Essentially, it says that government agents may enter an ISP when they wish, without a warrant, and demand to see absolutely everything — including all data anywhere on the network — and to copy it all. If that seems hard to believe, let’s walk through it.
First, Section 33 tells us that, “The Minister may designate persons or classes of persons as inspectors for the purposes of the administration and enforcement of this Act.” So we’re not talking about police officers necessarily. We’re talking about anyone the minister chooses — or any class of persons. (Musicians? Left-handed hockey players? Members of the Conservative Party? Sure, that’s absurd — but the bill allows it…)
Next, Section 34 spells out the sweeping powers of these “inspectors.” And, if they sound Orwellian, welcome to the world of Section 34.
The inspectors may “enter any place owned by, or under the control of, any telecommunications service provider in which the inspector has reasonable grounds to believe there is any document, information, transmission apparatus, telecommunications facility or any other thing to which this Act applies.”
And, once he or she is in, anything goes.
The inspector, says the bill, may “examine any document, information or thing found in the place and open or cause to be opened any container or other thing.” He or she may also “use, or cause to be used, any computer system in the place to search and examine any information contained in or available to the system.”
You read that right. The inspector gets to see “any” information that’s in or “available to the system.” Yours, mine, and everyone else’s emails, phone calls, web surfing, shopping, you name it.
Last year in three high schools in Florida, several undercover police officers posed as students. The undercover cops went to classes, became Facebook friends and flirted with the other students. One 18-year-old honor student named Justin fell in love with an attractive 25-year-old undercover cop after spending weeks sharing stories about their lives, texting and flirting with each other.
One day she asked Justin if he smoked pot. Even though he didn’t smoke marijuana, the love-struck teen promised to help find some for her. Every couple of days she would text him asking if he had the marijuana. Finally, Justin was able to get it to her. She tried to give him $25 for the marijuana and he said he didn’t want the money — he got it for her as a present.
A short while later, the police did a big sweep and arrest 31 students — including Justin. Almost all were charged with selling a small amount of marijuana to the undercover cops. Now Justin has a felony hanging over his head.
This story is not unique to Florida and it reminds me of an 18-year-old Mitchell Lawrence, a young man from Great Barrington, Mass., who served two years in jail for selling a joint to an undercover cop. The officer befriended Lawrence and his friends and would hang out with them. One day the cop asked if Lawrence had any weed. Lawrence gave the cop a joint. The cop handed him $20. Lawrence hesitated, but the cop insisted on giving him the money. “Selling” the joint, because they were hanging out less than a 1000 feet from a school, and thus was considered a “drug free school zone,” carried a mandatory minimum two-year sentence.
The drug war is sick. How much money was wasted by our law enforcement to get these few bags of marijuana “off the streets”? How do these cops look themselves in the mirror? Seducing 18-year-olds to fall in love or pretending to be friends and then tricking them into procuring small amounts of marijuana so they can charge them with felonies is beyond slimy and diametrically opposed to the officers’ charge to “serve and protect.”
The audit of almost 400 foreclosures in San Francisco found that 84 percent of them appeared to be illegal, according to the study released by the California city on Wednesday.
It’s difficult for me to write a response to the CEO of the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) Mr. Sherman’s NY Times Op-Ed piece “What Wikipedia Won’t Tell You” that is not emotional. What should be a black and white conversation about respecting copyright is mired in the fact that the RIAA’s credibility has eroded as quickly as its control of the music industry.
Or said another way, the RIAA has become part of the problem of protecting copyright due to its occasional less than honest approach to things. You just can’t take what the RIAA says at face value as their agenda is not clear—is it to protect copyright or is it to protect the interests of its label members at any cost?
So there you have it: modern women being told by Republicans that they’re not qualified to talk about their own sexual health, are dressed like “whores” and probably need birth control because they’re so slutty. And this is just in one day.
Earlier this week, Apple announced that it had requested that the Fair Labor Association inspect its suppliers’ factories in Asia. The move followed heightened criticism over how these manufacturing plants were treating the people that were assembling products from numerous big-name companies, including Apple. However, despite reports of worker mistreatment, it seems the staff at Foxconn enjoy above average working conditions. At least, that’s what the Fair Labor Association says.
Though the agency will not be releasing full details of its inspections until sometime next month, the FLA has said that the conditions at the factories are better than those at garment factories or other facilities in China. Reuters cites FLA President Auret van Heerden as saying the conditions at Foxconn are “way, way above average.” The head of the Fair Labor Association goes on to suggest that ‘the problems’ at Foxconn can probably be attributed to boredom and monotony rather than a high-pressure work environment.
Charles Duhigg outlines in the New York Times how Target tries to hook parents-to-be at that crucial moment before they turn into rampant — and loyal — buyers of all things pastel, plastic, and miniature. He talked to Target statistician Andrew Pole — before Target freaked out and cut off all communications — about the clues to a customer’s impending bundle of joy. Target assigns every customer a Guest ID number, tied to their credit card, name, or email address that becomes a bucket that stores a history of everything they’ve bought and any demographic information Target has collected from them or bought from other sources. Using that, Pole looked at historical buying data for all the ladies who had signed up for Target baby registries in the past:
[Pole] ran test after test, analyzing the data, and before long some useful patterns emerged. Lotions, for example. Lots of people buy lotion, but one of Pole’s colleagues noticed that women on the baby registry were buying larger quantities of unscented lotion around the beginning of their second trimester. Another analyst noted that sometime in the first 20 weeks, pregnant women loaded up on supplements like calcium, magnesium and zinc. Many shoppers purchase soap and cotton balls, but when someone suddenly starts buying lots of scent-free soap and extra-big bags of cotton balls, in addition to hand sanitizers and washcloths, it signals they could be getting close to their delivery date.
Or have a rather nasty infection…
As Pole’s computers crawled through the data, he was able to identify about 25 products that, when analyzed together, allowed him to assign each shopper a “pregnancy prediction” score. More important, he could also estimate her due date to within a small window, so Target could send coupons timed to very specific stages of her pregnancy.
One Target employee I spoke to provided a hypothetical example. Take a fictional Target shopper named Jenny Ward, who is 23, lives in Atlanta and in March bought cocoa-butter lotion, a purse large enough to double as a diaper bag, zinc and magnesium supplements and a bright blue rug. There’s, say, an 87 percent chance that she’s pregnant and that her delivery date is sometime in late August.
And perhaps that it’s a boy based on the color of that rug?
So Target started sending coupons for baby items to customers according to their pregnancy scores. Duhigg shares an anecdote — so good that it sounds made up — that conveys how eerily accurate the targeting is. An angry man went into a Target outside of Minneapolis, demanding to talk to a manager:
“My daughter got this in the mail!” he said. “She’s still in high school, and you’re sending her coupons for baby clothes and cribs? Are you trying to encourage her to get pregnant?”
The manager didn’t have any idea what the man was talking about. He looked at the mailer. Sure enough, it was addressed to the man’s daughter and contained advertisements for maternity clothing, nursery furniture and pictures of smiling infants. The manager apologized and then called a few days later to apologize again.
(Nice customer service, Target.)
On the phone, though, the father was somewhat abashed. “I had a talk with my daughter,” he said. “It turns out there’s been some activities in my house I haven’t been completely aware of. She’s due in August. I owe you an apology.”
“Then we started mixing in all these ads for things we knew pregnant women would never buy, so the baby ads looked random. We’d put an ad for a lawn mower next to diapers. We’d put a coupon for wineglasses next to infant clothes. That way, it looked like all the products were chosen by chance.
“And we found out that as long as a pregnant woman thinks she hasn’t been spied on, she’ll use the coupons. She just assumes that everyone else on her block got the same mailer for diapers and cribs. As long as we don’t spook her, it works.”
UNESCO, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, is hosting a conference about The Media World after Wikileaks and News of the World. Sounds like it could be an interesting event, but one organization not happy about it… is Wikileaks. Seeing as it was a conference that touched on Wikileaks’ interests directly, Wikileaks asked to take part, and was instead denied a chance to speak at the event. When asked about this, UNESCO actually claimed that choosing to not allow Wikileaks attendees was an exercise in “freedom of expression,” which seems like a poor choice of words.
Of course, Wikileaks doesn’t come out of this looking very good either. In unfortunately typical overstatement from Wikileaks, it tries to paint this as some big censorship issue, but that seems like an exaggeration. UNESCO noted that Julian Assange’s legal advisor is taking part, as are numerous news organizations that partnered with Wikileaks. Wikileaks complains that even if Assange’s legal counsel will be on one panel, there’s no Wikileaks representation on other panels. Now, if I were organizing the event, I might use that as an opportunity to invite direct representatives of the site… if only for the fact that it would draw more interest to many of the discussions. However, beyond the irony of telling Wikileaks it can’t speak at an event about Wikileaks, it really seems like the site is trying to make a bigger deal out of this than is justified.