Friday, February 26, 2010

The Secret Government Surveillance Document Microsoft Doesn't Want You To See

Now here's a heads-up on data privacy - a leak about a Microsoft 22-page document which outlines how they store all your private data in their online servers. The document also tells government agencies how they can get it. Of course, they don't want you to see it:

The document was unearthed by Cryptome, the site who previously unveiled similar papers by Facebook, Skype, and other online giants. When Microsoft learned about it, they sent their rabid law dogs to tear Cryptome apart, Digital Millennium Copyright Act in one hand, iron bar in the other. So far they have managed to coerce Cryptome's host company to take down the site the pages aren't taken down. Network Solutions complied with Microsoft's barking, passing along the message to Cryptome that, if they don't take down the "secret" material, they would take down the whole site.

In order to read an online copy of this document (via Scribd) visit this Gizmodo page at - 'The Secret Government Surveillance Document Microsoft Doesn't Want You To See'


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

'Internet addiction' linked to depression

The BBC reports on how there is a strong link between heavy internet use and depression, according to UK psychologists:

The study, reported in the journal Psychopathology, found 1.2% of people surveyed were "internet addicts", and many of these were depressed. 

The Leeds University team stressed they could not say one necessarily caused the other, and that most internet users did not suffer mental health problems.The conclusions were based on 1,319 responses to an on-line questionnaire.Recruitment was via links on social networking sites. People were asked how much they used the internet and for what purposes.They were also asked a series of questions to assess whether they suffered from depression.

The respondents were aged 16 to 51, with an average age of 21.

The authors found that a small number of users had developed a compulsive internet habit, replacing real life social interaction with online chat rooms and social networking sites.

Read more - ''Internet addiction' linked to depression'


Monday, February 22, 2010

Net-surveillance figures

More CNet news about Net surveillance figures, which all comes on the top of recent news about privacy and police powers; security and surveillance, etc.....

A forthcoming survey of computer crime investigators suggests that electronic surveillance is a bit more commonplace than most people might expect.
Even a relatively small group of 100 police working on online investigations reports submitting as many as 22,800 legal requests for information a year to Internet and e-mail providers, a category that includes both subpoenas and search warrants.

CNET has reviewed a presentation scheduled to be given at a federal task force meeting on Thursday, which says that the survey respondents said they submitted a total of anywhere from 2,868 to 22,800 requests for information a year. (See one excerpt and another.)

"Most Internet users do not realize how often the government is demanding personal information from companies, often without judicial oversight, and how often companies turn it over," says Nicole Ozer, technology director for the ACLU of Northern California. "Companies are refusing to disclose to the public how many demands they get. It appears that the government is demanding that Internet companies turn over so much personal information about users, so often, that companies can't keep up."
No law requires that the number of subpoenas and search warrants sent to Internet and e-mail providers be made public. Federal law does require the disclosure of certain types of wiretaps--in 2004, for instance, there were 1,442 nonterrorism-related wiretaps, and only 4 percent targeted computers and electronic devices.

Read more - 'Net-surveillance figures'


Friday, February 19, 2010

Google to enlist NSA to help it ward off cyberattacks

Moving on from what was said in a recent post about the 'cyber-attack' scenerio forcing a move into citizen privacy, here we have an alarming partnership between Google and the eaves-dropping scandalous NSA:

The world's largest Internet search company and the world's most powerful electronic surveillance organization are teaming up in the name of cybersecurity.
Under an agreement that is still being finalized, the National Security Agency would help Google analyze a major corporate espionage attack that the firm said originated in China and targeted its computer networks, according to cybersecurity experts familiar with the matter. The objective is to better defend Google -- and its users -- from future attack. 

Google and the NSA declined to comment on the partnership. But sources with knowledge of the arrangement, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the alliance is being designed to allow the two organizations to share critical information without violating Google's policies or laws that protect the privacy of Americans' online communications. The sources said the deal does not mean the NSA will be viewing users' searches or e-mail accounts or that Google will be sharing proprietary data. 

The partnership strikes at the core of one of the most sensitive issues for the government and private industry in the evolving world of cybersecurity: how to balance privacy and national security interests. On Tuesday, Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair called the Google attacks, which the company acknowledged in January, a "wake-up call." Cyberspace cannot be protected, he said, without a "collaborative effort that incorporates both the U.S. private sector and our international partners."

Read original post -'Google to enlist NSA to help it ward off cyberattacks'

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Decoding Britain's digital divide

The Independent has a story on how society is split between 'those who embrace technology and those who don't have the skills – or the money – to live in a wired world'. They write that

10 million adults in the UK have never used the internet, and four million of them are among the least advantaged members of society. Following last year's Digital Britain report, founder Martha Lane Fox, below left, was appointed the Government's digital inclusion champion, charged with connecting those who found themselves left behind by the digital revolution not by choice but by circumstance – be it age, unemployment or poverty. RaceOnline2012, the national initiative she heads, is tasked with getting four million of those digitally disadvantaged people online by the time of the London Olympics in 2012. Supplementary goals include giving all unemployed adults an email account and internet access, and ensuring that 60 per cent of over-65s get online. The many groups under the RaceOnline umbrella range from Digital Unite, a computer training organisation, to the BBC, which runs outreach programmes as well as its "media literacy" website for the information technologically-challenged.

Read more - 'Decoding Britain's digital divide'


Monday, February 15, 2010

Police want backdoor to Web users' private data

CNet News is reporting on an alarming trend on federal/police forces gaining access to Internet users' private data. No doubt the next staged 'cyber-attack' (probably by 'terrorist  organizations') will spur the next infiltration of our privacy:

But cybercrime investigators are frustrated by the speed of traditional methods of faxing, mailing, or e-mailing companies these documents. They're pushing for the creation of a national Web interface linking police computers with those of Internet and e-mail providers so requests can be sent and received electronically.
CNET has reviewed a survey scheduled to be released at a federal task force meeting on Thursday, which says that law enforcement agencies are virtually unanimous in calling for such an interface to be created. Eighty-nine percent of police surveyed, it says, want to be able to "exchange legal process requests and responses to legal process" through an encrypted, police-only "nationwide computer network."
The survey, according to two people with knowledge of the situation, is part of a broader push from law enforcement agencies to alter the ground rules of online investigations. Other components include renewed calls for laws requiring Internet companies to store data about their users for up to five years and increased pressure on companies to respond to police inquiries in hours instead of days.
But the most controversial element is probably the private Web interface, which raises novel security and privacy concerns, especially in the wake of a recent inspector general's report (PDF) from the Justice Department. The 289-page report detailed how the FBI obtained Americans' telephone records by citing nonexistent emergencies and simply asking for the data or writing phone numbers on a sticky note rather than following procedures required by law.

Read original article - 'Police want backdoor to Web users' private data'


Friday, February 12, 2010

Can Cell Phones Help Fight Alzheimer's?

Well here's a new one - a rather positive spin on the potential effects of mobile (cell) phone use...mmm.. of course, the jury is still out:

Cell phone exposure may be helpful in the fight against Alzheimer's disease, a new study shows.
The study, involving mice, provides evidence that long-term exposure to electromagnetic waves associated with cell phone use may protect against, and even reverse, Alzheimer's disease. The study is published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

"It surprised us to find that cell phone exposure, begun in early adulthood, protects the memory of mice otherwise destined to develop Alzheimer's symptoms," study researcher Gary Arendash, PhD, of the University of South Florida, says in a news release. "It was even more astonishing that the electromagnetic waves generated by cell phones actually reversed memory impairment in old Alzheimer's mice." The researchers say they found that exposing old mice with Alzheimer's disease to electromagnetic waves generated by cell phones reduced brain deposits of beta-amyloid. Brain plaques formed by the abnormal accumulation of beta-amyloid are hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease, which is why most treatments try to target the protein.

Read more - 'Can Cell Phones Help Fight Alzheimer's?'


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

10 Technologies that Will Rock 2010

More on 2010 predictions for the world of technology...and no real surprises in this list (see original site). There are references to the much-anticipated Tablet (see below) as well as some Google products and applications:

The Tablet: It’s the most anticipated product of the year. The mythical tablet computer (which everyone seems to be working on). There are beautiful Android tablets, concept tablets, and, of course, the one tablet which could define the category, the Apple (AAPL) Tablet. Or iSlate or whatever it’s called. If Steve Jobs is not working on a tablet, he’d better come up with one because anything else will be a huge disappointment. Why do we need yet another computer in between a laptop and an iPhone? We won’t really know until we have it. But the answer lies in the fact that increasingly the Web is all you need. As all of our apps and data and social lives move to the Web, the Tablet is the incarnation of the Web in device form, stripped down to its essentials. It will also be a superior e-reader for digital books, newspapers, and magazines, and a portable Web TV.

Read more - '10 Technologies that Will Rock 2010'


Monday, February 08, 2010

7 Tipping Points That Could Transform Earth

Wired has a posted a tour of the Earth's potential tipping points...a few brief notes below, and more on their site:

But when the IPCC meets in 2014, tipping points — or tipping elements, in academic vernacular — will get much more attention. Scientists still disagree about which planetary systems are extra-sensitive to climate shifts, but the possibility can’t be ignored.“The problem with tipping elements is that if any of them tips, it will be a real catastrophe. None of them are small,” said Anders Levermann, a climate physicist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.

Levermann’s article on potential disruptions of South Asia’s monsoon cycles was featured in a series of tipping element research reviews, published December 8 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Also discussed were ocean circulation, polar icecaps, Amazon rainforests, seafloor methane deposits and a west African dustbowl. Each is stressed by rising planetary temperatures. Some are less likely than others to tip; some might not be able to tip at all. Ambiguities, probabilities a limited grasp of Earth’s complex systems are inherent to the science. But if any tip, it will be an epic disaster.

Read original article - '7 Tipping Points That Could Transform Earth'


Friday, February 05, 2010

Food Mobilities Split?

Here's some news on the growing 'mobility of food' debate on how there is a schism between the increase in localized farmer's markets and local-sourced food; and the rigid dominance of corporate food giants:

As 2009 closes out, the dominant issues in the world of food could be lumped into two competing paradigms that have framed much of the decade. In one corner we have Big Food: factory farms, fast food restaurants, mystery meat, biotechnology and other examples of when the economics of scale are applied to how we feed ourselves. In the other corner is Small Food, whose players include farmers' markets, ecology-based agriculture and seasonal diets of minimally processed food. In a victory for small food, 2009 will perhaps be remembered as the year gardening returned to mainstream consciousness..

...In addition to kitchen gardens, another beneficiary of the recession is a 93-year-old great-grandmother named Clara Cannucciari, whose YouTube videos combine salty commentary about life in the Great Depression with hands-on demonstrations on how to crank out simple delicacies that average 50 cents a serving...

...It's impossible to discuss the year in food without an update on the activities of biotech giant Monsanto, whose year can be summed up in a single word: "chutzpah." In April, the company sued the sovereign nation of Germany when its agriculture minister banned the planting of a type of Monsanto corn engineered to thwart the advances of the corn-borer moth.

Read more at - 'Growing Local Takes Off, As Giant Agribiz Becomes More Dominant'


Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The sinister powers of crowdsourcing

Here's a post From NewScientist that looks at some of the 'darker' sides to crowdsourcing... a taste of how this phenomenon will be appropriated?

So far crowdsourcing has been associated with well-meaning altruism, such as the creation and maintenance of Wikipedia or searching for lost aviators. But crowdsourcing of a different flavour has started to emerge.
Law enforcement officials in Texas have installed a network of CCTV cameras to monitor key areas along that state's 1900-kilometre-long border with Mexico. To help screen the footage, a website lets anyone log in to watch a live feed from a border camera and report suspicious activity. A similar system called Internet Eyes, which pays online viewers to spot shoplifters from in-store camera feeds, is set to launch in the UK in 2010. An Iranian website is offering rewards for identifying people in photos taken during protests over June's elections.

Crowd chilling

Some people have declared those examples chilling. Now Jonathan Zittrain, a Harvard University law professor and co-founder of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, says the next step may be for such efforts to get web users to help out covertly.

Read more - 'The sinister powers of crowdsourcing'


Monday, February 01, 2010

More Publications Moving To Digital Only

Here's some recent news following the (inevitable) trend of print publications gradually moving over to digital-only format:

The Online Information show at Olympia earlier this month coincided with a decision by the Guardian newspaper to cease print publication of the Technology supplement. From next year this will be available online only. So far there has been very little comment about this except for some extracts from Twitter and blogs that the Technology Guardian has republished in print. However the event could be seen as marking a new confidence for online publishing.

Academic journals have been moving towards a digital default for several years. Highwire Press, based at Stanford University Libraries, have started to promote e-books as well. They offer a hosting service for many university presses and journals. Oxford University Press (OUP) have added some handbooks alongside journals. OUP is also about to launch a series of online bibliographies with Web links selected by experts.

At a seminar presentation, Kristen Fisher Ratan explained (see YouTube video) that while it is important to make journals easy to discover, it is also important to make e-books more visible. They need to be seen within the workflow of students and professionals needing knowledge.

Read 'online'! at - 'More Publications Moving To Digital Only'