Thursday, November 22, 2012

Perhaps we have a new meme to complement the Streisand Effect. The Haley Effect is the repeated attempt by politicians to convince voters that they know something when they clearly do not...
IRS says states must encrypt electronic tax records; Governor Haley attempts to extricate her feet from her mouth
November 21, 2012 by admin
Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina should stop talking about the massive databreach at the Department of Revenue and let someone who actually knows something about data security speak for the state.
First, she claimed that there was no industry standard to encrypt Social Security numbers. That claim was roundly dismissed by, well, everyone, except, perhaps, by the state’s Inspector General Patrick Maley who had found the department “in substantial compliance with sound computer security practices.”
The Governor had also claimed that the breach probably couldn’t have been prevented. Yet more scorn was heaped upon her head, particularly after Mondiant’s forensic investigation indicated that the compromise likely occurred because an employee fell for a phishing attempt.
Still in “I really don’t know what I’m talking about but maybe this will help deflect blame” mode, the Governor then tried to blame the IRS for their lax standards, claiming that they don’t require states to encrypt data.
The IRS was having none of that, though. Jody Barr reports:
The IRS responded early Wednesday, refuting the governor’s claim.
In an e-mail, an IRS spokeswoman wrote: “We have many different systems with a variety of safeguards–including encryption–to protect taxpayer data. The IRS has in place a robust cyber security of technology, people and processes to monitor IRS systems and networks. We have a long list of requirements for states to handle and protect federal tax information.”
What was that quote about how it’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt? Enough said, Governor. Really.

I agree, this should be amusing...
Two Utah websites claim hacker attacks cost them $180K; @ItsKahuna challenges the price tag
November 21, 2012 by admin
Back at the beginning of the year, the Salt Lake City Police Department and Utah Chiefs of Police were among a number of law enforcement organizations hacked in #OpPiggyBank. A hacker whose Twitter handle is @ItsKahuna was subsequently charged in the incidents. Now John Anthony Borrell is challenging the organizations’ claims about what the hacks cost them.
Actually, a $180,000 price tag for two breached sites doesn’t sound that outrageous to me, but I look forward to seeing the organizations’ responses to discovery requests and clarification of the security protections they had in place prior to the hacks.

Gooder or badder?
If you’ve been a long-time Facebook user, then you know how controversial some of the privacy updates have been on the social networking site. The company launched its current site governance model in 2009, which gave users the right to vote on privacy policy issues. However, Facebook is now proposing to get rid of that system, saying that Facebook has outgrown the old model.
Facebook wants to replace the system with one that solicits high-quality feedback instead of just votes. This would also prevent votes from being triggered by copy-and-pasted comments from privacy activists. Currently, if a proposed change gets 7,000 “substantive comments,” Facebook users can vote on the change and the vote will be binding if more than 30% of all Facebook users vote.
Facebook says that it’s doing away with the voting system because it “resulted in a system that incentivized the quantity of comments over their quality.” Therefore, the social network is “proposing to end the voting component of the process in favor of a system that leads to more meaningful feedback and engagement.”

I'm sure there must be a perfectly logical reason...
"Back in September, a U.S. judge ruled that a school district violated the First Amendment (freedom of speech) and Fourth Amendment (unreasonable search and seizure) rights of a 12-year-old student by forcing her to hand over her Facebook password to school officials who in turn used it to search for messages they deemed inappropriate. This month, another U.S. judge has ordered that women suing their employer for sexual harassment must hand over cell phones, passwords to their email accounts, blogs, as well as to Facebook and other social networks."
[From The Next Web article:
Should the outcome be different because it is on one’s Facebook account? There is a strong argument that storing such information on Facebook and making it accessible to others presents an even stronger case for production, at least as it concerns any privacy objection. It was the claimants (or at least some of them) who, by their own volition, created relevant communications and shared them with others.
[Better citations on the Eric Goldman Blog:
EEOC v. Original Honeybaked Ham Co. of Georgia, Inc., 11 cv 02560 MSK MEH (D. Col. Nov. 7, 2012)

A look at some new toys for a cheaper safer way to wage war... (My picks)
Suicide Drones, Mini Blimps and 3D Printers: Inside the New Army Arsenal
… Flying Grenade
Don't call it a drone. Sure, it looks just like a small unmanned aerial vehicle -- right down to the little wings and the cameras. And yes, it's remotely flown. But the Lethal Miniature Aerial Munition System is more like a tiny, flying grenade. The 5.5-pound device contains just enough explosive material -- a little more than a shotgun shell's worth of tungsten pieces -- to make a single target's day unpleasant in a way no small drone can.
… Solar Drone
The Army and Marine Corps have bought thousands of hand-held drones, which can spy on a small piece of the battlefield. But the small eyes in the sky have a major weakness: they can only fly for about an hour before the batteries die. The REF believes it can double that endurance, by outfitting the drone's wings with these flexible solar cells.

I never like this tax either, since I don't pirate movies or music, it is a fine for someone else's crime. Or (worse) completely imaginary crimes.
An anonymous reader writes with news that hardware vendors aren't too happy about expanded levies on media. From the article:
"Hewlett-Packard, Acer, Dell, and Imation are suing the Dutch government over new levies on hard disks, smartphones, tablets, and MP3 players that are meant to compensate the music and movie industries for losses caused by home copying. The entertainment industry estimates lost income of €40 million, which is much too high, according to the hardware companies. 'That amount is excessive and completely unfounded,' they said. The €40 million also incorporates damages for illegally downloaded music and movies which, according to the companies, legally cannot be recovered by a levy on devices. Furthermore the Dutch government established a levy on all devices including devices for professional use that are not used for private copying, they said."

This could help fund the Privacy Foundation for example. I think with a few tweeks, this model would be quite useful.
Group-Funding Platform Crowdtilt Opens To Non-Profits, Now Offers Tax-Deductible Donations, Receipts
Since we first covered its launch back in February, Crowdtilt has been on a mission to become the easiest way for groups of people to collaborate around money, specifically fundraising, for any cause.
… As the startup has moved forward, however, it’s discovered that many of its users want to help raise funds for charitable causes, like Hurricane Sandy relief projects, for example. To support the growing number of individuals and organizations looking to raise money charity, Crowdtilt today announced that it has enabled tax-deductible donations for 501(c)(3), or non-profit, organizations. As part of this, Crowdtilt is now able to send tax-deductible receipts for donations made to campaigns automatically, and the company believes it’s the first crowdfunding platform to do so.

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