MTH 448/563 Data-Oriented Computing

Data in the news, Fall 2019

A selection of recent articles from the news media about applications of the tools and techniques of data collection and analysis.

Nov 4. "I Got Access to My Secret Consumer Score" New York Times article:. "Little-known companies are amassing your data — like food orders and Airbnb messages — and selling the analysis to clients. Here’s how to get a copy of what they have on you. ... most of these companies are just showing you the data they used to make decisions about you, not how they analyzed that data or what their decision was."

Nov 1. "Popular websites snoop on you using a tactic that evades common privacy measures" Washington Post article. "Think you’re anonymous online? A third of popular websites are ‘fingerprinting’ you. Just when you thought we had hit rock bottom on all the ways the Internet could snoop on us — no. We’ve sunk even lower."

Oct 14. "Student tracking, secret scores: How college admissions offices rank prospects before they apply" Washington Post article. "The admissions officer also received a link to a private profile of the student, listing all 27 pages she had viewed on the school’s website and how long she spent on each one. A map on this page showed her geographical location, and an 'affinity index' estimated her level of interest in attending the school. Her score of 91 out of 100 predicted she was highly likely to accept an admission offer from UW-Stout, the records showed."

Oct 29. "WhatsApp Says Israeli Firm Used Its App in Spy Program" NY Times article. "WhatsApp sued the Israeli cybersurveillance firm NSO Group in federal court on Tuesday, claiming the company’s spy technology was used on the popular messaging service in a wide-ranging campaign targeting journalists and human-rights activists." Oct 22: "Under digital surveillance: how American schools spy on millions of kids" Article in The Guardian. "Fueled by fears of school shootings, the market has grown rapidly for technologies that monitor students through official school emails and chats."

Oct 22: "A face-scanning algorithm increasingly decides whether you deserve the job Washington Post article "HireVue claims it uses artificial intelligence to decide who’s best for a job. Outside experts call it 'profoundly disturbing'. Nicolette Vartuli, a University of Connecticut senior studying math and economics with a 3.5 GPA, said she researched HireVue and did her best to dazzle the job-interview machine."

Oct 12: "Chinese app on Xi’s ideology allows data access to 100 million users’ phones" Washington Post article "An examination of the code in the app shows it enables authorities to retrieve every message and photo from a user’s phone, browse their contacts and Internet history, and activate an audio recorder inside the device, according to a U.S.-funded analysis."

Oct 11: "How Photos of Your Kids Are Powering Surveillance Technology" NY Times article. "Millions of Flickr images were sucked into a database called MegaFace."

Sep 10: "Scraping public data isn't hacking" "Scraping public data from a website doesn't constitute 'hacking,' according to a new court ruling that could dramatically limit abuse of the United States' primary hacking law, the Computer Frud and Abuse Act (CFAA). From a report: In its declaration, the court ruled that to violate the CFAA, somebody would need to actually 'circumvent [a] computer's generally applicable rules regarding access permissions, such as username and password requirements,' meaning it's not really hacking if you're not bypassing some kind of meaningful authorization system."