Sunday, April 22, 2018

If it’s on the Internet, it must be true. An increasingly dangerous belief?
Where countries are tinderboxes and Facebook is a match
MEDAMAHANUWARA, Sri Lanka — Past the end of a remote mountain road, down a rutted dirt track, in a concrete house that lacked running water but bristled with smartphones, 13 members of an extended family were glued to Facebook. And they were furious.
A family member, a truck driver, had died after a beating the month before. It was a traffic dispute that had turned violent, the authorities said. But on Facebook, rumors swirled that his assailants were part of a Muslim plot to wipe out the country’s Buddhist majority.
For months, we had been tracking riots and lynchings around the world linked to misinformation and hate speech on Facebook, which pushes whatever content keeps users on the site longest — a potentially damaging practice in countries with weak institutions and histories of social instability.
Time and again, communal hatreds overrun the newsfeed unchecked as local media are displaced by Facebook and governments find themselves with little leverage over the company. Some users, energized by hate speech and misinformation, plot real-world attacks.

Still searching for a “This Might Work” technology?
Dan Peltier reports:
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has processed travelers with facial recognition scans at many U.S. airports, part of pilot programs during the past year that the government now believes it’s ready to roll out nationwide.
That’s the view of Isabel Hill, director of the National Travel & Tourism Office, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, who spoke at the World Travel & Tourism Council Global Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Wednesday about the future of secure and seamless travel.
Read more on SKIFT.
So okay…. do we know the accuracy rate? Do we know the false positive rate for minorities of specific subpopulations? Is there a reasonable system for challenging and quickly correcting errors? Is this really ready for primetime or wider usage?

The topic must be hot, this collection sells for $120. However some are available online for free. (I think the Privacy Foundation needs to increase its Seminar prices!)
Professor Daniel Solove calls our attention to this new collection of essays on consumer privacy.
Evan Seligner, Jules Polonetsky, and Omer Tene have just published a terrific edited volume of essays called The Cambridge Handbook of Consumer Privacy. This is a truly impressive collection of writings by a wide array of authors from academia and practice. There’s a robust diversity of viewpoints on wide-ranging and cutting-edge issues. The book has a hefty price tag, but it is a terrific resource.
Read Dan’s full post, as he provides a table of contents and links to copies of the essays where they are already available for free online.

I think we could create an App to determine when a warrant is required and then to help generate one. Assuming there is some logic behind the process.
From the glad-to-see-the-court-got-this-right dept.:
If police want to snoop through a vehicle’s black box data — even after an accident — they will have to get a warrant. That was the conclusion Tuesday of the Missouri Court of Appeals, which took up the case of a black box seized from a truck involved in a major collision on July 1, 2015.
Read more about the case on
[From the article:
"The driver possesses an actual, subjective expectation of privacy in data recorded by an ECM regarding that driver's operation of the vehicle," Judge Cynthia L. Martin wrote for the court. "We can affirm the trial court's order granting the motion to suppress based on longstanding Fourth Amendment jurisprudence involving trespass as a basis to assert a Fourth Amendment violation as recently discussed in the United States Supreme Court's decision in Jones."
The judges noted that it did not matter that West had no idea there was a box recording his every move installed in the truck because the police officer made a physical intrusion into the vehicle to conduct his electronic search. There were no exigent circumstances to do so because there was no reason to think the truck contained anything illegal.

For those following Facebook. (They sell ads, Senator.)
April Glaser writes:
When Democrats and Republicans in Congress agree on something, it usually involves symbolic acts of patriotism or minimally decent acts of disaster relief. Add to that list: giving Mark Zuckerberg the third degree—and insisting that his company face some kind of consequence for the Cambridge Analytica scandal and how cavalierly it has often treated its users’ data. “I think it is time to ask whether Facebook may have moved too fast and broken too many things,” Rep. Greg Walden, a Republican from Oregon, said last Wednesday as he opened up a House committee hearing with Zuckerberg. “I don’t want to vote to have to regulate Facebook, but by God I will,” said Sen. John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican, during a Senate joint committee hearing the day before the House’s. Democrats sounded even more gung-ho about cracking down on the company. “This incident demonstrates yet again that our laws are not working,” said Rep. Frank Pallone, a Democrat from New Jersey. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat from Illinois, laid it out plainly while dressing down the 33-year-old CEO: “This is proof to me that self-regulation simply does not work.”
Read more on Slate. April asks why the pre-eminent privacy advocacy organizations have not proposed anything or even pressured Congress to take action. It’s an interesting question.
When you’ve read her article, read the responses to it on Twitter.

EPIC has filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to obtain the release of the unredacted Facebook Assessments from the FTC. The FTC Consent Order required Facebook to provide to the FTC biennial assessments conducted by an independent auditor. In March, EPIC filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the 2013, 2015, 2017 Facebook Assessments and related records. EPIC’s FOIA request drew attention to a version of the 2017 report available at the FTC website. But that version is heavily redacted. EPIC is suing now for the release of unredacted report. EPIC has an extensive open government practice and has previously obtained records from many federal agencies. The case is EPIC v. FTC, No. 18-942 (D.D.C. filed April 20, 2018).

Nicholas Confessore reports:
An auditing firm responsible for monitoring Facebook for federal regulators told them last year that the company had sufficient privacy protections in place, even after the social media giant lost control of a huge trove of user data that was improperly obtained by the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.
The assertion, by PwC, came in a report submitted to the Federal Trade Commission in early 2017. The report, a redacted copy of which is available on the commission’s website, is one of several periodic reviews of Facebook’s compliance with a 2011 federal consent decree, which required Facebook to take wide-ranging steps to prevent the abuse of users’ information and to inform them how it was being shared with other companies.
Read more on NY Times.

Interesting tech, with implications for smart bombs?
How Uber moves the ‘blue dot’ to improve GPS accuracy in big cities
You might have noticed a problem when you try to use your smartphone to navigate a big city: your GPS location is usually super inaccurate. Sometimes it's only by a few feet, but if you’re in a particularly dense part of the city where satellite signals are blocked by high-rise buildings, the discrepancy can be orders of magnitude greater. For most people, it’s just one of the many modern-day nuisances of urban life. But for companies that rely on two people with smartphones finding each other in a labyrinth of steel and concrete — like Uber — GPS inaccuracy is a source of never-ending pain and frustration.
… The Global Positioning System project was launched in the early 1970s as a way to overcome the limitations of previous navigation systems. It was originally designed for things that fly, like planes. So one of the core assumptions was that all satellites would have a direct line of sight, meaning the signal would always travel in a straight line. But now, those assumptions have changed, thanks to the ubiquity of smartphones and the rise of location-based services like Uber.
… To fix the problem, Iland and Irish used a process called occlusion modeling, by which Uber’s algorithm looks at a full 3D rendering of the city and does a probabilistic estimate of where you are based, which satellites you can see, and which you can’t.

As so often happens, I don’t get it. I can understand wanting to give everyone Internet access. Why do we need a “live” video of every place on earth?
Bill Gates, Airbus and SoftBank invest in satellite video startup that wants to help us ‘see and understand the Earth live and unfiltered’
Bellevue, Wash.-based EarthNow aims to operate a fleet of small satellites that will send continuous real-time video views of our planet from Earth orbit.
… Wyler made clear that EarthNow would leverage the design work that’s already been done for OneWeb.
“We created the world’s first low-cost, high-performance satellites for mass production to bridge the digital divide,” he said in today’s news release. “These very same satellite features will enable EarthNow to help humanity understand and manage its impact on Earth.”

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