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National Security vs. Privacy Rights: A Retrospective

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

By Robert Barker, Infoglide Senior Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer

NOTE: It’s a hot summer in Texas and we’re going to take some time off. We’ll start blogging again after Labor Day!

Ivan Chong of Informatica made an interesting point in a recent post about how sometimes we get so focused on how to do identity resolution, it’s easy to forget why we’re doing it and what the effects can be: “The technology challenge can often be so consuming that we devote scarce attention to the ethical issues involved.”

In our case, balancing the need for security with the privacy and confidentiality rights of the individual was the driving force behind the initiation of this corporate blog, and the imperative for establishing it came from the top down. Having worked for so long with the Department of Homeland Security on next generation airline passenger screening, we were familiar with the sometimes agonizing decisions made by those responsible for passenger safety and national security, but who simultaneously hold themselves accountable for the responsible use of citizen information.

Not long after we started posting, we talked about the creative tension between those concentrating on privacy and security concerns in Privacy and Security Advocates: It’s a Good Thing We Can’t All Get Along: “Without a certain level of security then American lives will be lost. Conversely, without a certain level of privacy, the American way of life will be lost. And at times, we as a nation have made mistakes when the pendulum has swung too far either way.”

Shortly thereafter we made sure you became aware that DHS head Michael Chertoff had decided to jump into the social media conversations with a post called We the Bloggers: Chertoff on Balancing Privacy and Security: “Mr. Chertoff’s blog is of interest, particularly yesterday’s post, Privacy And Security. Writing about this post, Wired noted that ‘the man has a little flair.’ And indeed, he does. His post starts off refuting Scott McNealy’s famous declaration, ‘Privacy is dead, get over it.’

Despite our close relationship with DHS, we haven’t held back in making you aware of controversy when it has arisen, as in Privacy vs. Security: New FBI Data-mining Program Sparks Debate: “One thing that is clear about this 200-yr-plus debate is that the opinions and actions of both the defenders of privacy and security must remain engaged and unbending, watchful and most importantly — true to their beliefs to maintain a proper balance.

We will continue to track and discuss these issues. Finding that perfect balance will always be a challenge, as we pointed out in Finding a perfect balance between individual privacy and national security: “Since its inception, the United States has debated and even struggled with maintaining a balance between rights and responsibilities, the individual and the state and privacy versus security… Throughout the course of American history, we sometimes made mistakes while we struggled with achieving a perfect balance. Thankfully, the Founding Fathers wisely created a system of checks and balances between the three branches of the federal government that ultimately, time after time, has managed to correct imbalances imposed upon both privacy and security.”

Identity Resolution Daily Links 2008-8-18

Monday, August 18th, 2008

By the Infoglide Team

Fraud, Phishing and Financial Misdeeds: Lottery Bandit Nabbed in California

“In May, alert SaveMart grocery store employees noted an individual attempting to cash in a on a winning lottery ticket reported stolen in the burglaries. . . . It’s pretty obvious that the alert employees at SaveMart were tipped off electronically that the ticket(s) being presented were ‘hot.’ . . . This isn’t the first time in recent history, the California Lottery Police have made headlines. In May, it was announced that they were using undercover agents to catch dishonest retailers, who were cheating winners out of their prizes. Winning tickets of $500 to $25,000 were presented to retailers and several of them were caught pretending the prize was smaller and keeping the proceeds for themselves. Several arrests were made throughout California as a result of the sting.”

Informatica Perspectives: Communicating the Value of Data Quality

“Many of our customers express frustration that even though it is quite obvious how their business suffers from poor data quality, they find it difficult to convince their associates to invest in initiatives that correct the problems. Earlier this year, we participated in Rob Karel’s Forrester research that addresses this issue. The resulting research paper is titled ‘A Truism for Trusted Data: Think Big, Start Small’ and its getting a lot of interest. . . . The report is available from Forrester’s web site. It contains some nice examples of how customers have built a business case for justifying investment in Data Quality.”

KRISTV.com: Squabble Heats Up Over Online Sale of Stolen Goods

“Lawmakers are pushing for a crackdown on online marketplaces, such as eBay, Yahoo, Overstock.com and others, for inadequate efforts to block the sale of stolen products on their platforms. . . . The proposed legislation is the latest skirmish in an ongoing battle over Internet intermediaries’ responsibility for their customers’ actions. Supporters of the bill want online marketplaces to more closely monitor transactions on their sites. They say the technology exists for the sites to track stolen goods sales, whether through targeting sellers who are known for proffering the products or hunting down frequently stolen goods.”

PogoWasRight.org: DHS Privacy Office - Privacy Impact Assessments

“The following Privacy Impact Assessments have been added to DHS’s site:”

Identity Resolution Daily Links 2008-8-15

Friday, August 15th, 2008

[Post from Infoglide] Products, Products Everywhere and Not an Easy Way to Sync

“Product and inventory management (or Product Information Management) across an enterprise is an increasingly widespread problem. There are countless dollars being wasted on ordering, cataloging, and warehousing similar and, worse yet, duplicate parts.”

Evolution of Security: You won’t be put on a TSA “List” if you forget Your ID

“When it comes to security, identity matters. Positively identifying passengers is a critical tool in TSA’s multi-layered approach to security and one that has been bolstered significantly during the past 18 months. . . . TSA collects real-time information from airports across the country so that our operation center can look for patterns and data points of significant security value. The information is only shared with other law enforcement partners on a need-to-know basis. The ability to ‘connect the dots’ on emerging situations can not be underestimated.”

Data Governance and Data Quality Insider: The Data Intelligence Gap: Part One

“Data needs standardization, organization and intelligence, in order to provide for the business. Companies often find themselves in this position because rapid corporate growth tends to have a negative impact on data quality. As the company grows and expands new systems are put in place and new data silos form. During rapid growth, corporations rarely consider the impact of data beyond the scope of the current silo. Time marches on and the usefulness of data decays. Employee attrition leads to less and less corporate knowledge about the data, and a wider gap.”

USA Today: Private planes on TSA’s radar

“The new regulations, expected to be proposed in coming months, stop short of passenger screening, but would aim to prevent someone from flying a small plane, possibly packed with explosives, into a building. Authorities also worry about terrorists transporting hazardous materials or themselves on private aircraft, said Michal Morgan, TSA head of general aviation security.”

DataFlux Community of Experts: ‘Always On’ Data Governance - A New Era for DQ in an Event Driven World?

“I believe we need to consider the idea of ‘always on’ data quality whereby data quality ‘agents’ appear, each looking to ‘govern’ specific kinds of data to continually monitor and validate that data in the systems where it is created and also to monitor and validate it as it flows. These agents will if necessary need to analyse that data looking for data errors, incomplete information and also to check a name against a watch-list for compliance reasons for example. When these business rules are broken then action is needed to correct that data or complete it or to alert someone if a match on a watch-list occurs. Some of these corrections and completions can occur automatically and some may have to be referred to a data steward if this is not possible.”

Products, Products Everywhere and Not an Easy Way to Sync

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

By Neil Stickels, Infoglide Senior Solutions Architect

Product and inventory management (or Product Information Management) across an enterprise is an increasingly widespread problem. There are countless dollars being wasted on ordering, cataloging, and warehousing similar and, worse yet, duplicate parts. However, Product Information Management can be an arduous task because it involves combing through thousands, sometimes millions, of products and parts, and then grouping them appropriately. Typically this process has been a manual one, requiring thousands of hours of intensive labor by a large services organization. The cost of this type of solution is usually too large to provide an acceptable solution for small to medium-sized businesses.

A much more cost-effective solution is to create an automated way of aggregating all of the product data into a Master Product Index. To efficiently create a Master Product Index, a software solution can be used to take in the product list as well as a product taxonomy, if available. Next, the product list is classified using the taxonomy. Any products not classified result in an update to the taxonomy, and the process is repeated. This iterative process results in a Master Product List. The Master Product List is then coupled with business rules to create a Master Product Index. This Master Product Index then ties into all of the existing supply chain management services to return the most appropriate part.

Using similarity searching while performing the classification would improve the results even more. An auto-classification system using similarity searching technology applies sophisticated similarity algorithms to multiple sources of data in real time to provide not just exact matches, but similar or “fuzzy” matches as well. This approach alleviates different representations of identical data, as well as misspellings and typos that might occur during data transcription. For example, when comparing two chips, a 250 nm central processing unit produced by AMD is recognized as the same thing as a .25 µm CPU made by Advanced Micro Devices. By using similarity searching, the Master Product Index determines the closest match to a product requested, even if the exact match isn’t available.

Once the Master Product Index is created, it can be used by all facets of the supply chain management. For example, purchasing can use it in order to provide the most appropriate part number and vendor to use when ordering a given part. By coupling the Master Product List to business rules, the Master Product Index not only returns the best matching part, but also the most cost-effective part, saving costs associated with ordering duplicate parts and ensuring the best price for a part. Additionally, it can be used by an inventory system to combine inventories across multiple sites and consolidate similar groupings of products down into a single view.

Bottom line, an auto-classification system that utilizes a Master Product Index coupled with similiarity searching can efficiently solve the time- and resource-consuming problems faced within Product Information Management by providing a relatively hands-off, automated process.

Identity Resolution Daily Links 2008-8-11

Monday, August 11th, 2008

By the Infoglide Team

Wired Blog: Chertoff: I’m Listening to the Internet (Not in a Bad Way)

“The one thing we don’t want to do, because the culture of the internet is opposed to anything that smacks of government clumsy heavy-handedness, is that we don’t want to be sitting on the internet, like certain other countries do, where people suspect we are limiting what people can see. We don’t want to force people to do what they don’t want to do. We don’t want them to think we are intruding into their private space.”

AuctionBytes.com: Legislation Would Open eBay Records to Retailers

“House Resolution 6713 was introduced just weeks after the introduction of H. R. 6491, the Organized Retail Crime Act of 2008, which would require auction sites to cooperate with retailers and police and would allow retailers to sue over the sale of stolen merchandise. The National Retail Federation (NRF) issued press releases praising both proposals, stating that retailers lose between $15 and $30 billion to ‘organized retail crime‘ each year.”

Google Public Policy Blog: Now playing on YouTube: online family safety

“As a member and supporter of the Family Online Safety Institute, we are proud to let you know that FOSI recently launched its own branded YouTube channel. This YouTube channel represents one more example of how FOSI is identifying the best practices, tools, and methods for keeping kids safe online.”

The Bunker Blog: Charlotte, NC Shoplifting Statistics June 2008

“I’m afraid that, if we blame the economy, we’re just giving the thieves the excuse they need to steal more. If we ‘feel sorry’ for the thief who steals $150 shoes because times are tough, then we empower them to steal more because they feel entitled to our merchandise.”

Identity Resolution Daily Links 2008-8-8

Friday, August 8th, 2008

[Post from Infoglide] A Commitment to Solutions: What Harvard is Doing to Address Crime on MySpace and Other Social Web Sites

“Last week we focused on the issue of cybercrimes against children and how technology can play a role in preventing the victimization of young people on the Internet. One organization that is very much aware of the impact technology can have is the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.”

PogoWasRight.org: AU: Google Street View told: keep off, private

“Privacy activists and individuals have accused Google of deceiving the public by breaking its promises only to photograph public roads for its Street View mapping tool and to promptly remove images flagged as inappropriate.”

Fraud, Phishing and Financial Misdeeds: Bills Introduced to Combat Organized Crime on Auction Sites

“Criminals often lure people to do their dirty work, also. Recruits are normally harvested off the Internet, sometimes from job sites, and offered work to reship stolen merchandise and or launder money from fraudulent transactions. . . . A lot of criminal activity is facilitated on auction sites by what is known as phishing. Phishing is where an account owner is tricked into giving up their account details, either via social engineering, or more and more often, after downloading some malicious sofware. The stolen account details are then used to take-over the account and use it for illicit purposes. In fact, eBay and PayPal accounts are frequently the most phished brands out there. . . . There is little doubt that a lot of the criminal activity on auction sites is sophisticated and reeks of organized crime.”

Google Public Policy Blog: Keeping kids safe in a digital world

“Technology is an invaluable tool for addressing some of these challenges. . . . When it comes to keeping kids safe on the Internet, we believe that education for families, support for law enforcement, and empowering technology tools, like our SafeSearch filter and the NCMEC software, are all critical pieces of the puzzle.”

Evolution of Security: Answers to Your Top 10 Questions

“Here are the top ten questions we received from our recent request. We tallied the number of times we received each question or a similar version of it and noted the total for each question below.”

PogoWasRight.org: UK: Airport fingerprint plan sparks a domestic dispute

“Human rights and data protection organisations have criticised Government plans to introduce fingerprinting at all British airports where departure lounges are shared by international and domestic travellers.”

A Commitment to Solutions: What Harvard is Doing to Address Crime on MySpace and Other Social Web Sites

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

By Douglas Wood, Infoglide Senior Vice President

Last week we focused on the issue of cybercrimes against children and how technology can play a role in preventing the victimization of young people on the Internet. Douglas Wood, Senior Vice President, InfoglideOne organization that is very much aware of the impact technology can have is the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

The Berkman Center’s mission is to explore and understand cyberspace; to study its development, dynamics, norms, and standards; and to assess the need or lack thereof for laws and sanctions.

The center was established to study cyberspace through active research, and they address a variety of relevant issues including content control, governance, privacy, intellectual property, and electronic commerce.

One of their programs is the Internet Safety Technical Task Force Technical Advisory Board, whose objective is “to evaluate and assess the range of technologies that may be used to promote children’s safety on the Internet.” The Technical Advisory Board (TAB) brings together corporations and academic institutions to address real-world issues with real-world solutions. Members of the TAB include representatives from MIT, Dartmouth, Twistbox, Bank of America, and, naturally, Harvard.

Created in February of this year, TAB is tasked with identifying “effective online safety tools and technologies that can be used by many companies across multiple platforms.” They review technologies based on standardized submissions from individuals, companies, and organizations and prepare quarterly and year-end reports with their findings. The types of technologies include identification, authentication, search, filtering, blocking, age verification, labeling, rating, and forensics. TAB is looking for technologies that accomplish one or more of the following:

  • Limit harmful contact between adults and minors
  • Limit harmful contact between minors
  • Limit/prevent minors from accessing inappropriate content on the Internet
  • Limit/prevent minors from creating inappropriate content on the Internet
  • Limit the availability of illegal content on the Internet
  • Prevent minors from accessing particular sites without parental consent
  • Prevent harassment, unwanted solicitation, and bullying of minors on the Internet

As I mentioned in my previous post, identity resolution technologies can protect children by limiting harmful contact between adults and minors; preventing harassment, unwanted solicitation, and bullying of minors on the Internet; and preventing known sex offenders from accessing social network sites, even through attempts to mask their identities. For our part, we’ve submitted our technology for review by TAB, and we look forward to their evaluation.

It’s clear that protecting children from Internet predators is a cause that we can all get behind. We applaud Harvard and the TAB for taking steps to address this problem.

Identity Resolution Daily Links 2008-8-4

Monday, August 4th, 2008

By the Infoglide Team

The Vancouver Sun: B.C. Lotteries says ticket retailers do not win more than the public

“Lottery retailers are no more likely to win major prizes today than the public, according to a report released Friday by the B.C. Lottery Corp. However, BCLC was unable to explain what appears to be a dramatic drop in retailer wins since new security measures were put in place a year ago. . . . The figures raised fears retailers might be stealing customers’ winning tickets — by, for example, falsely telling a customer his or her ticket was a loser. . . . BCLC has repeatedly said that it is not aware of any cases in which a lottery prize was paid to someone other than the ticket’s rightful owner.”

Hub Solution Designs: Governing Unstructured Data

“Given that many of the people I talk to or work with are building Master Data Management solutions for their companies, or putting together a Data Governance program, I had to stop and ask myself ‘maybe we’re all missing the forest for the trees here’. Granted, the picture on the structured data side of things needs improvement too. Companies still struggle to pull together the ‘Single View of the Customer’. Islands of data still exist, and artificial silos still cost companies money and hurt productivity. But I think we ignore the unstructured data problem at our peril.”

RetailWire: Monitoring Those Thieving Employees [requires registration]

“With billions of dollars being stolen from grocery stores by employees, retailers are increasingly having their security cameras aimed directly at cash registers to ward against employees using a scheme called ’sweethearting,’ which involves giving away merchandise usually to family or friends by not scanning it.”

The Iowa Independent: Iowa’s intelligence fusion center ‘connects the dots’

“Fusion centers are where the federal, state and local cops share intelligence, sift data for clues, run down reports of suspicious packages, and connect dots in an effort to detect and thwart drug smuggling, gang fighting and other menaces to society. The Iowa fusion centers have access to national data bases such as Law Enforcement Online and Regional Information Sharing Systems Intranet. They also have access to Homeland Security Information Network, but only the ‘controlled but unclassified’ version. Porter anticipates that with the addition of a Department of Homeland Security employee to the fusion center staff, the center will gain access to the ’secret’ version of the network.”

PogoWasRight.org: How much information is too much?

“Last month, PeopleFinders, a 20-year-old company based in California, introduced CriminalSearches.com, a free service to satisfy those common impulses. The site, which is supported by advertising, lets people search by name through criminal archives of all 50 states and 3,500 counties in the United States.”

b-eye.com - Business Intelligence Network - Industry Research: The Forrester Wave: Enterprise Business Intelligence Platforms, Q3 2008

“In Forrester’s 151-criteria evaluation of enterprise business intelligence (BI) platform vendors, we found that IBM Cognos and SAP Business Objects maintain their leadership positions, while Oracle and SAS Institute move into leadership positions in enterprise BI thanks to the richness of their functionality, ability to scale, and the completeness of their corporate and product vision and strategy. Actuate, Information Builders, Microsoft, MicroStrategy, SAP, and a new entrant, TIBCO Spotfire, came out as Strong Performers following very closely on the heels of the Leaders, offering very respectable alternatives and a multitude of choices for information and knowledge management (I&KM) professionals.”

Realtime community: Privacy Concerns Of Google Walking Directions

“In the interest of time, here are just a few quick thoughts off the top of my head… Yes, as with any type of surveillance-based service such as this, there will always be privacy concerns. Here are just three of them.”

DailyHerald: Laws proposed to fight e-fencing

“Both Sen. Dick Durbin and Virginia Congressman Bobby Scott are proposing laws to target e-fencing. . . . E-fencing has become a $30 billion business, said Peter Gill, a spokesman for the Illinois Retail Merchants Association in Chicago.”

Mercury: ‘Crash for cash’ gang jailed

“A GROUND-BREAKING investigation into a criminal syndicate that organised a ‘crash for cash’ car insurance scam in Hertfordshire has led to the gang receiving a total of 10 years’ imprisonment.”

Identity Resolution Daily Links 2008-8-1

Friday, August 1st, 2008

[Post from Infoglide] An Obligation to Protect: Crime on MySpace and Other Social Web Sites

“It’s an almost unbelievable story. Or maybe I should say, as a parent, I’d like not to believe that this sort of thing happens. Unfortunately, it does all too often. By now, you’ve probably heard the story of Brooke Bennett who was found murdered after being abducted by her uncle, Michael Jacques.”

chicagotribune.com: Smash, grab, then sell on Web

“Craig Sherman, spokesman for the National Retail Federation, said selling online can boost the thieves’ profits. ‘When a thief sells something on a traditional street corner or pawnshop, he might get 30 cents on the dollar,’ Sherman said. ‘But if he sells it online, he gets as much as 70 percent on the value.’”

FOXNews.com: Homeland Security Dept. to Tell Employees of Heightened Alert Period

“The Aug. 8-24 Beijing Olympic Games, presidential nominating conventions in August and September, Nov. 4 elections and transition to a new administration pose opportunities for terrorists to attack. Drafts of the heightened alert document were circulated in the past few weeks, and a final document is expected soon.”

The Bunker Blog: Employee Theft Increasing By 15%

“Most experts agree that approximately 30% of employees steal from their employers. 75% of those do it repeatedly. The average time it takes to catch an employee who steals is 18 months. . . . There is a lot at stake. $22 billion dollars is an astonomical figure that most of us can’t even really grasp. However, we can grasp our own losses, and we all know that those losses cost us dearly in profits.”

Evolution of Security: Leave your shoes on?

“Wouldn’t it be great to show up at a checkpoint and just when you were reaching down to untie your shoes, you heard an officer say ‘You can leave your shoes on.’”


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