Friday, September 07, 2012

Perhaps he could ask Christo to cover the country in fabric?
Sudan’s Dictator Wants Satellites to Stop Spying on His Crimes
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has issues with satellites. It’s not that he would mind some of his own, if Sudan suddenly developed a working space program. It’s rather those pesky foreign satellites snooping on Bashir’s war crimes and state-orchestrated genocide that he wants to get rid of.
On Wednesday, Bashir called on the African Union (AU) to find ways to “protect” the continent from spy satellites. The dictator urged the AU to “legislate protection of [Africa's] space,” as the state-owned Sudan Vision website reported, in tandem with developing a new unified space agency. “I’m calling for the biggest project, an African space agency,” Bashir said during remarks at a telecommunications conference in Khartoum. “Africa must have its space agency,” he added.
The dictator — who is wanted by the International Criminal Court regarding his role in the Darfur genocide — has, er, particular reasons for wanting the spy satellites to stay out. Last year, satellites from private space monopoly DigitalGlobe uncovered what appeared to be evidence of mass killings carried out during Sudan’s ongoing civil war. But whatever Bashir’s motivations, a continent-wide space agency actually isn’t a bad idea.

Re-Identification Risks and Myths, Superusers and Super Stories (Part I: Risks and Myths)
September 6, 2012 by Dissent
Daniel Barth-Jones has a critique of re-identification studies that informs the conversation about risks:
In a recent Health Affairs blog article, I provide a critical re-examination of the famous re-identification of Massachusetts Governor William Weld’s health information. This famous re-identification attack was popularized by recently appointed FTC Senior Privacy Adviser, Paul Ohm, in his 2010 paper Broken Promises of Privacy. Ohm’s paper provides a gripping account of Latanya Sweeney’s famous re-identification of Weld’s health insurance data using a Cambridge, MA voter list. The Weld attack has been frequently cited echoing Ohm’s claim that computer scientists can purportedly identify individuals within de-identified data with “astonishing ease.”
However, the voter list supposedly used to “re-identify” Weld contained only 54,000 residents and Cambridge demographics at the time of the re-identification attempt show that the population was nearly 100,000 persons. So the linkage between the data sources could not have provided definitive evidence of re-identification. The findings from this critical re-examination of the famous Weld re-identification attack indicate that he was quite likely re-identifiable only by virtue of his having been a public figure experiencing a well-publicized hospitalization, rather than there being any actual certainty to his purported re-identification via the Cambridge voter data. His “shooting-fish-in-a-barrel” re-identification had several important advantages which would not have existed for any random re-identification target. It is clear from the statistics for this famous re-identification attack that the purported method of voter list linkage could not have definitively re-identified Weld and, while the odds were somewhat better than a coin-flip, they fell quite short of the certainty that is implied by the term “re-identification”.
The full detail of this methodological flaw underlying the famous Weld/Cambridge re-identification attacks is available in my recently released paper. This fatal flaw, the inability to confirm that Weld was indeed the only man with in his ZIP Code with his birthdate, exposes the critical logic underlying all re-identification attacks.
Read more of this commentary on Concurring Opinions. Part II of his commentary can be found here.

There is always someone who notices something odd about the Emperor's new clothes...
"According to British daily The Telegraph, Sir Tim Berners-Lee has warned that plans to monitor individuals' use of the internet would result in Britain losing its reputation as an upholder of web freedom. The plans, by Home Secretary Theresa May, would force British ISPs and other service providers to keep records of every phone call, email and website visit in Britain. Sir Tim has told the Times: 'In Britain, like in the US, there has been a series of Bills that would give government very strong powers to, for example, collect data. I am worried about that.' Sir Tim has also warned that the UK may wind up slipping down the list of countries with the most Internet freedom, if the proposed data-snooping laws pass parliament. The draft bill extends the type of data that internet service providers must store for at least 12 months. Providers would also be required to keep details of a much wider set of data, including use of social network sites, webmail and voice calls over the internet."

“Let us check to see if you are related to a rapist.” Would anyone even consider doing this in the US?
"In an attempt to solve a rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl, the Dutch police have asked 8080 men to provide their DNA. All these people lived 5 km or less from the crime scene at the time of the murder. This reopened cold case is the first large-scale attempt not to hunt the rapist and killer but to locate his close or distant male relatives. All data gathered will be destroyed after the match with this particular murder. There seems to be great public support for this attempt."
Shades of The Blooding.

Perhaps our message is getting out?
September 05, 2012
Pew Survey - Privacy and Data Management on Mobile Devices
Privacy and Data Management on Mobile Devices, by Jan Lauren Boyles, Aaron Smith, Mary Madden. Sep 5, 2012.
"More than half of mobile application users have uninstalled or avoided certain apps due to concerns about the way personal information is shared or collected by the app, according to a nationally representative telephone survey conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. In all, 88% of U.S. adults now own cell phones, and 43% say they download cell phone applications or “apps” to their phones. Among app users, the survey found:
  • 54% of app users have decided to not install a cell phone app when they discovered how much personal information they would need to share in order to use it
  • 30% of app users have uninstalled an app that was already on their cell phone because they learned it was collecting personal information that they didn’t wish to share
  • Taken together, 57% of all app users have either uninstalled an app over concerns about having to share their personal information, or declined to install an app in the first place for similar reasons."

We called it “incidental intelligence”
September 05, 2012
Users increasingly sharing photos over text on social media
eMarketer - Users turn to Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter itself to post pictures. "As the number of Twitter users grows, consumers are using the site to share photos, videos and other links with their followers. eMarketer forecasts that US adult Twitter users will reach 31.8 million in 2013, up 14.9% from the 27.7 million users in 2012. As the base grows, the way consumers use the site and what they share is also changing. In July 2012, website analysis company Diffbot looked at 750,000 links posted to Twitter worldwide and found that 36% were images, 16% were articles and 9% were videos. Additionally, 8% linked to a product, and 7% each linked to a site’s front page, a status update or a page error. Games, location-sharing, recipes and reviews each made up less than 2% of links."

What process/practice would allow you to force them to lower their price for you? That's the one I want to patent.
"A newly-granted Google patent on Dynamic Pricing of Electronic Content describes how information gleaned from your search history and social networking activity can be used against you by providing tell-tale clues for your propensity to pay jacked-up prices to 'reconsume' electronic content, such as 'watching a video recording, reading an electronic book, playing a game, or listening to an audio recording.' The patent is illustrated with drawings showing how some individuals can be convinced to pay 4x what others will be charged for the same item. From the patent: 'According to one innovative aspect of the subject matter described by this specification, a system may use this information to tailor the price that is offered to the particular user to repurchase the particular item of electronic content. By not applying discounts for users that may, in relation to a typical user, be more inclined to repurchase a particular product, profits may increase.' Hey, wasn't this kind of dynamic pricing once considered evil?"

For my entrepreneurs...
What the Heck Is Homestuck, And How’d It Get $750K on Kickstarter?
When I heard that a webcomic called Homestuck had raised three quarters of a million dollars on Kickstarter within 24 hours for a videogame version, I set out to research what it was. Three hours later, I was not much closer to understanding it.
Homestuck, and the rabid fandom of its millions of readers, is difficult to explain. Entire blogs have been started just to answer the question, “What is Homestuck?”
Here’s the best I can do: It’s a book/webcomic/Flash animation/videogame hybrid, all created by Andrew Hussie. When Hussie revealed a Kickstarter campaign to fund creation of a Homestuck adventure game on Tuesday, his fans helped him meet his $700,000 goal within just one day. He plans to release the game in 2014.

No comments: