Articles by date
15 January 2017
Is there a truly secure messaging app? One could spend hours examining all the encrypted communications tools available, from popular services such as WhatsApp and Facebook's Messenger to newcomers such as Signal and Wire. But while experts agree that some of these options are more secure than others, there always seems to be another flaw waiting to be discovered. This makes the search for a perfect app resemble the hunt for the goose that laid the golden egg.
14 January 2017
For anyone who is really concerned about keeping their thoughts private there is only one piece of reliable technology: write with a pen on paper, and burn what you've written when you're done. For the rest of us, who want to get things done, there is an inevitable trade-off which we still don't entirely understand. We now carry with us everywhere devices that give us access to all the world's information, but they can also offer almost all the world vast quantities of information about us. The sense of personal integrity and boundaries that seems self-evident is actually the product of particular social arrangements which are profoundly affected by technology even though it doesn't determine them. Technological change could move us towards our better selves or our worse ones, but things can't stay as they are.
Electroshock Therapy for Internet Addicts? China Vows to End It (New York Times)
At the Addiction Treatment Center in eastern China, more than 6,000 internet addicts -- most of them teenagers -- not only had their web access taken away, they were also treated with electroshock therapy.
12 January 2017
One of Australia's big 4 banks has found out the hard way that it's a good idea for a large company to obtain its top level domain. Not just the country code Top Level Domain that the company operates in. The bank, NAB, formerly National Australia Bank, sent the account details of over 60,000 customers to firstname.lastname@example.org instead of email@example.com.
It's no secret that teenagers love social media. Members of "Generation Z" can spend up to nine hours a day sharing photos on Instagram, consuming "content" on YouTube and talking to friends on Snapchat. (Just don't ask them to get excited about Facebook.) But how much do these teens understand what they’ve agreed to give up when they start an account with those sites?
Facebook, Nodding to Its Role in Media, Starts a Journalism Project (New York Times)
Facebook is increasingly owning up to its role as one of the world's largest distributors of information by taking more responsibility for the millions of stories that flow through its site.
How Netflix Is Deepening Our Cultural Echo Chambers (New York Times)
When "One Day at a Time" started its run on CBS in December 1975, it became an instant hit and remained so for almost a decade.
Plans to cut down on the "annoying" cookie banners that web users face have been released by the European Union.
UK ISPs are to start sending "educational letters" to customers identified as downloading copyright material without paying for it.
The peak body for internet users in Australia has formally requested that a review of the attorney general's data retention scheme be brought forward, calling the legislation a "monumental stuff-up" as the government seeks to expand access to include civil lawsuits.
11 January 2017
Last week, two men and two women were arrested and now face hate crime and kidnapping charges for the abduction and torture of a man in Chicago. The city is notorious for its violent crime. The difference this time was that the crime was broadcast live to thousands of viewers around the world through Facebook.
Messaging services such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Gmail will face tough new rules on the tracking of users under a revision to the ePrivacy Directive proposed by the European Commission on Tuesday.
Data Could Be the Next Tech Hot Button for Regulators (New York Times)
Wealth and influence in the technology business have always been about gaining the upper hand in software or the machines that software ran on.
Verisign have published their monthly top 10 trending .com and .net keywords for domain names registered in English for December 2016. The lists often reflect topical news events, or even anticipated trends, although a quick scan of the keywords for December doesn't seem to offer much in the way of reflecting events.
10 January 2017
German government officials have said they are investigating an unprecedented proliferation of fake news items amid reports of Russian efforts to influence the country's election later this year.
Maybe the Internet Isn’t a Fantastic Tool for Democracy After All (New York Magazine)
My favorite story about the internet is the one about the anonymous Japanese guy who liberated Czechoslovakia. In 1989, as open dissent was spreading across the country, dissidents were attempting to coordinate efforts outside the watchful eye of Czechoslovak state security. The internet was a nascent technology, and the cops didn't use it; modems were banned, and activists were able to use only those they could smuggle over the border, one at a time. Enter our Japanese guy. Bruce Sterling, who first told the story of the Japanese guy in a 1995 Wired article, says he talked to four different people who'd met the quiet stranger, but no one knew his name. What really mattered, anyway, is what he brought with him: "a valise full of brand-new and unmarked 2400-baud Taiwanese modems," which he handed over to a group of engineering students in Prague before walking away. "The students," Sterling would later write, "immediately used these red-hot 2400-baud scorcher modems to circulate manifestos, declarations of solidarity, rumors, and riot news." Unrest expanded, the opposition grew, and within months, the Communist regime collapsed.
A new Greenpeace report, Clicking Clean: Who Is Winning the Race to Build a Green Internet?, finds that Apple, Google, Facebook, and newcomer Switch are leading the charge to build a renewably powered internet. These companies are coupling transitions of their data centers to clean energy with strong advocacy for access to renewable options. But while nearly 20 internet companies have now committed to 100 percent renewable energy, the reality is that much of the sector continues to grow rapidly in Asia and U.S. markets like Virginia, both of which have little to no renewable energy options.
09 January 2017
The protection of intellectual property (IP) is a growing challenge for governments and business around the world that spend a lot of time and money to protect their branded goods, copyrighted material, patented inventions and trade secrets. Often the protections are done overly zealously.
Tim Wu is a law professor at Columbia University. His specialities include competition, copyright and telecommunications law. So far, so conventional. But Wu is an unconventional academic. For one thing, he ran for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governorship of New York (and won 40% of the popular vote, though not the primary election). For another, he served for a time in the office of New York's attorney general, specialising in issues involving technology, consumer protection and ensuring fair competition among online companies. "If I have a life mission," he said once, "it is to fight bullies. I like standing up for the little guy and I think that's what the state attorney general's office does."
France says it was the subject of 24,000 cyber-attacks against defence targets last year.
Smartphone users in Russia can no longer download the LinkedIn app on iPhone or Android devices, following a similar move in China to block The New York Times app on iPhones.
08 January 2017
Indonesia blocks 800,000 websites (Jakarta Post)
The Indonesian government has blocked 800,000 websites as of December last year, mostly websites containing pornographic material or gambling sites, an official said on Saturday.
Moral panic over fake news hides the real enemy – the digital giants by Evgeny Morozov (The Observer)
Democracy is drowning in fake news. This is the latest reassuring conclusion drawn by those on the losing side of 2016, from Brexit to the US elections to the Italian referendum.
05 January 2017
Some of the nation's biggest Internet providers are asking the government to roll back a landmark set of privacy regulations it approved last fall -- kicking off an effort by the industry and its allies to dismantle key Internet policies of the Obama years.
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has sued two vendors for selling counterfeit goods, weeks after being blacklisted by a US industry watchdog.