Tuesday, June 11, 2013

First Lawsuit Over NSA Phone Scandal Targets Obama, Verizon
The first of what likely will be many lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the NSA’s dragnet phone surveillance program was lodged Sunday, declaring the newly disclosed spy operation an “outrageous breach of privacy.”
The suit names Larry Klayman, the former chairman of Judicial Watch, and two others who say the government has illegally spied on their Verizon accounts. The spy program, Klayman’s suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia claims, “violates the U.S. Constitution and also federal laws, including, but not limited to, the outrageous breach of privacy, freedom of speech, freedom of association, and the due process rights of American citizens.”

The Majority of Americans Still Don't Care About the NSA Spying on Them
A bit of good news for the 265 sitting members of Congress who voted to extend the legislation that the NSA claims as its mandate to collect phone data: the majority of Americans don't care. Pew Research today released a poll suggesting that 56 percent of the country thinks doing just that is just fine.

Because some days that aluminium foil hat just isn't enough.
I’m already seeing a bunch of ”how you can protect yourself” posts and articles in the wake of the NSA disclosures last week. Here’s one by Ryan Gallagher:
First, instead of browsing the internet in a way that reveals your IP address, you can mask your identity by using an anonymising tool such as Tor or by connecting to the web using a Virtual Private Network, or VPN.
Additionally, you can avoid Google search by using an alternative such as Ixquick, which has solid privacy credentials and says it does not log any IP addresses or search terms or share information with third parties.
Read more on The Age.

Completely unrelated...

Ye Olde Data Analysis...
Using Metadata to Find Paul Revere

Well considered economic theory or “We're the government and we'll do whatever we want.” (They did ask the banks to write down the value of these homes, but that would reduce bonuses. This way, the banks won't have the loans on their balance sheets.)
Using Eminent Domain to Address Underwater Mortgage Debt
“With more than 11 million homes still “underwater,” the mortgage debt overhang caused by the housing bubble remains an impediment to economic growth and a burden on communities across the country. One possible solution to this problem is for state and municipal governments to use their eminent domain authority to purchase and restructure underwater mortgages. This novel solution is proposed in a new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Many analysts agree that principal reductions are the best way to assist underwater homeowners—those who owe more on their mortgages than their houses are worth. Such write-downs can be difficult to achieve, however, when the underlying mortgages are securitized and held by private-label securitization trusts. Specifically, such loans are subject to pooling and servicing agreements that require collective action by a large majority of security holders before a loan can be modified. As a result, carrying out write-downs is challenging and sometimes impossible. In Paying Paul and Robbing No One: An Eminent Domain Solution for Underwater Mortgage Debt, author Robert Hockett argues that one possible way to sidestep this problem is by having governments buy and restructure underwater mortgages. By utilizing their eminent domain authority, state and municipal governments could bypass the coordination problems posed by the pooling and servicing agreements. They could then reduce the principal on underwater loans, lowering the amount owed by borrowers and thereby reducing the risk of default. The report includes details about the mechanics of such a program, including suggestions on how to finance the purchases and a discussion of the legal basis for invoking the eminent domain power. The author also addresses how to handle potential challenges, such as the existence of a second lien. “

Pew – Tablet Ownership
“For the first time, a third (34%) of American adults ages 18 and older own a tablet computer like an iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Google Nexus, or Kindle Fire—almost twice as many as the 18% who owned a tablet a year ago.
Demographic groups most likely to own tablets include:
  • Those living in households earning at least $75,000 per year (56%), compared with lower income brackets
  • Adults ages 35-44 (49%), compared with younger and older adults
  • College graduates (49%), compared with adults with lower levels of education
“One of the things that is especially interesting about tablet adoption compared to some of the patterns of other devices we’ve studied is how these technologies’ growth has played out between different age groups,” Research Analyst Kathryn Zickuhr said. “With smartphones, for instance, we’ve seen a very strong correlation with age where most younger adults own smartphones, regardless of income level. But when it comes to tablets, adults in their thirties and forties are now significantly more likely than any other age group to own this device.”

Perspective: Is this what the Census Bureau does on off years?
Census Bureau Report Details Rising Internet Use and Shows Impact of Smartphones on Digital Divide
“While disparities in Internet use persist among racial and ethnic groups, smartphones appear to be helping to bridge the digital divide, according to a report issued today by the U.S. Census Bureau. The findings are part of the latest Census Bureau report, Computer and Internet Use in the United States: 2011, which provides analysis of computer and Internet use for households and individuals. The information comes from data collected as part of the Current Population Survey’s 2011 Computer and Internet Use Supplement, which was sponsored and funded by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The report also features a table that places users along a “connectivity continuum” and shows that a sizeable percentage of Internet users now make their online connections both inside and outside the home and from multiple devices.”

For my tech students...
… Sometimes when I don’t feel like reading, I switch on the browser and catch the best of technology in videos. There are some pretty good YouTube channels on technology there in that last link. But that’s not the complete barrel. Here are ten [I count 8 Bob] more technology video websites if you like to catch the latest that’s happening in the world of bits and bytes.

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