Monday, February 27, 2017

February 27, 2017 at 04:39PM

Homeless At Home March 26, 2001 In addition to copies of my medical and financial records, I bring Michael Elliot's book, "Why the Homeless Don't Have Homes and What to Do About It." I skim the list of references and I see names I recognize: Jonathan Kozol; Faulkner; Foucault, and I know I am in good company. I begin my second journey to the Multipurpose Center #54 on Sutphin Boulevard in Jamaica, Queens; I try to prepare myself for the four-to-six hour wait that inevitably lies ahead of me. It is my hope that buried deep within these pages and Elliot’s years of experience and wisdom, I will find some solution to my problem. After my first few days in New York City, I quickly learn that the homeless cannot vote nor can we obtain a library card. Knowledge is power. Information challenges the status quo. Books are my friends. When I browse through Barnes & Noble, I often see titles that catch my eye; and though I know nothing of the content, I am inherently drawn to "Night is Dark and I am Far From Home" (Kozol; 1 98x) and "Tell Them My Name". Today is March 26, 2001. My first journey to Multipurpose Center #54 was January 26, 2001: exactly 2 months ago; After many calls to NYC No-Heat Hotline to complain about the situation, I still have no heat. I have no electricity and no water. My caseworker did not tell me she would be leaving her position with Protective Services for Adults (PSA) and I have not been contacted by any with Health and Human Resources (HRA) since March 5, 2001. On March 7, 2001, I drove my beat-up 1994 Honda Civic over to the emergency room at NYU. By the time I arrived at East 23rd pulled over and asked two officers in the 3rd precinct to please take my car and help me find my way to the ER since my panic was overwhelming and I had lost touch with my senses and felt I was a danger on the roads; I had now lost my sense of direction both in concrete terms and in the abstract vision I had painted of my life. Officer Collins and her partner, Officer Gavin did not laugh at me; they did not tell me I was crazy or delusional. They let me catch my breath and miraculously managed to calm my fears and prepare me for the short trip in the ambulance to the ER. Officer Gavin's wife has four cats. Officer Collins was off duty, yet she stayed with me. In the ER for what seemed like several hours. True to their word, they miraculously got my car out to Long Island where it was placed in a garage safe from the NYC Department of Finance. I hate cops. Always have. Ever since I found out my Daddy was a Fed. But they were an exception to the rule. There is always an exception to the rule. Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it (Chinese proverb) Yesterday I was grateful for the sunny weather and a place to stay. Today it is snowing. Tomorrow I must return to Multipurpose Center #54 to file another application for Public Assistance. The weather may be nice or it may be cold, but night is coming and I am far from home. And I beg of you, tell them my name. Tell them I have a name. And last but not least, tell them who I am. Just me, e @ELyssaD @Chillle /ed70

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The FCC and Congress Must Preserve the Privacy Rights of Broadband Internet Customers! | Center for Digital Democracy

The FCC and Congress Must Preserve the Privacy Rights of Broadband Internet Customers! | Center for Digital Democracy

The FCC and Congress Must Preserve the Privacy Rights of Broadband Internet Customers!

Posted by Yewande Ogunkoya

Written by Katharina Kopp

After a long and fair rulemaking process during most of 2016, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted ground-breaking privacy rules last October protecting the personal information of broadband Internet service customers. Both industry—including powerful phone and cable companies that provide the majority of broadband connections—as well as consumer, civil rights, and privacy groups, had ample opportunity to make their case—which they did. Public-interest and grass-roots organizations used their limited resources to advocate for consumers' basic right to access and use the Internet (via Internet service providers—ISPs) in private, without having their information gathered. Industry and its allies tried to oppose or water down attempts to give their customers meaningful privacy protections. Despite a significant power imbalance between the parties, the process resulted in rules that give consumers and citizens legal rights that many assumed are already theirs to enjoy, but which they, in fact, had been denied until this historic broadband privacy rule making. 

Prior to the Privacy Order, it was not since the 1998 Children's Online Privacy Protection Act that U.S. regulators affirmatively granted consumers meaningful online privacy rights on this scale. While the Federal Trade Commission has played an important role as the lead agency in protecting the privacy and data-security rights of U.S. consumers for a large section of the U.S. economy, it has not enacted any policy that that would restore the power imbalance between consumers and large corporations in our ever-growing commercial surveillance world. The FCC broadband privacy rule, however, aims to provide the public with some fairness and balance to the lopsided relationship between the average individual and data-insatiable powerful ISPs.  

The FCC rules set limits on what Internet service providers may do with the highly sensitive data that they have already collected in the course of providing internet service (a service for which consumers already pay dearly with their pocket books). "Sensitive" information includes precise geo-location, financial information, health information, children's information, social security numbers, web browsing history, app usage history and the content of communications. The most important aspect of the rule requires Internet service providers to obtain an opt-in consent for the use or sharing of such information for purposes other than providing broadband service, such as billing. What this means is that unless you ask me and I give permission, what I do on the Internet is off-limits for ISPs to monetize. 

The final rule emphasized the distinction between sensitive and non-sensitive data. The FCC felt it had to accommodate industry pressure to follow the FTC's framework, which is based on that agency's very limited authority to protect consumer privacy. Advocates and the FCC recognized that the distinction between sensitive and non-sensitive information is less and less meaningful in an age when companies can use data analytics and modeling to infer the most personal traits of an individual without ever collecting "sensitive data." What is particularly noteworthy is that the new FCC rule grappled with the concepts of what kinds of uses and sharing are permissible and which are not. The rule, in fact, makes it clear that it is precisely the unexpected and unrelated or secondary uses of data that a company must first obtain permission to use before it can do so. In other words, each of us has a right to control the collection, use, and exploitation of data about us. 

This important and basic human right was finally made into a legal right with the 2016 FCC Privacy Order. It should stay that way, even with a new leadership at the Commission. The benefits that accrue to each of us individually and as members of a group, as well as to society at large, from this new policy safeguard, are manifold and invaluable to an equitable, just, and fair democracy and marketplace. Without an opt-in, there would be no limitations placed on how ISPs can use the data about us. As we all know too well, the existing individual privacy self-management model in the U.S., which typically offers only an opt-out, has proven to be ineffective in putting limits on corporate data uses and sharing, although the public expresses an increasing opposition to these corporate surveillance practices.  

Not only do the FCC privacy rules affirm the basic individual right to have one's privacy protected and individual autonomy preserved, the requirement to obtain an affirmative consent prior to any secondary uses by ISPs is equally critical in guarding against profiling and group discrimination. The profiling of an individual, or the association of an individual with a class of people, requires very little information about the person who is being profiled. So, the less data collected about others like me, the less likely that I will be profiled. While not perfect, and just a small safeguard in this world of ubiquitous and constant data surveillance, this rule helps to guard us against the classifying and predictive analytics that often represent a biased, discriminatory, and entrenched inequality that incorporate past inequities into decisions about the future.  

Given that the rule identifies information about children as sensitive data, it is also important in protecting the fundamental rights of children to enjoy privacy and freedom from age-inappropriate commercial exploitation. The use of data about us as consumers and citizens during the 2016 elections, moreover, should serve as an important reminder of how pervasive technologies of data surveillance analytics have become. Political campaigns and special interests have unfettered access to commercial data and marketing practices designed to influence how we think, act, and vote, but there are no regulations or corporate practices that aim to curtail these developments'—unless, that is, we hold onto the FCC broadband privacy rule now and build on it in the future.  

Given the ominous start of Ajit Pai to his FCC chairmanship—he has already used his "delegated authority" to undermine important communications rights—we are now facing the very real likelihood that the new chairman will do away with the rule that was adopted by the previous FCC Commission. (CDD recently filed an Opposition to Petitions for a Stay of the Federal Communications Commission's Broadband Privacy Order in response to a filing by a coalition of industry associations and interests.) Similarly, there is a real risk that Congress might repeal the rule via the Congressional Review Act, which would prevent the FCC from revisiting broadband privacy rules at all in the future. But Americans want to have control over their lives and data, and want to be able to make decisions unencumbered by powerful corporate interests. Thus the FCC and Congress must preserve the privacy rights of broadband internet customers!


Written by Katharina Kopp, Deputy Director, Director of Policy for Center for Digital Democracy


FCC proposes new privacy rules for ISPs | TechCrunch

FCC proposes new privacy rules for ISPs | TechCrunch

FCC proposes new privacy rules for ISPs

As widely expected, the FCC has proposed expansive new data privacy rules for broadband providers that, if adopted, could see ISPs required to gain explicit consent from users for using or sharing their data.

Although the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), adopted by the FCC late last week, seeks to tighten privacy rules it would not require broadband providers to gain explicit opt in customer consent for all purposes — with leeway left for providing the broadband service, marketing the specific service to users, and for certain other specific purposes "consistent with customer expectations", such as public safety contacts.

ISPs would also still be able to share customer data for marketing other comms-related services and with any affiliates providing these services — provided broadband customers have not opted out of receiving this type of marketing missive.

However all other uses of customer data by ISPs would require explicit opt in consent from users under the proposals.

The FCC said the aim is to implement the privacy requirements of Section 222 of the Communications Act for broadband ISPs, with chairman Tom Wheeler arguing that tighter privacy rules are necessary because of the visibility ISPs have into users' online activity.

In a statement, Wheeler said the proposal is aimed at giving consumers "the tools we need to make informed decisions about how our ISPs use and share our data, and confidence that ISPs are keeping their customers' data secure".

Unlike with Internet services consumers cannot easily swap to another broadband provider or choose not to use an ISP at all, he noted.

"Our ISPs handle all of our network traffic. That means an ISP has a broad view of all of its customers' unencrypted online activity — when we are online, the websites we visit, and the apps we use. If we have mobile devices… our providers can track our physical location throughout the day in real time. Even when data is encrypted, our broadband providers can piece together significant amounts of information about us — including private information such as a chronic medical condition or financial problems — based on our online activity," said Wheeler.


In January a group of U.S. privacy and consumer rights groups called on the FCC to tighten privacy rules for ISPs, arguing that ISPs have increasingly been using the same big data analytics/tracking techniques as Internet ad platform giants like Google — posing massive risks to user privacy.

As you'd expect, broadband providers are opposed to the proposals. Commenting in a blog post after the NPRM was published last week, Comcast's SVP for public policy, David L. Cohen, wrote: "The proposed rules will not provide meaningful consumer Internet privacy protections, and will block ISPs from bringing new competition to the online advertising market that could benefit consumers."

Cohen added that the NPRM is "inexplicably targeted to block ISPs… from entering and competing as disruptors and upstarts in the online advertising marketplace", noting the latter is "dominated by edge providers and other non-ISPs".

But Wheeler couched it as "narrowly focused" on ISPs because personal data gathered by ISPs is done so as a function of providing broadband connectivity — rather than because a consumer chooses to visit a website or use a particular online service.

"This proposal does not prohibit ISPs from using and sharing customer data — it simply proposes that the ISP first obtain customers' express permission before doing so," Wheeler added.

The FCC proposal was approved by a 3-2 Democratic majority, with Republican commissioners dubbing it corporate favoritism, according to NPR. The next steps in the FCC's process will be a period of public consultation before a final vote to set new rules.


Can I sell my American citizenship on eBay?

Can I sell my American citizenship on eBay? 

Pretty sure no one would notice if I left the US for quite some time if ever. 

I could totally swing this.  I have total shut in potential.  

All I need to do is designate a fiduciary (easy peasy) and keep crying about Comcast and my Smart TV!! 

Hmmmm...  need to speak to my brother who went to Canada and see how that worked out. 

It makes financial sense and probably a good investment in future if I can find a post doc or a research fellowship to examine our system of care Vs NHS or Canadian Health Care System. 

Maybe now is a good time to do that research project I was forced to put on hold because life happens...

My wheels are a turning!! 


Americans Renouncing Citizenship at Record High

It all goes back to the Civil War.

The number of Americans renouncing their citizenship rose to a new record of 5,411 last year, up 26 percent from 2015, according to the latest government data.


It all goes back to the Civil War, and to a tax meant to deter potential draft dodgers from leaving the U.S. Today, the goal is to make sure that all of the income of U.S. citizens, whether they live and work in the U.S. or not, is reported to the Internal Revenue Service.

The rules got trickier in 2010, when, in an effort to cut down on tax evasion, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (fabulously, Fatca, for short) was passed into law. It basically said foreign institutions holding assets for U.S. citizens had to report the accounts or withhold a 30 percent tax on them if the information wasn't provided. That led some foreign banks to shy away from opening accounts for expats.

Since Fatca came into being, annual totals for Americans renouncing citizenship have reached their four highest historic levels, as shown in the chart below from Andrew Mitchel LLC and its International Tax Blog.

Source: U.S. Treasury Department via Andrew Mitchel LLC

Among the names on the 2016 list of those bidding adieu to the U.S. and its tax code was the U.K.'s foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, who was born in New York. Boldface names from years past (some really past) include the torch song master Josephine Baker, the actor Yul Brynner, the great soprano Maria Callas, businessmen Kenneth and Robert Dart, investor Mark Mobius, and Eduardo Saverin, a co-founder of Facebook.

2016 Fourth Quarter Published Expatriates – New Annual Record

Today the Treasury Department published the names of individuals who renounced their U.S. citizenship or terminated their long-term U.S. residency ("expatriated") during the fourth quarter of 2016.

The number of published expatriates for the quarter was 2,365, bringing the total number of published expatriates in 2016 to 5,411.  The total for the year breaks last year's record number of 4,279 published expatriates.  The number of expatriates for 2016 is a 26% increase over 2015 and a 58% increase over 2014 (3,415).  For a discussion of how the IRS compiles the data, see these posts: missing namessource of data.

The escalation of offshore penalties over the last 20 years is likely contributing to the increased incidence of expatriation.

We have created two graphs which reflect the latest expatriation data. The graph above is based solely on IRS data and shows the number of published expatriates per year since 1998. The graph below shows data going back to 1962 by incorporating State Department data.  For the source of the State Department data, see this post.

Interestingly, Boris Johnson, the UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (and former Mayor of London), appears to be on the list.  Also, Alexander Friedrich Antonius Johannes Von Hohenzollern, also known as Alexander, Hereditary Prince of Hohenzollern appears to be on the list.

For our prior coverage of expatriation, see all posts tagged Expatriation.



Severe poverty affects brain size, researchers fin

Severe poverty affects brain size, researchers find
Study explains poor performance in school, expert says.
A six-year study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has added to the mounting evidence that growing up in severe poverty affects how children's brains develop, potentially putting them at a lifelong disadvantage.

The study — which combined the expertise of neuroscientists and economists — found that the parts of the brain tied to academic performance were 8 percent to 10 percent smaller for children who grow up in very poor households.

It was based on a relatively large sample of predominantly white children whose mothers were much more educated than the general population. And the results show a biological link between growing up in extreme poverty and how well children do academically.

"The significance of the study is providing a hard physical link between the experience of growing up in poverty and how well children do on cognitive tests," said Barbara "Bobbi" Wolfe, an economist at UW-Madison and one of the co-authors of the study.

The study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, builds on animal studies and other research suggesting that poverty affects the parts of the brain tied to self-control, attention, planning and other traits important for success in school and life.

The children often receive less nurturing from parents and live in environments characterized by increased stress from crowded housing, instability, poor nutrition, limited stimulation and more exposure to violence.

That children who grow up in poverty do less well in school is well documented. But studies increasingly show that at least part of that overall poor performance stems from how their brains grow and work.

The UW study estimated that as much as 20 percent of the gap in test scores could be explained by slower development of two parts of the brain: the frontal lobe and the temporal lobe.

The frontal lobe is important for controlling attention, inhibition, emotions and complex learning. The temporal lobe is important for memory and language comprehension, such as identifying and attaching meaning to words.

Both areas of the brain develop through adolescence.

"It provides a brain-based explanation for why children living in poverty are not performing academically as well," said Joan Luby, a professor of child psychiatry and director of the Early Emotional Development Program at Washington University School of Medicine. Luby was not involved in the study.

The UW-Madison study was led by Wolfe and Seth Pollak, a professor of psychology and director of the Child Emotion Lab.