"Moritsugu will bring her experience and expertise to the Biden-Harris Administration where she will be a vital voice to advance the President and the Administration's priorities," officials said.
Wired – “Unless the federal government steps up, the unchecked middlemen of surveillance capitalism will continue to harm our civil rights and national security…Enter the data brokerage industry, the multibillion dollar economy of selling consumers’ and citizens’ intimate details. Much of the privacy discourse has rightly pointed fingers at Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok, which collect users’ information directly. But a far broader ecosystem of buying up, licensing, selling, and sharing data exists around those platforms. Data brokerage firms are middlemen of surveillance capitalism—purchasing, aggregating, and repackaging data from a variety of other companies, all with the aim of selling or further distributing it. Data brokerage is a threat to democracy. Without robust national privacy safeguards, entire databases of citizen information are ready for purchase, whether to predatory loan companies, law enforcement agencies, or even malicious foreign actors. Federal privacy bills that don’t give sufficient attention to data brokerage will therefore fail to tackle an enormous portion of the data surveillance economy, and will leave civil rights, national security, and public-private boundaries vulnerable in the process. Large data brokers—like Acxiom, CoreLogic, and Epsilon—tout the detail of their data on millions or even billions of people. CoreLogic, for instance, advertises its real estate and property information on 99.9 percent of the US population. Acxiom promotes 11,000-plus “data attributes,” from auto loan information to travel preferences, on 2.5 billion people (all to help brands connect with people “ethically,” it adds). This level of data collection and aggregation enables remarkably specific profiling…”
Mashable: “Despite a year-long pandemic in which Americans were asked to stay indoors, gun violence is on the rise in the United States. In 2020, almost 20,000 Americans died by gun violence, according to the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive (this number doesn’t include self-inflicted gun violence). The organization has already reported more than a hundred mass shootings in 2021with seven of them happening in the span of just seven days, CNN reports. Activists and legislators are pushing for stronger gun legislation, and advocates have called for additional solutions to address gun violence through mental health resources and decreased police presence in neighborhoods. But you might not know of another way you can make an impact: your retirement investments. Stock holdings in gun companies are extremely common, and, if you’re not looking closely, might slip into your retirement portfolios. Moving your money away from these holdings can make a difference in the fight to change the way guns are purchased and distributed in this country. Andrew Behar is the CEO of the nonprofit As You Sow, a watchdog and investor advocacy group that provides resources for those interested in more socially responsible investing. As You Sow’s Invest Your Values tool helps investors rate and reference where their money is going, and covers a wide range of topics: environmentally-friendly investing, gender equality funds, prison-free funds, and gun and other weapon-free funds…”
ZDNET – “You are one data breach away from having your entire online life turned upside down. The problem is passwords, which are hopelessly fragile ways to secure valuable resources. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by the belief that creating a longer, more complex, harder-to-guess password will somehow make you safer online. You can create a password that is so long and complex it takes you five minutes to type, and it will do nothing to protect you if the service where you use that password stores it improperly and then has their server breached. It regularly happens. Everyone needs a password manager. It’s the only way to maintain unique, hard-to-guess credentials for every secure site you and your team access daily. And even with reasonable policies in place (complexity, changed regularly, not reused), people are still the weakest link in the security chain. Social engineering can convince even intelligent people to enter their credentials on a phishing site or give them up over the phone. The solution is two-factor authentication, or 2FA. (Some services, being sticklers for detail, call it multi-factor authentication or two-step verification, but 2FA is the most widely used term, so that’s the nomenclature I’ve chosen to use here.) A 2019 report from Microsoft concluded that 2FA works, blocking 99.9% of automated attacks. If a service provider supports multi-factor authentication, Microsoft recommends using it, even if it’s as simple as SMS-based one-time passwords. A separate 2019 report from Google offered similar conclusions…
Coinbase's public debut comes as more institutions warm up to the idea of cryptocurrency and its popularity among investors soars.
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European Parliamentary Research Service Report – Online platforms: Economic and societal effects: “Online platforms such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook play an increasingly central role in the economy and society. They operate as digital intermediaries across interconnected sectors and markets subject to network effects. These firms have grown to an unprecedented scale, propelled by data-driven business models. Online platforms have a massive impact on individual users and businesses, and are recasting the relationships between customers, advertisers, workers and employers. This has triggered a public debate on online platforms’ economic dominance and patterns of pervasive data collection. This study presents an analytical synthesis of the literature, to assess the effects of online platforms on the economy and society. The report provides evidence of positive impact, and documents a set of important issues not fully addressed by existing European Union regulation and enforcement. The consensus is that there is a need to strengthen the current law enforcement and regulation of the platform economy. This report welcomes the proposed digital markets and digital services acts, and offers a series of policy options for competition and innovation, working conditions and labour markets, consumer and societal risks, and environmental sustainability…”
The Verge – After years of turmoil, the EPA looks for a fresh start: “…Even though Trump’s term is over, the “brain drain” that the EPA has suffered for years could still pose real harm to the environment and people the agency is tasked with protecting. And after years of tumult at the agency, potential recruits might not see the well-oiled government machine Chen expected to join. But under new leadership, the agency is attempting to rebrand and rebuild. It’s selling itself as a workplace with a revitalized mission. It’s tackling perhaps the most existential environmental threat the agency has ever faced: climate change. The agency’s leadership has also homed in on environmental justice as a new focus for the agency, a quest to end the unequal burden of pollution on marginalized communities. “You’re going to hit the ground running in this startup, EPA,” says Betsy Southerland, former director of science and technology at the EPA Office of Water. “And you’re either going to be assigned to do damage repair, from all the damage the Trump administration did, or you’re going to be assigned brand-new initiatives on climate change and environmental justice. Now how exciting is that?”…
The New York Times – Even as vaccines make it safer to travel, planning a trip is becoming increasingly complicated…Yet some of us will travel this year, whether it’s for work or for emergency reasons. So here’s a special pandemic edition of how to use tech to prepare for your trip.”
“About 1 in 5 American adults remain unwilling to get the Covid vaccine, even as more people are getting the shot. The Monmouth University Poll also finds that President Joe Biden continues to get positive job ratings overall as well as high marks for his handling of the pandemic. Nearly half of the public feels the country is heading in the right direction, which is an eight-year high in Monmouth’s national polling. A rapid increase in Covid vaccinations over past month has not made much of a dent in the number of Americans who remain opposed to getting the shot. Currently, 21% of Americans claim they will never get the vaccine if they can avoid it, which is down a statistically insignificant 3 points from prior polls (24% in both January and March). However, the number who say they want to let other people get it first to see how it goes before getting it themselves has dropped – from 21% in March to 12% now. [Note: Interviewing for this poll was completed before federal authorities called for a pause in administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.]..”
CRS – Poverty in the United States in 2019, April 13, 2021: “Calendar year 2019 was the last full year before the start of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and the last year of the economic expansion since the Great Recession. The strength of the U.S. economy in 2019 was reflected in low poverty rates—the percentage of the population living in poverty (economic hardship characterized by low income)—for the nation and by demographic group. While the 2019 poverty estimates do not reflect people’s incomes during the pandemic, the pandemic affected survey data collection for that year, which took place February-April 2020. Instead of a combination of in-person interviews and telephone interviews, only telephone interviews were conducted due to social distancing restrictions. That affected the estimates because some respondents were harder to reach by phone than in person, less likely to respond to a telephone interview than an in-person interview, or less likely to respond for other reasons. The increased rate of non response affected persons with low incomes to a greater degree than persons with high incomes. That means that while poverty in 2019 was at or close to a historic low, it was likely not as low as the official estimates suggest..”
The investigation determined the officer did not act with bad purpose or in disregard of the law.
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Kiaghadi, A., Rifai, H.S. & Dawson, C.N. The presence of Superfund sites as a determinant of life expectancy in the United States. Nat Commun 12, 1947 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-22249-2: “Superfund sites could affect life expectancy (LE) via increasing the likelihood of exposure to toxic chemicals. Here, we assess to what extent such presence could alter the LE independently and in the context of sociodemographic determinants. A nationwide geocoded statistical modeling at the census tract level was undertaken to estimate the magnitude of impact. Results showed a significant difference in LE among census tracts with at least one Superfund site and their neighboring tracts with no sites. The presence of a Superfund site could cause a decrease of −0.186 ± 0.027 years in LE. This adverse effect could be as high as −1.22 years in tracts with Superfund sites and high sociodemographic disadvantage. Specific characteristics of Superfund sites such as being prone to flooding and the absence of a cleanup strategy could amplify the adverse effect. Furthermore, the presence of Superfund sites amplifies the negative influence of sociodemographic factors at lower LEs…”
An expert advisory committee to the CDC decided it needed more time to consider whether to recommend the restart administration of the COVID-19 vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson.
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Dr. Scott Gottlieb doesn't expect enough demand for the vaccine much beyond 160 million Americans. But he says there may eventually be enough immunity to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
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For a year, researchers have been studying and arguing over vitamin D's potential for helping protect against or treat COVID-19. The evidence is still not conclusive.
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Indigenous tribes received the bison from Denver Parks and Recreation as a form of reparations, the first in a 10-year ordinance to donate surplus bison.
(Image credit: Evan Semón/Denver Department of Parks and Recreation)
The top U.S. intelligence officials detailed concerns to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, with many questions about cyber threats and espionage targeting U.S. technology.
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