Category: Internet

VPNs are rushing away from Putin

putin-buzz1VPN provider Private Internet Access has pulled out of Russia after Tsar Vlad Putin decided he wanted to spy on it all its traffic.

Apparently some of the company’s Russian servers were seized by coppers for not complying with the rules, which ask providers to log and hold all Russian internet traffic and session data for up to a year.

Writing in its bog, Private Internet Access said that the servers were stolen without any type of due process. However, if the authorities thought they might pick up some juicy data on people who don’t like the glorious reign of Tsar Putin, or some details of a top secret chocolate cake being manufactured by Mary Berry, they were disappointed.

The provider assured users that as it does not log any traffic or session data, no information was compromised – ‘Our users are, and will always be, private and secure.’

One Putin’s minions swooped the company immediately removed its Russian availability and announced that it would no longer be operating in the region. It was updating all of its certificates and client applications ‘with improved security measures to mitigate circumstances like this in the future, on top of what is already in place.’

Users must now update their desktop clients, and noted that its manual configurations now support the ‘strongest new encryption algorithms including AES-256, SHA-256, and RSA-4096.’


Mark Zuckerberg is a tool, Israelis claim

what-we-learned-about-facebook-ceo-mark-zucke-L-gl5gYR A team of Israeli  lawyers has filed a billion dollar lawsuit against Facebook claiming that it is a tool for the terrorist group Hamas.

The case claims that the social notworking site allowed Hamas to plot attacks that killed four Americans and wounded one in Israel, the West Bank and Jerusalem.

An Israeli lawyer on the case, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, alleges that Facebook has knowingly provided material support and resources to Hamas in the form of Facebook’s online social network platform and communication services.

As a result, he thinks that Zuckerberg should pay up for the attacks which killed five Americans,

“Simply put, Hamas uses Facebook as a tool for engaging in terrorism,” it said.

Mushir al-Masri, a senior Hamas leader, said by phone that “suing Facebook clearly shows the American policy of fighting freedom of the press and expression” and is evidence of U.S. prejudice against the group and “its just cause.”

A spokesFacebook said that it had a set of Community Standards to help people understand what is allowed on Facebook, and we urge people to use our reporting tools if they find content that they believe violates our standards so we can investigate and take swift action.

In March, Facebook took down a page promoting a new Palestinian uprising against Israel because it made “direct calls for violence,” in violation of company polices.

The suit was submitted to the US District Court for the Southern District of New York on July 10. Plaintiffs include the families of Yaakov Naftali Fraenkel, a 16-year-old abducted and murdered in June 2014 after hitching a ride in the West Bank, and three year old Chaya Braun, whose stroller was struck intentionally by a Palestinian driver in October 2014 at a train station in Jerusalem.

“Sky’s the limit” as it starts UK censorship of the Internet

cameron_pigGateDavid “I love bacon” Cameron’s dream of censored internet in the UK is going ahead, despite his 10exit from Downing Street.

Cameron felt that the UK would be a happy place if the great unwashed were not allowed to watch internet porn, making it available only to those who splash out on a VPN.  The move was also supposed to protect children who, rather than seeing porn on the PCs, would be free to be abandoned by their parents in pubs.

Murdoch’s Sky is enabling adult content filtering by default for all new customers. This means that if you want to see porn you have to specifically ask the nice woman who signs you up for the service “yes I want to see donkey porn”.

Murdoch, who is not normally a fan of censorship, claims that Sky wants to “help families protect their children from inappropriate content” even if the service is not being flogged to families or is going to a family which has parents who take their responsibly seriously.

The government has proposed that all money-making porn sites that operate in the UK need to have an age verification system in place, and in many ways Sky’s scheme is just an extension of the idea.

Sky’s approach, however, the reverse of similar systems used by other ISPs, Rather than asking customers if they want to enable the content filter, the question is flipped on its head so they are asked if they want to disable the option.

Announcing the filtering, Sky’s brand director for communications products, Lyssa McGowan, said: “From today, Sky Broadband Shield will be automatically switched on the moment a new customer activates their Sky Broadband. At the end of last year, we said that we wanted to do even more to help families protect their children from inappropriate content. The first time someone tries to access a filtered website, the account holder will be invited to amend the settings or turn it off altogether. It ensures a safer internet experience for millions of homes, while still giving account holders the flexibility to choose the settings most appropriate for their households.”

What though is being missed is that the decision to enable the filter by default was taken because only 5-10 percent of customers made use of the option when it was off by default. This would suggest that 90-95 per cent of Sky customers did not want censorship.  Imposing it would surely cost the outfit business.


Dutch build the first nationwide internet of thongs

holland1Dutch telecoms group KPN claims to have created a nationwide long range (LoRa) network for the so-called Internet of Things.

Connecting everyday objects to networks, allowing them to send and receive data, is widely seen as the next major evolution of the Internet.  Now KPN has switched one on.

“This makes The Netherlands the first country in the world to have a nationwide LoRa network for Internet of Things (IoT) application,” the company said.

In the initial plan was to have the network was rolled out in Rotterdam and The Hague in November. But it was stepped up across the country due to “substantial customer interest”, said KPN.

The LoRa network is complementary to KPN’s networks for the 2G, 3G and 4G phones. KPN has already reached deals to connect some 1.5 million objects, a number which should steadily grow now that the LoRa network is available across the country.

Tests are being carried out at the Schiphol airport in Amsterdam—one of Europe’s busiest air hubs—for baggage handling. The Utrecht rail station an experiment is under way to allow LoRa to monitor rail switches.

Depth sounders in the Port of Rotterdam have been fitted with devices to connect them to the Internet of Things network.

US government wants your Facebook account details

ellis islandThe US Customs and Border Protection agency has submitted a request to the Office of Management and Budget, asking for permission to collect travellers’ social notworking account names as they enter the country.

The CBP has asked that the request “Please enter information associated with your online presence — Provider/Platform — Social media identifier” be added to the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) and to the CBP Form I-94W (Nonimmigrant Visa Waiver Arrival/Departure).

Apparently the detail request will be optional but if you fail to fill it in the customs people will look at you oddly and insist on a full body cavity search.

“Collecting social media data will enhance the existing investigative process and provide DHS greater clarity and visibility to possible nefarious activity and connections by providing an additional tool set which analysts and investigators may use to better analyse and investigate the case.”

Of course it is utterly pointless. Border staff are hardly going to check that you have written down any reliable data, let alone volunteer your Facebook account to be rigorously probed by an official.

Are they going to be concerned if someone is running an account under a fake name? Will they send you home for calling yourself Mitzi Galore when your real name is Simon?  Will they test to see if the kitten crawling out of a bog roll is your own?

All this is remarkably like Donald Trump’s plan to ban Muslims from entering the country by asking them “are you a Muslim?”   Or the government’s previous goodie “have you ever been involved in the administration of a Nazi concentration camp?” What did Wernher Magnus Maximilian Freiherr von Braun used to write on the form when he went through?


Extremist videos can be blocked automatically

Terrorist_58349e_70892Software normally used by big content to snuffle out pirated software could soon have a purpose kicking extremist content off-line.

Apparently the software is being tested now with some success.  YouTube and Facebook are among the sites deploying systems to block or rapidly take down Islamic State videos and other similar material, the sources said.

The technology  looks for “hashes,” a type of unique digital fingerprint that internet companies automatically assign to specific videos, allowing all content with matching fingerprints to be removed rapidly.

Such a system would catch attempts to repost content already identified as unacceptable, but would not automatically block videos that have not been seen before.

The companies would not confirm that they are using the method or talk about how it might be employed, but numerous people familiar with the technology said that posted videos could be checked against a database of banned content to identify new postings of, say, a beheading or a lecture inciting violence.

Use of the new technology is likely to be refined over time as internet companies continue to discuss the issue internally and with competitors and other interested parties.

So far most have relied until now mainly on users to flag content that violates their terms of service, and many still do. Flagged material is then individually reviewed by human editors who delete postings found to be in violation.

The companies now using automation are not publicly discussing it, two sources said, in part out of concern that terrorists might learn how to manipulate their systems or that repressive regimes might insist the technology be used to censor opponents.


Opera mocks Microsoft’s Edge claims

opera460Earlier this week Microsoft claimed that its Edge browser was much kinder to battery life than Chrome, Opera and Firefox.  Now Opera has called Microsoft out on its claims.

The browser-maker Opera has mocked Microsoft’s much-publicised claim that its Windows 10-exclusive Edge browser provides significantly less battery drain than competitors Chrome and Opera – and its own tests put Edge firmly in second place for battery efficiency.

Writing in his bog, Opera lead singer Błażej Kaźmierczak revealed the result of the company’s own tests, which put Google Chrome in third place at two hours and fifty-four minutes, Edge in second at three hours twelve minutes, and Opera ahead of that by obtaining three hours and fifty-five minutes of battery life under identical tests.

To be fair though this is not purely a test of browser efficiency – in March Opera instituted a native adblocking feature, which it claimed works 45 per cent faster than analogous plugins on either Chrome or Firefox. The feature does not merely hide downloaded and rendered ad elements, but prevents them engaging with the user at URL source – a significant advantage in terms of page rendering.

Although AdBlock Plus is available for Edge, Vole has no public plans to mirror the adblocking feature.

Opera claimed it has not paid much attention to Edge due to its exclusivity to the Windows 10 platform. However, Edge is currently estimated to have less than five per cent share in the browser market (versus 50 per cent across versions of Chrome), this still puts it ahead of Opera, which carries little more than a single percentage of share.

Opera accuses Microsoft of a lack of transparency in its testing methods. It notes that Opera’s own repudiating test, which puts its developer version 22 per cent ahead of Edge, runs a more standard gamut, using a variety of types of browsing situations, including video and news, along with an algorithm to effect authentic scrolling behaviour. The scrolling is something that Firefox is pants at.

Opera optimises its performance, by reducing activity in background tabs, optimise JavaScript timers to limit CPU access, pauses dormant plugins, and reduces video frame rates to 30fps and forces hardware acceleration of video playback where feasible.

Microsoft’s claims for Edge were carefully specific to Windows 10.


US court upholds Net Neutrality

images-4The US broadband industry has lost its lawsuit attempting to overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules and the related reclassification of Internet service providers as common carriers.

The ISPs claimed that they had protection under the First Amendment but this was thrown out because the court thought that a broadband provider does not ‘speak’ when providing neutral access to Internet content as common carriage.

US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Judges David Tatel and Sri Srinivasan the First Amendment poses no bar to the open Internet rules.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said that the ruling was victory for consumers and innovators who deserve unfettered access to the entire Web, and it ensures the Internet remains a platform for unparalleled innovation, free expression and economic growth.

“After a decade of debate and legal battles, today’s ruling affirms the Commission’s ability to enforce the strongest possible Internet protections—both on fixed and mobile networks—that will ensure the Internet remains open, now and in the future.”

AT&T is promising to Appeal to the Supreme Court.

In addition to enforcing net neutrality rules against blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization, the decision allows the FCC to continue regulating fixed and mobile broadband providers under the common carrier provisions in Title II of the Communications Act.

Judges were not persuaded by industry arguments that Internet service is unambiguously an “information service” rather than a “telecommunications service” subject to stricter regulation. The industry argument ignores that the statutory definition of information service says that “such services are provided ‘via telecommunications,'” the judges wrote.

The industry lawyers pointed to the Verizon v. FCC decision that said the FCC couldn’t impose common carrier rules without classifying broadband as a common carrier service.

However, the Judges said that USTelecom misread the Verizon case.


EU worries that privacy protects online review cheats

EU and country flags - Wikimedia CommonsThe EU is worried that fake online reviews might ruin the consumer market and damage legitimate businesses.

The Commission is considering an idea of forcing all EU citizens to log into online accounts using their government-issued ID cards.

The cunning plan’s details can be found in a proposal named “Online Platforms and the Digital Single Market Opportunities and Challenges”.  It made an appearance on 25 May and, like many Commission ideas, it was unnoticed by the press – not even the Daily Express that normally loves to give a balanced coverage of EU rules leading to a greater understanding of how Brussels works.

The reason that the anti-Brussels press would love a story like this is because it basically requires those who write reviews to give up their privacy and publish reviews under their own name. They must also be EU citizens and have an ID card.

This prevents people writing reviews under multiple handles to either kill off competition with bad reviews, or enhance your own product with fake ones.

“ Online ratings and reviews of goods and services are helpful and empowering to consumers, but they need to be trustworthy and free from any bias or manipulation. A prominent example is fake reviews, ” the EU said.

Using the ID number is important because usernames and password combinations are inconvenient and a security risk.

“To keep identification simple and secure, consumers should be able to choose the credentials by which they want to identify or authenticate themselves. In particular, online platforms should accept credentials issued or recognised by national public authorities, such as electronic or mobile IDs, national identity cards, or bankcards.  ”

By forcing EU citizens to use their real identities when logging into their online accounts, it will stop people in non-EU countries from posting fake reviews.

Of course, the idea has no chance of passing through the European Parliament in its current form. But it does indicate that the EU is thinking about how to tackle the problem.

The reason we know the proposal is not going anywhere is because the European General Data Protection Regulation (EGDPR) has recently come into effect, a law that boosts online privacy protections for EU citizens, this proposal goes against that completely.


Creepy Cruz wants to keep US control of the web

carly-ted-marriage-cheat-575x351A failed presidential candidate, who stood on an anti-masturbation platform, thinks that it would be better for the world if he and his US Senate chronies keep control of the internet.

Ted Cruz has proposed a law in the Senate which would prohibit the US government from relinquishing its role overseeing the web’s domain name system, or DNS, unless explicitly authorised by Congress.

The puritanical Cruz wants to make sure that all those foreigners are forced to look to him and his chums for moral guidance.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), a division of the Commerce Department, currently oversees control of the DNS, a virtual phonebook of sorts that allows internet users to easily browse the web by allocating domain names to websites the world over.

The NITA has long been expected to give up its oversight role to a global multi-stakeholder community, however, prompting lawmakers to unleashed a proposal this week that would assure the US government maintains control unless Congress votes otherwise.

Cruz calls his bill, the Protecting Internet Freedom Act. He claims it would prevent the Obama administration from “giving the Internet away” to “a global organisation that will allow over 160 foreign governments to have increased influence over the management and operation of the Internet”.

He appears to be saying, “heaven forbid” that other countries have a democratic say over one of the few worldwide uniting systems in the world. After all the US was appointed by god to rule the world and to force it to adopt its corporate oligarchic system, bizarre gay hating Victorian Protestantism, white privilege and rape culture.

What he actually said was that the Obama administration was months away from deciding whether the United States Government will continue to provide oversight over core functions of the internet and protect it from authoritarian regimes that view it as a way to increase their influence and suppress freedom of speech.

Cruz’s answer is to suppress freedom of speech in the rest of the world by making it subservient to a bunch of conservative duffers who believe global warming is a myth and that evolution really is a thing.