Sunday, December 24, 2017

Coal In My Stockings (Merry Christmas)

This will be short and sobering.

Santa sprinkes coal dust: we learn that there has been another data breach, this time involving Amazon Web Services, Experian, Alteryx and a mysterious unnamed Other.

Thank-yous to T. Fox-Brewster of Forbes for the insights.

Amazon Web Services owned the leaky "bucket" that was left "open" for anyone to view.  Apparently, 248 different data files were available for each of 120,000,000 American households, including information on hobbies, and interests.  How does a credit rating agency know about ones hobbies? What does ones passion for armchair bird-watching have to do with whether or not one is a good credit risk?

Why do we accept "targeted advertising" as a good thing?  Is it really a good thing that the social media sites and aggregators are able to collect and sell every intimate detail that can be extracted, teased, coerced, and inferred about us all?

Have you ever worried about the three "secret" questions and answers that banks and other sites require you to answer? One would almost have to subscribe to to know the right answers to some of the questions. And, if the bank account customer has to go there to find out the name of their oldest maiden great aunt's illegitimate first born (not really), why shouldn't a crook do the same?

Authors are particularly at risk. As public figures, more of their/our information is publicly available than usual. Think about copyright registration, website registration, domain name registration, ISBN registration, announcements in Publishers Weekly or Publishers Lunch, entries on Romance Wiki....  for starters.

Perhaps, for that last minute Christmas present, our readers should consider purchasing a $30 credit freeze on TransUnion, also on Equifax, and also on Experian. Also, a Lifelock subscription. Also a privacy protection service if the local bank offers one. Just, don't give any of them all of your credit card numbers.

On the copyright front, the USPTO has announced Thursday January 25th 2018 as the date for the second Public Meeting on "Developing The Digital Marketplace For Copyrighted Works".

To register, and for more information:

There is talk of databases, and facilitating licensing, and tracking ownership, and improving the ways customers access and use photos, films, music, text.  It sounds like cookies to me. More Silicon Valley middlemen angling to take a cut of creators' creative works.

On that uplifting note....  Happy Christmas!

Rowena Cherry

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