Sunday, June 17, 2018

What price security? This seems disproportionate to me.
Jim Schultz reports that Lockport School District got snookered into wasting millions of dollars on surveillance instead of education:
Even though Lockport is a very small school district (just 4,600 students overall), next fall when our students return to class they will be greeted with something no other schools in the nation have, a $2.7 million system of high-tech facial recognition cameras. The story behind those cameras is a cautionary tale of what can happen when your fears over school security let you be taken for a ride by clever salesmen.
Read more of his opinion piece on The Public.

“English, as she is spoke”
Judge says ‘literal but nonsensical’ Google translation isn’t consent for police search
Machine translation of foreign languages is undoubtedly a very useful thing, but if you’re going for anything more than directions or recommendations for lunch, its shallowness is a real barrier. And when it comes to the law and constitutional rights, a “good enough” translation doesn’t cut it, a judge has ruled.
The ruling (PDF) is not hugely consequential, but it is indicative of the evolving place in which translation apps find themselves in our lives and legal system.
The case in question involved a Mexican man named Omar Cruz-Zamora, who was pulled over by cops in Kansas. When they searched his car, with his consent, they found quite a stash of meth and cocaine, which naturally led to his arrest.
But there’s a catch: Cruz-Zamora doesn’t speak English well, so the consent to search the car was obtained via an exchange facilitated by Google Translate — an exchange that the court found was insufficiently accurate to constitute consent given “freely and intelligently.”
… It doesn’t mean that consent is impossible via Google Translate or any other app — for example, if Cruz-Zamora had himself opened his trunk or doors to allow the search, that likely would have constituted consent.

Why not just give it to the people who ask for it?
Stuart Leavenworth reports:
REYKJAVÍK, ICELAND — Sometime in the future, U.S. researchers will be able to press a button and reliably identify the thousands of people who carry cancer-causing genes, including those that trigger breast cancer.
In Iceland, that day is already here. With a relatively uniform population and extensive DNA databases, Iceland could easily pinpoint which of its people are predisposed to certain diseases, and notify them immediately. So far, the government has refused to do so. Why? Iceland confronts legal and ethical obstacles that have divided the nation and foreshadow what larger countries may soon face.
On one side of the debate there, you have those who argue that of course you should tell people, but their argument strikes me as seriously flawed:
“That is utter, thorough bulls–t,” Dr. Kári Stefánsson, a world-renowned Icelandic neurologist and biotech leader who has been at the center of the nation’s DNA debate, told McClatchy in an interview in his Reykjavík office. “There is a tradition in American society, there is a tradition in Icelandic society, to save people who are in life-threatening situations, without asking them for informed consent. Should there be a different rule if the danger is because of a mutated gene?”
But Dr. Stefánsson’s argument fails when you consider that in these genetic cases, you are generally not talking about warning someone of imminent life-threatening decisions that need to be made. This is definitely NOT comparable to the situation in which a person is unconscious when brought to an emergency room, and the medical personnel are permitted legally and ethically to assume that they do have consent to treat, because failure to make that assumption is likely to lead to death of the patient.
If we are talking about notifying people that they are predisposed to certain diseases, well, they genereally do have some time to think about whether they would want to be warned or not. Does Dr. Stefánsson think that he has a duty to inform that somehow trumps a person’s right to decide that they do not want to know their future or fate?
The more difficult question I see is what do we do about notifying parents – and teenagers – about the likelihood that teens or youth are at risk. If there is nothing that can be done to change the eventual outcome – i.e., if the person will still get the disease no matter whether you tell/warn them or not, what have you accomplished by alerting them? I suppose one could argue that you allow the person to make more informed life decisions, e.g., maybe they will decide not to have children if they know there is a very high risk that they would be passing along a currently incurable genetic disorder that might cause pain or suffering for any offspring. Or perhaps they will decide that if they are going to lose cognitive function early, they may not want to spend ten years in academic studies but would enjoy life more if they focus on other things.
There’s much to think about and discuss. And I think an argument could be made that supports Dr. Stefánsson’s firm belief that people should be informed, but he hasn’t made his case by trying to make the analogy he tries to make.
Read more on McClatchyDC

Who knew there was a Center for the study of Drones?
Bard College's Center for the Study of the Drones released a report about law enforcement acquiring drones and what they found is troubling.
… Why do university police need license plate readers, drones and a command vehicle?
There it is, law enforcement's mantra being used over and over again. Police need this spy gear to keep the public safe.
Good luck trying to find out which university police department has purchased a drone. Most university police departments can and do ignore FOIA requests. (Click here, here & here to learn more.)

Following the next “Next Big Thing?”
The Bike Share War Is Shaking Up Seattle Like Nowhere Else
… Ofo's business is dockless bike sharing, and it was about to launch its US operations in Seattle. Dockless bike share is just the latest of a dozen new approaches to urban mobility in increasingly congested cities. Ride-hailing services, app-powered carpools, on-demand car rentals, electric bikes, scooters, and even self-driving taxis are all jockeying for riders on the streets of American cities. Together they are reinventing the way we navigate urban environments, reducing private car usage, improving traffic and commute times, and cutting emissions.
But where alternatives to car ownership are well-established in the US's major metropolises, bike shares are still finding their niche. Paris, London, and New York have all adopted bike share programs that use docks, bulky stations that are built into parking spaces that dictate where the bikes' users must start and end rides. Though they cost a fraction of a more traditional, multibillion-dollar transit project, the stations are still expensive to install and maintain, and their fixed locations limit the number of riders they can attract.
What makes a dockless bike share program appealing is that, beyond the bikes themselves, it doesn't need any infrastructure. With nothing to build, a city can introduce a new way of getting around virtually overnight. A smartphone app tells users where cheap, GPS-enabled bikes are located and lets them rent one.

Will Wikipedia become the source of all trusted knowledge?
Facebook and Google must do more to support Wikipedia
The digital commons has become a common problem, clogged by disinformation, stripped of privacy and squeezed by insatiable shareholders. Online propagandists stoke violence, data brokers sway elections, and our most intimate personal information is for sale to the highest bidder. Faced with these difficulties, big tech is increasingly turning to Wikipedia for support.
You may not realise how ubiquitous Wikipedia is in your everyday life, but its open, collaboratively-curated data is used across semantic, search and structured data platforms  on the web. Voice assistants such as Siri, Alexa and Google Home source Wikipedia articles for general knowledge questions; Google’s knowledge panel features Wikipedia content for snippets and essential facts; Quora contributes to and utilises the Wikidata open data project to connect topics and improve user recommendations.
More recently, YouTube and Facebook have turned to Wikipedia for a new reason: to address their issues around fake news and conspiracy theories. YouTube said that they would begin linking to Wikipedia articles from conspiracy videos, in order to give users additional – often corrective – information about the topic of the video. And Facebook rolled out a feature using Wikipedia’s content to give users more information about the publication source of articles appearing in their feeds.

Perspective. Hoist on their own petard? Sending junk mail to get me to authorize you to send me junk mail is probably not the best possible strategy.
No one is opening those emails about privacy updates, and marketers are getting nervous
  • The GDPR requires companies to send emails to people on their mailing list who have never bought anything, asking permission to keep emailing them.
  • Most Americans are not opening those emails, and some are using them to unsubscribe.
  • As a result, some email marketers stand to lose 80 percent of their marketing lists -- or face huge fines from the EU if they keep trying to email these people without permission.

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