Saturday, May 19, 2012

The decline of a nation? Have they started down that slippery slope that results in a country with laws written by the entertainment industry? (Like the US...)
"India is at a crucial crossroad at the moment. Internet censorship laws are getting stricter as it begins to ban file-sharing and video-sharing websites. It started with Indian courts allowing censorship of Google, Facebook, etc. It has now gone one step ahead and decided to ask ISPs to block file-sharing sites. It is the movie industry which is again at the forefront of this. Anonymous retaliated, and targeted the websites of various Indian government websites in protest. What India lacks at this crucial juncture are debates in the public domain about this and citizens actually organizing protests as seen in the West."

Is this a true 'thumbs up' or do we have 1350 apathetic parents who simply don't care (and how can you tell the difference?)
AU: Parents give schools’ hi-tech rollcall the thumbs up
May 19, 2012 by Dissent
Evonne Barry, Stephanie Wilson report:
Victoria’s privacy chief has questioned the use of finger scanners to track students in schools.
At least two government schools have replaced traditional rollcalls with the biometric technology, which identifies students by their fingertips as they enter and exit school grounds.
Ringwood Secondary College is the latest school to adopt the hi-tech attendance tracker, after Nossal High School in Berwick.
Although both schools call the system a success, Acting Privacy Commissioner Dr Anthony Bendall questioned whether they were justified.
Read more in The Herald Sun.
Interesting statistic that (only) 50 out of 1400 parents opted out of this.

I feel safer already, don't you?
May 17, 2012
EPIC: Privacy Board Approved by Judiciary Committee, Vote Moves to Senate
"The Senate Committee on the Judiciary has approved President Obama's five nominees for the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. The Board is an independent entity charged with ensuring that fundamental rights are protected in the implementation of government programs, including cybersecurity. Originally convened in 2004, the five seats on the Board have remained vacant for the past five years. Senator Leahy, the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said, "When we worked to create this board, we did so to ensure that our fundamental rights and liberties would be preserved… The Senate should move quickly to confirm the nominees to the board so that they can get to their important work." For more information, see EPIC: 9/11 Commission Report and "The Sui Generis Privacy Agency: How the United States Institutionalized Privacy Oversight After 9-11."

Facebook's IPO generated $15 Billion? We'll take that....
"The folks at Facebook may be focusing on their IPO today, but a complaint filed in federal court has given them something else to think about. The filing consolidates 21 separate but similar cases and alleges Facebook invaded users privacy by tracking their browsing behavior even after they had logged out of the site. The claim seeks $15 billion in damages. 'If the claimants are successful in their case against Facebook, they could prevent Menlo Park from collecting the huge amount of data it collects about its users to serve ads back to them. Like the previous lawsuits, Facebook is once again being accused of violating the Federal Wiretap Act, which provides statutory damages per user of $100 per day per violation, up to a maximum per user of $10,000. The complaint also asserts claims under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the Stored Communications Act, various California Statutes and California common law.'"

When everyone is in charge, no one is in charge.
Facebook rules: Everyone can vote on new privacy policy
Facebook is going to have to put its new privacy policy (or rather Data Use Policy) up for a vote, according to its own rules. The company has yet to announce such a plan, but now that the commenting period has closed, it’s only a matter of time.
Last Friday, Facebook proposed improvements to its Data Use Policy. You can view the tracked changes at the bottom of this article and go through an explanation of them over on the Facebook Site Governance webpage.
Facebook also held a live video Q&A on Monday and launched a Facebook Terms and Policies Hub at Most importantly, the company asked its users to comment on the changes. It’s now closed:
The comment period for our proposed new Data Use Policy is now complete. Thank you for your participation. We plan to review and analyze your comments over the coming days and will keep you posted on next steps.
Here’s where it gets interesting. There’s a clause in Facebook’s own terms of service (Statement of Rights and Responsibilities) under the Amendments section that states the following:
If more than 7,000 users comment on the proposed change, we will also give you the opportunity to participate in a vote in which you will be provided alternatives. The vote shall be binding on us if more than 30% of all active registered users as of the date of the notice vote.

Well, that feeling of safety didn't last very long. On the other hand, eavesdropping on the Chinese military just got a lot easier...
Top Handset Maker Confirms Backdoor in One of Its Models
ZTE, which is based in China and produces the ScoreM, which sells as a Google Android phone, admitted that it had placed a backdoor account with a hardcoded password, which is easily found online. The backdoor was used by the company to remotely update its firmware, according to Reuters. But its existence would also allow anyone else with knowledge of the password to access a Score phone and gain root access.
“It could very well be that they’re not very good developers or they could be doing this for nefarious purposes,” Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder of cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, told the news service.

As a “space geek” I think this could be the dawn of true space exploration. Something like the transition from exploration of the Americas funded by the European monarchs to the start of the Hudson's Bay Company. No doubt critics will declaim the “evil profits” these companies make while claiming with equal fervor that government should cut NASA's budget entirely. (Unlike North Korea, these guys want it to work...)
SpaceX launch scrapped in last-second drama
With its nine first-stage engines throttling up in a rush of fiery exhaust, the intended launch of a commercial cargo ship bound for the International Space Station was aborted at the last second early Saturday because of higher-than-expected pressure in one of the compact power plants.

Perhaps I should start a site where my students can tell their stories...
It seems like watching lectures from inspirational people is becoming much more popular. TED was one of the originators, and recently, Google has jumped into the fray, bringing their own special brand of thought-provoking videos and lectures. The Do Lectures follows a similar format. They focus on showcasing people who do amazing things, in the hopes of inspiring others to get out there and do something themselves.
Similar sites: Fear.less, MagMe, and BetterMe.

(Related) Another place I can find alternatives to a lecture...
Watching documentaries is always a fun and educational way of passing your time. But for a documentary film to be interesting, it must be relevant to your topic of interest. Thanks to a website called Watch Documentary, you can now browse countless documentaries online according to their topic.

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