March 20, 2008

Nothing Like Stating It Nakedly [5:46 pm]

A Company Promises the Deepest Data Mining Yet

Amid debate over how much data companies like Google and Yahoo should gather about people who surf the Web, one new company is drawing attention — and controversy — by boasting that it will collect the most complete information of all.

The company, called Phorm, has created a tool that can track every single online action of a given consumer, based on data from that person’s Internet service provider. The trick for Phorm is to gain access to that data, and it is trying to negotiate deals with telephone and cable companies, like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast, that provide broadband service to millions.

Phorm’s pitch to these companies is that its software can give them a new stream of revenue from advertising. Using Phorm’s comprehensive views of individuals, the companies can help advertisers show different ads to people based on their interests.

“As you browse, we’re able to categorize all of your Internet actions,” said Virasb Vahidi, the chief operating officer of Phorm. “We actually can see the entire Internet.”

Of course, the question is not seeing it, but how clearly it is seen.

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NJ eVoting Investigation Request [1:54 pm]

NJ clerks call for e-voting investigation

A group representing county clerks in New Jersey has asked the states attorney general to step in and investigate voting discrepancies observed in e-voting machines used in last months presidential primary election.

[...] Clerks from a half-dozen New Jersey counties reported discrepancies in the voting tallies generated by approximately 60 of the state’s Sequoia Voting Systems AVC Advantage e-voting machines during last month’s election. In most cases the discrepancy involved a one- or two-vote difference between the paper tape logged by the machine and the number of votes stored in the computer’s memory cartridges.

Sequoia blamed the discrepancy on pollworker error and said the problem could be fixed with a software update, but state clerks wanted a third-party investigation.

[...] Last Tuesday, Dressler’s group asked Princeton computer science professor Edward Felten, a critic of e-voting systems, to examine the Sequoia machines. That plan was abandoned, however, after Sequoia threatened legal action against Felten and the county that offered to provide the systems, saying that such a review would violate the company’s licensing agreement.

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