Saturday, June 30, 2018

A model for the coming US elections?
Meet The 29-Year-Old Trying To Become The King Of Mexican Fake News
The first tweets using the hashtag #GanaConVictoryLab started appearing around 6 p.m. on the afternoon of June 15. Within two hours, it began rising through Mexico’s national trending topics on Twitter. By 8 p.m., it was the fourth-most-tweeted hashtag in Mexico, pushing down mentions of Cristiano Ronaldo’s World Cup performance that afternoon.
The only problem: Every one of the accounts tweeting the hashtag was a fake.
… Merlo’s Victory Lab is one of the estimated hundreds of homegrown Mexican Cambridge Analytica – like marketing firms that are constantly filling up the country’s social media platforms with junk. Victory Lab will make anything trend on any platform for a fee.
… Merlo estimates that these days, around 90% of all trending topics in Mexico are controlled by digital marketing firms. He said that Mexico is still trailing behind the US, though, which most Mexican digital marketing firms see as the global capital of misinformation.

Disaster Recovery: Interesting that a system intended to ensure communications during a nuclear war can be brought down by a backhoe cutting a cable. (Or was this not an accident?)
Comcast outage brings down internet, TV service across US
… The outage, triggered by cut fiber lines, brought down internet, television and phone service for Comcast XFINITY customers in markets including New York and Philadelphia. Opens a New Window a website that follows outages, also tracked large outages in Chicago, Pittsburgh, Boston, Dallas, Denver and Seattle.
… “We identified two, separate and unrelated fiber cuts to our network backbone providers,” the Philadelphia-based company said.

Who can sort out this mess? Lawyers? The big audit firms?
The arrival of the General Data Protection Regulation a month ago led to a flurry of activity, clogging email inboxes and flooding people with tracking consent notices. But experts say much of that activity was for show because much of it fails to render companies compliant with GDPR.
Part of the issue, experts say, is the vague regulation has been interpreted in wildly different ways. GDPR consent-request messages vary wildly across sites. There are default pre-ticked opt-ins, buried options that require users to hunt for them, consent banners with information only available at a further click but no button to reject, and implied consent approaches. Others have used what some industry execs refer to as “nuke buttons,” which let the user reject everything without explaining what they’re rejecting or what they’re agreeing to. Others have simply reskinned cookie-banner messages required under the existing ePrivacy directive.

Limits to search…
Orin Kerr writes:
As regular readers know, I have argued in my academic writing that the Fourth Amendment should be interpreted to impose use restrictions on nonresponsive data seized pursuant to a computer search warrant. In a new decision, State v. Mansor, the Oregon Supreme Court appears to have adopted my approach under Oregon’s state equivalent of the Fourth Amendment.
Read more on The Volokh Conspiracy.
[From the article:
Computer warrant searches require the government to find a needle in an enormous electronic haystack. When the police execute a warrant to search for and find the needle of evidence, they usually need to seize the haystack first to search it. I have argued that a warrant to seize the needle should allow the police to seize the haystack to search for the needle. But there's a catch: The government should ordinarily not be allowed to use whatever else they find in the haystack. If the warrant is only to seize a needle, the police can only take away and use the needle, unless there are exigent circumstances exposed by the discovery of other evidence. The nonresponsive data – other evidence that may exist in the haystack but is not described in the warrant – ordinarily can't be used. For the details of my view, see this article.

“acceptable to technology firms?” How about citizens?
Google no longer accepting state, local election ads in Maryland as result of new law
Google stopped accepting state and local election ads in Maryland Friday as a result of a new law passed by the General Assembly that requires disclosure of who is paying for political advertising and how much is being spent.
Google spokeswoman Alex Krasov said the Silicon Valley company is unsure it can comply with the law’s regulations, which state officials are reviewing to forge into a national model acceptable to technology firms.
“Our systems are not currently built to collect and provide the information in the time frame required by Maryland’s new disclosure law,” Krasov said.

You can see where this might be useful.
DARPA Is Racing To Develop Tech That Can Identify Hoax Videos
Fake videos have become such a potentially disruptive threat that the high-tech research arm of the Pentagon is launching a contest in early July aimed at detecting “deepfakes,” hoax videos so realistic that they could trigger political scandal or even spark violent conflict.
… “The goal is to provide the general public — a set of tools that we can use to verify images, video and audio,” said Siwei Lyu, a computer scientist at the University at Albany that leads one of the research teams taking part in the contest, sponsored by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Fake videos, sometimes known as deepfakes, harness artificial intelligence and can be used to place people where they did not go, and say things they never said. As fake videos improve, they could rock both people and nations, even inflame religious tensions, experts said.

Tilting at windmills? Un-faking the news?
Steve Ballmer: Why Good Data Are Hard to Find – and How to Fix That
When former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer retired in 2014, a lot of media attention was focused on his new passion as the owner of a professional basketball team, after he bought the L.A. Clippers for a reported $2 billion. Far less attention went to his creation of USAFacts, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that strives to shine a light on the U.S. government’s financial status and report the findings to its stakeholders, the American people.
… Ballmer began searching for government data and he found a lot of figures, but they weren’t always organized coherently. Government agencies tend to be siloed and their figures don’t always fit with each other. Because of how the data is kept, he pointed out, politicians can rattle off an isolated figure devoid of context to support their agendas. “Government data is not always timely or accessible, or frankly, it doesn’t always agree with itself,” he said. “How does anybody make a decision with data which sometimes doesn’t reconcile and isn’t out on a timely basis?”

Perspective. It’s called ‘Mission Creep.’
It started with your shoes, then your water. Now the TSA wants your snacks.
… Passengers at airports across the country — including all three of the Washington region’s major airports — are reporting a rise in TSA agents instructing them to remove their snacks and other food items from their carry-ons and place them in those ubiquitous plastic bins for a separate screening.
It’s not part of the agency’s standard policy, according to TSA spokesman Mike England. It’s simply a recommendation issued by the agency last year to help speed the bag-check process.
… The line, Gaul said, was moving noticeably slower than normal.
“It definitely caused a delay — not huge, but at least by like five or 10 minutes,” the Georgetown University PhD student said. “Mostly it was just bizarre and absurd.”
… England said the concern is not that people may be hiding explosives or other illicit material inside of food. Rather, it’s that the food itself can look similar to the components of an explosive — therefore making it more likely that bags with snacks would be flagged for a time-consuming manual search. Officials thought it might be more efficient, in some cases, to have passengers remove the snacks from their bags ahead of time.
England said he could not provide specific information on how a pack of pretzels could resemble an explosive.
… “Some terrorist is making bombs out of Frito-Lay,” mused a passenger waiting at Orlando International Airport.

Perspective. “You better not ignore us!”
Trump’s Pentagon Quietly Made A Change To The Stated Mission It’s Had For Two Decades
For at least two decades, the Department of Defense has explicitly defined its mission on its website as providing “the military forces needed to deter war and to protect the security of our country.” But earlier this year, it quietly changed that statement, perhaps suggesting a more ominous approach to national security.
The Pentagon’s official website now defines its mission this way: “The mission of the Department of Defense is to provide a lethal Joint Force to defend the security of our country and sustain American influence abroad.”
The new mission statement — featured at the bottom of every page on the site — removes the words “to deter war” while adding that it is the Pentagon’s job to “sustain American influence” overseas.

The self-driving vehicle market just got bigger.
This self-driving grocery delivery car will sacrifice itself to save pedestrians
… A pilot program involving Nuro and the grocery chain Kroger is scheduled to kick off this fall in a to-be-announced city, meaning that in the autumn, people in a test urban area should be able to order groceries by app, then have them delivered by a little independent car.
… “If you’re no longer trying to protect an occupant above all else, and in fact you’re trying to protect the most vulnerable road users—a pedestrian, cyclists—at all costs, then you can do things like self-sacrificing the vehicle,” he says. Given a situation where the car has to decide between hitting a person or a tree, Ferguson imagines, “we will always drive into the tree.” Or even, he says, a parked car.

For my smartphone using students.

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