Monday, May 04, 2015

This only happened last year! This is a remarkably fast response for the Senate. Of course, it still looks like they have no clue about what the risks are.
Peter Cooney reports:
The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee has written President Barack Obama over concerns that a recently reported data breach on the White House computer system might have compromised the personal information of many Americans.
“Just like any entity that handles personally-identifiable information, the White House has a responsibility to notify Americans if the recent, or any future breach, results in a compromise,” the committee chairman, John Thune, said in a statement on Sunday accompanying the letter.
Read more on Reuters.
[From the article:
Thune in his letter to Obama said that while hackers did not appear to have accessed classified data, the unclassified computer system reportedly contained sensitive information such as schedules, policy discussions and emails, including exchanges with diplomats.
"This unclassified computer system likely also contains the personally identifiable information of many Americans," the South Dakota Republican wrote, noting that people must submit personal information before being allowed to enter the White House. [But you have to go through your Senator or Representative, not the Whitehouse. Bob]

Bad technology or bad users? Let the lawsuits begin! (Digest Item 2)
Periscope Wins the Big Fight
This past weekend saw two boxers facing off in what was billed as “the fight of the century.” However, Mayweather vs. Pacquiao was only one of the fights taking place, the other being Periscope vs. Pay-Per-View. And Periscope clearly won the latter on points.
Periscope is the livestreaming app owned and operated by Twitter. It, alongside Meerkat, lets anyone stream live video through their smartphone. Which makes piracy a major problem for the platform. And, if you hadn’t already guessed by now, the pay-per-view boxing match was a major target.
The live streams showing the fight were shut down throughout the match, but as soon as one disappeared, countless others appeared in its place. Combatting piracy of this variety is extremely tough, so it remains to be seen what, if any, preventative measures Twitter puts in place in the aftermath of Mayweather vs. Pacquiao.

A promise we can rely on? A timescale that matches glaciation?
Devlin Barrett reports:
The Justice Department will start revealing more about the government’s use of secret cellphone tracking devices and has launched a wide-ranging review into how law-enforcement agencies deploy the technology, according to Justice officials.
In recent months, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has begun getting search warrants from judges to use the devices, which hunt criminal suspects by locating their cellphones, the officials said. For years, FBI agents didn’t get warrants to use the tracking devices.
Senior officials have also decided they must be more forthcoming about how and why the devices are used—although there isn’t yet agreement within the Justice Department about how much to reveal or how quickly.
Read more on the Wall Street Journal.
[From the article:
… the FBI doesn’t require or provide legal standards to police on best practices for how to use the devices, according to people familiar with the issue. Officials say that if a police department asks for advice on how they use the devices, the FBI will provide it.

Do lawyers come under surveillance just because they represent suspected terrorists?
Michael Cross reports:
Legal professional bodies have renewed their call for statutory protection for professional privilege despite a landmark ruling against the security services.
The Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) this week ordered intelligence agency GCHQ to destroy illegally intercepted communications between Libyans subjected to renditions and their lawyers in the UK. This is believed to be the first time the tribunal has ordered an intelligence agency to give up surveillance material in its 15-year history.
Read more on The Law Society Gazette.
[From the article:
… there remains a major concern about the wider implications of the tribunal's decision not to give injunctive relief. The law has always recognised that a lawyer-client communication only loses its privilege where it is made for a criminal purpose.
He described as 'deeply troubling' the government's argument that there are wider exceptions to privilege than this.

Interesting decision in Australia. Could the same thing happen here?
Ben Grubb reports:
Monday marks 688 days since I first asked Telstra for the metadata generated by my mobile phone – the same information it routinely gives law-enforcement and intelligence agencies without a warrant when investigating crime.
Monday also marks the start of Privacy Awareness Week 2015, which usually goes by each year without too much fuss and, to be quite frank, is a little boring. But this year’s Privacy Awareness Week is different.
You see, Monday also marks the day the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner has made public a landmark decision in relation to my battle with Telstra for access to my metadata.
[From the decision:
Telstra Corporation Limited (Telstra) interfered with the complainant’s privacy by failing to provide the complainant with access to his personal information held by Telstra in breach of National Privacy Principle (NPP) 6.1 of the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) (the Privacy Act).

Another Privacy resource. (I find it amusing that mere months after a certain lawyer I know “vacations” in New Zealand there is a flurry of privacy related activity.)
From the Privacy Commissioner of New Zealand’s web site:
Our new online Privacy training modules are now available to use.
These are:
Privacy 101 – which covers all the material previously taught in our Privacy Act training workshops. The material aims to introduce you to key concepts and definitions contained in the Privacy Act, including a brief discussion about the interface between the Official Information Act (OIA) and the Privacy Act. It focuses on the 12 information privacy principles contained in the Privacy Act.
Health 101 – which covers all the material previously taught in our Health Information Privacy Code training workshops. The material aims to introduce you to key concepts and definitions contained in the Health Information Privacy Code (HIPC) and how they may be applied in practice. It focuses on the 12 health information privacy rules contained in the Code and will consider how they apply in practice.
The online training modules are free. To register, go to:
We hope you find these online learning tools useful. We would be delighted to receive any feedback. Please email us at:
Under the terms of their CCL, I think I’m obligated to tell you that use of their material does not suggest that they endorse me,, or my use of their material.
Microaggressions hurt.

Is this the forerunner of a global language? Not fair. I'm still working on English!
Instagram takes a serious look at how people use emojis
Emojis are starting to flood Instagram, and the website's engineers are on a quest to sort out how people are using the yellow-faced emoticons. Apparently, their popularity skyrocketed after Apple released the iOS emoji keyboard and Android got native support. In just a single month after the iOS emojis came out, their usage on the website increased by 10 percent. Now, nearly 50 percent of all captions and comments have an emoji or two. Instagram's research has also revealed that folks in Finland insert emojis most frequently, with 63 percent of all text posted from the country containing at least one graphic. The US (38 percent) takes the ninth place in that list, after France (50 percent), UK (48 percent), Germany (47 percent), Italy (45 percent), Russia (45 percent), Spain (40 percent) and Japan (39 percent).
And because emojis are serious business, the Facebook-owned company has also deciphered what some of them mean based on words people use with them. While many have rather obvious translations -- a laughing face obviously means "lol" and all its other iterations, for instance -- it's amusing to see how users interpret some of the vaguer ones. In addition, Instagram has discovered that people are slowly abandoning written internet slang ("xoxo," "rofl," "bae," so on and so forth) in favor of their emoji counterparts. You can read the whole study on Instagram's Tumblr page, but note that it's only the first part. The company promises to explain how it implemented emoji hashtags in the second one -- maybe then we can get a detailed explanation of why you can't search for one eggplant emoji, but you can search for two.

Might be an interesting website for my Statistics students to play with.
The State & Local Finance Initiative’s State Economic Monito
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on May 3, 2015
The State & Local Finance Initiative’s State Economic Monitor tracks and analyzes economic and fiscal trends at the state level. Its interactive graphics highlight particular differences across all 50 states and the District of Columbia in employment, wages, housing, and taxes. Each section is updated when new data are released. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics updates the “Employment” and “Wages” data monthly. The Federal Housing Finance Agency updates the “Housing” data quarterly, and the US Census Bureau updates the “Taxes” data quarterly. Last Updated April 2015.” [Via Urban Institute]

Something to improve my students. At least look at the touch typing and speed reading sections.
Use Your Computer the Right Way to Increase Productivity

I must admit that I don't get computer games. (And my students laugh as they try to explain them to me. They could probably watch the video and tell me exactly how the game is played.)
New puzzle-RPG from Gameloft 'Battle Odyssey' launches on Windows and Windows Phone
Gameloft has launched a new game on Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone called Battle Odyssey. Set in the magical realm of Pondera (totally not at all inspired by Avatar’s Pandora or World of Warcraft’s Pandaria) and using an admittedly fresh anime-inspired 2D art style, Battle Odyssey invites the player to save the land which has been corrupted by evil forces through the use of elemental forces and character collecting.
The free-to-play game features gameplay similar to popular puzzle games like Bejeweled and Tap Tiles but incorporates Japanese roleplaying game elements such as character classes, leveling systems, power-ups and a ridiculously large cast of characters (over 500!) to help set it apart.

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