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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.

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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.

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FCC abides by GOP request, deletes everything from meeting agenda

Wheeler’s attempt to impose new set-top box rules that help consumers avoid paying cable box rental fees may also be doomed. Consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge sent a letter to Trump today urging him to side with consumers instead of “cable and Hollywood lobbyists” on the issue.

Source: FCC abides by GOP request, deletes everything from meeting agenda

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Dropbox employee’s password reuse led to theft of 60M+ user credentials

Dropbox employee’s password reuse led to theft of 60M+ user credentials

Kate Conger, reporting at TechCrunch:

Dropbox disclosed in 2012 that an employee’s password was acquired and used to access a document with email addresses, but did not disclose that passwords were also acquired in the theft. Because Dropbox stores its user passwords hashed and salted, that’s technically accurate — it seems that hackers were only able to obtain hashed files of Dropbox user passwords and were unable to crack them. But it does appear that more information was taken from Dropbox than was previously let on, and it’s strange that it’s taken this long for the breach to surface.

Don’t reuse passwords folks. Find a password manager and learn to love it. There’s 1Password, LastPass, Dashlane and many others. That means there’s no excuse for you to keep using your dog’s name combined with your college graduation year or whatever terrible password you’re using for everything.

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Secret Cameras Record Baltimore’s Every Move From Above

Secret Cameras Record Baltimore’s Every Move From Above

Pritchett had no idea that as he spoke, a small Cessna airplane equipped with a sophisticated array of cameras was circling Baltimore at roughly the same altitude as the massing clouds. The plane’s wide-angle cameras captured an area of roughly 30 square miles and continuously transmitted real-time images to analysts on the ground. The footage from the plane was instantly archived and stored on massive hard drives, allowing analysts to review it weeks later if necessary.

It must be the NSA or the CIA or the FBI, right? They must have a warrant, right? They must be deleting the video after a certain period of time, right?

Wrong.

It’s the Baltimore Police Department. The article and accompanying video clarify the motivation of the company providing the technology and the service to BPD. Founder Ross McNutt says he hopes technology like his will have a deterrent effect on crime in cities where its deployment is disclosed. That’s a good goal but it’s not the BPD or the company’s founder I’m worried about.

Anything on a hard drive that isn’t air gapped is vulnerable to exfiltration by hackers. That includes a massive digital video recorder covering an entire city for an indeterminate amount of time.

Scary stuff.

I fact-checked that old anti-Muslim mass email, and you’ll totally believe what happened next

A beloved relative recently included me on an email forward that I could not simply ignore. I’m not the first person to write a rebuttal to this email. It has been making the rounds since at least 2009, as the screenshot below illustrates.

Earliest Google result for "An Eye Opener" email: https://archive.is/jO20n

Earliest Google result for “An Eye Opener” email: https://archive.is/jO20n

My response took about an hour to research and draft but there is so much factual evidence available to refute the absurd claims made in the “An Eye Opener” email that you could do a thesis on it. In other words, the little bit of work I did here is just the tip of the iceberg.

Here’s the full text of the email, followed by my reply.

Continue reading

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NJ law would require pet stores sell only rescue animals

NJ law would require pet stores sell only rescue animals

John C. Ensslin reports for The Record:

New pet stores in New Jersey would be allowed to sell only cats and dogs obtained from shelters, pounds and animal rescue organization under a bill the state Senate passed Thursday.

The bill still has to go to the Assembly and will face industry opposition there, but it’s a great step forward. Find more information about the bill here. You can read an embedded PDF of the Senate version below this post.


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A Slack bot to alert about missing children

A Slack bot to alert about missing children

Slack screenshot of MissingKidsBot

Slack screenshot of MissingKidsBot

From the product page of MissingKidsBot, built by David Markovich and Daniel Doubrovkine:

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, roughly 800,000 children are reported missing each year in the United States — that’s roughly 2,000 per day.

This is a really great idea, and something everyone with a Slack group should consider adding. However small the chances are that you’ll ever see something that might help with one of these alerts, a child’s life will always be worth it.

Nerds can look at the code over on Github. And those of you who don’t use Slack should keep an eye out for MissingKidsBot on Facebook, Skype and WhatsApp.

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Apple users targeted in first known Mac ransomware campaign

Apple users targeted in first known Mac ransomware campaign

Jim Finkle reports for Reuters:

Hackers infected Macs through a tainted copy of a popular program known as Transmission, which is used to transfer data through the BitTorrent peer-to-peer file sharing network, Palo Alto said on a blog posted on Sunday afternoon.

The cynical part of me wonders whether this is a clever move by one or more media companies to discourage the use of BitTorrent clients.

I know, maybe I need to order a tin-foil hat. But when even Kanye is pirating stuff it’s really time to bust out some innovative new tactics.

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The perils of marriage equality

The perils of marriage equality

Professor Kimberly Mutcherson of Rutgers Law School writes at Concurring Opinions about Professor Katherine Franke’s recent book ‘Wedlocked: the Perils of Marriage Equality’:

We do not want to reinforce familial hierarchies by forcing people into specific family arrangements in order to warrant recognition (2 parents only), nor do we want to fetishize outsider families such that those who do not fit that model are denigrated for their choices (i.e., the adoptive parents who choose a closed adoption or the birth mother who opts for such an adoption thus perhaps not being queer enough in their choices). In thinking about the ways in which reproductive justice calls for us to respect the right to have a child, not have a child, or parent that child in a safe and healthy environment, the upshot for me is that the reproductive justice paradigm does not demand that outsider families conform to some particular form in order to help dismantle hierarchy.

I have thought about this concern since undergrad, where postcolonial literature, feminism and even semiotics courses touched on the nature of othering as an active verb, something done to a group of people. I was lucky enough to take a course in law school called Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and the Law with Professor Leonore F. Carpenter which expanded my understanding and interest in the dynamics of queer identity, family and legal frameworks.

The specific concern with which I’ve been preoccupied since then is that there is a danger in radical acceptance or the success of various equality movements. The danger I see is in achieving a nominal or “seat at the table” equality that normalizes othered groups to the frameworks of the groups that have historically done the othering.

One infuriating example of how I think about this stuff is the so-called equality of separate-but-equal, which of course was not equality at all. In the case of race, equality is not allowing non-white people to do all the stuff white people are allowed to do, but allowing non-white people to do whatever it is non-white people want to do, which is really what has always been allowed to white Americans.

I see Professors Franke and Mutcherson making a similar point about the danger of seeing marriage equality as squeezing queer couples and families into 1) heteronormative cis-gendered and/or culturally/racially segregated family models or 2) altogether new models, sometimes developed by hand-wavingly obnoxious if well-intentioned hetero-cis folks. Maybe I’m mistaken, but the overall approach as I see it being explained by these two scholars is essentially to stop putting up new roads and signs for queer families and just get the hell out of the way.

Read Mutcherson’s entire post, it’s worth it. And I’ve added “Wedlocked’ to my Kindle wishlist, which is growing faster than I can keep up.