Tag Archives: privacy

Obamacare enforcer released thousands of social security numbers

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On Monday evening, the Internal Revenue Service confirmed that tens of thousands to possible 100,000 social security numbers were mistakenly released to the public through an IRS web page.

PublicResource.org discovered the listing of Social Security Numbers and notified the IRS of the privacy issue. The IRS immediately cut-off internet access to the page.

Although American’s Social Security cards prominently display the fact that the number should not be used for identification, it is. Credit card companies, mortgage lenders, banks and others use the number to identify a unique person. Access to this number can lead to identity theft, fraud and with the IRS taking on the role of Obamacare enforcer – crimes we haven’t even imagined.

Ham-handed information management policies and procedures, like those used to unfairly scrutinize Conservative groups, are likely responsible for the leak of private information.

Imagine how great it will be once the IRS has direct access to American’s healthcare information…

Rand Loves The Drones? Not Quite…

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Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has learned another key lesson of the “age of sound bytes.” During an appearance on Neil Cavuto’s Fox Business Network show, Paul pointed out he didn’t mind using drones or any kind of technology against an “imminent threat,” whether it was a terrorist or “someone coming out of a liquor store with a weapon and 50 dollars in cash.” He also said it didn’t matter if it was a cop or a drone who killed the criminal. To fans of his father, ex-Texas Congressman Ron Paul, the reaction was fast and it wasn’t pretty.

Rand Paul was called someone who was “bullsh—tting,” a “politician” (which he is), someone who supported “the militarizing of police” and someone who needed to get away from neoconservatives because they were “rotting your brain.” Even Matt Drudge threw up the clever headline, “RAND LEARNS TO LOVE THE DRONE!”

However, people are ignoring the second half of his quote. Paul specifically said it was different if a drone wanted to go over someone’s hot tub or yard just to look at you. Even when Cavuto asked what if police were searching for a criminal and accidentally found something “bad,” Paul didn’t budge. He said no one should be looking into someone’s backyard and didn’t want surveillance when there wasn’t “probable cause.” Paul made it very clear police must have a warrant to use a drone, unless there was a “killer on the loose” or someone “running around with a gun.”

 

This is very similar to what he said during his 13 hour filibuster and the comments he made afterward. It’s also part of the no domestic drone strike legislation he and Texas Senator Ted Cruz co-sponsored. Drones can only be used on “dangerous criminals” and people who poses an “imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury” to another person. So Paul is being consistent.

 

There are still problems with how Paul worded what he said. The definition of a “dangerous criminal” may mean someone like the Boston terrorists, who engaged in an active shootout with police. But, as Paul pointed out in his filibuster, the Fusion Center of Missouri considers “dangerous criminals” as people who have pro-life bumper stickers, people who may want more border security, support third party candidates or might be in the Constitution Party. Unless the “dangerous criminal” terminology is strictly defined, the use of drones by governments on American soil could end up being as slippery of a slope as warrant-less wiretapping. Even with the strictest of definitions, it may not be worth it, despite how awesome the technology is.

 

By making broad comments on an issue, Paul giving potential political enemies more ammunition against him. It also disappoints his supporters and those who consider him a “political hero.” Plus, the liquor store example is a bad example, which Paul realized. He made it clear in a statement he released Tuesday. After all, hindsight is 20-20.

 

There may be ways to figure out how people in the private sector (i.e. farmers) could use drones, without raising questions about privacy. Drone countermeasures are already being developed and sold to those who can afford it. That may be the ultimate solution.

 

But in the end, Lucius Fox may have it right when he raised questions about technology Bruce Wayne developed in The Dark Knight. Even when it was obvious Batman could use a city-wide tracking device to find the Joker, Fox said, “No one should have it,” because the tracker could be abused.

 

It may be time for us to listen to Lucius Fox on drones. Cool technology, but not worth using.

 

50 Shades of Conservative

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With the recent popularity of the novel Fifty Shades of Grey, the world of BDSM has been thrust into the mainstream. There is a twisted sort of irony to this, since this lifestyle – perhaps more importantly, some of the portions of the information about it online – have been either under fire, or used as ammunition in assorted arguments among conservatives on Twitter. For the record, this is a distraction, like just about anything else that causes conservatives in general to fight among themselves.

Mikamatto (CC)

However, I thought it might not be a bad idea to take this opportunity to point out a few interesting facts about BDSM that were apparently either skipped entirely, or at least misrepresented in the novel. First, I’d like to start with something obvious – yes, there are conservatives out there that engage in some form of BDSM, whether it involves inflicting pain, or simply involves a dominant and submissive relationship dynamic (D/s). Come on now folks! Let’s start using those little gray cells, shall we? There are some out there that would argue that many “traditional” marriages are really just committed D/s relationships, with one being generally dominated by the other. It’s logical, if you really think about it. If both are dominant, logic says they’ll constantly battle each other for supremacy. On the other end, neither one wants to take charge, so they can easily end up being undecided about the simplest of things. Now, if one is relatively dominant, and the other relatively submissive, that lends itself to a much more harmonious existence. Add a few sex toys to the bedroom, and that’s a recipe for a kinky relationship.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Now, onto the little things that bothered me about that lovely little book. First of all, anyone that decides to get into a master and slave contract with someone without knowing them for quite some time beforehand is downright insane. And no, I’m not buying that a virgin would jump into that lifestyle from the beginning either. But, the biggest fallacy is that the dominant is completely in control. The author made a valiant effort to show the dynamic accurately, but missed the target by failing to stress that the submissive is actually the one in control. Assuming that it is a safe, sane and consensual relationship in the first place, the dominant cannot do anything without the prior permission of the submissive. The dominant only has power because it is given by the submissive. That message needed to be repeated, and often. It’s irresponsible not to do that in this sort of writing, since it could (and did) have a wide general appeal. I’m not even going to get into the little details that just don’t ring true.

In case you didn’t guess it yet, I’m not writing this from a theoretical point of view. This is a “been there, and done that” for me, and no, I am not answering on whether or not it’s only in my past – my personal life, my marriage, my choices, my business. But, I will say a little bit more about my past. I’ve known several politically conservative couples over the years that consider themselves members of the BDSM community. Honestly, the majority of the couples I knew with dominant men paired with submissive women were conservatives. That is my personal experience, so it is anecdotal at best. But, that doesn’t make it meaningless either. And, my personal introduction to at least part of this world was with two men (not at the same time, of course!) that were conservative.

My primary point is that what people do in their bedrooms used to be at least relatively sacred, as in others respected their privacy. And any intimate matters used to be off limits. That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. Sometimes it takes the form of people wanting government to help them “save people’s souls” from sin. If anyone doesn’t know my lack of concern for those non-issues by now, they haven’t been paying attention. But what really disturbs me is what appears to be a rampant disease of trying to dig up dirt on other conservatives – out the skeletons in their closets, or otherwise ridicule them. In case you can’t guess, I have nothing but contempt for people that do that sort of thing. That’s saying something, since there was a time when I wasn’t above yanking skeletons from the closets of politicians.

So, here it is – conservatives can be kinky. There is no law against it. There is nothing to be ashamed of if one chooses to do something off the wall in the bedroom, as long as it’s “safe, sane and consensual.” And there is nothing wrong with conservative adults enjoying or creating visual or literary arts that depict those kinky activities. I understand that there are many conservatives that find this sort of thing offensive, and that’s obviously fine as well. It is not fine for conservatives to force each other to view, read about, or participate in kinky sex. That said, like it or not, this is one thing the Libertarians got right – the intimate relationships of life are not meant for public or governmental interference. That’s why we call them “intimate.”

*Special thanks to Kurt Schlichter for being his #caring self, and coming up with the title for this post!

Facebook Users File Consolidated Digital Privacy Class Action

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SAN JOSE, Calif., May 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Facebook users today filed an amended consolidated class action complaint in federal court in San Jose, California in the case In re: Facebook Internet Tracking Litigation, No. 5:12-md-02314-EJD. The class action asserts federal statutory and California State causes of action related to the revelation in September 2011 that Facebook was improperly tracking the internet use of its members even after they logged out of their accounts. The action consolidates 21 related cases filed in more than a dozen states in 2011 and early 2012.

The plaintiffs assert claims under the federal Wiretap Act, which provides statutory damages per user of US$100 per day per violation, up to a maximum per user of US$10,000. Even if Facebook’s alleged actions constitute a single violation of the Wiretap Act per class member, that implies more than US$15 billion in damages across the class. The complaint also asserts claims under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the Stored Communications Act, various California Statutes and California common law.

The class action is being led by court-appointed co-lead counsel Stewarts Law US LLP and Bartimus, Frickleton, Robertson & Gorny, P.C. David Straite, Partner at Stewarts Law, stated: “This is not just a damages action, but a groundbreaking digital privacy rights case that could have wide and significant legal and business implications.”

In addition to co-lead counsel, the court has appointed a Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee which includes Keefe Bartels in New Jersey; Mandell, Schwartz & Boisclair in Rhode Island; Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy in New Jersey; Bergmanis Law Firm in Missouri; Burns, Cunningham & Mackey in Alabama; and Murphy, Falcon & Murphy in Baltimore. The court has also appointed a committee of former State Attorneys General to advise the class, including former Mississippi AG Mike Moore, former Arizona AG Grant Woods, former Hawaii AG Margery Bronster, and former Louisiana AG Richard Ieyoub.

ACTA – Is It Worse Than SOPA?

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The online community was in an uproar about the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).  SOPA caused Wikipedia and Reddit blacked out their sites, Google ‘redacted’ their logo, and even some members of congress blacked out their House.gov websites.

The outcry was due to the internet censorship that could have resulted from the SOPA legislation.  The backlash caused bill sponsors to withdraw, and the legislation essentially died.  But the war on the Internet is just getting warmed up.

ACTA seems to be a nasty, dastardly Big Brother to SOPA.  ACTA is an international treaty, rather than US legislation.  The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) states the following on their website:

While little information has been made available by the governments negotiating ACTA a document recently leaked to the public entitled “Discussion Paper on a Possible Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement” from an unknown source gives an indication of what content industry rightsholder groups appear to be asking for – including new legal regimes to “encourage ISPs to cooperate with right holders in the removal of infringing material” criminal measures and increased border search powers. The Discussion Paper leaves open how Internet Service Providers should be encouraged to identify and remove allegedly infringing material from the Internet. However the same industry rightsholder groups that support the creation of ACTA have also called for mandatory network-level filtering by Internet Service Providers and for Internet Service Providers to terminate citizens’ Internet connection on repeat allegation of copyright infringement (the “Three Strikes” /Graduated Response) so there is reason to believe that ACTA will seek to increase intermediary liability and require these things of Internet Service Providers.

Take Action NOW!   Below is another video that you MUST watch, as well as more informational resources and Twitter accounts to follow for updates and breaking information regarding ACTA.

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For more information visit:

EFF’s International Issue Page on ACTA: https://www.eff.org/issues/acta

European Digital Rights’ (EDRi) coverage here: www.edri.org/stopacta

La Quadrature du Net’s coverage here: http://www.laquadrature.net/en/acta

Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure’s (FFII) blog on ACTA http://acta.ffii.org/

Twitter hash tags: #ACTA

Twitter accounts:

@StopActaNow

@ffii

@EDRi_org

@laquadrature