Friday, April 25, 2014

Just because you know how often this happens and how to easily minimize the risk of identity theft is no guarantee that you actually implement any of your own recommendations...
Howard Solomon reports:
Mistakes can happen in any organization, but when the office of the federal privacy commissioner loses an unencrypted hard drive with personal information it must sting.
But that’s what happened on Feb 14 during the agency’s move to Gatineau, Que. from its home across the river in Ottawa.
The Toronto Star revealed the loss in the print edition of the paper this morning, and it was confirmed in an interview with interim commissioner Chantal Bernier.

Perhaps well intentioned, perhaps the City Council realizes how easy this will make it to round up all the “defectives” and put them in the camps.
Corinne Lestch reports:
The City Council is pushing for the creation of a medical registry for people with developmental disabilities along with access to GPS tracking devices in the wake of 14-year-old Avonte Oquendo’s death.
The package of legislation, spearheaded by Council members Ruben Wills (D-Queens) and Vanessa Gibson (D-Bronx) calls for a new voluntary database controlled by the NYPD so that parents can register children with disabilities at their local precincts.
Read more on The Daily News.
I do not doubt the good intentions of the legislators, but if this is essentially a medical safety registry, why not create it under the Department of Health or an agency that is covered by HIPAA so that there is greater protection for the data? Turning over personal information of this kind to the police gives them one more database that may wind up misused at some point.

Detailed information about you and your behavior is so valuable that the hot new skill seems to be NSA Analyst experience. Big money in spying today. Perhaps I should allow myself to be lured back?
Verizon Wireless sells out customers with creepy new tactic
The company says it's "enhancing" its Relevant Mobile Advertising program, which it uses to collect data on customers' online habits so that marketers can pitch stuff at them with greater precision.
… "This identifier may allow an advertiser to use information they have about your visits to websites from your desktop computer to deliver marketing messages to mobile devices on our network," it says.
That means exactly what it looks like: Verizon will monitor not just your wireless activities but also what you do on your wired or Wi-Fi-connected laptop or desktop computer — even if your computer doesn't have a Verizon connection.

I've been trying to explain this to my Statistics students. Since everything about you is collected, everything about you is part of someone's analysis. Since you can not use words like “pipe bomb” without being involved in terrorism, your name will pop up. Then you get wiretaps, beepers secretly attached to your car, and black helicopters to take you to Guantanamo. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Elizabeth Joh has an article in Washington Law Review that begins:
The age of “big data” has come to policing. In Chicago, police officers are paying particular attention to members of a “heat list”: those identified by a risk analysis as most likely to be involved in future violence.1 In Charlotte, North Carolina, the police have compiled foreclosure data to generate a map of high-risk areas that are likely to be hit by crime.2 In New York City, the N.Y.P.D. has partnered with Microsoft to employ a “Domain Awareness System” that collects and links information from sources like CCTVs, license plate readers, radiation sensors, and informational databases.3 In Santa Cruz, California, the police have reported a dramatic reduction in burglaries after relying upon computer algorithms that predict where new burglaries are likely to occur.4 The Department of Homeland Security has applied computer analytics to Twitter feeds to find words like “pipe bomb,” “plume,” and “listeria.”5
You can read the full article here (pdf).

If the Internet is dragging us toward a world government, this is just one of the topics we need to debate.
Orin Kerr has an upcoming article in the Stanford Law Review that is available for download on SSRN. Here’s the abstract:
This article considers how Fourth Amendment law should adapt to the increasingly worldwide nature of Internet surveillance. It focuses on two types of problems not yet addressed by courts. First, the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Verdugo-Urquidez prompts several puzzles about how the Fourth Amendment treats monitoring on a global network where many lack Fourth Amendment rights. For example, can online contacts help create those rights? What if the government mistakenly believes that a target lacks Fourth Amendment rights? How does the law apply to monitoring of communications between those who have and those who lack Fourth Amendment rights? The second category of problems follows from different standards of reasonableness that apply outside the United States and at the international border. Does the border search exception apply to purely electronic transmission? And if reasonableness varies by location, is the relevant location the search, the seizure, or the physical person?
The article explores and answers each of these questions through the lens of equilibrium-adjustment. Today’s Fourth Amendment doctrine is heavily territorial. The article aims to adapt existing principles for the transition from a domestic physical environment to a global networked world in ways that maintain the preexisting balance of Fourth Amendment protection. On the first question, it rejects online contacts as a basis for Fourth Amendment protection; allows monitoring when the government wrongly but reasonably believes that a target lacks Fourth Amendment rights; and limits monitoring between those who have and those who lack Fourth Amendment rights. On the second question, it contends that the border search exception should not apply to electronic transmission and that reasonableness should follow the location of data seizure. The Internet requires search and seizure law to account for the new facts of international investigations. The solutions offered in this article offer a set of Fourth Amendment rules tailored to the reality of global computer networks.
You can download the article here.

Interesting variation...
Facebook courts journalists with newswire tool
Facebook said on Thursday that it has created a newswire tool tailored to journalists, part of a broader effort to be the go-to place for conversation for its 1 billion users.
Called FB Newswire, it is designed to help journalists share and embed newsworthy Facebook content that is made public by its members such as photos, status updates and videos. (
… Social media platforms have become a gold mine for journalists. Facebook, Twitter, Google's YouTube and others are rich in source material, as many people around the world use them to communicate, including during periods of upheaval.
Acknowledging that many journalists use Twitter to uncover material, Facebook is also providing a Twitter feed, @FBNewswire.

My concern is not that Netflix will get better service (higher speeds) by paying more. I worry that I'll get lousy service (slower speeds) because I won't pay more.
FCC throws in the towel on net neutrality
It was obvious from the initial leaks that net neutrality advocates would view the new FCC proposals as a sell-out. They're right. And yesterday FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler used a tone of denial in a statement that basically confirms the leaks.
The Commission hasn't had much luck with their net neutrality proposals so far. Even though the Appeals Court, in their last FCC smackdown, essentially wrote the Commission a set of instructions on how to proceed in the future, I get the sense that what the Commission wants right now is something that they can call a victory and that won't be in court until after the current administration is gone. So they wrote rules that they thought the ISPs would go along with. It's a politician's move, but I'm basically happy with it. I've never thought much of net neutrality.

Okay, it's a fad. Guess I'll need to read it.
How a 700-page economics book surged to No. 1 on Amazon

(Related) Perhaps this “Reader's Digest” version is enough.
Piketty’s “Capital,” in a Lot Less Than 696 Pages

Now that's interesting.
UPDATE 2-Ban on Tesla's direct-to-consumer sales 'bad policy' -FTC officials
In an unusual move, three top officials with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission on Thursday expressed their opposition to laws that ban automakers such as Tesla Motors Inc from selling their cars directly to consumers.
… Dealers argue that their business model is good for consumers because dealers compete on price and offer long-term service. They see direct sales of any sort as an existential threat.

Change to the business model? Perhaps Cable could learn to provide unbundled choices when they see how much Netflix makes doing it. (Or someone could apply the Netflix model to TV – NetTV?)
Netflix finally comes to cable in the US
For the first time, Netflix will be available in the US from its natural enemy: cable companies. Atlantic Broadband, Grande Communications and RCN all announced that subscribers will be able to access the streaming service through their TiVo DVRs as soon as April 28th. Of course, that's just a different way of delivering regular Netflix streaming; you'll still need a Netflix subscription on top of your DVR TiVo cable contract. However, Atlantic said that accessing it would be as "easy as changing the channel,"

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