The Internet - The first Worldwide Tool of Unification ("The End of History")

" ... Now I give you something that few think about: What do you think the Internet is all about, historically? Citizens of all the countries on Earth can talk to one another without electronic borders. The young people of those nations can all see each other, talk to each other, and express opinions. No matter what the country does to suppress it, they're doing it anyway. They are putting together a network of consciousness, of oneness, a multicultural consciousness. It's here to stay. It's part of the new energy. The young people know it and are leading the way.... "

" ... I gave you a prophecy more than 10 years ago. I told you there would come a day when everyone could talk to everyone and, therefore, there could be no conspiracy. For conspiracy depends on separation and secrecy - something hiding in the dark that only a few know about. Seen the news lately? What is happening? Could it be that there is a new paradigm happening that seems to go against history?... " Read More …. "The End of History"- Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)

"Recalibration of Free Choice"– Mar 3, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: (Old) Souls, Midpoint on 21-12-2012, Shift of Human Consciousness, Black & White vs. Color, 1 - Spirituality (Religions) shifting, Loose a Pope “soon”, 2 - Humans will change react to drama, 3 - Civilizations/Population on Earth, 4 - Alternate energy sources (Geothermal, Tidal (Paddle wheels), Wind), 5 – Financials Institutes/concepts will change (Integrity – Ethical) , 6 - News/Media/TV to change, 7 – Big Pharmaceutical company will collapse “soon”, (Keep people sick), (Integrity – Ethical) 8 – Wars will be over on Earth, Global Unity, … etc.) - (Text version)

“…5 - Integrity That May Surprise…

Have you seen innovation and invention in the past decade that required thinking out of the box of an old reality? Indeed, you have. I can't tell you what's coming, because you haven't thought of it yet! But the potentials of it are looming large. Let me give you an example, Let us say that 20 years ago, you predicted that there would be something called the Internet on a device you don't really have yet using technology that you can't imagine. You will have full libraries, buildings filled with books, in your hand - a worldwide encyclopedia of everything knowable, with the ability to look it up instantly! Not only that, but that look-up service isn't going to cost a penny! You can call friends and see them on a video screen, and it won't cost a penny! No matter how long you use this service and to what depth you use it, the service itself will be free.

Now, anyone listening to you back then would perhaps have said, "Even if we can believe the technological part, which we think is impossible, everything costs something. There has to be a charge for it! Otherwise, how would they stay in business?" The answer is this: With new invention comes new paradigms of business. You don't know what you don't know, so don't decide in advance what you think is coming based on an old energy world. ..."
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)

German anti-hate speech group counters Facebook trolls

German anti-hate speech group counters Facebook trolls
Logo No Hate Speech Movement

Bundestag passes law to fine social media companies for not deleting hate speech

Honouring computing’s 1843 visionary, Lady Ada Lovelace. (Design of doodle by Kevin Laughlin)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Wiki leaders on the rise

RNW, 28 January 2012, by Maike Winters

(Graphic: Radio Netherlands Worldwide)
Could our new world leaders be one of the young people who camped out as part of the Occupy movement or who fought for their lives during the Arab Spring? All these young people were inspired by the idea of change. Now a new political platform wants to unite people with ideas to bring about reform in the Netherlands. Partij2030 is part of a global trend. 

The man behind the initiative, 33-year-old Joop Hazenberg, has spent years searching for new ways to get society ready for the future. In addition to a pro-European policy and an alternative welfare state, his vision centres on crowdsourcing: a kind of wiki government in which our leaders build on the knowledge of citizens, comparable to how we consult an internet encyclopaedia like Wikipedia.


As Joop explains, he's not alone in his ambitions:

“This model is already being used in other parts of the world. In the UK, for example, major cutbacks are taking place. The government has asked people to contribute money-saving ideas. It’s a fairly controversial move, but it’s generated no fewer than 200,000 responses.”

He continues: “That’s a list a policy officer could never have come up with. It’s all about utilising society’s collective knowledge. Thanks to internet and social media, that knowledge is very easy to find.”

Paul Lucardie, political scientist at the University of Groningen, sees this as part of an international trend.

“People want to have more of a say; they want change. Just look at how the Pirate Party has become an international movement, enjoying great popularity in Sweden and Germany. The trend is to start something new that can be passed on quickly. Unfortunately, these kinds of initiatives don’t usually last long.”

Time and energy

Lucardie is referring to the Occupy movement. After disenchanted Americans occupied Wall Street in September last year, it wasn’t long before demonstrators had set up tent camps in over 900 cities across the world.

“That sounds impressive, but in the end how many people actually took part? Perhaps 100,000. That’s not much out of a population of six billion. People want change, but unfortunately there’s only a small group with the time and energy to persevere. People are more concerned about keeping their jobs and pensions than genuine government reform.”

The founder of Partij2030 begs to differ. The first public brainstorming session is scheduled for next week. People from all regions and backgrounds have been invited to contribute their thoughts and ideas. The aim is to get a new political movement off the ground.

Radical edge

“A fine initiative, very much geared towards the future,” says Ringo Ossewaarde, associate professor of sociology at the University of Twente. But he believes the plans lack a radical edge. As he sees it, a wiki government is nothing new.

“It has existed for years under the name civic engagement. And it’s worth asking what the quality of a policy created by ordinary citizens will be.”

The younger generation needs to be able to trust in government again, believes Joop Hazenberg. Time Magazine declared 2011 to be the year of the demonstrator. Will 2012 be the year of wiki government?

“No, it’s still too early for that. I hope this year will be a year of unity: uniting groups of campaigners and people with ideas and trying to bring about change together. Bringing people together in this fragmented society. Partij2030 is an experiment, to see whether we can take part in the 2014 elections with a radical reform agenda for the Netherlands.”

Agents of change in Cuba and Yemen

Across the world, people are trying to change political structures. For example, Yoani Sánchez from Cuba has devoted years to writing a blog about Generation Y.

The aim of her writing is to promote freedom of information. She was given the opportunity to interview President Obama, who praised her for giving him a unique insight into the lives of Cubans.

Yoani Sánchez has also received a Prince Claus Award and the International Press Institute’s World Press Freedom Hero Award. In an interview with Radio Netherlands Worldwide, she said:

“If this generation of young people gain access to social networks, all kinds of things will happen. I believe that if we can try things out in a virtual Cuba, our encounters in the real Cuba will be less violent and less traumatic.”

Yemeni journalist and politician Tawakkul Karman is another example. She founded Women Journalists Without Chains, fought for press freedom and set up a news service for mobile phones.

Tawakkul Karman led demonstrations during the Arab revolution. In 2011, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her non-violent struggle for the rights of women.

Related Articles:

"The New Paradigm of Reality" Part I/II – Feb 12, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, InternetSocial Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)

Friday, January 27, 2012

FBI Seeking Social Media Monitoring Tool

Jakarta Globe, January 27, 2012

Related articles

Washington. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking for a tool to mine social media for intelligence tips.

The US domestic law enforcement agency is asking information technology contractors about the feasibility of building a tool that would “enhance its techniques for collecting and sharing ‘open source’ actionable intelligence.”

The Jan. 19 open request was published on a Web site offering federal business opportunities and was first reported by New Scientist magazine.

The FBI said it is seeking an “open source and social media alert, mapping and analysis application solution” for its Strategic Information and Operations Center (SIOC).

“Social media has become a primary source of intelligence because it has become the premier first response to key events and the primal alert to possible developing situations,” the FBI request said.

“Intelligence analysts will often use social media to receive the first tip-off that a crisis has occurred,” it said.

The FBI said the tool “must have the ability to rapidly assemble critical open source information and intelligence that will allow SIOC to quickly vet, identity, and geo-locate breaking events, incidents and emerging threats.”

It would need to be able to “instantly search and monitor key words and strings in all ‘publicly available’ tweets across the Twitter site and any other ‘publicly available’ social networking sites/forums.”

It would also need the ability to “search the data across a myriad of parameters and view terrorist activities by location, terrorist group, and type of attack and see trends and analytics.”

In addition, it would have to be able “to immediately translate into English, tweets and any other open forum publically available social media captured in a foreign language.”

Interested parties have until Feb. 10 to respond to the FBI request.

Agence France-Presse
Related Articles:

CIA’s daily menu: 5 mln foreign tweets!

Twitter may censor tweets in individual countries

The Jakarta Post, Associated Press, San Francisco, Fri, 01/27/2012

Twitter has refined its technology so it can censor messages on a country-by-country basis.

The additional flexibility announced Thursday is likely to raise fears that Twitter's commitment to free speech may be weakening as the short-messaging company expands into new countries in an attempt to broaden its audience and make more money.

But Twitter sees the censorship tool as a way to ensure individual messages, or "tweets," remain available to as many people as possible while it navigates a gauntlet of different laws around the world.

Before, when Twitter erased a tweet it disappeared throughout the world. Now, a tweet containing content breaking a law in one country can be taken down there and still be seen elsewhere.

Twitter will post a censorship notice whenever a tweet is removed. That's similar to what Internet search leader Google Inc. has been doing for years when a law in a country where its service operates requires a search result to be removed.

Like Google, Twitter also plans to the share the removal requests it receives from governments, companies and individuals at the website.

The similarity to Google's policy isn't coincidental. Twitter's general counl is Alexander Macgillivray, who helped Google draw up its censorship policies while he was working at that company.

"One of our core values as a company is to defend and respect each user's voice," Twitter wrote in a blog post. "We try to keep content up wherever and whenever we can, and we will be traparent with users when we can't. The tweets must continue to flow."

Twitter, which is based in San Francisco, is tweaking its approach now that its nearly 6-year-old service has established itself as one of the world's most powerful megaphones. Daisy chains of tweets already have played instrumental rolesin political protests throughout the world, most notably in the uprising that overthrew Egypt's government a year ago.

It's a role that Twitter has embraced, but the company came up with the new filtering technology in recognition that it will likely be forced to censor more tweets as it pursues an ambitious agenda. Among other things, Twitter wants to expand its audience from about 100 million active uses now, to more than 1 billion.

Reaching that goal will require expanding into more countries, which will mean Twitter will be more likely to have to submit to laws that run counter to the free-expression protctions guaranteed under the First Amendment in the U.S.

If Twitter defies a law in a country where it has employees, those people could be arrested. That's one reason Twitter is unlikely to try to enter China, where its service is currently block. Google for several years agreed to censor its search results in China to gain better access to the country's vast population, but stopped that practice two years after engaging in a high-profile showdown with Chain's government. Google now routes its Chinese search results through Hong Kong, where the censorship rules are less restrictive.

In its Thursday blog post, Twitter said it hadn't yet used its ability to wipe out tweets in an individual country. All the tweets it has previously censored were wiped out throughout the world. Most of those included links to child pornography.

Dutch win crowdsourcing contest for emergency airdrops

RNW, 26 January 2012, by Robert Chesal

 (Photo (montage): WFP)

The US Air Force can improve its method for dropping emergency supplies into disaster areas, thanks to crowdsourcing and a pair of Dutch engineers. If a new airdrop system devised by Siepko Bekkering and Michiel Hagenbeek works, relief teams will be better able to supply disaster victims with food and medicines.

How do you safely and effectively drop relief packages after an earthquake or hurricane? The US Air Force has long struggled with that problem. Supplies have to be parachuted far from the disaster-struck population so that falling packages don’t kill or maim anyone. This is just one of the technical drawbacks of airdrops, a method that saves lives but is often clumsy in practice.

Mass collaboration

The Air Force Research Lab (AFRL), which spends billions on advanced weapons systems, put this low-tech question to a huge online community by crowdsourcing. It’s part of a trend in Research and Development called Open Innovation. Instead of solving all problems themselves, companies and even the world’s most powerful airforce put their problems to the crowd, so anyone who likes a challenge can give it a shot.

Dutch engineer Siepko Bekkering was never one to enter online competitions before, until his friend and fellow engineer Michiel Hagenbeek introduced him to the world of ‘mass collaboration.’ Together, they started looking for design challenges. They found one on the InnoCentive website: the US Air Force Research Lab was looking for a better method for humanitarian airdrops. They entered the contest, and within two months Bekkering and Hagenbeek had come up with a winning design.

“I thought it was interesting to develop something for the US military, especially because it can help them give emergency relief to people in trouble,” Bekkering said. “I also wanted to get involved in a crowdsourcing project because it’s a great way to find a solution to a problem.”

Winning designs

As a finalist, Bekkering is $10,000 richer, but his design is now property of the AFRL. It consists of specially-devised rollers and a special chute to eject food packages from the aircraft, eliminating the heavy wooden pallets that sometimes land on people who are awaiting help on the ground.

His design will now compete with another crowdsourced solution the lab selected, from Indonesian engineer Agung Nuswantoro from Tangerang City in Indonesia. That design uses an automated conveyor belt that receives real-time data about windspeed, terrain and drop locations to prevent dangerous mishaps. Nuswantoro based the idea on his knowledge of conveyor belts in the coal industry.

Geek shortage

Now the lab has to decide which of the two finalist designs, selected from over 1,100 entries, will become the standard for the Air Force. The laboratory, like many other research bodies run by the US Defense department, is suffering from a major shortage of scientists and engineers. Advocates of crowdsourcing say Open Innovation is the obvious solution.

Related Article:

"The New Paradigm of Reality" Part I/II – Feb 12, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)

Legal battles loom as home 3D printing grows

Deutsche Welle, 26 January 2012 

People could soon make their own
keyboard keys
Legal battles could soon emerge as digital sharing moves beyond copying media to taking files and transforming them into physical objects.

The controversial website The Pirate Bay announced this week that it would begin hosting digital files for visitors to download and print out on their 3D printers. The site has coined a new word - "Physibles" - for data objects capable and feasible of becoming physical.

"We believe that things like three-dimensional printers, scanners and such are just the first," the group wrote on its website. "We believe that in the nearby future you will print your spare parts for your vehicles."

The site has faced extensive legal battles in its home country of Sweden over potential intellectual property infringement of digital content. The concern for many intellectual property owners is that just as there is piracy in the digital world, so too will there be in the physical world.

The Pirate Bay has waded into
controversial territory before
3D printing, which has long existed in the industrial world, has started to make it into the hobbyist community in recent years. "Fablabs" have sprung up in cities worldwide that teach people how to print physical objects, ranging from spare parts to art, and even edible objects.

The process is an "additive" manufacturing technique that essentially takes digital data and, with the help of a robotic arm, forms a physical object by "printing" or releasing a hardening substance like plastic in thin layers without a mold.

As utopian as data-to-object manufacturing may sound, it's a development rapidly gaining momentum and one that poses unprecedented implications for intellectual property law, encompassing patents, copyrights and trademarks.

An unclear judicial landscape

Last year, Dutch designer Ulrich Schwanitz developed a 3D object, called "impossible triangle," which he sold through the 3D design company Shapeways. He later forced Thingiverse, an open-source repository site for 3D models, to remove instructions of how to recreate the shape, which was delivered by a former Shapeways intern.

Schwanitz made was is believed to be the first formal attempt to apply copyright law to 3D content.

In the months and years ahead, scores of patent lawyers and open source advocates will explore to what extent existing IP legislation impacts 3D printing and other new technologies that digital data into objects.

'The next great disruptive technology'

Some views are already emerging. Michael Weinberg, staff attorney at Public Knowledge Organization, wrote a white paper on the issue in 2010, called "It will be awesome if they don't screw it up: 3D printing, intellectual property and the fight over the next great disruptive technology." 

Last year, a UK team built a
3D-printed model plane
"Once an object has been patented, all copies, regardless of the copier's knowledge of the patent, infringe upon that patent," he wrote. "Simply stated, if you are using a 3D printer to reproduce a patented object, you are infringing on the patent. Even using the patented device without authorization infringes on the patent. Furthermore, unlike in copyright, there is no fair use in patent. There is also no exception for home use, or for copying objects for purely personal use."

#b#But not all legal scholars agree on potential looming litigation.

Another 2010 paper published by a British law professor, a British engineering professor, and a German biometrics professor say that current fair use law, at least in the United Kingdom, does allow for 3D printing.

"It is clear that – within the UK at least – personal use of 3D printing technology does not infringe the majority of IP rights," thy wrote. "Registered design and patent explicitly exempt personal use, trade mark law has been interpreted as doing so and UDR (Unregistered Design Right) is only applicable to commercial use."

The authors go on to argue that, "unlike music file-sharing, personal 3D printing does not produce an exact copy that can be digitally signed or protected with DRM (Digital Rights Management). It is the sharing of reverse-engineered designs that is the issue, not the original design documents."

Author: John Blau

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Dutch court rules Samsung tablets don't copy iPad

Deutsche Welle, 24 January 2012 

Apple and Samsung are fighting each
other in the courts of 10 countries
Samsung added a notch to its belt in ongoing legal battles with Apple as the two tech giants jostle for share in an exploding tablet and smartphone market.

An appeals court in The Hague ruled on Tuesday that Samsung's Galaxy Tab does not violate Apple copyright.

The Hague Court of Appeal's decision upheld a lower court's ruling from last year in rejecting Apple's request to stop Galaxy sales.

Apple, which is based in Cupertino, California, had alleged that Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 copies the iPad.

The Dutch court ruled that differences between the devices, including thickness, allow users to differentiate between the products.

The two tech giants are locked in legal battles in 10 countries, Reuters reports. As the companies jostle for market share, Apple has sued Samsung over alleged Galaxy copyright violations. Seoul-based Samsung has sued back, saying Apple is violating wireless technology patents.

Last Friday, a court in Mannheim dealt Samsung a setback by ruling that Apple had not violated one of three patents. Further decisions from the Mannheim court on the patents are expected later this month, and in March.

Earlier this year, a court in Dusseldorf temporarily banned Galaxy sales in Germany.

Reuters reported that Samsung has spent $60 million (46.2 million euros) so far in legal costs relating to Apple.

Author: Sonya Angelica Diehn (AP, Reuters)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Turn Your Tablet Into a Phone, Word Processor or Remote Control

Jakarta Globe, January 23, 2012

Apple's iPad and other tablets can utilize apps to function as remote
controls, word processors and phones. (AFP Photo)
Related articles

It’s a few weeks since Christmas, and the novelty of that new iPad or Android tablet may be fading. You’ve already watched a Netflix movie, played “Angry Birds” and maybe even downloaded an e-book from or Apple’s iBooks. What next?

Here are three things you might not be aware you can do with your new tablet:

Use it as a telephone: If you want to place a video call over a Wi-Fi connection, you’ve got a lot of options, including Microsoft’s Skype and, for iPad users, Apple’s FaceTime. But suppose you want to make and receive voice calls, and not just with other Internet-connected devices but with traditional phones as well?

You could set up a Google Voice account, which comes with its own phone number, and download its app — which in the case of the iPad means an iPhone app blown up to twice its usual size.

A more elegant solution is Line2, an app from the cleverly named Toktumi, a San Francisco company. For less than $10 a month, Line2 converts your iPad or Android device into a fully functioning phone with its own number, voicemail and a host of advanced features.

It works not only over Wi-Fi, but also 3G and 4G wireless data networks — giving you voice service any place and in any way your tablet can connect.

Even better, the service is transferable from device to device. Put the app on your phone too, and you’ve now got a second, fully-integrated line you can use for business or in other situations where you don’t want to give out your personal number. Toktumi also provides software to let you place and receive calls on your Line2 number from Windows PCs and Macs.

Line2 for Android provides a seven-day free trial before the $9.95 monthly fee kicks in. For the iPad, the company, prodded by Apple, is in the process of moving to a “freemium” model, with a no-cost level for calls with other Line2 users and a paid service for everyone else.

You’ll also want to invest in a Bluetooth headset. You’d look awfully silly holding an iPad to your ear.

Run Windows and Microsoft Office: Several apps allow you to create, open and manipulate Microsoft Office files on a tablet, such as Documents To Go from Blackberry maker Research In Motion, Quickoffice and, for iPad users, Apple’s iWork suite. LogMeIn Ignition allows you to view and control a specific Windows PC over an Internet connection, while Citrix Receiver is aimed at enterprise users.

Now OnLive, a California-based online game service, has launched an app called OnLive Desktop that puts a fully functional version of Windows 7, plus Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint, on your iPad — all for free.

The Microsoft programs aren’t actually installed on your tablet. Rather, they are running on OnLive’s servers, to which you connect over the Internet. You’ll need a Wi-Fi connection, where the programs run smoothly; while you can occasionally squeeze in a few minutes over 3G, don’t count on it.

The documents you create are stored on OnLive’s servers; sharing them with other computers, or uploading documents created elsewhere, is managed via the OnLive Web site. The free app provides 2 gigabytes of storage, and OnLive says a coming $10-a-month service will provide 50 gigabytes, plus the ability to add and run more Windows programs. Enterprise and Android versions are also in the works.

OnLive Desktop uses a touch-friendly version of Windows 7; an on-screen keyboard also is available. You’ll almost certainly, though, want to use it with a Bluetooth wireless keyboard.

Entertainment remote control: Here’s perhaps the only area where some Android tablets are easier to use than iPads.

Most TVs are being sold with some ability to put them onto a home network, either with built-in Wi-Fi or an adapter port. Connecting your TV to a network means, among many other things, that you may be able to control it with an app on your Wi-Fi- connected device. Millions of TVs, though, don’t live on Wi-Fi networks. Owners rely on the infrared technology in traditional remote controls to change channels and adjust the volume.

Unlike the iPad, some Android tablets have a built-in IR transmitter, allowing them to function as universal remote controls for TVs and home-entertainment gear right out of the box. Probably the best I’ve seen is the Tablet S from Sony, which includes an app that mimics the functions of the company’s high-end standalone remotes, including controlling non-Sony gear. Other Android tablets with IR blasters include Vizio’s Vtab and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus.

If you have an iPad, or a non-IR-equipped Android tablet, your best bet is a device that uses a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection to your tablet and translates its commands into IR instructions. One that I’ve used is the Peel Fruit, which is currently on sale for $79; other products that perform similar functions include Logitech’s $100 Harmony Link and Griffin Technology’s $70 Beacon.

Whatever you use, there’s one huge advantage to using a tablet over a traditional remote: little risk of losing it in the sofa cushions. 


Friday, January 20, 2012

Wiktory? Key sponsors abandon SOPA/PIPA after web blackout, 19 January, 2012

AFP Photo / Stan Honda

Opposition to the controversial SOPA/PIPA legislation has caused a major stir among US lawmakers on both sides of the house, with 18 Senators, including seven co-sponsors, turning their backs on the legislation.

The turnaround by Senators who had previously supported the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), spearheaded by the by movie and music industries, puts the total number of Senators publicly opposing the bill at 25. Another 13 Senators are leaning toward opposition.

The number of Senators openly supporting the bill has dropped to 33. Of the 25 Senators opposing the legislation, 17 are Republicans and eight are Democrats.

The withdrawal of support came in the wake of Wednesday’s Internet blackout.

Politicians who abandoned SOPA as the strike hit include Republicans Marco Rubio, Kelly Ayotte, Roy Blunt, John Boozman, Ben Cardin and Orrin Hatch and Democrat Ben Cardin. Orrin Hatch of Utah announced on his Facebook page that he acknowledges that intellectual property theft is a “real and growing problem” that must be “combated”, but added that he cannot support the PIPA legislation as it currently stands.

“Rushing something with such potential for far-reaching consequences is something I cannot support and that is why I will not only vote against moving the bill forward next week but also remove my co-sponsorship of the bill,” Orrin Hatch said.

He added that legislators should allow time for the both sides in the conflict to come together and “find a reasonable solution”.

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida also posted a message on his Facebook page saying he was in favor of combating piracy but believed doing so must not stifle innovation in a dynamic and open Internet. He urged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to abandon his plan to rush the bill to the floor and instead called on Senators to “take more time to address the concerns raised by all sides, and come up with new legislation that addresses Internet piracy while protecting free and open access to the Internet.”

Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire posted her message on Twitter: “I'm pulling my support bc your concerns deserve consideration before Congress moves fwd.” Missouri Senator Roy Blunt also announced his change of heart via a Tweet: “We can find a solution that will protect lawful content. But this bill is flawed & that's why I'm withdrawing my support.”

The SOPA and PIPA bills are largely viewed as a means to crack down on out-of-the-US websites involved in violating intellectual property legislation.According to supporters of the bills, SOPA and PIPA will help protect jobs in the film and music industries.

In turn, those opposing the legislation, among them Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg, believe that it will have irreversible and far-reaching consequences, including for the economy and innovation.

“The Internet is the most powerful tool we have for creating a more open and connected world,” Zuckerberg said on his Facebook page. “We can't let poorly thought out laws get in the way of the Internet's development. Facebook opposes SOPA and PIPA, and we will continue to oppose any laws that will hurt the Internet.”

A number of other popular Internet resources signaled their opposition to the bills on Wednesday, and many joined words and actions.

The Internet’s largest reference tool, Wikipedia, went black for 24 hours to protest the legislation, while Google blacked out its logo in US, directing people to a page where they could sign a petition against the bills. Google said the initiative had gathered some 4.5 million voices.

Related Articles:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wikipedia blackout: 24-hour strike against SOPA, PIPA begins, 18 January, 2012, 09:01

Screenshot from

The Internet's largest and most popular general reference has gone dark. Wikipedia has joined a protest against something it believes is even darker: passage of the Stop Online Piracy and Protect Intellectual Property Acts.

SOPA and PIPA have not even made it to the Senate floor, but have already caused public outrage. Internet giants such as Google, YouTube, Yahoo, AOL and many others have likened the bills to China-style censorship. The bills, which are perhaps the most controversial pieces of proposed legislation in recent American history, were supposedly written to protect copyrighted material. But most believe the bills would cripple the Internet, effectively killing all websites allowing user-uploaded content, endangering potential whistleblowers and severely damaging online freedom of speech. And amid fears they will lead to unprecedented censorship, many web moguls are trying to take matters into their own digital hands.

Today’s blackout is the biggest act of defiance yet. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales said on Twitter that the move “will be wow” and that he hopes “it will melt phone systems in Washington,” before urging followers to spread the word. The world’s 6th most visited website joins Reddit, TwitPic, Mozilla, WordPress and others in their protest – a decision that did not, according to Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director Sue Gardner, come lightly.

Gardner said that “it is the opinion of the English Wikipedia community that both of these bills, if passed, would be devastating to the free and open web. Over the course of the past 72 hours, over 1800 Wikipedians have joined together to discuss proposed actions that the community might wish to take against SOPA and PIPA. This is by far the largest level of participation in a community discussion ever seen on Wikipedia, which illustrates the level of concern that Wikipedians feel about this proposed legislation.”

The press release went on to say that “the overwhelming majority of participants support community action to encourage greater public action in response to these two bills. Of the proposals considered by Wikipedians, those that would result in a 'blackout' of the English Wikipedia, in concert with similar blackouts on other websites opposed to SOPA and PIPA, received the strongest support.”

But while the move is most definitely a grand stand, will it do anything more than force students to do their homework early – and perhaps even reintroduce printed reference sources to the digital generation?

It might. The Obama Administration responded to an anti-SOPA and PIPA petition, claiming it “will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.”

Which was taken by most to mean that these bills will never see life as laws, because all of the above is exactly what SOPA and PIPA do. But has that really ever stopped the US government from pushing through legislation deemed “important”? Look at the Department of Homeland Security's “See something, Say something” program, under which almost any action – including paying cash, buying waterproof matches and having discreet phone conversations in public – can be seen as potential terrorist activity. Look at the NDAA, which allows indefinite detention of anyone, including American citizens, suspected of terrorist activity.

So if you’re sitting there reading this, with some cash in your pocket and a website where someone may have posted something that may lead to something else that is potentially suspicious – expect the might of the US security and legal systems to knock – or bust through your door. They might not even have a warrant, having convenient access to the so-called ‘sneak-and-peak’ granted by the Patriot Act. Of course, those were also created to capture terrorists, but as we’ve established, we may all soon be branded as such because of a YouTube search.

Jokes aside, though – what about the arguments used to push the bill forward? Surely copyright infringement should be battled? And shouldn't the companies losing money everywhere because of pirated content be protected?

They should. But what SOPA and PIPA opponents are so upset about is that the bills are not specific enough; that they’re heaping all Internet users together and branding them as one step short of evil, instead of clearly defining what constitutes an illegal activity and how it can realistically be battled.

For now, however, most, including founder and executive director Aaron Swartz, believe the Acts will change the rules for the Internet not just in the United States, but around the world.

“Under this bill, the rules totally change. It makes everyone who runs a website into a policeman. And if they don’t do their job of making sure nobody on their site uses it for anything that’s even potentially illegal, the entire site could get shut down – without even so much as a trial,” Swartz says.

So before the Acts become final, those in favor of an open information pool for the people are trying to make their final act count.

Katerina Azarova, RT

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

European malls track shopping patterns via mobile phone

Deutsche Welle, 16 January 2012  

Footpath uses mobile phone data
to track movement
Path Intelligence, a UK firm, has its services at more than ten malls in Britain and around Europe. But its success has raised privacy concerns as well.

Most of us know that when we surf or shop online, the pages we visit can be recorded and tracked. That's how websites like Google and Facebook are able to sell us ads ostensibly targeted to our interests.

But while tracking online movements and how that translate into sales is relatively easy online, this level of monitoring is much harder to do offline. Britain's brick-and-mortar shops are having a rough time - as well-known national chains like Woolworths have gone bust, thousands of other stores have closed, and total sales have stagnated in recent years.

Online it's a different story: this Christmas the number of people shopping online was nearly thirty percent higher than last year, with overall Internet sales tripling in three years.

Enter Path Intelligence, a British company based in Portsmouth in southern England, and its new shopping monitoring product. Footpath is in operation in at least ten malls in the UK, and has been sold to seven countries, mainly in Europe. 

Path Intelligence detects what stores
 people go to, and more importantly,
where they're not spending money
But, its success has recently raised privacy concerns as well. In the past few months, campaign groups, online discussion boards, and even an American senator have criticized the way Footpath has been deployed.

"Typically a retailer would have 20 to 30 percent of its shoppers buying something, so 70 to 80 percent of shoppers in  store don't actually purchase," explained Sharon Biggar, Path Intelligence's CEO. "And that's the opportunity, that's what offline retailers are trying to identify, where those people went, what they looked at but what they didn't buy."

Temporary anonymous identification

Biggar's firm provides that information by tracking customers – or rather their mobile phones – as they go shopping. The system uses a unique signal given out by each phone – rather like a computer's IP address.

"It's called a temporary mobile subscriber identifier," Biggar told Deutsche Welle. "It's just a random number that Vodafone, Orange or O2 ascribes to your phone. And then we're simply passively observing that number as it moves around a particular space."

Using around ten receivers spread across the floor of the average shopping mall, Footpath can triangulate a person's location to within a couple of meters – revealing which shops somone has visited, and even which department. 

Vodafone is one of the mobile phone
 partners that provides anonymized data
to Path Intelligence
Path Intelligence charges retailers 39,000 ($49,000) to 77,000 euros ($97,000) depending on the length of time monitored and how much space is being watched.

The major UK developer Land Securities - which has installed Footpath in some of its malls – said the data helps identify which shops are performing well and which aren't, and helps improve the layout by identifying crowd bottlenecks.

However, many privacy advocates are starting to wonder about how secure this new monitoring system is, and if this privacy-for-analytics trade-off is worth it.

"If consumers can't be confident that the regulation protects their anonymous phone location being tracked, then how can they be confident that something far more intrusive won't come along?" said Nick Pickles, of the London-based campaign group, Big Brother Watch.

"And before we know it – technology moves much, much faster than the law - and consumers are the ones who suffer, and everyone's sat going: why wasn't the protection in place first?" he told Deutsche Welle.

Similarly, Sen. Charles Schumer, a Democrat from New York state sent a letter to Biggar in November asking detailed questions about the service.

"A shopper's personal cell phone should not be used by a third party as a tracking device by retailers who are seeking to determine holiday shopping patterns," he wrote.

In the US, two malls halted using Footpath after Schumer raised concerns, while two American retail giants, JCPenney and Home Depot, are still considering its use.

Fewer privacy protections in the offline world

However, since last May, in the European Union, websites are required to give clear consent for all cookies - the bits of computer code that track, store and transmit this type of information online. Oddly, no similar legislation currently exists for the physical world in the United Kingdom or across the 27-member bloc.

"I would say it's innocuous compared to a cookie," Biggar said. "A cookie is actually downloading something onto your device, it's actually physically changing your device. We are in no way interacting with your device whatsoever. We make the very definite statement wherever our system is located that we put up signs and we inform shoppers that this is going on."

One shopping mall where the Footpath system is in operation is Cardinal Place, in central London. However, while there is a metal sign 25 centimeters (9.8 inches) across, it only faces shoppers as they leave the center. 

Many Britons are already subjugated
to ubiquitous CCTV cameras
An informal survey of shoppers suggested that few had ever actually noticed the sign. While most people didn't seem to mind it, others did have some privacy concerns.

"If it's being used simply to get information on footfall numbers, that kind of thing, then I don't think it's a particular issue at all," said one man, who declined to give his name. "I think if it was tracking individuals, so they could actually work out where you were going then I might be a bit concerned, but if it's clearly anonymous, then I don't think it's an issue at all."

There is still concern that mobile network operators could link the temporary mobile subscriber identifier with an actual telephone number and then, an individual.

Future use for crowd control

Meanwhile, Path Intelligence is looking into applications beyond the shopping mall – to improve the flow of crowds at rock concerts, and even tracking people in refugee camps.

However, the company says it takes privacy seriously. Biggar added that her company was asked to help find suspects after the riots last summer – which affected shopping centers across the country.

"The mall owners in particular were keen that those criminals be brought to justice," she said. "But however, we  weren't able to help them at all, because we change all of the numbers, there's no way we could link a number back to an individual, so in that case we were both protecting the privacy of shoppers, but also unfortunately also of criminals."

Author: Robin Powell, London
Editor: Cyrus Farivar