Friday, February 24, 2017

An update.  Not as widely watched as the Apple iPhone vs. FBI case, because there aren’t as many Alexa devices out there yet? 
Amazon Asserts Alexa First Amendment Speech Protection For Echo Speaker In Murder Case
Is Amazon’s Alexa protected under the First Amendment of the United States?  As part of an ongoing homicide investigation, Amazon argues that any information contained or recorded by the device is protected under “freedom of speech”.  The corporation claims that it is not trying to obstruct the investigation, but protect the privacy rights of its customers.
James Andrew Bates of Bentonville, Arkansas has been accused of drowning his friend Victor Collins in a hot tub back in November 2015
   Bates owned an Amazon Echo and the Bentonville police believe that recordings from the device may provide evidence for the case.  Amazon Echo speakers technically only record information after hearing their “wake” word, “Alexa”.  The devices, however, continuously listen for a command and therefore could potentially also record background noise.
Amazon has so far provided the police with the suspect’s account information and purchase history, but not with the recordings from the Echo.  In December 2016 it stated, “Amazon will not release customer information without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us.  Amazon objects to overbroad or otherwise inappropriate demands as a matter of course.”  The Bentonville police subsequently responded with a search warrant. Amazon has now filed a 90-page motion to stop the warrant.  
Amazon argued that the recordings would reveal too much about the user and their private life.
   For the time being, the warrant has been tabled. Amazon has requested that if the court decides that they do have a “compelling need” for the Echo recordings, that the court review the requested material first to guarantee that it is relevant to the case.

Sarah Lazare writes:
Law enforcement is compelling Apple and Facebook to hand over the personal information of users who were mass arrested at protests against the inauguration of Donald Trump in Washington, D.C., AlterNet has confirmed.  The tech giants appear to be complying with the data-mining requests, amid mounting concerns over the heavy-handed crackdown against the more than 200 people detained on January 20, among them journalists, legal observers and medics.
Read more on AlterNet.

For my Computer Security students and the Ethical Hacking geeks, too.
This What Hackers Think of Your Defenses
Billions of dollars are spent every year on cyber security products; and yet those products continually fail to protect businesses.  Thousands of reports analyze breaches and provide reams of data on what happened; but still the picture worsens.  A new study takes a different approach; instead of trying to prevent hacking based on what hacking has achieved, it asks real hackers, how do you do it?
The hackers in question are the legal pentesters attending last Summer's DEFCON conference.  Seventy were asked about what they do, how they do it, and why they do it -- and the responses are sobering.  The resulting report, The Black Report by Nuix, is a fascinating read.  It includes sections on the psycho-social origins of cybercrime and a view from law enforcement: but nothing is as valuable as the views from the hackers themselves.  These views directly threaten many of the sacred cows of cyber security.  They are worth considering: "The only difference between me and a terrorist is a piece of paper [a statement of work] making what I do legal.  The attacks, the tools, the methodology; it's all the same."

Another swing of the pendulum?
Orin Kerr writes:
A federal magistrate judge in Chicago has rejected a request by the government for a provision in a search warrant that would authorize agents to compel people present to unlock seized phones using biometric readers.  I think the judge was right to reject the provision, although I disagree with substantial parts of the reasoning.
Read more on The Volokh Conspiracy.

Are my Data Management students paying attention?  Should this be on your Final Exam?
Social Marketing Grows Up
For an article that lands on the social marketer like a proverbial ton of bricks, check out "What's the Value of a Like?" in the March-April issue of the Harvard Business Review.
"Social media doesn't work the way many marketers think it does.  The mere act of endorsing a brand does not affect a customer's behavior or lead to increased purchasing, nor does it spur purchasing by friends," concluded authors Leslie K. John, Daniel Mochon, Oliver Emrich, and Janet Schwartz in their report on four years of experiments, 23 in all, that engaged 18,000 people.
If that's all you read, you might believe that everything we've thought and acted upon involving social media marketing was wrong.  However, it's not -- though the research clearly signals that we have to adjust our thinking.

Dakota Access developer ‘underestimated’ social media opposition
The chief executive of the company developing the Dakota Access pipeline said he “underestimated the power of social media” in the wake of massive protests agains the project. 
On a call with investors on Thursday, Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren said he was surprised by the way Dakota Access opponents could share stories about the project online and “get away with it,” Bloomberg reports
“There was no way we can defend ourselves,” Warren said, according to the report.  “That was a mistake on my part.”

Perhaps we should send it to all our elected officials.    
Nuts and Bolts of Encryption: A Primer for Policymakers
by on
Nuts and Bolts of Encryption: A Primer for Policymakers, Edward W. Felten, Center for Information Technology Policy. Department of Computer Science, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, version of February 20, 2017.  An up-to-date version of this paper will be available at
“This paper offers a straight forward introduction to encryption, as it is implemented in modern systems, at a level of detail suitable for policy discussions.  No prior background on encryption or data security is assumed.  Encryption is used in two main scenarios.  Encrypted storage allows information to be stored on a device, with encryption protecting the data should a malicious party get access to the device.  Encrypted communication allows information to be transmitted from one party to another party, often across a network, with encryption protecting the data should a malicious party get access to the data while it is in transit.  Encryption is used somewhat differently in these two scenarios, so it makes sense to present them separately.  We’ll discuss encrypted storage first, because it is simpler.  We emphasize that the approaches described here are not detailed description s of any particular existing system, but rather generic descriptions of how state-of-the-art systems typically operate.  Specific products and standards fill in the details differently, but they are roughly similar at the level of detail given here.”

I’ve been out of this too long to have a good read on North Korea, but these events are what we used to call “significant.”  Is North Korea coming apart at last? 
North Korea Condemns Lone Ally China Publicly for ‘First Time’
So when its state-run news agency appeared to lash out at key supporter China — alleging it was "dancing to the tune of the U.S." — it raised eyebrows.

(Related).  Is the BBC suggesting it was not Kim Jong Un?  (Technically, using VX is the same as using nuclear weapons.) 
Kim Jong-nam: Who in North Korea could organise a VX murder?

For my Math students, if they are not too trivial.
Nudge - Interactive Algebra Lessons on iPads and Android Tablets
Nudge is a free iPad and Android app that provides students with interactive, on-demand algebra tutorials.  The free app provides students with practice problems that they attempt to solve on their iPads or Android devices.  When they get stuck on a problem students can ask for hint or for a demonstration of how to solve the problem.  In addition to showing students hints and demonstrations, Nudge will show them where they made their mistakes in solving a problem.

I think I can print a wall sized version of this. 
New Yorker magazine goes Russian with cover skewering Trump and Putin
   Mouly also notes that this issue features a sizeable investigation into the two presidents' ties, with the subtitle, "Trump, Putin, and the new Cold War."

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