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DigitalOutbox Episode 104

DigitalOutbox Episode 104
In this episode the team discuss MegaUpload, Is Google Evil, Acta and Apple’s record quarter.

Playback
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Shownotes
1:12 – MegaUpload Shutdown
The FBI has indicted MegaUpload on racketeering and criminal copyright infringement charges, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. The FBI apparently got help from law enforcement authorities around the world, as MegaUpload’s servers have been taken down. The WSJ is also reporting that four people have been arrested in New Zealand.
– Kim Schmitz, who has recently been calling himself Kim Dotcom, is amongst those arrested. Schmitz used to live in Germany, but relocated to New Zealand a few years ago. The FBI has said in a press release that it and other law enforcement agencies have executed 20 search warrants in eight countries, seizing $50 million in assets and taking down MegaUpload’s servers.
– Never used it, but always assumed it was 99% illegal content
– News on Radio 1 – 5 or 6 people furious as they used it to share legit files?
– Anonymous not happy – http://techcrunch.com/2012/01/19/anonymous-megaupload-department-of-justice/
– the group claimed responsibility for taking down the Universal Music, RIAA (the record industry’s lobbying arm), MPAA (the movie industry’s lobbying arm), and Department of Justice websites, among others. The group also claimed that the current attacks were “the largest attack ever by Anonymous,” with 5,635 participants. And it looks like the campaign is ongoing — Anonymous says it’s going after the FBI’s website next…which they did
– Sends jitters through industry – http://torrentfreak.com/cyberlocker-ecosystem-shocked-as-big-players-take-drastic-action-120123/
– Over the past 48 to 72 hours, the operators of many prominent cyberlocker services have been taking unprecedented actions that can not simply be explained away by mere coincidence. The details in the Megaupload indictment clearly have some players in the file-hosting world spooked.
– Filesonic, a top 10 player in the file-sharing world with a billion pageviews a month, not only withdrew its affiliate rewards program, but also banned any third parties downloading files. Simply put, users can now only download files from the service that they uploaded themselves.
– But according to reports, there’s no guarantee of that. Account owners report that their files are being mass deleted, that’s if their entire account has been banned already.
– Fileserve, another leading player, also ended its affiliate program this weekend. Additionally, this morning TorrentFreak received news that Fileserve has now joined Filesonic in banning all 3rd party downloads.
– Uploaded.to banned all US IP addresses in what appears to be an effort to distance itself from US jurisdiction. Its affiliate program is still listed as operational but the same cannot be said about those run by some of its competitors.
– VideoBB and VideoZer have both reportedly closed their rewards program and according to reports have also been mass deleting accounts and huge numbers of files.
– Other sites closing their affiliate programs and/or deleting accounts/files includeFileJungle, UploadStation and FilePost.
– Smaller host UploadBox calls it quits. “All files will be deleted on January 30th. Feel free to download the files you store with UploadBox until this date.”
– Another host, x7.to, shuts down.
– FileJungle and UploadStation have disabled all 3rd party downloads.
– 4shared cancels affiilate program.
6:29 – Google user data to be merged across all sites under contentious plan
– Google is getting rid of over 60 different privacy policies across Google and replacing them with one that’s a lot shorter and easier to read. Our new policy covers multiple products and features, reflecting our desire to create one beautifully simple and intuitive experience across Google.
– Contentious with privacy campaigners
– “If you’re signed in, we may combine information you’ve provided from one service with information from other services,” Google’s director of privacy, product and engineering, Alma Whitten, wrote in a blogpost.
– After the new policy comes into effect, user information from most Google products – such as YouTube, Gmail, Google Maps, Google+ and Android mobile – will be treated as a single trove of data, which the company could use for targeted advertising or other revenue-raising purposes.
– An article in the Washington Post raised concerns about details of people’s private meetings, health, politics and finances becoming part of their digital dossier kept by Google. Confidential discussions via Gmail of a meeting location might be transferred to Google Maps without the user’s consent, for example.
– “There is no way anyone expected this,” Jeffrey Chester, executive director of privacy advocacy group the Centre for Digital Democracy, told the Washington Post. “There is no way a user can comprehend the implication of Google collecting across platforms for information about your health, political opinions and financial concerns.”[see update]
Google said it expected to roll out the revised guidelines on 1 March, consolidating more than 70 privacy policies covering all of its products.
– I think this is great to be honest – shorter, clearer and to be honest I expected data to be shared amongst my Google profile
– One issue – if you say no you can’t access your gmail or documents – people are forced to accept this really
9:54 – Focus on the user
Google search changes rumble on
– This proof of concept was built by some engineers at Facebook, Twitter and MySpace, in consultation with several other social networking companies. We are open-sourcing the code so that anyone may use it or make it even better.
– How much better would social search be if Google surfaced results from all across the web? The results speak for themselves. We created a tool that uses Google’s own relevance measure—the ranking of their organic search results—to determine what social content should appear in the areas where Google+ results are currently hardcoded.
– All of the information in this demo comes from Google itself, and all of the ranking decisions are made by Google’s own algorithms. No other services or APIs are accessed.
– When engaged, this “Don’t be evil” bookmarklet does one simple thing: It turns back the hands of time, and made Google work the way it did before the integration of Google+ earlier this month.
– Its a very elegant hack, using a number of Google’s own tools – including its “rich snippet” webmaster tool and its own organic search listings, to re-order not only the search engine results, but also the results of the promotional Google+ boxes on the right side of the results, as well as the “typeahead” results that now feature only Google+ accounts (see example below, the first a search on my name using “normal Google” and then one using the bookmarklet).
– Video is well worth watching – https://www.focusontheuser.org/video.php
– Extensions for Chrome, Firefox and Safari available
15:37 – Apples Record Quarter
– Apple more than doubled its profits: to $13.06bn (£8.35bn), compared with $6bn for the same quarter in 2010. The result easily beat analysts’ forecasts, taking pressure off the chief executive, Tim Cook, handpicked by Jobs as his successor. Last October Apple shares recorded their biggest single-day dollar drop after iPhone sales missed their forecast.
– Cook said he was thrilled the company sold a record 37.04m iPhones in the final quarter of 2011, a 128% rise on a year ago. “We could have sold more if we’d had more supply,” he said. The recently launched iPhone 4S proved to be the company’s best seller in the quarter. “We could not be happier,” said Cook.
– In record sales across nearly all product categories, Apple sold a record 15.43m iPads over the quarter, more than double a year ago. It sold 5.2m Macs during the quarter, a 26% unit increase.
– 2nd largest quarterly earning of all time – http://parislemon.com/post/16436735313/this-is-actually-the-craziest-chart-about-apple
– Other 20 are all oil companies
– Sitting on $97 billion – isn’t that a bit obscene?
– http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/22/business/apple-america-and-a-squeezed-middle-class.html?_r=1&pagewanted=1
– Why the iPhone is made in China
22:08 – RIMs CEOs step down
– BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) has said its co-chief executives, Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, have bowed to investor pressure and resigned.
– The pair, who together built Lazaridis’s 1985 startup into a global business with $20bn in sales last year, have weathered a storm of criticism in recent years as Apple’s iPhone and the army of devices powered by Google’s innovative Android system eclipsed their email-focused BlackBerry.
– “There comes a time in the growth of every successful company when the founders recognise the need to pass the baton to new leadership,” Lazaridis said in an interview at RIM’s Waterloo headquarters in Ontario.
– “Jim and I went to the board and told them that we thought that time was now.” They have been replaced by Thorsten Heins, a former Siemens executive who has risen steadily through RIM’s upper management ranks since joining the Canadian company in late 2007.
– Too little too late – company is in a mess. Should jump on Windows or Android
– http://www.theverge.com/2012/1/23/2727096/rim-open-to-licensing-BB10-blackberry-ceo
– But they are open to licensing BB10
23:48 – UK signs ACTA
– The UK and 21 other European Union member states have signed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, better known as ACTA – also known as right to be forgotten law
– The countries signed the treaty, which aims to harmonise copyright enforcement across much of the world, in Tokyo on Thursday. However, the signatures of the EU member states and the EU itself will count for nothing unless the European Parliament gives its approval to ACTA in June, and digital activists have urged citizens to lobby their MEPs against voting yes.
– However, five EU countries did not sign, namely Germany, the Netherlands, Estonia, Cyprus and Slovakia. Many other countries, such as the US, Japan and Australia,signed the document in September.
– Although ACTA is primarily concerned with the enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR), its designation as a trade treaty meant it could be negotiated behind closed doors. This lengthy process, led by the US and Japan, was exposed in a series of leaks — some via Wikileaks — that revealed what was going on.
– The final version of ACTA is very different to earlier drafts, which would have forced countries to disconnect internet users if they were found to be repeatedly sharing copyrighted content. The EU rejected this proposal, and other ideas, such as criminalising the use of a mobile phone camera in a cinema, also fell by the wayside.
– Problem is understanding what it actually means which will hopefully come out over the next few weeks and months
– http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120126/11014317553/european-parliament-official-charge-acta-quits-denounces-masquerade-behind-acta.shtml
– European parliamentary official asked to investigate ACTA resigned over it today
I want to denounce in the strongest possible manner the entire process that led to the signature of this agreement: no inclusion of civil society organisations, a lack of transparency from the start of the negotiations, repeated postponing of the signature of the text without an explanation being ever given, exclusion of the EU Parliament’s demands that were expressed on several occasions in our assembly.
As rapporteur of this text, I have faced never-before-seen manoeuvres from the right wing of this Parliament to impose a rushed calendar before public opinion could be alerted, thus depriving the Parliament of its right to expression and of the tools at its disposal to convey citizens’ legitimate demands.”
Everyone knows the ACTA agreement is problematic, whether it is its impact on civil liberties, the way it makes Internet access providers liable, its consequences on generic drugs manufacturing, or how little protection it gives to our geographical indications.
This agreement might have major consequences on citizens’ lives, and still, everything is being done to prevent the European Parliament from having its say in this matter. That is why today, as I release this report for which I was in charge, I want to send a strong signal and alert the public opinion about this unacceptable situation. I will not take part in this masquerade.

29:06 – Use pcAnywhere – disable it
– Symantec has confirmed that the hacker group Anonymous stole source code from the 2006 versions of several Norton security products and the pcAnywhere remote access tool.
Although Symantec says the theft actually occurred in 2006, the issue did not come to light until this month when hackers related to Anonymous said they had the source code and would release it publicly. Users of the Norton products in question are not at any increased risk of attack because of the age of the source code and security improvements made in the years since the breach, but the vendor acknowledged on Tuesday night that “Customers of Symantec’s pcAnywhere have increased risk as a result of this incident.”
– Symantec pointed customers to a white paper that recommends disabling pcAnywhere, unless it is needed for business-critical use, because malicious users with access to the source code could identify vulnerabilities and launch new exploits. “At this time, Symantec recommends disabling the product until Symantec releases a final set of software updates that resolve currently known vulnerability risks,” the company said.
30:37 – O2 Share your mobile number
– O2 has apologised for an error that shared users’ mobile phone numbers with the websites they visited.
– An experiment set up by Lewis Peckover, a 28-year-old web systems administrator, called attention to the problem last night.
– Peckover showed that O2 was providing websites with the mobile number of users who visited. The numbers were included as plain text in the header information sent by the phone to the website.
– As well as being a potential breach of the Data Protection Act, this raised the prospect that unscrupulous website owners could collect the phone numbers and send spam SMS or marketing calls.
– O2 admitted that the problem began on January 10th and said it was the “unintended effect” of some routine maintenance that the network carried out earlier this month. They said the issue was fixed this afternoon.
– In a statement, the company said: “We investigated, identified and fixed it this afternoon. We would like to apologise for the concern we have caused.”
– The company added: “The only information websites had access to is your mobile number, which could not have been linked to any other identifying information we have about customers.”

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Published by

Ian

Ian lives and works in Glasgow, Scotland. By day he works in the IT department for a large manufacturing company but outside work he is a keen follower of all things digital. In 2006 he switched to using a Mac and has never looked back. To find out more about Ian visit the about page for more info.