Saturday, August 04, 2012

My tax dollars at work?
"A new audit of the Internal Revenue Service has found the agency paid refunds to criminals who filed false tax returns, in some cases on behalf of people who had died, according to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), which is part of the U.S. Treasury. The IRS stands to lose as much as $21 billion in revenue over the next five years due to identity theft, according to TIGTA's audit (PDF), dated July 19 but publicized on Thursday. 'While the IRS does not have access to all third-party information documents at the time tax returns are filed, some third-party information is available. However, the IRS has not developed processes to obtain and use this third-party information."

Is “nothing has changed” the best they can say?
LinkedIn’s Jeff Weiner On Password Theft: With 174M Members, ‘Health Of Our Network’ Is Strong As Ever
The theft, as well as the flurry of negative publicity, may have caused some members to question the professional social network’s ability to keep their data safe. However, during today’s conference call on the company’s second quarter earnings, Weiner said “the health of our network” remains “as strong as it was prior to the incident.

Local unfortunately.
Memo to MSM: Please ask these questions about the Holmes case
August 3, 2012 by Dissent
Like many, I’ve been watching and reading the media for insights as to what happened and whether a tragedy could have been avoided. And as a privacy advocate, I’ve spent some time mulling over whether federal privacy laws such as FERPA and HIPAA may have become obstacles to the shooter’s psychiatrist preventing this tragedy.
Sadly, the level of interviews I’ve seen on TV has been pretty abysmal. The worse was a CNN interview involving Dr. Drew Pinsky who seemed to have no knowledge of relevant federal and state laws as they might interact in this case.
If you’re going to interview people, how about finding someone who actually has expertise on HIPAA, FERPA, Colorado law, and medical ethics? [I know where we could find someone like that... Bob] Or if you can’t find one professional with all those qualifications, bring two people together and let them interact.
In any event, here are the questions I wish the media would ask of knowledgeable experts:
1. Dr. Fenton reportedly referred her concerns to the university’s threat assessment team in June. Might she have been more likely to notify authorities, his parents, or arrange for an involuntary commitment if she hadn’t sought the opinions of others? And doesn’t the treating psychiatrist still have an ethical and legal obligation to pursue her concerns via notification and/or involuntary commitment even if the threat assessment team does not agree?
2. If the threat assessment team did not conclude there was a serious or imminent threat in June, did the psychiatrist contact them again in July?
3. Do we know if the psychiatrist attempted to persuade Holmes to admit himself for psychiatric treatment?
4. Do we know if the psychiatrist sought Holmes’ permission for her to talk to his parents?
5. Did the psychiatrist (incorrectly) believe that her obligations were moot because the student resigned from the university? Did she ever discuss termination or transfer of care with Holmes?
6. Many universities now have threat assessment teams. Is it possible that their use creates a “diffusion of responsibility” problem whereby the original referrer feels less pressure to take action to protect the patient and community?
7. Do we know if Holmes saw the psychiatrist in the week preceding the murders?
8. Did the psychiatrist consult with CU’s lawyer or her own attorney as to her ethical and legal obligations in this case?
Psychiatry is not a hard science, and practitioners will make mistakes. Was a mistake or mistakes made in this case? It is easy to conclude that they were, but without more facts and analysis, we really don’t know whether the relevant laws hampered the psychiatrist or whether the psychiatrist felt – correctly or incorrectly – constrained by the law(s) and wanted to take further steps consistent with her ethical obligations to protect the safety of the patient and the community.
I doubt we’ll get answers to most of these questions in the near future, but they are important questions to ask if we want to learn any lessons from this terrible situation.

How hard is it to locate you out of the millions surfing the net? This is worth a read.
… How does a search engine track you? It all starts with your search query. Perhaps you’re feeling down in the dumps and you want to hit up Google so you can search for some home flu remedies. As soon as you type that query into the search box and hit Enter, Google records it. If you’re logged into a Google account, it’ll be associated with that account. If not, it’ll be tied to your IP address.
After you’ve entered a search query, you’re presented with a big list of search results. Whenever you click on a search result, Google records that, too. But not only that, Google sends some of your information to that site as well: the search query that you used, your current browser, and some of your computer specifications.
That doesn’t seem so bad, right? After all, you might think that there’s no way that anyone could identify you as a person simply from the browser you use. But you’d be wrong to think that. The truth is that your browser configuration is likely to be unique, and thus trackable. See for yourself by using Panopticlick’s browser traceability test.

(Related) Ahhh, crap. Perhaps I could start an “I'll vote for you if you stop bugging me” site?
Google Takes Political Online Ads Local, Allows Campaigns To Target Congressional Districts
… Today, Google launched a new tool that allows political campaigns to simply select their district and ensure that their ads are shown only within their district. This tool, says Google, allows campaigns to “quickly and easily target their search, display, mobile and video ads solely within that particular district’s border.”

Reasonable based on Ethics?
Defining Reasonable Security
August 3, 2012 by admin
Tracy Kitten writes:
Last month, an appellate court in Boston reversed a lower court’s ruling that favored a bank in a legal dispute over a 2009 account takeover incident (see PATCO ACH Fraud Ruling Reversed.)
Was that appellate ruling fair? Based on the security practices that most banking institutions used in 2009, probably not. The case exemplifies the challenges courts – and the attorneys arguing both sides – face in resolving cases involving ACH and wire fraud. The key issue? How to define “reasonable” security – and how that definition changes over time.
Read more on BankInfoSecurity.
[From the article:
Regardless, the ruling marks the first time we've seen a federal court's review of a legal dispute involving fraud linked to account takeover. And that, on its own, makes this case special.

What a coincidence, just in time for the elections.
4 Confirmed (at last) for Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board
August 3, 2012 by Dissent
Peter Swire informs us that on its way out the door, Congress confirmed 4 of 5 nominees for the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board:
Tonight the U.S. Senate confirmed four of the five nominees for the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board: Rachel Brand; Elizabeth Cook; Jim Dempsey (of the Center for Democracy and Technology); and Pat Wald (long-time judge on the DC Circuit).
This is good news. The PCLOB has not been up and running for several years, and now it will have a quorum. The importance of having the Board in place has been underscored recently by the Senate’s consideration of the cybersecurity bill. If there is lots of information sharing, then there should be effective oversight of that sharing.
The goods news is incomplete, though.
Read more on Concurring Opinions.
[From the article:
The lack of a chair matters. As discussed in my testimony this week in the Senate Homeland Security Committee, the statute allows only the Chairman to hire staff

Fodder for the Software Testing class...
Remember the computer glitch that caused market turmoil Wednesday morning?
As we told you, it was caused by a computer glitch that accidentally forced Knight Capital Group to buy a great number of stocks.
The Wall Street Journal reports that price of shares of the company took a beating yesterday, dropping 33 percent. At one point, today, they were down 52 percent to "$3.35, its lowest split-adjusted price since October 1998."

A new look at an old law... Perhaps Hollywood isn't in charge?
Embedding copyright-infringing video is not a crime, court rules
Embedding a copyright-infringing video on another Web site is not illegal, a court ruled yesterday.
Judge Richard Posner ruled at the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals that MyVidster, a social video bookmarking site, did not infringe the copyright of Flava Works, a porn production company, when it embedded copyright-infringing versions of Flava Works content from third-party Web sites.
The decision overturned a preliminary injunction from 2011, imposed by a lower court after Flava Works filed suit against MyVidster in 2010.
According to the Appeals Court ruling, MyVidster "doesn't touch the data stream" and therefore doesn't host the infringing video, but links to versions hosted elsewhere on the Web.
MyVidster was "not encouraging swapping, which in turn encourages infringement," the ruling said:

It looks like China will colonize the moon, so India wants Mars. Godspeed to both. If we (the US) no longer has the will to explore, it's good that someone has.
New submitter susmit writes with news of India's new goal for launching a satellite to Mars in 2013. From the article:
"India plans to launch a mission to Mars next year, putting an orbital probe around the red planet to study its climate and geology, top space department officials said on Thursday. ... A 320-tonne Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle rocket will be used to carry the orbiter spaceship, blasting off from the ISRO launch site at Sriharikota in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. Another senior official at ISRO, requesting anonymity, estimated the cost of the mission at 4.0-5.0 billion rupees ($70-90 million dollars)."

Could this become a trend? (With so many similar experiments, is anyone tracking what works?)
Mexico’s new President proposes a national online university
Mexico’s President-Elect, Enrique Peña Nieto, who takes office on December 1, has pledged to create a National Digital University as one plank in a strategy to increase university enrollment by 50% by 2018, which would mean creating another 1.5 million places.
According to Nieto’s plan, ‘students will be able to access 13 majors through powerful technology platforms available in 135 access centres across the country.’

No doubt my students will want a wall sized picture of ME! (Scary, isn't it)
Print your own giant posters
If you have more time on your hands than money, there are some easy solutions for printing infinitely large posters from even the most modest printer.
… Once you have the image as a digital file on your computer, you're now ready to process it so that it's ready to print. The processing could be as simple as enlarging the image and segmenting it into separately printable sections. Sites such as Block Posters or Faster Poster specialize in this kind of basic scaling and chopping, and spit out a downloadable PDF that can be printed on any computer.
… If you're trying to print out a banner, or garage sale sign, it's fine. If you're going for something to hang on the wall that you will see every day, try this next technique.
Download a free program called Rasterbator. In spite of the name, there's really nothing salacious about this software. The official release is available only for Windows, but a ported version for Mac and Linux is also available, though it involves the additional installation of the Mono .NET development framework.

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