Senate Republicans Vote To Gut Internet Privacy

Senate Republicans Vote To Gut Internet Privacy

Hamza Shaban, writing for BuzzFeed:

The Senate voted Thursday to make it easier for internet service providers to share sensitive information about their customers, a first step in overturning landmark privacy rules that consumer advocates and Democratic lawmakers view as crucial protections in the digital age. The vote was passed along party lines, 50-48, with all but two Republicans voting in favor of the repeal and every Democrat voting against it. Two Republican Senators did not vote.

Disgusting. This is what buying policy looks like, folks. Kate Tummarello of the Electronic Frontier Foundation also did a write-up, and included a particularly scary piece of information:

Republicans in the Senate just voted 50-48 (with two absent votes) to approve a Congressional Review Action resolution from Sen. Jeff Flake which—if it makes it through the House—would not only roll back the FCC’s rules but also prevent the FCC from writing similar rules in the future.

(emphasis added)

This may not seem like a big deal, but it very much is, especially in an age where ISPs and the data brokers to whom they sell your information are frequently hacked.

More shameful behavior from Senate Republicans whose retirement can’t possibly come soon enough.

Heinz running Don Draper’s ‘Pass the Heinz’ ads

Heinz running Don Draper’s ‘Pass the Heinz’ ads

Tim Nudd at Adweek:

In a meta union of advertising’s real and fictional worlds, Heinz just greenlighted the ads—and will run them almost exactly as Draper intended, beginning today, in print and out-of-home executions in New York City.

This is awesome, not just because it’s a marriage of television and the real world, but because the ads themselves are actually brilliant.

Trans characters in the first big video games of 2017

Trans characters in the first big video games of 2017

Laura Dale, writing at Polygon:

The past month of AAA video game releases might be the most interesting I have ever experienced as a trans woman, meaning someone who was designated male at birth but is now living as female. While far from perfect in execution, I can point out three trans characters in three separate AAA video games released in the past four weeks. That’s pretty unbelievable.

I’ve been playing Zero Dawn with my wife and it’s a truly remarkable game. I wish I hadn’t missed the trans character’s introduction, but now that Dale points it out it does seem like a respectful, if imperfect, attempt to include a trans person in Aloy’s world.

DOJ internal watchdog to investigate FBI’s Clinton inquiry

Justice Dept. internal watchdog to investigate FBI’s Clinton inquiry

The inquiry by the Justice Department’s inspector general, likely to keep open the wounds of the bitter 2016 presidential race, will focus on whether “policies or procedures were not followed” by the FBI and Justice Department.

Of particular focus will be the letter sent by Comey to Congress just 11 days before the Nov. 8 election that disclosed that his agents were reviewing newly discovered emails possibly pertinent to the then-closed investigation on Clinton’s handling of classified material while serving as secretary of State.

At first I was heartened by this news, but if the review is limited only to whether “policies and procedures were not followed” there will be no investigation into the Hatch Act1 implications of Comey’s election-week disclosure.


  1. “The Hatch Act of 1939, officially An Act to Prevent Pernicious Political Activities, is a United States federal law whose main provision prohibits employees in the executive branch of the federal government, except the president, vice-president, and certain designated high-level officials of that branch, from engaging in some forms of political activity. The law was named for Senator Carl Hatch of New Mexico. It was most recently amended in 2012.” — via Wikipedia 

NBC stupidly shutting down Breaking News app, service

NBC stupidly shutting down Breaking News app, service

The decision, as it often does in the media business, came down to revenue. “Unfortunately, despite its consumer appeal, Breaking News has not been able to generate enough revenue to sustain itself,” Ascheim said in the letter supplied by NBC News. “We have therefore made the hard decision to close its operations so that we can re-invest that funding into NBC News’ core digital products to help us achieve our ambitious goals for those businesses.”

This is short-sighted. Web-based news isn’t generating revenue? No shit. Breaking News has been a standard-bearer of confirm-before-publishing and still manages to be ahead of every other news outlet’s attempt at a breaking news product.

I’d spend $2.99/month on this thing to keep it alive. Let’s say 1/4 of its Twitter followers would do the same. That’s $84.6 million in revenue right there.

Would that be sustainable?

Wells Fargo claims customers agreed to arbitration… for accounts they never asked for

Wells Fargo Killing Sham Account Suits by Using Arbitration

[Jennifer] Zeleny, a lawyer who lives outside Salt Lake City and opened a Wells Fargo account when she started a new law practice, said it would be impossible for her to agree to arbitrate her dispute over an account that she had never signed up for in the first place.

The bank’s counterargument: The arbitration clauses included in the legitimate contracts customers signed to open bank accounts also cover disputes related to the false ones set up in their names.

Arbitration is reasonable on a case-by-case basis but it’s a hard concept to defend:

  1. Ideologically, when a corporation is responsible for the deliberate mass-deception of its customers
  2. Contractually, when the affected customers never agreed to anything at all with regard to the accounts at issue

If Wells Fargo has any intellect in the board room or in the C-suites they’re taking this tough stance in public but working quietly on negotiating a mass settlement fund.

Of course, any intellect in the board room or the C-suites would likely prevent the type of sales environment which catalyzed this large-scale fraud and identity theft operation.

Poultry Fraud

‘Dark Meat’ by Gabriel Thompson

Failing to record injuries is one strategy to create the illusion of a safe workplace. Another is to fail to refer workers to doctors for proper tests and diagnoses. Each time an injury causes an employee to miss a day of work or to receive medical treatment beyond first aid, the company is required to record it in an OSHA log book. This data is reported each year to the Department of Labor and is used to identify industries with high injury rates—whose facilities will then face increased inspections. An industry that reports low injury rates is less likely to receive scrutiny from OSHA’s overstretched investigators.

If employers can self-report why can’t employees?

The argument against employee reports would be:

Well, employees will inflate injury rates!

Let’s think about this: employers are already fraudulently minimizing the rates. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s okay for employees to do it, too. It isn’t okay for anyone to massage the numbers in their own favor. But they do, and they will, because self-interest is a helluva drug.

So my thought is that having an inflated employee-reported rate to compare with minimized employer-reported rates may help regulators find the truth, somewhere between the two numbers.