At a nurse’s suggestion, the family contacted Biological Resource Center, a local company that brokered the donation of human bodies for research. Within the hour, BRC dispatched a driver to collect Doris. Jim Stauffer signed a form authorizing medical research on his mother’s body. He also checked a box prohibiting military, traffic-safety and other non-medical experiments. Ten days later, Jim received his mother’s cremated remains. He wasn’t told how her body had been used. http://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/usa-bodybrokers-industry/
Rooting out fraud and waste in government agencies is a laudable goal. But so, too, is acknowledging that office norms are changing. That’s opened corporate America, and particularly the tech world, to a wider array of working options—telecommuting, flexible schedules, unlimited vacation time, and the acceptance that some workers need less time to get the same task done as others. Great work can be done at home or on the beach as easily as in the office. If the government wants to attract talented knowledge workers, it might consider changing its expectations. http://qz.com/871450/the-sec-accused-a-software-developer-of-fraud-for-behaving-like-a-software-developer/
Lewis Hyde, _Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth and Art_ (1998)
“Hyde writes (p. 193) about Jesse Helms leading the charge against NEA funding in the 1990s: “The politicians who attacked the National Endowment for the Arts using Serrano [“Piss Christ” etc] as one of their wedges, were not really interested in their relationship with God [as Serrano was]”
Of Senator Helms: “Like any demagogue, he knows how to translate a complicated problem into a simple fear, how to stir up racial animosity and how to set his constituents at each other’s throats.”
Hyde was arguing that the problem with Helms (and our then culture in general) was an inability to undertake “dirt work,” the systematic carnivalesque action that opens systems to creativity – trickster as transformer, in other words.
The problem we’ve now got, I would say, in the Big Orange (and scary) Clown is a trickster who is in his way and for his purposes, masterful at dirt work – filthy and/or transgressive speech, inversions of perceived reality, etc.- the carnivalesque in fact – and doing so, masking deeply conservative, reactionary values (white male supremacy) as creative dirt work (speaking truth to entrenched power)
and so he promises innovation, renovation when what is really afoot is a con that will deny benefits to many of those who think they (and their ethical vision) are being well served.
The Art of the Deal is the Art of the Con – but remember that Coyote’s tricks that seemed totally self-promoting did in myth at least result in the reformulation of world order in a way beneficial to humanity – though not by his intention. “~ Margaret Mills
U.S. government begins asking foreign travelers about social media
By Tony Romm
12/22/16 05:23 PM EST http://www.politico.com/story/2016/12/foreign-travelers-social-media-232930
NEW YORK — The U.S. government quietly began requesting that select foreign visitors provide their Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts upon arriving in the country, a move designed to spot potential terrorist threats that drew months of opposition from tech giants and privacy hawks alike.
Since Tuesday, foreign travelers arriving in the United States on the visa waiver program have been presented with an “optional” request to “enter information associated with your online presence,” a government official confirmed Thursday. The prompt includes a drop-down menu that lists platforms including Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube, as well as a space for users to input their account names on those sites.
The new policy comes as Washington tries to improve its ability to spot and deny entry to individuals who have ties to terrorist groups like the Islamic State. But the government has faced a barrage of criticism since it first floated the idea last summer. The Internet Association, which represents companies including Facebook, Google and Twitter, at the time joined with consumer advocates to argue the draft policy threatened free expression and posed new privacy and security risks to foreigners.
Now that it is final, those opponents are furious the Obama administration ignored their concerns.
House report: Edward Snowden in contact with Russian agents
By Eric Geller
“There are very few rules about how that information is being collected, maintained [and] disseminated to other agencies, and there are no guidelines about limiting the government’s use of that information,” said Michael W. Macleod-Ball, chief of staff for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington office. “While the government certainly has a right to collect some information … it would be nice if they would focus on the privacy concerns some advocacy groups have long expressed.”
A spokeswoman for Customs and Border Protection, who said the government approved the change on Dec. 19, told POLITICO on Thursday the new policy is meant to “identify potential threats.” Previously, the agency had said it wouldn’t prohibit entry to foreigners who didn’t provide their social media account information.
The question itself is included in what’s known as the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, a process that certain foreign travelers must complete to come to the United States. ESTA and a related paper form specifically apply to those arriving here through the visa-waiver program, which allows citizens of 38 countries to travel and stay in the United States for up to 90 days without a visa.
Trump’s terror-fighting team yet to take shape
By Michael Crowley
As soon as the government unveiled its draft proposal in June, however, consumer protection advocates expressed outrage. In a letter sent in August, the ACLU, Center for Democracy and Technology charged it posed immense privacy risks, given that social media accounts serve as “gateways into an enormous amount of [users’] online expression and associations, which can reflect highly sensitive information about that person’s opinions, beliefs, identity and community.” The groups also predicted the burden would “fall hardest on Arab and Muslim communities, whose usernames, posts, contacts and social networks will be exposed to intense scrutiny.”
After the policy changed, Nathan White, the senior legislative manager of Access Now, again blasted it as a threat to human rights.
“The choice to hand over this information is technically voluntary,” he said. “But the process to enter the U.S. is confusing, and it’s likely that most visitors will fill out the card completely rather than risk additional questions from intimidating, uniformed officers — the same officers who will decide which of your jokes are funny and which ones make you a security risk.”
Opponents also worry that the U.S. change will spark similar moves by other countries.
“Democratic and non-democratic countries — including those without the United States’ due process protections — will now believe they are more warranted in demanding social media information from visitors that could jeopardize visitors’ safety,” said Internet Association general counsel Abigail Slater. ”The nature of the DHS’ requests delves into personal information, creating an information dragnet.”
Prenda Law “copyright trolls” Steele and Hansmeier arrested
Lawyers who turned porn lawsuits into big business now face criminal charges.
Joe Mullin – Dec 16, 2016 6:13 pm UTC http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2016/12/breaking-prenda-law-copyright-trolls-steele-and-hansmeier-arrested/
The two lawyers said to be the masterminds behind the Prenda Law, Paul Hansmeier and John Steele, have been arrested and charged with a multimillion-dollar extortion scheme. Both Hansmeier, 35, and Steele, 45 were arrested earlier today before the indictment was made public.
Prenda Law sued hundreds of people for copyright infringement, accusing them of illegally downloading pornographic movies. In 2013, US District Judge Otis Wright sanctioned the firm in a Los Angeles case, along with Steele and Hansmeier personally, saying they had perpetrated a fraud on the court. Wright also referred the case to criminal investigators.
The two lawyers were charged Wednesday with an 18-count indictment (PDF), describing allegations of fraud, perjury, and money laundering perpetrated between 2011 and 2014. The indictment explains how the defendants “used sham entities to obtain copyrights to pornographic movies—some of which they filmed themselves—and then uploaded those movies to file-sharing websites in order to lure people to download the movies.”
“Look, you may hate me”: 90 minutes with John Steele, porn troll
Wright’s damning order set off a domino effect, with Prenda and its affiliated lawyers facing a long series of judicial sanctions and fee orders in courts around the country. Steele and Hansmeier fought many of the sanctions, but earlier this year, panels of appellate judges at both the 7th Circuit and 9th Circuit ruled against them, and said they must pay for hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorneys’ fees to defense lawyers who fought their claims.
State Bar investigators took action as well, filing complaints that ended this year with both lawyers having their licenses to practice law suspended. Hansmeier, who built a new legal practice suing small businesses over violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act, filed for bankruptcy last year.
Forgery and identity theft
The basic scheme worked like this: Prenda Law, or one of several attorneys who worked with the firm, would file a copyright lawsuit over illegal downloads against a “John Doe” defendant they knew only by an IP address. Then they’d use the discovery process to find out subscriber names from the various ISPs around the country. Once they got it, they’d send out letters and phone calls demanding a settlement payment, typically around $3,000 to $5,000, warning the defendant that if they didn’t pay quickly, they would face public allegations over downloading porn.
While mass-copyright lawsuits over mainstream media have been a decidedly mixed bag, Prenda’s fast-and-loose porn litigation campaign worked well, at least for a few years. In one interview, John Steele said he’d raked in $15 million. That might have been an exaggeration. A spreadsheet revealed in court showed that Prenda made $1.9 million in 2012 alone, and it isn’t clear that included all the accounts.
Once a few of those defendants dug in, lawyered up, and investigated Prenda, the lawsuits started to look questionable. Some key documents in Prenda lawsuits were signed by Steele’s former housekeeper, Alan Cooper—but Cooper denied it, saying his signature had been forged. As for the porn movies that were the subject of the lawsuits, they weren’t exactly big hits. In fact, forensic analysts found that they may have been uploaded to Pirate Bay by Prenda lawyers themselves, as a kind of “honeypot” that could produce the profitable lawsuits they wanted. The indictment also alleges
I’m throwing in the towel on PGP, and I work in security “If you need to securely contact me… DM me asking for my Signal number.” Filippo Valsorda
Op-ed: I’m throwing in the towel on PGP, and I work in security
“If you need to securely contact me… DM me asking for my Signal number.”
Filippo Valsorda – 12/10/2016, 9:00 AM
Filippo Valsorda is an engineer on the Cloudflare Cryptography team, where he’s deploying and helping design TLS 1.3, the next revision of the protocol implementing HTTPS. He also created a Heartbleed testing site in 2014. This post originally appeared on his blog and is re-printed with his permission.
< – > http://arstechnica.com/security/2016/12/op-ed-im-giving-up-on-pgp/