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+ - Comcast's Lobbyists Hands Out VIP Cards To Skip the Wait->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "A lengthy story about how David Gregory lost his job hosting Meet the Press holds an interesting tidbit: Comcast's team of lobbyists regularly hands out VIP cards to influential (and influence-able) people in Washington that lets them bypass normal customer service and fast-track their support problems. "Its government-affairs team carried around 'We'll make it right' cards stamped with 'priority assistance' codes for fast-tracking help and handed them out to congressional staffers, journalists, and other influential Washingtonians who complained about their service. A Comcast spokeswoman says this practice isn't exclusive to DC; every Comcast employee receives the cards, which they can distribute to any customer with cable or internet trouble. Nevertheless, efforts like this one have surely helped Comcast boost its standing inside the Beltway and improve its chances of winning regulatory approval for its next big conquest: merging with the second-largest cable provider in the country, Time Warner Cable." (The David Gregory article is worth a look, too; it shows how Comcast's purchase of NBC has led to interference in NBC's attempts at real journalism.)"
Link to Original Source

+ - Study: Light-Emitting Screens Before Bedtime Disrupt Sleep->

Submitted by jfruh
jfruh (300774) writes "Tablets and e-readers are more convenient in many ways than paper books, but many people have complained that the physical experience of using them isn't as good. Andnow we have some specific quantification of this fact: a study has shown that people who read text on a tablet before bed don't sleep as well as those who read a traditional book."
Link to Original Source

+ - Hackathon to Figure Out How to Redact Body Cam Video Streams

Submitted by Presto Vivace
Presto Vivace (882157) writes "Seattle Police Held a Hackathon to Figure Out How to Redact Body Cam Video Streams

In an attempt to find a balance between releasing footage and redacting private details, Seattle police held a hackathon of Friday.

Discussion around whether law enforcement agents should wear body cams has surged in the months since the shooting of Michael Brown. And as funding comes through for pilot programs, it's increasingly important to answer question about how these devices will be implemented.

As GeekWire reports, about 80 people—including developers, community members, and law enforcement agents—attended the Seattle Police hackathon. The goal was to work on techniques for redacting things captured in streamed dashboard or body cam video such as people's faces or license plate numbers. The hackathon was specifically looking to address these topics as they relate to Washington’s privacy laws, but the work could be relevant all over the country.

I am not enthusiastic about body-cams for police."

+ - Librarians: The Google Before Google

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "NPR has an article about the questions people ask librarians. Before the internet, the librarian was your best bet for a quick answer to anything on your mind. "We were Google before Google existed," NYPL spokesperson Angela Montefinise explains. "If you wanted to know if a poisonous snake dies if it bites itself, you'd call or visit us." The New York Public Library in Manhattan recently discovered a box of old reference questions asked by patrons and plans to release some in its Instagram account. Here are a few of the best:
  • I just saw a mouse in the kitchen. Is DDT OK to use? (1946)
  • What does it mean when you dream of being chased by an elephant? (1947)
  • Can you tell me the thickness of a U.S. Postage stamp with the glue on it? Answer: We couldn't tell you that answer quickly. Why don't you try the Post Office? Response: This is the Post Office. (1963)
  • Where can I rent a beagle for hunting? (1963)

Comment: I think it is useful to document the history (Score 2) 73

From the article:

Viacom’s claim wasn’t that YouTube was just turning a blind eye to users infringing copyright—it was that YouTube was offering filtering technology to its media partners that it wasn’t making available to companies who weren’t playing ball.

+ - Viacom's lawsuit against YouTube->

Submitted by Presto Vivace
Presto Vivace (882157) writes "

Viacom’s claim wasn’t that YouTube was just turning a blind eye to users infringing copyright—it was that YouTube was offering filtering technology to its media partners that it wasn’t making available to companies who weren’t playing ball.

I think it is useful to document the historical record."
Link to Original Source

+ - The Interactive Voter Choice System

Submitted by Presto Vivace
Presto Vivace (882157) writes "The Technology Solution to the Democracy Crisis

The Interactive Voter Choice System comprises a unique web-based consensus building mechanism that enables democracy stakeholders to overcome this crisis. In particular, it enables voters to self-organize from the "bottom-up" into autonomous voting blocs and electoral coalitions around common transpartisan agendas that cross party lines. These blocs and coalitions, which can work with parties or independently, can outflank and outnumber the electoral base of any single political party and run and elect candidates to defeat opposing party candidates. This capability enables these blocs and coalitions to overcome the polarization and partisan divisiveness that political parties and special interests inject into electoral and legislation processes.

The Interactive Voter Choice System's social networking platform also overcomes the well-documented tendency of social groups of like-minded people — especially political groups, to move to extremes, particularly when they are led by self-serving politicians. While the common goals of social and political groups can unite their members, research shows that these goals can exert a divisive influence by prompting them to adopt extreme positions to compete with external groups. In contrast, the consensus building mechanism contained within the Interactive Voter Choice System counteracts this tendency by encouraging the members of voting blocs and coalitions to continuously reach out across partisan divides to attract the new members they need to build electoral bases that possess the voting strength required to win elections.


+ - Attorney General Won't Force New York Times Reporter to Reveal Source->

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "Attorney General Eric Holder has decided against forcing a reporter for the New York Times to reveal the identity of a confidential source, according to a senior Justice Department official. The reporter, James Risen, has been battling for years to stop prosecutors from forcing him to name his source for a book that revealed a CIA effort to sabotage Iran's nuclear weapons program.

The government wanted Risen's testimony in the trial of a former CIA official, Jeffrey Sterling, accused of leaking classified information."

Link to Original Source

+ - Telephony Metadata Collection Program

Submitted by Presto Vivace
Presto Vivace (882157) writes "Solicitation Number: ODNI-RFI-14-01

Agency: Office of the Director of National Intelligence Office: ADNI Acquisition Technology & Facilities Location: AT&F Buying Office ... ... Synopsis: Added: Feb 05, 2014 4:31 pm The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) is investigating whether existing commercially available capabilities can provide for a new approach to the government's telephony metadata collection program under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, without the government holding the metadata. Responses to this RFI will be reviewed and may help to shape the framework for the future telephony metadata program to include the potential for non-government maintenance of that data.


+ - Comcast Sued For Turning Home Wi-Fi Routers Into Public Hotspots

Submitted by HughPickens.com
HughPickens.com (3830033) writes "Benny Evangelista reports at the San Francisco Chronicle that a class-action suit has been filed in District Court in San Francisco on behalf of Toyer Grear and daughter Joycelyn Harris claiming that Comcast is “exploiting them for profit” by using their home router as part of a nationwide network of public hotspots. Comcast is trying to compete with major cell phone carriers by creating a public Xfinity WiFi Hotspot network in 19 of the country’s largest cities by activating a second high-speed Internet channel broadcast from newer-model wireless gateway modems that residential customers lease from the company. Although Comcast has said its subscribers have the right to disable the secondary signal, the suit claims the company turns the service on without permission and places “the costs of its national Wi-Fi network onto its customers" and quotes a test conducted by Philadelphia networking technology company Speedify that concluded the secondary Internet channel will eventually push “tens of millions of dollars per month of the electricity bills needed to run their nationwide public Wi-Fi network onto consumers.” The suit also says “the data and information on a Comcast customer’s network is at greater risk” because the hotspot network “allows strangers to connect to the Internet through the same wireless router used by Comcast customers.”"

+ - Doxxing defense

Submitted by Presto Vivace
Presto Vivace (882157) writes "Remove your personal info from data brokers

Unfortunately, doxxers don't have to work very hard to find a victim's personal info. A number of free and paid services known as data brokers create profiles of vast numbers of individuals based on aggregated data from business directories, social media and other public records. With a specific target in mind, all a doxxer has to do is search one or more of these services to find the details he or she wants.

More bad news: There are hundreds of data brokers, not all of which offer opt-out processes. (Exceptions are made for state-mandated protected groups, such as sexual assault survivors in California.) Removing yourself from all those that do can be a Sisyphean task, but managing your data with just the following 11 can be accomplished in an hour or two.


+ - Why does Google Maps need to track who I'm calling on my cell phone? 5

Submitted by cyanman
cyanman (833646) writes "I see the latest update to Google maps for Android wants permission to monitor phone numbers I talk to on my phone?

Specifically the new permissions for v9.1.2 (Dec 5 2014) require:
Maps also needs access to:
"Allows the app to determine the phone number and Device ID's, whether a call is active, and the remote number connected by a call."

As I see this, you give Google carte blanche to monitor and record who you talk to on your phone. Maybe this is while you are connected to Google Maps, but it is not restricted by the terms I read here. WTF? The least invasive thing I can think of here is that Google wants to start leveraging the numbers you call for marketing purposes. As if the fact that I spoke to someone on my hone means they want Google tracking them too.

Looking at from Google Play the update (or maybe just Maps) has been downloaded over a billion times. I'm sure that 99.99% of the folks never read a thing and just click the "gimme free update please" button, but surely I'm not the only person foolish enough to ask how much arm twisting the NSA had to do to get Google to monitor who I call on my phone within Google Maps."

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears