Sunday, July 20, 2014

Another nudge toward mandatory full disclosure? Perhaps with statutory fines for incomplete information?
Remember the Vendini breach last year? Jeanne Price of reports that according to attorneys representing plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit that has reached a settlement, over 3 million ticket purchasers were likely affected by the breach.
[From the idRADAR article:
The number of Americans now wondering who or what a ‘Vendini’ is now known to run into the millions. Many consumers had never heard of the company before this week when they received notification of a proposed lawsuit settlement involving a data breach that Vendini reluctantly disclosed early last summer. It now appears that the breach was bigger than several other recent big headliner breaches including one at Michaels Stores nationwide.
You may be unfamiliar with the name. It never appears when you buy tickets online or at the box office but the odds are good that if Ticketmaster isn’t involved, Vendini will have hands on your transaction.

So now everyone knows that you purchased ________. Shame on you!
From PRNewswire:
Buyers and sellers using the online marketplace eBay may be revealing far more than their interest in vintage furniture or video games. Researchers at the New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering and NYU Shanghai have discovered a privacy flaw that allows site visitors to view a buyer’s complete purchase history—including sensitive items like gun accessories and at-home medical tests for pregnancy or HIV.
The privacy flaw operates as follows: Every eBay user’s profile includes a “Feedback as a Buyer” page, where those who have sold items to that person can post comments. An estimated 70 percent of sellers leave feedback for buyers, and this section is entirely public—a user need not even sign into eBay to access this information. Along with their comments, the seller also leaves a record of his or her own username and the time of sale but does not disclose the actual item purchased. By visiting the seller’s feedback page, however, it is relatively easy to match the time stamp of the sale and thus identify the item that was purchased.
In the event that more than one sale matches the time stamp, which may happen with automated sales, the researchers still found it fairly straightforward to identify purchase histories. eBay assigns a pseudonym to each username listed in sales records, and that pseudonym follows a formula that makes deriving the username possible in nearly every case: In a test database of 5,580 feedback records, the researchers matched 96 percent of buyers’ feedback records to a single seller feedback record, complete with purchase details.
In some cases, the researchers were able to take this attack one step further: Among a database of nearly 131,000 eBay usernames, they were able to link 17 percent to Facebook profiles, thus revealing the users’ real names.
This research was partially funded by grants from the National Science Foundation. The full paper is available at
Read more from PRNewswire.

Another technology to tap. The NSA should be very interested in “off the grid” communications.
GoTenna The Modern Day Walkie Talkie
Off the grid connectivity is now possible thanks to GoTenna, which gives people the ability to communicate with no data, network or signal connection.
GoTenna has been designed to connect your phone over Bluetooth and use a longer-range, low frequency radio to communicate to other GoTenna’s up to several miles away.
… GoTenna is specifically designed to be used when your phone is offline and out of cellular range and as long as the person you need to communicate with also has a GoTenna, you will be able to get through.
Currently, the GoTenna only supports text based chat however, unlike other off-the grid communication devices it does not use satellites or require a monthly fee to remain activated.
GoTenna is completely free to use and each network is self contained.
… GoTenna can currently be pre-ordered for $150 for two devices.

Yesterday I noted that Facebook and Twitter were making it easier for users to buy stuff without leaving their systems. Could they be next?
EU Tells Apple, Google: Limit In-App Purchasing
As U.S. regulators continue to press mobile platform providers for failing to prevent children from making unauthorized purchases in apps, European regulators are doing the same.
… EU Consumer Protection Cooperation (CPC) authorities have decided that games advertised as "free" should not misrepresent the cost to consumers. In response, Google has removed the term "free" from Google Play store listings that describe games containing its In-app Billing API, even if that API is not actually used.
In so doing, Google has gone above and beyond regulatory requirements. The CPC rules require only that "an online game cannot be marketed as 'free' where the consumer cannot, without making in-app purchases, play the game in a way that he/she would reasonably expect." In many "free" games, in-app purchases are not required; they generally improve the player's situation without being critical to in-game advancement.

For my Ethical Hackers: “Hey kids! There's a McDonalds ahead! Mom & Dad can buy you a Happy Meal!”
New Toyota Minivan Helps Parents Yell at Their Kids
… Toyota Sienna minivan has a so-called “Driver Easy Speak” feature. It has a mounted microphone to amplify a parent’s voice through the speakers in the back seats.

For my students who read. Mortimer Adler wrote “How to read a book.” Perhaps now we need “How to read a Kindle.”
Being a Better Online Reader – The New Yorker
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Jul 19, 2014
Certainly, as we turn to online reading, the physiology of the reading process itself shifts; we don’t read the same way online as we do on paper. Anne Mangen, a professor at the National Centre for Reading Education and Research at the University of Stavanger, in Norway, points out that reading is always an interaction between a person and a technology, be it a computer or an e-reader or even a bound book. Reading “involves factors not usually acknowledged,” she told me. “The ergonomics, the haptics of the device itself. The tangibility of paper versus the intangibility of something digital.” The contrast of pixels, the layout of the words, the concept of scrolling versus turning a page, the physicality of a book versus the ephemerality of a screen, the ability to hyperlink and move from source to source within seconds online—all these variables translate into a different reading experience.”
[From the article:
… the more reading moved online, the less students seemed to understand.
… Was the digital format to blame for their superficial approaches, or was something else at work?

(Related) Now find something to read and write about.
Discovery Hub
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Jul 19, 2014
Exploratory search - Discovery Hub is an exploratory search engine built on top of the famous encyclopedia on the web, Wikipedia. The exploratory search is a new way to search the web, not to find what you are searching, but to find what you are not searching, and might be interesting for you! It allows performing queries in an innovative way and helps you to navigate rich results. As a hub, it proposes redirections to others platforms to make you benefit from your discoveries (Youtube, Deezer and more).”
  • “The DBpedia data set uses a large multi-domain ontology which has been derived from Wikipedia. The English version of the DBpedia 3.9 data set currently describes 4.0 million “things” with 470 million “facts”. In addition, we provide localized versions of DBpedia in 119 languages. All these versions together describe 24.9 million things, out of which 16.8 million overlap (are interlinked) with concepts from the English DBpedia. The full DBpedia data set features labels and abstracts for 12.6 million unique things in up to 120 different languages; 24.6 million links to images and 27.6 million HTML links to external web pages; 45.0 million data links into external RDF data sets, 67.0 million links to Wikipedia categories, and 41.2 million YAGO categories. The dataset consists of 2.46 billion pieces of information (RDF triples) out of which 470 million were extracted from the English edition of Wikipedia, 1.98 billion were extracted from other language editions, and about 45 million are data links to external RDF data sets.”

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