The Wall Street Journal defined the Apple iCloud as “an online service to store photos, music and other data from Apple devices” (Wakabayashi, 2014). Apple’s “Find my iPhone” app allows users to track the location of their Apple device 2014) It is presumed that someone hacked each celebrity’s Apple device, then their iCloud account by hacking into this app and once the account was successfully accessed, the photos were posted on the Internet and social media (Wakabayashi, 2014). This breech in security has raised many questions in regards to just how secure saving information to a cloud really is.

The recent increases in breaches of information security (i.e, the Target breach after Black Friday 2013) show that hackers only continue to break through security systems currently in place. However, most of the time, especially with large corporations, these hacks are quickly shut downmnthanks to their large information technology teams working tirelesslyto ensure that leaks of information are stopped as soon as possible (Siedel et al, 2013). For example, anyone posting the leaked celebrity photos on Twitter had their accounts suspended or shut down immediately (Wakabayashi, 2014). Even when I personally (for the purpose of this blog post) do a quick Google search for the leaked photos, it is hard to find all of them.

Having photos of that nature (no matter if you are a celebrity or not) available through the Internet is always a risk Someone could simply access your phone and send the pictures to other people. Additionally, many people do not fully understand the Cloud service specifics and think if they delete an inappropriate picture that it is forever deleted from their phone or tablet. However, in reality, it is still in the cloud service, and is easily accessible to these hackers.

A couple of questions that services and companies, such as Dropbox, Google Drive and Apple, need to address are regarding user familiarity and education on their products. Does the user have the tools available to successfully navigate the device? Is there specific literature available to educate the users? Not everyone will take advantage of the resources, but providing the literature may benefit some, including celebrities I, too, would like to know the best practices for saving files and navigating them on these cloud devices and I would like further assurance these companies are keeping my best interests in their mind. With the high cost of technology associated with some of these products, it is vital to consumers to know companies are actively protecting their privacy. For the those who want to actively protect their own files, having the resources and tools available to assist in this is for  consumers to understand the concept of a cloud system.

Hackers will always hack but, there are preventative measures companies can help take to help consumers better understand the technology they are implementing. Some security breaches, such as the Target credit card instance, cannot be avoided. Users of the Cloud should gain familiarity with this resource and websites and know how to work them. If they do not know how to use a system, instructional materials and tools may assist, if provided.

Krystal Tosch will graduate in December 2014 with her MLIS and a Graduate Certificate in Information Management, specializing in Web Design & Development. Krystal works for Wayne State University at The College of Nursing’s IT Department where she serves as their Multimedia Specialist, where she helps with the distance learning program, along with providing e-learning support. She is an avid runner and has ran five half marathons since March 2013.

References

Apple – iCloud – Find My iPhone, iPad, and Mac. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.apple.com/icloud/find-my-iphone.html

iCloud. (2014). Retrieved November 2, 2014, from http://www.apple.com/icloud/

Sidel, R., Yadron, D., & Germano, S. (2013). Target Hit by Credit-Card Breach. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304773104579266743230242538

Wakabayashi, D. (2014, September 2). Apple investigating reports of iCloud vulnerabilities. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/articles/apple-investigating-reports-of-icloud-vulnerabilities-1409608366

 

Nov 3 / Amy Greschaw

The Lyon Declaration on Access to Information and Development

Written by Erin Barnes

 

Access to information is a crucial element of our right to freedom of expression. The Digital Freedoms Project defines it as “the ability to access what information you want whenever you want it” (International Debate Education Association, n.d.). The Internet has revolutionized access to information, and many of us take that easy access for granted – but it is not available to everyone.

 

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) is encouraging the United Nations to include improving access to information as a goal in their development agenda (Ojala, 2014). The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were developed to bring global attention to issues facing the world’s poor, expire in 2015 (United Nations, Background, n.d.). Negotiations regarding a development agenda to replace the MDGs are underway, and IFLA is getting involved. The Lyon Declaration on Access to Information and Development (Lyon Declaration)

call[s] upon the Member States of the United Nations to make an international commitment to use the post-2015 development agenda to ensure that everyone has access to, and is able to understand, use and share the information that is necessary to promote sustainable development and democratic societies. (IFLA, 2014)

The Lyon Declaration specifically recognizes the role of libraries in meeting the goal, by “identifying and focusing attention on relevant and pressing needs and problems within a population;” “providing public forums and space for wider civil society participation and engagement in decision-making;” and “offering training and skills to help people access and understand the information and services most helpful to them” (2014).

 

As an LIS student, I have been exposed to and participated in a number of debates regarding the future of libraries. One of my favorite possibilities is that of the library as community center (Frey, n.d., see Trend #10). One of the benefits of libraries assuming this role is the increased ability to serve as the gathering place and training center described in the Lyon Declaration. I think that would be a huge benefit to all involved: it would ensure the continued relevance of libraries (and librarians!) and increase the ability of populations to access the information they need to make informed decisions, both personal and political.

 

Two important sections of the Lyon Declaration ask the United Nations to include access to information principles in the new agenda by:

 

  • “Acknowledging the public’s right to access information and data, while respecting the right to individual privacy” and
  • “Adopting policy, standards and legislation to ensure the continued funding, integrity, preservation and provision of information by governments, and access by people” (2014)

 

Both are essential, but may provoke resistance. Creating a good balance between the rights of access and privacy is tricky, and must be constantly monitored. I also expect that it will be a struggle to get the requirement for governments to provide and fund access to information adopted. Depending on how that language is interpreted, it could pose a significant burden. Does it mean that governments must provide Internet access to citizens? Is it enough that libraries do?

 

The discussions and negotiations will continue throughout the next year, before the agenda is adopted at a summit in September 2015 (United Nations, Overview, n.d.). A strong endorsement of the right to access information will strengthen libraries as well as benefiting the people who use them. More than 200 organizations have signed onto the Lyon Declaration (Ojala, 2014), and hopefully they will be successful.

 

Discussion Questions

1. Do you believe that the United Nations should adopt access to information as a goal?

2. Are there provisions of the Lyon Declaration that you particularly agree or disagree with?

 

Erin Barnes is an attorney working in Washington D.C. She received her law degree from Vermont Law, and expects to receive her Master of Library and Information Science from Wayne State University in 2014.

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References

Frey, T. (n.d.). The future of libraries: Beginning the great transformation. Retrieved from: http://www.davinciinstitute.com/papers/the-future-of-libraries/.

International Debate Education Association. (n.d.). Access to information. Retrieved from: http://digitalfreedoms.idebate.org/digitalfreedoms/access-to-information.

International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. (2014). Lyon Declaration on Access to Information and Development launched. Retrieved from: http://conference.ifla.org/node/522.

Ojala, M. (September 2, 2014). The Lyon Declaration tackles information access and sustainable development. Retrieved from: http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/NewsBreaks/The-Lyon-Declaration-Tackles-Information-Access-and-Sustainable-Development-99052.asp.

The Lyon Declaration. (2014). Retrieved from: http://www.lyondeclaration.org/.

United Nations. (n.d.). Action 2015: Overview. Retrieved from: http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/beyond2015-overview.shtml.

United Nations. (n.d.). Background. Retrieved from: http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/bkgd.shtml.