Adoption and Use of Electronic Health Records and Mobile Technology by Home Health and Hospice Care Agencies
Postsecondary Institutions and Cost of Attendance in 2012-13; Degrees and Other Awards Conferred, 2011-12; and 12-Month Enrollment, 2011-12: First Look
Governor John Engler signed a bill on this day making the Historical Society of Michigan the state's official historical society.
The Historical Society of Michigan (HSM) is the state’s oldest cultural organization, founded in 1828 by territorial governor Lewis Cass and explorer Henry Schoolcraft. The Society helps to connect Michigan’s past to students, educators, historical organizations and the public through educational programs, conferences, publications, awards, workshops, referral services, networking opportunities, and support for local history organizations.
HSM is an educational non-profit organization. It is not collection based and receives no funding from state government.
Source : Michigan History, May/June 2012
According to the New York Times, President Obama is "on the verge of backing" a proposal by the FBI to introduce legislation dramatically expanding the reach of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, or CALEA. CALEA forces telephone companies to provide backdoors to the government so that it can spy on users after obtaining court approval, and was expanded in 2006 to reach Internet technologies like VoIP. The new proposal reportedly allows the FBI to listen in on any conversation online, regardless of the technology used, by mandating engineers build "backdoors" into communications software. We urge EFF supporters to tell the administration now to stop this proposal, provisionally called CALEA II.
The rumored proposal is a tremendous blow to security and privacy and is based on the FBI's complaint that it is "Going Dark," or unable to listen in on Internet users' communications. But the FBI has offered few concrete examples and no significant numbers of situations where it has been stymied by communications technology like encryption. To the contrary, with the growth of digital communications, the FBI has an unprecedented level of access to our communications and personal data; access which it regularly uses. In an age where the government claims to want to beef up Internet security, any backdoors into our communications makes our infrastructure weaker.
Backdoors also take away developers' right to innovate and users' right to protect their privacy and First Amendment-protected anonymity of speech with the technologies of their choice. The FBI's dream of an Internet where it can listen to anything, even with a court order, is wrong and inconsistent with our values. One should be able to have a private conversation online, just as one can have a private conversation in person.
The White House is currently debating whether or not to introduce the bill. Here's why it shouldn't:There's Little Darkness: Few Investigations Have Been Thwarted
The starting point for new legislation should be a real, serious, and well-documented need. Despite the FBI's rhetoric, there are few concrete examples of the FBI's purported need to expand its already efficient all-seeing eye. Current law requires annual reporting by the Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding the use of the government's wiretapping powers; the report includes statistics on how often Federal law enforcement has been impeded in a court-authorized investigation by encryption or has been unable to access communications. These statistics show that this has happened only rarely. In its most recent report—from 2010—DOJ reported that encryption had only been encountered all of 12 times.
Did the encryption stop the investigation, or even prevent the wiretappers from figuring out what was being said? No. The report admits that in all of these instances, police were able to obtain the plain text of communications. Previous years' numbers are similar. Aside from government reports, in 2012 telecommunications companies also revealed that a very low percentage of law enforcement requests for user information were rejected. In AT&T's case, only 965 out of over 250,000 requests for user information were rejected. Overall, the available public statistics don't appear to support the FBI's claims about its inability to access communications.Law Enforcement Already Has Unprecedented Access
Any requested expansion of FBI surveillance authority has to consider the overall ability of law enforcement to investigate crimes. What the FBI doesn't mention when pushing new backdoors into our communications is that now, due to the shift to digital communications, law enforcement has an unprecedented level of access to, and knowledge of, the public's communications, relationships, transactions, whereabouts, and movements. Law enforcement now can gain 24/7 monitoring of most people's movements using cell phone location data. But that's just the beginning. A glance at the Wall Street Journal's multi-year What They Know project shows some of the treasure troves of data that are being maintained about all of us. By accessing these databases and by using new electronic surveillance technologies law enforcement already has visibility into almost every aspect of our online and offline lives—capabilities beyond the wildest dreams of police officers just a few decades ago.
Indeed, former White House Chief Counselor for Privacy Peter Swire and Kenesa Ahmad argued persuasively in 2011 that, overall, "today [is] a golden age for surveillance"—regardless of whether law enforcement is assured of automatic access to each and every kind of communication, and regardless of whether individuals sometimes succeed in using privacy technologies to protect themselves against some kinds of surveillance.
First, there's information obtained from cell phones. In July 2012, the New York Times reported that federal, state, and local law enforcement officials had requested all kinds of cell phone data—including mappings of suspects’ locations—a staggering 1.3 million times in the previous year. Cell phone companies can create what amounts to detailed maps of our locations and turn them over to law enforcement. Even without asking for cell phone providers' direct assistance, law enforcement has considerable ability to use mobile devices to track us. Federal and state law enforcement have made extensive use of IMSI catchers (also popularly called “stingrays,” after the brand name of one such device). These devices can act as a fake cell phone tower, observing all devices in a certain area to find a cell phone's location in real-time, and perhaps even intercept phone calls and texts.
Laws compelling companies to divulge user information accompany these techniques. For instance, National Security Letters, served on communications service providers like phone companies and ISPs, allow the FBI to secretly demand stored data about ordinary Americans' private communications and Internet activity without any meaningful oversight or prior judicial review. And Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act allows for secret court orders to collect “tangible things” that could be relevant to a government investigation. The list of possible “tangible things” the government can obtain is seemingly limitless, and could include everything from driver’s license records to Internet browsing patterns. The FBI has even broken into individuals' computers to collect data from inside the computers themselves. More backdoors aren't needed.Backdoors Make Us Weaker and More Vulnerable
CALEA II will force companies with messaging services—from Google to Twitter to video game developers—to insert backdoors into their platforms. But backdoors only make us weaker and more vulnerable. It's ironic that CALEA II may be proposed only months after Congress pushed “cybersecurity” legislation to protect our networks. The notion of mandating backdoors in software is the antithesis of online security, which is why some academics have called it a “ticking time bomb.”
A proposal to expand backdoors into communications software ensures that online hackers, communications company insiders, and nation-states have a direct entrance to attack—and steal from—companies and government agencies. In one notorious example, someone exploited backdoors in a Greek phone company's systems and recorded sensitive conversations involving the Prime Minister. Wiretapping backdoors even affect national security. In 2012, Wired revealed the NSA's discovery and concern that every telephone switch for sale to the Department of Defense had security vulnerabilities due to the legally-mandated wiretap implementation. If politicians are serious about online security, they will not make these security blunders even worse by bringing more sensitive communication technologies under CALEA's scope.
Just last week, an ad hoc group of twenty renowned computer security experts issued a report explaining their consensus that CALEA II proposals could seriously harm computer security. These experts said that a requirement to weaken security with deliberate backdoors “amounts to developing for our adversaries capabilities that they may not have the competence, access or resources to develop on their own.”
And now the Washington Post has reported that intruders, allegedly working on behalf of the Chinese government, broke into Google's existing surveillance systems. (In this case, the report says that the intruders learned who was targeted by these systems, rather than accessing the contents of the targets' accounts or communications—but it's easy to see that wiretap contents would ultimately represent an even bigger target, and a bigger prize. Even more exciting would be the prospect of remotely activating new wiretaps against victims of an intruder's choice.)Internet Users Have the Right to Secure Communications
Expanding CALEA is not only a tremendous risk for our online security; it's a slap in the face of Internet users who want to protect themselves online by choosing privacy-protecting software to shield their communications. Ordinary individuals, businesses, and journalists want and often need state-of-the art software to protect their communications in an era of pervasive spying by commercial rivals, criminals, and governments around the world. The government's rhetoric takes us back to the early 1990s when US law enforcement spoke openly of banning secure encryption software to keep it out of the public's hands. EFF and others had to fight—including in the Federal courts—to establish the principle that publishing and using encryption tools is an essential matter of individual freedom and protected by the First Amendment.
Once those “crypto wars” were over, the US government seemed to accept the right of Americans to secure communications and abandon the idea of forcing innovators to dumb down these technologies. We turned our concerns to foreign governments, several of whom were trying to ban communications tools for being “too private.” (For instance, the Associated Press reported five countries threatened to ban BlackBerry services in 2010 because the services protected user privacy too well.) Americans, including the US State Department, began supporting the development and distribution of secure communications tools to foreign rights activists who need them. Now this battle may be coming home.
Even with these tools, most Americans can protect only a tiny fraction of the trail of data we leave behind electronically as we live our lives. But we still have the right to choose them and try our best to keep our private communications private.CALEA Must Not Come Back
The government should place any proposal to expand CALEA on hold. There is little evidence the FBI is actually “going dark,” especially when balanced with all the new information they have access to about our communications. And backdoors make everyone weaker. In a time when “cybersecurity” is supposed to be a top priority in Washington, the FBI is pushing a scheme that directly undermines everyone's online security and interferes with both innovation and the freedom of users to choose the technologies that best protect them. Tell the White House now to stop the proposal in its tracks.Related Issues: PrivacyCALEAEncrypting the WebNSA SpyingSecurity
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Indigent Defense Bills Clear House Committee
Legislation aimed at improving Michigan's system of providing lawyers for indigent criminal defendants was unanimously reported from the House Criminal Justice Committee on Wednesday.
Canvassers Approve Abortion Coverage Petition, Certify Wolf Hunt Referendum
Right to Life of Michigan will begin collecting signatures soon for an initiated law that would prohibit insurance companies from including abortion coverage, voters will get a now moot chance to vote on the state's first wolf hunt law and those submitting recall petitions will have a clearer process to follow under actions Wednesday of the Board of State Canvassers.
Rutledge Elected New Minority Floor Leader
House Democrats elected Rep. David Rutledge as their new House minority floor leader on Wednesday in response to current House Minority Floor Leader Rudy Hobbs leaving his post to run for Congress.
Lawsuit Accuses Banks Of Sexual Harassment, Cheating Mileage Reimbursement
Rep. Brian Banks' troubles continue to grow with the filing this week of a lawsuit from a former aide accusing him of sexual harassment and a news report in which the ex-aide says Mr. Banks had him do no work and manipulate the House's mileage reimbursement system.
Teacher Pay Bill Clears House Education
Legislation requiring school districts to base pay increases for teachers hired after the implementation of a new statewide performance evaluation system on those evaluations, not longevity, cleared the House Education Committee on Wednesday.
Appropriations Votes To Excuse Absent Olumba Despite Dissent
After House Speaker Jase Bolger told committee chairs they could no longer simply excuse absent members from committee without prior knowledge the member would be absent, a House Appropriations member had to request the excuse for Rep. John Olumba on Wednesday.
House Approves Extending Health Claims Tax
The House passed a bill Wednesday that would extend the sunset for the Health Insurance Claims Assessment after the Appropriations Committee reported the bill earlier in the day.
Senate Approves Wetlands Protection Program Overhaul, Amber Alert Funding
The Senate on Wednesday approved a bill aimed at trying to maintain state control over the federal Wetlands Protection Program by making numerous changes to its governing law after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency warned the state was not in compliance with federal regulations.
House Panel OKs Father Registry Bills
The House Families, Children and Seniors Committee reported bills Wednesday to set up an online registry for fathers to help speed up the process of terminating parental rights and completing adoptions.
Groundwater Dispute Bill Debated In House Committee
A bill intended to improve groundwater dispute resolutions was discussed in the House Agriculture Committee on Wednesday. HB 4678 is designed to address the issues surrounding high-capacity agricultural wells depleting the groundwater supply that nearby household wells also use.
Report: Retirement Costs Cutting Into Education Spending
Growing contributions to the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System are reducing what school districts can spend on other educational services and that effect is likely to continue for the near term, the Citizens Research Council said in a report released Wednesday.
Federal Court Rejects Argument In Child Care Union Case
An attempt by opponents of the controversial state child care worker union action lost their argument to create a special class in a case before the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday.
Strategic Fund OKs 5 Business Expansions, 4 Community Improvement Projects
The Michigan Strategic Fund on Wednesday granted state incentives to five business expansions and four community improvement projects across the state expected to generate $173 million in new investments and add 1,119 new jobs.
State Jumps In Venture Capital Ranking
Michigan bucked the national trend in access to venture capital in 2012, helping to move it to 15th in the nation, the Michigan Venture Capital Association said in a report released this week.
Guardianship for Developmentally Disabled
The committee reported SB 176, which allows the process of finding a guardian for developmentally disabled persons to start when the individual is 17 years and 6 months old, on a 3-0 vote with Sen. Vincent Gregory (D-Southfield) absent from the meeting. The Michigan Probate Judges Association voiced support for the bill, but Michigan Protection and Advocacy opposed it.
Special Election Bill
A bill that would eliminate a requirement for a special election when a vacancy occurs for county commissioners during an odd-numbered year unless the vacancy is not filled by appointment saw party-line support in the committee on Wednesday. Sen. Coleman Young II (D-Detroit) voted in opposition of HB 4307.
62 People Convicted and Senenced for Unemployment Compensation Fraud
Former employees of Pinnacle Foods in Imlay Township were convicted for unemployment fraud Wednesday, as they were found to be collecting unemployment benefits while still working.
Poll Shows Little Support for Value-Added Charter Schools
The concept of a so-called value charter school that would operate for about $2,000 less per pupil than most other schools with the goal of using technology to lower the cost of education is not flying with voters, according to a new poll from Lansing-based EPIC/MRA. The concept was developed by the now dismantled "skunk works" group affiliated with the Snyder administration.
Source : Gongwer News Service : Michigan Report, Volume #52, Report 101, May 22, 2013. Full access requires a subscription or a visit to a subscribing library such as the Michigan State University Main Library.
In the midst of the major press blitz surrounding its annual I/O Conference, Google dropped some unfortunate news about its instant messaging plans. In several places around the web, the company is replacing the existing "Talk" platform with a new one called "Hangouts" that sharply diminishes support for the open messaging protocol known as XMPP (or sometimes informally Jabber), and also removes the option to disable the archiving of all chat communications. These changes represent a switch from open protocols to proprietary ones, and a clear step backward for many users.Backsliding on Interoperability
Google's earlier full support for XMPP meant that users could chat with people on other instant message services, or even who host their own chat servers. This kind of decentralization is a good thing: it decreases lock-in to any particular service, which in turn lets the services compete on important factors like quality, uptime, or respect for user privacy.
Some users, for example, may not want to provide Google with information about the content of their messages, or even when and from where they have logged in, or to whom they are chatting frequently. Information about the people that users are chatting with can be sensitive—remember, that data was at the center of an earlier privacy backlash when Buzz, an earlier social effort, made it public by default.
Allowing federation between services lets users make these choices themselves. Here's an explanation of the importance of federation from Google's own documentation of its Talk platform, in a section called "Open Communications":
[Service choice] allows you to choose your service provider based on other more important factors, such as features, quality of service, and price, while still being able to talk to anyone you want.
Unfortunately, the same is not true with many popular IM and VOIP networks today. If the people you want to talk to are all on different IM/VOIP services, you need to sign up for an account on each service and connect to each service to talk to them.
The new Hangouts protocol raises precisely the concerns Google outlines above. Users are given only the choice to use Google's chat servers or to cut themselves off from people who do. Worse, Google users aren't presented with any notice about the change: their buddies who use jabber.org, member.fsf.org, or any number of other XMPP servers, will simply not appear as available for chat.
These changes are the result of Google dropping a particular subset of the XMPP standard—namely server-to-server federation. But for now, Google still supports client-to-server connections, which means that as long as you are logging in with a Google chat account, you can chat using any compliant application.
That's important for a number of reasons. A major one is that no official Google client supports Off-the-Record (OTR) encryption, which is increasingly a critical component of secure online communication. If both participants in a chat are using Off-the-Record encryption, they've got a secure end-to-end line, which means nobody except the two of them—including their service provider—can read their messages.Changes to History
Unfortunately, another change from Google may force users to make a hard choice about whether to use those external clients like Pidgin, Adium, Gibberbot, or Chatsecure to chat. In particular, the dilemma comes from the way Google has changed how it archives chats and presents them to the user.
Previously, users could disable "chat history," which would prevent instant messages from being saved to to their Gmail account. Under the new settings, users who don't want to keep a copy of their conversations accessible through Gmail must disable the re-named "Hangout History" on an individual basis with each contact.1 The catch is that users can only disable Hangout History with an official Google Hangouts client.
So privacy conscious users who want to use Off-the-Record encryption where possible, but to keep messages out of their Gmail accounts in any case, are out of luck. And if they wish to continue chatting with their friends on Google chat, they can't even take their business elsewhere.
As of last week, Google is prompting users to replace the Android Talk app with Hangouts, and to switch to Hangouts within Gmail in the Chrome browser. Be advised before updating of the cost to openness of making these "upgrades."What Should Google Do?
In public explanations of its dropping XMPP support, Google has said that it was a difficult decision necessitated by new technical demands. But even if this new protocol responds to different technical requirements, that shouldn't prevent the company from making it public and interoperable. Releasing the specifications for Google Hangouts would be a good first step. Releasing free/open source clients and servers should follow. It's clear that some of Hangouts' video features have been implemented in some very Google-specific ways. But that's no excuse for leading us toward a world where the only practical choices are proprietary chat clients and protocols.
Another easy move that would benefit users would be for Google to support Off-the-Record encryption in its official Hangout clients. If such meaningful privacy options were available to users, it might mitigate the harms of offering privacy settings only via Google's proprietary apps.
In Google's "Open Communications" documentation quoted above, the company explains why it made a commitment to open communication channels:
Google's mission is to make the world's information universally accessible and useful. Google Talk, which enables users to instantly communicate with friends, family, and colleagues via voice calls and instant messaging, reflects our belief that communications should be accessible and useful as well.
We're frustrated and disappointed to see Google take these steps back from that mission.
- 1. To be clear, even the earlier setting was far from perfect from a privacy perspective: disabling chat history only kept the logged messages out of your Gmail account, and didn't prevent other users, or Google itself, from keeping a record of the conversation.
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New legislation to create minimum standards statewide for providing legal representation for indigent clients leapt its first hurdle of the session today.
The House Criminal Justice Committee voted overwhelmingly this morning to advance HB 4529 and HB 4530, which would create the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission (MIDC) and would require it to develop the statewide standards for indigent defense services in local judicial systems.
Rep. Tom MCMILLIN (R-Rochester Hills) is the sponsor of the House bills. Sen. Bruce CASWELL (R-Hillsdale) is pushing the same reforms in the Senate.
The duo believes that weaknesses within local indigent defense systems could directly lead to individuals being wrongly denied of their constitutional rights.
For the full article, see "Indigent Defense Bills Score Committee Win", Inside MIRS Today, May 22, 2013.
Other topics covered include:
• Ex-Banks Staffer Claims Sexual Harassment
• Rutledge Wins Tight Floor Leader Race
• Claims Tax Extension Survives Divided House Vote
• K-12 Budget Bump Means Max Of $52 Per Pupil
• Abortion Petition Clears Canvassers
• 5 GOPers Eyeing House Speakership
• EPIC-MRA Poll: 64% Oppose 'Skunk Works' Concepts
• Wolf Proposal On Ballot, NRC Must Re-Do Hunt
• Indigent Defense Bills Score Committee Win
• Adjutant General Back On Pension System Under Bill
• Bill Removes Sunset On Re-Hiring Retired Prison Workers
• Debate On Teacher Compensation Model Continues
• State Loses 7, Gains 36 Charters Next School Year
• Hobbs Nets Big Levin Endorsement
• MEDC Announces 1,119 New Jobs
Full access to MIRSNews.com is available via the MSU Library electronic resources page. Access is restricted to the MSU community and other subscribers.
Just FYI… The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) is looking for a full-time Program Manager for its new project focused on Internet, communications, and technology policy. The job description can be found online here and is pasted down below:
# # #
The American Enterprise Institute seeks a full-time Program Manager for its new project focused on Internet, communications, and technology policy.
This project will advance policies to encourage innovation, competition, liberty, and growth, creating a positive agenda centered on the political economy of creative destruction. The Program Manager will work closely with the Program Director in the development and day-to-day management of the project; conducting research; developing a new blog website; commissioning monographs and reports; and coordinating events.
Additionally, the Research Program Manager is expected to:
- Be a strong writer, capable of drafting and editing funding proposals, research and opinion articles, marketing materials, and correspondence
- Provide research and administrative support for the program director on various technology policy initiatives, as required
- Be capable of managing numerous projects, initiatives, conferences, and deadlines simultaneously, without oversight
- Contribute original writing and research to AEI research programs
- Be well-versed in Internet and communications policy and capable of proposing new ideas for conferences, initiatives, and projects
The ideal candidate for this position will combine an outstanding academic record with experience working in a technology and communications policy environment with extensive project-management responsibilities, and excellent writing, research and communications skills. BA in economics, or related degree required. The candidate should have a demonstrated interest in a wide range of policy topics and should have a strong grasp of Washington institutions and current events. Applicants should be flexible, creative, and have proven time-management and writing skills.
If interested, please submit an online application to www.aei.org/jobs, complete with a cover letter, resume, transcripts, and 500-word writing sample.