Saturday, May 27, 2017

Something is not right; Washington Post, May 26, 2017

Ruth Marcus, Washington Post; Something is not right

"In the middle of one night
Miss Clavel turned on the light
And said, “Something is not right!”
— “Madeline,” by Ludwig
Bemelmans, 1939...
Something is really not right when all this is done to help pay for trillions of dollars in tax cuts for the richest Americans. When it is built on an edifice of fairy-tale growth projections exacerbated by fraudulent accounting, double-counting savings from this supposed growth.
We are all Miss Clavel now, or should be."

Episode 774: Unspeakable Trademark; NPR, Planet Money, May 26, 2017

[Podcast] Jacob Goldstein, Ailsa Chang, NPR, Planet Money; 

Episode 774: Unspeakable Trademark

"Warning: This episode has explicit language, for unavoidable and soon-to-be obvious reasons...

Today on the show, a fight over a band name that turns into a fight about free speech. It goes all the way to the Supreme Court."

White House Backs Down on Keeping Ethics Waivers Secret; New York Times, May 26, 2017

Eric Lipton, New York Times; 

White House Backs Down on Keeping Ethics Waivers Secret

"“It’s a victory for checks and balances, the rule of law and the independent oversight of the Office of Government Ethics, and the news media,” Mr. Eisen said. ”With any bully, when you punch them in the nose, they back down.”...

Former senior officials with the Office of Government Ethics said that in the 39-year history of the agency, which was created in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, they could not remember an instance in which the White House had similarly tried to block, or even to discourage, an effort to collect ethics compliance data."

Ethics, Quants and Cold-Calling; Bloomberg, May 25, 2017

Matt Levine, Bloomberg; 

Ethics, Quants and Cold-Calling

I used to be a lawyer, and lawyers have a code of ethics. Now I am a journalist, and journalists have a code of ethics. One thing that strikes me about these codes is that they are opposites. Oversimplifying massively, the basic rule for a lawyer is that your obligations are to your client, and you have to act in her best interests, even if that is against the interests of accuracy; legal ethics is then mostly a set of exceptions to this principle. Oversimplifying massively, the basic rule for a journalist is that your obligations are to the public, and you should be accurate even if that is against the interests of the people you talk to; journalistic ethics is then mostly a set of exceptions to this principle. In both cases the exceptions are huge and important: You're not supposed to lie to the public as a lawyer, or mislead your sources as a journalist, etc; none of this is meant to be any sort of ethical advice. But if someone says to you "oh yeah I murdered someone," as a lawyer, your baseline expected response would be not to tell anyone; as a journalist, your baseline expected response would be to tell everyone.
Obviously these opposite rules make sense in their respective contexts; the role of a lawyer is different from that of a journalist, and each profession's ethics are well adapted to doing their jobs usefully. Still it is weird to think of them as "ethics." They are both functional systems adapted to the work of their professions, not absolute moral-ethical rules handed down by a higher power. Keeping a murderer's secret is not absolutely ethical for humans, and disclosing that secret is not absolutely ethical for humans; each is ethical or unethical depending on its social context."

The U.K. Pleads with Congress to Change an Outdated Privacy Law to Help Fight Terrorism; MIT technology Review, May 26, 2017

Mike Orcutt, MIT Technology Review; 

The U.K. Pleads with Congress to Change an Outdated Privacy Law to Help Fight Terrorism

"[Paddy] McGuinness pleaded with Congress to make a “technical adjustment” to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), which among other things prohibits U.S. technology companies from disclosing stored communications to foreign governments. Instead, foreign law enforcement officials must request that data via the time-consuming Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty process, which can take months.

McGuinness said that since many criminals in the U.K. communicate using products and services made by U.S. companies, this “arbitrary” legal hurdle is causing crimes to go unsolved and criminals unpunished (see “Why Congress Can’t Seem to Fix This 30-Year-Old Law Governing Your Electronic Data”).

Colm Tóibín Knows You’re Secretly Weak; Daily Beast, May 27, 2017

William O'Connor, Daily Beast; 
Colm Tóibín Knows You’re Secretly Weak

"For Tóibín, “weakness is really something we need to know about.” Fresh on the author’s mind is something that just happened in the news. “I saw the other day with the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, there’s something he clearly should do. I mean he was clearly set up, and he really had to take some action. We’re constantly living with events where somebody should do something and we can watch them deciding not to do it.”

So for Agamemnon, clearly he should have put a stop to the sacrifice of his daughter. “In the case of Clytemnestra, it’s that once she begins, she cannot stop. She will commit the most appalling atrocities,” he explains. But, “the one that matters most is Orestes. What I wanted to suggest is that in us all is Orestes.”

“If any of us talk about how we’re good people, or that under pressure we’d know exactly what to do, I’m not sure about that. And we all need to know that,” he says firmly. “All I’m trying to do is dramatize the gap between what we think we are and what we might become under certain pressures.”"

Friday, May 26, 2017

Is Privacy Still a Big Deal Today?; Knowledge@Wharton, May 25, 2017

Kartik Hosanagar, and Tai Bendit, Knowledge@Wharton; 

Is Privacy Still a Big Deal Today?

"Americans value their privacy, but they are also resigned to giving up their personal data in order to transact with a company. Is there a better way for both sides to get what they want? This opinion piece by Kartik Hosanagar (@khosanagar) and Tai Bendit examines that question. Hosanagar is a professor of technology and digital business at Wharton. He was previously a cofounder of online marketing firm Yodle Inc. Bendit is a senior at Wharton studying economics with a concentration in operations, information, and decisions. He is joining LinkedIn as a business strategy and analytics analyst.

A version of this article was previously published on LinkedIn."

A week that reveals how rotten today’s Republican Party is; Washington Post, May 26, 2017

Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post; A week that reveals how rotten today’s Republican Party is

"This is the state of the GOP — a refuge for intellectual frauds and bullies, for mean-spirited hypocrites who preach personal responsibility yet excuse the inexcusable.

Conventional wisdom says that Trump executed a hostile takeover of the GOP. What we have seen this week suggests a friendly merger has taken place. Talk radio hosts have been spouting misogyny and anti-immigrant hysteria for years; Trump is their ideal leader, not merely a flawed vehicle for their views. Fox News has been dabbling in conspiracy theories (e.g. birtherism, climate-change denial) for decades; now Republicans practice intellectual nihilism...

The country needs two parties and benefits from the ideas associated with classical liberalism (small “l”) — the rule of law (over the law of the jungle), respect for the dignity of every individual, prosperity-creating free markets (including trade), values-based foreign policy. The Republican Party no longer embodies those ideals; it undermines them in words and in deeds. It now advances ideas and celebrates behavior antithetical to democracy and simple human decency. Center-right Americans, we have become convinced, must look elsewhere for a political home."

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Trump scandal that has nothing to do with Russia; Washington Post, May 24, 2017

E.J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post; The Trump scandal that has nothing to do with Russia

"And it is worth noting, as Ronald Brownstein did in the Atlantic, that in the five Rust Belt states that swung from Barack Obama to Trump, whites without a four-year college degree — the heart of the Trump constituency — “constitute most of those receiving assistance” from food stamps and the parts of Social Security that Trump would also slash. If Trump really wants people to go to work, how does he think taking money away from job training and college assistance will ease their path to self-sufficiency?

Martin Wolf, the Financial Times columnist, captured Trump’s ideology with precision when he called it “pluto-populism.” It involves “policies that benefit plutocrats, justified by populist rhetoric.”"

The White House’s Aversion to Ethical Scrutiny; New York Times, May 25, 2017

Editorial Board, New York Times; 

The White House’s Aversion to Ethical Scrutiny

"Mr. Trump’s own Justice Department disagreed, saying on Tuesday that its ethics experts “determined that Mr. Mueller’s participation in the matters assigned to him is appropriate.” Mr. Mueller did not represent Mr. Kushner nor Mr. Manafort while at WilmerHale, a firm that employs 300 lawyers in Washington and 1,200 globally. Nor was Mr. Mueller privy to any confidential information about their cases, a state of affairs that satisfies both District of Columbia and federal rules.

Why would White House lawyers pursue such a baseless line of attack? “They’re trying to use the ethics rules to fire a special prosecutor,” Richard Painter, chief ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush White House, said. “That’s insane.” If the Bush administration had told him to concoct legal justifications for evading ethics rules and legal inquiries in this way, Mr. Painter said, “I’d have quit.”"

The investigation of Jared Kushner fits a very troubling pattern; Washington Post, May 25, 2017

Aaron Blake, Washington Post; The investigation of Jared Kushner fits a very troubling pattern

"Former Obama administration ethics counsel Norman L. Eisen was among those criticizing that move. And here's what Eisen said back in December, when Kushner's potential role in the Trump White House first made news:

The problem with it is it sends a message that if you want to have influence in the administration, do it through the kids. And there’s a tradition. This is not the first time this has happened. I’m just shocked it’s happened in the United States.

It's possible that Kushner's familial relationship with Trump is part of the reason he's been subjected to more scrutiny than any other White House adviser in this probe. And as emphasized above, we have no idea what will come of this.

But if scrutiny of Kushner becomes more intense and there appears to be some validity to it, it will reinforce a central reason why ethics experts say these kinds of arrangements are to be avoided in the first place.

Target to Pay $18.5M to States Over Data Breach; Inside Counsel, May 24, 2017

P.J. D'Annunuzio, Inside Counsel; 

Target to Pay $18.5M to States Over Data Breach

"Deterrence was a major theme brought up by many of the attorneys general who released statements about the agreement.

The $18.5 million settlement with the states, coupled with the $10 million consumer class action settlement approved last week, may seem like a drop in the bucket for a retail juggernaut like Target, but according to Lambiras, the deterrent effect lies in the residual legal and public relations costs companies incur following a data breach.

In a statement Tuesday, Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said the settlement should serve as a wake-up call to companies to tighten their data security. He also gave kudos to Target for working with authorities after the breach."

Obama chief data scientist: Trumpcare health plan would ‘cripple’ precision medicine; FedScoop, May 24, 2017

Billy Mitchell, FedScoop; Obama chief data scientist: Trumpcare health plan would ‘cripple’ precision medicine

"DJ Patil, U.S. chief data scientist in the latter years of Barack Obama’s presidency, wrote on Medium that Trumpcare, as the AHCA is nicknamed, would threaten the country’s ability to leverage data to advance medical science, particularly in the fight against major diseases like cancer. The White House’s proposal would allow insurance companies to deny coverage or charge more when people have preexisting medical conditions. That provision could make people less willing to share important information about themselves with researchers, Patil says, because of fear it could be used against them later.

“[M]y deep fear is that people won’t be willing to donate their data. And there are too many people who have diseases that need us to donate our data to help,” Patil writes.

At the center of the Precision Medicine Initiative introduced under Obama is the “responsible collection of large amounts of data to be able to develop truly customized medical treatments for each patient,” Patil explains. The Trump legislation essentially threatens that project."

One Year Until EU Privacy Regime Change: Prep Time is Now; Bloomberg BNA, May 25, 2017

Jimmy H. Koo and Daniel R. StollerBloomberg BNA; One Year Until EU Privacy Regime Change: Prep Time Is Now

"Companies should start preparing for the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which takes effect May 25, 2018, privacy attorneys said. But regardless of how much they prepare, full compliance with the GDPR is an elusive goal, attorneys said...

The GDPR, which takes effect May 25, 2018, provides one EU-wide regulation to replace a more than 20-year-old directive that required each country to pass its own privacy laws. The GDPR will bring stricter standards for user consent to the use of their personal data, mandatory data breach notification, and fines as high as $20 million euros ($22.4 million) or 4 percent of a company’s annual worldwide income, among other things...

The GDPR “at its core is about information governance,” Clarissa Horowitz, vice president of communications at Mountain View, Calif.-based software company MobileIron Inc., told Bloomberg BNA."

Fox News crew ‘watched in disbelief’ as Montana’s Greg Gianforte ‘slammed’ and ‘began punching’ reporter; Washington Post, May 25, 2017

Fred Barbash, Washington Post; Fox News crew ‘watched in disbelief’ as Montana’s Greg Gianforte ‘slammed’ and ‘began punching’ reporter

"The Gazette referenced an incident at a campaign event in which a Gianforte took questions from the audience, including a man who said:
“Our biggest enemy is the news media. How can we rein in the news media?”
The man then looked at the Ravalli Republic reporter sitting next to him and raised his hands as if he would like to wring his neck.
Gianforte smiled and pointed at the reporter.
“We have someone right here,” the candidate said. “It seems like there is more of us than there is of him.”
That and “other questionable interactions Gianforte had with reporters … must now be seen through a much more sinister lens,” the Gazette said. “What he passed off as a joke at the time now becomes much more serious.”
The Gianforte campaign, it added, “should be appalled” by its statement “that would seem to justify the fight when it said the Bozeman Republican had tussled with a ‘liberal journalist.’ How would the campaign have known the reporter’s political beliefs? And, is it suggesting that it’s acceptable to put your hands on a reporter if you believe their political views are different from yours?”
The Society of Professional Journalists denounced the alleged assault, saying “it is never acceptable to physically harm or arrest a journalist who is simply trying to do his or her job.”"

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Stanford scholars, researchers discuss key ethical questions self-driving cars present; Stanford News, May 22, 2017

Alex Shashkevich, Stanford News; 

Stanford scholars, researchers discuss key ethical questions self-driving cars present

"Trolley problem debated
A common argument on behalf of autonomous cars is that they will decrease traffic accidents and thereby increase human welfare. Even if true, deep questions remain about how car companies or public policy will engineer for safety.
“Everyone is saying how driverless cars will take the problematic human out of the equation,” said Taylor, a professor of philosophy. “But we think of humans as moral decision-makers. Can artificial intelligence actually replace our capacities as moral agents?”
That question leads to the “trolley problem,” a popular thought experiment ethicists have mulled over for about 50 years, which can be applied to driverless cars and morality.
In the experiment, one imagines a runaway trolley speeding down a track which has five people tied to it. You can pull a lever to switch the trolley to another track, which has only one person tied to it. Would you sacrifice the one person to save the other five, or would you do nothing and let the trolley kill the five people?
Engineers of autonomous cars will now have to tackle this question and other, more complicated scenarios, said Taylor and Rob Reich, the director of Stanford’s McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society."

Big Settlement in Privacy Case Involving 2 Patients, HIV Data; Gov Info Security, May 24, 2017

Marianne Kolbasuk McGee, Gov Info Security; Big Settlement in Privacy Case Involving 2 Patients, HIV Data

"Sensitive Health Information

The high settlement amount paid by St. Luke's in a case involving privacy incidents impacting only two individuals reflects the sensitive nature of information that was breached.

"There is no doubt that OCR felt compelled to act due to the sensitivity of the PHI disclosed, that the organization should have been aware of the enhanced safeguards surrounding this type of PHI and there had been repeated occurrences of similar unauthorized disclosures," says privacy attorney David Holtzman of security firm CynergisTek.

"The message here is fix your problems when they happen," notes privacy attorney Kirk Nahra of the law firm Wiley Rein. "This was obviously a particularly sensitive piece of information, and it is possible that this also implicates a request for confidential communication or request for restriction in the HIPAA individual rights. So, while the [settlement] number may seem a bit high, this is both a repeated problem, and one that was not fixed, as well as a particularly harmful step.""

WSJ Privacy Test: Who Can See Your Personal Data?; Wall Street Journal, May 24, 2017

[Video] Geoffrey A. Fowler, Wall Street Journal; 

WSJ Privacy Test: Who Can See Your Personal Data?

"People would care more about privacy if they knew how exposed they already are online, says WSJ Personal Tech columnist Geoffrey A. Fowler. In an experiment, he showed a handful of strangers their own personal info—and managed to shock every one."

Telco-Backed Politician Wants to Restore Privacy Rules She Helped Kill; Wired, May 24, 2017

Klint Finley, Wired; Telco-Backed Politician Wants to Restore Privacy Rules She Helped Kill

"...[L]ast week Representative Blackburn, Republican chair of the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee, introduced the BROWSER Act (yes, it’s an acronym: Balancing the Rights of Web Surfers Equally and Responsibly). Not only would the bill apparently reinstate the ban on internet providers selling data without opt-in permission; it would also subject “edge providers”—websites apps, in other words—to the same restrictions.

That’s right: The bill would require any internet company to get opt-in permission before sharing sensitive information such as health data, your social security number, or internet browsing history. Simply allowing users to opt out wouldn’t cut it. What’s more, companies wouldn’t be able to make opting in a requirement to use their services."

Why Scanning Your Fingerprint Could Cost You Your Privacy;, May 23, 2017

Adam Levin,; Why Scanning Your Fingerprint Could Cost You Your Privacy

"Scanning a fingerprint or even an eyeball to authenticate your identity is no longer the stuff of science fiction. Biometric identification has been in practical use for a while now, and the technology gets more sophisticated every day.

It should come as no surprise that security and privacy concerns have arisen along the way. And now the legal ramifications are rapidly getting more complicated.

Washington state lawmakers last month passed pioneering legislation that forbids companies from obtaining or selling biometric information without consent of the individual."

"What Would YOU Do?"; Go Comics, May 24, 2017

Lincoln Peirce, Big Nate, Go Comics; 
"What Would YOU Do?"

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Privacy Concerns in Emerging Technologies; American Bar Association Webinar: Thursday, May 25, 2017

American Bar Association Webinar: Thursday, May 25, 2017Privacy Concerns in Emerging Technologies

ABA Value Pass
1.50 CLE
May 25, 2017
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM ET
Add to Calendar
1.50 General CLE Credit Hours
The rise in health information technology and wearable devices has brought innovative models of healthcare delivery, as well as increasing privacy risks and compliance concerns. Join our expert faculty as they discuss privacy issues confronting emerging technologies.

Topics will include:
  • Applicability of HIPAA to technology companies
  • Office for Civil Rights (OCR) guidance on HIPAA and cloud computing
  • Increasing Focus on Patient Right of Access
  • Recent enforcement settlements affecting emerging health care technologies and developers
  • Privacy considerations in the era of the Internet of Things (IoT)/Wearables

I’ve Created a Monster!; Slate, May 22, 2017

Cory Doctorow, Slate; 

I’ve Created a Monster!

"I’m a Facebook vegan. I won’t even use WhatsApp or Instagram because they’re owned by Facebook. That means I basically never get invited to parties; I can’t keep up with what’s going on in my daughter’s school; I can’t find my old school friends or participate in the online memorials when one of them dies. Unless everyone you know chooses along with you not to use Facebook, being a Facebook vegan is hard. But it also lets you see the casino for what it is and make a more informed choice about what technologies you depend on...

Your mobile device, your social media accounts, your search queries, and your Facebook posts— those juicy, detailed, revelatory Facebook posts—contain everything the NSA can possibly want to know about whole populations, and those populations foot the bill for its gathering of that information.

The adjacent possible made Facebook inevitable, but individual choices by technologists and entrepreneurs made Facebook into a force for mass surveillance. Opting out of Facebook is not a personal choice but a social one, one that you brave on your own at the cost of your social life and your ability to stay in touch with the people you love.

Frankenstein warns of a world where technology controls people instead of the other way around. Victor has choices to make about what he does with technology, and he gets those choices wrong again and again. But technology doesn’t control people: People wield technology to control other people."

Monday, May 22, 2017

America’s dangerous Internet delusion; Washington Post, May 21, 2017

Robert J. Samuelson, Washington Post; America’s dangerous Internet delusion

"We are addicted to the Internet and refuse to recognize how our addiction subtracts from our security. The more we connect our devices and instruments to the Internet, the more we create paths for others to use against us, either by shutting down websites or by controlling what they do. Put differently, we are — incredibly — inviting trouble. Our commercial interests and our national security diverge.

The latest example of this tension is the “Internet of things” or the “smart home.” It involves connecting various devices and gadgets (thermostats, lights, cameras, locks, ovens) to the Internet so they can be operated or monitored remotely."

ILLINOIS ADVANCES “RIGHT TO KNOW” DIGITAL PRIVACY BILLS; Electronic Frontier Foundation, May 22, 2017

Adam Schwartz, Electronic Frontier Foundation; ILLINOIS ADVANCES “RIGHT TO KNOW” DIGITAL PRIVACY BILLS

"EFF supports Illinois legislation (SB 1502 and HB 2774) that would empower people who visit commercial websites and online services to learn what personal information the site and service operators collected from them, and which third parties the operators shared it with. EFF has long supported such “right to know” legislation, which requires company transparency and thereby advances digital privacy."

How to Fight Back Against Revenge Porn; New York Times, May 18, 2017

Niraj Chokshi, New York Times; 

How to Fight Back Against Revenge Porn

"Consider criminal action

Despite increasing awareness about the issue, many officials may still be unaware of legal protections in place for victims of nonconsensual porn, according to the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative. So victims should researchstate laws targeting nonconsensual porn before approaching the authorities.

And while the decision to prosecute lies with the government, victims can help by providing documentation. “In order to have a successful prosecution, you’ve got to have evidence,” Ms. D’Amico said.

Victims may help to strengthen a case, and penalty, by highlighting violations of related laws, including those aimed at child pornography, harassment, stalking, extortion and copyright. The Initiative maintains a list of such laws and encourages victims to bring printed copies when filing a police report."

Monica Lewinsky: Roger Ailes’s Dream Was My Nightmare; New York Times, May 22, 2017

Monica Lewinsky, New York Times; 

Monica Lewinsky: Roger Ailes’s Dream Was My Nightmare

"Our world — of cyberbullying and chyrons, trolls and tweets — was forged in 1998. It is, as the historian Nicolaus Mills has put it, a “culture of humiliation,” in which those who prey on the vulnerable in the service of clicks and ratings are handsomely rewarded.

As the past year has revealed, thanks to brave women like Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly, it is clear that at Fox, this culture of exploitation wasn’t limited to the screen. The irony of Mr. Ailes’s career at Fox — that he harnessed a sex scandal to build a cable juggernaut and then was brought down by his own — was not lost on anyone who has been paying attention...

None of this is to say that we shouldn’t have a credible conservative point of view in our media — quite the opposite. If we’ve learned nothing else from the 2016 presidential election, it’s that we must find a way to foster robust and healthy discussion and debate. Our news channels should be just such places.

So, farewell to the age of Ailes. The late Fox chief pledged Americans fair and balanced news. Maybe now we’ll get it."

How the Right and Left (and Everyone Else) Reacted to Roger Ailes’s Death; New York Times, May 18, 2017

Jonah Engel Bromwich, New York Times; 

How the Right and Left (and Everyone Else) Reacted to Roger Ailes’s Death

"Dr. Jeffrey Jones, the director of the Peabody Awards, which celebrate public service from media figures and organizations, was unsparing in his criticism of Mr. Ailes, saying that, “no single individual has done more harm to American democracy in the last generation.”

“He ushered in the post-truth society,” Dr. Jones wrote in an emailed statement. “Through a constant drumbeat of fear, anger, and hatred, he turned citizen-on-citizen. He helped craft an enormous gulf of distrust between people and news.”"