Citizens' Issues
Your Privacy for a Sweet Treat

When a Brooklyn artist set up shop at a festival offering cookies in exchange for personal data, she expected a torrent of refusals to make her point about privacy in the Internet age. Instead, 380 New Yorkers gave up sensitive personal information — from fingerprints to partial Social Security numbers — to taste her wares.

“Most people – even the people who were skeptical, even the people who made snarky comments – looked at the cookies and were like, ‘Well, OK, I’ll give you something,' " Lois Beckett, who covered the story last week, tells Engelberg and her fellow podcast guests, reporting colleagues Julia Angwin and Justin Elliott.

Like the artist, Risa Puno, ProPublica Editor-in-Chief Stephen Engelberg was shocked: “How could people not have been aware that, turning over this sort of information -- the next step, generally speaking, is that nude pictures of you appear on the Internet?” he says.

Elliott agrees, asking Beckett, “Did she sort of come to the conclusion that we’re living in a society of ‘sheeple’?” But he acknowledges that the project “dramatizes the decisions that people are making every day and every hour online” and, quite valuably, shows the “remarkable level of deference that people have” to requests for their personal data.

Indeed, although Puno referred anyone with questions to her very long, small-print disclosure form, Beckett says, very few people even read through it before handing over the kind of information many people use as answers to their online security questions.
“If you read all through the terms of service,” Beckett says, “you would see that she had the right to display your information that you gave her, to share the information with other people, to keep it, to store it. She wasn’t making any promises about the security of the data that you gave her.”

Angwin, who’s reported for years on the ways online companies use personal data, agrees with Beckett that people simply aren’t thinking about where their data could end up; they see a nice woman in a hair bow offering them home-baked sweets for what is presumably just an art project.

“And that’s actually the problem of privacy in general,” Angwin says. “We don’t have a good discounting strategy the way we do for buying milk, and you know it’s going to go bad in seven days.”

Google is a perfect example, she continues. “You and I have never written a check to Google, but we use all their services,” allowing our personal information to be repackaged for advertisers. “The truth is, you’re making an exchange of your data, and you have no idea where that data is going to end up.”

Engelberg tries to make sense of it all: Does the younger generation simply not value its privacy?

Beckett says the opposite may be true. “A lot of it is that people already feel like their data has been taken from them, that without their knowledge, it’s suddenly all out here,” she says. “And so why not get something out of it?”

Something like, say, a delicious cookie.

Hear the full podcast on iTunes, SoundCloud and Stitcher, or read more:

How Much of Your Data Would You Trade for a Free Cookie?



Sensex, Nifty oversold – Tuesday closing report

The recent decline has been on low volumes. But the Nifty may rally only, if it is able to sustain above 7,930.


The Indian stock market opened Tuesday weak after three days of holidays. At the beginning of the session, benchmark indices made an effort of to reach their previous closing level but failed after few attempts.

The S&P BSE Sensex opened at 26,488 while NSE’s CNX Nifty opened at 7,898. The benchmarks hit their high at the beginning of the session at 26,570 and 7,943, respectively. After hitting, the day’s low at 26,250 and 7,843, both the Sensex and Nifty closed near that level. Sensex closed at 26,272 (down 296 points or 1.11%), while Nifty closed at 7,852 (down 93 points or 1.17%). Both the indices closed at its lowest since 14 August 2014.  NSE recorded a volume of 76.91 crore shares. India VIX rose 11.25% to close at 14.4625.

In the twice-a-year South Asia Economic Focus, the World Bank said that India's economy will expand by a real 6% in 2015 and by 6.4% in 2016 compared to 5.4% this year, potentially making it the second fastest growing region in the world after East Asia and the Pacific. The Indian economy, 80% of the region's output, is set to grow by 6.4% in fiscal year (FY) 2015/16 after 5.6% in FY2014/15, the World Bank said. India is benefiting from a "Modi dividend", the World Bank report said, with economic activity buoyed by expectations from the newly elected government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The CII Business Confidence Index (CII-BCI) for July-Sept quarter of FY15 shot up to 57.4, up from 53.7 in April-June quarter and 49.9 in Jan-March quarter. During the same quarter last fiscal, the index had touched the all-time low value of 45.7. The result of the 88th Business Outlook Survey based on responses from over 150 industry members was declared on Monday.

Growth in services activity picked up pace in September as order books filled up at a faster rate, a business survey showed on Tuesday. The HSBC Services Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), compiled by Markit, rose to 51.6 in September from 50.6 in August, reversing a slowdown seen in the previous two months. The new business sub-index climbed to 52.4 from 51.9, signalling robust demand. India's annual consumer price inflation eased in August to 7.80% from 7.96% in July. Wholesale prices also rose at a slower clip during that month.

NTPC (1.19%) was the top gainer in the Sensex 30 pack. A Memorandum of Understanding has been entered on 1 October 2014 amongst the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, National Institute of Wind Energy and consortium of partners consisting of NTPC (as lead partner), Power Grid Corp, Power Finance Corp, Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency, PTC India and Gujarat Power Corp. All the partners would undertake development of offshore wind power projects and its evacuation and integration into the grid though a joint venture company.

Hindalco (4.35%) was the top loser in the Sensex-30 stock. In response to the news item regarding cancellation of approval of SEZ of the company's aluminium projects in Orissa, Hindalco clarified that that the company had initiated setting up of two Aluminium Projects under SEZ Scheme but later it was observed that establishing the projects under domestic tariff area was more attractive for the company. Accordingly, it has decided to exit from the SEZ Scheme and established the projects under DTA.

GMR Infrastructure (11.24%) was the top gainer in ‘A’ group on the BSE. The first 685 MW unit of GMR Chhattisgarh Energy Limited’s (GCEL) 1370 MW supercritical coal-based thermal power plant at Raikheda in Chhattisgarh’s Raipur District has successfully achieved synchronisation with the grid on 2nd October, 2014. GCEL is the GMR Group’s first supercritical coal-based thermal power plant.

Den Networks (8.54%) was the top loser in ‘A’ group on the BSE. The stock closed at its lowest since 5 March 2014 today. It continued to fall for the second day today after its CEO, SN Sharma, resigned due to personal reasons with immediate effect.

US indices closed in the red on Monday. Employers added a higher-than-expected 248,000 workers to their payrolls in September, pushing the jobless rate down to 5.9%, the lowest level since July 2008, according to Labour Department data on Friday. The US Federal Reserve will release minutes of its September 16-17 meeting on 8 October 2014.

Asian indices showed mixed performance. Of the indices which were trading today, Jakarta Composite (0.65%) was the top gainer while Nikkei 225 (0.67%) was the top loser.    

The Bank of Japan today kept its policy unchanged as widely expected.

European indices were trading in the red while US Futures were trading lower.

The latest data showed that industrial output in Germany declined sharply in August, marking the second consecutive day of rough economic numbers for Europe's largest economy. In adjusted terms, factory output was down 4% in August. Meanwhile, July's figure was downwardly revised to growth of 1.6% from the 1.9% gain originally reported.


Karnataka HC rejects Jayalalithaa's bail plea

Even after the prosecution said it has no objection to granting conditional bail, the High Court rejected the bail plea of Jayalalithaa


The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday rejected a bail plea by Tamil Nadu's former chief minister J Jayalalithaa. The AIADMK supremo was last month sentenced to a four years in jail, along with Rs100 crore penalty in the 18-year-old corruption case.


The HC decision came even after the prosecution said it has no objection to granting conditional bail.


The bail plea, which was filed by senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani on behalf of the AIADMK chief, was made on medical grounds as the former chief minister has claimed to be acutely diabetic. Her lawyer said that she is also suffering from blood pressure and heart-related ailments.


Jethmalani argued that former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, too, had been released on bail by the Supreme Court after being convicted in the fodder scam.


The Special Public Prosecutor Bhavani Singh argued Jayalalithaa is an influential person who, if granted bail, may try to escape from conviction to which Jethmalani responded that Jayalalithaa is a law abiding citizen and would not flee the country.



Rangarao Ds

3 years ago

Hats off to Karnataka High Court for refusing bail to Jayalalitha. By any stretch of imagination, one doesn't need so much of gold, money or property as amassed by Jayalalitha and her cronies, even if it is for more than a comfortable living and even if for their next two generations. Now, look at the list of her ailments: Acute Diabetes Mellitus, Hyper Tension, Cardiac problems, Obesity, etc. The first one itself is enough to restrain her from spending any worthwhile money on her food. All other ailments follow as guests of the first one. She doesn't have a family so to be called. She cannot take a penny out of it on her final journey. Then what for she did hoard so much of unaccounted wealth? Time that all those who, while in power and position, indulge in massive corruption learn their lessons and avoid ignominy and misery (of course, unless they are shameless and incorrigible) like that of the "Amma" (of all corruptions?) of Tamil Nadu.


3 years ago

how can anyone convicted of a crime be described as "a law-abiding citizen"?

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