Tuesday, January 26, 2016

We have different understandings of “no damage.”
Don’t Tap That Link! This Website Will Crash Your Phone
There’s a new prank floating around the Internet and there’s no word as to when — or if — it will be fixed. For those who aren’t aware, the prank involves tricking people into visiting the crashsafari.com website. Don’t do it, but if you do, make sure you visit using a computer.
In short, the website employs a bit of JavaScript code to recall the HTML5 history in an infinite loop, which eventually causes the browser to run out of memory. What happens next depends on your device.
On iPhones and iPads, visiting the site forces your phone to reboot after about 20 seconds. On Android devices, the site slows your device to a crawl and causes it to overheat until you close whichever browser you used to visit it.
On computers using Safari, the site causes the browser to crash. With any other browser, the site slows the machine to a crawl until the tab is closed or the browser is exited.
The good news is that this prank causes no damage.
Here’s the prank aspect: People have been linking to the site using URL shorteners that disguise the actual address. If you encounter a shortened URL, you might be able to check its validity using one of these URL expander services.

Sort of a “hire a third-party, get out of jail free” decision? Am I reading this right?
Lisa A. Carroll, Martin B. Robins, David G. Kern and James M. Fisher II of Fisher Broyles write:
A recent 11th Circuit case may – if followed elsewhere and not reversed by the US Supreme Court – reduce a company’s potential exposure under conventional contract language requiring sensitive materials to be held in confidence. Many companies have been concerned that such language would make them liable if they were the victim of a third-party data breach as opposed to an intentional disclosure by one of their employees or contractors.
In Silverpop v. Leading Market Technologies, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 196, the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that losses associated with a data breach “are best characterized as consequential” and recovery on a contract claim should be barred when the contract contains a prohibition the award of consequential damages. The Court further found that negligence claims for such data breaches would be barred due to the lack of an applicable standard of care, as well as by the economic loss rule. Thus, absent proof of negligence or specific contractual language that is on-point, a data breach of itself does not constitute a breach of the obligation to take reasonable measures to safeguard confidential material under a confidentiality provision.
Read more on Lexology while I go pour some more coffee and try to find someone to translate this into non-legalese for me.

Not clear if the police knew their suspect had a cell phone or if this was just a fishing expedition. If they knew the suspects cell phone, the volume of data would have been much easier to deal with.
Michael Geist writes about a recent court ruling of note:
Earlier this month, an Ontario court escalated the privacy rights of subscribers in a high-profile case involving Rogers and Telus, who were asked by police to provide “tower dump” records that would have revealed information on thousands of cellphone users. The two telecom companies rejected the request, noting that the disclosure would affect tens of thousands of people who were merely located in the vicinity of a cellphone tower during the specified period.
Given the detailed information that would have been available (including billing and credit card information), the lack of safeguards over the information and the over-breadth of the request, the companies argued that an order to produce the information would breach the reasonable expectation of privacy of the affected cellphone users.
Read more on Toronto Star.
[From the Star article:
Lawyers representing the police had questioned whether the telecom companies were entitled to raise the privacy rights of their subscribers. The court noted that individual cellphone users were unlikely to appear in court to defend their privacy interests, meaning their concerns would be unaddressed unless the companies took it upon themselves to question the production order.
Moreover, since customer contracts reference privacy rights, the court reasoned that the companies were contractually obligated to assert the privacy interests of their subscribers.
The confirmation that telecom and Internet providers are obligated to defend the privacy interests of their subscribers represents a sea change in approach. For years, companies have been largely content to remain on the sidelines, arguing that they are merely intermediaries without the ability to step into the shoes of their customers. In fact, even in the Telus and Rogers tower dump case, Bell was conspicuously absent.
The courts are now sending the unmistakable message that the privacy interests of subscribers are too important to be left without representation.

Should every lawyer use these Apps? Who should find them mandatory?
Use these apps to expose cell phone surveillance:

For my Computer Security students.
3 Undeniable Reasons Why You Need Online Anonymity
Identity Protection
Personal Harassment
Sensitive Issues

Is Online Anonymity Even Possible?
Perhaps that’s the real question to ask. Even if we all agreed that online anonymity is absolutely necessary, is it something that could be achieved? We’ve asked this before and the answer is clear: pseudo-anonymity is possible, but true anonymity isn’t.
You can be slightly more anonymous by using an encrypted system like Tor, but even that has its drawbacks and flaws.

I can feel myself working up to an article on encryption (or at least a significant rant in this Blog).
Eric Geller reports:
The encryption debate raging inside the U.S. government peeked out into the open at an Internet policy conference on Monday, as a high-ranking Justice Department official and an FTC commissioner offered dueling views of the proper balance between liberty and security.
The back-to-back comments by Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell and FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeny at the State of the Net conference offered a distilled version of the battle over government access to encrypted products.
Read more on The Daily Dot.
[From the article:
While Caldwell, the head of the Justice Department's Criminal Division, admitted that encryption was vital to all facets of online activity, she also warned that it was one of several “obstacles that can and do stop our investigations in their tracks.” [The kind of flippant remark that politicians toss out with no justification. Bob]

Something for my programing students to play with?
Microsoft Open Sources Its Artificial Brain to One-Up Google
… The company has open sourced the artificial intelligence framework it uses to power speech recognition in its Cortana digital assistant and Skype Translate applications. This means that anyone in the world is now free to view, modify, and use Microsoft’s code in their own software.

(Related) Here's why you might want the software – delete this “feature.” (Even better: Use it to remind politicians that they haven't done what they promised… Ever.)
Cortana was already a fairly capable personal assistant, but she’s still learning new tricks. Her latest? Nagging you about promises you’ve made to people in your emails.
It’s sort of like Outlook’s built-in missing attachment reminders. If the program notices words in your subject or message that seem to reference a file that you should have paper clipped to your email, it’ll nudge you and ask if you’ve forgotten to attach something.
Cortana’s improved reminder service works in a very similar way. The team at Microsoft Research already knew that people make numerous commitments to each other in email threads. Let’s do lunch. I’ll pick up the prototypes from engineering. Yes, I booked the conference room. They also knew that a lot of those commitments never make it into your calendar, where Outlook could actually remind you that promises have been made to people and you’d best follow through. The solution? Tweak Cortana’s contextual awareness so that she can sniff out things that look like they require your attention.

Instagram Is Showing You a Lot More Ads Than It Used To
… Instagram cryptically announced back in June that it was going to start serving more ads, and then it launched an ads API in August to let third-party companies sell ad vacancies for them.
Brand Networks, an ad network that is one of Instagram’s official ad partners, released data Monday in two charts that show just how quickly Instagram ramped up its ad efforts.
Brand Networks served 50 million ad impressions on Instagram in August, a number that doubled to 100 million in September and reached 670 million for the month of December.
… CPMs for all Instagram ads — that includes video and carousel ads, too — were $5.21 in September, peaked in November at $7.20, and then fell back to $5.94 in December.
A few things worth noting here: These numbers come from just one ad partner, so it’s possible that Instagram’s overall figures are different. But the general trend, that Instagram is showing more ads and those ads are holding their value, is a major positive for Facebook.

Perspective. One of the costs of doing business?
Uber is facing a staggering number of lawsuits
Last year, 50 lawsuits were filed against Uber in U.S. federal court. You might be wondering whether that’s a lot; after all, Uber operates in 68 countries, employs more than 5,000 people and is the most highly valued start-up in the world. We’re here to tell you that it is a lot, and that all this litigation is a serious problem for Silicon Valley’s favorite start-up.
… Lawsuits have long been the proverbial thorn in the side of the gig economy. The most high-profile of Uber’s legal lot is a class action challenging Uber’s classification of drivers as independent contractors, as Uber claims they are, rather than employees. That suit, if successful, might entitle up to 160,000 drivers to recoup back wages from Uber and fundamentally change Uber’s business model

Would my students use these? Perhaps someone looking to buy a house in a new neighborhood?
5 Apps for Discovering Your Neighborhood

For my student website builders.
5 Best (and Easy) Open Source Website Builders

For my students who are seriously looking?
This Simple Process Will Make Your Job Search Insanely Productive

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