Monday, April 04, 2016

Well, a kleptocracy should be good at laundering money. 
What the 'Panama papers' mean for Putin
The massive anonymous leak of financial documents on Sunday has left political experts contemplating what it could mean for Russia ahead of elections this year.
   Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, is not named in the documents, but there are allegations of a billion-dollar money-laundering ring controlled by a Russian bank that has links to associates of the Russian leader.  The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), one of the teams that has been analyzing the data, told CNBC the papers show Putin's close aides were involved in a $2 billion money trail with offshore firms and banks.

(Related)         Also, another theft of “secure” information from a major law firm.   
The Guardian and partners analyze huge tranche of documents on offshore tax regimes
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on
“The hidden wealth of some of the world’s most prominent leaders, politicians and celebrities has been revealed by an unprecedented leak of millions of documents that show the myriad ways in which the rich can exploit secretive offshore tax regimes.  The Guardian, working with global partners, will set out details from the first tranche of what are being called “the Panama Papers”.  Journalists from more than 80 countries have been reviewing 11.5m files leaked from the database of Mossack Fonseca, the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm…”

It could happen here. 
Who would have imagined that backwards ideologies, cronyism and rising religious extremism in Turkey would lead to a crumbling and vulnerable technical infrastructure?
Seen online after a subsequently-deleted tweet called attention to it:
This paste with a link to a 6.6 GB file, purportedly containing clear-text information on 49,611,709 Turkish citizens, including the following details:
  • National Identifier (TC Kimlik No)
  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Mother’s First Name
  • Father’s First Name
  • Gender
  • City of Birth
  • Date of Birth
  • ID Registration City and District
  • Full Address
An IP lookup places the IP in Iceland, with the owner as Flokinet Ehf, website:
The hackers left a terse message:
Lesson to learn for Turkey:
Bit shifting isn’t encryption.
Index your database.  We had to fix your sloppy DB work.
Putting a hardcoded password on the UI hardly does anything for security.
Do something about Erdogan!  He is destroying your country beyond recognition.
Lessons for the US?  We really shouldn’t elect Trump, that guy sounds like he knows even less about running a country than Erdogan does.
The paste also contained the personal information on Erdogan and Davutoglu, which is not reproducing here. did not download the massive database, and it’s not yet clear if these are old data from 2009 from a previous breach, a possibility raised by coverage of another leak noted on Daily Dot in February.  If anyone can confirm whether these are old data or new data, please let me know.

The law says she is wrong.  Should the law change?
Michael S. Rosenwald reports:
Alexandra Elbakyan is a highbrow pirate in hiding.
The 27-year-old graduate student from Kazakhstan is operating a searchable online database of nearly 50 million stolen scholarly journal articles, shattering the $10 billion-per-year paywall of academic publishers.
Elbakyan has kept herself beyond the reach of a federal judge who late last year issued an injunction against her site, noting that damages could total $150,000 per article — a sum that Applied and Computational Harmonic Analysis, a journal in her database, could help calculate.  But she is not hiding from responsibility.
Read more on Washington Post.
[From the article: 
Researchers sign over the copyright and provide their work, often taxpayer funded, free to publishers who then get other researchers to review the papers — also free.  The publishers then sell journal subscriptions — some titles cost more than $5,000 a year — back to universities and the federal government.  And if someone wants an article, that costs about $35, so that person is paying for the research and to read the results.
“That means that I, as a taxpayer, (am) paying for the research and paying again for the benefit of reading it,” a man who identified himself as John Dowd wrote to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy as part of a forum on public access.  “This seems patently unfair.” [A pun and a possible solution in one?  Bob]


28% of Piracy Takedown Requests Are “Questionable”

   In 2008, the search engine received only a few dozen takedown notices during the entire year, but today it processes two million per day on average.
   This week, researchers from Columbia University’s American Assembly and Berkeley published an in-depth review of the current takedown regime, with one study zooming in on the millions of takedown requests Google receives every week.
Using data Google provides to the Lumen database, the researchers reviewed the accuracy of more than 108 million takedown requests. The vast majority of these, 99.8%, targeted Google’s web search.
According to the researchers their review shows that more 28% of all requests are “questionable.”  This includes the 4.2% of notices in which supposed infringing material is not listed on the reported URL.

Should make life easier for the court, but now congress will feel obligated to re-visit all those laws and regulations.
The Power Canons
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Apr 3, 2016
Heinzerling, Lisa, The Power Canons (March 31, 2016). William & Mary Law Review, Vol. 58, Forthcoming. Available for download at SSRN:
With three recent decisions – UARG v. EPA, King v. Burwell, and Michigan v. EPA – the Supreme Court has embraced a new trio of canons of statutory interpretation.
When an agency charged with administering a long-existing statute asserts regulatory authority it has not previously used, in a matter having large economic and political significance, its interpretation will be met with skepticism.
When an agency charged with administering an ambiguous statutory provision answers a question of large economic and political significance, one central to the statutory regime, and the Court believes the agency is not an expert in the matter, the Court may ignore the agency’s interpretation altogether.
And when an agency charged with administering a statute interprets an ambiguous provision to permit the agency not to consider costs before deciding to regulate, the agency will likely lose as having acted unreasonably.
In each of these cases, the Court put Congress on notice that it would need to speak clearly if it wanted to give administrative agencies interpretive authority over certain kinds of decisions.

Maybe Hillary had a point?  (Perhaps security by dis-belief: “They can’t really be using Windows 3.1, can they?”) 
Technology Upgrades Get White House Out of the 20th Century
   Until very recently, West Wing aides were stuck in a sad and stunning state of technological inferiority: desktop computers from the last decade, black-and-white printers that could not do double-sided copies, aging BlackBerries (no iPhones), weak wireless Internet and desktop phones so old that few staff members knew how to program the speed-dial buttons.
On Air Force One, administration officials sent emails over an air-to-ground Internet connection that was often no better than dial-up modems from the mid-1990s.

I wonder if Apple or Microsoft or whoever would fund research to create a “Homework helper” (for Mom & Dad)  
Siri gets smarter with baseball-related questions
Indeed, as The Verge reports, Siri now seems able to access new data and resources when responding to questions about baseball.  “It can answer questions about more detailed statistics, according to Apple, including historical stats going back to the beginning of baseball records,” the publication explains.  It’s also possible to get career stats, and information on other leagues.  As before, in order to gain these insights from Siri, it’s as simple as holding the Home button and asking a question.  Those of you with Apple’s latest iPhones will even be able to use the hands-free “Hey Siri” command.

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