Sunday, September 11, 2011

Canadian Internet Service Providers Ordered To Cough Up IP Addresses In Hurt Locker Copyright Lawsuits

"Canadian Internet users are getting a taste of the P2P lawyering that had previously been confined to the US and UK, as Hurt Locker lawsuits have begun moving up to the Great White North. Three ISPs have already been ordered to disclose the identities of users accused of downloading the film, and if the ISPs decide to comply, there could be plenty more lawsuits.

As noted by University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist, the producers behind Hurt Locker, Voltage Pictures, filed suit against a number of John and Jane Does in Quebec towards the end of August. The suit accuses the anonymous users of downloading, copying, and distributing the film via P2P networks—the users are only identified by IP address, and the Voltage Pictures maintains that the only way to proceed with the case is to obtain names and addresses from their ISPs.
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On August 29, the Federal Court in Montréal issued an order to the three ISPs in question—Bell Canada, Cogeco Cable, and Videotron—giving them two weeks to cough up the identities of the users associated with those IPs. Those two weeks expire next Monday, September 12, and the ISPs have yet to give any sort of signal that they won't comply."

"Among other things, the accused have argued that their routers—identified by a single IP address—are used by numerous guests or simply that they don't even know how to download illegal music or movies. Though the claims are difficult to vet, it's clear that using an IP address in an attempt to pinpoint a single individual is problematic to say the least."
ars technica - No, Canada! ISPs ordered to out users in Hurt Locker case

Monday, June 27, 2011

Is Washington Collecting Cell-Phone Data?

"There seems to be a consensus among privacy advocates that the government is using the very latest technological advancements to sweep up, among other things, the locations of cell phones.

Your cell phone continuously pings your service providers' towers and base stations in order to maintain a signal for you to use. By recording the precise time and angle of a cell's data arriving at multiple base stations, providers can calculate the location of your phone about as accurately as a GPS unit — which means down to a single room in a building, at least in cities crowded with cell towers."

"Kevin Bankston, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, thinks the government is demanding that cell companies provide the location data as well as other call-data records in bulk form in order to mine the data. "My guess is these 215 orders are being used to collect massive amounts of communications data without any direct connection to terrorism targets," Bankston said."

New Patriot Act Controversy: Is Washington Collecting Your Cell-Phone Data?

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There is a very serious problem in our society. We have become a surveillance culture.

Police and governments (not to mention marketing agencies) are trying to get more and more access to personal information. Often under dubious "preventative" auspices.

As free people we need to be concerned as our freedom from being watched is stripped away.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

"WHO agency warns cellphone use ‘possibly carcinogenic’ "

Globe and Mail - "The world’s leading authority on cancer research has declared the radiofrequency electromagnetic fields emitted by devices such as cellphones are possibly carcinogenic, a major step that is raising new questions about cellphone safety.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organization, made the announcement on Tuesday after 31 leading experts from 14 countries met in France to review the existing evidence.

The panel concluded that radiofrequency electromagnetic fields are possibly carcinogenic “based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer, associated with wireless phone use.” Numerous other substances are considered “possibly carcinogenic,” including gasoline, some pesticides and occupational exposure from dry cleaning and firefighting.

Although there are many sources of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields, such as near transmitters, cellphones are the highest source of exposure for most people because they are held directly to the head, allowing the body to absorb radiation.

But the group is also warning consumers not to panic because there is not enough scientific evidence to say that cellphones pose a serious health risk."
Globe and Mail - WHO agency warns cellphone use ‘possibly carcinogenic’

Friday, May 20, 2011

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "Urges People To Prepare For Zombie Apocalypse -- And Other Disasters Too"...

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wants citizens to use their brains lest they get eaten by packs of marauding zombies.

Well, sort of.

This week, the CDC launched a slick new media campaign that uses the tongue-in-cheek hypothetical scenario of a zombie apocalypse to teach the basics of emergency preparedness.

"There are all kinds of emergencies out there that we can prepare for. Take a zombie apocalypse for example," reads a note on the CDC's website. "You may laugh now, but when it happens you'll be happy you read this, and hey, maybe you'll even learn a thing or two about how to prepare for a real emergency."

Talking Points Memo - CDC Urges People To Prepare For Zombie Apocalypse -- And Other Disasters Too

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Wired: Criminal-Profiling Trick Used to Combat Disease

"A technique that helps crime fighters zoom in on a serial killer’s whereabouts may help scientists prevent deaths of a different sort — those caused by infectious diseases.

The widely used criminology technique, called geographic profiling, helps investigators narrow a search by pinpointing high-priority targets among thousands of potential locations. In an upcoming International Journal of Health Geographics, researchers demonstrated the technique’s usefulness by identifying the sources of a recent malaria outbreak in Cairo and reconstructing an infamous cholera outbreak in Victorian London. Applying the technique to infectious diseases could help focus interventions, perhaps preventing the spread of disease while saving time and money."

"The math behind geographic profiling also incorporates the idea that all distances are not created equal — highways are easier to traverse than a congested downtown. All these measures then generate a map of places the offender is likely to live, which is overlaid on a map of a search area. Unlike geospatial techniques that designate a central point from which a search radiates equally outward, geographic profiling pinpoints highly probable locations, even if they are at opposite ends of the search area.

Le Comber and his colleagues applied geographic profiling to a recent malaria outbreak in Cairo. Of 59 water bodies where mosquito larvae were found, only eight contained those species that are the most dangerous carriers of the disease. Knowing only the locations of the outbreak’s 139 malaria cases, geographic profiling correctly put six of these eight sites in the most infectious 2 percent of the 59."

Wired - Criminal-Profiling Trick Used to Combat Disease

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This is an example of the two edged sword that is data mining. The same kinds of data mining techniques that can make Project Gaydar a threat to privacy can also help save lives in a non-intrusive way.

As a society we need to think carefully about the rules surrounding how we allow data mining and their impact on privacy and, frankly, democracy and freedom. Universities have long understood that these lines exist. That is why they have ethics committees that review the ethical practices and questions surrounding research.

Our society needs to have a larger conversation, rather than simply allowing the quest for profit and power (often the same thing) to be the guiding for in an *anything goes* world.

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Just for the record - the above excerpt about malaria might be interesting if exteded to something like mosquito control in urban areas in Canada (like Winnipeg in the summer). These techniques might allow for less use of insecticides. It might also work for controlling rat populations and allow for less poisons to be used in that exercise.

It could also be used by those in power to stamp out demonstrations and resistance. Think about the use of techniques like this if you treated demonstrations like disease and modelled them. Think about Iran and its repression. Think about the G20 summit and how these kinds of techniques could be used to stop legitimate protest. Then apply these techniques to electoral strategy - especially governments that don't care about getting a mandate in a first-past-the-post electoral system - governments that only care about eking out a plurality based victory that gives them more than half the seats in the house...

Think about it.

Zombie Proof House Designed In Poland

In keeping with my last off-topic post:

"A Polish architectural firm has designed the world’s first zombie-proof house called the “safe House”, reports said.

The house is not really inspired by the walking dead but has got plenty of interest as the world celebrates its fifth annual zombie awareness month in May.

The house features Rubik’s cube-type movable parts and folds in on itself completely at the end of the day to seal off outside dangers."

International Business Times - A zombie-proof ‘safe-house’ to survive the apocalypse

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Lots of pictures:

All That Is Interesting - The First Zombie Proof House

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Navy Times - Detailed Description Of Bin Laden Raid - New Information

"As three of the SEALs reached the top of the steps on the third floor, they saw bin Laden standing at the end of the hall. The Americans recognized him instantly, the officials said.

Bin Laden also saw them, dimly outlined in the dark house, and ducked into his room.

The three SEALs assumed he was going for a weapon, and one by one they rushed after him through the door, one official described.

Two women were in front of bin Laden, yelling and trying to protect him, two officials said. The first SEAL grabbed the two women and shoved them away, fearing they might be wearing suicide bomb vests, they said.

The SEAL behind him opened fire at bin Laden, putting one bullet in his chest, and one in his head.

It was over in a matter of seconds"

"As the SEALs began photographing the body for identification, the raiders found an AK-47 rifle and a Russian-made Makarov pistol on a shelf by the door they’d just run through. Bin Laden hadn’t touched them."

Navy Times - Sources: Raiders knew mission a one-shot deal

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Read the whole story - it is very interesting. The element that interests me the most (after the fact that Bin Laden is dead - a blessing for the world in my opinion) is the difference that a few degrees of temperature made in the outcome of the mission. That what a person would assume is a small factor loomed large over success or failure - and the lives of the soldiers who undertook the raid.