The New York Times by Charlie Savage August 21, 2013
The federal government is making progress on developing a surveillance system that would pair computers with video cameras to scan crowds and automatically identify people by their faces, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with researchers working on the project.
The Department of Homeland Security tested a crowd-scanning project called the Biometric Optical Surveillance System — or BOSS — last fall after two years of government-financed development. Although the system is not ready for use, researchers say they are making significant advances. That alarms privacy advocates, who say that now is the time for the government to establish oversight rules and limits on how it will someday be used.
Big Brother strikes again: Now TWITTER wants to start tracking you on the web
Social media site plans to track users and the websites they visit
Advertisers will be able to use this data to create more personalised ads
The service is switched on by default – but users can opt out
Daily Mail / U.K. By Victoria Woollaston July 4, 2013
In a blog post, Twitter said that the service will be launched in the U.S. but did not say whether it would be rolled out to other areas.
The idea, Twitter said, is to show ‘more useful’ adverts to its users.
In a statement, it said: ‘Users won’t see more ads on Twitter, but they may see better ones.’
By tracking them with a cookie to see what they look at online, the adverts will be for products or services that the user may have already looked at or expressed an interest in.
Twitter is not the first site to use personalised advertising; Facebook already does it, as does Google.
HOW WILL TWITTER TRACK YOU?
In its blog post, Twitter used the example of a florist when discussing its new advertising plans.
If a florist wants to advertise on Twitter for Valentine’s Day, for example, they would prefer to show their advert to flower enthusiasts, or people who have already looked for bouquets on their site.
The florist can approach Twitter and share a ‘scrambled, unreadable’ and anonymous email address – known as a hash.
Alternatively, they can use browser-related information – known as a browser cookie ID.
Twitter can then use the email address or the cookie to scan its users and match the advertisers with the relevant people.
The site can then match that information to accounts and show them a Promoted Tweet with the Valentine’s Day deal.
Twitter adds this is how most other companies handle this practice, and added it doesn’t give advertisers any additional user information.
In the case of Google, the search results as well as the sponsored adverts can also be personalised.
This means, for example, if you’re a gadget fan and have bought Apple products or read stories about the Apple brand, when you search Google for the word ‘Apple’, results about the tech company rather than the fruit will feature higher in the search list.
Sites could previously track users using cookies and not inform the person visiting the site they were doing so.
In May 2012 a new EU regulation came into force that meant any sites which used cookies had to display a warning message for each visitor.
The Twitter tracking will be turned on by default, but users will be able to opt out.
It site also said that users who have the Do Not Track (DNT) feature enabled on their browsers will not be affected by the plans.
Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer all have the DNT feature built-in and users have to enable it if they want to stop websites tracking them.
Twitter also explained that users can stop advertisers from tracking them on Twitter by going to their Account Settings page and unticking the ‘promoted content’ box.
Twitter is expected to earn about $583 million in advertising revenue this year and $1 billion in 2014, according to research firm EMarketer.
Twitter has been praised by privacy campaign groups for supporting DNT.
A blog post from Adi Kamdar from the Electronic Frontier Foundation said: ‘Twitter is setting an important example.
‘It is possible to exist in an ecosystem of tailored advertisements and online tracking while also giving users an easy and meaningful opt-out choice.
‘This is in stark contrast to many other advertising and tracking firms.
‘Consumer privacy is an issue of control and transparency; you may be perfectly fine with targeted ads, but you should have the ability to know what information companies have about you and the option of saying no.
To support its claim for transparency, Twitter will also be linking to each advertising partners’ firms cookie opt-out pages.
When users enable DNT or opt out from cookies on websites their data is wiped from the companies’ files.
This means any stored log-in or payment details are removed and will need to be entered in manually.
Where Teens Go Instead of Facebook (and Why You Should Too)
Yahoo News / Upgrade Your Life by Becky Worley June 19, 2013
Remember a few years back, when teenagers left MySpace in droves for this new thing called Facebook? Grown-ups soon followed suit (not that they were ever much on MySpace), and joined Facebook by the hundreds of millions – which made it far less cool for their kids. So where on the Web are teens going now, and what can you learn from them?
A recent study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 94% of American teens still have a Facebook account, but they’re using it less, and using it more carefully. More than half have tightened down their privacy settings and regularly delete or edit previous posts.
But even with tightened privacy settings, teens have realized that Facebook is more like a family picnic than the private party they want it to be. They still share photos and use Facebook messaging, but they are increasingly turning to newer social networks to fill the function of traditional status updates. So which sites are they using – and why?
While teens do seem to understand privacy much better now than in the early days of social media, they still have a desire to put themselves out there in a public way. And that’s where microblogs like Tumblr and Pheed come in. The culture that has evolved on these sites is more slanted to creative self-expression than Facebook’s life-casting (telling all the mundane details of your day). Both are deeply skewed towards mobile use, and there are tons of clever and thematic blogs, think Texts from Hillary or Reasons My Son is Crying.Neither are particularly teen-oriented, but there are clear differences in style and content between a Tumblr and a Facebook feed.
Twitter saw a doubling of teen users last year. And young people use it more publicly than they do Facebook; while teens with Facebook accounts typically keep their postings private, visible only to their friends, only 24% report keeping their tweets private. Since Twitter feels more instant than Facebook, it’s a good one to consider if your musings are topical and timely.
Increasingly, the hot sites among the younger set create private networks, ones that automatically restrict who can see your updates, like Path, which limits your friend list to 150 people.This built-in privacy makes everything feel more personal – though if you have 151 real-world friends, you’ll just have to choose.
Instagram is pretty good for photo sharing, especially if you like using their funky filters. Teens thought that it great, until mom and dad showed up there, too.
So then came Snapchat, a way to send pics that self-destruct after being viewed. Except that assuming what you send will really disappear is fraught with peril, since the recipient can grab a permanent screen shot of a picture before its deleted. Still, Snapchat is hot – to the tune of 150 million snaps a day – for good reason: it is a fun way to share casual, goofy pics that aren’t meant to signify deep meaning in your life. Just remember that, as with anything you post digitally, “deleting” may not really mean it can’t come back to haunt you.
If you’re paying as much as $20 a month (or really, any amount over zero) for texting on your phone, think about these alternatives: Kik and WhatsApp have bitten into Facebook messaging, especially here in the US. Globally, services like WeChat in China, KakaoTalk in Korea, and Line in the Middle East and Asia, are all on the rise. Using these services may eat a tiny bit into your data usage, but should enable you to reduce what you spend on your cell phone overall.
Twitter tightens security after recent hacking spate
Micro-blogging site Twitter says it is bringing in an optional two-step login for users to beef up security following recent high-profile breaches.
BBC News / UK May 23, 2013
The company said it would introduce the new system “to make sure it’s really you” when a user signs in.
Recent attacks broke into news organisations’ accounts, such as the Financial Times and the newswire service the Associated Press (AP).
One tweet sent from AP’s hacked account said President Obama had been injured.
Some attacks have come from political organisations, notably the Syrian Electronic Army, which appears to act in support of President Assad’s government.
It claimed credit for hacking several news organisations, including AP.
Twitter product security head Jim O’Leary said that despite the new security plans, users should start out with a strong password:
“Of course, even with this new security option turned on, it’s still important for you to use a strong password and follow the rest of our advice for keeping your account secure.”
Twitter said the new system would allow users to opt in to a two-step system that would require a verification code for each sign-in.
Mr O’Leary said this would be simple: “You’ll need a confirmed email address and a verified phone number. After a quick test to confirm that your phone can receive messages from Twitter, you’re ready to go.”
A message containing a verification code would then be sent to the account holder’s mobile phone that can be used to log in. Businesses which run a Twitter account managed by several people will have to find a way of sharing texts from a single mobile number to take advantage of the facility.
Other security breaches suffered by Twitter included one in February, when 250,000 users had their passwords stolen in an attack.
News organisations including the BBC were warned by Twitter last month to tighten security in the wake of the high-profile hacks, one of which got into the BBC’s weather feed.
Twitter’s announcement prompted Kim Dotcom – the founder of controversial former file sharing site Megaupload – to claim the firm’s use of the safety measure infringed one of his patents.
“Google, Facebook, Twitter, Citibank, etc offer Two-Step-Authentication. Massive IP infringement by US companies,” he tweeted.
“I never sued them. I believe in sharing knowledge & ideas for the good of society. But I might sue them now cause of what the US did to me.”
The US authorities are currently trying to extradite Mr Dotcom from New Zealand to face trial for charges related to online piracy carried out on Megaupload.
Mr Dotcom filed for a patent describing an SMS-based two-step-authentication process in 1998, suggesting it could be used by banks, the military and government offices. It was granted by US officials in 2000, and Mr Dotcom said the innovation was also registered in 12 other countries.
However, he is not the only person to have registered claims to the technology.
Guantanamo Wi-Fi shuttered after Anonymous hacking threat
In unity with the prison’s inmates, the hacking group pledges to disrupt online activities at Guantanamo — prompting the U.S. military to shut down the base’s Wi-Fi.
C/NET News by Dara Kerr May 20, 2013
After the hacking collective Anonymous launched a Twitter campaign pledging to go after the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba, the U.S. military barred all Wi-Fi access on the base, according to the Associated Press. All social media, including Facebook and Twitter, also has been banned.
Army Lt. Col. Samuel House told the Associated Press that the shuttering of the base’s Wi-Fi was because of Anonymous’ public plans to “disrupt activities” at the military prison.
While no disruptions have yet been reported, according to the Associated Press, Anonymous has promised to make good on its threats.
The group said it launched its online protest in solidarity with the prisoners who have been on a hunger strike for the last few months. Anonymous publicized its campaign via several “Twitter Storm” packages with various hashtags referencing days in May, including #GTMO17, #GTMO18, and #GTMO19.
According to Anonymous’ Twitter Storm packages, the group’s goal is to “raise awareness in social media of the human rights violations going on at Guantanamo, the indefinite detention of prisoners, many of whom have been cleared for release years ago.”
The majority of prisoners currently being held at Guantanamo are on strike, according to the Associated Press. They are protesting the conditions of the prison, as well as seeing no end in sight to their confinement.
Monday’s Wi-Fi shutdown isn’t the only Internet glitch at Guantanamo as of late. Last month, dozens of legal files suddenly disappeared from computers of lawyers representing Guantanamo inmates. Hundreds of thousands of these lawyers’ documents also landed on the prosecution’s computers. It’s not clear how the files vanished or if there was any illegal action behind the disappearance.