Friday, June 21, 2013

Incredible. Clearly, “We don't need no stinking oversight!”
Obama to meet privacy oversight board to try to reassure public on spying
Obama is scrambling to show he has credibility on the issue after coming under fire for the scope of surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency, which was revealed in a series of disclosures by former government contractor Edward Snowden.
The president will hold talks with members of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, a five-person independent agency that has been largely dormant since 2008 and held its first full-fledged meeting on Wednesday after the Senate confirmed David Medine as its chairman last month.
The board's purpose is to review actions the government takes to protect national security, while balancing those steps with the need to protect privacy and civil liberties.

Just in case you think the NSA missed your call...
These days, almost everyone has a Skype account. It has quickly become the default communication method for long-distance calls and video chats as it is free and easy to use.
… There are so many great reasons you may have to record a call with Skype. You may be taking language lessons via Skype and want to listen to them again later, you might be recording content for a podcast, maybe you have a lot of business calls via Skype and want to keep a record to make sure you get your tasks done, or perhaps you need to keep records to share with other parties or for posterity.
Whatever you need to record; here’s how you do it.

Hey look! They've got rules! (Following them is apparently a political decision)
NIST – Security and Privacy Controls for Federal Information Systems and Organizations
Security and Privacy Controls for Federal Information Systems and Organizations, Joint Task Force Transformation Initiative, Computer Security Division Information Technology Laboratory – National Institute of Standards and Technology. April 2013
This publication provides a catalog of security and privacy controls for federal information systems and organizations and a process for selecting controls to protect organizational operations (including mission, functions, image, and reputation), organizational assets, individuals, other organizations, and the Nation from a diverse set of threats including hostile cyber attacks, natural disasters, structural failures, and human errors (both intentional and unintentional). The security and privacy controls are customizable and implemented as part of an organization wide process that manages information security and privacy risk. The controls address a diverse set of security and privacy requirements across the federal government and critical infrastructure, derived from legislation, Executive Orders, policies, directives, regulations, standards, and /or mission/business needs. The publication also describes how to develop specialized sets of controls, or overlays, tailored for specific types of missions/business functions, technologies, or environments of operation. Finally, the catalog of security controls addresses security from both a functionality perspective (the strength of security functions and mechanisms provided) and an assurance perspective (the measures of confiden ce in the implemented security capability). Addressing both security functionality and security assurance ensures that information technology products and the information systems built from those products using sound systems and security engineering principles are sufficiently trustworthy.”

1) It is easier to ask forgiveness than to get permission. 2) Congress was busy and never asked. 3) Everyone else has one. 4) If you ain't FBI, you're a suspect. (Pick 4)
Jennifer Lynch writes:
Today we’re publishingfor the first time—the FBI’s drone licenses and supporting records for the last several years. Unfortunately, to say that the FBI has been less than forthcoming with these records would be a gross understatement.
Just yesterday, Wired broke the story that the FBI has been using drones to surveil Americans. Wired noted that, during an FBI oversight hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, FBI Director Robert Mueller let slip that the FBI flies surveillance drones on American soil. Mueller tried to reassure the senators that FBI’s drone program “is very narrowly focused on particularized cases and particularized leads.” However, there’s no way to check the Director on these statements, given the Bureau’s extreme lack of transparency about its program.
Read more on EFF.

Notice: This assume anyone would want to be located in Montana...
Allie Bohm writes:
Montana just made history. It recently enacted the first state law in the nation(sponsored by Rep. Daniel Zolnikov (R-Billings)) requiring law enforcement to obtain a probable-cause warrant before tracking an individual based on his or her cell phone location information, social networking check-ins, or via a GPS tracking device in a criminal investigation. (A few states do have laws pertaining only to GPS tracking.)
Read more on ACLU’s blog.

I want the black box data. In fact, I want to be able to call it up on the dashboard.
Lucas Mearian reports:
Is your car watching your every move? Can the cable company track your DVR habits?
Those two privacy issues are bubbling up in Congress, where lawmakers this week filed bipartisan legislation that would give car owners control over data collected in black box-style recorders that may be required in all cars as soon as next year. The move follows a separate proposal made earlier this month that would block telecommunications companies from tracking viewer activity with new digital video recorder (DVR) technology.
Read more on Computerworld.

Perhaps we should track these people (or at least review their LinkedIn pages). They might be useful resources or even speakers...
Former Twitter laywer officially joins White House staff
The Office of Science and Technology Policy confirmed Wong's new role as a deputy chief technology officer in the Obama administration Thursday to The Washington Post. CNET first reported in May that Wong was tapped to be the White House's first privacy officer.
Wong, who worked as a vice president and deputy general counsel at Google prior to working at Twitter...

Facebook promotes Colin Stretch to general counsel
Stretch, who joined Facebook in 2010, is the company's acting deputy general counsel. He will replace current General Counsel Ted Ullyot, who announced in May that he was leaving the social network after five years with the company.

Trying to blog (and teach) in a 'TL;DR' world
When 15 seconds is too long; welcome to the 'TL;DR' world
Instagram has video now, a whole 15 seconds that can be recorded. That's just over twice as long as Vine's 6 seconds. "Too long?" some wonder. Maybe the bigger question is, how have we ended up in a place where there can even be a debate over whether a few seconds is too long?
TL;DR: "Too long; didn't read"
Yes, the TL;DR world continues to grow. "TL;DR"? Too long; didn't read. I didn't even know the acronym until about a year ago, when I began seeing it more and more. The writer part of me, the curmudgeon part of me, wants to say RTDT, "read the damn thing," to anyone who has a TL;DR type of attitude.

Might be interesting to my statistics students...
The Measure of America 2013–2014
“In the era of “big data,” it would seem that policymakers and regular people alike would have the information they need at their fingertips to understand their world and make it better. Unfortunately, that’s far from the case. Though we know the country’s gross domestic product quarterly, its retail sales monthly, and stock market numbers minute-by-minute, we rarely hear statistics on our country’s people.
How long can a baby born today in Missouri, New Mexico, or Minnesota expect to live? What proportion of adults have completed high school in Houston as compared to Dallas? What wages and salaries are typical of Latinos in the United States, and how do they compare to those of whites or African Americans?
Measure of America’s mission is to use data points like these to tell the story of how people—not just the economy—are doing. We do so using the global gold standard for measuring well-being and access to opportunity: the Human Development Index.
This third volume in the Measure of America series measures well-being in three vital areas—health, education, and earnings—that shape the opportunities available to us and enable people to invest in their families and live to their full potential. The Measure of America 2013–2014 contains American Human Development Index ranking for the 50 U.S. states, the 25 largest metropolitan areas, and racial and ethnic groups within those states and metro areas. It also looks at changes in well-being in states since 2000 and in metro areas before and after the Great Recession.”

Another tool for my website students.
Not being a coder, I’m always on the lookout for easy ways to build beautiful websites that require no coding skills, and just over a year ago I discovered Breezi. A new service at the time, Breezi caught my attention for both its ease of use and abundance of features, and proved itself a reliable and stable solution for building websites.

Easier than lugging all my textbooks? I think I might break down and give this one a try. (It's cheap enough even for me!)
Get a Kobo Mini e-reader for $39.99
… here's one of the best deals I've seen yet: For a limited time, you can get the Kobo Mini e-reader for $39.99, plus $8 for shipping. That's $20 less than the last time I wrote about it and $30 less than Amazon's entry-level Kindle. It's available in black or white.
The Kobo Mini has a touch screen, whereas the $69 Kindle does not. It's a slightly smaller screen, too (5 inches), meaning it's a bit easier to pocket. And at 4.7 ounces, it's the lightest e-reader currently available.

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