Chasing Secrets

Posted December 20th, 2010 at 5:57 pm (UTC-4)
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Once a Secret is Out of the Bag, Can It Ever Go Back In?

Kate Woodsome | Washington, D.C

The U.S. Justice Department is reportedly considering whether to file espionage charges against the WikiLeaks Web site and its founder Julian Assange. The case has raised broad legal questions about how the government will protect the freedom of information and an open Internet, while also protecting privacy and national security.

And it begs an even older question: once a  secret is revealed, can it ever go back to being secret again?  That, after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Choosing Sides Over Net Neutrality

Posted December 19th, 2010 at 7:54 pm (UTC-4)
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How Industry, Congress and the FCC Hope to Shape the Internet

In the occasional rough-and-tumble where business, politics and the Internet meet, the phrase ‘net neutrality’ has become  the equivalent of fighting words.

This despite the fact that most people have no idea what ‘net neutrality’ means – let alone what the fight’s all about.   But there’s plenty at stake; who wins will determine, in part, the future shape of the web.

The issues, the sides, and our interview with Sara Jerome of The Hill, after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Reach Out and Touch Someone…From Prison

Posted December 13th, 2010 at 4:32 pm (UTC-4)
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How Mobile Phones are Increasingly Becoming a Threat in Jails

Andrew McIntyre is no school boy.  As the BBC reports, he had been convicted on numerous firearms and drug-related charges and was serving an eight-month sentence behind bars.

But that wasn’t enough to slow McIntyre’s burgeoning drug business.  From his jail cell he was able to direct his illegal operations by using smuggled mobile phones.

And use them he did: in one three month period McIntyre called or texted over six thousand times before being caught.

Earlier this month, also in Britain, prisoner Michael Long used a cell phone he illegally bought from a prison warden to record his life at Bullington Prison.  Worse, he emailed the images and videos to news agencies, which broadcast the images of lax security and other problems.

And today, showing the resourcefulness of those incarcerated, the New York Times is reporting that inmates in seven Georgia prisons…

“…have used contraband cellphones to coordinate a nonviolent strike this weekend, saying they want better living conditions and to be paid for work they do in the prisons.”

Correctional officers have known for years that as mobile phones become smaller, more powerful, and easier to connect to a variety of networks, they are also becoming one of the most highly-prized contraband items in prisons.  These phones have been used to threaten witnesses, direct payback ‘hits’ and even build illegal operations.

Now it seems the prisoners are getting smarter – not only communicating with the outside world, but among themselves.

As the adage goes, it seems information – like humans – wants to be free.


Posted December 12th, 2010 at 2:53 pm (UTC-4)
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Wikileaks and the Cyber-War it Launched

“The Jester” says he’s responsible for knocking Wikileaks off the Internet. “Anonymous” say they’re targeting MasterCard and PayPal as punishment for stopping transfers to the controversial site. Across the web, a war is waging between supporters and opponents of Wikileaks. Will it be enough to tear a hole in the Internet?  VOA’s Doug Bernard takes a deeper lo0k, after the jump.

Wanted: Adman Looking for Online Friends

Posted December 7th, 2010 at 1:34 pm (UTC-4)
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Social Networks Become the Next Best Thing for Advertisers

As an industry, advertising is a bruising, competative game, with the “admen” who run it always on the hunt for the next best thing to give them a leg up over their competitors. And with a growing amount of Internet traffic going through social network sites, it’s no surprise advertisers have begun a mad hunt to find more “friends” online. VOA’s Jeff Seldin has this look.

Drip, Drip, Drip…

Posted December 5th, 2010 at 3:30 pm (UTC-4)
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How Wikileaks Exploits Technological, and Human, Weaknesses

Kate Woodsome |Washington DC

Founder of the WikiLeaks website, Julian Assange, at a recent press conference in London (Tom Turco - AP)

Historians, anti-war activists and armchair observers of human nature will have plenty to mull over in the coming years, thanks to the online group WikiLeaks.

The website has published hundreds of thousands of previously unreleased U.S. military and diplomatic documents, dating from February of this year to as far back as the 1960s.  The latest round of leaks, involving diplomatic cables, has renewed efforts by the U.S. government to tighten security on its computer systems.  But cyber-security experts point out the leaks were less a breakdown of technology than of trust.

Their thoughts, and the full story, after the jump.

Virtual News Finds Its Niche

Posted November 15th, 2010 at 1:08 pm (UTC-4)
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Kate Woodsome | Washington, D.C

When news breaks, most reporters focus on the facts captured on tape to bring the story alive.  But Taiwan’s Next Media Animation is taking a different approach to create compelling material.

Their team of writers, actors, artists and computer programmers create digital animations that depict — and embellish — the stories behind the headlines.

Golf superstar Tiger Woods became the group’s highest-profile target last year when an altercation with his wife, Elin Nordegren, led to global news coverage of a string of extra-marital affairs.  Next Media Animation used CGI technology to depict what happened between the couple behind closed doors.

The video became an instant hit on the Internet, spurring media mogul Jimmy Lai, the founder of Taiwan’s Apple Daily newspaper and Hong Kong’s Next Magazine, to expand his new enterprise.

After the jump, the group’s international content editor, Angelica Oung, talks to VOA about the ethics, the process and the future of animating the news. Read the rest of this entry »

When No News Is Bad News

Posted November 5th, 2010 at 4:24 pm (UTC-4)
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“Battlefield Blackout” and the Silence of Facebook

Anyone with family or friends in the military knows how important electronic communications are.  Tweets and Facebook updates have, if not replaced, then overtaken the handwritten letters and box of cookies sent from home.  (Although we’ve never met anyone in the service who would turn their nose up to a home-made cookie.)

Military servicemen connecting with families online, courtesy FoxNews

In a must-read piece published Friday, the Washington Post’s Greg Jaffe notes that the immediacy of all those text messages and IM chats means information is flowing more freely than ever between those on the battle’s front lines, and those they’ve left at home.  That can be a good thing for the soldiers involved, but can also present serious security problems for military commanders.

Now it seems, it’s also an unexpected source of great stress for families.  That, after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

The Keys To The Kingdom

Posted November 5th, 2010 at 3:58 pm (UTC-4)
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…And Why HTML5 May Be A Hacker’s Dream

Andy Greenberg over at Forbes’ “Firewall” has this curtain-lifter from next week’s Black Hat conference on Internet security.   Greenberg reports that one of next week’s presenters, security researcher (a.k.a. “reformed hacker”) Lavakumar Kuppan will demonstrate HTML5’s enhancements will also give malicious hackers to access other users browsers for nearly any nefarious purposes.

How bad could this be?  Maybe as bad as giving a thief the town’s master key.  That, after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Freedom of “Cyber-Speech”

Posted November 5th, 2010 at 11:51 am (UTC-4)
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When Is Virtual Speech Not Like Real Speech?

Pop quiz: what do Governor Arnold Schwarzeneggar, Bugs Bunny, and the destruction of the US Capitol have in common?

Arguably nothing except this: they all played a part in oral arguments this week before the US Supreme Court in a case that could have a major implications for the limits of virtual and cyber-speech.

Schwarzenegger vs. Entertainment Merchants Association is the highest court’s test of a California state law that bans the sale or rental of video games that feature “deviant” levels of violence to minors.   Enacted in 2005, the law has never seriously been enforced as lower courts have found the ban violated free-speech rights.

As in other free-speech court cases, the issues discussed weren’t always pleasant, with references on both sides of the bench to graphic depictions of human pain and degradation.

But just what constitutes “deviant” levels of violence, and who should set those bounds?  The Justice’s questions, and the answers they got, after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

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What’s Digital Frontiers?

The Internet, mobile phones, tablet computers and other digital devices are transforming our lives in fundamental and often unpredictable ways. “Digital Frontiers” investigates how real world concepts like privacy, identity, security and freedom are evolving in the virtual world.

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