Friday, September 15, 2017

If the US had a similar law, would Equifax have done anything differently?
Under EU General Data Protection Regulation large fines result from failure to protect consumer data
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Sep 14, 2017
eSecurity Planet: “The massive Equifax breach that recently affected 143 million consumers would have led to hugely significant fines if the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which takes effect in May 2018, had already been in place. Under the new rules, organizations that fail to protect sensitive data can be fined up to 4 percent of annual global turnover, or 20 million Euros, whichever is greater. Since Equifax had $3.15 billion in operating revenue in 2016, if the breach had taken place after the GDPR had gone into effect, the company could have faced fines of up to $126 million. What’s more, CipherCloud founder and CEO Pravin Kothari told eSecurity Planet by email, GDPR may well just be the beginning. “We expect GDPR to serve as a model for similar regulations in the U.S. and around the world, helping to protect individual privacy and thus minimize the economic threat from future breaches,” he said…”

(Related). Cause and effect. The stock wasn’t impacted because of the breach but only when the FTC gets ready to investigate?
Equifax shares plunge after FTC announces probe of data breach
Equifax stock plunged in value Thursday morning after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced an investigation into the security breach that exposed the personal information of roughly 143 million people to hackers.
Shares of the embattled credit reporting company dropped nearly 10 percent after the market opened Thursday morning, sinking as low as $90.64 per share, about $8 lower than Wednesday’s close. Equifax stock recovered slightly by 11 a.m., reaching $95 per share.
FTC’s announcement shook the market, given that the regulator typically doesn't announce pending investigations.

(Related). Worth a listen.
How Equifax Botched Its Data Breach Response
Wharton legal studies and business ethics professor Peter Conti-Brown, University of Michigan professor Erik Gordon and William Black, a professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, recently appeared on the on the Knowledge@Wharton show, which airs on SiriusXM channel 111, to discuss the breach, the mistakes that were made in the credit giant’s response, and what consumers can do to protect their credit going forward.
In terms of Equifax’s response, “this is an absolute case study in doing virtually everything wrong,” Black said.

“We should do something” or “We need to do something” are not the same as “We will do something.”
Senators blast internet subsidy program
Senators on the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee on Thursday criticized a subsidy program for phone and internet access that was the subject of a recent watchdog report detailing cases of fraud and abuse.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), the panel’s chairman, said at a hearing that there “probably” needs to be a complete overhaul of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Lifeline program, which offers low-income households a monthly $9.25 subsidy for mobile and broadband internet access.
We need to completely rethink how we distribute that subsidy,” Johnson told reporters.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) put out a report in June that found that $1.2 million in subsidies went to fake or deceased people enrolled in the program. The GAO could not verify the eligibility of 36 percent of the program’s subscribers.
… “Why are we providing these companies with this massive opportunity for fraud?” McCaskill said. [Maybe because you delegated the creation and administration of the program to the companies that get the money? Bob]

Win some, lose some.
Google takes hit in fight with feds over foreign data
In the filings, which were first reported on by Politico, Chief Judge Beryl Howell of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia rejected a move by Google to challenge a warrant demanding data from the company being stored overseas.
On Sept. 5, Howell decided to hold the search giant in contempt for not turning over the documents, and fined Google $10,000 a day until it complies.

Toward automating lawyers?
Twitch co-founder Justin Kan unveils tech platform for law firms
Justin Kan, co-founder of startups like and Exec, is pulling the curtains off his new tech platform for law firms, Legal Technology Services. The first law firm to use LTS is Atrium, co-founded by Augie Rakow and BeBe Chueh. Both are launching today to bring a full-stacked technology-enabled law firm to startups.
What makes Atrium different from traditional law firms, Kan told me, is its technology and upfront pricing. With most law firms, it’s not always clear to the customer how much they’re going to have to pay.
Atrium, which has 30 startup customers focused on everything from cryptography to autonomous cars to medical tech, offers two products. One is Atrium Counsel, which offers ongoing services with fixed-rate, upfront pricing. It sort of functions as preventative legal services, Kan told me. The other is Atrium Financings, a fixed-fee service for startups to navigate the legal intricacies of their financing rounds from start to finish.
… Behind the scenes, doing all the technical work at Atrium, is LTS, co-founded by Kan and Chris Smoak. It provides the technical backbone to Atrium with its suite of tools, like document creation and e-signing, and project management workflows.
It does everything except give advice,” Kan said.

I guess Facebook is no longer a ‘neutral’ utility that does not promote or sensor. These ‘categories’ were automagically generated by collecting ‘like comments.’ Similar groups might include “Trump haters,” “Hillary haters,” “Math haters,” “lovers of Starbucks Moca-Frapa-whatsit.” Who gets to choose which groups are inappropriate? Wouldn’t it be better in the long run to try educating these people rather than driving them underground?
Facebook allowed advertisers to reach anti-Semitic individuals: report
Facebook allowed advertisers to target advertisements toward anti-semitic individuals, according to ProPublica.
The social media giant has taken down categories that advertisers could gear their ads towards like “Jew hater,” “How to burn jews,” or, “History of ‘why jews ruin the world,’ ” after ProPublica reached out them.
The outlet purchased $30 worth of ads targeting the mentioned categories to test the feature. Facebook reportedly approved the three ads within 15 minutes.

(Related). What Facebook had to say...
Updates to our ad targeting

Facebook’s Heading Toward a Bruising Run-In With the Russia Probe
We’ve seen a handful of very interesting articles over the last few days about Russian efforts to spread pro-Trump political propaganda on Facebook as part of their larger 2016 dis-information operation. As we noted last week, the seemingly paltry sum of $100,000 may belie the reach that was possible for that amount of money, given the way that the Facebook ecosystem can be used to amplify messages through a mix of highly targeted advertising and troll armies. The Facebook campaign also seems to include the first evidence of Russian operatives attempting to organize actual political events on American soil, as opposed to just spreading memes and fake news on the web.
… A separate article by Yahoo’s Mike Isikoff reports that Trevor Potter, a former FEC Chair and president of the Campaign Legal Center, wrote a letter to Facebook and Chairman Mark Zuckerberg yesterday calling on Facebook to release the information and upping the ante by writing this (emphasis added):
“[B]y hosting these secretly-sponsored Russian political ads, Facebook appears to have been used as an accomplice in a foreign government’s effort to undermine democratic self-governance in the United States. Therefore, we ask you, as the head of a company that has used its platform to promote democratic engagement, to be transparent about how foreign actors used that same platform to undermine our democracy.”
Facebook has said that it can’t release its findings because that would violate its own ‘internal policies’ which protect user privacy. That’s rich.

Another problem with algorithm controlled advertising?
Exclusive: Google is cracking down on sketchy rehab ads
Overnight, the search giant has stopped selling ads against a huge number of rehab-related search terms, including “rehab near me,” “alcohol treatment,” and thousands of others. Search ads on some of those keywords would previously have netted Google hundreds of dollars per click.
“We found a number of misleading experiences among rehabilitation treatment centers that led to our decision, in consultation with experts, to restrict ads in this category,” Google told The Verge in a statement.
Google is the biggest source of patients for most treatment centers. Advertisers tell Google how much they want to spend on search ads per month, which keywords they’d like those ads to run against, and then pay Google every time someone clicks on their ad.
While many treatment centers market themselves ethically, there are also significant numbers of bad actors using deceptive and even illegal tactics to get “heads in beds.” Last week, The Verge published a story uncovering how marketers use the internet to hook desperate addicts and their families, from hijacking the Google business listings of other treatment centers to deceiving addicts about where a treatment center is located.
… The exact keywords affected by the change still seem to be in flux. Yesterday, for instance, I noticed Googling “rehab near me” didn’t load any AdWords, but “rehabs near me” did. An hour after I reached out to Google’s spokespeople, “rehabs near me” no longer showed ads. Fischer says the list of blocked keywords continues to grow. [Suggests manual correction of computer generated lists Bob]

Perspective. Hedging their bet?
Google in talks to invest in Lyft
Google has held talks to invest around $1 billion in Lyft, Axios has learned from multiple sources. Bloomberg is reporting the same. It is unclear which group within Google would make the investment — the company has several investment arms and also invests off its balance sheet — but word is that this is being driven by top-level executives like Alphabet CEO Larry Page.
Why it matters: It would be a stunning move, given that Google was an early investor in Lyft rival Uber, even though the two companies have since gotten litigious over allegations of trade secret theft. Or, as one Uber investor explained it to Axios: "That is seriously messed up."

Perspective. “A TV in the hand is worth two in the home?”
Pew – 6 in 10 young adults in U.S. primarily use online streaming to watch TV
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Sep 14, 2017
“The rise of online streaming services such as Netflix and HBO Go has dramatically altered the media habits of Americans, especially young adults. About six-in-ten of those ages 18 to 29 (61%) say the primary way they watch television now is with streaming services on the internet, compared with 31% who say they mostly watch via a cable or satellite subscription and 5% who mainly watch with a digital antenna, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in August. Other age groups are less likely to use internet streaming services and are much more likely to cite cable TV as the primary way they watch television. Overall, 59% of U.S. adults say cable connections are their primary means of watching TV, while 28% cite streaming services and 9% say they use digital antennas. Among the other findings of the survey:
  • Women are more likely than men to say their primary way of watching TV is via cable subscription (63% vs. 55%).
  • Men are more likely than women to say their primary pathway is online streaming (31% vs. 25%).
  • Those with a college education or more are more likely than those with less education to say their primary way to watch TV is online streaming. Roughly a third of college-educated Americans (35%) say they mainly watch via streaming, compared with 22% of those who have a high school diploma or less.
  • Those in households earning less than $30,000 are more likely than others to say they rely on a digital antenna for TV viewing. Some 14% say this, compared with just 5% who live in households earning $75,000 or more…”

I get to do Spreadsheets next Quarter.
Even people who thought they knew every trick in the book will occasionally stumble across a new feature that they were previously unaware of. Here are three amazing Excel 2016 tricks you definitely (ok, probably) overlooked.

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