68 episodes

The Rights Track podcast gets the hard facts about the human rights challenges facing the world today and aims to get our thinking about human rights on the right track.

The podcast is hosted by Professor Todd Landman, a human rights scholar and champion for the advancement of human rights understanding.

In Series 7 we are looking at human rights in a digital world. We're talking with advocates and academics who are investigating if and how advancing technology is advancing or stifling our human rights. We're delighted to be producing this Series in partnership with and with funding from the University of Nottingham's Data-Driven Discovery Initiative (3DI).

In Series 6 we discuss human rights and COVID19. We are in conversation with leading advocates and scholars as we look to learn if and how human rights are under threat as a result of the pandemic, what this means for specific groups and individuals and what needs to be done to protect, preserve, uphold and advance human rights in this context .

In Series 5, we dig deeper into the relationship between SDG 8.7 and the United Nations’ other Sustainable Development Goals. We ask if developing stronger institutions could lead to slave-free supply chains or if making businesses better is the route to a world free of slavery by 2030. How does achieving these goals together lead to the single aim of a better and more sustainable future for us all?

The Rights Track is supported by the Nuffield Foundation, the Economic and Social Research Council, and the University of Nottingham.

Each episode is an insightful, compelling and rigorous interview with academics engaged in systematic human rights research.

In Series 1, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, Todd interviews leading analysts at the forefront of the latest critical thinking on human rights.

In Series 2, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, The Rights Track turns its attention to human rights advocates and practitioners involved in the struggle for human rights to learn more about their work and the ways in which academic research is helping them.

In Series 3, our podcast joins the fight to end modern day slavery by 2030. In partnership with the University of Nottingham's Right's Lab research project, we talk with researchers who are providing hard evidence about the scale of the problem and by recommending strategies that can help consign slavery to the history books.

Series 4 continues with the theme of modern slavery and sees our podcast on the road, capturing the voices, thoughts and ideas of people from around the world who are part of the global coalition to end it.

Although our interviews focus on often complex research, they have been developed with a much wider audience in mind and we ensure they are accessible to anyone with an interest in human rights.

The podcast is produced and edited by former BBC journalist and founder of Research Podcasts, Christine Garrington. Podcast research and promotion is by Krissie Brighty-Glover.

If you would like to get involved with The Rights Track, we have a Facebook Group where you can keep up with the project, suggest ideas for guests and questions you'd like us to ask on your behalf. You can also follow us on Twitter @RightsTrack.

The Rights Track Todd Landman

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The Rights Track podcast gets the hard facts about the human rights challenges facing the world today and aims to get our thinking about human rights on the right track.

The podcast is hosted by Professor Todd Landman, a human rights scholar and champion for the advancement of human rights understanding.

In Series 7 we are looking at human rights in a digital world. We're talking with advocates and academics who are investigating if and how advancing technology is advancing or stifling our human rights. We're delighted to be producing this Series in partnership with and with funding from the University of Nottingham's Data-Driven Discovery Initiative (3DI).

In Series 6 we discuss human rights and COVID19. We are in conversation with leading advocates and scholars as we look to learn if and how human rights are under threat as a result of the pandemic, what this means for specific groups and individuals and what needs to be done to protect, preserve, uphold and advance human rights in this context .

In Series 5, we dig deeper into the relationship between SDG 8.7 and the United Nations’ other Sustainable Development Goals. We ask if developing stronger institutions could lead to slave-free supply chains or if making businesses better is the route to a world free of slavery by 2030. How does achieving these goals together lead to the single aim of a better and more sustainable future for us all?

The Rights Track is supported by the Nuffield Foundation, the Economic and Social Research Council, and the University of Nottingham.

Each episode is an insightful, compelling and rigorous interview with academics engaged in systematic human rights research.

In Series 1, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, Todd interviews leading analysts at the forefront of the latest critical thinking on human rights.

In Series 2, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, The Rights Track turns its attention to human rights advocates and practitioners involved in the struggle for human rights to learn more about their work and the ways in which academic research is helping them.

In Series 3, our podcast joins the fight to end modern day slavery by 2030. In partnership with the University of Nottingham's Right's Lab research project, we talk with researchers who are providing hard evidence about the scale of the problem and by recommending strategies that can help consign slavery to the history books.

Series 4 continues with the theme of modern slavery and sees our podcast on the road, capturing the voices, thoughts and ideas of people from around the world who are part of the global coalition to end it.

Although our interviews focus on often complex research, they have been developed with a much wider audience in mind and we ensure they are accessible to anyone with an interest in human rights.

The podcast is produced and edited by former BBC journalist and founder of Research Podcasts, Christine Garrington. Podcast research and promotion is by Krissie Brighty-Glover.

If you would like to get involved with The Rights Track, we have a Facebook Group where you can keep up with the project, suggest ideas for guests and questions you'd like us to ask on your behalf. You can also follow us on Twitter @RightsTrack.

    Human rights in a digital world: pause for thought

    Human rights in a digital world: pause for thought

    In Episode 9 of Series 7, Todd is joined again by Ben Lucas, Director of 3DI at the University of Nottingham, funders of this series. Together they reflect on some of the key themes and ideas to emerge from Series 7 of The Rights Track about human rights in a digital world.
     
    Transcript
    Todd Landman  0:01  
    Welcome to The Rights Track podcast, which gets the hard facts about the human rights challenges facing us today. In series seven, we've been discussing human rights in a digital world. I'm Todd Landman. And in the last episode of this fantastic series, I'm delighted to be joined for the second time by Ben Lucas, Managing Director of 3DI at the University of Nottingham, a hub for world class data science research and funders for this series of our podcast. Ben helped kick off series seven at the end of last year talking about some of the challenges and opportunities created in a data driven society and the implications for our human rights. Today, he's here to help us reflect on some of the key themes that have emerged from this series. So welcome, Ben, it's great to have you on this final episode of The Rights Track.
    Ben Lucas  0:46  
    Great to be here. Thanks very much.
    Todd Landman  0:48  
    So last night, we were at a launch event for INFINITY, which is an inclusive financial technology hub being launched here at the University of Nottingham, we had a bucolic setting at the Trent bridge, cricket ground, which I say was quite historic. But some of the messages I heard coming out of that event last night, really gave me hope for the promise of digital with respect, particularly to helping people who are currently excluded from financial technologies or finance more generally. And the ever, you know, sort of problem of people getting credit ratings getting access to finance, I wondered if you could just reflect on what was shared last night around the the positive story that could be told around using technology to give people access to hard to find finance?
    Ben Lucas  1:29  
    Yeah, absolutely. So I think the central issue with financial inaccessibility is really the fact that people get trapped in this really bad cycle, and perhaps don't have savings, and then you lean more on credit options, for example. And then you become more and more dependent, if you like on credit options. Equally, there are also folks who are excluded from accessing credit completely or at an affordable rate. In the first instance, which obviously changes very much the quality of life, let's say that they're able to enjoy the things they're able to purchase, and so on. So really, the mission of projects like INFINITY, which is focusing very much on this idea of inclusive financial technology, is trying to boost accessibility to everything from tools that help people save to tools that help people spend to a breaking that some of these negative cycles that cause people to end up in not so great financial situations. And yeah, it's really leveraging and learning from, you know, all the wonderful developments in, you know, things like analytics and new financial services, products, especially those that are app based, that we use in the rest of the financial services world, but applying them for good, basically, so very much consistent with this data for good message that we've been speaking about in this series.
    Todd Landman  2:51  
    Right that's really interesting. So it's a data driven approach to understanding the gaps and inequalities in a modern society that does have the data infrastructure and technological infrastructure to give people access. But really the data driven approach lowers the barriers to entry for those folks. And I was quite struck by that there was a colleague there from Experian, which is a credit rating agency talking about the millions of people who either don't have online bank accounts don't have access to the right kinds of technologies, and don't have the kind of credit rating that gives them acces

    • 25 min
    Eyewitness: using digital technology to prosecute human rights abusers

    Eyewitness: using digital technology to prosecute human rights abusers

    In Episode 8 of Series 7 of The Rights Track, Todd is in conversation with Wendy Betts, Director of eyeWitness, an International Bar Association project launched in 2015 which collects verifiable video of human rights violations for use in investigations and trials. We're asking Wendy how the use of digital technology can help to hold accountable those who commit human rights crimes.
     
    Transcript
    Todd Landman  0:01 
    Welcome to The Rights Track podcast, which gets the hard facts about the human rights challenges facing us today. In series seven, we're discussing human rights in a digital world. I'm Todd Landman, in this episode, I'm delighted to be joined by Wendy Betts. Wendy is director of eyeWitness an International Bar Association project launched in 2015, which collects verifiable video of human rights violations for use in investigations and trials. So today we're asking Wendy, how does the use of digital technology help to hold accountable those who commit human rights crimes? So Wendy, it's absolutely brilliant to have you on this episode of the right track. So welcome.
    Wendy Betts  0:38 
    Thanks, Todd. It's great to be here.
    Todd Landman  0:40 
    You and I met in Bergen in Norway, we were at the Rafto Foundation awards for the Human Rights Data Analysis Group and Human Rights Data Analysis Group have featured in previous episodes on The Rights Track. And I see there is a kind of correlation, if you will, between the work of the Human Rights Data Analysis Group and the work that you do at eyeWitness. It is just that the data you're collecting is really video files and video footage. So tell us a little bit about the work that you're doing with eyeWitness.
    Wendy Betts  1:08 
    Absolutely. So at eyeWitness, we are helping human rights defenders in conflict zones and other places that are experiencing large scale human rights violations, to collect photo and video information in a way that makes it easier to authenticate. So that footage can be used in investigations and trials. So we work with human rights defenders in three ways. First, we're providing a mobile camera app that we designed to help ensure that the footage can be easily authenticated. And then we are helping to securely store that footage and maintain the chain of custody so it can eventually be used in investigations and trials. And third, we work to then take a working copy of that footage that we catalogue and tag to make it easier for investigators to identify footage that's potentially of interest to their investigations and incorporate that into those processes.
    Todd Landman  2:01 
    Well, that's a great summary of the work that you do. I recall when I was a student at Georgetown University, I worked in the Lauinger Library. And my job was to produce photographs in the pre-digital age. So this was processing rolls of film in the old cans used to kind of shake them with the chemicals and then use an enlarger and make photographs. And that was fine for special collections and photographing books. But one day, a Jesuit priest came into the library and handed me a roll of film and said I need 10 copies of each of these pictures. And they were actually photographs from the crime scene where Jesuit priests had been murdered in El Salvador. And I'm curious that when we enlarge those pictures and submitted them back to the authorities that requested them, is that kind of evidence still considered verifiable evidence? And what is it that the digital elements all of this adds to the veracity and the verifiability of evidence collected on human rights crimes?
    Wendy Betts  2:58 
    There's a long history of photo and video being used as evidence, that photo and video in its hard copy form would need to be verified to go to court. So generally speaking, the court would want to speak with the photographer, or in the absence of photographer, somebody that could help explain that that footage is indeed an accurate portrayal of that location at

    • 29 min
    Democracy assaulted: are we our own worst enemy?

    Democracy assaulted: are we our own worst enemy?

    In Episode 7 of Series 7 of The Rights Track, Todd is joined by Tom Nichols, Professor Emeritus of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College and Contributing Writer at The Atlantic. Tom specialises in international security affairs including U.S. - Russia relations, nuclear strategy, and NATO issues. His recent book – Our Own Worst Enemy: The Assault from within on Modern Democracy is an account of the spread of illiberal and anti-democratic sentiment throughout our culture. 
    Transcript
    Todd Landman  00:00
    Welcome to The Rights Track podcast, which gets the hard facts about the human rights challenges facing us today. In series seven, we're discussing human rights in a digital world. I'm Todd Landman, in this episode, I'm delighted to be joined by Tom Nichols. Tom is Professor Emeritus of National Security Affairs at the US Naval War College and contributing writer at The Atlantic. He specialises in international security affairs, including US Russia relations, nuclear strategy, and NATO issues. He recently authored a book - Our Own Worst Enemy; The Assault From Within on Modern Democracy. It's an engaging account of the spread of illiberal and anti-democratic sentiment throughout our culture. So today, we're asking him who's responsible for this, and what we should  do about it. So Tom, it's fantastic to have you on this episode of The Rights Track. So welcome.
    Tom Nichols  00:51
    Thank you. Thanks for having me.
    Todd Landman  00:53
    So I have a rather unusual question to enter into this conversation with you and it involves Indian food, because in your book, you talk about the idea that you're not a big fan of Indian food. But tell me a little bit of the story. What happened when you just expressed this view that you know what, I don't like Indian food?
    Tom Nichols  01:10
    Well, I didn't just express that I didn't like Indian food, I added this kind of snarky comment, because it was on Twitter, of course, and someone had said, post your worst food takes here. And of course, people said things like, well, I hate mayonnaise, and doughnuts are bad, and so on. But I said, Indian food is terrible, and we pretend that it isn't. And, of course, I meant my colleagues who would always drag me to Indian restaurants, and then spend the afternoon sweating and gulping water and you know, sweat running in their eyes. And I would always turn to them and say, so you can't possibly be enjoying this. Because I don't happen to like very spicy food. And this Firestorm broke out. I mean, within two days, you know, I was this, you know, genocidal racist maniac. You know, I was in all the Indian papers. I was in The Washington Post -  Russian television mentioned me. I mean, it was insane. All because I'm a middle aged New Englander, who just doesn't happen to like Indian food and is very snarky about it. The coda to this whole story is that finally the former US attorney in New York, Preet Bharara, when the pandemic finally lifted, he took me out and said I challenge you to come to dinner with me. And he took me to an Indian restaurant. And I said, I would sit there and I would just eat Indian food, while people were making donations that we're gonna be used for a COVID ward in India. And this challenge ended up raising about $135,000 for COVID relief in India.
    Todd Landman  02:42
    That is fantastic. Now, I'm going to pick this apart a little bit, because what's interesting is what looked like an incidental and as you admit a bit of a snarky comment about your food preferences, what you really communicated there is the rapidity and the spread of information, geographically, how it gets picked up, it's a bit unusual how one tweet can be picked up and really run and other tweets just sort of die on the vine, as it were. So this captures this idea that you have in the book around the viral nature of information, regardless of its veracity, how it can spread around the world, and how the originator of that informat

    • 28 min
    Liberating our minds in a digital world: how do we do it?

    Liberating our minds in a digital world: how do we do it?

    In Episode 6 of Series 7 of The Rights Track, we're joined by Susie Alegre, an international human rights lawyer and associate at Doughty Street Chambers specialising in digital rights. Susie's work focuses in particular on the impact of technology and AI on the rights to freedom of thought and opinion. Her recently published book - Freedom to Think: The Long Struggle to Liberate Our Minds – explores how the powerful have always sought to influence how we think and what we buy. And today we are asking her how do we liberate our minds in a modern digital world? 
     
    Transcript
    Todd Landman  0:01 
    Welcome to the Rights Track podcast which gets the hard facts about the human rights challenges facing us today. In series seven, we're discussing human rights in a digital world. I'm Todd Landman, in the sixth episode of the series, I'm delighted to be joined by Susie Alegre. Susie is the international human rights lawyer and associate the Doughty Street Chambers specialising in digital rights, in particular the impact of technology and artificial intelligence on the rights to freedom of thought and opinion. Her recently published book - Freedom to Think; The Long Struggle to Liberate our Minds - explores how the powerful have always sought to influence how we think and what we buy. And today we're asking her, how do we liberate our minds in a modern digital world? So Susie it's great to have you on this episode of the Rights Track. Welcome.
    Susie Alegre  0:47 
    Thank you so much for having me. I'm very excited to be here.
    Todd Landman  0:49 
    So I love the book - Freedom to Think - I've read it cover to cover. In fact, I read it probably in two days, because it's such a compelling read. And I guess my first question for you is, why is the freedom to think broadly understood belief, expression, speech, religion, thought, why is all of that so critical to us as human beings?
    Susie Alegre  1:10 
    I think the way that I've looked at it in the book is really dividing those elements up a little bit. So what I focused on in the book is freedom of thought and opinion and what goes on inside our heads, as opposed to the more traditional discussions that we have around freedom of speech. And one of the reasons for that is that while freedom of speech has consequences and responsibilities, and freedom of speech can be limited, that freedom in our inner worlds to think whatever we like to practice our thoughts and opinions and decide whether or not there's something we should share, is what allows us to really develop and be human. And the right to freedom of thought and opinion, along with belief and conscience, insofar as we practice that inside our heads is something that's protected absolutely in international human rights law, which I think reflects its importance. And when you consider other absolute rights and human rights law, like the prohibition on torture, or the prohibition on slavery, the right to freedom of thought inside your head alongside those other rights, really gets to the heart of human dignity, and what it means for us to be humans.
    Todd Landman  2:24 
    Yes and so in protecting those rights, we are giving people agency because I was caught really captured by one thing you just said there about, we choose what we want to share. So a lot of us can have a million thoughts a second, but we don't share all of them. Although in the current era, it seems that people are sharing pretty much everything that they're thinking. But we'll get to that in a minute. I'm just curious about this idea of agency that, you know, you choose what to share, you also choose what not to share. And that element of choice is fundamental to being human.
    Susie Alegre  2:53 
    Absolutely. And what the right to freedom of thought, well certainly a key element is right to freedom of thought and freedom of opinion, is what's called freedom in the forum internal that's inside, you know, in our inner lives, it's not what we then choo

    • 31 min
    Using prison data to reduce incarceration

    Using prison data to reduce incarceration

    In Episode 5 of Series 7 of The Rights Track, Todd is in conversation with Amrit Dhir, Director of Partnerships at Recidiviz – a team of technologists committed to getting decision makers the data they need to drive better criminal justice outcomes. 
    Transcript
    Todd Landman  0:00 
    Welcome to the Rights Track podcast, which gets the hard facts about the human rights challenges facing us today. In series seven, we're discussing human rights in a digital world. I'm Todd Landman, in this episode, I'm delighted to be joined by Amrit Dhir. Amrit is the Director of Partnerships at Recidiviz, a team of technologists committed to getting decision makers the data they need to drive better criminal justice outcomes. He has previously spent over a decade at the intersection of technology and new business development, working, for example at Sidewalk Labs, Google for Startups and Verily. Today, we'll be exploring the practical uses of technology and data in the criminal justice system. So Amrit, it's great to have you on this episode of the Rights Track. Welcome from California.
    Amrit Dhir  0:44 
    Thank you so much, I'm really glad to be here.
    Todd Landman  0:46 
    It's great for you to join us. And I want to start with a simple question. We had a guest - Sam Gilbert - on our last episode, we made this distinction between the sort of data for good and data for bad and there's a very large sort of argument out there about surveillance capitalism, the misuses of data, you know, behavioural microtargeting and all these sorts of issues. And yet I see that where you're working at Recidiviz there's a kind of data for good argument here around using technology and data to help criminal justice systems and the healthcare sector. So just briefly, could you tell us about this data for good and data for bad distinction?
    Amrit Dhir  1:19 
    Yeah, well, as with most things, I think it's difficult to pigeonhole anything into one of those camps, everything it seems, can be used for good or bad. And so data itself is not one or the other. I think it's about the use, I think that's what Sam was getting at with you as well. With Recidiviz, you know, what we've understood is that data that's been collected over a long period of time, especially in the context of the United States, and our unfortunate kind of race to mass incarceration, from basically the 1970s until about mid-2010s. We've collected a lot of data along the way, and we're not actually using or understanding that data. And so what we do at Recidiviz is we bring that data together, so make it something that can be better understood and better utilised, to help reduce prison populations to help drive better outcomes. So we're focused on taking data that's been, again, collected over quite a long period of time and consistently collected, but also making it better understandable.
    Todd Landman  2:17 
    So this sounds like big, messy, disparate, fragmented data, is that correct?
    Amrit Dhir  2:22 
    Most of those things, most of the time. It's definitely fragmented most of the time, it's not always necessarily what we'd call big. Because, you know, coming from Google, I think of big in the terms of, you know, search query type volume. So in corrections, it's not necessarily that big, but it is certainly messy, and it is certainly fragmented.
    Todd Landman  2:42 
    You know we had a guest on Rights Track, some while back, David Fathi from the American Civil Liberties Union, he explained to us the structure of the American sort of prison system, not justice in itself, but prison system with, you know, 50 state prison systems, plus a federal prison system and a mix of public and private prisons. So it's a mixed picture in terms of jurisdiction, the use of incarceration and of course, the conditions of incarceration. So what's the sort of data that's being collected that you find useful at Recidiviz?
    Amrit Dhir  3:13 
    Yeah, I'll actually add a piece of that as well, you're

    • 22 min
    An optimist's view: What makes data good?

    An optimist's view: What makes data good?

    In Episode 4 of Series 7 of The Rights Track, Todd is in conversation with Sam Gilbert, an entrepreneur and affiliated researcher at the Bennett Institute for Public Policy at the University of Cambridge. Sam works on the intersection of politics and technology. His recent book – Good Data: An Optimist’s Guide to Our Future – explores the different ways data helps us, suggesting that “the data revolution could be the best thing that ever happened to us”. 
    Transcript
    Todd Landman  0:01 
    Welcome to The Rights Track podcast which gets the hard facts about the human rights challenges facing us today. In Series 7, we're discussing human rights in a digital world. I'm Todd Landman, in the fourth episode of this series, I'm delighted to be joined by Sam Gilbert. Sam is an entrepreneur and affiliated researcher at the Bennett Institute for Public Policy at the University of Cambridge, working on the intersection of politics and technology. His recent book, Good Data: An Optimist's Guide to Our Future explores the different ways data helps us suggesting the data revolution could be the best thing that ever happened to us. And today, we're asking him, what makes data good? So Sam, welcome to this episode of The Rights Track.
    Sam Gilbert  0:41 
    Todd thanks so much for having me on. 
    Todd Landman  0:44 
    So I want to start really with the book around Good Data. And I'm going to start I suppose, with the negative perception first, and then you can make the argument for a more optimistic assessment. And this is this opening set of passages you have in the book around surveillance capitalism. Could you explain to us what surveillance capitalism is and what it means? 
    Sam Gilbert  1:01 
    Sure. So surveillance capitalism is a concept that's been popularised by the Harvard Business School Professor, Shoshana Zuboff. And essentially, it's a critique of the power that big tech companies like Google and Facebook have. And what it says is that, that power is based on data about us that they accumulate, as we live our lives online. And by doing that produce data, which they collect, and analyse, and then sell to advertisers. And for proponents of surveillance capitalism theory, there's something sort of fundamentally illegitimate about that. In terms of the way that it, as they would see it, appropriates data from individuals for private gain on the path of tech companies. I think they would also say that it infringes individual's rights in a more fundamental way by subjecting them to surveillance. So that I would say is surveillance capitalism in a nutshell. 
    Todd Landman  2:07 
    Okay. So to give you a concrete example, if I'm searching for a flannel shirt from Cotton Trader, on Google, the next day, I open up my Facebook and I start to see ads for Cotton Trader, on my Facebook feed, or if I go on to CNN, suddenly I see an ad for another product that I might have been searching for on Google. Is that the sort of thing that he's talking about in this concept?
    Sam Gilbert  2:29 
    Yes, that's certainly one dimension to it. So that example that you just gave is an example of something that's called behaviour or retargeting. So this is when data about things you've searched for, or places you've visited on the internet, are used to remind you about products or services that you've browsed. So I guess this is probably the most straightforward type of what surveillance capitalists would call surveillance advertising. 
    Todd Landman  2:57 
    Yeah, I understand that, Sam, but you know when I'm internally in Amazon searching for things. And they say you bought this other people who bought this might like this, have you thought about, you know, getting this as well. But this is actually between platforms. This is, you know, might do a Google search one day. And then on Facebook or another platform, I see that same product being suggested to me. So how did, how did the data cross platforms? Are they selling data

    • 30 min

Customer Reviews

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7 Ratings

7 Ratings

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Brilliant and cutting-edge

Superb and eye-opening. The only podcast of its kind. The host is excellent and there is a breathtaking variety of fascinating guests and topics.

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Ms

Fantastic coverage of cutting-edge research in human rights. Professor Todd Landman’s interviews have helped me to develop my understanding of complex human rights research further - that is engaging and easy to digest. These podcasts are a great way to discover groundbreaking approaches to analysing human rights from across the world - on the go.

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