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Monday, March 24, 2014

GOOGLE REFUSES TO TAKE DOWN PIRATE-MOVIES-ON-YOUTUBE SITES


Following today's copyright settlement between Google and Viacom, it's interesting to note that YouTube still has plenty of illicit Hollywood content online. The MPAA has certainly noticed, with an effort last week to have several Popcorn Time-style dedicated web interfaces de-listed by Google, a request that was declined.
youtubeEarlier today news broke that Viacom and Google/YouTube have settled their billion dollar copyright infringement dispute, in which the former had accused the latter of hosting its video content without permission.
The precise terms of the settlement have not been disclosed, but the fact that YouTube has been trying hard to combat piracy in recent years can hardly have gone unnoticed. It invests large sums into Content ID, but this anti-piracy / monetization system can’t ever hope to solve the problem completely.
So, while the world is worrying about The Pirate Bay and other so-called ‘rogue sites’, through no fault of its own YouTube continues to be a pretty decent place to watch unauthorized content, not least hundreds if not thousands of Hollywood movies.
Finding that content is fairly easy too, via a title search (sometimes followed by “full movie”) and the activation of the “Duration Long” feature which only returns videos in excess of 20 minutes. However, spammers have been doing their best to pollute these results for some time, with fake video uploads of around two hours which claim to be the movie but are actually ploys to generate traffic to other sites.
If only there was a pre-moderated YouTube-movie-indexing site with a great Popcorn Time-style interface complete with reviewer ratings. Maybe looking something like this?
FullMoviesOnYouTube
Actually there are already quite a few of these kinds of sites but MovieFork attracted our attention after it appeared in a complaint to Google penned by Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal, Warner and Disney – together the MPAA.
The complaint features three sites – MovieFork, FullMovies.cc and Otakhang.com, each dedicated to indexing Hollywood movies already available on YouTube. While many of the titles indexed by these sites are older classics, there’s no shortage of newer titles from the past year. Quality is half decent too, hardly the peer-through-a-letterbox experience of years gone by.
In its complaint the MPAA asks Google to take down specific URLs, including theMovieFork homepage. In another it asks for the FullMovies.cc domain to be delisted along with that of fellow YouTube movie indexing site Uflix.net.
Uflix
But despite the nature of the sites, Google refused to comply with the MPAA’s requests. Google’s own Transparency Report shows it took “no action” in respect of the takedown notices and searching for the precise URLs with Google search reveals they are still indexed, with none of the sites’ homepages being delisted either.
Quite why Google is refusing to respond is unclear, but there are some interesting pointers. For example, similar requests to take down URLs that point to movies hosted on sites other than YouTube have been successful, such as the one for Man of Steel listed in this complaint.
It’s certainly possible that Google expects rightsholders to send their takedowns directly to YouTube, rather than shooting endless links and leaving the original content intact. Indeed, there are plenty of signs they are doing just that as some links are no longer available.
The scale of the free-full-movies problem is evident when one looks at Zero Dollar Movies, a site that claims to index 15,000 movies, all available for free from YouTube. It appears to use the YouTube Search API and even has its own ‘Instant’ feature for suggesting content that searchers may be interested in.
Other indexes, such as /FullMoviesonYoutube, a section of Reddit dedicated to just that, are pretty basic but show that not much infrastructure is needed in order to create a decent selection.
The movies-on-YouTube problem isn’t new in the same way that the torrents issue isn’t, but like Popcorn Time showed, it’s certainly got an awful lot prettier.

AT&T DEVELOPS CREDITS SYSTEM TO LIMIT FILE-SHARING BANDWIDTH


A patent application by telecoms giant AT&T details a traffic management system set to add a little more heat to the net neutrality debate. Rather than customers using their Internet connections to freely access any kind of data, the telecoms giant envisions a system in which subscribers engaged in "non-permissible" transfers, such as file-sharing and movie downloading, can be sanctioned or marked for increased billing.
When a consumer subscribes to an Internet package, either at home or on a cellphone, it’s generally accepted that he can use it for whatever applications he likes, whether that’s web browsing, sending or receiving emails, watching video, or listening to music.
Of course, bandwidth is a finite resource so it is fairly common for service providers to put a cap on data transfers in order to manage their services. For example, a user with a 3GB per month limit on a cellphone contract might use it all in the first couple of weeks watching YouTube, and as a result might need to consider upgrading to a more spacious package.
Fair enough, but what if a service provider started to dictate what types of data could be accessed each month on a particular package? What if emails and web browsing were acceptable kinds of traffic but others, such as video downloading and file-sharing, resulted in subscribers being subjected to penalties? A new system developed at telecoms giant AT&T appears to envision just that kind of scenario.
The system is revealed in a patent filed by AT&T Mobility in September 2013 and published this month. Its stated aim is to stop customers from “abusing a telecommunications system” by consuming too much bandwidth.
Titled “Prevention Of Bandwidth Abuse Of A Communications System”, the patent is likely to get net neutrality advocates hot under the collar as rather than targeting bandwidth consumption overall, it seeks to penalize the transfer of certain kinds of data linked to “excessive” consumption.
“When a user communicates over a channel, the type of communication is checked to determine if it is of a type that will use an excessive amount of bandwidth,” the patent reads.
The system works by awarding the subscriber with “credits” and subtracting from those when monitored traffic is deemed to have been consumed in potentially bandwidth-hungry fashion.
“The user is provided an initial number of credits. As the user consumes the credits, the data being downloaded is checked to determine if it is permissible or non-permissible. Non-permissible data includes file-sharing files and movie downloads if user subscription does not permit such activity,” the patent application reads.
“If the data is permissible, the user is provided another allotment of credits equal to the initial allotment. If the data is non-permissible, the user is provided an allotment of credits less than the initial allotment,” it continues.
By marking some traffic type usages as acceptable and others not, the system described by the patent application can develop in a couple of directions. The subscriber can remain in “credit” and continue about his Internet activity as usual, or find that his “credits” are diminishing towards zero. At this point he can be asked to pay more money, be subjected to sanctions that affect his ability to communicate (such as by blocking movie downloading), or be incentivized to maintain preferred consumption habits.
“Various restriction policies also can be applied, such as levying additional fees and/or terminating the user’s access to the channel. Also, incentives can be provided to entice the user [to] curb the misuse,” the patent filed by AT&T Mobility Ii Llc adds.
Earlier this month a federal appeals court in Washington struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules. Shortly after AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson offered reassurances that his company was committed to an open Internet.
Where legitimate traffic management ends and the open Internet begins will become apparent in the months and years to come.

Technology to Find Missing Plane Does Exist

Apparently, the technology assuming that planes can’t just “drop off the radar” like Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 does exist. However, the airlines decided it was too expensive for them. Media reports confirm that technology needed to stream crucial flight data to the ground legally exists on the market, but its price is $100,000.

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The matter is that commercial airliners do actually transmit some data. Radio transponders identify them while scanning by radar, and most of them are fitted with an Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS).

The latter periodically relays text-message like snippets of data about the aircraft’s status. Those transponders seem to have stopped transmitting data about Flight MH370, and the airline refused to provide any comments about ACARS signals while the incident is being investigated.

According to the computer scientist Krishna Kavi, this data can be streamed to cloud storage, in a system called the "glass box". However, transmitting information via satellites is not cheap, especially and if such a system operates continuously.

Apparently, it would cost billions to implement flight data streaming across the airline industry.

However, most of the information is based on the maker of the existing black box technology L-3. The latter spun a false premise that all flight information would need to be streamed, all of the time. According to a safety and insurance director of an aviation consultancy, systems could be designed to be triggered by unusual flight events, and only after this start streaming flight information.

These devices already exist on the market, fitted to about 350 aircrafts run by 40 operators and they transmit information helping airlines plan maintenance and minimize fuel consumption.

The company producing the system revealed that it transmits information via Iridium satellites and can be programmed to start streaming flight data after a plane deviated from its flight plan, or there are suspicions something is going wrong.

In case an aircraft is blown out of the sky by a bomb, or if it suffers a sudden catastrophic structural failure at cruising altitude, such devices won’t be much help. However, in those rare cases, conventional black boxes are viable technology.

OS Developers Found Backdoor to Android

Developers working on the Replicant OS, a free and open-source spin of Google’s Android, have discovered a backdoor into the device’s filesystem.The backdoor is question works on a number of Samsung Galaxy mobile devices with the stock Android image, but the official announcement claimed that it was present in "most proprietary Android systems running on the affected Samsung Galaxy devices, including the ones that were shipped with the devices".

replicant_small.png

In other words, Samsung Galaxy devices which run proprietary Android versions have a backdoor allowing for remote access to the information stored on the mobile device.It was found in the proprietary software responsible for handling the communications with the modem. The security experts confirmed that via the Samsung IPC protocol, it implemented a class of requests called RFS commands. They allow the modem to perform remote I/O operations on the device’s storage.

Apparently, when the modem is running proprietary software, it offers over-the-air remote control, which could later be used to issue the incriminated RFS messages and obtain access to the file system of the affected device. In other words, anyone aware of the backdoor is able to walk directly into the Nexus S, Galaxy S, Galaxy S2, Galaxy S3, Galaxy Note,Galaxy Note 2, and Galaxy Tab 2. Actually, the Galaxy S appeared to be the most insecure, because the backdoor software is running there as root.

Replicant developers believe that the vulnerable software could possibly be added for legitimate purposes, without the intent of doing harm by providing a backdoor. The most interesting fact is that the problem in security was reported on the Replicant Wiki page weeks ago, but none of the software developers appear to have noticed it. 

Android WhatsApp Liable to Theft

Security researchers have just discovered security flaw in Android version of WhatsApp, which stores user database on SD card with poorly secured encryption keys and thus can allow another app to upload your entire database of chats to a 3rd-party server, without your consent.
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The flaw in question stems from the Android OS’s handling of external storage coupled with lax security standards of the app. Security experts point out that the flaw allows any Android app with access to the phone’s SD card to read and upload WhatsApp’s database. Taking into account that the majority of users allow everything on their Android device, it isn’t much of a problem.

Android’s fault isthat the OS only allows all-or-nothing access to the SD card. This means that any app able to read and write to the external storage can also access data other apps store there. Aside from the fact that WhatsApp uses that external storage to hold its database, on its earlier versions it does so without any encryption at all. As for its later versions, which encrypt the database, they do so with a key which can be easily extracted from the app. As a result, any app can read the WhatsApp database and the chats from the encrypted databases.

So, what’s the way out? To avoid the risk of having your chats stolen, be wary of granting suspicious apps access to your SD card. It is still unclear whether WhatsApp or Android itself is more to blame for the vulnerability. Android’s policy of allowing total access to the external storage differs from Apple’s far more controlled security on iOS devices. Apple “sandboxes” each app in a way that prevents others from accessing its data.

In the meantime, Android openness allows developers to create apps which can’t be run on an iOS device, but opens up the risk of flaws like this one. This isn’t the only security hole at WhatsApp, by the way. A few months ago, security researchers proved it was possible to decrypt messages sent thanks to data gained through eavesdropping on the WhatsApp connection.

Moreover, one of the flaws which enabled this latest attack has been known about for at least a year, because tool used to decrypted the database was released back in 2012. Probably, this is why Germany’s privacy regulators recommended all WhatsApp users to switch to a more secure service this past February.

NSA Is Going to BuildSpy Botnets

The National Security Agencyis going to set up botnets and use their victims to spy on people, according to new leaksfrom Edward Snowden. Apparently, the NSA is rapidly expanding its ability to hack into PCs on a mass scale through automated systems that almost don’t require human oversight in the process.
trojanhorse.jpg

In short words, the American spooks may be going to infect millions of machines all over the world with kinds of malware "implants" able to break into targeted PCs and to extract information from foreign Internet and phone networks.

GCHQ, the UK intelligence agency, seems to have also played an integral role in helping to develop this tactic. Actually, this is getting annoying – apparently, what the US can't invent on its own, it relies on someone else to do for it.

In one case, the NSA pretended a fake Facebook server, thus using the social network as a launching pad to infect people’s computers and exfiltrate files from a hard drive. In another case, it has sent out spam emails laced with the malware. The latter could be tailored to covertly record audio from a device’s microphone along with taking snapshots with its webcam. Finally, the hacking systems have also allowed the agency to carry out cyber attacks by corrupting and disrupting file downloads or denying access to Internet sites.

Snowden leaks also mention an automated system dubbed TURBINE, which allowed the current implant network to scale to millions of implants by creating an automated system controlling them by groups rather than individually.

The idea of the NSA is to create a botnet operating“like the brain”. In other words, the system should manage the applications and functions of the implants and be able to decide what tools they need to siphon out information from people’s computers.

America Rewarded Corporations for Hiding Money

The American government seems to be rewarding tech giants, including Microsoft and Apple, who are known for avoiding paying tax by funnelling cash viatax havens like Ireland.The British Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) revealed that 4 of the biggest American technology groups collectively hold about $124 billion in US Treasury debt (much of it offshore), earning them tax-free interest.

revenueSUM_1708977c.jpg

In other words, Google,Microsoft, Apple, and Cisco Systems hold a large proportion of the $255 billion held in their foreign subsidiaries in US Treasuries. The tech giants can’t bring cash home and use it to help the government pay its debts – because this money would trigger a tax bill. As a result, the corporations prefer to keep it offshore.

American companies say that a "territorial" type of tax system could avoid double taxation and make sure all businesses compete on equal terms. Undoubtedly, this would also encourage companies to shift their revenues overseas. However, the status quo looks equally strange in that the government of the United States appears to reward tech giants for their tax avoidance.

According to a senior international tax policymaker, the American taxpayers paying interest to digital giants investing in American bonds was clearly “a bizarre situation”. Today there’s growing concern that the huge cash mountains held by the largest businesses worldwide may threaten global financial stability.

More than a thousand of the largest US non-financial companies hold $1.48 trillion in cash, according to Moody's, the credit rating agency. In the meantime, more than 20% of the US corporate cash pile is held by Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Cisco. 

CIA Spied on Its US Investigators

Aside from spying on foreign politicians, it looks like the CIA was also snooping on members of the Senate Intelligence Committee who had been sent to investigate its own antics. As a result, the Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein became furious and accused the CIA of breaking laws and breaching constitutional principles. She claimed the CIA undermined her multi-year investigation of a controversial torture program.

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Dianne Feinstein claimed that the agency secretly removed documents, searched PCs used by the committee and tried to intimidate congressional investigators by forcing the FBI to arrest them.All this is happening after the Senate Intelligence Committee nears completion of a 6,000-page report expected to become a scathing historical record of the CIA use of waterboarding and other brutal interrogation methods on terrorism suspects after the 9/11.

Dianne Feinstein promised to soon deliver the report to the White House and push for declassification of a document which would lay bare the horrible details of the CIA program. In the meantime, the agency and the Committee are at odds over the conclusions about the effectiveness of the program and the way the investigation was handled.

So, the CIA set up a secret facility with computers where Committee investigators were offered unhampered access to operational cables, executive memos and other data on the interrogation program.But there was a row over whether CIA or Committee sabotaged the latter’s efforts from the outset, loading a massive amount of files on PCs with no index, structure or ability to search.

It took years for investigators to pore over 6.2 million classified records furnished by the CIA, but the agency suddenly claimed the Committee somehow gained access to data that the CIA never intended to share – in other words, they managed to hack the CIA.

In response, the Committee was careful not to say precisely how those documents were obtained – by the CIA or by a whistle-blower. As a result, the CIA seems very upset that its plan to hamper the investigation by dumping lots of paperwork on the Committee failed thank to some whistle-blower,who simply revealed important information. So, the CIA referred the matter to the Department of Justice and accused the Committee of spying on the US. Surveillance is all around.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Black Pudding to be Banned – Because its racist Posted on February 17, 2014 by thedailybale

The Daily Bale has learnt that Left-Wing Quango, Left4Change are seeking to ban Black pudding from British Supermarkets – Because it’s Racist.

Blacked up pudding: Left seek to ruin English breakfasts and take this staple away

Black Pudding has been a staple of the English Breakfast for centuries but now it could be the latest victim of Politically correct cuts In the United Kingdom.

The Pudding, which is Black In colour has been described as “grossly offensive” by Left-Wing activists who believe the food item discriminates against Black People because they believe it is marketed as If it’s a “Black only” product.

Quango, Left4Change seeks to change the name of Black Pudding to ‘Pigs blood pudding’ by summer 2015 With support from the Labour Party who were already successful in banning Blackboards and Blackcurrant Jam from British culture.

A spokesman for Left4Change, John Partridge said ‘Black Pudding is grossly offensive to Black people and stereotypes them as being the only race who enjoy this product. We have a responsibility as a people to remove this racist title from our supermarket shelves and eliminate all racism in the greater community’

EDIT: we’ve now launched a petition to keep Black Pudding on our shelves, if you believe that black pudding isint racist then sign here: Keep Black Pudding on our shelves

Should Black Pudding be banned?

Have your say in the comments box below

Senior Reporter,
Steven Sodholmy
@StevenSodholmy

Daily Bale News Corp
@DailyBaleNews

2014

Extremist Israeli official desecrates Dome of the Rock Wednesday, 19 February 2014 14:12

Dome of the Rock, within the Al-Aqsa compound [file photo]Israeli Knesset Member Moshe Feiglin desecrated Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound on Wednesday, climbing on top of the Dome of the Rock and uttering discriminatory remarks against Muslims and Arabs, witnesses have reported.

For much of the past year, Feiglin had been banned from entering the Mosque due to his history of provocations there. After his visit on Wednesday, Israel National News said that he claimed to have toured "all corners" of the Mosque as well as prayed, violating both a rabbinic ban and Israeli law.

The head of the Islamic Awqaf in Jerusalem, Sheikh Azzam Al-Tamimi, was among the witnesses to the event and reported that Feiglin, who is a senior Likud leader and known as an extremist Zionist, wandered the sanctuary yards of Al-Aqsa Mosque for about half an hour.

While on top of the Dome of the Rock, Feiglin reportedly declared that: "Al-Aqsa belongs to the Jews and the Arabs have to depart to Saudi Arabia, as that is their original place, while the [Dome of the Rock] is the Jewish Temple. It does not belong to Muslims."

Sheikh Al-Tamimi denounced Feiglin's desecration of the holy Mosque, which came after his failure to hold a special Knesset session on Tuesday to discuss lifting Jordanian guardianship over Al-Aqsa Mosque and replacing it with Israeli control.

Israeli media reported that the special Knesset meeting was scrapped at the last minute due to local, Jordanian and international pressure.

Meanwhile, groups of Israeli settlers also continued sweeping Al-Aqsa Mosque and its sanctuary yards on Wednesday. Entering through Al-Magharbeh Gate, they toured inside the Mosque accompanied by rabbis and protected by special Israeli police.

Palestinian worshipers who wish to enter the Mosque are being thoroughly inspected by Israeli police stationed at the gates of Al-Aqsa Mosque, and their IDs are held until they leave.

On Tuesday, the Israeli police arrested two Palestinian students at the Sharia Schools inside the Mosque. They were identified as Ziyad abu-Hedwan and Mohamed Do'ees.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Search Engines Are Slammed for Encouraging Piracy

The entertainment industry has accused search engine providers for doing not enough to prevent people from finding pirated content on the Internet. It claims that over 50% of people looking at copyright infringing material used search terms which suggested innocent intent.
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The MPAA said that almost 60% of the search queries users enter before accessing infringing material contained generic of title-specific keywords only. In other words, users weren’t necessarily seeking to find pirated content when they began a search – instead of searching for a phrase which would imply a search for illegal content, like “torrent” or “free download”, users only entered the name of the movie and were served up links to illicit material.

The industry insists that search engines remain the most popular way users access illegal content: 3/4 of the respondents admitted to using a search engine to discover pirated content or navigate around domains with infringing material. At the same time, the report shows that only 20% of users access pirated content via search engines, while 35% come from linking services. The rest come from the “other” sources.

In response, Google repeats that it can’t be held liable for people’s decisions to access illegal content like movies and TV shows. But the MPAA still charges the anti-piracy methods of the search giant with being ineffective. The industry claimed that Google’s plan to “demote” the search ranking of websites supporting piracy, enacted a year ago, actually left referrals to those websites flat. However, the Internet Association argues that the industry was blaming the Internet and technology for its problems, because in reality, the worldwide web is empowering content creators and consumers to access more legitimate material than ever before.

The search giants declined to comment at first, but the recent anti-piracy report revealed that Google laid out exactly how it decides to demote and remove infringing websites. The company used the number of valid copyright removal notices as a signal for ranking purposes, but never removed pages from results until receiving a specific removal request. Google explained that even for the sites with the highest numbers of notices, the number of noticed pages was just a tiny fraction of the total number of pages on the website. This is why it would have been inappropriate to take down entire sites.

Google “Condemned” By UK Politicians For Linking to Piracy


A British House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee report has today “condemned” Google’s failure to adequately respond to the issue of online piracy and its refusal to block “infringing” websites on the grounds they might also carry legal material. Citing the recent successful prosecution of a streaming site admin, the committee also calls for punishment in such cases to be extended to 10 years imprisonment.
google-bayDuring the last couple of years entertainment companies have heavily criticized Google for linking to copyright-infringing material in its search results.
Google has responded by removing many millions of links but apparently that’s just not enough. In the past couple of weeks the world’s largest search engine has become a punching bag for the music andmovie industries and today they find themselves battered again, this time by a British House of Commons report.
The Culture, Media and Sport Committee comprises MPs from several parties including those from the Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition government and Labour opposition. Today in a new report aimed at supporting the creative economy, the Committee dedicates an entire section to copyright and piracy issues. It has many targets for criticism but begins with a swipe at the UK’s leading Internet rights groups.

Open Rights Group

“The relationship between the strength of Britain’s creative industries and robust copyright laws is acknowledged by the Open Rights Group which aims radically to liberalise the use and sharing of copyrighted content.
“While we share the Open Rights Group’s attachment to freedom of expression via the internet, we firmly repudiate their laissez-faire attitudes towards copyright infringement,” the Committee says.
Repeating industry claims that film and music piracy results in lost annual sales of £400 million (while noting it could be well in excess of £1 billion) the report says the Open Rights Group’s “quibbles” that the figures “were not based on exact science” should not detract from the damage piracy causes the creative economy.

IP Crime Unit and site blocking

cityoflondonpoliceThe report goes on to mention the creation of a newCity of London Police unit dedicated to cracking down on intellectual property crime and reveals that a first-of-its-kind conference is being planned “to bring players from across the world to London” to discuss enforcement issues.
On the blocking of infringing websites by ISPs the Committee said there were signs that the courts are making it easier, citing comment from the MPAA supporting “improvements to the justice system” to allow site blocking orders to be obtained more efficiently.
“We encourage businesses to use the current law to bring claims wherever it is feasible for them to do so. There nonetheless remains a systemic failure to enforce the existing laws effectively against rife online piracy,” the report notes.
But inevitably the big guns were turned on the messenger.

Google in the firing line again

The Committee begins by quoting Google itself, who at the time were removing around 9 million URLs from its indexes every month at the request of copyright holders. This was countered with information provided by the BPI who said that despite Google’s alleged algorithm changes, the instances of infringing sites turning up in the top 10 results had fallen only marginally, from 63% in August 2012 to 61% a year later. Clearly the Committee are unimpressed.
“We strongly condemn the failure of Google, notable among technology companies, to provide an adequate response to creative industry requests to prevent its search engine directing consumers to copyright-infringing websites,” the report states in emphasized bold type.
“We are unimpressed by their evident reluctance to block infringing websites on the flimsy grounds that some operate under the cover of hosting some legal content. The continuing promotion by search engines of illegal content on the internet is unacceptable. So far, their attempts to remedy this have been derisorily ineffective,” it continues.
“We do not believe it to be beyond the wit of the engineers employed by Google and others to demote and, ideally, remove copyright infringing material from search engine results. Google co-operates with law enforcement agencies to block child pornographic content from search results and it has provided no coherent, responsible answer as to why it cannot do the same for sites which blatantly, and illegally, offer pirated content.”
Turning up the heat further still in an attempt to have Google held accountable through the reporting of a government office, the report has more proposals.
“We recommend that the Intellectual Property Office’s annual reports include an assessment of the degree of online copyright infringement and the extent to which identified search engines and other internet services facilitate this. We further recommend that the Government consider how it might incentivise technology companies to hinder access via the internet to copyright infringing material.”
Of course, while “carrots” are offered to do something about infringement, no document of this nature could conclude without a recommendation to bring out the sticks.

10 years in jail for “serious” online infringement

Citing the successful prosecution of SurftheChannel owner Anton Vickerman, the report notes that while large scale copyright infringement in the offline world can result in harsh penalties, online those punishments are limited to two years. To sidestep this issue a decision was made to prosecute Vickerman on counts of Conspiracy to Defraud which ultimately secured a four year jail sentence. In future the Committee would like to see such maneuvering become unnecessary.
“We recommend that the maximum penalty for serious online copyright theft be extended to ten years’ imprisonment. Criminal offences in the online world should attract the same penalties as those provided for the physical world by the Copyright, etc. and Trade Marks (Offences and Enforcement) Act 2002,” the Committee notes.

Digital Economy Act

Finally the report criticizes the delay in implementing the controversial Digital Economy Act, stalled now for the best part of three years. In particular, the issuing of warning notices to infringers should come sooner rather than later.
“We recommend that a copyright infringement notification system envisaged by the Digital Economy Act be implemented with far greater speed than the Government currently plans. By targeting information letters to the worst infringers, early implementation will, we believe, serve an important educative purpose which could percolate more widely,” the report states.
However, if the government can’t get its act together, a voluntary scheme between ISPs and copyright holders should be put in place.
“We are encouraged by the progress that has been made towards instituting a voluntary system of warning letters following discussions involving internet service providers and rights owners. If this can be achieved by mutual cooperation rather than legislation, it will be a major step forward.
“However, should voluntary initiatives such as this prove unsuccessful then the Government should ensure that the equivalent measures in the Digital Economy Act are promptly put into effect,” the Committee concludes.

Microsoft Wants Google to Censor Its Wikipedia Page


It’s no secret that copyright holders are trying to take down as much pirated content from Google as they can. This sometimes leads to unavoidable mistakes, but the track record Microsoft is building leans toward sheer incompetence. Last week the software giant’s anti-piracy partner asked Google to remove a link to its Office 2007 Wikipedia entry, several pages on Microsoft.com, and an open source software project for SharePoint templates.
microsoft-pirateUpdate: Microsoft ditched the anti-piracy company that sent the embarrassing takedown notices.
Day in and day out copyright holders send hundreds of thousands of DMCA takedown notices to Google, hoping to make pirated movies and music harder to find.
During the past month alone copyright holders asked Google to remove 20,497,209 URLsfrom its search results. Unfortunately, not all of these requests are legitimate.
Microsoft in particular has a horrible reputation in this regard. While most of the URLs submitted on their behalf do indeed link to infringing content, not all requests are correct. In fact, some takedown notices are rather embarrassing.
Last week, for example, one of Microsoft’s notices asked Google to take down the Wikipedia entry for Office 2007. As can be seen below, in the same notice the software giant also wants a perfectly legitimate tutorial on Microsoft.com taken down.

Microsoft Ditches Anti-Piracy Partner After Embarrassing DMCA Takedowns


A few hours after TorrentFreak uncovered yet another embarrassing list of DMCA takedown requests sent on behalf of Microsoft, the company has decided to cut its partnership with the anti-piracy company responsible. The software giant was forced to apologize for inaccurate notices once too often and has just informed the French anti-piracy outfit LeakID that it’s no longer allowed to send notices on Microsoft’s behalf.
microsoftOver the past year the number of DMCA takedown requests sent out by copyright holders has increased dramatically, and so have inaccurate notices targeting legitimate content.
Microsoft has been one of the most active notice senders and over the past year alone has asked Google to remove more than 10 million infringing URLs from its indexes.
The software giant has also developed a reputation for sending a lot of false notices, most of which have been sent through the French company LeakID.
This morning we again reported on some rather embarrassing takedown notices, which asked for the removal of Microsoft’s own website, its Wikipedia entry and an Open Source project. If that wasn’t bad enough, Microsoft also claimed ownership of a porn video.
It turns out this was the final straw for the company. Microsoft has just announced that it has decided to stop working with LeakID effective immediately.
“Microsoft is committed to ensuring that enforcement measures are appropriate and completely accurate. We are investigating the circumstances of this takedown and have instructed the vendor that it is no longer authorized to send notices on our behalf,” a Microsoft spokesman just informed TorrentFreak.
This makes Microsoft the first company to publicly cut its ties with an anti-piracy company for making too many embarrassing mistakes.
Microsoft’s troubles with LeakID started last year when a DMCA notice ordered Google to remove legitimate webpages from AMC Theatres, BBC, Buzzfeed, CNN, HuffPo, TechCrunch, RealClearPolitics, Rotten Tomatoes, ScienceDirect, Washington Post, Wikipedia and even the U.S. Government.
In another notice Microsoft asked Google to remove a Spotify.com URL and on several occasions they even asked Google to censor their own search engine Bing.
Hats off to Microsoft for taking a stand on this matter in public. For us it probably means that we’ll have fewer mistakes to point out in the future, but it also shows that all our previous digging expeditions have not been in vain.

Mobile Companies Refused to Comment NSA Spying

Major mobile companies refused to say why they hadn’t challenged the court orders which compel them to hand over user’s sensitive information. The phone firms still guard their silence over the controversial collection of metadata by the National Security Agency. A few days ago the secretive foreign intelligence surveillance court declassified its legal reasoning for approving the agency’s phone metadata program periodically over the past 6 years.

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No comments were produced by Verizon, the telecoms giant that was revealed to be under a secret court order to disclose details of the phone records of millions of its subscribers. AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile US also refused to provide any comments over the issue.

CenturyLink, Louisiana-based company, stated that it respects and protects the privacy of its subscribers and only provides information to the authorities when required by law. The company declined to comment on matters of national security.

In its declassified opinion, the surveillance court explained that no telecoms company has ever challenged its orders for the bulk collection of phone records. The opinion implied that by failing to challenge the legality of the move, the mobile companies were accepting its constitutional status.

Seeking clarification, the industry observers asked 5 of the top American mobile companies whether their lack of resistance to the collection of their phone records was indeed an implicit acceptance of its legality. The phone companies were also asked how they could justify to their own subscribers the decision not to challenge the surveillance court orders, while many online giants, including Yahoo, have contested the legality of such data collection. However, no comments were provided to the reporters asking the companies to clarify whether their compliance with the surveillance court orders relating to agency’s data collection was voluntary, or whether they were pressured into conceding without protest.

The decision of the mobile giants not to comment on the NSA requests puts the companies in a very peculiar position. They should understand that by withholding their internal views from the people (their customers, to be precise), the companies are setting themselves apart from equivalent online giants that preferred taking a more bullish stance. In addition, phone companies should realize that they are shrouding themselves in more secrecy than even the secretive foreign intelligence surveillance court – one of the most tight-lipped institutions in the world.

Google Will Ditch Cookies

The search giant has decided to kill cookies and is ready to switch to an anonymous identifier for advertising – AdID. It would replace 3rd-party cookies as the way advertisers track users’ browsing activity for marketing purposes.
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The new instrument will allow users to limit advertisement tracking via browser settings. AdID can be reset by the browser every year, and people are able to create a secondary AdID for super secret Internet browsing sessions.

In case Google goes ahead with the plan it could mark a major change in the $120 billion digital advertising industry. The AdID would only be passed to advertisers and advertisement networks which have agreed to basic guidelines. The search giant believes it would give consumers more privacy and control over how they surf the web.

The company is going to show the idea to industry participants, government bodies and consumer groups very soon. Industry observers confirm that lately 3rd-party cookies have been too popular, and many browsers started blocking them. In case Google follows through with its own version of this approach, the users will get more control over how they are tracked on the Internet. At the same time, it will also give Google a lot more power.

Brazil Calls for Online Freedom from Surveillance

President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff claimed that the country is fed up with US Internet spying, and announced that it will set up a local network to divorce itself from the Internet. President also ordered a series of measures to enhance online independence and security.

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Rousseff is miffed that the US National Security Agency intercepted her own communications, hacked into the state-owned Petrobras oil company’s network, and even spied on the citizens who entrusted their personal data to social networks and search engines. Today industry observers are worried that such moves indicate the beginning of the Balkanization of the Internet.

For example, director of the Open Technology Institute said that that the global backlash is only beginning and seems to get worse in coming months. At the moment, Brazil wants online data to be stored locally, but this could break popular software apps and services and endanger the open structure of the worldwide web. Moreover, this would be very time consuming and costly, while encouraging repressive governments to seek greater technical control over the web to crush free expression.

In most cases, it is nations advocating greater “cyber-sovereignty” wanting such control, with Western democracies led by the US and the EU in opposition. In response, the repressive countries can now say that is just making it easier for Western governments to spy on them.

American digital security experts warned that moves from Brazil can embolden some of the “worst nations out there” to seek more control over their Internet. Apparently, the “worst nations” include Russia, China, Iran and Syria.

President of Brazil is going to build an underwater fiber optic cable directly to Europe. Moreover, Rousseff is planning to link to all South American nations into a network free of US surveillance. This is because there’s a common understanding between Brazil and the EU data privacy. Brazil has claimed that the negotiations are underway in South America for the deployment of land connections between all countries. Another suggestion is to build more Internet exchange points to route the local traffic away from potential interception. The country’s postal service is also going to create an encrypted email service which could serve as an alternative to Gmail and Yahoo. 

There Are 430 Million Active Pirates Out There

A recent survey has discovered that online piracy is growing rapidly (well, this wasn’t a news). According to the estimations, 432 million people per month used the worldwide web to access copyright infringing material. Within a month, all these pirates consumed 9,567 petabytes of illegal content, mostly via BitTorrent. To put it simply, about 25% of all Internet traffic is attributed to piracy.

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The conclusion of the report was also nothing new – despite anti-piracy policies and enforcement actions, piracy cannot be stopped. The researchers admit that the practice of infringement is “tenacious and persistent”. Sometimes the industry succeeds in limiting infringement, but not for long. At the moment, the piracy universe not just persists in attracting more users, but also hungrily consumes increasing amounts of bandwidth.

Among the most visible trends the observers point at direct download “cyberlockers” losing plenty of visitors within the last couple years, while other platforms, on the contrary, expanded their user bases. So, within 2012, the number of pirates using cyberlockers decreased by 8%, and the most obvious reason for this is MegaUpload shutdown. In the meantime, the number of file-sharers using BitTorrent and video streaming platforms grew by 27% and 22% accordingly.

Today most illegal file-sharers use direct download and torrent services, both accounting for 200 million unique users per month. This figures excluded users who never download any infringing content, and their share is only 4% for BitTorrent and 8% for direct download services.

The total bandwidth generated by illegal file-sharers in Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific is estimated at over 9,500 petabytes of data – so, you can guess that global traffic far exceeded 10,000 petabytes. Here BitTorrent is the absolute leader, and this makes sense – people both download and upload content, thus generating twice as much traffic. At the same time, cyberlocker users downloaded relatively little data – about 338 petabytes per month.

Talking about regional trends, direct download services are preferred in the Asia-Pacific region, and BitTorrent is popular in Europe and North America. Although there is no clear way these numbers could be translated into losses for the entertainment industry, the latter will undoubtedly leave no opportunity unused to turn the results of the survey to its advantage.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Yahoo and Facebook Explain Their Collaboration with NSA

Marissa Mayer, the current Chief Executive Officer of Yahoo, and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook responded to critics who have charged tech companies with doing not enough to fight off NSA surveillance. Mayer explained that executives faced jail for disclosing government secrets.

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Yahoo and Facebook, as well as a number of some other tech leaders, want to publish the number of requests they receive from the spy agency. However, organizations are forbidden by law to disclose how much information they provide.

Yahoo was asked why tech giants hadn’t simply told the public about what the United States surveillance industry was looking for. Mayer explained that releasing classified data is treason. However, Yahoo from the beginning has been skeptical of those NSA requests, and even sued the foreign intelligence surveillance court, providing the legal framework for NSA surveillance, but without success.

Mark Zuckerberg also believes that the government had done a “bad job” of balancing people’s privacy and its duty to protect. After the truth about PRISM was revealed and the US responded that they aren’t spying on any Americans, Zuckerberg pointed out that it was no help to inspire confidence in companies trying to serve people worldwide. Facebook and others were pushing successfully for more transparency and are still ready to sue in order to get this.

A few days ago, executives from Yahoo, Facebook, Google and other tech giants met the president’s group on intelligence and communications, whose task is to review the technologies used by the NSA. The meeting resulted from the lawsuits Yahoo and Facebook filed again to force the surveillance court to allow them to disclose more data. Yahoo claimed that its inability to respond to news reports has harmed the company’s reputation and has undermined its business not only in the US but everywhere. Aside from Yahoo and Facebook, Microsoft and Google also filed their latest legal briefs to force the court to disclose more data. For example, Google was asking to be allowed to publish detailed statistics about the types of national security requests it received. In addition, the company has also asked the court to hold its hearing in open rather than behind closed doors. 

Google’s CEO Talks about the Nature of US Surveillance

Eric Schmidt recently claimed it was time for a public debate about the nature of the NSA’s surveillance activities, while admitting that spying was an undeniable fact of our modern life. Schmidt said there had been spying and surveillance for years, and he wasn’t going to pass judgment on that, because it was the nature of the society.
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Along with other largest tech firms in the world, Google has been pressing the American government to be more transparent about the surveillance orders issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA). Schmidt pointed out that the search giant has filed legal briefs to force the court to disclose more data.

Eric Schmidt also clarified that his comments were based on the presumption that information disclosed by Edward Snowden was “roughly accurate”. Snowden revealed that the NSA operated a program called PRISM, which internal agency documents claimed offered direct access to the servers of tech giants including Google. However, Google denied this characterization.

Schmidt, who has been at Google for a dozen years, said he believed most citizens of the United States would support the NSA working to protect people, but wouldn’t appreciate the government misuse of their information. Google also expressed concern that the publicity surrounding Snowden’s revelations would lead to the Internet becoming less global, as some countries tried to enact greater protections for their citizens.

Eric Schmidt explained that the real danger of this publicity is that other countries would try to put very serious encryption (so-called “balkanization”) – to essentially split the worldwide web and that the Internet would become more country specific. This could break the way the Internet works.

Google’s representative was also talking about innovation and the impact of new technologies on the society of the United States. In his talk, Schmidt dismissed criticisms by such experts as Evgeny Morozov, the Belarusian author of The Net Delusion, who were skeptical of claims that the worldwide web would lead to greater democratization. Eric Schmidt pointed out that Morozov was a unique critic in that he was the only one making those arguments, but he later added Julian Assange to the list as well.

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