Tag Archives: infogov

4 sections, 4 stories

A blurb from each of the four sections of today’s Wall Street Journal.

“Website Alleged to Extort Millions from Companies,” Wall Street Journal, September 12, 2014 A9. This is a follow-up story on the 21st Century Herald website, which allegedly required companies doing IPOs to buy expensive advertising on the site or face bad news articles. Gosh, newspapers can do that?  Maybe just in China.  What’s information worth?

“Yahoo Faced Big U.S. Fines,” Wall Street Journal, September 12, 2014 B1.  Next in the extortion parade, the US government wanted to fine Yahoo $250,00 a day for its refusal to turn over customer data in response to a secret proceeding, pre-Edward Snowden.  Portions of the record is still sealed.  Balancing constitutionally protected privacy rights versus national security – I guess my copy of the Constitution is missing that provision.  Yahoo for Yahoo for not caving in.

“Top Trader Linked to Probe Gets New Job,” Wall Street Journal, September 12, 2014 C2. What does it say about the culture of his new employer when a trader fired in wake of the alleged shenanigans in the global currency markets is hired?  His new employer did a lot of due diligence and talked with the investigators several times, and the employee hasn’t been convicted of anything yet. But what’s the impact on the other employees, and how limited is his new role?  Would you want to be his manager?

I can normally use sports to make an information point.  And how can one let the Ray Rice incident go unnoticed? “A New Twist in the NFL’s Ray Rice Probe,” Wall Street Journal, September 12, 2014 D9. [Who writes their headlines? Was this on purpose?] Following on the Watergate theme, what did you know and when did you know it?  Did the NFL big shots see the full video before deciding on a two-game suspension? If so, end of story for them.  If not, why not?  What do your senior executives not see before they decide something? Did they make reasonable inquiries?  Did some low-level employee receive the full copy and decide not to share it with the top brass?  Why? How many papers will these stories sell?

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Return to the well

I’ve blogged before about the leaks of information in Washington that led to profit-taking on Wall Street.  The story continues.

“Hedge Funds Scrutinized in Washington Insider Probe,” Wall Street Journal, September 11, 2014 A1  Did someone in the government leak information to a research firm that in turn emailed several of its big clients, who then traded on the information? Did anyone know/care that they were trading on possibly illegally obtained information?  I mean before the SEC got involved?  Did they check?  Can they proved they checked?

Information has value, even if that information was not obtained legitimately.  Are you willing to put your firm’s reputation and your personal liberty at risk?  What’s the culture at the firms who traded on this information?  Or was this all legitimate?  How well do you document your sources of information?

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King Canute

If you’re in the information search business, as Google is, your ability to search and report back on what you find is core.  So how do you navigate jurisdictions that want to selectively limit access to certain information on the web?  This even before control of ICANN gets controlled by a UN committee, to say nothing about net neutrality.

“Google Officials Debate Web Privacy in Europe,” Wall Street Journal, September 10, 2014 B4. Following the court decision applying the “right to be forgotten” to truthful information on the web, Google is in something of a bind.  So how to influence people while implementing the ruling, which apparently requires Google to take down search results that present accurate information about people, information that is stored outside of Google?  Not the information itself, mind you; just the search results.

What does that do to the value of a search of information known to be inaccurate and incomplete? If information is on the web but no one can find it, does the information still exist?

Would your risk assessment have identified the risk of future legal rulings that make your business model illegal?   Who owns information on the web?  Who controls what gets stored there and who can see what?  Why not go after the places where the information is stored?  Is Google just too big or too American? Maybe all the information will end up sitting on servers in the US (or elsewhere) and European regulators will be forced to paly Whack-a-Mole in tracking down workarounds that allow people in Europe to search information stored elsewhere.

The mind boggles.  I picture King Canute ordering the tides to recede.  He was an early European regulator, come to think of it.

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