Tag Archives: Richard Blumenthal

Bells of Duty and Death

We have all heard it before, the clarion call, the bells are ringing and of course in 1983 the bells of St Mark were all ringing for Sheila E. So what happens, when you make that one mistake where your moment of non-concentration gets people killed, optionally a lot of people! That is what the Washington Post gives us (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2019/03/06/hundreds-immigrant-recruits-risk-death-sentence-after-army-bungles-sensitive-data/?utm_term=.d381e6f9d0ff)

The starter “Army officials inadvertently disclosed sensitive information about hundreds of immigrant recruits from nations such as China and Russia, in a breach that could aid hostile governments in persecuting them or their families, a lawmaker and former U.S. officials said.” is not a soft one. What the never explainable bloody hell is going on? When I see: “A spreadsheet intended for internal coordination among recruiters was accidentally emailed to recruits and contained names, Social Security numbers and enlistment dates. The list was sent out inadvertently at least three times between July 2017 and January 2018.” So over a period of 6 months, we see an optional 50% failure. I can see at least 4 solutions that could have prevented that. The issue of mailing spreadsheets with names is just a joke. If it is sensitive data, we can argue that it might be in a spreadsheet, yet the mailing of sensitive data has always required the need of vetting before pressing send. It is the one time when the military looks more evolved (‘used’ to being the operative term) than the leaking baboons of Wall Street.

So when we see: “more than 900 Chinese Mandarin speakers and dozens of Russian speakers are on the spreadsheet, according to a copy obtained by The Post.” We need to realise that some people are highly overdue for the loss of rank and even worse. It goes a lot further when we consider the quote: “Abhishek Bakshi, an Indian recruit, said he received the list by accident in July 2017 from an Army recruiter in Wisconsin who asked whether he wanted to schedule a security interview. The spreadsheet was disturbing, said Bakshi, whose name is on the list“, this sets the stage where people can be coerced and even blackmailed in several ways. When we also vet “received the list in December 2017, among other documents related to enlistment, after it was forwarded among a chain of recruiting officials“, we see a larger danger when we consider ‘a chain of recruiting officials‘, where we consider not only the validity of the people, the fact that it was a list of people, we need to worry on who they shared their list with. A chain implies the setting of multiple links, each and every one of them weaker than the preceding link.

The dangers actually exceed what the Post gives us. In case of Russian, Pakistani and Chinese setting, it is not out of the question that the acquired names and Social Security numbers can be used to create a trigger database to change the parameters of having a valid life. When those numbers are used to track locations (housing), assets (cars) and even financial gains (educational scholarships) the future of these people could be undone within a year creating all kinds of security hazards, not to mention a financial mess that the victim is unable to undo for months, even years.

It is even worse when we consider the quote: “In 2018 under the Trump administration, the Army began discharging soldiers who had enlisted under the MAVNI program. Most were reportedly not given notice of why they were being discharged, but their citizenship status was jeopardized as a result. Many of them had served honorably in Afghanistan, Iraq and other locations around the world” showing that the United States has no intention of honouring its commitments, as such, when the next escalation comes, how will the US Military solve it? They are unlikely to be ever trusted again. Not only are hundreds in danger of being ‘chased’ out of the US, many of them with a honourable military roll call. the fact that these veterans are shipped out will set a most dangerous precedent down the line, and it does not stop there.

The homeless soldier

The issue that is rearing its ugly head is not new, there is more news now, but this has been going on for a long time, getting a lot of limelight in 2018. As we see (at https://www.military.com/daily-news/2019/03/07/senator-involve-doj-military-housing-scandal.html), we see a dangerous stage with: “The U.S. armed services should consult with the U.S. Department of Justice regarding the conduct of private companies hired to manage military housing“, I see absolutely no issue if the DoJ would start annexing these properties and making them part of the DoJ asset database. When we are confronted with “The contractors, he said, provided substandard, unhealthy and inadequate housing and ignored pleas to repair or service the homes“, I see a stage where it has become the responsibility of Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn to move towards confiscation of property if a 100% adjustment has not been achieved within 60 days. So when I see: “in February, a survey of more than 14,500 residents of base housing found that 56 percent said they had “negative or very negative experiences” with their houses on military installations. Now we all have issues with housing at times, yet when that impression gets to be a zero positive view for 56% a much larger issue is in play and changes are essential. These soldiers are often underpaid, under-acknowledged and now even below substandard housed, we see the clear need to clean that mess up, annexing housing and removing ownership from these owners has become an essential first. So when we accept: ‘a baby who lived in the home developed pneumonia and later had a stroke‘ we see a clear case of reckless endangerment of life and that can never be accepted, I do agree that the establishment of guilt, as well as the need to ascertain whether the tenants had taken serious steps to diminish risk. In addition to all that these landlords need to be put into a database, the people have a right to know when soldiers get housing that a dog on a junkyard would not accept on a rainy winter day. The final straw is seen with ‘other concerns raised by senators was the relationship between base housing offices and the private management companies‘, in my view it does not matter whether it is a case of corruption or nepotism, it is the direct stage where the fighting force is disabled through greed driven facilitation and that cannot be allowed to exist in any way, shape or form. So when we see Sen. Martha McSally, R-Arizona giving us: ‘the two parties appear to be “in cahoots.”‘ we see an optional prosecutable form of what could be regarded as corruption. It is not always stated to be money that funds the prosecution corruption, enabling economic benefits, facilitation towards non accountability of services and quality are all issues that can be translated into monetary value, making it a larger issue for prosecution and in that case anyone found guilty will (read: should) be stripped of the land titles, the housing and the deeds to these places and placed directly with the Defence department at that stage. In that context there is one part I do not agree with. It is found at the end of the article where we see: “Air Force Chief of Staff David Goldfein said he has lived in base housing for more than 50 years, including his childhood, and he wanted airmen to have safe communities where they don’t have to worry about their children’s health or about retaliation if they complain about the condition of their housing“, from my personal point of view, his actions are well over a decade late (even as we accept that he might not have been in an operational place to act earlier on, his predecessor clearly was).

In this day and age when the military needs to catch up on several fields, the last thing they should ever have to concern themselves with is the fact that their details are spread like wildfire by someone who has no clear regard for proper email and cyber security issues, besides that being in reliable housing is the clear responsibility of their CEO (aka the general of defense housing). It is not important whether your house is Air force blue, Army green or Naval grey, there will be a General, Air Marshall or Admiral in charge of that division and ringing their bell should at this point be the right of every enlisted man that is part of the US defense forces, however I might have oversimplified the matter.

We will have to see what extent Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut is willing to take the baton, if he does not make it to the final stretch, we can consider that the next senatorial elections are in 2020, so either he has a following of a million+ in 2020, or he could optionally consider his next job to be with Uber (yes, I do have a flaky sense of humour).

I personally think that making quick cash at the expense of servicemen needs to be looked at in much harsher ways and it is our duty to expose those who would want to exploit this group for personal gains to a much larger degree than has been done until now. It does not matter what country you are in, we do not merely have a decent responsibility to thank them for their service; we all have a partial a duty of care that they do not have to deal with this kind of shit in any way shape or form ever.

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Media, Military, Politics

The congressional sham

The papers are ‘covering’ live the entire Facebook hearing, we see several papers covering it and I think that this is a good thing. Yet, most papers are not without flaws. The fact that I have been writing about the entire mess of data privacy since 2013 makes it to the best of my knowledge a Capitol sham at best (pun intended) . you see, these so called senators are all up in arms and we see the Washington Post (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2018/04/10/mark-zuckerberg-facebook-hearing-congress-testimony) give quotes like “from data privacy to Russian disinformation“, you see, it is a lot less about data privacy than it is about the Russians. The anti-communist gene in Americans is too strong; the yanks get too emotional and become utterly useless in the process. So is it about the 44 senators grilling Mark Zuckerberg, is it about their limelight and about their re-election visibility, or is it about global data privacy? I can guarantee you now that it will not be about the last part and as such we will see a lot more warped issues shine on the congressional dance floor.

In that regard, when you read “They demanded new detail about how Facebook collects and uses data and elicited assurances that it will implement major improvements in protecting personal privacy“, it might be about that, but it will be a lot more on oversight and how the US government wants to be able to ‘check’ all that data. They wanted access to all that data since Facebook became one year old. So when we see ‘Sen. Kennedy: “I don’t want to have to vote to regulate Facebook, but by god, I will. That depends on you.”‘ you better believe that the ‘depends on you‘ can be read as ‘as long as you give us access to all your data‘, which contains the shoe that fumbles.

So when we see “Several asked for detailed answers about how private, third-party companies, such as the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, gained access to personal data on 87 million Facebook users, including 71 million Americans“, we see the valid question, yet that did not require a congressional hearing, so that is merely the icing that hides the true base element of the cake. It is the honourable Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Commerce Committee that gives the first goods: “Many are incredibly inspired by what you’ve done. At the same time, you have an obligation, and it’s up to you, to ensure that dream doesn’t become a privacy nightmare for the scores of people who use Facebook”, you see, freedom of data and misuse of information as set by insurances. The statements like ‘Insurance companies warn that under certain circumstances, posting about your holidays on social media could result in your claim being declined if you are burgled‘. These senators were not really that interested in all this whilst the entire insurance issues have been playing as early as 2010; they were likely too busy looking somewhere else. The entire privacy mess is a lot larger. We see this at the Regis University site when we take a look at: “A new survey by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) reveals nearly one in five Americans (19%) has been the victim of some form of cyber stalking, defined as any persistent and unwanted online contact with another individual. Through aggressive social media contact, repeated emails or other methods of online connectivity, cyber stalkers represent a serious and growing threat to men and women who otherwise wish to disengage from those who make them feel uncomfortable. Still, the NCSA report shows only 39% of those who believed they were being stalked online reported the incident to authorities“, so was there a senatorial hearing then? No, there was not. In addition, a situation where one in 5 Americans is subject to stalking, yet in all those years almost nothing was done. Why is that? Is that because the overwhelming numbers of these victims have tits and a vagina, or merely because they are less likely to be communist in nature?

Does this offend you?

Too bad, it is the direct consequence of inaction which makes todays issue almost a farce. I stated almost! So, is the issue that the data was downloaded, or that the data on millions of Americans is now in the hands of others and not in the hands of the US government? This loaded question is a lot more important than you might think.

The fact that this is a much larger farce is seen when the Democrat from Illinois decides to open his mouth. It is seen in “Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), asked Zuckerberg what hotel he stayed at Monday night and the names of anyone he messaged this week“, was it to break the ice? If all 44 senators do that, then we see evidence why the US government can’t get anything done. It is actually another Democrat that gives rise to issues. It is seen in Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said, “We’ve seen the apology tours before… I don’t see how you can change your business model unless there are different rules of the road.”, the man makes a good case, but I am not certain if he is correct. You see, unless the US government is ready to lash out massively in the abuse of data towards any corporation found using social media on exploiting the privacy of its members, and insurers are merely one part in all this. You see, the rules of the road have been negated for some time in different directions, unless you are willing to protect the users of social media by corporate exploitation, Richard Blumenthal should not really be talking about traffic rules, should he? This directly links to the fact that 90% of hedge funds were using social media in 2014. Were they properly looked at? I wonder where those 44 senators were when that all went down.

The one part that will actually become a larger case comes from Massachusetts. “Democratic Sen. Edward J. Markey (Mass.) plans to introduce a new bill Tuesday called the CONSENT Act that would require social giants like Facebook and other major web platforms to obtain explicit consent before they share or sell personal data“, it will change the business model where data is no longer shared, or sold, but another model where all this is set up by Facebook and he advertiser can get the results of visibility in top line results. That is the path Facebook would likely push for, a more Google approach in their setting of AdWords and Google analytics. Facebook is ready to a much larger extent on this and it is a likely path to follow for Facebook after all this. Yet in all this the theatre of congress will go on a little longer, we will know soon enough. In the end 44 senators will push regarding “The Federal Trade Commission is investigating violations of a 2011 consent decree over privacy policy at Facebook that could lead to record fines against the company“, in the end it will be about money and as it is more likely that the data on Americans made it to Russia, the fine will be as astronomically high as they could possibly make it. They will state in some way that the debt of 21 trillion will have nothing to do with that, or so they will claim. In the end Mark Zuckerberg partially did this too himself, he will get fined and so he should, but the entire theatre and the likelihood that the fine is going to be way overboard, whilst in equal measure these senators will not chase the other transgressors is a much larger case and calls for even more concern. You see, there is a much larger congressional sham in play. It was exposed by Clay Johnson, formerly of the Sunlight Foundation, (more at http://www.congressfoundation.org/news/blog/912). The issue is not merely “On the Hill, congressional staff do not have the tools that they need to quickly distill meaning from the overwhelming volume of communications that they receive on any given day“, it is that Facebook has been able to add well over 400% pressure to that inability. That given is what also drives the entire matter of division in American voters. I myself did not think that ‘fake’ news on events did any serious damage to Democrat Hillary Clinton, from my point of view; she did that all to herself during her inaction of the Benghazi events.

In the end I believe that the bulk will go after Mark Zuckerberg for whatever reason they think they have, whilst all hiding behind the indignation of ‘transplanted data‘. The fact that doing this directly hit the value that the rest of his data has is largely ignored by nearly all players. In addition, the fact that the BBC gave us ‘More than 600 apps had access to my iPhone data‘ less than 12 hours ago is further evidence still. So when will these 44 senators summon Tim Cook? The fact that the BBC gives us “Data harvesting is a multibillion dollar industry and the sobering truth is that you many never know just how much data companies hold about you, or how to delete it” and the fact that this is a given truth and has been for a few years, because you the consumer signed over your rights, is one of those ignored traffic rules, so the statement that Richard Blumenthal gave is a lot larger than even he might have considered. It is still a good point of view to have, yet this shown him to be either less correct on the whole, or it could be used as evidence that too many senators have been sitting on their hands for many years and in that matter the least stated on the usefulness of the European Commission the better. So when we read “The really big data brokers – firms such as Acxiom, Experian, Quantium, Corelogic, eBureau, ID Analytics – can hold as many as 3,000 data points on every consumer, says the US Federal Trade Commission“, we see that Equifax is missing from that list is also a matter for concern, especially when we consider the events that Palantir uncovered, whilst at the same time we ignore what Palantir Gotham is capable of. I wonder how many US senators are skating around that subject. We see part of that evidence in Fortune, were (at http://fortune.com/2017/10/10/equifax-attack-avoiding-hacks/) we see “Lauren Penneys, who heads up business development at Palantir, advised companies to get their own data and IT assets in order—both to better understand what risks do exist and to improve readiness to respond when a breach does happen“, she is right and she (validly) does not mention what Palantir Gotham is truly capable of when we combine the raw data from more than one corporate source. With the upcoming near exponential growth of debt collection, and they all rely on data and skip tracing of social media data, we see a second issue, which these senators should have been aware of for well over two years. So how protective have they been of citizens against the invasion of privacy on such matters from the Wall Street Golden Child? Even in London, places like Burford Capital Ltd are more and more reliant on a range of social media data and as such it will not be about traffic rules as the superrich are hunted down. We might not care about that, mainly because they are superrich. Yet as this goes on, how long until the well dries up and they set their nets in a much wider setting?

We claim that we are humane and that we set the foundation for morally just actions, but are we? The BBC actually partially addresses this with: “Susan Bidel, senior analyst at Forrester Research in New York, who covers data brokers, says a common belief in the industry is that only “50% of this data is accurate” So why does any of this matter? Because this “ridiculous marketing data”, as Ms Dixon calls it, is now determining life chances” and that is where the shoe truly hurts, at some point in the near future we will be denied chances and useless special rebates, because the data did not match, we will be seen as a party person instead of a sport person, at which point out premiums would have been ‘accidently’ 7% too high and in that same person we will be targeted for social events and not sport events, we will miss out twice and soon thereafter 4 fold, with each iteration of wrong data the amount of misconceptions will optionally double with each iteration. All based on data we never signed up for or signed off on, so how screwed is all this and how can this congressional hearing be seen as nothing more than a sham. Yes, some questions needs to be answered and they should, yet that could have been done in a very different setting, so as we see the Texan republican as the joke he is in my personal view, we see “Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) asked Zuckerberg about 2016 reports that the company had removed conservative political news from its trending stories box, and followed up with questions about its moderators’ political views. When Zuckerberg said he didn’t ask employees for their political views, Cruz followed up with “Why was Palmer Luckey fired?”“, we wonder if he had anything substantial to work with at all. So when you wonder why Zuckerberg is being grilled, ask yourself, what was this about? Was it merely about abuse of data by a third party? If that is so, why is Tim Cook not sitting next to Zuckerberg? More important, as I have shown some of these issues for close to 5 years, why was action not taken sooner? Is that not the more pressing question to see answered?

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized