Archive for July 25, 2019

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Equifax Breach Settlement

Equifax Data Breach Settlement (via Hacker News):

In September of 2017, Equifax announced it experienced a data breach, which impacted the personal information of approximately 147 million people. A federal court is considering a proposed class action settlement submitted on July 22, 2019, that, if approved by the Court, would resolve lawsuits brought by consumers after the data breach. Equifax denies any wrongdoing, and no judgment or finding of wrongdoing has been made.

If you are a class member, you can use this website to claim the benefits described below.


Update (2019-07-26): Josh Centers:

Most coverage has focused on the $125 amount, but as the FTC page clearly says and Jessamyn West emphasized on Twitter, you can claim up to 10 hours of compensation for dealing with the breach, at $25 per hour, without submitting any additional documentation, for a total payment of $375. You just have to describe what you did and the approximate dates you took those actions.


If you choose a cash payment instead of credit monitoring, you’ll be asked to affirm that you already have credit monitoring. Credit Karma already offers this service for free, so you should take the cash.

Update (2019-08-01): FTC:

But there’s a downside to this unexpected number of claims. First, though, the good: all 147 million people can ask for and get free credit monitoring. There’s also the option for people who certify that they already have credit monitoring to claim up to $125 instead. But the pot of money that pays for that part of the settlement is $31 million. A large number of claims for cash instead of credit monitoring means only one thing: each person who takes the money option will wind up only getting a small amount of money. Nowhere near the $125 they could have gotten if there hadn’t been such an enormous number of claims filed.

So, if you haven’t submitted your claim yet, think about opting for the free credit monitoring instead. Frankly, the free credit monitoring is worth a lot more – the market value would be hundreds of dollars a year. And this monitoring service is probably stronger and more helpful than any you may have already, because it monitors your credit report at all three nationwide credit reporting agencies, and it comes with up to $1 million in identity theft insurance and individualized identity restoration services.

For those who have already submitted claims for this cash payment, look for an email from the settlement administrator. They’ll be asking you for the name of the credit monitoring service you already have. Or, if you want to change your mind, you’ll have a chance to switch to the free credit monitoring. You can also email the settlement administrator, JND, at

Josh Centers:

Everyone in the country has access to free credit monitoring already. It’s an absolutely worthless settlement.

For example, you can get it from Credit Karma.

Josh Centers:

I’d forgotten that Equifax had purchased a credit monitoring firm before disclosing the breach, so you’re right, it really is a damn scam.

Jo Wright:

I love that it takes the stance that it’s ALL OUR FAULT for having the cheek to apply for a settlement we were collectively awarded. How dare we? We ruined it for ourselves!

Update (2019-08-06): Adam Engst:

In the law, there is a difference between a fine and restitution. Fines go to the government prosecuting the crime, whereas restitution goes to the victims of the crime. Since we’re talking about a settlement in which Equifax gets to deny all wrongdoing, there’s apparently no crime in play. Regardless, the settlement includes both. The fines include $175 million to the states and $100 million to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the restitution is the $425 million directed to repay consumers.


The final sour aspect of this situation is the fact that most people never asked to do business with Equifax. We’ve all become concerned about the spread of our personal information and how it can be used against us, but collecting and sharing data about us is Equifax’s core business (as it is for competitors Experian and TransUnion too).

At least the likes of Google and Facebook provide us with services we choose to use in exchange for our data. In comparison, the credit reporting agencies sell our data to other companies with whom we want to do business. They couldn’t care less about us because we’re just raw materials to them.

Update (2019-08-13): Nick Heer:

This settlement does nothing to dissuade state actors from continuing to pilfer sensitive data, nor does it encourage care for those who stockpile information like this. Of course, the FTC has limited scope and powers. It could not accomplish the former, but it certainly could attempt the latter.

Instead, the Commission agreed to a weak deal that barely impacts Equifax’s financial status and does little to encourage better behaviour in data-hoarding industries. Even if this were a financially-motivated crime, this settlement does not protect those affected. But this breach was so much more, and this settlement doesn’t begin to address the far more serious and more likely rationale.

Update (2020-01-02): Megan Leonhardt (via Hacker News):

On Thursday, Dec. 19, a Georgia federal judge awarded $77.5 million to the attorneys representing the class of consumers against Equifax. That’s over 20% of the roughly $380 million settlement fund Equifax agreed to set up to directly help consumers affected by the breach[…]


It’s also one more reason why the consumers who sought a cash settlement from Equifax won’t be getting the full $125 as initially expected. In fact, consumers were never going to get $125, says Ted Frank, director of litigation for Hamilton Lincoln. “That’s down to $6 or $7 [per consumer] now.

The Man Who Built The Retweet

Alex Kantrowitz (Hacker News):

After the retweet button debuted, Wetherell was struck by how effectively it spread information. “It did a lot of what it was designed to do,” he said. “It had a force multiplier that other things didn’t have.”

“We would talk about earthquakes,” Wetherell said. “We talked about these first response situations that were always a positive and showed where humanity was in its best light.”

But the button also changed Twitter in a way Wetherell and his colleagues didn’t anticipate. Copying and pasting made people look at what they shared, and think about it, at least for a moment. When the retweet button debuted, that friction diminished. Impulse superseded the at-least-minimal degree of thoughtfulness once baked into sharing. Before the retweet, Twitter was largely a convivial place. After, all hell broke loose — and spread.


A platform could revoke or suspend the retweet ability from audiences that regularly amplify awful posts, said Wetherell. “Curation of individuals is way too hard, as YouTube could attest,” Wetherell said. “But curation of audiences is a lot easier.”


MIT’s Rand suggested another idea: preventing people from retweeting an article if they haven’t clicked on the link. “That could make people slow down,” he said. “But even more than that, it could make people realize the problematic nature of sharing content without having actually read it.”

Update (2019-08-01): Om Malik:

My takeaway from the Buzzfeed piece — and maybe I am missing something — was that optimism blinded the Twitter team. They were swept away by their desire to grow and keep the engagement up.

This is easy to do in the technology ecosystem, because there is a faint regard for history of any kind, be it cultural and technological. This bias is not necessarily incorrect — it is impossible to invent the future if you aren’t predisposed towards doing so. It takes an insane amount of optimism and self-confidence to think you have an idea about what the future should look like. But it takes more than that to be the one who actually made it happen.

WYSIWYG and Dark Mode

Howard Oakley:

Those of us who work fairly constantly in Dark Mode have come to understand that white is black and the reverse when working with text, but we continue to rely on colour. Any image editor which inverted its colours or their lightness values just because you switched from one Mode to the other would be laughed out of court. Yet that’s pretty well what Apple’s standard rich text editor does, and without your even having to change Mode.


A little experimentation demonstrates that, rather than TextEdit using the colour you selected, it chose the light lilac instead, but just to fool you, when a dark background is enabled, it changed the display colour to what you thought you were using.

Huge Gradients

Ryan Govostes: takes 360 MB to store a cache of background gradient images in various colors.

I guess that’s why there won’t be room for scripting languages. But, seriously, I wonder why they can’t be generated on-the-fly.

Update (2019-08-01): Collin Allen:

Underwhelmed with new Home app backgrounds in iOS 13. Apple should add images of textures one might actually find in a home — some tan wall texture, paved concrete, white subway tile, granite, green grass, or stained wood, etc. These would be more representative of real spaces.