Category Archives: Digital Security

Does Fake Music Streaming Account for Millions in Theft? ‘Physically Impossible’ Numbers | July 26 2018

Halfway Through 2018, Streaming Continued Growth Defies Mathematical Trends

|| Billboard

“In the first half of 2018, overall on-demand streaming increased 41.7 percent to reach 403.5 billion U.S. streams, according to Nielsen Music. That growth defies mathematical trends, which dictate that, as a base enlarges, it becomes harder to achieve a bigger percentage growth than in preceding time periods.

.. ..

When looking at only album consumption units constructed with audio on-demand streams — the kind used in tallying the Billboard 200 and U.S. market share — the industry grew by 13.8 percent to 270 million units at midyear 2018, compared to 237.2 million at the midway point of 2017. Audio on-demand streams grew 45.5 percent to 268.3 billion, from the 184.5 billion accumulated in the first six months of 2017, while video on-demand streams grew 34.7 percent to 135.2 billion from the 100.4 billion streams tallied in the first half of 2017. (Overall video stream count is not available because YouTube stopped reporting streams of song videos that do not garner at least 1,000 views a day in mid-2016.)

.. ..

R&B/hip-hop remained the most popular genre with a 31.2 percent market share, and had the largest gain overall, up from 28.65 percent in 2017. Conversely, rock came in second at 23.1 percent, but had the largest decline, falling from the 24.81 percent it had accumulated in the first six months of 2017. Latin continued to show strong growth, accounting for 7.74 percent market share, up from 6.46 percent for the corresponding period in 2017, while the other large genre, pop, grew to 15.09 percent this year from 14.76 percent last year, with its album consumption units increasing to 46.22 million from 38.93 million units.

While country grew 8.1 percent to 25.74 million album consumption units at the midway points, its market share actually declined to 8.4 percent, down from 9.03 percent last year, because it isn’t growing as fast as the overall market.”

….Continue reading more @ Billboard.com

 

Beyoncé Claps Back At Accusations Of Fake Streaming Numbers On New Album

|| The Federalist

Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s new collaborative album takes a shot at Spotify, presumably in response to recent reports about Tidal’s fudging of subscriber numbers.

“My success can’t be quantified/ If I gave two f–ks about streaming numbers, would’ve put ‘Lemonade’ up on Spotify/ F–k you, f–k you,” Beyoncé spits on her new joint album with Jay-Z. Queen Bey’s not-so-cryptic lyrics seem to be a response to accusations her husband’s streaming service, Tidal, faked hundreds of millions of plays and subscriber numbers.

In May, the Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv reported that Tidal fudged the streaming numbers for both Kanye West’s “The Life of Pablo” and Beyonce’s “Lemonade,” generating “massive royalty payouts at the expense of other artists.”

According to Variety, Tidal claims that West’s album recorded 250 million plays in the first 10 days of its release with just 3 million subscribers. Meaning that every subscriber played the album on average eight times per day. Tidal also said “Lemonade”was streamed 306 million times in its first 15 days of release last April.

The paper’s investigation used data from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, where researchers estimated that Tidal’s total number of subscribers was closer to 1 million globally. Tidal denied the report and responded in a statement issued to Music Week: “This is a smear campaign from a publication that once referred to our employee as an ‘Israeli Intelligence officer’ and our owner as a ‘crack dealer’. We expect nothing less from them than this ridiculous story, lies and falsehoods. The information was stolen and manipulated and we will fight these claims vigorously.”

This isn’t the only sign of Tidal’s struggle. Kanye West ended his contract with the company last summer over money, claiming Tidal owed him $3 million. And TMZ reported on Tuesday that the heirs of Prince’s estate are about to back out of a deal giving Tidal exclusive streaming rights, saying “they don’t want the estate getting caught up in the streaming service’s legal problems.”

The other tracks on the power couple’s new album collaboration talk about their life at home, life in the public eye, celebrating their marriage rehab and growing family. “This beach ain’t always been no paradise/But nightmares only last one night,” Bey raps on “LoveHappy.”

 The real irony of Beyonce’s lyrics on the track ‘NICE’ is that she actually does give more than two f–ks about her streaming numbers. The album dropped exclusively on Tidal over the weekend, but was available on Spotify and Apple Music by Monday morning.”

…Read more @ The Federalist

 

 

 

FORGET ABOUT FAKE ARTISTS – IT’S TIME TO TALK ABOUT FAKE STREAMS

|| Music Business Worldwide | By Tim Ingham

“I’ve got a confession to make. I’m a fake artist.

One afternoon, about a decade ago, I started nobbing about on GarageBand. Made a scratchy demo. It wasn’t very good.

Last month, thinking nothing of it, I uploaded that demo to Spotify, via Tunecore.

I called it PH, by Pinky Hue. On Pinky Hue Records.

(As it turns out, my pseudonymous tendencies wererather more in vogue than I’d appreciated.)

Then, for over a fortnight, nothing. Aside, that is, from one loyal monthly listener in Milton Keynes, England. (Thanks mum.)

But this past week-and-a-half, things have kicked right off.

First 1,000 listens, then 3,000, then 5,000. Word’s getting out.

As we stand today, Pinky Hue has racked up more than 10,000 Spotify plays – and is already marching towards 15,000.

Anyone know a good manager?

There’s just one problem with this empowering rags-to-riches story, of course.

I bought these streams off the internet.

And I could have bought 2 million of them.


The issue of fake streams has been on my mind since Midem back in June – in particular, a panel called ‘How distributors and streaming services collaborate.’

Anne-Marie Robert (VP International, Tunecore France) appeared alongside reps from the likes of The Orchard and ADA, and was asked how self-releasing artists could gain better access to streaming playlists which would then revolutionize their career.

“Contrary to my friends from ADA and The Orchard, we don’t provide direct trade marketing services because we let the artist do [that] and we take no commission,” she replied.

“But we give a lot of advice on our blog… and also, we are partnering with some services where you can buy some streams [on] Deezer and other websites which can help you.”

Robert specifically mentioned Feature.fm, which allows artists and rights-holders to have their music played in promotional slots on streaming platforms – for a price.

Robert’s comments triggered a subsequent thought in my head: How hard is it to go out and actually purchase fake plays online?

So, the other week, I Googled ‘buy fake Spotify streams’.

And voila: options.

The top result was for a company called Streamify, which boasts on its homepage: ‘Whether you want to get more fans, boost sales or just monitor your plays [sic] count, Streamify has the answers and insights you need to get your songs played more.’

Streamify LLC is officially located in Houston, Texas and offers a full menu of fake stream delicacies specific to Daniel Ek’s platform.

For the timid trialist, $5 will buy you 1,000 Spotify plays.

For the bolder connoisseur, $200 will buy you 100,000 Spotify plays.

And for the full-on, screw-it-this-will-change-my-life desperado, $2,250 will buy you 2 million Spotify plays.

Other options for buying Spotify streams on the internet – and to be clear, MBW cannot vouch for the legitimacy of these companies – include Streampot/StreamKO and Mass Media, both of which also sell packages of fake YouTube plays.”

….Read more @ Musicbusinessworldwide.com

 

Did Tidal really fake Kanye and Beyoncé’s streaming numbers?

|| Digital Trends

“A Norwegian newspaper made huge waves in the music streaming industry on May 9, claiming that on-demand music streaming service Tidal had manipulated listener data for two of its biggest artists: Kanye West and Beyoncé.

The accusations surround both artists’ most recent albums, Kanye’s The Life of Pablo and Beyoncé’s Lemonade, with the newspaper claiming that it had gained access to royalty reports and a hard drive that contained “extensive data” regarding Tidal’s streaming plays. Tidal had exclusive streaming rights to both albums when they launched. Tidal owner Jay-Z is married to Beyoncé and is a longtime friend and collaborator of West.

.. ..

Rolling Stone has since reported that Tidal has contracted a third-party cybersecurity firm to investigate the data breach.  The company still denies the allegations made by the story and says it is undertaking the investigation as a means of reassuring its customers that their data is secure.

“Although we do not typically comment on stories we believe to be false, we feel it is important to make sure that our artists, employees and subscribers know that we are not taking the security and integrity of our data lightly,” Tidal CEO Richard Sanders told Rolling Stone.

The newspaper, Dagens Naeringsliv, worked in collaboration with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology to analyze the data, producing a report which claims that more than 320 million false plays had been logged for the two albums on more than 1.7 million user accounts. In March 2016, Tidal claimed that The Life of Pablo had been streaming 250 million times in 10 days. The streaming service claimed that Lemonade had 306 million plays in just 15 days following its release.

A later article from Dagens Naeringsliv that was published Wednesday, May 16 claims that Tidal has also failed to make royalty payments to some major labels since October of 2017.

.. ..

Many may be wondering why Tidal would want to skew its own streaming numbers in the first place. After all, you may think that increased plays would just cost the streaming service more money in royalty payments overall, thereby hurting the company. That is not true, as Billboard points out. Due to the nature of its contracts with major labels, Tidal — as well as competitors like Apple Music and Spotify — pays royalties from a percentage of revenue, not based on the total number of plays in a given term. This means it would simply shift the proportion of money they would have already paid other labels and artists towards West and Beyoncé.

There a few reasons this may have been in Tidal’s interest, should the allegations be true. First, it would have garnered increased publicity for two of its biggest artists. Second, it would have increased Tidal’s position and valuation in the marketplace — potentially profiting the company in terms of its increased ability to sell equity (Tidal sold a 30 percent stake in the business to Sprint in early 2017). And third, it would have made both artists over a million dollars in extra royalties, provided they were paid the “superstar” royalty rate of 50 percent on streaming from Def Jam and Columbia, the labels that produced the albums.

Tidal claims that the data was stolen and manipulated by Dagens Naeringsliv itself. One thing the study did indicate is that the data was unlikely to have been manipulated by a software bug or by accident.

“Due to the targeted nature and extent of the manipulation, it is very unlikely that this manipulation was solely the result of a code-based bug or other anomalies,” the study reads.

“[It] is highly likely that the manipulation happened from within the streaming service itself,” concludes professor Katrin Franke, who led the university team.

As part of its extensive story, Dagens Naeringsliv interviewed numerous affected customers, whose accounts show numerous plays of the album during odd hours.

Music critic Geir Rakvaag, for example, is shown in the data to have listened to songs from The Life of Pablo 96 times in a single day, and 54 times in the middle of the night.

“It’s physically impossible,” he claims in the story.

We’ll continue to keep tabs as this story develops. As for whether or not Tidal actually did manipulate user data to generate bigger publicity and profits for two of its biggest artists: Time will tell, and numerous lawsuits are likely forthcoming.”

…Read more @ Digitaltrends.com

Zuckerberg Gets Grilled in Front of Congress | Apr 11 2018

IF CONGRESS DOESN’T UNDERSTAND FACEBOOK, WHAT HOPE DO ITS USERS HAVE?

|| Wired

“What many young people feel about Facebook is they’ve kind of turned on us,” said Emmanuel Sessegnon, as he waited to enter the hearing room. “Whereas before we had this expectation when I signed up when I was 13, that when you’re on Facebook what you want to be public will be public, but what you want to be private will be private. What we see here is all this information that was leaked out by Facebook to these third-party companies…”

 

FACEBOOK CEO MARK Zuckerberg received a less than warm welcome in Washington, DC, where he testified before a joint hearing of two Senate committees Tuesday. Among the crowds of spectators lining up to watch Zuckerberg get grilled were members of the activist group CodePink, wearing oversized sunglasses with the words, “Stop Spying,” written across them. Another group wore t-shirts with the hashtag #DeleteFacebook scrawled on them in red Sharpie.

“What many young people feel about Facebook is they’ve kind of turned on us,” said Emmanuel Sessegnon, as he waited to enter the hearing room. “Whereas before we had this expectation when I signed up when I was 13, that when you’re on Facebook what you want to be public will be public, but what you want to be private will be private. What we see here is all this information that was leaked out by Facebook to these third-party companies, we just feel its inappropriate.”

Zuckerberg came to Congress to answer for a series of scandals that have plagued the company since at least the 2016 election. The first, of course, was the news that a Russian propaganda group called the Internet Research Agency used Facebook ads, fake accounts, and pages to influence voters in the run-up to the 2016 US election. The most recent was Facebook’s admission that a data firm named Cambridge Analytica received unauthorized accessto up to 87 million users’ private data without their consent beginning in 2014.

Anyone expecting Tuesday’s hearing to be a bloodbath, however, likely came away disappointed. The five-hour marathon felt more like Social Media 101, as Zuckerberg spent the bulk of his time in the hot seat walking through Facebook’s terms of service, the way advertisers target users, the way app developers access people’s information, and how and when and why Facebook collects and stores data. For close observers of both the company and the online ad ecosystem in general, the questions were largely rudimentary. That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

FACEBOOK CEO MARK Zuckerberg received a less than warm welcome in Washington, DC, where he testified before a joint hearing of two Senate committees Tuesday. Among the crowds of spectators lining up to watch Zuckerberg get grilled were members of the activist group CodePink, wearing oversized sunglasses with the words, “Stop Spying,” written across them. Another group wore t-shirts with the hashtag #DeleteFacebook scrawled on them in red Sharpie.

“What many young people feel about Facebook is they’ve kind of turned on us,” said Emmanuel Sessegnon, as he waited to enter the hearing room. “Whereas before we had this expectation when I signed up when I was 13, that when you’re on Facebook what you want to be public will be public, but what you want to be private will be private. What we see here is all this information that was leaked out by Facebook to these third-party companies, we just feel its inappropriate.”

Zuckerberg came to Congress to answer for a series of scandals that have plagued the company since at least the 2016 election. The first, of course, was the news that a Russian propaganda group called the Internet Research Agency used Facebook ads, fake accounts, and pages to influence voters in the run-up to the 2016 US election. The most recent was Facebook’s admission that a data firm named Cambridge Analytica received unauthorized access to up to 87 million users’ private data without their consent beginning in 2014.

Anyone expecting Tuesday’s hearing to be a bloodbath, however, likely came away disappointed. The five-hour marathon felt more like Social Media 101, as Zuckerberg spent the bulk of his time in the hot seat walking through Facebook’s terms of service, the way advertisers target users, the way app developers access people’s information, and how and when and why Facebook collects and stores data. For close observers of both the company and the online ad ecosystem in general, the questions were largely rudimentary. That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.”

….Continue reading @ Wired.com

 

FOUR QUESTIONS CONGRESS SHOULD ACTUALLY ASK MARK ZUCKERBERG

|| Wired

 

“Mark Zuckerberg testified for almost five hours Tuesday in a televised Senate hearing about Facebook’s privacy practices and data abuse. More than 40 Senators had five minutes each to ask questions. Zuckerberg’s most frequent response? “My team will follow up with you.” House members will have their own chance to coax answers from the evasive Facebook CEO on Wednesday when he testifies before that chamber’s Energy and Commerce Committee.

It’s a rare opportunity. Zuckerberg has been heavily coached for the DC leg of his apology tour, but for the controlling CEO, with a cautiously curated personal brand, these hearings provide a forum to pin him down with facts and get his statements on the record.

The impetus for the hearing was the scandal over Cambridge Analytica, which collected data on 87 million Facebook users without their consent. But some of the most telling lines of inquiry on Tuesday focused on the longstanding tradeoffs from Facebook’s business model and the mechanics of data collection that Zuckerberg would prefer to obscure: How Facebook tracks you online and offline; what personal data you inadvertent reveal; how a $477 billion company that makes money from advertisers might still respect privacy.

There were few revelations, and a longer list of not-quite-answered questions. Some lawmakers had clearly been briefed by tech-savvy Facebook critics, but still couldn’t quite hit it home.

Toward the end of the hearing, Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) attempted to list the questions where she thought Zuckerberg had been less than candid. “During the course of this hearing these last four hours you’ve been asked several critical questions for which you don’t have answers,” Harris said.

With that in mind, we offer these suggested queries for House members:

1. How does Facebook track users when they’re not on Facebook?

Users are now accustomed to the notion that Facebook harvests every post, like, comment, and share to build profiles that inform the ads it displays to a user. But senators sounded a lot like ordinary Facebook users when they asked about whether, or how, Facebook tracks them when they are not on the social network. Consider this exchange with Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi).

Wicker: There have been reports that Facebook can track a user’s internet browsing activity even after that user has logged off of the Facebook platform. Can you confirm whether or not this is true?

Zuckerberg: Senator, I want to make sure I get this accurate, so it would probably be better to have my team follow up afterwards.

Wicker: You don’t know?

Zuckerberg: I know that people use cookies on the internet and that you can probably correlate activity between sessions. We do that for a number of reasons including security and including measuring ads to make sure the experience is the most effective, which of course people can opt-out of but I want to make sure that I’m precise.

Zuckerberg also got a lot of mileage from the line that Facebook doesn’t sell your data, until Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) shut him down by responding, “You clearly rent it!” Why not delve more into this rental agreement? The Wall Street Journal’s recent breakdown of all the data shared just to organize a pizza party is a good start.

Committee members could also ask about Facebook Pixel, its Like button, or other Facebook plugins that track consumers around around the web, even when they’re not logged in to Facebook. They could also probe more deeply about how data from Facebook gets combined with other sources, including shopping histories and public records.

2. Does Facebook behave like a monopoly?

Quite a few legislators asked tried to get Zuckerberg to admit that Facebook is a monopoly. Zuckerberg was asked to name Facebook’s competitors and identify a viable alternative for users who want to leave Facebook and go elsewhere. Zuckerberg responded that the typical American uses eight different communication apps, neglecting to mention that Facebook owns a few of those other apps too, including Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger.

A straighter route might be to ask Facebook about specific instances where it has allegedly engaged in anticompetitive behavior, such as brazenly copying Snapchat’s features or acquiring Onavo, a tool that help Facebook identify the next Snapchat it needs to buy or crush.

3. Pull out a laptop and ask Zuckerberg to walk us through the process of changing the privacy settings on a Facebook account.

This would be mostly for dramatic effect, but in keeping with this week’s corporate theater. But it would also prove a point. Zuckerberg repeatedly insisted that users own their own data, can remove it at any time, and can control who has access to it while they are on Facebook.

Exercising that control is not that simple, however. Start with Facebook’s 3,200-word user agreement. “I say this gently: Your user agreement sucks,” Sen. John Kennedy (R-Louisiana) told Zuckerberg. “The purpose of the user agreement is to cover Facebook’s rear end. It is not to inform your users about their rights. You know that and I know that.”

Then there are Facebook’s privacy controls, which are famously difficult to find and opaque. Warning: this question could go well over your five minute allotment.”

….Continue reading more @ Wired.com

Facebook on the Hot Seat, Zuckerberg in Hiding | Mar 21 2018

Where’s Zuck? Facebook CEO silent as data harvesting scandal unfolds

|| The Guardian UK

Amid calls for investigation and a #DeleteFacebook campaign, company releases an official statement but its figurehead keeps quiet

“The chief executive of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, has remained silent over the more than 48 hours since the Observer revealed the harvesting of 50 million users’ personal data, even as his company is buffeted by mounting calls for investigation and regulation, falling stock prices and a social media campaign to #DeleteFacebook.

Facebook’s shares slid 6.77% on Monday following the news, knocking $36bn off the company’s valuation as investors worried about the consequences of the revelations. Zuckerberg owns 16% of the company and personally saw his fortune fall $5.5bn to $69bn, according to Forbes’ live tracker of the world’s wealthiest people.

The embattled social media company announced on Monday that it will engage a digital forensics firm to conduct an audit of Cambridge Analytica to determine whether or not the firm still has copies of the data in question.

The Observer reported this weekend that a company called Global Science Research (GSR) harvested tens of millions of Facebook profiles and sold the data to Cambridge Analytica. The New York Times reported on Saturday that Cambridge Analytica still possesses “most or all” of the harvested data. Cambridge Analytica has denied knowing that the data was obtained improperly.

“If this data still exists, it would be a grave violation of Facebook’s policies and an unacceptable violation of trust and the commitments these groups made,” Facebook said in a statement.

The engagement of the digital forensics firm Stroz Friedberg is unlikely to assuage officials in the US or UK, where lawmakers have issued calls for Zuckerberg to testify about the data breach. Representatives of Stroz Friedberg were at Cambridge Analytica’s office in London on Monday evening when the UK Information Commissioner’s Office asked them to leave so the authorities could pursue its own investigation, Facebook said hours after the first announcement.

On Monday, the US senator Ron Wyden sent Zuckerberg a detailed list of questions related to the breach, with a demand for answers by 13 April. Two members of the Senate judiciary committee, Democrat Amy Klobuchar and Republican John Kennedy, called for hearings with the CEOs of Facebook, Twitter and Google.

“It’s time for Mark Zuckerberg to stop hiding behind his Facebook page,” said the Conservative MP Damian Collins, chair of the digital, culture, media and sport select committee.

Referencing the government’s request for Facebook’s auditors to leave Cambridge Analytica’s offices, Collins tweeted: “These investigations need to be undertaken by the proper authorities.”

The three social media companies testified in Washington last fall, following the revelation that their platforms had been used by foreign agents seeking to illegally influence the US presidential election. All three companies sent their general counsels, a move that was criticized at the time. It is unlikely that Zuckerberg will be able to avoid congressional questioning a second time.

Experts have long criticized Facebook’s privacy practices, but their warnings have done little to dissuade users – now numbering more than 2 billion around the world – from signing up for the platform.

Whether the scandal will result in actual change in user trust of the company remains to be seen, but the hashtag #DeleteFacebook trended on Twitter on Monday as users shared their intention to log off the social network for good. Others tweeted #WheresZuck, in reference to the executive’s silence.

Also on Monday, the New York Times reported that Facebook’s chief security officer, Alex Stamos, would be leaving the company following disagreements with other executives over the handling of the investigation into the Russian influence operation.”

….Continue reading more @ The Guardian

Hillary’s ‘Muslim Spy’ Huma Abedin Gave Away U.S. Secrets with Yahoo Account | Jan 02 2017

Huma Abedin Forwarded State Dept Passwords to Yahoo Email Account Before it Was Hacked By Foreign Agents… Including Russians

|| theGatewayPundit

(Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)

“As previously reported, the State Department released a portion of the documents found on pervert Anthony Weiner’s laptop Friday and at least 5 emails contain classified information.

The FBI seized Weiner’s laptop after he was caught sexting with an underage teenager and discovered CLASSIFIED INFORMATION on the disgraced politician’s computer.

It turns out Hillary Clinton’s aide, Huma Abedin forwarded sensitive State Department emails to all of her insecure Yahoo email accounts which were later hacked by foreign actors. Among the foreign agents that hacked Huma’s Yahoo emails included RUSSIANS.

Via Luke Rosiak of The Daily Caller:

Huma Abedin forwarded sensitive State Department emails, including passwords to government systems, to her personal Yahoo email account before every single Yahoo account was hacked, a Daily Caller News Foundation analysis of emails released as part of a lawsuit brought by Judicial Watch shows.

The U.S. later charged Russian intelligence agent Igor Sushchin with hacking 500 million Yahoo email accounts. The initial hack occurred in 2014 and allowed his associates to access accounts into 2015 and 2016 by using forged cookies. Sushchin also worked for the Russian investment bank Renaissance Capital, which paid former President Bill Clinton $500,000 for a June 2010 speech in Moscow.

A separate hack in 2013 compromised three billion accounts across multiple Yahoo properties, and the culprit is still unclear. “All Yahoo user accounts were affected by the August 2013 theft,” the company said in a statement.

[…]

Long-time Clinton confidante Sid Blumenthal sent Clinton an email in July 2009 with the subject line: “Important. Not for circulation. You only. Sid.” The email began “CONFIDENTIAL… Re: Moscow Summit.” Abedin forwarded the email to her Yahoo address, potentially making it visible to hackers.

According to The Daily Caller report, the three email accounts Abedin used were abedinh@state.gov, huma@clintonemail.com, and humamabedin@yahoo.com.

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton had this to say about the new Huma/Hillary doc dump from the State Department Friday:

This is a major victory. After years of hard work in federal court, Judicial Watch has forced the State Department to finally allow Americans to see these public documents. It will be in keeping with our past experience that Abedin’s emails on Weiner’s laptop will include classified and other sensitive materials. That these government docs were on Anthony Weiner’s laptop dramatically illustrates the need for the Justice Department to finally do a serious investigation of Hillary Clinton’s and Huma Abedin’s obvious violations of law.

Read the full report by Luke Rosiak here.”

….Continue reading more @ TGP

Huma Abedin Forwarded Classified Emails to Yahoo Archive Account | Oct 2016

Equifax Hack Raises Major Questions of Consumer Privacy | Sep 9 2017

Equifax finally responds to swirling concerns over consumers’ legal rights

|| Washington Post

Update: Equifax issued a statement Friday evening. “In response to consumer inquiries, we have made it clear that the arbitration clause and class action waiver included in the Equifax and TrustedID Premier terms of use does not apply to this cybersecurity incident,” the company said.

Sharp-eyed social media users have combed through the Equifax data breach site’s fine print — and found what they argue is a red flag.

Buried in the terms of service is language that appears to bar those who enroll in an Equifax credit monitoring program from participating in any class-action lawsuits that may arise from the incident. Here’s the relevant passage of the terms of service:

AGREEMENT TO RESOLVE ALL DISPUTES BY BINDING INDIVIDUAL ARBITRATION. PLEASE READ THIS ENTIRE SECTION CAREFULLY BECAUSE IT AFFECTS YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS BY REQUIRING ARBITRATION OF DISPUTES (EXCEPT AS SET FORTH BELOW) AND A WAIVER OF THE ABILITY TO BRING OR PARTICIPATE IN A CLASS ACTION, CLASS ARBITRATION, OR OTHER REPRESENTATIVE ACTION. ARBITRATION PROVIDES A QUICK AND COST EFFECTIVE MECHANISM FOR RESOLVING DISPUTES, BUT YOU SHOULD BE AWARE THAT IT ALSO LIMITS YOUR RIGHTS TO DISCOVERY AND APPEAL.

This language is commonly known in the industry as an “arbitration clause.” In theory, arbitration clauses are meant to streamline the amount of work that’s dumped onto the court system. But the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau concluded in the summer arbitration that clauses do more harm to consumers than good — and the agency put in place a rule to ban them.

“In practice, companies use these clauses to bar groups of consumers from joining to seek justice by vindicating their legal right,” Richard Cordray, the CFPB’s director, told reporters in July, according to my colleague Jonnelle Marte.

Here’s a further look into why the language raised concerns.

Why is arbitration a big deal?

There is already at least one class-action suit brewing against Equifax. Arbitration clauses make it hard if not impossible for consumers to join such suits. Arbitration is weaker than class-action suits, critics say, because it limits consumers’ ability to find facts to support their case, to appeal decisions or to present their case before a jury.

Friday afternoon, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman took aim at Equifax’s arbitration clause, tweeting his staff has contacted the company urging it to remove that part of the fine print.

“This language is unacceptable and unenforceable,” the state’s top lawyer said in his tweet. Minutes later, Schneiderman’s office announced a formal probe into the Equifax breach. In a release, the state attorney general’s office said Schneiderman had sent a letter to Equifax asking for more information. Among the questions were whether any consumer information has found its way to the “black market,” according to a person familiar with the investigation.

A spokesperson for Schneiderman declined to comment on whether officials were investigating the sale of company stock by Equifax executives before the discovery of the hack.

So should I register with the Equifax site, or not?

It’s up to you, but you should know going into the process what you’re signing up for. Equifax issued a statement Friday evening apologizing for consumers’ inconvenience and said the arbitration clause and class-action waiver “does not apply to this cybersecurity incident.”

…Continue reading more @ https://www.washingtonpost.com

 

Were You Hit By The Equifax Security Breach?

|| Refinery 29

“The three credit reporting agencies collect a vast array of personal data from consumers to calculate credit scores, which can determine an individual’s loan-worthiness or the terms of a loan. At a minimum, the accrued information includes Social Security numbers and credit card information that would be nerve-wracking to have stolen.

Yesterday, this information from as many as 143 million people in the U.S. — about 44% of the population — was leaked after a cybersecurity breach of Equifax’s database.
“The information accessed primarily includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers. In addition, credit card numbers for approximately 209,000 U.S. consumers, and certain dispute documents with personal identifying information for approximately 182,000 U.S. consumers, were accessed,” the firm said in a statement. “As part of its investigation of this application vulnerability, Equifax also identified unauthorized access to limited personal information for certain U.K. and Canadian residents.”
Equifax says the breach occurred from mid-May through July 2017, and they urge consumers to “check potential impact” at a dedicated website, which you can do here. They’ve also opened a call center line (which will be open on weekends), and recommend that people with questions advises people who are worried about their information being exposed to consider placing a temporary fraud alert on their credit report for now.”
…Continue reading more @ Refinery29.com

Judicial Watch Uncovers More Voter Fraud in USA | August 14, 2017

Study Finds 3.5 Million Ghost Voters in US – More Than the Entire Population of 21 States

|| theGatewayPundit

“A new study by Judicial Watch found that there are at least 3.5 million more people registered to vote than are alive among the US voting age adults.

Deroy Murdock at National Review reported:

Some 3.5 million more people are registered to vote in the U.S. than are alive among America’s adult citizens. Such staggering inaccuracy is an engraved invitation to voter fraud.

The Election Integrity Project of Judicial Watch — a Washington-based legal-watchdog group — analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2011–2015 American Community Survey and last month’s statistics from the federal Election Assistance Commission. The latter included figures provided by 38 states. According to Judicial Watch, eleven states gave the EAC insufficient or questionable information. Pennsylvania’s legitimate numbers place it just below the over-registration threshold.

My tabulation of Judicial Watch’s state-by-state results yielded 462 counties where the registration rate exceeded 100 percent. There were 3,551,760 more people registered to vote than adult U.S. citizens who inhabit these counties.

There are 21 states that don’t have a population of 3.5 million.”

….Continue reading more @ TGP

 

Threats to National Security in an Age of United States National Discord | August 11, 2017

History

U.S. PAPERS TELL OF IKE’S ’53 POLICY TO USE A-BOMB IN KOREA

|| New York Times

WASHINGTON, June 7— Documents released today give details on a decision by President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Administration in 1953 to use atomic bombs in North Korea and Communist China, if necessary, to end the Korean War.

Once the armistice was achieved, on July 27, 1953, the Eisenhower Administration continued to define plans to use nuclear weapons if the Communists renewed the war, which the North Koreans started in 1950.

President Eisenhower took office in January 1953 after talks for a cease-fire had dragged on for two years and the war had settled into a standoff, with casualties being incurred but with no change in the front line, which today still separates North and South Korea.

The fact that the Eisenhower Administration was ready to use nuclear weapons is not new. President Eisenhower, in his memoirs, said he came into office prepared to use them, if necessary, to break the deadlock. What is new in the 2,000 pages of documents now made public is the high level of planning and the detail of discussion on possible use of these weapons, and Mr. Eisenhower’s interest in overcoming reluctance to use them.”

….Continue reading more @ New York Times

 

North Korean Nuclear Conflict Has Deep Roots

|| Washington Post | Nov 2006

 

“Democrats and Republicans have been quick to use North Korea’s apparent nuclear test to benefit their own party in these final weeks of the congressional campaign, but a review of history shows that both sides have contributed to the current situation.

There is more than 50 years of history to Pyongyang’s attempt to gain a nuclear weapon, triggered in part by threats from Presidents Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower to end the Korean War.

In 1950, when a reporter asked Truman whether he would use atomic bombs at a time when the war was going badly, the president said, “That includes every weapon we have.”

Three years later, Eisenhower made a veiled threat, saying he would “remove all restraints in our use of weapons” if the North Korean government did not negotiate in good faith an ending to that bloody war.

In 1957, the United States placed nuclear-tipped Matador missiles in South Korea, to be followed in later years, under both Republican and Democratic administrations, by nuclear artillery, most of which was placed within miles of the demilitarized zone.

It was not until President Jimmy Carter’s administration, in the late 1970s, that the first steps were taken to remove some of the hundreds of nuclear weapons that the United States maintained in South Korea, a process that was not completed until 1991, under the first Bush administration.

It is against that background that the North Korean nuclear program developed.

North Korea has its own uranium mines and in 1965 obtained a small research reactor from the Soviet Union, which it located at Yongbyon. By the mid-1970s, North Korean technicians had increased the capability of that reactor and constructed a second one. Pyongyang agreed in 1977 to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to inspect the first reactor.

It was in the 1980s that the North Korean weapons program began its clandestine growth with the building of a facility for reprocessing fuel into weapons-grade material and the testing of chemical high explosives. In 1985, around the time U.S. intelligence discovered a third, once-secret reactor, North Korea agreed to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Five years later, U.S. intelligence discovered through satellite photos that a structure had been built that appeared to be capable of separating plutonium from nuclear fuel rods. Under pressure, North Korea signed a safeguards agreement with the IAEA in 1992, and inspections of facilities began. But in January 1993, IAEA inspectors were prevented from going to two previously unreported facilities. In the resulting crisis, North Korea attempted to withdraw from the NPT.

The Clinton administration responded in 1994 that if North Korea reprocessed plutonium from fuel rods, it would be crossing a “red line” that could trigger military action. The North Koreans “suspended” their withdrawal from the NPT, and bilateral talks with the Clinton administration got underway. When negotiations deadlocked, North Korea removed fuel rods from one of its reactors, a step that brought Carter back into the picture as a negotiator.

The resulting talks led to the 1994 Agreed Framework, under which North Korea would freeze and eventually dismantle its nuclear weapons program. In return, it would be supplied with conventional fuel and ultimately with two light-water reactors that could not produce potential weapons-grade fuel.

However, a subsequent IAEA inspection determined that North Korea had clandestinely extracted about 24 kilograms of plutonium from its fuel rods, and U.S. intelligence reported that was enough material for two or three 20-kiloton plutonium bombs.”

….Continue reading more @ The Washington Post | Nov 2006

 

 

Debbie Wasserman Schultz is a threat to national security

|| New York Post

Clinton because they thought she couldn’t be trusted with national secrets after her reckless handling of sensitive State Department emails. Florida voters ought to dispatch Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz for the same reason.

When it comes to security matters, the incumbent Democrat and former DNC chair makes Hillary look like a diligent TSA agent. And the news about her staffer trying to flee to Pakistan to avoid data-fraud charges is only the latest proof.

Computer security at the DNC was so lax on Wasserman Schultz’s watch that hackers burrowed deep into the network, leading to a massive data breach. They were thwarted, in contrast, when they tried to infiltrate Schultz’s Republican counterparts.

When the FBI tried to investigate the cyber-crime, Wasserman Schultz refused to fully cooperate. She wouldn’t let forensic experts at the FBI’s lab in Quantico examine the targeted server and collect the digital fingerprints needed to nail the intruders.

Now we discover that Wasserman Schultz couldn’t really give a rip about cyber-security in Congress, either.

After the Capitol Police this year began investigating her trusted staffer, Imran Awan, for theft of congressional data and procurement fraud, Politico reported, every Democrat who had contracted with him eventually fired him. Everyone, that is, except Wasserman Schultz.

It wasn’t until last month, when the FBI arrested Awan for bank fraud, that the Democratic leader finally sacked him. The FBI says Awan bilked the Congressional Federal Credit Union out of $165,000, which he immediately wrapped into a $283,000 wire transfer to Pakistan. Agents collared him as he was boarding a flight for Pakistan.

In an interview with her local paper, Wasserman Schultz revealed she kept Awan around to do other IT work even after authorities suspended his access to the Capitol computer network. Worse, she said she continued to employ him to work on printers, websites and software despite learning he transferred sensitive congressional data outside the secure network to an unauthorized offsite storage location.

Police told her Awan was “transferring data outside the secure network, which I think amounted to use of apps that the House didn’t find compliant with our security requirements,” Wasserman Schultz shrugged, insisting she “did the right thing” keeping him on payroll. “I would do it again.”

She claims he didn’t have access to classified information, though investigators still probing Awan haven’t confirmed that. And even if true, he had access to emails to and from members of the House Intelligence Committee, as well as the calendars, travel schedules and notes of other members — sensitive information that, as one Republican legislator pointed out, “our enemies that would like to bring down the US would love to have.”

Awan is reported to have smashed hard drives before agents raided his home. If he copied valuable data to off-site servers, it would set off bigger alarms. Such information could be used to blackmail members of Congress — namely Wasserman Schultz, who has gone to unusual lengths to protect her rogue IT guy.

She admitted she knew Awan was planning to travel to Pakistan, but that he had discussed return dates with her chief of staff. And when investigators seized a laptop from her office, one she says belonged to Awan, she went into high dudgeon, chewing out the Capitol Police chief in May when he refused to return it and even threatening him with “consequences.”

As it turns out, Awan had access to Wasserman Schultz’s emails at both Congress and the DNC. He had been given the password to her iPad, which might also explain why she refused to turn over the server to the FBI.

Wasserman Schultz claims she defended Awan to the bitter end, because he’s Muslim and she didn’t want to see him demonized in an Islamophobic witch hunt. But that excuse doesn’t cut ice. Awan exhibited a pattern of shady behavior over the course of his employment. Yet instead of questioning him, she covered for him — and endangered the security of Congress’ computer networks in the process.

Such negligence should not be rewarded with another term in office.”

….Continue reading more @ NY Post

 

True the Vote founder Catherine Engelbrecht keeps the cameras rolling for an impromptu DIY interview

|| True the Vote

More @ Youtube