Sunday, September 06, 2015

Entirely too much fun for too many people.
Three John Doe plaintiffs who were paying customers of have sued Amazon Web Services, GoDaddy, and unnamed John Roe web site owners/operators who created sites allowing people to search for individuals who might be in the database.
In a complaint filed in Arizona federal court, the plaintiffs – one from California, one from New Jersey, and one from Maryland – allege that AWS and GoDaddy hosted stolen data for the other John Roe defendants (the owners/operators of,,, and
All of the John Roe sites allegedly attempted to monetize use of the stolen data.
The complaint alleges, for all defendants (ISP and web site owners/operators):
  • violation of California Penal Code §496 (Receipt of stolen property)
  • violation of California Business & Professions Code §17200 (Unfair competition)
  • Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress
  • Violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1030
And additionally, for John Roe web site owner/operators:
  • Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
The plaintiffs are represented by Kronenberger Rosenfeld, LLP, a San Francisco law firm. The plaintiffs seek $3 million and a jury trial.
But here’s the thing: do the plaintiffs have standing? Yes, information about them may have been stolen and sites may have then used that stolen information, but do they have standing to sue the defendants for receipt of stolen property when it wasn’t their property that was stolen? Do they have standing to make any CFAA claims if it was not their database that was hacked or stolen or exposed? And doesn’t Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act immunize Amazon Web Services and GoDaddy for this type of situation?
And even though the plaintiffs might potentially have standing for the emotional distress claims, the complaint does not allege any particularized concrete harm or imminent harm. The complaint asserts that information on all three plaintiffs was in the data dump, but is silent on the nature of the information for each plaintiff. It then claims:
Like most users, Plaintiffs have suffered damages, including severe emotion distress, due to the ability of Plaintiffs’ spouses, children, family members, community connections, business associates, and the public at large to identify Plaintiffs as Users of Ashley Madison. By this action, Plaintiffs seek compensatory damages in an amount to be proven at trial, but not less than three million dollars ($3,000,000).
So they’re not claiming that others have already identified them through these sites or that they have experienced any consequences at all of such identification. This seems to be about what might happen and the worry customers have about what might happen. Is this enough to survive a challenge to standing? I wouldn’t think so, but then, I am not a lawyer.
There’s a lot about this complaint that puzzles me, and I will be watching for updates.
Great thanks to Alexander J. Martin for providing this site with a copy of the complaint.

“To err is human, to really screw up takes a computer!” Perhaps a flawed backup process? Perhaps someone tried to backup the data manually? Unlikely their insurance will cover this.
On September 2, Heritage Foundation spokesman Wesley Denton issued the following statement:
We experienced a malicious, unauthorized data breach of six-year-old documents on an external server that appear to contain personal information of private donors, who we are notifying. We are unable to verify the authenticity of files circulated online.
All Americans have the right to support causes without fear of harassment, and that is why we respect and work to safeguard our supporters’ privacy. The Heritage Foundation has over half-a-million members with diverse views who are united with a passion to advance conservative policies that make life better for all Americans.
Heritage is a nonpartisan research and educational institution and has a longstanding policy that we do not comment on private donor or internal staff communications.
Our internal servers were not part of this breach, and we have taken – and will continue to take – all appropriate steps to ensure that our members have the ability to support public policy organizations free from intimidation.
But their claims of a malicious breach or any attempt to intimidate [??? Bob] are disputed by other details and evidence that subsequently came to this site’s attention. was sent a link to the torrent on Pirate Bay, which is prefaced with the following comments:
All the juiciest docs from the recent Heritage Foundation data leak.
And just so we’re clear, it wasn’t a hack. Heritage backed up an email archive to a PUBLIC Amazon server and it got downloaded. Big surprise.
They fucked up. Big time.
Enjoy reached out to Heritage Foundation for a response to the allegations, but has received no response as yet.
In the interim, a commenter provided additional information that supports the claim above. On August 28, five days before Heritage announced the breach, Jay Fuller had tweeted:
jay fuller
Hey @cnn I have a story for you! Heritage Foundation leaks email archive:
6:29 PM - 28 Aug 2015

That link is now 404, as Heritage reportedly took the file down, but the subdomain (thf_media) supports the claim that this was the Heritage Foundation’s subdomain. Steve DeBuhr is an assistant director at the Heritage Foundation. Whether he was responsible for uploading the backup file to his directory or for the perms on the directory is unknown to In any event, however, it now seems clear that the foundation wasn’t attacked, but had exposed their own backup file.
Update: Post-publication, I received a note that there was another archive that was exposed on the Amazon server – this one an email archive from Steve DeBuhr. is in the process of obtaining it to inspect it, but even the first leaked backup contains a wealth of personal details about donors, including their names, addresses, phone numbers (including cell phone numbers), the amounts of their donations to the foundation, and personal notes about their health or family details (such as “married to , who is his second wife”).

It is much cheaper and easier to monitor everyone 24/7 than to constantly adjust the hours of coverage for each employee. Thinking managers would have tied this system into Payroll – did the employee move to 2nd shift? Is the employee on vacation? Etc.
Data Privacy Laws reports:
The Labor court of Appeals of Buenos Aires (Argentina) issued a new ruling related to labor privacy.
The case started when the company Fischer Argentina installed in all the smart phones of its vendors a software app (called Show position) that allowed the company to monitor the physical location of the employee. The software was monitoring location of the employee even after the end of the work time in the company including weekends.
Several employees sued the company requesting a ruling declaring the illegality of this practice and to have the conditions of the working relationship free of this surveillance.
Read more on Data Privacy Laws.

These are so popular I expect the auto manufacturers to build them in by default. I also expect to hack it so it proves I was driving responsibly.
CBS New York reports that the Dept of Transportation (DOT) is looking for 400 drivers to pilot a new program. thinks you’re nuts if you sign up.
It’s a tiny black box about the size of a pack of gum that is installed right under the steering wheel. It will allow city officials under a program called “Drive Smart” to collect and access data about how you drive — if you drive like a maniac, or if you’re Mr. or Mrs. Slow Poke.
“It can tell the g-force of hard stopping or hard acceleration and a hard turn,” DOT senior project manager Alex Keating said. “So the driver, as well as the service provider, are able to look at speeds, hard-breaking events, time of day and basic GPS.”
City officials say they’ll use to information to make the streets safer, but drivers can also allow various DOT partners to use the information. Allstate, for example, will give you insurance discounts of 10-30 percent, and Metropia will get you home faster with less congested routes — all of it hooked up to smartphone apps.
Read more on CBS.

Gee golly wollopers, Batman! Maybe Amazon does know more about selling ebooks online than the publishers! (Or maybe it was just too late.)
E-Book Sales Fall After New Amazon Contracts
When the world’s largest publishers struck e-book distribution deals with Inc. over the past several months, they seemed to get what they wanted: the right to set the prices of their titles and avoid the steep discounts the online retail giant often applies.
But in the early going, that strategy doesn’t appear to be paying off. Three big publishers that signed new pacts with AmazonLagardere SCA’s Hachette Book Group, News Corp ’s HarperCollins Publishers and CBS Corp’s Simon & Schuster—reported declining e-book revenue in their latest reporting periods.
“The new business model for e-books is having a significant impact on what [the big] publishers report,” said one publishing executive. “There’s no question that publishers’ net receipts have gone down.”
A recent snapshot of e-book prices found that titles in the Kindle bookstore from the five biggest publishers cost, on average, $10.81, while all other 2015 e-books on the site had an average price of $4.95, according to industry researcher Codex Group LLC.
Since book buyers expect the price of a Kindle e-book to be well under $9, once you get to over $10 consumers start to say, ‘Let me think about that,’” said Codex CEO Peter Hildick-Smith.

The 21st Century Meat Market. Could this hold for companies or products?
Instagram Predicts Future Of Modeling Popularity
“Popularity” was defined as the number of runway walks in which a new model participated during the Fall/Winter 2015 season in March. The use of Instagram data and computational methods on a database of professional female fashion models will figure out various parameters including hip, waist, height, dress and shoe size, runways walked, modeling agency and eye color, before coming up with the popularity level of a particular model.
The team disclosed that a high activity on the site boosted by 15 percent the model’s odds of getting anew contract. Studies have revealed that the more popular a model was on Instagram, the more chances she had to take part in runway presentations.
Third, the scientists turned their attention to the models’ Instagram accounts.
Generally speaking, a model will be in a greatly disadvantaged position if she does not have an Instagram account, or has one with a low number of likes and comments, as that will often translate to a poorer performance on the runway. The survey focused on qualitative data determining whether the comments were positive or negative.
… The researchers also looked at the Instagram accounts of the more established models.
“Being more active played in your favor”, said Ferrara.
Models who posted more photos on Instagram were more likely to be billed as top models. Meanwhile, the positivity or negativity of the comment did not impact popularity. The tone of the comments did not affect popularity. An above the average number of likes was able to lower these odds by 10 percent, but the researchers couldn’t tell for sure why.
Our analysis suggests that Instagram is as important as being cast by a top agency in terms of its ability to predict success on the runway.
It shows for instance, that an additional inch over the average height doubles a model’s chances of walking a runway.

(Related) Looks like the candidates think it's true for them.
Candidates compete to go viral
Candidates are competing hard to go viral on social media in 2016.
President Obama may be big on selfie sticks, which he recently took to the Alaskan wilderness, but campaigns are looking for even more creative ways to court voters and drum up enthusiasm.
On the Democratic side, the hashtag #FeelTheBern has become synonymous with Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I-Vt.) upstart campaign and helped translate the online presence to large crowds on the trail.
… Here’s a look at some of the most memorable attempts by campaigns to go viral this summer:
One of the more memorable viral attempts came with Sen. Rand Paul’s (Ky.) mid-July video taking a chainsaw to the tax code in an effort to “kill” it. In the clip, which got more than 150,000 YouTube views and was teased more than a week earlier on Instagram, Paul also torched stacks of papers and fed them to a wood chipper to sell his plan for a simplified tax code and flat tax rate of 14.5 percent.
Following that stunt, Paul’s campaign released a smartphone app allowing Apple and Android users to create memes and selfies bearing his likeness. The app reportedly contains a hidden arcade game letting players zap the campaign logos of Paul’s rivals.
… After Donald Trump revealed Sen. Lindsey Graham's (R-S.C.) cell phone number in late July, the senator starred in an elaborate video with IJReview instructing people on "how to destroy your cell phone."
… Donald Trump towers over the 2016 field in social media, using it as a weapon against political and media foes. The outspoken billionaire is particularly active on Twitter, using it several times daily for personally criticizing opponents, sharing flattering polls and engaging supporters.
Trump’s affinity for the social network is reaping big buzz online as he creeps toward Hillary Clinton’s 4.17 million followers. Trump has also more recently embraced Instagram as his platform of choice for launching broadsides against his 2016 rivals.

I heard a similar story on AgriBusiness TV while waiting for the local news to come on. (Yes I get up early) Got me thinking that there might be a market for analysis tools for home gardeners, even if you had to hire someone to analyze your soil.
WSJ – Startups Put Data in Farmers’ Hands
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Sep 5, 2015
Big data moves into the collective sphere of farmers who use it now directly to plan and manage all phases of crop production – “Farmers and entrepreneurs are starting to compete with agribusiness giants over the newest commodity being harvested on U.S. farms—one measured in bytes, not bushels. Startups including Farmobile LLC, Granular Inc. and Grower Information Services Cooperative are developing computer systems that will enable farmers to capture data streaming from their tractors and combines, store it in digital silos and market it to agriculture companies or futures traders. Such platforms could allow farmers to reap larger profits from a technology revolution sweeping the U.S. Farm Belt and give them more control over the information generated on their fields. The efforts in some cases would challenge a wave of data-analysis tools from big agricultural companies such as Monsanto Co. , DuPont Co. , Deere & Co. and Cargill Inc. Those systems harness modern planters, combines and other machinery outfitted with sensors to track planting, spraying and harvesting, then crunch that data to provide farm-management guidance that these firms say can help farmers curb costs and grow larger crops. The companies say farmers own their data, and it won’t be sold to third parties…”

For my Math students.
Top of the everyday tools list has to be Desmos and Wolfram Alpha; there are also numerous calculators and resources available; this collection is on Mathematics for students which means students can use anything themselves at home having seen it demonstrated in class. I also like to display definitions, the Reference page on Mathematics for students has very useful dictionaries and glossaries.

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