Your personal information isn’t safe.
That doesn’t apply only to the 40 million Target shoppers whose credit and debit card numbers may now be in the hands of hackers.
It’s a trend that’s been clear for many years: The stewards of consumers’ personal info — businesses, hospitals, government agencies — are woefully negligent when it comes to safeguarding data.
Too often, sensitive computer files are unencrypted or left on laptops that get stolen. Aggressive moves by hackers are met with only the most cursory security upgrades.
And it’s not just illegal activities that people have to watch for.
A multibillion-dollar industry has emerged to profit from the buying and selling of perfectly legal consumer data, regardless of whether you’ve given permission for your ostensibly confidential information to be hawked on the open market.
On Wednesday, a leading privacy advocate told Congress that professional data brokers are selling lists of rape victims, people with HIV or AIDS and even police officers’ home addresses to marketers.
“Few people know that data brokers exist, and beyond that, few know what they do,” said Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum.
“Even a knowledgeable consumer lacks the tools to exercise any control over his or her data held by a data broker,” she said. “It doesn’t matter that the data is about the consumer. The data broker has all the rights, and the consumer has none.”
Today, the Obama administration announced that people whose insurance plans were cancelled this year will “temporarily” be exempted from the law’s individual mandate. Here’s how they’re doing it — and what it means for the law.
This puts the first crack in the individual mandate. The question is whether it’s the last. If Democratic members of Congress see this as solving their political problem with people whose plans have been canceled, it could help them stand against Republican efforts to delay the individual mandate. But if congressional Democrats use this ruling as an excuse to delay or otherwise defang the individual mandate for anyone who doesn’t want to pay for insurance under Obamacare, then it’ll be a very big problem for the law.
One hundred years ago Thursday, one man sent a letter that would transform the telephone industry. The letter gave rise to the country’s last and most powerful monopoly. And like the Internet of this century, it gave millions of ordinary people the chance to stay in touch more easily than they ever had before.
The letter’s author was Nathan C. Kingsbury — a vice president of AT&T many have since forgotten. But his 1913 correspondence rapidly made its way from Kingsbury’s desk to the attorney general’s, and soon after, to President Woodrow Wilson’s.
Wilson’s administration was threatening a legal assault on AT&T. The telephone company had been aggressively buying up its competitors around the country — maybe too many. Perhaps AT&T should be broken up, Wilson mused. Perhaps the government should take control.
Then came Kingsbury’s letter. In under 900 words, Kingsbury smoothed everything over. It produced a miraculous result in Wilson and his deputy in the Justice Department.
“I gain the impression more and more from week to week that the businessmen of the country are sincerely desirous of conforming with the law,” Wilson gushed, “and it is very gratifying to have the occasion, as in this instance, to deal with them in complete frankness and to be able to show them that all that we desire is an opportunity to cooperate with them.”
The White House’s antitrust concerns were resolved practically overnight.
Nelson Mandela on Overcoming Hatred
South Africa’s first black president, Nelson Mandela, has died at the age of 95. Mandela, who was a symbol of the struggle against racial oppression and embodied the ability to forgive and reconcile, spoke with Bill Moyers in 1991 for a documentary Beyond Hate, about the historical, philosophical and psychological roots of hatred.
In this clip from the film, Mandela talks about his personal ability to rise above hatred and cruelty during his 27 years in prison.
Here’s another important discovery,
It may not look anything like Avatar’s Pandora or Jedi’s Endor, but if verified, it could be the first moon ever discovered outside our solar system. Located 1,800 light years away, it’s a large moon orbiting a planet four times the size of Jupiter. But strangely, the duo isn’t even remotely close to a star.
Top image: Pandora from Avatar.
MILLIONAIRE TV STAR INSULTS GAY PEOPLE AND IMPLIES THAT NON-CHRISTIANS ARE INHERENTLY MURDEROUS, APPARENTLY KEEPS HIS JOB
If we’re going to talk about Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty, let’s start by remembering something: Martin Bashir actually lost his job at MSNBC. So did Alec Baldwin. A decade ago, Dan Rather really lost his job at CBS, and effectively lost his career with it.
Phil Robertson, a man for whom the right is crying a river of tears, actually hasn’t lost his job, and isn’t even being taken off the air:
A&E has placed Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson on indefinite hiatus following anti-gay remarks he made in a recent profile in GQ….
He’ll likely appear in season four, which bows Jan. 15, since production is largely wrapped….
Oh. So if new episodes featuring Phil are already in the can and will begin airing next month, and filming for the season is nearly complete, how significant is this “hiatus”?
More: No More Mister Nice Blog
Ted really doesn’t get the whole “Freedom of Speech” thing
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Thursday called on television network A&E to return Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson to his television show, citing “free speech” and “religious liberty” rights guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
After A&E suspended Robertson for comparing homosexuality to bestiality, Cruz took to Facebook to defend the Duck Commander company founder.
“Free speech matters,” Cruz wrote. “If you believe in free speech or religious liberty, you should be deeply dismayed over the treatment of Phil Robertson. Phil expressed his personal views and his own religious faith; for that, he was suspended from his job.”
“In a free society, anyone is free to disagree with him-but the mainstream media should not behave as the thought police censoring the views with which they disagree,” he continued. “And, as PC enforcers often forget, tolerance is a two-way street.”
Duckboy has every right to his beliefs and to say what he likes, it doesn’t mean anyone has to give him a platform from which to do it.
With all this Duck Dynasty uproar, I guess Evangelicals missed that the Pope called them a bunch of Pagans.
At his weekly General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis urged Christians to imitate Jesus Christ by being humble and “small among the small.”
“It is an ugly thing,” he said, according to Vatican Radio, “when you see a Christian who doesn’t want to humble himself, who doesn’t want to serve, a Christian who struts about everywhere: it’s ugly, eh? That is not a Christian: that’s a pagan!”
“Go back to 1939 when the German Lutheran church turned a blind eye to what Hitler was doing, not all of them: [Deitrich] Bonhoeffer and others and paid for it with their lives but they were not going to compromise and there’s a point at which we have to say we’re there, we’re there,” Dobson said. “It’s not quite as bad as it was then but we see where the train is moving, we see where it’s going.”
JMF: From the offenders’ perspective … what’s the advantage of advocating (or mandating) rape or other forms sexualized violence?
LW: Sexualized violence obliterates the enemy in a way that is often more effective than killing. Survivors often go silent and this plus fear of further terrorization can inhibit them and their families from either continuing to fight or resisting. It demeans women and entire communities—it’s like taking away a limb from a body. But it’s worse in that the psychological after-effects are multipronged and destructive in so many ways. The body in this case is more than the woman. It is everyone who cares about her and everyone who fears suffering the same act.