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by Tim Cushing
Mon, Mar 30th 2015 2:39pm
The recently-released 9/11 Commission's review of FBI tactics in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks seems to suggest the agency should perform even more racial profiling than it already does. As Kevin Gosztola of Firedoglake points out, the language in the report places a lot of emphasis on "domain awareness" and pre-crime policing.
Documents the American Civil Liberties Union have been able to obtain show [PDF] that “FBI analysts make judgments based on crude stereotypes about the types of crimes different racial and ethnic groups commit, which they then use to justify collecting demographic data to map where people with that racial or ethnic makeup live.” The FBI uses “domain analysis” to target American Muslims and Islamic institutions.The similarities between this suggested course of action and the NYPD's infamous "Demographics Unit" (led by a former CIA official) are notable. Both involve questionable tactics like declaring entire mosques "terrorist organizations" simply because attendees followed the same religion as the 9/11 attackers. Notably, the FBI found the NYPD's tactics so thoroughly violated the rights of those being surveilled that it refused to access any of the intelligence gathered by the Demographics Unit. That decision ultimately cost the FBI nothing in terms of usable intel. Despite years of rights violations and round-the-clock surveillance, the NYPD's special unit was never instrumental in preventing attacks or producing significant arrests.
Call me crazy. But maybe the people responding to actual crimes believe they learn enough in that process — and are plenty busy enough trying to catch criminals — that they don’t see the point of racially profiling people like NYPD does? Maybe they believe the ongoing threats are where the past ones have been, and there’s no need to spend their time investigating where there aren’t crimes in case there ever are in the future?Doing investigative work like investigators, rather than like surveillance dragnets? That's probably crazy enough to work. Not that the FBI has any desire to dial back its requests for encryption backdoors and unfettered access to electronic communications, but those actually out in the field seem to know what works and what doesn't. And a constant APB for anyone fitting the "Muslim/Male" description isn't exactly helpful.
Yet rather than analyzing whether this concept serves any purpose whatsoever, it instead says, “it’s corporate policy, no one is doing it well, so it needs to improve.”There's a lesson here, but those writing the review aren't comprehending it. (Wheeler notes that many of those interviewed for the report aren't actually FBI agents, but rather representatives of other intelligence agencies, like the CIA.) To catch terrorists, you need smarter investigative work, not work that involves blanket surveillance and the rote filling in of blanks. The NYPD should know this, considering its failure to catch plots later uncovered by the FBI, but it doesn't. Despite the disbandment of the "Demographics Unit," it still clings to the belief that mass surveillance beats real police work any day of the week. The FBI has figured this out -- or at least a percentage of its agents have -- but that's not going to be enough to persuade those calling for more of everything to dial back their efforts a bit.
by Tim Cushing
Mon, Mar 30th 2015 1:33pm
Major corporations are actively monitoring social media during standardized tests. This is being done to "protect" the "integrity" of test questions and answers. None of this is particularly surprising, other than the fact that a member of school administration was the one to blow the whistle on it.
Students in New Jersey are in the middle PARCC testing right now. This is a new standardized test which is administered by Pearson. It's not without its detractors; many parents are opting their kids out of the test, and after what Pearson just did I'm sure the number will grow.The superintendent's email wasn't sent to remind teaching staff to keep a better eye on testing students. It was sent to inform the rest of them about a situation she (Elizabeth Jewett) found unacceptable. [all emphasis hers]
A blogger by the name of Bob Braun got his hands on an email one NJ school district superintendent sent out to a mailing list. Said email discusses a dire "security breach" in which a student tweeted a mention of the recent PARCC test.
Good morning all,Well, the news has gotten out, spreading from Bob Braun's blog to the New York Times and Washington Post. Pearson remains unapologetic for its protection of its test turf, noting that it only monitors public social media posts and cross-references those to ensure it's only reporting currently-testing students to various education agencies. All well and good, but when a private company wields the power to nudge public schools into disciplining students for so-called "security breaches," it's a bit of a problem.
Last night at 10 PM, my testing coordinator received a call from the NJDOE [New Jersey Department of Education] that Pearson had initiated a Priority 1 Alert for an item breach within our school. The information the NJDOE initially called with was that there was a security breach DURING the test session, and they suggested the student took a picture of a test item and tweeted it. After further investigation on our part, it turned out that the student had posted a tweet (NO PICTURE) at 3:18PM (after school) that referenced a PARCC test question. The student deleted the tweet and we spoke with the parent -- who was obviously concerned as to her child's tweets being monitored by the DOE. The DOE informed us that Pearson is monitoring all social media during PARCC testing. I have to say that I find this disturbing -- and if our parents were concerned before about a conspiracy with all the student data, I am sure I will be receiving more letters of refusal once this gets out (not to mention the fact that the DOE wanted us to also issue discipline to the student). I thought this was worth sharing with the group.
In response to parent concerns, states using Pearson’s new PARCC exam did ask the company to stop cross-checking the names of students suspected of making inappropriate posts against the company’s list of registered test-takers. And New Jersey officials said Thursday that they would review the monitoring process to make sure student privacy is not compromised.But Pearson isn't the only company keeping an eye on students for school administrators. Politico's coverage contains statements from a number of social media monitoring companies that provide surveillance tools and reporting to a variety of institutions.
Enter the surveillance services, which promise to scan student posts around the clock and flag anything that hints at bullying, violence or depression. The services will also flag any post that could tarnish the reputation of either the student or the educational institution. They’ll even alert administrators to garden-variety teenage hijinks, like a group of kids making plans to skateboard on school property .
Some of the monitoring software on the market can track and log every keystroke a student makes while using a school computer in any location, including at home. Principals can request text alerts if kids type in words like “guns” or “drugs,” or browse websites about anorexia or suicide. They can even order up reports identifying which students fritter away hours on Facebook and which buckle down to homework right after dinner.
Other programs scan all student emails, text messages and documents sent on a school’s online platform and alert school administrators — or law enforcement — to any that sound inappropriate.Some of the tools run covertly. Others are expressly pointed out by administration to increase the deterrent factor. Some even go so far as to cross-reference multiple social media accounts in order to strip away students' anonymity on networks where no "real name" is required.
In Deerfield, Gaggle has unearthed just one serious incident in the past the 18 months — an eighth-grader emailing a nude photo of herself, [Deerfield Superintendent Michael] Lubelfeld said.The same goes for the other monitoring software deployed by Lubelfeld's school district -- which monitors students' computer usage. Only a "few violations" have been detected despite its constant presence.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Mar 30th 2015 12:35pm
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Mar 30th 2015 11:25am
every asset that an investor owns or controls, directly or indirectly, that has the characteristics of an investment, including such characteristics as the commitment of capital or other resources, the expectation of gain or profit, or the assumption of risk.Now, it's no secret that the legacy entertainment industry is no fan of fair use (even if they often rely on it themselves). While fair use is officially part of the law in the US, the entertainment industry just recently fought very hard to block it in the UK and Australia, arguing (ridiculously) that fair use would harm innovation.
limitations and exceptions to exclusive rights to (Step 1) certain special cases (Step 2) which do not conflict with a normal exploitation of the work and (Step 3) do not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the rights holderAnd, of course, in the US, fair use goes way beyond that already. And, as Flynn points out, it appears from the leaked text of TPP, the US would now be opening itself up to an ISDS challenge from a foreign owned company (remember: Universal Music is owned by a French company, Sony Music is owned by a Japanese company and Warner Music is owned by Russians...) that the fair use doctrine itself "expropriates" its "intellectual property" rights by going beyond the three steps test. Here's Flynn:
And here is a major one lurking in the shadows. Many copyright intensive industries are hostile to the U.S. fair use doctrine and many of the decisions of courts emanating from it. There have been arguments raised from time to time that the doctrine or its applications are contrary to the so-called Berne 3-step test requiring that limitations and exceptions to rights be limited to certain special cases, not conflict with a normal exploitation of the work and not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the author (see this rebuttal from Gervais et al.). No other country has attempted to sue the U.S. or the nearly dozen other countries around the world that have fair use. But will the content industry be so reticent with such challenges in the future? With the TPP ISDS chapter, they will not have to in 40% of the global economy.And this isn't so far fetched. As we've been discussing, under existing ISDS/corporate sovereignty provisions in NAFTA, Eli Lilly is currently suing Canada for $500 million because Canada refused to grant it some patents. Eli Lilly is arguing that this "expropriated" Eli Lilly's "intellectual property" and took away its "expected profits."
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Mar 30th 2015 10:25am
Mr Justice Cregan said that there was "wholesale theft" taking place on the UPC network. He said that the constitutional rights of "a whole class of persons are not just being infringed but are being destroyed". The downloading of music for free is destroying the intellectual property rights of creative artists and should be a matter of great concern in any civilised society, he said.Except, that's not true. Copyright infringement and "theft" are two separate (and very different) things. And, no constitutional rights are "being destroyed" at all. If someone's rights are being harmed via copyright infringement, those individuals or companies have every right to bring legal cases against those who are the ones actually engaging in infringement. Arguing that ISPs should automatically cut people off of the entire internet based merely on accusations (that have a long history of not being accurate) would seem to be "destroying" the due process rights of many more people than any copyright infringement. Besides, I would also think that "a matter of great concern to any civilized society" would be things like "due process" and better enabling communications and access to information for all -- like the internet does. But, no. If you happen to download a song you like without paying for it, apparently you should be barred from the internet.
"The current generation of writers, performers and interpreters of music cannot have their livelihoods destroyed by advances in technology which allow persons to breach their constitutional rights with impunity.”Two points on this. Any realistic look at "the current generation of writers, performers and interpreters of music" would recognize that it is an amazing time to be a creative person because of the internet. Thanks to the internet, artists no longer are solely reliant on giant gatekeepers to pick them out of everyone else. Instead, they can use these platforms to create, to connect with fans, to promote, to distribute and to monetize their works. More words are being written, more videos are being filmed and more music is being recorded today than any time in history. It's difficult to see how one can possibly square that reality with this fantasy world of Judge Cregan's in which he believes that writers, performers and musicians are in trouble.
Mr Justice Cregan said the cost of setting up this system had been put at between €800,000 and €940,000, three-quarters of which UPC had argued should be paid for by the music companies.Cregan is apparently so sure of himself on this issue -- despite what appears to be an astounding confusion over what's actually happening in the world, that he further rejected UPC's argument that this is a matter for the legislature, not the courts. Instead, Cregan seems to believe that the courts can magically will into place a new regulation kicking people off the internet. He further rejected requests to refer this matter to the European Court of Justice, insisting that his interpretation of the law is plenty.
The judge said however given the music companies' constitutional rights "are being destroyed" by UPC's customers, he believed UPC should pay 80 per cent and the music companies the rest.
by Karl Bode
Mon, Mar 30th 2015 9:16am
"But there's one whopping big question that nobody's asking: Can you replace cable with streaming Internet TV and get the same experience — and save money? After all, if you can't make the switch without missing your favorite TV shows and saving money, then what's the point?"Except they can! Through piracy! One gets the sense that media outlets feel like if they so much as even acknowledge that piracy is a real thing -- they'll somehow be taken as advocates for piracy. It's as if piracy is some kind of angry and strange Lovecraftian god, and even mentioning its name will invite unspeakable terror upon the local village. And it's not just the media -- I've seen countless professional firms paid millions to analyze the state of the pay TV sector similarly just pretend that piracy doesn't exist -- in large part because tracking these users can be difficult to impossible. As such, it's best to just pretend piracy doesn't exist and isn't even worth trying to monitor. Nobody will notice, right?
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Mar 30th 2015 7:58am
Moreover, even if the Younger elements were satisfied here, the court would not be required to abstain here because an exception to the application of the doctrine applies. Indeed, federal courts may disregard the Younger doctrine when a state court proceeding was brought in bad faith or with the purpose of harassing the federal plaintiff... Google has presented significant evidence of bad faith, allegedly showing that Attorney General Hood’s investigation and issuance of the subpoena represented an effort to coerce Google to comply with his requests regarding content removal. As previously discussed, the Attorney General made statements, on multiple occasions, which purport to show his intent to take legal action against Google for Google’s perceived violations. When Google declined to fulfill certain requests, the Attorney General issued a 79-page subpoena shortly thereafter. The court is persuaded that this conduct may evidence bad faith on the part of the Attorney General.The court also notes that Hood clearly recognizes that many of his attacks on Google are blocked by Section 230 of the CDA (which, again, say you can't blame a service provider for actions of its users), because Hood himself signed a letter to Congress asking for Section 230 to be amended to exempt investigations by state attorneys general (we wrote about that dangerous effort at the time as well).
Furthermore, the court also is persuaded that Google has demonstrated a substantial likelihood that it will prevail on its claim that Attorney General Hood has violated Google’s First Amendment rights by: regulating Google’s speech based on its content; by retaliating against Google for its protected speech (i.e., issuing the subpoena); and by seeking to place unconstitutional limits on the public’s access to information. First, the relevant, developing jurisprudence teaches that Google’s publishing of lawful content and editorial judgment as to its search results is constitutionally protected.... The Attorney General’s interference with Google’s judgment, particularly in the form of threats of legal action and an unduly burdensome subpoena, then, would likely produce a chilling effect on Google’s protected speech, thereby violating Google’s First Amendment rights.Judge Wingate also sides with Google on the 4th Amendment, noting that the broad subpoena appears to be a "burdensome fishing expedition" that goes well beyond what the Attorney General is allowed to request.
Additionally, it is well-settled that the Attorney General may not retaliate against Google for exercising its right to freedom of speech by prosecuting, threatening prosecution, and conducting bad-faith investigations against Google.... As explained supra, Google has submitted competent evidence showing that the Attorney General issued the subpoena in retaliation for Google’s likely protected speech, namely its publication of content created by third-parties. Given the gravity of the rights asserted herein, the court finds it appropriate to enjoin further action on behalf of the Attorney General until a determination on the merits of Google’s claims is made.
The Attorney General admits that certain requests contained in the subpoena “could arguably be used to show copyright infringement” (AG Response, p. 30), but argues that the same information could also be used to expose Google’s various practices of misleading customers. The court is not persuaded that the Attorney General’s posited theoretical basis for making these requests is sufficient for the purpose of rebutting Google’s preemption allegation.Basically, the judge clearly recognizes Hood's effort for what it was: a broad fishing expedition that was partly "retaliation" against Google for daring to stand up for its right to run an online search engine. The case is far from over, but Hood (and his MPAA-assisted team) are going to have to move on to some other plan of attack. Maybe (just maybe), they can focus on (1) going after actual criminals, rather than made up ones and (2) telling the MPAA to learn how to innovate, rather than blame Google for its own failures.
by Karl Bode
Mon, Mar 30th 2015 5:52am
"Canadians, who choose to do so, will be able to supplement the entry-level television service by buying individual channels that will be available either on a pick-and-pay basis or through small, reasonably priced packages. If they so choose, they will have the option of selecting theme-based packages—such as sports, lifestyle or comedy—offered by their service providers. By December 2016, Canadians will be able to subscribe to channels on a pick-and-pay basis, as well as in small packages. In addition, Canadians will have the choice of keeping their current television services without making any changes, if these continue to meet their needs and budgets."Of course, the ruling is being met with all manner of hand-wringing from opponents of a la carte and the cable industry about how this is going to "destroy television as we know it." Canadian media has been flooded all week with stories about how this will only drive up costs, confuse consumers, harm the TV industry, result in cats and dogs sleeping together, and generally just wreak havoc on the TV ecosystem. Except, Canadian law professor Michael Geist points out that if you look past this breathy doomsday analysis in the press and actually ask real analysts, they point out the idea will probably save consumers money:
"Maher Yaghi of Desjardins Capital Markets says the changes could “lead to a reduction of $5 to $10 in monthly [revenue per user] as customers get the option to choose the channels they want to watch and move discretionary money toward OTT (over-the-top) services such as Netflix." Canaccord Genuity analyst Dvai Ghose suggests even bigger declines of $9 to $21 for some customers. In fact, Ghose notes that “current entry-level TV monthly prices for the large BDUs are as follows: Bell Fibe TV $45.95, Rogers Cable $40.48, Shaw $39.90 and Videotron $38.00 and Telus $34.00 ($29.00 if bundled).” A $25 service is obviously going to result in reduced spending for those consumers."So yes, the claim that we should avoid a la carte TV because it will make TV bundles -- already seeing hikes many times the rate of inflation -- more expensive is just silly. So are the claims that forcing more flexible channel bundles on cable operators will somehow destroy quality television ("people will stop creating art if you don't help prop up our failing business model" has long been an entertainment industry rallying cry). While there are a few folks in the media who seem to get it, there's been a strange, overarching gushing adoration of the much-hated channel bundle in the media that's rather inexplicable, and in no way really tied to what consumers actually want. "Be careful what you wish for," the media logic seems to go, "or you'll pay a lot of money for cable television!" they bizarrely warn.
"Mr. Crull became angry with the CRTC’s so-called pick-and-pay decision last week.According to sources close to the network who spoke on condition of anonymity, Mr. Crull directed senior news staff at CTV, the country’s largest private broadcaster, to exclude Mr. Blais from coverage of the story on Bell-owned networks. The ruling will give consumers more freedom to choose individual TV channels as part of cable and satellite subscriptions, but it could also affect Bell’s bottom line."After taking a media beating, Bell Media President Kevin Crull was forced to issue a mealy mouthed mea culpa stating he'd "learned a valuable lesson" about editorial control and really dumb decisions. Of course, Bell continues to insist the CRTC's move will only raise rates for consumers. Because, you know, cable TV rates weren't increasing under the current pay TV bundle model -- and keeping consumer prices low is every giant cable operator's top priority.
by Tim Cushing
Mon, Mar 30th 2015 3:47am
It's no secret that many companies monitor their employees' computer use. But things are going much further than simply ensuring the normal "don'ts" -- file sharing, porn viewing, etc. -- are tracked for disciplinary reasons. Companies are now on the lookout for the next "insider threat." Some companies are viewing the Snowden saga as the ultimate cautionary tale, albeit one that results in more surveillance rather than less. (via Dealbreaker)
Guarding against such risks is an expanding niche in the security industry, with at least 20 companies marketing software tools for tracking and analyzing employee behavior. “The bad guys helped us,” says Idan Tendler, the founder and chief executive officer of Fortscale Security in San Francisco. “It started with Snowden, and people said, ‘Wow, if that happened in the NSA, it could happen to us.’ ”But the effort to find -- and prevent -- the next "insider threat" from damaging his or her company seems to be just as misguided as the government's efforts to do the same. Looking for potential threats often results in viewing almost everything as an indicator of future treachery.
The software establishes a base line and then scans for variations that may signal that an employee presents a growing risk to the company. Red flags could include a spike in references to financial stresses such as “late rent” and “medical bills.”And what better way to tackle "late rent" or "medical bills" than suddenly finding yourself unemployed simply because re-purposed FBI analytic software thinks any small sign of (possibly temporary) financial instability indicates your next move will be to steal something. Millions of people in the US deal with these realities frequently -- especially the latter. And yet, millions of employees still find other ways to tackle these problems instead of dipping their hands in the tills or running off with sensitive documents.
He offers the scenario of a star trader at a bank who’s disappointed with the size of her annual bonus. Instead of being blindsided when she defects to a rival, a bank using Scout could identify her discontent early and make sure she doesn’t take sensitive data or other team members with her.Or, the company could try to work with the employee rather than just secretly track her until her eventual exit. Once again, unhappy employees leave companies all the time without taking anything with them. Sure, a few do, but the deployment of software like this will generally produce more false positives (and a further strain work relationships) than insider threats. And there's nothing like firing people for something they haven't done (but might!) to endear a company to its remaining employees.
He’s still careful when discussing the software, describing it as a way to help employers build a “caring workplace.”Oh, it's anything but. While employees will often accept monitoring of their internet/computer usage as being a necessary part of the employee-employer relationship, they're not going to be happy to find out that searching for information about medical bills might see them lose a source of income. And they're definitely not going to be thrilled to learn that expressing displeasure about company practices and policies may result in the same thing. If a company wants to foster a "caring workplace," it should be addressing employee discontent, not monitoring it. But what do you expect from companies -- and the entities that provide them with spyware -- that view the Snowden leaks as justifying increased surveillance?
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