Christian Science Monitor reports: Egypt is tightening its control over social media by acquiring new software that would facilitate extensive monitoring of dissidents’ communications, putting even stay-at-home opposition supporters at risk.
Authorities say they need such tools to fight terrorism in Egypt. On Monday, two bombs exploded near the presidential palace in Cairo, killing two police officials.
However, Egypt’s planned surveillance system comes amid the most repressive period for decades. Over the past year, security forces have carried out mass arrests and torture that harken back to the darkest days of former President Hosni Mubarak’s rule, according to Human Rights Watch. That raises fears that social media that helped fuel the 2011 uprising against Mubarak and remain a potent platform for free speech will no longer play this role. [Continue reading...]
The New York Times reports: A black S.U.V. recently rolled through the streets of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and stopped in front of the converted warehouse that is the global headquarters of Vice Media. Out of the vehicle stepped the media mogul Rupert Murdoch.
Mr. Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox owns a small stake in Vice, and he was visiting Brooklyn to meet with Vice’s chief executive, Shane Smith. Among the topics at hand was a rumor that Vice was negotiating to collaborate with, and perhaps sell a large stake to, one of Fox’s competitors, Time Warner.
Fox is discussing a deal with Vice, too. So is Disney. Any agreement is likely to value Vice, which started as a free magazine in Montreal in 1994, at $1.5 billion to $2.5 billion. A partnership could take many shapes. But Vice, which has produced just 11 hours of programming expressly for television, is seeking its own TV network, a movie deal and a lot of money for its founders and investors.
The digital disruption that is transforming the news and entertainment businesses has led to many odd alliances, but few seem more incongruous than one that would join Vice with a corporate media conglomerate. Though financing itself mostly by making videos in partnership with large corporations, Vice has assiduously cultivated an insurgent image, with its tattooed news correspondents, hand-held cameras and journalistic stunts like sending the former basketball player Dennis Rodman to North Korea.
Along the way, Mr. Smith, 44, has routinely criticized the mainstream media and traditional television. If he can reach a deal with one of these companies, he will be joining the club he has professed to disdain.[Continue reading...]
Pando reports: We’re in the second decade of the advertising and marketing revolution brought on by the Internet, one that has ripped the heart out of the print media industry. Digital content is targeted and responsive now, offering marketers detailed insight into who clicked, who read, and who shared.
Except the sad thing is, as evidenced by Contently’s The State of Content Marketing Measurement report, a survey of 302 marketers across April and May, is that no one really knows if the new information on offer makes any sense.
The statistics are staggering: 91 percent of marketers Contently spoke to had some level of uncertainty to whether the content performance analytics they used were a good gauge of business impact. [Continue reading...]
Dan Rockmore writes: A colleague of mine in the department of computer science at Dartmouth recently sent an e-mail to all of us on the faculty. The subject line read: “Ban computers in the classroom?” The note that followed was one sentence long: “I finally saw the light today and propose we ban the use of laptops in class.”
While the sentiment in my colleague’s e-mail was familiar, the source was surprising: it came from someone teaching a programming class, where computers are absolutely integral to learning and teaching. Surprise turned to something approaching shock when, in successive e-mails, I saw that his opinion was shared by many others in the department.
My friend’s epiphany came after he looked up from his lectern and saw, yet again, an audience of laptop covers, the flip sides of which were engaged in online shopping or social-media obligations rather than in the working out of programming examples. In a “Network”-inspired Peter Finch moment, he quickly changed the screen of his lecture presentation to a Reddit feed and watched some soccer highlights. That got everyone’s attention. [Continue reading...]
The New York Times reports: Just down the road from Google’s main campus here, engineers for the company are accelerating what has become the newest arms race in modern technology: They are making it far more difficult — and far more expensive — for the National Security Agency and the intelligence arms of other governments around the world to pierce their systems.
As fast as it can, Google is sealing up cracks in its systems that Edward J. Snowden revealed the N.S.A. had brilliantly exploited. It is encrypting more data as it moves among its servers and helping customers encode their own emails. Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo are taking similar steps.
After years of cooperating with the government, the immediate goal now is to thwart Washington — as well as Beijing and Moscow. The strategy is also intended to preserve business overseas in places like Brazil and Germany that have threatened to entrust data only to local providers.
Google, for example, is laying its own fiber optic cable under the world’s oceans, a project that began as an effort to cut costs and extend its influence, but now has an added purpose: to assure that the company will have more control over the movement of its customer data. [Continue reading...]
The Wall Street Journal reports that Google intends to launch a fleet of 180 satellites. The sources for this report were people.
That’s right: people.
Apparently the paper’s reporters have yet to master the skill of picking up useful tips from dogs or migratory birds.
My hunch is that the sources here work for Google — but that’s just a hunch.
Google plans to spend more than $1 billion on a fleet of satellites to extend Internet access to unwired regions of the globe, people familiar with the project said, hoping to overcome financial and technical problems that thwarted previous efforts.
Details remain in flux, the people said, but the project will start with 180 small, high-capacity satellites orbiting the earth at lower altitudes than traditional satellites, and then could expand.
Google’s satellite venture is led by Greg Wyler, founder of satellite-communications startup O3b Networks Ltd., who recently joined Google with O3b’s former chief technology officer, the people said. Google has also been hiring engineers from satellite company Space Systems/Loral LLC to work on the project, according to another person familiar with the hiring initiative.
Mr. Wyler has between 10 and 20 people working for him at Google and reports to Craig Barratt, who reports to Chief Executive Larry Page, one of the people said. Mr. Wyler couldn’t be reached.
Slate: One thing the Federal Communications Commission chairman, Tom Wheeler, seems to have overlooked in his widely loathed proposal for a net neutrality overhaul is that if the Internet has a fast lane, it must, necessarily, have a slow lane.
What would life be like in the slow lane—in a “pay to play” world where cable broadband providers can charge companies like Netflix a toll if they want reliable and swift streaming speeds? Well, not to exaggerate, but remember when you tried to use Neopets in 1999 on a dial-up connection?
Tech companies and activists are worried that the creation of two Internets: one quick and reliable for those that can afford it, and the other, of a lesser quality, would seriously undermine the Internet as an open medium for limitless entrepreneurship and communication.
The Guardian reports: The top European court has backed the “right to be forgotten” and said Google must delete “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant” data from its results when a member of the public requests it.
The test case privacy ruling by the European Union’s court of justice against Google Spain was brought by a Spanish man, Mario Costeja González, after he failed to secure the deletion of an auction notice of his repossessed home dating from 1998 on the website of a mass circulation newspaper in Catalonia.
Costeja González argued that the matter, in which his house had been auctioned to recover his social security debts, had been resolved and should no longer be linked to him whenever his name was searched on Google.
He told the Guardian: “Like anyone would be when you tell them they’re right, I’m happy. I was fighting for the elimination of data that adversely affects people’s honour, dignity and exposes their private lives. Everything that undermines human beings, that’s not freedom of expression.” [Continue reading...]
Bill Moyers: If I told you that sovereign powers were about to put a toll booth on the street that leads from your house to the nearest Interstate, allowing your richest neighbors to buy their way to the open road while you were sent to the slow lane, you would no doubt be outraged. Well, prepare to scream bloody murder, because something like that could be happening to the Internet. [Transcript]
If you don’t already use Firefox, it’s probably time to install it.
CNET reports: It’s not often that the US or UK governments weigh in on the browser wars, but a new Internet Explorer vulnerability — one that affects all major versions of the browser from the past decade — has forced them to raise an alarm: Stop using IE.
The zero-day exploit, the term given to a previously unknown, unpatched flaw, allows attackers to install malware on your computer without your permission. That malware could be used to steal personal data, track online behavior, or gain control of the computer. Security firm FireEye, which discovered the bug, said that the flaw is being used with a known Flash-based exploit technique to attack financial and defense organizations in the US via Internet Explorer 9, 10, and 11. Those versions of the browser run on Microsoft’s Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8, although the exploit is present in Internet Explorer 6 and above.
While the Computer Emergency Readiness Team in England and the US regularly issue browser advisories, this is one of the few times that the CERT team has recommended that people avoid using a specific browser. [Continue reading...]
Lee Fang reports: The open Internet may soon become a thing of the past.
Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal dropped something of a bombshell with leaked news that the Federal Communications Commission is planning to abandon so-called “net neutrality” regulations—rules to ensure that Internet providers are prevented from discriminating based on content. Under the new proposed system, companies such as Comcast or Verizon will be able to create a tiered Internet, in which websites will have to pay more money for faster speeds, a change that observers predict will curb free speech, stifle innovation and increase costs for consumers.
Like so many problems in American government, the policy shift may relate to the pernicious corruption of the revolving door. The FCC is stocked with staffers who have recently worked for Internet Service Providers (ISP) that stand to benefit tremendously from the defeat of net neutrality.
The backgrounds of the new FCC staff have not been reported until now. [Continue reading...]