Saturday, May 03, 2014

Could we pay Putin to leave the Ukraine alone? What would it cost? (Think “greenmail”)
Abducted international military observers freed in east Ukraine as crisis spirals

(Related) Tell it loud and tell it often! What ever we say is the truth!
Russia blames the West for crisis in Ukraine

What a concept! Does the government have standards before the politicians say, “Sic 'em!”
Jaikumar Vijayan reports:
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) can be compelled to disclose details of the data security standards it uses to pursue enforcement action against companies that suffer data breaches, the agency’s chief administrative law judge ruled Thursday.
The decision came in response to a motion filed by LabMD, a now-defunct medical laboratory that has been charged by the FTC with unfair trade practices for exposing sensitive information belonging to 10,000 patients in 2010.
LabMD has accused the FTC of holding it to data security standards that do not exist officially at the federal level. It has maintained that the agency must publicly disclose the data security standards it uses to determine whether a company has reasonable security measures in place.
Read more on Computerworld.
In a statement to, Michael Daugherty, CEO of LabMD, writes:
LabMD, a medical facility, is cautiously optimistic that the FTC will be forced to step into an era of fairness and transparency in notifying the business community, both large and small, what their data security standards are. vLabMD still strongly objects to the FTC’s overreach into the medical regulatory environment overseen by HHS via HIPAA.
Note: The FTC’s complaint alleges that the file-sharing exposure occurred in May 2008 (not 2010, as Jai reports). The date is important when one considers whether the FTC had published any guidances or data security standards for businesses prior to the incident resulting in the complaint.
Update: I’ve uploaded the ruling here (pdf). I’ve also uploaded a second ruling that denies an FTC motion in limine to strike the Deputy Director of Bureau of Consumer Protection as a trial witness.

Tools for Privacy! If this works as planned, we should ensure everyone uses it.
The EFF wants your help testing a browser add-on that blocks spying ads
Like many privacy advocates, the Electronic Frontier Foundation isn't a big fan of advertisers and sites following you around the web. So, it's doing something about this nosy behavior -- it's launching a browser add-on, Privacy Badger, that lets Chrome and Firefox users limit site tracking. The tool automatically stops sites' attempts to shadow your surfing activity and lets you selectively grant permission when you're not worried. To get on the Badger's good side, a web host has to honor Do Not Track requests -- a not-so-subtle dig at Facebook, Google, Yahoo and others that so far insist on tracking visitors.
If you like the idea, the Foundation could use your help. Privacy Badger currently exists only as a rough alpha release, and the EFF would like some real-world testing before it recommends the software to the public at large. Should you have no problems with living dangerously, though, you can try the anti-snooping software today.

Perspective. A milestone.
Bill Gates Now Owns Less of Microsoft Than Steve Ballmer
… In an April 30 filing, Gates revealed that he sold 4.6 million shares for roughly $186 million pre-tax. He now owns 330 million shares, 3 million less than Ballmer, his Harvard pal who later joined him at the Seattle company. Gates’ cofounder Paul Allen, who apparently had a smaller stake than Gates from the outset, sold most of his shares years ago.

Friday, May 02, 2014

My Ethical Hackers love it! No one would really be dumb enough to use the default settings, would they?
Popular Remote Management Tool Allows Login Without Authentication
A remote management tool used in some enterprises can be exploited by attackers to remotely connect to a host without needing any passwords, according to a Trustwave researcher.
Many organizations use the NetSupport software to remotely manage and connect to PCs and servers from a central location. These systems normally are set up with either Domain or local credentials, and shouldn't be accessible without the person logging in. However, if the system has NetSupport installed for remote desktop support, it most likely has the default configuration, which allows remote users to connect automatically without authentication, David Kirkpatrick, a principal consultant at Trustwave, wrote in a blog post. The software also leaks detailed information about the device, such as the hostname, version number, and the username.

Another Ethical Hacker perk. Stop and go driving wastes gas, so make certain tet you have green lights all the way to your destination!
Security Researcher Explains Ease of Hacking Traffic Control Systems
Hacking critical infrastructure looks extremely easy in movies, but up until now, there was some reassurance that it wasn't as simple as just typing a few keys. A security researcher has uncovered issues in devices that communicate with traffic control systems that make them highly vulnerable to attack.
Anyone could exploit the vulnerabilities to take complete control of these controllers and send fake data to connected traffic control systems, Cesar Cerrudo, CTO of research firm IOActive, wrote in a blog post. According to Cerrudo, the controllers lacked basic security features, such as encrypting communications and authentication, which means attackers could potentially monitor and modify what instructions were being sent to the systems.
"Basically anyone could cause a traffic mess by launching an attack with a simple exploit programmed on cheap hardware," Cerrudo said.

For my Statistics students. This seems to suggest that 70-75% of customers don't care if their data is stolen. Or perhaps the crooks only use 25-30% of customer's credit cards? It makes no difference to the company, they need to replace those customers.
Data Breaches Can Lead to Customer Drop-Off, Survey Finds
Customer churn can be one of the more painful and unpredictable parts of a data breach, and a new study from Javelin Strategy & Research offer some insight into how serious it can be.
According to a survey of people who had their information exposed in a breach, 33 percent of consumers will shop elsewhere if their retailer of choice is breached. In addition, 30 percent of patients will find new healthcare providers if their hospital/doctor's office is breached, and 25 percent of consumers will switch bank/credit card providers in the aftermath of a breach.

How big an “Oops!” could this have been? Will we see drones launching missiles at the wrong targets? (Oh wait, we've already done that haven't we.)
One of the downsides of all of the new gee-whiz identification technology law enforcement is adopting (usually with hefty federal subsidies) is that it never works quite as well as advertised. The FBI touts facial recognition software as the bad guy-tagging tool of the future, but you have to dig through documents to discover that the feds consider a false positive rate of 20 percent to be perfectly acceptable.
We don't really know what the false positive rate for license plate scanners is, but we do know it has one. At least, Mark Molner, a Prairie Village, Kansas, attorney knows it, because a scanner misread his BMW's license plate for that of a stolen Oldsmobile plate, and the next thing he knew, cops with guns in hand had him surrounded and wanted to know his business.

It seems this posture will force the use of subpoenas. Less formal requests result in notification. Perhaps another example of corporations changing/replacing government?
Craig Timberg reports that tech companies are finally finding their spine to stand up for and notify users when the government seeks users’ information:
Major U.S. technology companies have largely ended the practice of quietly complying with investigators’ demands for e-mail records and other online data, saying that users have a right to know in advance when their information is targeted for government seizure.
This increasingly defiant industry stand is giving some of the tens of thousands of Americans whose Internet data gets swept into criminal investigations each year the opportunity to fight in court to prevent disclosures. Prosecutors, however, warn that tech companies may undermine cases by tipping off criminals, giving them time to destroy vital electronic evidence before it can be gathered.
Read more on Washington Post.

“Clearly, my privacy is more important than your privacy.” Unfortunately, this is the wrong way to go about obtaining privacy. (see The Streisand Effect) Prosecutors should wear Headsman's Hoods when practicing their trade. If the prosecutor succeeds in getting his information locked out, should they also remove the information for the judge, jury, witnesses, court clerks, police officers, jailers, etc., etc.
Matt Reynolds reports:
Three people-search and background-check websites jeopardize the safety of a state prosecutor by listing his home address and telephone number, the prosecutor claims in court.
California Deputy Attorney General John Doe sued Radaris America and its principal Edgar Lopin, Instant Check Mate, and Inome dba Intelius, in Superior Court.
All three websites allow users to pay a fee to download people’s personal information, including criminal background checks, phone numbers, and court judgments.
Read more on Courthouse News.

Is this argument for the sake of an argument? Could Big Data discriminate? No, people discriminate. Perhaps there should be a law against discrimination. (Oh wait, there is!) Perhaps we should continue to analyze Big Data to determine if there is discrimination.
Tom Simonite reports:
When President Obama spoke in January about reforming U.S. surveillance, he also asked a panel of experts to spend 90 days investigating the potential consequences of the use of technology that falls under the umbrella term “big data.” The 68-page report was published today and repeatedly emphasizes that big data techniques can advance the U.S. economy, government, and public life. But it also spends a lot of time warning of the potential downsides, saying in the introduction that:
“A significant finding of this report is that big data analytics have the potential to eclipse longstanding civil rights protections in how personal information is used in housing, credit, employment, health, education, and the marketplace.”
Read more on MIT Technology Review.
Over on The Hill, Kate Tummarello reports:
The White House on Thursday released a sweeping review of “big data” practices that calls for an update to privacy laws.
Officials who conducted the review recommended that Congress enact legislation based on the “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights” that President Obama first introduced in 2012.
The report also calls for a law to create notification requirements for companies that suffer data breaches and urges an update to a decades-old statute that allows warrantless access to emails.
Read more on The Hill.

(Related?) At last! Someone who realizes my students are terrorists!
Counterterror Software To Become Counter-Dropout Tool
Unless you're in the business of defense, you may never have heard of ISS. Intelligent Software Solutions' usual customers for data analysis solutions include the Department of Defense, the National Intelligence Community Agencies, NATO, the United States Coast Guard and other military organizations here in the U.S. and abroad. Its areas of expertise include coming up with systems for command and control, special ops, intelligence, counter-terrorism, homeland security and other disciplines straight from the Spy vs. Spy playbook.
Now it's pondering its prospects for a bright future in higher education. The idea: to apply its complex and sophisticated data integration, data analysis and data visualization environment in helping colleges and universities retain students.
The company, based in Colorado, already works with institutions such as Auburn University in a small business and university technology transition partnership program

What is this about? Is there some secret underground in Australia planning revolution? If so, shouldn't they be importing something more substantial? Is China now in the “annoying weapons” business? (and where can I get one?)
A weaponized iPhone? Aussie customs seizes fakes that deliver a shock
Australia's customs service on Thursday seized more than 6,000 weapons that arrived in the country from China, including a batch of fake iPhones that deliver electric shocks.
… The device looks similar to an older iPhone. Another photo published by customs showed the shocking mechanism on the top of the phone opposite the headphone jack.
The fake iPhones were among other weapons in the shipment, including brass knuckles, extendable batons and other shock devices, according to a press release.

Is a company a monopoly because a majority of users prefer them or do they actually have to do something like “charge monopoly prices?”
Antitrust lawsuit accuses Google of mobile and Internet search monopoly
More legal mud has been slung against Google, and this time it's an antitrust class action lawsuit over in the US which accuses the big G of holding an illegal monopoly over Internet and mobile search in America.
The suit, which was filed in Northern California by consumer and employee rights law outfit Hagens Berman, claims that this search monopoly has been driven by Google's purchase of Android. The law firm contends that by preloading its services and apps (Google Play and YouTube are named as examples) onto the mobile operating system via "secret" Mobile Application Distribution Agreements with smartphone vendors, Google has maintained (and indeed expanded) its search monopoly.
The suit further notes that this move by Google has pushed up prices for Android devices to the detriment of the consumer.

I shouldn't laugh, but I can't help it.
The big huge major celebrity-filled edu news this week: comedian Louis CK tweeted in frustration about his kids’ math homework. And really that’s all we need to know: a famous parent questioned standardized testing and the Common Core.
… A Florida elementary school will no longer offer Mountain Dew to students pre-test. If their scores suffer, I hope some Dew-sponsored celebrity intervenes on Twitter. For justice’s sake.
[From the article:
The school had been giving students about three tablespoons of soda before the FCAT.
Officials at Brevard Public schools halted the practice after receiving complaints from a grandmother who was shocked at what her granddaughter said about her assessment test.
"She said every morning, they had Mountain Dew," Martha Thorp told News 13. "To me, it's a poor precedent. We're setting for young children that they should be hyped up before a test."
The great LAUSD iPad saga continues: this time WiFi issues in the schools are getting in the way of testing. (Because clearly testing is the reason for buying all those expensive devices.)
An FDA advisory panel has recommend that, yes, we should ban “aversive conditioning devices” – electric shock treatment still used in schools to manage and discipline students with disabilities.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Perhaps Facebook is listening, probably they don't think many users will do this. I would guess far less than 1 percent.
Tim Mayr reports:
At its annual F8 developers conference in San Francisco on Wednesday, social network Facebook unveiled a new ‘anonymous login’ feature which will give users greater power and more control over their personal data online.
Announcing the anonymous login feature at the conference, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the feature will forbid apps or websites from collecting personal information of the users as facebook members signup using their facebook account.
Read more on Austrian Tribune.

An interesting perspective.
Zack Needles reports:
Holding that telephones are expressly exempt from the devices prohibited by the Pennsylvania Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Control Act regardless of how they’re used, the state Supreme Court has ruled that a state trooper did not violate the act when he instructed an informant to set up a drug deal with the defendant on speakerphone and then eavesdropped on the conversation.
In Commonwealth v. Spence, the court unanimously reversed a state Superior Court decision that had affirmed a Delaware County trial judge’s ruling suppressing evidence obtained when the trooper listened in on the phone call.
Read more on The Legal Intelligencer.

Perhaps they could automate the process?
Michael Geist writes:
Every 27 seconds. Minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day, week after week, month after month. Canadian telecommunications providers, who collect massive amounts of data about their subscribers, are asked to disclose basic subscriber information to Canadian law enforcement agencies every 27 seconds. In 2011, that added up to 1,193,630 requests. Given the volume, most likely do not involve a warrant or court oversight (2010 RCMP data showed 94% of requests involving customer name and address information was provided voluntarily without a warrant).
In most warrantless cases, the telecommunications companies were entitled to say no. The law says that telecom companies and Internet providers may disclose personal information without a warrant as part of a lawful investigation or they can withhold the information until law enforcement has obtained a warrant. According to newly released information, three telecom providers alone disclosed information from 785,000 customer accounts in 2011, suggesting that the actual totals were much higher. Moreover, virtually all providers sought compensation for complying with the requests.
Read more on Michael Geist.

For the student's “Very Basic” toolkit.
– is a site which gives you every possible piece of information about your system. This can be something as simple as your IP address, to more complex stats such as hardware, network and broadband speeds. However, some features are browser-specific.

For my students who write. (Yes, all of them)
New on LLRX – Fargo Brings An Outliner to Your Browser
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on April 30, 2014
Via - Fargo Brings An Outliner to Your Browser - Elmer Masters explains the pragmatic as well as technological value of Dave Winer’s new full featured outliner, Fargo. Fargo runs in your web browser and stores your data in your Dropbox folder. According to Masters, this combination of browser and cloud puts the outliner everywhere, making it a good choice for anyone looking for ubiquitous note taking and writing capabilities. That includes just about all of us!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What we've got here is failure to communicate” Strother Martin in Cool Hand Luke There are still many companies that do not consider IT a strategic tool and therefore don't give them a voice in the boardroom.
Company Leaders Misjudge Impact of Data Loss on Revenues: Research
According to a report from Ponemon Institute and sponsored by Websense, 80 percent of respondents said their company's leaders do not equate losing confidential data with a potential loss of revenue.
The research also found that respondents find it difficult to keep track of the threat landscape facing their company, with less than half (41 percent) having a good understanding of it. Forty-eight percent said their board-level executives have a subpar understanding of security issues.

“Tis a puzzlement” But, that's what makes it interesting!
Alan Butler of EPIC writes:
Today the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in Riley v. California and United States v. Wurie, two cases involving the warrantless search of an individual’s cell phone incident to arrest. These cases present an important and fundamental Fourth Amendment question: whether the police can search the entire contents of an individual’s cell phone incident to any lawful arrest. As others have noted today, the Justices seemed to recognize that cell phones and other digital devices create a “new world” that justifies a modified search incident to arrest rule. But the Justices struggled throughout the arguments in both cases to identify a workable rule.
One important practical insight from Orin Kerr is that, given the short time frame for a decision (the case will be decided by mid-June), it is possible the Justices will seek a unified majority author for both the Riley and Wurie opinions. Given that consideration, and the facts and arguments in Wurie, it is possible that an unexpected “middle ground” compromise will emerge focused on the plain view doctrine. But regardless of the particular majority approach, it seems very unlikely that the Justices will endorse the broad categorical rule that all individuals’ cell phones are subject to limitless search incident to arrest. And if the Court can’t agree on a compromise solution, Justice Kagan might have enough votes for a categorical ban on warrantless cell phone searches.
Read more on EPIC.

No comment
America's Nuclear Arsenal Still Runs Off Floppy Disks
America just got a reminder that its nuclear arsenal is old and getting older. On last night's 60 Minutes, Lesley Stahl met two “missileers” charged with watching over and controlling Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles in Wyoming, and the control room was not what Stahl—or I—expected: There's no “big button,” but there are floppy disks.
Like the old, big 8-inch floppy disks. Like the kind, pictured above, that are often featured in a computer history museum or found in your attic, beneath old DOS manuals. Like, not even the newer, 3.5-inch model of floppy disk. That's how they control our nuclear missiles. At 23 years old, the deputy missileer said she had never even seen a floppy disk before finding one that can help wreak untold carnage on planet Earth.

It amazes me when things like this seems to go “unnoticed.” More likely, someone did a crappy job of measuring China yet that became the “standard.”
China overtakes the US: your questions answered
The FT reported this morning that China will overtake the US as the world’s largest economy this year. This is a historic moment since the US has been the global economic powerhouse since about 1872. As Jamil Anderlini, the FT’s Beijing bureau chief explains, the news is an important geopolitical moment. Everyone has known the moment was coming (the IMF’s projections suggested 2019) but the report from the International Comparison Programme came as a shock, saying the Chinese economy was already 87 per cent of the US size in 2011. The figures are based on new estimates of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) and inevitably raise a lot of questions. I will attempt to answer them here.

I'm trying to talk the “Security Club” into creating a wiki listing tools (free or not) along with “Best Practices” Stay tuned!
Six Essential (Free) Tools For Security Teams
Information security is a big topic with a lot of disciplines, and hardly anyone is an expert in all of them. The good news is that there are some truly remarkable free tools out there that not only can help you and your team get things done, but also provide a great way to learn new security skills quickly.
if you don’t see your favorite tool, please add them in the comments at the bottom.
Network Tools: Wireshark
System Tools: Sysinternals
Pen Testing: Kali Linux and Metasploit
Web Application Testing Tools: OWASP - ZAP
Browser-based Pen Testing: BeEF

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Probably not the ad of Microsoft's dreams.
Governments urge Internet Explorer users to switch browsers until fix found
Government security response teams are urging Windows users to consider Chrome or Firefox as their default browser until Microsoft delivers a security fix for a new flaw affecting all versions of Internet Explorer.
Computer emergency response teams (CERTs) in the US, the UK, and Sweden have advised Windows users to consider avoiding Internet Explorer until Microsoft fixes the vulnerability.
Microsoft over the weekend confirmed the flaw was being exploited in "limited, targeted attacks", which use a rigged Flash file hosted on attack websites to net victims.

Just in case you had questions... 34 page pdf
The Target Data Breach: Frequently Asked Questions
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on April 28, 2014
CRS – The Target Data Breach: Frequently Asked Questions. N. Eric Weiss, Specialist in Financial Economics; Rena S. Miller, Specialist in Financial Economics. April 22, 2014.
“According to Target, in November and December of 2013, information on 40 million payment cards (credit, debit, and ATM cards) and personally identifiable information (PII) on 70 million customers was compromised.

Could be the start of an introduction.
Anya Kamenetz writes:
…. Student data used to be the pet cause of a small group of lawyers and activists. Now, in part because of the InBloom controversy, it’s gaining broader attention. This year, 82 bills in 32 states have been introduced that somehow address student privacy.
But what, exactly, is new here? How worried should you be as a parent? And what are the remedies?
Until very recently, as students moved from elementary to middle school and high school and college, little more than a one-page transcript followed.
In 2005, things changed.

Add this to your must-read list for today.
Dan Solove has a short article on LinkedIn that addresses what the FTC might do in the case where a school district enters into a contract with a cloud provider. Although the FTC generally has no authority over the education sector, they might take action against the business involved:
Although the FTC lacks enforcement power against most schools, government organizations, and non-profits when these entities have deficient contracts with businesses that handle personal data, the FTC can still go after the businesses that are operating under that contract. With schools in particular, some businesses are taking advantage of the fact that many schools lack the knowledge and resources to include the appropriate controls over data in their contracts. The FTC can step in and stop these practices.
Read Dan’s article here.

Clear change at Microsoft!
On Monday, the tech giant announced that it will offer free group video calls on Skype, its popular internet communications service. Previously, such calls were reserved for customers who paid for premium Skype accounts.
The move is yet another example of Microsoft forgoing immediate revenues in an effort to better compete in the modern world, where so many basic software tools and services are free, subsidized by online advertising or the sale of more specialized tools. In this case, Google has long offered free group video calls through its Hangouts service — part of the Google+ social network — and now, Microsoft is following suit.

Ready or not, this is the future.
We are happy to announce the publication of a new Editors’ Picks reading list on “The Regulation and Risks of Cryptocurrencies.”
… Previous Editors’ Picks have included, among other things, the power to detain, executive power, autonomous weapons systems, and International Human Right Law on Privacy (and Surveillance).

Another article I agree with. (Funny how more of them get posted than articles that are just wrong!) Remember, when cable companies started they we advertised as “community antennas.”
Aereo Isn’t Illegal Just Because It Threatens Broadcasters
Last week, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments to determine the fate of Aereo, a Manhattan-based startup. The question before the court is whether Aereo’s business model violates the Copyright Act. Aereo allows its customers to watch broadcast television over the internet. Instead of purchasing pricey rabbit ears or a clunky antenna (neither aesthetically nor environmentally friendly, particularly in big cities) Aereo shrinks the rabbit ears to the size of a dime and provides customers the ability to store programs on a remote cloud-based DVR and play them back on their gadget of choice, be it a laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

The world has changed....
Novell's Windows 95 suit against Microsoft at an end
The US Supreme Court brought an end to Novell's antitrust claims against Microsoft that date back 20 years to the development of Windows 95 software.
By declining to hear Novell's appeal, the court left intact a 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruling from September 2013 in favor of Microsoft.

For my students who have not read history.
Relive History With 80,000+ British Pathé Historical Newsreels [Stuff to Watch]
… With over 80,000 films to peruse, you would need years to get through them all – and there’s not a lot of order to the collection either. Regardless, if you’re looking for footage of well-documented cultural movements, news events and days that shook the world then British Pathé on YouTube is a great place to start.

Anything my students will use is good.
Scapple Lets You Organize Your Thoughts However You Like
Need a better tool for brainstorming, or just organizing thoughts? Check out Scapple. This Mac and Windows note-taking software lets you write down ideas, move them around and connect one concept to another – and it couldn’t be easier to use.
Scapple, in their own documentation, seems to intentionally avoid using the terms “mind mapping”, instead calling the product a note-taking app.

There are several like this, but you need to find one you like.
– is a free screen capture software for Microsoft Windows. With TinyTake, you can capture images and videos of your computer screen, add comments and share them with others in minutes. TinyTake is built by MangoApps and is available for free.

Monday, April 28, 2014

So this is good news and bad news. You can keep some things private, but only criminals would do it.
How One Woman Hid Her Pregnancy From Big Data
For the past nine months, Janet Vertesi, assistant professor of sociology at Princeton University, tried to hide from the Internet the fact that she's pregnant — and it wasn't easy.
Pregnant women are incredibly valuable to marketers. For example, if a woman decides between Huggies and Pampers diapers, that's a valuable, long-term decision that establishes a consumption pattern. According to Vertesi, the average person's marketing data is worth 10 cents; a pregnant woman's data skyrockets to $1.50. And once targeted advertising finds a pregnant woman, it won't let up.
Vertesi presented on big data at the Theorizing the Web conference in Brooklyn on Friday, where she discussed how she hid her pregnancy, the challenges she faced and how the experience sheds light on the overall political and social implications of data-collecting bots and cookies.
… Genius, right? But not exactly foolproof. Vertesi said that by dodging advertising and traditional forms of consumerism, her activity raised a lot of red flags. When her husband tried to buy $500 worth of Amazon gift cards with cash in order to get a stroller, a notice at the Rite Aid counter said the company had a legal obligation to report excessive transactions to the authorities.
"Those kinds of activities, when you take them in the aggregate ... are exactly the kinds of things that tag you as likely engaging in criminal activity, as opposed to just having a baby," she said.

“Gosh, perhaps you should read things before clicking “Agree?”
Judge throws out lawsuit lobbed at Facebook for using kids' pics in targeted ads
A judge has thrown out a potential class action lawsuit against Facebook over its use of photos of minors in targeted ads, ruling that the users gave their consent when they signed up for the social network.
… District Judge Richard Seeborg said that the folks trying to sue Facebook had failed to show that its "statement of rights and responsibilities" (SRR) was unenforceable. This statement, which governs the use of the site, was equivalent to written consent to the use of their names and profile photos for anyone who signed up, the judge said.

Doctors have been resisting using technology, perhaps this is a good idea, but...
Do medical scribes threaten patient privacy?
… The usual use of a medical scribe is to follow a provider around in their clinical tasks for the purpose of data entry. This may or may not involve being present for the history and physical exam. Most commonly they are physically present in the room and witness the entire encounter. The need they fill is a function of our ever increasing mandates for electronic medical records (EMR).

This is also how discrimination has been “discovered” in past lawsuits. Just saying, it can be used either way. (Read “How to lie with statistics.”)
Eileen Sullivan of AP reports:
A White House review of how the government and private sector use large sets of data has found that such information could be used to discriminate against Americans on issues such as housing and employment even as it makes their lives easier in many ways.
“Big data” is everywhere.
It allows mapping apps to ping cellphones anonymously and determine, in real time, what roads are the most congested. But it also can be used to target economically vulnerable people.
The issue came up during a 90-day review ordered by President Barack Obama, White House counselor John Podesta said in an interview with The Associate Press. Podesta did not discuss all the findings, but said the potential for discrimination is an issue that warrants a closer look.
Read more on Huffington Post.

Is this the best approach to “data searches?”
Orin Kerr writes:
This post updates readers on the current status of the mosaic theory of the Fourth Amendment. As regular readers know, that’s the novel approach to the Fourth Amendment introduced by the DC Circuit in United States v. Maynard — and then suggested by the concurring opinions in United States v. Jones — by which an aggregation of non-searches and subsequent analysis of the collected data at some point becomes a Fourth Amendment search.
There has been a lot of litigation on the mosaic theory recently. I wanted to flag three recent developments: an oral argument before the Eleventh Circuit, a decision by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and a novel procedural step by Magistrate Judge Facciola.

It didn't take long for someone (the state in this case) to replace InBloom. Note that data on students (history) will not predict the future job market. What are they really doing?
Barb Berggoetz reports:
Imagine a giant database filled with every Hoosier student’s elementary and high school achievement test scores, SAT scores, college degrees and eventually job and salary history.
State officials are preparing to build it. They want it to tell them exactly what happens to students who don’t finish high school or who switch majors in college. But the big payoff would be forecasting the job market and using that information to adjust the education system to deliver workers to meet the needs.
Read more on IndyStar.

...and we're developing robots without Asimov's Three Laws!
Are the robots about to rise? Google's new director of engineering thinks so…
… everyone's allowed their theories. It's just that Kurzweil's theories have a habit of coming true. And, while he's been a successful technologist and entrepreneur and invented devices that have changed our world – the first flatbed scanner, the first computer program that could recognise a typeface, the first text-to-speech synthesizer and dozens more – and has been an important and influential advocate of artificial intelligence and what it will mean, he has also always been a lone voice in, if not quite a wilderness, then in something other than the mainstream.
And now? Now, he works at Google. Ray Kurzweil who believes that we can live for ever and that computers will gain what looks like a lot like consciousness in a little over a decade is now Google's director of engineering.
… Google has gone on an unprecedented shopping spree and is in the throes of assembling what looks like the greatest artificial intelligence laboratory on Earth; a laboratory designed to feast upon a resource of a kind that the world has never seen before: truly massive data. Our data. From the minutiae of our lives.
Google has bought almost every machine-learning and robotics company it can find, or at least, rates. It made headlines two months ago, when it bought Boston Dynamics, the firm that produces spectacular, terrifyingly life-like military robots, for an "undisclosed" but undoubtedly massive sum. It spent $3.2bn (£1.9bn) on smart thermostat maker Nest Labs. And this month, it bought the secretive and cutting-edge British artificial intelligence startup DeepMind for £242m.

Interesting idea.
Will Economics Finally Get Its Paradigm Shift?
Economics is due for a paradigm shift. That’s the argument of British money manager George Cooper’s very interesting if less-than-felicitously titled new book, Money, Blood and Revolution: How Darwin and the Doctor of King Charles I Could Turn Economics Into a Science. It is also, to be fair, something economists have been talking about for decades. Yet it keeps not happening. Why is that?
The idea of a paradigm shift comes from Thomas Kuhn’s 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn, a physicist turned philosopher of science, had spent a year in the late 1950s at the then-new Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford and been struck by how the assembled psychologists, economists, historians, sociologists, and the like often disagreed over the very fundamentals of their disciplines. Physicists, in his experience, didn’t do that. This wasn’t because they were any smarter than social scientists, Kuhn concluded. It was because they had found a paradigm within which to work.
… Just as Kuhn was writing this, economics was finally settling into what looked like a scientific paradigm, in which mathematical models built around rational agents trying to maximize something called utility were presumed capable of answering all the questions that needed to be answered.
… Then it comes time to offer up his ideas for a new economics paradigm:
  1. Replace utility-maximizing economic man with a Darwinian fellow who simply wants to do better than the next guy.
  2. Let this selfish creature fight it out in a macroeconomic model based on the circulatory system. “Capitalism would act to push wealth up the social pyramid,” Cooper writes, “while democracy, and its progressive taxation system, would act in the opposite direction to push it back down, causing a vigorous circulatory flow of wealth throughout the economy.”

Something for my lawyer friends? Everything you ever wanted to know about the law?
– is a major publication venture toward a comprehensive coverage of law and the legal profession. It is an international, interdisciplinary, and collaborative project, spanning all the relevant areas of law and legal practice, and advised by leading scholars from around the world.

Perspective " A hundred billion here, a hundred billion there, and pretty soon you're talking real money" to misquote Everett Dirksen (if he ever said that.)
Pfizer offering $100 billion for Astra Zeneca
… Pfizer, the maker of Viagra, said that AstraZeneca rejected an initial approach in January valuing the company at about 59 billion pounds ($100 billion). The cash and shares deal would represent a 30 percent premium on AstraZeneca's closing share price of 35.26 pounds on Jan. 3, the closing price around the time the offer was made.
AstraZeneca PLC said it concluded that the proposal "very significantly undervalued AstraZeneca and its prospects."

(Related) Also interesting. France has a lot of nuclear reactor projects around the world, so would this give GE a look at technology used in Iran? (Drugs are more profitable than nukes?)
GE’s Alstom Bid Gains Steam as Hollande Said Not Opposed
… Both GE and Siemens have taken steps to appease policy makers for a deal with Alstom, which has a market value of about 8.3 billion euros ($11.5 billion).

Took them long enough.
IBM Drinks The Kool-Aid, Launches An Enteprise App Store
… while the App Store concept is a logical one, it’s not something that is a traditional approach to enterprise IT, and hence hasn’t been embraced by more traditional vendors. Which makes it all the more interesting to hear confirmation of GigaOm scoop that IBM is this morning announcing the IBM Cloud Marketplace. A self-service (just swipe your credit card and you’re done) collection of software and services. The marketplace has a long list of different products available, including Zend, SendGrid, MongoDB, NewRelic, Redis Labs, Sonian, Flow Search Corp, Twilio and Ustream. It also includes IBM’s own products such as its Cloud Foundry-based Bluemix PaaS.

For my Math students.
Experiment With Sounds on Wolfram Tones
Wolfram Tones is a neat offering from Wolfram that students can use to can play with sample sounds and rhythms to create new own sounds. Wolfram Tones uses algorithms, music theory, and sound samples to generate new collections of sounds. Wolfram Tones allows visitors to choose samples from fifteen different genres of music on which to build their own sounds. Once a genre is selected visitors can then alter the rhythms, instrumentation, and pitch mapping of their sounds. When satisfied with their creations, users can download their sounds or have them sent directly to their cell phones.
Applications for Education
Wolfram Tones might be a nice little resource for a music theory lesson. Wolfram Tones could be a fun way for students to experiment with rhythms and instrumentation to make unique sounds.

Do I really want to know what my students opinions are?
– run polls and ask questions using an audience’s devices. Create a presentation in PowerPoint or Keynote, the same way you always did. Upload it to and press present. You will get a unique URL the audience can use to join your slideshow using any device they happen to have.

If it works for lawyers, it should work for my students.
New on LLRX – Personal Task Management for Legal Professionals
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on April 27, 2014
Via - Personal Task Management for Legal Professionals - Brad Edmondson searched for the right task management app throughout much of his time attending law school. He finally found and recommends in this article one that he chose for individual use: Todoist. The app – it’s really more of a service – operates on the “freemium” model, and Brad signed up for the premium version three months ago. He compares and contrasts this app to others for Mac and Android platforms in this best practices guide.

For students and my fellow professors.
– offers webcasts, workshops, recorded seminars, lectures and much more. Webiners is a platform that allows you to access the big lessons that experts are giving for free so you can empower your business education and make better decisions in your professional career.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Break it into as many tiny and contentious pieces as possible so it is no threat and won't qualify for NATO.
What Russia Might Gain From A Decentralized Ukraine
Ukraine's interim government is facing major obstacles: a separatist uprising in the east of the country, an economy in tatters and a presidential election next month.
But the leadership is also facing a longer-term challenge, one that will shape the future of the country: the creation of a new constitution.
The task will be complicated by pressure from Russia, which has already made clear what kind of constitution it thinks Ukraine should have. Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, laid out Russia's position in an interview last month.
"They should start agreeing on a federation, where each region has broad authority over its language, education, economic and cultural ties with neighboring countries," Lavrov said.
What Lavrov seemed to be outlining is a country whose regions have such broad authority that they can even control a certain amount of foreign policy. Other Russian statements have specified that Ukraine's constitution should keep the country neutral so it can't join NATO, and that the nation should declare Russian to be an official state language.

If you want to remain anonymous, you must be a foreigner! (Perhaps even a terrorist!)
Hulu Begins to Block VPNs from Accessing Streaming Content
… According to a report from TorrentFreak, Hulu is starting to block VPN services from accessing its content. The service has allegedly concocted up a giant "block list" of IP addresses used by a number of common VPN services. If it detects that your alleged IP addresses is one of those, you get a lovely interstitial message when trying to access Hulu's content:
"Based on your IP-address, we noticed that you are trying to access Hulu through an anonymous proxy tool. Hulu is not currently available outside the U.S. If you're in the U.S. you'll need to disable your anonymizer to access videos on Hulu," the message reads.

It is possible to anonymize all that data (medical, behavioral, etc.)
Phil Lee writes:
Earlier this week, the Article 29 Working Party published its Opinion 05/2014 on Anonymisation Techniques. The opinion describes (in quite some technical detail) the different anonymisation techniques available to data controllers, their relative values, and makes some good practice suggestions – noting that “Once a dataset is truly anonymised and individuals are no longer identifiable, European data protection law no longer applies“.
This is a very significant point – data, once truly anonymised, is no longer subject to European data protection law.
Read more on Field Fisher Waterhouse.

The Amazon Deal With HBO
The recently announced deal between Amazon and HBO in which Amazon will offer to its Amazon Primes customers much of HBO’s classic programming should be examined for its long-term implications. Are there any businesses that are liable to get hurt?
... What companies will this trend put out of business?
  1. Cable TV companies, which will be reduced to being broadband Internet service providers as people cut the cord to get programming from alternative sources on the Internet.
  2. Broadcast TV networks, which will be reduced to being just owners of a bunch of TV stations as people realize they can get most of the TV programming they like from HULU or direct on the Internet from content providers such as Disney, which recently made a deal with the Dish Network to provide its programming, including ABC and ESPN , over the Internet to mobile devices.
  3. Aereo, assuming it wins its case in the Supreme Court. Aereo will be put out of business because TV stations will stream their programming to mobile devices free and sell advertising in the stream. Three weeks ago eight TV station groups announced a joint venture, named Pearl, which will deliver interactive TV content to LG smart television sets in three markets.

(Related) I've always wanted a problem like this!
Jeff Bezos Loses $2.8 Billion In A Day

For my students. A Mac App. Think of it as a text-to-PowerPoint generator.
– is a new, simple way to create presentations. Open your favourite text editor, write down your thoughts and Deckset will turn them into beautiful presentations. Focus on your ideas, not on designing slides. Deckset comes with eight amazing-looking themes that are designed to work for any audience, whether it’s a business meeting or a tech conference.

For my fellow professors (and a few students) – It can't hurt to keep reminding everyone that “There's an App (or program) for that!”
… Created by NJ Superintendent Scott Rocco, this list is chock-full of tons of different apps that can fill out just about every category of Bloom’s Taxonomy. It includes the name of the tool, what level of Bloom’s Taxonomy it addresses, where you can find it, what it does, and last but definitely not least, how you’ve been using it in your classroom. As of this writing, there are 83 tools in the list.
So go on- check it out! It is a Google Doc, so it is easily editable so that you can all add your favorite tools to the list!

Once again I've managed to stay off this list. (Would you want to be on a list where Al Gore is number one?) It amazes me how many names I recognize, and how few of their ideas I think impact global thought.
Global Thought Leaders 2013
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on April 26, 2014
“Who are the thought leaders shaping today’s discourse on the future of society and the economy? Whose ideas are defining and changing our lives? Where is the impetus for innovation and social change coming from? Working together with Peter Gloor, GDI now presents the second “Global Thought Leader Map“, and the resulting “influence rank”, which may prove to be an effective tool for measuring the influence of the world’s most important thinkers.”

Interesting (and poorly referenced) statistics. And an infographic...
How Is Technology Affecting Kids?
  • 73% of parents say they’d like to limit their child’s TV watching
  • Kids spend about 110 minutes per day watching TV, and a little over 90 minutes watching DVDs or movies