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
It’s so secret, they won’t even tell the Supreme Court whether or not it actually happened. Or if it’s still going on (it obviously still is).
If the only way to gain redress for your injury is in court, but the DOJ says that your injury is so secret that it’s illegal for you (or them!) to tell the court about it… well, sounds like you’re out . . . → Read More: Super-Double-Secret
[update] here is today’s editorial in the NYT. As you might expect of a publishing company with a vested interest in copyright, they’re in favor of trade barriers and artificial market segmentation, even if it results in injury to US consumers.
The SCOTUS heard arguments in Wiley v. Kirtsaeng on Monday October 29- news in and of itself, since the Court was the only entity of the federal government in DC that stayed open Monday in in the face of the threat from hurricane Sandy. Here is the reporting on the arguments from the EFF and on the lead-up to the arguments from Bloomberg. There are many others out there, but I thought these would be illustrative of the (relatively) opposed interests of copyleft from the EFF and vested interest of Wiley and the rest of the publishing industry from Bloomie.
It is perilous to forecast an outcome from the tenor of the arguments, but EFF is cautiously optimistic because of the direction that questioners took. From the EFF release:
It’s gratifying that the Court seems to appreciate the ramifications of this case, even if Wiley’s attorneys do not.
Oral argument recording and transcript are . . . → Read More: First-Sale Doctrine Roundup
I’ve seen this story reported in a couple of places and it still doesn’t make any sense. Unless you assume that she’s so desperate to have the movie taken off Youtube that she is willing to engage in frivolous lawsuits and attempt fraudulent copyright registration in order to accomplish that end.
Good luck with that, honey. Maybe nobody has told you this yet, but that’s not how the internet works.
I’m looking forward to . . . → Read More: Actress In Mohammed Riot Trailer Grasping At Straws
Kickstarter spells it out.
It’s hard to know how many people feel like they’re shopping at a store when they’re backing projects on Kickstarter, but we want to make sure that it’s no one. Today we’re introducing a number of changes to reinforce that Kickstarter isn’t a store [...]
What they don’t say is, “It’s not equity either.” Presumably because most Kickstarter funders understand that distinction, but that’s a really important legal detail that helps to explain why Kickstarter has worked as well as it has so far. I think they are very aware of this and want to make sure that the SEC doesn’t show too much of an interest in their pre-commerce “rewards”-based financing model.
In light of the changes in microfunding and the likely influx of microcapital investors that the JOBS act promises to bring, I think it’s commendable that Kickstarter wants to make sure funders have . . . → Read More: Crowd-funding Grows Up
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?
I’m sure the politicians wouldn’t mind, but the sponsors might not like it quite . . . → Read More: A good idea