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Comment imagine where it goes (Score 3, Insightful) 180

The DA provides the best argument for Apple to strengthen encryption, by his own existence and statement. Imagine 10,000 district attorneys across the US, each of which have varying competence / incompetence in handling investigations, requests from Apple certain encryption/decryption keys, and wildly varying levels of knowledge about how to use or judge when to ask for this capability.

And, for that matter, wildly differing capabilities to securely handle and keep private the information they find on people's phones.

No thank you, and Apple is right to refuse them.

Submission + - How transparent should companies be when operational technology failures happen? 1

supernova87a writes: Last week, Southwest Airlines had an epic crash of IT systems across their entire business, when "a router failure caused the airlines' systems to crash... and all backups failed, causing flight delays and cancellations nationwide and costing the company probably $10 million in lost bookings alone." Huge numbers of passengers, crew, airplanes were stranded as not only reservations systems, but scheduling, dispatch, and other critical operational systems had to be rebooted over 12 hours. Passenger delays directly attributable to this incident continued to trickle down all the way from Wednesday to Sunday as the airline recovered.

Aside from the technical issues of what happened, what should a public facing company's obligation be to discuss what happened in full detail? Would publicly talking about the sequence of events before and after failure help restore faith in their operations? Perhaps not aiming for Google-levels of admirable disclosure (as in this 18-minute cloud computing outage where a full post-mortem was given) — but should companies aim to discuss more openly what happened? And how they recover from systems failures?

Comment inviting attack (Score 1) 635

Is it just me, or does this smack of the same kind of childish lack of understanding of issues, brash posturing of someone who's never been in a fight, and willingness to make totally irresponsible statements that George W. Bush displayed, when he called on terrorists and insurgent groups to "Bring it on!" when trying to tout the prowess of our US military?

Comment Re:confusion about self-incrimination (Score 1) 229

Sorry, your interpretation of the 5th Amendment is not correct, or at least is quite different from what our judicial system thinks of it.

The wording is not "you may not be compelled to assist in your own prosecution", which is quite a broadly interpretable word, "assist". You clearly have taken that idea and turned it into being protected against anything that contributes to your prosecution. That is just incorrect.

The law says that you cannot be compelled as a witness against your own prosecution. A witness is someone who testifies, and who has testimonial privileges. A fingerprint, or cheek swab, or blood draw -- none of these fall into the realm of testifying as a witness according to the law.

Comment Re:confusion about self-incrimination (Score 1) 229

I actually think it might go the opposite way. I think passwords will be absolutely continue to be regarded as testimonial (and indicative that someone has intent in creating a password, and it is thus a compulsion to testify against onesself if forced to reveal it). Fingerprints, if they become widespread security measures, could conceivable also become regarded as very intentional acts when implemented, to the point that a court *might* believe that it shows that someone has the intention of keeping something private, which is due protection against search without enough evidence to warrant it.

Comment Re:confusion about self-incrimination (Score 1) 229

but can the government compel you say a password aloud that will open a device, especially in that having that password proves you had access to incriminating documents

No, and it's a good point. Currently I don't believe that in any US jurisdiction a person can be forced to reveal a password (knowledge that would implicate him/her) in some action. That is different (or has been treated as different) from objective physical evidence that generally does not have a bias for or against a person (until it is linked to some other evidence that does incriminate the person in an criminal matter).

Comment Re:DNS sample (Score 1) 229

It is very much related, but an ongoing debate within the justice system, I would say. Things like people being compelled to have their blood drawn (for the purpose of testing blood alcohol after a DUI) or their DNA tested (but in different circumstances compared to what you suggest), are extensions of the "fingerprint" argument.

And courts have held that these things can be compelled to be produced by (or from) a person without their consent if certain circumstances are met. But it requires a warrant -- it can't just be done by the police because they feel they need to.

In some states, if you're under suspicion of a felony DUI charge, the police can seek a warrant to have your blood drawn/tested for alcohol. Regarding DNA, for example, in California, if you are a suspect for a felony, you can be forced by the court to have your blood/DNA tested. In all 50 states, someone who has been convicted of a felony can have his/her blood/DNA required to be drawn.

Comment confusion about self-incrimination (Score 4, Insightful) 229

A lot of people are confused by what self-incrimination means. Self-incrimination is forcing someone to testify (testimonial obligation), be a witness against their own interest/side in a criminal action, or generally be forced to say/admit anything that might be used against them unwittingly later as part of a prosecution. The right to non self-incrimination does not mean you are immune from having evidence produced that incriminates you!

The key thing is that it is a right to not testify, or be a witness, which is the act of saying or stating something. If a person can be compelled to produce his/her fingerprints (something which in itself is not a testimonial act), then just because that unlocks something that incriminates the person does not mean they have been self-incriminated.

Comment Re:wrong premise (Score 1) 200

To put some real numbers and facts behind my points above, here is what you're asking Google to do if it is supposed to "mirror the population".

According to its own diversity report a few months ago, Google employed 32,527 people. This breaks down along some of the various populations of interest:
  • Male: 22,508
  • Female: 8,591
  • White: 19,809
  • Black: 628
  • Asian: 9,924
  • Hispanic: 1,428
  • Hawaiian/Pacific: 61
  • American Indian: 41

If these employment stats had to mirror the population (which is 50.9% women, 12.2% black, 16.3% Hispanic, etc etc according to the recent US Census), Google would need to find:

  • 7,965 women
  • 3,340 black
  • 3,874 hispanic
  • 187 American Indian

employees. (and of course we would need to reduce the number of white male employees accordingly) I do not think the entirety of California could produce these numbers. So tell me, how is Google or Apple, or all of the tech community combined supposed to achieve these lofty political goals?

Comment wrong premise (Score 4, Insightful) 200

Last month, Alphabet's Google released data on diversity, saying it had more black, Latino and female employees but still lagged its goal of mirroring the population.

You will find on closer examination that, actually, many of these tech companies' hiring results actually do mirror the population. But the relevant population that you're talking about is those people who apply to places like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. And that population is heavily underrepresented in female/black/hispanic people compared to the population at large. That is what many people seem to be willing to be blind to. If the source population from which you draw such workers is skewed, no amount of effort is going to enable you to hire 100 female/black/hispanic workers when there are only 30 to choose from. And yet people will still criticize you for it.

These companies are not going to singlehandedly change the makeup of tech (or even just high paid) workers in the United States, no matter how much they try (or are put under political pressure to do so). And I think that it is rather disingenuous / politically correct of them to simply market that they will do it because it's fashionable to say they will. Addressing this problem is deeper and requires more of the desired target segments to go into these fields to be available to apply to the positions to start with. Which is a much more difficult challenge that most of the advocates for such policies actually don't even want to put in the effort to do themselves.

I will openly say that I do not believe (as many people seem to reflexively parrot the phrase) that a company's workforce "needs to look like the general population". I find that a dubious proposition, usually supported by poor logic. If it happens that the general population has the propensity and skill to become tech workers in equal proportions across all demographics, then that could be true, but I doubt it. But at the same time, I support any effort to make sure that primary/secondary/higher education gives everyone access to succeed in these fields, if they want to.

But I will not subscribe to the idea that we should skew the output of the process to some political goal, when the input of that process is what matters and determines it more than anything else. When you do that, all you get is symbolic, and often detrimental, results.

Comment and it goes how far? (Score 4, Insightful) 224

So -- anything that goes wrong with your iPhone, computer, etc. is required to be covered by a manufacturer issued repair guide that's available to the customer? Since when has that been required for anything you buy, even remotely? Not even your dumb refrigerator manufacturer is required to tell you how to fix it.

And in what level of detail / remedy would it have to explain how to repair the item? My laptop's GPU has a few transistors that got fried. Are they saying Apple has to tell me how to disassemble the chip, do nanosurgery on it and refabricate a few layers of silicon? Or that "get a new laptop" is sufficient to fix the issue?

Nice sentiment, but full of holes in how it would be implemented.

Comment out of the ISP's hands - so what is the ISP for? (Score 4, Insightful) 184

This is skirting the real story here -- which is that such public infrastructure could be managed by a public entity (or a private entity charged with providing the highest quality bandwidth) with no incentive for excess profit or attempts to limit the bandwidth / quality because they want to increase profits. And by the way, fiber is a public infrastructure generally, because most towns grant the franchise to dig up streets / string cable to one company only.

So, if an ISP is only a retailer of services on the dumb pipe that everyone has access to, what is the ISP's purpose, other than billing and helping users get access to the pipe? Why not take the fiber into the city's hands to begin with?

The story here isn't that a town has made it easy for customers to switch providers with the click of a button -- it's that a city has taken the role of ISPs completely out of providing the infrastructure and removed the excuses that ISPs that their quality of delivered bandwidth per $ differs for unjustifiable reasons.

They are saying that customers don't actually want to be differentiating their choice on artificial limitations on their bandwidth quality (which should be the same for everyone). If ISPs are really competing based on other value that they add (customer service?) and not their monopoly over a public infrastructure, let them do so and see what customers actually start to choose based on.

Comment try a different search (Score 1) 304

Yes, it reflects that America (and more accurately, website and search content regarding American black people) is kind of racist -- not Google.

Search for "Three African teenagers" and you get quite a more reasonable (similar to "Three White teenagers") result:

It's not some kind of huge conspiracy.

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