Posts Tagged ‘Google

Oklahoma state employees made over 2 million visits to Facebook in 3 months

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Oklahoma’s Cyber Command Security Operations Center said state employees on the state computer network made 2,008,092 visits to Facebook in a three month span.

The agency, which is aimed at protecting the state computer system from cyber attacks, said its tracking of the state computer network found state employees made 2,008,092 visits to Facebook between July and September, but officials said the number may be inflated as Facebook registers a page view every time a website is brought up that includes an embedded Facebook widget…

The operations center said Google registered 1,074,684 page views during the same time period and Twitter and YouTube had 272,661 and 225,228 page views, respectively.

Preston Doerflinger, director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services, which oversees the Cyber Command Security Operations Center, is implementing a policy to block state employees from using their work computers to access Facebook unless they can demonstrate a legitimate need to access the site as part of their jobs, an agency spokesman said.

What constitutes a legitimate need to access Facebook as part of your job? Unless you’re paid to be a snoop.

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Written by Ed Campbell

December 3, 2013 at 8:00 am

Our government opposes request to reveal spying demands

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The U.S. Justice Department has told a secret surveillance court that it opposes a request from technology companies to reveal more about the demands they receive for user information, according to court papers released on Wednesday.

Negotiations between the federal government and companies such as Google have gone on for months, and while U.S. spy agencies said they plan to be more transparent, they have opposed company requests to disclose more detailed data…

Microsoft, Yahoo!, LinkedIn and Facebook are among the companies seeking permission to publish statistics about the extent of the demands placed on them.

Britain’s Guardian newspaper and the Washington Post, using former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden as a source, reported beginning in June the companies’ deep involvement with U.S. surveillance efforts.

The companies said some of the reporting was erroneous, so they want to reveal, for example, how many of their users are encompassed in surveillance demands and the total number of compulsory requests under specific laws.

The Justice Department said in its response: Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!

The surveillance court has not yet ruled publicly on the companies’ request.

RTFA if you honestly feel you need to read the crap the DOJ released as an answer to the questions raised in this confrontation.

Frankly, I think the average 6th grader has heard sufficient phony-baloney press releases read on the evening news by TV talking heads to be capable of coming pretty close to reproducing the excuses offered by any group of American politicians.

Written by Ed Campbell

October 2, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Microsoft and Google sue US government over NSA gag order

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Microsoft and Google may sue US government to allow them to publish user data request from the government after talks with the Justice Department stalled.

The tech giants filed suits in a US federal court in June, arguing a right to make public more information about user data requests made under the auspices of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

The technology giants agreed six times to extend the deadline for the government to respond to the lawsuits, the Microsoft’s general counsel, Brad Smith, wrote in a blog post.

“With the failure of our recent negotiations, we will move forward with litigation in the hope that the courts will uphold our right to speak more freely,” he posted on the blog.

“To followers of technology issues, there are many days when Microsoft and Google stand apart,” Smith said. “But today our two companies stand together… We believe we have a clear right under the US Constitution to share more information with the public.”

“…we believe it is vital to publish information that clearly shows the number of national security demands for user content, such as the text of an email,” Smith said.

He argued that, along with providing numbers of requests, disclosures should provide context regarding what is being sought.

“We believe it’s possible to publish these figures in a manner that avoids putting security at risk,” Smith said.

A government that says it needs to keep secret the activities supposedly protecting us is a government that fears democracy, fears an informed public, fears the spirit of the United States Constitution.

Our government has a gag order on banks, on corporations, on service providers – our government has threatened to jail librarians for refusing to cooperate with spying on library patrons. The stink is spreading. Every attempt by the Obama administration to justify their “legalizing” of criminal practices started by Bush and Cheney deserves nothing less than contempt.

The fightback must continue.

Written by Ed Campbell

August 31, 2013 at 8:00 pm

Google says Gmail users shouldn’t expect email privacy — UPDATED

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Gmail users have no “reasonable expectation” that their emails are confidential, Google has said in a court filing.

Consumer Watchdog, the advocacy group that uncovered the filing, called the revelation a “stunning admission.” It comes as Google and its peers are under pressure to explain their role in the National Security Agency’s (NSA) mass surveillance of US citizens and foreign nationals.

“Google has finally admitted they don’t respect privacy,” said John Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s privacy project director. “People should take them at their word; if you care about your email correspondents’ privacy, don’t use Gmail.”

Google set out its case last month in an attempt to dismiss a class action lawsuit that accuses the tech giant of breaking wire tap laws when it scans emails in order to target ads to Gmail users.

That suit, filed in May, claims Google “unlawfully opens up, reads, and acquires the content of people’s private email messages.” It quotes Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman: “Google policy is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it.”

“Unbeknown to millions of people, on a daily basis and for years, Google has systematically and intentionally crossed the ‘creepy line’ to read private email messages containing information you don’t want anyone to know, and to acquire, collect, or mine valuable information from that mail,” the suit claims…

According to Google: “Just as a sender of a letter to a business colleague cannot be surprised that the recipient’s assistant opens the letter, people who use web-based email today cannot be surprised if their communications are processed by the recipient’s ECS [electronic communications service] provider in the course of delivery.”

Um, I’d say that’s pretty clear. Also blindingly apparent to any geek who’s been around this electronic neighborhood for a spell is that Google never let on that anything other than “Do no harm” was their corporate guidance. From day one every bit of their PR was designed to reinforce a counter-culture ethos, differentiation from the rest of America’s greedy corporate culture.

And all that sums up the past few years as a revelation. A decidedly negative disclosure.

UPDATE: Google officials say this article quoted Google’s idiot lawyers – not the people who govern policy.

Written by Ed Campbell

August 14, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Is Google paying AdBlock Plus to greenlight their ads

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According to reports from German news site Horizont, Google and other companies are paying the makers of AdBlock Plus to add their content to the app’s list of ‘acceptable ads’.

AdBlock Plus, the single most popular browser extension for both Firefox and Chrome, is a free application that users install to remove advertising from their web experience. Despite this, the company has always been open about its ‘whitelisting’ of certain content.

The makers define advertisements they consider acceptable as those which are static (ie, without animation or sounds), that do not obscure page content, are clearly marked as advertising and that are preferably text-only…

However, if AdBlock didn’t work with companies in some way then brands would almost certainly take action against them. So it seems that having at least some standards – ie, AdBlock’s criteria of what makes an ‘acceptable advertisement’ – is preferable to having no standards at all.

Sounds like “Do no harm” is one of those standards that been sufficiently watered down to have become no standard at all. Adblock is free. I might be interested in an app that actually blocked all adverts. It is what I do with TV ads, after all, with the 30-second skip feature on my DVR.

Written by Ed Campbell

July 8, 2013 at 2:00 pm

NSA surveillance is just one of many Big Brothers watching

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Written by Ed Campbell

June 13, 2013 at 2:00 am

Don’t Be Evil? — Julian Assange says, “Don’t waste your time!”

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“The New Digital Age” is a startlingly clear and provocative blueprint for technocratic imperialism, from two of its leading witch doctors, Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, who construct a new idiom for United States global power in the 21st century. This idiom reflects the ever closer union between the State Department and Silicon Valley, as personified by Mr. Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google, and Mr. Cohen, a former adviser to Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton who is now director of Google Ideas…

The book proselytizes the role of technology in reshaping the world’s people and nations into likenesses of the world’s dominant superpower, whether they want to be reshaped or not. The prose is terse, the argument confident and the wisdom — banal. But this isn’t a book designed to be read. It is a major declaration designed to foster alliances.

“The New Digital Age” is, beyond anything else, an attempt by Google to position itself as America’s geopolitical visionary — the one company that can answer the question “Where should America go?” It is not surprising that a respectable cast of the world’s most famous warmongers has been trotted out to give its stamp of approval to this enticement to Western soft power. The acknowledgments give pride of place to Henry Kissinger, who along with Tony Blair and the former C.I.A. director Michael Hayden provided advance praise for the book.

In the book the authors happily take up the white geek’s burden. A liberal sprinkling of convenient, hypothetical dark-skinned worthies appear: Congolese fisherwomen, graphic designers in Botswana, anticorruption activists in San Salvador and illiterate Masai cattle herders in the Serengeti are all obediently summoned to demonstrate the progressive properties of Google phones jacked into the informational supply chain of the Western empire.

The authors offer an expertly banalized version of tomorrow’s world: the gadgetry of decades hence is predicted to be much like what we have right now — only cooler. “Progress” is driven by the inexorable spread of American consumer technology over the surface of the earth. Already, every day, another million or so Google-run mobile devices are activated. Google will interpose itself, and hence the United States government, between the communications of every human being not in China (naughty China). Commodities just become more marvelous; young, urban professionals sleep, work and shop with greater ease and comfort; democracy is insidiously subverted by technologies of surveillance, and control is enthusiastically rebranded as “participation”; and our present world order of systematized domination, intimidation and oppression continues, unmentioned, unafflicted or only faintly perturbed.

I’m doubtful about ever reading The New Digital Age. But, I can recommend reading all of this review by Julian Assange.

Nice to see the continual assaults by the bearers of American so-called justice haven’t silenced his contempt for Imperial agitprop.

Written by Ed Campbell

June 2, 2013 at 8:00 pm

Government spying – on you and me online – sharply increasing

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Government surveillance of citizens’ online lives is rising sharply around the world, according to Google’s latest report on requests to remove content and hand over user data to official agencies.

In the first six months of this year, authorities worldwide made 20,939 requests for access to personal data from Google users, including search results, access to Gmail accounts and removal of YouTube videos. Requests have risen steeply from a low of 12,539 in the last six months of 2009, when Google first published its Transparency Report…

“This is the sixth time we’ve released this data, and one trend has become clear: government surveillance is on the rise,” Google said in a blogpost…

The US accounted for the most requests, as it has consistently since the report was launched. US authorities asked for private details of Google users on 7,969 occasions, up from 6,321 in the last reporting period. The number is more than a third of the 20,938 requests for users’ details worldwide. Google fully or partially complied with 90% of those requests.

Over the six months, Google was asked to remove seven YouTube videos that criticised local and state agencies, police and other public officials. It did not comply with these requests…

RTFA for a bit more detail. Two things are clear:

1. As many expected – and most civil libertarians predicted – the paranoia police promoted by the Bush/Cheney Department of Homeland Security continue to lead the world at spying on their own citizens’ use of the Internet. Better communications, easier access to information, always frightens those elected to serve the public good.

2. Politicians who never miss a beat at proclaiming their dedication to transparency and democracy carry on – equally dedicated to ignoring those principles in the guise of counter-terrorism. Cold War ideology hasn’t changed enough to need anything more than cut-and-paste substitutions.

Written by Ed Campbell

November 15, 2012 at 4:00 am

A single line of HTML can reset – or wipe – Samsung smartphones

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Be careful what links you click: A single line of HTML code can wipe the data on certain Samsung smartphones running Google’s Android software. The issue is specific to Samsung phones that also use the company’s TouchWiz software, says SlashGear, which actually means most of the current Samsung smartphones. Google’s Galaxy Nexus, also made by Samsung, is not affected by the exploit, which was demonstrated by Ravi Borganokar at the Ekoparty security conference…

The short line of HTML code, Borganokar says, can also be executed through an embedded QR code or NFC wireless transfer. Even worse than an unintended factory restore or data wipe, this exploit can render the phone’s SIM card useless.

Some will surely condemn Android as a whole for this issue, but since it’s specific to Samsung’s TouchWiz software — likely as a feature to quickly dial phone numbers by way of links, QR codes or NFC data — the problem is limited to Samsung devices. I’d expect that Samsung releases a patch to disable the automatic phone dialing soon.

Samsung has a patch for the S3 available via OTA update.

As a long-time Android user, however, these security — or insecurity issues, rather — are getting old in general. I mainly use Android devices because they fit my mantra of “use the best tool for the task at hand.” As someone embedded deeply in Google’s world of apps and data, Android simply works better. Even my limits are getting tested though: An open platform that can be endlessly tweaked is great until the wrong folks are tweaking it.

So says Kevin Tofel at GigaOm.

Written by Ed Campbell

September 26, 2012 at 8:00 am

Google buys newspaper ad to show that newspaper ads don’t work

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Here’s a nice bit of multi-faceted irony for you: On Thursday, Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper ran a print ad for Google’s (directly competitive) search advertising business.

You know who needs a haircut? People searching for a haircut,” the ad reads. “Maybe that’s why ads on Google work.”

The ad was tweeted by media reporter Steve Ladurantaye with the caption, “An ad for Google ads in today’s Globe demonstrates the value of print ads, yes?”

Google’s ad ran in both the Globe‘s print and digital editions, as well as in the National Post, the Globe‘s main competitor, Ladurantaye tells us.

Impolite, funny, probably overdue.

Written by Ed Campbell

August 18, 2012 at 6:00 am


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