Posts Tagged 'Internet'

Vote for Pedro!!

We have the Australian Federal election  this weekend.

I shouldn’t be using one issue as a leverage point for my decision, but in the mess of the propaganda, and election promises both our major parties are making its hard to measure whose plan for our future is going to be better, and  no matter who gets in – they will break promises.  A politicians promise is usually said with fingers crossed behind their back.  I believe their intent to deliver may  be there when they make those plans, but the reality is things get in the way. It’s a dark view of a political system, but its realistic. 

Both our major parties have platforms I don’t like – some more than others,   but I think the biggest issue is one that will affect Australia beyond the term or two of any political party, and that is compulsory censorship.

People who hold power have to be held accountable – and it will be hard to hold someone accountable if they also hold the power – and willingness to use this power to hide any opposition to their power.  ( Conroy hid ISP filtering Tag clouds on his website and thus has already shown a inclination to deter people from locating negative feedback on the filter)  

Nor do I think that if in power Liberal would be any different, if the legal means to censor what they don’t want to be there was already there to use. They would use it. So we have to make sure it never gets turned on.

First it’s the Filtered list that gets censored, and we are not allowed to know what is on there, and we only know because of wikileaks. A dentist website for was on there.  Funnily enough when the list of already banned sites were leaked it was found apparently that most of the banned sites where not in the scope of the supposed aim of the filter.

  I will not  vote to support a party that will support  internet censorship via a compulsory filter.  Because once it’s turn on,  we will never have the power to turn it off.

It may have been set aside as a non election issue.  They had to do that  – would have been bad  PR, and all the arguments have already been heard  – why the concept is noble,  the cost , effectiveness and accountability  however is not acceptable.

It shouldn’t come down to one single issue as a ultimate decider in who gets to run my country – but we should not forget that this issue is one that Labor is passionate about – one they are not talking about because they are hoping we will forget their plans for the filter.  So if you are Australian, and exercising your political vote.  Know  that regardless of what ever other party line that is delivered,  that behind them stands this elephant of an issue – that they have not even been willing to compromise down to a voluntry filter.  

We will never get that democratic choice. YES or NO for filter,  we can only Vote yes or no for the party.

Liberal has told Australia they will not support the filter, winning the  election or not.  So they will get my vote.

Of course when it comes to technology there are more things to consider this election, and things we should be aware of.

Censorship  getting mixed up with Classifications

Labour; Conroy  requested google to Censor Youtube in Febuary, wanting Australia to be filtered much like they do for the Chinese and Thai governments. 

 Labour  also recently  announced they will be targeting game and applications available to Australians that have been sold without a classification check. They apparently want to charge $470 to  $2040 each app/game to review because of legislation this includes censoring/reviewing every single application/game available to users via smartphones, and I would assume that scope would also cover flash games, and any freeware.

Apple have said that the Aussie itunes is extremely profitable ( the dollar difference does not get passed on to us) but if every single free game offered on itunes – apparently 220,000 apps and games had to be reviewed for compliance.  Or if every Youtube video watched to make sure it complied with our classification ratings. I don’t think Australia would be a viable place to conduct business for several internet services.  If google can stop doing business with china, why would we be any different?

 Furthermore there will be consequences  on our local market – forcing  small time developers into paying for classification.

Just how out of touch are our politicians with technology?  We don’t want 20 year olds with no life experience in parliment,  but  there feels like  a distinct lack of  basic knowledge, and technological application missing from the people wanting to be in power during a technology age.

I know I’m voting for him,  but Abbott has already shown his lack of Tech Savyness “ I am not a tech head”   I can’t imagine the people in power in Labour being too much different. Sure they can all learn party lines,  and get a broad understanding of the issue, but   hey being  a communications minister and a figurehead for the filter still doesn’t mean your tech savy either. Conroys speech.  “Up to 20,000 can regularly be getting infected by these spams, or scams, that come through the portal” 

Yes the compulsory  filter has affected my vote this election.  I don’t want Australia to go down that path.

A Privacy Illusion

Privacy ‘breaches’ and issues have become a lot more important recently and we focused on it to some degree with Real ID  – and a recent piece of correspondence  I received have made for some interesting thoughts on what privacy is – or lack there of.  There is an illusion of the  level of control you have over your information.

So in part this a throw at you kinda thing with  some recent examples of privacy goings on, to get you thinking, and aware if you were not already

The downloadable list of searchable facebook profiles from ( site seems to be down but a web cache of the post works – and Corporations ( or people employed by them ) are now downloading this Torrent

I cannot think of a reason why I personally would want an indexed copy of 1million facebook users, and their user pics, and usernames but what could you do with that data? I can think of people like Law enforcement, marketing people , social media profilers  that would be interested. Especially if  friends lists are to be indexed and cross checked.  That data hasn’t been torrented yet. “So far, I have only indexed the searchable users, not their friends. Getting their friends will be significantly more data to process, and I don’t have those capabilities right now. I’d like to tackle that in the future”    Skull says on his blog. I bet there is someone who does have that capability.

The News that your Smartphone Apps are spying on you is nothing new, but getting more public attention with an App Genome Project ,  Lookout’s early release findings show that  a large amount of Applications had the ability to access a users location,  and apparently some even have access to your contact list, and others through 3rd party software are collecting information.   All the tech blogs are talking about it now.  Last year Palm come to media attention for sending GPS locations back to Palm.

Did you also know that the Photo’s you take with your iphone ( and other smart phones)  also contains GPS data.  Unless you turn location services off, and that when you upload these photos to various places  not all of them strip that GPS information.   It’s quite creepy selecting ‘places’ and seeing a map of your city,  and all the places you and your iphone have gotten around – and then you wonder who else can see. ( if your interested Picasso has the ability to read any GPS data that is on a picture and put it in a map – it also lets you strip  a pic of that data and save a clean copy)

Google was cleared of Wi-fi Snooping in the UK with not collecting ” Significant Personal details”  but  in Australia  they were found to have breached the Australian Privacy Act “On the information available I am satisfied that any collection of personal information would have breached the Australian Privacy Act.”  It is a little concerning ,  whether intentional or not – cars roaming streets collecting mass amounts of data – a street worth of data might not be useful,  but a country full,  two countries full.  What could the data from a collection of unsecured wifi points be useful for – or to whom?  I’ve read enough spy/mystery book for my imagination to go wild. I think that’s more of a concern than the bits of data supposedly collected from each.  The wifi information however is still publicly accessible.  I’m sure quite easy to find using a program like I did with  Netstumbler back when I got my first Wifi enabled laptop  some years back.  Cruise down the local main road, and have a look.  It  used to be able to record of all the networks secure and unsecured it found.  Heck any wifi sniffing capable device would do the same on a small scale.

The key to a lot of these ‘privacy breaches’  seem to be informed control – you had the ability to reduce,  or avoid your privacy exposure,  but may not have been informed enough as to the potential consequences or use to be motivated to activate that control.

  • Your name on the facebook list could have been prevented by turning off public search.
  • As for location services on your apps – I’m assuming the majority are ones that ask you ”  Such and Such would like to use your location.  ANSWER NO. The ones that access your contact information are more of a concern though, but I suspect they some may be apps that ask you to communicate to your friends.
  • Turn off location services on your smartphone so your photo’s aren’t being tagged with GPS
  • Googles Wifi data collection was only done on unsecured Wifi networks.  A German court in May ruled that unsecured Wifi owners can be fined which might be a little extreme,  but I’m sure it gets people more worried about it more.Put a password on it.

It is one thing however for the information to be available if you really want to know, and another for it to be index-able,  search-able and ‘abuser friendly’.  Eg now our electoral rolls in OZ are no longer available on CD – though this seemed to be initiated from a fear of Electoral fraud – not privacy concerns,  but it has the same effect. You can still go view a physical copy of the roll and data such as Name, address, date of birth and gender in alphabetical order,  you just can’t index it and copy it. However they don’t say what format  they give the data to political parties for their local constituent mailing lists I can’t imagine it would be in paper form.

Some things aren’t always in our control. Information / data  available on public domain isn’t the only thing we need to worry about.

We put our trust in places that hold our personal information,  or even our communications like email inquiry’s,  catalog lists, organisation memberships – and no guarantee  they will follow privacy principles, unless they get caught and fined.  Health services seem to get into trouble all the time – releasing customer information accidentally – getting patient records mixed up.  Or even breaches as simple as the IPad customer list from AT & T being released, and how can we forget the ESRB breach where a simple ‘reply all’ released publicly the email address to all  recipients from everyone else who had contacted them to complain about Blizzards Real ID.

Remember when it was credit card numbers that were the biggest security threat.  “Be careful who you give your credit card number.”  We now worry when we lose sight of a credit card because the waiter might have a skimming device in their pocket. Our ATMs have skimming devices attached , and Eftpos machines in fast food outlets   get modded to collect skimmed data.

Even Night Clubs are scanning and retaining  fingerprints of patrons

We have to  spend as much time worrying about how safe our information is as we do accessing the services we use.  Kind of puts Real ID in perspective.  What’s in a name when someone has your fingerprints,  your telephone contact list, where you were on Saturday night  and where you live . Read How I become a Foursquare Stalker as to how someone tracked a stranger down based on information from looking at people on the app within one mile of him. You can check ‘people near me ‘on twitter and Buzz as   with some people tagging their home addresses  as their current location.  Robmenow collects public data about users geotagging their location – the idea being if the user is at say a coffee shop in the city.  They aren’t at home.

The information available is not a danger – until the intent of someone makes it so.

Doesn’t it make you just want to stop and think how much worse will it get? – As we become aware of each incident of what information is available out there  and start thinking about the intent of  those who are collecting for undisclosed use we become more concerned.  Governments are getting worried,  ( we can thank Canada for pressure on Facebook for  of the privacy changes)  Eventually  laws will tighten,or Governments will just cut off access to what they can’t control to their liking.  Eg look at China and Google.   We just can’t switch off the technology age.  I like it.  I live in it,  play in it. However  people will continue to make reply all mistakes, mix up files, lose data and your control over your own information gets weaker.

We have a very casual approach to our information we give out voluntarily because we aren’t always aware of the consequences – the trend is changing  but we have no idea as to  how the data is to be used in the future,  or how many people in the privacy chain with access to that information are weak links. No where on a privacy form does someone tell you what they do with your data.  “We keep this behind an trillion byte encryption  protected  by armor plated servers Oh but 20 people including the cleaner can print off copies when they want.”  Organizations have to answer to the law- but international boundaries, and inconsistent regulations means that one country will not have the same standards, and enforceability as another.

We are a little wiser now.  When Blizzard tried to make the Forum Change to real names a ‘in the future’  thing,  we got fair warning, and plenty of time to protest and the potential for misuse by some rather zealous examples splashed across the internet.

We have  however, no control over customer purchase lists with our emails being leaked,  a laptop with sensitive information left in a cafe, or your inbox being filled with someone else’s personal messages due to a code or software error.   Effectively all we can do is scream ‘ breach breach’ after the information has been released.  How many incidents do we not know about.

I was at a RSL Club with my family a while ago, and my Id Card was scanned onto their computer on sign in.  There was no choice,  and it was either eat dinner with my family and get my card scanned,  or look like a paranoid prat if I refused.  The attendant looked at me strangely when I asked why it was being scanned,  and then even more so when I asked how long is the data retained?

Where’s the line between paranoia and sensibility?

I’m going to leave it there,  not sure I have come to some deep and meaningful conclusion,  but I’m a blogger not a journalist.  My intent is to give you with this post food for thought. Just because we should at least think about things like this on occasion, because we as individuals  should be responsible enough to control and try and be aware.  Even if it means your sister inlaw deletes you off facebook because you disabled access to your wall to stop people from posting things you could not control on there.

Write a Knol on Warcraft – no one else has… YET…

Knol is a  google beta site quite similar to a Wiki – but gets its ‘authority’ by identifying authors – hence their qualification to write the article with opportunities for critique /comments ect ect..

I remember in Uni back in early 2000’s  we were discouraged from using the net as a research resource.  We were not allowed to quote any information from internet sites because of the questionable authority,  and if we needed to get an Research Article for Psychology we had to go to Sydney Uni, and look up their entire collection of abstracts on a on site database,  ( after booking the time on the PC )  then go hunting through rooms and rooms of dusty articles to pull out the journal we needed. It was a pain.  Now you can download PDF’s of published journals.

Schools are also now encouraging students to Wiki things – but to always look at the information you get with a grain of salt.   

Is Knol to be the acedemic  – be all to end all –  authority on anything and everything, to add creditability  to the multitudes of opinions and thoughts that float on the interweb  From their FAQ “So the Knol project is a platform for sharing information, with multiple cues that help you evaluate the quality and veracity of information.”

Knol is relevant to Warcraft because  – There is nothing on there yet about it…

I did a few warcraft related searches and found nadda. There are a lot of health related articles though..

So What can you write about….  Almost anything you like.

QUICK! – Some of the entries I have read on the wow blogosphere have been amazingly researched, theory crafted, calculated – and that makes you an expert.  So get cracking..


Warcraft already has some amazing Wikis and reference sites and crawlers..   Will Knol be a benefit to Gamers? Specifically to Warcraft ? I don’t think so  Wikipedia never did ,  because it was too ‘mainstream’ and some of Wiki’s rules around what is ‘allowed’ to have an article didn’t cover the intricacies that gamers want.  But maybe Knol does as  there doesn’t seem to be a restriction of what or who is of note enough to get an article.

Does Knol have the potential to be the ultimate authoritarian on anything?  Is the information on a Knol more correct then a Wiki? Both have audience feedback abilities, but in the case of Knol the readers can’t edit,  only refute it.

Google does not monitor or edit the content of knols, and takes no responsibility for such content.” 

I just am not sure “Knol it.. ”   will be as popular as “Wiki it.. ”   

Knol  doesn’t seem  aimed at specific communities or interest groups, but if it doesn’t open its doors ( or Knol’s ) to non mainstream content it potentially will evolve into something else just by the content that is submitted Eg A Medical Reference site.

A ‘qualification’ to write an article is not really defined, but education, by experience, hobby all theoretically makes you qualified,

But of note and I applaud Google for this..  as I have recently been looking at the some of the shonky T&C’s as to some Photography competitions from organisations that want to fill their stock photos for free..  – When it comes to Knol..

Your Intellectual Property Rights.

5.1.  No Google Ownership of User Content


So My prediction for Knol is it will not become mainstream popular – That while it may end up being recognised on the net as a ‘wiki’ equivalent for medical, Health, Science, Technology , Pychology , basically any Field of acedemia ect ect… as those fields are more likely to attract people who have paper qualifications, hence more implied authority as to what they write.  There are however, already specific Wikis aimed at those people who are interested in  those fields,  with various levels of authenticity. I also don’t think that the majority of the content will be original and written specifically for Knol.   Its more likely to be a replication of another source.

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