Sunday, April 05, 2015

This would be Okay if that one hacker committed 100,000 crimes. No data on that in this story.

Perhaps “remedial grammar school” (what we used to call an education degree) is not the best training for running a school.
Okay, this is really bad, on multiple levels. Brendan Foley and Jayne Miller report:
Tewksbury Public Schools face angry parental backlash following the release of private student information online last week. A document included in a 222-page School Committee packet remained online for the better part of a week, before being taken down Monday.
Awareness of the data, which details private information for the out of district placements of 83 students and rates their parents according to their “cooperativeness” with the district, raised outrage on social media over the weekend.
The seven-page memo from Rick Pelletier, Director of Student Services, to the Superintendent was included in the School Committee packet as part of its budget justification package last week. The memo includes a spreadsheet that listed all the students with out of district placements – and also included a ranking on ‘parental cooperativeness.’ The amount of data included could indicate a violation of state and federal law.
The list, which replaces student names with numbers, remains in alphabetical order. Information included the student’s current grade, the out-of-district school, the last school attended, the year the student began attending the new school, information on whether or not the decision was made by the IEP team, a legal settlement (typically kept strictly confidential), or if the student moved in from another town, and miscellaneous detail such as the involvement of the Department of Children and Families, passage of MCAS assessments, and more.
The office of Student Services also published its rating of parents according to their ‘cooperativeness with the district.’ Parents rated a ‘1’ are cooperative, ‘2’ somewhat cooperative, and those rated ‘3’ are ‘not cooperative.’
The Town Crier could easily identify seven families included in the list, and was contacted by others that could identify more families based on the material in the sheet.
Read more on The Town Crier to read responses from the state, the U.S. Education Department, parents, and a special education attorney. It seems like the district is not acknowledging any FERPA breach or breach under state law.

This is very important! Following this logic, any system that requires you to “Opt Out” fails the “user preference” test. Perhaps we should create an “Opt Out” website as a central point for users to “express their preference” and sell vendors the right to display a “badge” if they agree to honor the user's choice.
Microsoft Will Disable ‘Do Not Track’ Default Setting In Future IE Browser Releases
Microsoft is giving Internet Explorer and Project Spartan browser users a heads up that in future releases, the Do Not Track feature will no longer be enabled by default. On the surface (no pun intended), Microsoft's reasoning for the change is that enabling the privacy feature by default only encourages websites to ignore the setting and use tracking cookies anyway.
It's not such an odd leap of logic, and it's one that the World Wide Web Consortium (WC3) agrees with. As WC3 explains, sending a signal to disable tracking "MUST reflect the user's preference, not the choice of some vendor, institution, site, or network-imposed mechanism outside the user's control. " So when no user choice exists -- as would be the case by enabling DNT by default -- websites can assume that no tracking preference is being expressed.

(Related) Implications for the Internet of Things! Has anyone asked if they are secure? Can I turn off your gas and electric with my smartphone?
Mark Harrington reports:
… By 2019, PSEG plans to install nearly 180,000 smart meters in homes and businesses across Long Island, about 15 percent of its 1.1 million customers.
The moves have caught some customers off guard, touching off concerns about privacy, health and billing issues.
“There’s no proof they are not dangerous,” said Amityville resident Pete Duryea, who is seeking to have 12 smart meters already installed on his condo-complex removed.
Long Island utilities say the concerns are unfounded, noting that many meters use the same radio frequency as cordless telephones and cellphones.
Read more on Newsday (subscription required).

This could be big! I'm on their waiting list to see if I can add it to my Excel class or my Statistics class or one of the Data Analytics classes, etc.
New Office tool brings analytics for everyone
Analytics is an amazing tool, done right it is basically the digital equivalent of a crystal ball, [Not if you do it correctly! Bob] but there are several problems with it. First, you will typically need a data scientist to formulate the questions and translate the answers; second, the number of executives who are data scientists is small and the two professions don’t exactly speak the same language; and three, the tools are wickedly expensive. The end result is that these tools are underutilized, ignored, not implemented or misused – none of which gives the bean counters a warm and fuzzy feeling about investing in them.
Well one day after April Fool’s day BeyondCore released an analytics tool that is integrated with Microsoft Office and can be used by anyone who knows how to use Office. This is an analytics tool for every employee and it potentially could be a game-changer, having as big an impact as Word or Excel did in their day.
… Now, while this will undoubtedly cut into the fun of finance folks and auditors worldwide (because we get enjoyment privately making fun of clueless executives) the end result should be better decisions and far less embarrassment. Plus when you see how the answers relate to the questions you actually get smarter and we could all benefit from smarter executives.

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