Archive for January, 2013

Steve Bell on Britain’s HS2 railway – cartoon.

The government has promised the first major railway line north of London since Victorian times will create 100,000 jobs.
Categories: Cartoons

Google Tells Cops to Get Warrants for User E-Mail, Cloud Data.

January 30, 2013 1 comment

By David Kravets 23rd January 2013.  Find Full Article Here:-

Photo: andrewfhart/Flickr

Google demands probable-cause, court-issued warrants to divulge the contents of Gmail and other cloud-stored documents to authorities in the United States — a startling revelation Wednesday that runs counter to federal law that does not always demand warrants.

The development surfaced as Google publicly announced that more than two-thirds of the user data Google forwards to government agencies across the United States is handed over without a probable-cause warrant.

A Google spokesman told Wired that the media giant demands that government agencies — from the locals to the feds — get a probable-cause warrant for content on its e-mail, Google Drive cloud storage and other platforms — despite the Electronic Communications Privacy Act allowing the government to access such customer data without a warrant if it’s stored on Google’s servers for more than 180 days.

“Google requires an ECPA search warrant for contents of Gmail and other services based on the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which prevents unreasonable search and seizure,” Chris Gaither, a Google spokesman, said.

Some of the customer data doled out without a warrant include names listed when creating Gmail accounts, the IP address from where the account was created, and where and what time a user signs in and out of an account. What’s more, Google hands over without warrants the IP address associated with a particular e-mail sent from a Gmail account or used to change the account password, in addition to the non-content portion of e-mail headers such as the “from,” “to” and “date” fields.

It was not immediately known whether other ISPs are traveling Google’s path when it comes to demanding probable-cause warrants for all stored content. But Google can seemingly grant more privacy than the four corners of the law allows because there’s been a string of conflicting court opinions on whether warrants are required for data stored on third-party servers longer than 180 days. The Supreme Court has never weighed in on the topic — and the authorities are seemingly abiding by Google’s rules to avoid a high court showdown.

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, the relevant law in question, was adopted at a time when e-mail wasn’t stored on servers for a long time, but instead was held there briefly on its way to the recipient’s inbox. In the 1980s, e-mail more than 6 months old was assumed abandoned, and therefore ripe for the taking without a probable-cause warrant.

That law is still on the books today, even as the advancement of technology has undermined its original theory.

But clearly, changing the law to comport with Google’s interpretation has been met with unreceptive members of Congress.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a measure last year mirroring Google’s interpretation, but the bill died a quiet death. Moves to change the law have been scuttled over and again.

Aaron Swartz, internet activist and builder of Reddit, dies at 26.

By and, Saturday 12th January 2013.  Find Article Here:-

Aaron Swartz in Miami Beach, Fla.

Aaron Swartz pictured in Miami Beach, Florida in 2009. Photograph: Michael Francis Mcelroy/New York Times / Redux / eyevine

Aaron Swartz, a celebrated computer activist and builder of the popular internet community website Reddit, has died. It is believed that the 26-year-old killed himself in New York City on Friday.

A committed advocate for the freedom of information over the internet, Swartz had been facing a trial over allegations of hacking related to the downloading of millions of documents from the online research group JSTOR. Swartz pleaded not guilty last year; if convicted, he could have faced a lengthy prison term.

The MIT university newspaper The Tech received an email from Swartz’s lawyer, Elliot R Peters, which confirmed the news. The newspaper reported the email as saying: “The tragic and heartbreaking information you received is, regrettably, true.”

Swartz dedicated much of his time to fighting internet censorship and his court case had become a cause célèbre for many similar-minded figures. A social-justice lawyer, Bettina Neuefeind, had established a website to raise money for his defence.

The organisation Demand Progress, which Swartz helped to found, had compared the activities of which he was accused to “trying to put someone in jail for allegedly checking too many books out of the library”.

David Moon, programme director at Demand Progress, told the Guardian that he was “shocked and saddened” by the news of his colleague’s death.

He added that the organisation would pay “proper homage to Aaron at the appropriate time” but for the time being it was “simply spending the moment reflecting on his life and work”.

As news of Swartz’s death spread online, numerous tributes were posted. The author and web expert Cory Doctorow, who was a friend of Swartz, posted a tribute on the website Boing Boing. Doctorow wrote that Swartz may have been afraid of the idea of imprisonment but that he had also suffered with bouts of depression. He also paid tribute to the young activist’s achievements and dedication to his causes. “We have all lost someone today who had more work to do, and who made the world a better place when he did it,” he wrote.

Swartz regularly blogged about his own life on the website In a post written in January 2007, he discussed the nature of suicide.

“There is a moment, immediately before life becomes no longer worth living, when the world appears to slow down and all its myriad details suddenly become brightly, achingly apparent,” he wrote.

From software to social justice

While he was to go on to become a standard-bearer for internet freedom and activism, Aaron Swartz’s most lauded achievement dates back to his days as a 14-year-old programmer, when he helped develop the code behind RSS, the tool used to gather updates from blogs, news headlines, audio and video.

Born in Chicago, his father ran a software company and Swartz is credited with creating his first web application at 13. He attended Stanford but left after one year and founded a software company that merged in 2005 with the social news and entertainment site Reddit.

From 2010 to 2011 he was a fellow at Harvard University and also worked at MIT with Sir Tim Berners-Lee. By now he was moving into activism for open data and government, and was a co-founder of Demand Progress, which promotes online campaigns on social justice issues. Ben Quinn

SEE ALSO  Aaoron Swartz Obituary

Aaron Swartz’s Family Condemns MIT and US Government After His Death

The invisible man: Liu Bolin’s latest camouflage artwork, Hiding in the City.

Find Photo Gallery Here:-

Chinese artist Liu Bolin paints his entire body to exactly match the scenery behind him. He is camouflaged so well it is sometimes almost impossible to spot him. His latest exhibition, Hiding in the City, at the Eli Klein Fine Art gallery in New York, shows him melting into various urban backdrops, including a picture of a variety of mobile phones.

Picture: Eli Klein / Barcroft Media

'Mobile Phones' by Liu Bolin

Universe is expanding at a rate comparable to a rollercoaster, say scientists.

By Ben Mitchell  Tuesday 13th November 2012.    Find Full Article Here:-

The universe is expanding at a rate comparable to a rollercoaster, according to scientists who have mapped the galaxies for the first time as they were 11 billion years ago.

Astronomers at the University of Portsmouth have been involved in a project examining how the universe has evolved since the big bang occurred 13.75 billion years ago.

The study, undertaken by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-III) and published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, has now mapped the universe as it was in its youth, three billion years after it was formed.

Dr Mat Pieri, Marie Curie research fellow at the University of Portsmouth and co-author of the study, said: “We already know about the universe in its infancy using the afterglow of the big bang.

“We have seen the universe reach maturity by looking at the distribution of distant galaxies in the second half of its history.

“Only now are we finally seeing its adolescence by exploring the distribution of gas on the largest scales in the first half of its history, just before it underwent a growth spurt.”

Dr Pieri explained that the universe’s growth when it was young was slowed by the effects of gravity but in the past five billion years it has begun to rapidly expand because of a mysterious force which scientists have called dark energy.

Dr Pieri likened this slow rise then rapid expansion to a rollercoaster.

He said: “If we think of the universe as a rollercoaster, then today we are rushing downhill, gaining speed as we go.

“Our new measurement tells us about the time when the universe was climbing the hill, still being slowed by gravity.

“It looks like the rollercoaster crested the hill just about seven billion years ago, and we’re still going.”

Data Protection: All You Need to Know about the EU Privacy Debate.

By Konrad Lischka and Christian Stöcker  January 18th, 2013.  Find Full Article Here:-

Mining your data: The European Union's institutions are currently split on Internet privacy reform.

The European Union is seeking to increase the private sphere of its citizens by strengthening data protection laws for the web. Large Internet firms and lobbyists are fighting the plans. Here’s an overview of the debate in Brussels.

When it comes to hysteria over coming data protection rules in Europe, the most extremist warnings from lobbyists these days are coming out of the law firm Field Fisher Waterhouse. The head of the firm’s privacy and information law group, Eduardo Ustaran, recently told the American technology news service ZDNet that if the EU’s draft privacy and data protection law isn’t changed, Gmail and Facebook may be forced to abandon their ad-supported models and start charging their customers in Europe or stop providing them with these popular services altogether.

“If they weren’t able to use your data in the way that is profitable or useful for them for advertising purposes, then either the user has to pay for it or stop using the service,” Ustaran, whose company represents Facebook, Google and Zynga among other companies, told ZDNet.

Not even industry associations representing the IT industry, who have been particularly critical of the draft European Data Protection Regulation, have gone that far. The demonstratively dark picture Ustaran paints of the regulations shows just how tough the fight between Web giants and regulators is growing over the issue of data protection reform.

So why has the debate grown so shrill? SPIEGEL ONLINE takes a stab at the most pressing questions.

Lib Dem MP David Ward defends remarks about Israel.

By   The Guardian, Friday 25th January 2013.   Find Full Article Here:-

Ward has faced intense criticism since accusing ‘the Jews’ of inflicting daily atrocities on Palestinians.

Auschwitz gates

David Ward accused “the Jews” of “inflicting atrocities on Palestinians … within a few years of liberation from the death camps”. Photograph: Jacek Bednarczy/EPA

A Liberal Democrat MP facing disciplinary action over comments about Israel‘s treatment of Palestinians that he made ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day has said he will defend his actions in front of his party’s chief whip.

David Ward posted an item on his website about honouring those who were persecuted and killed during the Holocaust but also accusing “the Jews” of “inflicting atrocities on Palestinians … on a daily basis”.

Despite coming in for intense criticism on social media and elsewhere, the MP stood by his comments and said later that he would set out his case if he faced disciplinary action. “I shall try to explain my position. No doubt the chief whip will explain why he feels what I have done is wrong,” he added.

The original comments relate to a post on Ward’s website about his signing of a book of commitment which was placed in the House of Commons by the Holocaust Educational Trust to give MPs the chance to honour those who suffered and died.

The post contained a comment from the MP: “Having visited Auschwitz twice – once with my family and once with local schools – I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.”

Responding to the controversy, Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: “I am deeply saddened that at this sombre time, when we remember those who were murdered by the Nazis, Mr Ward has deliberately abused the memory of the Holocaust, causing deep pain and offence – these comments are sickening and unacceptable and have no place in British politics.”