Thursday, January 14, 2016

DHS seems to see almost everything as a threat.
Bob Knudsen writes that our beloved Department of Homeland Security (DHS) wants hotels to report guests for having too much sex.
Ostensibly the request is to quell sex trafficking, despite that fact that sex trafficking is a relatively minor problem in the United States. To be sure, there are certainly instances of the illicit sex trade taking place in the nation, but the numbers have been vastly overinflated to the point of being meaningless. Sadly, all it takes to allow citizens’ rights to be eroded is to stoke fears and play on their emotions, as we have seen recently with attempts at gun control and the war on terror.
DHS is asking hotel staffs to report guests who have “many” condoms in their garbage (whatever that means), rooms that smell like cigarettes, and even tattoos that are “unusual.” Those are just a few of the highlights from the list of 18 items and behaviors to look out for, almost all of which could be considered normal behavior for anybody who doesn’t live in Pleasantville.
Read more on The Examiner.

(Related) If it truly was anonymous, would answering “352” raise concerns?
Nancy Dillon reports:
A survey of students’ carnal knowledge sparked a national controversy Tuesday — and led to an apology from the University of Southern California.
The clash was over a mandatory online class that asked students to tally and reveal the number of sex partners they had been with over the last three months, multiple students confirmed to the Daily News.
The course grew out of a federal mandate to address sexual assault on campus and was a prerequisite for all incoming and continuing students at USC, an email to undergrad Jacob Ellenhorn said.
Read more on NY Daily News.
And if this story is triggering deja vu for you, yes, I reported on exactly the same problem back in 2014 when a South Carolina university also had this as part of their Title IX compliance.
[From the article:
"It said it was anonymous, but at the same time, they were keeping track of whether I was answering or not, because I wouldn't be able to take classes or graduate without completing it," he told The News.
"It's tied to my account somehow," he said.

Not uncommon.
Yahoo settles e-mail privacy class-action: $4M for lawyers, $0 for users
In late 2013, Yahoo was hit with six lawsuits over its practice of using automated scans of e-mail to produce targeted ads. The cases, which were consolidated in federal court, all argued that the privacy rights of non-Yahoo users, who "did not consent to Yahoo's interception and scanning of their emails," were being violated by a multi-billion dollar company.
Now, lawyers representing the plaintiffs are singing a different tune. Last week, they asked US District Judge Lucy Koh to accept a proposed settlement (PDF). Under the proposal, the massive class of non-Yahoo users won't get any payment, but the class lawyers at Girard Gibbs and Kaplan Fox intend to ask for up to $4 million in fees. (The ultimate amount of fees will be up to the judge, but Yahoo has agreed not to oppose any fee request up to $4 million.)
While users won't get any payment, Yahoo will change how it handles user e-mails—but it isn't the change that the plaintiffs attorneys were originally asking for. Yahoo won't stop scanning e-mails. Instead, the company has agreed to make a technical change to when it scans e-mails. In the settlement (PDF), Yahoo has agreed that e-mail content will be "only sent to servers for analysis for advertising purposes after a Yahoo Mail user can access the email in his or her inbox." [That does not seem to be much of a change. Bob]

“Thanks for the free stuff, but I have to hate you now.”
The Convenience-Surveillance Tradeoff
… A new Pew Research Center report found that many people in America are upset about the extent to which their personal data is being collected, but feel it is largely out of their control.
“The data is there, and it’s being used, and there isn’t a damn thing most of us can do about it, other than strongly resent it,” one respondent told Pew. “The data isn’t really the problem. It’s who gets to see and use that data that creates problems. It’s too late to put that genie back in the bottle.”
… “Free is a good price,” Pew said in its report. People like no-cost services, and are willing to forfeit some privacy in exchange for them. An individual’s data has become its own kind of currency.

Amusing. (Does this closely parallel “fair use?”)
Recently, Orin Kerr and I had a brief conversation on Twitter regarding the Fourth Amendment and the content/non-content distinction. Specifically, Orin asked those of us who subscribe to the mosaic theory of intelligence if some large amount of metadata can become content, can some small amount of content become metadata by the same logic? That is, if non-content in sufficient quantities can become content under the Fourth Amendment, shouldn’t the inverse of this function mean that sufficiently small amounts of content can become non-content? (Remember that content receives great constitutional protection than non-content.) There is a fair amount of unpacking to do in this short question, so let’s start by exploring the mosaic theory as it applies to Fourth Amendment law.

Perspective. More players and the beginning of niche markets?
Comparing Cloud Storage Alternatives: Beyond the Big Three
A recent InfoStor article called Cloud Storage Comparison covered Gartner’s view of the public marketplace and gave a rundown of the top three players, Google, Microsoft and Amazon. Gartner – surprising no one – places Amazon in top the spot.
… The Nasuni 2015 State of Cloud Storage Report noted that 2013 and 2014 were record-setting years for cloud service adoption in the enterprise.

Why do I get the feeling that this has never happened before in the history of real estate and that it can only happen in Miami and NY? Oh yeah, that's what the government is saying.
U.S. Boosts Scrutiny of N.Y., Miami Cash Real Estate Deals
President Barack Obama’s administration, citing concern about the origin of funds used for all-cash purchases of luxury real estate, said it is stepping up scrutiny of transactions in New York City and Miami.
The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network said on Wednesday that it will temporarily require title insurance companies to identify individuals behind companies that pay cash for high-end residential real estate in Manhattan and Miami-Dade County.

Something I'll mention to my students who think I'm speaking Greek.
All Skype for Windows users get real-time translation
Skype today announced that its Skype Translator tool is now built directly into its main app for all Windows users. This means Skype for Windows users no longer need a separate app to translate conversations in seven languages (Chinese Mandarin, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish) and 50 messaging languages.

No comments: