Senate Waters Down Privacy Protections For Online Video Streaming

Last week, the Senate quietly agreed to allow video streaming companies such as Netflix to share data on of their customers’ streaming histories to two years — after only asking their permission once. The Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA), had previously mandated that consent be obtained from an individual each time their video-watching history was shared, required law enforcement to obtain a warrant, court order, or grand jury subpoena to acquire that history, and prevented companies from sharing it for marketing purposes. The new bill has already been adopted by the House, and is now on its way to President Obama’s desk. Adam Serwer at Mother Jones has the latest:

Last Tuesday, the Senate quietly altered a key privacy law, making it much easier for video streaming services like Netflix to share your viewing habits. How quietly? The Senate didn’t even hold a recorded vote: The bill was approved by unanimous consent. (Joe Mullin of Ars Technica was among the first to note the vote.) [...] Video streaming companies that want to share your data now only need to ask for your permission once. After that, they can broadcast your video-watching habits far and wide for up to two years before having to ask again.

VPPA was originally passed in 1988 following outrage at the publication of Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork’s video rental history by a Washington newspaper. (An irony, as Serwer notes, given Bork’s own hostility to privacy rights.) The law caused headaches for Netflix’s attempt to integrate their services with Facebook, an arrangement the company has brought to over 40 countries but has yet to debut in the United States. Netflix recently challenged the application of the law to online streaming video, but was rebuffed by a federal district court.

Both Facebook and Netflix lobbied enthusiastically in the second half of 2012 for the changes to the VPPA, spending $1.6 million dollars and $400,000, respectively. Those efforts paid off with last week’s alteration.

The change was originally intended as a trade-off: Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) inserted language that would’ve strengthened privacy protections for email and other personal online documents under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (EPCA), even as it declawed the VPPA. But then the House passed a version of the VPPA update without the balancing update to the EPCA. That forced a negotiation, and the Senate eventually gave in to the House’s version.

Leahy has called for the Congress to take up the issue of strengthening EPCA’s online protections again next year. But as Serwer dryly points out, “not even the CIA director losing his job in the wake of an FBI investigation that led to no actual charges could provoke Congress into updating the country’s digital privacy laws. So Leahy’s calls for reform appear likely to go unanswered.”

via ThinkProgress http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2012/12/30/1380301/senate-quietly-agrees-to-water-down-privacy-protections-for-americans-online-video-watching-history/?mobile=nc


Doing Data Journalism Badly

While there was a lot of rhetoric concerning the Instagram terms of service mess recently, most observers of these kinds of things noted that for all the claims from people that they were "quitting" the service, few people ever actually follow through on such threats. So, it surprised some this morning when the NY Post reported that Instagram users actually did flee in large droves, citing data from a company called AppData. They argued that there was a potential 25% decline in users, which is huge. The news apparently contributed to Facebook's stock dropping by nearly 3%... despite the claim being almost entirely bogus.

Even a quick look at the data that AppData presented should have raised some eyebrows:

As lots of folks pointed out, starting with Zachary Seward at Quartz (linked above), the drop shown does not occur until December 24th... a good week after the whole controversy went down. Furthermore, AppData does not measure all Instagram usage at all, but the small subset of people who have connected their Instagram accounts to their Facebook accounts. But most people just use Instagram as a mobile app, and AppData doesn't measure that.

Meanwhile, Robin Wauters over at TheNextWeb does a brilliant job of showing plenty of other services that AppsData's "data" also shows "plunged" during the same time period, including Yahoo! Social bar, which shot up... and then back down:

Or Pinterest, which dropped a bunch during that same time period:

Wauters lists a bunch of other examples as well, all suggesting that maybe the original claim by AppData, repeated by the NY Post (and then others) had little basis in reality.

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via Techdirt. http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20121228/16205021515/doing-data-journalism-badly.shtml

Census Dotmap: a dot for every person in the United States

Cartography and data analysis nut Brandon M-Anderson put together this impressive zoomable map of the United States with one dot for each of the 308,450,225 people recorded by the 2010 census: oddities revealed include people living in "abandoned" areas or parks. A Redditor stitched the tiles into a huge image.

via Boing Boing http://boingboing.net/2012/12/28/census-dotmap-a-dot-for-every.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+boingboing%2FiBag+%28Boing+Boing%29

Chewbacca bandolier inspired messenger bag

This messenger bag integrates a Chewbacca-style "bandolier" shoulder strap and Star Wars logo imprint. I guess an actual bandolier would not look much like one with Wookie bowcaster ammo in it?

via Boing Boing http://boingboing.net/2012/12/28/chewbacca-bandolier-inspired-m.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+boingboing%2FiBag+%28Boing+Boing%29

The long slow death of the landline

The CDC reports that more than one third of American homes are now landline-free, with six in ten adults aged under 30 living in households with only wireless phones.

In a study carried out as part of the National Health Interview Survey, 35.8 percent of all respondents reported having only cellular telephones. A further 15.9 percent reported that while they had landlines, they received all or almost all their calls on their mobiles.

While 34 percent of all adults now live in households with only cellular phones, the number jumps to 40.6 percent when limited to households with children. Fifty-eight percent of renters and 76 percent of adults living with roommates reported having only cellphones. The growth is slowing, though, with the 1.8 percent six-month increase in landline-less homes being the lowest jump since 2008.

Even the elderly are abandoning their landlines, albeit slowly: for the first time, more than 1 in 10 of those aged 65 or more reported living mobile-only.

Early Release of Estimates From the National Health Interview Survey, January–June 2012 [PDF link]

via Boing Boing http://boingboing.net/2012/12/28/the-long-slow-death-of-the-lan.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+boingboing%2FiBag+%28Boing+Boing%29

Magic of Autumn

via aerial photography http://leidorf.blogspot.com/2012/12/magic-of-autumn.html


One of 'Little Rock Nine' to deliver speech

CHAMPAIGN — A member of the "Little Rock Nine" will deliver the keynote speech at the 2013 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Countywide Celebration.

The 12th annual event will be begin at 4 p.m. Jan. 18 at the Hilton Garden Inn, 1501 S. Neil St., C. The event is free and open to the public.

read more

via News-Gazette.com http://www.news-gazette.com/news/living/2012-12-28/one-little-rock-nine-deliver-speech.html


Letter allegedly detailing Chinese forced labor camp found in Halloween kit

A note found in Halloween decorations purchased in Portland, Ore., over a year ago may have carried a letter from a forced labor camp in China, reported The Oregonian .

Julie Keith was considering donating an unopened graveyard kit she bought at Kmart, but in October she opened it and discovered a letter, folded multiple times, claiming to be from a worker in a labor camp in Shenyang, China.

It began, “Sir: If you occasionally buy this product, please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Right Organization. Thousands people here who are under the persicution of the Chinese Communist Party Government will thank and remember you forever.”

The letter went on to say that workers labored for 15 hours a day without weekends or holidays off and were paid the equivalent of $1.61 per month.

“People who work here, suffer punishment 1-3 years averagely, but without Court Sentence (unlaw punishment). Many of them are Falun Gong practitioners, who are totally innocent people only because they have different believe to CCPG. They often suffer more punishment than others,” it read.

Human Rights Watch told The Oregonian it could not “confirm the veracity or origin of this” but that it seemed consistent with descriptions of labor camps.

Kmart’s parent company, Sears Holding Corporation, issued a statement, which claims that forced labor would not comply with its requirements for vendors, concluding, “We understand the seriousness of this allegation, and will continue to investigate.”

[Image: Bottle With Message On The Beach on Shutterstock]

via The Raw Story http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/12/26/letter-allegedly-detailing-chinese-forced-labor-camp-found-in-halloween-kit/


Thousands sign U.S. petition to deport Piers Morgan over gun comments

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - More than 48,000 people have signed a petition that they posted on the White House website demanding that British CNN talk show host Piers Morgan be deported over comments he made on air about gun control.

via Reuters: U.S. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/24/entertainment-us-piersmorgan-petition-idUSBRE8BN0M920121224?feedType=RSS&feedName=domesticNews

Go Green: Pantone Declares 'Emerald' Color of 2013

emerald.jpg Get ready for a verdant 2013. Today Pantone declared Emerald (17-5641 on your fandeck) the "lively, radiant" color of the year.

Read the story on UnBeige

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

via mediabistro.com: Media News http://www.mediabistro.com/news/news/go_green_pantone_declares_emerald_color_of_2013_179975.asp?c=rss


Chicago man, 38, dies in police custody

CHICAGO (AP) — Investigators in Chicago are trying to figure out what caused a 38-year-old man to die after police twice shocked him with a stun gun.

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via News-Gazette.com http://www.news-gazette.com/news/courts-police-and-fire/2012-12-14/chicago-man-38-dies-police-custody.html

Fisher area residents blame irrigation well for drying up theirs

FISHER — MJ Shields grew up about a mile from where she now lives in the country between Fisher and Dewey.

"That's why I moved out there, because I love to be in the country," Shields said of her home of the past three years.

read more

via News-Gazette.com http://www.news-gazette.com/news/environment/2012-12-16/fisher-area-residents-blame-irrigation-well-drying-theirs.html


Thrill Collins - Its Always The Same (Goodbye to 2012 Edit) by The Players Union

Party season edit for when they request a bit of Phil, they always do, and always should. Phil is basically more balearic, and far more hairy, than Julio Iglesias.


Census: Whites no longer a majority in US by 2043

HOPE YEN,Associated Press

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via News-Gazette.com http://www.news-gazette.com/news/people/2012-12-12/census-whites-no-longer-majority-us-2043.html


Jim Dey: 'Beckett-crats' then, 'Kurtz-crats' now

The air was filled with cries of betrayal and threats of political recrimination when a handful of Democrats joined minority Republicans to defeat majority Democrats' choice to lead the Champaign County Board.

"I feel a sense of betrayal," said Patricia Avery, who was the Democratic caucus choice for another term as the board's chairwoman.

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via News-Gazette.com http://www.news-gazette.com/opinions/editorials/2012-12-08/jim-dey-beckett-crats-then-kurtz-crats-now.html


Chromatics - Ceremony (New Order Cover) [ft. Ida No] by Golden Scissors

We have uploaded this cover from Chromatics of New Order's "Ceremony," basically because we're huge fans of the band, and we want to keep it.... forever....


New hip-hop star Young Blu still shows Champaign the love

Dijon "Young Blu" Silva's music is nearly indistinguishable from much of the hip-hop music on the radio. In fact, as listeners lose themselves in his original beats and lyrical words, they might not realize that Silva is a local celebrity rather than a seasoned patron of Hollywood.

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via News-Gazette.com http://www.news-gazette.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/music/2012-12-06/new-hip-hop-star-young-blu-still-shows-champaign-love.h


Electric Deluxe Podcast 084 AnD by electric deluxe

Ø - Unien Holvit Suzanne Ciani - Princess With Orange Feet Lb Dub Corp - Choctaw Dub Bee mask - The Story of Keys and Locks Samuel Kerridge - In and Out D - Firspk Brain Eno & Jah Wobble- Left Where It Fell Kangding Ray - Plateau Moondog - Two Quotations In Dialogue Vladislav Delay - Ranta Biosphere & Higher Intelligence Agency - Countdown To Darkness Raime - Your Cast Will Tire Muslimgauze - Camel Meet Vendor Sawf - Sand 01 (Yves De Mey Remix) Pansonic - Fermi Admx 71 - Provisions Arkhonia - Events / Non Events British Murder Boys - Anti Inferno Mokira - Contour Autechre - Qplay FNS - I Think She's Asleep Vatican Shadow - Church Of All Images (Regis Version) Qluster - Los Geht's Ø - S Bahn Silent Servant - Path Eternal No Ufo's - Form Constant Flood Analord - Xmd5A Cabaret Voltaire - Cooled Out


Police agencies to give bikes away

URBANA — The Urbana and University of Illinois police departments will be offering free bicycles to citizens of Champaign-Urbana and the surrounding areas on Dec. 14.

The bike giveaway is set for 10 a.m. to noon Dec. 14 in front of 704 S. Glover St., U, according to Urbana police Lt. Robert Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald said police are asking that each person be limited to one bike.

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via News-Gazette.com http://www.news-gazette.com/news/courts-police-and-fire/2012-12-03/police-agencies-give-bikes-away.html