Madison - State elections officials ordered a set of historic recall elections Friday, making Scott Walker the third governor in the nation to face a recall and Rebecca Kleefisch the first lieutenant governor to face one.
The Government Accountability Board, voting unanimously Friday, also set recall elections for four Republican state senators. One of those senators, Pam Galloway of Wausau, resigned earlier this month, but the recall election will be held anyway; one or more Republicans can run in her place.
Primaries will be held May 8 and general elections June 5. For races that do not require primaries, the general elections will be May 8 – less than six weeks away.
Primaries are expected in most races, but which ones have primaries won’t be clear until April 10, the deadline for candidates to file their nomination papers.
Just two other governors have faced recall elections in the country’s history: North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier in 1921 and California Gov. Gray Davis in 2003. Both were defeated.
Madison, WI – The Government Accountability Board staff today released reports on recall petitions signatures for Governor Walker and Lt. Governor Kleefisch, recommending the Board find there are a sufficient number of signatures to order recall elections at its meeting Friday.
LACROSSE, Wis. — Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney is attacking rival Rick Santorum as a friend of “big labor” as they campaign in Wisconsin, where a fight over labor unions is fueling a bitter recall effort aimed at Gov. Scott Walker.
Santorum, in turn, is aligning himself with the embattled Republican governor, a play for a party base that he hopes will carry him to victory in the GOP presidential primary on Tuesday.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says his upcoming recall election is a “Waterloo” moment for national unions that will “invest everything possible to try and take me out to send a message.”
Walker told Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren on Monday night in Milwaukee he believes the vast majority of money that will pour into the June recall will come from out of state. And the unions, the Republican governor said, will be leading the charge against him in the new few months.
“The national unions, for them, this is all about the money,” Walker said. “It’s not just about the budget or collective bargaining. We gave nearly every, well, we gave every public employee in the state the freedom to choose whether or not they want to be in a union or not and I think that’s really why this is a Waterloo for them.”
Wisconsin is watching closely this week as the U.S. Supreme Court hears an extraordinary three days of oral arguments on the constitutionality of the federal health insurance reform law.
Any court decision that effectively rolls back or repeals the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would be a double-whammy for Wisconsin health care consumers.
Not only would everyone who is helped by the law lose their hard earned benefits, many would also still be left to rely on a safety net that Gov. Scott Walker is relentlessly tearing down.
Millions of Wisconsin residents have already experienced firsthand the benefits of the ACA, including preventive care with no out-of-pocket costs for 1.6 million people, no lifetime limits on coverage for 2.1 million people, cheaper medications for 59,000 seniors and guaranteed coverage for 300,000 children with preexisting conditions.
Consumers will see even more protections and benefits soon.
Starting in 2014, insurance companies will no longer be able to discriminate against anyone with a preexisting condition such as asthma, breast cancer or diabetes. Women and girls will not be able to be charged higher premiums or otherwise discriminated against by an insurer just because they are female.
Annual limits on health coverage will no longer be allowed. And affordable insurance marketplaces will give small businesses and individuals the same purchasing power as big businesses, which will drive down costs for everyone.
Opponents of the health care law like Gov. Walker and Wisconsin’s Attorney General want to take these patient protections and rights away.
The Walker administration has bet the store on this week’s court case, choosing to shut down work on building the state’s affordable insurance marketplace and rejecting $37 million in “early innovator” grants to build computer system infrastructure.
WASHINGTON — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) pledged to add 250,000 private sector jobs in the state by the end of his four-year term, and as Democrats try to recall him and throw him out of office, a central part of his message to voters has been that he has made progress in that area. But with new employment figures showing sluggish growth, Walker is placing the blame on an unlikely culprit: federal health care reform.
Recent federal data show that although the state’s unemployment rate has gone down, Wisconsin has lost more jobs than any other state since Walker took office.
The first three of the people named in the documents have already been charged. Darlene Wink, Walker’s former constituent services coordinator faces two misdemeanor charges. Timothy Russell, Walker’s former deputy chief of staff faces charges for embezzling money meant for military veterans. Kelly Rindfleisch, Walker’s former deputy chief of staff, faces four felony counts of misconduct in office.
The next name on the list is that of Fran McLaughlin. McLaughlin is Walker’s former spokeswoman. The documents obtained by FOX6 News show she may have been working for Walker’s gubernatorial campaign while she was on the county payroll.
The court file includes transcripts of online chats involving Rindfleisch. Rindfleisch writes: “I got Fran highlighting all the mistakes in the press releases that the campaign does.”
No other Fran worked in Walker’s office while he served as county executive.
So far this year, the AFP Foundation has spent about $1.4 million on ads that will benefit Wisconsin’s GOP Gov. Scott Walker, who is facing a recall election. The ads don’t mention Walker, but feature individuals proclaiming that controversial policies he has put in place are “working.” In fact, last year AFP helped push some of those same policies, the most prominent of which curtails benefits for unionized public employees. (Not surprisingly, perhaps, Koch Industries was one of Walker’s biggest contributors in his gubernatorial race).
Health care arguments should be televised, but judges say no
The nation’s highest court is missing a sterling opportunity to educate the public and establish a reputation for being transparent by refusing to let cameras record historic oral arguments on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.
MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin’s largest medical association asked Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday to veto a bill that would add new requirements for doctors to ensure a woman isn’t forced into an abortion. Walker’s office said the governor is still evaluating the bill.
The Wisconsin Medical Society’s letter said the bill passed by the Republican-controlled state Legislature earlier this month would infringe on the physician-patient relationship. The doctors’ group also expressed concern that physicians who fail to follow the bill exactly will face a Class I felony charge.
Walker’s spokesman Cullen Werwie said the governor is still evaluating the bill, as well as others passed in the legislative session that adjourned last week. They include a bill that would make teaching about contraception use optional and emphasize abstinence in public schools’ sex education classes.
“We’re still evaluating all those bills,” Werwie said.
At a bill signing event Monday in Milwaukee, Walker said he hasn’t looked at the abortion and sex education bills because he’s been focusing on mining legislation.
Walker’s spokesman Cullen Werwie says the governor is still evaluating the bill as well as others passed in the legislative session that adjourned last week.
The abortion bill would specify what physicians can legally say to women seeking abortions. Supporters of the bill say it tightens language so women are not coerced into getting an abortion by a partner or family member. They say the bill would also make sure doctors aren’t doing abortion consultations remotely via webcams. But opponents argue that webcam consultations aren’t currently done in Wisconsin, and the bill’s true intent is to make it harder for a woman to get an abortion.
Supporters of the sex education bill say it gives school districts control over how they teach children in their local communities. Opponents say it would increase the risk of more sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancies for young people. Rep. Kelda Helen Roys, D- Madison, released a letter Tuesday asking Walker to veto the bill.
Democrats have criticized the GOP-led Legislature for what they say was an “anti-woman” agenda during a session that should have focused more on jobs. The legislation also included a bill that would ban abortion coverage from policies obtained through a health insurance exchange that is to begin in 2014. The exchange will be a marketplace for small businesses and individuals to shop for health insurance coverage.
Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, sent Walker a letter Tuesday seeking vetoes on the bills.
“Governor, I think you and I can both agree that politicians should focus on legislation that puts Wisconsin back to work, not laws that oversteps the state’s role in a woman’s very personal and very private medical decisions,” he wrote in the letter.
Walker has until April 12 to sign or veto any of the bills before they automatically become law.
Madison - Schools that teach sex education would have to tell students that abstinence is the only reliable way to prevent pregnancy under a bill headed to Gov. Scott Walker.
The Assembly approved the measure early Wednesday, after approving a bill putting restrictions on some insurance coverage for abortions. Lawmakers were also to consider new limits that would prevent doctors from providing abortion drugs remotely through the use of web cameras.
The moves on two hot-button social issues come after legislators, in a session touted for its focus on creating jobs, failed to pass a bill last week to streamline iron ore mining that supporters said would create thousands of good-paying jobs. Earlier this year, efforts to pump money into venture capital to spur the economy fizzled out.
The mining and venture capital legislation had been the top jobs bills this year for Republicans who control the Legislature.
Now, they have turned their attention elsewhere, and the abortion and sex education bills were among the crush of bills they debated Tuesday into early Wednesday. State representatives plan to return Thursday for a final — likely overnight — session
Wisconsin election officials will have 11 more days to review petitions seeking the recall of Governor Scott Walker, according to a copy of an agreement provided by the state attorney general’s office.
Walker, a first-term Republican, Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and four state senators including Republican Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald are the targets of the recall drive started after Fitzgerald secured the passage of a bill limiting public employee collective bargaining rights, signed by the governor a year ago.
Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board sought an extension of the March 19 deadline so that it could complete its review of petition signatures.
“The board will meet March 30 to certify the results,” Reid Magney, a board spokesman, said in a telephone interview.
Texas and Wisconsin officials were barred from enforcing laws requiring voters to produce a government-issued photo identification before casting ballots.
The U.S. Justice Department yesterday told Texas officials the state failed to show that the statute signed into law by Governor Rick Perry last year won’t have a discriminatory effect on Latino voters while a Wisconsin state court judge held that an ID law enacted by fellow Republican Governor Scott Walker last year, unconstitutionally burdens the rights of eligible citizens.
The Government Accountability Board has given the go-ahead to start the Recall elections for four Republicans at a date to be determined. determined that at least 18,282 valid signatures were submitted to recall Fitzgerald. Recall organizers for State Senator Scott Fitzgerald needed 16,742 signatures and submitted 20,735. Recall organizers for State Senator Scott Van Wanggaard needed 15,353 and submitted 23,712. Recall organizers for State Senator Scott Terry Moulton needed 14,958 and submitted 20,907. Recall organizers for State Senator Scott Pam Galloway needed 15,647 and submitted 18,511.
Here are the matchups so far with information on Democratic challengers:
Under Wisconsin law, public officials are only allowed to create a legal defense fund if they are being investigated for or charged with a violation of campaign finance laws or prohibited election practices.
A spokesman for Gov. Scott Walker did not immediately respond to a request for comment on what justification he used for establishing the fund. He announced previously this year hiring two defense attorneys to help him deal with the probe.
The Government Accountability Board has an overview of the regulations for legal defense funds. According to the document, legal defense funds can only be used for expenditures stemming from an investigation, being charged or a conviction.
Officials cannot solicit direct contributions to their legal defense funds. Instead, they are allowed to transfer contributions from their campaign accounts to the legal defense fund if a donor consents.
Lobbyists cannot contribute, and their past contributions cannot be transferred to the legal defense funds. The official creating a legal defense fund has to file a report with the GAB to identify each person who contributed more than $50 to the legal defense fund during the past year.
UPDATE, 6:05 p.m.: A Walker spokeswoman said the fund was established under the guidance of the GAB but she had no other information on the rationale for establishing it. She reiterated that Walker has been told he’s not a target of the John Doe probe.
It’s not true that Gov. Scott Walker’s tax cuts are the cause of Wisconsin’s current budget deficit — a false claim widely spread by MSNBC‘s Rachel Maddow and repeated in numerous e-mails to us since we wrote about the state’s budget problems earlier this week. In fact, the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates the tax cuts won’t add a penny to the current year’s $137 million deficit.
Here’s a typical question that we have fielded since our article ran:
Q: How do the $140 billion [sic] in tax breaks that Walker gave out in January 2011 affect the Wisconsin deficit? I was surprised you didn’t mention them. Given that the governor is now demanding sacrifice from public employees but not from corporations, it seems less than fair.
The short answer is that the tax breaks — which total in the millions, not billions — don’t take effect until fiscal year 2012 and beyond, so they do not contribute to this year’s budget deficit, according to Fiscal Bureau Director Bob Lang.
It’s true, however, that they will add $117.2 million to the projected $3.6 billion budget gap in the next two-year budget cycle, which begins July 1, 2011, Lang says. So, the tax cuts make the deficit larger in next budget cycle, but not this one.
The confusion over the impact of Walker’s tax cuts is widespread. TheCap Times, a left-leaning news website in Madison, gave voice to this false claim in a Feb. 16 editorial, and MSNBC’s Maddow echoed many of the site’s points the next day on her TV show.
Cap Times, Feb. 16: To the extent that there is an imbalance — Walker claims there is a $137 million deficit — it is not because of a drop in revenues or increases in the cost of state employee contracts, benefits or pensions. It is because Walker and his allies pushed through $140 million in new spending for special-interest groups in January. If the Legislature were simply to rescind Walker’s new spending schemes — or delay their implementation until they are offset by fresh revenues — the “crisis” would not exist.
Maddow, Feb. 17: There is in fact a $137 million budget shortfall. Republican Gov. Scott Walker, coincidentally, has given away $140 million worth of business tax breaks since he came into office. Hey, wait. That’s about exactly the size of the shortfall.
Our point is not to get into a disagreement with Maddow or anyone else. (Our colleagues at Politifact have had a disagreement with Maddow over Wisconsin budget claims, and you can read about that here.) Our interest is getting at the facts of Walker’s tax cuts.
On his first day in office Jan. 3, Walker called for a special session of the Legislature to deal with job creation. Four bills came from that session that provided tax breaks. On Jan. 31, the fiscal bureau issued a memo that explains the impact of three of those bills on the current fiscal year and the next two-year budget cycle. We will get to the impact in a minute. First, as wrote previously, the fiscal bureau’s memo showed a $121 million gross balance in the state’s general accounting fund for fiscal year 2011 — but that did not include outstanding debts, including more than $170 million for Medicaid services, $21 million for corrections programs and more than $58 million owed to Minnesota for a tax reciprocity deal. The net deficit: $137 million.
Now, what did the fiscal bureau say about Walker’s tax breaks? It said that none of the bills would contribute to this year’s deficit, but that it would add $117.2 million to the two-year budget cycle that begins July 1.
Fiscal bureau, Jan. 31: Our estimates include the impacts of all law changes enacted in prior years and three of the January 2011 Special Session bills: (a) SS SB 2, which federalizes the treatment of health savings accounts; (b) SS AB 3, which would create an income and franchise tax deduction or credit for businesses that relocate to Wisconsin; and (c) SS AB 7, which would create an income and franchise tax deduction for businesses that increase employment in the state. SS SB 2 has been enacted into law as 2011 Act 1. The other two bills have passed both Houses of the Legislature, and the Governor has indicated that he will sign them. It is estimated that, together, these three bills will reduce general fund tax collections by $55.2 million in 2011-12 and $62.0 million in 2012-13.
So, how do Maddow and others come up with the figure of $140 million in tax breaks?
Lang says there is a fourth bill — AB4 and SB4 — that would add $25 million to the Economic Development Tax Credit program, bringing the total cost to about $142 million. But, as Lang and the fiscal notes attached to the bills explain, the Department of Commerce won’t need the extra money until “approximately August 2014″ in fiscal year 2015.
Wisconsin law only permits the formation of a legal defense fund when an official “is being investigated for or charged with a violation of campaign finance laws or prohibited election practices.” The creation of the fund is an admission, even passively, that the Walker administration just acknowledged its under investigation.
Walker’s campaign released the following statement:
“For nearly two years, Milwaukee County officials have been examining issues related to former employees of the County. I have repeatedly pledged my cooperation with that inquiry. I also made it clear that no public money has been used, or will be used, to pay for the attorneys needed to review documents and assist me in cooperating.
“To fulfill my commitment, I have today formed a legal fund to pay for the expenses incurred in cooperating with the inquiry. The fund will operate in accordance with the Wisconsin law authorizing these accounts, which was passed almost thirty years ago.”
Last month Walker announced that he had hired two criminal defense attorneys to represent him in the investigation. So far, four former Walker courthouse aides and appointees have been charged through the 22 month investigation.
Read each of the following sentencse very carefully and tell what word name the performer of the action:
1. The boys play ball.
2. The girls sang hymns.
3. John helps his mother.
4. Henry drives the machine.
5. Peter sells papers.
6. The cat watches the mouse.
7. The mouse watches the cat.
8. The tiger killed the hyena.
9. the grocer sells sugar.
10. The doctor visits the sick.
The word that names the performer of the action in each of the above is called the SUBJECT.
The SUBJECT of a sentence is that of which we speak.
De La Salle Elementary English, Book Two Copyright unknown, missing index page.
Gov. Scott Walker recently launched this ad in anticipation of an all-but-certain recall election
Gov. Scott Walker has a new campaign TV ad, “Promises Kept,” but much of the ground it covers is familiar to PolitiFact Wisconsin readers.
The ad is the first since Walker declined to challenge recall petitions against him. Those petitions must be reviewed by the Government Accountability Board, and already there are Democrats who say they will run against him — and some others who are considering it.
In the ad, Walker introduces himself and speaks directly to viewers while leaning forward on a black couch. Over his shoulder, various words are used to drive home his point.
Let’s take a look at the ad from the top, relying mostly on our past Truth-O-Meter ratings and some new reporting:
Claim: “In the three years before I was elected, Wisconsin lost 150,000 jobs.”
This is accurate based on official figures at the time of the ad. There are a couple important notes, though.
One: the trend was not three straight years of losses.
In 2008 and 2009, amid and immediately after the Great Recession, net job losses totalled 164,000, a drop of 5.7 percent. But in 2010, the year before Walker took office, the state’s economy slowly began adding jobs (+12,000 jobs, up 0.4 percent) under Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle.
By comparison, in 2011, Walker’s first year, 3,200 overall jobs were added (+ 0.1 percent).
That’s all according to US Bureau of Labor Statistics figures at the time Walker released his ad.
Revised employment figures for 2010 and 2011 came out on March 8, after the ad was up.
They change a lot of the relevant math. They show Wisconsin actually lost 21,000 public and private jobs in Walker’s first year.
For the comparison in his ad, Walker uses figures that include government jobs as well as private-sector employment. By contrast, for his promise to create 250,000 jobs in four years, Walker uses only private sector tallies.
Looking at private sector only, and the figures available when Walker did his ad, Wisconsin added 13,500 jobs in Walker’s first year, with gains the first six months and losses the last six.
But the revised figures show a different trend: the loss of 9,700 private sector jobs in 2011.
Claim: “We promised to help employers create jobs. Today, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate, it’s the lowest it’s been since 2008.”
Walker’s centerpiece campaign promise was on creating more jobs, not the unemployment rate — two distinct measurements.
But Walker is correct that December 2011’s unemployment rate of 7.0 percent was the lowest in three years. The rate peaked at 9.2 percent in mid-2009 and early 2010 before starting to fall, and was at 7.7 percent when Walker took office in January 2011.
January 2012 figures released March 8 put the latest unemployment figure at 6.9 percent.
Claim: “We kept our promise to balance the budget without raising taxes, and without massive layoffs, protecting jobs, and eliminating a $3.6 billion deficit.”
In 2011, we gave Walker a Promise Broken on his pledge to “oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes.”
In his first budget, Walker proposed tax increases in the form of reduced tax credits for low-income homeowners and renters, and low-income working families. In the budget he signed, the increases totaled about $70 million over two years, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
Walker notes that his tax cuts totaled more than those increases in the credits.
The governor did, as required by the state constitution, submit and sign a balanced budget. And Walker is, we said in February 2011, on generally solid ground in using $3.6 billion as the size of the deficit he faced going into his first budget.
(As we’ve noted, Walker broke a separate promise to balance the budget by a more stringent method that uses generally accepted accounting principles favored in the private sector.)
Claim: “We promised to hold the line on property taxes, and after years of tax increases, school property taxes actually went down.”
Under the tighter caps Walker and Republican lawmakers put in place, statewide property tax levies were basically flat for 2012 (up 0.3 percent), the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance reported. School levies dropped 1 percent, while municipal taxes went up mainly due to borrowing not covered by tightened tax limits.
Claim: “Because public employees now contribute to their health and pension benefits, we were able to put more money back into the classroom, increase funding for health care for our seniors, and keep thousands of firefighters, police officers, and teachers on the job.”
We’ll save most of that for another day, but there is an important note:
The first phrase — “now contribute” — suggests public employees were not already contributing toward their pension and health benefits before Walker’s budget. In fact, almost all were paying a share of health-insurance premiums. And many already were giving part of their pay to both pension and health — just not nearly as much as Walker’s budget required.
Most state employees were paying a share of health insurance premiums that was far below the national average, we found in February 2011.
Walker makes one final claim in the 60-second spot (there’s a 30-second version too).
Claim: “We can’t go back to the days of billion dollar budget deficits and double digit tax increases. ”
Wrapped in his admonition are some factual assertions, about the deficit and tax increases.
Multi-billion deficits heading into a budget year have become common in the last decade, we noted in February 2011. Doyle estimated a $3.2 billion deficit heading into 2003-2005, and at least $5.4 billion heading into 2009-2011 as tax collections sagged with the economy.
In January 2012, we rated Mostly True a Walker claim that Wisconsin Democrats during the previous administration had adopted “double-digit” tax increases on some types of income, services and products.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is fond of pointing out that he was voted into office based on his promise to take on state employee union collective bargaining rights so that he could get on with balancing the state’s budget.
Indeed, shortly after introducing his controversial ‘beat down’ of collective bargaining in the Badger State, Walker claimed that nobody should have been surprised by his actions because he had campaigned on the issue.
Image via WikipediaWalker claimed that nobody should be surprised by his actions because he had campaigned on the issue.
We introduced a measure last week, a measure I ran on during the campaign, a measure I talked about in November during the transition, a measure I talked about in December when we fought off the employee contracts, an idea I talked about in the inauguration, an idea I talked about in the state of the state. If anyone doesn’t know what’s coming, they’ve been asleep for the past two years.
While there have been continuing efforts to show that Scott Walker never did reveal his plans for collective bargaining in the state during the campaign, definitive proof has now emerged via a video tape of Candidate Walker being interviewed by the editorial board of the Oshkosh Northwestern— just one week before the election.
The smoking gun video was recently unearthed by Judd Lounsbury, and published on his Uppity Wisconsin blog, and reveals that Scott Walker was singing quite a different tune before winning his gubernatorial race. While you can watch the entire video at the Uppity Wisconsin website—and I recommend you do so—here is the relevant dialogue which takes place at 7:50 into the conversation -
Editorial Board Member: Before, we were talking about state employees contributing to their plan, paying their share of the pension plan. Collective bargaining come into that?
Walker: Yep (nodding yes)
Editorial Board Member: How do you get that negotiated and accepted by the state employee unions?
Walker: You still have to negotiate it. I did that at the county as well.
Walker went on to indicate that he was willing to work with the unions, pointing out that he had used furloughs as a bargaining tool when negotiating with unions as Milwaukee County Executive and that he would “approach a similar strategy for the state.” Walker further noted that he was open to compromise and that if the unions had ideas as to how to save money, he would be willing to explore what they might have to say.
Sounds reasonable to me—except that it turns out that Governor Walker had no interest whatsoever in what the unions had to say. In fact, we know that the state employees’ unions attempted to agree with Walker’s proposals to modify their collective bargaining agreements before the Governor introduced his legislation placing severe limits on collective bargaining.
So, Governor Walker fibbed. The question now is will Wisconsin voters care?
While it seems difficult to ignore that Walker very much sought to mislead Wisconsin voters on a very important issue, there remains considerable support for his anti-collective bargaining position in Wisconsin. Still, polls reveal that a majority of Wisconsinites disapprove of Walker’s anti-collective bargaining stance, calling into question whether or not the Governor would have emerged victorious in his race had he been more forthright with the voters of his state.
Certainly, Governor Walker is not the first politician to fudge the truth during an election. There are ample examples on both sides of the political divide where dishonest campaigning is the norm.
But will Wisconsin voters punish their governor for putting his state through the political turmoil that might have been avoided had he warned them of his plans? According to the most recent PPP survey, while Walker’s approval numbers in his state are upside down — 52 percent voice disapproval with their controversial governor— he fares better on the question of returning him to office. His fate, however, remains a toss up with 49 percent of Wisconsinites saying he should stay and 49 percent saying he should go.
Clearly, this is going to be a very interesting election and I cannot imagine a better opportunity for voters to voice the opinion that we would prefer our candidates to be honest about their plans before we elect them to office rather than surprise us after they’ve got the job.
Collusion is an experimental add-on for Firefox and allows you to see all the third parties that are tracking your movements across the Web. It will show, in real time, how that data creates a spider-web of interaction between companies and other trackers.
BetterPrivacy is a Firefox add-on that deletes a type of tracking cookie known as local shared objects (LSOs). This type of cookie is particularly harmful as it stores a huge amount of information and, crucially, can’t be deleted like a normal cookie.
BetterPrivacy doesn’t actually have an effect on your browsing. Instead, it finds the folder on your hard disk where the LSOs are stored and when you finish a session, deletes any “super cookies” it finds there.
It’s easy to configure BetterPrivacy, but if you don’t want to change the settings, it works even without.
Abine is a browser add-on that makes it easy to control your online privacy. Abine’s PrivacySuite lets you control the information you provide to websites, protect your email address when you register at new sites, and manage all your accounts and passwords securely. You can also easily fill checkout forms, all while securely controlling what personal information you want to share. It makes user the web easier, faster, and more private.
In the face of an expected recall election targeting Gov. Scott Walker and four Republican state senators, Wisconsin lawmakers were to consider a proposal Tuesday that would amend the state constitution to make it more difficult to toss an official from office.
The measure would only allow officeholders to be recalled if they have been charged with a serious crime or if there is a finding of probable cause that they violated the state code of ethics.
Under current law, no grounds are needed to seek a recall.
Republican supporters, including the amendment’s sponsor Rep. Robin Vos, R-Caledonia, say changes are needed to limit recalls given the flurry of such efforts over the past year. Republicans say Walker and the others are being unfairly targeted simply for doing their job.
The recalls are largely motivated over anger related to Walker’s proposal that effectively ended collective bargaining rights for most public workers. It was passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature last year.
Last summer, six Republican and three Democratic state senators stood for recall. Two Republicans were tossed from office, leaving the GOP with a slim 17-16 majority in the Senate.
This year, four more Republican state senators, Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch could face recall elections as soon as May. Election regulators are in the process of verifying recall petition signatures and calling the elections.
It’s not surprising that the proposal has come up in Wisconsin given last year’s recalls and the ones pending against Walker and others, said Joshua Spivak, a recall expert and senior fellow at Wagner College in New York.
“Any time there’s a controversial recall, there’s discussion of changing the recall,” he said.
Ever since the Florida-based mining company Gogebic Taconite (GTAC) mining project legislation was clumsily launched by Rep. Jeff Fitzgerald doing the bidding of Scott Walker’s campaign pay-for play antics for Florida fatcat billionaire Chris Clines, the usual suspects within the Fitzwalkerstan Cult have tried to appease Walker’s intentions to have Wisconsin environmental standards to protect its citizens stripped and possible legal litigation evaporated.
Trying to rush through legislation that was ghost-written by Koch Brothers-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the legislation has been almost left for dead with some possibilities of survival, thanks to ALEC puppets Representative Robin Vos and Senator Alberta Darling. The latest steps include trying to privatize the environmental impact studies, which surely would be done by dubious means:
Rep. Vos and Sen. Darling have proposed to make the bill even worse in two ways: First, by inserting a “poison pill” by requiring DNR refund all costs for review of a permit application if the permit is not issued in 360 days. Second, they propose to privatize the preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to an outside third party to be chosen by competitive bidding. The EIS is designed to be the objective scientific document used to both determine impacts from proposals and as the basis for permitting decisions.
“Rep. Vos and Sen. Darling want to outsource the most important document related to mine permitting – the EIS – to the lowest bidder, then eliminate oversight of the EIS by prohibiting contested case hearings, and hold the entire process hostage by making DNR return all permitting costs to the company if they’re not awarded a permit. The result would be a mine permit based on possibly fraudulent or false information with no way for the state or the public to determine its accuracy. Rep. Vos and Sen. Darling are demonstrating unequivocally that they value the demands of private mining companies over the state’s responsibilities to protect public resources,” said Blouin.
Appearing to want to rush through the environmental impact studies, which combine environmental, social and economic aspects to a project, it surely seems like the only intention is to hide information about what would happen in the future regarding the massive mining project. When the legislation mentions that it doesn’t “provide for citizen suits related to iron mining”, there is no doubt that ill intent is the strategy behind Walker and those who support this legislation.
There is still a chance of last-minute “bipartisan” legislation where Gogebic Taconite management may wave a golden carrot to some unions in the state in upcoming deals, but it all may finally lead to a legal fight with Bad River Chippewa land treaties as a reason where the mining project finally dies. Time will tell.
All those photos on your Android device may be susceptible to app developers, in one of the biggest vulnerabilities to be discovered on Android OS. Shortly after it was reported that Apple iOS devices have access to a person’s entire photo library as long as that person allows the app to tap their location data, a similar weak spot was uncovered in Android’s mobile OS. The difference is, Android apps don’t need permission at all to gain access to a user’s photos, as long as the app has the right to access the Internet, it can copy device photos to a remote server without notice.
The WSJ says that Hulu and MSN, among others, have been found using supercookies to monitor the info of those who visit their sites. Extremely difficult to detect and erase, supercookies can provide significantly more information than standard cookies.
Supercookies can be used to steal a users entire browser history, which can provide highly valuable information on their financial and health status. Microsoft claims they don’t know why supercookies were being used. They say removed the code once informed, and that the data was for internal use only nonetheless. Hulu says they’re investigating the matter. WSJ says that a company called Kissmetrics was responsible for the supercookie code on hulu. When asked about the issue, Kissmetrics claimed they will no longer use supercookies for tracking user data.
The supercookie can infiltrate browsers in a few different ways. The most common deployment of a supercookie is through flash content, which stores its cookies in a separate folder, and therefore isn’t erased when you delete normal cookies through your browser. Another common way is to drop supercookies into people’s browser cache through HTML 5 code.
And there are ways to get rid of (and prevent) supercookies. If you use Firefox, the browser extension BetterPrivacy is a good way to block many supercookies. Windows users can use an app called CCleaner to eliminate most cookies, though some pesky ones may remain (or return). Mac users can use a program called Flush.app.
Communication problems, confidentiality of research, syntax and non-native-speaking issues occur anytime you send your work overseas for transcription. It is possible to find $.70/minute transcription from India but it is then a given that dozens of additional hours are needed to proof the integrity of the work. Money saved is time lost.
Risks to confidential data and personal data. The world may becoming a global village but laws that protect privacy and personal information are locally based. Once you outsource your data, you have very little control about what happens to that data. http://www.sqlsummit.com/Trends/Terrorism.htm
There is no question that use of web multimedia in education is increasing. Many online education courses are provided entirely using web multimedia. The education system has an ethical and, in many cases, legal obligation for providing equivalent access to individuals who are deaf and hard-of-hearing. Despite this, a vast majority of educational web multimedia is not captioned. There are many reasons why this may be the case:
Lack of awareness. Those producing web multimedia do not understand the accessibility implications.
Lack of policies or standards that require or even suggest accessibility.
Captioning is considered cost prohibitive.
Lack of technical knowledge to provide captions and/or tools to generate captions.
Use of technologies that do not natively support captions (and no method for providing captions using alternative technologies).
Increasing the accessibility of web multimedia should be a top priority for all in education. The issues listed above are all ones that can be overcome to ensure accessibility to the Deaf and hard-of-hearing.
In the U.S., approximately 36 million adults—about 11% of the population— “report some degree of hearing loss” (NIDCD, 2010).
The number of closed-caption users in the U.S. is estimated at 50 million (CaptionsOn, 2010)—i.e. about 1 in 6 Americans.
The number of U.S. students with disabilities going to college “more than tripled” between 1978 and 1996 (OCR, 1999).
“According to the Deafness Research Foundation, hearing loss is the No. 1 diagnosis for U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan and more than 65 percent of Afghan war veterans are suffering from hearing damage” (Hemstreet, 2010).
The number of Americans 65 years of age and older—a population group more likely to benefit from accommodations such as closed captioning—is projected to rise from 13% in 2010 to 20% by 2050 (U.S. Census, 2008).
“One third of all senior citizens have hearing problems” (CaptionsOn, 2010). Thus when we focus on digital natives and so-called Millennials, we risk ignoring the needs of this fast-growing group of older Americans.
Options to prevent Google’s gropey hands from gathering your browsing information have dwindled today due to the shuttering up of Scroogle. For those unawares, Scroogle was a search engine that acted as an “online condom” to enable users to practice safe searching while preventing companies like Google from tracking your habits. The main cause for the site’s shutdown is said to stem from a constant stream of recent DDoS attacks.In an email to BetaBeat, the site’s main operator, Daniel Brandt, said that the privacy-friendly search engine is “gone forever.”“Even if all my DDoS problems had never started in December, Scroogle was already getting squeezed from Google’s throttling, and was already dying. It might have lasted another six months if I hadn’t lost seven servers from DDoS, but that’s about all.
“I no longer have any domains online. I also took all my domains out of DNS because I want to signal to the criminal element that I have no more servers to trash. This hopefully will ward off further attacks on my previous providers.”
The other sites mentioned by Brandt that he maintained were namebase.org, book-grab.com, google-watch.org, and cia-on-campus.org.
Since Google also offers an encrypted search option that enables protection from info-tracking bloodhounds, including companies like Google itself, that may explain why Google made it difficult for Scroogle to operate smoothly.
For those left longing for a way to search Google without the spectre of Google and others tracking their browsing history, Search Engine Land has compiled a list of offerings that users may find helpful. In my own experience, DuckDuckGo.com has served me the best although I haven’t experimented extensively with other privacy-first search engines because I was immediately satisfied with DuckDuckGo’s straight-forward policy.
While you don’t have to totally break free, a little less Google in your life might do you some good
Below are some alternatives I’ve compiled that should help you shake off that feeling that Google completely owns your life. Before continuing, though, let me offer this caveat: the reason so many of people almost exclusively use Google Apps for nearly every facet of online activity is because Google makes really good apps. That said, some of these alternatives might not be on par with, say, Gmail or Google+, so make a measured decision on what you need from these types of services and what features you can do without.
With Scroogle down for the count, the two viable not-Google contenders to take its place are DuckDuckGo and Gibiru. Both sites are pro-privacy and ensure users’ searches are encrypted by concealing your IP address from your search query. With either of these two search tools, your results will be the same as the basic results you get from Google.
Web-based Email – “The undiscovered country makes us rather bear those ills we have,
Than fly to others that we know not of.” While Hamlet didn’t have something as trifling as Gmail in mind when he said this, consider the sentiment’s application when considering ditching your email. Your best free online alternative is likely Hotmail, but that service is owned by Windows. Fleeing Google for the cold embrace of Windows seems to belie any intent to emancipate and protect yourself from the corporate Eye of Sauron that you’re trying to avoid.The other thing is: Gmail’s really nice.
Another alternative you may consider is ZoHo mail, but with that you’re going to have less storage with a free account (you’ll have to pay in order to get more than 5GB). If you really want to spend some time weighing your alternatives, Wikipedia has a table comparing all of the more sought-after features for webmail services that might hasten your task.
Social Networking – I can’t recommend Diaspora enough as far as privacy goes, but the average Google+ user will have a hard time getting through the door as its still in Alpha and therefore new accounts are invite-only. The obvious and immediate alternative is Facebook but, similar to how I explained with the free email hosting above, you’d basically be trading one poison for another. Given you’re probably already on Facebook, and how nobody really seems to be adopting to Google+ that enthusiastically, this is one case where, if you must belong to a social network right now, stay with Facebook. Until Diaspora goes public.
Image sharing/hosting – Flickr. Flickr, Flickr, Flickr. There’s not really anything that can be said about Flickr that hasn’t been said before. It’s a great service, offers content protection for users, and just recently launched a savvy new look to users’ contacts. It incorporates the social aspect of photo-sharing and has a great user interface. Even if you’re not looking to ditch Google Picasa with all of this privacy hullabaloo, I still recommend giving Flickr a look. You may find that you outright prefer that service to Picasa and the less Google in your life at this point, the better.
Blogging – WordPress is likely to be your best alternative to Google’s Blogger. It offers up a comparable assortment of different themes for users to design their blogs, you can host your WordPress blog on your own server if you feel so inclined, and there are a host of add-ons you can apply to your blog. Tumblr might be a close second if you prefer a deeper social media aspect to your blogging, or if you lean towards brevity when it comes to composing your blog posts.
Browser – Firefox or Opera are going to be the two non-Google browsers that named as the preferred alternatives to Google’s Chrome. Depending on whether you’re a simple check-the-emails-and-maybe-Facebook user or a “power user,” the different resources offered by the two browsers should accomodate most people looking to unmoor themselves from Chrome. Firefox might be more familiar to casual users while Opera will likely make power users wild-eyed with excitement.
Reader – NetVibes is likely to be your best alternative but, unfortunately, you’re not going to have the complete array of features that Google Reader has. If you’re dependent on tagging articles you like or even being able to search your RSS feeds, that won’t be available to you with the free version. However, if those features aren’t all that necessary to your RSS experience then it might be worth your time to take a look at it.
Cloud storage – Dropbox is likely the service you’ve already heard of when it comes to cloud storage. Granted, Google’s GDrive was just announced recently so people have likely not begun migrating to Google’s cloud service yet, but Dropbox has worked great thus far . And you know what they say about things that ain’t broke.
If you’re a really dedicated anti-Google centurion, you could probably live an online life free of any of their apps if you don’t mind sacrificing some of the amenities offered from the Google World. However, keep in mind that you don’t have to be a tee totaler just to keep your information safe. Using Google apps isn’t completely bad – as mentioned above, some of their services really are probably the best you’re going to find for free – but lessening your dependency on the Google brand as a whole might serve you well.
And as always, if any readers out there have alternative suggestions for any of the services listed above or something not covered (Docs alternatives?), feel free to add your piece below in the comments.
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Information is power. In the wrong hands, the information stored in your files can damage your business, your personal life and the privacy of your employees and customers. Increased identity theft and other security breaches have emphasized the importance of maintaining control over access to your records. Beyond simply protecting information for confidentiality, many businesses also have privacy regulations imposed on them by government or industry groups.
At it’s simplest level, document security means physical protection of the records themselves. Many filing systems use supplies that offer inherent protection to documents. File folders with fasteners or built-in pockets hold papers safely inside and prevent documents from accidentally falling out. Expanding files and wallets with protective flaps offer protection during transportation. Self-adhesive pockets applied to folders hold small items such as business cards or digital media safely inside file folders.
Limiting the number of employees who can access records provides a high level of document security. Locked file cabinets or file rooms with security systems in place help prevent unauthorized personnel from using confidential records. Document tracking using bar code technology can restrict user access to entire filing systems or to specific folders. Usage histories reveal who has taken files from the filing system, and how long they have used them.
A balance must be achieved between making sure adequate protection is in place and hampering quick access to information by legitimate users. Cumbersome security procedures can lower productivity and encourage non-compliance.
CONFIDENTIALITY AND PRIVACY
Protecting the personal information of patients, customers and employees is a responsibility that no business should take lightly. Health care entities must comply with HIPAA regulations that prevent personal health information from being available to unauthorized persons. Numeric indexing systems avoid readable text on file labels that would identify patients. Human Resources departments must follow guidelines to ensure that medical and investment information is only available to authorized personnel.
When designing a filing system, be sure to address the appropriate level of protection for your records. Building in security measures can avoid big headaches by keeping your critical information away from those who would use it against you.
This Firefox extension offers users an interesting approach to block data miners, but it requires a leap of faith that the program is actually living up to its promises.
TrackMeNot’s user interface consists of an icon on your status bar. A right-click displays a menu where you can choose to enable the program, along with your Options and Help menus. The Options menu lets you set the query frequency and how to handle cookies. The program supposedly hides your search history by running its own fake queries through popular search engines with the idea of fooling data miners. Random words appear in your status bar and give the appearance that the program is working; but beyond that, there’s no way to tell what TrackMeNot is doing. The program doesn’t include a feature for monitoring data mining activity.
TrackMeNot shouldn’t be your only line of defense, but it might help throw data miners off track.
CCleaner is our system optimization, privacy and cleaning tool. It removes unused files from your system – allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. It also cleans traces of your online activities such as your Internet history. Additionally it contains a fully featured registry cleaner. But the best part is that it’s fast (normally taking less than a second to run) and contains NO Spyware or Adware!
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The address book in smartphones — where some of the user’s most personal data is carried — is free for app developers to take at will, often without the phone owner’s knowledge.
Companies that make many of the most popular smartphone apps for Apple and Android devices — Twitter, Foursquare and Instagram among them — routinely gather the information in personal address books on the phone and in some cases store it on their own computers. The practice came under scrutiny Wednesday by members of Congress who saw news reports that taking such data was an “industry best practice.”
Apple, which approves all apps that appear in its iTunes store, addressed the controversy on Wednesday after lawmakers sent the company a letter asking how approved apps were allowed to take address book data without users’ permission. Apple’s published rules on apps expressly prohibit that practice.
But in its statement about the issue, Apple did not address why those apps that collect address book data had been approved.
In that statement, Tom Neumayr, an Apple spokesman, said: “Apps that collect or transmit a user’s contact data without their prior permission are in violation of our guidelines. We’re working to make this even better for our customers, and as we have done with location services, any app wishing to access contact data will require explicit user approval in a future software release.”
The Federal Trade Commission regulates the use of consumers’ data on the Internet, and in the past it has sanctioned big companies like Facebook and Google over privacy issues. It said Wednesday that it would make no comment about the app makers’ practices.
While Apple says it prohibits and rejects any app that collects or transmits users’ personal data without their permission, that has not stopped some of the most popular applications for the iPhone, iPad and iPod — like Yelp, Gowalla, Hipster and Foodspotting — from taking users’ contacts and transmitting it without their knowledge.
Google, which makes the Android operating system software, forces developers to ask users for permission to access any personal data up front.
The app makers collect the data to help quickly expand the network of people using their program. The practice of taking address book information without permission first came to light last week, when a developer noticed that Path, a mobile social network, was uploading entire address books to its servers without users’ knowledge. The company has since said it will stop the practice and destroy the data it has collected.
But Path is hardly the only mobile application that collects address books. Last February, Lookout, a mobile security company, found that 11 percent of free applications in Apple’s iTunes Store had the ability to access users’ contacts. And on Tuesday, VentureBeat, a technology blog, reported that dozens of applications for Apple devices were taking users’ address books without permission.
The findings shed more light on how technology companies sift through people’s personal and private information without their knowledge. Last year, users were shocked to find out that Color, a mobile application, could activate users’ microphones on their phones without their permission. And in December, Carrier IQ, a mobile intelligence company, was accused of privacy violations when a programmer discovered that its tracking software was recording keystrokes made, phone numbers dialed, text messages sent and even encrypted Internet searches, on some 140 million smartphones.
“It’s time for app developers to take responsibility for ensuring that users know what they’re doing, rather than leaving it to the platforms to play a game of Whac-A-Mole,” said Jules Polonetsky, director of the Future of Privacy Forum, in an interview Wednesday.
Some developers are following that advice and changing their apps before Apple and Congress step in. Path and Hipster updated their apps late last week so that they warn users about the information collected. The updates also give users the ability to stop sharing address book information. After Path and Hipster drew scrutiny, Instagram, another popular photo-sharing app that gathers users’ contacts, added a prompt asking users for permission to do so.
Within the Twitter app, when users choose to “Find Friends,” the company can store their address books for as long as 18 months. The company said Tuesday that it planned to update its app to change how it tells users what it collects. “In our next app updates, which are coming soon, we are making the language associated with Find Friends more explicit,” Carolyn Penner, a spokeswoman for Twitter, said in an e-mail. “We send and store data securely. Address book information is encrypted when we send it from the mobile phones to our servers. The data is secured within Twitter in the same way that we secure other account information.”
On Tuesday, a developer discovered that when a user signs up for a Foursquare account, the company transmits their address book without warning. In response, Foursquare said it was adding an update to its app that warned users that it accessed their contacts. In an e-mail, Erin Gleason, the company’s director of communications, said that the company did not store users’ contact information. “When a person searches for friends on Foursquare, we transmit the address book information over a secure connection and do not store it beyond that point,” she wrote.
VentureBeat reported that the worst offenders seemed to take shortcuts and did not properly protect the data they were collecting from smartphones. It reported that Foodspotting, a mobile app that allows users to share photos of their meals, transmitted users’ address books over an unencrypted connection where it could be easily intercepted. In an e-mail, Alexa Andrzejewski, the chief executive of Foodspotting, said the risk of not encrypting users’ contact information “has always seemed relatively low, especially for a site that doesn’t deal with credit card or other sensitive information.” Ms. Andrzejewski also said Foodspotting would be updating its app to include additional security features.
Google has tools built into the Android platform that forces developers to notify people what data, if any, they plan to access. Once they have users’ permission, Android developers can access everything from a phone owner’s call logs to their text messages. But users of many apps — including Hipster, Locale, Uber, Yelp, Taxi Magic, Picplz, Scrabble and Waze — are often not told how the information will be used or how the company plans to store it.
“What separates malicious use from legitimate use is the element of surprise. If a user is surprised, that’s a problem,” said Kevin Mahaffey, Lookout’s chief technology officer, who said that in many ways, standards and rules for data on smartphones were still being debated. “It’s a new industry and it’s still in many ways the Wild West out there. The iron is still hot.”
Coverage of the policy change has been abundant during the last few weeks leading up to it, though Google has made no secret of its intentions–pop-ups alerting users of the transition can be seen on the home pages of all its services.
But despite the warnings, you might still be wondering how, exactly, the change will affect you. Is it really as scary as media are warning? Here’s what you need to know:
1. Google isn’t collecting more information, just using it differently.
The big misconception here is that Google will suddenly gain access to a host of information it didn’t have before. That’s incorrect. The reality is that the search giant has always collected your usage data for all of its services like Google+, Gmail, YouTube, and so on; however, until now, it has stored that data separately.
For example, if you e-mail your mother to tell her about the new puppies you adopted, the suggested videos you see the next time you visit YouTube may be about cute puppies. Previously, Google could not manipulate data in this manner.
2. You’ll be tracked. No matter what. Building up to today, we and many other tech experts have suggested you clear your Google Web History (here’s how). It’s clear now that although this is a good move (you should do it), it won’t stop Google from collecting your data. By clearing and stopping the official tracking of your Web activity, you only prevent Google from personalizing your experience.
But let’s be clear: this does not stop Google from tracking your Web activity. Meaning, your searches will still be followed and stored on Google’s servers for “internal use.” The information could still be used to build that profile about you and, ultimately, sell it to advertisers who will serve ads specifically tailored to your interests.
3. Is it really a big deal? Yes and no. While privacy experts are concerned, others exclaim, “So what??” Both reactions are valid.
On the one hand, this isn’t a big deal–Google is collecting the same information it always has, but now it’s being used to improve the users’ experience. One of the more awesome examples is that, based your location and traffic in your area, Google could warn you that you’ll be late to the appointment you logged in Google Calendar. Pretty neat.
And, so what if the data will be used for advertisements? That’s nothing new. The only difference is that the advertisements will be more true to your interests. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, people. Google has to make money from advertisements so they might as well be accurate.
In the worst case scenario, your data could be sold to employers, who may examine your profile before making a hiring decision. They could deduce that your consistent search queries for “diabetes treatment,” or something of the like, means that you’d be a liability on their health insurance policy.
4. There are some workarounds. I laughed out loud when a friend suggested to “just stop using Google services.” Yeah, right. We all depend on the Goog for everything, from driving directions to figuring out why my knee has been giving me issues. And, where would I get my laughs? I wouldn’t last very long without seeing Marcel The Shell With Shoes On.
Forget about going cold turkey. Instead, follow these tips to minimize how much data Google collects about you:
Perform Google searches without signing in.
Use these tools to avoid leaving any footprints when you use Google services.
“Confuse” Google by creating multiple accounts and using them for different activities. (If you are able to do this without going insane, high five.)
5. Google Books, Chrome, and Wallet will not be affected. The privacy policies of 60 of Google’s services were collapsed into one today, but Wallet, Books, and Chrome will maintain independent policies.
Their concern should be yours, too. Who’s that looking over your shoulder online? Google.
Japan warns Google that the methods the company chooses to store and use consumer’s data likely runs afoul of that country’s own privacy laws. The Tokyo Times says the Japanese government is directing Google to “prepare clear explanations of the new rules and be ready to answer promptly user questions”.
They’re Not the Only Ones
These are only the latest in a string of governments and privacy advocates calling on Google to more clearly explain its position: last month, South Korea says the way Google combines user data to be used across all its services violates the country’s laws. Google has also found itself defending its moves to the US Congress.
We expect the EU to be the toughest nut to crack, but this time the pushback is coming from elsewhere. Is this reason to worry? I say yes, because I’m finding issues with Google’s new policy that should concern all of us. Here’s what you need to know.
Information is shared across Google’s network of sites. Google says:
We may use the name you provide for your Google Profile across all of the services we offer that require a Google Account. In addition, we may replace past names associated with your Google Account so that you are represented consistently across all our services. If other users already have your email, or other information that identifies you, we may show them your publicly visible Google Profile information, such as your name and photo.
What this means: This is different in that your information was kept separate across Google services previously. Here’s an example: you post as yourself on Google+, but prefer to post under a psuedonym on Blogger. These services acted separately before, but now that Google has linked your user information together, you’re forced by default to be associated with an account you deliberately kept separate.
That’s bound to piss off quite a few people, especially those who took issue with Google’s real names policy for Google+.
All your information belong to us. Google says:
We use the information we collect from all of our services to provide, maintain, protect and improve them, to develop new ones, and to protect Google and our users. We also use this information to offer you tailored content – like giving you more relevant search results and ads.
What this means: Now that the search giant is aggregating all of your personal information, expect the ads to get even more intrusive. Google will now know a lot more about you than it simply could peering into your Gmail inbox. Microsoft’s got to have the marketing crew at the ready here. There’s a treasure trove of information available, as many of us (myself included) use more than just one Google service.
Google attempts to step back and comfort you by saying it won’t tailor information based on “race, religion, sexual orientation or health” but still, that leaves a wide range of topics for them to bait you with.
Google is starting to sound like Facebook. Google says:
After you delete information from our services, we may not immediately delete residual copies from our active servers and may not remove information from our backup systems.
What this means: This is taken out of context, but let me explain. Google does say before this that it aims to protect your information from “accidental or malicious destruction”. At the same time it does not specify at all as to when your information is finally deleted. When Facebook got caught doing the same thing, it gave a similar answer — making it easy for you to reactivate your account and whatnot.
Users should be able to know when their data has been purged from Google. When we want out, we want out. This ownership of our online personal lives has really become a sticking point with a lot of companies. When will they finally learn it is just not appropriate to take the stance that since we’ve shared this data with you, we’re selling the rights to it?
It’s just too damn difficult to get around this policy. Google says:
If you don’t think information sharing will improve your experience, you can use our privacy tools to do things like edit or turn off your search history and YouTube history, control the way Google tailors ads to your interests and browse the web “incognito” using Chrome. You can use services like Search, Maps and YouTube if you are not signed in. You can even separate your information into different accounts, since we don’t combine personal information across them. And we’re committed to data liberation, so if you want to take your information elsewhere you can.
What this means: This excerpt came from Google’s blog post defending the new policy. What’s missing is an opt-out. There is no way to do so. Essentially, like in the Blogger psuedonym situation I listed above, the only way to prevent your identity from being linked here is to create a seperate account.
This is a chore. Yes, Google has made it easy now to switch between accounts, but trust me from somebody who has two Google Apps and one Google account, that’s a pain in the ass. Add the fact Google has made the account such a necessary part of the experience in some cases that using services “signed out” degrades the overall experience. These suggestions sound more to me like a cop-out.
Deflect and Defend, But Where’s the US?
It’s not surprising that Google is doing all it can to defend itself against the criticism. In a blog post Thursday announcing the changes taking effect, the search giant says there is a lot of misunderstanding over the changes.
“The new policy doesn’t change any existing privacy settings or how any personal information is shared outside of Google. We aren’t collecting any new or additional information about users. We won’t be selling your personal data”, it stresses. That’s kind of doublespeak though, they are collecting additional information in a way.
When you combine information across dozens of services, Google’s file on your online persona just got a whole lot bigger. Now its ad platform has a great deal of information to attempt to grab your attention. I know I keep hitting on the advertising portion here, but this is big business for Google, and stands to gain the most here.
Where’s the US Government in this? I expected the European Union to take on Google over its changes. The competition and privacy laws across the pond are way stricter. But to see Japan and South Korea join the chorus is surprising. I think there is more than enough to start an honest investigation of Google.
Could this be rolled into an antitrust investigation? I would think so. But why wait for that? In March 2011, Google agreed to 20 years of Federal Trade Commission oversight, regarding Buzz privacy problems. This is much worse. Where’s the FTC now?
Again, (beating a dead horse) the company’s advertising platform will be valuable to companies looking to get the word out. Targeted advertising works. The company gets a higher-click through, and Google is able to attract a higher fee because of the better success rate.
What other company will be able to provide a platform like this? The answer is nobody.
The rules, which are set to come into force Thursday, combine a person’s data from Google’s wide-range of services including the search engine, YouTube, and Gmail.
Korea’s communications regulators are investigating whether the new policy will infringe on personal privacy by allowing Google to create broader profiles of individual users and accurately target advertising based on that information.
The Korea Communications Commission has recommended that Google take appropriate precautions.
Summary: Facebook is once again being sued for tracking its users even after they logged out of the service. This new nationwide class action lawsuit alleges the company violated federal wiretap laws.
Facebook has been accused multiple times of using cookies to track users even after they log out of the service. Menlo Park has since twice denied the allegations, and has also twice fixed the issue.
Web Giant, Others Bypassed Apple Browser Settings for Guarding Privacy
Google Inc. and other advertising companies have been bypassing the privacy settings of millions of people using Apple Inc.’s Web browser on their iPhones and computers—tracking the Web-browsing habits of people who intended for that kind of monitoring to be blocked.
The companies used special computer code that tricks Apple’s Safari Web-browsing software into letting them monitor many users. Safari, the most widely used browser on mobile devices, is designed to block such tracking by default.
Veteran Gil Paar holds his Department of Veterans Affairs identification card on Tuesday, February 21, 2012. Paar tried to use the card to vote on Tuesday, but was by election officials. / Gregory Shaver email@example.com
MOUNT PLEASANT — A local man wasn’t allowed to use his veteran’s card to vote in Tuesday’s primary and he’s pretty steamed about it.
Gil Paar, 69, of Mount Pleasant, said he went to his polling place, Peace Lutheran Church, and when asked by poll workers to provide the ID, he handed over his U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs card. The poll workers said the ID, which includes Paar’s photo, wasn’t considered an acceptable form of identification under the state’s new voter ID law, Paar says. They asked him if he had a driver’s license he could offer. He did, he said. But he refused to show it and didn’t vote.
Gov. Scott Walker will not challenge any of the signatures filed against him because his campaign did not have enough time to review the more than 150,000 pages filed seeking his recall, a spokeswoman said.
Walker faced a deadline today to file challenges after a Dane County judge granted him a 20-day extension beyond the 10 days allotted under state law. Walker also sought an additional two weeks but was turned down.
“We faced an impossible timeline,” said Walker spokeswoman Ciara Matthews.
Matthews declined comment when asked if the campaign would appeal the ruling denying additional time beyond the original extension.
She said the campaign will rely on the GAB to strike fraudulent signatures instead of filing any challenges.
Matthews said recall organizers were given 60 days to collect signatures, twice the time the campaign was given to review them.
“It obviously takes more time to verify signatures than it does to collect them,” she said.
The campaign planned to release a statement this afternoon about its decision.
State Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate responded this morning that the Walker campaign had gathered millions of dollars and thousands of volunteers to look over the signatures in a timeframe already three times longer than the window allowed under state law.
“It’s bordering on the absurd,” Tate said of the campaign’s statement in a conference call with reporters. He added that the campaign’s decision reflects that “they can’t give us one example of a fraudulent signature.”
A Wisconsin judge Friday denied Governor Scott Walker extra time to review the estimated one million signatures submitted last month to the state in an effort to recall him.
Dane County Judge Richard Niess refused to give Walker ’s campaign the two extra weeks it requested to examine the signatures on the estimated 152,000 pages of petitions recall organizers turned into the Government Accountability Board (GAB).
Walker and other Republican lawmakers were targeted for recall by Democratic organizers after he led a successful effort to limit public worker collective bargaining rights.
“We hope today ’s ruling, where a judge found that all recall elections likely will proceed, will end his heinous attempt to avoid accountability,” said state Democratic Party chair Mike Tate in a statement .
A spokesman for the Republican Party of Wisconsin called the decision “concerning”.
“The court ’s decision to deny Friends of Scott Walker an extension to verify these recall petitions is concerning, given that it has become apparent that an adequate review of recall signatures could not be met within the current time limit,” said state Republican spokesman Ben Sparks. He said the state Republican Party and Friends of Scott Walker will continue their efforts to verify the signatures.
The deadline remains February 27 for Walker ’s campaign to review signatures and file challenges with the GAB. Recall organizers needed to collect 540,208 valid signatures to force a recall of the governor.
According to the motion Walker ’s lawyers filed with the court, the campaign has examined about 25 percent of the petition pages and have found problems with up to 20 percent of them.
At that rate, given the estimated one million signatures, Walker ’s campaign would not have enough challenges to thwart a recall election.
The campaign originally had 10 days to examine the signatures. On January 25, Niess granted the campaign 20 extra days.
Facing a near-certain recall election, Walker that day used his Twitter account to highlight the story as a failure of the previous administration, that of Democrat Jim Doyle. (Other tweets included the fact he stopped for ham and rolls after church.)
His tweet: “Headline ‘State spends millions for 202 jobs’, missed rest of sentence: ‘under program approved by Gov Doyle.’”
In other words, the poor performing program was created under Doyle. And that’s where the blame should fall, Walker says.
Did Doyle approve the plan?
The legislation creating the program was introduced in 1997 and passed and signed into law the following year — not by Democrat Doyle, but by then-Gov. Tommy Thompson, a fellow Republican now running for a U.S. Senate vacancy.
Doyle didn’t take office until 2003, five years after the CAPCO bill was signed.
Indeed, the proposal had bipartisan support. It was authored by Democratic state Sen. Gwen Moore, now a congresswoman from Milwaukee. Among the 89 members of the state Assembly who voted in favor of the bill March 25, 1998: Walker himself.
Walker’s tweet gained a broader audience the following day. WTMJ radio talk show host Charlie Sykes picked up on the topic and in a three minute segment linked Doyle to the CAPCO program five times. He called it “a Jim Doyle idea,” and said the program was “one of Jim Doyle’s signature venture capital bills.”
In an email, Sykes acknowledged that the program was created under Thompson. And he pointed out that Walker had tweeted on the subject the day before.
We asked Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie to explain the tweet, but he didn’t respond.
In the wake of a story about poor jobs results of a state-sponsored program, Walker sought to pin the blame on his predecessor, Jim Doyle. But he was off by five years, two governors — Thompson and successor Scott McCallum — and one political party.
As governor, Doyle didn’t have anything to do with approving the CAPCO bill. But as an Assembly member, Scott Walker did. Pants on Fire.
The head of a state agency late last year gave a political appointment – and a nearly $27,000 annual raise – to the wife of a Republican Party official without considering any other applicants, state records show.
In December, Angela Herl took over a state division with 40 employees that processes credentials for dozens of professions such as doctors, even though she had no direct experience in that area. Herl had not previously managed any staff during her 20 years working for the state as a payroll and benefits specialist.
With the new job, Herl received a 49% pay boost, raising her annual salary from $54,378 to $81,265.
Herl is married to Mike Herl, chairman of the Dane County Republican Party, and she landed her new job less than a year after GOP Gov. Scott Walker faced an uproar over the hiring of a campaign donor’s son with few qualifications.
“It appears almost the only credentials you need is to have the right connections,” said Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha). “They don’t seem to mind what the public perception is when they provide people with these huge pay increases.”
But Dave Ross, Walker’s secretary of the Department of Safety and Professional Services, said Angela Herl was hired on merit alone.
He said he gave her the job because he had been impressed by her work in payroll. He believed she had a good understanding of the agency and so could run the credentialing division even though she had not worked in that area before, Ross said.
He said he did not consider anyone else for the job and did not ask for Herl’s resume.