Thursday, June 20, 2013

This data would be quite useful after the fact, but absent any clear indication of interest from other sources I don't see how it could be used to identify “persons of interest.”
U. S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) issued the following statement responding to comments made by members of the Intelligence Community about the value of certain NSA surveillance programs. Both Senators sit on the Senate Intelligence Committee.
… Based on the evidence that we have seen, it appears that multiple terrorist plots have been disrupted at least in part because of information obtained under section 702 of FISA. However, it appears that the bulk phone records collection program under section 215 of the USA Patriot Act played little or no role in most of these disruptions. Saying that “these programs” have disrupted “dozens of potential terrorist plots” is misleading if the bulk phone records collection program is actually providing little or no unique value.
… The NSA’s five-year retention period for phone records is longer than the retention period used by some phone companies, but the NSA still has not provided us with any examples of instances where it relied on its bulk collection authority to review records that the relevant phone company no longer possessed.
In fact, we have yet to see any evidence that the bulk phone records collection program has provided any otherwise unobtainable intelligence. It may be more convenient for the NSA to collect this data in bulk, rather than directing specific queries to the various phone companies, but in our judgment convenience alone does not justify the collection of the personal information of huge numbers of ordinary Americans if the same or more information can be obtained using less intrusive methods.
If there is additional evidence for the usefulness of the bulk phone records collection program that we have not yet seen, we would welcome the opportunity to review it.”
SOURCE: Senator Ron Wyden

Please tell me that “be available to” does not mean “duplicated by” DHS.
Josh Peterson reports:
Domestic spying capabilities used by the National Security Agency to collect massive amounts of data on American citizens could soon be available to the Department of Homeland Security — a bureaucracy with the power to arrest citizens that is not subject to limitations imposed on the NSA.
Read more on The Daily Caller.
[From the article:
Republican critics of the DHS believed the department was too incompetent and inexperienced to conduct meaningful cybersecurity oversight for the nation’s critical infrastructure.

This looked scary, but what it is is bad security – failure to follow Best Practices or to employ common sense.
BuckleySander LLP writes:
On June 5, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio held that emails the intended recipient opened but did not delete were not covered by the Stored Communications Act because they were not being kept for the purposes of backup protection. Lazette v. Kulmatycki, No. 12-02416, 2013 WL 2455937 (N.D. Ohio Jun. 5, 2013). In this case, an individual alleged, among other things, that her former employer and supervisor violated the Stored Communications Act when the supervisor read numerous emails in the employees personal email account, which the supervisor accessed through the employer-issued mobile device the employee surrendered upon leaving the company. [Never let your system enter your userid and password for systems like email. Always change your passwords when returning computers. Bob] Some of these emails previously had been opened by the intended recipient, while others had not.
Read more on JDSupra Law News.
[From the article:
The court declined to dismiss the intended recipient’s claim with respect to the emails which were first opened by the supervisor. The court rejected several other of the employer’s SCA-related arguments, holding that (i) the SCA was not designed only to apply to computer hackers and generally does apply to the supervisor’s actions, (ii) the mobile device was not the “facility” under the SCA, rather the server for the personal email service was the facility, and (iii) the employee did not implicitly consent to having her emails read by not deleting or logging out of the personal account before surrendering the employer-issued mobile device.

Probably not a surprise to anyone with a brain, but is this really the first time legislators have asked?
Michael McAuliff reports:
FBI Director Robert Mueller revealed Wednesday that the bureau uses drones to conduct surveillance on U.S. soil.
Asked by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) if the FBI was following in the footsteps of the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in pursuing the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, Mueller said yes. The vehicles are used in very narrow circumstances for surveillance, he said.
Read more on Huffington Post.

“We don't have regulations, but we demand that you follow them. By the way, we think you are making money – shame on you!”
DW reports:
France’s data protection watchdog on Thursday gave Google three months to bring its practices into line with French privacy law or risk an initial fine of 150,000 euros ($201,100).
CNIL president Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin said by the end of July all of the six countries within the [EU data protection] task force – formed in April – will have begun coercive action against Google.
Read more on Deutsche Welle
[From the article:
Proposed Europe-wide data protection legislation is not expected until 2015.
Regulators accuse Goggle of creating a data goldmine.

I doubt many will bother to learn about this, much less actually use it.
… The Cookie Clearinghouse will develop and maintain an “allow list” and “block list” to help Internet users make privacy choices as they move through the Internet. The Clearinghouse will identify instances where tracking is being conducted without the user’s consent, such as by third parties that the user never visited. To establish the “allow list” and “block list,” the Cookie Clearinghouse is consulting with an advisory board that will include individuals from browser companies including Mozilla and Opera Software, academic privacy researchers, as well as individuals with expertise in small businesses and in European law, and the advisory board will continue to grow over time. The Clearinghouse will also offer the public an opportunity to comment. With this input, the Clearinghouse will develop an objective set of criteria for when to include a website’s cookies on the lists.
For more details, please visit the Cookie Clearinghouse:

Lawyers have a sense of humor? Brilliant!
Lawyer brilliantly bites township trying to shut his client's site
Sometimes, cease-and-desist letters are mere morsels of intimidation, their legal grounds swamps. One lawyer decided that the accuser, West Orange, N.J., itself needed to shut up and go away. His letter smacks of literary genius.

...but we still can't fix potholes as quickly as they appear.
NPR Series on Big Data
What Big Data Means For Big Cities, by Adam Frank: “Cities are created human environments. They are ecosystems of energy and matter imagined into existence through human effort. Because cities are essentially ideas transformed into action, they are creatures of information and a Big Data problem. By breathing in the torrents of data cities generate every second, Big Data scientists and engineers believe they can make cities efficient, effective and responsive to human needs in ways that will reshape their very nature. In the most ambitious vision, the Big Data of Big Cities will mean these dense hubs of human habitation, where 85 percent of all people will live by 2050, might become adaptive, almost self-aware. Given the need to create a sustainable global human culture on a finite planet with finite resources, some say the Big Data revolution can’t come fast enough for Big Cities.”

Do they have any idea how this will help students learn?
L.A. Unified awards Apple $30-million contract for iPads
Apple Inc. won a $30-million contract Tuesday from the Los Angeles Unified School District, paving the way for the company to provide every student with an iPad in the nation's second-largest school system.
… L.A. Unified will begin rolling out the devices to 47 campuses. However, by choosing Apple as the sole vendor, the district also made a de facto commitment to spend hundreds of millions of dollars with the Cupertino, Calif., digital giant over the next two years.
The push for tablets came from schools Supt. John Deasy, who made it his goal to close the technology gap for the overwhelming majority of low-income district students. He expects to pay for the tablets with school construction bonds, a controversial source because they are repaid over decades.
… New state and national tests will be taken on computers, and district officials don't want students to lack the necessary experience with them.
… The district is paying $678 per device — higher than tablets available in stores — but the computers will be preloaded with educational software. The price does not include a wireless keyboard, which may be necessary for older students.

Something for my students?
It is always handy to have an English dictionary installed on your computer. But a dictionary is not enough – for people who write often, having a thesaurus is equally important.
TheSage’s English Dictionary and Thesaurus is a free to use desktop application for Windows computers.
… Options in the right pane of the application let you enable text to speech which lets you hear the pronunciation of the word and that of the synonyms.
The app also offers browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox for better accessibility.

Given time and something that amuses you, this is an example of what can result.
My Kind of Town, Stink Onions
The literal meanings of places in the U.S., mapped.

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