Saturday, March 12, 2011

With less than a week until the Privacy Foundation's seminar on “Lawyers int the Cloud” (see for details) I found a great way to explain Cloud Computing so even Lawyers can understand it!

How 10-year-olds explain Cloud Computing

Interesting that their “expression of concern” comes a mere month after the House Privacy Caucus expressed the same concerns. I also note that they have no proposal for an alternative other than “don't do it.” Perhaps they believe that individuals are too stupid/naive to understand what any exalted politician can grasp?

Facebook’s New Privacy Policy Puts Users at Great Risk

March 11, 2011 by Dissent

Senator Al Franken writes:

In January, Facebook made a troubling announcement that it plans to allow third-party developers to request access to the home addresses and phone numbers of users. Despite Facebook’s insistence that it will protect its users, I believe this policy will place users at great risk. That’s why I wrote a letter with Sens. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) to CEO Mark Zuckerberg urging him to stop plans for this new third party access to personal data. Armed with nothing more than a Facebook user’s phone number and home address, anyone with an Internet connection and a few dollars can obtain personal information they should never have access to, including a user’s date of birth, e-mail address, or estimated income. In fact, by using this information, an identity thief could get almost all of the data he would need to apply for a loan or a credit card in the name of an unsuspecting Facebook user.

Read more on Huffington Post.

Related: Senate Democrats Push Facebook on Privacy (Politico)

[From the Politico article:

"Anyone with ten minutes, 25 dollars and a Facebook user's phone number and address and no other information can obtain a breathtaking amount of information about that Facebook user — and that Facebook user's family, friends, neighbors and landlord," they wrote. "Combined with a targeted Google search, these two pieces of information can allow someone to obtain almost all of the information necessary to complete a loan or credit card application. It is hard to contemplate all the different ways in which this information could be abused."

(Related) Here is what Data Mining companies know about you without Facebook's help. Note that it isn't always accurate...

What Data Mining Firms Know About You

"Time writer Joel Stein spent three months learning what data mining companies know about him. After learning everything the companies had profiled about him (some of it inaccurate) — social security number, age, marital status, religion, income, debt, interests, browsing and spending habits — he had a surprising reaction: complacency. '... oddly, the more I learned about data mining, the less concerned I was. Sure, I was surprised that all these companies are actually keeping permanent files on me. But I don't think they will do anything with them that does me any harm. [...for some definitions of harm? Bob] There should be protections for vulnerable groups, and a government-enforced opt-out mechanism would be great for accountability. But I'm pretty sure that, like me, most people won't use that option. Of the people who actually find the Ads Preferences page — and these must be people pretty into privacy — only 1 in 8 asks to opt out of being tracked. The rest, apparently, just like to read privacy rules."

This is confusing. What “secret” are they protecting?

EFF and ACLU Respond: Court Rules Against Privacy in Battle Over Twitter Records

March 11, 2011 by Dissent

EFF has issued the following statement in response to today’s developments:

A federal magistrate judge in Virginia ruled today that the government can collect the private records of three Twitter users as part of its investigation related to WikiLeaks, and that those users and the public can be prevented from seeing some of the documents that the government submitted to the court to justify obtaining their records. [What justification should remain 'secret?” Bob] The court denied the government’s request to conduct last month’s hearing about the records in secret, however, and the court made public all of the documents related to the users’ legal challenge. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union plan to appeal the decision on behalf of their client Birgitta Jonsdottir, an Icelandic parliamentarian.

The secret government demands for information about the subscribers’ communications came to light only because Twitter took steps to ensure their customers were notified and had the opportunity to respond. [Twitter was not always so noble. See below Bob] The ACLU and EFF also asked the court to make public any similar orders to any other companies

This ruling gives the government the ability to secretly amass private information related to individuals’ Internet communications. Except in extraordinary circumstances, the government should not be able to obtain this information in secret. That’s not how our system works,” said Aden Fine, staff attorney with the ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project. “If this ruling stands, our client may be prevented from challenging the government’s requests to other companies because she might never know if and how many other companies have been ordered to turn over information about her.”

“With so much of our digital private information being held by third parties – whether in the cloud or on social networking sites like Twitter – the government can track your every move and statement without you ever having a chance to protect yourself,” said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. “We’re disappointed that the court did not recognize that people using digital tools deserve basic privacy and that the government should be required to meet a high standard before it demands private information about you from the online services you use, be they Twitter, Facebook, Gmail or Skype.”

EFF and the ACLU plan to appeal the ruling on behalf of their client.

For today’s ruling:

For more on this case:

For this release:

ACLU has also issued a statement, stating, in part:

We are disappointed with the court’s decision. The government should not be able to secretly gather private information related to individuals’ Internet communications. Unless the government obtains a warrant, individual users should have the right to find out about these orders and to go to court to challenge the government’s justification for obtaining them.

Today’s ruling — which rejected users’ ability to even mount a challenge in many circumstances — fails to recognize that in today’s world, these sorts of secret government requests involve personal and private information. Our privacy in our Internet communications should not be so easily sacrificed.

The fight far from over, though. We plan to appeal today’s decision.


Twitter Settles With Feds Over ‘09 Obama Hack

Records management for my Computer Security students. Does your industry require you to keep communications with clients?

March 11, 2011

How Federal Agencies Can Effectively Manage Records Created Using New Social Media Tools

How Federal Agencies Can Effectively Manage Records Created Using New Social Media Tools, Patricia C. Franks, Associate Professor, School of Library & Information Science, San Jose State University

  • "Dr. Franks’ report addresses the challenges of federal recordkeeping in the social media age. She describes the struggle of agency records managers to keep up with the information revolution, as well as the historical evolution of how records management and information technology have become both intertwined and yet separated by “silos” in many agencies. She identifies the governance challenges, the policy challenges, the technology challenges, as well as the capacity challenges to address these issues. She concludes with recommendations for improving social media records management, and offers a series of best practices based on interviews with dozens of records managers, Web masters, and social media managers across the federal government."

[From the report:

Recommendation Four: Information technology offices should:

• Integrate records management solutions and incorporate the costs of records management requirements

Undertake research initiatives for the preservation of digital objects created with new media

I don't think they like it...

'Son of ACTA' Worse Than Original

"TechDirt has the latest on the leaked US proposals for the 'Son of ACTA' treaty and it looks worse than the original. It's practically a checklist for how to kill innovation while making lawyers rich. In particular, they call for expanding what's patentable, blocking people from buying copyrighted goods in other countries and taking them home, expanding liability for ISPs whose users commit acts of infringement, forcing ISPs to identify their users to anyone on demand, and getting rid of third-party patent review while expanding the presumption that they're valid. The only way it could get any worse would be if it were enacted in law."

Search for “right now!”

Friday, March 11, 2011

Topsy - Real-time Search of the Social Web

Topsy is a search engine that scours the Internet for the most recent and most talked about links, images, and Tweets on the web.

To use Topsy just enter a search term like you would with any other search engine. The difference with Topsy is that your results are ranked according to how much a link or image has been discussed or shared on the web. The more something has been shared or discussed, the higher it ranks in results. You can sort your results by links, images, Tweets, or "experts." Experts in Topsy's rankings are people and organizations that are linked to most frequently compared to other sources. You can also narrow your search results according to time of posting on the web. For example, you can narrow your results to just links that have appeared in the last hour.

Toward a Star Trek Tricorder? Perhaps there is a Business model here for these small “clip on” attachments to cellphones – a “let us bring your invention to market” kind of thing?

Turn Your Cellphone Into a High-Powered Scientific Microscope


Smartphone Device Detects Cancer In an Hour

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