Wednesday, September 24, 2014

How could it be otherwise?
Daniel Mayer writes:
A class action was recently allowed to proceed in Ontario against a major bank after one of its employees admitted to accessing and disclosing to third parties confidential information of the bank’s customers. While this case is not a final decision as to whether the bank was actually liable for its employee’s breaches of privacy, it serves as a reminder for employers that the law regarding breach of privacy is evolving quickly and employer policies, practices and safeguards must keep pace with it.
Mr Wilson was a mortgage administration officer for the bank. In this role he had access to highly confidential customer information. Over the course of almost one year, Wilson accessed the files of 643 customers. More than 100 of them subsequently informed the bank that they had been the victims of identity theft or fraud. Wilson admitted that he had accessed and disclosed customers’ information to a third party. The bank compensated the customers for the resulting financial losses and offered each of them a complimentary subscription to a credit monitoring and identify-theft protection service.
Despite the bank’s efforts, two customers started a class action against it.
Read more on International Law Office.

Drone and “smart bomb” targeting systems would like to know which floor you are on.
How the new iPhones could help scientists predict the weather
The new iPhones have an added capability that's of particular interest to scientists: A barometer.
The barometer capability wasn't added to help scientists, though. It sounds strange but a barometer can help improve GPS results to better pinpoint a user's location. Android has supported barometric readers for a while, but not all Android phone makers have opted to include barometers in their phones.
Improved location readings are useful in new kinds of apps that Apple wants to support, particularly around health trackers.
But there's another reason that the barometers are interesting. It's because scientists hope to use them to crowdsource data so that they can do a better job at predicting the weather.

Perhaps not the best contract language... Would blocking access to my medical records when I show up in the Emergency Ward be against the law anywhere?
Christopher Rowland reports that Full Circle Health Care in Maine found itself locked out of its own patients’ records after a fee dispute with CompuGroup, a German corporation with U.S. headquarters in Boston.
Read about this situation on Boston Globe, and then take another look at your vendor/business associate contracts. Could this happen to you?
Not asked (or maybe asked and not reported) in Rowland’s coverage is the question of whether Full Circle had backups of their databases, and if not, why not.

Cable is doomed?
5 Packages That Will Replace Pay TV as We Know It
If you need proof that cable providers are feeling the heat from cord cutters, look no further than AT&T’s new U-Verse package. Marketed as an online exclusive, the plan includes broadband, a small lineup of channels, HBO (including HBO GO), and a full subscription to Amazon Prime (with both streaming video and free shipping included)—all for $39 a month. The message is clear: “Keep paying for TV, and we’ll throw in some of the web services you were thinking of leaving us for.”
… Re/Code’s Peter Kafka succinctly summarizes the logic behind AT&T’s newest product, writing that cable providers “[would] rather have subscribers paying a small fee than none at all, but they’re also telling themselves that those subscribers will ‘trade up’ ” to a more expensive plan.
… Having hundreds of channels sounds nice, but which channels does the average watcher actually need? The networks? Local sports? Maybe HBO? If that’s your answer, a growing number of cable companies are offering packages that offer exactly that, and nothing more, at a discount price. Comcast is selling internet, local channels, and HBO for $49.99 a month. (Comcast might be feeling ambivalent about this plan, since, as Re/Code notes, the company apparently stopped promoting it, but interested parties can still find the deal here.)

Microsoft unveils $60 TV streaming device for Windows 8 and Android
Microsoft today opened pre-orders for a $59.95 wireless display adapter that connects any Miracast-enabled device with at least Windows 8.1 or Android 4.2.1 to a HDTV, monitor, or projector.
The device connects to the HDMI and USB ports on a TV — those without a USB port can use a USB power brick — and lets users mirror what’s on their smartphone, tablet, or laptop within a 23-foot range. Internet access is not required.

Why Data Analysis is becoming “the next big thing!”
Kenneth Cukier: Big data is better data

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