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True Video Lies

This is a longer version of a piece I recorded for the BBC World Service. The other day my wife lost her phone out shopping. We narrowed it down to either the supermarket or the taxi. So we took her shopping receipt to the supermarket and asked to see their CCTV to confirm she still had the phone when she left. To my surprise they admitted us into their control room. Banks of monitors covering nooks, crannies, whole floors, each checkout line. There they let us scroll through the security video—I kind of took over, because the guy didn’t seem to know how to useContinue readingTrue Video Lies

Journalists’ Responsibility Is To The Truth, Not The Cops

But why the hell not? Shafer argues that this puts the next reporter in a risky position: Will sources trust him or see him an an agent of the law? I think the reporter who does not follow Eichenwald’s lead is in a riskier position: of allowing and thus even abetting crimes to be committed. And what does that tell the public about our role in our communities? What kind of citizens are we then? Now to the third, inevitable illustration. I wish that On the Media had asked Eichenwald about Judy Miller and related cases, for the parallels are clear. She knew a crime had been committed and she went … Continue readingJournalists’ Responsibility Is To The Truth, Not The Cops

The Tilted Software Piracy Debate

Software piracy is a tricky topic, that requires some skepticism on the part of the reporter, though the media rarely show signs of that in their coverage. Here’s another example from last week’s Microsoft press conference in Indonesia, one of the prime culprits when it comes to counterfeit software: JAKARTA (AFP) – Software piracy is costing the Indonesian economy billions of dollars each year and is stymieing the creation of a local information technology industry, a Microsoft representative said. There is some truth to these statements, but it’s not really what Microsoft is interested in. First off, is it really the Indonesian economy that’s sufferingContinue readingThe Tilted Software Piracy Debate

Indian Slumdwellers Protest Biometric Scanning of Impersonators. I Think

Who says that privacy is only an issue in the First World? According to The Times of India residents of Palsora and Lal Bahadur Shastri colonies have demonstrated against “alleged irregularities in the biometric test, which is being carried out in the slum areas to check “impersonation at any level.” The problem, it seems, is that people have been impersonating other people, sometimes twice, to register or occupy property. A couple of interesting things about this. First off, this is not just any old biometric test. The administration, the story says, plans to test “all those living in slums [who] will have to furnish details of theirContinue readingIndian Slumdwellers Protest Biometric Scanning of Impersonators. I Think

The Big Credit Card Theft

Trying to make sense of the massive theft of credit card numbers at CardSystems, ‘a leading provider of end-to-end payment processing solutions focused exclusively on meeting the needs of small to mid-sized merchants’, in which information on more than 40 million credit cards may have been stolen. CardSystems itself has issued only a brief statement on its website (no permalink available) saying it had identified a potential security incident on Sunday, May 22nd. On Monday, May 23rd, CardSystems contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Subsequently, the VISA and MasterCard Card Associations were notified to alert them of a possible security incident. CardSystems immediately began aContinue readingThe Big Credit Card Theft

Blink, Diallo And The Serpico Blog

I re-watched the excellent Serpico recently: A classic movie that should be watched back-to-back with The Corporation. Hunting the web for more on Serpico the man I found he has his own blog: the Official Frank Serpico Blog. I find that a pretty amazing example of how the Internet, and in particular blogging, has changed things. From the sense of isolation Al Pacino’s Serpico projects in the movie, and the fact he had to go to the New York Times to be heard, to having a blog to air his views. Not perfect, but a great advance. (Of course, there’s the question as to whetherContinue readingBlink, Diallo And The Serpico Blog

Fingerprint Readers And Baths

Something I’ve noticed about biometric fingerprint readers. They don’t work well after a bath. Why is that? Are our fingers different after a bath? I mean, they look different — all wrinkly, for one thing — but why does that mess up the fingerprint reader? I do my best thinking in the bath, and it’s getting frustrating to have to wait five minutes while my fingers return to normal before I can gain access to my computer. That’s the sort of warning they should put on the box.

How Secure Is Bluetooth?

Could people use Bluetooth to access your phone and steal confidential data? Apparently, yes. A company specialising in security and encryption, London-based A.L. Digital Ltd, says it has discovered “serious flaws” in the way that some Bluetooth gadgets authenticate connect to other Bluetooth gadgets and share information. In two separate flaws, the company says: The SNARF attack: confidential data can be obtained, anonymously, and without the owner’s knowledge or consent, from some Bluetooth enabled mobile phones. This data includes, at least, the entire phonebook and calendar; The BACKDOOR attack: the complete memory contents of some mobile phones can be accessed by a previously trusted (“paired”) deviceContinue readingHow Secure Is Bluetooth?

Update: Congressman Wrestle Spammers to the Ground

Here’s more on my earlier posting about congress, spam and a new survey. Here’s the survey link. “In general our study suggests that consumers want government to provide greater protection against spammers,” commented Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of Ponemon Institute. “We hope our joint study provides insight on consumers’ concerns about the growing frequency of spam and the role government and industry should play in curtailing abuse.” The study was released at a press conference called by Senator Charles Schumer whose Stop Pornography and Abusive Marketing Act (The SPAM ACT) would create a do-not-spam list. (No really, that’s the acronym.) “The emailing publicContinue readingUpdate: Congressman Wrestle Spammers to the Ground

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