Another year in review on privacy

January 2, 2015

It is still the season to be reviewing the year that was.  And Wired’s assessment The Year’s Biggest Winners and Losers in Privacy and Security is both positive and negative from a privacy perspective, in America of course. It has been a mixed bag as far as Read the rest of this entry »

Its Christmas time and yes Virginia there is a Santa Claus

December 24, 2014

Every year I publish one of the great editorials of the yuletide season, Yes Virginia there is a Santa Claus.  It is a wonderful piece of writing.  There is much more to Christmas but this is a wonderful start.  I never tire of reading it.

Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

By Francis P. Church, first published in The New York Sun in 1897.

We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

Dear Editor—

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O’Hanlon

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

About the Exchange

Francis P. Church’s editorial, “Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” was an immediate sensation, and went on to became one of the most famous editorials ever written. It first appeared in the The New York Sun in 1897 and was reprinted annually until 1949 when the paper went out of business.

Thirty-six years after her letter was printed, Virginia O’Hanlon recalled the events that prompted her letter:

“Quite naturally I believed in Santa Claus, for he had never disappointed me. But when less fortunate little boys and girls said there wasn’t any Santa Claus, I was filled with doubts. I asked my father, and he was a little evasive on the subject.

“It was a habit in our family that whenever any doubts came up as to how to pronounce a word or some question of historical fact was in doubt, we wrote to the Question and Answer column in The Sun. Father would always say, ‘If you see it in the The Sun, it’s so,’ and that settled the matter.

“ ‘Well, I’m just going to write The Sun and find out the real truth,’ I said to father.

“He said, ‘Go ahead, Virginia. I’m sure The Sun will give you the right answer, as it always does.’ ”

And so Virginia sat down and wrote her parents’ favorite newspaper.

Her letter found its way into the hands of a veteran editor, Francis P. Church. Son of a Baptist minister, Church had covered the Civil War for The New York Times and had worked on the The New York Sun for 20 years, more recently as an anonymous editorial writer. Church, a sardonic man, had for his personal motto, “Endeavour to clear your mind of cant.” When controversal subjects had to be tackled on the editorial page, especially those dealing with theology, the assignments were usually given to Church.

Now, he had in his hands a little girl’s letter on a most controversial matter, and he was burdened with the responsibility of answering it.

“Is there a Santa Claus?” the childish scrawl in the letter asked. At once, Church knew that there was no avoiding the question. He must answer, and he must answer truthfully. And so he turned to his desk, and he began his reply which was to become one of the most memorable editorials in newspaper history.

Church married shortly after the editorial appeared. He died in April, 1906, leaving no children.

Virginia O’Hanlon went on to graduate from Hunter College with a Bachelor of Arts degree at age 21. The following year she received her Master’s from Columbia, and in 1912 she began teaching in the New York City school system, later becoming a principal. After 47 years, she retired as an educator. Throughout her life she received a steady stream of mail about her Santa Claus letter, and to each reply she attached an attractive printed copy of the Church editorial. Virginia O’Hanlon Douglas died on May 13, 1971, at the age of 81, in a nursing home in Valatie, N.Y.

Merry Christmas to one and all.

Verizon issues its insecurity hall of fame…apt in light of the Sony experience

December 19, 2014

Verizon in its  The 2014 Data [In]Security Hall of Fame provides a (slightly) more light hearted look at the security issues over the last 12 months, more to the point the breaches and their consequences.  Given the catastrophic end to the year for Sony Read the rest of this entry »

Canadian Court fines Google for showing a woman’s cleavage on Streetview

November 2, 2014

In Google Loses Lawsuit For Posting Woman’s Cleavage the issue a Canadian Court dealt with was the liability of Google for taking a photograph of a woman sitting on her stoop.  The photograph showed Read the rest of this entry »

Cybersecurity and privacy issues

July 15, 2014

The current edition of the Economist has a special report on cybersecurity.  For those practising in privacy law it should be mandatory reading.  It gives a brilliant synopsis (as the Economist can do so well) of the key issues and future developments. For those just interested in cyber security it should also be mandatory reading.

In the series of articles:

Lifelock Wallet, a company whose business is to provide services to protect customers from identity theives, withdraws its app because its is not secure enough. Ouch!

May 20, 2014

Lifelock’s homepage says it all -Protecting Your Identity in an Always-Connected World Comprehensive identity theft protection from LifeLock helps safeguard your finances, credit and good name. In today’s always-connected world, that’s more important than ever.  The core of its business is data security.

In a post of 16 May Lifelock’s CEO explained that Lifelock’s mobile app is not secure.  Technically, it is not compliant with the payment card industry security standards.  The potential for a data breach was too great a threat to tolerate.  Accordingly the apps have been withdrawn and data deleted.

It is a salient example of why businesses must take as much care with developing their mobile apps as they do any other aspect of their data security architecture.  If anything the care should be greater given the additional potential threats in losing data, such as interception across unsecured wi fis.

In the Australian context a business, particularly a large operation whose core activity is data storage and protection, failing to be compliant with minimum industry standards relating to security would run the risk of breaching APP 11 at minimum.

The post provides

One thing I’ve learned in business and, for that matter, life is the importance of authenticity and transparency.

With that in mind, I want to make you aware of an issue that we identified related to our recently acquired LifeLock Wallet application. We have determined that certain aspects of the mobile app may not be fully compliant with payment card industry (PCI) security standards. 

For that reason, we are removing the LifeLock Wallet application from the App Store, Amazon Apps, and Google Play, and when users open the LifeLock Wallet, their information will be deleted Read the rest of this entry »

Heigal sues Duane Reade for breach of privacy arising from a retweet

April 12, 2014

The Washington Post in  Can Katherine Heigl really sue Duane Reade for tweeting her photo? Yes, and here’s why reports on Heigl suing Duane Reade for violating her privacy and using her image without her permission.

It provides:

If Katherine Heigl makes a Duane Reade run and the drug store’s Twitter account proudly tweets a photo of her in the act (in a “celebrities run errands, too, and at our fine establishment!” kind of way), can she sue them for $6 million?

The answer: Yes, she can. And she did. And she has a case.

“Love a quick run? Even @KatieHeigl can’t resist shopping ‘s favorite drugstore http://bit.ly/1gLHctI ” the Duane Reade account tweeted on March 18 with a link to gossip site Just Jared, which ran a paparazzi photo of Heigl outside the store in New York City carrying two shopping bags.

It makes sense if you Read the rest of this entry »

Heartbleed causing significant heartburn for internet security

April 9, 2014

There has been a major alert and scare about a discovered flaw in OpenSSL cryptographic software library which is used by a large number of websites.  It is reported in Web security in doubt after discovery of ‘Heartbleed’ flaw and Newly discovered encryption flaw a ‘big deal’, say security experts.  It has also been reported in the Drum in somewhat apocalyptic terms in A civilisation built upon software isn’t safe, which provides:

Go onto the web to check your bank balance Read the rest of this entry »

Facebook page on sneak photos of women eating on the London Tube raises serious privacy concerns

April 8, 2014

The Washington Post reports, in A Facebook page of sneaky photos of women eating on the Tube creeps out London, on a strange Facebook Page which is devoted to surreptitious photographing of women eating on the London Tube and then posting them on Facebook (Women who eat on tubes). As idiotic as the concept is it is a page that has 19,000 followers.  The debate about the page revolves around mysogeny and eccentric and harmless fun or even art. One important issue is the privacy of those who have had their photos taken. In UK jurisprudence the Read the rest of this entry »

Drone allegedly makes an impact of the wrong sort

April 7, 2014

That drone technology has the potential to create problems almost as great as the significant benefits it brings to civilian use has been obvious for almost the outset.  In’River of blood’ after drone ‘hits’ Australian athlete the Age reports on a possible collision between a drone and an individual.  There are competing versions of events.  Whether someone was struck by a drone or not it matters little.  The reported incident highlights the increasing use of drones in the public space.  Drones purchased from hobby shops are inexpensive and operated by anyone who can stump up the cash. That is all it takes.  Putting a camera on a drone Read the rest of this entry »