Slovenia: Bank tests treated as military secret

van EU Observer - ma, 12/30/2013 - 09:18
Slovenia is paying consultancies over €21 million to stress test its banks, in controversial contracts classified as military secrets.

Categorieën: Europees nieuws

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

van TechDirt - zo, 12/29/2013 - 21:00

It's been a short week, and a bit of a slow one, but we still had some excellent comments. First up, Gabriel J. Michael, the author of a guest post on US businesses and intellectual property, arrived to answer questions about his use of a Creative Commons license, taking first place for insightful:

Hi. I'm the author. Since you're picking on the CC BY-SA licensing, let me explain why it's there.

This post was not originally written for TechDirt. I originally wrote it on my personal blog. It's since been posted to Slashdot, BoingBoing, here, and been reblogged elsewhere.

I include the CC BY-SA to make sure that people know they are free to copy and reuse the content elsewhere. I often include graphics in my posts that may be useful in peoples' PowerPoints, etc., and embedding a note about the CC BY-SA licensing makes it more likely that people won't lose the licensing information and feel they need to ask for permission.

As you will have presumably read in the post, the conclusion is not that we should eliminate IP laws. Rather, I wrote the post to highlight important empirical data on IP that had received almost no attention.

In second place we've got Fin, answering a question about where the line is drawn on whistleblowing actions like Ed Snowden's:

The line is clear. The government is effectively there to mediate the will of the people.

The minute they spy or try to undermine that the terrorists have won.

Bringing that to light can never be treason. Having to resort to desperate measures just shows how desperate the situation is.

The only people you need to look at to find the traitors are sitting up in DC

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got a couple related comments. First up is an anonymous commenter responding to suggestions from former government officials that Ed Snowden should be hanged:

Question: What sort of man thinks that exposing government corruption should be a capital crime?
Answer: A man who was complicit in that very corruption.

And next we've got That Anonymous Coward suggesting it's time to close the book on a favorite justification for fearmongering:

Have we finally gotten to the point where when someone spouts because 9/11 we can tell them to shut the hell up?

9/11 was a horrible thing, and every single freaking thing done in its name has been much more horrible. The fact people keep accepting it as an excuse for unacceptable things is very sad.

On the funny side, first place goes to TheResidentSkeptic, who heard the idea of solving piracy by giving everyone a basic income for doing nothing, and predicted how certain groups might react:

And in following news...
Swedish collection societies have applied for a $2,900 "you must be a pirate tax" on this income as it is obviously targeted to file sharers who are stealing the artists work.

In second place, we've got an anonymous commenter who noticed an error in the pre-Christmas firing letter a Chicago sandwich shop sent to all its employees:

5. Return any keys and Company property to Will Ravert at 600 West Chicago Avenue on Monday, December 23, 2014 during normal business hours. Okay, those who got terminated get to keep company property for an entire year after being fired! How riveting!

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start with a comment from Jeremy Lyman, who read our assertion that "if something is so insane as to get your ire up, there's a half-decent chance that it's too insane to be real" and wished it were universally true:

Oh thank god. I was starting to thing that all this NSA shredding the constitution and staunch refusal of the government to even acknowledge it, labeling public defenders as traitors was actually real. Now that's good satire!

And finally we return to the guest post about US businesses not caring about intellectual property, where an anonymous commenter from everyone's famous IP industry showed up with a fervent defense:

Hey, I'll have you know that as one of the card carrying members of the MOST IMPORTANT IP INDUSTRY of all... Grocery Stores Dunh Dunh Dunh (think Belt from the Croods)... (seriously, read your masters reports if you don't believe me), that lowly grocery store clerk is the one who's paying your masters salaries so they can fund your trolling.

If it were not for Grocery Stores and Grocery Store Clerks upholding the mantel of Copyright Shenanigans, who else would we have to look to for guidance?


That's all for this week, folks! Hope everyone enjoyed the holidays — we'll be back to business as usual tomorrow (with another quick break for New Year's Day).

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Categorieën: Technieuws

Big Brother of Big Corporate?

van Bits of Freedom - zo, 12/29/2013 - 10:00

“Big Brother is watching you” koppen de kranten na de onthullingen over de afluisterpraktijken van de NSA in Nederland. De vergelijking tussen de constante surveillance van Orwell’s “Big Brother” en de NSA is snel gemaakt. Maar ook wat kort door de bocht. Het probleem, de schending van het recht op privacy, komt in onze e-commerce samenleving niet enkel van een omnipresente afluisteroverheid.

Er is een andere belangrijke ontwikkeling die een rol speelt bij de maatschappelijke aftakeling van privacy: de waarde van data voor de private sector. Data is digitaal goud. Bedrijven leggen op grote schaal databanken aan over het online gedrag van klanten, vaak met hun impliciete toestemming. Dit is eveneens een vorm van surveillance.

Het klinkt wellicht onnatuurlijk voor mensen die gewend zijn om een debat over privacy te voeren waarin de focus vooral ligt op Orwellianse surveillance door overheden. Maar het gemak waarmee wij ons laten bekijken door bedrijven is tevens gevaarlijk. Een zaklamp-app op je telefoon, Google maps, Grindr of een persoonlijke bonuskaart; onschuldige praktische applicaties die je in ruil voor gebruiksgemak toegang geeft tot persoonlijke data in je telefoon. En datasets in handen van de private sector leveren een hele andere set dataproblemen op.

Daar waar persoonlijke data verzameld door de overheid, in theorie, onderhevig is aan bepaalde ‘checks and balances’, hebben bedrijven veel meer vrijheid om data te gebruiken naar eigen inzien. Deze bewegingsvrijheid in de private sector omtrent het gebruik van data is niet onopgemerkt gebleven bij de overheid. Zij maakt slim gebruik van de databases aangelegd door het bedrijfsleven. In sommige gevallen worden bedrijven door middel van een dagvaarding met strafbedreiging gedwongen de overheid toegang te geven tot hun databases. Of ze kunnen er direct bij via ‘backdoors’.

Surveillance door overheden en door private bedrijven zijn in onze digitale maatschappij nauw met elkaar verweven. Met andere woorden, de inperking van privacy van individuele burgers staat of valt niet (enkel) met spionage en surveillance door overheden. Het debat over de NSA en surveillance benaderen vanuit een “Big Brother”-perspectief betekent dat je een groot deel van het probleem mist. Dit is problematisch want het leidt tot het zoeken naar oplossingen die zich primair richten op het beperken van surveillance door de overheid. Een oplossing voor de massale schendingen van de privacy van burgers moet rekening houden met zowel private- als overheidssurveillance.

Categorieën: Technieuws

Awesome Stuff: Bike Lights

van TechDirt - za, 12/28/2013 - 18:00
Since this was a short week and we took a bit of a break for the holidays, there won't be any "favorites of the week" post today, so enjoy this as your Saturday post.

It's getting to be that time of year when people are making their New Years' resolutions -- and getting in shape is always a popular one. Biking is a great way to do that, but for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it gets dark early, so having a good light is always key. For our latest awesome stuff post, we'll highlight a few crowdfunding projects that may be interesting for your bike riding experience.
  • First up, we've got the Xlerad, which is described as a "smart bike light." It tracks when you're moving, automatically lighting up, and then automatically adjusting the lighting as needed. It also shuts off when you're done, so you don't even have to worry about powering it on and off. The light is a bit pricey, either $170 or $190 depending on if you get the early bird (as I type this, there's one left). At that price it seems a little difficult for some to support. The project is only at about $12,000 of it's $18,300 target, with just a few days left. There's a decent chance this project ends up unfunded.
  • For a different bike light idea, there's the Magnic Light iC -- a contactless bicycle dynamo. The concept is pretty awesome. You attach it around the bicycle wheel (without touching the wheel), and the moving wheel spins the magnets inside the generator, creating the energy to power the lights. So you never need to charge the thing, it's self-powered. This is the second version of the light, and the first one was also funded via Kickstarter. The single lights (either front or rear) run $70, with a package of two front lights and one rear light running $180. It seems like a better deal than the one above, and backers seem to think so as well. While this one hasn't yet reached its target, it's already raised about $25,000 easily on its way to the $40,000 target, with over a month to go.
  • The next one is a bit different. It's Zackees turn signal gloves. They're basic bike gloves... but with blinking turn signals built into the back of the glove, so you when you hold up your hand to signal a turn, drivers on the road don't just see the hand, but the "blinker." Pretty creative idea that could definitely help keep cyclists safer. This project has already shot past its target of $35,000 and is sitting near $50,000 with a week and a half to go. A pair of the gloves runs between $59 and $99, depending on the options and style.
That's all for this week's awesome stuff post. Ride safe.

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Categorieën: Technieuws