Ced Kurtz’s TechMan Texts: Of Disney drones and cop cameras

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Drones over battlefields. Drones over rescue sites. Drones over Disney World?

Disney has filed for three patents to use drones in its theme parks, according to the Orlando Sentinel. The first two deal with drones that position a projection screen above the parks at night. A cheaper way to do fireworks, maybe?

The third is a little more freaky. It involves multiple drones attached to balloons or superlarge puppets to make them move as the drones control the movements of the characters’ limbs. A Goofy idea?

Cops bearing cameras: The Democratic senator from Missouri, Claire McCaskill, says police departments should require officers to wear body cameras in order to qualify for federal funding.

In the wake of the Ferguson, Mo., shooting death of Michael Brown, Ms. McCaskill said, “Everywhere I go, people now have cameras. And police officers are now at a disadvantage because someone can tape the last part of an encounter and not tape the first part of the encounter. And it gives the impression that the police officer has overreacted when they haven’t.”

It’s your data: No matter how many times Congress has tried to pass bills legislating the Internet, the legislation gets shouted down by opponents. The newest attempt is CISA, which is scheduled to be marked up in committee after the congressional recess.

According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group supporting privacy, CISA rehashes two similar bills: the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2012 and CISPA of 2013. Both bills were soundly defeated after major outcries on the Internet.

“The bill would create a massive loophole in our existing privacy laws,” the American Civil Liberties Union says on its website, “by allowing the government to ask companies for ’voluntary’ cooperation in sharing information, including the content of our communications, for cybersecurity purposes. But the definition they are using for the so-called ‘cybersecurity information’ is so broad it could sweep up huge amounts of innocent Americans' personal data.”

As a citizen, you should find out about CISA and form your own opinion. It is your personal data at stake.

Reading list: My favorite cyberpunk author, William Gibson, has a new book coming out and it is reportedly a return to science fiction. “The Peripheral” will be released Nov. 27. If you’ve never read Mr. Gibson’s masterpiece of dark technology, “Neuromancer,” TechMan highly recommends it.

Consumer alert: Accessory Outlet is an online retailer that says in its terms of sale that it will charge a $250 fine for customers who even make the threat of publicly complaining about a bad purchase or requesting a chargeback from their credit card company.

Now Consumerist.com, an online subsidiary of Consumer Reports, has found that Accessory Outlet is faking the endorsements it claims from the Better Business Bureau, Angie’s List, Trusted Shops and buysafe. While the site advertises an A+ rating from the BBB, it actually has an F rating and has been told to cease the unauthorized use of the BBB name and logo.


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