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Face Blurring Technology

SHOULD we modify our conception of privacy thanks to the seemingly unstoppable spread of CCTV surveillance networks? Jack Brassil thinks so. He's a computer scientist at Hewlett-Packard's laboratory in Princeton, New Jersey, who is testing a technology called Cloak that aims to limit the extent of privacy invasions. "Rather than prohibit surveillance, our system seeks to discourage surveillers distributing video without the authorisation of the surveilled," he says.

Sounds science-fictionesque. The requirements for such a system is merely tracking the location of every single person, all the time. What a great idea... not. How about we accept that a right to privacy is a basic human right and not become a big brother state that would put Orwell to shame? Thanks.

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CCTV in girl's bathroom

A Teenage pupil has been withdrawn from her school after CCTV cameras were installed in the pupils' toilets.

Anthony White, from Llandysul said the cameras at Ysgol Dyffryn Teifi in Ceredigion were an "outrageous invasion" of his daughter Jade's privacy. Jade, 14, said: "I am not going back while the cameras are there. It must be against the law to have them there."

Ok. Not an internet privacy issue, but a more general one. CCTV in the girls bathroom at school? I can't imagine ever looking at a parent in the eye and being able to justify this. I would fear for my physical safety if I did that to them. I don't care what reasoning, no reasoning can logically justify this. Public, private, religious, don't care what kind of school. There HAS TO BE SOME PLACES YOU CANNOT BE WATCHING. Privacy is a fundamental human need and the bathroom should be one of the most sacred places and is in virtually every culture I am familiar with.

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Science Fiction or Reality - Britain is Big Brother

The Home Office claims the new database, which can track phone calls and emails, is necessary in an advancing digital world to allow it to tackle terrorism and serious crime.

I sometimes feel like the government watches hollywood movies and takes them under advisement. Are you fucking serious? The very symbols of modern democracy are being taken away to fight terrorism which is against those principals. I know saying this isn't anything new, but my god, think about that just one more time. We lose. At least our governments do unless/until we force them to behave properly. There is always dangers everywhere, that is life, there are risks, we need to stop cowering around and give up everything that makes life worth living for an extra measure of 'security' which can never be proven effective. If technology were our savior from all evil, then we wouldn't see all sorts of malware, spyware and viruses succeed so wildly. Technology is a tool not a complete solution. Life has ambiguity and risks, by waking up you are dealing with them and taking them: that is what makes us, us.

On a similar note, since technology isn't some all supreme power and people have the right to privacy, that's what this site is here for: providing you with info and tools to protect your privacy namely through use of proxies.

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IP Traceback? Ridiculous Invasion of Privacy

A United Nations agency is quietly drafting technical standards, proposed by the Chinese government, to define methods of tracing the original source of Internet communications and potentially curbing the ability of users to remain anonymous.

The U.S. National Security Agency is also participating in the "IP Traceback" drafting group, named Q6/17, which is meeting next week in Geneva to work on the traceback proposal. Members of Q6/17 have declined to release key documents, and meetings are closed to the public.

The potential for eroding Internet users' right to remain anonymous, which is protected by law in the United States and recognized in international law by groups such as the Council of Europe, has alarmed some technologists and privacy advocates. Also affected may be services such as the Tor anonymizing network.

The Eternal Value of Privacy

Two proverbs say it best: Quis custodiet custodes ipsos? ("Who watches the watchers?") and "Absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Cardinal Richelieu understood the value of surveillance when he famously said, "If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged." Watch someone long enough, and you'll find something to arrest -- or just blackmail -- with. Privacy is important because without it, surveillance information will be abused: to peep, to sell to marketers and to spy on political enemies -- whoever they happen to be at the time.

Privacy protects us from abuses by those in power, even if we're doing nothing wrong at the time of surveillance.

We do nothing wrong when we make love or go to the bathroom. We are not deliberately hiding anything when we seek out private places for reflection or conversation. We keep private journals, sing in the privacy of the shower, and write letters to secret lovers and then burn them. Privacy is a basic human need.

Internet Providers Quietly Test Expanded Tracking of Web Use to Target Advertising

The online behavior of a small but growing number of computer users in the United States is monitored by their Internet service providers, who have access to every click and keystroke that comes down the line.

The companies harvest the stream of data for clues to a person's interests, making money from advertisers who use the information to target their online pitches.

The practice represents a significant expansion in the ability to track a household's Web use because it taps into Internet connections, and critics liken it to a phone company listening in on conversations. But the companies involved say customers' privacy is protected because no personally identifying details are released.

The extent of the practice is difficult to gauge because some service providers involved have declined to discuss their practices. Many Web surfers, moreover, probably have little idea they are being monitored.
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Is big brother watching?

The other important contributory factor is the strength and moral independence of the nation's Data Protection Authority, which is resolute in its determination to uphold the following principles enshrined in the Greek constitution:

  • Every person's home is a sanctuary
  • The private and family life of the individual is inviolable
  • Secrecy of letters and all other forms of free correspondence or communication shall be absolutely inviolable

The authority has real teeth. In December 2006 it fined mobile phone company Vodafone 76m euros for bugging more than 100 top Greek officials, including Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, around the time of the Olympics.

Vodafone's network planning manager in Greece, Costas Tsalikides, was found hanged not long after he informed his superiors he had discovered that spying software had been secretly installed in the company's system.

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That little segment was about Greece and how they have the best privacy laws in Europe and the world. Nice to see at least one country still cares about the right of privacy as it seems to erode from so many other countries.

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IP blocking

Got an interesting email from Anonymizer today. I used to be a subscriber to their service and this seemed like an interesting offering.

What is IP Blocking?
Because IP addresses are public and attributable, it's easy for Web site administrators to know who visits their site. When you conduct online research, you share potentially confidential information each time you visit a competitor's Web site and reveal your focus of interest.

Furthermore, any target site that recognizes visitors as belonging to a "competitor" can block access, or worse redirect you to cloaked sites designed to display false or outdated information created specifically to mislead and spoil your research.

Even if you are using a non-attributable IP address from Anonymous Surfing™, the volume and pattern of your traffic will raise a red flag of suspect activities to Web administrators who would then be able to block you out.

5 Best Practices for Conducting Competitive Intelligence & Data Harvesting Online

1. Spread traffic across as many days as possible, and at least over a 24 hour period. This keeps the instances of IP addresses seen in the Web analytic logs to a minimum.

2. Spread traffic across many IP addresses. If you are going to connect to the same site repetitively or use robots to harvest data, you need more than a handful of IP addresses. Web administrators will quickly be able to recognize a pattern and block your IP’s from accessing their site.

In MySpace, everyone can see you preen

Ten years later, the online world is a very different place. For one, I don't need to take a book with me every time I log on to keep me entertained while I wait for a new page to load.

For another, despite UK journalist Martin Foley's much-publicised investigation into pedophilia on Skype, and despite MySpace's recent removal of almost 30,000 known sex offenders from its database, most people who use the internet regularly now know that the majority of people they talk to online are as normal as they are.
It has been argued that 20 years in the future, when virtually everyone has a backlog of life history available online, no one will care about compromising photos taken at university parties, or dramatic outpourings of teenage angst. Better yet, maybe employers, prospective partners and future mothers-in-law will have the savvy to differentiate between reliable information and unqualified hearsay.

It is always interesting to watch the net change and grow, but sometimes it is quite sad to see the consequences when it harms normal people who haven't done anything much different than the rest of society. Our lives are our record now, less and less toleration for mistakes too. It seems like we are just heading straight towards disaster with these sort of ideals. EVERYONE makes mistakes and these days, everyone will know. Society needs to adapt as this article suggests.