GCHQ and the NSA are consequently able to access and process vast quantities of communications between entirely innocent people, as well as targeted suspects.

June 22, 2013
Hot Air (Britain’s spy agency GCHQ has secretly gained access to the network of cables which carry the world’s phone calls and internet traffic and has started to process vast streams of sensitive personal information which it is sharing with its American partner, the National Security Agency (NSA).

The sheer scale of the agency’s ambition is reflected in the titles of its two principal components: Mastering the Internet and Global Telecoms Exploitation, aimed at scooping up as much online and telephone traffic as possible. This is all being carried out without any form of public acknowledgement or debate.
One key innovation has been GCHQ’s ability to tap into and store huge volumes of data drawn from fibre-optic cables for up to 30 days so that it can be sifted and analysed. That operation, codenamed Tempora, has been running for some 18 months.
GCHQ and the NSA are consequently able to access and process vast quantities of communications between entirely innocent people, as well as targeted suspects.

This includes recordings of phone calls, the content of email messages, entries on Facebook and the history of any internet user’s access to websites – all of which is deemed legal, even though the warrant system was supposed to limit interception to a specified range of targets.)

the program disregarded P2P downloads, even though one might presume that this would be a potential method to use for illicit communication over the open-source Internet.


Why #Twitter misses the mark

March 5, 2013
IF you’ve ever viewed Twitter as a gauge of public opinion, a weathervane marking the mood of the masses, you are very much mistaken.

That is the rather surprising finding of a new US study, which suggests the microblog zeitgeist differs markedly from mainstream public opinion.
“Twitter users are not representative of the public,” Washington DC think tank, Pew Research Center, concluded.
Experts in Australia, where Twitter comment is regularly used in media reaction to major new stories or a method of interaction for television programs like the ABC’s Q&A, agreed with the US findings.
“While Twitter can give you a good idea of the extremes of how people feel about certain topics, when it comes to measuring opinion of the general public about major issues, it’s pretty useless,” Laura Demasi, of marketing firm IPSOS Australia, told AAP.
Pew Research’s study examined eight major US news events, including November’s presidential election, and compared views expressed on Twitter with national polling.
The two didn’t match.
“At times the Twitter conversation is more liberal than the survey responses, while at other times it is more conservative,” the study said.
The study highlighted a decision made in California’s Federal Court which ruled that laws barring same-sex marriage were unconstitutional.
Almost half of the Twitter conversations about the verdict were positive, eight per cent were negative and 46 per cent were neutral.
But wider public opinion on the decision was more mixed – with 33 per cent saying it was a positive ruling, 44 per cent negative and 15 per cent neutral.
The reason, Pew Research Center says, is that only a “narrow sliver” of the population use Twitter.
A recent study by French social media analysts Semiocast showed there were 140 million Twitter accounts in the US – more than one third of the population.
But users tend to be younger and lean more toward the political left than right, the study said.
Ms Demasi added: “Twitter penetration in Australia is not that big so while at times it seems like the whole country is talking about something, it’s really just 50 people and a few hundred or thousand who are listening in.”
Dr John Lenarcic, from Melbourne’s RMIT University, suggested Facebook may offer a more accurate view of public sentiment.


Of course the Nanny State has a response to Aaron Swartz

January 23, 2013

(Swartz suicide won’t change computer crime policy, says prosecutor • The Register) The aggressive prosecution of computer crimes won’t be changed in light of the suicide of internet activist Aaron Swartz, a spokeswoman for Boston US Attorney Carmen Ortiz has said.
“Absolutely not,” Ortiz told the Boston Herald. “We thought the case was reasonably handled and we would not have done things differently. We’re going to continue doing the work of the office and of following our mission.”

Swartz is the second suicide linked to Boston computer crime investigations. Jonathan James, who gained notoriety in January 2000 as a teenager who cracked Department of Defense and NASA systems, shot himself in the head in 2008 after being named as a suspect in Ortiz’s biggest computer crime case, the TJX hacking scam. Over 94 million accounts at retailer TJX were compromised in an attack that was at that time the most extensive yet seen, and James was named as a conspirator. While he denied involvement in the crime, James said he had no confidence in the legal system and shot himself before the case came to court

it never occured to Bloomberg News that the overprotective nature of our lives was what led to this guys death?

(Swartz Suicide Propels Facebook Search for Danger Signs – Bloomberg) Swartz’s death follows a pattern of high-profile suicides within the industry. In 2008, Jonathan James, a hacker who was the first juvenile incarcerated for cybercrime in the U.S., died at age 24. In 2009, Dan Haubert, a co-founder of TicketStumbler, died when he was 25. Gene Kan, the founder of InfraSearch, died in 2002, at age 26. In 2011, Ilya Zhitomirskiy, a co-founder of the social media site Diaspora, died by suicide at age 22.

Facebook Inc. (FB) is helping to open a window into the minds of those who die by suicide.
The social media site is providing researchers at the suicide prevention group SAVE.org a glimpse of how those who take their own lives behave in the days leading up to their deaths, as outlined in their Facebook postings. Dan Reidenberg, executive director of Save and a national leader in the counseling field, expects the information will one day help friends, family and social media sites better identify warning signs in the words and actions that lead up to suicide. It will be a year before they have the data gathered, he said.

Facebook isn’t alone in its efforts. Twitter Inc. and Google Inc. (GOOG) also have put systems in place over the last few years that direct at-risk users to counseling help, or allow others to report concerns to the company.
Twitter itself isn’t conducting research on suicide prevention, said spokesman Jim Prosser in an e-mail. However, an outside researcher or group could conduct a study using Twitter data, he said.
Google’s search engine, meanwhile, has been designed to bring up the phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for any searches on “suicide” or related terms, said Jay Nancarrow, a spokesman for the Mountain View, California- based company.


Fox News Blames Shooting on ‘Online Activities,’ ‘Gaming’

December 16, 2012

(gawker.com)Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly and analyst Keith Ablow got together on the network today to chat about some of the factors in today’s tragic shooting in Connecticut. “You mentioned earlier how people lose themselves in online activities, gaming and what have you,” Kelly remarks. “Reality TV is no friend of preventing such things,” Ablow responds. “Facebook is no friend of preventing such things.” What fantastic, nuanced analysis.(I didn’t shoot anyone)


Wonder why when you go online and meet people it seems so Gay?

February 15, 2012
(thenextweb.com)(image) The Wall Street Journal studied a week of Foursquare check-ins, and found that from 100 categories women were most likely to check-in to cosmetic shops, doctors’ offices, educational venues and shops. Men? Well, apparently gay bars and tech-startups had the highest proportion of men, whilst travel and airports also featured highly. Yeah… maybe the gay marriage issue wasn’t getting the momentum you thought it was… you just don’t talk to people in reality… that’s all.

#JIDF can expect to see filters on #hashtags (Saudi’s Prince #Alwaleed buys $300 million #Twitter stake)

December 22, 2011

(REPLAY) When Chevron took part in World AIDS day I noticed that someone was filtering hashtags. you can expect to see more of this on twitter. Don’t say I didn’t warn everyone when everyone was thumbing their nose at facebook exclusively.

(finance.yahoo.com) DUBAI (Reuters) – Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, an investor in some of the world’s top companies, has bought a stake in Twitter for $300 million, gaining another foothold in the global media industry.

Alwaleed, a nephew of Saudi Arabia’s king and estimated by Forbes magazine to be the 26th richest person in the world with a $19.6 billion fortune, already owns a 7 percent stake in News Corp and plans to start a cable news channel.
The purchase is remarkable because Twitter was a key means of communication for protesters in the Arab Spring revolts this year, violence that threatened Saudi Arabia until the kingdom unveiled a populist $130 billion social spending package.
Twitter, which allows people to send 140-character messages, or Tweets, to groups of followers, is one of the internet’s most popular social networking services, along with Facebook and Zynga.
The Twitter stake, bought jointly by Alwaleed and his Kingdom Holding Co investment firm, resulted from “months of negotiations,” Kingdom said.
Bernhard Warner, co-founder of analysis and advisory firm Social Media Influence, said: “The Arab world, of course, knows full well the value of Twitter. In the past year, it has been a force in politics, in regime change, so there is not a single person in that region in a position of influence who is not following the increasing power of Twitter.
“(Alwaleed) must see Twitter as something that is going to be a really powerful broadcast channel,” he said, adding the Saudi had got into the internet boom belatedly, with mixed results, and appeared to be “kind of late” to the game again.
Investors in Saudi Arabia were more bullish, sending shares in Kingdom up 7 percent to 8.40 riyals.
“One of the few sectors to record significant revenue gains in the last three years has been technology, which is why Kingdom would see Twitter as a good addition to its diversified portfolio,” said Hesham Tuffaha, head of asset management at Bakheet Investment Group in Riyadh.
Saudis are increasingly turning to satellite television, online news providers and social networking to stay abreast of world events. The world’s No. 1 oil exporter announced a series of stricter regulations for journalists earlier this year.
Alwaleed, who has a sizeable stake in Citigroup, has spoken in favour of broader political participation, fair elections and effective job creation across the Arab world.
IPO HOPES
Investors are eagerly anticipating an initial public offering from Twitter, which said in September it was in no hurry to go public. It raised $400 million in venture capital financing this summer.
It now counts more than 100 million active users who log onto the service at least once a month. Facebook, the world’s largest social network has more than 750 million active users.
Internet search giant Google recently launched a social networking service dubbed Google+ which some observers say could lure users away from Twitter.
Shares in online games developer Zynga ended at a 5 percent discount to their issue price on their trading debut on Friday, and analysts said any valuation for Twitter could be misleading.
“You could put any number of zeroes behind a valuation of a private company. Before it goes public, it is almost meaningless,” said Warner.
“This is a very small group of investors which has put money into this thing. That will be diluted and diluted and diluted again until it goes public. And that is when we will see what the value is. These are kind of magic numbers at the moment.”
Kingdom owns a near-30 percent stake in Saudi Research and Marketing Group, which runs a range of media titles.
“Our investment in Twitter reaffirms our ability in identifying suitable opportunities to invest in promising, high-growth businesses with a global impact,” Alwaleed said.
Alwaleed subscribed $500 million to last year’s General Motors IPO. In August, he unveiled plans to build the world’s tallest tower in Jeddah.
(Reporting by Sitaraman Shankar; Additional reporting by Georgina Prodhan in London and Matt Smith in Dubai; Editing by Erica Billingham and Dan Lalor)


NY Judge: No Facebook “Fishing Expedition,” Denies Social Media Discovery Requests

December 3, 2011
(techlaw.justia.com)

Last week a New York trial judge denied a defense discovery request for a personal injury plaintiff’s current and historical Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter account information.
New York Justice George J. Silver of State Supreme Court in Manhattan reasoned that simply making conclusory allegations that a party’s “Facebook account is material and necessary to their [client’s] defense” is insufficient to justify disclosure of a litigant’s private Facebook records. (MORE)

That is good to know. Let’s hope this type of finding is not overruled in states that are more liberal. Prosecution could move to a state where a person’s internet rights don’t exist in the same way.