The Pandemic Has Shined a Light on the Importance of IT and The Cloud

At the beginning of the pandemic, Blackboard, an EdTech company, was faced with a 3,600% increase in demand for their virtual classroom. Zoom, a video communications company, went from 10 million users to 300 million. Vyaire Medical, a respiratory device maker, saw demand increase from 30 units per week to almost 1,000 per day.

In addition to the hardworking people and supplies required to meet these unprecedented demands, companies have relied heavily on their IT infrastructure, including compute, storage, and analytics, to power through the pandemic. Cloud computing, in particular, has helped these organizations manage the challenges of agility, cost, and scale.

Most people don’t think about things like compute that often. But as the VP of Amazon EC2, a web service that provides compute capacity at Amazon Web Services (AWS), I think about it a lot. And during the pandemic, I’ve seen a major shift in organizations moving to the cloud and a mental shift in how they think about their IT department.

Cloud economics

With cloud computing, organizations get pay-as-you-go, on-demand access to virtual computers on which to run their applications. Instead of buying, owning, and maintaining physical data centers and servers, they pay for infrastructure as they consume as a variable expense, at a price lower than virtually any company could achieve on its own.

In the cloud, organizations can provision thousands of servers in minutes, as opposed to the months it would take to get a server up and running on premises. So when an organization, like the ones I mentioned earlier, experiences a sudden and unexpected increase in demand, they can quickly scale up. Alternatively, if business is slow, they can reduce capacity just as easily so that they don’t have to pay for something they aren’t using.

In addition to compute, organizations can access many other services in the cloud. In fact, at AWS we have over 200 services—from infrastructure technologies, like compute, storage, and databases, to emerging technologies, such as machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence, data lakes and analytics, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

The new role of IT

Because of the pandemic many organizations have found themselves in uncharted territory, and it’s their IT leaders they’ve turned to for direction: How can we scale to meet demand? How can we save money while business is slow? How can we set up thousands of workers with remote access?

In the past, many organizations viewed their IT department as a support function—order takers. But with the emergence of disruptive technologies, such as ML, IoT, and serverless computing, IT leaders are getting their seat at the table. Now, more than ever, they have a huge hand in an organization’s success and planning for its future.

Even though the pandemic isn’t over yet, most organizations have adjusted to the new normal. That’s what makes now a great time to rethink, reimagine, and innovate with a stronger partnership between the business and IT.

The right tool for the job

A good partnership with IT will reveal to a business the vast amount of tools available to them as they reimagine how to create stronger business continuity and a lasting competitive advantage. But the truth is that an organization can start creating a meaningful impact by focusing on something as basic as compute.

At AWS, we have the broadest portfolio of compute options. As a result, our customers can customize their compute for each of their workloads, such as ML or high-performance compute, to get the best price and performance.

For example, NextRoll cut their compute bill in half by switching to one of our newest-generation instance types powered by our custom-built Graviton2 processors. The low price is made possible by our unique architecture, which offloads virtualization functions to dedicated software and silicon chips that we manufacture ourselves. This also allows our customers to innovate faster with performance that is indistinguishable from dedicated physical servers.

Or another example is how GovChat, South Africa’s largest citizen engagement platform, in just a few days created a chatbot to help citizens find their closest COVID-19 testing center using our serverless computing option, which is optimized for speed and scale.

A resolution for the new year

From what I’m hearing, organizations are ready to reinvent in the new year and they want IT to be a bigger part of that conversation. Many organizations reach out to AWS when they want to get that dialogue started because we’ve helped millions of organizations, from Fortune 500 companies to governments to startups, reinvent themselves.

To learn more about AWS Compute Solutions, click here.

To read all the pieces in our “Reinventing with the cloud” series, click here.

By: David Brown, VP, Amazon EC2, AWS

Source: Paid Program: The Pandemic Has Shined a Light on the Importance of IT and the Cloud

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Seltzer, Larry. “Your infrastr

Braze Begins The IPO Process Amid Pandemic-Era Growth In Digital Marketing

A decade after its founding, the marketing tech startup Braze is beginning the process of becoming a publicly traded company.

Today, the New York-based company filed its Form S-1 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to go public on the Nasdaq stock exchange under the ticker symbol “BRZE.” Braze is part of the growing industry of marketing campaign management software companies, a market sector that the research group IDC says could reach $15 billion in 2021 and $19.4 billion in 2024.

The customer engagement company provides technology for brands to interact directly with consumers through various channels. By using Braze’s platform, companies can use data from email, apps and other digital platforms to better understand their customers before targeting them with personalized messages. Well known brands that use Braze for their marketing include Burger King, Anthropologie, Birchbox, Grubhub, IBM, Hinge, Nascar, PayPal, HBO, iHeartRadio, Sephora and Rosetta Stone.

According to its SEC filing, Braze reported large revenue growth in the past two years with $150.2 million in fiscal-year 2021 and $96.4 million in 2020. While the company has experienced momentum in 2020 and 2021, it’s still not profitable: Net losses totaled $31.43 million in 2021 and $31.36 million in 2020. Braze also reported annual recurring revenue passing $200 million in 2021, up from $100 million in 2019.

When Braze was cofounded in 2011 by CEO Bill Magnuson, Jon Hyman and Mark Ghermezian, it wanted to build a business that was mobile-first to help companies adapt to changing consumer behaviors. At the time of publication, the company was unavailable for comment about its IPO plans, but in a letter included in the S-1 Magnuson wrote that the “goal was to build a company that would capitalize on new technology to help the world’s best companies grow by trusting us with their most valuable asset: their customer relationships.”

“While technological change drove us forward, we knew that humanity should always guide us,” Magnuson wrote. “Great human relationships are built on mutual understanding, engaging communication and shared experience. It’s thus no surprise that the secret weapon of exceptional, enduring companies is the quality of their customer engagement.”

In the past two years, Braze has continued to grow its customer base from 728 in January 2020 to 890 January 2021 and 1,119 as of July 2021. The company has also continued to scale its cloud-based platform and now reaches 3.3 billion monthly active users through its customers’ applications, websites and other digital platforms—up from 2.3 billion in January 2020 and from 1.6 billion in January 2019.

Issues around privacy are also something Braze listed as a risk factor, citing international, federal and state regulations including newly passed legislation in California, Virginia and Colorado and existing laws such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation. Several pages of the S-1 detail many of the laws and provide a glimpse into the various ways rules around data privacy could impact the company both legally and financially.“The laws are not consistent, and compliance in the event of a widespread data breach could be costly,” according to the SEC filing. “In addition, while we contractually limit the types of data our customers may process and store using our platform, we cannot fully control the actions of our customers. The failure of customers to comply with their contractual obligations may subject us to liability, and we may not have sufficient recourse to cover our related liabilities.”

Braze’s S-1 filing comes just a day after the advertising technology company Basis Globally Technologies—formerly known as Centro—confidentially filed its own S-1 with the SEC, further adding to the string of ad-tech and mar-tech IPOs that have taken place this year. Companies that have either gone public or begun the IPO process in 2021 include the content recommendation company Taboola, ad measurement firms DoubleVerify and Integral Ad Science and other marketing tech companies such as Zeta Global and Sprinklr.

Over the past decade, Braze has raised $175.1 million, according to Crunchbase. It raised an $80 million Series E round led by Meritech Capital Partners in 2018, just a year after raising a $50 million Series D round led by ICONIQ Capital. Other investors have included Battery Ventures, InterWest Partners, Rally Ventures and Blumberg Capital.

While Braze was growing quickly even before the Covid-19 crisis began, the company said the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital and mobile usage. Braze is also betting on the increased reliance on first-party data, especially as companies adapt to finding ways to reach people without as much third-party aggregated data.

“Modern brands know that when a customer is intermediated by a third-party aggregator, ad platform or distribution channel, it’s not really their customer relationship,” Magnuson wrote. “The highest value customer relationships are informed by first-party data and cemented through direct engagement.”

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I’m a Forbes staff writer and editor of the Forbes CMO Network, leading coverage of marketing and advertising especially related to the ever-evolving role of chief

Source: Braze Begins The IPO Process Amid Pandemic-Era Growth In Digital Marketing

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Pfizer Says Its Vaccine is 90.7% Effective Against Symptomatic Covid-19 In Children Ages 5 To 11

Bridgette Melo, 5, holds the hand of her father, Jim Melo, during her inoculation of one of two reduced 10 ug doses of the Pfizer BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine during a trial at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina September 28, 2021 in a still image from video. Video taken September 28, 2021. Shawn Rocco/Duke University/Handout via REUTERS NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.

In a new document posted ahead of a key meeting of the US Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisers, Pfizer says its vaccine is safe and 90.7% effective against symptomatic Covid-19 in children ages 5 to 11.

In the trial, which included around 2,000 children, there were three Covid-19 cases among the group that received the vaccine and 16 cases in the placebo group. In the trial, twice as many children received the vaccine as the placebo.

Pfizer/BioNTech are seeking FDA emergency use authorization of a two-dose regimen of their 10-microgram dose for children ages 5 to 11. The two doses would be administered three weeks apart. Last month, Pfizer released details of a Phase 2/3 trial that showed its Covid-19 vaccine was safe and generated a “robust” antibody response in children ages 5 to 11. The trial included 2,268 participants ages 5 to 11.

Participants’ immune responses were measured by looking at neutralizing antibody levels in their blood and comparing those levels to a control group of 16- to 25-year-olds who were given a two-dose regimen with the larger 30-microgram dose. Pfizer said the levels compared well with older people who received the larger dose, demonstrating a “strong immune response in this cohort of children one month after the second dose.”

The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee is scheduled to meet October 26 to discuss whether to recommend the vaccine for authorization for those ages 5 to 11.

If authorized, this would be the first Covid-19 vaccine for younger children. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is approved for people age 16 and older and has an EUA for people ages 12 to 15.

The data summarized from this Phase 2/3 study, which is enrolling children 6 months to 11 years of age, was for 2,268participants who were 5 to 11 years of age and received a 10 µg dose level in a two-dose regimen. In the trial, the SARS-CoV-2–neutralizing antibody geometric mean titer (GMT) was 1,197.6 (95% confidence interval [CI, 1106.1, 1296.6]), demonstrating strong immune response in this cohort of children one month after the second dose.

This compares well (was non-inferior) to the GMT of 1146.5 (95% CI: 1045.5, 1257.2) from participants ages 16 to 25 years old, used as the control group for this analysis and who were administered a two-dose regimen of 30 µg. Further, the COVID-19 vaccine was well tolerated, with side effects generally comparable to those observed in participants 16 to 25 years of age.

Pfizer and BioNTech plan to share these data with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), European Medicines Agency (EMA) and other regulators as soon as possible. For the United States, the companies expect to include the data in a near-term submission for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) as they continue to accumulate the safety and efficacy data required to file for full FDA approval in this age group.

A request to the EMA to update the EU Conditional Marketing Authorization is also planned. Topline readouts for the other two age cohorts from the trial – children 2-5 years of age and children 6 months to 2 years of age – are expected as soon as the fourth quarter of this year.

Pfizer and BioNTech plan to share these data with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), European Medicines Agency (EMA) and other regulators as soon as possible. For the United States, the companies expect to include the data in a near-term submission for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) as they continue to accumulate the safety and efficacy data required to file for full FDA approval in this age group.

A request to the EMA to update the EU Conditional Marketing Authorization is also planned. Topline readouts for the other two age cohorts from the trial – children 2-5 years of age and children 6 months to 2 years of age – are expected as soon as the fourth quarter of this year. Pfizer and BioNTech plan to submit data from the full Phase 3 trial for scientific peer-reviewed publication.

By:

Source: Pfizer says its vaccine is 90.7% effective against symptomatic Covid-19 in children ages 5 to 11 – ABC17NEWS

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Other Sources:

Patients should always ask their healthcare providers for medical advice about adverse events. Individuals are encouraged to report negative side effects of vaccines to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Visit http://www.vaers.hhs.gov or call 1-800-822-7967. In addition, side effects can be reported to Pfizer Inc. at www.pfizersafetyreporting.com

or by calling 1-800-438-1985.

Please click here for full Prescribing Information (16+ years of age). Please click here for Fact Sheet for Vaccination Providers (12+ years of age)

Public Assessment Report Authorisation for Temporary Supply COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine BNT162b2 (BNT162b2 RNA) concentrate for solution for injection (PDF). Regulation 174 (Report). Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). 15 December 2020. Archived (PDF) from the original on 16 December 2020. Retrieved 23 April 2021. Burger L (15 March 2020). “BioNTech in China alliance with Fosun over coronavirus vaccine candidate”. Reuters. Archived

Government Secretly Orders Google To Identify Anyone Who Searched A Sexual Assault Victim’s Name, Address Or Telephone Number

The U.S. government is secretly ordering Google to provide data on anyone typing in certain search terms, an accidentally unsealed court document shows. There are fears such “keyword warrants” threaten to implicate innocent Web users in serious crimes and are more common than previously thought.

In 2019, federal investigators in Wisconsin were hunting men they believed had participated in the trafficking and sexual abuse of a minor. She had gone missing that year but had emerged claiming to have been kidnapped and sexually assaulted, according to a search warrant reviewed by Forbes. In an attempt to chase down the perpetrators, investigators turned to Google, asking the tech giant to provide information on anyone who had searched for the victim’s name, two spellings of her mother’s name or her address over 16 days across the year. After being asked to provide all relevant Google accounts and IP addresses of those who made the searches, Google responded with data in mid-2020, though the court documents do not reveal how many users had their data sent to the government.

It’s a rare example of a so-called keyword warrant and, with the number of search terms included, the broadest on record. (See the update below for other, potentially even broader warrants.) Before this latest case, only two keyword warrants had been made public. One revealed in 2020 asked for anyone who had searched for the address of an arson victim who was a witness in the government’s racketeering case against singer R Kelly. Another, detailed in 2017, revealed that a Minnesota judge signed off on a warrant asking Google to provide information on anyone who searched a fraud victim’s name from within the city of Edina, where the crime took place.

While Google deals with thousands of such orders every year, the keyword warrant is one of the more contentious. In many cases, the government will already have a specific Google account that they want information on and have proof it’s linked to a crime. But search term orders are effectively fishing expeditions, hoping to ensnare possible suspects whose identities the government does not know. It’s not dissimilar to so-called geofence warrants, where investigators ask Google to provide information on anyone within the location of a crime scene at a given time.

“As with all law enforcement requests, we have a rigorous process that is designed to protect the privacy of our users while supporting the important work of law enforcement,” a Google spokesperson said.

The latest case shows Google is continuing to comply with such controversial requests, despite concerns over their legality and the potential to implicate innocent people who happened to search for the relevant terms. From the government’s perspective in Wisconsin, the scope of the warrant should have been limited enough to avoid the latter: the number of people searching for the specific names, address or phone number in the given time frame was likely to be low. But privacy experts are concerned about the precedent set by such warrants and the potential for any such order to be a breach of Fourth Amendment protections from unreasonable searches. There are also concerns about First Amendment freedom of speech issues, given the potential to cause anxiety amongst Google users that their identities could be handed to the government because of what they searched for.

“Trawling through Google’s search history database enables police to identify people merely based on what they might have been thinking about, for whatever reason, at some point in the past. This is a virtual dragnet through the public’s interests, beliefs, opinions, values and friendships, akin to mind reading powered by the Google time machine,” said Jennifer Granick, surveillance and cybersecurity counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). “This never-before-possible technique threatens First Amendment interests and will inevitably sweep up innocent people, especially if the keyword terms are not unique and the time frame not precise. To make matters worse, police are currently doing this in secret, which insulates the practice from public debate and regulation.”

The Wisconsin case was supposed to have remained secret, too. The warrant only came to light because it was accidentally unsealed by the Justice Department in September. Forbes reviewed the document before it was sealed again and is neither publishing it nor providing full details of the case to protect the identities of the victim and her family. The investigation is ongoing, two years after the crimes occurred, and the DOJ didn’t comment on whether or not any charges had been filed.

Forbes was able to identify one other, previously unreported keyword warrant in the Northern District of California in December 2020, though its existence was only noted in a court docket. It also has the potential to be broad. The order, currently under seal, is titled “Application by the United States for a Search Warrant for Google Accounts Associated with Six Search Terms and Four Search Dates.”

There’s more that the government can get with such requests than simple Google account identities and IP addresses. In Wisconsin, the government was hopeful Google could also provide “CookieIDs” belonging to any users who made the searches. These CookieIDs “are identifiers that are used to group together all searches conducted from a given machine, for a certain time period. Such information allows investigators to ascertain, even when the user is not logged into a Google account, whether the same individual may have conducted multiple pertinent searches,” the government wrote.

There was another disturbing aspect to the search warrant: the government had published the kidnapping victim’s name, her Facebook profile (now no longer accessible), her phone number and address, a potential breach of a minor’s privacy. The government has now sealed the document, though was only alerted to the leak after Forbes emailed the Justice Department for comment. That mistake—of revealing the identity of minor victims of sexual abuse in court documents—has become a common one in recent years. As in the latest case, the FBI and DHS have been seen choosing pseudonyms and acronyms for victims, but then publishing their full Facebook profile link, which contains the name of the minor.

UPDATE: After publication, Jennifer Lynch, surveillance litigation director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), highlighted three other Google keyword warrants that were used in the investigation into serial Austin bombings in 2018, which resulted in the deaths of two people.

Not widely discussed at the time, the orders appear even broader than the one above, asking for IP addresses and Google account information of individuals who searched for various addresses and some terms associated with bomb making, such as “low explosives” and “pipe bomb.” Similar orders were served on Microsoft and Yahoo for their respective search engines.

As for what data the tech companies gave to investigators, that information remains under seal.

You can read the orders on Google here, here and here. The Microsoft and Yahoo orders can be found here and here. Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website. Send me a secure tip

By: Thomas Brewster

I’m associate editor for Forbes, covering security, surveillance and privacy. I’m also the editor of The Wiretap newsletter, which has exclusive stories on real-world surveillance and all the biggest cybersecurity stories of the week. It goes out every Monday and you can sign up here: https://www.forbes.com/newsletter/thewiretap

I’ve been breaking news and writing features on these topics for major publications since 2010. As a freelancer, I worked for The Guardian, Vice, Wired and the BBC, amongst many others. 

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Why Women Are More Burned Out Than Men

Statistics show that stress and burnout are affecting more women than men en masse. Why – and what happens next?

When Jia, a Manhattan-based consultant, read Sheryl Sandberg’s bestselling book Lean In in 2014, she resolved to follow the advice espoused by the chief operating officer of Facebook.

“I’d just graduated from an Ivy League business school, was super pumped up and loved the idea of leaning in,” says Jia, whose last name is being withheld to protect her professional reputation. “Learning to self-promote felt so empowering, and I was 100% ready to prove that I was the woman who could have it all: be a high-powered career woman and a great mother.”

But today, the 38-year-old strikes a different tone. For years, she says, she feels like she’s been overlooked for promotions and pay rises at work on account of her gender, particularly after becoming a mother in 2018. Since then, she’s picked up the brunt of childcare responsibilities because her husband, who is a banker, has tended to travel more frequently for work. That, she adds, has given her a misguided reputation among her colleagues and managers – the majority of whom are male – for not being professionally driven.

Then when Covid-19 hit, it was as if all the factors already holding her back were supercharged. When her daughter’s day care closed in March 2020, Jia became the default caregiver while trying to stay afloat at work. “I was extremely unmotivated because I felt like I was spending all hours of the day trying not to fall off an accelerating treadmill,” she explains. “But at the same time, I felt like I was being trusted less and less to be able to do a good job. I could feel my career slipping through my fingers and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.”

In early 2021, Jia’s therapist told her she was suffering from burnout. Jia says she’d never struggled with her mental health before. “But now I’m just trying to get through each week while staying sane,” she says.

Jia’s story is symptomatic of a deeply ingrained imbalance in society that the pandemic has both highlighted and exacerbated. For multiple reasons, women, particularly mothers, are still more likely than men to manage a more complex set of responsibilities on a daily basis – an often-unpredictable combination of unpaid domestic chores and paid professional work.

I could feel my career slipping through my fingers and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it – Jia

Though the mental strain of mastering this balancing act has been apparent for decades, Covid-19 has cast a particularly harsh light on the problem. Statistics show that stress and burnout are affecting more women than men, and particularly more working mothers than working fathers. This could have multiple impacts for the post-pandemic world of work, making it important that both companies and wider society find ways to reduce this imbalance.

Unequal demands

Recent data looking specifically at burnout in women is concerning. According to a survey by LinkedIn of almost 5,000 Americans, 74% of women said they were very or somewhat stressed for work-related reasons, compared with just 61% of employed male respondents.

A separate analysis from workplace-culture consultancy a Great Place to Work and health-care start-up Maven found that mothers in paid employment are 23% more likely to experience burnout than fathers in paid employment. An estimated 2.35 million working mothers in the US have suffered from burnout since the start of the pandemic, specifically “due to unequal demands of home and work”, the analysis showed.

Women tend to be dealing with a more complex set of work and personal responsibilities, leading to stress (Credit: Getty)

Experts generally agree that there’s no single reason women burn out, but they widely acknowledge that the way societal structures and gender norms intersect plays a significant role. Workplace inequalities, for example, are inextricably linked to traditional gender roles.

In the US, women still earn an average of about 82 cents for each dollar earned by a man, and the gap across many countries in Europe is similar. Jia’s firm does not publish its gender pay-gap data, but she suspects that it’s significant. Moreover, she thinks many of her male peers earn more than her, something that causes her a huge amount of stress.

“The idea that I might be underselling myself is extremely frustrating, but I also don’t want to make myself unpopular by asking for more money when I’m already pushing the boundaries by asking my company to make accommodations for me having to care for my daughter,” she says. “It’s a constant internal battle.”

Research links lower incomes to higher stress levels and worse mental health in general. But several studies have also shown more specifically that incidences of burnout among women are greater because of differences in job conditions and the impact of gender on progression.

In 2018, researchers from University of Montreal published a study tracking 2,026 workers over the course of four years. The academics concluded that women were more vulnerable to burnout than men because women were less likely to be promoted than men, and therefore more likely to be in positions with less authority which can lead to increased stress and frustration. The researchers also found that women were more likely to head single-parent families, experience child-related strains, invest time in domestic tasks and have lower self-esteem – all things that can exacerbate burnout.

Nancy Beauregard, a professor at University of Montreal and one of the authors of that study, said that reflecting on her work back in 2018, it’s clear that Covid-19 has amplified the existing inequalities and imbalances that her team demonstrated through their research. “In terms of [the] sustainable development of the human capital of the workforce,” she says, “we’re not heading in a good direction.”

A pandemic catalyst

Brian Kropp, chief of human resources research at Gartner, a global research and advisory firm headquartered in Connecticut, US, agrees that while many of the factors fueling women’s burnout were in play before the pandemic, Covid-19 notably exacerbated some as it forced us to dramatically overhaul our living and working routines.

When the pandemic hit, many women found that their domestic responsibilities surged – making juggling work even harder (Credit: Getty)

Structures supporting parents’ and carers’ lives closed down, and in most cases, this excess burden fell on women. One study, conducted by academics from Harvard University, Harvard Business School and London Business School, evaluated survey responses from 30,000 individuals around the world and found that women – especially mothers – had spent significantly more time on childcare and chores during Covid-19 than they did pre-pandemic, and that this was directly linked to lower wellbeing. Many women had already set themselves up as the default caregiver within their households, and the pandemic obliterated the support systems that had previously allowed them to balance paid employment and domestic work.

That’s exactly what Sarah experienced in March 2020, when schools across New York first closed. “Initially the message was that schools would stay closed until the end of April, so that was my target: ‘Get to that point and you’ll be fine’,” recalls the Brooklyn-based 40-year-old. Now, more than 18 months into the pandemic, her two sons, aged 6 and 9, are only just reacquainting themselves with in-person learning, and Sarah’s life has changed dramatically.

In April 2020, for the first time ever, she started suffering from anxiety. The pressures of home-schooling her children while working as marketing executive for a large technology company overwhelmed her. She couldn’t sleep, worried constantly and felt depressed. Worst of all, she felt like whatever she did was inadequate because she didn’t have enough time to do anything well.

Six months into the pandemic, it was clear something had to change. Sarah’s husband, a lawyer, was earning much more than her, and had done so since they got married in 2008. So, in August 2020 the couple jointly decided that Sarah would leave her job to become a stay-at-home mother. “Before this, I never really knew what being burned out meant,” she says. “Now I know beyond a shadow of a doubt.”

Sarah’s experience is emblematic of a much broader trend. In September last year, just as the pandemic was gaining pace, more than 860,000 women dropped out of the US workforce, compared with just over 200,000 men. One estimate put the number of mothers who had quit the US workforce between February and September last year at 900,000, and the number of fathers at 300,000.

As women lost crucial social lifelines during lockdown which may have been emotional and physical outlets for stress, it’s clear that the abrupt avalanche of extra domestic responsibilities pushed many who were already busily juggling home and work life further than they could go.

‘What’s the cost?’

One of the greatest concerns workplace experts harbour is that poor mental health among women in the workplace could discourage future generations from setting ambitious professional goals, particularly if they want to start a family. That could exacerbate the gender inequalities that already exist in terms of pay and seniority in the labour market.

Data indicate that this is indeed a legitimate concern; statistics collected by CNBC and polling company SurveyMonkey earlier this year showed that the number of women describing themselves as “very ambitious” in terms of their careers declined significantly during the pandemic. Data from the US Census Bureau shows that over the first 12 weeks of the pandemic, the percentage of mothers between the ages of 25 and 44 not working due to Covid-19-related childcare issues grew by 4.8 percentage points, compared to no increase for men in the same age group.

In terms of [the] sustainable development of the human capital of the workforce, we’re not heading in a good direction – Nancy Beauregard

Equally, there are concerns about how new ways of working such as hybrid could impact on workplace gender equality. Research shows that women are more likely than men to work from home in a post-pandemic world, but there’s evidence that people who work from home are less likely to get promoted than those who have more face-time with managers. “Women are saying, I’m working just as hard and doing just as much, but because I’m working from home, I’m less likely to get promoted,” says Kropp. “That’s extremely demotivating.”

Dean Nicholson, head of adult therapy at London-based behavioural health clinic The Soke, suggests that perceptions of fairness – or otherwise – could impact on women’s workplace participation. “When the balance of justice is skewed against us in the workplace, then it’s invariably going to lead to negative feelings, not just towards the organisation, but in the way that we feel about ourselves and the value of our contribution, as well as where we’re positioned on a hierarchy of worth.”

To prevent an exodus of female talent, says Kropp, organisations must appreciate that old workplaces practices are no longer fit for purpose. Managers need to fundamentally rethink how companies must be structured in order to promote fairness and equality of opportunity, he says. That means pay equality and equal opportunities for promotion, as well as creating a culture of transparency where everyone – mothers, fathers and employees who are not parents – feels valued and can reach their professional potential while also accommodating what’s going on at home.

Steve Hatfield, global future of work leader for Deloitte, notes that mothers, especially those in senior leadership roles, are extremely important role models. “The ripple effect of what they’re seen to be experiencing right now has the potential to be truly profound on newer employees, and so it’s up to organisations to prove that they can accommodate and cater to the needs of all employees,” he says.

As such, Hephzi Pemberton, founder of the Equality Group, a London-based consultancy that focuses on inclusion and diversity in the finance and technology industry, emphasises the need for managers to be trained formally and to understand that the initiative to create a workplace that’s fit for purpose must come from the employer rather than the employee. “That’s absolutely critical to avoid the risk of burnout,” she says.

But Jia, who says she’s now on the brink of quitting her job, insists that notable changes need to happen in the home as well as the workplace. “What’s become abundantly clear to me through the pandemic is that we all have a role to play in understanding the imbalances that are created when stereotypical gender roles are blindly adhered to,” she says. “Yes, of course it sometimes makes sense for a woman to be the default caregiver or to take a step back from paid work, but we need to appreciate at what cost. This is 2021. Sometimes I wonder if we’re in the 1950s.”

By Josie Cox

Source: Why women are more burned out than men – BBC Worklife

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Beyond Evergrande, China’s Property Market Faces a $5 Trillion Reckoning

As many economists say China enters what is now the final phase of one of the biggest real-estate booms in history, it is facing a staggering bill: According to economists at Nomura, $ 5 trillion plus loans that developers had taken at a good time. Holdings Inc.

The debt is almost double that at the end of 2016 and last year exceeded the overall economic output of Japan, the world’s third-largest economy.

With warning signs on the debt of nearly two-fifths of growth companies borrowed from international bond investors, global markets are poised for a potential wave of defaults.

Chinese leaders are getting serious about addressing debt by taking a series of steps to curb excessive borrowing. But doing so without hurting the property market, crippling more developers and derailing the country’s economy is turning into one of the biggest economic challenges for Chinese leaders, and one that resonates globally when mismanaged. could.

Luxury Developer Fantasia Holdings Group Co. It failed to pay $206 million in dollar bonds that matured on October 4. In late September, Evergrande, which has more than $300 billion in liabilities, missed two interest-paying deadlines for the bond.

A wave of sell-offs hit Asian junk-bond markets last week. On Friday, bonds of 24 of 59 Chinese growth companies on the ICE BofA Index of Asian Corporate Dollar Bonds were trading at over 20% yields, indicating a high risk of default.

Some potential home buyers are leaning, forcing companies to cut prices to raise cash, and could potentially accelerate their slide if the trend continues.

According to data from CRIC, a research arm of property services firm e-House (China) Enterprise Holdings, overall sales among China’s 100 largest developers were down 36 per cent in September from a year earlier. Ltd.

It revealed that the 10 largest developers, including China Evergrande, Country Garden Holdings Co. and china wenke Co., saw a decline of 44% in sales compared to a year ago.

Economists say most Chinese developers remain relatively healthy. Beijing has the firepower and tighter control of the financial system needed to prevent the so-called Lehman moment, in which a corporate financial crisis snowballs, he says.

In late September, Businesshala reported that China had asked local governments to be prepared for potentially intensifying problems in Evergrande.

But many economists, investors and analysts agree that even for healthy enterprises, the underlying business model—in which developers use credit to fund steady churn of new construction despite the demographic less favorable for new housing—is likely to change. Chances are. Some developers can’t survive the transition, he says.

Of particular concern is some developers’ practice of relying heavily on “presales”, in which buyers pay upfront for still-unfinished apartments.

The practice, more common in China than in the US, means developers are borrowing interest-free from millions of homes, making it easier to continue expanding but potentially leaving buyers without ready-made apartments for developers to fail. needed.

According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics, pre-sales and similar deals were the region’s biggest funding sources since August this year.

“There is no return to the previous growth model for China’s real-estate market,” said Hous Song, a research fellow at the Paulson Institute, a Chicago think tank focused on US-China relations. China is likely to put a set of limits on corporate lending, known as the “three red lines” imposed last year, which helped trigger the recent crisis on some developers, he added. That China can ease some other restrictions.

While Beijing has avoided explicit public statements on its plans to deal with the most indebted developers, many economists believe leaders have no choice but to keep the pressure on them.

Policymakers are determined to reform a model fueled by debt and speculation as part of President Xi Jinping’s broader efforts to mitigate the hidden risks that could destabilize society, especially at key Communist Party meetings next year. before. Mr. Xi is widely expected to break the precedent and extend his rule to a third term.

Economists say Beijing is concerned that after years of rapid home price gains, some may be unable to climb the housing ladder, potentially fueling social discontent, as economists say. The cost of young couples is starting to drop in large cities, making it difficult for them to start a family. According to JPMorgan Asset Management, the median apartment in Beijing or Shenzhen now accounts for more than 40 times the average family’s annual disposable income.

Officials have said they are concerned about the risk posed by the asset market to the financial system. Reinforcing developers’ business models and limiting debt, however, is almost certain to slow investment and cause at least some slowdown in the property market, one of the biggest drivers of China’s growth.

The real estate and construction industries account for a large portion of China’s economy. Researchers Kenneth S. A 2020 paper by Rogoff and Yuanchen Yang estimated that industries, roughly, account for 29% of China’s economic activity, far more than in many other countries. Slow housing growth could spread to other parts of the economy, affecting consumer spending and employment.

Government figures show that about 1.6 million acres of residential floor space were under construction at the end of last year. This was roughly equivalent to 21,000 towers with the floor area of ​​the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the tallest building in the world.

Housing construction fell by 13.6% in August below its pre-pandemic level, as restrictions on borrowing were imposed last year, calculations by Oxford Economics show.

Local governments’ income from selling land to developers declined by 17.5% in August from a year earlier. Local governments, which are heavily indebted, rely on the sale of land for most of their revenue.

Another slowdown will also risk exposing banks to more bad loans. According to Moody’s Analytics, outstanding property loans—mainly mortgages, but also loans to developers—accounted for 27% of China’s total of $28.8 trillion in bank loans at the end of June.

As pressure on housing mounts, many research houses and banks have cut China’s growth outlook. Oxford Economics on Wednesday lowered its forecast for China’s third-quarter year-on-year GDP growth from 5% to 3.6%. It lowered its 2022 growth forecast for China from 5.8% to 5.4%.

As recently as the 1990s, most city residents in China lived in monotonous residences provided by state-owned employers. When market reforms began to transform the country and more people moved to cities, China needed a massive supply of high-quality apartments. Private developers stepped in.

Over the years, he added millions of new units to modern, streamlined high-rise buildings. In 2019, new homes made up more than three-quarters of home sales in China, less than 12% in the US, according to data cited by Chinese property broker Kei Holdings Inc. in a listing prospectus last year.

In the process, developers grew to be much bigger than anything seen in the US, the largest US home builder by revenue, DR Horton. Inc.,

Reported assets of $21.8 billion at the end of June. Evergrande had about $369 billion. Its assets included vast land reserves and 345,000 unsold parking spaces.

For most of the boom, developers were filling a need. In recent years, policymakers and economists began to worry that much of the market was driven by speculation.

Chinese households are prohibited from investing abroad, and domestic bank deposits provide low returns. Many people are wary of the country’s booming stock markets. So some have poured money into housing, in some cases buying three or four units without the intention of buying or renting them out.

As developers bought more places to build, land sales boosted the national growth figures. Dozens of entrepreneurs who founded growth companies are featured on the list of Chinese billionaires. Ten of the 16 soccer clubs of the Chinese Super League are wholly or partially owned by the developers.

Real-estate giants borrow not only from banks but also from shadow-banking organizations known as trust companies and individuals who invest their savings in investments called wealth-management products. Overseas, they became a mainstay of international junk-bond markets, offering juicy produce to snag deals.

A builder, Kaisa Group Holdings Ltd. , defaulted on its debt in 2015, was still able to borrow and later expand. Two years later it spent the equivalent of $2.1 billion to buy 25 land parcels, and $7.3 billion for land in 2020. This summer, Cassa sold $200 million of short-term bonds with a yield of 8.65%.

By: Quentin Webb & Stella Yifan Xie 

Source: Beyond Evergrande, China’s Property Market Faces a $5 Trillion Reckoning – WSJ

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Scan QR Code Menus With a Side of Caution, Say Privacy Experts

Restaurant patrons who’ve grown accustomed during the pandemic to whipping out their phones to access menus using QR codes should understand the implications for their personal data, say privacy and cyber-security experts.

That’s especially important given some restaurant owners are finding electronic menus efficient and cost effective, and that they may hold onto the practice even after COVID-19 is more contained.

It’s not the QR code itself that collects customer data, said Dustin Moores, a privacy lawyer with nNovation LLP in Ottawa.

“What the QR code does is it sort of acts as a web link to a web page. So when you scan a QR code on your phone, in all likelihood it is going to send you to either the restaurant’s website, or to the website of a service provider that’s being used by the restaurant,” he told Cost of Living producer Jennifer Keene.

“What’s happening is we’re replacing a very sort of innocuous object, a restaurant menu, with a website that comes with all the sort of tracking technologies that you see in modern e-commerce today.”

A marketing device

Bringing up an online menu on your phone doesn’t mean you’re handing data such as your birth date and banking details to bad actors on the internet.

The more immediate implication is that it gives your local pub, or the platform they use, new knowledge of your behaviours and preferences that it can use to better sell to you.

“If you’re a returning customer to to one of these restaurants that use the QR code technology, they might be able to say, ‘Hey, we know that Jennifer ordered the Caesar salad last time; let’s put it at the top of our menu this time because we know that she likes it,'” said Moores.

The restaurant could also use the information it has gathered to upsell customers, such as suggesting the customer add chicken to that salad, he said. Ot it could try to influence your choices by offering a discount on the dish you enjoyed last time.

Moore said it’s also likely that the QR code will take you to a website that uses third-party cookies that can be used to track your web browsing habits. “Let’s say it was a Hungarian restaurant that you visited. Well then other Hungarian restaurants in the area might start advertising to you all of a sudden,” he said.

An issue of consent

Moore said his biggest legal concern about the spike in use of QR code-enabled menus is consent.

“I think what might get lost on a lot of restaurant owners is that, like every other business in Canada, they’re subject to our privacy laws,” he said. “Whenever a business collects, uses or shares personal information in the course of commercial activities, they need to have people’s consent to do that.”

Cyber-security expert Yuan Stevens, policy lead for technology, cyber-security and democracy at Ryerson University’s Leadership Lab, said the security concerns related to QR codes remain “fairly hypothetical.”

“I have not yet found any cases in Canada of QR codes being used for stealing data or violating your privacy,” she said. “But I also think it is useful to keep in mind what concerns we should be aware of as technology becomes ubiquitous.”

Someone who wants to direct you to a malicious website could “fast track” that process using a QR code, said Stevens. “Phishing and scams are already happening. And QR codes would just be another conduit to that.”

She said some restaurants are using QR codes to gather contact tracing information as well as for menus.

With the drive to reduce contact with surfaces and each other, QR codes have increased in popularity during the pandemic, said Stevens, particularly in China, where their use increased six per cent between 2019 and 2020.

Stevens notes that last month a benevolent hacking group already alerted the public that it had been able to hack the Quebec government’s new vaccine passport system, which led to 300,000 QR codes being exposed. The developer resolved the issue within 24 hours, but it’s good to be aware that there are privacy and security tradeoffs that come with using technology, she said.

QR-code enabled vaccination verification systems are now in place in Manitoba and New Brunswick, and will be in Ontario as of Oct. 22.

Jenny Burthwright, owner of Jane Bond BBQ in Calgary, said her business introduced QR code menus in the fall of 2020 when they’d been “ripping through” paper menus while trying to keep COVID-safe.She plans to keep the higher-tech system in place post-pandemic.

“There’s a very obvious cost savings to it,” she said. “With the rising costs of everything, we considered that, and also environmentally just wanted to move away from that paper.

Restaurants are also finding it easier and faster to update an online menu than a printed one, said Olivier Bourbeau, a vice-president of Restaurants Canada, the industry association representing food-service employers.

Being able to quickly add or remove a menu item, or update the price of the dish, is particularly useful given the complexities of running a food-service business during this crisis, including rising food costs and supply-chain problems that delay delivery of ingredients.

Those advantages will likely mean many restaurants will keep the QR-code system in place, Bourbeau said.

Protective measures

To mediate the risks associated with leaving a digital trail every time you order a brisket sandwich or a poke bowl, there are some precautions consumers can take, according to cyber-security expert Stevens.

The same principles that you’d apply to avoiding phishing and other online scams generally also apply to using QR codes, she said.

“Be careful of offers that seem too good to be true. Don’t give sensitive information over email or phone to untrusted sources. Be careful what you click on.”

Treat a QR code with the same care as an email attachment, and keep your eyes peeled for printed QR codes that look like they’ve been duplicated — one stuck on top of another, said Stevens.

It’s worth taking the time to check with your host or server to make sure the QR code you’re about to use is legit, she said.

“You want to be really careful that the QR code you’re scanning is actually the restaurant’s, otherwise you could be misled. And that’s when you’d be scammed.

By Brandie Weikle. Produced by Jennifer Keene.

Source: Scan QR-code menus with a side of caution, say privacy experts | CBC Radio

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Chelsea Manning Is Back, And Hacking Again, Only This Time For A Bitcoin-Based Privacy Startup

Five years ago, from her prison cell, trans whistleblower Chelsea Manning sketched out a new way to protect online privacy. Now, she is helping an MIT-affiliated cryptographer bring the next generation of privacy software online.

Chelsea Manning’s long blonde hair catches in a cool summer breeze as she turns the corner into Brooklyn’s Starr Bar, a dimly lit counter-cultural haunt in the heart of the hipster enclave of Bushwick. The 33-year-old best known for leaking hundreds of thousands of top-secret government documents to Julian Assange in 2010, then coming out as a transgender woman, walks past a poster depicting sea turtles, humans and geese merging to form the outline of a dove. Beside the image are the words, “Your Nations Cannot Contain Us.”

Dressed in a black suit and wearing a silver Omega watch, she makes her way to a small wooden table illuminated by a shaft of sunlight. She orders a Coke. Contrary to what one might expect, this whistleblower turned trans icon looks uncomfortable in the hip surroundings. A fan reverently approaches her and welcomes her back. “This is my life,” she says after he leaves, expressing gratitude for the well wishes and lamenting the loss of her privacy. “I’m not just famous—I’m in the history books.”

While serving the longest sentence ever doled out to a whistleblower after she used the privacy-protecting Tor Network to anonymously leak 700,000 government documents, she used her time in incarceration to devise a better way to cover the tracks of other online users.

Knowing that the nonprofit Tor Project she used to send files to Wikileaks had become increasingly vulnerable to the prying eyes of intelligence agencies and law enforcement, she sketched out a new way to hide internet traffic using blockchain, the technology behind bitcoin, to build a similar network, without troublesome government funding. The entire plan was hatched in a military prison, on paper.

Fixing the known weaknesses of these networks is about more than just protecting future whistleblowers and criminals. Private networks are also vital for big businesses who want to protect trade secrets. The privacy network industry, including the virtual private networks (VPNs) familiar to many corporate users, generated $29 billion in revenue in 2019 and is expected to triple to $75 billion by 2027.

Manning thinks that not-for-profit efforts like Tor, which relies on U.S. government funding and a worldwide network of volunteers to run its anonymous servers, aren’t robust enough. “Nonprofits are unsustainable,” says Manning casually, sipping from her Coke. “They require constant upholding by large capital funds, by large governments.”

By January 2017, she was 7 years into a 35-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth, home to the likes of former Army Major Nidal Hasan, who killed 14 fellow soldiers in 2009. As President Barack Obama prepared to leave office, he granted Manning an unconditional commutation of her sentence. Newly tasting freedom, she was contacted by Harry Halpin, the 41-year-old mathematician who worked for World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee at MIT from 2013 to 2016 helping standardize the use of cryptography across Web browsers.

Halpin asked Manning to look for security weaknesses in his new privacy project, which eventually became Nym, a Neuchâtel, Switzerland-based crypto startup. Halpin founded Nym in 2018 to send data anonymously around the Internet using the same blockchain technology underlying Bitcoin. To date, Nym has raised some $8.5 million from a group of crypto investors including Binance, Polychain Capital and NGC Ventures. The firm now employs ten people and is using its latest round of capital to double its team size.

Halpin was impressed by Manning’s technical knowledge. More than just a famous leaker who happened to have access to secret documents, Manning struck Halpin as someone with a deep technological understanding of how governments and big business seek to spy on private messages.

“We’ve very rarely had access to people who really were inside the machine, who can explain what they believe the actual capabilities of these kinds of adversaries are, what kinds of attacks are more likely,” says Halpin. “She’ll help us fix holes in our design.”

Born in Oklahoma on December 17, 1987, Manning had her first exposure to what’s called network traffic analysis in high school. She and her Welsh mother, Susan, had moved to Haverfordwest, Wales, in 2001, when Manning was 13. In a computer class there, in 2003, she first learned to circumvent blocks put in place by the school to prevent students downloading certain files—and got caught pirating music by Linkin Park, Jay-Z and others.

The headmaster had been watching remotely. “It was the first moment where it dawned on me, ‘Oh, this is a thing. You can do this.’ By 2008 Manning’s interest in network traffic analysis first brought her to The Onion Router (Tor), a volunteer network of computers that sits on top of the internet and helps hide a user’s identity. The nonprofit organization leveraged something called “onion routing,” which hides messages beneath layers of encryption.

Each message is only decipherable by a different member of the network, which routes the message to the next router, ensuring that only the sender and receiver can decipher it all. Ironically, the network colloquially known as the “Dark Web,” used by Manning to send classified documents to WikiLeaks, was developed by the U.S. government to protect spies and other government agents operating online.

At around the same time Manning discovered Tor, she joined the U.S. Army. As a young intelligence analyst her job was to sort through classified databases in search of tactical patterns. After becoming disillusioned with what she learned about the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, she plugged into her computer, put in her headphones, and loaded a CD with music from another of her favorite musicians, Lady Gaga.

Instead of listening to the album, though, she erased it and downloaded what would eventually be known as the largest single leak in U.S. history, ranging from sensitive diplomatic cables to video showing U.S. soldiers killing civilians, including two Reuters journalists.

In prison she studied carpentry, but she never stopped exploring her earlier vocation. “I’m a certified carpenter,” she says. “But when I wasn’t doing that, I would read a lot of cryptography papers.” In 2016, she was visited in prison by Yan Zhu, a physicist from MIT who would later go on to become chief security officer of Brave, a privacy-protecting internet browser that pays users in cryptocurrency in exchange for agreeing to see ads.

She and Zhu were concerned with vulnerabilities they saw in Tor, including its dependence on the goodwill of governments and academic institutions. In 2020 53% of its $5 million funding came from the U.S. government and 27% came from other Western governments, tax-subsidized nonprofits, foundations and companies. Worse, in their opinion, the technology being developed to break privacy was being funded at a higher rate than the technology to protect it.

“As the Dark Web, or Tor and VPN and all these other services became more prolific, the tools to do traffic analysis had dramatically improved,” says Manning. “And there’s sort of been a cold war that’s been going on between the Tor project developers, and a number of state actors and large internet service providers.” In 2014, the FBI learned how to decipher Tor data. By 2020 a single user reportedly controlled enough Tor nodes to steal bitcoin transactions initiated over the network.

Using two lined pieces of composition paper from the prison commissary, Manning drew a schematic for Zhu of what she called Tor Plus. Instead of just encrypting the data she proposed to inject the information equivalent of noise into network communications. In the margins of the document she even postulated that blockchain, the technology popularized by bitcoin, could play a role.

Then, this February Halpin woke her up late one night with an encrypted text message asking her to take a look at a paper describing Nym. Developed completely separately from Manning’s jailhouse sketch, the paper detailed an almost identical system disguising real messages with white noise. A hybrid of the decentralized Tor that relies on donor support and a corporate-owned VPN that requires trusting a company, this network promised the best of both worlds.

Organized as a for-profit enterprise, Nym would pay people and organizations running the network in cryptocurrency. “The next day I cleared my schedule,” she says. By July she’d signed a contract with Nym to run a security audit that could eventually include a closer look at the code, the math and the defensive scenarios against government attacks.

Unlike Tor, which uses the onion router to obscure data sent on a shared network, Nym uses what’s called a mix network, or mixnet, that not only shuffles the data, but also alternates the methods by which the data is shuffled, making it nearly impossible to reassemble.

“Imagine you have a deck of cards,” says Manning. “What’s really unique here is that what’s being done is that you are taking essentially a deck of cards, and you are taking a bunch of other decks of cards, and you are shuffling those decks of cards as well.”

And, as it, turns out, not every government is comfortable using a privacy network largely funded by the U.S. government. Despite Halpin’s commitment to build a network that doesn’t require government funding to operate, in July Nym accepted a €200,000 grant from the European Commission to help get it off the ground.


“Knowing that Wikileaks had become increasingly vulnerable to prying eyes from intelligence agencies and law enforcement, she sketched out a new way to hide internet traffic using blockchain, the technology behind bitcoin.”


“The problem is that there was never a financial model that made any sense to build this technology,” says Halpin. “There was no interest from users, venture capital and big companies. And now you’re seeing what we consider a once-in-a-lifetime alignment of the stars, where there’s interest in privacy from venture capital. There’s an interest in privacy for users.

There’s interest in privacy from companies. And most of the interest from the venture capital side and the company side and the user side has been driven by cryptocurrency. And this was not the case even five years ago.”Even Tor itself is exploring how to use blockchain to create the next generation of its software. After receiving 26% of its total donations in cryptocurrency last year, the Tor Project received a $670,000 grant from advocates of the Zcash cryptocurrency and sold a non-fungible token (NFT) representing the first .onion address for $2 million in May, 2021.

Now, Tor cofounder Nick Mathewson says the Seattle-based nonprofit is exploring some of the same techniques developed by cryptocurrency companies to create Tor credentials that let users develop a reputation without revealing their identity. What he calls an “anonymous blacklistable credential.”

“If you’ve got a website, and somebody does something you don’t like, you can ban them,” says Mathewson. “You can ban the person who did that activity without ever finding out what other activities they did or figuring out whom you banned.”

Though Mathewson is interested in the possibility of using blockchain to upgrade Tor itself, he warns that making for-profit privacy infrastructure could lead to more money being spent on marketing than product development. “Our mission is to encourage the use of privacy technology,” says Mathewson. “I don’t really care whether that privacy tool is the one I made or not.”

Ironically, the same cryptocurrency culture Halpin says brought so much attention from investors, deterred Manning from getting involved earlier. Though she counts herself among the earliest bitcoin adopters, claiming to have mined cryptocurrency shortly after Satoshi Nakomoto activated it in 2009, she sold her bitcoin last year for decidedly nonmonetary reasons.

“I am not a fan of the culture around blockchain and cryptocurrency,” she says. “There’s a lot of large personalities that are very out there, like your Elon Musks and whatnot,” she says. “And it‘s very, like, ‘Oh, we’re going to get rich off of blockchain.’ It’s very nouveau riche. Like a new-yuppies-bro-culture that’s surrounded it. It has gotten a little bit better in some corners. But I think that culture is what I’m talking about. It’s like Gordon Gekko, but blockchain.”

Michael del Castillo

By: Michael del Castillo

Source: Chelsea Manning Is Back, And Hacking Again, Only This Time For A Bitcoin-Based Privacy Startup

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Should Businesses Force Employees to Get Covid Vaccine? Advice From a Lawyer

With the Covid-19 vaccine rollout steadily gathering steam, and an overwhelming desire to get back to business, companies face a difficult choice: should they force employees to get vaccinated? And if not, how can they encourage workers to roll up their sleeves? Bloomberg Businessweek spoke to Kevin Troutman, a Houston-based lawyer who co-chairs the national healthcare practice of the law firm Fisher Phillips. This interview has been condensed.

Could an employer face some liability if its workers arent vaccinated?

Workers comp laws are the exclusive remedy for illnesses and injuries contracted in the workplace. But employers also have to be concerned about following OSHA guidance, and we expect that OSHA is going to be issuing some COVID-specific standards. They’re going to at least say, I think, make the vaccines available to your employees, and it will be a violation if then you fail to do it. You could be fined and penalized and, you know, OSHA can hand out some substantial fines. So it can be it can be pretty significant.

What should employers do then to encourage employees to take the vaccine?

One thing that is really important is to share reliable objective information with employees, to try to dispel any misunderstandings or misconceptions that are out there. Ideally, the information should come from local healthcare providers — maybe arrange for a doctor in the community to just come out and maybe talk to their employees, answer some questions and help employees to understand the issues better.

If leaders of the organization believe that vaccinations are the right thing to do, and they are out there explaining it, and providing reliable information, and even setting an example and saying, “Hey, I’m getting vaccinated,” I think those things will help get employees more comfortable with taking the vaccine.

What about offering incentives for getting vaccinated?

A lot of employers think, “Well, I’ll just offer some money and, and get people to take the vaccination, and it’s as simple as that.” Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as that. All medical information is supposed to be treated as confidential — you’re not supposed to get that information and then use disability-related information to discriminate against an employee.

The thinking has been that if an incentive is large enough, that might make some employees feel pressured to disclose medical information in order to qualify for the incentive. On January 7, the EEOC issued a proposed rule that you can only offer what they call a “de minimis incentive” — like a water bottle or a gift card of modest value, which we think is around $20 or $25. Those rules were put on hold as part of the transition in administration and then withdrawn, so right now the EEOC stance is in limbo.

Now, a lot of employers are saying, “we’ll pay you for your time to get vaccinated, and maybe allow two hours or something like that.” I think this is a good approach. The employer can say it’s not an incentive. If the EEOC disagreed, the next thing you do is say that’s not enough to be coercive.

What are the risks to requiring your employees to get vaccinated?

Well, if you’re able to work through the people who say they need an accommodation, because of disability or religion, then the risks are you’re going to have 20 to 40 percent of your workforce just very upset, very distracted and not as productive as they would be. Do you want to have to fire them? You probably could legally, but as a practical matter, do you want to fire that many employees?

Is that worse for your company than having 20 or 40 percent of your employees not vaccinated?

I think each company has to decide. It depends a little bit on what you do, and how much interaction do you have with the public. One place it would make a lot of sense to mandate vaccines would be health care, where you’ve got some responsibility for the health and safety not just of yourself and your employees, but of people who are placed in your care. But even in the healthcare industry, I’m not seeing a huge rush to mandate vaccines. They’re making it available. But they’re not mandating it, whereas they have required flu shots.

Have you seen any particular industries that are inclined to mandate vaccinations?

We did a flash survey among clients and people who maintain regular contact with us. We got about 700 responses, and the agricultural and food production industry was at the top of the list among our respondents as to who was expecting to mandate the vaccination. But that was still only about 18 percent of the group.

How might this conversation be different in, say, July or August?

I think the legal issues are going to stay largely the same unless we get more guidance on incentives. From a practical point of view, by mid summer, we should see that a lot more people have been vaccinated. And we’re also going to have more data and more information to tell us more about side effects, and effectiveness of the vaccination. And we may know more about the extent to which being vaccinated prevents a person from transmitting the virus.

All of which will enable us then to improve our messaging to our employees, about why the vaccine makes sense and the risks, or lack of risks, associated with it compared to the benefits. And that’s going to give businesses a better idea of what’s feasible and what they’re going to do.

By: Robb Mandelbaum

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What An Ethical Data Strategy Can Look Like

That’s according to Angela Benton, the founder and CEO of Streamlytics, a company that collects first-party consumer data transparently and aims to disrupt the current model of third-party mining of data from cookies and other methods that raise privacy and ethics concerns. Most recently, she was named one of Fast Company‘s Most Creative People for helping consumers learn what major companies know about them and paying them for the data they create while using streaming services like Netflix or Spotify.

In the latest Inc. Real Talk streaming event, Benton explains that she founded the company with minorities in mind, particularly the Black and Latinx communities, because of the disproportionate way they’ve been affected by data and privacy. For example, she points to the recent controversy over facial recognition data being sold to the police, which has a much higher error rate when comparing data of Black and Asian male faces, which could potentially lead to wrongful arrests.

“That becomes extremely important when you think of what artificial intelligence is used for in our day-to-day world,” she says, noting that AI is used for everyday interactions like loan applications, car applications, mortgages, and credit cards. Using her company’s methods, Benton says, clients can secure ethically sourced data, so that algorithms won’t negatively affect communities that have historically suffered from discriminatory practices.

Here are a few suggestions from Benton for finding data ethically without relying on third-party cookies.

Do your own combination of data sets.

“How [Streamlytics] gets data is very old school,” Benton says. Instead of relying on tech to combine data points, she says, you can manually compare data you already own and make assumptions using your best judgment. You may have data from a Shopify website, for example, about the demographic of your customers, and then you can go to a specific advertiser, like Hulu, for instance, to then target people that fit that profile.

Use your data to discover new products.

You can also look to your data to find common searches or overlapping interests to get ideas for new products, Benton says. Often, she says, she receives data requests from small business owners to discover ideas that aren’t currently on the market, for example, a vegan searching for a vitamin.

This combination method surprised Benton when she presented clients with data. “I thought it was going to be more focused on just like, “How can I make more money?” she says. “But we are hearing from folks that they want access to data to use it in more creative ways.”

Don’t take social media data at face value.

Benton and her company purposely do not source social media data because she thinks the data leave too much out of the full picture. You may get a customer’s age and “likes” from a social media page, but that doesn’t tell you what they’re searching for or what their habits are.

Related:

Data Privacy: 4 Things Every Business Professional Should Know

5 Applications of Data Analytics in Health Care

Data Science Principles

“That’s not, to me, meaningful data. That’s not where the real value lies,” she says. “We’re not focused on what people are doing on social media, we’re focused on all of the activities outside of that.” She gave a scenario where a consumer is watching Amazon Prime, while also scrolling on Uber Eats to find dinner.

Data signals are happening at the same time, but they’re not unified. It’s up to businesses to connect the dots. To Benton, that’s more meaningful than what you’re posting and what you’re liking on social media.

Source: What an Ethical Data Strategy Can Look Like | Inc.com

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References:

“Datafication and empowerment: How the open data movement re-articulates notions of democracy, participation, and journalism”.

“Who Owns the Data? Open Data for Healthcare”.

“Note – The Right to Be Forgotten”.

“Big Data ethics”.

“Data workers of the world, unite”.

“Challenges and Opportunities of Big Data in Health Care: A Systematic Review”

Personal Data trading Application to the New Shape Prize of the Global Challenges Foundation

The Data Revolution: Big Data, Open Data, Data Infrastructures and Their Consequences

“Methodology – Global Open Data Index

The Open Knowledge Foundation

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