The NYT has taken some data released by Netflix (the top 50 rental titles for each zipcode) and made some interactive heat maps out of it. It’s weirdly fun. [More]
Blackberry users on all mobile carriers in North and South America experienced e-mail and Internet outages for about eight hours late on Tuesday. This follows a shorter outage on December 17th that only affected e-mail services. [More]
Here’s the problem with anonymized data: if it were truly anonymized, it wouldn’t be useful to anyone for anything. With enough data about a person–say, their age, gender, and zip code–it’s not hard to narrow down who someone is. That’s the idea behind a class-action lawsuit against Netflix regarding the customer data they released to the public as part of the Netflix Prize project, a contest to help create better movie recommendations. A closeted lesbian alleges that the data available about her could reveal her identity. [More]
What do you say when everyone keeps complaining that you can’t handle traffic on your network? If you’re AT&T, you say “We just need to charge more money” and “Our customers who are actually using their phones as advertised are ruining things.” AT&T’s head of consumer services, Ralph de la Vega, told investors today that usage-based pricing is going to happen eventually, and that the company is planning on giving heavy users–who make up 3 percent of their customers–”incentives to reduce or modify their usage.” Somehow I’m guessing he doesn’t mean coupons or cash-back bonuses. [More]
An Indiana University grad student has made public an audio recording of a Sprint employee who describes how the company has given away customer GPS location data to cops over 8 million times in less than a year. Ars technica reports that “law enforcement [officers] could log into a special Sprint Web portal and, without ever having to demonstrate probable cause to a judge, gain access to geolocation logs detailing where they’ve been and where they are.” Update: Sprint says the 8 million figure refers to individual pings of GPS data, and that the number of individuals involved is in the thousands. [More]
Boy, T-Mo is on a roll lately. First they gave Perez Hilton fits by losing his Sidekick info, then, presumably in a misguided attempt to make up for it, they began showing boobs to one of our readers (they are still investigating), and now as an encore — a massive outage.
CBS 5 exposed a “gaping hole” in the code of California’s state-run employment website that allows anyone who views the site to access and modify other users’ resumes and personal info simply by changing some numbers in the URL.
If you’ve been waiting impatiently to get your data back on your Sidekick, here’s your opportunity. IntoMobile reports that T-Mobile has posted data retrieval instructions on its website. They note that most but not necessarily all contacts should be there, but if you’re one of the unlucky few who lost all of your data, T-Mobile has a shiny $100 gift card for you.
If a retailer doesn’t protect your credit card data and it gets stolen, should you be compensated? Not for any unauthorized charges, which are already covered under banks’ zero-liability protection, but for the time lost dealing with the problem, for the anxiety it causes, and for any future credit history/score issues it might cause?
We’ve been receiving mail from outraged T-Mobile Sidekick users all weekend, reporting nationwide data outages since Friday. For many users, this includes lack of access to not just e-mail and IM, but also address books unless saved to the SIM.
For three years now, reports The Tennessean, the owner of a solar panel company in Indiana says “confidential medical faxes” have been sent to him by doctors throughout Tennessee. His fax number is apparently very similar to the one for the Tennessee Department of Human Services, but although he’s contacted the errant doctors’ offices, as well as reported it to the DHS and to the state’s governor’s office, they keep coming.
Tucson, Arizona is hosting a community shred-a-thon in October, where private citizens can show up with boxes of sensitive data and have it shredded for free. Back in July, the Wall Street Journal looked at the growing trend of community shredding events as an example of how regular people are taking action to prevent identity theft.
Visual Economics has a fun chart that shows how many of each denomination of U.S. currency is in circulation, as well as their average lifespans. For some reason, the $5 bill has the shortest lifespan. Also, seriously, we need to stop producing pennies NOW.
On August 14, the Cleveland Plain Dealer printed a column by a business writer who described her 6-month-long ordeal with Verizon concerning a mysterious $1.99 charge for “data usage.” The paper says that over 400 Plain Dealer readers responded with complaints similar to the one in the column. Now the paper says they have a promise from Verizon to refund these mysterious and erroneous charges.
[Note: The original headline for this post mistakenly identified Ameritrade as the subject of the post. It is actually Ameriprise Financial. I deeply regret the error.] Since March of this year, security expert Russ McRee of HolisticInfoSec.org has sent 6 messages to Ameriprise Financial warning them of easily exploitable security holes on their website. They ignored every request, while at the same time reassuring customers that “No one without the proper web browser configuration can view or modify information contained on our systems.”