The EFF is calling for comments on proposed new federal regulations for black-box data recorders in all new cars and trucks. It’s a good read, and something to keep in mind if you are planning to buy a new car.
The NHTSA states that it is agency policy “to treat EDR data as the property of the vehicle owner.” That’s not enough. There needs to be a clear statement, both in the regulation itself, and in the owners manual, that any data recorded by the EDR are the sole property of the vehicle owner, and that the owner may expect that the EDR data remain private except if he or she consents to . . . → Read More: New Rules for Black Boxes in Cars
The BBC has an article posted today about a research paper that offers some provocative conclusions. The premise is that a Harvard professor did a study which purports to show that Google searches on people’s names return results with a racial bias, based on stereotyped racial associations of the names themselves:
She found that names like Leroy, Kareem and Keisha would yield advertisements that read “Arrested?”, with a link to a website which could perform criminal record checks.
Searches for names such as Brad, Luke and Katie would not – instead more likely to offer websites that can provide general contact details.
“There is discrimination in the delivery of these ads,” concluded Prof Sweeney, adding that there was a less than 1% chance that the findings could be based on chance.
The article also contains this response attributed to Google:
“It is up to individual advertisers to decide which keywords they want to choose to trigger their ads,” the search giant said.
It seems the real issue here is that the prof doesn’t understand how A/B testing for AdSense advertising works.* Continue reading Harvard Professor Doesn’t Understand AdSense
So I hear Michigan has a new law that says employers are not allowed to ask employees for their facebook passwords. Maybe I’m just out of the loop, but I can’t think of a legitimate context in which an employer could claim it was appropriate to ask an employee, or a potential employee, to give up their password to any email or personal social network account. *
Although employees have more protections, the new law doesn’t prevent employers from gaining access to any electronic devices they provide such as an iPad, laptop or cellphone. Which is why employers should have a clear policy so employees know what to expect when they use company-owned technology.
Employers can still restrict and prohibit access to certain websites on electronic devices if they pay for them in whole or part.
I mean, come on guys. That’s pretty entry-level stuff. Employees don’t have an expectation of privacy covering activity on work computers. And if you don’t have a policy prohibiting pr0n at work or on company devices, maybe that’s something you should think about. And if you have managers who claim the need to snoop through your employees’ social media use to decide whether or not they . . . → Read More: WHAT IS YOUR PASSWORD
So, these guys exist:
Defense Distributed is organized to produce and publish information related to the 3D printing of firearms. [...] the first order production goal remains the same: produce and publish a file for a completely printable gun
And then this happened:
the 3D-printing firm Makerbot has deleted a collection of blueprints for gun components from Thingiverse, its popular user-generated content website that hosts 3D-printable files.
And, in the wake of a soul-rending tragedy wrought by a man with a gun, someone who doesn’t understand how the internet works suggested the solution should be new laws:
U.S. Representative Steve Israel (D-Huntington, N.Y.) plans to propose a ban on creating gun magazines with 3-D printers. The bill is still in the drafting stage, but Israel intends to make sure existing legislation includes consideration for this new kind of homemade firearm.
and the DefDist guys responded.
So, now this is happening:
We’re not sure how this site might fit into Defense Distributed’s efforts, but know that THIS place, if there will be no other, IS a home for fugitive information. No object file will be censored unless it is malicious software. When we say freedom of information, we mean it.
and with a manifesto like that, naturally, comes this. And so the cat is officially out of the bag, forever.
Continue reading Bag ——-> Cat
The good news is that the jailbreak exception for phones was extended in this most recent review period. The bad news is that, inexplicably, it wasn’t extended to cover tablets… . . . → Read More: Jailbreak Exemption to DMCA renewed by US Copyright Office
If you buy digital media that includes copy protection or other forms of digital rights management technology that interferes with your ability to play the media, you don’t really own it. That is, you don’t own it until you strip the DRM off . . . → Read More: A Public Service Reminder
In real property law, there are a variety of ways that someone other than the owner can lawfully make use of a piece of real estate. Copyright allows for unlicensed reproduction of a protected work for certain “fair use” categories of copying and publication. It can be legal to parody a trademark in a way that might otherwise be seen as confusingly (and infringingly) similar to the official mark (see e.g. North Face v. South Butt).
In patent law, the exceptions are much thinner. Patent owners often assert the right to exclude others from practicing a patent as a right that is more or less exactly equivalent to the right to exclude other people in meatspace from a piece of real property, for example by locking the front door on your house, or putting up a fence.
Over at Patently-O this week, Dennis linked to a discussion of this and other flaws in the current model of patent protections, and how creating features similar to justifiable trespass or adverse possession in patent law might be a good thing for society as a whole.
[T]he law significantly hems in the rights of owners not to use their property, employing numerous doctrines, such as . . . → Read More: Adverse Possession in IP law?
Ars Technica reports:
It’s a little bit baffling that the rehearing is even required. As Judge Sharon Prost wrote in her dissent to the original ruling, “the majority has failed to follow the Supreme Court’s instructions—not just in its holding, but more importantly in its approach.”
Software patents are bad for business and innovation in software, electronics, finance, and healthcare. The best outcome here would be if software was entirely excluded from the ranks of patentable . . . → Read More: Good News for High Tech: Fed Cir takes CLS Bank v. Alice for en banc rehearing
On MLive, Dave Alexander is proud of his new electric meter and poo-poohs privacy and security concerns about smart grid components:
My neighbors and I will be the first in Muskegon County to be subjected to the radio waves emitted once a day by the meter as it “talks” back to Consumers Energy’s smart meter control in Jackson through the Verizon Wireless cellular network. The critics say that I have opened my house up to “Big Brother” on the other end of the electrical line.
I think Dave misunderstands the privacy and security criticisms of smart grids. It’s not so much that people are worried that Consumers Energy will know when you are running your hair dryer, it’s that unless they systems are designed with customer safeguards in place, attackers will inevitably find a way to compromise the system and cause problems for everyone in a way that simply isn’t possible with equipment that isn’t networked.
SCADA software systems and smart grid controls are increasingly targets of industrial espionage, both here and abroad. And for the motivated cracker, it will always be possible to find a flaw and compromise a piece of software. In this sense, the old meters with the . . . → Read More: SmartMeters: What could possibly go wrong?
a war over who will control our computers. It’s a long read but essential for anyone thinking about technology and its applications over the next hundred years.
Back in 2006, a 314-car Robotic Parking model RPS1000 garage in Hoboken, New Jersey, took all the cars in its guts hostage, locking down the software until the garage’s owners paid a licensing bill that they disputed.
They had to pay it, even as they maintained that they didn’t owe anything. What the hell else were they going to do?
And what will
do when your dispute with a vendor means that you go blind, or deaf, or lose the ability to . . . → Read More: Cory Doctorow forecasts a civil war