Saturday, January 28, 2012

What's important to you?
15 worst Internet privacy scandals of all time
January 27, 2012 by Dissent
Carolyn Duffy Marsan writes:
In honor of National Data Privacy Day this Saturday, Jan. 28, we’ve put together a list of the 15 worst Internet privacy scandals of all time.
These high-profile privacy scandals involve many underlying technologies, from search to social media, e-mail to voice mail, mobile phones to Webcams to GPS. But at the heart of all of these privacy scandals are companies collecting personal data without the user’s knowledge or consent and then either sharing it with third parties or simply failing to keep it safe.
Read more on Computerworld and see what you think. If I had the time or energy to do my own 15 worst privacy breaches/scandals list, most of their entries would never make my list at all while some breaches that the media never paid much attention to would make my list.

My God, it may depend on what you definition of “is” is...
First rulings in our lawsuit over DHS travel records
January 27, 2012 by Dissent
From The Identity Project
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg has issued his first rulings in Hasbrouck v. CBP, our lawsuit seeking information from and about DHS records of the travels of individual US citizens.
Judge Seeborg granted some of the government’s motions for summary judgment and some of ours, ordered US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to conduct further searches and disclose any non-exempt responsive records they find, and ordered the parties to confer on the remaining unresolved issues.
We’re still studying the order, which we received notice of late yesterday. But here are some key aspects of the ruling — including some issues of first impression for any Federal court — and some issues it raises:
1. Federal agencies can retroactively exempt themselves from access and other requirements of the Privacy Act.
Judge Seeborg held that regulations issued by DHS in 2010 to exempt Automated Targeting System (ATS) records and records of Privacy Act and FOIA processing could be used as the basis for withholding information that Mr. Hasbrouck first requested in 2007 and 2009.
Read more on Papers, Please!, because it gets worse. Thankfully, this case is not over and they will continue to fight. We need to spread the word about this ruling and figure out what we can to do help.

Perspective All I want is a measly 1%...
Web economy in G20 set to double by 2016, Google says
Driving the spurt from $2.3tn (£1.5tn) to $4.2tn (£2.7tn) will be the rapid rise of mobile internet access.
The study, supported by web giant Google, assumes that in four years 3bn people will be using the internet, or nearly 50% of the world's population.
… Right now, every year about 200 million people are going online for the very first time.
However, traditional internet access via a copper wire and a desktop PC will fade into the background.
The rapid fall in the cost of smartphones - with cheap versions now costing about $100 - means that by 2016 about 80% of all internet users will access the web using a mobile phone.
… The Boston Consulting Group researchers speak of the emergence of a "new internet" where:
  • web access will not be a luxury any more
  • the majority of web users will live in emerging markets (within four years, China is expected to be home to 800 million people using the internet; that is more than the United States, India, France, Germany and the UK taken together)
  • about 80% of all internet users will access the web from a mobile
  • the internet will go social, and allow customers and companies to engage with each other

Because sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words...
Almost everyone uses Google Image Search to find pictures, and while it does the job well, there are a few quirks that makes image searching bloated and slower. For example, downloading the full size image in Google Image Search is slow, forcing you to go to the source website and click on the full image.
… Google Image Ripper is a simple website that makes image searching much more fun. The minimalist layout displays images in thumbnails with a ready download link for each one available, so you do not have to leave the search page to download the image.
Similar Tools: TeleportD, PicsLikeThat, Tiltomo.

Friday, January 27, 2012

I'd like their “You might be a domestic terrorist...” jokes if they were in fact jokes.
Welcome to Minority Report IRL: Police armed with pre-crime detection tools
The terrorist threat as perceived since 9/11 has enough intelligence agencies on the hunt, so the Aspen Institute Homeland Security Group recommends that DHS now focus on domestic extremist, aka homegrown terrorists, via federalizing the police to bring them deeper into the intelligence apparatus and thereby reflect "a transition in how Americans perceive national security."
… Such mission creep is not new, but is alarming in light of the ridiculous FBI list topped only by the ridiculous DHS list of what can qualify a person as a potential domestic terrorist.

This is not for the “let's block everything” countries, this if for the “Stop that guy from whistle blowing” countries... Where do you live?
"In a blog post on Thursday, Twitter announced that it can now block individual Tweets in specific countries, while leaving them visible in other countries. 'We try to keep content up whenever and wherever we can, and we will be transparent with users when we can't,' the blog said. Twitter will publish requests it receives to block content through its partnership with Chilling Effects."

Integrity is rare...
"The EU ACTA chief has resigned, saying, 'This agreement might have major consequences on citizens' lives, and still, everything is being done to prevent the European Parliament from having its say in this matter. That is why today, as I release this report for which I was in charge, I want to send a strong signal and alert the public opinion about this unacceptable situation. I will not take part in this masquerade.' 22 EU members signed the controversial ACTA treaty Thursday in Tokyo."

Would you ask DoJ to explain the involvement of RIAA, MPAA and other organization?
Pirate Parties Organizing Lawsuit Against FBI Over Megaupload Takedown
The Megaupload troubles make for interesting discussion because there is much to be said on both sides. Whether the illegal aspects of the network “outweigh” the legal aspects is a question that will be discussed for months and perhaps years.
But one thing can’t be disputed: after the two-year investigation by the FBI, the site’s takedown was swift and perhaps over-thorough. Thousands and thousands of users who had legitimate and often critical files hosted on the site have been left behind, their legal files hosted on a simple file-hosting service. A coalition of Pirate Party organizations, led by Pirates of Catalonia, are planning to sue the FBI over what they say are “huge personal, economic and image damages to a vast number of people.”
The group leading the charge contends that the FBI may have violated Spanish Law, and at any rate,
Regardless of ideology, or opinions on the legality or morality of those running Megaupload, actions such as the closure of this service cause huge damage to lawful users of the sites and are unacceptable and disproportionate violations of their rights.

Imagine all of your online data interpreted by an algorithm that nags you in the most annoying voice possible...
January 25, 2012
ACLU Lens: Google's New Privacy Policy
ACLU: "Yesterday evening, Google announced a new privacy policy effective March 1. The new policy is consistent across the vast majority of Google products...the new privacy policy makes clear that Google will, for the first time, combine the personal data you share with any one of its products or sites across almost all of its products and sites (everything but Google Chrome, Google Books, and Google Wallet) in order to obtain a more comprehensive picture of you. And there’s no opting out. This comes on the heels of Google’s new Search, plus Your World, a feature combining search results from the public web with private information and photos you have shared (or that have been shared with you) through Google+ or Picasa... The head of Google’s privacy for product and engineering explained on Google’s blog that integrating an individual’s profiles across Google’s sites will help Google “figure[e] out what you really mean when you type in Apple, Jaguar or Pink,” provide more relevant ads, “provide reminders that you’re going to be late for a meeting based on your location, your calendar and an understanding of what the traffic is like that day” (thanks, Mom), and “ensure that our spelling suggestions, even for your friends’ names, are accurate...this data aggregation is not just about what ads you see, but as ACLU of Massachusetts describes, it creates an even larger treasure chest of personal information ripe for government picking."

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me.
We pillage plunder, we rifle and loot.
...and now we can steal your prototype right along with the description!
The Pirate Bay now offers a way to download 3D objects
File sharing is certainly a disruptive technology and The Pirate Bay took this a step further this week by announcing a section for “physibles,” where users can download files used to make 3D objects.

So... Is this good or bad? Shouldn't DHA account for 85% of prosecutions?
January 26, 2012
TRAC Report - DHS Referred Most Federal Criminal Prosecutions in October 2011
TRAC: "The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during October 2011 the Department of Homeland Security's efforts to enforce immigration and customs laws accounted for 59% of all federal criminal prosecutions. The government reported 8,038 new prosecutions for these DHS matters as compared with a total of 13,628 from all sources. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is up 9.3 percent over the previous month.

Another good “bad example?” I could have my Excel students try to answer some basic questions this data does not: What is the average small business income per state, for example...
January 26, 2012
2011 Small Business Profiles for the States and Territories
  • "The economic condition of small businesses in the United States is captured in the latest edition of the Small Business Profiles for the States and Territories. This annual publication from the Office of Advocacy provides information on the demographics of business ownership, employment, industry composition, and small business income, for each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The publication provides available limited data on the U.S. territories The value of this publication is the detail it provides about small businesses at the state level. An Excel spreadsheet containing all of the data in the profiles is also available. The state and territory profiles are in Adobe PDF format."

Geeky stuff Still not the system to let me replace the monopoly for my neighbors, but it might be perfect for a school or business...
"Lucky residents of Wilmington, N.C., will be the first in the nation to have access to a 'Super Wi-Fi' network. Officials from New Hanover County, N.C., announced Thursday that they had become the first in the United States to deploy a mobile data network on so-called 'white spaces' spectrum that the FCC first authorized for unlicensed use in 2008."

Soon, all my geeky friends will be crooks... (Okay, not a big change)
"Back in July 2010, the United States government approved a few exemptions in a federal law which made jailbreaking/rooting of electronic devices (iPhones and Android devices) legal. The court ruling stated that every three years, the exemptions have to be renewed considering they don't infringe any copyrighted material. The three-year period is due to expire and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is looking to get the exemptions renewed. In order to do so, they have filed a petition which aims at government to declare jailbreaking legal once again. In addition to that, EFF is also asking for a change in the original ruling to include tablet devices."

This hints at the direction of “for profit” schools and universities...
January 25, 2012
West LegalEdcenter and NALP Foundation Release Study of Law Firm Professional Development
News release: "The majority of law firms in the United States and Canada expect to increase their reliance on electronic forms of lawyer development in the next 24 months, although associates in those firms say they prefer mentoring and on-the-job training to hone their skills. Details regarding this important disconnect, along with other key findings about the landscape of professional development inside law firms, are available in a first-of-its-kind research report published by the NALP Foundation in partnership with West LegalEdcenter, a Thomson Reuters business. The report, “Leading Law Firm Professional Development: A Comprehensive Study of Professional Development Staffing, Resources and Program Delivery Modes,” examines the perspectives of more than 200 law firm administrators responsible for professional development functions and nearly 1,500 associates from firms ranging in size from less than 10 lawyers to more than 1,000 lawyers. The data for this study was collected in late 2010 and early 2011 from online questionnaires."

More tools than Apple is offering...
Friday, January 27, 2012
Yesterday, the Google Apps for Education team published a new ebook (PDF) titled A New and Open World for Learning. A New and Open World for Learning is all about using Google's products and services in education. The ebook is clearly a marketing vehicle for Google Apps for Education, but you will find some good examples of and ideas for using Google apps in your school.
As part of the same announcement in which A New and Open World for Learning was released, Google also announced a revamped Google in Education website. The aspects of Google in Education that are probably of most interest to classroom teachers are the lesson plan index and the classroom tools index. The classroom tools index provides links to information about each of the services available to teachers and students. In the classroom tools index you'll find some tutorial or how-to resources.

Make Billions? Probably not. Make something that connects you to current information and shows you how to use that information...
Digital Textbooks Go Straight From Scientists to Students
A year ago, electronic textbook publishers turned down David Johnston’s big idea: the first interactive marine science textbook.
… The first interactive marine science textbook for the iPad is called Cachalot (French for “sperm whale”). It’s a free, app-based book that covers the latest science of marine megafauna like whales, dolphins and seals with expert-contributed text, images and open-access studies. Through a digital publication system called FLOW, the book also offers students note-taking tools, Twitter integration, Wolfram|Alpha search and even National Geographic “critter cam” videos.
FLOW isn’t the first or most feature-rich publication tool, nor is Cachalot the slickest interactive textbook on the market (a market in which Apple just announced its interest). But Johnston’s title is an easy-to-update, “good-enough” product that didn’t require millions of dollars and years of effort to create and manage. A cadre of Duke computer science graduates, in fact, built the platform in one semester on a $5,000 budget.
… “Our real hope in the next few years is to make this a truly cross-platform tool,” Johnston said. “Theoretically, you could access your science textbook and notes from any device. Even your web browser.”
… As new scientific knowledge enters a field, a leading academic could make a quick edit in FLOW to instantly and seamlessly update a student’s textbook.
… Johnston and McMurray hope to succeed where free, collaborative “Wikibooks” textbook efforts have floundered. Those invited the public at large to contribute; Johnston and McMurray seek expert contributions, and the final text is rigorously edited and peer-reviewed.
… McMurray and Johnston plan to develop FLOW into a commercial business that offers help to universities, government agencies and NGOs looking to develop textbooks and instructional materials.
… “These guys are building an incredible proof of concept, something that serves us all in the pursuit of digital publishing by showing people what’s possible,” said MacInnis. “But academic projects tend not to make great business projects. It remains to be seen what happens here.”

(Related) The tools are out there...
"Right now, content publishers who want to reach readers through dedicated mobile apps have to hire a separate engineering team to build each app — one for iOS (based on Objective-C), another for Android (Java), a third for Windows Phone (C#), etc. Yahoo's Platform Technology Group is working on an alternative: a set of JavaScript and HTML-based tools that would handle core UI and data-management tasks inside mobile apps for any operating system, moving developers closer to the nirvana of 'write once, run everywhere.' The tools are gradually being open-sourced — starting with Mojito, a framework for running hybrid server/browser module-widgets ('mojits') — and Yahoo is showing off what they can do in the form of Livestand, the news reader app it released for the iPad in November. In his first extensive public interview about Mojito and the larger 'Cocktails' project, Bruno Fernandez-Ruiz, chief architect at Yahoo's Platform Technology Group, explains how the tools work and why the company is sharing them."

Apparently there is seed money for Education Technology... Just remember when you start your company, I have degrees in both Computers and Business, and I work (relatively) cheep!
Knewton Prepares To Take Education by Storm [TCTV]
… I managed to catch Jose Ferreira, CEO and Founder of Knewton a startup which is aiming a silver bullet at the education problem with something that one might even call an audacious platform.
How so? Well, Knewton, a technology company based in NYC, currently has an application being tested with 10,000 college student in the US and is described as an “adaptive learning platform”. What does that mean in English? Well, the idea is that it customises your average educational content to meet the unique needs of each student.
… Ferreira has raised $54M to achieve this, which is quite a sum. Despite that, he is openly critical of VCs who do not think in such word changing arenas as education.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tomorrow is:
International Privacy Day: Fighting Data Retention Mandates Around the World
January 25, 2012 by Dissent
Katitza Rodriguez of EFF writes:
This January 28 marks International Privacy Day, the day that the first legally binding international privacy treaty was opened for signature to Member States in January 28, 1981. Different countries around the world are celebrating this day with their own events. This year, we are honoring the day by calling attention to recent privacy threats around the world and describing a few of the available tools that allow individuals to protect their privacy and anonymity.
Today, we are calling on governments to repeal mandatory data retention schemes. Mandatory data retention harms individuals’ anonymity, which is crucial for whistle-blowers, investigators, journalists, and for political speech. It creates huge potential for abuse and should be rejected as a serious infringement on the rights and freedoms of all individuals.
Read more on EFF.

Long press release – just grab the report...
Study Examines the Aftermath of Data Breaches
To access the full “Aftermath of a Data Breach” Report, visit

“When we said there had been an attack what we meant was there had not been an attack.” Isn't this the very definition of Double-Speak? OR If you have no idea how to prevent/detect/resolve/mitigate a security breach, deny it ever happened (AKA North Korea Speak?)
DHS disputes memo on purported railway computer breach
The Department of Homeland Security is disputing a government memo obtained by that said a targeted attack on the computer network of a railway company in the Northwest disrupted train service in early December.
"Following more in-depth analysis, it appears that the potential cyber incident did not in fact target a transportation entity," a senior DHS official told CNET today. "DHS worked with the affected entity, [which of course was not affected Bob] the FBI, and the Transportation Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAC) to resolve the issue [which needed no resolution Bob] and send alerts to notify the community of the anomalous activity as it was occurring." [Assuring them that it never happened Bob]
… Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the Association of American Railroads (AAR), which also was represented at the meeting, said the memo was inaccurate. " There was no targeted computer-based attack on a railroad," [So it was a random attack? Was it on an airline rather than a railroad? Can't you just say “There was no attack?” Bob] AAR spokeswoman Holly Arthur told

The problem with acting like Big Brother is that people notice...
Department of Justice Misdirection on Cloud Computing and Privacy
January 25, 2012 by Dissent
Cindy Cohn and Katitza Rodriguez of EFF write:
Does using cloud computing services based in the United States create a risk of US law enforcement access to people’s data? The US Department of Justice (DOJ) seems to be trying to placate international concern by saying one thing in international fora; but it says something quite different in the US courts.
On January 18, a senior Justice Department official tried to reassure companies and people around the world that hosting their data in the United States creates no increased privacy risk for them from the US government. Deputy Assistant Attorney General Bruce Swartz noted: “Cloud computing has important advantages to consumers (but) doesn’t present any issues that have not always been present. Certainly not regarding Internet service issues, but even before that.”
Apparently, the DOJ is reacting to decisions by foreign entities to drop US-based services due to concerns about US government access, including British company BAE dropping Microsoft Office 365 and the Dutch governments hesitation about allowing its contractors to use US-based cloud services. In the past, Denmark and Canada have also voiced their concerns about the level of protection the United States can provide to their citizens’ data. EU public tenders of cloud services are also avoiding US cloud services for the same reasons. European-based companies, which have to comply with EU data protection law, see this opportunity as a competitive advantage, as do Australian cloud services.
Yet the DOJ’s reassurances ring hollow. While the DOJ may spin its position one way to try to appease foreign audiences, its actual position is quite clear where it really matters: in US courts when it is trying to access subscriber information held by US-based cloud computing services. Indeed, the DOJ’s position in its court filings is that very little, if any, privacy protection is available against US government access to the records of users of US-based cloud computing services.
Read more on EFF.

(Related) We are the world's policemen...
"A prestigious law firm warns non-U.S. businesses their data is unsafe from costly and invasive raids by American law enforcement even if they host their data in their own countries. The wide interpretation of the USA Patriot Act ensures U.S. cops can legally demand data from almost anyone, anywhere for any reason and countries and their citizens are largely powerless to resist. The advice has resonance with the arrest this week of Kim 'Dotcom' on alleged copyright violations in the U.S."

Was this survey taken online?
"The impact of social media such as Twitter, Facebook and Google+ and others on federal juries is a concern that judges are frequently taking steps to curb. According to a study 94% of the 508 federal judges who responded said they have specifically barred jurors from any case-connected use of social media."
[From the article:
Approximately one quarter of the responding judges reported confiscating cell phones and other electronic devices, with 22% (113 judges) doing so at the start of each day of trial and 29% (147 judges) doing so during deliberations.

It is clear that I will never understand the legal mind...
"A UK judge ruled that a photograph inspired by another photograph, but clearly different from it, infringes the original photo's copyright. The two photographs were shot in the same location, have the same subject, and use the same distinctive post-processing treatment. However, the angle and composition are different. From the article: '[The judge] said a difficult decision hinged on a "qualitative assessment of the reproduced elements." He defined Fielder's image a "photographic work," as distinct from a simply a photograph, in that "its appearance is the product of deliberate choices and also deliberate manipulations by the author," and concluded that those aspects had been copied.'"

A new field for Computer Law students?
"Google's autonomous cars have demonstrated that self-driving vehicles are now largely workable and could greatly limit human error, but questions of legal liability, privacy and insurance regulation have yet to be addressed. Simple questions, like whether the police should have the right to pull over autonomous vehicles, have yet to be answered and legal scholars and government officials warn that society has only begun wrestling with laws required for autonomous vehicles. The big question remains legal liability for the designers and manufacturers as some point out that liability exemptions have been mandated for vaccines, which are believed to offer great value for the general health of the population, despite some risks. 'Why would you even put money into developing it?' says Gary E. Marchant, director of the Center for Law, Science and Innovation at the Arizona State University law school. 'I see this as a huge barrier to this technology unless there are some policy ways around it.' Congress could consider creating a comprehensive regulatory regime to govern the use of these technologies say researchers at the Rand Corporation adding that while federal preemption has important disadvantages, it might speed the development and utilization of these technologies (PDF) and should be considered, if accompanied by a comprehensive federal regulatory regime. 'This may minimize the number of inconsistent legal regimes that manufacturers face and simplify and speed the introduction of these technologies.'"

Something for the Criminal Justice students...
DOJ Wants to Know Who’s Rejecting Your Friend Requests
January 25, 2012 by Dissent
Jennifer Lynch of EFF writes:
In the latest turn in our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit for records related to the government’s use of social networking websites, the Department of Justice finally agreed to release almost 100 pages of new records. These include draft search warrants and affidavits for Facebook and MySpace and several PowerPoint presentations and articles on how to use social networking sites for investigations. (For more on what we’ve learned from the documents so far, see our earlier blog posts here, here, here, here, here, and here.)
The draft search warrants are particularly interesting because they show the full extent of data the government regularly requests on a person it’s investigating. This includes not just your full profile information but also who you “poke” (and presumably who “pokes” you), who rejects your friend requests, which apps you use, what music you listen to, your privacy settings, all photos you upload as well as any photos you’re tagged in (whether or not you upload them), who’s in each of your Facebook groups, and IP logs that can show if and when you viewed a specific profile and from what IP address you did so.
Read more on EFF.

For those of us who like to read...
New library e-catalogs offer expanded selection
Library users searching for e-books will soon get to look through a much bigger catalog and help decide what their local branch might carry.
OverDrive Inc., a major e-distributor for libraries, announced Wednesday the launch of a vastly expanded list for patrons, featuring not just e-books available for lending, but hundreds of thousands of those which include a collected of Edgar Allan Poe stories edited by Michael Connelly to foreign-language titles. Viewers can look at excerpts, purchase books from a retailer or request that their library add an e-book that wasn't being offered.

Interesting. Congress wants to use Facebook and I'm sure Facebook wants to use Congress... (Saints preserve us from Congressmen who pretend to be hackers)
Congressional Facebook Hackathon
January 25, 2012 15:20 Source: U.S. Congress
From the press release:
Today, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) issued the following report, outlining the discussions held at the first-ever Congressional Facebook Hackathon. The event brought together a bipartisan group of Members of Congress, Congressional staffers, Facebook developers and digital innovators to explore the connections between legislative data, constituent correspondence, and social media.

Should make my free WikiSpaces education account even easier to use.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
The popular wiki-building service Wikispaces recently made an handy enhancement to their user interface. The new feature is the option to upload files by simply dragging them from your desktop to the wiki you're working on. I've included two screenshots of the process below.

Another Infographic...
The Millennials: Infographic

(Related) Build your own...
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Here are seven tools that students can use to build data visualizations.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

“I vant to suck your DNA” Count Dracula Jr.
The advantage of DNA beyond identification is we can predict future crimes these so-called citizens might commit...
ACLU Calls on State Legislators to Reject Bill Expanding DNA Testing of Arrestees
January 24, 2012 by Dissent
The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio will testify today before the Ohio Senate Judiciary Committee opposing Senate Bill 268. The legislation will expand the government’s ability to take DNA samples from felony arrestees by allowing the state retroactively to seize genetic information from past arrestees and those charged with a felony but not arrested. In 2009, the Ohio General Assembly passed S. B. 77, which allowed the state to obtain DNA samples from those arrested on felony charges.
“DNA is perhaps the most personal information our bodies contain, and the government must not simply take it without considering the privacy of Ohioans,” said ACLU of Ohio Associate Director Gary Daniels. “Those who have been arrested for a crime have not been found guilty in a court of law, nor have they had any opportunity to defend themselves. This system allows innocent people’s genetic information to become property of the state without any due process.”
“Neither this legislation nor current law provides meaningful opportunity for innocent Ohioans to remove their DNA from state databases if they were wrongfully accused of a crime,” added Daniels. “By expanding the power to collect DNA even further, state legislators will open a Pandora’s box where law enforcement may abuse their ability to arrest to perform an end-run around due process protections.”
S. B. 268 would direct the DNA information to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation to check against past records and keep on file. News reports have indicated that BCI and local law enforcement often have long backlogs on testing DNA evidence such as rape kits. On December 5, 2011, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine recommended that local law enforcement send rape kits to BCI for testing, and pledged to add staff to accommodate the increase. Recently, the Department of Justice and state officials in Michigan and Illinois have warned legislators against adding additional DNA collection categories in order to avoid creating additional logjams.
“Unnecessarily collecting DNA will clog law enforcement systems, violate Ohioans’ privacy, and increase costs,” concluded Daniels. “State legislators should focus on testing rape kits and other evidence that has sat on shelves rather than adding more DNA to test that may lead to nothing.”
Source: ACLU

By Dissent, January 24, 2012
Dionne Cordell-Whitney reports:
Minnesota collects DNA samples from newborn children, then illegally keeps the genetic information and shares it with third parties without informed consent of the parents, parents say in a class action.
Lead plaintiffs Nathan and Katrina Anderson sued the state, the Minnesota Department of Health, and its commissioner, in Hennepin County Court.
They claim that state violated its own Genetic Privacy Act by collecting, storing and disseminating their children’s genetic information without informed consent.
Read more about the lawsuit on Courthouse News.

Another example of a school adopting technology without explanation. (We're in charge and we know best?) I suspect that if they had tried to get parents aboard this would have been viewed as beneficial.
MO: Parkway School District shelves fitness monitors
January 24, 2012 by Dissent
Cynthia Billhartz Gregorian reports:
The Parkway School District is taking away activity monitors given to elementary pupils for physical education classes due to a national controversy over privacy issues.
The 75 Polar Active devices, which are worn on the wrist and cost $90 each, were distributed last year to third-, fourth- and fifth-grade pupils at Henry, Ross and Shenandoah Valley elementary schools. The pupils were using them to measure the quality and duration of their exertion during PE classes then comparing those measurements to the U.S. Surgeon General’s recommendations for activity.

(Related) Because eventually, we'll use the same technology on ourselves... Another article about what they are calling “The Quantified Self”
Use Tech to Track Your Health

Eventually, all Privacy Policies will devolve to: “You ain't got none.”
Google Streamlines Privacy Policy to Integrate its Products
On Tuesday, Google announced that it would be streamlining the bulk of its products’ privacy policies into a single document, effective March 1.
Under the banner “One policy, one Google experience,” the company’s new Policies site says that it is “getting rid of over 60 different privacy policies across Google and replacing them with one that’s a lot shorter and easier to read.”
On the Official Google Blog, a post by Alma Whitten, Google’s Director of Privacy, explains how this new privacy policy will affect users: “Our new Privacy Policy makes clear that, if you’re signed in, we may combine information you’ve provided from one service with information from other services,” Whitten writes [emphasis mine]. “In short, we’ll treat you as a single user across all our products, which will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience.”

I create the work. You put it on your store shelf. You own my work. Is there a problem here?
An anonymous reader writes in with one of many articles about the iBooks EULA, this time questioning whether it is even enforceable. Quoting:
"The iBooks Author EULA plainly tries to create an exclusive license for Apple to be the sole distributor of any worked created with it, but under the Copyright Act an exclusive license is a 'transfer of copyright ownership,' and under 17 U.S.C. 204 such a transfer 'is not valid unless an instrument of conveyance, or a note or memorandum of the transfer, is in writing and signed by the owner of the rights conveyed.' When authors rebel and take their work elsewhere, Apple has, at most, a claim for breach-of-EULA — but their damages are the failure to pay $0 for the program."

Does this give the third world a competitive advantage?
Rising Telecommuter Numbers Worldwide Form A Notable Trend
A new poll of over 11,000 workers worldwide by Ipsos and Reuters shows that telecommuting is an increasingly popular choice, especially in non-Western countries. This will come as no surprise to many, but the numbers are higher than some might have guessed. Over 30 percent of workers in India, Mexico, and Indonesia claimed to telecommute regularly, and one in ten overall work from home every day.
… There is very little that can be done in an office that must be done in an office, and worldwide in developing markets the cost savings of that fact are being welcomed with open arms.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My car has rights? What about my laptop?
January 23, 2012
EPIC: Supreme Court Upholds Fourth Amendment in GPS Tracking Case
"Today the Supreme Court unanimously held in U.S. v. Jones that the warrantless use of a GPS tracking device by the police violated the Fourth Amendment. The Court said that a warrant is required "[w]here, as here, the government obtains information by physically intruding on a constitutionally protected area," like a car. Concurring opinions by Justices Sotomayor and Alito urged the court to focus on the reasonableness of the suspect's expectation of privacy because physical intrusion is unnecessary to surveillance in the digital age. EPIC, joined by 30 legal and technical experts,filed a "friend of the court" brief. EPIC warned that, "it is critical that police access to GPS tracking be subject to a warrant requirement." For more information, see EPIC: US v. Jones, and EPIC: Location Privacy"

(Related) How about an Internet service that routes your data to a country/provider of your choice, but does not record where you sent it?
Judge Orders Defendant to Decrypt Laptop
A judge on Monday ordered a Colorado woman to decrypt her laptop computer so prosecutors can use the files against her in a criminal case.
The defendant, accused of bank fraud, had unsuccessfully argued that being forced to do so violates the Fifth Amendment’s protection against compelled self-incrimination.
“I conclude that the Fifth Amendment is not implicated by requiring production of the unencrypted contents of the Toshiba Satellite M305 laptop computer,” Colorado U.S. District Judge Robert Blackburn ruled Monday. (.pdf)
… The case is being closely watched (.pdf) by civil rights groups, as the issue has never been squarely weighed in on by the Supreme Court.
… The government had argued that there was no Fifth Amendment breach, and that it might “require significant resources and may harm the subject computer” if the authorities tried to crack the encryption.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Patricia Davies said in a court filing (.pdf) that if Judge Blackburn did not rule against the woman, that would amount to “a concession to her and potential criminals (be it in child exploitation, national security, terrorism, financial crimes or drug trafficking cases) that encrypting all inculpatory digital evidence will serve to defeat the efforts of law enforcement officers to obtain such evidence through judicially authorized search warrants, and thus make their prosecution impossible.”
A factually similar dispute involving child pornography ended with a Vermont federal judge ordering the defendant to decrypt the hard drive of his laptop. While that case never reached the Supreme Court, it differed from the Fricosu matter because U.S. border agents already knew there was child porn on the computer because they saw it while the computer was running during a 2006 routine stop along the Canadian border.
The judge in the Colorado case said there was plenty of evidence — a jailhouse recording of the defendant — that the laptop might contain information the authorities were seeking.

It's nice that they are looking at cost efficient technology, but how often would they find terrorists spread over so much space?
Homeland Security Wants to Spy on 4 Square Miles at Once
… The Department of Homeland Security says it’s interested in a system that can see between five to 10 square kilometers — that’s between two and four square miles, roughly the size of Brooklyn, New York’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood — in its “persistent mode. By “persistent,” it means the cameras should stare at the area in question for an unspecified number of hours to collect what the military likes to call “pattern of life” data — that is, what “normal” activity looks like for a given area. Persistence typically depends on how long the vehicle carrying the camera suite can stay aloft; DHS wants something that can fit into a manned P-3 Orion spy plane or a Predator drone — of which it has a couple. When not in “persistent mode,” the cameras ought to be able to see much, much further: “long linear areas, tens to hundreds of kilometers in extent, such as open, remote borders.”

(Related) A Must-Watch Video On How Military Drones Are Changing War

If Homeland Security really wanted to shut the door on terrorists they would use a tool like this to identify organizations that don't “get it” and “encourage” them to improve. Might be a fun, if somewhat trivial project for my Ethical Hackers...
10K Reasons to Worry About Critical Infrastructure
A security researcher was able to locate and map more than 10,000 industrial control systems hooked up to the public internet, including water and sewage plants, and found that many could be open to easy hack attacks, due to lax security practices.
Infrastructure software vendors and critical infrastructure owners have long maintained that industrial control systems (ICSes) — even if rife with security vulnerabilities — are not at risk of penetration by outsiders because they’re “air-gapped” from the internet — that is, they’re not online.
But Eireann Leverett, a computer science doctoral student at Cambridge University, has developed a tool that matches information about ICSes that are connected to the internet with information about known vulnerabilities to show how easy it could be for an attacker to locate and target an industrial control system.
… To debunk the myth that industrial control systems are never connected to the internet, Leverett used the SHODAN search engine developed by John Matherly, which allows users to find internet-connected devices using simple search terms. He then matched that data to information from vulnerability databases to find known security holes and exploits that could be used to hijack the systems or crash them. He used Timemap to chart the information on Google maps, along with red markers noting brand devices that are known to have security holes in them. He described his methodology in a paper (.pdf) about the project.

(Related) A more profitable tool? Is this what happens when managers ask IT to make it “simple enough for the CEO to operate?”
I Spy Your Company’s Boardroom
It’s a good thing Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World reporters are out of business, because they would have loved the hacking opportunity recently uncovered by two security professionals.
HD Moore and Mike Tuchen of Rapid7 discovered that they could remotely infiltrate conference rooms in some of the top venture capital and law firms across the country, as well as pharmaceutical and oil companies and even the boardroom of Goldman Sachs — all by simply calling in to unsecured videoconferencing systems that they found by doing a scan of the internet.
“These are literally some of the world’s most important boardrooms — this is where their most critical meetings take place — and there could be silent attendees in all of them,” Moore told the New York Times.
… Despite the fact that the most expensive systems offer encryption, password protection and the ability to lock down the movement of cameras, the researchers found that administrators were setting them up outside firewalls and failing to configure security features to keep out intruders. Some systems, for example, were set up to automatically accept inbound calls so that users didn’t need to press an “accept” button when a caller dialed into a videoconference, opening the way for anyone to call in and eavesdrop on a meeting.

(Related) “This is how they did it” is less valuable than “Your system is vulnerable”
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from Nextgov:
"Hackers, possibly from abroad, executed an attack on a Northwest rail company's computers that disrupted railway signals for two days in December, according to a government memo recapping outreach with the transportation sector during the emergency. ... While government and critical industry sectors have made strides in sharing threat intelligence, less attention has been paid to translating those analyses into usable information for the people in the trenches, who are running the subways, highways and other transit systems, some former federal officials say. The recent TSA outreach was unique in that officials told operators how the breach interrupted the railway's normal activities, said Steve Carver, a retired Federal Aviation Administration information security manager, now an aviation industry consultant, who reviewed the memo."

Perspective Not as very large reaction... Are we still waiting for the Windows version?
"On Jan. 19, Apple introduced iBooks 2, its digital solution to the physical textbook. In the first three days of release, users have downloaded more than 350,000 e-textbooks from the new platform, and more than 90,000 users have downloaded the authoring tool to make those e-textbooks, called iBooks Author. It makes sense that Apple's iBooks 2 platform is taking off in such a short period of time; there is very little merit to the physical textbook, and the education industry has been waiting for a viable solution like this for some time. Physical textbooks lack portability, durability, accessibility, consistent quality, interactivity and searchability, and they're not environmentally friendly."

(Related) You da school?
"Professor Sebastian Thrun has given up his Stanford position to start Udacity — an online educational venture. Udacity's first two free courses are Building a Search Engine and Programming a Robotic Car. In a moving speech at the Digital Life Design conference, he explained that after presenting the online AI course to thousands of students he could no longer teach at Stanford: 'Now that I saw the true power of education, there is no turning back. It's like a drug. I won't be able to teach 200 students again, in a conventional classroom setting.' Let's hope Udacity works out; Stanford is a tough act to follow."

YouTube churning 60 hours of content every minute

It's the cost per “adword” that I find amusing (and amazing)
Who Buys All Those Google Ads? An Infographic Breakdown

It's not coding, it's developing a process...
"An article by Andy Young in The Kernel makes the case that lessons in programming should be compulsory learning for modern school kids. He says, 'Computers help us automate and repeat the many complicated steps that make up the search for the answer to some of our hardest problems: whether that's a biologist attempting to model a genome or an office administrator tasked with searching an endless archive of data. The use of tools is a big part of what make us human, and the computer is humanity's most powerful tool. ... The computer makes us more efficient, and enables and empowers us to achieve far more than we ever could otherwise. Yet the majority of us are entirely dependent on a select few, to enable us to achieve what we want. Programming is the act of giving computers instructions to perform. This is true whether the output is your word processor, central heating or aircraft control system. If you can't code, you are forced to rely on those that can to ensure that you can benefit from the greatest tool at your disposal.'"

Potential tool
… There are other options when it comes to recording your screen, however. Camstudio is a simple open-source screen recorder that’s great for someone who’s starting out his or her YouTube show on software tips and how-to’s. If you’re looking for something that allows you to enhance your videos even more, check out what ActivePresenter offers. ActivePresenter is a screencasting software that you can use to author training tutorials and software walkthroughs.
… ActivePresenter comes in three different versions: Free, Standard and Professional. You can read the feature comparison here, but basically, the Standard and Professional versions allow a bit more interactivity with the final video product and can export to a few more formats than the Free version (e.g. Flash, HTML, AJAX, PDF).
… In this article, we’ll be testing the Free version.

Monday, January 23, 2012

For my Statistics students. Give me all your phone records and I'll model your life? Where do they get these records? “Opt in for Credit approval?” Perhaps US banks will want access to phone records if you borrow money – so they can see when your “pattern” changes to “Likely to Default”
"A new startup is revolutionizing the way financial service companies meet the needs of an estimated 2.7 billion people worldwide with a mobile phone but no access to formal financial services by developing sophisticated modeling software that can look at usage data from consumers' mobile phones and make predictions about credit risk. 'There's a vast market of consumers in countries like Brazil, China, India, and the Philippines who want access to financial services like credit cards, loans, or insurance,' says Jonathan Hakim, chief executive of Cignifi. 'But while they may have jobs, and some have bank accounts, there really is no credit history for them.' The way you use your phone is a proxy for your lifestyle say the developers. 'We're looking at things like the length of calls, the time of day, and the location you make them from. Also things like whether you top up [a pre-paid SIM card] regularly. We want to see how stable the patterns are. When you look at that, you can create these behavioral clusters that give you information about users' appetite for new [financial] products, and their ability to repay a debt.' Currently operating in Brazil, Cignifi doesn't plan to deploy the technology in the US. in the near-term. 'The business opportunity is so much bigger in Brazil, India, China, and Mexico, where you have around half a billion people in those four markets alone who have a mobile phone but no banking relationship.'"

(Related) Wasn't this obvious from the start? It is basic iEconomics...
What if when you bought a new Macbook, the price was higher because your tweets constantly referenced your love and devotion for Apple? What if Orbitz used the fact that your Facebook Likes include “Party Rocking in Miami” to charge you more for a flight to Miami?
This is called online behavioral pricing. It’s a consumer’s worst nightmare as it uses the traces of your online identity to maximize prices on the products and services you want most. It’s also an ecommerce merchant’s dream.

I'm sure there is a simple explanation for this...
"Not so long ago, a legal video was taken down by repetitive DMCA requests to YouTube. In response, Megaupload filed a lawsuit against Universal Music. This past week, Megaupload was raided by US authorities and forced offline, which is costing Megaupload millions of dollars in damage. Today; while employees are in U.S. custody, Megaupload has mysteriously dropped their lawsuit against Universal Music."

(Related) Looks like RIAA got the “Chilling effect” they wanted.
"In the wake of the Megaupload takedown, Filesonic has elected to take preventative measures against a similar fate. The front page and all files now carry the following message: 'All sharing functionality on FileSonic is now disabled. Our service can only be used to upload and retrieve files that you have uploaded personally.' Whether or not this will actually deter the U.S. government from taking action remains to be seen."

(Related) “Damn politicians won't stay bought!” Would the investigation include determining how much direct RIAA involvement there was in the Megaupload bust?
"Chris Dodd's recent statements complaining that congressmen who receive donations from the RIAA and MPAA should toe the line has spawned a firestorm of anger on the internet. Among the bits of fallout: a petition on the White Houses "We the People" site to investigate him, the RIAA, and the MPAA for bribery! This petition gained more than 5000 signatures in 24 hours and is still growing. When the petition reaches 25,000 signatures the White House is obligated to respond to it in an official capacity."

If we gotta, we gotta.
TCTV Debate: What SOPA & PIPA 2.0 Should Look Like
As the debate continues over the best way to shield copyrighted material from being pirated, we invited David Sohn, General Counsel for the Center for Democracy and Technology and Viacom’s General Counsel, Michael Fricklas to discuss language that should be included in any future SOPA/PIPA legislation.
Part I of their debate is here. Part II is here.

Wow! Merry Christmas
January 22, 2012
Tablet and E-Book Reader Ownership Nearly Double Over the Holiday Gift-Giving Period
  • "The share of adults in the United States who own tablet computers nearly doubled from 10% to 19% between mid-December and early January and the same surge in growth also applied to e-book readers, which also jumped from 10% to 19% over the same time period. The number of Americans owning at least one of these digital reading devices jumped from 18% in December to 29% in January. These findings are striking because they come after a period from mid-2011 into the autumn in which there was not much change in the ownership of tablets and e-book readers. However, as the holiday gift-giving season approached the marketplace for both devices dramatically shifted. In the tablet world, Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Barnes and Noble’s Nook Tablet were introduced at considerably cheaper prices than other tablets. In the e-book reader world, some versions of the Kindle and Nook and other readers fell well below $100." [Think of it as a vindication of Economics 101 Bob]

A mis-perception? Doesn't remembering the thousands of links to information count as memory? And wasn't this argument used when we moved from “Oral History” to writing?
Here's How Google Search Is Destroying Our Memory
"We are becoming symbiotic with our computer tools, growing into interconnected systems that remember less by knowing information than by knowing [i.e. Remembering? Bob] where the information can be found."
This sentence comes from the findings of a new study conducted by psychology professors at Columbia University, the University Of Wisconsin-Madison, and Harvard University.
Essentially, the study asserts that internet search is destroying our "internal memory."

(Related) This is an “I don't remember where I saw the article, but I can picture the webpage in my mind” kind of search engine...
Oolone is a visual search engine that displays all results graphically. This search tool is quick and very nice looking, plus it works great with all multitouch devices including iPads and Interactive White Boards. This is another great alternative to Google search, and one that may be particularly helpful to students with learning differences or younger students who are not able to search via traditional text.

For my Math students
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Desmos, a free online graphing calculator that I've written about a couple of times in the past (here, most recently), has updated their offerings again. The most significant update is a switch to HTML5 which means that Desmos will now work on iPads. The second significant enhancement is the option to register for an account and save your work online or share your work online.
For an overview of Desmos, watch the video below.