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Author Topic: Internet and related technology  (Read 144374 times)
Power User
Posts: 42552

« Reply #50 on: March 07, 2009, 05:43:12 AM »

I thought so  rolleyes cheesy
Power User
Posts: 42552

« Reply #51 on: March 09, 2009, 01:10:56 PM »

One of my favorite strips, on twitter:
« Reply #52 on: March 28, 2009, 09:35:45 AM »

The big idea
Book End
How the Kindle will change the world.
By Jacob Weisberg
Posted Saturday, March 21, 2009, at 9:27

I'm doing my best not to become a Kindle bore. When I catch myself evangelizing to someone who couldn't care less about the marvels of the 2.0 version of Amazon's reading machine—I can take a whole library on vacation! Adjust the type size! Peruse the morning paper without getting out of bed!—I pause and remember my boyhood friend Scott H., who loved showing off the capabilities of his state of-the-art stereo but had only four records because he wasn't really that into music.

So apologies in advance if I'm irksomely enthusiastic about my cool new literature delivery system. Like the early PCs, the Kindle 2 is a primitive tool. Like the Rocket e-book of 1999 (524 titles available!), it will surely draw chuckles a decade hence for its black-and-white display, its lack of built-in lighting, and the robotic intonation of the text-to-voice feature. But however the technology and marketplace evolve, Jeff Bezos has built a machine that marks a cultural revolution. The Kindle 2 signals that after a happy, 550-year union, reading and printing are getting separated. It tells us that printed books, the most important artifacts of human civilization, are going to join newspapers and magazines on the road to obsolescence.

Though the PC and the Internet taught us all to read on screens, they have not actually improved the experience of reading. I remember Bill Gates, in Slate's Microsoft years, mentioning in an interview that he read our webzine printed out—a tribute that underscored an inherent flaw. For all their advantages in creating and distributing texts, screens have compromised, rather than enhanced, the feeling of being transported into a writer's imaginative universe. You can't curl up with a laptop. Until now, Gutenberg's invention had yet to be surpassed as the best available technology for reading at length or for pleasure.

The Kindle is not better than a printed book in all situations. You wouldn't want to read an art book, or a picture book to your children on one, or take one into the tub (please). But for the past few weeks, I've done most of my recreational reading on the Kindle—David Grann's adventure yarn The Lost City of Z, Marilynne Robinson's novel Home, Slate, The New Yorker, the Atlantic, the Washington Post, and the New York Times—and can honestly say I prefer it to inked paper. It provides a fundamentally better experience—and will surely produce a radically better one with coming iterations.

The notion that physical books are ending their lifecycle is upsetting to people who hold them to be synonymous with literature and terrifying to those who make their living within the existing structures of publishing. As an editor and a lover of books, I sympathize. But why should a civilization that reads electronically be any less literate than one that harvests trees to do so? And why should a transition away from the printed page lessen our appreciation and love for printed books? Hardbacks these days are disposable vessels, printed on ever crappier paper with bindings that skew and crack. In a world where we do most of our serious reading on screens, books may again thrive as expressions of craft and design. Their decline as useful objects may allow them to flourish as design objects.

As to the fate of book publishers, there's less reason to be optimistic. Amazon, which is selling most new books at a loss to get everyone hooked on the Kindle, will eventually want to make money on them. The publishers will be squeezed at best and disintermediated at worst. Amazon is already publishing Stephen King. In the future, it could become the only publisher a best-selling author needs. In a world without the high fixed costs of printing and distribution, as the distance between writers and their audiences shrinks, what essential service will Random House and Simon & Schuster provide? If the answer is primarily cultural arbitration and editing, the publishing behemoths might dwindle while a much lighter weight model of publishing—clever kids working from coffee shops in Brooklyn—emerges.

What we should worry about is that the system supports the creation of literature, if grudgingly. There's a risk that what replaces it won't allow as many writers to make as good a living. But there's also a chance it could allow more writers to make a better living. For newspaper journalism, the future looks bleak at the moment. As the economic model for daily reporting collapses, we're losing the support structure for large-scale newsgathering. At the same time, the Internet has radically expanded the potential audience of every journalist while bringing a new freedom to experiment and innovate. When it comes to literature, I'm optimistic that electronic reading will bring more good than harm. New modes of communication will spur new forms while breathing life into old ones. Reading without paper might make literature more urgent and accessible than it was before the technological revolution, just like Gutenberg did.

A version of this article appears in this week's issue of Newsweek.
Jacob Weisberg is chairman and editor-in-chief of the Slate Group and author of The Bush Tragedy.
Article URL:

( I am occasionally at dinner parties where I am a good 30 plus years younger  than  almost all of the rest of the people.  I end up being the point person for the  you kids and you technology are ruining the word comments . We took out the tower records. We are killing the print  newspapers.  It is true but I like digital music and digital newspapers so much better. However,  if we end taking out book stores and even publishers I am going to feel really bad.  I love my Kindle though.  I actually try not to talk to much about it because it never pays to be a first adapter and  it will be better and cheaper soon. I actually have the Kindle one not two.   I  was once in a  doctor's office  and  didn't  like  what I was reading and bought a new book.  It was sort of amazing when I thought about if afterwords.   Most Classics are free or extremely reasonable.  I have been reading  a lot  more non-fiction since I bought it.  I am not going to carry around an actually  800 page non-fiction book  plus  dictionary.   For fiction I still like actual books  better because they are more more physical pleasing  and you do have some eye strain with the kindle.   However I was reading  an 800 page hardcover fiction book{ Breaking Dawn don't be impressed} and I kept getting uncomfortable because the weight distribution kept changing. It is easy to get spoiled.)

edited to add a titel
« Last Edit: March 29, 2009, 10:30:57 AM by Rachel » Logged
Dog Robertlk808
Power User
Posts: 544

« Reply #53 on: March 29, 2009, 07:16:16 AM »

A cyber spy network operated from China hacked into classified documents on government and private computers in 103 countries, internet researchers have revealed.

The spy system, which investigators dubbed GhostNet, compromised 1,295 machines at Nato and in foreign affairs ministries, embassies, banks and news organisations across the world, as well as computers used by the Dalai Lama and Tibetan exiles.

The work of Information Warfare Monitor (IWM) investigators focused initially on allegations of Chinese cyber espionage against the Tibetan exile community but led to a much wider network of compromised machines.
Related Links

    * Spy chiefs fear Chinese cyber attack

    * Councils rapped as spy requests surge

    * Big Brother only wants to help you

IWM said that, while its analysis pointed to China as the main source of the network, it had not been able conclusively to identify the hackers. The IWM is composed of researchers from an Ottawa-based think tank, SecDev Group, and the University of Toronto's Munk Centre for International Studies.

The researchers found that more than 1,295 computers had been affected at the ministries of foreign affairs of Iran, Bangladesh, Latvia, Indonesia, Philippines, Brunei, Barbados and Bhutan. They also discovered hacked systems in the embassies of India, South Korea, Indonesia, Romania, Cyprus, Malta, Thailand, Taiwan, Portugal, Germany and Pakistan.

The remote spying operation is thought to be the most extensive yet uncovered in the political world and is estimated to be invading more than a dozen new computers a week. Other infected computers were found at Deloitte & Touche in New York.

The IWM report said: "GhostNet represents a network of compromised computers resident in high-value political, economic, and media locations spread across numerous countries worldwide. At the time of writing, these organisations are almost certainly oblivious to the compromised situation in which they find themselves. The computers of diplomats, military attachés, private assistants, secretaries to Prime Ministers, journalists and others are under the concealed control of unknown assailant(s)."

It added: "In Dharamsala [the headquarters of the Tibetan government in exile] and elsewhere, we have witnessed machines being profiled and sensitive documents being removed. At our laboratory, we have analysed our own infected 'honey pot' computer and discovered that the capabilities of GhostNet are potent and wide-ranging.

"Almost certainly, documents are being removed without the targets’ knowledge, keystrokes logged, web cameras are being silently triggered, and audio inputs surreptitiously activated."

Once the hackers infiltrated the systems, they gained control using malware – software they had installed on the compromised computers – and sent and received data from them, the researchers said. The investigation concluded that Tibetan computer systems were compromised by multiple infections that gave attackers unprecedented access to potentially sensitive information, including documents from the private office of the Dalai Lama.

The investigators went to India, Europe and North America to collect evidence about the infected systems used by Tibetan exiles. It was in the second stage of the inquiry, when they were analysing the data, that they uncovered the network of compromised computers.

The IWM report said in its summary: "The GhostNet system directs infected computers to download a Trojan known as Ghost Rat that allows attackers to gain complete, real-time control. These instances of Ghost Rat are consistently controlled from commercial internet access accounts located on the island of Hainan, in the People’s Republic of China."

The researchers said GhostNet was spread using classic malware techniques. "Contextually relevant emails are sent to specific targets with attached documents that are packed with exploit code and Trojan horse programmes designed to take advantage of vulnerabilities in software installed on the target’s computer.

"Once compromised, files located on infected computers may be mined for contact information, and used to spread malware through e-mail and document attachments that appear to come from legitimate sources, and contain legitimate documents and messages."

Greg Walton, the editor of IWM, said: "Regardless of who or what is ultimately in control of GhostNet, it is the capabilities of exploitation, and the strategic intelligence that can be harvested from it, which matters most. Indeed, although the Achilles’ heel of the GhostNet system allowed us to monitor and document its far-reaching network of infiltration, we can safely hypothesise that it is neither the first nor the only one of its kind."

Two researchers at Cambridge University who worked on the part of the investigation related to the Tibetans are releasing their own report. In an online abstract for The Snooping Dragon: Social Malware Surveillance of the Tibetan Movement, Shishir Nagaraja and Ross Anderson wrote that while malware attacks are not new, these attacks should be noted for their ability to collect "actionable intelligence for use by the police and security services of a repressive state, with potentially fatal consequences for those exposed".

"You see, it's not the blood you spill that gets you what you want, it's the blood you share. Your family, your friendships, your community, these are the most valuable things a man can have." Before Dishonor - Hatebreed
« Reply #54 on: May 03, 2009, 09:37:08 AM »

Google  obviously has an incentive  to view  the future of  Cloud Computing as rosy.

What we talk about when we talk about cloud computing
Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 9:55 AM
Recently, McKinsey & Company published a study on cloud computing as part of a symposium for The Uptime Institute, an organization dedicated to supporting the enterprise data center industry. We share McKinsey's interest in helping the IT industry better understand cloud computing, so we'd like to join the conversation Appirio and others have started about the role of cloud computing for large enterprises.

There's quite a bit of talk these days about corporations building a "private cloud" with concepts like virtualization, and there can be significant benefits to this approach. But those advantages are amplified greatly when customers use applications in the scalable datacenters provided by companies like Google, Amazon, and soon, Microsoft. In this model, customers can leverage hardware infrastructure, distributed software infrastructure, and applications that are built for the cloud, and let us run it for them. This offers them much lower cost applications, and removes the IT maintenance burden that can cripple many organizations today. It also allows customers to deliver innovation to their end users much more rapidly.

We thought we'd provide some insight into what we mean when we say cloud computing, and how its advantages in cost and innovation continue to attract hundreds of thousands of companies of all sizes -- from 2nd Wind Exercise Equipment to Genentech. We created our cloud by building an optimized system from the ground up: starting with low-cost hardware, adding reliable software infrastructure that scales, offering innovative applications, and working every day to improve the whole system. While the McKinsey study only considered the hardware cost savings of the cloud, there is tremendous customer benefit in all of these areas.

Hardware infrastructure
It starts with components. We serve tens of millions of users, so we've had to build infrastructure that scales and can run extremely efficiently to support that load. Consider three areas of data center design: server design, energy efficiency, and scale of operations.

In the virtualization approach of private data centers, a company takes a server and subdivides it into many servers to increase efficiency. We do the opposite by taking a large set of low cost commodity systems and tying them together into one large supercomputer. We strip down our servers to the bare essentials, so that we're not paying for components that we don't need. For example, we produce servers without video graphics chips that aren't needed in this environment.

Additionally, enterprise hardware components are designed to be very reliable, but they can never be 100% reliable, so enterprises spend a lot of time and money on maintenance. In contrast, we expect the hardware to fail, and design for reliability in the software such that, when the hardware does fail, customers are just shifted to another server. This allows us to further lower the cost of our servers by using commodity parts and on-board storage. We also design the systems for easy repair such that, if a part fails, we can quickly bring the server back into service.

Traditionally, companies have focused on using large, highly reliable hardware to run databases and large backend systems, but there is a significant cost impact to that strategy. For example, a 4 CPU quad-core system with 600 GB of high end SCSI storage and 16GB of memory is 8 times more expensive than a system 1/4 its size with less expensive SATA storage. This is because the price of the components increase exponentially as the hardware gets larger and more reliable. By building the reliability into the software, we're able to use a much lower cost hardware platform but still maintain the same reliability to customers.

Beyond server design, we do everything possible to make our servers and data centers as efficient as possible from an energy and cooling perspective. Consider how we designed our data centers for energy efficiency. Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) is an industry-standard metric for measuring the efficiency of a data center. We recently shared that the average PUE for our data centers is now better than the state-of-the-art 2011 data center PUE prediction by the EPA. In other words, we beat the EPA's best case estimates three years early, and we achieved this result without the use of exotic infrastructure solutions thought necessary in the EPA report. And we're doing that at every level of the stack: from server utilization to networking.

Finally, we operate at scale, and that drives economies of scale. Just by managing thousands of servers together and making them homogeneous, we're able to cut down on our administrative costs dramatically and pool resources of many types. This benefits end users by enabling us to offer low prices.

But, most importantly for our customers, we manage this entire infrastructure such that they don't have to. According to Gartner, a typical IT department spends 80% of their budget keeping the lights on, and this hampers their ability to drive change and growth in their business. The reality is that most businesses don't gain a competitive advantage from maintaining their own data centers. We take on that burden and make it our core business so that our customers don't have to.

Software Infrastructure

While most discussions of cloud computing and data center design take place at the hardware level, we offer a set of scalable services that customers would otherwise have to maintain themselves in a virtualization model. For example, if a company wanted to implement a typical three tier system in the cloud using virtualization, they would have to build, install, and maintain software to run the database, app server, and web server. This would require them to spend time and money to acquire the licenses, maintain system uptime, and implement patches.

In contrast, with a service like Google App Engine, customers get access to the same scalable application server and database that Google uses for its own applications. This means customers don't have to worry about purchasing, installing, maintaining, and scaling their own databases and app servers. All a customer has to do is deploy code, and we take care of the rest. You only pay for what you need, and, with App Engine's free quota, you often don't pay anything at all.

A great example of software infrastructure that scales is the recent online town hall meeting held by President Obama. The White House was able to instantly scale its database to support more than 100,000 questions and in excess of 3.5 million votes, without worrying about usage spikes that typically would be tough to manage. Because of the cloud, there was no need to provision extra servers to handle the increased demand or forecast demand ahead of time.

Beyond the underlying hardware and software design, what attracts many customers to the cloud is application outsourcing.

There is limited value to running an Exchange Server in a virtual machine in the cloud. That server was never designed for the cloud, so you don't get additional scale. You'd also need to continue to maintain and monitor the mail server yourself, so the labor savings are marginal. But with cloud-based applications like Gmail, we take care of all of the hassle for you. We keep the application up and running, and have designed it to scale easily. All of this provides an application that is roughly less than 1/3 the cost of a privately hosted mail system, has 100x the typical storage, and innovates much faster.

While the cost advantages of cloud computing can be great, there's another advantage that in many ways is more important: the rapid pace of innovation. IT systems are typically slow to evolve. In the virtualization model, businesses still need to run packaged software and endure the associated burden. They only receive major feature enhancements every 2-3 years, and in the meantime they have to endure the monthly patch cycle and painful system-wide upgrades. In our model, we can deliver innovation quickly without IT admins needing to manage upgrades themselves. For example, with Google Apps, we delivered more than 60 new features over the last year with only optional admin intervention.

The era of delayed gratification is over – the Internet allows innovations to be delivered as a constant flow that incorporates user needs, offers faster cycles for IT, and enables integration with systems that were not previously possible. This makes major upgrades a thing of the past, and gives the customer greater and greater value for their money.

As companies weigh private data centers vs. scalable clouds, they should ask a simple question: can I find the same economics, ease of maintenance, and pace of innovation that is inherent in the cloud?

Posted by Rajen Sheth, Senior Product Manager, Google Apps

« Reply #55 on: May 03, 2009, 01:30:45 PM »

I stiill owe you a response to some of your comments in the Polical Economics thread  and this doesn't really answer them but I thought this was interesting.

Broadband without Internet ain't worth squat
Broadband without Internet ain't worth squat
by David S. Isenberg
keynote address delivered at
Broadband Properties Summit 4/28/09

We communications professionals risk forgetting why the
networks we build and run are valuable. We forget what we're
connecting to what. We get so close to the ducts and splices
and boxes and protocols that we lose the big picture.

Somewhere in the back of our mind, we know that we're
building something big and new and fundamental. We know, at
some level, there's more than business and economics at

This talk is a 30,000-foot view of why our work is important.
I'm going to argue that the Internet is the main value
creator here - not our ability to digitize everything, not
high speed networking, not massive storage - the Internet.
With this perspective, maybe you'll you go back to work with
a slight attitude adjustment, and maybe one or two concrete
things to do.

In the big picture, We're building interconnectedness. We're
connecting every person on this planet with every other
person. We're creating new ways to share experience. We're
building new ways for buyers to find sellers, for
manufacturers to find raw materials, for innovators to rub up
against new ideas. We're creating a new means to distribute
our small planet's limited resources.

Let's take a step back from the ducts and splices and boxes
and protocols. Let's go on an armchair voyage in the opposite
direction -- to a strange land . . . to right here, right
now, but without the Internet.

In this world we have all the technology of today, but no
Internet Protocol, that is, there's no packet protocol that
all proprietary networks can understand.

In this alternate reality, every form of information can be
digitized, BUT there's not necessarily a connection between
all this information and all the users and services that
might discover it and use it to their advantage.

This was the world envisioned by the movie, The President's
Analyst, where The Phone Company secretly ran the world. It's
from 1967, the same year that Larry Roberts published the
original ArpaNet spec.

Roll Clip

In a world without the Internet, it's not clear that we'd
actually have a thought transducer in our brain. But if we
did, I'd bet we couldn't program it ourselves. I'd bet we
couldn't shut it off. I'd bet we couldn't decide who could
receive its signal and who could not.

What WOULD we have?

We would have super-clear telephony. We'd have cable TV with
lots and lots of channels. We'd have lower op-ex and higher
def. We'd probably have some kind of telephone-to-TV
integration so we could order from Dominos while we watched
Gunsmoke. Our cell phones would make really, really good
phone calls . . . and we'd have another half-dozen bungled
attempts to convince us that picturephones were the next
great leap forward.

Surprisingly, we might not have email. The first generation
of Internet Researchers only discovered human-to-human email
in 1972 - the subsequent growth of "People-to-People"
applications was a big surprise to them. Now, without email,
there there'd be no reason to invent the Blackberry or the
iPhone. Without the Internet, it would be a voice, voice,
voice, voice world.

This voice, voice, voice would be expensive. Without the
Internet - specifically without Voice over IP -- we'd still
be paying fifteen cents a minute for long distance, because
VocalTec would not have commercialized VOIP, Vonage and Skype
wouldn't exist, and even the major telcos would not have used
VOIP to destroy the international settlement system.

Data service? Think ISDN. Actually, think about a dozen
different so-called Integrated Services Networks, each with
its own access and login, with no good way for one to connect
to another. Metcalfe's Law would suggest there'd be orders of
magnitude less traffic overall.

Would we have Search? Perhaps. Imagine what Encyclopedia
Britannica On Line would look like in a non-Wikipedia world .
. . at a buck a lookup.

Digital photography? Perhaps . . . but medium would be paper
and the biggest company would be Kodak.

What about Amazon? EBay? YouTube? Google Maps?
Travelocity? Yahoo Finance? iTunes? Twitter? Facebook?
CraigsList? Blogging? On-Line Banking?

We wouldn't even have Web sites. Sure we could probably buy
some kind of proprietary on-line presence, but it would be so
expensive that only GE, GM and GQ could afford it, and so
inaccessible they probably wouldn't want to pay.

Web 2.0 - the ability of a single computer to reach across
the Internet in a dozen different directions at once to build
an customized web page on the fly - would be worse than
unavailable, it would be unthinkable.

But it's not all bad. Without the Internet, we would still
get our news from newspapers, the corner bookstore would
still be down on the corner, the Post Office would be
thriving, your friendly travel agent would still be booking
your trips, Dan Rather would still be on TV, perverts would
still get their sick pix in inconvenient plain brown
wrappers, and the NSA would not know the books I bought at
Amazon or who I email with.

Tough. We lost a lot of skilled leather-smiths when they
invented the horseless carriage. We'll find ways to deal with
the Internet's changes too.

Without the Internet, the minor improvements in telephony and
TV certainly would not drive the buildout of a whole new
infrastructure. The best way to do telephony would still be
twisted pair. The best way to do Cable TV would be coax.

Now I'm a huge Fiber to the Home enthusiast! But I'm also
part of the Reality Based Community. So let's face it, even
WITH the Internet, including Verizon's amazingly ambitious
FIOS buildout, the business case for fiber is so weak that 97
percent of US homes still aren't on fiber. We are still in
"Law of Small Numbers" territory. The Internet is the only
thing standing between our limited success and abject

Notice, I have not yet, until now, used the word BROADBAND.

But before I talk about broadband, I want to talk about
Synechdoche. Synecdoche is when you say, "The Clock" but you
mean Time. Synecdoche is when you say, "Eyeballs," but you
mean The Customer's Attention. Synecdoche is when you say,
Dallas, but you mean, "The Mavericks."

Most of the time Broadband is synecdoche. When we say,
"Broadband," most of the time we mean, "High Speed
Connections to the Internet."

I repeat, Most of the time when we say Broadband we mean High
Speed Connections to the Internet. Broadband is synecdoche.

Without the Internet, "Broadband" is just another incremental
improvement. It makes telephony and TV better. It makes the
Internet better too. But the key driver of all the killer
apps we know and love is the Internet, not Broadband. And, of
course, the Internet is enabled by lots of technologies -
computers, storage, software, audio compression, video
display technology, AND high-speed wired and wireless

Now, Broadband is a very important enabler. The United States
has slower, more expensive connections to the Internet than
much of the developed world. And that's embarrassing to me as
a US citizen.

Imagine if a quirk of US policy caused us to have dimmer
displays. That would be a quick fix, unless the display
terminal industry demanded that we disable the Internet in
other ways before it gave us brighter displays. Or insisted
"all your screens are belong to us."

High-speed transmission does not, by itself, turn the wheel
of creative destruction so central to the capitalist process.
The Internet does that. Broadband, by itself, does not fuel
the rise of new companies and the destruction of old ones.
The Internet does that. Broadband by itself is not
disruptive; the Internet is.

The Internet derives its disruptive quality from a very
special property: IT IS PUBLIC. The core of the Internet is a
body of simple, public agreements, called RFCs, that specify
the structure of the Internet Protocol packet. These public
agreements don't need to be ratified or officially approved -
they just need to be widely adopted and used.

The Internet's component technologies - routing, storage,
transmission, etc. - can be improved in private. But the
Internet Protocol itself is hurt by private changes, because
its very strength is its public-ness.

Because it is public, device makers, application makers,
content providers and network providers can make stuff that
works together. The result is completely unprecedented;
instead of a special-purpose network - with telephone wires
on telephone poles that connect telephones to telephone
switches, or a cable network that connects TVs to content -
we have the Internet, a network that connects any application
- love letters, music lessons, credit card payments, doctor's
appointments, fantasy games - to any network - wired,
wireless, twisted pair, coax, fiber, wi-fi, 3G, smoke
signals, carrier pigeon, you name it. Automatically, no extra
services needed. It just works.

This allows several emergent miracles.

First, the Internet grows naturally at its edges, without a
master plan. Anybody can connect their own network, as long
as the connection follows the public spec. Anybody with their
own network can improve it -- in private if they wish, as
long as they follow the public agreement that is the
Internet, the result grows the Internet.

Another miracle: The Internet let's us innovate without
asking anybody's permission. Got an idea? Put it on the
Internet, send it to your friends. Maybe they'll send it to
their friends.

Another miracle: It's a market-discovery machine. Text
messaging wasn't new in 1972. What surprised the Internet
Researchers was email's popularity. Today a band that plays
Parisian cafe music can discover its audience in Japan and
Louisiana and Rio.

It's worth summarizing. The miracles of the Internet -
any-app over any infrastructure,
growth without central planning,
innovation without permission,
and market discovery.
If the Internet Protocol lost its public nature, we'd risk
shutting these miracles off.

One of the public agreements about the Internet Protocol lays
out a process for changing the agreements. If somebody
changes their part of the Internet in private, they put the
Internet's miracles at risk. Comcast tried to do that by
blocking BitTorrent. Fortunately, we persuaded Comcast to
stop. If it had continued, it would have put a whole family
of Internet applications at risk, not only for Comcast
Internet customers, but also for everybody who interacts with
Comcast's customers.

The whole fight over Network Neutrality is about preserving
what's valuable about the Internet - its public-ness.

The Internet threatens the telephone business and the cable
TV business. So of course there's a huge propaganda battle
around the Internet.

The propaganda says Network Neutrality is about treating
every packet exactly the same, but the Internet has never
done that. The propaganda says that Network Neutrality is
about regulating the Internet, but we know that the Internet
exists thanks to the government's ArpaNet, and subsequent
wise government regulation.

Look who's calling for regulation anyway! The only reason
telcos and cablecos exist is that there's a whole body of
franchises and tariffs and licenses and FCCs and PUCs keeping
them in business.

Cut through the propaganda. Network Neutrality is about
preserving the public definition of the Internet Protocol,
the structure of the Internet packet, and the way it is
processed. If there are reasons to change the Internet
Protocol, we can do it in public - that's part of the
Internet too.

It's the Internet, smart people. Your property already has
telephone and TV. So does everybody else's. Broadband without
the Internet isn't worth squat. You're building those fast
connections to The Internet.

So please remember that the essence of the Internet is a body
of public agreements. Anti-Network Neutrality attacks on the
public nature of the Internet are attacks on the value of the
infrastructure improvements you've made to your property. So
you can't be neutral on Network Neutrality. Take a stand.

If you install advanced technology that makes your property
more valuable, you deserve your just rewards. But the
potential of the Internet is much, much bigger than your

Like other great Americans on whose shoulders I stand, I have
a dream. In my dream the Internet becomes so capable that I
am able to be with you as intimately as I am right now
without leaving my home in Connecticut.

In my dream the Internet becomes so good that we think of the
people in Accra or Baghdad or Caracas much as we think of the
people of Albuquerque, Boston and Chicago, as "us" not

In my dream, the climate change problem will be solved thanks
to trillions of smart vehicles, heaters and air conditioners
connected to the Internet to mediate real-time auctions for
energy, carbon credits, and transportation facilities.

In my dream, we discover that one of the two billion who live
on less than dollar a day is so smart as to be another
Einstein, that another is so compassionate as to be another
Gandhi, that another is so charismatic as to be another
Mandella . . . and we will can comment on their blog,
subscribe to their flickr stream and follow their twitter

But I also have a nightmare . . .

In my nightmare, the telephone company has convinced us that
it needs to monitor every Internet transaction, so it can --
quote-unquote -- manage -- what it calls "my pipes".

Maybe it says it needs to stop terrorism, or protect the
children, or pay copyright holders. Maybe there's a genuine
emergency -- a pandemic or a nuclear attack or a 9.0

In my nightmare, whatever the excuse -- or the precipitating
real-world event -- once the telephone company gains the
ability to know which apps are generating which packets, it
begins charging more for applications we value more.

In my nightmare, once the telephone company has some
applications that generate more revenues because they're
subject to management -- and others that don't -- the former
get all the newest, shiniest, fastest network upgrades, while
the latter languish in what soon becomes Yesterday's Network.

In my nightmare, new innovations that need the newest fastest
network, but don't yet have a revenue stream, are consigned
to second-class service. Or they're subject to lengthy
engineering studies and other barriers that keep them off the
market. In other words, in my nightmare, all but the most
mundane innovation dies

So it's up to you. When you make high-speed networks part of
your real estate, if you insist that these connect to the
REAL Internet, the un-mediated, un-filtered publicly defined
Internet, you're part of a global miracle that's much bigger
than your property. Please ask yourself what's valuable in
the long run, and act accordingly.
Power User
Posts: 9483

« Reply #56 on: May 03, 2009, 02:55:19 PM »

Very interesting read Rachel, Isenberg is very thought provoking. 

Small point of clarification, when he says 97% of the homes still don't have fiber, I think he means they don't have fiber all the way to the home.  Pretty close to 100% of our communications other than face to face run mostly over fiber.  Cell towers and WiFi, even dial up internet over ordinary telephone lines lead into fiber lines that would not work the way they do, or facebook or cloud computing,  if not for the capital investments that someone made in the 'ducts and spices'.  Also an aside, Google would not locate new facilities near the wind farms in Iowa if not for the fiber optic buildout that cost billions in private, capital investments.
Power User
Posts: 42552

« Reply #57 on: May 20, 2009, 05:05:42 AM »

Network of satellites could begin to fail as early as 2010

It has become one of the staples of modern, hi-tech life: using satellite navigation tools built into your car or mobile phone to find your way from A to B. But experts have warned that the system may be close to breakdown.

US government officials are concerned that the quality of the Global Positioning System (GPS) could begin to deteriorate as early as next year, resulting in regular blackouts and failures – or even dishing out inaccurate directions to millions of people worldwide.

The warning centres on the network of GPS satellites that constantly orbit the planet and beam signals back to the ground that help pinpoint your position on the Earth's surface.

The satellites are overseen by the US Air Force, which has maintained the GPS network since the early 1990s. According to a study by the US government accountability office (GAO), mismanagement and a lack of investment means that some of the crucial GPS satellites could begin to fail as early as next year.

"It is uncertain whether the Air Force will be able to acquire new satellites in time to maintain current GPS service without interruption," said the report, presented to Congress. "If not, some military operations and some civilian users could be adversely affected."

The report says that Air Force officials have failed to execute the necessary steps to keep the system running smoothly.

Although it is currently spending nearly $2bn (£1.3bn) to bring the 20-year-old system up to date, the GAO – which is the equivalent of Britain's National Audit Office – says that delays and overspending are putting the entire system in jeopardy.

"In recent years, the Air Force has struggled to successfully build GPS satellites within cost and schedule goals," said the report. "It encountered significant technical problems … [and] struggled with a different contractor."

The first replacement GPS satellite was due to launch at the beginning of 2007, but has been delayed several times and is now scheduled to go into orbit in November this year – almost three years late.

The impact on ordinary users could be significant, with millions of satnav users potential victims of bad directions or failed services. There would also be similar side effects on the military, which uses GPS for mapping, reconnaissance and for tracking hostile targets.

Some suggest that it could also have an impact on the proliferation of so-called location applications on mobile handsets – just as applications on the iPhone and other GPS-enabled smartphones are starting to get more popular.

Tom Coates, the head of Yahoo's Fire Eagle system – which lets users share their location data from their mobile – said he was sceptical that US officials would let the system fall into total disrepair because it was important to so many people and companies.

"I'd be surprised if anyone in the US government was actually OK with letting it fail – it's too useful," he told the Guardian.

"It sounds like something that could be very serious in a whole range of areas if it were to actually happen. It probably wouldn't damage many locative services applications now, but potentially it would retard their development and mainstreaming if it were to come to pass."

The failings of GPS could also play into the hands of other countries – including opening the door to Galileo, the European-funded attempt to rival America's satellite navigation system, which is scheduled to start rolling out later next year.

Russia, India and China have developed their own satellite navigation technologies that are currently being expanded.
Power User
Posts: 42552

« Reply #58 on: June 08, 2009, 07:28:42 AM »

Amazing gaming technology:
« Reply #59 on: June 08, 2009, 02:59:03 PM »

China demands new PCs carry spyware
Posted by Richard Koman @ June 8, 2009 @ 8:38 AM

There comes a time when despite the allure of the market, Western industry should band together and turn its back on China. A time when the computer and Internet industry realizes that the censorship-and-repression tax the government is intent on levying is too high a price to pay.

Is this, at long last, that moment? Well, it’s doubtful. But it should be.

Starting July 1, computers sold in China must include government-provided spyware that blocks pornography and political dissent from Chinese citizens’ view, The New York Times reports, following up a Wall Street Journal report.

Called “Green Dam” — green being a foil to the yellow smut of pornography — the software is designed to filter out sexually explicit images and words, according to the company that designed it. Computer experts, however, warn that once installed, the software could be directed to block all manner of content or allow the government to monitor Internet use and collect personal information.

PC makers are said to be irritated with the new rules but presumably not enough to buck the government. The major irritation seems to be that July 1 isn’t enough time to add the software to massive production lines.

Beyond the nettlesome issue of abetting government censorship, they said six weeks was not enough time to shift production on such a large scale. “Many of us are going to take it in the neck with this mandate,” said one executive. “It has put people into five-alarm mode.”

Still executives met with the U.S. Embassy to express displeasure. If they’re serious, though, they need to do this, says Rebecca McKinnon:

Provide the software on disk rather than pre-installed.
Include clear information to the user about what the software does, the nature and range of content it filters, how the user’s personal information is collected and transmitted, where it is stored and who has access to it.

Explain what the software does differently from existing parental controls already included in the operating system.
Include further information about any further vulnerabilities the software contains which could open the user’s computer to attack or snooping.
Provide clear instructions on how to deactivate or uninstall the software along with the installation guidelines.
It’s pretty clear that’s not how China wants this to go down. This little anecdote from the Times says it all.

On Monday, Green Dam’s own website offered a hint of discontent over the filtering software. On the bulletin board section of the site, several users complained that pornographic images slipped through or that their computers had become painfully slow. “It seems pretty lousy so far,” read one posting. “It’s not very powerful, I can’t surf the Internet normally and it’s affecting the operation of other software.”

By Monday night, however, most of the comments had been deleted.
Dog Robertlk808
Power User
Posts: 544

« Reply #60 on: June 15, 2009, 05:06:01 PM »

Very interesting! I'm sure it will have more useful applications than just "games"   I suppose we are getting closer to Star Trek's Holo Deck.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2009, 05:08:43 PM by Robertlk808 » Logged

"You see, it's not the blood you spill that gets you what you want, it's the blood you share. Your family, your friendships, your community, these are the most valuable things a man can have." Before Dishonor - Hatebreed
Dog Robertlk808
Power User
Posts: 544

« Reply #61 on: June 17, 2009, 02:38:41 AM »

Taking to the Streets — and Tweets — in Tehran
By Nathan Hodge   June 13, 2009  |  3:34 pm  |  Categories: Info War, Rogue States
Iranians are taking to the streets to protest the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. While Ahmadinejad’s rivals claimed widespread electoral fraud — and appealed for Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, to intervene. Khamenei, however, appeared on state television today to congratulate Ahmadinejad on his victory.

It appears the authorities may have blocked text messaging, a key organizing tool of opposition candidates like Mir Hossein Mousavi. Twitter users reported that SMS service had gone offline just before polls opened.

Game over? Not quite. Iranians have organized protests in Tehran, and some demonstrators are using social media to post video and updates. Here’s a recent YouTube post:

The National Iranian American Council in Washington is liveblogging the election, and they have translations of some of the Farsi Twitter streams. Check it out.

"You see, it's not the blood you spill that gets you what you want, it's the blood you share. Your family, your friendships, your community, these are the most valuable things a man can have." Before Dishonor - Hatebreed
Power User
Posts: 42552

« Reply #62 on: October 03, 2009, 09:21:29 AM »

So it turns out that Google's enthusiasm for government-imposed "net neutrality" is qualified. The Internet giant wants cumbersome network management rules applied to everyone—except Google.

Google is one of the industry's most vocal advocates of regulating Internet service providers. It wants to prevent companies like Verizon and AT&T from managing their broadband networks in a way that is optimal for most users, but perhaps not for Google. In order to protect its business model, which involves the use of Internet pipes owned by these other companies (and potential competitors), Google wants broadband networks open to all content without restrictions, even if that means a relatively small number of video streamers and other bandwidth hogs could cause congestion for everyone else.

"Just as telephone companies are not permitted to tell consumers who they can call or what they can say," explains Google on its Web site, "broadband carriers should not be allowed to use their market power to control activity online."

Of late, however, Google is flouting its own net neutrality principles. According to recent media reports, Google Voice, the company's new phone service, is systematically blocking calls to phone numbers in some rural areas. Under so-called intercarrier compensation regulations, phone companies pay high fees to rural operators to connect phone calls. By blocking calls that its competitors are forced by law to connect, Google is saving money. It's also violating the nondiscrimination principle that underlies its net neutrality lobbying.

Citing these news reports, AT&T engaged in a little payback late last week by sending a letter to the Federal Communications Commission calling on regulators to force Google to "play by the same rules as its competitors." Google says that Google Voice is not a traditional phone company and should not be regulated as such. The reality is that Google wants to gain a competitive advantage by providing phone service without having to adhere to the same rules as its rivals.

Our own view is that the rules requiring traditional phone companies to connect these calls should be scrapped for everyone rather than extended to Google. In today's telecom marketplace, where the overwhelming majority of phone customers have multiple carriers to choose from, these regulations are obsolete. But Google has set itself up for this political blowback.

Last week FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski proposed new rules for regulating Internet operators and gave assurances that "this is not about government regulation of the Internet." But this dispute highlights the regulatory creep that net neutrality mandates make inevitable. Content providers like Google want to dabble in the phone business, while the phone companies want to sell services and applications.

The coming convergence will make it increasingly difficult to distinguish among providers of broadband pipes, network services and applications. Once net neutrality is unleashed, it's hard to see how anything connected with the Internet will be safe from regulation
Power User
Posts: 42552

« Reply #63 on: October 03, 2009, 09:31:54 AM »

second post of the day

There's a lot of concern out there right now about America's world leadership—facing down Iran's nuclear program, bracing NATO's commitment in Afghanistan, maintaining free trade. Here's something else to worry about: Has the Obama administration just given up U.S. responsibility for protecting the Internet?

What makes it possible for users to connect with all the different Web sites on the Internet is the system that allocates a unique electronic address to each site. The addresses are organized within larger entities called top-level domains—".com," ".edu," ".gov" and so on. Overseeing this arrangement is a relatively obscure entity, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Without the effective oversight of ICANN, the Internet as we know it would not exist, billions of dollars of online commerce and intellectual property would be at risk, and various forms of mass censorship could become the norm.

Since its establishment in 1998, ICANN has operated under a formal contract with the U.S. Department of Commerce, which stipulated the duties and limits that the U.S. government expected ICANN to respect. The Commerce Department did not provide much active oversight, although the need to renew this contract, called the Joint Project Agreement (JPA), helped keep ICANN policies within reasonable bounds. That's why last spring, when the Commerce Department asked for comment on ending the JPA, the U.S. business community opposed the idea.

But the U.S. government's role in ICANN has long been a source of complaint from foreign nations. United Nations conferences have repeatedly voiced concerns about "domination of the Internet by one power" and suggested that management of the system should be handed off to the International Telecommunications Union—a U.N. agency dominated by developing countries. The European Union has urged a different scheme in which a G-12 of advanced countries would manage the Internet.

The Obama administration has declined to endorse such alternatives. Instead it has replaced the latest JPA, which expired Sept. 30, with a vaguely worded "Affirmation of Commitments." In it, ICANN promises to be a good manager of the Internet, and the Commerce Department promises—well, not much of anything. The U.S. will participate in a Governmental Advisory Committee along with some three dozen other nations but claims no greater authority than any other country on the committee, whose recommendations are not binding on ICANN in any case.

An ICANN cut loose from U.S. government oversight will not, for that reason, be free from political pressures. One source of pressure will come from disputes about expanding top-level domain names. For example, would a ".xxx" domain help to isolate pornographic sites in a unique (and blockable) special area, or would it encourage censorship in other domains by suggesting that offensive images only appear there? Should we have ".food" or ".toys" along with ".com" domains? If we do, as the Justice Department warned last year in a letter to Commerce, companies that have invested huge sums to protect their trademarks under ".com" will have to fight for protection of their names in the new domains. Yet strangely, there is not a word in the new plan about protecting trademark rights or other intellectual property interests that might be threatened by new ICANN policies.

Even more disturbing is the prospect that foreign countries will pressure ICANN to impose Internet controls that facilitate their own censorship schemes. Countries like China and Iran already block Web sites they regard as politically objectionable. Islamic nations insist that the proper understanding of international human-rights treaties requires suppression of "Islamophobic" content on the Internet. Will ICANN be better situated to resist such pressures now that it no longer has a formal contract with the U.S. government?

It may be that the Obama administration expects to exert a steadying hand on ICANN in indirect or covert ways. Or here too it may have calculated that winning applause from other nations now is worth taking serious risks in the long run.

Mr. Rabkin is professor of law at George Mason University. Mr. Eisenach is an adjunct law professor at George Mason and chairman of Empiris LLC, which does consulting work for Verisign, an Internet registry.
Power User
Posts: 42552

« Reply #64 on: October 05, 2009, 08:03:26 AM »

On Sept. 25, AT&T accused Google of violating the very "net neutrality" principles the world's dominant search company has righteously sought for others.

Net neutrality conjures the benign notion of an open and fair Web, where all applications and data packets are treated equally. Net reality is much more complicated. Google says it doesn't have to abide by rules meant for telecom companies. But with the Internet obliterating such distinctions, this defense exposes net neutrality's inherent flaws.

The controversy involves Google Voice, a new service that rings all of a user's phone lines simultaneously and provides other conference-calling and voice-mail features. Like myriad digital applications, the service is possible because the Web and phone lines have in many ways converged. Google can thus offer "free" services over the world's vast, expensive broadband networks.

Google thinks net neutrality should regulate only traditional phone and cable companies. Phone carriers have long been ordered to connect all calls. And open Internet principles agreed to by all sides in 2005 offer similar guidance for the Web: no blocking of Web sites or applications.

But Google Voice does not connect all calls. It blocks access, for example, to some rural areas and conferencing services that would impose heavier interconnection fees on Google. AT&T thus charged Google with cherry-picking. Why, AT&T asks, can Google exploit expensive communications networks when it's profitable but refuse neutral service to all customers when it's not?

This row unmasks something far more important than Google's hypocrisy: the deep structural flaws of net neutrality itself. Last week, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski outlined a more expansive and legally binding regime. He would not only codify existing nonblocking principles but would also add a highly controversial "nondiscrimination" rule. This regulation could expand bureaucratic oversight to every bit, switch and business plan on the Internet.

Basic technologies, like packet prioritization (voice calls first, spam second), could be banned. So could many business plans based on robust and differentiated services. This regime could send all routing algorithms and network services into courtrooms for the next decade.

Despite the brutal economic downturn, Internet-sector growth has been solid. From the Amazon Kindle and 85,000 iPhone "apps" to Hulu video and broadband health care, Web innovation flourishes. Mr. Genachowski heartily acknowledges these happy industry facts but then pivots to assert the Web is at a "crossroads" and only the FCC can choose the right path.

The events of the last half-decade prove otherwise. Since 2004, bandwidth per capita in the U.S. grew to three megabits per second from just 262 kilobits per second, and monthly Internet traffic increased to two billion gigabytes from 170 million gigabytes—both tenfold leaps.

No sector has boomed more than wireless. Yet Mr. Genachowski wants to extend his new regulations to the most technically complicated and bandwidth-constrained realm—mobile networks and devices.

In 2004, Wi-Fi was embryonic, the Motorola Razr was the hot phone, the BlackBerry was a CEO's email device, and Apple's most recognizable product was an orange-sicle laptop. But then the industry turned upside-down in a flurry of dynamism. Both Motorola and Palm plummeted in popularity and only now are attempting real comebacks. BlackBerry and Apple vaulted to smart-phone supremacy from out of nowhere, Nokia became the world's largest camera company, and a new wireless reading device rekindled Amazon's fortunes.

Wireless carriers invested $100 billion in just the past three years, and the U.S. vaulted past Europe in fast 3G mobile networks. Americans enjoy mobile voice prices 60% cheaper than foreign peers. And the once closed mobile ecosystem is more open, modular and dynamic than ever.

All this occurred without net neutrality regulation.

My research suggests that U.S. Internet traffic will continue to rise 50% annually through 2015. Cisco estimates wireless data traffic will rise 131% per year through 2013. Hundreds of billions of dollars in fiber optics, data centers, and fourth-generation mobile networks will be needed. But if network service providers can't design their own networks, offer creative services, or make fair business transactions with vendors, will they invest these massive sums to meet (and drive) demand?

Some question the network companies' expensive and risky plans, asking if the customers will come. But one thing's for sure: If you don't build it, they can't come.

If net neutrality applies neutrally to all players in the Web ecosystem, then it would regulate every component and entrepreneur in a vast and unknowable future. If neutrality applies selectively (oxymoron alert) to only one sliver of the network, then it is merely a political tool of one set of companies to cripple its competitors.

At a time of continued national economic peril, the last thing we need is a new heavy hand weighing down our most promising high-growth sector. Better to maintain the existing open-Web principles and let the Internet evolve.

Mr. Swanson is president of the technology research and strategy firm Entropy Economics LLC.
Dog Howie
Power User
Posts: 75

Unexpected Anomolies

« Reply #65 on: October 05, 2009, 07:02:35 PM »

As the owner of a small (40+ employee) internet content delivery company I have been following the "in and outs" of the net-neutrality discussions for about a year now. I have an obligation to deliver light-speed data to my users. The idea that I will have to compete for packet preferences is EXTREMELY discouraging. But I believe it is to be inevitable and, in fact, it is already here. They won't call it packet preferences, they will call it different service levels. Our web-facing servers are collocated at several geographic locations and each location we own and control our boxes, BUT I definitely budget more bandwidth dollars for colos that are on main backbones of service. Other collocation structures are located further  down the line and are cheaper. And then there are others cheaper than that, and other MORE expensive and truly faster that the ones I use. So whether it is backbone connectivity or preferential packet treatments, the free market, I "hate to say it" is always the best route. I "hate to say it" because it means more bandwidth dollars for better(faster) service... but then again there WILL be competition and THAT is the key. I don't believe there should be regulation or even informal agreements SO LONG AS there is open competition and reasonable effective legislation that deals with monopolies. Now we could debate the effectiveness of such legislation in the past but bottom line is that is HAS worked (albeit with aggressive corporate opposition). I do not believe that the concept has changed.... free markets with some sort of protection from monopolies.
« Reply #66 on: October 20, 2009, 12:39:38 PM »

Internet Companies’ Bogus Plea for Regulation

Posted by Jim Harper

Some of the most prominent Internet companies sent a letter yesterday asking for protection from market forces. Among them: Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Twitter.

A Washington Post story summarizes their concerns: “[W]ithout a strong anti-discrimination policy, companies like theirs may not get a fair shot on the Internet because carriers could decide to block them from ever reaching consumers.”

No ISP could block access to these popular services and survive, of course. What they could do is try to charge the most popular services a higher tariff to get their services through. Thus, weep the helpless, multi-billion-dollar Internet behemoths, we need a “fair shot”!

Plain and simple, these companies want regulation to ensure that ISPs can’t capture a larger share of the profits that the Internet generates. They want it all for themselves. Phrased another way, the goal is to create a subsidy for content creators by blocking ISPs from getting a piece of the action.

It’s all very reminiscent of disputes between coal mines and railroads. The coal mines “produced the coal” and believed that the profitability of the coal-energy ecosystem should accrue only to themselves, with railroads earning the barest minimum. But where is it written that digging coal out of the ground is what creates the value, and getting it where it’s used creates none? Transport may be as valuable as “production” of both commodities and content. The market should decide, not the industry with the best lobbyists.

What happens if ISPs can’t capture the value of providing transport? Of course, less investment flows to transport and we have less of it. Consumers will have to pay more of their dollars out of pocket for broadband, while Facebook’s boy CEO draws an excessive salary from atop a pile of overpriced stock holdings. The irony is thick when opponents of high executive compensation support “net neutrality” regulation.

Another reason why these Internet companies’ concerns are bogus is their size and popularity. They have a direct line to consumers and more than enough capability to convince consumers that any given ISP is wrongly degrading access to their services. As Tim Lee pointed out in his excellent paper, “The Durable Internet,” ownership of a network service does not equate to control. ISPs can be quickly reined in by the public, as has already happened.

A “net neutrality” subsidy for small start-up services is also unnecessary: They have no profits to share with ISPs. What about mid-size services—heading to profitability, but not there yet? Can ISPs choke them off? Absolutely not.

Large, established companies are not known for being ahead of trends, for one thing, and the anti-authoritarian culture of the Internet is the perfect place to play “beleaguered upstart” against the giant, evil ISP. There could be no greater PR gift than for a small service to have access to it degraded by an ISP.

The Internet companies’ plea for regulation is bogus, and these companies are losing their way. The leadership of these companies should fire their government relations staffs, disband their contrived advocacy organization, and get back to innovating and competing.
« Reply #67 on: November 05, 2009, 08:13:20 PM »

Ariz. court rules records law covers 'metadata'

    * By PAUL DAVENPORT, Associated Press Writer - Thu Oct 29, 2009 6:38PM EDT
    * Add articles about technology to your My Yahoo! add to My Yahoo!



Hidden data embedded in electronic public records must be disclosed under Arizona's public records law, the state Supreme Court said Thursday in a groundbreaking ruling that attracted interest from media and government organizations.

The Supreme Court's unanimous decision, which overturned lower court rulings, is believed to be the first by a state supreme court on whether a public records law applies to so-called "metadata."

"This is at the cutting edge -- it's the law trying to catch up with technology," said David R. Merkel, a lawyer for a municipalities group that urged the justices to rule that metadata doesn't have to be disclosed.

Metadata can show how and when a document was created or revised and by whom. The information isn't visible when a document is printed on paper nor does it appear on screen in normal settings.

The Arizona ruling came in a case involving a demoted Phoenix police officer's request for data embedded in notes written by a supervisor. The officer got a printed copy but said he wanted the metadata to see whether the supervisor backdated the notes to before the demotion.

"It would be illogical, and contrary to the policy of openness underlying the public records law, to conclude that public entities can withhold information embedded in an electronic document, such as the date of creation, while they would be required to produce the same information if it were written manually on a paper public records," Justice Scott Bales wrote.

Disclosing metadata shouldn't be overly burdensome on public entities, Bales wrote.

Arizona's law generally requires governmental entities to release public records, but they don't have to create them to meet a request.

A Washington state appellate court ruled last year that metadata in e-mail received by a city's deputy mayor was a public record. Unlike Arizona's law, the Washington law specifically says the data is subject to disclosure. That case is pending before the Washington Supreme Court.

The League of Arizona Cities and Towns and other governmental entities filed briefs citing burdens of complying with requests for metadata and urging the justices to uphold a Court of Appeals ruling.

Meanwhile, media organizations, including The Associated Press, cited the media's watchdog role and asked the court to rule that the public records law applies to metadata.

The Arizona decision likely will have a "persuasive effect" on other states' courts, said Dan Barr, an attorney who filed a brief on behalf of the Society of Professional Journalists and other media organizations.

"If there's metadata in there, that's public record," he said.

The ruling also means requested electronic records must be provided in that form rather than paper printouts, which makes them difficult and costly to search, Barr said.    smiley

The opinion said some metadata, like other public records, could be withheld for privacy or other reasons.
« Reply #68 on: November 05, 2009, 08:14:56 PM »

Justice Louis Brandeis  “Sunlight is the best disinfectant”
About the Sunlight Foundation
The Best of Disinfectants...
The Sunlight Foundation was co-founded in 2006 by Washington, DC businessman and lawyer Michael Klein and longtime Washington public interest advocate Ellen Miller with the non-partisan mission of using the revolutionary power of the Internet to make information about Congress and the federal government more meaningfully accessible to citizens. Through our projects and grant-making, Sunlight serves as a catalyst for greater political transparency and to foster more openness and accountability in government. Sunlight’s ultimate goal is to strengthen the relationship between citizens and their elected officials and to foster public trust in government. We are unique in that technology and the power of the Internet are at the core of every one of our efforts.

Our work is committed to helping citizens, bloggers and journalists be their own best government watchdogs, by improving access to existing information and digitizing new information, and by creating new tools and Web sites to enable all of us to collaborate in fostering greater transparency. Since our founding in the spring of 2006, we have assembled and funded an array of web-based databases and tools including,,, and These sites make millions of bits of information available online about the members of Congress, their staff, legislation, federal spending and lobbyists.

By facilitating the creation of new databases, and the maintenance and expansion of pre-existing ones, along with the application of technologies that free data from its silos, we have liberated gigabytes of important political data from basements, paper, .pdfs and other non-searchable and non-mashable formats. These efforts, combined with our own distributed investigative research projects, community-based engagement with Congress to bridge its technological gaps and lobbying to demand changes in how and what the government makes publicly available online, have created an unprecedented demand for more: more information, more transparency and more easy-to-use tools.

Underlying all of Sunlight’s efforts is a fundamental belief that increased transparency will improve the conduct of lawmakers and the public’s confidence in government.
« Reply #69 on: November 17, 2009, 09:33:32 PM »


Local Bookstores, Social Hubs, and Mutualization
November 17th, 2009

Last month, the American Booksellers Association published an open letter to the Justice Department, asking Justice to investigate Wal-Mart, Target, and Amazon after they lowered prices of best-selling books to under $10. The threat, the ABA says, is dire: “If left unchecked, these predatory pricing policies will devastate not only the book industry, but our collective ability to maintain a society where the widest range of ideas are always made available to the public, and will allow the few remaining mega booksellers to raise prices to consumers unchecked.”

Got that? Lower prices will lead to higher prices, and cheap books threaten to reduce the range of ideas in circulation. And don’t just take the ABA’s word for it. They also quote John Grisham’s agent and the owner of a book store, who both agree that cheap books are a horrible no-good very bad thing. So bad, in fact, that the Department of Justice must get involved, to shield the public from the scourge of affordable reading. (Just for the record, the ABA is also foursquare against ebooks being sold more cheaply than paper books, and thinks maybe Justice should look into that too.)

There may have been some Golden Age of Lobbying, where this kind of hysteria would have had led to public alarm. By now, though, the form is so debauched there’s probably a Word macro for describing competition as a Looming Threat To The Republic. (or The Children, or Civilization Itself. Depends on your audience.)

It’s not surprising that the ABA would write stuff like this — it’s their job to make self-interested claims. What is surprising is that there are members of the urban cognoscenti who still believe these arguments, arguments that made some sense twenty years ago, but have long since stopped doing so.

* * *

Twenty years ago, when we had Barnes and Noble but no Amazon, there was all kinds of literature, from 2600 to Love & Rockets, from Heather Has Two Mommies to Duplex Planet, that survived mainly in the independent ecosystem, but whose host bookstores also needed to sell enough Stephen King or M. Scott Peck to stay open. Fifteen years ago, when use of the web was still a minority pursuit, online bookselling changed this game, but hadn’t yet ended it. Even ten years ago, when more than half of U.S. adults had already become internet users, there were still many book lovers not online. Though the value of bookstores in supporting variety had shrunk, it was still there.

Those days are over. Internet use is as widespread as cable TV, and an internet user in rural Utah has access to more books than a citizen of Greenwich Village had before the web. Millions more books. Like record stores and video rental places, physical bookstores simply can’t compete for breadth of offering and, also like the social changes around music and moving images, the internet is strengthening rather than weakening the ability of niches and sub-cultures to see themselves reflected in long-form writing.

The internet also moderates the competitive threat, because the competition is only a click away. Amazon lists millions of books, but so does eBay, and publishers like O’Reilly or McGraw-Hill or Alyson can sell directly to the reader. If you had to choose between buying books only offline or only online, the choice that maximizes the number of ideas in circulation is unambiguously clear. Even if all but a dozen online booksellers were to vanish, there would still be more places to buy books on the web than there are bookstores in the average American city today.

* * *

Despite the spectacular breadth of available books created by online book sellers, many lovers of bookstores echo the ABA’s “Access to literature is at stake!” argument. In my experience, people make this argument for one of three reasons.

This first is that some people simply dislike change. For this group, the conviction that the world is getting worse merely attaches to whatever seems to be changing. These people will be complaining about kids today and their baggy pants and their online bookstores ’til the day they die.

A second group genuinely believes it’s still the 1990s somewhere. They imagine that the only outlets for books between Midtown and the Mission are Wal-Mart and Barnes and Noble, that few people in Nebraska have ever heard of Amazon, that countless avid readers have money for books but don’t own a computer. This group believes, in other words, that book buying is a widespread activity while internet access is for elites, the opposite of the actual case.

A third group, though, is making the ‘access to literature’ argument without much real commitment to its truth or falsehood, because they aren’t actually worried about access to literature, they are worried about bookstores in and of themselves. This is a form of Burkean conservatism, in which the value built up over centuries in the existence of bookstores should be preserved, even though their previous function as the principal link between writers and readers is being displaced.

This sort of commitment to bookstores is a normative argument, an argument about how things ought to be. It is also an argument that might succeed, as long as it re-imagines what bookstores are for and how they are supported, rather than merely hoping that if enough nice people seem really concerned, the flow of time will reverse.

* * *

The local bookstore creates all kinds of value for its community, whether its hosting community bulletin boards, putting rocking chairs in the kids section, hosting book readings, or putting benches out in front of the store. Local writers, harried parents, couples on dates, all get value from a store’s existence as a inviting physical location, value separate from its existence as a transactional warehouse for books.

The store doesn’t get paid for this value. It gets paid for selling books. That ecosystem works — when it works — as long as the people sitting in those rocking chairs buy enough books, on average, to cover the added cost of having the chairs in the first place. The blows to that model have been coming for some time, from big box retailers stocking best sellers to online sales (especially second-hand sales) to the spread of ebooks to, now, price wars.

Online bookselling improves on many of the core functions of a bookstore, not just price and breadth of available books, but ways of searching for books, and of getting recommendations and context. On the other hand, the functions least readily replicated on the internet — providing real space in a physical location occupied by living, breathing people — have always been treated as side effects, value created by the stores and captured by the community, but not priced directly into the transactions.

If the money from selling books falls below a certain threshold, the stores will cut back on something — hours, staff, rocking chairs — and their overall value will fall, meaning marginally fewer patrons and sales, threatening still more cutbacks. There may be a future in which they offer less value and make less money in some new and stable equilibrium, but beneath a certain threshold, the only remaining equilibrium is Everything Must Go. Given the margins for local bookstores, many of them are near that threshold today.

All of this makes it clear what local bookstores will have to do if the profits or revenues of the core transaction fall too far: collect revenue for the side-effects.

The most famous version of this is bookstore-as-coffeeshop, where the revenues from coffee subsidize the lingering over books and vice-versa, but other ways of generating revenue are possible. Reservable space for book clubs, writers rooms, or study carrels; membership with buy-back options for a second-hand book market run out of the same space; certain shopping hours reserved for members or donors; use of volunteer labor, like a food coop; sponsorships from the people or businesses in the neighborhood most interested in the social value of the store and most interested in being known as local machers.

The core idea is to appeal to that small subset of customers who think of bookstores as their “third place”, alongside home and work. These people care about the store’s existence in physical (and therefore social) space; the goal would be to generate enough revenue from them to make the difference between red and black ink, and to make the new bargain not just acceptable but desirable for all parties. A small collection of patron saints who helped keep a local bookstore open could be cheaply smothered in appreciation by the culture they help support.

* * *

Treating the old side-effects as the new core value would in many cases require non-profit status. This would push small stores who tried it towards the NPR model, with a mix of endowment, sponsorship, and donations, a choice that might be anathema to the current owners. However, the history of businesses that traffic in physical delivery of media has been grim these last few years. (This is the story of your local record store, RIP.)

Any change from a commercial to a cooperative model of support would also probably have to be accompanied by a renegotiation of commercial leases. Street level commerce seems to be undergoing some of the same changes urban warehouses and lofts went through in the 1960s and waterfront property went through in the 1990s, where the muscular old jobs of making, storing, and transporting goods receded, leaving those spaces open for colonization as dwellings.

In the current case, the spread of electronic commerce for everything from music to groceries is part of the increase in empty store fronts on shopping streets, leaving a series of Citi branches, ATT outlets, and Starbucks that repeat at regular intervals, like scenery in a Hanna-Barbera cartoon. Even when the current recession ends, it’s hard to imagine vibrant re-population of most of the empty commercial spaces, and it’s easy to imagine scenarios in which commercial districts suffer more: consolidation among pharmacy chains, an uptick in electronic banking, the end of our love affair with frozen yogurt, any of these could keep many street level spaces empty, whatever happens to the larger economy.

If commercial space does follow the warehouse-and-loft pattern, then we’ll need to find ways to re-purpose those spaces. Unlike lofts, however, street level living has never been a big draw, but turning those spaces into mixed commercial-and-communal use may offer a viable alternative.

This also comes with the standard disclaimer that it may not work. The gap between the money needed to stave off foreclosure and the money available from local beneficiaries may not match up in any configuration. Vehement declarations of support for local bookstores may turn out be mere snobbishness masquerading as commitment. The transition of revenue from “transactional warehouse” to “social hub” may be too fitful to create the needed continuity. Landlords may prefer to hold empty spaces at nominally high rents than re-price. And so on.

All of which is to say that trying to save local bookstores from otherwise predictably fatal competition by turning some customers into members, patrons, or donors is an observably crazy idea. However, if the sober-minded alternative is waiting for the Justice Department to anoint the American Booksellers Association as a kind of OPEC for ink, even crazy ideas may be worth a try.
« Reply #70 on: November 18, 2009, 06:32:55 AM »

BBG had posted something similiar but I think it is an important enough issue to post multiple articles on.

Your Movements Speak for Themselves: Space-Time Travel Data is Analytic Super-Food!

It doesn’t matter who you say you are!  Where you are (space), when you’re there (time), and your movements over time (travel) are closer to the truth.

I’ve seen a lot of data in my life, and I’d like to think I have a decent grip on what can be accomplished with data and analytics.  However, I recently stumbled upon some facts that have radically reshaped my understanding of the world we are living in.  What I thought was years away is already here! Our toes are dangling over the edge of a very different future.

Now, before you get all worked up, remember: You have helped create this, most folks love this, and most will continue to eat this up despite the obvious consequences.

Mobile devices in America are generating something like 600 billion geo-spatially tagged transactions per day.  Every call, text message, email and data transfer handled by your mobile device creates a transaction with your space-time coordinate (to roughly 60 meters accuracy if there are three cell towers in range), whether you have GPS or not.  Got a Blackberry?  Every few minutes, it sends a heartbeat, creating a transaction whether you are using the phone or not.  If the device is GPS-enabled and you’re using a location-based service your location is accurate to somewhere between 10 and 30 meters.  Using Wi-Fi?  It is accurate below10 meters.


It should be no surprise that all this data lives in the coffers of the cell providers.  Lots of people know that.  What is new, at least to me, is that this data is being provided to third parties that are leveraging specially designed analytics to make sense of our space-time-travel data.

With the data out and specialized analytics emerging, this infant industry is already doing some pretty amazing work. Your space-time-travel data makes where you live and where you work self-evident, and it reveals your most frequent, periodic, infrequent and rare destinations.

The data reveals the number of co-workers that join you Thursdays after work for a beer, and roughly where you all go. It knows where these same co-workers call home, and just exactly what kind of neighborhood they come from (e.g., average income, average home price) … information certainly useful to attentive direct marketing folks.

Large space-time data sets combined with advanced analytics enable a degree of understanding, discovery, and prediction that may be hard for many people to fully appreciate. Better prediction means a more efficient enterprise and nifty consumer services.

Cellular companies are now receiving essential insight about their customers (e.g., to better understand and predict customer churn).  Major retailers can now better understand changes in consumer behavior (e.g., how far their customers are traveling on average this month compared to previous months).  Consumers are benefiting by getting real-time traffic information so they can avoid congested roads.  (I have a colleague that thinks he is saving two to four hours a week in commute time due to this service!)

Tip o’ the iceberg.

I can barely get my mind around the ramifications. My concept about what comes next shifts almost daily now.  A government not so keen on free speech could use such data to see a crowd converging towards a protest site and respond before the swarm takes form –  detected and preempted, this protest never happens.  Or worse, it could be used to understand and then undermine any political opponent.

A stalker might be questioned just days after he starts and before his victim is personally aware of it – detection previously beyond human capacity.  Maybe it’s not a crime in this case, and it turns out to be just a private investigator with poor tradecraft hired by a suspicious husband.

Such a surveillance intensive future is inevitable, irreversible and as I have said before here … irresistible.

Why?  Companies must be competitive to survive and consumers have quite the appetite for almost anything that optimizes their life, especially if it’s cheap or free.  For example:

Tuesday afternoon your [free] Gmail account advises you that your buddy Ken is going to be 15 minutes late to the pool hall this coming Thursday, unless he leaves work 15 minutes early … which he has only done twice in seven years.  Brilliant!

Your Starbucks drink of choice (a grande vanilla soy latte in my case) is handed to you the instant you pull up, and you did not call ahead nor did they ask.  Priceless!

When powerful analytics commingle space-time-travel data with tertiary data, the world we live in will fundamentally change.  Organizations and citizens alike will operate with substantially more efficiency.  There will be less carbon emissions, increased longevity, and fewer deaths.

I think people should know about this imminent new age we are marching into.

[Theatrical pause.  Breathe.]

Now I’m going to step back and address some questions you may have, using the good news/bad news format.

Good news: The space-time-travel collected by the cellular network carriers is de-identified when provided to these third parties for privacy reasons in that it does not include your name, address, phone number, etc.; rather, unique identifiers are assigned to transactions from the same device so that trends can be measured.

Bad news: If you were to provide your home, work and one other address (e.g., gym, school) in most cases, with just these data points, you are re-identified.  With just a few days of space-time-travel activity, your top three or four more frequently visited destinations become self-evident, and without a whole hell of a lot of effort you could be re-identified through a tertiary data set like a credit header.

Good news: There is so much data being produced, a lot of transactions are tossed aside, are sampled and summarized to make the computational effort feasible.  Historical data also falls off the back of the wagon (ages off the system) rather quickly.

Bad news: The competitive nature of this emerging business model will likely require these organizations to make more sense of more data faster.  Cloud computing and new classes of algorithms will make it possible to keep more transaction detail, keep it longer, and commingle it with other large and very interesting secondary data sets (e.g., phone books and property records).

Good news: So far there are only a handful of companies already entrusted with this data.

Bad news.  It may not be good news that only a few companies do this.  If only one company can monitor the consumer foot traffic of all Nordstrom stores in near real time,  this would be an unfair advantage in terms of predetermining its financial condition before anyone else.  As I learned from countless conversations with my friends at the ACLU, very powerful tools in the hands of a few is not often a good idea without one hell of a lot of oversight and accountability. And even then, this is no panacea.

Good news: Some of the organizations holding space-time-travel data are fully aware of the privacy consequences and are offering consumers the ability to opt-out – meaning, if they get a transaction about you it will be permanently removed from the system and all future correlation.

Bad news: If by chance a snapshot of sufficient detail had been sold off to another party before the opt-out request, then the toothpaste is out of the tube.  Data tends to replicate, more about this here.

Good news: Not any old mom and pop operation can get into this business.

Bad news: That won’t be true for long.  Suppose an aspiring entrepreneur makes a compelling proposition to a number of parties holding space-time-travel data.  Anticipating free analytics and a cut of the future action, the parties work a deal. For computing power this entrepreneur simply hops onto Amazon’s EC2 cloud and partners with a data aggregator to get some tertiary data and what do they have?  An ultra-sexy prediction engine.

Good news: People tend to appreciate location-based services, which is why they are opting in.

Bad news: Sensitive information about people is no longer under their own control.  As well, a number of well held secrets (e.g., your hideout) evaporate overnight.

Good news: If you want to escape the consequences of having your space-time-travel being graphed by others, here are some options that come to mind:

    (a) Stop using mobile devices;

    (b) Use multiple devices e.g., use one device only at work, and only a land line at home – all mobile devices being off at all other times (never moving around with a device on) – being sure these mobile devices are registered to someone other than you – and if you need to use some kind of device while on the move or at other locations. see (c) below;

    (c) Unregistered, cash-purchased, disposable devices – used once then discarded (or recycled!) – although in some cases you can use the device a few times, but you better let some fancy software (which I may have to invent) advise you what is safe usage and what is not.

    (d) If you can figure out locations on earth where only one cell tower exists (and you are not moving between towers and never using GPS or Wi-Fi) you will probably live safely under the radar – unless you are a way bad mofo and others know it, in which case, you are ‘going down’ anyway because there are more tricks (expensive) which will be levied against you.

Bad news: Few are willing to be this inconvenienced.  And if only a handful of innocent, clean living folks go to this same effort that the bad guys MUST employ … well crap, that in itself may be considered by some to be signal.

Net Net: My guess is most consumers don’t fully realize how their space-time-travel data is accumulating and congealing.  I hope consumers come to appreciate how all of these nice conveniences of life are delivered. And I hope they will continue to enjoy these while they make better informed decisions, especially with respect to their privacy.

However, without a feedback loop consumers may never fully appreciate what can be gleaned from their space-time-travel trail. Therefore, one way to enlighten the consumer would involve holders of space-time-travel data to permit an owner of a mobile device the ability to also see what they can see:

    (a) The top 10 places you spend the most time (e.g., 1. a home address, 2. a work address, 3. a secondary work facility address, 4. your kids school address, 5. your gym address, and so on);

    (b) The top three most predictable places you will be at a specific time when on the move (e.g., Vegas on the 215 freeway passing the Rainbow exit on Thursdays 6:07 - 6:21pm -- 57% of the time);

    (c) The first name and first letter of the last name of the top 20 people that you regularly meet-up with (turns out to be wife, kids, best friends, and co-workers – and hopefully in that order!)

    (d) The best three predictions of where you will be for more than one hour (in one place) over the next month, not counting home or work.

I think Google’s Android and Latitude products might be able to move on something like this first.  It would then be cool if other holders of space-time-travel data followed.

On the subject of privacy and civil liberties consequences, privacy by design is essential.  And for those of you with ideas in the area of policy or technology, I would be most appreciative if you would share these thoughts with me … sooner rather than later.

I will continue sharing perspectives about these ideas and the apparent consequences with my many friends in the privacy community, the defense/intelligence community, and media.  (Surprisingly, their feedback so far has been quite similar.)  I am also speaking with the organizations amassing and analyzing this space-time-travel data to learn more about what is possible.  From the perspective of the analytic engines I create, this space-time-travel data looks like “super foodl
« Reply #71 on: November 18, 2009, 06:35:12 AM »
The State of User Tracking and the Impossibility of Anonymizing Data
By Ben Gross

What we think is reasonable, commonplace, or even possible in terms of protecting or violating online privacy shifts constantly. Recent developments in tools and techniques for tracking online behavior and identifying individuals from supposedly anonymized data sets should cause us to reevaluate what is possible.

Katherine McKinley of iSEC Partners published a detailed analysis of how popular browsers and browser extensions handle cookies and other methods of local data storage used for tracking users in her December, 2008 paper Cleaning Up after Cookies (PDF). McKinley tested the ability for browsers and extensions to clear the private data as well as “private browsing” features. She found that most browsers attempted to clear previous stored private data, but often left some data accessible. She found that Adobe Flash did not attempt to remove this data and in fact stored it in such a way that it circumvented most privacy protections offered by browsers. iSEC Partners created an online version of the test used in the article to allow individuals to test their own configurations. It is available atBreadcrumbs Tracker.

The August, 2009 paper Flash Cookies and Privacy by Ashkan Soltani and Shannon Canty and Quentin Mayo and Lauren Thomas and Chris Jay Hoofnagle at UC Berkeley focuses directly on the privacy issues related to Flash Cookies. The authors survey the top 100 web sites according to QuantCast in July of 2009 and found that more than half of them used Flash cookies. The authors note that unlike standard HTTP cookies, Flash cookies do not have an expiration date and are stored in a different location on the file system that is harder to find. Most cookie management tools will not delete these type of cookies and they remain in place even when private browsing mode in enabled. The authors found that Flash cookies were frequently employed to track users that had explicitly attempted to prevent cookie tracking by using the Flash cookie to regenerate a HTTP cookie that had been deleted.

Most significant online services employ multiple tracking services for analytics, performance monitoring, and usability analysis. The most common technique is to include additional JavaScript in the user’s webpage for tracking. The paper On the Leakage of Personally Identifiable Information Via Online Social Networks presented at the ACM Workshop on Online Social Networks by Balachander Krishnamurthy and Craig Wills describes the techniques used by advertising firms and social networks services to track users and the types of information they release. The authors studied information leakage from twelve online social networks. They found that the bulk of user information is released through HTTP headers and third-party cookies.

In his post Netflix’s Impending (But Still Avoidable) Multi-Million Dollar Privacy Blunder on the Freedom to Tinker blog, Paul Ohm discusses his 2009 publication Broken Promises of Privacy: Responding to the Surprising Failure of Anonymization in the context of the announcement of the second Netflix prize for improving the accuracy of Netflix predictions. Ohm argues that it is not possible to anonymize the data and that it is irresponsible and possibly illegal to release it. Netflix released a half a million anonymized subscriber records for analysis in the original contest. The one million dollar prize offered resulted in significant numbers of researchers competing for the one million dollar prize and understandably gained quite a bit of notoriety.

Soon after the Netflix records were released, researchers Arvind Narayanan and Vitaly Shmatikov proved they were able to identify individual subscribers by combining the data with other databases with their publication Robust De-anonymization of Large Sparse Datasets (PDF) presented at the 2008 IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy that describes How to Break Anonymity of the Netflix Prize Dataset. Narayanan and Shmatikov continued their work on de-anonymizing social networks such as Twitter in De-Anonymizing Social Networks (PDF) (paper FAQ) a paper presented at the 2009 IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy. Ohm, reminds the readers about the scandal that occurred in 2006 when AOL researchers Greg Pass, Abdur Chowdhury, and Cayley Torgeson presented their paper A Picture of Search at the first International Conference on Scalable Information Systems. The authors released an anonymized dataset they analyzed in the paper that included more than six hundred thousand AOL users. Some users in the data were subsequently identified.

Carnegie Mellon University professor Latanya Sweeney is widely referenced as the source for much of the current work on de-anonymizing data sets. Her paper All the Data on All The People(only abstract is publicly available) published in 2000, showed that it was possible identify individuals in US Census data using only a small number of variables. The paper argues that it is possible to identify almost 90% of the US population using only full date of birth, gender, and ZIP code.

Alessandro Acquisti and Ralph Gross (no relation) presented their research on Predicting Social Security Numbers from Public Data show that it is possible to effectively automate the process of predicting an individual’s Social Security Numbers (SSN) for significant portions of the population using public information. They show that the information used to create predictions is easily harvested from social networking sites, voter registration records, and commercial databases. Aquiusti and Gross argue that we must reconsider our policies around the use of SSNs as the numbers are commonly used for authentication and are commonly abused by identity thieves.
« Reply #72 on: November 18, 2009, 06:36:59 AM »

Your Morning Commute is Unique: On the Anonymity of Home/Work Location Pairs

Philippe Golle and Kurt Partridge of PARC have a cute paper (pdf) on the anonymity of geo-location data. They analyze data from the U.S. Census and show that for the average person, knowing their approximate home and work locations — to a block level — identifies them uniquely.

Even if we look at the much coarser granularity of a census tract — tracts correspond roughly to ZIP codes; there are on average 1,500 people per census tract — for the average person, there are only around 20 other people who share the same home and work location. There’s more: 5% of people are uniquely identified by their home and work locations even if it is known only at the census tract level. One reason for this is that people who live and work in very different areas (say, different counties) are much more easily identifiable, as one might expect.

The paper is timely, because Location Based Services  are proliferating rapidly. To understand the privacy threats, we need to ask the two usual questions:

   1. who has access to anonymized location data?
   2. how can they get access to auxiliary data linking people to location pairs, which they can then use to carry out re-identification?

The authors don’t say much about these questions, but that’s probably because there are too many possibilities to list! In this post I will examine a few.

GPS navigation. This is the most obvious application that comes to mind, and probably the most privacy-sensitive: there have been many controversies around tracking of vehicle movements, such as NYC cab drivers threatening to strike. The privacy goal is to keep the location trail of the user/vehicle unknown even to the service provider — unlike in the context of social networks, people often don’t even trust the service provider. There are several papers on anonymizing GPS-related queries, but there doesn’t seem to be much you can do to hide the origin and destination except via charmingly unrealistic cryptographic protocols.

The accuracy of GPS is a few tens or few hundreds of feet, which is the same order of magnitude as a city block. So your daily commute is pretty much unique. If you took a (GPS-enabled) cab home from work at a certain time, there’s a good chance the trip can be tied to you. If you made a detour to stop somewhere, the location of your stop can probably be determined. This is true even if there is no record tying you to a specific vehicle.

ScreenshotLocation based social networking. Pretty soon, every smartphone will be capable of running applications that transmit location data to web services. Google Latitude and Loopt are two of the major players in this space, providing some very nifty social networking functionality on top of location awareness. It is quite tempting for service providers to outsource research/data-mining by sharing de-identified data. I don’t know if anything of the sort is being done yet, but I think it is clear that de-identification would offer very little privacy protection in this context. If a pair of locations is uniquely identifying, a trail is emphatically so.

The same threat also applies to data being subpoena’d, so data retention policies need to take into consideration the uselessness of anonymizing location data.

I don’t know if cellular carriers themselves collect a location trail from phones as a matter of course. Any idea?

Plain old web browsing. Every website worth the name identifies you with a cookie, whether you log in or not. So if you browse the web from a laptop or mobile phone from both home and work, your home and work IP addresses can be tied together based on the cookie. There are a number of free or paid databases for turning IP addresses into geographical locations. These are generally accurate up to the city level, but beyond that the accuracy is shaky.

A more accurate location fix can be obtained by IDing WiFi access points. This is a curious technological marvel that is not widely known. Skyhook, Inc. has spent years wardriving the country (and abroad) to map out the MAC addresses of wireless routers. Given the MAC address of an access point, their database can tell you where it is located. There are browser add-ons that query Skyhook’s database and determine the user’s current location. Note that you don’t have to be browsing wirelessly — all you need is at least one WiFi access point within range. This information can then be transmitted to websites which can provide location-based functionality; Opera, in particular, has teamed up with Skyhook and is “looking forward to a future where geolocation data is as assumed part of the browsing experience.” The protocol by which the browser communicates geolocation to the website is being standardized by the W3C.

The good news from the privacy standpoint is that the accurate geolocation technologies like the Skyhook plug-in (and a competing offering that is part of Google Gears) require user consent. However, I anticipate that once the plug-ins become common, websites will entice users to enable access by (correctly) pointing out that their location can only be determined to within a few hundred meters, and users will leave themselves vulnerable to inference attacks that make use of location pairs rather than individual locations.

Image metadata. An increasing number of cameras these days have (GPS-based) geotagging built-in and enabled by default. Even more awesome is the Eye-Fi card, which automatically uploads pictures you snap to Flickr (or any of dozens of other image sharing websites you can pick from) by connecting to available WiFi access points nearby. Some versions of the card do automatic geotagging in addition.

If you regularly post pseudonymously to (say) Flickr, then the geolocations of your pictures will probably reveal prominent clusters around the places you frequent, including your home and work. This can be combined with auxiliary data to tie the pictures to your identity.

Now let us turn to the other major question: what are the sources of auxiliary data that might link location pairs to identities? The easiest approach is probably to buy data from Acxiom, or another provider of direct-marketing address lists. Knowing approximate home and work locations, all that the attacker needs to do is to obtain data corresponding to both neighborhoods and do a “join,” i.e, find the (hopefully) unique common individual. This should be easy with Axciom, which lets you filter the list by  “DMA code, census tract, state, MSA code, congressional district, census block group, county, ZIP code, ZIP range, radius, multi-location radius, carrier route, CBSA (whatever that is), area code, and phone prefix.”

Google and Facebook also know my home and work addresses, because I gave them that information. I expect that other major social networking sites also have such information on tens of millions of users. When one of these sites is the adversary — such as when you’re trying to browse anonymously — the adversary already has access to the auxiliary data. Google’s power in this context is amplified by the fact that they own DoubleClick, which lets them tie together your browsing activity on any number of different websites that are tracked by DoubleClick cookies.

Finally, while I’ve talked about image data being the target of de-anonymization, it may equally well be used as the auxiliary information that links a location pair to an identity — a non-anonymous Flickr account with sufficiently many geotagged photos probably reveals an identifiable user’s home and work locations. (Some attack techniques that I describe on this blog, such as crawling image metadata from Flickr to reveal people’s home and work locations, are computationally expensive to carry out on a large scale but not algorithmically hard; such attacks, as can be expected, will rapidly become more feasible with time.)

devicesSummary. A number of devices in our daily lives transmit our physical location to service providers whom we don’t necessarily trust, and who keep might keep this data around or transmit it to third parties we don’t know about. The average user simply doesn’t have the patience to analyze and understand the privacy implications, making anonymity a misleadingly simple way to assuage their concerns. Unfortunately, anonymity breaks down very quickly when more than one location is associated with a person, as is usually the case.
« Reply #73 on: December 28, 2009, 10:08:46 PM »

Sites that take issue with H1B guest worker visas have been sued for libel and ordered offline. Methinks this might prove a blueprint for folks who seek to stifle internet viewpoints they disagree with:

Court orders three H-1B sites disabled
Judge's ruling to shut down three opposition sites is part of Apex libel lawsuit
Patrick Thibodeau

December 28, 2009 (Computerworld) A New Jersey judge has ordered the shutdown of three H-1B opposition Web sites and seeks information about the identity of anonymous posters.

On Dec. 23, Middlesex County Superior Court Judge James Hurley ordered firms that register domains and provide hosting services -- GoDaddy Inc., Network Solutions, Comcast Cable Communications Inc. and DiscountASP.Net, to disable the three sites,,, and Facebook Inc. was also ordered to disable ITgrunt's Facebook page.

DiscountASP.Net said it has disabled after it received the order from the New Jersey Superior Court. The order did not request any account information, only that the company "...immediately shut down and disable the website until further order of this court..," a spokesman said in an email. Facebook said it received the document Monday.

GoDaddy is complying with the order and has suspended the web hosting for, said Laurie Anderson. GoDaddy disputes manager, domain services.

The web site is registered but not hosted at Go Daddy, Anderson added in an e-mail. "Both domain names have been placed on registrar lock due to the pending litigation. When Go Daddy receives a court order, it is standard procedure to comply," she said.

Hurley's order was made in response to a libel lawsuit filed by IT services and consulting firm Apex Technology Group Inc., based in Edison, N.J. against the three Web sites opposing the H-1B visa program.

The issue is creating a stir among H-1B opponents working in IT-related jobs who fear their posts could result in the loss of their jobs.

Two of the sites, and, were offline this morning, but remained operating.

The company is seeking the identity of a person who posted an Apex employment agreement on, that has since been removed. A link to the document and comments critical of it has been posted on a variety of Web sites, including at least one in India, on The comment broadly alleges that employees will find it difficult to leave Apex because of its contract terms.

Apex, in one legal filing, said the allegations by the anonymous posters are false and defamatory, and were hurting the company. In the filing, Apex said it "has had three consultants refuse to report for employment" as a result postings, according to legal documents.

Apex said it is also seeking "contact details of the individual who posted this legal agreement without permission since we are the copyright owner of the legal document."

Accoring to court documents, a writer responding to wrote that the site has "not posted a legal agreement and don't have the contact details of anyone of our contributors. We will also protect the privacy of any members of our community."

Patrick Papalia, an attorney representing Apex, said that the company has already identified an employee who left the initial comment. But he said the issue goes well beyond the agreement and involves threatening and racist comments against company officials, as well as ongoing allegations that it is engaging in illegal activities. "Apex has an outstanding reputation in the information technology field," he said.

John Miano, who heads the Programmers Guild and is also an attorney, and who one represented one the parties involved in the dispute, said it is "rather chilling" to have a court in New Jersey ordering the shutdown of Web sites operated by people with no connection to New Jersey.

The operator of deferred questions to Donna Conroy, who heads Bright Future Jobs, an activist organization on the H-1B issue, who detailed her concerns about it in a post on her site.

In an email, she said, "I'm astonished that an American judge would force American web sites to rat on American workers who wouldn't snitch on an Indian H-1B. If this order stands, it will rob the security every American expects when they post complaints anonymously or express their opinions on-line. It will create a credible threat that Americans could face retaliation from any current or former employer."

The operator of linked to's blog entry and said he added some comments of his own. He doesn't allow comments on this site. He has since removed the entry concerning Apex. He says he won't let the New Jersey judge "run the Internet and silence free speech by shutting down the whole site. Hence, my site is still up." He asked that his name not be used, in response to an email.

The ISPs and registrars were contacted. ITgrunt operates a page on Facebook. A company spokesman said it has not been formally served. The other companies didn't respond by press time.
« Reply #74 on: December 31, 2009, 05:29:38 PM »

Secret language
by Joel Spolsky
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Microsoft Careers: “If you’re looking for a new role where you’ll focus on one of the biggest issues that is top of mind for KT and Steve B in ‘Compete’, build a complete left to right understanding of the subsidiary, have a large amount of executive exposure, build and manage the activities of a v-team of 13 district Linux& Open Office Compete Leads, and develop a broad set of marketing skills and report to a management team committed to development and recognized for high WHI this is the position for you!”

This is ironic, to use the Alanis Morissette meaning of the word [NSFW video].

The whole reason Microsoft even needs a v-team of 13, um, “V DASHES” to compete against Open Office is that they’ve become so insular that their job postings are full of incomprehensible jargon and acronyms which nobody outside the company can understand. With 93,000 employees, nobody ever talks to anyone outside the company, so it's no surprise they've become a bizarre borg of "KT", "Steve B", "v-team", "high WHI," CSI, GM, BG, BMO (bowel movements?) and whatnot.

When I worked at Microsoft almost two decades ago we made fun of IBM for having a different word for everything. Everybody said, "Hard Drive," IBM said "Fixed Disk." Everybody said, "PC," IBM said "Workstation." IBM must have had whole departments of people just to FACT CHECK the pages in their manuals which said, "This page intentionally left blank."

Now when you talk to anyone who has been at Microsoft for more than a week you can’t understand a word they’re saying. Which is OK, you can never understand geeks. But at Microsoft you can’t even understand the marketing people, and, what’s worse, they don’t seem to know that they’re speaking in their own special language, understood only to them.
« Reply #75 on: January 26, 2010, 05:13:01 PM »

U.S. enables Chinese hacking of Google
cnn | 23 Jan 2010 | Bruce Schneier

U.S. enables Chinese hacking of Google

Google says hackers from China got into its Gmail system
Bruce Schneier says hackers exploited feature put into system at behest of U.S. government
When governments get access to private communications, they invite abuse, he says
Government surveillance and control of Internet is flourishing, he says
Bruce Schneier is a security technologist and author of "Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly About Security in an Uncertain World." Read more of his writing at

Google made headlines when it went public with the fact that Chinese hackers had penetrated some of its services, such as Gmail, in a politically motivated attempt at intelligence gathering. The news here isn't that Chinese hackers engage in these activities or that their attempts are technically sophisticated -- we knew that already -- it's that the U.S. government inadvertently aided the hackers.
In order to comply with government search warrants on user data, Google created a backdoor access system into Gmail accounts. This feature is what the Chinese hackers exploited to gain access.
Google's system isn't unique. Democratic governments around the world -- in Sweden, Canada and the UK, for example -- are rushing to pass laws giving their police new powers of Internet surveillance, in many cases requiring communications system providers to redesign products and services they sell.
Many are also passing data retention laws, forcing companies to retain information on their customers. In the U.S., the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act required phone companies to facilitate FBI eavesdropping, and since 2001, the National Security Agency has built substantial eavesdropping systems with the help of those phone companies.
Systems like these invite misuse: criminal appropriation, government abuse and stretching by everyone possible to apply to situations that are applicable only by the most tortuous logic. The FBI illegally wiretapped the phones of Americans, often falsely invoking terrorism emergencies, 3,500 times between 2002 and 2006 without a warrant. Internet surveillance and control will be no different.

Official misuses are bad enough, but it's the unofficial uses that worry me more. Any surveillance and control system must itself be secured. An infrastructure conducive to surveillance and control invites surveillance and control, both by the people you expect and by the people you don't.
China's hackers subverted the access system Google put in place to comply with U.S. intercept orders. Why does anyone think criminals won't be able to use the same system to steal bank account and credit card information, use it to launch other attacks or turn it into a massive spam-sending network? Why does anyone think that only authorized law enforcement can mine collected Internet data or eavesdrop on phone and IM conversations?
These risks are not merely theoretical. After September 11, the NSA built a surveillance infrastructure to eavesdrop on telephone calls and e-mails within the U.S. Although procedural rules stated that only non-Americans and international phone calls were to be listened to, actual practice didn't match those rules. NSA analysts collected more data than they were authorized to and used the system to spy on wives, girlfriends and notables such as President Clinton.
But that's not the most serious misuse of a telecommunications surveillance infrastructure. In Greece, between June 2004 and March 2005, someone wiretapped more than 100 cell phones belonging to members of the Greek government: the prime minister and the ministers of defense, foreign affairs and justice.
Ericsson built this wiretapping capability into Vodafone's products and enabled it only for governments that requested it. Greece wasn't one of those governments, but someone still unknown -- A rival political party? Organized crime? Foreign intelligence? -- figured out how to surreptitiously turn the feature on.
And surveillance infrastructure can be exported, which also aids totalitarianism around the world. Western companies like Siemens and Nokia built Iran's surveillance. U.S. companies helped build China's electronic police state. Just last year, Twitter's anonymity saved the lives of Iranian dissidents, anonymity that many governments want to eliminate.
In the aftermath of Google's announcement, some members of Congress are reviving a bill banning U.S. tech companies from working with governments that digitally spy on their citizens. Presumably, those legislators don't understand that their own government is on the list.
This problem isn't going away. Every year brings more Internet censorship and control, not just in countries like China and Iran but in the U.S., the U.K., Canada and other free countries, egged on by both law enforcement trying to catch terrorists, child pornographers and other criminals and by media companies trying to stop file sharers.
The problem is that such control makes us all less safe. Whether the eavesdroppers are the good guys or the bad guys, these systems put us all at greater risk. Communications systems that have no inherent eavesdropping capabilities are more secure than systems with those capabilities built in. And it's bad civic hygiene to build technologies that could someday be used to facilitate a police state.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Bruce Schneier.
Power User
Posts: 42552

« Reply #76 on: April 06, 2010, 11:21:13 AM »

Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Tue, April 06, 2010 -- 11:23 AM ET

Court Rules Against F.C.C. in 'Net Neutrality' Case

A federal appeals court has ruled that the Federal
Communications Commission lacks the authority to require
broadband providers to give equal treatment to all Internet
traffic flowing over their networks.

Tuesday's ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for
the District of Columbia is a big victory for the Comcast
Corporation, the nation's largest cable company. It had
challenged the F.C.C.'s authority to impose so called "net
neutrality" obligations.

Read More:
Power User
Posts: 42552

« Reply #77 on: May 06, 2010, 08:34:57 AM »

Endrunning the recent court decision?
WASHINGTON—In a move that will stoke a battle over the future of the Internet, the federal government plans to propose regulating broadband lines under decades-old rules designed for traditional phone networks.

The decision, by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, is likely to trigger a vigorous lobbying battle, arraying big phone and cable companies and their allies on Capitol Hill against Silicon Valley giants and consumer advocates.

Breaking a deadlock within his agency, Mr. Genachowski is expected Thursday to outline his plan for regulating broadband lines. He wants to adopt "net neutrality" rules that require Internet providers like Comcast Corp. and AT&T Inc. to treat all traffic equally, and not to slow or block access to websites.

The decision has been eagerly awaited since a federal appeals court ruling last month cast doubt on the FCC's authority over broadband lines, throwing into question Mr. Genachowski's proposal to set new rules for how Internet traffic is managed. The court ruled the FCC had overstepped when it cited Comcast in 2008 for slowing some customers' Internet traffic.

In a nod to such concerns, the FCC said in a statement that Mr. Genachowski wouldn't apply the full brunt of existing phone regulations to Internet lines and that he would set "meaningful boundaries to guard against regulatory overreach."

Some senior Democratic lawmakers provided Mr. Genachowski with political cover for his decision Wednesday, suggesting they wouldn't be opposed to the FCC taking the re-regulation route towards net neutrality protections.

"The Commission should consider all viable options," wrote Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D, W.V.), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, and Rep. Henry Waxman (D, Calif.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, in a letter.

At stake is how far the FCC can go to dictate the way Internet providers manage traffic on their multibillion-dollar networks. For the past decade or so, the FCC has maintained a mostly hands-off approach to Internet regulation.  Internet giants like Google Inc., Inc. and eBay Inc., which want to offer more Web video and other high-bandwidth services, have called for stronger action by the FCC to assure free access to websites.  Cable and telecommunications executives have warned that using land-line phone rules to govern their management of Internet traffic would lead them to cut billions of capital expenditure for their networks, slash jobs and go to court to fight the rules.

Consumer groups hailed the decision Wednesday, an abrupt change from recent days, when they'd bombarded the FCC chairman with emails and phone calls imploring him to fight phone and cable companies lobbyists.

"On the surface it looks like a win for Internet companies," said Rebecca Arbogast, an analyst with Stifel Nicolaus. "A lot will depend on the details of how this gets implemented."

Mr. Genachowski's proposal will have to go through a modified inquiry and rule-making process that will likely take months of public comment. But Ms. Arbogast said the rule is likely to be passed since it has the support of the two other Democratic commissioners. 

President Barack Obama vowed during his campaign to support regulation to promote so-called net neutrality, and received significant campaign contributions from Silicon Valley. Mr. Genachowski, a Harvard Law School buddy of the president, proposed new net neutrality rules as his first major action as FCC chairman.

Telecom executives say privately that limits on their ability to change pricing would make it harder to convince shareholders that the returns from spending billions of dollars on improving a network are worth the cost.  Carriers fear further regulation could handcuff their ability to cope with the growing demand put on their networks by the explosion in Internet and wireless data traffic. In particular, they worry that the FCC will require them to share their networks with rivals at government-regulated rates.

Mike McCurry, former press secretary for President Bill Clinton and co-chair of the Arts + Labs Coalition, an industry group representing technology companies, telecom companies and content providers, said the FCC needs to assert some authority to back up the general net neutrality principles it outlined in 2005.

"The question is how heavy a hand will the regulatory touch be," he said. "We don't know yet, so the devil is in the details. The network operators have to be able to treat some traffic on the Internet different than other traffic—most people agree that web video is different than an email to grandma. You have to discriminate in some fashion."

UBS analyst John Hodulik said the cable companies and carriers were likely to fight this in court "for years" and could accelerate their plans to wind down investment in their broadband networks.

"You could have regulators involved in every facet of providing Internet over time. How wholesale and prices are set, how networks are interconnected and requirements that they lease out portions of their network," he said.
Power User
Posts: 7840

« Reply #78 on: May 15, 2010, 09:23:28 AM »

There is no question they did this purposely.  This is all the new corporate crime going on.  And no one is looking, no one is doing anything about it.  They pay people to snoop like this  They have been doing this to Katherine and I for years and we can't stop it.  Everything is wireless or wireless capable now.  You get this stuff sold to you as though it is some sort of upgrade.  "Oh we will throw this in there too...."

They often hire ex cons to do this.  MSFT does it all the time. They have departments that do this. This is by and away how the entertainment industry gets their material - by watching others and stealing it.

Until the gov. gets serious and enforces laws and puts people away - this kind of stuff will continue to grow.

****TECHNOLOGY MAY 14, 2010, 7:54 P.M. ET Google Says It Mistakenly Collected Data on Web Usage By JESSICA E. VASCELLARO
Google Inc. said an internal investigation has discovered that the roving vans the company uses to create its online mapping services were mistakenly collecting data about websites people were visiting over wireless networks.

The Internet giant said it would stop collecting Wi-Fi data from its StreetView vans, which workers drive to capture street images and to locate Wi-Fi networks. The company said it would dispose of the data it had accidentally collected.

Alan Eustace, senior vice president of engineering and research for Google, wrote in a blog post that the company uncovered the mistake while responding to a German data-protection agency's request for it to audit the Wi-Fi data, amid mounting concerns that Google's practices violated users' privacy.

The camera of a German Google Street View car looms over the car next to the Google logo at the Google stand at the CeBIT Technology Fair on March 3, 2010 in Hannover, Germany.
Journal Community
Vote: From an end to online sales of Nexus One to privacy concerns over StreetView's WiFi surveys, will the setbacks hurt Google's momentum? Google had previously said it was collecting the location of Wi-Fi hot spots from its StreetView vehicles, but not the information being transmitted over those networks by users.

"It's now clear that we have been mistakenly collecting samples of payload data from open (i.e. non-password-protected) Wi-Fi networks, even though we never used that data in any Google products," wrote Mr. Eustace. "We are profoundly sorry for this error and are determined to learn all the lessons we can from our mistake."

Google said it has been collecting and keeping the data since around 2007. At that time, the team building the software to gather the location of Wi-Fi hot spots mistakenly included some experimental software that sampled all categories of publicly broadcast Wi-Fi data.

"It is another example of the how the company hasn't effectively grappled with the massive amount of information it collects," said Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy.

Experience WSJ professional Editors' Deep Dive: Google, Others Struggle With PrivacyTR DAILY
Privacy Can Exist With Innovation, Symposium Speakers SayDow Jones News Service
Facebook Bolsters D.C. PresenceComputerworld (Australia)
Privacy groups target Google Street ViewAccess thousands of business sources not available on the free web. Learn More Due to the mistake, Google could have collected information about which websites people were accessing, from online videos they were watching to emails they were sending.

But Google would only have collected data if the website and the Wi-Fi connection weren't secured. Many major websites that carry personal information, such as financial-services sites, are encrypted so no data from such services were collected, a Google spokesman said. Mr. Eustace wrote that Google only had "fragments" of data, since its cars were on the move.

Google uses the Wi-Fi data to improve its location-based services. By having a database of Wi-Fi hot spots, Google can identify a mobile user's approximate location based on cell towers and Wi-Fi access points that are visible to their device. A Google spokesman said the company would continue to offer those products.

The disclosure comes as Google's collection of Wi-Fi data—along with other real-life imagery it uses in its mapping services—have come under intense scrutiny from some privacy advocates, specifically in Europe. In April, Google moved to defend the service and what it collects in a lengthy blog post in which it said it did not collect or store payload data.

Write to Jessica E. Vascellaro at

Copyright 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved****

Power User
Posts: 7840

« Reply #79 on: July 09, 2010, 12:28:29 PM »

Make no mistake about it this is no mistake.
This is rampant.  If organized crime does this to Katherine and myself in the music business which is rampantly all stealing of other people's property then one knows it is rampant on Wall Street, Washington, politics, the entire entertainment business, media business, as well as all levels of criminals from the low level computer literate street thugs up to the top of the IT businesses including MSFT, APPLE, Google and probably most of the rest of them.
The executives of Google must be held crimnally liable.  But they won't.  They have too much money.

****Friday, 9 July 2010 09:26 UK
Google's Street View 'snoops' on Congress members 
By Maggie Shiels
Technology reporter, BBC News, Silicon Valley 

Ms Harman's home was one of five where the wifi network was tested
Google's popular Street View project may have collected personal information of members of Congress, including some involved in national security issues.

The claim was made by leading advocacy group, Consumer Watchdog which wants Congress to hold hearings into what data Google's Street View possesses.

Google admitted it mistakenly collected information, transmitted over unsecured wireless networks, as its cars filmed locations for mapping purposes.

Google said the problem began in 2006.

The issue came to light when German authorities asked to audit the data.

The search giant said the snippets could include parts of an email, text, photograph, or even the website someone might be viewing.

"We think the Google Wi-Spy effort is one of the biggest wire tapping scandals in US history," John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog told BBC News.

Drive-by spying

The group conducted an experiment to highlight the vulnerability some users expose themselves to by retracing the same routes, used by Street View cars, to detect unencrypted or open networks.

The Street View car takes photos for the service
This practice is often described as "drive-by spying" and is favoured by criminals who trawl the streets to find houses or businesses using unencrypted wifi, so they can steal financial information.

Google has stressed all along that someone would need to be using the network as their cars passed by and that the in-car wifi equipment automatically changes channels roughly five times a second.

Consumer Watchdog focused on a number of high profile politicians whose homes appear on Google's Street View maps.

It found that Congresswoman Jane Harman, who heads the intelligence sub committee for the House's Homeland Security Committee, has an open home network that could have leaked out vital information that could have been picked up by Street View vehicles.

Ms Harman's office has not responded to calls for comment on the issue. Consumer Watch said it did not collect any information but did pinpoint where unsecure networks could be found.

"Our purpose was to show that members of Congress are targets just as much as every other citizen in the land" said Mr Simpson.


The experiment found that a further four residences it checked had vulnerable networks in the vicinity that may belong to members of Congress.

This included the home of Congressman Henry Waxman, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over internet issues.

The ability to tap into open networks is a major security issue
His office told BBC News that "Chairman Waxman has previously raised concerns about Google" which were contained in a letter sent to company chief executive Eric Schmidt in May.

At that time, Mr Waxman said the Committee was "interested in the nature of this data collection, the underlying technology your fleet of Street View cars employed, the use of the information collected, and the impact it could have on consumer privacy".

The Computer & Communications Industry Association, CCIA, said the tactics used by Consumer Watchdog left a lot to be desired.

"What Consumer Watchdog did was not a useful contribution to what could and should be a broader online privacy debate," said CCIA president Ed Black.

"They detected unsecured wifi networks that anyone, including neighbours, can pick up. It proves nothing about what, if anything, a person or company like Google might have done to intercept and record data."

'Major progress'

Consumer Watchdog wants Congress to hold hearings on the issue and ensure that Google boss Mr Schmidt be made to testify under oath.

In a statement, Google wrote "as we've said before, it was a mistake for us to include code in our software that collected payload data, but we believe we did nothing illegal. We're continuing to work with the relevant authorities to answer their questions and concerns".

That includes German authorities who said it was still waiting to receive a copy of data gathered by the Street View cars.

The office of Johannes Caspar, the head of the Hamburg Data Protection Authority, told the BBC that a deadline set for earlier this week was extended at Google's request because of the recent 4th of July national holiday.****
Power User
Posts: 42552

« Reply #80 on: July 09, 2010, 02:59:22 PM »

Tangent:  Jane Harman is my Congresswoman.
« Reply #81 on: August 03, 2010, 09:34:49 PM »

Estimated cost to outsource cracking your router password or encrypted zip file. $17.
« Reply #82 on: August 04, 2010, 08:12:32 AM »

My 17 year old son provides tech support at his high school (through a program that also has him working a 40K job over the summer. I was flipping freaking burgers at his age). They have a dual wireless network at his school, with one network for the general public, and the other supposedly secure for teachers and admin. The technology staff member my son reports to didn't think the password for the second network was particularly secure, and asked my son to prove so by cracking it. The project excited my kid, he wired up several PCs he'd ported to LINUX to try to brute force it, and then also set about trying to sniff it with a utility he'd found that he put on the iTouch he'd jailbroken. Took him about a week to crack it, but he did via a combination of techniques.

If a 17 year old can do this stuff out of spare parts he cobbled together and hacked, imagine what a dedicated hacker with the latest and greatest could do.
Power User
Posts: 42552

« Reply #83 on: November 18, 2010, 08:31:32 AM »

People in North America are no longer using digital cable to view programming.   With a Roku, Playstation or Xbox, as long as you don’t have to watch cable system programming when the programs are first shown, you can actually cut your cable or satellite bill significantly.

Cisco invested heavily in the cable set top box (STB) model when it acquired Scientific Atlanta.  But everything including TV signals are moving to Ethernet packets.  Google and Apple TV are also examples of this trend.  NetFlix has survived and prospered because it recognized this phenomenon long before Blockbuster.  In its last earnings call, CSCO revealed that its North American sales to MSO’s (multiple system operators) declined 30%.

IMO, the recession here has accelerated the convergence of the Internet with TV as people look to cut fixed monthly household expenses.

I believe that in this decade, Apple and Google/Amazon will supplant the major MSO’s as the prime source of video programming to the home and to the wireless device such as the iPad.  If AAPL has any major vulnerability in this environment, it is its walled garden approach to providing programming versus a more open source at Google/Amazon.  In many respects, AAPL reminds me on AOL at its peak 15-20 years ago.

And don’t dismiss wireless as a strong competitor to cable.  The new 4G LTE systems that are nearing implementation can provide very robust download speeds for Ethernet packets.  LTE has won the battle with WiMax as the most widely adopted worldwide standard for 4G.  Why do you think that Verizon is selling iPads now?  In 1-2 years, in the more densely populated areas of North America, it may be more efficient to access the internet directly by wireless.  This also attacks Cisco’s Linksys division because direct wireless access obviates the need for a WiFi router.


Anyway, this article prompted me to share these thoughts.  I now watch almost half of my video over the internet.  How much video do you now watch over the internet?

Viewers pull plug on US cable television
By Matthew Garrahan in Los Angeles

Published: November 17 2010 21:31 | Last updated: November 17 2010 21:31

The number of people subscribing to US cable television services has suffered its biggest decline in 30 years as younger, tech-savvy viewers lead an exodus to web-based operations, such as Hulu and Netflix.

The total number of subscribers to TV services provided by cable, satellite and telco operators fell by 119,000 in the third quarter, compared with a gain of 346,000 in the third quarter of 2009, according to SNL Kagan, a research company.
Although television services offered by telecoms and satellite providers added subscribers over the period, cable operators were hard hit, with subscriber numbers falling by 741,000 – the largest decline in 30 years.

The figures suggest that “cord-cutting” – one of the pay-television industry’s biggest fears – is becoming a reality as viewers drift to web-based platforms.

Online TV services are stepping up their efforts to reach new viewers and become profitable: Hulu, which is owned by News Corp, Walt Disney and NBC Universal, has slashed the cost of its online subscription service by 20 per cent to $7.99 per month and offers a vast array of film and TV programming.

Jason Kilar, Hulu’s chief executive, has maintained that Hulu, which is exploring an initial public offering, complements pay-television services.

Yet the data suggest that the growth of Hulu and Netflix, the DVD subscription company which began testing a $7.99 per month streaming-only service last month, has become problematic for cable operators.

Ian Olgeirson, senior analyst at SNL Kagan, said it was becoming “increasingly difficult” to dismiss the impact of web-based services on the pay-TV industry, “particularly after seeing declines during the period of the year that tends to produce the largest subscriber gains due to seasonal shifts back to television viewing and subscription packages”.

Hulu’s revenues are increasing sharply: the company is projected to generate more than $240m in 2010, up from $108m in 2009. It has extended the number of devices that can access its subscription service to include Sony’s PlayStation 3 console and will add internet-connected devices, including Vizio, LG Electronics and Panasonic Blu-ray players, in the next few months.

Devices such as Apple’s iPad also appear to be accelerating the move away from traditional multichannel television.

Research from The Diffusion Group, a technology research company, found that more than a third of iPad users were likely to cancel their pay-TV subscriptions in the next six months.

The cable industry has launched a vigorous defence against cord-cutting: companies such as Comcast, which has agreed to buy NBC Universal, are backing “TV Everywhere”, which gives subscribers access to channels and programming online, and via their cable box.


Posts: 19

« Reply #84 on: December 10, 2010, 01:51:22 PM »

Sort of along the line of twitter is the possibility to watch your home through your home security systems if you use an android phone. There is an android app that allows you to keep an eye on things at home, or wherever, while you're away. I think that's a pretty cool idea. Tiny Cam Monitor Free is one app:
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #85 on: December 10, 2010, 02:01:37 PM »

Keep in mind those same cameras could be used to monitor you and verify when you are away from home.
Power User
Posts: 7840

« Reply #86 on: December 11, 2010, 12:21:13 PM »

It is impossible to secure anything electronic.  Impossible.

And not only via internet.  Everything is going wireless.  Everything is being connected.  And with that everything can be accessed.

In our house we are not wireless or connected to internet though we are still being hacked through our home because the wiring has been rigged.

I read article in Scientific American.  It was about how electronic components are made all over the world and shipped around from one fab to another where the final product is put together.  In the article it explains how the chips are so small, so complex, the circuits so confusing that NO ONE could possibly figure it all out.  Even one sitting in an FBI lab.  There is no question espionage whether state sponsored, criminally sponsored or some jerk like Assange could embed into the hardware chips that could sit in wait for years before they start spying and sending out information or someone who is bribed get it off the computer device.  It used to be the final electronic devices were made at one fab so at least there could be some control some oversight.   Now with devices made from parts from many countries there is zero chance for quality assurance with regards to security.  Only an idiot could imagine the Chinese are not giving us parts with "gifts" buried deep inside.

With regards to my own experience I have spoken on message boards for years how no matter what we do we cannot stop the cyberthieves who are well funded, well connected, some dedicated hackers some PHDs (John Joseph Leeson - Central Florida computer Phd.).  Indeed the music industry is flooded with computer geeks.   Disney, Sony, Dreamworks have all done many songs with Katherine' stolen lyrics.  For God's sake these companies invent the devices we use.  Anyone think for one second people connected to them cannot figure out how to steal data?

There is NO hope of stopping this.  Forget it.  One thing for certain is the laws are too slow and will liely never be harsh enough.  We need to make punishment for such crimes as severe as possible.  Assange should certainly be facing life in prison or the death penalty.  We need to make examples of the very very few people who commit these acts and who get actually do get caught.  We do need a branch of the military dedicated to this.  We also need to beef up our law enforcement in this area. 

Forgive me my fellow law enforcement officers but I would rather see them be retrained in computers and continue working till 65 helping with this area.  Forget early retirement but pay for training give a good raise.  We need you to fight the stuff going on right under our noses
Power User
Posts: 42552

« Reply #87 on: December 22, 2010, 08:00:21 AM »

The Federal Communications Commission's new "net neutrality" rules, passed on a partisan 3-2 vote yesterday, represent a huge win for a slick lobbying campaign run by liberal activist groups and foundations. The losers are likely to be consumers who will see innovation and investment chilled by regulations that treat the Internet like a public utility.

There's little evidence the public is demanding these rules, which purport to stop the non-problem of phone and cable companies blocking access to websites and interfering with Internet traffic. Over 300 House and Senate members have signed a letter opposing FCC Internet regulation, and there will undoubtedly be even less support in the next Congress.

Yet President Obama, long an ardent backer of net neutrality, is ignoring both Congress and adverse court rulings, especially by a federal appeals court in April that the agency doesn't have the power to enforce net neutrality. He is seeking to impose his will on the Internet through the executive branch. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, a former law school friend of Mr. Obama, has worked closely with the White House on the issue. Official visitor logs show he's had at least 11 personal meetings with the president.

Internet Gets New Rules
Opinion: The FCC's Threat to Internet Freedom
Video: What Net Neutrality Really Means
.The net neutrality vision for government regulation of the Internet began with the work of Robert McChesney, a University of Illinois communications professor who founded the liberal lobby Free Press in 2002. Mr. McChesney's agenda? "At the moment, the battle over network neutrality is not to completely eliminate the telephone and cable companies," he told the website SocialistProject in 2009. "But the ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control."

A year earlier, Mr. McChesney wrote in the Marxist journal Monthly Review that "any serious effort to reform the media system would have to necessarily be part of a revolutionary program to overthrow the capitalist system itself." Mr. McChesney told me in an interview that some of his comments have been "taken out of context." He acknowledged that he is a socialist and said he was "hesitant to say I'm not a Marxist."

For a man with such radical views, Mr. McChesney and his Free Press group have had astonishing influence. Mr. Genachowski's press secretary at the FCC, Jen Howard, used to handle media relations at Free Press. The FCC's chief diversity officer, Mark Lloyd, co-authored a Free Press report calling for regulation of political talk radio.

Free Press has been funded by a network of liberal foundations that helped the lobby invent the purported problem that net neutrality is supposed to solve. They then fashioned a political strategy similar to the one employed by activists behind the political speech restrictions of the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign-finance reform bill. The methods of that earlier campaign were discussed in 2004 by Sean Treglia, a former program officer for the Pew Charitable Trusts, during a talk at the University of Southern California. Far from being the efforts of genuine grass-roots activists, Mr. Treglia noted, the campaign-finance reform lobby was controlled and funded by foundations like Pew.

"The idea was to create an impression that a mass movement was afoot," he told his audience. He noted that "If Congress thought this was a Pew effort, it'd be worthless." A study by the Political Money Line, a nonpartisan website dealing with issues of campaign funding, found that of the $140 million spent to directly promote campaign-finance reform in the last decade, $123 million came from eight liberal foundations.

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Martin Kozlowski
 .After McCain-Feingold passed, several of the foundations involved in the effort began shifting their attention to "media reform"—a movement to impose government controls on Internet companies somewhat related to the long-defunct "Fairness Doctrine" that used to regulate TV and radio companies. In a 2005 interview with the progressive website Buzzflash, Mr. McChesney said that campaign-finance reform advocate Josh Silver approached him and "said let's get to work on getting popular involvement in media policy making." Together the two founded Free Press.

Free Press and allied groups such as quickly got funding. Of the eight major foundations that provided the vast bulk of money for campaign-finance reform, six became major funders of the media-reform movement. (They are the Pew Charitable Trusts, Bill Moyers's Schumann Center for Media and Democracy, the Joyce Foundation, George Soros's Open Society Institute, the Ford Foundation, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.) Free Press today has 40 staffers and an annual budget of $4 million.

These wealthy funders pay for more than publicity and conferences. In 2009, Free Press commissioned a poll, released by the Harmony Institute, on net neutrality. Harmony reported that "more than 50% of the public argued that, as a private resource, the Internet should not be regulated by the federal government." The poll went on to say that since "currently the public likes the way the Internet works . . . messaging should target supporters by asking them to act vigilantly" to prevent a "centrally controlled Internet."

To that end, Free Press and other groups helped manufacture "research" on net neutrality. In 2009, for example, the FCC commissioned Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society to conduct an "independent review of existing information" for the agency in order to "lay the foundation for enlightened, data-driven decision making."

Considering how openly activist the Berkman Center has been on these issues, it was an odd decision for the FCC to delegate its broadband research to this outfit. Unless, of course, the FCC already knew the answer it wanted to get.

The Berkman Center's FCC- commissioned report, "Next Generation Connectivity," wound up being funded in large part by the Ford and MacArthur foundations. So some of the same foundations that have spent years funding net neutrality advocacy research ended up funding the FCC-commissioned study that evaluated net neutrality research.

The FCC's "National Broadband Plan," released last spring, included only five citations of respected think tanks such as the International Technology and Innovation Foundation or the Brookings Institution. But the report cited research from liberal groups such as Free Press, Public Knowledge, Pew and the New America Foundation more than 50 times.

So the "media reform" movement paid for research that backed its views, paid activists to promote the research, saw its allies installed in the FCC and other key agencies, and paid for the FCC research that evaluated the research they had already paid for. Now they have their policy. That's quite a coup.

Mr. Fund is a columnist for
« Last Edit: December 22, 2010, 10:45:42 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Power User
Posts: 42552

« Reply #88 on: January 08, 2011, 04:21:05 PM »

President Obama is putting plans in motion to give the Commerce Department authority to create an Internet ID for all Americans, a White House official told

White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt told the website it is "the absolute perfect spot in the U.S. government" to centralize efforts toward creating an "identity ecosystem" for the Internet.

The National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace is currently being drafted by the Obama administration and will be released by the president in a few months.

"We are not talking about a national ID card. We are not talking about a government-controlled system. What we are talking about is enhancing online security and privacy, and reducing and perhaps even eliminating the need to memorize a dozen passwords, through creation and use of more trusted digital identities," Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said at an event Friday at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, according to

Locke added that the Commerce Department will be setting up a national program office to work on this project.

The move has raised eyebrows about privacy issues.

"The government cannot create that identity infrastructure," Jim Dempsey of the Center for Democracy and Technology told the website. "If I tried to, I wouldn't be trusted."

Schmidt stresses that anonymity will remain on the Internet, saying there's no chance that "a centralized database will emerge."

Power User
Posts: 2268

« Reply #89 on: January 29, 2011, 05:08:24 AM »

 (AP) -- About a half-hour past midnight Friday morning in Egypt, the Internet went dead.

Power User
Posts: 42552

« Reply #90 on: January 29, 2011, 12:01:02 PM »

I am clueless in these things.  Any comments from the more cyber-literate amongst us?

    Does your government have an Internet kill-switch? Read our guide to
    Guerrilla Networking and be prepared for when the lines get cut.

      By Patrick Miller, David Daw

Jan 28, 2011 3:50 PM

These days, no popular movement goes without an Internet presence of
some kind, whether it's organizing on Facebook or spreading the word
through Twitter. And as we've seen in Egypt
</article/218052/egypt_expands_communications_blackout.html>, that means
that your Internet connection can be the first to go. Whether you're
trying to check in with your family, contact your friends, or simply
spread the word, here are a few ways to build some basic network
connectivity when you can't rely on your cellular or landline Internet

    Do-It-Yourself Internet With Ad-Hoc Wi-Fi

Even if you've managed to find an Internet connection for yourself, it
won't be that helpful in reaching out to your fellow locals if they
can't get online to find you. If you're trying to coordinate a group of
people in your area and can't rely on an Internet connection, cell
phones, or SMS, your best bet could be a wireless mesh network
<> of
sorts--essentially, a distributed network of wireless networking devices
that can all find each other and communicate with each other. Even if
none of those devices have a working Internet connection, they can still
find each other, which, if your network covers the city you're in, might
be all you need. At the moment, wireless mesh networking isn't really
anywhere close to market-ready, though we have seen an implementation of
the 802.11s draft standard, which extends the 802.11 Wi-Fi standard to
include wireless mesh networking, in the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) XO
laptop </article/140931/first_look_olpcs_xo_laptop.html>.

However, a prepared guerrilla networker with a handful of PCs could make
good use of Daihinia <> ($25, 30-day free trial), an
app that piggybacks on your Wi-Fi adapter driver to turn your normal
ad-hoc Wi-Fi network into a multihop ad-hoc network (disclaimer: we
haven't tried this ourselves yet), meaning that instead of requiring
each device on the network to be within range of the original access
point, you simply need to be within range of a device on the network
that has Daihinia installed, effectively allowing you to add a wireless
mesh layer to your ad-hoc network.

Advanced freedom fighters can set up a portal Web page on their network
that explains the way the setup works, with Daihinia instructions and a
local download link so they can spread the network even further. Lastly,
just add a Bonjour-compatible chat client like Pidgin
<> or iChat, and you'll be able to talk to your
neighbors across the city without needing an Internet connection.

    Back to Basics

Remember when you stashed your old modems in the closet because you
thought you might need them some day? In the event of a total
communications blackout--as we're seeing in Egypt, for example--you'll
be glad you did. Older and simpler tools, like dial-up Internet or even
ham radio, could still work, since these "abandoned" tech avenues aren't
being policed nearly as hard.

In order to get around the total shutdown of all of the ISPs within
Egypt, several international ISPs are offering dial-up access to the
Internet to get protesters online, since phone service is still
operational. It's slow, but it still works--the hard part is getting the
access numbers without an Internet connection to find them.

Unfortunately, such dial-up numbers can also be fairly easily shut down
by the Egyptian government, so you could also try returning to FidoNet
<>--a distributed networking system
for BBSes that was popular in the 1980s. FidoNet is limited to sending
only simple text messages, and it's slow, but it has two virtues: Users
connect asynchronously, so the network traffic is harder to track, and
any user can act as the server, which means that even if the government
shuts down one number in the network, another one can quickly pop up to
take its place.

You could also take inspiration from groups that are working to create
an ad-hoc communications network into and out of Egypt using Ham Radio
<>, since the signals
are rarely tracked and extremely hard to shut down or block. Most of
these efforts are still getting off the ground, but hackers are already
cobbling together ways to make it a viable form of communication into
and out of the country.

    Always Be Prepared

In the land of no Internet connection, the man with dial-up is king.
Here are a few gadgets that you could use to prepare for the day they
cut the lines.

Given enough time and preparation, your ham radio networks could even be
adapted into your own ad-hoc network using Packet Radio
<>, a radio communications
protocol that you can use to create simple long-distance wireless
networks to transfer text and other messages between computers. Packet
Radio is rather slow and not particularly popular (don't try to stream
any videos with this, now), but it's exactly the kind of networking
device that would fly under the radar.

In response to the crisis in Egypt, nerds everywhere have risen to call
for new and exciting tools for use in the next government-mandated
shutdown. Bre Pettis, founder of the hackerspace NYC Resistor
<> and creator of the Makerbot
<> 3D printer, has called for "Apps for the
<>," including
a quick and easy way to set up chats on a local network so you can talk
with your friends and neighbors in an emergency even without access to
the Internet. If his comments are any indication, Appocalypse apps may
be headed your way soon.

Tons of cool tech are also just waiting to be retrofitted for these
purposes. David Dart's Pirate Box <>
is a one-step local network in a box originally conceived for file
sharing and local P2P purposes, but it wouldn't take much work to adapt
the Pirate Box as a local networking tool able to communicate with other
pirate boxes to form a compact, mobile set of local networks in the
event of an Internet shutdown.

Whether you're in Egypt or Eagle Rock, you rely on your Internet access
to stay in touch with friends and family, get your news, and find
information you need. (And read PCWorld, of course.) Hopefully with
these apps, tools, and techniques, you won't have to worry about
anyone--even your government--keeping you from doing just that.

/Patrick Miller hopes he isn't first against the wall when the
revolution comes. Find him on Twitter
<>or Facebook
<>--if you
have a working Internet connection, anyway. /

/David Daw is an accidental expert in ad-hoc networks since his
apartment gets no cell reception. Find him on Twitter
<> or send him a ham radio signal. /,218155/printable.html

We cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once. --
Calvin Coolidge

Posts: 19

« Reply #91 on: February 01, 2011, 02:06:42 PM »

That's actually pretty intimidating - the thought that even our anatomies are going to be reduced to computer data and easily transmitted wirelessly. It is the inevitable future and some sinking feeling I have says that this is probably how our grandparents felt with our generation's emerging technology.

Power User
Posts: 2268

« Reply #92 on: February 02, 2011, 03:20:59 PM »
Power User
Posts: 42552

« Reply #93 on: February 03, 2011, 07:29:18 AM »

Social Media as a Tool for Protest
February 3, 2011

By Marko Papic and Sean Noonan

Internet services were reportedly restored in Egypt on Feb. 2 after being completely shut down for two days. Egyptian authorities unplugged the last Internet service provider (ISP) still operating Jan. 31 amidst ongoing protests across the country. The other four providers in Egypt — Link Egypt, Vodafone/Raya, Telecom Egypt and Etisalat Misr — were shut down as the crisis boiled over on Jan. 27. Commentators immediately assumed this was a response to the organizational capabilities of social media websites that Cairo could not completely block from public access.

The role of social media in protests and revolutions has garnered considerable media attention in recent years. Current conventional wisdom has it that social networks have made regime change easier to organize and execute. An underlying assumption is that social media is making it more difficult to sustain an authoritarian regime — even for hardened autocracies like Iran and Myanmar — which could usher in a new wave of democratization around the globe. In a Jan. 27 YouTube interview, U.S. President Barack Obama went as far as to compare social networking to universal liberties such as freedom of speech.

Social media alone, however, do not instigate revolutions. They are no more responsible for the recent unrest in Tunisia and Egypt than cassette-tape recordings of Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini speeches were responsible for the 1979 revolution in Iran. Social media are tools that allow revolutionary groups to lower the costs of participation, organization, recruitment and training. But like any tool, social media have inherent weaknesses and strengths, and their effectiveness depends on how effectively leaders use them and how accessible they are to people who know how to use them.

How to Use Social Media

The situations in Tunisia and Egypt have both seen an increased use of social networking media such as Facebook and Twitter to help organize, communicate and ultimately initiate civil-disobedience campaigns and street actions. The Iranian “Green Revolution” in 2009 was closely followed by the Western media via YouTube and Twitter, and the latter even gave Moldova’s 2009 revolution its moniker, the “Twitter Revolution.”

Foreign observers — and particularly the media — are mesmerized by the ability to track events and cover diverse locations, perspectives and demographics in real time. But a revolution is far more than what we see and hear on the Internet — it requires organization, funding and mass appeal. Social media no doubt offer advantages in disseminating messages quickly and broadly, but they also are vulnerable to government counter-protest tactics (more on these below). And while the effectiveness of the tool depends on the quality of a movement’s leadership, a dependence on social media can actually prevent good leadership from developing.

The key for any protest movement is to inspire and motivate individuals to go from the comfort of their homes to the chaos of the streets and face off against the government. Social media allow organizers to involve like-minded people in a movement at a very low cost, but they do not necessarily make these people move. Instead of attending meetings, workshops and rallies, un-committed individuals can join a Facebook group or follow a Twitter feed at home, which gives them some measure of anonymity (though authorities can easily track IP addresses) but does not necessarily motivate them to physically hit the streets and provide fuel for a revolution. At the end of the day, for a social media-driven protest movement to be successful, it has to translate social media membership into street action.

The Internet allows a revolutionary core to widely spread not just its ideological message but also its training program and operational plan. This can be done by e-mail, but social media broaden the exposure and increase its speed increases, with networks of friends and associates sharing the information instantly. YouTube videos explaining a movement’s core principles and tactics allow cadres to transmit important information to dispersed followers without having to travel. (This is safer and more cost effective for a movement struggling to find funding and stay under the radar, but the level of training it can provide is limited. Some things are difficult to learn by video, which presents the same problems for protest organizers as those confronted by grassroots jihadists, who must rely largely on the Internet for communication.) Social media can also allow a movement to be far more nimble about choosing its day of action and, when that day comes, to spread the action order like wildfire. Instead of organizing campaigns around fixed dates, protest movements can reach hundreds of thousands of adherents with a single Facebook post or Twitter feed, launching a massive call to action in seconds.

With lower organizational and communications costs, a movement can depend less on outside funding, which also allows it to create the perception of being a purely indigenous movement (without foreign supporters) and one with wide appeal. According to the event’s Facebook page, the April 6 Movement in Egypt had some 89,250 people claiming attendance at a Jan. 28 protest when, in fact, a much smaller number of protestors were actually there according to STRATFOR’s estimates. The April 6 Movement is made up of the minority of Egyptians who have Internet access, which the OpenNet Initiative estimated in August 2009 to be 15.4 percent of the population. While this is ahead of most African countries, it is behind most Middle Eastern countries. Internet penetration rates in countries like Iran and Qatar are around 35 percent, still a minority of the population. Eventually, a successful revolutionary movement has to appeal to the middle class, the working class, retirees and rural segments of the population, groups that are unlikely to have Internet access in most developing countries. Otherwise, a movement could quickly find itself unable to control the revolutionary forces it unleashed or being accused by the regime of being an unrepresentative fringe movement. This may have been the same problem that Iranian protestors experienced in 2009.

Not only must protest organizers expand their base beyond Internet users, they must also be able to work around government disruption. Following the Internet shutdown in Egypt, protesters were able to distribute hard-copy tactical pamphlets and use faxes and landline telephones for communications. Ingenuity and leadership quickly become more important than social media when the government begins to use counter-protest tactics, which are well developed even in the most closed countries.

Countering Social Media

Like any other tool, social media have their drawbacks. Lowering the costs of communication also diminishes operational security. Facebook messages can be open for all to see, and even private messages can be viewed by authorities through search warrants in more open countries or pressure on the Internet social media firms in more closed ones. Indeed, social media can quickly turn into a valuable intelligence-collection tool. A reliance on social media can also be exploited by a regime willing to cut the country off from Internet or domestic text messaging networks altogether, as has been the case in Egypt.

The capability of governments to monitor and counteract social media developed alongside the capability of their intelligence services. In order to obtain an operating license in any country, social networking websites have to come to some sort of agreement with the government. In many countries, this involves getting access to user data, locations and network information. Facebook profiles, for example, can be a boon for government intelligence collectors, who can use updates and photos to pinpoint movement locations and activities and identify connections among various individuals, some of whom may be suspect for various activities. (Facebook has received funding from In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture capital firm, and many Western intelligence services have start-up budgets to develop Internet technologies that will enable even deeper mining of Internet-user data.)

In using social media, the tradeoff for protest leaders is that they must expose themselves to disseminate their message to the masses (although there are ways to mask IP addresses and avoid government monitoring, such as by using proxy servers). Keeping track of every individual who visits a protest organization’s website page may be beyond the capabilities of many security services, depending on a site’s popularity, but a medium designed to reach the masses is open to everyone. In Egypt, almost 40 leaders of the April 6 Movement were arrested early on in the protests, and this may have been possible by identifying and locating them through their Internet activities, particularly through their various Facebook pages.

Indeed, one of the first organizers of the April 6 Movement became known in Egypt as “Facebook Girl” following her arrest in Cairo on April 6, 2008. The movement was originally organized to support a labor protest that day in Mahalla, and organizer Esraa Abdel Fattah Ahmed Rashid found Facebook a convenient way to organize demonstrations from the safety of her home. Her release from prison was an emotional event broadcast on Egyptian TV, which depicted her and her mother crying and hugging. Rashid was then expelled from the group and no longer knows the password for accessing the April 6 Facebook page. One fellow organizer called her “chicken” for saying she would not have organized the protest if she had thought she would be arrested. Rashid’s story is a good example of the challenges posed by using social media as a tool for mobilizing a protest. It is easy to “like” something or someone on Facebook, but it is much harder to organize a protest on the street where some participants will likely be arrested, injured or killed.

Beyond monitoring movement websites, governments can also shut them down. This has been common in Iran and China during times of social unrest. But blocking access to a particular website cannot stop tech-savvy Internet users employing virtual private networks or other technologies to access unbanned IP addresses outside the country in order to access banned sites. In response to this problem, China shut down Internet access to all of Xinjiang Autonomous Region, the location of ethnic Uighur riots in July 2009. More recently, Egypt followed the same tactic for the entire country. Like many countries, Egypt has contracts with Internet service providers that allow the government to turn the Internet off or, when service providers are state-owned, to make life difficult for Internet-based organizers.

Regimes can also use social media for their own purposes. One counter-protest tactic is to spread disinformation, whether it is to scare away protestors or lure them all to one location where anti-riot police lie in wait. We have not yet witnessed such a government “ambush” tactic, but its use is inevitable in the age of Internet anonymity. Government agents in many countries have become quite proficient at trolling the Internet in search of pedophiles and wannabe terrorists. (Of course, such tactics can be used by both sides. During the Iranian protests in 2009, many foreign-based Green Movement supporters spread disinformation over Twitter to mislead foreign observers.)

The most effective way for the government to use social media is to monitor what protest organizers are telling their adherents either directly over the Internet or by inserting an informant into the group, counteracting the protestors wherever and whenever they assemble. Authorities monitoring protests at World Trade Organization and G-8 meetings as well as the Republican and Democratic national conventions in the United States have used this successfully. Over the past two years in Egypt, the April 6 Movement has found the police ready and waiting at every protest location. Only in recent weeks has popular support grown to the point where the movement has presented a serious challenge to the security services.

One of the biggest challenges for security services is to keep up with the rapidly changing Internet. In Iran, the regime quickly shut down Facebook but not Twitter, not realizing the latter’s capabilities. If social media are presenting a demonstrable threat to governments, it could become vital for security services to continually refine and update plans for disrupting new Internet technology.

Quality of Leadership vs. Cost of Participation

There is no denying that social media represent an important tool for protest movements to effectively mobilize their adherents and communicate their message. As noted above, however, the effectiveness of the tool depends on its user, and an overreliance can become a serious detriment.

One way it can hurt a movement is in the evolution of its leadership. To lead a protest movement effectively, an organization’s leadership has to venture outside of cyberspace. It has to learn what it means to face off against a regime’s counterintelligence capabilities in more than just the virtual world. By holding workshops and mingling among the populace, the core leadership of a movement learns the different strategies that work best with different social strata and how to appeal to a broad audience. Essentially, leaders of a movement that exploits the use of social media must take the same risks as those of groups that lack such networking capability. The convenience and partial anonymity of social media can decrease the motivation of a leader to get outside and make things happen.

Moreover, a leadership grounded in physical reality is one that constructs and sticks to a concerted plan of action. The problem with social media is that they subvert the leadership of a movement while opening it to a broader membership. This means that a call for action may spread like wildfire before a movement is sufficiently prepared, which can put its survival in danger. In many ways, the Iranian Green Revolution is a perfect example of this. The call for action brought a self-selected group of largely educated urban youth to protest in the streets, where the regime cracked down harshly on a movement it believed was not broad enough to constitute a real threat.

A leadership too reliant on social media can also become isolated from alternative political movements with which it may share the common goal of regime change. This is especially the case when other movements are not “youth movements” and therefore are not as tech savvy. This can create serious problems once the revolution is successful and an interim government needs to be created. The Serbian Otpor (Resistance) movement was successful in the 2000 Serbian democratic revolution precisely because it managed to bring together a disparate opposition of pro-Western and nationalist forces. But to facilitate such coalition building, leaders have to step away from computers and cell phones and into factories, rice paddies and watering holes they normally would never want to enter. This is difficult to do during a revolution, when things are in flux and public suspicion is high, especially of those who claim to be leading a revolution.

Even when a media-savvy leader has a clear plan, he or she may not be successful. For instance, Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister of Thailand and telecommunications magnate, has used his skills to hold video conference calls with stadiums full of supporters, and launched two massive waves of protests involving some 100,000 supporters against the Thai government in April 2009 and April and May 2010, yet he still has not succeeded in taking power. He remains a disembodied voice, capable of rocking the boat but incapable of taking its helm.

Simply a Convenience

Shutting down the Internet did not reduce the numbers of Egyptian protesters in the streets. In fact, the protests only grew bigger as websites were shut down and the Internet was turned off. If the right conditions exist a revolution can occur, and social media do not seem to change that. Just because an Internet-based group exists does not make it popular or a threat. There are Facebook groups, YouTube videos and Twitter posts about everything, but that does not make them popular. A neo-Nazi skinhead posting from his mother’s basement in Illinois is not going to start a revolution in the United States, no matter how many Internet posts he makes or what he says. The climate must be ripe for revolution, due to problems like inflation, deflation, food shortages, corruption and oppression, and the population must be motivated to mobilize. Representing a new medium with dangers as well as benefits, social media do not create protest movements; they only allow members of such movements to communicate more easily.

Other technologies like short-wave radio, which can also be used to communicate and mobilize, have been available to protestors and revolutionaries for a long time. In reality, so has the Internet, which is the fundamental technological development that allows for quick and widespread communications. The popularity of social media, one of many outgrowths of the Internet, may actually be isolated to international media observation from afar. We can now watch protest developments in real time, instead of after all the reports have been filed and printed in the next day’s newspaper or broadcast on the nightly news. Western perceptions are often easily swayed by English-speaking, media-savvy protestors who may be only a small fraction of a country’s population. This is further magnified in authoritarian countries where Western media have no choice but to turn to Twitter and YouTube to report on the crisis, thus increasing the perceived importance of social media.

In the Middle East, where Internet penetration is below 35 percent (with the exception of Israel), if a movement grows large enough to effect change it will have been joined through word of mouth, not through social networking. Still, the expansion of Internet connectivity does create new challenges for domestic leaders who have proved more than capable of controlling older forms of communication. This is not an insurmountable challenge, as China has shown, but even in China’s case there is growing anxiety about the ability of Internet users to evade controls and spread forbidden information.

Social media represent only one tool among many for an opposition group to employ. Protest movements are rarely successful if led from somebody’s basement in a virtual arena. Their leaders must have charisma and street smarts, just like leaders of any organization. A revolutionary group cannot rely on its most tech-savvy leaders to ultimately launch a successful revolution any more than a business can depend on the IT department to sell its product. It is part of the overall strategy, but it cannot be the sole strategy.

Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #94 on: February 10, 2011, 04:31:25 PM »


Robots could soon have an equivalent of the internet and Wikipedia.

European scientists have embarked on a project to let robots share and store what they discover about the world.

Called RoboEarth it will be a place that robots can upload data to when they master a task, and ask for help in carrying out new ones.

Researchers behind it hope it will allow robots to come into service more quickly, armed with a growing library of knowledge about their human masters.
Power User
Posts: 42552

« Reply #95 on: February 16, 2011, 07:16:12 AM »
Power User
Posts: 7840

« Reply #96 on: February 22, 2011, 12:01:16 PM »

After reading this article and now understand the reasoning for "net neutrality".

From Scientific American:

Keep the Internet Fair
The government's net neutrality compromise fell flat. Here's a simple fix

By The Editors  | March 3, 2011 | 6
The island of Key Biscayne, Fla., sits in the Atlantic Ocean 10 miles southeast of Miami. Its 10,000 residents depend on the Rickenbacker Causeway, a four-mile-long toll bridge connecting the island to the mainland, for all their supplies. Right now all vehicles passing through must pay a set toll—$1.50 for cars, $9.00 for three-axle cargo trucks, and so on. But what would happen if a bridge owner decided to charge a toll based not on the size of a vehicle but on the cargo it was carrying? He could let his brother’s lumber-supply company through for free and make its chief competitor pay through the nose. He could force the Winn-Dixie grocery store to double its prices, pushing area residents to local restaurants. In short, the bridge owner would have the power to control everything that the residents of Key Biscayne have access to.

This is the essence of the widely discussed but little understood concept of “net neutrality.” The bridge, in this case, represents the lines that carry the Internet to your home computer or smart phone. So far Internet service providers have for the most part treated all content equally. The worry is that, sensing a business opportunity, they might strike deals with certain content providers to deliver faster access for a fee or to block some information entirely. The worry isn’t completely theoretical; Comcast recently told the company that delivers Netflix streaming videos that it needed to pay up if it wanted to access Comcast’s customers. (Lost on no one was the fact that Netflix directly competes with Comcast’s own video-on-demand service.)

To make matters worse, most Americans have only one choice of high-speed broadband provider; the most fortunate have two. Unhappy subscribers cannot just leave and get their Internet elsewhere. This effective monopoly leaves consumers with little protection from a provider that has the means to filter everything that they can buy, watch and read.

Internet service providers contend that they must retain the flexibility to manage their networks in the way they see fit—slowing or blocking some high-bandwidth applications to ensure reliable service for all. Network management is a serious concern, but it must not become a cover for policies that censor any content displeasing to the corporate gatekeeper. The Federal Communications Commission approved a rule last December that was intended to ensure equal treatment of content providers. Yet while the FCC rule prohibits “unreasonable” discrimination of network traffic, it fails to spell out what unreasonable behavior entails. The ruling is vague in ways that only a Washington, D.C., lawyer could love; the only certainty it gives is of the tens of thousands of billable hours to be spent arguing over the meaning of “unreasonable” in federal court.

The fix, however, is simple. As the FCC goes about enforcing this ban on so-called unreasonable policies, it should clarify that the only kind of unreasonable discrimination is discrimination against particular applications.

What would this mean in practice? Instead of the “all you can eat” data plans of today, Internet service providers could sell customers access by the gigabyte. They could limit performance at peak times of the day to help balance network load or offer superfast plans at higher prices.

Internet service providers would not, however, be able to determine which applications go fast and which go slow. They would not be able to reach a deal with Facebook to speed up that site’s page loads while slowing down LinkedIn. They could not put Skype calls through a bottleneck or throttle back all video-streaming sites, because these are all judgments based on application. This clarification gives Internet service providers the leeway they need to maintain healthy networks, as well as plenty of incentive to invest in advanced network infrastructure for those customers willing to pay for ultrahigh-speed service. But it takes away the power of Internet service providers to choose winners and losers. We can accept that a bridge owner can charge vehicles based on their size—$1.50 for cars, $9.00 for three-axle cargo trucks—but a democratic society can’t abide discrimination based on content.

Power User
Posts: 42552

« Reply #97 on: February 22, 2011, 01:54:22 PM »

CCP:  That is very interesting.  I consider changing my position on this subject.
Power User
Posts: 7840

« Reply #98 on: February 24, 2011, 02:57:59 PM »

Supposedly the meeting is for job creation.  That said, Obama meeting with Google owners, CEOs etc should raise eyebrows and questions.  This is all the more reason net neutrality may very well be a good idea.  Do we really want the most radical guy in the WH we have ever had meeting with those who can control the flow of information, and commerce and all communication on the internet without some sort of controls or regulation?  Very thought provoking.

*****Hosted by      Back to Google NewsObama meets with heads of Facebook, Apple, Google to discuss job creation
By Darlene Superville (CP) – 6 days ago

WOODSIDE, Calif. — President Barack Obama assembled some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley to confer on jobs and innovation, trying to get leaders from companies like Google and Apple behind his push to keep spending on high-tech initiatives even as Republicans are out to slash the budget.

Wunderkind Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg, Google chief executive Eric Schmidt, and Steve Jobs, the Apple founder and CEO who announced last month that he was taking his third medical leave, were among a dozen business leaders who met with Obama in California Thursday evening. Also attending were the heads of Twitter, Yahoo!, NetFlix and Oracle, and the president of Stanford University.

The dinner at the home of John and Ann Doerr in the San Francisco Bay area was closed to the media. Doerr, a partner at the venture capital firm of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, attended the meeting.

Obama wants to spend billions on clean energy, education, high-speed Internet and other programs even as his new budget proposal calls for a five-year freeze on domestic spending in certain other areas. The approach is getting a frosty reception from newly empowered Republicans on Capitol Hill, who are pushing steep cuts to a wide range of programs and balking at new spending.

The president argues that targeted spending, including education initiatives aimed at producing a more sophisticated workforce, is crucial for job creation and future U.S. competitiveness with other nations. A stamp of approval from the Silicon Valley's leading innovators and job creators could help.

At the same time, the president's meeting Thursday extends outreach to the business community that he's embarked upon since Democrats suffered steep losses in the November midterm elections. With unemployment stuck at 9 per cent, Obama has been pleading with corporate America to hire.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said Thursday that the high-tech sector has been "a model, really, for that kind of economic activity that we want to see in other cutting-edge industries in the U.S. where jobs can be created in America and kept in America, and that's what he wants to talk about."

After his stop in California, Obama was planning to tour Intel Corp.'s semiconductor manufacturing facility in Hillsboro, Ore., on Friday with CEO Paul Otellini. Otellini, who was among a group of CEOs who met privately with Obama in December, has criticized Obama's policies as creating uncertainty for business.

Obama has left Washington weekly since his Jan. 25 State of the Union to highlight his plans to boost education, innovation and infrastructure. Education is this week's theme.

Obama last visited California and Oregon, both states he won easily in 2008, during a four-state swing in October.


AP White House Correspondent Ben Feller and Associated Press writers Julie Pace and Erica Werner contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2011 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.
Power User
Posts: 7840

« Reply #99 on: March 11, 2011, 11:01:20 AM »

I think the ability for Google to manipulate rather than just provide information is a great cause of concern.   Don't think they aren't doing it and don't think they are going to admit it.  "Net neutrality" doesn't stifle business it just makes it fair. 

*** 'We will closely examine allegations raised by' Google competitors, said Herb Kohl.
By MIKE ZAPLER | 3/10/11 6:00 PM EST
Media consolidation, net neutrality and Google's dominance in Internet search are among the issues the Senate's leading legislator on antitrust issues plans to scrutinize in the months ahead.

Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), who heads the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, listed those issues as priorities in an announcement Thursday outlining his top concerns for the 112th Congress.
Kohl specifically called out Google as a potential cause for concern. The senator in December urged the Justice Department to conduct a "careful review" of the search giant's attempted acquisition of travel search software firm ITA.

"In recent years, the dominance over Internet search of the world’s largest search engine, Google, has increased and Google has increasingly sought to acquire e-commerce sites in myriad businesses," Kohl said in a news release.

"In this regard, we will closely examine allegations raised by e-commerce websites that compete with Google that they are being treated unfairly in search ranking, and in their ability to purchase search advertising,” Kohl continued. “We also will continue to closely examine the impact of further acquisitions in this sector."

The emergence of online video — and barriers providers face reaching consumers over broadband Internet lines — will also be a focus of the subcommittee. He said the panel will also track Comcast's integration with NBC Universal and whether conditions on the deal attached by regulators are being met.

"Internet video holds the promise of providing consumers, for the first time, an alternative to expensive pay TV subscriptions and the ability to purchase only the programming they want," Kohl said.

The panel will look at “challenges that video programmers face in distributing their programming over the Internet, challenges that online video distributors face in obtaining programming, and whether Internet service providers are placing undue barriers to the video delivered over the Internet,” Kohl said in the release.

In addition, he said, the panel is going to explore adherence to “the merger conditions imposed on the Comcast/NBC Universal merger to ensure that these conditions are being properly applied to foster competition, including competition from new forms of Internet delivery of video content."

Kohl has also trained his sights on the high-speed broadband market.

"Maintaining competitive choices in this industry is crucial to consumers and the health of the national economy," he wrote. "We will also examine the issue of network neutrality principles and monitor whether consumers continue to have the freedom to access the Internet content they wish without interference from their internet service provider."

The tech and telecom sector is just one area among many the senator has his eye on. He also plans to focus attention on competition issues surrounding the freight railroad, prescription drugs, energy and agriculture markets, among others.

Party: IndependentReply #4
Mar. 11, 2011 - 12:10 AM ESTI'm concerned that Obama want's an internet kill switch. I'm concerned that Google was involved in the "Alliance of Youth Summit" in 2008,2009,and 2010 teaching young revolutionaries how to organize to overthrow their governments using the internet, networking, media, facebook, twitter. One Google executive surfaced in Egypt and has been credited with the overthrow of Mubarak. That concerns me that Obama is meddling in foreign affairs and he is not smart enough to forsee unintended consequences.
Party: ConservativeReply #5
Mar. 11, 2011 - 3:11 AM ESTROEg and Cheetosareus you stole the thoughts right out of my mind. If anything about Google needs to be investigated it's their strange political relationships with Democratic operatives. Along with GE they make Halliburton look like little league.
Mar. 11, 2011 - 5:55 AM ESTHERBIE - I am so glad u r there to make sure `google' isn't monopolizing the internet. hey, jerk my committee is going to investigate you and the all political hacks who pass legislation which favors certain industries protecting them from competition - you what it's called - CRONYISM! BTW HERBIE, DO U FIND IT CHALLENGING WEARING `2’ FACES?
Mar. 11, 2011 - 6:52 AM ESTThe US has to be the only country in the world that boasts of a devotion to capitalism and the little guy making it, and once he does taxes the daylights out of him, sues him for making a product so popular that it becomes 'a monopoly' and breaks up his company so he can't compete to the fullness of his ability against his competitors.

And why is it the 'progressives' who always seem to be the ones squelching success in business?***
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