Saturday, January 14, 2017

I’m going to need more information (and some legal advice) for this one to make sense.  How is writing a key logger illegal?  Or is selling software illegal? 
Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai reports:
A 21-year-old from Virginia plead guilty on Friday to writing and selling custom spyware designed to monitor a victim’s keystrokes.
Zachary Shames, from Great Falls, Virginia, wrote a keylogger, malware designed to record every keystroke on a computer, and sold it to more than 3,000 people who infected more than 16,000 victims with it, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Read more on Motherboard.

Today’s theme seems to be cheating and fraud.  Here’s hoping my students can learn from the failure of others.
Here’s How Much Wells Fargo’s Fake Accounts Scandal Is Hurting the Bank
The first real indications of how Wells Fargo's phony accounts scandal is impacting its business are in, and they aren't pretty.
Wells Fargo reported financial results Friday from the fourth quarter of 2016, the first complete period since the bank's employees were caught opening millions of fake accounts for unwitting customers.  After eliminating aggressive sales quotas that were blamed for the fraudulent behavior, Wells Fargo is now struggling to attract new business and grow revenue.  The bank said it plans to close at least 400 branches by the end of 2018—a departure from the past several years in which it rapidly opened new locations even as other banks shuttered their own.
There were signs that the sham account scandal had scared potential customers away from Wells Fargo, according to metrics the company reported along with its financial earnings.
   For the first time, Wells Fargo also put specific figures on how much the fallout from the fake accounts fiasco is costing it in legal fees and other expenses.  The bank expects to spend an additional $40 million to $50 million per quarter this year on lawyers as well as on other third parties it is commissioning—in some cases at the mandate of government regulators—to conduct independent reviews of its sales practices.

Is cheating a “Best Practice” in the EU?  Stay tuned for the answer!
Diesel emissions inquiries widen to Renault and Fiat
European carmakers were drawn into a widening probe of diesel emissions testing on Friday, with French prosecutors examining Renault and British authorities seeking answers from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV.
   Shares in Renault fell more than 4 percent to their lowest level in around a month after a source at the Paris prosecutor's office said it had launched a judicial investigation into possible cheating on exhaust emissions at the French carmaker.

Another example of ‘disintermediation’ for my Data Management students.
Life Insurers Draw on Data, Not Blood
Life insurers are making it easier to get policies online, often waiving medical exam and instead relying on digital prescription-drug, motor-vehicle and other records

We don’t need banks?  Would this work in the US? 
Cellphones have lifted hundreds of thousands of Kenyans out of poverty
In Kenya, a so-called “mobile money” system allows those without access to conventional bank accounts to deposit, withdraw, and transfer cash using nothing more than a text message.
It turns out that using cell phones to manage money is doing more than just making life more convenient for the Kenyans who no longer have to carry paper notes.  It’s also helping pull large numbers of them out of poverty.
That’s the central finding of a new study published in Science Thursday, which estimated that access to M-PESA, the country’s most popular mobile money system, lifted hundreds of thousands of Kenyans above the poverty line.

“Amazon made me do it!”
Walmart to ramp up ecommerce drive
Walmart is beginning the next stage of its plan to overhaul its ecommerce operations, as online chief Marc Lore sets about integrating key elements of its internet business with to further reduce prices and compete better against Amazon.
Mr Lore was made head of online operations at the world’s largest retailer when it bought last September for $3.3bn.
   A key motivation behind Walmart’s acquisition was to secure the online expertise of Mr Lore and his executives that it was lacking internally.
   Walmart is also working towards using’s proprietary system of “basket economics”, whose technology automatically changes the final cost of a customer’s online purchases based on the type of payment used, number of items bought and where those items are being distributed from.

New York cabbies could use this too!
Language learning app busuu teams up with Uber for English course for drivers
Language learning app busuu has announced a partnership with Uber to offer free English language lessons for its drivers in London.

Another resource for my geeks.  Add encryption and a few other bells and whistles and this might be worth using!, the social network that promised to beat Twitter at its own game, is shutting down. will cease to exist on March 15th, 2017.  However, the code at the heart of the site will be open-sourced, enabling someone else to take on the challenge of battling Twitter.  Maybe.
   Caldwell and Berg are keeping the spirit of the site alive by open-sourcing the code behind  This will all be available on the GitHub page, and may inspire someone, somewhere to try something similar.

It looks like Trump has started a new industry: Trump Watching
We’re launching a regular series tracking President-elect Donald Trump’s adherence, or lack thereof, to democratic norms.  These norms are not necessarily legally required, but help make up the fabric that holds together broader democratic values, such as accountability and the rule of law.  Our aim is to provide a digestible breakdown of when and how Trump administration policy and actions diverge from custom, practice, and precedent in politics and law.

Dilbert defines “Fairness.”  

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