Saturday, July 15, 2017

That’s (11.2MM – the lawyer’s cut) / 37MM users.  Too cheap? 
Jonathan Stempel reports:
The owner of the Ashley Madison adultery website said on Friday it will pay $11.2 million to settle U.S. litigation brought on behalf of roughly 37 million users whose personal details were exposed in a July 2015 data breach.
Ruby Corp, formerly known as Avid Life Media Inc, denied wrongdoing in agreeing to the preliminary class-action settlement, which requires approval by a federal judge in St. Louis.
Read more on Reuters.  Ruby Corp issued the following press release:
Ruby Corp. and Ruby Life Inc. (ruby), and a proposed class of plaintiffs, co-led by Dowd & Dowd, P.C., The Driscoll Firm, P.C., and Heninger Garrison Davis, LLC, have reached a proposed settlement agreement resolving the class action lawsuits that were filed beginning July 2015 following a data breach of ruby’s computer network and subsequent release of certain personal information of customers of Ashley Madison, an online dating website owned and operated by Ruby Life Inc. (formerly Avid Dating Life Inc.)  The lawsuits, alleging inadequate data security practices and misrepresentations regarding Ashley Madison, have been consolidated in a multi-district litigation pending in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.
If the proposed settlement agreement is approved by the Court, ruby will contribute a total of $11.2 million USD to a settlement fund, which will provide, among other things, payments to settlement class members who submit valid claims for alleged losses resulting from the data breach and alleged misrepresentations as described further in the proposed settlement agreement.  Since July 2015, ruby also has implemented numerous remedial measures to enhance the security of its customers’ data.
     In 2015, hackers gained access to ruby’s computer networks and published certain personal information contained in Ashley Madison accounts.  Account credentials were not verified for accuracy during this timeframe and accounts may have been created using other individuals’ information.  Therefore, ruby wishes to clarify that merely because a person’s name or other information appears to have been released in the data breach does not mean that person actually was a member of Ashley Madison.

A question I ask in almost every class.  Turns out, my students are rather bloodthirsty…
There is an old debate (at least, counting in internet years) that tends to crop up after major cybersecurity breaches such as the widespread WannaCry ransomware attack in May.  In the aftermath of such incidents, some decry the sorry state of cybersecurity and insist that if only tech firms, with their wealth of resources and technical expertise, were allowed to go after the perpetrators of these attacks, they would do a much better job of stopping the damage and deterring other perpetrators than the slow, plodding, over-worked, under-resourced, jurisdiction-bound law-enforcement agencies.
Which raises a question: Beyond the standard set of protective tools—encryption, firewalls, anti-virus software, intrusion-detection systems, two-factor authentication—should companies be allowed to go outside the boundaries of their own networks and crash the servers that are attacking them, or delete data that has been stolen from them off their adversaries’ machines?  The answer of most companies and cybersecurity experts is no.  But that doesn’t stop a vocal minority—usually researchers at libertarian think tanks and lawyers concerned by how restrictive anti-hacking regulations have become—from suggesting otherwise.

For my Software Assurance students.  
The Future of Artificial Intelligence: Why the Hype Has Outrun Reality
   In that world, as with other robot applications, progress comes by moving from “data to information to knowledge.”  A fundamental problem is that most observers do not realize just how vast an amount of data is needed to operate in the physical world — ever-increasing amounts, or, as Kumar calls it — “exponential” amounts.  While it’s understood today that “big data” is important, the amounts required for many physical operations are far larger than “big data” implies.  The limitations on acquiring such vast amounts of data severely throttle back the speed of advancement for many kinds of projects, he suggested.

I can see a Tech Support app that no matter the problem, always says, “Restart your computer!”
Metaverse - Program Your Own Augmented Reality Apps
Metaverse is a free platform that lets anyone create an augmented reality app.  I had the opportunity to have a guided tutorial through the Metaverse platform last week and I was so impressed that I'm now planning to include it along with the MIT App Inventor during the Practical Ed Tech BYOD Camp at the end of the month.
Metaverse's programming platform is based on the premise of using a storyboard to outline the actions that you want your app to perform.  You then connect each frame of the storyboard with action commands that you pick from a menu of action commands.  The more scenes you add to your storyboard, the more options you can add to your app.  Essentially, creating an augmented reality app through Metaverse is the same process as designed a good choose-your-own-adventure story.  The video embedded below provides an overview of the Metaverse design tool.
Metaverse could be used by students to bring the characters from a favorite story to life in augmented reality like in this example.  Or you could create an educational augmented reality scavenger hunt as this person shared.

Keep current!
Here’s a round-up of developments in California, New Hampshire, and Vermont this week.
Let’s start with California. Mike Maharrey writes:
Earlier this week, a second California Assembly committee passed a bill that would require all law enforcement agencies in the state to get local government approval before acquiring or using surveillance technology.
   Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) and Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Inglewood) introduced Senate Bill 21 (SB21) earlier this year. The legislation would require law enforcement agencies to propose a Surveillance Use Policy for each type of surveillance technology it operates and the information collected.
Read more on Tenth Amendment Center.
And up in New Hampshire:
Earlier this week, a bill that bans the use of “stingrays” to track the location of phones and sweep up electronic communications without a warrant in most situations became law without the governor’s signature.  The new statute not only protects privacy in New Hampshire, but will also hinder one aspect of the federal surveillance state.
A bipartisan coalition of representatives introduced House Bill 474 (HB474) earlier this year.  The legislation will help block the use of cell site simulators, known as “stingrays.”  Read more on Tenth Amendment Center.
But some of the biggest state news comes out of Vermont. Pam Dixon of World Privacy Forum sends notice this along.  Note that you can provide your comments and/or attend:
CONTACT: My-Lanh Graves, Administrative Secretary, 802-828-5479
June 30, 2017
On Tuesday, July 25 and Wednesday, July 26, 2017, meetings will be held at which any interested person may provide comments on data broker regulatory legislation.  Broadly speaking, a data broker collects information, including citizens’ personal information, from a variety of sources and then sells that information to advertisers and others for various purposes.
The Vermont Legislature tasked the Attorney General and the Department of Financial Regulation (DFR) to propose legislation or make a recommendation about whether, or how, to regulate the data broker industry. The working group will consult with consumer and industry stakeholders, and receive comments from the public. The working group’s recommendation or draft legislation is due by December 15, 2017.
The meetings will be held between 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM at the Department of Financial Regulation’s office, located at 29 Church Street, 3rd Floor in Burlington, Vermont.  These meetings are open to the public.  If you wish to comment or attend, please contact: My-Lanh Graves at 802-828-5479 or An agenda will be posted on the Attorney General’s and DFR’s websites prior to the meetings.
The Legislature passed S.72 in June 2017; it requires the Attorney General and DFR to provide a recommendation or draft legislation reflecting:
1.      An appropriate definition of the term “data broker”;
2.      Whether and, if so, to what extent the data broker industry should be regulated by the Commissioner of Financial Regulation or the Attorney General;
3.      Additional consumer protections that data broker legislation should seek to include that are not addressed within the framework of existing federal and State consumer protection laws; and
4.      Proposed courses of action that balance the benefits to society that the data broker industry brings with actual and potential harms the industry may pose to consumers. The full text of S.72 can be found here.
The public meetings are intended to provide an opportunity for industry, consumer advocates, and the public to comment on the above-listed specific topics and on potential legislation regarding data brokers generally. Written comments will also be accepted through Friday, August 11, 2017 and will become part of the public record in this matter. Please send any written comments to My-Lanh Graves at MyLanh.Graves@Vermont.govor by mail to the Attorney General’s Office at 109 State St., Montpelier, VT 05609.
Published: Jun 30, 2017

Keeping up on a changing field?  
   as important new developments arise during the coming year, we will continue to document them by posting edited new materials on the websites for the two casebooks — supplements to this Supplement — from which they may be downloaded by teachers and shared with students.  The website for National Security Law (6th ed.) may be found at; the website for Counterterrorism Law (3d ed.) may be found at  We encourage you to return to those portals regularly to keep abreast of major developments during the year — and to alert us if and when you come across new materials that deserve to be included.

Something to amuse my students.
Airline CEO predicts a future where 'we will pay you to fly'
In January, WOW launched a sale for $69 one way tickets from the US to Europe.  In June, the airline followed up with a sale for $55 trans-Atlantic tickets.  These sales have helped bring awareness to the airline that's expected to double in size over the next two years.
   However, the question must be asked. How low can they go?
"I can see a day when we pay you to fly," WOW Air founder and CEO Skúli Mogensen told Business Insider in an interview.
For years now, airlines have worked to diversify their revenues streams and to reduce their reliance on ticket sales for income.  Fees for things such as seat selection, early boarding, and in-flight meals have become the norm.  In addition, they have developed lucrative partnerships with hotels, restaurants, rental car agencies, and other travel industry players to ensure their ability to derive revenue from all facets of a passenger's travel needs.  
   "Our goal, and we're working hard towards it, is for our ancillary revenue to actually surpass our passenger revenue," Mogensen said.  "What ever airline becomes the first to achieve this will be a game changer."

As a big SciFi fan, I could not agree more.  Perhaps IBM should ask Watson to read SciFi? 
At the end of the 19th century, New York City stank.  One hundred fifty thousand horses ferried people and goods through the streets of Manhattan, producing 45,000 tons — tons! — of manure a month.  It piled up on streets and in vacant lots, and in 1898 urban planners convened from around the world to brainstorm solutions to the impending crisis.  They failed to come up with any, unable to imagine horseless transportation.
Fourteen years later, cars outnumbered horses in New York, and visions of manure dystopia were forgotten.
If 19th-century urban planners had had access to big data, machine learning techniques, and modern management theory, these tools would not have helped them.  They simply would have confirmed their existing concerns.  Extrapolating from past trends is useful but limiting in a world of accelerating technological change.
Science fiction can help.  Maybe you associate it with spaceships and aliens, but science fiction offers more than escapism.  By presenting plausible alternative realities, science fiction stories empower us to confront not just what we think but also how we think and why we think it.  They reveal how fragile the status quo is, and how malleable the future can be.
   Science fiction isn’t useful because it’s predictive.  It’s useful because it reframes our perspective on the world.  Like international travel or meditation, it creates space for us to question our assumptions.

No comments: