Thursday, August 02, 2012

Yesterday this was a “mere” 2.4 million. Perhaps they stayed up all night for a “recount?”
Elections Ontario data loss victims could top four million
August 1, 2012 by admin
Howard Solomon reports:
The number of Canadians who could be victims of one of the country’s biggest losses of personal data could hit four million, according to a privacy official.
Ann Cavoukian, privacy commissioner for the province of Ontario, said Tuesday that is the number of records that might be compromised in the loss of two USB memory sticks earlier this year by the provincial elections agency.
The initial number of voter names, addresses and dates of birth on the sticks was thought to be 2.6 million. The exact number isn’t known. [Because if we had more votes than voters, we didn't want to know... Bob]

How do you tell a really dumb algorithm, from a really really smart algorithm?
Huh, Another Rogue Algorithm May Have Thrown Off Trading in 148 Stocks
Add another entry to the Encyclopedia of Weird Robot Trading Events. This morning, a poorly programmed algorithm unleashed by Knight Capital Group went haywire, disrupting the normal trading of up to 148 stocks including some of the most heavily traded names in the country, according to the New York Times.

Interesting that getting kicked off the “approved” list apparently isn't the same as being unapproved.
Global Payments Takes Charge of $84 Million for Data Breach
Global Payments Inc. (GPN) said Thursday a security breach that exposed potentially millions of consumers' payment cards to fraudsters will cost it $84.4 million.
The amount reflects expected charges from payment networks such as Visa Inc. (V) and MasterCard Inc. (MA) and expenses related to its investigation and remediation of the matter.
The company disclosed the breach in late March, saying it believed no more than 1.5 million card numbers were "exported" [Translation: stolen Bob] or taken from its processing network. Last month, though, it said it supplied a larger number of card numbers to the payment networks for monitoring.
Visa and MasterCard also booted Global Payments from lists they maintain of approved third-party vendors that meet the card companies' security standards. While this hasn't prevented Global Payments from processing transactions made with Visa and MasterCard cards, it can cause apprehension for merchants when deciding which company to hire for processing services.

A variation of the Streisand Effect illustrated. It may help explain why “Banned in Boston” was such a great marketing tool (before Boston became so liberal they fear it would be politically incorrect to ban anything)
The Power of Internet Censorship, in 1 Chart
Sometime late in the evening of July 28, Twitter suspended the account of journalist and NBC naysayer Guy Adams. Earlier today, with apologies from Twitter's lawyer to Adams, the service reinstated his account.
There are many lessons to be learned from this brief affair. But here is one of them: The suspension of Adams's account, ultimately, wasn't much of a suspension. It amplified Adams's message rather than minimizing it. Here is a Topsy chart of the discussion surrounding the account of journalist and NBC naysayer Guy Adams as it played out over the past week.

This should be generally accepted by now, but apparently it is “news” to some. The process is called “traffic analysis” and it goes back far before the invention of the Internet. (See: Army MOS 98C)
Your Web browsing history is totally unique, like fingerprints
… in a new study from the French public research institute Inria, (PDF) researchers themselves did the browser sniffing and discovered that most users have a completely distinctive history when it comes to Web sites they regularly visit. Their results show that users' browser history is akin to their fingerprints -- totally unique.
Titled "Why Johnny can't browse the Internet in Peace: On the uniqueness of Web browsing history patterns," the study's researchers examined the Web browsing history of 368,284 Internet users who visited a site that tracks their Web history and then looked at their search patterns and frequency.

Cause were the TSA and you are merely a court. And we like irradiating second class citizens. ”
Court Orders TSA to Explain Why It is Defying ‘Nude’ Body Scanner Order
August 1, 2012 by Dissent
David Kravets reports:
A federal appeals court Wednesday ordered the Transportation Security Administration to explain why it hasn’t complied with the court’s year-old decision demanding the agency hold public hearings concerning the rules and regulations pertaining to the so-called nude body scanners installed in U.S. airport security checkpoints.
The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit’s brief order came in response to the third request by the Electronic Information Privacy Center for the court to enforce its order.
Read more on Threat Level.

“We are not 'forgiving' people.”
Whistleblower, Suspected of Leaking Warrantless Spying Program, Sues NSA
A former congressional staffer and NSA whistleblower who the authorities suspected of exposing the George W. Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program is suing the government, saying her constitutional rights are being violated because her computer seized five years ago has never been returned, and the feds have refused to clear her name.
In a Wednesday telephone interview, Diane Roark, 63, a former senior staffer at the House Intelligence Committee, said she was privy to the warrantless wiretapping the administration adopted in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
“I found about it. I knew about it. They knew I knew about it. I told everybody they needed to put civil liberties protections on it or eliminate it,” she said from her home outside Salem, Oregon.
But she emphatically denied she divulged it to the press. “I have absolutely no idea who did that,” said Roark, who retired in 2002. “My reputation has been completely smeared.”

I always liked building model airplanes. Anyone want to start a drone rental business? It's pretty clear there will be a huge market.
Markey Releases Discussion Draft of Drone Privacy and Transparency Legislation
August 1, 2012 by Dissent
With the Secretary of Transportation scheduled to develop a comprehensive plan for non-government drones as soon as November 2012, Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today released a discussion draft of legislation that would ensure that privacy considerations are included in the rulemaking process for licenses for “unmanned aircraft systems”, commonly known as drones, and that the public is made aware of drone licenses and times and locations of commercial drone flights. Entitled the “Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act of 2012”, the draft bill amends the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Modernization and Reform Act to include provisions on FAA rulemaking, data collection and minimization, enforcement, and disclosure.
The FAA estimates that by 2020, there could be 30,00 drones in use over American skies. Many drones are designed to carry surveillance equipment, [Strange wording. Are other designed for weapons only? Bob] including video cameras, infrared thermal imagers, radar, and wireless network sniffers, with the capability of collecting sensitive information from the skies above. The FAA has already begun issuing limited drone certifications for government entities.
“When it comes to privacy protections for the American people, drones are flying blind,” said Rep. Markey, senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and co-Chair of the Congressional Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus. “Drones are already flying in U.S. airspace – with thousands more to come – but with no privacy protections or transparency measures in place. We are entering a brave new world, and just because a company soon will be able to register a drone license shouldn’t mean that company can turn it into a cash register by selling consumer information. Currently, there are no privacy protections or guidelines and no way for the public to know who is flying drones, where, and why. The time to implement privacy protections is now. This discussion draft will help ensure that pilotless aircraft isn’t privacy-less aircraft and the strongest safeguards are put into place for Americans.”
A copy of the discussion draft can be found HERE.
Specifically, Rep. Markey’s legislation amends the FAA Modernization and Reform Act, adding the following provisions:
  • The Secretary of Transportation must conduct a study of privacy impacts of drone use in consultation with the Department of Commerce, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Department of Homeland Security Privacy Office. A report must be issued to Congress.
  • The FAA must include privacy considerations in its overall rulemaking process for drone licenses, using as the Federal Trade Commission report titled ‘Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: Recommendations for Businesses and Policymakers’ as the standard.
  • The FAA may not issue licenses unless the application includes a data collection statement that explains exactly what kind of data will be collected, how that data will be used, and how the licensee will protect privacy.
  • Law enforcement agencies and their contractors and subcontractors must include an additional data minimization statement that explains how they will minimize the collection and retention of data unrelated to the investigation of a crime.
  • The FAA must create a publicly available website that lists all approved licenses and includes the data collection and data minimization statements, any data security breaches suffered by a licensee, and the times and locations of drone flights.
[ ]
In April, Reps. Markey and Joe Barton (R-Texas) sent a letter querying about the potential privacy implications of non-military drone use. The lawmakers are awaiting response from the agency.

Is it the word “consent?” Wouldn't that data be available to the court without consent?
EFF Asks Supreme Court to Reverse “Forced Consent” to Facebook Disclosure
August 1, 2012 by Dissent
Cindy Cohn and Jon Eisenberg write:
When a judge forces you to “consent” to a disclosure of your private electronic communications, have you really consented? No.
EFF today asked the California Supreme Court to review a decision of a lower court that forced a juror to “consent” to allow the content of his Facebook postings to be turned over to the parties to the case, after it was discovered that he had been improperly posting about the case on his Facebook wall during a trial. The case is called Juror Number One v. Superior Court
Read more and the amicus letter on EFF.

A reminder for my gifted geeks – this Kickstarter thing might be useful.
Virtual reality headsets have historically been very disappointing. While the concept has been fun and interesting, the technological realities never quite lived up to expectations, and hardware developers largely gave up on research into this kind of device. However, it's been long enough that display technology has caught up to our ambitions. So, where are our VR headsets? Well, hobbyist Palmer Luckey asked that same question, and when he couldn't find a good answer, he decided to build one himself. He and his team have built a prototype, and they just launched a Kickstarter campaign to distribute developer kits. The campaign blew past its $250,000 goal in hours. [As I post this, they are over $800,000 Bob] What's interesting about this particular campaign is that Palmer took the Oculus Rift to various development studios and managed to get enthusiastic endorsements from some big names, including Cliff Bleszinski, Gabe Newell, and John Carmack.

I wonder if our Graphic Design students would be interested?
NASA Wants Your Infographics
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has a lot of information, acquired from telescopes, satellites, rovers, spacecraft, and pretty much anything you can point at space. They have so much, it’s almost unmanageable. So the lab collaborated with CalTech to start JPL Infographics, a crowd-sourced data-visualization challenge. They’ll supply the info, you create the graphic.

It's coming, ready or not.
Microsoft is finally looking to put Hotmail to rest with the introduction of their new email service called

'cause Free is good!
Google Docs (AKA Google Drive)

The future of education?
Daphne Koller: What we're learning from online education

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