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.’
‘The US government’s web of surveillance is vast and interconnected. Now we know just how opaque, inefficient and discriminatory it can be. As we were reminded again just this week, you can be pulled into the National Security Agency’s database quietly and quickly, and the consequences can be long and enduring. Through ICREACH, a Google-style search engine created for the intelligence community, the NSA provides data on private communications to 23 government agencies. More than 1,000 analysts had access to that information.
This kind of data sharing, however, isn’t limited to the latest from Edward Snowden’s NSA files. It was confirmed earlier this month that the FBI shares its master watchlist, the Terrorist Screening Database, with at least 22 foreign governments, countless federal agencies, state and local law enforcement, plus private contractors.
The watchlist tracks “known” and “suspected” terrorists and includes both foreigners and Americans. It’s also based on loose standards and secret evidence, which ensnares innocent people. Indeed, the standards are so low that the US government’s guidelines specifically allow for a single, uncorroborated source of information – including a Facebook or Twitter post – to serve as the basis for placing you on its master watchlist.’
‘As the acting cybersecurity chief of a federal agency, Timothy DeFoggi should have been well versed in the digital footprints users leave behind online when they visit web sites and download images. But DeFoggi—convicted today in Nebraska on three child porn charges including conspiracy to solicit and distribute child porn—must have believed his use of the Tor anonymizing network shielded him from federal investigators.
He’s the sixth suspect to make this mistake in Operation Torpedo, an FBI operation that targeted three Tor-based child porn sites and that used controversial methods to unmask anonymized users. But DeFoggi’s conviction is perhaps more surprising than others owing to the fact that he worked at one time as the acting cybersecurity director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.’
‘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.’
‘A set of classified documents published by The Intercept on Monday shows how the National Security Agency (NSA) makes more than 850 billion records about various forms of communications available to other U.S. governmental agencies through a portal similar in look and feel to a traditional web search engine.
The search tool, called ICREACH, provides access to all communications records collected under a Reagan-era executive order, known as executive order 12333, that targets foreign communication networks. The purview of 12333 has recently attracted negative attention due to the lack of oversight of its surveillance, and the lack of public information regarding its use and breadth.
In the wake of the revelations sourced from documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, much public discourse has focused on how the government uses, and shares data that it collects — which agencies have access to specific information, and how privacy is treated have been key topics of discussion. The Intercept’s most recent report throws light onto one way NSA-collected metadata is shared inside of the larger U.S. intelligence and law enforcement communities — simply, widely, and often, it appears.’
‘Think of it as the internet’s latest growing pain. It’s a problem that networking geeks have seen coming for awhile now, but yesterday [August 12th] it finally struck. And it’s likely to cause more problems in the next few weeks. The bug doesn’t seem to have affected core internet providers—companies like AT&T and Verizon, which haul vast quantities of data over the internet’s backbone, “but certainly there are a number of people that were caught by this,” says Craig Labovitz, founder of network analysis company Deepfield Networks.
The issue affects older, but widely used, routers such as the Cisco 7,600. These machines store routing tables in their memory—directions describing the best way for packets of data to move to their ultimate destination—but some routers max out when their list of routes hits 512,000. Different routers have different total routes in memory, but most of them have been closing in on the 500,000 level for a few months now. Yesterday [August 12th] Verizon published an extra 15,000, kicking many routers over the 512,000 crash-point.’
‘Forget self-driving cars or virtual reality nano-technology algorithms, the newest innovation to emerge from Silicon Valley is square brackets. Facebook is testing a “satire tag” that will clearly label fake news stories from well-known satire sites like the Onion as [satire]. No longer will you need to rely on outdated technology such as common sense to realise that content like Area Facebook User Incredibly Stupid is [satire], the square brackets will do it for you.
It should perhaps be noted that Facebook isn’t introducing the satire tag because it thinks we’re all morons, but rather because it knows we’re all morons. In a statement, the social network explained that it had “received feedback that people wanted a clearer way to distinguish satirical articles from others”.’
- Facebook satire tag aims to stop you getting fooled by the Onion
- Facebook to tag satirical articles to stop users falling for the Onion’s jokes
- Goldfish have longer attention spans than Americans, and the publishing industry knows it
- US adults are dumber than the average human
- Area Facebook User Incredibly Stupid
‘Brussels is home to the European Parliament, but it’s also hosting lots of lobbyists for the U.S. tech industry. Walk down the street near Parliament and you’ll see office blocks that are home to lobbyists representing the likes of Facebook, Google, and other tech companies.
They’ve set up shop because many U.S. tech companies oppose strict new online privacy legislation that members of the European parliament are considering. “It’s gotten a bit out of hand. Very, very emotional,” says Jean-Marc Leclerc, director of the digital economy policy group for a trade association called Digital Europe. Among its members: Apple and Microsoft. Leclerc says there were “thousands of amendments, night votes. It really went crazy.”
Why was it so crazy? The EU is considering an online privacy bill that would give consumers the right to have personal data erased. There would also be new limits on online profiling. The tech lobby says the legislation would hurt commerce and innovation on the Web, and would also create mandatory data reporting requirements that would be a burden for business.’
Editor’s Note: Adam Curtis is a documentary film maker who focusses on “power and how it works in society“. His films include ‘The Power of Nightmares‘ and ‘The Century of Self’ among many others. Watch them, watch them all.
‘If you are an American politician today, as well as an entourage you also have a new, modern addition. You have what’s called a “digital tracker”. They follow you everywhere with a high-definition video camera, and they are employed by the people who want to destroy your political career.
It’s called “opposition research” and the aim is to constantly record everything you say and do. The files are sent back every night to large anonymous offices in Washington where dozens of researchers systematically compare everything you said today with what you said in the past.
They are looking for contradictions. And if they find one – they feed it, and the video evidence, to the media.
On one hand it’s old politics – digging up the dirt on your opponent. But it is also part of something new – and much bigger than just politics. Throughout the western world new systems have risen up whose job is to constantly record and monitor the present – and then compare that to the recorded past. The aim is to discover patterns, coincidences and correlations, and from that find ways of stopping change. Keeping things the same.
We can’t properly see what is happening because these systems are operating in very different areas – from consumerism, to the management of your own body, to predicting future crimes, and even trying to stabilise the global financial system – as well as in politics.
But taken together the cumulative effect is that of a giant refrigerator that freezes us, and those who govern us, into a state of immobility, perpetually repeating the past and terrified of change and the future.’
- Opposition research
- BlackRock’s Aladdin: genie not included
- BlackRock: The monolith and the markets
- The rise of BlackRock
- BlackRock Inc.
- Duncan Campbell’s ‘The Secret Society’ (1987)
- Boolean algebra
- The Fourth Dimension by Charles Howard Hinton (1912)
- Wilfrid Michael Voynich
- The Gadfly by E.L. Voynich
- The riddle of the Voynich Manuscript
‘Readers of the New York Times will have to steel themselves this weekend, as the unseemly brawl between Hachette and Amazon erupts on to the tranquil pages of the Grey Lady. Perhaps the most incendiary item in Sunday’s edition is due to be a full-page ad paid for by a group of bestselling authors – and backed by over 900 other writers – calling on Amazon “in the strongest possible terms to stop harming the livelihood of the authors on whom it has built its business”.
The extraordinary move is the latest salvo in a battle over terms which has seen Amazon delay delivery and remove the possibility of pre-orders on a swathe of books by Hachette authors, including JK Rowling and James Patterson. The online leviathan Amazon says it is attempting to “lower ebook prices”; publishing conglomerate Hachette argues that it is seeking “terms that value appropriately for the years ahead the author’s unique role in creating books, and the publisher’s role in editing, marketing, and distributing them”. Both sides have gradually sharpened their rhetoric over recent weeks, with Hachette saying that it would be suicidal to accept Amazon’s proposals, and Amazon that Hachette should “stop using their authors as human shields“.’
‘Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about memory. I’m sensitized by family members in their 90s. Each are in flagging health and suffering memory deficits; from dementia, Alzheimers, to simple cognitive decline. It’s sad and I do worry about the road ahead, but I’m also troubled by the road I’m on.
On the way to writing this post, I went online for a New York Times OPED that had interested me; how reliance on the internet has diminished the ability of consumers to fully process what we are reading. I’ve noticed that when I read a newspaper online, my retention of information is qualitatively different from when I read a printed newspaper in my hands. It’s an unscientific result reached after many years of reading and writing to earn readers’ attention.’
Russia further tightened its control of the Internet on Friday, requiring people using public Wifi hotspots provide identification, a policy that prompted anger from bloggers and confusion among telecom operators on how it would work. The decree, signed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on July 31 but published online on Friday, also requires companies to declare who is using their web networks. The legislation caught many in the industry by surprise and companies said it was not clear how it would be enforced.
A flurry of new laws regulating Russia’s once freewheeling Internet has been condemned by President Vladimir Putin’s critics as a crackdown on dissent, after the websites of two of his prominent foes were blocked this year. Putin, who alarmed industry leaders in April by saying the Internet is “a CIA project”, says the laws are needed to fight “extremism” and “terrorism”… A pro-Kremlin lawmaker said the measure was needed to prevent Cold War-style propaganda attacks against Russia.
‘Abby Martin speaks with author and journalist, David Seaman, discussing the growing popularity of Bitcoin, as well as other in-the-news issues such as Gaza, and President Obama’s comments on America’s use of torture on terror suspects.’ (Breaking the Set)
- George Osborne hopes to turn Britain into bitcoin capital
- US Defense Dept. analyzing Bitcoin as potential terrorism threat
- French Senate: “Bitcoin offers multiple opportunities for the future”
- Feds Hijack Silk Road Case in Bid to Dismantle Internet Freedom
- New York Department of Financial Services proposed regulations
- Dutch Legal Service Given Authority to Confiscate Bitcoins
- ISIS Using Bitcoin to Finance Terrorism?
- Russia Plans to ban crypto currencies
- Retailers Who Take Bitcoin Love It
- Hacker makes $84k hijacking Bitcoin mining pool
- Bitcoin price crashes linked to web search surges
- Reserve Bank of Australia: Virtual currencies pose challenges
‘Security experts call it a “drive-by download”: a hacker infiltrates a high-traffic website and then subverts it to deliver malware to every single visitor. It’s one of the most powerful tools in the black hat arsenal, capable of delivering thousands of fresh victims into a hackers’ clutches within minutes. Now the technique is being adopted by a different kind of a hacker—the kind with a badge. For the last two years, the FBI has been quietly experimenting with drive-by hacks as a solution to one of law enforcement’s knottiest Internet problems: how to identify and prosecute users of criminal websites hiding behind the powerful Tor anonymity system.
The approach has borne fruit—over a dozen alleged users of Tor-based child porn sites are now headed for trial as a result. But it’s also engendering controversy, with charges that the Justice Department has glossed over the bulk-hacking technique when describing it to judges, while concealing its use from defendants. Critics also worry about mission creep, the weakening of a technology relied on by human rights workers and activists, and the potential for innocent parties to wind up infected with government malware because they visited the wrong website. “This is such a big leap, there should have been congressional hearings about this,” says ACLU technologist Chris Soghoian, an expert on law enforcement’s use of hacking tools. “If Congress decides this is a technique that’s perfectly appropriate, maybe that’s OK. But let’s have an informed debate about it.”’
‘Technology giant Google has developed state of the art software which proactively scours hundreds of millions of email accounts for images of child abuse. The breakthrough means paedophiles around the world will no longer be able to store and send vile images via email without the risk of their crimes becoming known to the authorities. Details of the software emerged after a 41-year-old convicted sex offender was arrested in Texas for possession of child abuse images.
Police in the United States revealed that Google’s sophisticated search system had identified suspect material in an email sent by a man in Houston. Child protection experts were automatically tipped off and were then able to alert the police, who swooped after requesting the user’s personal information from Google. It is hoped the software will play a significant role in the ongoing fight against paedophiles who believe they can use the Internet to operate in the shadows and avoid detection.’
‘While the US government’s snooping on citizens, and the somewhat regular hacking of consumer log-in and credit info have prompted much of the debate about privacy, the really thorny angle is lurking just under everyone’s radar.
…Every time people use the Internet, they lob a bit more information over this wall, thereby empowering service providers (and their commercial clients) and/or the government. There’s really no good way to get a handle on it, let alone control it. And it’s only going to get worse, as more aspects of their lives, especially their activities in geophysical space, are monitored by the Net’s watchful eyes via smart devices of all sorts and uses.
Even if Internet search yielded an accurate, fair, crowd-vetted record of all human experience – which it doesn’t – those records no longer belong to individuals, but rather to the faceless mechanisms of social discourse and surveillance. Sure, the loss of privacy can be embarrassing or frustrating, but it’s a side effect of this thornier issue of giving up control.’
‘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
‘Every so often, people who don’t really understand the importance of anonymity or how it enables free speech (especially among marginalized people), think they have a brilliant idea: “just end real anonymity online.” They don’t seem to understand just how shortsighted such an idea is. It’s one that stems from the privilege of being in power. And who knows that particular privilege better than members of the House of Lords in the UK — a group that is more or less defined by excess privilege? The Communications Committee of the House of Lords has now issued a report concerning “social media and criminal offenses” in which they basically recommend scrapping anonymity online. It’s not a true “real names” proposal — as the idea is that web services would be required to collect real names at signup, but then could allow those users to do things pseudonymously or anonymously. But, still, their actions could then easily be traced back to a real person if the “powers that be” deemed it necessary.’
‘With US politics swimming in so much corporate money that it’s pretty much an oligarchy, it can be hard to keep track of which particular set of lobbyists is trying to milk more cash out of health care, fossil fuels, and other very important issues from one week to the next.
But thanks to 16-year-old Nick Rubin, keeping track of just how much politicians have sold out has become a lot easier. He created Greenhouse, a new browser plug-in that operates under the motto “Some are red. Some are blue. All are green.” The plugin aims “to shine light on a social and industrial disease of today: the undue influence of money in our Congress.”‘
‘Twitter in Turkey broke into a collective grin on Wednesday as hundreds of women posted pictures of themselves laughing. They weren’t just happy. They were smiling in defiance of the deputy prime minister, Bülent Arinç, who in a speech to mark Eid al-Fitr on Monday said women should not laugh in public.
…On Wednesday thousands of women posted pictures of themselves laughing out loud, with the hashtags #direnkahkaha (resist laughter) and #direnkadin (resist woman) trending on Twitter. Turkish men also took to social media to express their solidarity. “The men of a country in which women are not allowed to laugh are cowards”, tweeted one user.’
‘The hyperlink is a crazy thing if you think about it. One of HTML’s most basic building blocks has completely changed the news industry, turning black text into blue (or in Motherboard’s case, purple), and taking a practice that was one completely verboten in journalism—snagging a competitor’s work—and making it commonplace. But soon, if you want to use them in Spain, it’s gonna cost you.
The law, called canon AEDE, would put a tax on aggregation, and would make it illegal for blogs, news sites, and perhaps even Google News to link out to original sources without paying a fee. Make no mistake, this would fundamentally change how the media industry’s link economy currently works (at least in Spain—we’ll see if others follow suit).’
- Spain’s ‘Google Tax’ Law A Reaction To Silicon Valley’s International Tax Evasion
- Hyperlinking Isn’t Illegal: The Bulk of Barrett Brown’s Charges Were Dropped
- Nobody seems quite sure how Spain’s new “Google tax” will work
- Canon AEDE: “The most infamous law in the history of internet”
- The ‘canon AEDE’ would have a negative impact of 1,133 million euros to Internet
- Google Joins Apple Avoiding Taxes With Stateless Income
‘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!)
‘While Internet trolls and members of Congress wage war over edits on Wikipedia, Swedish university administrator Sverker Johansson has spent the last seven years becoming the most prolific author…by a long shot. In fact, he’s responsible for over 2.7 million articles or 8.5% of all the articles in the collection, according to The Wall Street Journal. And it’s all thanks to a program called Lsjbot.
Johansson’s software collects info from databases on a particular topic then packages it into articles in Swedish and two dialects of Filipino (his wife’s native tongue). Many of the posts focus on innocuous subjects — animal species or town profiles. Yet, the sheer volume of up to 10,000 entries a day has vaulted Johansson and his bot into the top leaderboard position and hence, the spotlight.’
‘Russia‘s interior ministry has offered up to 3.9m roubles (£65,000) for research on identifying the users of the anonymous browsing network Tor, raising questions of online freedom amid a broader crackdown on the Russian internet.
The interior ministry’s special technology and communications group published a tender earlier this month on the government procurement website offering the sum for “research work, Tor cipher”.
Before changes to the tender were published on Friday, numerous news outlets reported that it originally sought “research work on the possibility to obtain technical information about users (user equipment) of the anonymous network Tor”.’
- Russian ppposition leaders get prison for staging riots
- Russia bans film on Stalin deportations of Chechens
- Russia Quietly Tightens Reins on Web With ‘Bloggers Law’
- Russian law bans swearing in arts and media
- New Political Alphabet Debuts in Russian School
- Putin says West may use NGOs to stir unrest in Russia
- Russian protester’s sentence of indefinite psychiatric treatment upheld
- ‘Russian’ spyware called a cutting-edge threat
- Russia opposition leader Alexei Navalny under house arrest
- Moscow court jails seven anti-Putin Bolotnaya activists
- The End of Western Freedom (and why Russians should ignore their hypocritical lectures)