Monday, September 29, 2014

China Scrambles To Censor Social Media; Reuters via HuffingtonPost, 9/29/14

Paul Carsten, Reuters via HuffingtonPost; China Scrambles To Censor Social Media:
"Chinese censors and opponents of the protests sweeping Hong Kong are engaging in a cat-and-mouse game with demonstrators and commentators in a bid to stop news of the unrest spreading online and, in particular, reaching the mainland...
The intervention is beyond what is normal for the usually free-talking Hong Kong, even as people are used to Chinese censors scrubbing the Internet in the mainland when mass demonstrations erupt.
On Sunday, users reported that Facebook Inc's photo sharing app Instagram was inaccessible on China's mainland.
Chinese websites, including Baidu Inc's search engine and the Twitter-like Weibo Corp microblog, have set about deleting references to the Hong Kong demonstrations.
Others have reported messages on Tencent Holdings Ltd's hugely popular WeChat messaging app being removed."

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Unrepentant Bootlegger; New York Times, 9/27/14

Jenna Wortham, New York Times; The Unrepentant Bootlegger:
"To the government, Ms. Beshara was a thief, plain and simple. The Motion Picture Association of America alerted the federal government to NinjaVideo and nine other movie-streaming sites, and they all went dark at the same time. The raids were carried out by several federal agencies working to combat counterfeiting and piracy, and the scale of the operation was meant to send a warning that the government wasn’t ignoring the freewheeling world of illegal online streaming and downloading.
Ms. Beshara, however, still can’t accept that what she was doing deserved the heavy hammer of the law. She served 16 months in prison for conspiracy and criminal copyright infringement, but she still talks about NinjaVideo as something grand. It was a portal that spirited her away from the doldrums of her regular life as a receptionist living with her parents to an online community that regarded her as its queen. Sure, she showed movies that were still playing in theaters, but it seemed like harmless, small-stakes fun.
“In hindsight — I know it’s na├»ve — but I never imagined it going criminal,” she said. “It didn’t seem like it was something to be bothered with. Even if it is wrong.”
She is not the only one who feels that way. It has proved very difficult to reverse a pervasive cultural nonchalance about what constitutes intellectual property theft on the web. Despite the government crackdown in 2010 and subsequent efforts to unplug websites that host or link to illegal content, new sites have emerged that filled the void that NinjaVideo left behind.
Online piracy is thriving. File-sharing, most of it illegal, still amounts to nearly a quarter of all consumer Internet traffic, according to Cisco Systems’ Visual Networking Index. And a recent report from Tru Optik, a media analytics firm, said that nearly 10 billion movies, television shows and other files, including games and pornography, were downloaded globally in the second quarter of 2014. Tru Optik estimates that about 6 percent of those downloads were legal. In July, a high-quality version of “The Expendables 3,” the Sylvester Stallone action comedy film, surfaced online and was downloaded millions of times, well before its release in theaters."

A Stolen Video of My Daughter Went Viral. Here’s What I Learned; New York Times, 9/26/14

Carrie Goldman, New York Times; A Stolen Video of My Daughter Went Viral. Here’s What I Learned:
"In early September, someone downloaded my video of Cleo, stripped it of all identifying information, changed the title from “Cleo on Equality” to “Wisdom of a 4-Year-Old”, and re-uploaded it to YouTube, passing it off as his or her own video. A woman in Amsterdam posted an embedded version of the stolen video to her Facebook page, from which it went viral. Within a matter of days, the stripped-down version of the video had been shared over 80,000 times.
I only learned about it when the pirated video began appearing in the news feed of people who recognized Cleo and noticed that it was not linked to any of my accounts. I felt sick on multiple levels. I have always known, of course, that the mere act of uploading a video to any digital site means potentially losing control over that content. But now it had happened, and even though the shares appeared to be harmless — approving, even — it was still terrifying. What if someone decided to do something creepy with it?
There was also a part of me that saw all the comments lauding Cleo’s grasp of acceptance, and I wanted those people to be linked back to my anti-bullying work. I missed the opportunity to share what I do for a living with a wide audience. I was sad and confused. Was I upset because the video was out there being viewed by tons of strangers, or was I upset because it was out there and I wasn’t getting credit? Both, probably...
I knew I had rights under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Since I speak to students and teachers all the time about good digital citizenship, I knew what steps to take next:
• Do not retaliate against someone online
• Take a screen shot and record the evidence
• Use this online form to report the violation to Facebook.
• Use this online form to report a copyright infringement on YouTube."

The Wilds of Education; New York Times, 9/27/14

Frank Bruni, New York Times; The Wilds of Education:
"WHEN it comes to bullying, to sexual assault, to gun violence, we want and need our schools to be as safe as possible.
But when it comes to learning, shouldn’t they be dangerous?
Isn’t education supposed to provoke, disrupt, challenge the paradigms that young people have consciously embraced and attack the prejudices that they have unconsciously absorbed?
Isn’t upset a necessary part of that equation? And if children are lucky enough to be ignorant of the world’s ugliness, aren’t books the rightful engines of enlightenment, and aren’t classrooms the perfect theaters for it?
Not in the view of an unacceptable number of Americans. Not in too many high schools and on too many college campuses. Not to judge by complaints from the right and the left, in suburbs and cities and states red and blue.
Last week was Banned Books Week, during which proponents of unfettered speech and intellectual freedom draw attention to instances in which debate is circumscribed and the universe sanitized. As if on cue, a dispute over such censorship erupted in the affluent Dallas-area community of Highland Park, where many students pushed back at a recent decision by high school administrators to suspend the teaching of seven books until further review. Some parents had complained about the books."

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Online Renegade, Wanted in U.S., Shakes Up New Zealand Election; New York Times, 9/18/14

Jonathan Hutchison, New York Times; Online Renegade, Wanted in U.S., Shakes Up New Zealand Election:
"It was not an ordinary political rally, but it has been anything but an ordinary election.
The hundreds of people who packed Auckland Town Hall on a recent evening were regaled by speeches by Glenn Greenwald, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist; Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder; and Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor, the last two appearing by Internet video link. Mr. Greenwald and Mr. Snowden said the New Zealand government had carried out, or at least participated in, mass domestic surveillance.
But at the center of the show was the event’s organizer, Kim Dotcom, an Internet entrepreneur accused of mass copyright theft whose fledgling Internet Party stands a chance at winning seats in Parliament in the national elections on Saturday.
“We are going to work really, really hard to stop this country from participating in mass surveillance,” Mr. Dotcom told the crowd. “And we’ll close one of the Five Eyes,” he added, referring to the intelligence alliance that consists of Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the United States. The crowd erupted in cheers."

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Data Scientists Want Big Data Ethics Standards; Information Week, 9/17/14

Jeff Bertolucci, Information Week; Data Scientists Want Big Data Ethics Standards:
"The vast majority of statisticians and data scientists believe that consumers should worry about privacy issues related to data being collected on them, and most have qualms about the questionable ethics behind Facebook's undisclosed psychological experiment on its users in 2012.
Those are just two of the findings from a Revolution Analytics survey of 144 data scientists at JSM (Joint Statistical Meetings) 2014, an annual gathering of statisticians, to gauge their thoughts on big data ethics. The Boston conference ran Aug. 2-7."

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Privacy, Security and GPS-Based Apps: An Inside Look From SCRUFF; Huffington Post, 9/10/14

Eric Silverberg, Huffington Post; Privacy, Security and GPS-Based Apps: An Inside Look From SCRUFF:
"SCRUFF wants to ensure our members both who live in these countries and who travel to these countries stay informed, and in an upcoming release we will be enabling "hide distance" by default for people in these regions.
In addition, we've struck an innovative partnership with ILGA, a non-profit that publishes an annual report of gay and lesbian rights worldwide. Coming soon, when a user travels to a country included in the ILGA report and launches SCRUFF, he will see an alert informing him of the presence of local laws criminalizing homosexual activity. By increasing awareness about these laws, we hope to keep our members vigilant and raise the global pressure for reform.
Ultimately, the possibility of location discovery is something we all must consider whenever we use location-based apps for dating, traveling, hooking up, or making friends. As the stakes have increased, app designers must meet the challenge of building robust systems that incorporate advanced location obfuscation techniques. Though today's headlines happen to target gays, the challenges of location security affect any religion, gender, sexuality or minority group who finds community through location-based apps."

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Reddit and 4chan Begin to Button Up; New York Times, 9/8/14

Mike Isaac, New York Times; Reddit and 4chan Begin to Button Up:
"Reddit said its moderators were unable to keep up with a torrent of requests under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to remove the images, made by those who own rights to the photos. After a moderator removed a post in response to a D.M.C.A. request, another post would pop up in its place. Taking down the entire forums, Reddit said, was the only way to avoid playing a never-ending game of “whack-a-mole.”
The moves came amid an continuing debate over the role websites play in hosting objectionable content online, and how much user-generated content platforms should or should not interfere with what their users post. Twitter, for instance, has faced increasing pressure to protect users from abuse and hate speech on its service, while YouTube has been used at times for distribution of horrifying videos.
Despite its content removal, Reddit continues to maintain its hard-line stance on issues of free speech, even as it decided to take down the forums in question. The company said it had always dealt with D.M.C.A. removal requests by redirecting rights holders to the companies that host the photos on their servers. It has also held a zero-tolerance policy toward some content, such as child pornography.
“We uphold the ideal of free speech on Reddit as much as possible not because we are legally bound to,” said Yishan Wong, Reddit’s chief executive, but because the company believes that the user “has the right to choose between right and wrong, good and evil,” and that it is the user’s responsibility to do so. His company blog post was titled “Every Man Is Responsible for His Own Soul.”"

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Officials Pledge Tighter Ethics Rules in Virginia; Associated Press via ABC News, 9/5/14

Alan Suderman, Associated Press via ABC News; Officials Pledge Tighter Ethics Rules in Virginia:
" "This is a dynamite charge blowing up Virginia political culture," said Robert D. Holsworth, a Virginia Commonwealth University political science professor who sat through most of the five-week federal trial.
McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were convicted of doing favors for wealthy vitamin executive Jonnie Williams in exchange for more than $165,000 in gifts and loans they admitted taking. During the trial, Bob McDonnell spent five days on the stand carefully detailing how he didn't substantively break Virginia law.
While captivating a state audience with its soap opera-like details of marital discord, the McDonnell trial also highlighted the yawning gulf between what a federal jury thinks is acceptable behavior for a public official versus what Virginia law allows. And it's a gap that caused a growing chorus of calls from public officials both for new limits on what they can take, as well as for greater disclosure requirements.
"We need ethics reform here in the commonwealth," said Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who signed an executive order capping gifts at $100 for himself, his family and his staff shortly after taking office. "You go into office, you have to serve the public good. Nobody should be giving you anything of value.""

Thursday, September 4, 2014

"Captain America," "Hulk" & More to Feature Anti-Bullying Variant Covers in October;, 9/3/14

Steve Sunu,; "Captain America," "Hulk" & More to Feature Anti-Bullying Variant Covers in October:
"In honor of National Bullying Prevention Month and Blue Shirt Day World Day of Bullying Prevention in October, Marvel Comics -- in partnership with STOMP Out Bullying -- will release special anti-bullying variant covers for seven select titles, including "Rocket Raccoon" #4 and "Hulk" #7 by Pascal Campion, "Guardians of the Galaxy" #20, by Stephanie Hans, "Avengers" #36 by Sean Chen, "Inhuman" #7 by John Tyler Christopher, "Captain America" #25 by Kalman Andrasofszky and "Legendary Star-Lord" #4 by Paul Renaud.
"The center of Marvel’s storytelling history is the eternal struggle between good and evil, with many of its greatest Super Heroes having to contend with -- and rise above -- bullying, in all its forms," Marvel EiC Axel Alonso said via Press Release."

Open data's Achilles heel: re-identification; ZDNet, 9/3/14

Rob O'Neill, ZDNet; Open data's Achilles heel: re-identification:
'Governments around the globe are embracing the mantra of open data and talking up its productivity benefits, but none have so far made the re-identification of this mass of anonymised data illegal... The possibility of outlawing re-identification is now being discussed in New Zealand, with both the Privacy Commissioner, John Edwards, and a May report (pdf) from the New Zealand Data futures Forum suggesting legal protections against re-identification may be necessary.
Edwards told ZDNet he is trying to look towards the future and ensure that the value in government data can be safely extracted in ways that maintain public confidence.
“One of the methods might be a prohibition on re-identification. If we did that we would be world leaders," he said.
Similarly, the Data Futures Forum report said it is necessary to develop a "robust data-use ecosystem" and to get the rules around open data right. This should include a data council to act as guardians and advisers, and a broad review of legislation."

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

You Should Have a Say in Your Robot Car’s Code of Ethics; Wired, 9/2/14

Jason Millar, Ethics; You Should Have a Say in Your Robot Car’s Code of Ethics:
"We Must Embrace Complexity
If we embrace robust informed consent practices in engineering the sky will not fall. There are some obvious limits to the kinds of ethics settings we should allow in our robot cars. It would be absurd to design a car that allows users to choose to continue straight only when a woman is blocking the road. At the same time, it seems perfectly reasonable to allow a person to sacrifice himself to save a child if doing so aligns with his moral convictions. We can identify limits, even if the task is complex.
Robots, and the ethical issues they raise, are immensely complex. But they require our thoughtful attention if we are to shift our thinking about the ethics of design and engineering, and respond to the burgeoning robotics industry appropriately. Part of this shift in thinking will require us to embrace moral and legal complexity where complexity is required. Unfortunately, bringing order to the chaos does not always result in a simpler world."