Opinion L.A.
Observations and provocations from The Times' Opinion Staff
Will private industry follow Obama's lead on credit-card security?

The Obama administration did its part to speed the switch to more secure credit cards Friday when the president signed an executive order requiring government agencies to start switching to the next generation of cards by January. How much effect this move will have on private industry, though, depends on whether the administration allows the new cards to be accepted by merchants that don't upgrade their security too.

Credit card fraud causes an estimated $5.5 billion in losses in the United States, thanks largely to antiquated cards that store their account and security information on a magnetic stripe. The rest of the developed world shifted long ago to cards with built-in microchips that change the security settings with every transaction. Unlike the version with a magnetic stripe, chip cards are extremely hard, if not impossible, to counterfeit.

Changing payment systems involves more than just issuing millions of new cards, however. Businesses across the country would have to...

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The public is still owed an accounting on John Deasy's iPad emails

Will the public eventually find out the truth regarding the question-raising emails between John Deasy and the two companies that won the contract to provide iPads to students in the Los Angeles Unified School District? The terms of the separation agreement and the blithe, happy-talk announcement from the board make that look less likely than ever. That would be a completely unacceptable outcome.

Up to this week, the situation was that the district’s independent inspector general was investigating the emails, which predate the bidding by a year and appear to indicate a close relationship between the departing superintendent and Apple and Pearson. There have been concerns that Deasy and his then-top deputy Jaime Aquino might have been at minimum guiding the two companies to produce the product the district would want, long before other bidders had a chance to devise their own proposals. Deasy has said that this was all about a very small pilot project involving a small number of...

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In attack on encryption, FBI director ignores those who need protection

The leaks of celebrity photos stored on iCloud or exchanged via Snapchat have focused the public's attention on how insecure their data are.

And yet FBI Director James Comey is trying to persuade us that we face the opposite risk: The personal data on our phones and computers may become too secure.

Talk about cognitive dissonance.

In a speech Thursday at the Brookings Institution in Washington, Comey warned that the automatic data encryption that Apple and Google are adding to their operating system "threatens to lead all of us to a very dark place."

Said Comey, "With Apple’s new operating system, the information stored on many iPhones and other Apple devices will be encrypted by default. Shortly after Apple’s announcement, Google announced plans to follow suit with its Android operating system. This means the companies themselves won’t be able to unlock phones, laptops and tablets to reveal photos, documents, e-mail, and recordings stored within."

Maybe so, but it also means that...

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It's time to silence 'gamergate,' end the misogyny in gaming culture

As threats of violence and sexual harassment aimed at women in the gaming community have escalated, so too has the mainstream attention -- and for good reason. Internet trolls have increasingly turned to online movements like "gamergate" as a tool to organize massive smear campaigns that target women or critics of sexist, racist and homophobic aspects of gaming culture.

This week feminist video game critic Anita Sarkeesian had to cancel a talk at Utah State University after the school received anonymous threats to enact “the deadliest school shooting in American history” if she spoke at the school. Threats like these are not unusual for Sarkeesian, but because Utah law prohibits campus security from excluding people from attending the event with their licensed weapons, she canceled. 

Sadly, Sarkeesian is not the only female public figure in the gaming world facing death threats. Game developers like Zoe Quinn and Brianna Wu have all recently reported receiving threats so targeted...

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Two former NFL wives recount their abuse, and league indifference

One of the recurring themes we read and hear from domestic violence victims is the sense of isolation, the fear of seeking help, the desperation that comes with feeling both defenseless and without options.

The Washington Post has an interesting piece based on interviews with two women who say they were beaten by their partners who were players in the National Football League, an article that one hopes will help keep the story, and the issue, alive in the national discourse. Typical of our society, the issue was initially spotlighted because it intersected with fame, and entertainment – the video of player Ray Rice punching his fiancée into unconsciousness.

But the issue has been around for years. USAToday maintains a database that lists about 90 domestic violence arrests since 2000. In about a third of the cases the charges were dropped, often because the spouse or girlfriend stopped cooperating with investigators. The number-crunchers at Five Eight blog determined that the rate of...

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We're in a drought. Why is it still hard to rip out your lawn in L.A.?

For months now California leaders have been telling people to conserve water, let their lawns go brown and switch to drought-tolerant yards. But Los Angeles rules have, in some cases, made it hard to be water wise.

Take, for example, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which offers one of the most generous lawn-removal incentives in the state — $3 per square foot of grass replaced by low-water landscape. But the utility requires proof that you're removing a healthy, green lawn in order to qualify for the rebate.

So all those responsible, drought-conscious Angelenos who let their lawns wither are out of luck. Or, they turn on the sprinklers again to green their grass in order to get the rebate to rip out their lawn. Or, they go on Photoshop and doctor their application photos to make it appear that their grass is still thriving. Either way, the rule doesn't make sense in the current environment.

Now the Los Angeles City Council and Mayor Eric Garcetti are wisely ...

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