An incredibly important paper on whether data can ever be "anonymized" and how we should handle release of large data-sets

Even the most stringent privacy rules have massive loopholes: they all allow for free distribution of "de-identified" or "anonymized" data that is deemed to be harmless because it has been subjected to some process. Read the rest

CDC chief Brenda Fitzgerald quits after outed for buying into a tobacco company

Brenda Fitzgerald was Donald Trump's Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, charged with reducing smoking among Americans and doing work that directly affected the financial fortunes of tobacco companies when she bought a stake in Japan Tobacco.

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Investors throw $300m at dog-walking startup that hired ex-CEO of fraudulent anti-fraud company Lifelock

Before being hired to serve as CEO of Wag, a dogwalking startup that just received a $300,000,000 investment from Softbank, Hilary Schneider presided over Lifelock, a company whose fraudulent anti-fraud products cost it over $100,000,000 in fines, before Schneider convinced Symantec to buy it for an absurd $2.6 billion. Read the rest

Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, JPMorgan Chase announce new health insurer 'free from profit-making incentives and constraints'

Investor Warren Buffet, world's-richest-guy Jeff Bezos and cartoon villain Jamie Dimon have announced that their firms will collaborate to create an unnamed health insurer that is "free from profit-making incentives and constraints" (though that does not necessarily mean it will be a nonprofit, of course).

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New York Times profiles a sleazy Twitter follower-farm, the sleazy serial liar who made millions on it, and the celebs, politicians, sports figures and "influencers" who paid him

Devumi is a sleazy Twitter-bot farm founded by German Calas, a serial liar who buys wholesale Twitter bots from even scummier bottom-feeders than him, and pays a series of low-waged patsies to direct them to follow people who want to seem more popular and influential than their actual Twitter follower-count suggests. Read the rest

OK, panic again: patching Spectre and Meltdown has been a disaster

When the news of two showstopping bugs in virtually every computer in use today broke, it was scary stuff -- experts predicted that mitigating these bugs would be difficult and impose severe performance penalties on patched systems; a week later, Google released research suggesting that the fear was misplaced, and that patching would be an orderly and relatively painless process. Read the rest

Your early darknet drug buys are preserved forever in the blockchain, waiting to be connected to your real identity

Blockchain transactions are recorded forever and indelibly, and that means that all the Bitcoin transactions on early Tor hidden service marketplaces like Silk Road are on permanent, public display; because many people who made these transactions later went on to link those Bitcoin wallets with their real identities, those early deals are now permanently associated with their public, identifiable selves. Read the rest

The Financial Times's 404 page is an ingenious, hilarious introduction to major concepts in economic theory

If you hit a dead link on the Financial Times' website, you get a 404 page that offers a series of funny possible explanations for the page's nonexistence, each corresponding to a different economic theory (like "monetarism," the "efficient markets hypothesis" and "trickle-down"), and many are linked to articles from the FT's archives that delve into the concept. Read the rest

Demolition of derelict robotic parking garages reveals entombed vehicles, trapped for 15 years

When the £5m Autosafe Skypark opened in Edinburgh, it was heralded as the UK's most technologically advanced car park, but in 2003, the owners went bankrupt and turned off the computers that controlled the lifts that raised and lowered cars into their bays. Read the rest

Bitcoin's high valuation has ruined it as a medium of exchange

Technological limitations in the design of the Bitcoin system means that the network only processes about seven transactions per second, unless you pay someone with a lot of compute-power to log your transaction, currently at the rate of about $20/transaction. Read the rest

Thanks to "consent" buried deep in sales agreements, car manufacturers are tracking tens of millions of US cars

Millions of new cars sold in the US and Europe are "connected," having some mechanism for exchanging data with their manufacturers after the cars are sold; these cars stream or batch-upload location data and other telemetry to their manufacturers, who argue that they are allowed to do virtually anything they want with this data, thanks to the "explicit consent" of the car owners -- who signed a lengthy contract at purchase time that contained a vague and misleading clause deep in its fine-print. Read the rest

Marriott fires employee for "willfully liking" a tweet in support of Tibetan independence

Marriott has fired one of its social media managers because the employee "wrongfully liked" a tweet from Friends of Tibet, a group that supports Tibetan independence from China. Read the rest

Inmate, denied health care in an Arizona private prison, chews his own fingers off

An unnamed, paralyzed prisoner in one of Corizon Correctional Healthcare's for-profit prisons in Arizona chewed part of his left hand off because Corizon refused to give him the correct medication for his pain. Read the rest

Financial consultancy says that Bitcoin's value is speculative, and as a currency, it should be worth $810

Wall Street consultants Quinlan & Associates have published "Fool's Gold: Unearthing The World of Cryptocurrency," a $5000, 156-page report that predicts that Bitcoin will drop to $1800 by next December, and down to $810 by 2020 (it is currently trading in the $14,000 range). Read the rest

If you bought shares in all the companies Trump trashed since taking office, you beat the market

Barry Ritholz maintains two stock indices: the Oligarch Index contains "companies that Trump liked" in his public communications; the Drain the Swamp index has "companies that Trump trashed." Read the rest

Private prison tortures asylum seeker who refused "voluntary" labor

Shoaib Ahmed is a Bangladeshi asylum seeker whom ICE has imprisoned in the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia, a private prison run by CoreCivic (formerly the notorious Corrections Corporation of America, where he has been placed in solitary confinement -- a form of torture -- for refusing "voluntary" labor. Read the rest

Nudging doesn't give poor people retirement savings, it just makes them poorer

Nudging -- the idea that a well-designed "choice architecture" can help people make free choices that are better than the ones they would make without the nudge -- has a few well-publicized success stories: the cafeteria where frontloading veggies and other healthful options gets kids to choose carrots over pizza; and the employer-side deduction for retirement savings that gets employees to put aside a little more to retire on (this insight rates a Nobel-adjacent prize*!). Read the rest

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