Saturday, September 07, 2013

I normally don't stray from my professional topics (Security, Privacy and other geeky things) but this has me confused and concerned. We have known for some time who has chemical weapons in the middle east and I assume we have made our concerns known to each of them. What I don't see in this “debate” is any indication that Israel knew about these weapons. In fact, Israel hasn't come up at all. If you were the Israeli high command, wouldn't you believe those weapons existed in the first place to gas their citizens (and only a mad man would use them against their own people?) If we don't take action to censor Syria, do the gloves come off?
Where Lawmakers Stand on Military Action in Syria

A cryptographer's take on the “NSA decrypts everything” story.
On the NSA
I was totally unprepared for today's bombshell revelations describing the NSA's efforts to defeat encryption. Not only does the worst possible hypothetical I discussed appear to be true, but it's true on a scale I couldn't even imagine. I'm no longer the crank. I wasn't even close to cranky enough.

(Related) Of course, there is plenty that is not encrypted...
Google accelerates encryption project
Google has kicked into high gear a plan to encrypt data sent between its data centers, in the wake of the National Security Agency spying scandal.
The Washington Post reports that Google's plan was devised last year, but was put on the front burner to help safeguard the company's reputation in the wake of the surveillance documents leaked by former NSA tech worker Edward Snowden.
… The report follows another Google plan to encrypt data stored on its servers

About time. Now you try to look virtuous.
Yahoo fights NSA worries, issues first transparency report
Yahoo has issued its first-ever global transparency report, joining other tech companies that are trying to quell suspicions of overzealous cooperation with government surveillance agencies.
The report covers the six-month period from January 1, 2013, through June 30, 2013,
… During that period, according to the report, Yahoo's US arm received 12,444 government data requests
… The company said it was not allowed to break that figure down to show, for example, how many of those requests were specifically made by the US National Security Agency.

For my Statistics, Data Mining and Data Analysis students. Because having billions and billions of intercepted phone calls and emails is worthless unless you can pull actionable information out of it all. Also, note the business applications!
How A 'Deviant' Philosopher Built Palantir, A CIA-Funded Data-Mining Juggernaut
… “It’s easy to be the focal point of fantasies,” he says, “if your company is involved in realities like ours.”
Palantir lives the realities of its customers: the NSA, the FBI and the CIA–an early investor through its In-Q-Tel venture fund–along with an alphabet soup of other U.S. counterterrorism and military agencies. In the last five years Palantir has become the go-to company for mining massive data sets for intelligence and law enforcement applications, with a slick software interface and coders who parachute into clients’ headquarters to customize its programs. Palantir turns messy swamps of information into intuitively visualized maps, histograms and link charts. Give its so-called “forward-deployed engineers” a few days to crawl, tag and integrate every scrap of a customer’s data, and Palantir can elucidate problems as disparate as terrorism, disaster response and human trafficking.

(Related) A white paper worth reading. (I missed this back in January)
Analytics/Big Data strategies, challenges and implementation priorities
Analytics/Big Data strategies, challenges and implementation priorities. Big Data Priorities 2013. Copyright ©2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All rights reserved.
“Data has become a critical commodity in the 21st century economy. Recent new technologies have accelerated the growth in sheer volume of data collected, and devices such as sensors, smart phones and tablets are fueling the data explosion, leading to a doubling of the world’s digital data in just the past two years. At the same time, the latest data warehouses, distributed file systems, analytical tools and affordable cloud-sourced computing power provide ways to find meaning and value in the mountains of data.”

(Related) Google does their own analysis. What does that “User Agreement” say again?
Julia Love reports:
As lawyers for Google Inc. fought to dismiss a spate of privacy claims, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh pressed them to explain how scanning messages sent through Gmail to target advertisements falls under the company’s “ordinary course of business” as an email provider.
Google lawyers urged Koh on Thursday to dispense with multi-district litigation that accuses the company of mining personal data from emails without users’ consent, violating the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act and a handful of state privacy laws.
Read more on The Recorder.
[From the article:
"Is anything that enhances Google's ad revenue 'ordinary course of business'?" Koh interjected. "That seems how it's being defined … It seems awfully broad."
Plaintiffs lawyer Sean Rommel of Texas-based Wyly Rommel argued that if email providers like Google are given free rein to define their businesses beyond transmitting messages, there would be few limits to what they could do with users' information.

I consider Bruce a “wise man” when it comes to security matters. Now I need to motivate my students...
Bruce Schneier has a must-read piece in The Guardian in response to yesterday’s revelations about the NSA has cracked most encryption.

Interesting business model.
Amazon will reportedly give away its smartphone for free
The phone would be free, no wireless contract necessary, and sold on or through wireless carriers, according to unnamed sources.
Amazon is going to give away its long-rumored smartphone for free, according to a report

One for my App developing students. Incorporates Big Data, analytics and visualizations. Could we do a Colorado only version? Estimating skiing conditions for example?
One Map, A World of Temperatures
… this week, one of the more interesting recent online weather data products opened to the public and explained itself.
It’s called Quicksilver. Quicksilver aims to provide the highest-resolution, most up-to-date map of global temperatures ever created. Click around its maps or zoom in, and it paints hot reds, frigid blues, and temperate greens at a more detailed, more local level than any previous planetary* temperature map ever has.
It does all this without adding any new sensors to the world: Humanity’s raw observational power wasn’t increased to make the Quicksilver map work. Rather, the Quicksilver team merged and correlated existing data, from different public sources, for the map.

Yes, I am easily amused.
… The Los Angeles USD has plans to shell out a billion dollars for their new iPad initiative that’ll (eventually) give every student in the district a device. But they forgot to budget for keyboards – “recommended for students when they take new state standardized tests” – something that could cost an additional $38 million. Oops.
The Brookings Institution has released a report titled “The Algebra Imperative: Assessing Algebra in a National and International Context.” And the battle over Algebra II wages on.
Nielsen has released a survey on “connected devices” with details about students usage of tablets at school and at home. Among the activities students are using tablets for in the classroom: 51% say “searching the Internet,” but just 30% say “completing school assignments.”

Friday, September 06, 2013

I suspect more lawsuits based on failure to follow regulations and/or Best Practices. Clearly organizations are not learning from the failures of others.
Mitch Smith reports:
Advocate Medical Group, already under federal and state investigation after the theft of computers containing personal information on millions of people, is now facing a class-action lawsuit from patients who say the Downers Grove-based physician group didn’t do enough to protect their private data.
The suit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, says the health care nonprofit violated privacy regulations by failing to use encryption and other security measures on the four computers that were stolen from its Park Ridge offices in July. The computers contained information on more than 4 million patients.
Read more on Chicago Tribune.

This should be interesting.
In a major victory in one of EFF’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits, the Justice Department conceded yesterday that it will release hundreds of documents, including FISA court opinions, related to the government’s secret interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the law the NSA has relied upon for years to mass collect the phone records of millions of innocent Americans.
In a court filing, the Justice Department, responding to a judge’s order, said that they would make public a host of material that will “total hundreds of pages” by next week, including:
[O]rders and opinions of the FISC issued from January 1, 2004, to June 6, 2011, that contain a significant legal interpretation of the government’s authority or use of its authority under Section 215; and responsive “significant documents, procedures, or legal analyses incorporated into FISC opinions or orders and treated as binding by the Department of Justice or the National Security Agency.”
Read more on EFF.

(Related) Dilbert explains the upside of NSA spying.

This shouldn't be so shocking.
This Russian Software Is Taking Over the Internet
… At a time when the world’s best-known web servers are losing marketshare, Nginx — pronounced “Engine X” — is growing, fueled by a no-frills philosophy and its knack for handling myriad web connections at the same time. Apache is still the king of all web servers, but use of Nginx has nearly doubled over the past two years, according to internet research outfit Netcraft.
It now runs about 15 percent of all websites, including everyone from startups such as CloudFlare and Parse (bought by Facebook earlier this year) to web giants such as Automattic and Netflix. “We use it for everything,” says Automattic’s Abrahamson. “We run as much of our software stack as possible on top of Nginx.”

A tool for stalkers.
– A geosocial footprint is the combined bits of location information that a user divulges through social media, which ultimately forms the users location “footprint”. For users, this footprint is created from GPS enabled tweets, social check-ins, natural language location searching, and profile harvesting. This website provides twitter users with an opportunity to view their geosocial footprint.

(Related) Another stalking tool.
– This app shows how people could use your social-media posts to find you in the physical world. It uses GPS data attached to Twitter and Instagram posts to create a map of where someone’s been posting from recently. Try to find yourself, your friends, or your favorite celebrity! Where are you most likely to be at 2:00 on a Tuesday? Then follow the links and find out.

Nothing ever dies on the Internet. This might become a valuable research tool.
Search For Tweets Since The Beginning Of Twitter With Topsy
… Topsy, the social analytics company gives you the ability to use it to search all tweets since the beginning of Twitter time. The ability to sift and search through an index of 540 billion tweets is an exceptional tool because Twitter’s real time conversation has become a huge storehouse of knowledge.

If you buy the book-book, (book2?) we'll give you (or heavily discount) the eBook too.
Amazon Soon To Offer Free & Discounted Ebooks Of Hard Copies Purchased Through Its Site

Something for that eGarage sale.
How To Be An Online Entrepreneur With Thrift Store Shopping On eBay
… With eBay, you can turn yourself into an online entrepreneur by flipping items you can find nearly anywhere — online or offline. Best of all, it’s pretty darn easy to do, and this means you can turn your weekend thrift store outings into a profitable hobby.

For my Math students: Targeted to K-12, but still potentially useful.
– presents math instruction and practice in a clear, manageable format that is complete with helpful hints, video lessons, and interventions. When a student doesn’t do well on a topic, TenMarks provides immediate and targeted intervention. The program analyzes precisely the areas in which the student is struggling, and assigns an “Amplifier” which diagnoses the root cause of the issue.

I try to use Wikis in my Security classes because students need to keep track of so much information. This might help my fellow teachers do the same.
Wikispaces Offers a Helpful Back to School Kit
Wikispaces, the popular and free wiki platform, has just released a new back to school kit for teachers. The kit includes a series of Google Slides presentations that offer step-by-step directions for every aspect of creating a classroom wiki through Wikispaces. The Wikispaces back to school kit also includes printable directions to distribute to students.

Keep learning. (NOTE: Not all of these are free)
9 Places To Find High-Quality Online Professional Development
Intel Teach Elements offers online continuing education courses for teachers that focus specifically on technology in 21st century classroom topics.
Modern Lessons is a free online learning platform designed for teachers and students looking to bolster their existing technology skills
PBS Teacherline offers a wide variety of online courses for teachers, many of which can earn you credit depending on how you choose to enroll in the class.
Annenberg Learner offers a wide variety of online courses and workshops that can count for continuing education credit, or in some cases, graduate credit
ScholasticU is the online PD for teachers arm of education giant Scholastic.
The Library of Congress offers its ‘Teacher Modules’ for free online. The courses are geared towards helping teachers learn how to use the huge collection of resources available from the Library.
ASCD offers over a hundred online courses in professional development for educators
Teachers First offers free courses in two formats – live sessions and pre-recorded sessions – on a variety of educational topics.

Classes I should learn to teach?
Six Classes Your Employer Wishes You Could Take
School is back amid growing controversy and cynicism. The quality, validity and economic value of college degrees and MBAs have rarely been under such sustained assault. Employability of graduates has never been so dismal. Machines are clearly getting smarter at many of the things people traditionally do on the job. That means people need to become non-traditionally smarter at things machines are not quite yet ready to think about or do. And that means educators worldwide must revisit how they want to make their most important product — their students — more valuable.
Multimedia Editing. Increasingly, knowledge workers won't simply be creating or generating information but assembling, reorganizing and prioritizing information from others. In other words, they'll be editing.
Scenarios. In addition to knowing how to create a compelling narrative out of reams of data, there will be a premium paid to those who can paint vivid pictures of possible tomorrows.
Fantasy Sports Competition. Understanding probabilities, statistics and analytics is increasingly vital to identifying and effectively managing high performing talent.
Reverse Engineering. This class looks at what makes experiments, inventions and artifacts tick and then takes them apart and rebuilds them. In other words, this is a hands-on class where students gain knowledge and skill by seeking to replicate and recreate things that work.
Comparative Coding. Another blog on this site asks, "Should MBAs Learn to Code?" Alas, that's exactly the wrong question. The better question is: What aspects of coding should MBAs (and university students) learn?
Cooking Science & Technology. Another hands-on course integrating fundamental scientific principles with real-world knowledge challenges students to transform their understanding of food.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

What stopped them? A sudden outbreak of logic? I doubt it was the privacy complaints they received.
David Kravets reports:
Following complaints from privacy groups, California lawmakers on Friday suspended legislation to embed radio-frequency identification chips, or RFIDs, in its driver’s licenses and state identification cards.
The legislation, S.B. 397, was put on hold by the state Assembly Appropriations Committee, despite it having been approved by the California Senate, where it likely will be re-introduced in the coming months.
Read more on Threat Level.
[From the article:
Michigan, New York, Vermont and Washington have already begun embedding drivers licenses with the tiny transceivers, and linking them to a national database — complete with head shots — controlled by the Department of Homeland Security. The enhanced cards can be used to re-enter the U.S. at a land border without a passport.

Is this the first “NSA's search is unconstitutional” defense?
AP reports:
A federal judge in a Chicago terrorism case has undone a key ruling saying the government needn’t divulge whether its investigation relied on expanded phone and Internet surveillance programs.
Adel Daoud denies trying to ignite what he thought was a bomb in Chicago. But if agents used the programs, he says they violated protections against unreasonable searches.
Read more on Chicago Sun-Times.
[From the article:
Prosecutors argued they won’t use evidence derived directly from expanded surveillance at the 19-year-old’s trial, so aren’t required to disclose if they relied on the programs.
Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman sided with prosecutors last week. But this weekend, she took the rare step of vacating her ruling when the defense complained it was premature.
By doing so, she reopens the matter to further debate.

(Related) At least, grab the manuals...
Web Resource Documents Latest Firestorm over NSA
“Recent press disclosures about National Security Agency (NSA) electronic surveillance activities — relying on documents provided by Edward Snowden — have sparked one of the most significant controversies in the history of the U.S. Intelligence Community. Today, the nongovernmental National Security Archive at The George Washington University posts a compilation of over 125 documents — a Web resource — to provide context and specifics about the episode. The Snowden leaks have generated broad public debate over issues of security, privacy, and legality inherent in the NSA’s surveillance of communications by American citizens. Furthermore, news coverage has explored the story on many levels, from the previously unknown scope of the NSA’s programs, to public and congressional reactions, to Snowden’s personal saga, including his attempts to evade U.S. authorities and avoid extradition to the United States. Today’s posting covers the full range of these topics, featuring documents from the White House, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), and the NSA itself, among other sources. The records include:
  • White House and ODNI efforts to explain, justify, and defend the programs
  • Correspondence between outside critics and executive branch officials
  • Fact sheets and white papers distributed (and sometimes later withdrawn) by the government
  • Key laws and court decisions (both Supreme Court and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court)
  • Documents on the Total Information Awareness (later Terrorist Information Awareness, or TIA) program, an earlier proposal for massive data collection
  • Manuals on how to exploit the Internet for intelligence.

Nothing really new.
Kashmir Hill has a disturbing follow-up to a report she did about how someone easily hacked into a baby monitor and said lewd things that the baby and homeowner could hear.
Shodan crawls the Internet looking for devices, many of which are programmed to answer. It has found cars, fetal heart monitors, office building heating-control systems, water treatment facilities, power plant controls, traffic lights and glucose meters. A search for the type of baby monitor used by the Gilberts reveals that more than 40,000 other people are using the IP cam–and may be sitting ducks for creepy hackers.
“Google crawls for websites. I crawl for devices,” says John Matherly, the tall, goateed 29-year-old who released Shodan in 2009. He named it after the villainous sentient computer in the videogame System Shock. “It’s a reference other hackers and nerds will understand.”
Read more on Forbes.
And yes, Shodan actually has a privacy policy. But only, it seems, for those using their search engine. Not for those whose devices might be exposed as sitting targets.

(Related) No massive fine, but they promise to be good in the future.

This translates into a request to stop making money on user information.
Vindu Goel reports:
A coalition of six major consumer privacy groups has asked the Federal Trade Commission to block coming changes to Facebook’s privacy policies that they say would make it easier for the social network to use personal data about its users, including children under 18, in advertising on the site.
In a letter sent to the agency late Wednesday, the coalition said Facebook’s changes, scheduled to go into effect later this week, violate a 2011 order and settlement with the F.T.C. over user privacy.
“Facebook users who reasonably believed that their images and content would not be used for commercial purposes without their consent will now find their pictures showing up on the pages of their friends endorsing the products of Facebook’s advertisers,” the letter says. “Remarkably, their images could even be used by Facebook to endorse products that the user does not like or even use.”
Read more on NY Times.

(Related) Dilbert explains why you need to be careful online...

Pew says, Many believe Privacy is impossible?
Anonymity, Privacy, and Security Online
A new survey finds that most internet users would like to be anonymous online, but many think it is not possible to be completely anonymous online.
Read Full Report

Once again, Stanford Law follows the lead of the Privacy Foundation.
The Stanford Law Review Online has just published a Symposium of articles entitled Privacy and Big Data. Here are the contents:
via Concurring Opinions

A scholarly Blog post. Just like all of mine...
Ari Waldman is guest-blogging on Concurring Opinions. By way of introduction, he writes:
… My research is on the law and sociology of privacy and the Internet, but I am particularly concerned with the injustices and inequalities that arise in unregulated digital spaces. This was the animator of my previous work on bullying and cyberharassment of LGBT youth. This month, I would like to speak more broadly about how sociologists (I am completely my Ph.D. in sociology at Columbia U) talk about privacy and, by the end of the month, persuasively argue that we — lawyers, legal scholars, sociologists, psychologists, economists, philosophers and other social scientists and theories — are, for the most part, thinking about privacy too narrowly, too one-dimensionally, too pre-Internet to adequately protect private interests, whatever they may be.
Read more on Concurring Opinions.

If I had gone for a PhD, my dissertation would have addressed “change.” It's a topic that truly fascinates me.
The More Things Change, the More Our Objections to Change Stay the Same
One of the very first articles in the very first issue of Fast Company, a magazine I started 20 years ago with Alan Webber, is a smart and entertaining list compiled by E.F. Borisch, product manager at a long-established outfit called Milwaukee Gear Company. Borisch's article was titled, "50 Reasons Why We Cannot Change," and it offered a clever and entertaining collection of objections to and worries about the hard work of making real progress. Reason #1: "We've never done it before." Reason #4: "We tried it before." Reason #13: "Our competitors are not doing it." Reason #17: "Sales says it can't be done." Reason #18: "The service department won't like it." Reason #45: "We're doing all right as it is." Reason #50: "It's impossible."
Now here's the punch line: E.F. Borisch compiled his list back in 1959, and published it in an obscure journal called Product Engineering. What we found so amazing about the list when we reprinted it in 1993 — and what remains just as amazing 20 years later — is that most leaders in most organizations face precisely the same set of worries and pushbacks today.

Eventually, for all of my students. This is where we are headed. (and this is an OLD idea)
Should Higher Education Be Free?
… How long can a business model succeed that forces students to accumulate $200,000 or more in debt and cannot guarantee jobs — even years after graduation? We need transformational innovations to stop this train wreck.
… According to Rafael Reif, MIT's president, who spoke at the Davos conference this past January, there are three major buckets that make up the total annual expense (about $50,000) of attending a top-notch university such as MIT: student life, classroom instruction, and projects and lab activities.
There is a significant opportunity to help reduce the lecture portion of expenses using technology innovations.
According to the American Institute of Physics (PDF), as of 2010, there are about 9,400 physics teachers teaching undergraduates every September in the United States. Are all of these great teachers? No. If we had 10 of the very best teach physics online and employed the other 9,390 as mentors, would most students get a better quality of education? Wouldn't that lead to lower per unit cost per class?

For my creative students
– is the perfect online video tool, that allows you to easily make animation videos for your product demo, presentations, teaching lessons, or just to have some fun. It has never been so intuitive to create an online video. With Wideo anyone can make cool videos. Personalize your Wideo by using your own images, logos, pictures and sounds. Publish or unpublish your wideos to make them public or private.

(Related) In case that got your creative juices flowing... (and it's free)
Start Creating Games In No Time With Unity3D Free
… There are plenty of free game development tools out there and many of them are super easy to use. However, for the longest time, game development tools suffered from one huge problem: limitations. When you code a game from scratch, you have absolute freedom to do whatever you want. When you use a creation tool, you’re limited to what that tool can do. That issue, however, is quickly becoming a moot point thanks to Unity3D.
… But Unity3D is more than just a codebase – it’s a full-featured environment complete with hundreds of tools that aid in rapid game development.
Lots of Tutorials. Because Unity3D is so popular, there are plenty of resources out there for helping you get started. The official website has a few basic guides. After that, you can explore user-created tutorial series such as Unity Cookie, UnityScript Basics, GamerToGameDeveloper, and more.

For the rest of my students... If this ever includes source code it could be very useful.
– Download abandonwares (games which have been abandoned by its developer), from 1980 to 2002. Find the sensations of your elders, Nostalgia, Discovery, Emotion, Curiosity, you’re a player or a collector, all the old history of video games will be at your fingertips. On My abandonware you can download all the old video games from 1980 to 2002 for free.

Infographic and translation guide.
All The Text Message Acronyms You Ever Wanted To Know

Resources as well as grants.
4 Resources For Finding STEM Grants For Your School

This is cute.
NFL 2013-2014 season salaries by team and position – interactive

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Strange as it may seem, this is part of “We listen to everything.”
I can almost hear Bob Dylan singing, “Everybody must get surveilled.” Well, not really, but you know what I mean.
The US National Security Agency spied on emails, phone calls and text messages of the presidents of Brazil and Mexico, a Brazilian news programme has reported.
The report by Globo’s news programme Fantastico was based on documents that Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Read more on RTÉ.

For my Ethical Hackers: Told ya!
How the US Could Cyber Attack Syria, Too
Over the weekend, President Obama announced that he would seek Congressional approval for a strike on Syria, and immediately began a "lobbying blitz" to bolster public and political support for intervention. But Obama needs no such approval from Congress for a cyber strike. [Why do they think that is so? Bob] And according to both Foreign Policy magazine and The Washington Free Beacon, some form of cyber attack on Syria will accompany a missile strike, if it isn’t happening already.
The relatively new US Cyber Command will be testing out new cyberwar capabilities, military sources told the Free Beacon, with Syrian targets including the “electronic command and control systems used by the Syrian military forces, air defense computers, and other military communications networks.”

I think I'm seeing a general trend to view poor security as negligence. Interesting.
It seems it isn’t all over for a lawsuit by nine financial institutions against Heartland Payment Systems following a mammoth breach disclosed in January 2009. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s dismissal of negligence claims and remanded. Here’s part of the opinion, issued yesterday:
Turning to the case sub judice, we hold the economic loss doctrine under New Jersey law does not preclude the Issuer Banks’ negligence claim against Heartland at the motion to dismiss stage. First, the Issuer Banks constitute an “identifiable class” as contemplated by People Express. 495 A.2d at 116. Heartland had reason to foresee the Issuer Banks would be the entities to suffer economic losses were Heartland negligent. See id. The identities, nature, and number of the victims are easily foreseeable, as the Issuer Banks are the very entities to which Heartland sends payment card information. See id. Furthermore, Heartland would not be exposed to “boundless liability,” but rather to the reasonable amount of loss from a limited number of entities. Id. Accordingly, even absent physical harm, Heartland may owe the Issuer Banks a duty of care and may be liable for their purely economic losses. See id.; Carter Lincoln-Mercury, Inc., Leasing Div. v. EMAR Grp., Inc., 638 A.2d 1288, 1294 (N.J. 1994) (holding economic loss doctrine no bar to tort claim regardless of physical harm “if the plaintiff was a member of an identifiable class that the defendant should have reasonably foreseen was likely to be injured by the defendant’s conduct” (citing People Express, 495 A.2d at 116)).
Second, viewing the pleadings in the light most favorable to the Issuer Banks, in the absence of a tort remedy, the Issuer Banks would be left with no remedy for Heartland’s alleged negligence, defying “notions of fairness, common sense and morality.”
The court declined Heartland’s urging to uphold the district court’s dismissal on any one of four grounds, sending the case back to the district court to consider:
Heartland asserts that even if it owes the Issuer Banks a duty of care under People Express and the economic loss doctrine does not bar the Issuer Banks’ negligence claim at this stage of the litigation, we should affirm the district court on any of four grounds: (1) the Issuer Banks are bound by the allegation in their complaint that Heartland has contracts with Visa and MasterCard, so they should be limited to the contractual remedies available through the Visa and MasterCard networks; (2) Texas law, not New Jersey law, is controlling; (3) the Issuer Banks fail to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a); and (4) some of the Issuer Banks are collaterally estopped from pursuing this negligence claim because the district court’s disposition of their separate claim against the Acquirer Banks involved the same issue. Though “[w]e are free to uphold the district court’s judgment on any basis that is supported by the record,” Zuspann v. Brown, 60 F.3d 1156, 1160 (5th Cir. 1995), we decline to decide these complex issues as they are better addressed by the district court in the first instance. See U.S. ex rel. Branch Consultants v. Allstate Ins. Co., 560 F.3d 371, 381 (5th Cir. 2009) (remanding so district court can consider issues in first instance) (citing Breaux v. Dilsaver, 254 F.3d 533, 538 (5th Cir. 2001) (“Although this court may decide a case on any ground that was presented to the trial court, we are not required to do so.”)).
You can access the full opinion here (pdf, 10 pp.).

The latest episode. It may further complicate extradition if he is elected.
Kim Dotcom exits Mega post to follow other pursuits
Kim Dotcom is resigning from data storage provider Mega in order to focus on his extradition case and political aspirations.
The New Zealand Herald reports that the flamboyant director of Mega resigned August 29 and was replaced by Hong Kong-based Bonnie Lam the same day, according to Companies Office filings.
… Earlier this month, Dotcom told his Twitter following that he planned to follow political aspirations and launch a political party in New Zealand. The 39-year-old plans to contest in next year's elections, campaigning to improve the country's IT infrastructure and push for "fair Internet pricing and no more data caps."
… Federal agencies seized and shut down the file-sharing service at the beginning of 2012, which caused outrage after leaving millions of users stranded without access to their files, some of which were legitimately stored on the service.
Kumar says that the Mega service currently accounts for over 4 million users, a few thousand of whom are paid customers.
… Mega is built around security and fully encrypted file sharing rather than storing and sharing IP infringing material, Kumar said. To this end, the "privacy company" is developing secure e-mail services to run on its entirely non-U.S.-based server network in order to replace Lavabit, a secure email service which has recently closed down.
The Mega founder is currently battling a case brought forward by US authorities to extradite him. DotCom may have to wait until next year for the hearing, which will decide whether Dotcom will be extradited to the United States, where he is wanted on charges of copyright infringement and money laundering through the Megaupload service.
The original hearing date was scheduled for last August, but complications and confusion around legal arguments have continually delayed the case.
The high-profile case resulted in an overhaul of New Zealand's Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB). The agency was found to have unlawfully spied on Dotcom's activities as he had been granted residency. Recently, New Zealand police said that they will not charge anyone in the agency for illegally spying, because there was "a lack of criminal intent."

Now all I need to do is convince the wife.
FREE MANUAL: Cut That Cord! How To Ditch Cable
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You’ll learn about:
  • Why cutting the cord is a good idea
  • The free alternatives to cable TV
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  • Alternatives to cable TV which cost a small amount
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No password required. Web, PDF, EPUB and Amazon versions available.

For all my students
Get Paragon Drive Copy 12 Compact (PC) for free
… as with any storage upgrade, half the challenge lies in moving everything from old drive to new. Not many drives come with the software to aid in such a move.
Thankfully, there are third-party options, and for a very limited time, you can snag one gratis: Today only, BitsDuJour is offering Paragon Drive Copy 12 Compact (PC) for free. It normally sells for $29.95.
Update (9/4/13): Looks like the deal has been extended for a second day to accommodate users who weren't able to connect yesterday.

Also for all my students
The 70 Best Apps For Teachers And Students

We just purchased a pair of these for our students. Perhaps we should join this group?
… – So you bought an awesome 3D printer, but it’s sitting idly most of the time? Put it to good use by sharing it with those around you and make some extra cash along the way. 3d Hubs is an online community of 835 3D printers which are available if you want to print something. Just upload your design, choose a 3D printer, then go to collect your product.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Is this merely a continuation of the Ballmer era strategy or will we see “Skype phones?”
Microsoft to Buy Nokia’s Device Business in Deal Worth $7.17 Billion
Microsoft announced late Monday that it is buying the majority of Nokia’s cellphone unit for 3.79 billion Euros ($5 billion), and spending another 1.65 billion Euros ($2.18 billion) to license Nokia’s patent portfolio, for a total of 5.44 billion Euros ($7.17 billion).
… The move is a clear sign that Microsoft believes it can and must succeed in the phone business, and that it cannot afford to leave the success in the hands of a partner – even one like Nokia, that had bet its future on Microsoft’s phone software.

How can they be so good?”: The strange story of Skype

(Related) Just for perspective, 7 Billion is cheap.
Verizon to pay Vodafone $130B for stake in Verizon Wireless
… The deal is the third largest corporate acquisition ever, behind Vodafone's $183 billion deal for Mannesmann AG in 1999 and AOL's $164 billion deal for Time Warner the next year. Under the terms of the deal announced Sunday, Verizon will pay $60.2 billion in stock and $58.9 billion in cash for Vodafone's 45 percent share.

More than target practice. Did Syria even notice? There is provocation and then there is an announcement of capabilities...
Israel Just Fired Missiles into the Mediterranean
With the entire world on edge over (possible) impending airstrikes on Syria, it seems that Israel decided to freak everyone out and start launching ballistic missiles into the sea.
Around 6:00 a.m. ET on Tuesday morning, Russian news services began reporting that Russian-based radar systems detected two ballistic "objects" over the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. With multiple U.S. warships already in the region, and Barack Obama threatening an attack on Syria, officials naturally wondered if this was the planned assault they were worried about. When nothing fell out of the sky on Damascus, it soon became apparent that whatever was shot into the air had fallen harmlessly into the water.

Probably less than Citibank spends on paperclips.
Back in June 2011, I noted a breach involving Citibank (previous coverage here and here). There’s now a follow-up to that breach:
Citibank N.A. will pay $55,000 to the state of Connecticut and will obtain a third-party data security audit of its online credit card account system under a settlement filed in court today, Attorney General George Jepsen has announced.
The settlement comes after a joint investigation with the California Attorney General’s Office revealed that a known technical vulnerability in Citibank’s Account Online Web-based service permitted hackers to access multiple user accounts. Hackers accessed account information through Account Online by logging in with an account number and password, and then modifying a few characters in the resulting Universal Resource Locater (URL) bar in a browser in order to access additional accounts. This vulnerability was known to the company at the time of the breach and may have existed since 2008.
Citibank discovered that Account Online had been breached on May 10, 2011, but did not permanently fix the vulnerability until May 27, 2011, and did not begin notifying affected customers until June 3, 2011. Account information for more than 360,000 Citibank customers, including about 5,066 Connecticut residents, was accessed or obtained by hackers.
“Citibank represented to its customers that its online system was secured, but ultimately the techniques hackers used to obtain individual account information were relatively simple and unsophisticated,” Attorney General Jepsen. “This settlement not only ensures that Citibank will be responsive to its customers should this system experience a breach in the future, it also requires the company to review and audit its security protocols.”
… The settlement is not final until approved by the court.
Please click here to view the complaint and the settlement documents.
The settlement does not contain any admission of liability or guilt on Citibank’s part.
SOURCE: Attorney General Jepsen

My Math topic this week is Probability. What are the odds that this is the only company that ever did this? (Other than Big Brother in 1984)
Valerie Vlasenko reports:
TP Vision is a joint venture based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, which develops, manufactures and markets Philips branded TV sets in Europe, Russia, the Middle East, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and selected countries in Asia-Pacific.
In 2012 TP Vision made statements about their monitoring the use of Philips branded smart TVs in the Netherlands, such as
“60% of our active users switch on their television more than 50 times a month”.
The Dutch Data Protection Authority started an investigation into TP Visions collection and handling of usage data.
Not surprisingly, they were found to be in violation:
TP Vision used cookies and logfiles in order to monitor the users behavior – the programs, which the users were watching, the websites they were visiting and the apps they used for that, and intended to offer personalized ads to its customers. However TP Visions did not ask their prior permission to these actions. Moreover the company did not inform their customers about such monitoring, providing them with insufficient information about processing their personal data.
Read more on Legal Artviser.

Would this be legal in the US? (If providers could charge for it, they would do it)
Juliette Garside reports:
Broadband providers are being asked to create a database of customers illegally downloading music, films and books, which could be used to disconnect or prosecute persistent offenders.
Measures to combat digital piracy will be among the topics discussed at a Downing Street breakfast on 12 September, when record-label bosses and their trade association, the BPI, have been invited to meet David Cameron.
BT, Virgin Media, BSkyB and TalkTalk are being asked by music and film companies to sign up to a voluntary code for policing illegal downloading.
Read more on The Guardian.
So BPI wants to make broadband providers their agents for purposes of identifying and stopping illegal downloads? I don’t see how they can do that under the Data Protection Act there, but I’m no lawyer. I only hope the providers do not agree to create such records or databases at the BPI’s behest.

Attention Ethical Hackers: I want one. Let's discuss extra credit...
Dan Goodin reports:
Recently leaked brochures advertising next generation spy devices give outsiders a glimpse into the high-tech world of government surveillance. And one of the most tantalizing of the must-have gizmos available from a company called GammaGroup is a body-worn device that surreptitiously captures the unique identifier used by cell phones.
“The unit is optimized for short range covert operation, designed to allow users to get close to Target(s) to maximize the changes of only catching the Target(s’) identities and minimal unwanted collateral,” one of the marketing pamphlets boasts. “The solution can be used as a standalone device or integrated into wider data-gathering and geo-tracking systems.”
Read more on Ars Technica.

“Governments don't do a good job, so we want to be your government?”
Australia – The Coalition’s Policy for E-Gov and Digital Economy
“One of the Coalition’s core principles is a preference for markets, because markets typically produce better outcomes than governments. But government can play a valuable leadership role in the economy, particularly in periods of structural change. If elected, a Coalition government intends to play such a leadership role in driving Australia’s transition to a digital economy and recognising the importance of prioritising investments in ICT. The centrality of ICT to productivity, innovation and growth is beyond dispute: it shows up in the data, in business and in our everyday lives. McKinsey Global Institute has calculated around a fifth of GDP growth in advanced economies over the past five years has arisen from the Internet and associated technologies – with 75 per cent of this growth occurring in sectors not traditionally seen as ‘technology’ industries.”

A major benefit (or downside) of Big Data?
New on LLRX – Will Data Analytics Allow Us to “Do Less Law?”
Ron Friedmann is an expert on the legal market, where hardly a day goes by without an article or blog post about alternative fee arrangements (AFA) or delivering more value. Yet both clients and law firms struggle to define value and adopt alternatives to the billable hour, so Ron proposes perhaps the time has come to re-think the question.

For my students who don't have time to read an article, but can sit and watch a video...
– Two of the top sites on the Internet today are YouTube and Wikipedia. Together, they provide lots of entertainment and information. But what if you could combine both sites, so that relevant YouTube videos appear on Wikipedia pages? Well, that’s what WikiTube does.