When the Danish prime minister took a ‘selfie’ at Nelson Mandela’s funeral alongside Obama and Cameron, there was a flurry of alarm in the press. Photographic narcissism, commentators suggested, is now everywhere, the constant mediation of the lens is disrupting experience and memory. Photography, unthinkingly and endlessly made and shared, pollutes awareness of the real world and suppresses memory of anything other than the moment when the image is captured.’
‘There is no evidence that Edward Snowden’s revelations about NSA spying inspired Islamic terror groups to hide their electronic communications behind more sophisticated encryption software, according to a new analysis that challenges other recent research and assertions by U.S. officials about the impact of the leaks.
The analysis by Flashpoint Global Partners, a private security firm, examined the frequency of releases and updates of encryption software by jihadi groups and mentions of encryption in jihadi social media forums to assess the impact of Snowden’s information. It found no correlation in either measure to Snowden’s leaks about the NSA’s surveillance techniques, which became public beginning June 5, 2013.’
‘Seventeen fake cellphone towers were discovered across the U.S. last week, according to a report in Popular Science. Rather than offering you cellphone service, the towers appear to be connecting to nearby phones, bypassing their encryption, and either tapping calls or reading texts.
[...] The towers were found in July, but the report implied that there may have been more out there. Although it is unclear who owns the towers, ESD found that several of them were located near U.S. military bases.’
‘There was once a young man named Narcissus who was so vain that he fell in love with his own reflection in the water and died. In some versions of the mythological tale from Ancient Greece, Narcissus was transformed into a flower that today carries the name narcissus, or daffodil.
Like the flower, narcissism has continued to flourish in modern culture. “Selfie” was awarded word of the year in 2013 by the Oxford Dictionary. Capturing an image of oneself – once the purview of despondent artists – has become an international pastime. Even politicians rode the trend taking selfies at memorial services. Celebrities continued to be, well, celebrated as well. Miley Cyrus ended 2013 as the most searched person on Google, with Drake and Kim Kardashian coming in at the number two and three spots. Between them they have more “followers” than the population of an average country. And, as both Miley Cyrus’s career trajectory and research findings suggest, the importance of fame is more prominent than ever before.
In recent weeks, we’ve seen the Ice Bucket challenge thrive, but it has been revealed that less than half of people doing the challenge are actually donating. So, for some, is it really about awareness for ALS or self-promotion?’
- W. Keith Campbell, Ph.D.
- The Narcissism Epidemic: Interview with W. Keith Campbell
- The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement (Book)
- Development and Validation of the Single Item Narcissism Scale
- Egos inflating over time: a cross-temporal meta-analysis of the Narcissistic Personality Inventory
- Narcissists use Twitter the most because they crave approval
- How do you spot a narcissist? Just ask them
- Julian Stallabrass: On Selfies
‘A few dozen photographs were taken of me as a child. I remember lining up with my family on the beach as a wealthy uncle tried out a new photographic toy and, bright glare of sun off sand in our eyes, being told to stand completely still so as not to ruin the shot. Film and processing were quite pricey, and being photographed was an event. We were behaving just like everybody else, so there is nothing remarkable about the scene except that I remember it. Such an image world must seem fantastically ancient to those today who are used to being photographed – and taking photographs – every day or many times a day.
‘[...] The way new-era-gadgets are designed is that after just 1-3 years they become obsolete: applications cannot be run or downloaded and everything becomes incompatible. Entire systems demand a periodical overhaul, but even overhauls have time limitation, at some point they cease to ‘be allowed’. And so, eventually, new equipment has to be purchased, and, that happens with increasing frequency.
We all know that this is how the ‘market’ works, that this is how ruthless, self-serving ‘entrepreneurship’ is shagging us. We are all bitching about it, but there seems to be nothing that can be done. We have simply become slaves of those vicious, greedy and twisted capitalist companies. We know that they only care about their profits and nothing about the advancement of society and humanity. They are clearly and determinedly robbing creative people, of both time and resources.’
‘Women college students spend an average of 10 hours a day on their cellphones and men college students spend nearly eight, with excessive use posing potential risks for academic performance, according to a Baylor University study on cellphone activity published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions.
“That’s astounding,” said researcher James Roberts, Ph.D., The Ben H. Williams Professor of Marketing in Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business. “As cellphone functions increase, addictions to this seemingly indispensable piece of technology become an increasingly realistic possibility.”
The study notes that approximately 60 percent of college students admit they may be addicted to their cell phone, and some indicated they get agitated when it is not in sight, said Roberts, lead author of the article “The Invisible Addiction: Cellphone Activities and Addiction among Male and Female College Students.”‘
‘For some teenagers, wearing last season’s jeans will always be unthinkable.But a growing number consider texting on a dated smartphone even worse. For teenage apparel retailers, that screen-obsessed teenager poses a big threat in the still-important back-to-school sales season.
Muscle shirts and strategically ripped jeans no longer provide an assured spot for retailers like Hollister and American Eagle Outfitters in the marketplace of what’s cool at an American high school. The social cachet these days involves waving the latest in hand-held technology.’
‘To be a modern American, child or adult, is to spend a third of your day staring at a screen. Children ages 8 to 18 spend an incredible seven and a half hours a day — outside of school — using some sort of electronic media, and adults are slightly worse, racking up an additional half-hour of screen time. It’s not yet clear what impact this is having on face-to-face communication, and that’s especially true for the kids who are growing up glued to an iPad. So one team of researchers decided to try to find out, and they took a creative approach. Instead of measuring what happened to kids who used these devices, they measured what happened to kids whose gadgets were taken away.’
‘Beginning next year, if you buy a cell phone in California that gets lost or stolen, you’ll have a built-in ability to remotely deactivate the phone under a new “kill switch” feature being mandated by California law—but the feature will make it easier for police and others to disable the phone as well, raising concerns among civil liberties groups about possible abuse.
The law, which takes effect next July, requires all phones sold in California to come pre-equipped with a software “kill switch” that allows owners to essentially render them useless if they’re lost or stolen. Although the law, SB 962, applies only to California, it undoubtedly will affect other states, which often follow the Golden State’s lead. It also seems unlikely phone manufacturers would exclude the feature from phones sold elsewhere. And although the legislation allows users to opt out of the feature after they buy the phone, few likely will do so.’
‘Makers of surveillance systems are offering governments across the world the ability to track the movements of almost anybody who carries a cellphone, whether they are blocks away or on another continent.
The technology works by exploiting an essential fact of all cellular networks: They must keep detailed, up-to-the-minute records on the locations of their customers to deliver calls and other services to them. Surveillance systems are secretly collecting these records to map people’s travels over days, weeks or longer, according to company marketing documents and experts in surveillance technology.
The world’s most powerful intelligence services, such as the National Security Agency and Britain’s GCHQ, long have used cellphone data to track targets around the globe. But experts say these new systems allow less technically advanced governments to track people in any nation — including the United States — with relative ease and precision.’
‘In October 2002, Peter Ho, the permanent secretary of defense for the tiny island city-state of Singapore, paid a visit to the offices of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the U.S. Defense Department’s R&D outfit best known for developing the M16 rifle, stealth aircraft technology, and the Internet. Ho didn’t want to talk about military hardware. Rather, he had made the daylong plane trip to meet with retired Navy Rear Adm. John Poindexter, one of DARPA’s then-senior program directors and a former national security advisor to President Ronald Reagan. Ho had heard that Poindexter was running a novel experiment to harness enormous amounts of electronic information and analyze it for patterns of suspicious activity — mainly potential terrorist attacks.
The two men met in Poindexter’s small office in Virginia, and on a whiteboard, Poindexter sketched out for Ho the core concepts of his imagined system, which Poindexter called Total Information Awareness (TIA). It would gather up all manner of electronic records — emails, phone logs, Internet searches, airline reservations, hotel bookings, credit card transactions, medical reports — and then, based on predetermined scenarios of possible terrorist plots, look for the digital “signatures” or footprints that would-be attackers might have left in the data space. The idea was to spot the bad guys in the planning stages and to alert law enforcement and intelligence officials to intervene.’
- Admiral Poindexter Took Total Information Awareness Program To Singapore
- Surveillance policy in Singapore
- Singapore ranked second-safest country
- 2011: Singapore opposition make ‘landmark’ election gains
- Hard Choices: Challenging the Singapore Consensus (Book)
- Total Information Awareness
- Big Data: A Short History
‘In a new report, Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union warn that “large-scale surveillance is seriously hampering U.S.-based journalists and lawyers in their work.” The report is based on interviews with dozens of reporters and lawyers. They describe a media climate where journalists take cumbersome security steps that slows down their reporting. Sources are afraid of talking, as aggressive prosecutions scare government officials into staying silent, even about issues that are unclassified. For lawyers, the threat of surveillance is stoking fears they will be unable to protect a client’s right to privacy. Some defendants are afraid of speaking openly to their own counsel, undermining a lawyer’s ability provide the best possible defense. We speak to Alex Sinha, author of the report, “With Liberty to Monitor All: How Large-Scale U.S. Surveillance is Harming Journalism, Law, and American Democracy,” and to national security reporter Jeremy Scahill.’ (Democracy Now!)
‘In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert discuss reputational apartheid and delusion insurance as we all become blackmailable. In the second half, Max interviews microbiologist, Jason Tetro, author of The Germ Code, about what germs can teach us about the modern economy and about the similarities between Las Vegas and C.Dificile.’ (Keiser Report)
‘A former TSA agent has described the new rule mandating fliers to power up electrical devices at the TSA’s behest as “absurdist” and “theatrical”, saying it will not prevent any terrorist wanting to set off a bomb, and will likely make it easier to do just that.
Writing in the London Guardian, Jason Edward Harrington, a former TSA agent at Chicago’s O’Hare International, notes how he knew this rule may come into effect, and even wove it into a satirical piece he wrote on the TSA a year ago.
Now a whistleblower and a blogger, Harrington writes “I knew a checkpoint power-up directive was not at all outside the realm of airport-security possibility, because I was a TSA agent for six years – and the TSA can be as reactionary and absurd as it is technologically inept.”
“It should come as no surprise to you when this new measure joins the never-ending parade of blanket security directives that may actually make us less safe.” Harrington adds.’
- I was a TSA agent, and the new airport cellphone rules wouldn’t stop an iBomb
- TSA Chief Orders Random Cell Phone Checks to Get Director of National Intelligence to Notice Him
- TSA’s Mothballed Naked Body Scanners End Up Being Used In Prisons
- TSA Demands Bizarre New Power To Test Drinks Purchased In Airports
- Experts Confirm TSA Wasted A BILLION DOLLARS On Kooky Behaviour Monitoring
‘[...] Something is different this time. And not only that the assault is different, and worse. The difference is the political environment in which this attack is happening, especially the political environment here in the United States. For those of us who’ve been working on changing US policy in the Middle East for decades, the bad news is in front of us every day: that policy hasn’t changed, and billions of dollars in aid money and uncritical political, diplomatic and military support for Israel remains constant.
But there is some good news. It’s only obvious when you can back up for a moment to look past the daily bad-news reality. The good news is that the discourse has shifted dramatically—in mainstream news coverage, punditry, pop culture and more. It’s much better than ever. They don’t get it right, still, but things are changing. Twelve years ago, during the siege of Yasir Arafat’s compound in Ramallah and the surrounding of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, we didn’t hear many Palestinian voices in the mainstream press. In 2006, during Israel’s attack on Gaza,The New York Times and NPR didn’t send their reporters to the Khan Younis refugee camp or to Gaza City.
But the coverage had already begun to shift during Cast Lead, the three-week Israeli war against Gaza in 2008–09, and we realized then how much the media changes reflected the overall discourse shift. Despite Israeli efforts to exclude the international press, Al Jazeera and other Arabic channels were broadcasting live out of Gaza. The Times had a terrific young stringer, Taghreed el-Khodary, filing hour by hour. Israel probably wouldn’t have allowed her into the Strip, but they couldn’t stop her, she was already there—born and raised in Gaza and living with her family.’
‘For parents who are worried about keeping track of their children, technology offers a possible solution: kid-friendly wearable devices with GPS tracking built in.
Wearable technology has exploded in recent years, with health monitoring technology such as Fitbit, and wearable computers, such as Google Glass. There are wearables for adults — even wearables for pets — so it makes sense that companies would design models with kids in mind.
One such option is kidsport GPS, a GPS-equipped wristband or ankle bracelet that promises to let parents know where their kids are, whenever they want.’
‘Ordinary Internet users, American and non-American alike, far outnumber legally targeted foreigners in the communications intercepted by the National Security Agency from U.S. digital networks, according to a four-month investigation by The Washington Post. Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post, were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else.
Many of them were Americans. Nearly half of the surveillance files, a strikingly high proportion, contained names, e-mail addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents. NSA analysts masked, or “minimized,” more than 65,000 such references to protect Americans’ privacy, but The Post found nearly 900 additional e-mail addresses, unmasked in the files, that could be strongly linked to U.S. citizens or U.S.residents. The surveillance files highlight a policy dilemma that has been aired only abstractly in public. There are discoveries of considerable intelligence value in the intercepted messages — and collateral harm to privacy on a scale that the Obama administration has not been willing to address.’
‘Passengers using airports that offer direct flights to the US may be forced to switch on their mobile phones and other electronic devices to prove to security officials that they do not contain explosives, it was announced on Sunday.
“During the security examination, officers may also ask that owners power up some devices, including cell phones,” the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said in a post on its website. It warned: “Powerless devices will not be permitted onboard the aircraft. The traveller may also undergo additional screening.”
The TSA did not disclose which airports would be conducting the additional screening. It was reported last week that passengers at British airports travelling to the US were facing extra checks on phones. Belgian officials said passengers there would also have devices checked. Britain’s Department for Transport (DfT) advised that the new restriction meant any electronic device with a flat battery would not be allowed on flights, the Press Association reported.’
‘How far would you go to avoid being alone with your thoughts? People vastly prefer passive activities like reading or listening to music over spending just a few minutes by themselves. Being alone with no distractions was so distasteful to two-thirds of men and a quarter of women that they elected to give themselves mild electric shocks rather than sit quietly in a room with nothing but the thoughts in their heads, according to a study from the University of Virginia.
While the ability to mentally detach is unique to humans, it’s not often done, the researchers said. In a hyper-connected world with constant Internet access and entertainment options, U.S. Department of Labor data show 83 percent of Americans don’t spend any part of their day just thinking. The series of 11 experiments detailed in the journal Science show the extent people will go to avoid the experience.’
‘The curled metal fixtures set to go up on a handful of Michigan Avenue light poles later this summer may look like delicate pieces of sculpture, but researchers say they’ll provide a big step forward in the way Chicago understands itself by observing the city’s people and surroundings.
The smooth, perforated sheaths of metal are decorative, but their job is to protect and conceal a system of data-collection sensors that will measure air quality, light intensity, sound volume, heat, precipitation and wind. The sensors will also count people by measuring wireless signals on mobile devices.
Some experts caution that efforts like the one launching here to collect data from people and their surroundings pose concerns of a Big Brother intrusion into personal privacy. In particular, sensors collecting cellphone data make privacy proponents nervous. But computer scientist Charlie Catlett said the planners have taken precautions to design their sensors to observe mobile devices and count contact with the signal rather than record the digital address of each device.’
‘Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. will incorporate a “kill switch” into the next versions of their smartphone operating systems as evidence mounts that such security measures may be deterring theft. Mobile phone technology companies have faced pressure from public officials over the past year to add mechanisms for disabling the devices if they’re lost or stolen to help curb resale potential. More than 30 percent of robberies in major cities involve mobile phones, with smartphones often targeted because of their high value, according to the Federal Communications Commission.
Google, based in Mountain View, California, said in a statement today it will add a “factory reset protection solution” to its next version of Android. Microsoft’s Vice President for U.S. Government Affairs Fred Humphries said the Redmond, Washington-based company will offer new theft-deterrence mechanisms in an update for phones running its software, including those made by Nokia Oyj. “With these additional features, we’re hopeful that technology -– as part of a broader strategy -– can help to further reduce incentives for criminals to steal smartphones in the first place,” Humphries said today in a blog post.’
- EFF Opposes California’s Cell Phone “Kill Switch” Bill
- California’s cell-phone kill switch is a solution that’s worse than the problem
- Apple Patents Kill Switch for Mobile Devices (U.S. Patent No. 8,254,902)
- New Google patent suggests automatically sending your videos and photos to law enforcement
- Apple Moves One Step Closer Toward Location-Based Camera Disabling
- Samsung Galaxy Camera Unveiled, More Phonecamera Than Cameraphone
‘On Thursday evening, the ACLU published a 2009 e-mail exchange (PDF) between police departments in Sarasota, Florida, and North Port, Florida, indicating that local law enforcement had concealed the use of cell phone-tracking Stingray devices in court documents. Stingray is a trademark, but it has come to generally mean devices that can be used to track phones or even intercept calls and text messages.
Although the Sarasota Police Department and the North Point Police Department did not own Stingray devices, the two departments had borrowed the cell phone trackers from the US Marshals Service (USMS), which requested that they hide the use of the Stingrays from judges and defendants. The issue was discussed in the e-mails when the Sarasota Police Department realized that a North Point detective had been too explicit in a probable cause affidavit (PCA), specifically detailing “the investigative means used to locate the suspect.” The Sarasota Police asked that the North Point Police seal the old affidavit and submit a new, more vague one.’
‘New documents from Edward Snowden published in the United States show how Britain’s GCHQ has been involved in developing spyware that can take over an individual computer or mobile phone and spy on its owner. While separate revelations from Vodafone last week that spooks and police have an active “listening pipe” into its communications were chilling, papers from the US National Security Agency reveal how Britain’s eavesdroppers have moved on from intercepting outbound communications to actively developing “implants” – pieces of malware which infect a targeted computer or phone and take anything from it the spying services want.
These implants then “own” the target’s hardware and can read email, turn on a computer’s microphone as a transportable bug or the webcam to take photos, as well as download huge amounts of data. For the individual who is targeted, it is like having a live bugging operation about their person or in their home. Such widespread snooping could be done on millions of computers, according to the NSA, which describes it as “aggressive”. The implants infect a computer without the user’s knowledge via spam email or by redirecting the user’s browser to a fake Facebook server. The NSA documents revealed by Snowden show that GCHQ, via its listening station at Menwith Hill in Yorkshire, took the lead in ensuring that anyone who had visited Yahoo or Hotmail could be infected with an implant. The potential for such all-encompassing snooping prompted GCHQ to remark in a document dated April 2013 that its involvement in such practices “may be in jeopardy due to British legal/policy restrictions”.’
- Sexual violence and conflict minerals: international demand fuels cycle
- Blood minerals are electronics industry’s dirty secret
- There May Be Conflict Minerals in Your Smartphone
- Global Witness warns that majority of inaugural conflict mineral reports are inadequate
- Few Firms Name Sources in U.S. Conflict Minerals Reports
- Intel, HP Seen as Exceptions in Conflict-Mineral Reports
- Conflict Minerals Rules Show The Value Of Knowing Your Supply Chain
- ‘Conflict minerals’ finance gang rape in Africa
- 2008 Study: Congo war-driven crisis kills 45,000 a month
- Caliche: the conflict mineral that fuelled the first world war
‘Investigators must obtain a search warrant from a judge in order to obtain cellphone tower tracking data that is widely used as evidence to show suspects were in the vicinity of a crime, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.
A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined people have an expectation of privacy in their movements and that the cell tower data was part of that. As such, obtaining the records without a search warrant is a violation of the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures, the judges ruled.
…The ruling does not block investigators from obtaining the records — which show which calls are routed through specific towers — but simply requires a higher legal showing of probable cause to obtain a search warrant rather than a less-strict court order.’
Yes, the Zombie Apocalypse has materialized and we are it. Everywhere you look you find the deathlike trance- frozen faces of we necromantic slaves with twitching fingers. Spending endless empty hours mesmerized by our tiny screens. An entire society that can’t remember its own phone number, much less that of any significant other. Of course, compared to our magical phones, there are no significant others.
Our smart phones are being manipulated by some very dumb people. Sure, amazing things can be accomplished: check the weather patterns in Outer Mongolia. Translate French past participles into Farsi. Order a chess set made out of imitation crab meat in the shape of the characters from 12 Years a Slave and have it delivered to our house before getting back from work. But in the meantime, we are developing the attention span of high- speed lint. And the personalities.’
‘[...] The fact is that when reading a book there is no substitute for reading a book. I have just written one about 50 “great” books, the research for which involved staring at lines of words on pages until first the lines, and subsequently the pages, ran out, and then thinking about them until I knew what I wanted to commit to paper. Some of the books are from the canon, and can be considered “classics” – Pride and Prejudice, Middlemarch, Moby-Dick – and some are most certainly neither: The Da Vinci Code and, in the words of the Guardian’s reviewer, “something called Krautrocksampler” by Julian Cope. The experience led me to conclude that although we love to argue about books, acquire them, express strong opinions about The Goldfinch, etc, etc, more than ever we seem to be losing the knack of reading them.
In a New York Times blog, Karl Taro Greenfield talked about “faking cultural literacy”. “What we all feel now is the constant pressure to know enough, at all times, lest we be revealed as culturally illiterate,” he writes. “What matters to us, awash in petabytes of data, is not necessarily having actually consumed this content first-hand but simply knowing that it exists.”‘
‘If there’s one thing Google isn’t serving enough of, it’s ads.
Thankfully the company might someday address that, if it follows through on a proposal that it could put ads on everything from thermostats and refrigerators to car dashboards, watches and glasses. The search (an ad) giant outlined its proposal in a letter to the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
These everywhere-ads are currently hypothetical. At least we have no proof that they’re otherwise. And a Google spokesperson told TechRadar that the letter “does not reflect Google’s product roadmap.” Hm.’
‘Secret cables allow government spies in many countries to listen in to conversations on Vodafone’s network, the telecom giant has revealed. The company’s first ever Law Enforcement Disclosure Report detailed the legal interception of various types of content (from messages and phone calls to metadata such as call time and location) for the 29 countries in which it operates.
The direct-access wires or pipes are connected to its network, allowing conversations to be recorded and mobile phone users to be tracked. In six of the countries, the wires are a legal requirement for telecoms companies. Vodafone did not reveal the countries have such permanent access for fear of retaliation against its staff, but called upon governments to change “legislation which enables agencies and authorities to access an operator’s communications infrastructure without the knowledge and direct control of the operator”.’
- Vodafone feels Edward Snowden effect with surveillance revelations
- Vodafone reveals existence of secret wires that allow state surveillance
- Fears government agencies can listen in to private mobile phone calls at the ‘flick of a switch’ after Vodafone revelations
- Vodafone admits governments use ‘secret cables’ to tap citizens’ phones
- Vodafone Blows Whistle On State Snooping