Bypassing encryption: ‘Lawful hacking’ is the next frontier of law enforcement technology

Source: Ben Buchanan, The Conversation, March 16, 2017

The discussion about how law enforcement or government intelligence agencies might rapidly decode information someone else wants to keep secret is – or should be – shifting. One commonly proposed approach, introducing what is called a “backdoor” to the encryption algorithm itself, is now widely recognized as too risky to be worth pursuing any further.

The scholarly and research community, the technology industry and Congress appear to be in agreement that weakening the encryption that in part enables information security – even if done in the name of public safety or national security – is a bad idea. Backdoors could be catastrophic, jeopardizing the security of billions of devices and critical communications.

What comes next? Surely police and spy agencies will still want, or even need, information stored by criminals in encrypted forms. Without a backdoor, how might they get access to data that may help them solve – or even prevent – a crime?

The future of law enforcement and intelligence gathering efforts involving digital information is an emerging field that I and others who are exploring it sometimes call “lawful hacking.” Rather than employing a skeleton key that grants immediate access to encrypted information, government agents will have to find other technical ways – often involving malicious code – and other legal frameworks…..

Read President Trump’s Budget Blueprint

Source: Dana Farrington, NPR, March 16, 2017

President Trump has released a budget blueprint outlining increased military spending and cuts across other agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the State Department. Congress will still have to draft a formal budget, but the plan released Thursday by the White House indicates the president’s priorities. Read the full document below. Read more about the specific proposals and their implications here.

Facebook’s new ‘Town Hall’ feature helps you find and contact your government reps

Source: Sarah Perez, TechCrunch, March 14, 2017

In Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s nearly 6,000-word manifesto published last month, he laid out a number of global ambitions he had for the social network in the days ahead — including one where its users became more “civically-engaged” and voted more often. Now it seems Facebook has taken its first steps toward making that possible, through a new feature it’s calling “Town Hall.”

This latest addition has just popped up on the “More” menu in Facebook’s mobile app, and offers a simple way for users to find and connect with their government representatives on a local, state and federal level…..

2017 National Study of Employers

Source:Kenneth Matos, Ellen Galinsky and James T. Bond, Families and Work Institute (FWI) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 2017

The National Study of Employers is a comprehensive look at employer practices, policies, programs and benefits that address personal and family needs of employees. The survey of more than 900 U.S. employers with 50 or more employees was conducted by the Families and Work Institute and is released by SHRM as part of the When Work Works initiative.

The study provides insight into how employers are responding to the changing demographics of the workforce over time and examines flexible work arrangements, paid and unpaid parental and other caregiver leave, and elder care assistance, among other practices. This is the sixth published study since the project was launched in 1998.

Key findings include:
• Small employers (50-99 employees) were more likely than large employers (1,000 or more employees) to offer all or most employees 1) traditional flextime, the ability to periodically change start and stop times (36% vs. 17%), 2) control over when to take breaks (63% vs. 47%) and time off during the work day to attend to important family or personal needs without loss of pay (51% vs. 33%).
• Growth of workplace flexibility has been stable over the past four years. Out of 18 forms of flexibility studied, there were only four changes:
• An increase in employers that offer telework, allowing employees to work at least some of their paid hours at home on a regular basis (40% in 2016 vs. 33% in 2012).
• An increase in employers that allow employees to return to work gradually after childbirth or adoption (81% in 2016 vs. 73% in 2012).
• An increase in organizations that allow employees to receive special consideration after a career break for personal/family responsibilities (28% in 2016 vs. 21% in 2012).
• A decrease in organizations that allow employees to take time off during the workday to attend to important family or personal needs without loss of pay (81% in 2016 vs. 87% in 2012).
Related:
Summary

235,000 Job Growth in February Is Good News for the Economy, But State and Local Government Job Growth Remains Weak

Source: Lucy Dadayan, Donald J. Boyd, Rockefeller Institute of Government, By The Numbers, March 2017

• Nationally, state and local government employment is 1.5 percent below its prior peak, while private sector employment is 6.4 percent above its prior peak.
• State government employment nationally is 2.5 percent below its peak level and local government employment is 1.3 percent below its peak level.
• State government non-education employment, for services such as corrections, hospitals and other health care, public welfare, and highways, has fared the worst among the government subsectors —- currently, 5.5 percent below its peak even though the population has grown 6.9 percent over the same period.
• Local government education and non-education employment are 2.0 percent and 0.8 percent below their respective prior peaks, while elementary and secondary enrollment has risen by more than 2.0 percent during the same period.
• The only subsector that has grown is state government education employment for universities, colleges, and similar services; here employment is up 1.2 percent above the prior peak, but still far weaker than in previous economic recoveries.
• Although state and local government employment did not decline as much during the Great Recession as private sector employment, it has been recovering far more slowly and has regained the jobs lost to the Great Recession.

Baby boomers in the United States: Factors associated with working longer and delaying retirement

Source: Xiuwen Sue Dong, Xuanwen Wang, Knut Ringen and Rosemary Sokas, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Volume 60, Issue 4, April 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Objectives: This study estimated the self-reported probability of working full-time past age 62 (P62) or age 65 (P65) among four cohorts of Americans born between 1931 and 1959.

Methods: Data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) were analyzed. Respondents in four age cohorts were selected for comparison. Multivariable linear regression models were used to assess cohort differences in P62 and P65 while adjusting for covariates.

Results: P62 and P65 increased among boomers despite worsened self-rated health compared to the two preceding cohorts, with 37% and 80% increases among mid-boomers in construction trades. Cohort differences in P62 and P65 remained after controlling for covariates. Changes in pensions, income inequity, and education were significantly associated with work expectations, but SSA policy was not.

Conclusions: Baby boomers expect to work longer than their predecessors. Efforts to improve work quality and availability for older workers are urgently needed, particularly in physically demanding occupations.