Sunday, September 02, 2012
Let me guess: They come attached to politicians?
"Apps released by both the Obama and Romney campaigns have been found to have 'privacy issues.' From the article: "Experts at GFI Software looked at the Android versions of both apps, discovering both to be surprisingly invasive. Obama for America and Mitt's VP request permissions, access to services and data and capabilities beyond their core mandate.""
This could be huge! Imagine the benefits to Intelligence (Oh look, missiles in Cuba. I wonder where they came from?) or real time military operations (Looks like a whole passle of Injins over than hill General Custer...)
"Google has been recently granted a patent that could not only improve online search but, also will possibly give the search engine giant an awful lot of information about the world. Google, through the software, wants to scan and analyze the content within videos, YouTube videos most probably, and look for objects in the real world, identify them, and make a catalogue out of those objects. The patent describes Google's technology of scanning a video, picking out landmarks, objects and context; and subsequent tagging and categorization."
Adds reader MojoKid:
"The privacy implications of such an automated system are enormous. Facebook's own automatic facial recognition software was highly controversial when it debuted, and what Google has now patented puts Facebook to shame. The larger question, unaddressed in this patent, is whether we want our individual personal data to be tagged, filed, and logged without permission or choice."
Perhaps an Obama/Romney mask? My Wookie mask? A Hannibal Lecter mask (with furniture dolly)?
Privacy, Masks, and Religion
September 1, 2012 by Dissent
Omer Tene is blogging over on Concurring Opinions. He has an entry that caught my eye in light of a recent item about wearing pixellated masks in public to protect privacy. Omer writes, in part:
Absent legal protection, individuals may embrace privacy enhancing technologies (PETs). One such (admittedly low-tech) PET is a mask. In a world with ubiquitous facial recognition, more and more people are likely to wear masks. After all, if a face is like an http cookie, a mask is like a “do not track” (DNT) header.
You might think that mask wearing in public will create a “market for lemons” – only the bad seeds will wear the masks; after all – the rest of us have “nothing to hide”. Yet as Dan Solove has shown, we need not have “something to hide” in order to care for our privacy. Privacy, solitude, freedom from an “unwanted gaze” – reflect a natural human need; it’s not even strictly human – as cat owners know, animals sometimes need privacy too.
This only complicates matters, since it means that the bad seeds will be able to blend into the mask-wearing crowd. Policymakers may respond by legislating anti-mask laws. They would reason that wearing masks in public is different than delivering a DNT signal online. [How about a “mask” covered in “do not track” labels? Bob] A mask-bearing individual may intimidate passersby. (Although this is surely related to existing social norms and might change as masks become more common). Masks reduce accountability; but then again, so does online anonymity.
Anti-mask laws, in turn, may prove to be problematic given their infringement on religious freedom of, for example, Muslim women. Perhaps an exemption should be crafted for such purposes then. But who is to say that privacy is not a legitimate religion? In fact, I have argued elsewhere that privacy discourse today often takes on a religious zeal.
We have already seen anti-mask laws in this country as well as elsewhere. As Joe Coscarelli of the New York Times reported in September 2011, at least five people had been cited for violating a New York law that bans masks at gatherings of two or more people unless it’s “a masquerade party or like entertainment.” A participant in Occupy Lansing (Michigan) was also reportedly arrested for wearing a mask.
I would argue that the right to wear a mask flows from the right to anonymous speech, and if all people are doing are exercising their right to peacefully assemble and make their point, anti-mask laws should fall to the First Amendment. But would that argument prevail? In 2004, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal ruled that New York’s law barring demonstrations from wearing masks is constitutional and didn’t violate the free speech rights of Ku Klux Klan members. Significantly, though, the appellate panel concluded that the mask wasn’t protected by the First Amendment because the mask doesn’t convey any message independent of the robe and hood. But if the Guy Fawkes mask is the only “costume,” and the message is “I am a member of Anonymous,” would it be protected? Or what if the message is “I object to the surveillance state we’re becoming?” Would that make a mask protected speech?
I’d love to hear some First Amendment experts respond to Omer’s thoughts or this blog entry. I don’t think arguing that privacy is a religion will gain any traction, but I do think that to the extent anti-mask laws infringe on the religious beliefs of some (such as bans on burqas or naqibs), the laws should be struck down. I doubt they will be because of anti-Muslim sentiment and because of the foolish “security trumps privacy” mentality, but in my opinion, they should be struck down.
Legal question with implications for all computer security research? We develop tools, RIAA and MPAA mis-apply them? Organizations (like ISPs) stop sharing data for research?
Researchers Expose Locations of Pirate Bay Uploaders
September 1, 2012 by Dissent
Academic researchers have published information on the individuals and groups who upload torrent files to The Pirate Bay. The data reveals that most torrent files are first seeded from U.S. connections, with Comcast and Road Runner being the top Internet providers. The researchers also reveal the top 100 uploaders to The Pirate Bay along with their alleged whereabouts.
Read more on TorrentFreak.
After displaying some of the results table, Ernesto writes:
Although no-one will be caught based on the data above, it is astonishing to see how much information can be gathered on Pirate Bay accounts and their associated IP-addresses.
While he may be right that aggregated data may not result in anyone being caught, what stops RIAA or MPAA from subpoenaing the researchers’ raw data?
So if I manufacture computers and you write a program that copies patented code, we both infringe?
"In a much anticipated patent law case, an en banc panel of the Federal Circuit overturned existing law and came out in favor a new rule for indirect infringement: you can still be liable for infringing even if no single person does all the infringement. This case consolidated two different cases involving internet patents. In McKesson v. Epic, a lower court found that Epic did not infringe a patent about a patient portal because one of the steps was performed by the patient accessing the portal. In Akamai v. Limelight, the lower court found that Limelight did not infringe because its customers, not the company itself, tagged content. This is likely headed for the Supreme Court."
[From the Opinion:
The court should acknowledge that an all-purpose single-entity requirement is flawed, and restore direct infringement to its status as occurring when all of the claimed steps are conducted, whether by a single entity or in interaction or collaboration.
About time beer got some respect. Wine is fine for state dinners, but a beer or two for breakfast makes the whole day mellower...
"Sam Kass, White House Assistant Chef and the Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives, after much buzz, today released the recipe for White House Honey Ale and White House Honey Porter, two brews made right on site at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. According to Kass, the White House Honey Brown Ale is the first alcohol brewed or distilled on the White House grounds, as far as they know. "George Washington brewed beer and distilled whiskey at Mount Vernon and Thomas Jefferson made wine but there's no evidence that any beer has been brewed in the White House. (Although we do know there was some drinking during prohibition)," Kass wrote in a blog post. The recipe can be found here along with a short video 'Inside The White House Beer Brewing' which shows the brewing in process. Your tax dollars hard at work yet again!"
(Related) Faster drinking through science! Chug! Chug! Chug! Chug!
"Before you down that pint, check the shape of your glass—you might be drinking more beer than you realize. According to a new study of British beer drinkers, an optical illusion caused by the shape of a curved glass can dramatically increase the speed at which we swill. The researchers recruited 160 Brits, and asked them to watch a nature documentary while they drank beer from straight or curved glasses. The group drinking a full glass of lager out of curved flute glasses drank significantly faster than the other group--possibly because the curved glasses impaired their ability to pace themselves while drinking."