Thursday, February 20, 2014

What security failure would terrorists expect to exploit to be successful? Does TSA not x-ray shoes any more?
Sources: Airlines warned to beware of possible shoe bombs
… The officials stressed there is no specific threat or known plot.

Damning with faint praiser? You really couldn't find a better example?
Seema Mehta reports:
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) offered a full-throated defense of the government’s collection of data on billions of American phone calls, saying Wednesday that the National Security Agency’s practices have safeguarded the nation without trampling on civil liberties.
“What keeps me up at night, candidly, is another attack against the United States. And I see enough of the threat stream to know that is possible,” Feinstein said at a Pacific Council on International Policy dinner in Century City.
She pointed to a warning Wednesday about potential bombs hidden in the shoes of passengers on flights bound for the United States.
Read more on The Los Angeles Times.

Did they ignore their Privacy Office or not bother to contact them?
Ellen Nakashima and Josh Hicks report:
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Wednesday ordered the cancellation of a plan by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to develop a national license plate tracking system after privacy advocates raised concern about the initiative.
The order came just days after ICE solicited proposals from companies to compile a database of license plate information from commercial and law enforcement tag readers.
Read more on the Washington Post.
[From the DHS Privacy Office mission statement:
We work with every component and program to ensure that privacy considerations are addressed when planning or updating any program, system or initiative.

But it sounded so friendly!
Tinder Leaks Users' Locations For Months, Doesn't Tell Public
Tinder is a great tool if you're on the hunt for a random hookup, or if you'd like the exact geographic location of Your Prey. It turns out a security snafu in the popular dating—sorry, hook-up—app exposed its users' exact locations for several months with nary a word of warning to the public from developers.
According to researchers at Include Security, Tinder was exposing its users' locations down to 100 feet for between "40 and 165 days," Bloomberg Businessweek reports, noting that while the information wasn't exactly broadcasted, it was accessible to anyone with "rudimentary" hacking skills—possibly the same people who possess "rudimentary" breaking-and-entering skills and "rudimentary" kidnapping skills!

So, what does the Privacy Commissioner's website recommend? Look for yourself:
3News reports that NZ’s new privacy commissioner, John Edwards, is concerned – and disturbed – by how people respond to privacy breaches involving others’ information, such as misaddressed mail that they receive.
“No right minded member of the community would think when they stumbled across a wallet containing identifying details and $1000 that they had a right to keep that,” Mr Edwards said.
“We are instilled as children with the moral obligation that we must return this to its rightful owner and not take advantage of that accident.”
However, Mr Edwards said there seems to be an increasing trend that when somebody receives information mistakenly that they are “entitled to give some publicity to it or use it as a mechanism for obtaining some advantage or creating some stress or drama for the organisation with which they may be in conflict”.
“I’m as disturbed by that I think as I am by the weakness at the other end,” he said.
That’s an interesting observation about a shift in behavior, but could there be other explanations or motivations? Yes, some people may be in conflict with an entity and want to exact revenge by embarrassing them publicly, but in other cases, could running to the media to report the breach just be the public’s way of saying that they don’t want privacy breaches swept under a rug or covered up? Certainly we’ve seen cases here and elsewhere where people initially refuse to return documents or files they should not have received. Often it seems their motivation is to simply ensure that the breach will not be ignored.
So… are more New Zealand residents going public in a “naming and shaming” strategy to try to effect more responsible data protection? And is their behavior an almost predictable response to a culture or society in which there’s no law requiring data breach disclosures?
I don’t have any answers, but it’s an intriguing question and it will be interesting to see how Privacy Commissioner Edwards attempts to address his observations.

Someone is thinking? Are we sure this is the FCC?
FCC to rewrite net neutrality rules, won’t appeal court ruling
The Federal Communications Commission said Wednesday it will rewrite sweeping broadband Internet rules known as net neutrality, ending a legal battle that has thrown into question the agency’s ability to protect consumers on the Web.
… The move comes after a federal appeals court last month vacated the FCC’s 2010 Open Internet rules. The U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said the agency overstepped its authority with the rules but also noted that the agency has some oversight over the broadband industry.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said the agency won’t appeal the court’s decision, adding that the court opinion allows for the agency to rewrite net neutrality rules that conform with communications laws. [What a concept! Bob]

Oh swell. Another rehash of Betamax. If I set up an antenna to capture Denver broadcast TV stations and then piped the signal through the Cloud (over the internet, wirelessly to my cellphone) would this be an issue? What if I recorded the evening news so I could watch it at a more reasonable hour (when I was awake) in my hotel in Sapporo, Japan?
Federal court in Utah sides with broadcasters against Aereo
Aereo's streak of legal victories over the broadcasting industry has come to an end.
The startup company, which sends broadcast television signals to consumers via the Internet, will have to shut down its operations in Utah and Colorado thanks to a ruling by the U.S. District Court in Utah.
The ruling, which covers the 10th Circuit, grants a request for preliminary injunction against Aereo that was sought by Fox Broadcasting Co. and other TV station owners.
… The Utah ruling is important because it is the first a court has sided with broadcasters in their fight against Aereo.
… Aereo distributes broadcast signals via a tiny antenna and offers customers access to a cloud-based digital video recorder that holds up to 60 hours of content. The service costs $8 to $12 a month.
… In the 26-page ruling, Judge Dale Kimball said the broadcasters made the case that their fight against Aereo will succeed on the merits.
"Based on the plain language of the 1976 Copyright Act and the clear intent of Congress, this court concludes that Aereo is engaging in copyright infringement of Plaintiffs' programs," Kimball wrote. "Despite its attempt to design a device or process outside the scope of the 1976 Copyright Act, Aereo's device or process transmits Plaintiffs' copyrighted programs to the public."

(Related) See? Harvard agrees with me! (Don't they?)
Understanding the Copyright Wars: Aereo, Google, and GoldieBlox
… Because when copyright protection is granted today, it is granted essentially for an entire century, the scope of copyright protection is among the most contested areas of law. The fight most often comes down to what constitutes unlawful copying and what is fair use.
… Big broadcasters such as ABC are claiming that small tech startups like Aero and TV Catchup, which allow audiences to watch their favorite TV shows on their laptops, tablets, and smartphones, infringe on their copyrighted programs. In this case, like in analogous cases in the past such as the Sony Betamax VCR and the Cablevision DVR, the court should allow new technology to stand as long as the device is capable of substantial non-infringing uses.
… The principle that has been established in this line of cases is that technology providers are not infringing copyright when they aid individual consumer to control the ways in which they privately watch programming. Like with previous technologies, Aero is providing viewers a new way to access content, this time through the Internet. Copyright law was not intended to prevent the introduction of such new technology.

For my “Lets Program a Billion Dollar App” students. (Okay, I haven't taught the class yet, but this should help me get students signed up!)
Facebook to Buy WhatsApp, a Messaging Start-Up, in a $16 Billion Deal
The frenzy to acquire fast-growing technology start-ups reached new heights on Wednesday as Facebook announced its largest acquisition ever, saying it would pay at least $16 billion for WhatsApp, a text messaging application with 450 million users around the world who pay little or no money for it.
WhatsApp Messenger is a cross-platform mobile messaging app which allows you to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS. WhatsApp Messenger is available for iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone and Nokia

Is Facebook Paying Too Much for WhatsApp?
With $19 billion, Facebook could have purchased Sony or Gap or four aircraft carriers. Instead, it bought WhatsApp, a tiny startup that so far had accumulated barely $60M in funding, mostly from Sequoia.
But think about what exactly Facebook is buying:
Young users.
A new business model.
Enhancements to the existing business model.
If you list all these reasons for the deal, and throw in some competitive pressure from the likes of Google, the $19 billion number might not look so silly after all. Time will tell. But regardless of how this deal turns out, the one unambiguous loser, in our opinion, is the telecom industry, which currently enjoys about $100 billion year in revenues from SMS services globally.
Moral of the story: If you don’t create an alternative yourself, others will disrupt your business model for you.

Something for my “Gaming Club” students. (and you can make a political statement at the same time!)
– the Flappy Bird game may now be unavailable but that doesn’t mean that Flappy is gone forever. Flappy Generator is an app which enables you to make your own version. Replace the image and pipe with your own versions, and off you go.

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