Saturday, August 10, 2013

Think about what had to happen here. This isn't a case of clicking “Reply All” rather than “Reply.” This took some serious screwing up to accomplish.
James Moore reports:
The Serious Fraud Office is engulfed by a new scandal after it admitted that thousands of pages of evidence as well as tapes and data files from 58 separate sources were sent back to the wrong owner.
The enormous volume of evidence related to its long-running corruption investigation into defence giant BAE Systems which finally ended in 2010 with the company agreeing to pay almost £300m in the US and UK.
Read more on The Independent.
[From the article:
The data constituted fully 3 per cent of the total evidence accumulated as part of the case, and included 32,000 document pages and 81 audio tapes in addition to electronic media.
Frantic efforts were underway to contact the sources of that evidence and other people who might be affected by the leak, which occurred between May and October last year. [Suggesting more than one incident? Suggesting it took them several months to notice? Bob]
The Independent understands that the information was leaked to an unnamed individual, rather than an organisation.

On a broader scale...
The Information Commissioner’s Office has provided an interesting breakdown of breach reports for the first quarter of their fiscal year. The data are provided by incident type and sector, here.
Not surprisingly, the largest incident type was “disclosed in error.” The healthcare sector and local government reported the most breaches, but then, not every entity has to report breaches, so their numbers may be a bit misleading in terms of relative losses.

Did they tell the court they wanted to do the same thing Google was doing to gMail? Computer scanning it for keywords? Google is looking to place appropriate ads, NSA is looking to place appropriate Mavrick missiles.
emptywheel writes:
Finally! The backdoor!
The Guardian today confirms what Ron Wyden and, before him, Russ Feingold have warned about for years. In a glossary updated in June 2012, the NSA claims that minimization rules “approved” on October 3, 2011 “now allow for use of certain United States person names and identifiers as query terms.”
But the Guardian is missing one critical part of this story.
The FISC Court didn’t just “approve” minimization procedures on October 3, 2011. In fact, that was the day that it declared that part of the program — precisely pertaining to minimization procedures — violated the Fourth Amendment.
So where the glossary says minimization procedures approved on that date “now allow” for querying US person data, it almost certainly means that on October 3, 2011, the FISC court ruled the querying the government had already been doing violated the Fourth Amendment, and sent it away to generate “an effective oversight process,” even while approving the idea in general.
Read more of this fascinating post here.

TRAC – New Information on FISA Judges
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on August 9, 2013
“Central to the growing dispute about the legality and value of the very extensive electronic surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA) is the secret federal court that approves the search warrants authorizing the NSA’s world-wide efforts. While the operations of both the NSA and the decisions of what is now incorrectly called the Federal Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court are highly classified, information about the backgrounds of the judges — including their sentencing patterns over the past five years — has just been released by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University. Read the report. The sentencing information about named judges — which compares each judge’s record with those of his/her colleagues in their home districts — was developed earlier this year using information TRAC obtained and analyzed. With the information in TRAC’s report, you can obtain the median and average sentences the judges imposed for all the matters they handled. You can also drill down into details on specific program areas, such as those cases classified by the Justice Department as involving drugs or white collar crime violations.”

(Related) Does the UK have a FISC Court?
James Ball reports:
BT and Vodafone are among seven large telecoms firms which could be pulled into a legal challenge under human rights law for cooperating with GCHQ’s large-scale internet surveillance programs.
Lawyers for the group Privacy International, whose mission is to defend the right to privacy, have written to the chief executives of the telecoms companies identified last week by the German paper Süddeutsche and the Guardian as collaborating in GCHQ’s Tempora program.
Tempora is an internet buffer that lets analysts search vast databases of metadata on internet traffic crossing the UK, for up to 30 days after data is sent. Content of communications is retained for up to three days.
Read more on The Guardian.

(Related) Cheaper than fighting it in court?
First it was LavaBit. Now it’s Silent Circle shuttering its e-mail service. In a “To Our Customers” post on their blog, Joncallas explains:
Email that uses standard Internet protocols cannot have the same security guarantees that real-time communications has. There are far too many leaks of information and metadata intrinsically in the email protocols themselves. Email as we know it with SMTP, POP3, and IMAP cannot be secure.
And yet, many people wanted it. Silent Mail has similar security guarantees to other secure email systems, and with full disclosure, we thought it would be valuable.
However, we have reconsidered this position. We’ve been thinking about this for some time, whether it was a good idea at all. Today, another secure email provider, Lavabit, shut down their system lest they “be complicit in crimes against the American people.” We see the writing the wall, and we have decided that it is best for us to shut down Silent Mail now. We have not received subpoenas, warrants, security letters, or anything else by any government, and this is why we are acting now.
Their Silent Phone, Silent Text, and Silent Eyes services will continue.
And so our government’s surveillance of its own citizens continues to take a toll on innovation in technology and will drive more customers to EUropean companies and businesses. President Obama may try to claim there is no “domestic spying” program, but he is just playing word games.

“Let's see if they buy this...”
In conjunction with President Obama’s press conference today on privacy and surveillance concerns, the White House released a white paper, Bulk Collection of Telephony Metadata Under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act.
This white paper explains the Government’s legal basis for an intelligence collection program under which the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) obtains court orders directing certain telecommunications service providers to produce telephony metadata in bulk. The bulk metadata is stored, queried and analyzed by the National Security Agency (NSA) for counterterrorism purposes. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (“the FISC” or “the Court”) authorizes this program under the “business records” provision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), 50 U.S.C. § 1861, enacted as section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act (Section 215). The Court first authorized the program in 2006, and it has since been renewed thirty-four times under orders issued by fourteen different FISC judges. This paper explains why the telephony metadata collection program, subject to the restrictions imposed by the Court, is consistent with the Constitution and the standards set forth by Congress in Section 215. Because aspects of this program remain classified, there are limits to what can be said publicly about the facts underlying its legal authorization. This paper is an effort to provide as much information as possible to the public concerning the legal authority for this program, consistent with the need to protect national security, including intelligence sources and methods. While this paper summarizes the legal basis for the program, it is not intended to be an exhaustive analysis of the program or the legal arguments or authorities in support of it.
Read the full paper (23 pp.) here. I’ll update this post with links to articles about it as they become available.
Update1: The Washington Post has a transcript of his opening remarks at the press conference.

Might be useful for my Statistics students.
NY Fed Commentary – Historical Use of Graphics
Historical Echoes: Off the Charts! by Kathleen McKiernan
“The visual representation of information, knowledge, or data has been around since the time of the caveman. But it wasn’t until 1786, when William Playfair, a Scottish engineer, published The Commercial and Political Atlas, illustrating for the first time how economic data could be represented by charts. Playfair’s work preceded that of Florence Nightingale—broadly acknowledged as the founder of modern nursing—who used information graphics in the 1850s to convince Queen Victoria that reform was needed in the British military health service. Nightingale developed the Coxcomb chart—a combination of stacked pie and bar charts—to assess mortality among soldiers during the Crimean War. Excerpted below from a report by the Committee for Economic Development, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit think-tank, this 1943 chart presents a long-range record of booms and depressions (the chart is available through the Federal Reserve Archival System for Economic Research, or FRASER). It offers a picture of the more important events that have tended to shape our economic and fiscal curves since 1775. Business activity, price inflation, federal debt, national income, and stock and bond yields are traced in a single spread. The study of “postwar periods” is spotlighted in this edition. (A 1947 release features a special section, “How Much Is One Billion Dollars?”)”

Far more amusing than it should be...
… The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a Pennsylvania school district’s ban on wearing cancer awareness bracelets that read “I ♥ boobies” violated students’ First Amendment free speech rights. [They ran into another “zero tolerance” rule Bob]
… The National Science Foundation has cancelled its political science grant funding for the rest of the year, blaming Congress which passed a law requiring that political science research grants benefit either national security or the economy.
… Google’s app store Google Play now offers textbooks for rent or for purchase.

For my students. As we get more into Cloud Computing and Mobile Apps, these are even more fun.
… While ChallengePost doesn’t make the headlines all that often, the site was covered by Wired, Mashable, and a bunch of other tech news sources you already know. In other words, this is a service with a pretty serious footprint. It already carried challenges by Samsung, Evernote (a MakeUseOf favorite), and even the White House. You’ll note that all of these challenges have their own unique domain names, but the ChallengePost interface remains largely unchanged within the challenge itself.
If you’re just looking for an interesting opportunity, though, you’ll want to start from the ChallengePost homepage:
The homepage itself carries just five featured challenges. At the time of this writing, all challenges featured on the homepage carry monetary prizes, with the lowest being $1,200 for the Chart.js Personal Dashboard Challenge and the highest being $50,000 for the Kii Cloud App Challenge. Note that it’s usually not a “winner-takes-all” affair: The Kii challenge, for example, awards $16,900 to the first-place winner, $12,700 to the runner-up, $9,200 to the third-place winner, and $11,700 to a “Popular Choice Award” winner.
If none of the featured challenges captures your imagination, don’t fret: Simply continue to the Discover Challenges page, where you may view a full list of challenges, as well as filter and search for particular types of challenges. The selection is truly impressive, from a challenge calling you to Gamify Asthma and help asthma-suffering kids with tech, to one for developing new ways to discover books, with lots of challenges in-between.

For my students. You can't MindMap much easier than this...

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