Monday, October 03, 2011


It's one of those days when nothing interesting is happening so everyone starts philosophizing...


We only need to regulate the parts that screw with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness...
Are We Too Hung Up on Privacy?
October 3, 2011 by Dissent
L. Gordon Crovitz discusses Jeff Jarvis’s book, Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live, on WSJ. He writes, in part:
Congress is considering several privacy bills. But Mr. Jarvis calls it a “dire mistake to regulate and limit this new technology before we even know what it can do.”
Privacy is notoriously difficult to define legally. Mr. Jarvis says we should think about privacy as a matter of ethics instead. We should respect what others intend to keep private, but publicness reflects the choices “made by the creator of one’s own information.” The balance between privacy and publicness will differ from person to person in ways that laws applying to all can’t capture.
Ethics? We saw how well relying on ethics and lack of regulation worked out with Wall Street, didn’t we?
Just as some rights are so near and dear to us that they have constitutional or statutory protection, so too, should the right to privacy have such protections. Hoping that people will respect others’ choices and wishes is just cockeyed optimism.


Is this not public information for the most part? Does FERPA make public information private? Perhaps we skip the email, perhaps not – it is the school's system...
It’s for the children, Sunday edition
October 2, 2011 by Dissent
Michael Morris, a lieutenant with the University Police at California State University-Channel Islands, argues for data mining student activity and accounts to predict – and hopefully prevent – violence or other serious problems. He writes, in part:
Many campuses across the country and most in California provide each student with an e-mail address, personal access to the university’s network, free use of campus computers, and wired and wireless Internet access for their Web-connected devices. Students use these campus resources for conducting research, communicating with others, and for other personal activities on the Internet, including social networking. University officials could potentially mine data from their students and analyze them, since the data are already under their control. The analysis could then be screened to predict behavior to identify when a student’s online activities tend to indicate a threat to the campus.
Seriously, Michael? Just because companies and others already data mine publicly available information or services like Gmail include targeted advertising based on email contents, that makes it okay for colleges – academia – the sanctuary of intellectual and private thought – to data mine?
This may be one of the worst ideas I’ve read all month.
You can read his full opinion piece on Chronicle of Higher Education.
[From the article:
Although university administrators may resist the idea of passive behavioral surveillance of the campus community because of privacy considerations, the truth is that society has been systematically forfeiting its rights to online privacy over the past several years through the continued and increased use of services on the Internet. Social-networking sites and search engines store and divulge personal information accessible to the world each day, yet people continue to use them in increasing numbers.


Something to look forward to...
"10 public-interest groups have asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Facebook's various business practices. This demand comes right after two similar ones this week: two U.S. congressmen asked the FTC to investigate how Facebook's cookies behave, and Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner has agreed to conduct a privacy audit of Facebook. Given that the social network's international headquarters is in Dublin, the latter is the more serious one as the large majority of the site's users could be affected."


Perhaps they will come up with a useful idea?
Pro Bono Help for Non-profits with Data Privacy Concerns
October 3, 2011 by Dissent
From Building a Smarter Planet:
To paraphrase Margaret Mead, progress that matters is usually set in motion by a handful of committed people possessed by a great idea and the will to pursue it.
In that vein, this summer a small team of privacy professionals coalesced around a promising idea–providing non-profit organizations with free legal advice on responsible and pragmatic practices for protecting individual privacy and data security.
Our work led to this month’s pilot launch of the Pro Bono Privacy Initiative, under which over a dozen professionals are engaging with a handful of human services agencies, helping them to navigate mission-critical privacy and data protection considerations.


For my Ethical Hackers working on the “Your phone, my information” project.
HTC Android handsets spew private data to ANY app
October 3, 2011 by Dissent
Bill Ray writes:
A data logger pushed out by HTC to Android handsets has opened up a vulnerability allowing any app with internet permissions to access private customer information.
The vulnerability was spotted by Trevor Eckhart, who informed HTC about it and waited five days for a response. Following that he decided to go public and gave Android Police the details along with demonstration code and a video showing how an application that is supposed to see almost nothing can now see almost everything.
Read more on The Register.

(Related)
"Russian security software vendor Elcomsoft has released an app that it claims can determine BlackBerry handheld passwords. The software supposedly hacks the BlackBerry password via an advanced handheld security setting that's meant to encrypt data stored on a user's memory card. And a hacker doesn't even need to have the BlackBerry to determine a password, just the media card."


US v. Canada? If it's made public (published) can it be made not public by the “Terms of Use” contract.
"A trial judgment from British Columbia, Canada, found that Zoocasa, a real estate search site operated by Rogers Communications, breached copyright by scraping real estate listings and photos from Century 21 Canada. The decision thoroughly reviews the issues of website scraping, Terms of Use, 'Shrink Wrap' and 'Click Wrap' Agreements, robots.txt files, and copyright implications of hyperlinking. For American readers used to multi-million dollar damages, the court here awarded $1,000 (one thousand dollars) for breach of the Century 21 website's Terms of Use, and statutory copyright damages totalling $32,000 ($250 per infringing real estate photo). More analysis at Michael Geist's blog, and the Globe & Mail."
[The Globe sums it up nicely:
Click, you’ve just opened a Web page. And according to a recent B.C. Supreme Court decision, you’ve also just signed a contract.


Perspective
Apple to sell 107 million iPhones in 2012, analyst says
… In a recent note to investors, Janney Capital Markets analyst Bill Choi wrote, according to All Things Digital, which obtained a copy of the letter, that Apple will ship 84 million smartphone units this year alone. Next year, iPhone shipments will reach as high as 107 million units, Choi said, according to All Things Digital.


(Ditto)
Google Says 1/3 Of Search Ads Are Now ‘Enhanced’, Launches New Formats
Remember when Google search ads used to be three lines of text? Nowadays, says Google in a new blog post, roughly one-third of searches with ads show an enhanced ad format (featuring video preview windows, prices, images, specific links on a given Web page, recommendations from your friends and whatnot).
… Google has already gone live with a dedicated promotion website to tout enhanced search ads, and published a series of videos that should help advertisers understand what they’re all about.
They also talk numbers, such as:
- Every day there are more than a billion searches on Google. (source: Google)
- Since 2003, Google has answered 450 billion new unique queries. (source: Google)
- The +1 button is being served 2.3 billion times a day all over the web. (source: Google)
- The average query response time is roughly a quarter of a second. (source: Google)
- More than 20% of searches on Google on a desktop are related to location. On mobile, it‘s about 40%. (source: Google)
- People drive more than 12 billion miles a year with Google Maps Navigation. (source: Google)
And:
  • Every query has to travel on average 1,500 miles to get back to the user. (source: Google)
    - More than half our searches come from outside the U.S. (source: Google)
    - We’ve never seen 16% of the queries we see every day. (source: Google) [Now that is interesting! Bob]