Lower Merion permanently banned from webcam monitoring (update 2)
May 14, 2010 by Dissent
John P. Martin reports:
A federal judge Friday permanently barred the Lower Merion School District from using webcams or other intrusive technology to secretly monitor students through their school-issued laptops.
The five-page injunction signed by U.S. District Judge Jan E. DuBois also requires the suburban district to adopt transparent and expansive policies by September to govern its student laptop program.
It says Lower Merion can implement an alternative to webcam tracking to find missing or stolen computers, but only if the technology is “conspicuously disclosed” in a document signed by students and their parents.
Read more on Philly.com
Update 1: Another news source reports that:
A federal court judge is ordering the Lower Merion School District and a student suing for alleged cyber-spying over district-issued laptops to try to settle non-monetary issues.
The order is not yet up on PACER, but I’ll try to upload a copy later when it’s available.
[From this article:
A cost-effective alternative can be sought, but the court says that software must not allow remote activation or capturing screenshots of students.
The district gets until Sept. 1 to create a policy to deal more adequately with privacy issues, and Lower Merion schools will not be allowed to access student-created files ("including but not limited to documents, e-mails, instant messaging records, photographs, Internet usage logs, and Web browsing histories") except what's defined under its new policy.
Update 2: Here’s the order, and it’s a beaut in terms of protecting student privacy and enforcing transparency on the district’s part.
Judge orders L. Merion to halt monitoring
The district initially proposed showing the photos to the affected students and their parents, and asked Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Rueter to manage the process. The ACLU, representing an unidentified Lower Merion family, objected, arguing that some teens might not want their parents to see the images.
"Our position is that the people whose privacy has been violated and the people whose private information is at stake here are the students, regardless of whether or not the students are minors," said Roper, the ACLU lawyer.
A second order DuBois signed Friday includes a sample letter to be sent to students. According to the letter, the teens will be allowed first to review the images alone.
"If there are any images you don't want [parents or guardians] to see, you may let Judge Rueter know and he will discuss with you how to handle that situation," it reads.
(Related) Isn't this just the non-technological equivalent of WebCamGate?
Court says students can sue over strip search
May 15, 2010 by Dissent
Dan Sewell reports:
A federal appeals panel ruled Friday staffers at an Pike County vocational school can be sued by high school nursing students who were strip-searched after a reported theft.
The three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected immunity for the school officials, standing by an earlier conclusion that the 2006 search was unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court sent the case back in 2009 after ruling in a similar case that school officials violated an Arizona teen’s rights in a strip search for a prescription-strength drug, but that the officials weren’t financially liable.
Read more in the Chillicothe Gazette.
Just in case you thought the “inventor” of Facebook would be immune from all that “You ain't got no privacy” stuff...
Facebook CEO Slammed 'Dumb' Users Who Trusted Him in College
An instant message transcript slipped to Business Insider shows 19-year-old Mark Zuckerberg suggesting that users of the social network—fellow Harvard students at the time—were "dumb fucks" for trusting him.
Business Insider previously posted evidence that the Facebook CEO used login data from his social network to hack into fellow students' email accounts; that evidence also included instant message transcripts. Its current story follows below.
(Related) It will be useful to have a good source of bad examples! (Includes the code for making direct queries to Facebook.)
Website exposes embarrassing Facebook posts by users with low privacy settings
May 14, 2010 by Dissent
Michael Oliveira reports:
A new website is exposing embarrassing and potentially job-threatening Facebook messages posted by users who probably don’t realize their privacy settings are turned off.
There are posts with people brazenly admitting to playing hooky from work and others pull no punches in making fun of their bosses. Some are of a very personal nature, falling into the category of too much information.
The founders of FacebookSearch, which started Thursday, say they have no malicious intentions and simply hope to show naive Facebook users that there are real consequences to not guarding their privacy online.
Read more in the Winnipeg Free Press.
[Visit the website: http://willmoffat.github.com/FacebookSearch/
(Related) What is the electronic equivalent of “We didn't inhale?”
Google Admits to Snooping on Personal Data
May 14, 2010 by Dissent
Brad Stone writes:
On Friday, Google made a stunning admission: for over three years, it has inadvertently collected snippets of private information that people send over unencrypted wireless networks.
The admission, made in an official blog post by Alan Eustace, Google’s engineering chief, comes a month after regulators in Europe started asking the search giant pointed questions about Street View, the layer of real-world photographs accessible from Google Maps. Regulators wanted to know what data Google collects as its camera-toting cars methodically troll through cities and neighborhoods, and what Google does with that data.
Read more in the New York Times.
Basically, Google is saying that they had a privacy-invading “oopsie” by using code that sampled payload data and not just SSID information and MAC addresses. As a consequence, they will be disposing of all of the private data they collected and are discontinuing having Street View cars collecting WiFi network data entirely. Google also takes the opportunity to remind people of the dangers of unsecured WiFi networks. [After all, if Google could do this “inadvertently,” imagine what my Ethical Hacking students can do deliberately! Bob]
(Related) Google is doing something, what about all those other service?
Google to offer encrypted search next week
(Related) Is this more like Facebook or the Lower Merion snooping?
FYI, Pandora Makes Your Music Public
The innovative online music service Pandora lets you create personalized music stations that you can stream online, but it also makes those stations viewable to anyone on the internet who knows your e-mail address. And there seems to be nothing you can do to make them private.
For my Ethical Hacking class.
Single group did 66% of world's phishing
A single criminal operation was responsible for two-thirds of all phishing attacks in the second half of 2009 and is responsible for a two-fold increase in the crime, a report published this week said.
… Central to Avalanche's success is its use of fast-flux botnets to host phishing sites. The use of peer-to-peer communications makes it impossible for a single ISP or hosting provider to to pull the plug on the infrastructure. The gang also excels at launching attacks from a relatively small number of domain names that often appear confusingly identical to each other, such as 11f1iili.com and 11t1jtiil.com. Those abilities also fuel the success.
… A PDF of the report is here
Are you storing too much on your computer? (Want to quickly locate the “good stuff” on those computers you hacked into?)
Identity Finder: What secrets are hidden in your computer?
… Identity Finder, from the company of the same name, is a discovery tool for home or business users that searches through data stored on individual Windows and Macintosh computers for personal data such as credit card, Social Security, bank account, driver's license and passport numbers; personal addresses, phone numbers, passwords -- even your mother's maiden name.
dentity Finder comes in Home, Professional and Enterprise versions for Windows, as well as a more limited Mac edition and a very limited free Windows version. Capabilities vary greatly between editions...
Think of this as a significant technological improvement on those tattoos the Germans used in the camps. Perhaps we could use cell phone towers to locate the people we want to stalk...
Taiwanese Researchers Plug RFIDs As Disaster-Recovery Tools
Posted by timothy on Friday May 14, @11:03PM
"Scientists tag animals to monitor their behavior and keep track of endangered species. Now some are asking whether all of mankind should be tagged too. Looking for a loved one? Just Google his microchip. Taiwanese researchers postulate that the tags could help save lives in the aftermath of a major earthquake. And IBM advocated chips for humans in a speech earlier this week. The ACLU disagrees. 'Many people find the idea creepy,' spokesman Jay Stanley told FoxNews.com."
Whatever you do, don't tell anyone you had a copy of this in college – they'll never believe it was research for an Abnormal Psych paper. (and what is “useful for acts of terror” anyway? Street maps? Rental vans? Cell phones?)
In UK, First "Anarchist's Cookbook" Downloaders' Convictions
Posted by timothy on Saturday May 15, @05:11AM
"In the UK last month the author/compiler of the well-known-in-internet-circles 'terrorist handbook' pleaded guilty to seven counts of collecting information that could have been used to prepare or commit acts of terrorism, with a maximum jail term of 10 years. Today the first people caught with downloaded copies have been put behind bars — a white-supremacist father and son pairing getting 10 & 2 years respectively, convicted of three counts of possessing material useful for acts of terror. How many will be emptying their recycle bins after this conviction? As of writing, the book is still freely available on Amazon.com to buy."
Note: it seems that there's some overlapping nomenclature at play. Terrance Brown, the man who pleaded guilty to terror charges last month, is said to have been distributing a CD set including among other things extracts from Al-Qaeda manuals. His "cookbook" differs then from William Powell's 1971 book by a similar title, though (confusingly enough) the linked Wikipedia article implies that the father-and-son pair arrested possessed a copy of the Powell book as well; its text may well have been among the materials that Brown distributed.
A name to describe an environment that is not a “free for all”
Overwhelmed? Welcome the Age of Curation
By Eliot Van Buskirk May 14, 2010 2:48 pm
Forrester Research analyst Sarah Rotman Epps coined a phrase Friday for something many have been talking about since Apple launched the iPad about six weeks ago. “Curated computing” refers to the way Apple staff examines each piece of software written for iPhone OS devices before allowing it into (or blocking it from) the App Store.
… Epps is onto something with this word, curated.
Curation is the positive flip side of Apple’s locked-down approach, decried as a major, negative development in computing by many observers, present company included. Who would have thought that in 2010, so many people would pay good money for a computer that only runs approved software?
… Curation is already fundamental to the way in which we view the world these days, and the iPad is hardly the first technology to recognize this.
1) Facebook curated the web.
When given the option to create our own webpages online, most of us recoiled from that open-ended freedom, though many embraced it initially. Even if you took the time to learn HTML and keep your page updated, there was no guarantee that your friends would be able to find it.
That’s why personal websites remain the domain of geeks while Facebook (and its predecessors), LinkedIn, Tumblr, Flickr and other pre-fab web-presence providers flourish, despite valid privacy concerns.
2) Music curation vs. music criticism
Today, you can discover in seconds how nearly any band in the world sounds, assuming it wants to be heard, on YouTube, MySpace, Spotify, The Pirate Bay and other services. At that point, the role of the music critic shrinks considerably and becomes more about curation than criticism.
3) News publications filter the news.
Before the internet and Google all we had was curated news, in that readers typically got all of their news from one or two paper publications, which are closed systems.
4) Consumption devices curate functionality.
Finally, we arrive at the sort of curation Epps is talking about. The Kindle, cellphone, MP3 player, GPS and other specific-purpose devices curate functionality in order to deliver a better experience than a general-purpose desktop computer could ever deliver. This holds especially true for devices designed around consumption, such as portable MP3 players or big-screen televisions.
(Related) On the other hand, isn't this good too?
New Voices: Social media cheapens pols and TV news shows
April 24, 2010 By Courtney Lindwall Special to the Sentinel
The media and the political world's expansion into the 21st century's new realm of communication is understandable. Hooked up to multiple online profiles, channels like CNN, MSNBC and Fox News have created segments to incorporate their viewers' texts, tweets and Facebook statuses.
A new level of participation with our news programs has been unleashed, and in a way, this hands-on approach to political interaction exemplifies our nation's focus on citizen involvement. Integrating individual voices throughout the media's political discussion is just another example of the democratic way America likes to do things.
That is, of course, until the tweets from politicians, texts from angry viewers and misspelled online rants from Facebook begin to create a tinge of unprofessionalism and make the news seem more like a comedic free-for-all blog than a source for informed, valuable commentary.
For my students – especially those trying to “sell” their tech skills. Might be an interesting model for the University to sponsor for their Alumni...
BriteTab.com - Resumes That Truly Show Who You Are
Everything is based on the browser today, and there isn’t really a reason why resumes should be aloft to the phenomenon. After all, is there a better way to show who you are to potential employers that by coming up with a truly multimedia representation of yourself that can be accessed from just anywhere?
The ones who devised the BriteTab website certainly knew that. The site will let you create and host a resume that brings together all the information that paper resumes always include such as qualifications and previous experience with the richness of video resumes. Besides, the resumes you can build up on the site can include other media such as pictures along with downloadable attachments.
This service is available both for free and at a fixed cost. The paid incarnation of BriteTab comes with some very interesting features such as the ability to create many resumes and rotate them according to the opportunity in question, as well as using themes to go with different industries. Also, bear in mind that videos and attachments can only be added if you buy a premium subscription.
Before your cousin posts that picture of you picking your nose (not that that has happened to me) you should add a copyright, trademark, patent and “Guido will break your legs” notice to all your images.
How To Batch Watermark Images with Jouba Converter
My students play these during my lectures, how much less attention would they pay if they could build their own?
How to Make Your Own First Person Shooter Game for Free
For my student-geeks (geeky students?)
Students now get priority access to Google Voice
Typically, invites for the service can take anywhere from a few hours to several months to arrive after a user signs up. But the company is now promising those who have an e-mail address that ends with .edu access to the service within 24 hours. Google had done something similar for active members of the U.S. military back in August.
This could simplify my life.
CaptureFox: Record A Screencast In Firefox
Firefox has tons of add-ons that let you capture screenshots. But CaptureFox goes one step further and allows you to record a screencast along with the audio and finally save it as a video file. Once installed from the Mozilla site. CaptureFox lets you start recording videos with a single click.
A little icon in the status bar shows you how many seconds have elapsed. You can also adjust the audio/video codec and specify a time delay before the recording starts. You can also choose to capture the whole screen or just the Firefox window, adjust the video quality and set frames per second. Once captured, the video is saved as an *.avi file to your hard drive.