We're still banning books? And battling over who pays in cyberwars

by Vivian Diep in February 11th, 2022

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World at night, NASA

Sweeping book bans in U.S. are going beyond the typical

Tue Jan 30

Banning certain books in schools is a familiar controversy — but now books are being challenged at a pace not seen since the 1980s. Similar to then, the main push has come from conservative groups. But dissimilar to then, there’s a wider spectrum of who wants books banned and why.

  • Some are pushing to ban books involving sexuality. For example in Wyoming, librarians may be criminally charged for stocking books such as Sex is a Funny Word and This Book Is Gay. And in Missouri, funding for one library is being withheld until all books referencing LGBTQIA+ themes are removed.
  • Others are opposing books about race, such as Of Mice and Men and To Kill a Mockingbird. In fact, the latter was among the Library Association’s 10 most challenged books in 2020. Objections include how the novel marginalizes characters of color, celebrates white saviorhood, and uses racial slurs without addressing their derogatory nature.

Many conservative groups are going beyond the usual boundaries of school board meetings and bringing book bans to state legislation and the political arena, even making book bans a part of their campaign ads. Some parents are amplifying their position on social media, such as the Facebook group “Moms for Liberty” in which members actively share Google Docs and Spreadsheets with lists of books they’ve deemed inappropriate. And although efforts to criminally charge librarians and educators distributing banned books have been made, they have generally failed.

Insurance companies battle against covering cyberattacks

Thu Jan 27

In September, we reported on the rise of ransomware attacks that targeted public school children and revealed their sensitive, identifying information on the dark web. Just one month later, an industry report showed a 40% increase in global cybercrime over the past year. Naturally, businesses are turning to their insurance to recover the financial losses from cyberattacks, but now those insurance companies are fighting back and refusing to cover such losses.

How are they avoiding payout? Insurance companies have “act of war” exclusions that allow them to avoid paying out policyholders for damage caused by geopolitical conflicts. They’re arguing that hacks are unique forms of warfare, especially when attribution indicates as such, and therefore counts as acts of war. So far, courts are on the fence: Some judges rule that the exclusion only covers traditional war activities since clarification was never provided. Others say that the source of the attack — digital or not — determines if an activity is an act of war.

In response, insurance companies are updating policies, some to include cyberattacks under “acts of war” (based on government designations) and others to require minimum levels of protection in place to consider any cyberattack a covered event. The Biden administration hopes insurance companies, through such policy changes and the provision of additional customer resources, will incentivize companies to shore up their defenses against cyberattacks.

And it’s easy to see why the insurers are doing this with damages from cybercrime costing $190,000 each second. This number is the result of data or systems held ransom or destroyed, fraud, lost productivity, endured reputational harm, and much more. The high cost is also why governments are worried, urging businesses to invest time and money in cybersecurity. The fear of cyberattacks is also giving rise to a specialty cyberinsurance market. Experts warn against getting too comfortable with specialty insurance, however, due to a lack of standard definitions, minimal historical claims data, and even reports of coverage denial.

Below the Fold Bytes

Hawaiian Beach Is Disappearing

Waikiki, an iconic beach in Hawai’i, is battling one of climate change’s biggest obstacles: getting enough people to agree to a solution. While many are worried over the disappearing beach, the conflicting priorities between different groups involved — such as surfers, environmentalists, real estate developers, and local residents — are keeping any solution from being implemented. Worse, the hotel owners directly impacting the beach are exhibiting a “not in my backyard” behavior, though some are changing due to client demands. >> Read More

A Sound and Sunny Idea

Massachusetts may become the first in the western hemisphere to have solar panels on highway noise barriers (those tall concrete walls that line the highway). The chosen pilot site in Lexington will include enough panels to power 120 homes per year, avoiding 1.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Funded, installed, and monitored by commercial partners, the Lexington pilot site will provide MassDOT with data on noise impacts, maintenance, cost, and community perception for the development of future solarized highway noise barriers. >> Read More

🎬 Action of the Week

To ban or not to ban books has grown in ambiguity given the depth and importance of the reasons involved. This week, we encourage you to first review books that have been banned and why. We also want to recommend — especially for students — this tip sheet for fighting back against book bans that you may not agree with.

This Week's Sources

ASCII-ing About the News

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“Hear ye! Hear ye!”

Wait, it’s 2022. Should we update the book ban notice, too?

Art Credit: ASCII Art Archive


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