Tag Archives | Surveillance

Billions of Dollars + Zero Wisdom = Google Hires Resident Philosopher

Picture of italian philosopher Luciano Floridi (Stefano Oreschi via Wikimedia Commons).

Picture of italian philosopher Luciano Floridi (Stefano Oreschi via Wikimedia Commons).

via Pacific Standard:

How an Oxford don is helping the tech giant understand the nature of modern identity—and stay out of court.

One day this past September, Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, sat down with a group of experts in Madrid to begin publicly discussing how Google should respond to a recent, perplexing ruling by the European Union’s Court of Justice. In May, the court had declared that, in accordance with the European “right to be forgotten,” individuals within the E.U. should be able to prohibit Google and other search firms from linking to personal information that is “inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant, or excessive.”

In an age of revenge porn, social media gaffes, and all the infinite varieties of embarrassment that can attend one’s name in a Google search, the ruling was, in spirit, an attempt to keep ordinary Europeans from being unduly tyrannized by an Internet that, famously, never forgets.

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“You Can’t Stop the Signal” — An Analysis of Social Media Activism

Essam Sharaf  (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons.

Essam Sharaf (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons.

Via World Policy Blog

Welcome back to the World Policy “Best of” list. Today we pull back the curtain on the Egyptian revolution and reveal its somewhat dark underbelly. Political activist Mahmoud Salem, who tweets under the name “sandmonkey,” shares how the introduction of social media into Egyptian culture sparked the Egyptian revolution where he played a seminal social media role. At the same time, these same tools now jeopardize the creation of any political infrastructure capable of governing effectively. 

By Mahmoud Salem

CAIRO, Egypt—As a child of the 1980s, I grew up watching science fiction television shows and movies—all set in the “not-so-distant future.” Holographic communication, teleportation, and flying cars were central tenets of that universe. And while I marveled at the prospect of these technologies, I was most fascinated by the “magical technological device”—that could be used to complete any task, from basic communication to dissemination of news to national security.

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Mining the Hive Mind: Implications Of Facebook Indexing 1 Trillion Posts

Mike Beauchamp (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Mike Beauchamp (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Via TechCrunch:

A whole wing of the Internet just got added to our collective conscience, like websites by Google or knowledge by Wikipedia before it.

 Yet the news cruised by with analysis focused simply on what Facebook’s new keyword post search does today. Yes, any post by you or any of your friends can now be dug up with a quick search from mobile. But I don’t think people realize how big a deal it is for tomorrow. Facebook just went from data rich to Scrooge-McDuck-swimming-in-a-tower-full-of data rich.

The ramifications for advertising, developers, and Facebook itself are tough to fathom. Our most vivid doppelgänger, our digital echoes can now be tracked. They don’t just say who we were, but where we’re headed, and what we’ll want next.

First, the trillion post index gives us group memory.Each person can only search stories from their friends and surrounding network, but Mark Zuckerberg recently said those all add up to over 1 trillion posts.

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Facebook’s callous “Year in Review” highlights the inhumanity of algorithms

Dimitris Kalogeropoylos (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Dimitris Kalogeropoylos (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Via PandoDaily:

Facebook has apologized for the insensitivity of a feature which relied on algorithms to collect a year’s worth of events, status updates, and photographs into a single presentation after it was criticized for showing images of deceased family members.

Eric Meyer, the user who first wrote about the “Year in Review” feature’s morbid callousness, has also apologized to Facebook for not making clear the company’s efforts to console him for the algorithmic fuck-up before he published his blog post.

But his original point — that companies should account for all their users instead of building products for an idealized version of the human condition — still stands. It might even be more relevant now that it’s clear Facebook didn’t know of the problem.

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Top 10 UFO Videos of 2014

The folks at OpenMinds compiled a nice list of the top 10 UFO Videos of 2014.

Via OpenMinds:

These are the best UFO videos of 2014, and most remain unidentified.

Top 10 lists are very subjective. I wonder if I am the first author to start a top 10 list admitting that. UFO video identification can often also be subjective. However, it is this author’s opinion that many of the following videos remain mysteries. Those that were identified either made a large impact, or were just cool lookin’.

This list is in no particular order. I do not necessarily feel that any are better than the other. But they are all very interesting. Every year I almost dread putting together the year in review story. I think, “Wow, not much happened that was that interesting. Am I going to be able to come up with a decent list?” Sure enough, every year I am pleasantly surprised by all of the great news that was covered over the last year.

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Origins of the Police

The Five Points district of lower Manhattan, painted by George Catlin in 1827. New York’s first free Black settlement, Five Points was also a destination for Irish immigrants and a focal point for the stormy collective life of the new working class. Cops were invented to gain control over neighborhoods and populations like this.

The Five Points district of lower Manhattan, painted by George Catlin in 1827. New York’s first free Black settlement, Five Points was also a destination for Irish immigrants and a focal point for the stormy collective life of the new working class. Cops were invented to gain control over neighborhoods and populations like this.

Via Works in Theory

In England and the United States, the police were invented within the space of just a few decades—roughly from 1825 to 1855.

The new institution was not a response to an increase in crime, and it really didn’t lead to new methods for dealing with crime. The most common way for authorities to solve a crime, before and since the invention of police, has been for someone to tell them who did it.

Besides, crime has to do with the acts of individuals, and the ruling elites who invented the police were responding to challenges posed by collective action.

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My horrible right-wing past: Confessions of a one-time religious right icon

Frank Schaeffer writes at Salon:

I am a white, privileged, well-off, 61-year-old former Republican religious right-wing activist who changed his mind about religion and politics long ago. The New York Times profiled my change of heart saying that to my former friends I’m considered a “traitorous prince” since my religious-right family was once thought of as “evangelical royalty.”

You see, only in the Mafia, the British Royal family and big time American religion is a nepotistic rise to power seen as normal. And I was good at it. And I hated it while hypocritically profiting from it — until, that is, in the mid-1980s, I quit. These days I describe myself as an atheist who believes in God.

Ironically I helped my father become famous in the religion sector. In the 1970s I directed and produced two film series featuring Dad with book companions that became evangelical bestsellers: “How Should We Then Live?” and “Whatever Happened to the Human Race?” By the time Dad and I completed two nationwide seminar tours launching those projects, I was being invited to speak at the biggest religious gatherings, including the Southern Baptist Convention and the annual meeting of the National Religious Broadcasters.

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Tennessee Town Passes Policy Banning Negative Comments About The Town’s Government

via Tech Dirt:

The commissioners of a small Tennessee town have just voted to ban negative comments about it from social media. This stupid move was prompted by “criticism and lies” being posted online, which supposedly “hampered” the town’s government from performing its duties.

South Pittsburg City is a town of 3,000. This fact will limit the damage done by its city commissioners’ new policy (which passed with 4-1 vote), but only because the town itself is tiny.The ban, however, is super-broad. (via Ben Swann and BRACE YOURSELF for always-awesome AUTOPLAY)

It applies to all city elected representatives, appointed board members, employees, volunteers, vendors, contractors and anyone associated with the town in an official capacity who uses social networks. The policy says those persons can’t post anything negative about the city, its employees or other associates.

Examples include posted videos, blogs, online forum discussions, Facebook and Twitter, Commissioner Jeff Powers said.

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Verizon Offers Encrypted Calling With NSA Backdoor At No Additional Charge

via Tech Dirt:

As a string of whistle blowers like former AT&T employee Mark Klein have made clear abundantly clear, the line purportedly separating intelligence operations from the nation’s incumbent phone companies was all-but obliterated long ago. As such, it’s relatively amusing to see Verizon announce this week that the company is offering up a new encrypted wireless voice service named Voice Cypher. Voice Cypher, Verizon states, offers “end-to-end” encryption for voice calls on iOS, Android, or BlackBerry devices equipped with a special app made by Cellcrypt.

Verizon’s marketing materials for the service feature young, hip, privacy-conscious users enjoying the “industry’s most secure voice communication” platform:

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Read More: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20141214/06590429436/verizon-offers-encrypted-calling-with-nsa-backdoor-no-additional-charge.shtml

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Eric “You Have No Privacy Get Over It” Schmidt says Store Your Data on Our Servers

Guillaume Paumier  (CC BY 3.0)

Guillaume Paumier (CC BY 3.0)

You heard that right.

Google chairman Eric “NSA” Schmidt once said quite proudly: You Have No Privacy – Get Over It.”

Eric Schmidt Dismisses Privacy: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2009/12/google-ceo-eric-schmidt-dismisses-privacy

Secrets Are for Filthy People: http://gawker.com/5419271/google-ceo-secrets-are-for-filthy-people

Now Eric wants you to be sure and use Google’s secure servers for your data storage needs.

I’ll respond to that directly: FQ Eric. Sincerely, Chaos_Dynamics

Here’s the story from IT World:

Google has worked hard to lock down the personal data it collects since revelations in the last year and a half about mass surveillance programs at the U.S. National Security Agency, company Chairman Eric Schmidt said.

The news of surveillance by the NSA and intelligence agency counterparts at allied nations has damaged the U.S. tech industry on “many levels,” with many Europeans now distrusting U.S. tech companies to hold on to their personal data, Schmidt said Friday at a surveillance conference at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank.

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