Now here’s a rewards program Julian Assange could love. United Airlines has confirmed that it paid 1 million frequent flier miles each to two hackers who found serious flaws and security breaches in its computer systems.
This past May, United started a “bug bounty” program to find loopholes in its security, but it’s hardly the first corporate entity to do so. Google, Facebook and Yahoo all offer rewards or incentives to hackers who report bugs to them privately. Netscape engineer Jarrett Ridlinghafer is largely credited with coming up with the concept of rewarding good, or “white hat,” hackers for trouble-shooting in 1995.
Jordan Wiens, founder of cybersecurity company Vector 35, was one of two winners to claim a million airline miles for his prize. He posted a screenshot of his mileage account on Twitter. (He submitted the bug on May 15, got a response on May 19, a validation notice on June 24 and then the payout on July 10.) A second bug he reported won a lesser prize of 250,000 miles. Kyle Lovett from Montgomery, Calif., was the other million-mile winner. Lovett Tweeted that he will use some of the miles to fly out his mother and brother to California.
No doubt the airline saved a ton of money in preventing computer issues. In recent months United has had to ground it flights twice as a result of computer system glitches. On June 2, an automation issue affected 150 flights, or 8 percent of its morning schedule. On July 8, a network connectivity issue due to a router malfunction locked up its reservations system and grounded thousands of flights worldwide.
Looks like the airline has more miles to dole out, too: Twitter was full of happy pronouncement from hackers claiming smaller prizes and begging Delta to do the same.
Ahead of a House Ways and Means Committee hearing scheduled for Wednesday, the Joint Committee on Taxation prepared an analysis of the distributional effects of the 2017 Republican tax bill. The New York Times’ Jim Tankersley highlighted the fact that according to the JCT analysis, about 75 percent of the individual and business benefits of the tax cuts will go to filers earning more than $100,000 in 2019. And nearly half of the benefits will flow to filers earning over $200,000.
President Trump’s 2020 budget includes up to $1.2 trillion in “potentially phantom revenues” — money that comes from taxes the administration opposes or from tax hikes that face strong opposition from businesses, The Wall Street Journal’s Richard Rubin reports, citing data from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. That total, covering 2020 through 2029, includes as much as $390 billion in taxes created under the Affordable Care Act, which the president wants to repeal.
The $1.2 trillion in questionable revenue projections is in addition to the White House budget’s projected deficits of $7.3 trillion for the 10-year period. That total is itself questionable, given that the president’s budget relies on optimistic assumptions about economic growth and some unrealistic spending cuts, meaning that the deficits could be significantly higher than projected.
Ben Ritz of the Progressive Policy Institute slams President Trump’s new budget:
“It would dismantle public investments that lay the foundation for economic growth, resulting in less innovation. It would shred the social safety net, resulting in more poverty. It would rip away access to affordable health care, resulting in more disease. It would cut taxes for the rich, resulting in more income inequality. It would bloat the defense budget, resulting in more wasteful spending. And all this would add up to a higher national debt than the policies in President Obama’s final budget proposal.”
Here’s Ritz’s breakdown of Trump’s proposed spending cuts to public investment in areas such as infrastructure, education and scientific research:
Since roughly the end of World War Two, individual income taxes in the U.S. have equaled about 8 percent of GDP. By contrast, the Tax Policy Center says, “corporate income tax revenues declined from 6% of GDP in 1950s to under 2% in the 1980s through the Great Recession, and have averaged 1.4% of GDP since then.”