Friday, February 12, 2016

“Or it may all be gibberish. It's hard to tell.”
A Worldwide Survey of Encryption Products
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Feb 11, 2016
“In this paper, [available for download as part of the Berkman Publication Series on SSRN at:] which is modeled on a similar effort in 1999 by researchers from George Washington University, Berkman Fellow Bruce Schneier and collaborator Kathleen Seidel together with Harvard College student Saranya Vijayakuma identify and survey 865 encryption products from 55 different countries, 546 of them from outside the United States. In contrast, the 1999 survey found 805 encryption products from outside the US. Very few products from the earlier survey appear in the new one, indicating much change in this market over the last 17 years. The new survey also identified 587 entities that sell or give away encryption products, and of those, two-thirds are outside the US. Schneier argues in the paper that the survey findings call into question the efficacy of any US mandates forcing backdoors for law-enforcement access. He asserts that they show that anyone who wants to avoid US surveillance has hundreds of competing products to choose from. The report findings indicate that foreign products offer a wide variety of secure applications—voice encryption, text message encryption, file encryption, network-traffic encryption, anonymous currency—providing the same levels of security as US products do today. Additional findings include:
  • The most common non-US country for encryption products is Germany, with 112 products. This is followed by the United Kingdom, Canada, France, and Sweden, in that order.
  • The five most common countries for encryption products—including the US—account for two-thirds of the total. But smaller countries like Algeria, Argentina, Belize, the British Virgin Islands, Chile, Cyprus, Estonia, Iraq, Malaysia, St. Kitts and Nevis, Tanzania, and Thailand each produce at least one encryption product.
  • Of the 546 foreign encryption products we found, 56% are available for sale and 44% are free. 66% are proprietary, and 34% are open source. Some for-sale products also have a free version.
  • At least 587 entities—primarily companies—either sell or give away encryption products. Of those, 374, or about two-thirds, are outside the US.
  • Of the 546 foreign encryption products, 47 are file encryption products, 68 e-mail encryption products, 104 message encryption products, 35 voice encryption products, and 61 virtual private networking products…”

Hey! There's a lot of money to be made here!
Zenefits Is Under Investigation By Regulators In California
The California insurance commissioner is expected to announce on Thursday an investigation into the business practices of Zenefits, the richly valued human resources startup whose CEO resigned this week in the wake of compliance failures.
… Evidence of compliance failures at Zenefits was first uncovered by BuzzFeed News. Last fall, our investigation found that Zenefits repeatedly failed to enforce legal requirements that anyone selling a health insurance policy have an appropriate state license. The Washington state insurance commissioner is examining whether Zenefits operated there without licenses.
In a followup report last week, we revealed that 83% of Zenefits’ insurance deals in Washington state through August 2015 were done by employees without necessary state licenses.

Zenefits Software Helped Brokers Cheat On Licensing Process
Zenefits, the $4.5 billion startup whose CEO resigned this week, created a secret software tool to let California sales reps fake the completion of an online training course that health insurance brokers must take before getting a license, according to an email sent to staff on Thursday.
The program, known as a macro, made it appear that aspiring health insurance brokers were completing a mandatory online course, while in fact allowing them to spend less than the legally required 52 hours on the training, said David Sacks, who took over as Zenefits CEO this week, in the staff email.
After they faked the training course, sales reps were directed to sign a certification, under penalty of perjury, that they had spent the required 52 hours doing the work, a lawyer for Sacks told BuzzFeed News.

An extremely interesting map.
The Facebook Primary
If Facebook likes were votes, Bernie Sanders would be on pace to beat Hillary Clinton nationwide by a nearly 3-to-1 margin and Donald Trump to garner more support than Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio combined. Anything seems possible this year, but, still, be careful how you interpret these numbers: Facebook likes are not votes.
According to the Pew Research Center, 58 percent of American adults use Facebook. But this share is not a representative sample of the country — Facebook users are disproportionately young (although not as young as users of other social media networks), low-income and female. And the sample may be even more skewed because only some people on Facebook have liked a presidential candidate's page and because those pages haven't existed for the same amount of time.

I bet they can't wait for self-driving cars.
Uber to pay $28 million to settle safety lawsuits
Uber has agreed to pay $28.5 million to settle a pair of class-action lawsuits that allege the ride-hailing company misled users about the safety of its service.
The settlement announced Thursday would require Uber to divide up the settlement to 25 million riders in the United States. That means each rider would only be eligible for a small rebate.
The terms still must be approved by a judge.
The news Thursday afternoon stems back to a pair of court cases filed back in 2014. In those cases, plaintiffs accused Uber of unlawful and unfair business practices related to its "Safe Rides Fee," which currently stands at $1.35 in D.C. but varies by city.
The complaints against Uber noted that Uber did not use fingerprint identification to background check its drivers. The complaint also alleged that the "Safe Rides Fee" was not used at the time of the complaint to provide regular car checks, driver safety or launch any nationwide safety features.
As part of the settlement, Uber said it would rename the "Safe Ride Fee" as a "Booking Fee."

What a shock!
Women Also Know Stuff
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Feb 11, 2016
Women Also Know Stuff: “So often while planning a conference, brainstorming a list of speakers, or searching for experts to cite or interview, it can be difficult to think of any scholars who aren’t male. We’ve all been there… you just know that a woman has got to be studying that topic… but who? This site is intended to provide an easily accessible database of female experts in a variety of areas. This site was created and is maintained by political scientists and, as such, focuses on politics, policy, and government, but also on methods in the social sciences. (We’re certain that women know stuff in other fields too, though!)
Please submit your information to WomenAlsoKnowStuff using the Google Form linked below:

Microsoft's latest iPhone app can identify your dog's breed based on a photo
Microsoft introduced a new app on Thursday that anyone with a dog should play with because it's a lot of fun.
It's called Fetch!, and it's available for iPhones and on the web. It uses artificial intelligence techniques to classify images of real-world dogs into breeds. On the web, users can upload a photo of a dog, or you can take a picture of your pet using your phone's camera.

(Related) I am not amused!
Drop everything. Microsoft wants to tell you what dog your face is
… Should you go to, you will find such glorious entertainment that your day will be complete. The site invites you to upload a picture, then it tells you what dog your (or someone else's) face is.
… Donald Trump is a Siberian Husky. That might explain his deep respect for Vladimir Putin. Peyton Manning is a Golden Retriever. I didn't know Retrievers drank Budweiser. Miley Cyrus is an English Cocker Spaniel: Outgoing; needs to be told again and again.

The Best 13 Informative Resources for Studying Shakespeare
… This list of resources will take you further than simply reading Sparknotes on the subject. They will help you get to grips with The Bard (as he was called), and to understand what enabled him to stand the test of time as well as he has.

No comments: