Econintersect: Every day our editors collect the most interesting things they find from around the internet and present a summary “reading list” which will include very brief summaries of why each item has gotten our attention. Suggestions from readers for “reading list” items are gratefully reviewed, although sometimes space limits the number included.
- No Amount of Alcohol Is Safe (Laura A. Stokowski, Medscape) For some cancers the correlation between the amount of alcohol consumed and incidence of disease is now well established. For other types of cancers the data is conflicting.
- The White House Wants to Issue You an Online ID (Meghan Neal, Motherboard) After years of discussion the federal government is starting a pilot program of the “National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace” for government agencies in two US states. The program will test the operation of a single user ID for each individual for all internet access. If implemented there will no longer be a file of passwords for all the sites a user accesses – he/she will have a single cyber ID.
The vision is to use a system that works similarly to how we conduct the most sensitive forms of online transactions, like applying for a mortgage. It will utilize two-step authentication, say, some combination of an encrypted chip in your phone, a biometric ID, and question about the name of your first cat.
It is easy to anticipate that this will be extended to replacing all existing sign-ons, from Facebook to your personal blog page. But this also raises a number of questions. Since this is essentially a “one password” scheme it exposes all of your internet activity and information to a single breach point. Just how secure can such a system be? It will have to be the “Fort Knox” of security systems – it will be the ultimate motherlode for hackers.
It also raises the question of abuse of power by central control, be that private sector or government. You essentially relinquish the ability to access a wide range of internet content to the possibility of central censorship. The facilities would exist to classify categories of users (via their cyber ID) as restricted from any list of resources that might be designated. Think government censorship, think unfair blockage of competition. Unless you have government authorization you might not be able to access Chinese government news services. If you do business with Amazon you might be blocked from online access to other retailers.
And, of course, this creates a central repository of all your online activity. Whatever slim veil of privacy still remains in cyberspace would be gone with very little additional government effort.
- Podcasting in peril? Trial showdown in September (Jefferson Graham, USA Today, Poughkeepsie Journal) Podcasting technology is a patented process (US 8,112,504 B2) based on work by the inventor documented back to 1996, according to the inventor, James Logan, owner of Personal Audio LLC. The article here says the court case is about copyright infringement. Others say it is about patent infringement. See The Economist, tech dirt (Mike Masnick), Entertainment Weekly (Jeff Labrecque) and Investors.com (Ciaran McEvoy). At any rate, podcasters might end up owing users’ fees to Personal Audio LLC should Logan win out in this case.
- 10 top spots for foreclosures (Chris Kahn, Bankrate.com, MSN Real Estate) Nationally, foreclosures rose by 4% from February to march. The top ten states for foreclosures contain four surprises: Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana and Maryland. But the biggest surprise for Econintersect? Arizona is not on the list.
- Say What? Joel McHale’s Eight Nerd Prom Low Blows (Maria Elena Fernandez, NBC News) Well, it’s supposed to be funny.
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