Saturday, November 06, 2010

It amazes me how often the topics we discuss at the Privacy Foundation [] forums appear soon after in news articles. Panelists suggested that Class Action lawsuits would become an increasingly common tool to “persuade” companies to reconsider their “We can, therefore we must” strategies.

Class Action Lawsuit Accuses Ringleader Digital of Hacking Cell Phones to Create ‘Zombie Databases’

November 5, 2010 by Dissent

Adam Klasfeld of Courthouse News reports:

Ringleader Digital, an advertising company “hacked the mobile phones of millions of consumers” to create a database of customers’ demographic information for the benefit of major media networks such as Fox News and CNN, according to a federal class action.

Delaware-based Ringleader “stamped” a “Unique Device Identifier” into customers’ cell phones, compatible with iPhone, iPad, iTouch and PDAs and other devices, the complaint states.

Once entered into their phones, the class claims, say the code sent their private information to a database that Ringleader shared with AccuWeather, CNN, ESPN, FOX News, Go2 Media, Merriam-Webster, Travel Channel, and WhitePages, all of them named as defendants.

Essentially, defendants hacked the mobile phones of millions of consumers … by embedding a tracking code in each user’s mobile device database to circumvent users’ browser controls for managing web privacy and security,” the complaint states.

The class claims the database collected information about “gender, age, race, number of children, education level, geographic location, and household income.”


The class seeks millions of dollars in punitive damages against Ringleader and its media partners for violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Electronic Communications Privacy Act, New York General Business Law, and trespass.

Read more on Courthouse News.

It's a 'man bites dog' story and another illustration of “experts” who clearly should know better.

Cooks Source Copyright Infringement Becomes an Internet Meme

An internet firestorm is brewing over a small New England magazine accused of publishing recipes and articles lifted from the web without permission.

The dust-up began when food blogger Monica Gaudio discovered that Cooks Source had published a 6-year-old online article she wrote about apple pie, titled “A Tale of Two Tarts.” Gaudio e-mailed the magazine’s editor, Judith Griggs, to complain, asking Cooks Source to post a public apology on its Facebook page and make a $130 donation to Columbia School of Journalism.

It was Griggs’ response that set off the still-raging internet backlash.

But honestly Monica, the web is considered ‘public domain’ and you should be happy we just didn’t ‘lift’ your whole article and put someone else’s name on it! It happens a lot, clearly more than you are aware of, especially on college campuses, and the workplace. If you took offence and are unhappy, I am sorry, but you as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was originally. Now it will work well for your portfolio. For that reason, I have a bit of a difficult time with your requests for monetary gain, albeit for such a fine (and very wealthy!) institution. We put some time into rewrites, you should compensate me! I never charge young writers for advice or rewriting poorly written pieces, and have many who write for me… ALWAYS for free

(Related) It's no coincidence that articles like this start appearing after an “insult” to web authors.

Tools for rooting out Web plagiarism, copyright violations

Reducing “Health Care” costs?

Data Breaches Cost Hospitals $6B Yearly

By Dissent, November 5, 2010

Dom Nicastro writes:

Hospitals spend $6 billion annually because of data breaches, and Federal regulations enacted under the HITECH Act have not improved the safety of patient records research from The Ponemon Institute shows.

Among the data security and privacy research firm’s findings:

  • Hospitals are not protecting patient data

  • Hospitals admit to being vulnerable to a data breach

  • Breaches of patient information are occurring frequently and often go unreported, putting patients’ privacy at risk

  • A small percentage of healthcare organizations rely on security technologies to prevent and detect data breach incidents

  • Federal regulations—HITECH—have not improved the safety of patient records

Read more on HealthLeaders Media

Another lawsuit aimed at the “Security theater” issue. If for no other reason, the suit should win on the “ineffective” argument alone.

EPIC Files Lawsuit To Suspend Airport Body Scanner Use

Posted by Soulskill on Friday November 05, @12:13PM

"The Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a petition for review and motion for an emergency stay, urging the District of Columbia Court of Appeals to suspend the Transportation Security Administration's full body scanner program. EPIC said that the program is 'unlawful, invasive, and ineffective' (PDF). EPIC argued that the federal agency has violated the Administrative Procedures Act, the Privacy Act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the Fourth Amendment. EPIC cited the invasive nature of the devices, the TSA's disregard of public opinion, and the impact on religious freedom."

For my Ethical Hackers: To know how a system works is to be halfway (Okay, 90%) to hacking that system.

How Facial Recognition Works in Xbox Kinect

Hey! How come the best I can get now is 40 Megabites? 10 times faster would be good, but clearly 250 times faster is better. In the old days (pre WWW) they would bring new MODEM models out when they could provide a 4X speed increase or better.

Video: Verizon Tests A 10 Gbps Connection For Both Upload And Download. Want.

Despite the United States’ position as an Internet powerhouse, the state of broadband in this country compared to some other places around the world is pretty pitiful — both in speed and reach. Google is trying to do their part to fix the speed issue with their 1 Gbps fiber optic network tests. And Verizon is on the case as well — with a 10 Gbps network.

Now, to be clear, the video above is just a test. We’re unlikely to see these kinds of speeds in our homes any time soon. But this is a field test, not a test done in some lab.

And it’s awesome. 10 Gbps both is both the download and upload speed. Watch towards the end of the video when a 2.3 gigabyte movie is transfered in 4 seconds.

Maybe an Intro to Computing class would find these interesting.

10 Great Online Tools That Help You Find Out A Lot About Live Websites

[For example:

IP address, owner’s name, daily visitors, title, and description, and date of going live, server location’s (on a map), inbound links, hosted servers, indexed pages, blog entries

AdSense and Google Analytics status, changes in Feedburner subscribers, mentions on Twitter, Google Pagerank, Quantcast Rank, Alexa Rank,

This has real potential but is just starting into Beta testing so there is not much there (yet) Remember me when you list your favorite blogs! - Aggregating Useful Sites Together

The aim of this website is to connect people who know where to look for the answers to common questions with the ones who need that information. Through the site, user-edited lists can be created and shared. Each list is called a Tuesl (which is the short form for Top User Edited Site Lists), and there answers are provided in the shape of links leading to the relevant sites or knowledge bases.

… And just anybody can contribute to a Tuesl once it has been created. Again - that only makes too much sense. The only way to gather the most accurate collections of links on the Web is by having everybody submit the ones they know.

For my students, who use their phones 24/7 anyway...

Two Apps To Use Your Android Phone On Your Computer

… sometimes you just want to integrate your cellphone functionality into your computer. When you’re working or in class, sending messages fast, easy and covertly is a huge advantage.


Droid2Desk is a mighty impressive application that will do just that. It’s written in Java, so it’s effectively platform-independent. In theory, Droid2Desk will work with any Android 2.0 phone and any kind of computer. Spending half my computer hours on Mac, that’s a big plus.

You can use the application to view notifications and phone data (e.g. battery), receive and send SMS messages and send files to and fro over a wireless network. You can even view the camera on your computer and snap new pictures. Video feed support is reportedly being worked on.


Like Droid2Desk, you’ll need to have Java installed to run Texdro; you can download it here. Also similar to Droid2Desk, Texdro can run on any platform that supports Java. For only $2.99, the pro version allows you to connect over Bluetooth or USB, but you can use the free version without limitations if you don’t mind going over Wireless LAN. Your computer can be connected to the internet using a wired connection, but the WiFi is needed to connect to your phone.

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