Friday, October 11, 2013

Not so hard to explain even without statistics...
App releases Azerbaijani election results a day early
… Dear governments of perhaps-slightly-less-democratic-than-it-appears regimes: the appearance of democracy is quite important. Just for, you know, appearances sake.
… This is something that the oil-rich Azerbaijani government might have overlooked. Or, rather, whoever is in charge of its Central Election Commission election mobile app.
For, as The Washington Post reports, the app dutifully pumped out marvelously accurate election results, heralding a stunning victory for current president Ilham Aliyev.
The only slight kink was that the app declared him the overwhelming winner the day before anyone had actually voted. Or should that be "voted?"

For my nay-saying lawyers friends. Are there any circumstances where he could successfully refuse? (How would you advise me to set up my “secure email service?”
Orin Kerr analyzes the filing by Lavabit:
Today Lavabit filed a brief before the Fourth Circuit challenging a civil contempt order for its refusal to turn over its encryption key that the government wants to enable the government to conduct surveillance of Edward Snowden. I think Lavabit faces a very uphill battle, and in this post I’ll explain why.
First, a bit of context. The government obtained several different court orders requiring Lavabit to disclose the key. First, they obtained a pen register order; next, they issued a subpoena for the key; and third, they obtained a search warrant for the key. Lavabit refused to comply with any of them, and the court imposed a fine of $5,000 a day until Lavabit agreed to hand over the key in digital form. (In a bit of a middle finger to the government and the court, Lavabit did turn over a paper copy of the key — which was 11 pages long in 4-point type — but refused to turn over an electronic copy. Understandably, the court didn’t consider that compliance.) Lavabit then shut down its service and handed over the key. In this appeal, Lavabit is appealing the lawfulness of the judge’s orders requiring it to hand over its key by arguing that none of the court orders were valid.
In order to to win on appeal, Lavabit needs to show that all three methods are improper. I don’t think they can do this. I’ll take each argument in turn.
Read his analysis on The Volokh Conspiracy.

It's better than a multi-billion dollar trading loss! Could analytics become mandatory?
Banks Use Analytics to Detect Suspect Employee Behavior
Penny Crosman, BankThink/American Banker: “Ten large U.S. and European banks are using natural language processing technology from Digital Reasoning — one of Bank Technology News’ ‘Top Ten Tech Companies to Watch for 2012′ — to uncover such revealing documents before lawyers and examiners do. The company launched six Proactive Compliance analytics products six months ago. The software is meant to find emails that reflect unethical behavior and violations of Dodd-Frank, anti-money laundering, Know Your Customer and other rules. Some European banks use the software to analyze suspicious activity reports for signs of bribery. Other banks use it to find control room violations, to make sure their advisory services are clean, to keep insider information from leaking out of their organization, and to maintain the Chinese wall between trading and research. Banks’ current compliance solutions tend to focus on monitoring transactions and trade orders, Digital Reasoning executives say. But much valuable information is buried not in transactions, but in emails, instant messages, Word documents, PowerPoint presentations and other forms of “unstructured data” (which basically means, any data not stored in a database). Three large banks are using Proactive Compliance to catch employees who report that everything is fine but admit behind the scenes that disaster looms, in the manner of JPMorgan Chase’s London Whale.”

No small matter.
Google Wins Dismissal of Suit Over Web Browser Cookies
Google Inc. (GOOG) won dismissal of a lawsuit alleging it violated computer users’ rights by slipping electronic “cookies” into their Web browsers to facilitate placement of advertising.
Cookies are used to track browsing activity and can help advertisers target potential customers. The users claimed that Mountain View, California-based Google, owner of the world’s largest search engine, “tricked” their Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) browsers into accepting cookies, according to court filings.
The consumers sued in federal court last year saying Google impinged on their privacy in violation of federal and state laws. The court rejected those claims.
Google did not intercept contents as provided for by the Wiretap Act,” U.S. District Judge Sue L. Robinson in Wilmington, Delaware, said in her opinion. The users also didn’t “demonstrate that Google intercepted any ‘contents or meaning’” under California’s Invasion of Privacy Act, she said. Nor did the users identify “any impairment of the performance or functioning of their computers,” the judge wrote
[All of this seems to be a polite way of saying “Why are you idiots suing this poor innocent company?” Bob]

(Related) On the other hand, there must be a formula that calculates the number of lawsuits vs. the market value of the firm.
William Dotinga reports:
Google asked a federal judge Wednesday for permission to take questions about federal wiretapping laws to the 9th Circuit before a Gmail class action advances any further.
[Judge Lucy] Koh [had] declined to dismiss the majority of the sprawling class action, finding that Gmail’s interceptions fall outside the narrow “ordinary course of business” exception carved out of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, known as ECPA. She also noted that Google’s policies do not extract explicit consent from users, another exception to ECPA on which the company relied.
In a filing late Wednesday, Google said it wants questions about those ECPA exceptions sent to the 9th Circuit for review before litigation goes forward.
“The court’s ruling on its construction of the ‘ordinary course of business’ exception involves a controlling question of law on which there is substantial ground for difference of opinion, and as to which an immediate appeal may materially advance the ultimate termination of the litigation,” Google said in its filing.
Read more on Courthouse News.

(Related) But it's okay to collect information manually?
Julian Perlman writes:
In a victory for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., a federal district court judge has refused to certify a Rule 23(b)(3) class in a lawsuit for violation of California’s Song-Beverly Credit Card Act (Cal. Civ. Code § 1747 et seq., available here.
Plaintiff Joel Leebove brought suit on behalf of himself and others similarly situated against Wal-Mart over the big box retailer’s practice of requesting telephone numbers and addresses [and there's the difference: “requesting” Bob] in connection with certain credit card purchases. Wal-Mart successfully argued that this information was necessary and its collection legal, as the putative class consisted of Wal-Mart customers whose purchases were to be subsequently picked-up or delivered.
Read more on Baker Hostetler Data Privacy Monitor.

Privacy issues my students might find interesting.
From the good folks at EPIC:
In a letter to the Senate and House Committees on Education, EPIC has asked Congress to restore privacy protections for student data. EPIC’s letter follows a court opinion concerning recent changes to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. EPIC has warned that the changes in the student privacy law allow the release of student records for non-academic purposes and undercut parental and student consent provisions. EPIC has urged Congress to investigate the impact of the revised regulations. “Students and families are losing control over sensitive information,” EPIC wrote, “and private companies are becoming the repositories of student data and even the data maintained by the schools is far more extensive than ever before.” For more information, see EPIC: Student Privacy.

For my Ethical Hackers: Anything we haven't thought of?
FBI Files Reveal New Info on Clandestine Phone Surveillance Unit
Ryan Gallagher, via Slate’s Future Tense blog: “As part of an ongoing Freedom of Information Act suit launched by civil liberties group the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the FBI is turning over information on its use of cellphone surveillance technology variously known as “Stingrays,” “Cell Site Simulators,” “IMSI Catchers,” or “Digital Analyzers.” These devices function as portable surveillance transceivers that are designed to trick phones over a targeted area into hopping onto a fake network. The FBI says it uses the tools to track the locations of individual suspects. But the technology is controversial because, by design, it collects data on innocent bystanders’ phones, and it also interferes with cellphone signals in a way that may be prohibited under a section of the federal Communications Act. Over the past year, the FBI has been drip-releasing redacted portions of a trove of documents that it holds related to the use of the Stingray technology. And late last week, the bureau turned over a batch of 500 pages featuring newly declassified portions that offer fresh insight into its spy tools, as well as shining a light on a little-known internal surveillance unit that has built up within the bureau over the past decade.”

What the Government Does with Americans’ Data
“After the attacks of September 11, 2001, the government’s authority to collect, keep, and share information about Americans with little or no basis to suspect wrongdoing dramatically expanded. While the risks and benefits of this approach are the subject of intense debate, one thing is certain: it results in the accumulation of large amounts of innocuous information about law-abiding citizens. But what happens to this data? In the search to find the needle, what happens to the rest of the haystack? For the first time in one report, the Brennan Center takes a comprehensive look at the multiple ways U.S. intelligence agencies collect, share, and store data on average Americans. The report, which surveys across five intelligence agencies, finds that non-terrorism related data can be kept for up to 75 years or more, clogging national security databases and creating opportunities for abuse, and recommends multiple reforms that seek to tighten control over the government’s handling of Americans’ information.”

The B School is interested in Big Data
Can Your C-Suite Handle Big Data?
… Today, as the power of data and analytics profoundly alters the business landscape, companies once again may need more top-management muscle. Capturing data-related opportunities to improve revenues, boost productivity, and create entirely new businesses puts new demands on companies — requiring not only new talent and investments in information infrastructure, but also significant changes in mind-sets and frontline training. It’s becoming apparent that it will take extra executive horsepower to navigate new organizational hazards, make tough trade-offs, and muster authority when decision rights conflict in the new environment.
Because the new data analytics horizons typically span a range of functions, including marketing, risk, and operations, the C-suite evolution may take a variety of paths. In some cases, the way forward will be to enhance the mandate of (and provide new forms of support for) the chief information, marketing, strategy, or risk officer. Other companies may need to add new roles, such as a chief data officer, chief technical officer, or chief analytics officer, to head up centers of analytics excellence.
Six top-team tasks
The transformative nature of these changes involves much more than just serving up data to an external provider to mine for hidden trends. Rather, it requires concerted action that falls into six categories.

Isn't this what allows US companies to move European data to the US? If it is revoked, it could be expensive...
Sarah Taieb and Bret Cohen write:
On Monday, a European Parliament Inquiry established to investigate the recent U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance revelations indicated that its final report would recommend suspension of the popular EU-U.S. Safe Harbor Framework.
Read more on Hogan Lovells Chronicle of Data Protection.
Ezra Steinhardt of Covington & Burling offers some comments on this latest development on Inside Privacy.

Will the eraser law actually work? Stay tuned!
Gov. Brown Signs New California Privacy Laws
“California Governor Jerry Brown has signed several new Internet privacy bills into law. Assembly Bill 370 amends the California Online Privacy Protection Act by requiring that businesses disclose how they respond to Do Not Track signals or other mechanisms used by consumers to prevent the surreptitious collection of their browsing history. The Governor has also signed Senate Bill 568, which provides for an “eraser button” that would require websites to allow minors to remove their own information. Finally, California has enacted Senate Bill 255, which prohibits “revenge porn”: the posting of explicit images or videos without the victim’s consent. The passage of these laws has led many to observe that California is “driving Internet privacy policy.” For more information, see EPIC: Online Tracking and Behavioral Advertising and EPIC: Children’s Online Privacy.”

Pew – Online Video 2013
Online Video 2013 by Kristen Purcell – October 10, 2013
“Over the past four years, the percent of American adult internet users who upload or post videos online has doubled from 14% in 2009 to 31% today. That includes 18% of adult internet users who post videos they have created or recorded themselves—many of whom hope their creations go viral. The share of online adults who watch or download videos has also grown from 69% of internet users in 2009 to 78% today, and mobile phones have become a key part of the video viewing and creating experience.”

Perspective Can Amazon ever fall into the Anti-Trust legal pit?
BusinessWeek – How Amazon Became the Everything Store
“ rivals Wal-Mart as a store, Apple as a device maker, and IBM as a data services provider. It will rake in about $75 billion this year. For his book, Bloomberg Businessweek’s Brad Stone spoke to hundreds of current and former friends of founder Jeff Bezos. In the process, he discovered the poignant story of how Amazon became the Everything Store.
Within there’s a certain type of e-mail that elicits waves of panic. It usually originates with an annoyed customer who complains to the company’s founder and chief executive officer. Jeff Bezos has a public e-mail address, Not only does he read many customer complaints, he forwards them to the relevant Amazon employees, with a one-character addition: a question mark… It’s easy to forget that until recently, people thought of Amazon primarily as an online bookseller. Today, as it nears its 20th anniversary, it’s the Everything Store, a company with around $75 billion in annual revenue, a $140 billion market value, and few if any discernible limits to its growth. In the past few months alone, it launched a marketplace in India, opened a website to sell high-end art, introduced another Kindle reading device and three tablet computers, made plans to announce a set-top box for televisions, and funded the pilot episodes of more than a dozen TV shows. Amazon’s marketplace hosts the storefronts of countless smaller retailers; Amazon Web Services handles the computer infrastructure of thousands of technology companies, universities, and government agencies.”

Perspective. Infographics
What the World Would Look Like If Countries Were As Big As Their Online Populations

Perspective. I don't suppose any of them would like to buy a non-functioning government? (Might be enlightening to see what parts they'd spin off.)
All of these companies have more cash right now than the US government
The US government is running out of money to pay its bills. It is so close to reaching the statutory limit on debt at this point that US Treasury secretary Jack Lew has taken “extraordinary measures” to delay becoming delinquent on payments owed.
Republicans offered a deal today to temporarily raise the debt limit, but the saga has left the Treasury with just $32 billion in its operating accounts, less than is held by nine Standard & Poor’s 500 companies in cash and short-term investments. General Electric has nearly three times as much readily accessible cash as the US government right now.

For my starving students? (But you might want to use the ID of a certain law school professor I know. See me for all the details.)
How to Get Free Money – These 17 Companies Will Give You $1,815.25

For my students. Is this the first full Terabyte storage offer?
Yahoo Redesigns Mail For Web, Mobile And Windows, Offers 1TB Storage & Conversations View

For all my students. You first programming tool?
FREE MANUAL: The Ultimate IFTTT Guide, Use The Web’s Most Powerful Tool Like A Pro
If you want to automate your online life somewhat, look no further than IFTTT. IFTTT is an automation tool that will enable you to connect two services so that, when something happens with one service, a trigger goes off and an action takes place automatically on the other.
Albert Martinez has written this guide to cover everything you need to know about IFTTT, including what it is, how it works, and some of the most useful things you can do with it. It’s everything you could possibly need to know in order to get started with IFTTT.
No passwords required. Read online, download free PDF or EPUB files or buy for Amazon Kindle. 

For my website students. See what a little HTML5 can do?
Super Mario fully playable online using HTML5
You could plug in your old Nintendo Entertainment System, load up a vintage Super Mario Brothers cartridge, and play one of the greatest games of all time. Or you could just pop over to Full Screen Mario and get your fix online.
Josh Goldberg is behind this perfectly reproduced Super Mario remake done entirely with HTML5. If you're looking to switch things up and you like surprises, then you can play through randomly generated levels. Purists can stick with recreations of the levels from the original game.

There must be money in Math education. Are iPads and Kindles the razor and the Apps razor blades? If so, the price must be zero.
Amazon buys math education company TenMarks
Amazon has purchased TenMarks, an online math tutoring service, the companies announced Thursday.
Dave Limp, Amazon's vice president of Kindle, said in a press release that TenMarks is a good match for Amazon. With this acquisition, Amazon will focus on developing education content and applications.
"Amazon and TenMarks share the same passion for student learning. TenMarks's award-winning math programs have been used by tens of thousands of schools and Amazon engages with millions of students around the world through our Kindle ecosystem," he said in the release.
TenMarks offers personalized online math instruction and practice, including video lessons, for K-12 students.
Education is an area other tech giants, like Apple, are trying to break into. Amazon's efforts include Whispercast, a free online tool that lets schools and businesses manage a fleet of Kindle tablets and wirelessly distribute Kindle books, documents, and apps.

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