Thursday, September 09, 2010

Where have I heard this before? The title caught my eye, but the argument is strange. In essence: “you don't need a warrant, but you should justify the whole concept of search?”

Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should

September 8, 2010 by Dissent

Law Professor Michael Scott writes:

When I was growing up, my dad always told me that “just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.” Just because you can climb that tall tree, doesn’t mean you should. Just because you can ride your bike on that busy street, doesn’t mean you should. It was good advice that I have passed onto my kids.

It’s advice that also applies in the technology field. Just because we can develop certain technologies, doesn’t mean we should do so. Think of chemical weapons. World leaders have decided that such weapons should not be produced or deployed, even though we have the ability to do so.

It also should be applied in the tech law field. Particularly where we are dealing with technology that can invade people’s privacy. Two lines of cases come to mind.

Read more on Singularity Law.

On the other hand, just because some of your heavy campaign contributors object is no reason to NOT do it!

Online Ads, Privacy Remain In FTC Crosshairs

Posted by samzenpus on Wednesday September 08, @07:07PM

"The FTC wants to give users a browser-based tool for opting out of online behavioral tracking, a proposal that has privacy advocates cheering and online advertisers up in arms. A key issue, says FTC attorney Loretta Garrison, is that while most consumers know they're tracked online, they don't fully appreciate how much information is collected. Tim O'Reilly, founder and CEO of O'Reilly Media, worries about knee-jerk legislation criminalizing mistakes that are an inherent part of applying any new technology." [True, but that doesn't seem to be the issue here. Bob]

...and sometimes you need to develop a “can” just so you can make more money!

Why Google Instant May Make You Click On More Ads

… Impressions will go up, because of the new “3 seconds counts as an impression” rule as well as the rule that any page engagement also counts. But, from an advertiser perspective, that “20 times as many searches” statistic tossed around today is going to be more conservative.

… Not surprisingly, Vallaeys refused to speculate when asked for an estimate of how much revenue this improved Adwords campaign performance could mean to Google. My guess: A lot.


Google-alarm: Know when Google is collecting personal information

… It is a Firefox add-on that alerts you whenever data is being sent to Google servers from your computer.

Most of the Google services like Gmail, Google Adsense, Analytics and YouTube are ubiquitous on the web, and when you visit a site that hosts code provided by any of the above services, the tracking process by Google begins.

I submit that changing how the image is displayed (to the scan-ee?) does not mean that the identical scan is made, nor that the “naked image” is not saved for the later amusement of the TSA (and possible release to the tabloids) This is merely “Privacy Theater”

Airport ‘Naked Image’ Scanners May Get Privacy Upgrades

September 8, 2010 by Dissent

John Hughes reports:

Holli Powell, a Phoenix medical- software consultant who flies every week, says she avoids getting into airport security lines that end at what she calls a humiliating full-body scanner.

“Those scanners, I feel, are above and beyond,” Powell, 35, said in an interview. They generate “nearly naked images.”

The concerns of travelers such as Powell, which led privacy advocates to sue the government, may soon be eased. L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. and OSI Systems Inc.’s Rapiscan, makers of the scanners for U.S. airports, are delivering software upgrades that show a generic figure rather than an actual image of a passenger’s body parts. The new display would mark sections of a person’s body that need to be checked.

Read more on Bloomberg.

[From the article:

The revisions “certainly address most of the privacy concerns,” Peter Kant, a Rapiscan executive vice president, said in an interview. [Note that “addresses” is not the same as “removes” Bob]

This is far too valuable a market segment. Anyone who watches this type of “entertainment” is a ready market for Graduate programs in Philosophy, scientific journals, etc.

Class Claims Fox Hacks Into Computers

September 8, 2010 by Dissent

Karina Brown reports:

A class action claims Fox Entertainment Group hacked into millions of computers to install “rogue, cookie-like tracking code” to snoop on people who visit Fox’s “American Idol” website.

The class claims Fox and Clearspring Technologies committed crimes, circumvented privacy settings, and that the rogue devices reinstall themselves even if their victims can find and delete them.

Lead plaintiff Erica Intzekostas claims Fox and Clearspring Technologies concocted the plan “so they could help themselves to users’ personal information, and continue doing so for as long as defendants liked without ever having to ask or take a user’s ‘no’ for an answer. In fact, users’ ‘no’ answers were the reason defendants devised the scheme in the first place.”

Read more on Courthouse News, where you can also see a copy of the complaint (pdf).

If they're gonna keep objecting to our goals, we won't tell them what they are any more!

INDECT – Privacy Ethics In A Secret Project

September 8, 2010 by Dissent

A new document on ethical issues published by the INDECT European research project on public surveillance has once more attracted the scrutiny of the media. Previous allegations of secrecy were followed by an attempt to strengthen the project’s Ethics Board. The new document however notes that addressing ethical concerns requires time that cannot be spent on research. It therefore recommends to simply stop disclosing any project deliverables that could negatively impact “organisational reputation” and other sensitive topics.

The INDECT Project, funded with almost 11 million euros, aims to research on “Intelligent information system supporting observation, searching and detection for security of citizens in urban environment” but was qualified by The Telegraph last year as the “‘Orwellian’ artificial intelligence plan to monitor public for ‘abnormal behaviour’”.

Following the article, a lot of public pressure was put from media, civil society and the European Parliament. MEPs addressed to the European Commission 10 questions in the past year related to the project and its privacy ethics.

One of the answers of the European Commission was: “In order to further enhance the role of the project’s Ethics Board, the Commission will recommend to the project to add an additional independent expert. This expert will have proven expertise in ethical and data protection issues”, but, so far, the Ethics board has been dominated by Police Officers and no privacy experts.

Read more on European Digital Rights.

Research into the obvious?

Narcissists, Insecure People Flock To Facebook

Posted by CmdrTaco on Wednesday September 08, @01:50PM

"A study out of Canada claims that Facebook is a magnet for narcissists and people with low self-esteem. The theory is that these people use the site as a means of self promotion or to feel important."

It's for the children!

Big Brother in Iowa? School District Monitors Kids’ Lunch Choices

September 8, 2010 by Dissent

Jana Winter reports:

An Iowa school district’s lunch program asks children as young as 5 years old to memorize a four-digit PIN code so it can monitor what they eat in the school cafeteria — prompting some parents to claim it’s an unhealthy case of “Big Brother.”

The Ankeny Community School District is maintaining a database that records what the kids buy to eat and then checks their food choices against national nutrition guidelines.

Read more on Fox News.

Baa Baa.

(Related) ...and this is for when they grow up.

NC: Sheriffs want lists of patients using painkillers

September 8, 2010 by Dissent

From the worst-idea-of-the-week dept.

Lynn Bonner reports:

Sheriffs in North Carolina want access to state computer records identifying anyone with prescriptions for powerful painkillers and other controlled substances.

The state sheriff’s association pushed the idea Tuesday, saying the move would help them make drug arrests and curb a growing problem of prescription drug abuse. But patient advocates say opening up people’s medicine cabinets to law enforcement would deal a devastating blow to privacy rights.

Read more on the News & Observer.

How strange, lawyers who disagree...

Pointer: Orin Kerr’s commentary on yesterday’s Third Circuit decision

September 8, 2010 by Dissent

Orin Kerr writes:

A while back, I blogged at length about the Third Circuit’s pending case involving government access to historical cell-site records. The issue in the case is what legal standard the government must satisfy to obtain orders requiring phone companies to disclose such information. The district court had ruled that a warrant was required, and the government argued that the correct standard under the law was a “specific and articulable facts” court order under 2703(d) rather than a search warrant. Yesterday, the Third Circuit handed down its decision: In The Matter Of The Application Of The United States Of America For An Order Directing A Provider Of Electronic Communication Service To Disclose Records To The Government. In this post will explain the Third Circuit’s decision; try to figure out what it means (which turns out to be quite tricky); and then explain why I think it misreads the Stored Communications Act on an important point.

You can read Orin’s analysis and commentary on The Volokh Conspiracy.

For my Geeks...

Calling all developers! FCC releases APIs for key databases

Federal Communications Commission ... has released the Application Programming Interface (API) specs for four of its big repositories of information: its consumer broadband test, broadband provider database, license owner storehouse, and latitude/longitude to county converter.

Attention Ferrari! I would be willing to help you give Lamborghini a bad image!

Anti-Product Placement For Negative Branding

Posted by samzenpus on Wednesday September 08, @06:12PM

"Product placement to promote your brand just isn't enough any more. These days, apparently, some companies are resorting to anti-product placement in order to get competitors' products in the hands of 'anti-stars.' The key example being Snooki from Jersey Shore, who supposedly is being sent handbags by companies... but the bags being sent are of competitors' handbags as a way to avoid Snooki carrying their own handbag, and thus potentially damaging their brand."

Global Warming! Global Warming! Maybe the sky isn't falling either? “Hey, give us a break! We were only off by 100%”

Scientists Cut Greenland Ice Loss Estimate By Half

Posted by samzenpus on Thursday September 09, @04:57AM

"A new study on Greenland's and West Antarctica's rate of ice loss halves the estimate of ice loss. Published in the journal Nature Geoscience, the study takes into account a rebounding of the Earth's crust called glacial isostatic adjustment, a continuing rise of the crust after being smashed under the weight of the Ice Age. 'We have concluded that the Greenland and West Antarctica ice caps are melting at approximately half the speed originally predicted,' said researcher Bert Vermeeersen."

A TED talk, describing 15 year old technology that has yet to find its way to market.

John Underkoffler points to the future of UI

Oh great. Now all my math students will want e-textbooks... But then, then already have them!

School Swaps Math Textbooks For iPads

Posted by samzenpus on Wednesday September 08, @04:55PM

"Four of California's largest school districts will be trying something new on eighth-grade algebra students this year: giving them iPads instead of textbooks. The devices come pre-loaded with a digital version of the text, allowing students to view teaching videos, receive homework assistance and input assignment all without picking up a pen or paper. If the students with iPads turn out to do improve at a faster pace than their peers as expected, the program could soon spread throughout the Golden State."

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