All Your Kids' Data Are Belong To Google

Posted on: Thu, 12/03/2015 - 10:13 By: Tom Swiss

When your kids' school district mandates "cloud computing", they're mandating that your kids be tracked by a company that profits by exploiting people's data.

Roseville City School District Embraces Chromebooks, But At What Cost? (Electronic Frontier Foundation)

Many people—including Jeff—assumed that the law would prevent Google from collecting data on his daughter for advertising purposes. But the truth is more complicated. While Google is legally forbidden from creating a profile on Katherine when she’s using the school-sanctioned Google Apps for Education tools (which include email and document sharing), it can collect data as soon as she uses other Google services that aren’t part of the student-specific suite—including YouTube.

background on the Freddie Gray trials

Posted on: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 13:55 By: Tom Swiss

What Weekly reminds us what's going on, with a report from Justin Sanders:

Why You Need to Stay Informed About the Freddie Gray Trials – |... (What Weekly)

Baltimore is like every other city in America: its criminal justice system is a corrupt machine used against the people.

That might be distasteful to read, but it’s true.

I can offer you statistics and numbers to prove it to you. I can point you to court cases which state, unequivocally, that the police are under no legal obligation to protect you, thus raising the question: if the police are not for our protection, then what exactly are they for?

...

At the sound of Gray’s name some people in this city cross themselves and pray, “I hope they don’t riot again.” I always wonder why their prayers never go, “I hope the police don’t kill any more people,” or “I hope this is the last time we have to try our police officers for brutality and corruption.” But, it’s always, “I hope they don’t riot again,” which is an infuriating notion—first in how it assumes my community is stalking an opportunity to burn another CVS and break some more windows; second in how it completely absolves the police of any responsibility.

I’m talking with the guys in my barbershop and there’s a theory I hear, it’s one that’s been repeated to me many times while talking to people on the street. The theory goes that Freddie Gray was killed by the cops as a hit because the cops are connected to the drug trade in Baltimore and Gray either saw something or did something—what exactly varies depending on who’s doing the telling—and the cops put out a hit on him to protect their interests. That’s why his back was broken and his larynx crushed, to send a message. This is not a theory I subscribe to, but I do think that the theory is telling of how my community views the police. We don’t view cops as there for our protection. We don’t put it beyond them to murder us in service to their own interests. We know, for a fact, that they allow and profit from the drug deals many of us do just to maintain poverty.

Robber said Freemasons made him do it. Will no one bail out the widow's son?
Tom Swiss Wed, 12/02/2015 - 11:07

It's an Illuminati plot, that's what it is.

Christian author claims Freemasons made him rob Hoover movie theater (AL.com)

A Christian author who writes about New World Order and spiritual enlightenment seemingly took a dark turn when he donned a mask and robbed a Hoover movie theater at gunpoint in broad daylight, police said today.

...Hoover police today announced a first-degree robbery charge against 33-year-old Britton Clayton Traylor, who drove to the theater in his Porsche 911 Carerra and claimed he committed the brazen crime as part of his initiation to earn a higher degree as a Freemason.

"We're not really buying that as we've never heard of Masons instructing members to commit criminal acts,'' said Hoover police spokesman Capt. Gregg Rector. "It's really one of the most ridiculous excuses that we've heard lately. He may have achieved a higher level of stupidity, but that's about it."

Fly on, Thunderbird: Mozilla dropping/freeing the e-mail client

Posted on: Wed, 12/02/2015 - 08:59 By: Tom Swiss

Cory Doctorow reports on Mozilla dropping/freeing/spitting off the Thunderbird e-mail client and explains why you should use a stand-alone mail client rather than webmail. (I use Sylpheed, myself, for its support of MH-style folders, I like my mail in a directory tree I can run find and grep over.)

Mozilla will let go of Thunderbird (Boing Boing)

Thunderbird -- which I use for my own email -- is creaky and poorly maintained, something that is tacitly admitted by Mozilla Foundation CEO Mitchell Baker in her memo, where she describes how trying to balance the needs of Thunderbird and those of Firefox often puts the two teams at cross-purposes. Baker doesn't describe exactly how Thunderbird will stand on its own, but I've heard reliable internal rumors that a new nonprofit entity is likely to be stood up to maintain and advance the project.

I live in my email (I hate instant messaging, and relying on platforms like Google or Facebook to maintain your messages is a terrible idea, since both are liable to squeeze their users if it is commercially expedient to do so). As a hardcore Thunderbird user, I'm glad to see something happening with the project. I would contribute to a nonprofit for maintenance and advancement of Thunderbird, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

There are many good reasons to use standalone email clients, but for Americans one of the most compelling is the absurdly outdated Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, which treats any file left on a server for more than six months as "abandoned" and accessible to law enforcement without a warrant (no, really!).

The Costs and Consequences of Gun Control (Cato Institute)

Posted on: Tue, 12/01/2015 - 21:27 By: Tom Swiss

Law professor David Kopel looks at the facts around "universal background checks" and bans on "assault weapons" and "high-capacity" magazines, and explains why these laws won't help prevent violence, only criminalize ordinary citizens.

Kopel is an analyst for the Cato Institute, a libertarian think-tank that's quite right on some issues (the "war on drugs", mass incarceration) and quite wrong on others (capitalism). But even when it's wrong, its arguments are thoughtful and well-informed.

My favorite sentence from the paper rather sums up the problem with firearm prohibition laws: " If gangsters can obtain all the cocaine they want, despite a century of prohibition, they will be able to obtain 15-round magazines."

The Costs and Consequences of Gun Control (Cato Institute)

It is unfortunate that Obama chose to disparage those who disagree with him for their supposed fixation on grubby “politics” and indifference to murder victims. Whether Obama realizes it or not, there are good reasons to be skeptical of gun-control policies. This paper will scrutinize the three most common gun-control ideas that have been put forward in recent years: universal background checks, a ban on high-capacity magazines, and a ban on assault weapons. These proposals are misguided and will not prevent the crimes that typically prompt officials to make pleas for more gun control. Policymakers can take some steps to incapacitate certain mentally ill persons who are potentially violent. Yet, it would be wrong not to acknowledge that gun laws often cannot stop a person bent on murder. Policymakers should not pretend otherwise.

cop privilege in the Freddie Gray murder trials

Posted on: Tue, 12/01/2015 - 14:19 By: Tom Swiss

We recently linked to coverage of special treatment afforded to Georgia police accused of murder; Baltimore public defender (and candidate for judge) Todd Oppenheim has an NT op-ed about how the same idea is at work in the Freddie Gray murder trials:

Another Baltimore Injustice (www.nytimes.com)

The court has given extraordinary treatment to the accused officers, from their arrests up to their impending trials. But thousands of other defendants in Baltimore receive an inferior brand of justice.

court finds Northern Ireland abortion laws violate human rights

Posted on: Mon, 11/30/2015 - 15:34 By: Tom Swiss

Northern Irish abortion laws breach human rights - court (Yahoo News)

Northern Ireland's restrictive abortion laws are in breach of human rights by failing to provide exceptions in the case of fatal foetal abnormality and sexual crime, Belfast's High Court found in a landmark ruling on Monday.

Unlike other parts of the United Kingdom, abortion is banned in Northern Ireland unless the life or mental health of the mother is in danger...

Just as in the Republic of Ireland, where the law is as strict and debate as fierce, the restrictions have led to thousands of women a year travelling to Britain for abortions.

...Judge Mark Horner upheld a challenge by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission that the laws breached the European Convention on Human Rights and asked the parties involved to consider whether the ruling could be applied under current legislation.

If not, it would be referred to Northern Ireland's devolved assembly which to date has refused to extend legislation and whom the judge criticised, saying the issue was "unlikely to be grasped by the legislature in the foreseeable future".

Cory Doctorow: "security model that treats the computer's user as an attacker is doomed"

Posted on: Mon, 11/30/2015 - 13:02 By: Tom Swiss

The idea that we should treat ideas as property isn't just an abstract ontological confusion, it has very real consequences. As we become more reliant on computers, one of the most dangerous of those consequences is treating the owners of computers as attackers to be restricted, rather than users to be empowered.

I Can't Let You Do That, Dave (cacm.acm.org)

As ACM members doubtlessly appreciate, preventing the owner of a computer from executing the code of their choice is an impossible task. No matter how cleverly the operating system and its services monitor the user and hide the keys necessary to unlock files without permission, users will eventually find a flaw in the defenders' code and use it to jailbreak the system, allowing arbitrary code execution. Even if you stipulate that locking computer users out of their own computers is a legitimate objective, it is still a technological nonsense. A security model that treats the computer's user as an attacker is doomed. We cannot hide keys in devices we give to attackers for the same reason we cannot keep safes—no matter how well designed—in bank-robbers' living rooms.

The DMCA tries to address this by threatening people who publish code or information that would help remove a lock with severe penalties: five years in prison and $500,000 in fines for a first offense.

But information about flaws in a computer is not just useful to people who want to add functionality to their computers: it also provides opportunities for malware to seize control over the system. By criminalizing disclosure of flaws, the DMCA ensures systems covered by its measures become reservoirs of long-lived digital pathogens.

cheering censorship

Posted on: Mon, 11/30/2015 - 10:55 By: Tom Swiss

A school that punishes students for "insensitive language" in making a political point (however stupid the point) does not get to claim it believes in freedom of speech.

Controversy over local high school student's tweet (www.myfoxboston.com)

A local high school cheerleading captain was disciplined after she sent out a tweet about illegal immigrants.

She says it was a political statement, not a racial one. FOX25 spoke with the teen who says she was taking a page from Donald Trump. [Ugh. -tms]...

"When only 10 percent of Revere votes for mayor cause the other 90 percent isn't legal," Godino said in the tweet.

She says it was a response to a tweet from her teacher about the low voter turnout for November's mayoral race. Caley says she meant her tweet as a political comment, not a racial one.

But after other students complained, the school stepped in. Revere Superintendent Dianne Kelly says the district believes in freedom of speech, but cannot support what she calls insensitive language.

first trial in Freddie Gray murder begins

Posted on: Mon, 11/30/2015 - 10:18 By: Tom Swiss

This first trial in the murder of Freddie Gray starts today:

First trial in death of Freddie Gray begins in a city that is still on edge (Washington Post)

The first of six consecutive trials of officers accused in the killing of Freddie Gray is scheduled to begin this morning in Baltimore...

The trial of Officer William G. Porter, 26, will be closely watched locally and across the country...

The legal proceedings are expected to last until at least mid-December and will provide fresh details about how Gray suffered a severe spinal injury while being transported in a police van. It also could bring the first public account from one of the officers charged in the case, since Porter’s attorneys have said he will likely take the stand.

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