Supreme Court Ruling Over Search Mobile Phones May Really Be The First ‘Internet Of Things’ Ruling

Supreme Court Ruling Over Search Mobile Phones May Really Be The First ‘Internet Of Things’ Ruling
By Shawn DuBravac

Advocates of digital privacy scored a major victory when the Supreme Court recently ruled that police need a warrant to search cellphones. In Riley v. California and United States v. Wurie, two cases that pivot on the legality of searching personal computing devices, what is becoming a tech-centric high court recognized not only the pervasive role technology is playing in modern society, but also the growing personal data that exists as we digitize larger swaths of our everyday lives.

With this decision, the court confirmed what most of us have known for some time: modern cellphones are more than just a technological convenience or device for making phone calls, they’re sophisticated “minicomputers” that hold for many of us “the privacies of life.” The risks of harm to arresting officers or destruction of evidence do not exist when digital data is concerned. Rather, the justices said, searching the “vast quantities of personal information” on a smartphone is an invasion of privacy that far exceeds the Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches of a person’s physical property upon an arrest. Writing for the court, Chief Justice John Roberts noted, “a cell phone search would typically expose to the government far more than the most exhaustive search of a house: A phone not only contains in digital form many sensitive records previously found in the home; it also contains a broad array of private information never found in a home in any form.”

Fittingly, the opinion comes in a year when, according to Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) research, smartphone sales will eclipse 1 billion units for the first time ever. Today, nearly two-thirds of U.S. households own at least one smartphone, and that figure is projected to climb to 71 percent by 2017 as new manufacturers like Amazon and Blackphone enter the market. For many of us, our smartphones have become extensions of ourselves. They hold our favorite songs, house our favorite pictures and are home to the names and addresses of just about everyone we love — even your background picture has a personal story to tell about you. Roberts was even more direct, noting cellphones are “such a pervasive and insistent part of daily life that the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy.”

The court’s opinion reveals an unwillingness, in this realm at least, to simply extend pre-digital precedents to new technologies — especially when those extensions encroach on the fundamentals of our founders’ views on liberty. The ruling follows the unanimous 2012 opinion in United States v. Jones that law enforcement’s use of GPS-enabled devices to track suspects’ vehicles is considered a search. In that case, the concurring opinion by Justice Sonia Sotomayor held that police needed a warrant in order to attach a GPS device to monitor movements by a suspect’s car. The Court recognizes that the many capabilities of today’s technological innovations continue to unfold. More, the technologically-infused life is still in its infancy. Smartphones that double as GPS devices are just the beginning. Soon, wearable technologies like activity trackers and health monitors could provide the government with our most personal data.

Traditionally, the court has held that people have no reasonable expectation of privacy regarding information they show to third parties, so no warrant is required to obtain that information. But today’s technology is eroding pragmatic limits on law enforcement’s ability to track and trace us. Legal scholars believe that case planted a seed that could transform Fourth Amendment rights in light of modern technology.

In his opinion concurring with the court’s decision on cellphone searches, Justice Samuel Alito noted the court is not in a position to evaluate the implications on privacy posed by searching cellphones, considering the amount of information about the lives of Americans that can be gleaned by the government and private entities, and the fact that many Americans are choosing to make so much information available to the public. He suggests that lawmakers are “in a better position… to assess and respond to the changes that have already occurred and those that almost certainly will take place in the future” with legislation to govern the scope and limits of privacy rules involving modern technology. Regulators must take note of the vast ways in which technology will touch our lives in the future.

As technology enables the digitization of more elements of our lives, private information is becoming one of the key components in the market for developing devices that increase connectivity. The court’s opinion is perhaps the strongest legal defense of privacy in a world dominated by technology. And it comes at just the right time, because it’s not just our phones that are getting smart.

Soon, just about everything we touch will capture data about us. Our cars. Our watches. Our clothing. The fundamental privacies at stake in this ruling transcend far beyond phones. The Supreme Court needed to write its decision with the bigger picture in mind, and it did.

Ultimately, this ruling can arguably apply to the millions — and eventually billions — of physical objects that are being connected at an increasing clip to the Internet of Things. And whether the justices realized it or not, this court has now provided important privacy protections that will foster the continued, rapid technological growth our innovation economy demands.

Shawn DuBravac is the chief economist of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the U.S. trade association representing more than 2,000 consumer electronics companies. Follow Shawn on Twitter @Twoopinions.

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July 22, 2014 at 7:05PM
via Techdirt.

Internet Industry Hate Taken To Insane Levels: Ridiculous Proposals To ‘Nationalize’ Successful Internet Companies

Internet Industry Hate Taken To Insane Levels: Ridiculous Proposals To ‘Nationalize’ Successful Internet Companies
By Mike Masnick

Over the last few years, there’s been a ridiculous rise in a bizarre form of anti-Silicon Valley populism, in which people are encouraged to hate successful internet companies for… being successful. Usually, when you dig into the details, the attacks on the firms are a combination of general fear of “bigness,” hatred/jealousy of success and a fundamental misunderstanding of economics. Now, let’s be clear: big companies with too much power do have a rather long history of bad behavior and companies should be watched carefully if they abuse their position. But the anti-internet populism seems incredibly misplaced, especially given that the companies they’re attacking are often companies that have clearly improved the lives of those doing the attacking. I’m always worried about old “enabling” companies becoming the new gatekeepers, but I’m also confident in the ability of a brand new generation of enablers to undermine business models of the last generation of internet giants as well — especially if they start making moves that actually harm the public.

But, it seems, this general hatred of Silicon Valley is being taken to nearly parodic levels with two new articles, one in Salon and one in Slate, both of which call for “nationalizing” some of the internet’s most popular companies. First up, we have Richard “RJ” Eskow saying that we should nationalize Amazon and Google because the original internet was publicly funded, and thus, apparently, everything built after that should be owned by the federal government.

Big Tech was created with publicly developed technology. No matter how they spin it, these corporations were not created in garages or by inventive entrepreneurs. The core technology behind them is the Internet, a publicly funded platform for which they pay no users’ fee. In fact, they do everything they can to avoid paying their taxes.

Big Tech’s use of public technology means that it operates in a technological “commons,” which they are using solely for its own gain, without regard for the public interest. Meanwhile the United States government devotes considerable taxpayer resource to protecting them �“ from patent infringement, cyberterrorism and other external threats.
Of course, based on this absolutely idiotic argument, you could argue that we should nationalize just about every business out there. Fedex and UPS? Why they make use of the federal highway system, which was publicly funded. So, “no matter how they spin it,” the “core infrastructure” behind them was “publicly funded.” Ditto for the entire US automobile industry (though, to be fair, we kinda came pretty close to “nationalizing” them a few years back). How about Wall Street? I mean, look at it: it’s entirely dependent on federal currency. Clearly: should be nationalized. In fact, I’m having trouble coming up with a business that shouldn’t be nationalized under these conditions. Almost every business relies on some aspect of publicly-funded infrastructure.

From there, Eskow insists that these companies are “abusive,” which again is apparently a reason why they should be nationalized (he doesn’t explain how the two are connected or why he believes nationalized companies would be less prone to abusive power — because he can’t). But he picks some rather unfortunate examples for “abuse.”
The bluntness with which Big Tech firms abuse their monopoly power is striking. Google has said that it will soon begin blocking YouTube videos from popular artists like Radiohead and Adele unless independent record labels sign deals with its upcoming music streaming service (at what are presumably disadvantageous rates). Amazon’s war on publishers like Hachette is another sign of Big Tech arrogance.
Except, as we’ve detailed, neither of those stories is even remotely accurate. Artists are not being blocked from YouTube, they’re being offered a better deal if they want to monetize their videos. Some don’t like the terms of that deal, but they can still upload their own videos, just not to the monetized services of YouTube. And the Amazon/Hachette example is not a “war on publishers” so much as it’s an attempt to get better prices for consumers. Apparently, Eskow would like to side with the publishers over the public. Why?

Eskow also finds his “support” in odd places:
Even Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer argued that Google is a “monopoly” whose activities were “worthy of discussion with competition authority.” He should know.
Wait. A company that is being beat left and right by an upstart competitor is complaining that that competitor should be regulated? Gee, that means absolutely nothing.

Nowhere in the entire piece does Eskow even attempt to explain how “nationalizing” these firms would actually solve any of these issues. He just insists it would. Apparently he’s unaware of how “wonderful” service is from nationalized companies. I’m sure bureaucracies and government controls are just great for innovation. And, if we’re talking about abuse, shall we bring up what happened with the history of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which were “de facto nationalized?”

Eskow also goes on and on about the privacy violations of these companies, but for a deeper discussion on that, we’ll flip over to Salon competitor Slate, where Philip Howard has an article about how we should nationalize Facebook because of that company’s long-standing problems on the privacy front:
By “nationalizing Facebook,” I mean public ownership and at least a majority share at first. When nationalizing the company restores the public trust, that controlling interest could be reduced. There are three very good reasons for this drastic step: It could fix the company’s woeful privacy practices, allow the social network to fulfill its true potential for providing social good, and force it to put its valuable data to work on significant social problems.

Let’s start with privacy. Right now, the company violates everybody’s privacy expectations, not to mention privacy laws. It also struggles to respond properly to regulatory requests in different countries. In part, this is because its services are designed to meet the bare minimum of legal expectations in each jurisdiction. When users in Europe request copies of the data Facebook keeps on them, they are sent huge volumes of records. But not every user lives in a jurisdiction that requires such responsiveness from Facebook�”U.S. users are out of luck because their regulators don’t ask as many questions as those in the European Union and Canada. Privacy watchdogs consistently complain that the company uses user data in ways they didn’t agree to or anticipate. There are suspicions that the company creates shadow profiles of people who aren’t even users but whose names get mentioned by people who are Facebook users.
It’s completely reasonable to question Facebook’s privacy practices, and its history of arbitrarily changing things and being involved in “creepy” behavior. But, again, there’s a massive leap in logic to go from “hey, Facebook isn’t very good at protecting your privacy” to “let’s hand the company over the to US government.” I don’t know if Philip Howard has been living under a rock for the past 13 months or so, but if there’s one organization that appears to respect your privacy even less than Facebook, it would be the US government. The very same US government that is actively looking for new ways to spy on as many people as possible. And Howard thinks the approach to “protect” users’ privacy from Facebook is to… give all that info directly to the US government?

In fact, Howard actually argues directly for how wonderful it would be for the US gov’t to be able to snoop through our data to perform “research” on it:
Nationalizing Facebook would allow more resources to go into data mining for public health and social research.
Somehow, he claims that if the company were “nationalized,” then there would magically be higher ethical standards to make sure this research is “good” and not “evil.” He also has a funny notion whereby if Facebook were nationalized, not only would it be useful in tracking down bad people, but “good” activists that we liked could also be allowed to use pseudonyms, rather than real names. Because that’s exactly what we want: the US government picking and choosing which activists are “good.”

Having read both of these articles, I’m kind of wondering if they’re both a form of satire, mocking the idea of nationalization or even the anti-internet populism we’ve been seeing lately — but it looks as if they’re both serious, if totally ridiculous.

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July 22, 2014 at 1:04PM
via Techdirt.

100 Percent Efficacy

100 Percent Efficacy
By Andrew Sullivan

That’s the effectiveness of Truvada in preventing HIV infection in the latest large study just unveiled at the AIDS conference in Melbourne:

PrEP had no significant efficacy in people who took fewer than two doses a week. However, the efficacy of PrEP was 84% in people who took 2-3 doses a week – there was only one infection in this group – and no infections at all were seen in people taking at least four doses a week. This 100% efficacy translates into a minimum efficacy of 86% if the statistical uncertainty of the result is taken into account.

Did they all throw condoms away?

The study found absolutely no “sexual risk compensation” among participants—that is, those taking PrEP did not abandon other forms of protection, namely condoms. That data was self-reported. But researchers also tested participants for syphilis, another marker of sexually risky behavior, and found that those on PrEP were no more likely to carry the sexually transmitted infection than those not taking the drug.

The debate in the gay community is not really a debate at this point; it’s a function of the deep difficulty of psychologically navigating from a way of life dominated by plague to a normal way of life. It will take time. But the potential of this drug, combined with condoms and cocktail therapy for the infected, is nothing less than the eradication of HIV among gay men in our lifetimes.

July 22, 2014 at 1:58PM
via The Dish

Level3 Proves That Verizon Is Absolutely To Blame For Netflix Congestion… Using Verizon’s Own Blog Post

Level3 Proves That Verizon Is Absolutely To Blame For Netflix Congestion… Using Verizon’s Own Blog Post
By Mike Masnick

As you know, despite Netflix having already agreed to pay Verizon’s shake down fee to avoid interconnection congestion for its streaming, Netflix and Verizon are fighting a very public fight about who’s to “blame” for the network congestion. Netflix took a public shot at Verizon by publicly highlighting Verizon’s congested network to users, leading Verizon to send a cease-and-desist letter, claiming it was misleading. As we noted, there’s no doubt that it’s actually Verizon at fault, because it’s not delivering exactly what it sold customers (and we wonder why the FTC is still not getting involved yet). If Verizon’s network is getting congested, that’s on Verizon to fix, since it sold its users a promise that they could reach anywhere on the internet, including Netflix.

Verizon tried to spin the story back in its favor last week, with a blog post about “the congestion myth,” in which it claimed that the real problem was how Netflix chose to route its traffic to Verizon. It presented the following nifty chart, claiming that there was no congestion at all on Verizon’s network, and saying that it was all about how Netflix was choosing to deliver its traffic to Verizon’s network:

As you can see in the “red” arrow, it’s showing that there’s 100% utilization at the interconnection link. And Verizon claims this is all on Netflix. Here’s Verizon’s explanation:
One might wonder why Netflix and its transit providers were the only ones that ran into congestion issues. What it boils down to is this: these other transit and content providers took steps to ensure that there was adequate capacity for their traffic to enter our network. In some cases, these are settlement-free peering arrangements, where the relative traffic flows between an IP network provider and us remain roughly equal, and both parties invest in sufficient facilities to match these roughly equal flows. That is the traditional basis for such deals. In other cases there may be traffic imbalances, but the networks or content providers have entered into paid arrangements with us to ensure connections and capacity to meet their needs for their out-of-balance traffic.
Some reporters took this at face value, but it never made any sense at all. The chart above pretty clearly shows that the congestion point is actually Verizon’s border router. And if it just made a basic upgrade to accept the traffic that it has promised to consumers, there would be no problem at all.

Level3 has now jumped into this debate as well, with even more data showing that Verizon is the real culprit here. Level3 is carrying a bunch of that Netflix traffic, and notes that it has more than enough bandwidth to carry it. It says the only problem is Verizon refusing to take 5 minutes to upgrade its system:
Verizon has confirmed that everything between that router in their network and their subscribers is uncongested �“ in fact has plenty of capacity sitting there waiting to be used. Above, I confirmed exactly the same thing for the Level 3 network. So in fact, we could fix this congestion in about five minutes simply by connecting up more 10Gbps ports on those routers. Simple. Something we’ve been asking Verizon to do for many, many months, and something other providers regularly do in similar circumstances. But Verizon has refused. So Verizon, not Level 3 or Netflix, causes the congestion. Why is that? Maybe they can’t afford a new port card because they’ve run out �“ even though these cards are very cheap, just a few thousand dollars for each 10 Gbps card which could support 5,000 streams or more. If that’s the case, we’ll buy one for them. Maybe they can’t afford the small piece of cable between our two ports. If that’s the case, we’ll provide it. Heck, we’ll even install it.
Level3 has provided a (not quite as nicely designed) image to zoom in on the border router situation, showing that it has plenty of capacity ready — all it needs is for Verizon to let it connect more ports:
Again, this is what plenty of people have been saying since the beginning of this interconnection fight. Verizon, Comcast and AT&T have deliberately made the decision not to make rather basic and inexpensive upgrades to their interconnection points that would solve the congestion problems with Netflix. In doing so, they are the ones creating the bottleneck and congestion — and effectively using it to shake down Netflix, getting them to pay extra for the bandwidth that the broadband providers’ customers have already paid for.

Looking at this, it once again becomes clear that it’s Verizon, AT&T and Comcast that have deliberately caused this congestion, using their positions as dominant players with monopoly control over the last mile to force Netflix to pay them extra. As Level3 notes, it takes two parties to take the “trivial” steps to remove the congestion, and it’s Verizon that’s the party who isn’t cooperating:
All of the networks have ample capacity and congestion only occurs in a small number of locations, locations where networks interconnect with some last mile ISPs like Verizon. The cost of removing that congestion is absolutely trivial. It takes two parties to remove congestion at an interconnect point. I can confirm that Level 3 is not the party refusing to add that capacity. In fact, Level 3 has asked Verizon for a long time to add interconnection capacity and to deliver the traffic its customers are requesting from our customers, but Verizon refuses.
As we’ve discussed, Verizon, Comcast and AT&T know exactly what they’re doing here. People hadn’t been so concerned with interconnection disputes in the past, because they didn’t think the big broadband players would be so crass and so anti-consumer to purposely let interconnection points clog up. But, those three companies have such control over the market at this point that they are able to do that and can effectively shake down internet companies to get them to double pay for the bandwidth that subscribers are already paying for. Today it’s Netflix, but soon it’s likely to be lots of other companies as well. That’s why, in our own comments to the FCC, we noted that the interconnection fights need to be a part of the open internet discussion.

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July 18, 2014 at 2:10PM
via Techdirt.

mnot’s python http api

Random evening browsing brought be across, which is awesome. I was having similar fun over the weekend utilizing python’s support for overriding the behavior of the dictionary-syntax with __{get,set,del}item__. It’s a similar type of beauty as the constrained interface of HTTP … the power comes in some part because of the interface constraint… … Continue reading “mnot’s python http api”

Random evening browsing brought be across, which is awesome. I was having similar fun over the weekend utilizing python’s support for overriding the behavior of the dictionary-syntax with __{get,set,del}item__.

It’s a similar type of beauty as the constrained interface of HTTP … the power comes in some part because of the interface constraint…

In any case, his example makes it slightly unclear what the mapping is

web = Dict()


getResp = web[‘’]


web[‘’] = newData


del web[‘’]


postResp = web(‘’, newResourceData )

Very cool.

Update: More from the source.

targeted information delivery

The New York Times reaches about 1.5 million people. This posting is possibly of interest to two dozen. But the difference between my blog and the NYT is that my post will reach those two dozen :) — raph

The New York Times reaches about 1.5 million people. This posting is possibly of interest to two dozen. But the difference between my blog and the NYT is that my post will reach those two dozen :)



Synergy / Multi-{platform,machine} keyboard/mouse transport; use two desktops from one machine. Nomic game on c2 wiki / Why is it that even though I’ve spent time looking around the wiki, I’ve never seemed to see it all? Gnome Desktop integration bounties / An idea who’s time has come. With all this … Continue reading “links”