Saturday, November 07, 2009

“Ignorance is the only excuse we've got!” and they are teaching the next generation... Sad.

Chaminade posted Social Security numbers of thousands of students online

November 7, 2009 by admin Filed under Breach Incidents, Education Sector, Exposure, U.S.

Chaminade University inadvertently posted confidential information, including Social Security numbers, of thousands of students, on its Web site for months, school officials said today.

The posting of a report with the information was discovered Wednesday [“No one, least of all management, knows what's on our website.” Bob] and the report was taken off the Web site and links disabled.

An investigation determined the report was placed on obscure — though publicly accessible — Web pages because of human error, according to a university news release. The information was accessible for about eight months, although there is no evidence of its use, [“We don't log activity.” Bob] officials said. The university estimates that personally identifiable data for 4,500 students were in the report. Those affected include undergraduate students who attended the university from 1997 to 2006.

Read more in the Star Bulletin.

[From the article:

Chaminade officials are putting in place procedures [“Yes, we should have done this years ago, but we were ignorant.” Bob]designed to prevent a recurrence and will provide additional training to staff regarding the protection of personal information, the university said.

The university is contacting the people whose information was put online. Those affected are being asked to monitor and review their credit report. [“No, we will not do what everyone else does.” Bob]

It would seem that the ability to surveil is addictive and causes otherwise rational(?) people to exceed all reasonable limits – or not consider them in the first place.

UK: CCTV of PE kids seized

November 7, 2009 by Dissent Filed under Non-U.S., Surveillance, Youth

Video footage of primary pupils changing for PE [physical education] lessons has been seized by police after a protest by furious parents. Police were called to diffuse the row at the gates after mums and dads found pupils were filmed round the clock.

There was no suggestion it was used inappropriately [suggesting that it is okay to video as long as your motives are pure? Bob] but police seized the footage after talks at Charlestown primary.

Salford council is reviewing use in its 82 schools. A parent said: “It is a breach of privacy.”

Source: The Mirror.

(Related) “Why would anyone find this objectionable?”

UK: Only a ‘minimal’ invasion of privacy: Snooping council spied on family 21 times in 3 weeks

November 7, 2009 by Dissent Filed under Govt, Non-U.S., Surveillance

A council which used controversial laws to spy on a mother and her family 21 times in three weeks insisted today that its actions only ‘minimally’ invaded their privacy.

Poole Borough Council had also used Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) legislation on two other occasions to determine whether families were living in the right school catchment areas, a landmark hearing was told.

Mother-of-three Jenny Paton had applied for a school in Poole which was ‘educational gold dust’, Ben Hooper, counsel for the district’s borough council, said.

Read more in the Daily Mail.

(Related) This will allow us to monitor children in wholesale lots! It will be ever so much more efficient.

ContactPoint database of 11 million children’s details to go ahead despite security fears

November 7, 2009 by Dissent Filed under Featured Headlines, Non-U.S., Youth

Martin Beckford and Graeme Paton report:

Ministers are pressing ahead with the introduction of ContactPoint to every local authority in the country after claiming that a pilot project has proved a success.

They say the long-delayed £224 project will make England’s 11million young people safer by providing a single register that can be used by all child protection professionals.

But there are concerns that the sensitive data could fall into the wrong hands, after an official review concluded that it could never be completely secure. [“A minor concern.” Bob]

It is also feared that police or council workers will use it to search for evidence of crime or pry into family arrangements, rather than safeguarding children.

The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are both committed to scrapping ContactPoint, should they win the general election.

Read more in the Telegraph.

[From the article:

"Every IT system the Government touches turns into a disaster – we cannot afford to let them mismanage the personal details of 11 million children. [Don't you love the calm, comradely discussions of UK politicians? Bob]

Is this “good government” as opposed to the “bad government” above?

GovHack: govt data + hackers + caffeine == good times

2009 November 5 by John Allsopp

… In all there were around 20 projects presented at the end of the 24 hours, almost all of which were conceived and built at the event itself. Many were geo/mapping focussed, but others focussed on data visualisation and exploration, the next wave of web applications in many people’s opinion.

… Projects that you can actually use right now included (keep in mind their alpha state)

  • The overall winners LobbyClue, by a team comprising members many of whom had never met before the event. LobbyClue is an in-depth visualisation of lobbying groups’ relations to government agencies, including tenders awarded, links between the various agencies, and physical office locations

  • Know where you live, a stylish presentation of ABS data (along with Flickr Geocoded photos), pulling in relevant information for a particular postcode: rental rates, average income, crime rates, and more. Built by a team of developers who work at News Digital Media.

  • What the Federal Government Does, an enormous tag cloud of the different functions of government, combined with visualisations of government functions shared between departments.

  • Rate A Loo demonstrates a community engagement idea, seeded with government provided data. Allows users to locate and then rate the condition of public toilets.

  • It’s buggered, mate, In true Australian style, allows you to report buggered toilets, roads, etc, with an easy-to-use graphical interface overlayed on a map. Their idea was to combine this with local government services to fix issues in the community. Built by a team of developers from Lonely Planet.

  • Many more fantastic projects can be found at the GovHack site.

Blog free or die!

NH Supreme Court Hears Case On Protections For Anonymous Sources Online

Posted by Soulskill on Saturday November 07, @09:16AM from the in-a-statement-provided-by-xsephirothx dept.

fulldecent writes

"The New Hampshire Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday in a lawsuit that calls into question the legal protections available to independent Web sites that cover news. The case involves mortgage lender Implode-Explode, a Las Vegas-based site launched in 2007 that publishes stories about the meltdown of the mortgage industry. Associate Justice Carol Ann Conboy pressed the point with [defense lawyer Jeremy Eggleton], questioning, 'Can anyone who posts a blog be considered a reporter,' for the purposes of claiming protection of anonymous sources? Eggleton answered yes, within limits: 'The test is whether the person has an intention to gather, analyze and disseminate.'"

For my website students - Effective Video Transformations

When it comes to transforming images and videos into GIFs this is a totally uncomplicated way to do it, with the right seasoning of additional features. will help you to capture videos in order to convert them into animated GIFs straightforwardly enough. In essence, this is a free web-based tool you can use simply by pasting the YouTube URL of the video you want to transform into a GIF file and then setting the time you want it to start and end. After that, you just need to hit the “publish” button and that will be it.

The system is then going to capture the corresponding frames and make the necessary changes to convert it into a single animated GIF. One of the best things about this system is the fact that you are not required to be skilled in editing at all.

This will be a good way to save time and energy by letting the system do all the hard work for you.

...and they make great targets for my hacking students.

New ’smart’ electrical meters raise fresh privacy issues for consumers

November 7, 2009 by Dissent Filed under Other, Surveillance

Daniel Silva reports:

The new “smart meters” utilities are installing in homes around the world to reduce energy use raise fresh privacy issues because of the wealth of information about consumer habits they reveal, experts said Friday.

The devices send data on household energy consumption directly to utilities on a regular basis, allowing the firms to manage demand more efficiently and advise households when it is cheaper to turn on appliances.

But privacy experts gathered in Madrid for a three-day conference which wraps up Friday warned that the meters can also reveal intimate details about customers’ habits such as when they eat, what time they go to sleep or how much television they watch.


Talking about Privacy...

ACS Panel: Living Online – Privacy and Security Issues in a Digital Age

November 7, 2009 by Dissent Filed under Other

The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy (ACS) hosted an event exploring challenges to privacy in a growing digital age. The event featured a keynote address by Christopher N. Olsen, the Assistant Director in the Division of Privacy and Identity Protection at the Federal Trade Commission, which was followed by a diverse panel of experts who discussed the myriad issues surrounding the availability of information in cyberspace, including privacy concerns such as potential government dissemination of financial and health

You can view the 2-hour presentation and discussion on their site.

Implications beyond GPS. What does this say about the “black boxes” everyone wants to install in our cars? Will they provide data with multiple “interpretations” and if so, who gets to do the interpreting? Lots of entertaining comments, but they argue without the facts. I can't find this in online court records, traffic court must not be available.

Radar Beats GPS In Court — Or Does It?

Posted by Soulskill on Saturday November 07, @05:14AM from the technology-deathmatch dept.

TechnologyResource writes

"More than two years ago in California, a police officer wrote Shaun Malone a ticket for going 62mph in a 45-mph zone. Malone was ordered to pay a $190 fine, but his parents appealed the decision, saying data from a GPS tracking system they installed in his car to monitor his driving proved he was not speeding. What ensued was the longest court battle over a speeding ticket in Sonoma county history. The case also represented the first time anyone locally had tried to beat a ticket using GPS. The teen's GPS pegged the car at 45 mph in virtually the same location. At issue was the distance from the stoplight — site of the first GPS 'ping' that showed Malone stopped — to the second ping 30 seconds later, [Between these pings, the car reached Light Speed and decelerated again. Bob] when he was going 45 mph. Last week, Commissioner Carla Bonilla ruled the GPS data confirmed the prosecution's contention that Malone had to have exceeded the speed limit and would have to pay the $190 fine. 'This case ensures that other law enforcement agencies throughout the state aren't going to have to fight a case like this [Care to wager? Bob] where GPS is used to cast doubt on radar,' said Sgt. Ken Savano, who oversees the traffic division. However, Commissioner Bonilla noted the accuracy of the GPS system was not challenged by either side in the dispute, but rather they had different interpretations of the data. Bonilla ruled the GPS data confirmed the prosecution's contention that Malone had to have exceeded the speed limit."

“I'm right, the rest of the world is wrong,” used to get you a padded room. Now it gets you an MBA?

Cable Exec Suggests Changing Consumer Behavior, Not Business Model

Posted by ScuttleMonkey on Friday November 06, @01:58PM from the customers-should-like-what-we-want-them-to-like dept.

Techdirt has pointed out yet another cable exec that just doesn't quite get it. Comcast's COO, Steve Burke, recently urged the TV industry to find ways to "get consumers to change" rather than figure out better methods to cater to demand.

"'An entire generation is growing up, if we don't figure out how to change that behavior so it respects copyright and subscription revenue on the part of distributors, we're going to wake up and see cord cutting.' How many consumers, in any market, are focused on 'respecting' vendors' revenue streams? How, exactly, does he propose to effect this sea change? And why not just develop products that consumers will willingly pay for, rather than trying to change consumer behavior in such a fundamental way?"

(Related) It's not the world you grew up in, and it's changing as you measure it.

AT&T's City-By-City Plan To Up Wireless Coverage

Posted by kdawson on Friday November 06, @12:23PM from the hockey-stick-gone-vertical dept.

alphadogg writes

"AT&T has created different mobile calling models for every major city in America as it tries to improve a network that has come under fire for poor performance as the data-friendly iPhone has proliferated, an executive said Thursday. Other carriers just use one nationwide calling model to plan for all cities, claimed CTO John Donovan, speaking at the Open Mobile Summit conference in San Francisco. The nation's second-largest mobile operator has had a hard time planning for bandwidth needs in the rapidly changing mobile world, Donovan said. AT&T has seen rapidly growing mobile data usage — and much criticism over its 3G coverage — as the exclusive iPhone carrier in the US. 'If a network is not fully loaded, it's hard to know exactly how much demand is out there,' Donovan said. 'You put all you can in the ground, and they eat it all up, and then you put more in there, and they eat it all up.'"

The story notes that mobile data at AT&T has grown 4,932% over the last 3 years.

(Related) Giving customers what they ask for... Pay attention to this one. Youtube (Google) might want to buy it, academics might want to emulate it. Imagine having students research and perform a bunch of short videos telling their peers how to solve linear equations or create a web page or research a legal issue. They get an “A,” professors get a pay raise!

The Answer Factory: Demand Media and the Fast, Disposable, and Profitable as Hell Media Model

By Daniel Roth October 19, 2009 3:00 pm Wired Nov 2009

… Plenty of other companies —, Mahalo, — have tried to corner the market in arcane online advice. But none has gone about it as aggressively, scientifically, and single-mindedly as Demand. Pieces are not dreamed up by trained editors nor commissioned based on submitted questions. Instead they are assigned by an algorithm, which mines nearly a terabyte of search data, Internet traffic patterns, and keyword rates to determine what users want to know and how much advertisers will pay to appear next to the answers.

… By next summer, according to founder and CEO Richard Rosenblatt, Demand will be publishing 1 million items a month, the equivalent of four English-language Wikipedias a year. Demand is already one of the largest suppliers of content to YouTube, where its 170,000 videos make up more than twice the content of CBS, the Associated Press, Al Jazeera English, Universal Music Group, CollegeHumor, and Soulja Boy combined. Demand also posts its material to its network of 45 B-list sites — ranging from eHow and to the little-known doggy-photo site — that manage to pull in more traffic than ESPN, NBC Universal, and Time Warner’s online properties (excluding AOL) put together.

… The result is a factory stamping out moneymaking content. […] This year, the privately held Demand is expected to bring in about $200 million in revenue; its most recent round of financing by blue-chip investors valued the company at $1 billion.

… because pay for individual stories is so lousy, only a high-speed, high-volume approach will work. The average writer earns $15 per article for pieces that top out at a few hundred words, and the average filmmaker about $20 per clip, paid weekly via PayPal. Demand also offers revenue sharing on some articles, though it can take months to reach even $15 in such payments. Other freelancers sign up for the chance to copyedit ($2.50 an article), fact-check ($1 an article), approve the quality of a film (25 to 50 cents a video), transcribe ($1 to $2 per video), or offer up their expertise to be quoted or filmed (free). Title proofers get 8 cents a headline. Coming soon: photographers and photo editors. So far, the company has paid out more than $17 million to Demand Studios workers; if the enterprise reaches Rosenblatt’s goal of producing 1 million pieces of content a month, the payouts could easily hit $200 million a year, less than a third of what The New York Times shells out in wages and benefits to produce its roughly 5,000 articles a month.

Here’s That Leaked Copyright Treaty Document

By David Kravets November 6, 2009 4:11 pm

The secret Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement document we wrote about on Wednesday appeared on Wikileaks today, and our source has cleared us to publish it here as well.

We wrote that the document, (.pdf) if true, amounted to policy laundering at its finest -– that the United States was pushing the world to require ISPs to adopt “graduated response” policies that amounted to terminating internet service of repeat, copyright offenders.

Maybe the Pirates were right?

Norwegian Court Rules ISP Doesn't Have To Block The Pirate Bay

Posted by Soulskill on Saturday November 07, @12:09AM from the arrr-me-hearties dept.

C4st13v4n14 writes

"In a sudden outbreak of uncommon sense yesterday, a Norwegian District Court handed down the decision that Telenor, Norway's largest ISP, will not have to block access to The Pirate Bay. Telenor was sued earlier this year by the IFPI after being threatened and not backing down. 'The court ruled that Telenor is not contributing to any infringements of copyright law when its subscribers use The Pirate Bay, and therefore there is no legal basis for forcing the ISP to block access to the site. ... In making its decision, the court also had to examine the repercussions if it ruled that Telenor and other ISPs had to block access to certain websites.'"

[From the article:

“This would be the same as demanding that the postal service should open all letters, and decide which ones should be delivered,” said Telenor boss Ragnar Kårhus.

… “At the same time it is important for us to emphasize that this case is not about being in favor of or opposed to copyright, but about whether or not it is reasonable to saddle Internet service providers with a censorship role in respect of content on the Internet,” he added.

Kårhus went on to say that the most important way for IFPI and other rights holders to maintain healthy revenue streams, is to develop business models and services that render the use of sites like The Pirate Bay less attractive to Internet users. [A recurrent theme... Bob]

I remember magazines! Great articles about what happened last month. Now I read about what's happening today (this minute)

Read 650 Magazines Online for Free With Maggwire

Nov. 6th, 2009 By Saikat Basu

Maggwire (beta) is an online destination for those who are interested in free online magazines.

Free is good

CAINE 1.0: Forensic Distribution from Italy

Nov 03, 2009

CAINE, an Ubuntu live CD with forensic tools, is now available in version 1.0.

… CD and USB images for CAINE 1.0 are available for download on the project webpage.

Forward this to your Mac buddies

MacHeist offers nanoBundle worth $154, for free!

The biggest Mac software bundle makers are offering a what appears to be prelude to their christmas bundle, for free. The list includes:

* Shovebox * Twitterrific * Writeroom * TinyGrab * Hordes of Orcs * MarinerWrite

… It’ll be gone in 6 days.

All those Science Fiction writers were right?

Antimatter In Lightning

Posted by Soulskill on Saturday November 07, @08:15AM from the doc-brown-can-now-power-his-warp-drive dept.

AMESN writes

"The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, launched last year, detects gamma rays from light years away, but recently it detected gamma rays from lightning on Earth. And the energy of the gamma rays is specific to the decay of positrons, which are the antimatter flavor of electrons. Finding antimatter in lightning surprised researchers and suggests the electric field of the lightning somehow got reversed."

Friday, November 06, 2009

Thank God congress is finally asking questions. In just a few days, we can look forward to detailed non-answers to inane questions! What a country!

Archives officials grilled on the Hill over missing data drives

November 6, 2009 by admin Filed under Commentaries and Analyses, Government Sector

Max Cacas reports:

So, why can’t the National Archives hang on to its computer hard drives?

That’s the question that the House Information Policy, Census and National Archives wants answered.

Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-Missouri), is chairman of the panel, a part of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

The theft or loss of the Clinton hard drive was very disturbing, and we look forward to hearing a status report on the agency’s efforts to notify and identify individuals whose personal information may have been compromised.

It is more troubling, however, to hear of new instances of data breaches or losses.

The circumstances, and the agency’s handling of them cast doubt on the National Archives ability to understand existing and emerging risk in order to properly safeguard the nation’s electronic record.

Previous coverage here and here.

Read more on Federal News Radio.

More government breaches?

Government accused of ‘cover up’ over lost farmer tapes

November 6, 2009 by admin Filed under Government Sector, Lost or Missing, Non-U.S., Of Note, Subcontractor

The Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has been accused of a “cover up” after two back-up tapes went missing containing the banking details of around 100,000 farmers.

The tapes are said to have gone missing this spring, with Defra officials having been informed in July. The tapes were lost by contractor IBM, after sending them from a site in Reading to Newcastle. The information on the missing tapes related to cash top-up payments to farmers through the Rural Payments Agency (RPA), a Defra body.

The RPA itself was only informed about the loss in September. It is reported a meeting between Defra officials in early October concluded there was “little risk” to farmers as a result of the tapes going missing. It was therefore decided not to report the matter publicly.

Read more on Document Management News.

I thought this was sure to stimulate discussion, and here it is.

Podcast: The Fourth Amendment and Email

November 6, 2009 by Dissent Filed under Court, Featured Headlines, Internet, Other

From LegalTalkNetwork:

The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution gives us protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. But what about a search of your email – is it afforded the same protection? Co-hosts and attorneys J. Craig Williams and Bob Ambrogi welcome Orin S. Kerr , Professor of Law at the George Washington University Law School and Jason Paroff Esq. , Director of Computer Forensics Operations with the ESI Consulting practice at Kroll Ontrack to look at the recent opinion handed down by U.S. District Judge Mosman with respect to the Fourth Amendment and email along with our experts’ look at what can be retrieved and used in court when it comes to email.

You can listen to the 34-minute podcast on their site or download it for later listening.

An interesting vision of the future? This suggests much larger networks of health records than I recall being discussed at the Privacy Foundation's recent seminar.

CDC Adopts Near Real-Time Flu Tracking System

Posted by kdawson on Friday November 06, @09:03AM from the you've-got-the-flu-swine dept.

CWmike writes

"The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched an effort this week to better and more easily track for H1N1 and other seasonal influenza activity throughout the US. The CDC said it is now tracking data on 14 million patients from physician practices and hospitals stored on a database hosted by GE Healthcare. The data is submitted daily from physician's offices and hospitals that use GE's electronic medical record system. The data is then uploaded to GE Healthcare's Medical Quality Improvement Consortium , a database repository designed with HIPAA-compliance parameters of patient anonymity and best practices, where it can be the subject of medical data queries. The CDC can perform queries to look for flu-like symptoms being reported by physicians, and then disseminate the data for health care providers and local government officials throughout the country, who can alert businesses and others about flu outbreak hot spots. The CDC also hopes its analysis of the data helps it better understand the characteristics of H1N1 outbreaks and to determine who is most at risk for developing complications from the virus. Prior to implementing the new system, the CDC relied heavily on tracking insurance claims data, which could take days or weeks to make its way to the agency's medical staff for analysis. The medical data is normalized so that fir example reports of hypertension, HTN, and high blood pressure all mean the same thing when a researcher enters a query against the data."

Possibly useful summary.

Microsoft Expresses Cloud Privacy Commitment, Concerns

November 6, 2009 by Dissent Filed under Internet

Thomas Claburn reports:

Cloud computing continues evoke privacy concerns, so Microsoft has published a position paper that attempts to address the questions it’s been hearing.

The paper’s publication coincides with the 31st International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners, which is taking place this week in Madrid, Spain.

“We know that cloud computing is getting a lot of attention these days and we’ve heard from customers and external stakeholders that they’d like to hear what we’re thinking about it,” said Brendon Lynch, senior director of privacy strategy for Microsoft’s trustworthy computing group. “Privacy and security are the number one concern of organizations that are thinking about going into the cloud space.”

Read more on InformationWeek.

[Direct link to the paper: Privacy in the Cloud Computing Era: A Microsoft Perspective.

You don't need hackers when you can shoot yourself in the foot. NOTE: A 1970s era computer would not be a microcomputer. It probably cost more to maintain it each year than replacing it with several (redundant backup) PCs would have cost.

Computer Failure Causes Gridlock In MD County

Posted by Soulskill on Thursday November 05, @12:49PM from the single-point-of-roadrage dept.

Uncle Rummy writes

"A central traffic control computer in Montgomery County, Maryland failed early Wednesday morning, leading to widespread gridlock across the entire county. The computer, which dates to the 1970s, is the single point of unified control for all traffic signals in the county, which comprises a number of major Washington DC-area suburban communities. When the system failed, it caused all signals to default to stand-alone operation, rather than the highly-tuned synchronization that usually serves to facilitate traffic flow during rush hours. The resulting chaos is a yet another stark reminder of how much modern civilization relies on behind-the-scenes automation to deliver and control basic services and infrastructure. The system remains down Thursday, with no ETA in sight."

(Related) Some more details..

Near-normal commute expected in Montgomery Co.

November 6, 2009 - 5:25am

… In a statement released Thursday evening, Leggett said engineers re-established a connection between the county's 800 traffic lights and the computer that controls them, so lights are now responding to commands from the computer.

… "This is a rather old computer. It's probably 25 to 30 years old," says Emil Wolanin, chief traffic engineer for Montgomery County. "It's a 1980s-vintage Data General main frame computer. Parts are not really available."

(Related) At what point does a software vendor become liable for damages? We better figure this out, since the alternative is, “everyone gets a free shot at hacking your computer.” The scale makes me think Al Gore could “Invent” yet another global crisis. (There's a Nobel for that!)

Shockwave Vulnerabilities Affect More Than 450 Million Systems

Posted by timothy on Thursday November 05, @02:14PM from the drug-resistant-infections dept.

Trinity writes

"Researchers from VUPEN have discovered critical vulnerabilities in Adobe Shockwave, a technology installed on over 450 million Internet-enabled desktops. The vulnerabilities could allow remote code execution by tricking a user into visiting a web page [Human error? Let's eliminate the humans! HAL (I mean, Bob)] using Internet Explorer or even Mozilla Firefox. Version as well as earlier ones are affected. The vendor recommends upgrading to version"

Especially sobering when you consider Adobe's current push to be essentially required as an intermediary player for anyone who wants to see certain government data.

I can't help laughing at his one. But I like the concept of using lawyers as facilitators. Q: “How do I get past this silly law?” A: “Create a new work.”

Beatles copyright case down a legal rabbit hole

by Matt Rosoff November 5, 2009 2:07 PM PST

Last week, a music site called BlueBeat made headlines by offering Beatles songs as free streams and 25 cent downloads. The Beatles are known for not making their songs legally available on iTunes or any other online forum, so observers rightly asked "how are they doing this legally?"

… According to the report, MRT claims that it didn't post the exact Beatles recordings. Instead, it posted "psychoacoustic simulations," then added simple video content to them. This constitutes a new audiovisual work, and isn't covered by the existing copyrights, MRT argues. In fact, MRT even went so far as to apply for copyrights on the "new" works!

Perhaps this is all some kind of metacommentary on the frustrating inconsistency of U.S. copyright law, but I predict that MRT is going to be laughed out of court. In the meantime, if you want your Beatles music online, it's still available on BlueBeat as of the time I posted this. I didn't want to give the company a credit card to test the whether the downloads work, but the streams sound pretty close to perfect...especially considering that they're only psychoacoustic simulations.

Should we be defending Intel?

One charge hard to level at Intel: Raising prices

by Brooke Crothers November 6, 2009 4:00 AM PST

Experts say Intel has been instrumental in driving down PC prices, one of the key indicators of competition and one charge New York's Attorney General cannot easily level against Intel in its antitrust lawsuit.

… "Once you strip away the charged but meaningless phrases like 'bullying,' it boils down to accusing Intel of offering steep price rebates in order to retain business--i.e., the essence of competition," according to a note released Thursday by Richard Brosnick, who practices in the area of antitrust at the law firm Butzel Long.

"One of the purposes of antitrust is to get companies to compete on price. To tell a company like Intel that you can't drop price in response to competition is taking antitrust laws to a place they're not intended to be," he said in an interview.

(Related) If not anti-trust, what legal tool addresses the industry's collaboration to restrict how music is sold? (Can “failure to adapt” be “restraint of trade?”)

Record labels keep blaming P2P, but it's a hard sell

The IFPI is blasting a recent study showing that P2P users buy more music, but an EU Commissioner and a UK Parliamentary body both blame music labels for "much of the problem" with current P2P usage levels. The major labels couldn't disagree more.

By Nate Anderson Last updated November 4, 2009 7:15 PM CT

In response to a new survey suggesting that P2P file-swapping might not be harming music sales, music's international trade group IFPI today put out a statement. "The net effect of illegal file-sharing in the UK and elsewhere has been to reduce legitimate sales," IFPI asserts. "This is why spending on recorded music has fallen every year since illegal file-sharing began to become widespread."

In other words, P2P file-sharing is the main cause of the revenue decline and the (very real) job losses in the recorded music business. It's a strong assertion, but it's not necessarily accepted outside the music industry. And we're not talking about the usual copyrighters, or groups like EFF, or Pirate Party backers; complaints about P2P have failed to convince even people like the European Commissioner for Information Society and Media, Viviane Reding.

Back in June 2009, Reding made a speech in which she put equal blame for the problem on Big Content, so terrified of piracy and lack of control that many companies refuse to give customers what they want.

Interesting. I toss this in because the comments turned into a (long) list of reasons why landlines (and the phone companies) are outdated. Reads like a business opportunity to me.

Home Phone System That Syncs To Computer?

Posted by timothy on Thursday November 05, @03:40PM from the not-where-the-action-is dept.

An anonymous reader writes

'In comparison to the advanced technology in today's smart phones, the standard home phone is painfully backwards. My current setup is a Panasonic system that has 4 cordless phones over one base station. Setting the time on one phone changes the time on all the phones; however, this is not the case for the phone book. Each entry must be manually copied (pushed) to each handset. Is this as far as home phone technology has come? What I would like is a phone system that I could sync to my computer so I could update the phone book over all the units (if not sync with Address Book or Outlook), keep a log of caller IDs, or even forward me new voicemail notifications. Does anyone know if such a system exists?'

[From the comments:

For my website students

Google Releases Open Source JavaScript Tools

Posted by timothy on Thursday November 05, @06:24PM from the see-not-evil dept.

Dan Jones writes

"Google has open sourced several of its key JavaScript application development tools, hoping that they will prove useful for external programmers to build faster Web applications. According to Google, by enabling and allowing developers to use the same tools that Google uses, they can not only build rich applications but also make the Web really fast. The Closure JavaScript compiler and library are used as the standard Javascript library for pretty much any large, public Web application that Google is serving today, including some of its most popular Web applications, including Gmail, Google Docs and Google Maps. Google has also released Closure Templates which are designed to automate the dynamic creation of HTML. The announcement comes a few months after Google released and open sourced the NX server."

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Yet another indication that the courts are becoming aware/serious.

Judge spanks lawyer for leaking personal details in brief

November 4, 2009 by Dissent Filed under Breaches, Court

Dan Goodin reports:

A judge has chastised a lawyer for including the social security numbers and birthdays of 179 individuals in an electronic court brief, ordering him to pay a $5,000 sanction and provide credit monitoring.

US District Judge Michael J. Davis said he was meting out the penalty under his “inherent power,” meaning no one in the court case had filed a motion requesting he do so. In an order issued late last month, he said the move was designed to prevent attorney Vincent J. Moccio from repeating the carelessness again.

Read more in The Register.

More interesting: How come no one else cares? I suspect there are many thousands (millions?) of Facebook/Blockbuster users who don't even notice this connection.

Texas Woman Sues Facebook for Privacy Violations (Updated)

November 4, 2009 by Dissent Filed under Businesses, Court

Worried about your privacy online? So is a woman from Texas, who’s suing Facebook and Blockbuster for posting too much information about her online.

Cathryn Harris found out after the fact that Facebook added a note every time she rented a movie from Blockbuster — a note that contained her full name and the name of the movie she was renting.


The 25-year-old homemaker from Dallas County, Texas, said she made the discovery last year when she rented the 1985 adventure film “The Jewel of the Nile,” starring Kathleen Turner, Michael Douglas and Danny DeVito. She said an alert appeared on her Facebook profile detailing the transaction.

As a result, Harris filed two lawsuits — one last year against Blockbuster and one against Facebook last month. The suits claim a partnership between the two companies allowed Blockbuster to send Harris’ movie-renting habits to Facebook without fair opportunity to opt out.

Read more on Fox News

Update: EPIC filed a friend of the court brief with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, urging the Court to enforce federal privacy protections in the Video Privacy Protection Act for Facebook users who rented videos from Blockbuster, Facebook’s business partner.

(Related) Are you in a similar situation? Start by checking your Google profile. (An exercise for my Intro to Computer Security class)

Google Dashboard lifts curtain on stored data

by Tom Krazit November 4, 2009 1:12 PM PST

Google is proving to be well aware of the uneasiness among the public over the increasing amount of data it stores from users of its services.

Google is launching Google Dashboard, a service that lets you log into a console and see all the personal data that the company maintains on a Google Account user across all its products, from Gmail and YouTube to Blogger and Picasa. It allows users to log into the settings page of their Google account and review links to the personal data stored by Google across many of its products from a single Web page.

Users can delete data, change privacy settings, and read the privacy policies from various accounts on that page, which is scheduled to go live Thursday. Google had been prebriefing news outlets on the announcement, but a YouTube video outlining the service was somehow published on Google's Privacy Channel on YouTube and spotted by the Google Operating System blog.

One of the overarching themes with regards to Google this year has been the increasing discomfort among both the public and the government with the degree to which Google has grown to dominate the Internet. With nearly two-thirds of all Internet searches passing through its servers and growing numbers of people using its Google Docs, Gmail, and YouTube services, Google is a vital gateway to information for Internet users.

Google has tried to placate critics, recently emphasizing that it tries very hard to let users export any data they enter into one of Google's products through the work of the Data Liberation Front. Dashboard is another step in that direction as Google tries to emphasize that users have control over the data it stores on them.

[From the Blog:

More information about the new service in a YouTube video that was supposed to be "embargoed until 2am PT, November 5th".

Update: Google Dashboard is now available at

Ever new uses for the DNA sample. They could do this if they had fingerprints, right?

Calif. Justices Seem OK With DNA-Based Warrant

November 4, 2009 by Dissent Filed under Court, U.S.

Mike McKee reports:

…..At issue in People v. Robinson , S158528, is whether an unknown suspect’s DNA profile — as opposed to a physical description — can satisfy the so-called particularity requirement for issuing a “John Doe” warrant, and whether such warrants toll the statute of limitations for bringing criminal charges.

A third issue is whether the unlawful collection of a blood sample violates the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.

DeVito represented Paul Robinson, an alleged serial rapist found guilty of an August 1994 assault on a Sacramento woman who wasn’t sure of his race and had only a vague physical description.

Four days before the six-year statute of limitations for filing charges expired on Aug. 25, 2000, prosecutors filed a “John Doe” complaint describing the then-unknown defendant from a DNA profile developed from semen at the assault site. The next day, an arrest warrant was issued, tied to the DNA profile.


Another round of “We block you from actually getting what you pay for.”

Comcast's New Throttling Plan Uses Trigger Conditions, Not Silent Blocking

Posted by timothy on Wednesday November 04, @03:38PM from the sir-there's-some-whining-on-lines-1-through-57 dept.

clang_jangle writes with this excerpt from The Inquirer outlining Comcast's new traffic-throttling scheme, based on information from Comcast's latest FCC filing.

"Its network throttling implements a two-tier packet queueing system at the routers, driven by two trigger conditions. Comcast's first traffic throttling trigger is tripped by using more than 70 per cent of your maximum downstream or upstream bandwidth for more than 15 minutes. Its second traffic throttling trigger is tripped when the Cable Modem Termination System you're hooked-up to – along with up to 15,000 other Comcast subscribers – gets congested, and your traffic is somehow identified as being responsible. [In other words, you aren't using 70% of what you paid for, but you are responsible for reducing the volume available to 15.000 users? Was the system ever able to handle that volume? Bob] Tripping either of Comcast's high bandwidth usage rate triggers results in throttling for at least 15 minutes, or until your average [How is this calculated? Bob] bandwidth utilisation rate drops below 50 per cent for 15 minutes."

(Related) It's not always the user's fault.

T-Mobile says software error behind outage

by Ina Fried November 4, 2009 3:53 PM PST

T-Mobile said on Wednesday that a software glitch was to blame for a massive outage on Tuesday that left many customers unable to send or receive calls or text messages.

"After investigating the cause, we have determined that a back-end system software error had generated abnormal congestion on the network," T-Mobile said in a statement. "T-Mobile has since implemented additional measures to help prevent this from happening in the future."

Looks like the price of processors is going up again. Couldn't we just execute a few executives and keep everything else “as is?” (Nothing like documenting your crimes to make the prosecutors job easier...)

November 04, 2009

NY AG Cuomo Files Antitrust Lawsuit Against Intel, World’s Largest Maker of Microprocessors

News release: "Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against Intel Corporation, the world’s largest maker of computer microprocessors. The suit charges that Intel violated state and federal anti-monopoly laws by engaging in a worldwide, systematic campaign of illegal conduct - revealed in e-mails - in order to maintain its monopoly power and prices in the market for microprocessors. Over the last several years, Intel has extracted exclusive agreements from large computer makers in which they agreed to use Intel’s microprocessors in exchange for payments totaling billions of dollars. [If they had been listed as “volume discounts” would there still be a case? Bob] Intel also threatened to and did in fact punish computer makers that they perceived to be working too closely with Intel’s competitors. Retaliatory threats included cutting off payments the computer maker was receiving from Intel, directly funding a computer maker’s competitors, and ending joint development ventures."

At first I thought, “No way!” But then I realized I was giving lots of take-home exams anyway, so why not?

Students in Denmark Allowed Full Access to the Internet During Exams

By Zee on November 5, 2009

… The country’s latest move see’s the Danish government preach that the Internet is so much a part of daily life, it should be included in the classroom and in examinations.

… They can access any site they like, including Facebook, but they cannot message each other or email anyone outside the classroom. How that is prevented I’m not quite sure, but government advisors say pupils are disciplined enough not to cheat and that they can rely on the integrity of the pupil and the threat of expulsion if they are caught.

For my Security (Hacker) classes

10 Free Server & Network Monitoring Tools that Kick Ass

November 4th, 2009 by Ben Dowling

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

We'll start hearing (a bit) more from Europe.

EU: Telcos’ data breach notification amendment is passed

November 3, 2009 by Dissent Filed under Breaches, Featured Headlines, Non-U.S.


The European Council has approved a data breach notification rule for Europe’s telecoms firms. The amendment to an EU Directive will force telcos to tell customers if they lose their data.

The European Parliament and Commission have already approved the amendments, which will become law after it has been published in the EU’s Official Journal and signed by the President of the Council and President of the European Parliament.

The amendments, though, do not extend data breach notification duties to non-telecoms firms, despite the Parliament’s earlier demands that it include providers of ‘information society services’ such as online banks or health services providers.

“The Council adopted a directive amending legislation in force on universal service, ePrivacy and consumer protection,” said a Council statement on its meeting last week. “The directive adapts the regulatory framework by strengthening and improving consumer protection and user rights in the electronic communications sector, facilitating access to and use of ecommunications for disabled users and enhancing the protection of individuals’ privacy and personal data.”


Next time, I'm going...

Experts meet to hash out web privacy rules: The Madrid Declaration

November 4, 2009 by Dissent Filed under Featured Headlines, Other

Hundreds of privacy experts from around the world met in Madrid on Wednesday for a three-day conference which aims to arrive at a global standard for the protection of personal data.

US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano as well representatives from data protection agencies from 50 nations and top managers from key Internet firms like Google and Facebook are taking part in the event, billed as the world’s largest forum dedicated to privacy.

Artemi Rallo Lombarte, the director of the Spanish Data Protection Agency, an independent control authority which is organising the 31st International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy, said laws regulating privacy vary greatly around the world.

Read more in the Sydney Morning Herald. writes:

In a crisply worded declaration, over 100 civil society organizations and privacy experts from more than 40 countries have set out an expansive statement on the future of privacy. The Madrid Declaration affirms that privacy is a fundamental human right and reminds “all countries of their obligations to safeguard the civil rights of their citizens and residents.” The Madrid Declaration warns that “privacy law and privacy institutions have failed to take full account of new surveillance practices.” The Declaration urges countries “that have not yet established a comprehensive framework for privacy protection and an independent data protection authority to do so as expeditiously as possible.” The civil society groups and experts recommend a “moratorium on the development or implementation of new systems of mass surveillance.” Finally, the Declaration calls for the “establishment of a new international framework for privacy protection, with the full participation of civil society, that is based on the rule of law, respect for fundamental human rights, and support for democratic institutions.” The Madrid Declaration was released at the Public Voice conference in Madrid on Global Privacy Standards. Multiple translations of the Declaration are available.

The full text of the declaration in English can be found here, courtesy of The Public Voice.

(Related) Perhaps we'll see more articles like this one. NOTE: Read this carefully!

Do I have the right to refuse this search?”

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on October 15, 2009

So easy, a caveman could do it!

Protecting your virtual privacy

November 3, 2009 by Dissent Filed under Other

The details of your personal life, such as grocery purchases and pizza topping preferences, are collected every day ― online and by club and discount cards from the gym, department store and supermarket. Though this data seems innocent enough, when it’s put together it can tell a whole lot about your health, finances and behavior. That information, a Tel Aviv University researcher reminds us, could eventually be used against you.

Dr. Michael Birnhack of TAU’s Faculty of Law and Prof. Niva Elkin-Koren from the University of Haifa recently completed a comprehensive study on information privacy laws in Israel and found compelling reasons for lawmakers everywhere to take notice. “Our research from Israel can serve as a case study of the shortcomings of a comprehensive data protection program,” says Dr. Birnhack.

“It’s not just sites like Facebook and Twitter that should cause concern,” he continues. “It’s all the trivial things that are collected about us that we’re not protected against.”

Read more on PhysOrg.

[From the article:

Federal legislation in the U.S. regulates for some 15 different kinds of specific data sets, such as health data and credit histories, but not for information collected by club and discount cards or by commercial Web sites. And it's more difficult to write a law to secure confidentiality in those areas, says Dr. Birnhack.

… paper available at

(Related) Just the reverse? Think there's a market for auto-surveillance?

Share How You’re Spending Your Time Online

by Jason Kincaid on November 3, 2009

Many of us spend hours a day on our browsers surfing the web both at home and from the office, but we don’t really do much with our web history, which could really serve as a goldmine of information., a startup launching today in private beta, is looking to tap into this data, leveraging it to offer a cloud-based web history, a productivity tool for monitoring how you’re spending your time online, and a social link sharing service.

See? It really is simple to do – so why don't politicians like it?

First Test for Election Cryptography

Novel voting technology will be used in a local government election.

By Erica Naone Monday, November 02, 2009

… After votes are cast, Scantegrity lets voters check online to make sure that their ballots were counted correctly. Officials and independent auditors can also check to make sure ballots were tallied properly--without seeing how any individual voted.

Cyber War (The opposite of Homeland Security?)

November 03, 2009

Technology, Policy, Law, and Ethics Regarding U.S. Acquisition and Use of Cyberattack Capabilities

"The United States is increasingly dependent on information and information technology for both civilian and military purposes, as are many other nations. Although there is a substantial literature on the potential impact of a cyberattack on the societal infrastructure of the United States, little has been written about the use of cyberattack as an instrument of U.S. Policy. Cyberattacks--actions intended to damage adversary computer systems or networks--can be used for a variety of military purposes. But they also have application to certain missions of the intelligence community, such as covert action. They may be useful for certain domestic law enforcement purposes, and some analysts believe that they might be useful for certain private sector entities who are themselves under cyberattack. This report considers all of these applications from an integrated perspective that ties together technology, policy, legal, and ethical issues. Focusing on the use of cyberattack as an instrument of U.S. national policy, Technology, Policy, Law and Ethics Regarding U.S. Acquisition and Use of Cyberattack Capabilities explores important characteristics of cyberattack. It describes the current international and domestic legal structure as it might apply to cyberattack, and considers analogies to other domains of conflict to develop relevant insights. Of special interest to the military, intelligence, law enforcement, and homeland security communities, this report is also an essential point of departure for nongovernmental researchers interested in this rarely discussed topic."

Strategy includes more that one of the marketing department's talking points. In fact, there is no reason to “sell” this point at all. Customers looking for staff (cost) reductions will find Cloud Computing on their own.

Tone-deaf Unisys official on why cloud computing rocks

Or what shouldn't get lost in all the puffery over cloud technology

By Paul McNamara on Tue, 11/03/09 - 5:53am.

Here's Richard Marcello of Unisys extolling one of what he sees as the virtues of cloud computing yesterday at the Cloud Computing Conference and Expo in Santa Clara:

"We were able to eliminate a whole bunch of actually U.S.-based jobs and kind of replace them with two folks out of India."

Those actually U.S.-based jobs presumably were held by actual Americans trying to feed actual U.S.-based families.

Not only could this become a billion dollar industry, but my lawyers will want access to prove it was your dog that pooped on my lawn! (Ain't technology wonderful?)

Could GPS Keep Tabs On Your Pets?

Posted by samzenpus on Wednesday November 04, @01:41AM from the lassie-tracking dept.

An anonymous reader writes

"Google Latitude has already made headlines for allowing phone users to locate their friends, and there are countless other iPhone and Android phone apps already designed to transmit your location — but could pets be the next big thing in GPS tracking? A number of device manufacturers are marketing GPS technology as a futuristic tool for tracking your cat or dog, and even discovering exactly where they've been. These devices are sold under a number of names and brands, including Sportdog, LoCATor, RoamEO, Petcell, Zoombak and Pettrack."

Is this a cleverly hidden hack? Perhaps the North Korea's cyber war division plans to snarl traffic in a clever bid to bring down the economy? (Comments suggest similar problems) Interesting 'find the bug' case for my forensic class.

Toyotas Suddenly Accelerate; Owners Up In Arms

Posted by kdawson on Tuesday November 03, @11:31PM from the off-to-a-bad-start dept.

cyclocommuter writes

"Some Toyota owners are up in arms as they suspect that accidents have been caused by some kind of glitch in the electronic computer system used in Toyotas that controls the throttle. Refusing to accept the explanation of Toyota and the federal government (it involves the driver's-side floor mat), hundreds of Toyota owners are in rebellion after a series of accidents caused by what they call 'runaway cars.' Four people have died."

The article notes: "The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has done six separate investigations of such acceleration surges in Toyotas since 2003 and found no defect in Toyota's electronics."

Copyright, not counterfeiting.

Anti-Counterfeiting Deal Aims For Global DMCA

Posted by kdawson on Tuesday November 03, @02:45PM from the by-whose-authority dept.

An anonymous reader writes

"Negotiations on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement continue on Wednesday as the US, Europe, Japan, Korea, Canada, Australia, and a handful of other countries secretly negotiate a copyright treaty that includes statutory damages, new search and seizure power, and anti-camcording rules. Now the substance of the Internet chapter has leaked, with information that the proposed chapter would create a 'Global DMCA' with anti-circumvention rules, liability for ISPs, and the possibility of three-strikes and you're out requirements."

[From the article:

Update: Further coverage from IDG and Numerama.

Update II: InternetNZ issues a press release expressing alarm, while EFF says the leaks "confirm everything that we feared about the secret ACTA negotiations." Electronic Frontiers Australia provides an Australian perspective on the ACTA dangers.

Something for my Disaster Recovery students. Could a hacker bring down the entire system?

November 03, 2009

DOT OIG: Review of FAA’s Progress in Enhancing Air Traffic Control Systems Security

DOT OIG Audit - Review of FAA’s Progress in Enhancing Air Traffic Control Systems Security, November 02, 2009, Project ID: FI-2010-006

  • "On November 2, we issued our final report on FAA’s Progress in Enhancing Air Traffic Control Systems Security. The audit objectives were to determine FAA’s progress in correcting security weaknesses previously identified in the air traffic control (ATC) system by assessing (1) the status of Business Continuity Plan implementation and (2) the enhanced methodology used in the certification and accreditation of air traffic control systems security at operational sites. The FAA made good progress in preparing the Technical Center to serve as the recovery site; yet several unresolved technical challenges, staffing issues, and funding requirements could delay recovery site readiness. Further, while FAA has enhanced the process of reviewing ATC systems security, the reviews were not properly carried out to ensure security protection of operational ATC systems."

I'm sure my students can come up with even more diabolical uses for this...

Unfinished Windows 7 Hotspot Feature Exploited

Posted by timothy on Tuesday November 03, @11:54AM from the vestigial-tail dept.

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Engadget:

"It wasn't all that long ago that Microsoft was talking up the Virtual WiFi feature developed by Microsoft Research and set for inclusion in Windows 7, but something got lost along the road to release day, and the functionality never officially made it into the OS. As you might expect with anything as big and complicated as an operating system though, some of that code did make it into the final release, and there was apparently enough of it for the folks at Nomadio to exploit into a full fledged feature. That's now become Connectify, a free application from the company that effectively turns any Windows 7 computer into a virtual WiFi hotspot — letting you, for instance, wirelessly tether a number of devices to your laptop at location where only an Ethernet jack is available, or even tether a number of laptops together at a coffee shop that charges for WiFi."

For my math students...

How to Study for a Math Test

… All of the projects can be found on their website: How to Study for a Math Test.

(Related) Whatever works.

3 Great Online Tools to Improve Study Skills and Get Better Grades

Nov. 3rd, 2009 By Simon Slangen

For the Swiss Army folder (until everyone goes paperless)

If George Costanza had an iPhone, he'd use this app

Aaron Crowe Nov 2nd 2009 at 11:00AM

… The Shoeboxed app allows users to take photos of receipts with their iPhone. The image is then automatically sent to Shoeboxed to be digitally archived and and categorized for expense tracking, reimbursements and deduction claims. A computer, backed by human verification, takes down the date, vendor name, amount, payment type and IRS tax category before filing away the electronic copies of the receipts.

I'm thinking of creating a decal for my laptop with Linus Torvald's face and the words: “Build your own Operating System”