30 April 2003

The Irish Data Protection Commissioner's annual report is out today and, as always, makes for interesting reading. I couldn't attend the press event, but here's the Irish Times breaking news summary. The retention of inappropriate personal information on the Garda (Irish police) computer system, Pulse, is yet another indication of why Irish people should be strongly opposing Government attempts to introduce three years of data retention on net, email, call and fax info:

Inappropriate and unnecessary personal data of a member of the public was recorded on the Garda Pulse computer system, the Data Commissoner said today.

Responding to an access request from a member of the public, as to what data the Pulse system contained about her, Gardaí are understood to have deleted an "inappropriate" comment about the woman, supplying her only with the remaining data contained on the system.

Details of the incident are contained in Annual Report of the Data Commissioner for 2002, which was published today.

The woman approached the Data Commissioners, as she did not believe that certain details had been furnished to her. It emerged, following the Commissioner's investigation, that the "inappropriate" information had been deleted. Such information "should form no part of Garda records" the Commissioner has concluded.

The report contains details of a number of other investigations conducted by the Data Commissioner, Mr Joe Meade. Among the cases flagged were:

  • A major retail bank was discovered to have disclosed data relating to other account holders to a customer. The Data Commissioner indicated that he was "far from impressed" with the unnamed bank's initial response to his query.

  • Automated phone recorded messages delivered by a political party on the eve of the 2002 General Election were deemed direct marketing and, as such, should not have been delivered without prior consent.

  • Names and addresses of participants in the Dublin Women's Mini-Marathon should not have been disclosed to a photographic company, who posted the details on the Internet.

Incidentally the Data Protection Commissioner's website, www.dataprivacy.ie, is exemplary. New information and press releases go up immediately -- most commercial companies aren't remotely as efficient, much less government offices.

3:08:53 PM  #   your two cents []

For readers unfamiliar with the utter bizarreness that is the Northern Irish politician, the Rev. Ian Paisley, I can't really sum him up better than to note that these are some of the remarks he made yesterday about the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Brian Cowen:

Speaking at the launch of the DUP election campaign in Belfast, he said: "Somebody told me the other day that the reason his lips were so thick was that when his mother was bringing him up, he was a very disobedient boy. So she used to put glue on his lips and put him to the floor and keep him there, and that has been recorded in his physical make-up.

"What right has a Foreign Minister from Dublin to have a say in our affairs, our internal affairs? None whatsoever. Yes, away with him. If he wants to use his lips to better effect, he should do it somewhere else and do it with people of similar physical looks."

As Mr Cowen himself said in response: "I do think we have gone beyond the failed politics of insult." Though one might snidely note, just in passing, that Mr Paisley is hardly the one to be throwing taunts at people about their odd looks.

2:06:38 PM  #   your two cents []
The euro hit a new four-year high against the dollar this morning: $1.1138. That suits me; I just ordered a Sony Cybershot digital camera online from the US late last night, and I'll get a nice discount through the exchange rate. After a long period of euro-sliding (with American visitors delighted at the exchange rates!), this boost to my spending power when I'm buying in the US is a nice lift. The country I avoid now for online purchases is the UK. With the UK out of the Euro, and the pound at around £1.40 to the euro (they used to be about equal), it's cheaper to buy in the US and pay international shipping than go next door.
11:28:18 AM  #   your two cents []

Ohhh...myyyy...gawdddd... does this ever bring back childhood memories. The original 1966 Batmobile! Oof! Blam! Ka-pow!

11:11:42 AM  #   your two cents []
Clare Booth Luce. "Lying increases the creative faculties, expands the ego, and lessens the frictions of social contacts." [Quotes of the Day]
10:57:54 AM  #   your two cents []
How may we Web service you?. At the O'Reilly Emerging Technologies Conference, "Web services" were all the rage. But what will happen when companies get cold feet -- and the lawsuits start? [Salon.com]
10:51:59 AM  #   your two cents []
Simple Science Fairs Go the Way of the Dinosaurs. The simple fair of times past, when parents wielding encyclopedias rolled up their sleeves to help their children, has become a forum for research worthy of doctoral candidates. [New York Times: Technology]
10:51:12 AM  #   your two cents []

GuitarHey, what about an Apple Music Store for the rest of us? I spoke to Apple yesterday on why the Music Store service is available only to people with US billing addresses, and more importantly, when it might arrive in Europe (Old or New or whatever you're having yourself). According to Apple, the record companies have not yet sorted out amongst themselves copyright and related  issues and Apple can't offer the service until that is done. While they hope that happens sooner rather than later, they've no suggested launch date for a European service.

Dan Gillmor's take: "The main virtue: It doesn't assume from the start that customers are thieves." Meanwhile, the Reg wonders about DRM being smuggled onto the Mac. Apple should be far more upfront about what one can do with a downloaded song, and what limitations are imposed. This is not easily discoverable on the site, and should not be hidden in end user agreements that no one ever reads. A sentence or two would sum up the DRM framework.

And here, a link from Danny at Oblomovka: "We don't pay you to be as confused as he is" - Spinal Tap's (and The Simpsons and A Might Wind's) Harry Shearer writes an ingenious piece in the NYTimes suggesting that if the music industry doesn't want kids with more time than money to pirate their music, maybe they should stop exclusively marketing to them.

As Mr Shearer writes: "Here's a business model with a future: sue your customers." [Whoops. See Dan G, above.)

And a bit more from Danny -- since this made me actually LOL in RL, BTW and FYI: "Whenever Apple releases something, there's always a rush of people pointing out other companies that have done the same thing, only better in some way. Like it was written in Lisp, or uses righteous Ogg encoding, or just isn't Apple. Usually you just let the waves of counterexamples crash around you until they hit their correct target, which is the Apploids thrashing in orgasm around your feet, but my... Neurosaudio has some seriously out-there features. Song recognition, built-in FM transmitter, MP3 recording. I'm not sure, but it might even be more expensive than Apple. Talking about beating someone on their home turf."

10:45:34 AM  #   your two cents []
IBM adds new Linux centers. Big Blue adds several new centers worldwide devoted to Linux specialties in energy, government and mainframes, part of its effort to spread the operating system as widely as possible. [CNET News.com]
10:39:24 AM  #   your two cents []
Thousands of Los Alamos computers said missing. Noah Shachtman of Defense Tech writes:
Los Alamos National Laboratory hasn't kept track of thousands of its computers -- including ones containing classified information. The lab's own guards stole four of the machines. And employees didn't have to pay the government back when their laptops suddenly went missing. Those are just a few of the conclusions of a disturbing report (PDF) from the Department of Energy's Inspector General, who has been examining how the world's best-known nuclear lab handles its inventory of laptop and desktop PCs. The University of California operates Los Alamos on the Energy Department's behalf. Link, Discuss [Boing Boing Blog]

10:38:35 AM  #   your two cents []
Music Swappers Get a Message on PC Screens: Stop It Now. The record industry started another campaign aimed at making life more uncomfortable for online music-swapping fans. [New York Times: Technology]
10:35:35 AM  #   your two cents []
The end of the silk road. Lord chancellor signals end for elite barristers' rank of QC [Guardian Unlimited]
10:35:09 AM  #   your two cents []
Spam Sent by Fraud Is Made a Felony Under Virginia Law. In the toughest move to date against unsolicited commercial e-mail, Virginia enacted a law imposing harsh new felony penalties, including prison time. [New York Times: Technology]
10:32:37 AM  #   your two cents []