Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Shouldn't these “settlements” answer at least a few questions? Did Aaron do all the things they are banned from doing in future, but didn't officially admit to doing?
From the FTC:
Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission has approved a final order settling charges thatAaron’s Inc., a national rent-to-own retailer, knowingly played a direct and vital role in its franchisees’ installation and use of software on rental computers that secretly monitored consumers, including taking webcam pictures of them in their homes.
Under the terms of a consent agreement, first announced in October 2013, Aaron’s is prohibited from using monitoring technology to gather consumers’ information from rental computers, or receiving, storing or communicating such information, except to provide technical support at a consumer’s request. The terms of the settlement also bar the company from gathering information from any consumer product via geophysical location tracking technology without clearly notifying and obtaining express consent from consumers at the time of rental. Aaron’s is further prohibited from installing or activating such technology on rental computers that does not clearly notify consumers of its presence immediately before each use, including via a prominent icon on the computer.
The order further bars Aaron’s from deceptively gathering information about consumers, and from using improperly obtained information to collect debt, money or property as part of a rent-to-own transaction. The company must delete or destroy any information it has collected improperly, and can transmit information obtained via monitoring or location tracking only if it is encrypted. In addition, the order requires Aaron’s to conduct annual monitoring and oversight of its franchisees for compliance with the terms of the agreement, act immediately to ensure compliance, and terminate any franchisee that fails to comply.
The Commission vote approving the final order and letters to members of the public who commented on it was 4-0. (FTC File No. 1123264; the staff contact is Julie Mayer, 206-220-4475.)
Looking at the comments submitted during the public comment period, there are a few themes: (1) customers who wanted to know how they could determine whether the spyware had been installed on their computer, (2) customers who asked if they could be part of the FTC settlement, (3) those who wanted the Commission to prosecute Aaron’s criminally, and (4) those who wanted the Commission to impose a heavy monetary penalty. One correspondent objected to the “no admission of liability” clause in the settlement.
In response to the commenters, the FTC responded that it did not have the authority to impose monetary penalties, nor was there any monetary settlement for consumers to participate in. They also explained that they did not have the authority to prosecute Aaron’s criminally. They somewhat side-stepped the question of determining if the consumer had been spied on by saying that Aaron’s agreed to delete all files.
No privacy advocacy or consumer groups commented on the settlement.

Why not?
Deven Desai writes:
Privacy law does not exist, but it should be taught at every law school. There is no one law of privacy. That is why I love teaching Information Privacy (Solove and Schwartz (Aspen) is the text I use). The class requires students to reengage with and apply torts, Constitutional law (First and Fourth Amendment at least), and statutory interpretation. It also lends itself to learning about sectoral approaches to regulation in health, finance, commerce, and education. Given that the idea and problems of privacy are everywhere, there are jobs in them thar hills. Yet, schools often see the course as a luxury or somehow part of IP. That is a mistake.
Read more on Concurring Opinions.

Beware of ill considered ire! Would they prefer that North Korea was the “world's leading spy-er” and no one in the 'Free World' knew how to defend its citizens?
'Free World' Governments Among Worst for Online Spying: Watchdog
In the latest installment of the "Enemies of the Internet" report, wholesale spying by "free world" services -- much of it exposed by US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden --- is offered no distinction from the unabashed surveillance carried out by the world's worst dictatorships.
To RSF, agencies such as the US National Security Agency, Britain's GCHQ and the Centre for Development Telematics in India embrace the worst methods of snooping in the name of governments that purportedly hold freedom of speech as a national priority.

Something beyond training caught my eye... (Good little article)
How Facebook and Twitter Built the Best Employee Training Programs in Silicon Valley
Training employees and managers is essential for at any company but particularly for startups. Yet many avoid it because it seems too hard or expensive.
“A lot of companies think their employees are so smart that they require no training,” Andreesen Horowitz co-founder Ben Horowitz writes in his recent book. “That’s silly.”
Horowitz told Quartz that two companies that do some of the best training are, Facebook, on the engineering side, and Twitter for management. (Andreessen Horowitz has invested in both companies)
… As of 2007, the company didn’t really train people, Horowitz says.
“It caused a lot of misunderstandings in the product architecture, which caused performance issues, which caused a pretty large crisis in the company,” Horowitz says.
The following year, Facebook began a program led by engineer Andrew Bosworth called Facebook Bootcamp. It’s a seven week on-boarding program for new engineers and project managers. They’re immersed in the company’s code, and start working on projects that end up live on the site within a week of their start date. [Compare this to the multi-year boondoggles our government throws money at... Bob]

Yeah, that's New Jersey. See what all the smart states are doing, then screw it up. But if you think that's bad, you should look at their liquor laws.
Tesla, New Jersey clash over direct sales to customers
Elon Musk wants to keep selling electric cars directly to the public in New Jersey, but on Tuesday the state said no, insisting instead that Tesla Motors Inc offer its cars through an auto franchise rather than its own stores.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's administration approved a rule requiring sales of all new cars to go through franchises.

For my student gamers... Perhaps success came at too great a cost?
Creator of Flappy Bird's Reasons For Canceling Game
Nguyen tells Rolling Stone that his reason for taking the game down was its addictive property.
… He also went on to explain that before making $50,000 dollars a day from Flappy Bird, he studied computer and science and worked for a company that made cellphone games.
Many rumors followed Nguyen's cancelling of Flappy Bird, like some of the false reasons he cancelled the game: A lawsuit by Nintendo to a theory that Nguyen had taken his own life, yet he breathes soundly and well.
His two main reasons for taking the game down were because he believed it made his simple life a media circus and because some people had claimed the game was making their lives worse.

When I complain about my lazy 2.14 MBPS service, this is what I suspect any of the large services could provide if there is a bit of competition. 400 times faster than DSL?
Shelby-based company bringing ultra high-speed internet to NC
A company in Shelby announced it plans on bringing a 100-gigabit fiber network and a la carte TV programming to North Carolina.
… RST plans to offer uncompressed 4K television, online education, telemedicine, HD video security/surveillance, a la carte movies and programming and smart grid connectivity/transport.
The release from RST comes on the heels of a March 5 announcement from Google saying the Triangle is one of nine metro areas around the country that could get Google Fiber.

Is this really free?
– is a US telecom company that aims to protect your privacy from hackers, government agencies and spyware. Ensure your Internet, voice calls & texts are secure and encrypted. FreedomPop currently offers customers free 4G mobile phone service, free wireless internet, and free home broadband.

For my students.
How To Choose The Right Dashcam For Your Car
… One of our authors, Christian Cawley, wrote an extensive piece on how to turn your smartphone into a dashcam. Why buy a separate camera when you can just use your phone?

Tools for students.
FREE EBOOK: Learn To Build With PHP, A Crash Course
You’ve heard of PHP. This is the language that Facebook, WordPress and Wikipedia use to serve billions of requests, daily. It is the de-facto language used for teaching people to program for the Web. It’s beautifully simple, but brilliantly powerful.
And in this guide, Matthew Hughes is going to teach you how you can use it to build your own websites – starting with a basic clone of Twitter.
FREE EBOOK: Learn To Build With PHP: A Crash Course
Read online or download PDF, EPUB version free of charge; Kindle version $1

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