By Christopher Kuner The recent revelations concerning widespread US government access to electronic communications data (including the PRISM system apparently run by the National Security Agency) leave many questions unanswered, and new facts are constantly emerging. Thoughtful commentators should be hesitant to make detailed pronouncements before it is clear what is actually going on. Nevertheless, given the potential of these developments to fundamentally reshape the data protection and privacy landscape, I cannot resist drawing a few high-level, preliminary conclusions, from a European perspective:
Soon after launching this blog, I took a look at Google Analytics and was surprised to see a bounce rate of ~80%. Surely my posts weren’t that bad? So I decided to learn more about what consitutes a “bounce” – and I was surprised at what I found. It turns out that Google Analytics will wait for a visitor to trigger a second event, such as visiting another page on the same site. If that second event is never triggered, the visit is counted as a bounce (regardless of the duration of the visit).
Google defends dropping chat federation with inaccurate and misinformed comments on the underlying protocol (XMPP) and blaming others for not joining. Apparently, all the of the (good) sentiments behind the reasons for choosing XMPP as the protocol for Google Talk ( https://developers.google.com/talk/open_communications ) are no longer the driving force behind the decision making regarding its replacement Google Hangouts. All that talk about Client Choice, Service Choice and Platform Choice has been replaced with "if the other big players don't play, why should we?". So all those "thousands of other ISPs, universities, corporations and individual users" Google Talk used to federate with are no longer important. On top of that, XMPP is blamed for not keeping up with the times:
Describing entirely legitimate, tax-paying technology pioneers as “the devil” is not something you hear happening every day, especially at the highest levels of business. However, that’s how a Hollywood studio exec has labeled BitTorrent Inc, the software and solutions company utilizing the world’s most efficient data shifting protocol. While the company is understandably annoyed, one has to question just how hard it’s going to be to change perceptions about what BitTorrent Inc. is all about. If one is to understand what caused this big BitTorrent dispute, one has to understand a few key things. First, BitTorrent is a data transfer protocol, just like HTTP or FTP.
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Hard drive backups are like the socks of gifts you give yourself. They’re initially about as unexciting as gifts can get, only to become the best gift ever in a pinch. Got a meeting in 20 minutes and your normal sock reserve is empty? Thanks for the bag-o-socks, Uncle Steve! Your hard drive just exploded, taking the past 3 years of your digital life with it? Thanks for the backup, past-me!
Last weekend I spent some of my time drinking beer and talking to Sir Peter Blake about Kendo Nagasaki. This weekend I spent an hour biting into a pen like a shire horse as my brain failed to comprehend a journalist I was sitting next to. I was at QEDcon , on a panel entrusted with the subject “Is Science the New Religion?”
This morning, I woke to the news that Archive Team is working to save Upcoming. This is the Internet equivalent of hearing that Marsellus Wallace is sending The Wolf . For those unfamiliar, Archive Team is a band of rogue archivists and programmers working to rescue dead and dying websites from destruction. To put it mildly, they are very good at what they do . Led by computer historian/documentary filmmaker Jason Scott , they've saved massive sites like GeoCities, Friendster, MobileMe, Fortune City and many others from deletion, and collaborate with the Internet Archive to inject their backups into the Wayback Machine for permanent preservation. The importance of their work can't be overstated.
We are busy around the clock adding new educational resources to OER Commons. We work with the finest producers of instructional content in the world and gather their best work together especially for you. Then we ensure the resources are carefully described and fully indexed because we want you to be able to find exactly what you need, when you need it.
Google today launched Keep , an app that allows you to save things, clip stuff from the web, hoard notes and what not and put them all onto your Google Drive. Yup, you guessed it — it is an imitation to Evernote and many other such applications. It is a good thing that Google has decided to compete with the likes of Evernote — it validates their market.
NBC Universal is one of the copyright holders involved in the “six strikes” copyright alert system but the warnings it sends out to subscribers of non-participating ISPs stand in stark contrast to the educational approach of the program. A threatening email warns the alleged file-sharers that they risk substantial monetary damages, criminal prosecution and Internet disconnections. After years of negotiating and planning the “six strikes” copyright alert system finally went live last month. Under the program, copyright holders will alert ISPs about infringing material being shared on their networks and the providers will send friendly and educational alerts to affected customers.
Google has written a blog post documenting their legal process and approach to dealing with government requests for user and search data, highlighting a new section now available in Google that also answers more of these questions. Governments routinely ask search engines like Google for access to user data for various reasons. From search logs, to email accounts, to browser history, to purchase history. Google says they take each request incredibly seriously.
With millions of downloads per episode Game of Thrones was by far the most pirated TV-show of last year. However, according to the show’s director, David Petrarca, these unauthorized downloads actually do more good than harm. Petrarca explains that the show needs “cultural buzz” to thrive and survive, and this buzz is being generated in part by pirates. With 4.3 million downloads per episode, Game of Thrones was the most pirated TV-show on the Internet last year. To a certain degree one could claim that HBO is to blame for Game of Thrones’ high piracy rates. They want to keep access to the show “exclusive” and even Netflix wasn’t able to buy the rights for a huge sum of money.
The major recording labels are on a fresh High Court mission to force Ireland’s Internet service providers to block The Pirate Bay. The site is already blocked by major ISP Eircom, but the big four of EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner Music want more and are seeking an injunction against four other ISPs including UPC and Vodafone. While almost all ISPs are happy to comply with requests from child protection organizations and the police to block websites that promote abuse, the issue of blocking on copyright grounds is more controversial, not least since copyright issues are rarely as black-and-white. As a result, ISPs in the western world tend to refuse informal site-blocking requests unless they’re backed up by a court order. This way they can tell their customers that they had no choice but to comply since as good corporate citizens they always follow instructions from the court.