Wednesday, December 25, 2013
It's that time of year again. Rather than a heartfelt “Bah, Humbug!” allow me to offer you..
POLITICALLY CORRECT SEASONS GREETINGS
Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, our best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral, celebration of the northern hemisphere winter solstice, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practice of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. And a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the generally accepted calendar year 2014, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make our country great, and without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith, sexual orientation or choice of computer platform and operating system of the wishee.
By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms:
1. The greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal.
2. It is freely transferable with no alteration the original greeting.
3. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for her/himself or others.
4. It is void where prohibited by law, and
5. It is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher.
This wish is warranted to perform as expected with the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.
[This is what happens when you hang out with lawyers. Bob]
Let me repeat. You really don't need to know the names to establish that “Known Terrorist #402” is repeatedly calling a cell phone in New Jersey and that cell phone is then calling three other phones.
Research – MetaPhone: The NSA’s Got Your Number
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on December 24, 2013
by Jonathan Mayer, a grad student at Stanford - Co-authored with Patrick Mutchler – via the Web Policy Blog
“MetaPhone is a crowdsourced study of phone metadata. If you own an Android smartphone, please consider participating. In earlier posts, we reported how automated analysis of call and text activity can reveal private relationships, as well as how phone subscribers are closely interconnected.
“You have my telephone number connecting with your telephone number,” explained President Obama in a PBS interview. “[T]here are no names . . . in that database.” Versions of this argument have appeared frequently in debates over the NSA’s domestic phone metadata program. The factual premise is that the NSA only compels disclosure of numbers, not names. One might conclude, then, that there isn’t much cause for privacy concern. This line of reasoning has drawn sharp criticism. In a declaration for the ACLU, Ed Felten noted:
“Although officials have insisted that the orders issued under the telephony metadata program do not compel the production of customers’ names, it would be trivial for the government to correlate many telephone numbers with subscriber names using publicly available sources. The government also has available to it a number of legal tools to compel service providers to produce their customer’s information, including their names.”
When Judge Richard Leon granted a preliminary injunction against the program last week, he expressed a similar view:
The Government maintains that the metadata the NSA collects does not contain personal identifying information associated with each phone number, and in order to get that information the FBI must issue a national security letter (“NSL”) to the phone company. . . . Of course, NSLs do not require any judicial oversight . . . meaning they are hardly a check on potential abuses of the metadata collection. There is also nothing stopping the Government from skipping the NSL step altogether and using public databases or any of its other vast resources to match phone numbers with subscribers.
(Senator Dianne Feinstein issued a statement in response, reiterating that “no names” are coerced from the phone companies in bulk.)
So, just how easy is it to identify a phone number? Trivial, we found. We randomly sampled 5,000 numbers from our crowdsourced MetaPhone dataset and queried the Yelp, Google Places, and Facebook directories. With little marginal effort and just those three sources—all free and public—we matched 1,356 (27.1%) of the numbers. Specifically, there were 378 hits (7.6%) on Yelp, 684 (13.7%) on Google Places, and 618 (12.3%) on Facebook. What about if an organization were willing to put in some manpower? To conservatively approximate human analysis, we randomly sampled 100 numbers from our dataset, then ran Google searches on each. In under an hour, we were able to associate an individual or a business with 60 of the 100 numbers. When we added in our three initial sources, we were up to 73. How about if money were no object? We don’t have the budget or credentials to access a premium data aggregator, so we ran our 100 numbers with Intelius, a cheap consumer-oriented service. 74 matched. [The results we obtained from Intelius were seemingly spottier than from Yelp, Google Places, and Facebook.] Between Intelius, Google search, and our three initial sources, we associated a name with 91 of the 100 numbers. If a few academic researchers can get this far this quickly, it’s difficult to believe the NSA would have any trouble identifying the overwhelming majority of American phone numbers.”
Is buying data stolen from an individual (or an organization that individual deals with) a Fourth Amendment violation? I would say it was clearly unethical, yet we see it a lot. Both Germany and France paid for stolen Swiss banking records, for example.
Fred Grimm comments:
Major League Baseball, in its zeal to nail A-Rod and other accused juicers, paid thousands for stolen medical records.
Not that we don’t relish the prospect of overpaid jocks getting their comeuppance, but there’s a small problem with trafficking in stolen property. It’s stolen.
Florida law’s not fuzzy about the legality of “dealing in stolen property.” A state statute puts it bluntly. “Any person who traffics in, or endeavors to traffic in, property that he or she knows or should know was stolen shall be guilty of a felony of the second degree.”
The legislature, in writing the statute, failed to include an exception for Major League Baseball. No worries. It has become apparent, as this latest baseball doping scandal unfolded, that MLB investigators are allowed to operate beyond legal restraints that hamper less exalted elements of society.
Read more on Miami Herald.
A discussion point for my Intro to Business students.
… The most recent standout in the class of “vaporgoods” is Coin, which straddles the divide between software and hardware. If you haven’t seen the promos yet, Coin is a new device that aggregates all of your information from credit, debit, and even loyalty cards and can be swiped just like a regular credit card. Coin’s makers first launched a $50,000 crowdfunding campaign and, after hitting their goal inside of 40 minutes, are continuing to take pre-orders at half the future retail price. It’s unknown how many units of the device have now been pre-sold. However, the real success isn’t in the amount of cash Coin raises; it’s that the minds behind Coin have proven there’s a market demand for their product using the only research method that counts: the market itself.
This could be very handy for my next book. (My next one will be my first) Also for my website students.
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