Facebook Punishes Data Leakers With Six Month Suspension

Facebook is telling us that they take our private information seriously and is going to great steps to protect our data. In recent weeks Facebook had learned that some developers may have unintentionally made available private data, however the folks at Facebook assure us that no information was leaked. In a statement on their blog site they stated that:

Today, we are clarifying our policy to ensure that developers understand the proper use of UIDs in their applications. Our policy has always stated that data received from Facebook, including UIDs, cannot be shared with data brokers and ad networks. Moving forward, our policy will state that UIDs cannot leave your application or any of the infrastructure, code, and services you need to build and run your application. You can use services, such as Akamai, Amazon Web Services and analytics services as long as those services keep UIDs confidential to your application.

We realize that developers may sometimes need a way to share a unique identifier outside of their application with permitted third parties, such as content partners, advertisers or other service providers. We are adding a mechanism that developers must use to share anonymous identifiers for this purpose. We will release this functionality (available via the Graph API and FQL) early next week. We encourage developers to move to this mechanism quickly and will require it on January 1, 2011.

As we examined the circumstances of inadvertent UID transfers, we discovered some instances where a data broker was paying developers for UIDs. While we determined that no private user data was sold and confirmed that transfer of these UIDs did not give access to any private data, this violation of our policy is something we take seriously. As such, we are taking action against these developers by instituting a 6-month full moratorium on their access to Facebook communication channels, and we will require these developers to submit their data practices to an audit in the future to confirm that they are in compliance with our policies. This impacts fewer than a dozen, mostly small developers, none of which are in the top 10 applications on Facebook Platform.

Wow. Such harsh treatment. A huge six month suspension. I am certainly glad the folks at Facebook were not involved in the Bernie Madoff case. LOL

Comments welcome.

Source – Facebook

Could Economics Solve The Prison Crisis?

There should be an image here!Prison numbers in England and Wales have risen sharply in the last decade, and are set to rise further. A study out today in the Probation Journal published by SAGE suggests that economists have a unique opportunity to help solve the prison crisis by bringing sophisticated economic modelling techniques to bear on the problem.

Chris Fox and Kevin Albertson from Manchester Metropolitan University contend that during the last decade, penal policy allowed many opportunities to harness the latest analytical research to optimise public spending slip away. In their paper Could economics solve the prison crisis? they argue that a new approach is possible, driven not only by moral or social concerns about actual and perceived crime rates and a high prison population, but also informed by economic analysis and argument. The current economic climate makes their position hard to ignore.

According to Fox and Albertson, there is scant evidence society will benefit from locking up ever more criminals. Crime rates have fallen, but the link between rising numbers in prison and lower crime rates is debatable; hikes in prison numbers are likely only responsible for a small drop in crime.

Since 1997, economic analyses of the options for England and Wales when developing criminal justice policy and penal policy grown in reach and volume, partly led by government actions or policy. “But for every step forward in developing penal policy based on socio/economic analysis, at times it seems government takes at least one and sometimes more steps back,” says Fox.

The authors argue that the last decade’s important developments cover a broad range of factors including aspects of the policy debate on sentencing; the government’s commitment to evidence-based policy; investment in the economics profession across government; and the rise of the Justice Reinvestment movement, particularly in the USA.

However, these promising developments, underpinned by clearly articulated economic principles, were superseded by more recent government policy. Prison numbers have remained extremely high. As of January 2010 the prison population was 83,378, according to HM Prison Service.

One stumbling block to the greater use of economic analysis of criminal justice challenges is that, to date, the government has made only limited investment in commissioning robust impact studies of criminal justice policies and programmes. UK studies examining the effect of prison are in short supply. “The government has not, to the knowledge of the authors, commissioned and certainly hasn’t published any robust impact studies of the relative impact of privately and publicly managed prisons,” says Fox.

The authors urge the government to invest in more impact studies of key criminal justice interventions, particularly prison. They also want to see more cost-benefit analyses to inform policy, and continued capacity building, both within government and the wider research community, to undertake robust economic analyses of criminal justice policies and programmes.

Following the lead of the USA, they also suggest that Justice Reinvestment is an approach likely to lead to more effective criminal justice policies compared to incarceration for reducing re-offending, and at a lower cost. However, more work is required to transfer successfully the Justice Reinvestment model to a UK setting. In the USA, Justice Reinvestment has been implemented at State and County levels by a single body or elected official with responsibility for all the key services required to effect sustained reductions in offending and re-offending over a criminal career: from early preventative measures that target at risk individuals, families and communities through to interventions for persistent and prolific offenders. In the UK, relevant budgets for crime reduction and criminal justice are held by a number of different organisations and at different levels of government. Fox and Albertson contend that a radical suggestion worthy of investigation is to devolve budgets for custodial sentences to groups of local authorities. “A set of financial incentives would be hard for regional policy-makers to ignore,” Fox says, adding that, “a policy pursuing ‘more of the same’ is not reasonable.”

[Photo above by ralpe / CC BY-ND 2.0]

Jayne Fairley @ SAGE Publications UK

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Audit Options In Windows 7

There should be an image here!Auditing lets you track specific events that occur on your computer. For example, you can track when users log on and off. The way auditing works is that it waits for a specific event to occur, such as an unsuccessful logon, and then reports on it within the Event Viewer.

Auditing is configured through the local security policy. To open the local security policy, click Start, type secpol.msc and press Enter. Within the Local Security Policy, expand Local Policies and click Audit Policy. The various events that you can audit are listed in the Details pane. In Windows 7, you can audit the following types of events:

  • Audit Account Logon Events – Tracks user logon and logoff events.
  • Audit Account Management – Reports changes to user accounts
  • Audit Directory Service Access – Reports access and changes to the directory service. If the system is a member server or XP system, directory service is NTLM-based, and consists of user accounts and group policies.
  • Audit Logon Events – Reports success/failure of any local or remote access-based logon.
  • Audit Object Access – Reports file and folder access. Must be implemented here, and then the individual file/folder must be configured for auditing within its properties in order to fully enable this feature.
  • Audit Policy Change – Reports changes to group policies
  • Audit Privilege Use – Related to Audit Object Access: reports when permissions are utilized such as read, or full control.
  • Audit Process Tracking – Reports process and program failures. Not security related.
  • Audit System Events – Reports standard system events. Not security related.

Any of the auditing options listed above can be enabled. Simply double click the appropriate option, such as Audit Policy Change, and click Success and/or Failure. Click OK to apply your changes.

[Photo above by Joshua Rappeneker / CC BY-ND 2.0]

Audit Options In Windows 7

There should be an image here!Auditing lets you track specific events that occur on your computer. For example, you can track when users log on and off. The way auditing works is that it waits for a specific event to occur, such as an unsuccessful logon, and then reports on it within the Event Viewer.

Auditing is configured through the local security policy. To open the local security policy, click Start, type secpol.msc and press Enter. Within the Local Security Policy, expand Local Policies and click Audit Policy. The various events that you can audit are listed in the Details pane. In Windows 7, you can audit the following types of events:

  • Audit Account Logon Events – Tracks user logon and logoff events.
  • Audit Account Management – Reports changes to user accounts
  • Audit Directory Service Access – Reports access and changes to the directory service. If the system is a member server or XP system, directory service is NTLM-based, and consists of user accounts and group policies.
  • Audit Logon Events – Reports success/failure of any local or remote access-based logon.
  • Audit Object Access – Reports file and folder access. Must be implemented here, and then the individual file/folder must be configured for auditing within its properties in order to fully enable this feature.
  • Audit Policy Change – Reports changes to group policies
  • Audit Privilege Use – Related to Audit Object Access: reports when permissions are utilized such as read, or full control.
  • Audit Process Tracking – Reports process and program failures. Not security related.
  • Audit System Events – Reports standard system events. Not security related.

Any of the auditing options listed above can be enabled. Simply double click the appropriate option, such as Audit Policy Change, and click Success and/or Failure. Click OK to apply your changes.

[Photo above by Joshua Rappeneker / CC BY-ND 2.0]

[awsbullet:Steve Coogan Alan Partridge]

Have You Ever Read Your Medical Policy? I Didn’t And It Cost Me Big Bucks

I have been extremely lucky that I am basically a healthy person. I rarely have used my medical policy from Athem-Blue Cross and basically didn’t give it much thought. I have been with Blue Cross about 20 years and I thought I had fairly good coverage, which I feel I basically do. But during the past six months I have learned a very, very important lesson. Read your policy and know how coverage is provided.

Here is the first clause that I found in my policy that says it all:

Lack of knowledge of, or lack of familiarity with, the information contained in this booklet does not serve as an excuse for noncompliance.

It started with some expensive testing which I had between the months of September to November, 2009. Two of the tests required precertification before the procedure which my doctors had obtained. There was just one small feature of my policy that wasn’t followed. The certification was not obtained 3 business days before the testing. My policy states:

Precertification is required no later than three (3) business days  prior to commencement of the procedure, service or surgery.

It is your responsibility, not your provider’s, to call the Review Center. Failure to obtain precertification from the Review Center within the specified time frames will result in increased liability or complete denial if it is determined that the services were not medically necessary or not a covered benefit of thePlan.

Because of this I was charged a penalty. It cost me $391 out of my own pocket.

I spent last evening reading the entire 118 pages of do, don’t and gotcha’s! LOL

Comments welcome.

Gore’s Challenge To America

Al Gore is calling for America to step up and start on a path of using alternative energy sources to replace our reliance on fossil fuels and oil. In a speech in Washington DC, Mr. Gore suggest that the United States should start using wind and geothermal power to meet our electrical needs and to fuel a new fleet of electric vehicles. According to an article in SF Gate it states:

The goal is the most ambitious energy plan by a major U.S. political figure – and one many energy experts say is unrealistic. Gore insists the only real obstacle is the reluctance of America’s leaders to seek bold solutions to high energy prices and global warming. He likened his challenge to President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 call to put a man on the moon.

“This goal is achievable, affordable and transformative,” Gore told more than 1,000 cheering supporters at the Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall in Washington. “It represents a challenge to all Americans in every walk of life: to our political leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, engineers and to every citizen.”

Gore is seeking to pressure the presidential candidates and Congress, which is in the middle of a fierce debate on energy policy. He said he has spoken to both Republican Sen. John McCain and Democratic Sen. Barack Obama about his ideas. Obama issued a statement Thursday saying he strongly agrees with Gore’s goal.

But one statement in the article which states:

many energy experts say is unrealistic

Is disturbing. It is this type of thinking that has held us back for some 35 years. This same type of thinking that has made us rely on foreign oil. The same type of thinking that will bankrupt this country if we do not change the way we think.  Mr Gore’s outlook is refreshing at a time when we need to start to think outside the box. When we need to look for alternatives now and not wait any longer for future high oil prices to hit our pocket books any harder.

Unrealistic? Baloney. This country of ours can meet the challenge and we can break the stranglehold of foreign oil.

If our current administration and the current Congress  can not or will not act on this energy crisis, it is time for us to throw the dead wood out of office. Can it be done? Sure it can. Recall how the people of California reacted when the than governor, Gray Davis, cut deals with the electrical providers at ridiculously high prices. Gray Davis found himself unemployed.

What do you think? Is it time to take the bull by the horns and develop alternative energy sources? Or should we sit on our butts and let the Arab countries dictate energy policies to us?  Is it time for us to take back our country or should we continue to let the oil companies tell us what we will pay to drive our vehicles?

Comments welcome.

Source

Big Changes In Cuba – End Of Communism For The Island?

During the past month we have all read about the major shift in policy in the Cuban government that is slowly allowing its people more access to technology. The Cuban government is even allowing folks to buy computers as reported by the Associated Press.

HAVANA (AP) — Cubans are getting wired. Computers went on sale to the general public on the communist island on Friday and potential consumers were lining up outside store windows to gawk and consider buying.

President Raul Castro’s government had authorized the sale of personal computers to average Cubans more than a month ago, but they were not made available until Friday.

Computer sales are the latest of a series of measures Castro has taken to make life easier for ordinary Cubans.

But is this going to spell the end of Communism for the Cuban people? Or just a loosening of policy to allow the people more freedom, while still being held by an iron fist?

Comments welcome.

AP article is here.

Google Calls For Patent Reforms

Over at the Google Public Policy Blog, Johanna Shelton, Policy Counsel and Legislative Strategist, and Michelle Lee, Head of Patents and Patent Strategy, presented Google’s stance on patent reform. I have mentioned this topic before and that Congress was also looking into how to make our patent system more fair and also protect the inventors. What further complicates our patent system is that it cannot handle the load nor is it capable to some extent in properly handling intellectual property rights.

Some of the proposed patent changes are:

  • Damages apportionment. Damages should be calculated based on the fair share of the patent’s contribution to the value of a product, and not on the value of a whole product that has many components. So for example, a windshield wiper found to an infringe a patent should not spur a damage award based on the value of the entire car.
  • Restricting forum-shopping. Certain district courts have become notorious for rarely invalidating a patent, and have tilted the balance too often in favor of plaintiffs. We support judicial venue provisions to ensure that patent lawsuits are brought only in district courts with a reasonable connection to the case.
  • Post-grant review. The patent system should include a meaningful second chance for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to review potentially problematic patents in a timely way, thereby promoting high-quality patents.
  • Willfullness. Patent infringers can be forced to pay triple the damages in cases where they are found to have “willfully” infringed a patent, but that standard has been devalued. Punitive triple damages should be reserved for cases of truly egregious conduct.

I believe it is time that our patent system be overhauled. Hopefully Google will be able to help in making these needed changes a reality.

But what do you think?

Comments welcome.

Full blog article can be found here.

[tags]google, blog, policy, patent reform[/tags]

Why Is Microsoft Allowing Downgrading Vista to XP?

It seems that Microsoft in the next few weeks is going to allow its OEM partners a more liberal and easier method of allowing customers the ability to downgrade their Vista machines to XP.  Previous to this announcement it was difficult and cumbersome to follow the process which required each machine to be registered with Microsoft separately. The new policy will incorporate a online procedure allowing that groups of computers can be registered.

Though Microsoft contends that Vista is selling well, that support calls has been reduced compared to XP, and that device compatibility is increasing everyday, it makes one wonder why the shift in policy. Or maybe a better way to look at this is why is Microsoft even doing this in the first place? They could just tell the OEMs it is Vista only. No more XP. I would seriously doubt that any of the companies would go against this policy knowing their licenses could be revoked in a heart beat.  Or are we starting to see a gentler and kinder Microsoft who  is concerned with the needs of the consumer?

Though Microsoft is not saying why they are going with a major shift in their policy of downgrading, it just struck me as odd when I first read about this. This is almost as strange as Microsoft saying that anyone can buy a copy of Vista System Builder and use it.

The last time I recall a major downgrade is when people were dumping ME and going back to 98. :-)

So what do you think Microsotf’s reasoning is in this shift in policy?  Or is it a shift in policy?

Comments as always are welcome.

Full story here.

[tags]microsoft, vista, xp, downgrade, policy, [/tags]

Dell Continues To Listen – Less Bloatware Preinstalled

Dell seems to continue its pledge to listen to customers and has changed their policy on what bloatware will be included on new systems, as well on how to opt out having bloatware installed in the first place. Bloadtware is better known as crapware. These are programs that come preinstalled on almost all OEM machines that the consumer neither asks for and in most cases does not want. These are paid for advertisements for companies such as AOL, Earthlink and other ISP’s or other software such as trialware that is good for a limited amount fo time.

The problems with crapware are two fold. First crapware can slow down the performance of a computer system and second, it can be time consuming for the user to remove this junk and gunk. For years consumers have complained that this was getting to be a real pain in the butt, but no one listened. Now Dell seems to be taking the lead and limiting the amount of stuff that comes with a new system when ordered online.

On Dell’s site they state:

We’ve expanded our opt-out offering on XPS products as well as through our Dimension desktops and Inspiron notebooks. This means when you configure a system on Dell.com, you have the option of choosing “No software pre-installed” for things like productivity software, ISP software and photo and music software. On most XPS systems, the no software options are the default choice. The end result is that customers can tailor the amount and type of software that is preinstalled on their systems to meet their specific needs at time of purchase.

Dell further explains that some software will still be included for the following reasons:

So, what software is left? Trial versions of anti-virus software (on Dimension and Inspiron), Acrobat Reader (it’s required to read electronic copies of system documentation), and Google tools. Why do we treat anti-virus apps a little differently? For two reasons: 1) Because a lot of our customers proactively select a subscription to a security service which includes anti-virus and firewall capabilities. 2) Because many of our customers simply expect their PCs to be protected at first boot and beyond.

Though this is not 100% perfect for those who may wish to have just a OS installed and nothing else, I personally believe that this is a step in the right direction. It would also be nice if other OEMs followed Dells lead. Hint, hint!

Comments welcome.

[tags]dell, software, bloatware, policy, ordering, [/tags]