Thursday, July 17, 2014

Apparently, every state is already doing this. (Note to students: You can get SAS software FREE.)
Joe Cadillic excerpts reports by Government Technology and MtAiryNews:
The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) is using data analysis to identify children and families most at risk, and thus inform how time and money is allocated. When the DCF started this project two years ago, the goal was to see fewer dead children — and that’s what the department says is happening while spying on children & families.
The SAS report helped DCF identify what the highest-risk children looked like on paper, creating a detailed profile. “We needed to understand a lot more of the common factors in those cases,” Carroll said, “and we needed to be able to take that information and refine what we were doing from a case practice standpoint to see if we couldn’t intervene in a more effective way to prevent some of those child deaths.”
Florida is one of 50 states [So, all of them? Bob] conducting the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) with financial and technical assistance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Read more on MassPrivateI..

(Related) Did anyone ask why they started doing this? Was anyone in charge? Anyone?
It’s been an issue in Minnesota for years, but now WTHR alerts the public that Indiana also stores newborns’ blood and DNA without parental consent. Bob Segall reports:
As word of an Eyewitness News investigation spreads through Holliday Park, parents admit they are surprised.
“You’re kidding, right? I had no idea,” said Ramon Moore, playing catch with his 7-year-old son, Xavier.
“I didn’t know that at all,” agreed Holly Ruth, holding her 3-month old son, Lincoln.
“Nobody ever told me,” echoed Mallory Ervin, chasing her 4-year-old son, Theo, on the playground.
Xavier, Lincoln, Theo and millions of other Indiana children all have something in common: the state of Indiana is storing their blood and DNA in an undisclosed state warehouse.
“I’m curious why they didn’t share that,” said Ervin. “It now makes me think ‘what are they hiding?’ As a parent, I’d absolutely like to know.”
13 Investigates has discovered the Indiana State Department of Health is holding the blood samples of more than 2.25 million Hoosier children – without their parents’ permission. If your children were born in Indiana since 1991, chances are their blood and DNA is among the state’s massive collection.
Following WTHR’s investigation, state health officials are now seeking input on what to do with the blood samples after admitting they don’t have the consent needed to use them for anything.
Read more on WTHR.

(Related) When your hammer is substance abuse, every patient looks like a nail? If the doctors tell you they need this information to treat your broken leg, would you be in a position to refuse to answer?
CBS reports:
Massachusetts General Hospital plans to begin questioning all patients about their use of alcohol and illegal drugs starting this fall, even if they are at MGH for a totally unrelated issue.
Dr. Sarah Wakeman, director of substance abuse disorders at Mass. General, told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens the purpose is to make substance abuse treatment part of mainstream medical care.
Read more on CBS.

Students: Should we start a Surveillance degree or just a specialization under Criminal Justice and Homeland Security?
From Public Intelligence:
The following presentation was produced by an Ohio-based company called Persistent Surveillance Systems that produces systems for wide area surveillance of large sections of a city for law enforcement purposes. The company has been the focus of numerous media reports over the last few months, including a long profile in the Washington Post and a recent video piece produced by PBS and the Center for Investigative Reporting. Despite several pieces about the company, no outlet has provided the public with access to the promotional materials that the company is providing to journalists.
Public Intelligence has made the materials available for download on their site (pdf).

(Related) I wonder what happens if you refuse?
Jon Cassidy reports:
The Texas Department of Public Safety has quietly embarked on a project to take the fingerprints of every Texan old enough to drive over the next 12 years, and add them to a statewide criminal history database.
Not only has the department made that momentous decision on its own, it doesn’t even have clear legal authority to do so.
[From the Dallas News article:
Quietly, earlier this year, the Texas Department of Public Safety began requiring full sets of fingerprints from everyone who obtains a new driver’s license or photo identification card. This applies to those who come in as required for periodic renewals, but it doesn’t apply to mail-in renewals.
… Previously, DPS took only a thumbprint.

“We know where you are, we know what you search for, we know what you buy. What makes you think we don't know everything?”
Erin McCann writes:
Sure, HIPAA adds a layer of privacy protection for certain health data — if organizations actually comply with it — but there remains myriad avenues of mining health data and selling to the highest bidder that do not fall under the purview of HIPAA’s privacy and security rules. And they may surprise you.
Anything from what health data one Googles, to what medical products you purchase through online retailers are fair game for data brokers. What’s more, these companies are not liable under HIPAA and are able, without an individual’s consent, to track and collect health data for various purposes, says a new July report from the California Healthcare Foundation.
Often unknown by consumers, data elements including Googling for health data; using medical-related social networks; purchasing health products through online retailers; entering retail store preferences and locations into smartphones; or even buying any item related to health like fast food and cigarettes, can all be tracked.
Read more on HealthcareITNews.

I'm shocked, shocked I tell you!
Global Survey: Widespread Opposition to US Communications Surveillance, Drones
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Jul 16, 2014
“A new survey from Pew Research finds overwhelming opposition to the US monitoring of emails and phone calls. There appears to be little variation by region or culture, with high levels of opposition found in countries in Europe, South America, Asia, and the Middle East. According to the survey “Global Opinions of U.S. Surveillance,” the four countries that believe US surveillance is acceptable are the United States, the Philippines, India, and Nigeria. A related Pew Survey found widespread opposition to drone strikes. For more information, see EPIC: Public Opinion on Privacy.”

Not sure it's “excellent,” but may be worth looking at.
Parker Higgins and Katitza Rodriguez write:
The UN High Commissioner on Human Rights has released an excellent report today on the right to privacy in the digital age, blasting the digital mass surveillance that has been taking place, unchecked, by the U.S., the U.K, and other world governments. The report is issued in response to a resolution passed with unanimous approval by the United Nations General Assembly in November 2013. That resolution was introduced by Brazil and Germany and sponsored by more than 50 member states.
Read more on EFF.

Another case of poor reporting? The “double-blind” reported here must be missing something. Unless Nielsen has access to the mobile devices Facebook will have to pull the name of the show and assign it a number on their servers. If Nielsen has access to the mobile devices, why do they need Facebook?
Facebook, Nielsen will soon track your TV habits on tablets, smartphones
Attempting to get a better grasp on how many television shows consumers are watching on mobile devices, the Nielsen company is partnering up with Facebook in order to track television viewing habits of U.S. consumers. According to representatives of the social network, if you have logged into Facebook on a mobile device, Facebook has the ability to pull data about what the user is watching on the device assuming the user hasn’t specially opted out of tracking. Detailed by the Los Angeles Times, the tracking collaboration should kick off as the Fall 2014 television season goes into full swing.
While privacy advocates aren’t thrilled at this collaboration, the two companies are keeping the data anonymous be using a double-blind study. Basically, Nielsen assigns numbers to the names of television shows and supplies those to Facebook. Facebook isn’t aware of which numbers correspond to which shows. In return, Facebook returns an aggregate of the age and gender of all Facebook users that watched a specific television show.

“Ready! Fire! Aim!” Perhaps they didn't think this through.
EU Invites Google, Microsoft to Discuss 'Right to Be Forgotten'
European Union privacy watchdogs plan to raise concerns about the implementation by Google Inc. of the bloc's new "right to be forgotten" rule at a meeting with search engines next week, EU privacy officials said Thursday, raising the specter of a conflict over the implementation of the controversial court decision.
The main body grouping and the EU's 28 national privacy regulators have invited Google, Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc. to a meeting next Thursday in Brussels to discuss the surprise May ruling that gives individuals the right to request the removal of information about them from search results, the officials said.
Microsoft confirmed that it plans to attend the meeting. Google and Yahoo have said they plan to cooperate with privacy officials, but declined Thursday to comment on any specific meetings.
The ruling has already become a battleground in the war over where to draw the line between freedom of speech and the right to online privacy in an era of instant access to data.
One flash point is Google's refusal to remove name-search results from its main search engine. It prefers to make a narrower removal of name searches in the European versions of its search engine, such as or That position has already raised hackles with regulators in Germany and elsewhere, privacy officials have said.

The value of “Big Data” comes only with analysis.
Pratt & Whitney Taps IBM to Capture Value of Big Data to Improve Aircraft Engine Performance
… "Today's aircraft engines can generate up to a half terabyte of data per flight. This data deluge can be made into a critical resource if coupled with predictive analytics, creating a valuable asset for early warning or fault detection and improved visibility in to the overall health of aircraft engines," said Alistair Rennie, general manager, Business Analytics, IBM. "By applying real time analytics to structured and unstructured data streams generated by aircraft engines, we can find insights and enable proactive communication and guidance to Pratt & Whitney's services network and customers."

This could be cool.
Amazon appears to be testing an unlimited Kindle ebook subscription appears to be testing a new subscription model that would give members all-you-can-read access to more than 600,000 ebooks for $9.99 a month.
The Kindle Unlimited program was first spotted by eagle-eyed users over at a Kindle forum. Most details have since been removed from Amazon's website, although a cached version can be viewed here.
… The bulk of titles appeared to be from smaller publishers.
… The program also appears to include access to thousands of audiobooks.
… Kindle Unlimited would compete with similar offerings from digital libraries Oyster and Scribd. Oyster offers unlimited access to more than 500,000 books for $9.95 a month. Scribd users, meanwhile, can read unlimited books for $8.99 a month.

For my iStudents...
The Best iPhone OCR Apps Tested
For those of us dedicated to going paperless, the ability to scan documents and have the text recognized and converted to text is an essential time saver.
There are many iOS apps that scan and manage documents, but apps with optical character recognition (OCR) are a little more difficult discern for their features and effectiveness.
PDFpen Scan+ ($6.99)

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