Monday, February 20, 2017

Perspective.  Big data is really big! 
Chris Spannos writes:
Widely used metaphors for understanding today’s mass surveillance — such as references to Nazi Germany, the Stasi or George Orwell’s Big Brother — run the risk of distracting attention from the horrors and crimes of past totalitarian regimes.  But as measures against present abuses of power, like the fact that the NSA can collect 5 billion cell phone records per day, such comparisons can offer important insight.  The Germany-based OpenDataCity compared the volume of records that the Stasi stored to the NSA’s capacity to store data.  They determined that Stasi files would fill 48,000 filing cabinets, while just a single NSA server would fill 42 trillion filing cabinets.  The organization concludes that the NSA can capture 1 billion times more data than the Stasi could.

I’ll ask my Indian students what they think.
From the how-shortsighted-can-they-be dept.:
Daniel Stacy reports:
India is leapfrogging into the digital future by offering the world’s largest biometric-identity database for use by tech firms, health-care providers and novice app developers—an opportunity that excites fans of cyber transactions but worries privacy advocates.
The Indian government has gathered digital-identification records, including fingerprint impressions and eye scans, of nearly all of its 1.2 billion citizens.  Now a government-backed initiative known as “India Stack” aims to standardize ways to exchange the data digitally to facilitate the transfer of signatures and official documents that citizens need to get jobs, make financial transactions or access government services.
By allowing developers to incorporate use of government identification records in their commercial websites and apps, the initiative envisions Indians—with mobile phones in hand—using iris and fingerprint scans to sign up for insurance, invest in mutual funds, receive health-care subsidies and verify their identity for school examinations.
Read more on WSJ.
So they’re allowing just anyone to get access to the production database or to get the real data?  No test database for development purposes?  And where are the background/security checks on the businesses/individuals to whom they’re granting access to real data?
WSJ’s headline for the story was “India Begins Building on Its Citizens’ Biometrics.”  I changed it to, “India Begins Exposing Its Citizens’ Biometrics to Just Anybody.”

What could possibly go wrong?
Barbie Is Now A Hologram And Can Help With Dental Hygiene
Toys and technology have always blended well together, and now, one of the biggest toy classics has ascended to the next level of entertainment.  Barbie, the epitome of girly fun and fashion, has been upgraded to a hologram.  Not only is it incredibly fun to play with since it can answer questions from children, it can even function as a decent smart assistant.
Called Hello Barbie, Mattel unveiled their newest offering during the New York Toy Fair, Wired reports.  The hologram is contained inside a glass box, where the image is projected in a 3D state.  It responds to voice commands as well, which anyone who has ever used Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home will already be familiar with.
It can do things like tell the weather and answer questions, along with giving reminders such as telling kids when to brush their teeth.  To wake her up, users must say “Hello Barbie,” which will make her appear.  Once she’s out, users will be able to change her appearance, make it stay lit at night, or dance and sing.

Is the ‘right to lie about my age’ similar to the ‘right to be forgotten?’
Nicholas Iovino reports:
A federal judge warned California on Thursday that continuing to defend a seemingly unconstitutional law that restricts the publication of actors’ ages will likely divert more taxpayer dollars to the Internet Movie Database’s attorneys.
“I used to be a lawyer for the government, and I defended a number of laws that were very challenging to defend,” U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria told a California deputy attorney general at a hearing on Thursday.  “I’m trying to remember if I defended a law as challenging to defend as the one you’re defending now.”
Chhabria was referring to AB 1687, a state law passed in September that requires “commercial online entertainment service providers” like the movie industry website IMDb to take down actors’ ages upon request.
Read more on Courthouse News.

New tools my Forensics students need to understand?  Possible applications for Marketing? 
Left finds new online tools to fight Trump
   Organizers of high-profile events, including the demonstrations against the Dakota Access Pipeline and the record-setting Women's March on Inauguration weekend, are using a new platform from the nonprofit group The Action Network to improve communications with members and organize on the fly.
Another new digital tool is Hustle, a growing mass-texting app, that lets groups better communicate directly with supporters on the ground.
   The Action Network's website offers organizers tools including the ability to send mass emails, promote digital petitions, and encourage letter writing campaigns from a central hub.  Organizers can also organize events, track RSVPs and sell tickets.
   Hustle CEO Roddy Lindsay said the app lets organizers maintain “dozens, hundreds or even thousands” of conversations with those interested in their issues.
Hustle CEO Roddy Lindsay said the app lets organizers maintain “dozens, hundreds or even thousands” of conversations with those interested in their issues.

For Generation Z, ‘Live Chilling’ Replaces Hanging Out in Person
Almost every day when they get home from school, Gracie, age 16, and Sarah, age 14, open the app Houseparty , where they can video chat with to up to seven of their friends at once.  The sisters, who live in Danville, Calif., use it to socialize and collaborate on homework, for 15 minutes to an hour.  When they first open it they may be chatting with just one friend, but everyone they’re connected to on Houseparty gets a push alert that they’re “in the house,” and, soon enough, the room fills up.  It might even spill over into other rooms, growing organically, just like a real house party.  
Teens have been hanging out online for 20 years, but in 2017 they’re doing it on group video chat apps, in a way that feels like the real thing, not just a poor substitute.  Ranging in age from adolescents to their early 20s—the group loosely defined as “Generation Z” —these young people are leaving the apps open, in order to hang out casually with peers in a trend some call “live chilling.”
This phenomenon is made possible by the sudden ubiquity of video chat, in messaging apps such as Kik and Facebook Messenger , as well as stand-alone apps including Houseparty, Fam, Tribe, Airtime and ooVoo.  

Hang tough, Kim.  Don’t let a bunch of unanimous decisions get you worried. 
New Zealand court: Megaupload’s Kim Dotcom can be extradited to U.S. over fraud charges
A New Zealand court ruled on Monday that internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom could be extradited to the United States to face charges relating to his Megaupload website, which was shutdown in 2012 following an FBI-ordered raid on his Auckland mansion.
The Auckland High Court upheld the decision by a lower court in 2015 on 13 counts, including allegations of conspiracy to commit racketeering, copyright infringement, money laundering and wire fraud, although it described that decision as “flawed” in several areas.
Dotcom’s lawyer Ron Mansfield said in a statement the decision was “extremely disappointing” and that Dotcom would appeal to New Zealand’s Court of Appeal.
   High Court judge Murray Gilbert said that there was no crime for copyright in New Zealand law that would justify extradition but that the Megaupload-founder could be sent to the United States to face allegations of fraud.

Something for all my students?

Keeping up with the White house.  
Donald Trump nominations list – New White House administration
by on

Keeping up with DHS.
WaPo – Memos signed by DHS secretary describe sweeping new guidelines for deporting illegal immigrants
by on
David Nakamura, The Washington Post – “Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has signed sweeping new guidelines that empower federal authorities to more aggressively detain and deport illegal immigrants inside the United States and at the border.  In a pair of memos, Kelly offered more detail on plans for the agency to hire thousands of additional enforcement agents, expand the pool of immigrants who are prioritized for removal, speed up deportation hearings and enlist local law enforcement to help make arrests.  The new directives would supersede nearly all of those issued under previous administrations, Kelly said, including measures from President Barack Obama aimed at focusing deportations exclusively on hardened criminals and those with terrorist ties.  

I learned something new!  Hitler’s dial telephone surprised me.  But the first patent for a dial phone was issued in the 1890’s. 
Telephone owned by Adolf Hitler sells for $243,000

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