Tag Archives: Government

A Piece About Social Media and Privacy

A Piece About Social Media and Privacy

Been a while bloggers. Absence makes the data stream grow deeper doesn’t it? 

Just wanted to share this well written perspective piece about technology. Gives some good insight into the user perspective of social media privacy. 


Verizon Phones and Big Brother: How “We The People” Let It Happen

As posted this morning by none other than British News The Guardian, the United States is up in arms about finding out that Verizon has been providing cell phone call information to the Government for a few years now.

The Verizon order was made under the provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Fisa) as amended by the Patriot Act of 2001, passed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. But one of the authors of the Patriot Act, Republican congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, said he was troubled by the Guardian revelations. He said that he had written to the attorney general, Eric Holder, questioning whether “US constitutional rights were secure”. -The Guardian

He said: “I do not believe the broadly drafted Fisa order is consistent with the requirements of the Patriot Act. Seizing phone records of millions of innocent people is excessive and un-American.”

Another article I found says a bit more on the subject:

In 2006 USA Today reported that the NSA had a similarly expansive database of cellular data, not only from Verizon but also from AT&T and BellSouth. That program was launched as part of the push for tighter security and surveillance in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Despite public uproar and several lawsuits against cell phone carriers following the revelation, the NSA never officially announced that the database was shut down. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a lobbying group that promotes digital privacy, still has pending litigation seeking to curtail the NSA’s practices. – Time ; 7 Things to Know About the Government’s Secret Database of Telephone Data

Read more: http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/06/05/7-things-to-know-about-the-governments-secret-database-of-cellular-data/#ixzz2VT7atHbQ

May people think this information is new, but it really isn’t. It’s ages old, and without this scandal we still know that it was bound to happen sooner or later anyway since the Patriot Act after 9/11 was voted in. I had personally figured this had been happening much longer than these articles had allegedly stated, perhaps even before 9/11. In fact I just assumed I was being “followed” since the day I bought a cell phone, got an e-mail address, or even joined Pinterest, that someone out there was collecting my information. How? Because I signed a contract that said my information might go elsewhere for any undisclosed reason beyond my knowledge. Why? Because everyone else was doing it.

The issues we’re dealing with are ones philosophers and average Joe’s’ and Jane’s’ alike have been concerned about for some time. Though newer generations don’t mind the subject so much. Our personal information has been able to be tracked sine we checked the “I Agree” buttons on Facebook , Google, Yahoo etc… Terms of Agreements. The issue is not really “Can the Government do that?” The issue is…we let them by giving our information away. Authors Hal Abelson, Ken Lendeen, and Harry Lewis sate in their book Blown to Bits:

We lose control of our personal information because of things we do to ourselves, and things others do to us. Of things we do to be ahead of the curve, and things we do because everyone else is doing them…We give away information about ourselves — voluntarily leave visible footprints of our daily lives — because we judge, perhaps without thinking about it very much, that the benefits out weigh the costs.

Ever bought a grocery club card, joined a social media group, paid taxes, walked into a store with security cameras? Then you should know already that you’ve been watched. To be fair not every surveillance camera is owned by Big Brother, and not every grocery store is selling you a card so some creep can know what kind of turkey you buy, but with each of these actions we are continually handing over our rights to privacy and offered limited control over it to make us feel a little better. We’re offered the incentive of a lower price for getting a grocery card so we can be statistics on consumer reports. We’re keeping in touch with our friends on social networks in exchange for having ads targeted at us. We’re willingly walking along the street allowing cameras to look at us, keep track of us, all for the sake of feeling a sense of security without a second thought. We pay money and give information to a government, with the mindset of patriotism and the idea that they’ll keep things running so we can live our lives feeling safe (though lately I’m not sure many feel this way anymore). We are willingly handing over our privacy. Or are we? Has the idea of privacy changed since the dawn of the technological age? It’s hard to say. All I know is privacy doesn’t seem like it means being left alone.


Why I Think We’ll Never Go Paperless…and a Great Commercial

May people ask me as a designer if I ever think print will die. First I respond with laughter, because I often think it a rather stupid question. Then I proceed to say “I certainly hope not…”

Paperless has become quite a trend. People often think that we’ll be entirely paperless by some distant point in the future in order to save millions of trees and deforestation of rain forests etc. Their biggest advocate? The eBook. Why? Because there isn’t any paper pages, and often they’re cheaper to purchase. A pretty solid argument right? Perhaps… if you don’t live in a third world country.

There has been a big push for literacy in the world as a step towards solving poverty. It’s a great start I think, and a very noble task. People need to learn how to read as a means of making it through this life and becoming a “successful and functional member of society”  (I’d love to hear someone tell an African Tribe leader that, they’d probably end up disgraced and kicked out of the village, or even worse in some cultures). Written language certainly can open many doors, but if we’re making the striving to build up the economic world using literature, we’d have to make it accessible to everyone. Now tell me, how many isolated tribes in the rainforest have pluming and electricity? Probably none of them huh?

What I’m getting at is this: eBooks are not all accessible. Not everyone in the world has internet. Not everyone in the world even has basic necessities for that matter. So why are we so convinced that going paperless is a real option for the whole world? Perhaps for more developed nations it can be a reality, but that would also cause the problem of increasing the poverty gap, and perhaps even possibly make poverty a bigger problem…or worse…cause us to take extreme measures destroying cultures by bringing in a very western and commercial line of thinking.

There is this great documentary on PBS about the development of nations based on the question “Why are some countries more developed than others?” It’s called Guns, Germs, and Steel based on a book by William McNeill and if you’re interested in the subject I recommend you find it or perhaps download it somewhere and watch it. It’s quite fascinating if you’re a history buff.  It’s good stuff and talks about some of the issues of poverty and resources in certain nations, and how they developed into power houses and third worlds.

I do not think print will ever die. Printed books are easier to get to the masses that digital ones for the reasons I said above, and so many others as well. Paper is used in so much more than printed work, poster, fliers and pamphlets. It’s a practical resource.

If you need more convincing…then watch the video below.


Killing Drones: Ethical for Use or not?

Screenshot taken from http://youtu.be/aSCzfoXJL6Y

Screenshot taken from http://youtu.be/aSCzfoXJL6Y

With the War ongoing and the dilemma of ethical technology use ever more blurry. Many lawyers have been conducting legal research on the matter and the issue stands whether or not it is a legal issue at all, or simply a moral one.

This topic was brought up by what is being called the  “White Paper Memo” saying the President has the right to kill indiscriminately using drones…including US citizens (don’t you just love the freedom of equality).

For an introduction to the topic, please visit the link below.

The link below is a video that discusses the issue of Drone Warfare and the argument against it’s ethical and legal use.

The link below is to a video of Harold Koh, legal advisor to the US Department of State, arguing that the use of drone warfare is legal according to United States and International law.

Regardless of a person’s stance on the issue, we have to agree that to every action there is an intention, and there are those things that are unintended.


The Facebook Copyright Hoax

I don’t know about any of you, but I saw this on one of my dear friends facebook statuses today and it caused me to get a little nervous:

In response to the new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings, professional photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berner Convention).
For commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times!
(Anyone reading this can copy this text and paste it on their Facebook Wall. This will place
them under protection of copyright laws.

By the present communiqué, I notify Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, disseminate, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contents. The aforementioned prohibited actions also apply to employees, students, agents and/or any staff under Facebook’s direction or control. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of my privacy is punished by law (UCC 1 1-308-308 1-103 and the Rome Statute).

Facebook is now an open capital entity. All members are recommended to publish a notice like this, or if you prefer, you may copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement at least once, you will be tacitly allowing the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in your profile status updates.

Being an artists, graphic designer, and photographer, I know better than to post any of my most personal info and artistic content on Facebook. Having a healthy caution of putting things on the internet is the first step to being a responsible patron of the online community (and respect of yourself). However, whenever I heard of things like this I always tend to get a little paranoid. So, I do what I do best, and take a little peek at the online news to see if I can find enough reliable resources to validate or refute the statements. Turns out this whole thing is a hoax and honestly, you cannot refute the contract via facebook status. That’s not how the law and copyright works friends (and if anyone seriously thought that it did then you’ve been seriously uneducated). Also how can you refute facebook’s ownership with a status when they own the statuses you put up?
If you are interested in legally putting your work under Copyright then please visit the U.S. Copyright Office website for more information on going through the proper channels. For more info on the Hoax and facebook policies read your Facebook Terms of Agreement, and view these helpful articles:

3D Printed Weapons

3d-printed-gunYes folks, it’s happened. As crazy as it may seem… it is possible that weaponry can be printed. With the creation of a new form of technology there is always a down side.  The use of the 3D printer for weapons has been a discussed possibility for everything from gaming dice and simple manufacturing to medicine and  military use.

Now understand me correctly, these weapons are not your class A firearms. in many cases the guns printed only lasted a handful of rounds or less. The article The 3D-printed gun: When is high-tech too hot to handle By David Cardinal  gives a bit more information on the problems of printing 3D guns. Plastics simply are not the kind of quality materials that guns need to hold themselves together. But he also brings up the main issue:

Few issues generate as many opinions as gun ownership. Almost every country in the world recognizes the special importance of firearms and regulates them. In the United States, the right to own a gun is written into our constitution as part of the famous Second Amendment in our Bill of Rights. Tempering those rights are a slew of state and federal regulations including laws requiring those who manufacture weapons for sale to be licensed, the weapons they create to be numbered and registered, and the guns to be readily detectable. 3D printing is threatening to turn the existing system of regulations on its head.

It’s quite true. Rep Steve Israel has called for a renewal of the ban on the company Wiki Weapons from offering gun printing services claiming that the guns cannot be regulated nor detected by traditional methods, which in turn can cause tracking terrorism and other kinds of organized crimes to be nearly impossible. This article entitled The world’s first 3D-printed gun By  from ExtremeTech.com sums up the issue quite nicely:

In short, this means that people without gun licenses — or people who have had their licenses revoked — could print their own lower receiver and build a complete, off-the-books gun. What a chilling thought.

But hey, that’s the ambivalent nature of technology, the great enabler. In just the last few months, 3D printers have also been used to print organs, blood vessels, and drugs. In a few more years, when 3D printers move beyond plastic resins, who knows what we’ll be able to print.

For every piece of technology we create, there is usually a number of pros and cons. In many cases the pros are larger in number than the cons, but at the same time the few cros are much larger problems than we realize. At what point do we critically regulate the uses of certain technologies, and when do we draw the line between the 1st Amendment and the well being of the population? Are we really being enabled and is it taking us in the wrong direction?


Mac Users Pay More?

If you’re a Mac user you know some of the connotations that go along with Macs. Yes, they’re expensive. Yes, many wealthy schools and people have Macs. Yes, Apple is a large company that has made quite a bit of money on their flashy (aka beautiful) products and unique marketing scheme. But, is that really cause for making people pay more online?

Yes, you heard me correctly.

Being a Mac user I can’t say that I’ve come across this problem. Mostly because the site found to have done this kind of marketing was Orbiz, which is a site I don’t particularly use, because I’ve not needed to book hotels before. But several articles from US News, CNN, and CNet have given information about this type of business practice, one that I find personally to be unethical. The CEO of Orbitz comments on the matter (From CNNs report):

“CEO Barney Harford told CNN that Orbitz recommendation results are part of an attempt to pair customers with the hotel they’d probably pick. In this case, Orbitz will offer recommendations based on what other PC or other Mac users selected as their final hotel, on the assumption that spending habits are the same, he said.

“What we have found is … that Mac users are 40% more likely to book four- or five-star hotels than PC users,” Harford said. “That lines up with (the fact that) Mac users are typically more willing to spend more money on higher-end computers.”

Now when one reads this 40% is a pretty high number. But, what if you consider that 40% of students are the purchasers of Mac computers? According to SeattlePi reports, Microsoft hasn’t been very attractive to this new generation. Though the information is almost 2 years old the trend is apparent on college campuses, coffee shops, and cyber cafes across the nation. Students are a fairly large sum of mac users, and I ask why should they pay more? Aren’t loans enough to pay off?

Of course this is all here-say as well, there is still a lot of information that isn’t accounted for. There is still that 60% of Mac users to take into account. There is still the fact that some people receive Macs as gifts like I did with mine (I’d like to know what % that is). But, regardless of that information, it causes a kind of socioeconomic profiling that I simply cannot reconcile, even if it’s for the sake of marketing. It’s almost as bad as The Nations report on how women pay more for everyday items (even medical insurance) than men do. It’s simply unreasonable. If  The United States is a nation that stands for equality, then why are we being reduced  to stereotypes based off something as small as the kind of computers we use? Why do human lives and choices have dollar signs all over them at all? All I know from this information is I won’t be using Orbitz anytime soon…or later in my life.


Vsauce: An Interesting YouTube Channel

The other day a friend of mine posted a video from a pretty neat YouTube Channel called Vsauce which is dedicated to technology and peaking the interest of those around the world about their world. Upon further inspection of the site I found several other creative, informative, and interesting videos that anyone interested in technology and human interactions, simply couldn’t live without.

Here is a video I found on there that takes us thorough the things we do in a day that ordinarily we would do in reality, but now have the capabilities for on the internet. All the links you could want ( should you want them) are available in the description section beneath the video. Trust me, you won’t regret seeing this.

I recommend this channel to anyone and everyone.


Summer Wars: Impact of Dependency

First off, apologies for not posting much. Summer is crazy between work and well…work. Oh, the joys of being the intern.

Second, if you love computer ethics, never really thought about your imprint on a technological scale,  and/or love anime…you may want to see this film. One of the most thought provoking films I’ve seen concerning the possible impacts that large internet powers (like Google and Facebook) can actually have on society that is totally dependent on them. Especially when things go terribly wrong.

**Warning: Watching this film may give you warm fuzzy feelings you may not feel comfortable with. Not recommended for children due to strong language and mild adult humor.**

Hope you’re all having an awesome summer. Peace!


Child Pornography: “Viewing” isn’t “Possessing”

A New York court on April 8th declared it legal to view child pornography on the internet claiming thst it is not “possessing” child pornography if it is merely being viewed (See full article here).

The issue the, New York court of appeals states, is that viewing online doesn’t mean you posses the media its self. If you view a lawn mower online doesn’t mean you own it right? Well, they aren’t wrong on that point, but we aren’t talking about inanimate possessions any more are we? We’re talking about children, living breathing beings being abused for the sake of entertainment (I’m sure that if one of the court members own children was in one of those online child pornography sites, they’d be playing a much different tune). What about hiring hit men? If one isn’t killing anyone themselves are they still held responsible for the death?  The way I see it, viewing pornography is the same as hiring a hit man because it is another way of enabling the creation of child porn simply because of the increase in demand for it (and an increase will inevitably come as viewing increases).

On a side note I was dicussing pornography with a friend and they made a good argument. They wondered how is pornography is not considered prostitution when you’re paying people to have sex with other people…like prostitutes. So why isn’t porn specifically illegal like prostitution considering they have the same definition?

Regardless, online morality might be taking an “interesting” (to put it lightly) turn because of this ruling.

Want to know what you can do to help fight against child pornography? Click here.


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