Category: Internet

Microsoft tries to win over EU anti-trust watchdogs

cat versus dogSoftware king of the world, Microsoft, is doing its best to win over EU anti-trust watchdogs to allow its deal with business social notworking site LinkedIn to go through.

Vole will still allow LinkedIn’s rivals access to its software and give hardware makers the option of installing other services to try to win EU approval for its takeover of the US outfit.

Microsoft submitted its LinkedIn concessions to the European Commission last week after the EU competition enforcer expressed concerns about the $26 billion deal, Microsoft’s biggest ever acquisition.

The offer aims to show that Microsoft will not favour LinkedIn at the expense of rivals which is the sort of thing which annoys watchdogs.

Both the Commission and Microsoft, which have not provided details of the offer are saying nothing.

The EU wants feedback from rivals and customers before deciding whether to accept the concessions, demand more or open an investigation which can take up to five months. They have until Tuesday to do so. The Commission is scheduled to rule on the deal by  6 December.

Professional social networks which have access to Microsoft’s API (application program interface) will continue to have this facility once LinkedIn becomes part of the company, the people said.

The other key element of the company’s concessions is the option for computer hardware makers to install either LinkedIn or rival networks on computers, indicating that the company is keen to avoid any suggestion of packaging products to crush competitors.

Microsoft’s website shows it has software deals with hardware makers such as Dell, HP, Lenovo, Acer and Huawei.

Telcos likely to have supreme power over Google

animal-memes-how-i-feel-when-i-have-waterproof-phoneAfter all its years being in bed with the Obama administration, the search engine Google might suddenly find itself in a bit of hot water.

Donald “Prince of Orange” Trump look like he is going to reverse Obama administration policies that often favoured the internet giant in the company’s battles with telecoms and cable heavyweights.

Trump looks like he will grab the pussy of the telecom firms and has already asked the US Federal Communications Commission to halt action on regulatory reform measures opposed by companies such as AT&T and CenturyLink.

The commission is now expected to reject FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s high-profile proposal to open the $20 billion market for rented pay-TV set-top boxes.

This would have dealt a big blow to cable companies and created an opening for firms such as Google.

Cable companies have expressed concerns that rivals like Google or Apple could create devices or apps and insert their own content or advertising in cable content.

This could also be bad news for net neutrality. Most Republicans strongly oppose net neutrality, which requires internet service providers to treat all data equally and bars them from obstructing or slowing down consumer access to web content.

Republicans in Congress or at a Republican-controlled FCC under a Trump administration could also pare back new privacy rules adopted in October that subject internet service providers to stricter rules than those faced by Google and other websites.

Germany mulls fining Facebook over hate speech

12Germany’s Justice Minister thinks that the social notworking site Facebook should be treated like a media company rather than a technology platform.

This slight change in definition would mean that it would be criminally liable for failing to remove hate speech.

German authorities are monitoring how many racist posts reported by Facebook users are deleted within 24 hours. Justice Minister Heiko Maas has pledged to take legislative measures if the results are not up to snuff.

Maas has said the European Union needs to decide whether platform companies should be treated like radio or television stations, which can be held accountable for the content they publish.

“In my view, they should be treated as media even if they do not correspond to the media concept of television or radio,” he said following a meeting of state justice ministers in Berlin.

Under current EU guidelines Facebook and other social media networks are not liable for any criminal content or hate posts hosted on their platform.

Facebook, YouTube and Twitter signed the EU hate speech code, vowing to fight racism and xenophobia by reviewing most hate speech notifications within 24 hours. But the code is voluntary.

Facebook flaw declares users to be dead

Dead-End-286A flaw on the social notworking site,Facebook started to decide that users were dead.

When some users logged on they discovered that they had joined Leonard Cohen, and the Norwegian Blue Parrot and become one of the many who had developed a  Life-Impairment disability.

The flaw caused Facebook to display a small memorial message above users’ regular homepage profile.  Which caused many to have to post signs saying they “ain’t dead yet”.

It appears that the bug is spreading quickly to others in the media, and has reportedly even affected the pages of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who many expected had been undead for some time.

The social network does offer a function that allows people to turn the profile pages of loved ones into a “Memorial” which is fine so long as someone does not exploit it.

Facebook said that a message meant for memorialized profiles was briefly posted to other accounts.

“This was a terrible error that we now have fixed. We are very sorry that this happened and we worked as quickly as possible to fix it,” said a company spokesperson by email.

Dark web is not as dim as you think

155310-bigthumbnailA new survey suggests that dark websites are not all about guns, drugs and kiddy porn.

Dark web data intelligence provider Terbium Labs has conducted the industry’s first data-driven, fact-based research report into what his happening on the Dark Web and found that it was not quite crime central.

The bulk of activity appearing on the dark web is much like the content and commerce found on the clear web. In fact, research found that nearly 55 percent of dark web content is legal.

Emily Wilson, Director of Analysis at Terbium Labs said that the vast majority of dark web research to date has focused on illegal activity while overlooking the existence of legal content.

“We wanted to take a complete view of the dark web to determine its true nature and to offer readers of this report a holistic view of dark web activity — both good and bad.”

Terbium Labs based the study on hard data and statistical analysis. The study “The Truth About the Dark Web: Separating Fact from Fiction” used Terbium’s dark web crawler, which continuously scours the dark web adding billions of new records to its database each day.

What this all means is that anonymity does not mean criminality. Pornography is a big part of the dark web, but not all of it is illegal. Discussions about dark web pornography almost exclusively revolve around exploitation, but the dark web is home to its fair share of explicit content that is totally legal — almost 7 per cent of the total content.

Drugs make up only 12 per cent of total content on the dark web, 45 per cent of illegal content on the dark web is focused on drugs. Similarly, pharmaceuticals represent three per cent of dark web content and 12 per cent of illegal content.

Fraud was much lower than anticipated, representing less than two per cent of total dark web content and nearly five per cent of illegal content.

Another odd thing was that the dark web was not terrorist central either. Terbium found only one incident of extremism in its sample. No incidents of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or human trafficking were observed, reiterating how rare these types of content are on the dark web.

Google brings the fact check tag to news

surprised-newspaper-readerSearch engine outfit Google has added a new “Fact check” tag to Google News, which it will apply to stories from select outlets that follow a specific protocol.

The tag will join an array of others that Google already uses to highlight certain types of articles, including “in-depth,” “highly cited,” and “local source”.

Google will not be fact-checking anything, except perhaps the qualifications of publications that would like to make their stories eligible for the tag. To get this particular qualification a site has to demonstrate that it is nonpartisan and that their reporting follows fact-checking conventions.

For those who came in late that means identifying the claims that they’re checking and checking multiple claims in the same article. Eligible stories will also need to be tagged using a markup called ClaimReview.

Only 10 websites are using that markup, according to schema.org so we are not talking about many.

At first, it seems to be surfacing stories mainly from dedicated fact-checking organizations, such as Politifact, rather than articles from mainstream news organizations.

Facebook solved its problem of “editorial bias” by laying off the team of human editors responsible for its trending news section and replacing them with software. As a result, the site has been plagued of fake news stories and conspiracy theories.

 

4Chan broke

cashThe message board 4chan is about to go under unless someone can work out a way for it to make money.

The site’s owner Hiroyuki Nisimura wrote in a post that “4chan can’t afford infrastructure costs, network fee, servers cost, CDN and etc, now”.

Nisimura says ads haven’t been effective enough to support the site, nor have subscriptions offering additional features. “We had tried to keep 4chan as is. But I failed. I am sincerely sorry. Parts of 4chan may have to close”

Three things could keep 4Chan alive. More subscriptions, include “much more” ads, or cut traffic to the site in half. This could be done by closing message boards, slowing down the site, or reducing the size of images that can be posted.

All this will mean an end to the site’s Wild West Culture. 4chan is the land of script kiddies, countless memes, racism, sexism, and otherwise purile discussions and Gamergate which was about hassling women online.

While few people would miss the death of 4Chan, there is an element of “who the hell is able to make any money from the internet these days?” News sites are closing as advertising fails to make any money for anyone other than Google.

 

Vint Cerf: Regrets, I have a few

Vint_Cerf_-_2010Father of the Internet Vint Cerf says that there are a few things he would do differently if given a second chance to recreate it.

During a press conference at the Heidelberg Laureate Forum in Germany, Cerf said that he would have put in a 128-bit address space so we wouldn’t have to go through this painful, 20-year process of going from IPv4 to IPv6.

IPv4, the first publicly used version of the Internet Protocol, included an addressing system that used 32-bit numerical identifiers which rapidly ran out of addresses.

Cerf would also have added public key cryptography.

Trouble is, neither idea is likely to have made it into the final result at the time. “I doubt I could have gotten away with either So today we have to retrofit.”

Having a 128-bit address space wouldn’t have seemed realistic back then given the effort’s experimental mind-set at the time.

There was debate about the possibility of variable-length addresses, but proponents of the idea were ultimately defeated because of the extra processing power associated with them, he explained.

As for public key cryptography, the notion had only recently emerged around the time the internet protocols were being standardized back in 1978.

“I didn’t want to go back and retrofit everything, so we didn’t include it. If I could go back and put in public key crypto, I probably would try.

Cisco blames comic radiation for router failure

the Cisco kidNetworking giant Cisco has come up with a novel reason why its some of its routers were less than 100 per cent – cosmic radiation.

A Cisco bug report addressing “partial data traffic loss” on the company’s ASR 9000 Series routers contends that a “possible trigger is cosmic radiation causing SEU soft errors.”

A reader of Reddit’s networking section asked if anyone had seen ‘cosmic radiation’ as a cause for software errors in a bug report before?  Since the fix was to reload the line card, how on earth does that stop the radiation of distant stars stuffing up your router?

Some readers confirmed that cosmic radiation might be a thing, but its “gotten a bad rep as it’s not well explained and it’s not the be-all and end-all of outages.”

However most people thought that it was rubbish as cosmic radiation does not home in on a specific part of the router. It would also hit the control plane and other parts. ECC memory tends to make this a non-issue.

Cisco said that it has conducted extensive research, dating back to 2001, on the effects cosmic radiation can have on its service provider networking hardware, system architectures and software designs. Despite being rare, as electronics operate at faster speeds and the density of silicon chips increases, it becomes more likely that a stray bit of energy could cause problems that affect the performance of a router or switch.

Cisco wrote a  blog about the topic  in January 2012. In an effort to minimize the impact of radiation from “Single Event Upsets” (SEUs), it wanted to redesign our technology with custom silicon chips and software, and adopt protocols that use resiliency features.

EU comes up with ruling on picture linking

progboards2The EU courts have come up with a somewhat confusing ruling on picture linking.

The European Union’s top court decided that Playboy was within its rights to stop a website from posting links to images published without permission.

It ruled that such linking infringes copyright when the website doing it is seeking to profit from pictures published without permission.

So in other words it is ok to publish pictures without permission, but your site must not be making any money from it.

Sanoma, Playboy’s Dutch publisher, had sought to get website GeenStijl, which describes itself as one of the most visited news websites in the Netherlands, to remove a web link to photos of a TV celebrity Britt Dekker which were posted illegally.

The Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) said in a statement that the magazine provided the hyperlinks to the files containing the photos for profit and that Sanoma had not authorised the publication of those photos on the internet.

“When hyperlinks are posted for profit, it may be expected that the person who posted such a link should carry out the checks necessary to ensure that the work concerned is not illegally published.”

GS Media insists it is all about press freedom.

“If commercial media companies – such as GeenStijl – can no longer freely and fearlessly hyperlink it will be difficult to report on newsworthy new questions, leaked information and internal struggles and unsecure networks in large companies,” it said.

Creativity Works, an association representing publishers, film and music producers, said: “Taking action against illegal sites is not about preventing access to creative content but to protect consumers and stop pirates who do not contribute to Europe’s cultural diversity while making a business out of exploiting content that’s not theirs.”

The ECJ recognised that the internet “is of particular importance to freedom of expression and of information and that hyperlinks contribute to its sound operation and to the exchange of opinions and information as well.”

It said that the clue for a user posting such links is when the copyright owner complains or he is doing it for profit.

The European Commission, the EU executive, is set next week to propose tougher rules on publishing copyrighted content, including a new exclusive right for news publishers to ask search engines like Google to pay to show snippets of their articles.