Tag Archives: internet

70% of Young Children Can Use A Computer Mouse. Only 11% Can Tie Their Own Shoes (Infographic)

With the rise of modern technology, the look of the classroom has been changing rapidly. Computers are replacing workbooks, iPads are replacing notebook paper, and teachers are increasingly using social media to communicate with their students.

Check out the awesome infographic below to learn more about how modern technology has been changing our education system (click the image to see the full size version):

The NSA Just Admitted That Their Data Collection Systems Are Too Complex for Even Them to Control

If you weren’t aware, the NSA is facing a bunch of lawsuits over their overzealous surveillance programs, which were revealed last summer by Edward Snowden.

One of these lawsuits, Jewel v. NSA, was actually filed before the revelations. The class-action lawsuit, filed on behalf of novelist Carolyn Jewel and a number of other ATT customers, challenges the constitutionality of the NSA programs which were collecting data on American’s telephone and internet activity.

Carolyn Jewel, lead plaintiff in the case against the NSA, outside her home (Photo: Beth Schlanker / The Press Democrat)

As part of the lawsuit, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (who represents the plaintiffs) filed a number of motions to prevent the NSA from destroying data that the EFF planned to use as evidence.

This past Friday, during a hearing over the issue, NSA Deputy Director Richard Ledgett argued that holding on to the info would be too burdensome for the NSA, saying,

“A requirement to preserve all data acquired under section 702 presents significant operational problems, only one of which is that the NSA may have to shut down all systems and databases that contain Section 702 information.”

NSA Deputy Director Richard Ledgett

Ledgett continued by arguing that the complexity of the NSA’s surveillance programs meant that efforts by the NSA to preserve their own data might not even work. Not surprisingly, he also tried to get his way using scare tactics, saying that trying to preserve the data would cause,

“an immediate, specific, and harmful impact on the national security of the United States.”

The EFF was surprised by Ledgett’s argument, since the NSA had already been ordered to preserve the data back in 2009. On top of that, a second restraining order was filed in March to prevent destruction of data.

Either way, the EFF’s legal advisor, Cindy Cohn, isn’t buying Ledgett’s arguments. In a recent interview she had this to say about the concerns he raised:

“To me, it demonstrates that once the government has custody of this information even they can’t keep track of it anymore even for purposes of what they don’t want to destroy… With the huge amounts of data that they’re gathering it’s not surprising to me that it’s difficult to keep track– that’s why I think it’s so dangerous for them to be collecting all this data en masse.”

The EFF has said that there is “no doubt” that the NSA has already destroyed some of the information they requested for the lawsuit, but the actual amount data that has been destroyed thus far is unclear.

Read the full story from The Washington Post here.

A New WikiLeaks-Style Website Is Taking Some Huge Bites Out of Wildlife Crime

WildLeaks is a new website using the internet to target and investigate the kingpins of illegal wildlife activities, such as poaching, the illegal trafficking of tropical pets and deforestation, among other things. The website utilizes Tor technology to ensure anonymity.

WildLeaks’s first major revelation was the story of how Somalian terrorist group Al-Shabaab had been smuggling ivory to fund their operations.

Founder of WildLeaks Andrea Crosta

“We had our first tip within 24 hours and the response has been beyond our wildest imagination,”

says founder Andrea Crosta, who is also the director of the Elephant Action League. Crosta explains that since many of the major wildlife crime operations rely on corrupt law enforcement officials, the site provides whistleblowers a safe avenue to report the crimes:

“You can’t, for example, export containers full of ivory from Mombasa without bribing people left, right and centre… We definitely feel we are filling a gap.”

In the three months it has been operating so far, the site has yielded 24 major tip-offs of wildlife crime, including:

• elephant poaching in Africa and illicit ivory trading in Hong Kong;

• killing of Sumatran tigers, of which there are just 400 left in the wild;

• illegal lion and leopard hunting in South Africa;

• chimpanzee trafficking in Liberia;

• illegal fishing activities in Alaska, including alleged mafia involvement;

• importing of illegal African wildlife products into the US;

• illegal logging in Mexico, Malawi and Siberia

According to Interpol, the illicit wildlife trade makes $10-$20 billion dollars every year. Read the full story from The Guardian here.

Lego Asks British Government to Stop Using Their Toys In Anti-Scottish Independence Ads

On September 18th, Scottish citizens will vote in a referendum to decide whether to remain part of the United Kingdom or to break away and become independent.

Though only about a third of the Scottish population is in favor of leaving the UK, the British government has been leading a campaign to discourage voters from choosing independence.

Scottish Prime Minister Alex Salmond, who proposed the separation when he was elected back in 2012 (Photo: Reuters)

A cornerstone of the British government’s pro-unity argument is their claim that staying part of the UK will make the average Scotsman better off by £1,400 UK ($1,900 USD) per year, as compared to if the country were to separate.

To illustrate this point, the British Treasury Department made a BuzzFeed style list of the “12 things that £1,400 UK Dividend could buy”, using legos to illustrate each entry. They have since removed most of the images, but you can check out some of the original entries below:

Unfortunately for  Britain’s PR team, the plan backfired. Many people accused the government of patronizing the Scottish with suggestions like, “Scoff [eat] 280 hot dogs at the Edinburgh Festival,” or, “cover your family’s yearly shoe habit for about the next 6 years”.

On top of that, the Lego company (which is based in Denmark) asked the government to remove the images, saying,

“We have requested that the images are removed due to our neutral political stance. We are a children’s toy company and therefore all of our communication is targeted towards children. People all over the world use Lego to depict stories and scenarios – some of it not to our knowledge. We maintain our position as being a politically neutral company.”

Read more from The Guardian here.

Megaupload Founder Puts Up $5 Million Bounty for Help In His Case Against the Government

Kim Dotcom is the founder of Megaupload, a popular website that shared movies, TV shows, and music among other things. Megaupload was thriving up until 2012, when the federal government shut down the website and brought an online piracy suit against the company.

Dotcom has always maintained that the case is stacked against him. He recently tweeted the following:

Dotcom claims that the U.S. government, along with close ally New Zealand (where Dotcom lives), conspired to take down his file-sharing empire at the request of Hollywood studios. Major music labels as well as the film industry have also hit the company with separate lawsuits.

Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom, who calls himself an, “innovator… not a pirate”

Dotcom talked to the website TorrentFreak.com recently about the bounty:

“We are asking for information that proves unlawful or corrupt conduct by the US government, the New Zealand government, spy agencies, law enforcement and Hollywood…

“It is the opinion of my legal team that disclosure of such information would be lawful. I would also guarantee any whistleblower coming forward would have the best legal representation at zero cost.”

Dotcom and his 3 co-defendants will have their extradition hearing on July 7 in Auckland, New Zealand. If they are extradited, they will face charges of racketeering, money laundering and copyright theft here in the U.S. The charges carry a jail sentence of up to 20 years.

The U.S. Justice Department alleges that Dotcom and his associates netted $175 million in criminal proceeds, costing copyright owners more than $500 million in revenue.

Read the full story from The Guardian here.

The “Independent” Consumer Groups Attacking Net Neutrality Are Actually Funded By Cable Companies

Yesterday, investigative journalists from VICE reported that some of the largest and most influential consumer advocacy groups, previously thought to be completely independent, are actually being funded by the lobbying arm of the cable industry.

For example, Broadband for America, which describes itself as a collection of, “independent consumer advocacy groups,” got $2 million of their $3.5 million budget last year from the National Cable and Telecom Association (NCTA), one of the biggest lobbyists in the cable industry.

The American Consumer Institute (ACI) is another so-called independent consumer advocacy group which has been publicly opposing net neutrality. The VICE article discovered that ACI is being funded in large part by the CTIA, a foundation controlled by powerful lobbyists from the wireless industry (which would also stand to benefit from a loss of net neutrality).

At this point I must pause to point out just how corrupt the FCC is. Since 2001, the commission charged with regulating these massive cable companies has been chaired by the worst possible candidates: former CEO’s of the industry’s biggest lobbyists, NCTA and CTIA.

The current chair, Tom Wheeler, actually headed both of these organizations before becoming chairman.

The corporate revolving door of the FCC. Click to enlarge

Last month Broadband for America wrote a letter to the FCC, demanding that they “categorically reject” any suggestions to make broadband a protected public utility like water or electricity.

Advocates of net neutrality had recently proposed this idea in the hopes that it would prevent massive broadband providers like Comcast and Time Warner (who are currently trying to merge into one mega-company) from throttling connection speeds to companies who don’t pay up and/or give into their demands.

A great example is Netflix. Earlier this year, Netflix increased the amount of HD movies available on their service, which consequently increased the amount of broadband Comcast had to provide for them.

So Comcast started slowing connection speeds way down on Netflix’s HD movies, sparking outrage from Netflix users. Netflix held out for a bit, but eventually gave into Comcast’s demands.

The graph below shows how the negotiations affected connection speeds on Netflix (they gave into Comcast’s demand in February):

Click to enlarge

The FCC recently approved a “fast-track” plan which would essentially kill net neutrality, allowing broadband providers to give preferential treatment to companies who pay them more and yield to their demands.

They put off their final decision for 120 days to allow the public to comment; to date, they have received nearly 65,000 comments and over 300,000 e-mails in support of net neutrality. 

It seems the only real voice of the people in this argument is… well, the actual voice of the people. Go figure.

Read the full story from VICE here.

NASA Made an Amazing Mosaic of Earth Using Over 36,000 Selfies Taken All Across the Globe

Last month, NASA set out to create a “global selfie”. First, they asked people around the world to take pictures of themselves with a little NASA placard saying where they were. They then compiled the 36,422 selfies they got into a stunningly accurate mosaic of the Earth.

A close up of part of the mosaic (Courtesy of NASA)

For Earth Day (April 22), NASA used social media to pose the question, “Where are you on Earth right now?”, encouraging fans and followers to take selfies and post them using the hashtag #GlobalSelfie.

Selfies were taken on every continent (including Antarctica), and 113 different countries and regions were represented. Each picture was used as a tile on the earth, creating a fully zoomable global mosaic that you can view by clicking the image below.

Everybody got in on the fun, including Elmo, a lego pilot, an astronaut and even a lazy cat. Check out some of the coolest selfie submissions below.

(h/t RT)

#ResetTheNet Campaign: Major Websites Unite To Encourage Widespread Encryption Usage

Just last month, the House gutted the FREEDOM Act, which was put in place after the Snowden revelations to prevent mass cellular surveillance of American citizens in the future.

Internet and privacy activists alike have grown tired of the government’s empty promises about protecting internet privacy. So they decided to launch a campaign to take the issue out of Washington’s hands and put into the hands of the public.

The campaign, known as #ResetTheNet, was initiated by Fight for the Future, and encourages websites and individuals to start using encryption to protect their data. It kicks off today on the one year anniversary of the Edward Snowden revelations of NSA surveillance last year.

Hundreds of websites and other organizations are participating, including Reddit, Imgur, Mozilla, Greenpeace and Amnesty International. Google, who initially refrained from joining, has now endorsed the campaign, and added that they will be, “releasing email encryption tools and data, and supporting real surveillance reform.”

The goal is to not only educate people about encryption but to actually provide them with the online resources to begin encrypting their own information. The campaign’s splash page, which is displayed on many of the participating sites, includes lists of good encryption software and tips for both computers and mobile devices.

Some of the companies participating in the campaign. Click to enlarge
Some of the companies participating in the campaign. Click to enlarge

While encryption definitely makes your data significantly more secure, it is not completely impervious- the NSA has whole departments dedicated to cracking encrypted info.

However, organizers of the campaign believe that if encryption starts to become fairly common, the government simply will not have the resources to be trying to break through everyone’s encryption, forcing them to give up on mass internet surveillance.

Yesterday, Edward Snowden issued a statement with his support for the campaign. He ended it like this:

The official website for the campaign is resetthenet.org. The organizer’s also released this video explaining the campaign:

Read more from RT here.

BONUS: The battle for net neutrality is also being waged right now. After approving a “fast-track” plan which would allow large corporations to pay for preferred real estate (ie. more visibility) on the internet, the FCC invited the public to comment for 120 days before they make their final decision.

Comedian and political satirist John Oliver used his new HBO series, Last Week Tonight, to explain what net neutrality is, why it’s so important, and how the major cable companies pushing to make it happen are screwing the consumer.

Oliver urged all of the internet trolls to take advantage of the FCC invitation to comment, saying,

“…for once in your lives, focus your indiscriminate rage in a useful direction.”

The massive comment volume following the airing of Oliver’s show crashed the FCC website for a while.

Check out video of Oliver’s net neutrality segment below:

Russia Has A Troll Army That Is Trying to Mold Public Opinion On Internet News Sites

Russian President Vladimir Putin believes that the country has an image problem. Since the events surrounding Ukraine’s revolution and Russia’s subsequent annexation of Crimea, public sentiment on Russia has been becoming increasingly more negative across the globe.

Apparently, the Putin administration believes that a big part of this is the way in which media outlets in America have portrayed the situation. So he decided to deploy a million-dollar army of internet trolls to help mold public opinion.

Russian President Vladimir Putin with troops in Crimea (Photo: Maxim Shemetov / Reuters)

Svetlana Boiko, one of the team members for the project, said this:

“Foreign media are currently actively forming a negative image of the Russian Federation in the eyes of the global community. Additionally, the discussions formed by comments to those articles are also negative in tone.”

Boiko continued by elaborating on the importance of maintaining the Russian “brand”:

“Like any brand formed by popular opinion, Russia has its supporters (‘brand advocates’) and its opponents. The main problem is that in the foreign internet community, the ratio of supporters and opponents of Russia is about 20/80 respectively.”

The project specifically targeted  Fox News, Huffington Post, The Blaze, Politico, and WorldNetDaily. E-mails obtained by the enigmatic Russian hacking collective Anonymous Internet detailed exactly how these blogger-trolls would carry out their job.

The trolls were expected to make around 50 comments on news articles every day. In addition, they were expected to maintain 6 Facebook pages,  posting 3 times daily about the news and discussing new developments in groups on Facebook twice daily.

On top of that, the bloggers were expected to have 500 subscribers by the end of the first month. On Twitter, they were expected to maintain 10 accounts with up to 2,000 followers each, tweeting at least 50 times daily.

E-mails hacked from the project’s leader, Igor Osadchy, reveal that the program is run by the firm Internet Research Agency. Starting in April, the firm began paying people to disseminate pro-Putin and pro-Russian content all across the web.

The Internet Research Agency leak is the first time that specific comments have been traced back to the campaign. These comments were made by Katarina Aistova, a 21-year-old former hotel receptionist on a WorldNetDaily article:

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Though the Kremlin is denying the accusations and Internet Research Agency is refusing to comment, many feel that the evidence is overwhelming.

“What, you think crazy Russians all learned English en masse and went off to comment on articles?”,

said media executive  and Bloomberg columnist Leonid Bershidsky, who also added rather hilariously that,

“If it looks like Kremlin shit, smells like Kremlin shit, and tastes like Kremlin shit too — then it’s Kremlin shit.”

Internet Research Agency is on pace to spend $10 million dollars this year, and half of that budget has been earmarked to be paid out in cash.

The reports have also been substantiated by two local Russian media outlets. Last week, the business paper Vedomosti claimed that the campaign was directly orchestrated by the government, citing sources close to Putin’s administration.

Then earlier this week, the Novaya Gazeta claimed that the project is being orchestrated by restauranteur Yevgeny Prigozhin, who catered Putin’s re-inauguration in 2012 and has reportedly helped run several other similar campaigns for the Kremlin over the years.

Putin dining at Le Chaval Blanc, a famous restaurant located just outside Moscow and owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin’s company (Photo: AP)

The hacked e-mails also include numerous exchanges with an accountant at the Internet Research Agency approving payments to Concord, the holding company for Mr. Prigozhin’s catering business.

The hacking group Anonymous Internet is not affiliated with the well-known American hacking group Anonymous. In an e-mail exchange with BuzzFeed, who broke the story, the hacking collective distanced themselves from your every day code-breaker:

“[We are] not hackers in the classical sense. We are trying to change reality. Reality has indeed begun to change as a result of the appearance of our information in public.”

To date, none of their leaks have been proven false.

Read the full story from BuzzFeed here.

The Death of Newspapers In Three Key Graphics

Ross Dawson is an entrepreneur, author and futuroligist, and is also the founding chairman of the AHT (Advanced Human Technologies) Group, which consists of three companies: Advanced Human Technologies, future and strategy firm Future Exploration Network, and events company The Insight Exchange.

Back in 2010, Dawson predicted that newspapers would totally disappear from Australia by 2022. After getting significant press from the prediction, he expanded on his theory by predicting this date for a number of developed and developing countries around the world.

Click the map to enlarge it.

Though the years may not be exact, Dawson’s predictions definitely reflect the trends here in America.

For the second half of the 20th century, newspapers thrived, and ad revenue grew steadily from 1950 until around the year 2000, when the internet really began to take hold. In just the last ten years or so since then, newspaper ad revenue has plummeted back to its pre-1950s levels:

Click to enlarge

Dawson sees the demise of newspapers as the result of a number of factors, including an increase in the portion of our world that is educated and modernized, an increase in government control and censorship of media at the local level, and the advancement of digital media technology.

Check out this graphic he made highlighting the trends he believes will lead to the end of the printed paper: