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Friday Cyber News, May 20 2016

Cyber technology-related news and links from around the web, for the week of 5/14 - 5/20:

1. Pessimists argue robots will displace workers. Optimists argue robots will create jobs, as technology has pushed jobs off of farms and into IT offices. And we'll need people to train our computers, showing their neural nets picture after picture of cats until they begin to recognize cats for themselves. (Would a computer ever run for president?) A new OECD report says the destruction of a large number of jobs is unlikely, but analysts are ignoring the speed of this tech transformation, and the ways it drives xenophobia and fear in those most likely to be displaced. [Techcrunch; Wired; Popular Mechanics; Robotenomics]

2. The Supreme Court decided that Spokeo's false data about a job candidate did not result in a specific harm to him, raising the bar for future lawsuits involving false data online. While in this case, Spokeo's information about Thomas Robins wasn't negative or defamatory, the court overstepped by stating that providing "a false zip code" could never be harmful, as internet commenters pointed out with examples of how false zip codes could lead to harm. [Fortune]

3. 50% of households with incomes below $30,000 have never heard of Uber. 69% have never heard of AirBnB. If the sharing economy is supposed to save us money--with Uber claiming it is 60% cheaper than a taxi, overall, for example--shouldn't they be reaching out to low-income users? Or are they just going to become flies trapped on the sticky hoods of Google's self-driving cars? [Quartz; Gizmodo]

4. Smart IoT devices need to invest in educating consumers, from encouraging them to ask how their smart devices will communicate and optimize each other, to ensuring that customers know how much they pay for electricity, or how much money they waste on spoiled food, to better appreciate the savings from smart lightbulbs and smart fridges. [Techcrunch]

5. As we face impending changes to Rule 41 and the ways the FBI can hunt down computer crime, here's a history of all the ways the FBI has been able to hack your devices, including cell phones. China is also interested in the security of those phones, focusing on US tech in a security review designed to determine whether the country's encryption standards are supported by the devices sold within its borders. [Wired; NY Times]

6. New research from Initiative affiliates John Mitchell and Jonathan Mayer: Metadata is sometimes all the government can get, but metadata can give you everything. Susan Landau follows up: transactional information, like who called who and for how long, is remarkably revelatory. [PNAS x2]

7. A Yahoo bug bounty prize could be a t-shirt or $15,000, and the calculation of what a vulnerability is worth isn't standardized. This problem is related to the cyber insurance problem of quantifying risk, as the probability that a given error will be exploited in a way that results in financial loss is difficult to pin down. Side note: financial companies vastly overestimate how much cyber insurance coverage they have, with 50% claiming to be covered for harms that only 10% actually are. [CS Monitor; Financial Times]

8. How Facebook failed at delivering free internet to India, by underestimating the country's suspicion of corporate-backed philanthropy. Facebook also underestimated the right's appreciation for underdog companies: Glenn Beck isn't disturbed by Facebook potentially suppressing conservative news. He's disturbed by how one ex-employee's accusation was taken so seriously against the word and intention of a big company. [Guardian; Medium]

9. "Dark patterns" are UI tricks used by websites to make it difficult to unsubscribe, or to push users toward selecting contact options the company prefers. These deceptive business practices fall under the scope of class-action lawsuits, but catching them one by one is inefficient. [NY Times]

10. Bottom of the news: To prevent cheating, Iraq shuts down internet access--for everyone--during exam time. Do we need a kinder, gentler Reddit? Noodles & Co was breached; is nothing sacred? [Atlantic; Recode; Krebs]

Thanks for reading,

Stanford Cyber Initiative

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