Monday, March 26, 2018

What? You expect government to do its job? How silly of you! On the other hand, I’m not sure this would have changed anything.
Commentary – How the FTC Could Have Prevented the Facebook Mess
Techonomy Exclusive – Marc Rotenberg: “Here comes an understatement: Facebook’s failure to protect user data was well known before the company suspended dealings with Cambridge Analytica last week. What is not well known is that the transfer of 50 million user records to the controversial data mining and political consulting firm could have been avoided if the Federal Trade Commission had done its job. The FTC issued a 2011 consent order against Facebook to protect the privacy of user data. If it had been enforced, there would be no story. Facebook bears responsibility too, because it actively worked to avoid compliance. Perhaps if the government and company had done their jobs, we would have seen a different outcome in the 2016 election. [Wow! That’s a reach. Bob] Back in 2009, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), which I head, and a coalition of consumer organizations filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. It alleged that Facebook was overriding user settings and allowing third parties to obtain users’ private information without their consent. We had conducted extensive research, documented the problem of Facebook’s changing privacy settings, and turned to the FTC to seek a legal order. The Federal Trade Commission launched an investigation, and in a comprehensive settlement with the company in 2011, made clear that it agreed with us. As the FTC said at the time, “Facebook changed its website so certain information that users may have designated as private – such as their Friends List – was made public. They didn’t warn users that this change was coming or get their approval in advance.” Also, from the 2011 settlement: “Facebook represented that third-party apps that users installed would have access only to user information that they needed to operate. In fact, the apps could access nearly all of users’ personal data – data the apps didn’t need.” Much of this was in our original complaint…”

(Related) Was Facebook ignorant or did they think no one would notice?
South Korea fines Facebook $369K for slowing user internet connections
… The Korea Communications Commission (KCC) began investigating Facebook last May and found that the company had illegally limited user access, as reported by ABC News. Local South Korean laws prohibit internet services from rerouting users’ connections to networks in Hong Kong and US instead of local ISPs without notifying those users. In a few cases, such rerouting slowed down users’ connections by as much as 4.5 times.
… “Facebook did not actively look into the complaints from local telecoms service providers that users are complaining about slower connections and, as a result, its service quality was not maintained at an appropriate level,” KCC said in a statement, adding that Facebook restored connections last autumn after its rerouting methods became public knowledge in South Korea.

Toward a complete “citizen dossier?”
Shoshanna Solomon reports:
The Israeli government on Sunday approved a National Digital Health plan, which, despite mounting privacy concerns, plans to create a digital database of the medical files of some 9 million residents and make them available to researchers and enterprises.
The government has vowed to protect the privacy of individuals and is touting the NIS 1 billion ($287 million) program as a huge boon to the medical research industry. But critics pointed to risks of a massive breach in patient confidentiality and urged the government to slow down.
Read more on Times of Israel. This is intended to be a major boost to the Israel economy.
Given that a database with almost the entire population’s details (the Agron Program) had been compromised years ago and was shared, is it only a matter of time until this database can be linked to the other one? Even if this new one requires consent, I can see why people have concerns about privacy issues.

We haven’t heard from Kim in a while. I think he may be a bit optimistic thinking his extradition worries are over, but clearly he was right about the violation of his rights. I doubt they’ll give back everything they took from him. (The Crown was ordered to pay him only $90,000 in damages.)
Newshub reports:
The Human Rights Tribunal has ruled that the Attorney-General broke the law by withholding information from Kim Dotcom, which he says means his extradition case is “over”.
In July 2015, Mr Dotcom sent an urgent information privacy request to all 28 Ministers of the Crown as well as almost all Government departments, asking for personal information they had on him, including under his previous names.
Read more on Newshub. Dotcom then called for the resignation of the Privacy Commissioner of New Zealand:
I call for the immediate resignation of the Privacy Commissioner of New Zealand for his complicity with the former Attorney General and Crown Law in unlawfully withholding information that New Zealanders were legally entitled to.

You never know when you might want to quote one of these.
Historical Supreme Court Cases Now Online on
Historical Supreme Court Cases Now Online – More Than 35,000 Decisions Now Available, Searchable on “More than 225 years of Supreme Court decisions acquired by the Library of Congress are now publicly available online – free to access in a page image format for the first time. The Library has made available more than 35,000 cases that were published in the printed bound editions of United States Reports (U.S. Reports). United States Reports is a series of bound case reporters that are the official reports of decisions for the United States Supreme Court dating to the court’s first decision in 1791 and to earlier courts that preceded the Supreme Court in the colonial era. The Library’s new online collection offers access to individual cases published in volumes 1-542 of the bound edition. This collection of Supreme Court cases is fully searchable. Filters allow users to narrow their searches by date, name of the justice authoring the opinion, subject and by the main legal concepts at issue in each case. PDF versions of individual cases can be viewed and downloaded. The collection is online at
The acquisition is part of the Law Library’s transition to a digital future and in support of its efforts to make historical U.S. public domain legal materials freely and easily available to Congress and the world. Users can access this collection from a link on and More recent editions of the U.S. Reports from 1987 to the present are available online from the U.S. Supreme Court.”

For the correlation lecture in my next Statistic class.
Research – The surprising link between your birthday and place of birth in one heat map
Data Driven Journalism: “…Take a look at [the heat map in this article], created by the team at Visme. Based on the most recent UN data on live births, it clearly shows that there is a rather surprising and unexpected correlation between three different variables: the top birth months, seasons of the year and the latitude of the country (distance from the equator)… After looking at this data visualization carefully, did you notice that the top birth months for most northern hemisphere countries are July, August and September? And did you notice that the lower you go down the list, the farther right the top birth months appear, eventually spilling over into the first months of the year? While the majority of the middle-latitude (or tropical) countries register September and October as their top birth months, Southern hemisphere countries such as Uruguay register their top birth months at the start of the year…” [Facebook may already know all this, but….]

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