Monday, September 05, 2011

Hyper-Public: A Symposium on Designing Privacy and Public Space in the Connected World // June 9-10, 2011 // Harvard University

Hosted by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society

"This symposium will bring together computer scientists, ethnographers, architects, historians, artists and legal scholars to discuss how design influences privacy and public space, how it shapes and is shaped by human behavior and experience, and how it can cultivate norms such as tolerance and diversity."

"Four main sessions anchor the day. The first sessions two focus on people: the makers, users and transformers of new spaces and technologies. The second two sessions focus on the future: looking at scenarios of radical technological change and creating a vision of the world we want to live in."

All the sessions are up on Berkman's YouTube channel.

Posted via email from maelorin's posterous

i don't look to 14 year olds to show me how to behave

i don't look to 14 year olds to show me how to behave: not online, not anywhere. it's time we stopped excusing that shit online just because the Internet is so 'shiny and new' - it ain't either of those any more than the desktop computer or the mobile phone - and we ought to stop excusing people's lack of etiquette here just because aol dumped their trash all over the place in the mid-90s. the latest cars are new and shiny too, but we still expect people to follow road rules - even when the cops ain't watching.

i've had a computer and internet access and email for more than half my life. i've lived through the flame wars, the trolls, both kinds of hackers, irc, newsnet, muds, moos, the world wide web, second life, and so on. i was new to 'all this' once myself.

but a lack of 'tech savvy' or 'internet awareness' is not an excuse for anyone to be a dick online. being petty online stays there, for everyone to see, for a very long time.

Posted via email from maelorin's posterous

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Google Has Started Locking Out Users Who Aren't On G+

These are screenshots I took today 1. My YouTube profile information had been deleted See where is says last activity April 2006? And below that where it says I haven't uploaded anything yet? Well I have uploaded and commented and liked many videos between April of 06 and now And

Posted via email from maelorin's posterous

Friday, August 05, 2011

suspended for not being 'real'

Seems my G+ account has been suspended. (been expecting for a while
since the 'names' thing arose).

I have had a gmail account (and many others besides) in this name, since
gmail came into the game. this has not been an issue anywhere else for,
oh, the 20+ years i have used it.

on what basis are random people (algorithms?) 'assessing' 'common names'?

it is quite *legal* in common law countries for people to adopt names
other than the one(s) on their birth certificate. the name i am using
here *is* a 'legal name'.

how does google propose to verify the 'legalness' of names? do we all
front up at a google office with birth certificates and so forth? or
does it come down to the name *looking* 'legal'? on what criteria? it is
perfectly legal to name a child, or change one's name formally, to a
single word as either firstname or surname. in some cultures, it is
possible to never have had more than a one word name. it is also
possible to be named Angel Angel Angel, or Hoopy Frood, or Teary
Elasmoblast Smith - and so on.

i have been known by several 'absurd' names in my life. primary school
'chums' are likely to remember the names they called me better than some
formal name. most of us didn't know each others surnames, for example.
(plus, decades have passed by. i'm more likely to be reminded by a
'stinky pinky' or a 'princess bluebell' or a 'horseface' than i am say
by some 'steve pinkerton', 'amy grant', or 'melody kariannais').

how does google propose to compensate people who the expect to give up
the use of a common law name on their services? one that may have built
significant online (and offline) good will and recognition? many people
have only known me by this name. for others, it is how they find me
online. other names i am known by, in other contexts, are either less
unique, or have different meanings/purposes. i have no interest in
collapsing or cross-linking names that have been associated with me for
decades into a single persona - if i wanted to do that i would have done
so years ago.

humans identify one another by their connections with others (aunt,
dave's mate, mother-in-law), not their credentials. friends of friends,
not unverified assertions or claims to associations that google cannot
verify. people know who they know. and online, we interact with 'real'
and 'virtual' personas all the time. google cannot 'protect' us from
others over whom you have no real control. sure google can suspend or
pull accounts. but since they've devalued the first as a form of
penalty, they're diluting what little 'control' they do have.

a policy that *prefers* the use of common names is great. it would be
*better* to have policies regarding genuine behaviour than getting mired
in this 'real' names tar pit. it is not my 'name' that assures people i
am genuine, it is my behaviour. google ought to focus on that: google
has a lot more scope to assess behaviour (something they actually
already do) than unknown credentials from every country on the planet
(including a bunch that no longer exist).

There are a lot of assumptions embedded in google's policy - ones that
tell me a lot about the design of google's system and the thinking of
their designers - but also how very little google has learned from being
a global enterprise. "names in a single language"? parents can freely
give their children names in multiple languages. it might be better to
ask for names to be 'expressed in a single alphabet' if that is what was

how i behave, and the relationships i build, are the key to my
'identity', not my 'name' - that's merely a label. i am not loosing my
'identity' for google's administrative convenience.

Posted via email from maelorin's posterous

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Why the US needs a data privacy law - and why it might finally get one

The general public and Congress have both discovered geolocation, data breaches, and tracking cookies—and they're worried about the privacy implications. In this op-ed, the Center for Democracy & Technology's Justin Brookman argues that this could be the moment at which everything comes together to make comprehensive privacy reform possible. The opinions in this op-ed do not necessarily represent those of Ars Technica.

With the understandable exceptions of the national debt and the deployments of our troops abroad, privacy is possibly the hottest issue in Congress today. After ten years of limited interest in the subject, we’ve recently seen a spate of legislation introduced to give consumers rights over how their information is collected and shared. 

In the House of Representatives, Reps. Bobby Rush (D-IL) and Cliff Stearns (R-FL) have each introduced separate comprehensive bills. In the Senate, John Kerry (D-MA) and John McCain (R-AZ) recently introduced the "Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights" with similar goals. The (Democrat-led) Senate Commerce Committee recently held a hearing on the topic of privacy; the next week, the (Republican-led) House Energy and Commerce Committee looked at the same thing. 

In a town where positions on issues are often deeply divided along partisan lines, it’s encouraging to see that there appears to be at least one issue that both parties recognize as a problem that needs to be addressed.

Not much company

Here’s why Congress is interested: today, the United States and Turkey are the only developed nations in the world without a comprehensive law protecting consumer privacy. European citizens have privacy rights, Asian citizens have privacy rights, Latin American citizens have privacy rights. In the US, however, in lieu of a comprehensive approach, we have a handful of inconsistent, sector-specific laws around particularly sensitive information like health and financial data. For everything else, the only rule for companies is just “don’t lie about what you’re doing with data.”

The Federal Trade Commission enforces this prohibition, and does a pretty good job with this limited authority, but risk-averse lawyers have figured out that the best way to not violate this rule is to not make explicit privacy promises at all. For this reason, corporate privacy policies tend to be legalistic and vague, reserving rights to use, sell, or share your information while not really describing the company’s practices. Consumers who want to find out what’s happening to their information often cannot, since current law actually incentivizes companies not to make concrete disclosures.

This has been the case for years, of course, but in the modern era of constant connectivity, social networking, and cheap data storage and processing, the stakes are remarkably higher. Before the advent of the Internet, there were only so many data points for marketers and information brokers to collect about you, and bookstores and libraries didn’t share what you were reading. Even just a few years ago, when you went to a major publisher website, there might have been a couple third-party trackers on the site who could drop a cookie on your computer to “anonymously” track you across other sites. Today, these same sites may deploy hundreds of trackers from dozens of different companies, many of which know your offline identity as well. What happens to all that information? With whom is it shared? No one really knows, and there is no framework to regulate it.

Bad for business

This black box into which our data flows is bad for consumers, but it’s increasingly an impediment to US businesses as well. As Silicon Valley companies encourage consumers to store their personal data in “the cloud,” people are legitimately asking, “Why? What’s going to happen to my data there?” Today, the US is the undisputed leader in cloud computing services, but international competitors are increasingly advertising the fact that their services aren’t US-based. The Department of Commerce recently issued a report arguing that the lack of privacy protections threatens both the adoption of new technologies by worried consumers and the ability to have international data sent to the US. Last week, Forrester Research released a study showing that privacy concerns were the biggest impediment to the growth of e-commerce on mobile technologies.

Companies would be better off if they all provided meaningful privacy protections for consumers, but privacy is a collective action problem for them: many companies would love to see the ecosystem fixed, but no one wants to put themselves at a competitive disadvantage by imposing unilateral limitations on what they can do with user data. It’s fantastic to see companies endeavoring to compete on privacy (such as Google touting the privacy features of its new social network), but so far such competition has been spotty and often takes place at the margins. Many companies that touch and store consumer data don’t have consumer-facing sides (like the ever-increasing number of intermediaries in the behavioral advertising space), so it’s hard to see the Internet ecosystem fixing itself on its own.

And let’s be frank: so far, self-regulation hasn’t been enough. Increasingly, leading multinational corporations have recognized this problem, and companies like Microsoft, Intel, and HP that have heavily invested in cloud technologies have endorsed specific legislative solutions such as the Kerry-McCain and Rush bills to provide consumers with comprehensive privacy protections.

Any privacy law that is enacted doesn’t need to, and shouldn’t, prohibit data sharing or invalidate business models. However, consumers have a right to know what’s happening with their information and to have a say in how it gets shared. If a company insists on sharing data about a consumer as a condition of doing service, fine. As long as that fact is clearly conveyed, and the consumer decides to accept the terms, we shouldn’t put limits on what consumers are willing to do with their own information. Unfortunately, consumers today aren’t even told what’s happening, so they can’t exercise meaningful control over their data unless they take extreme measures to anonymize their surfing though services like Tor or block third-party content (which surely isn’t the right result for anyone).

So will a new law be passed? As with anything in Washington, it’s hard to say what will happen—Congress has a lamentable tendency to kick problems down the road for another day. However, with tremendous attention to privacy issues and widespread consumer support for basic consumer protections, we have the best opportunity in memory to enact basic rules to give people control of their personal information and to give them confidence in an increasingly complex data ecosystem. We should take advantage of this moment to develop a considered consensus on reasonable baseline protections that work for both consumers and businesses.

Justin Brookman is Director of the Consumer Privacy Project at the Center for Democracy & Technology in Washington, DC.

Posted via email from maelorin's posterous

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Shhh! It's a library?

WTF! The BSL reverberates to the subtle tune of The Jackhammering Cycle.

Having started the fitout for the 'Learning Hub', someone is only now digging trenches in the concrete inside the place. An endless cycle of jackhammering makes the library an impossible place to be, let alone think.

But why the f is anyone doing this *now* and not *before* filling the place with 'pretty' fitout? (each of which has a hasty sign tacked to it warning not to work near the delicate surfaces!)

Posted via email from maelorin's posterous

Saturday, May 21, 2011

CDC EPR | Social Media | Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse - Blog

The following link found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( has been sent by

CDC EPR | Social Media | Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse - Blog

Posted via email from maelorin's posterous

Monday, January 24, 2011

BlackBerry program may help RIM defend its turf

I thought you might be interested in this:

I found this using the Thomson Reuters News Pro for iPhone app.

To install News Pro on your iPhone or iPad, visit:

Steven R Clark
PhD Candidate, University of SA
Deputy Director Economic, Legal and Social Issues, Australian Computer Society

Sent from my outboard brain ...

Posted via email from maelorin's posterous