Media Bits & Bytes - September 11, 2012

 Software Meant to Fight Crime Is Used to Spy on Dissidents

 by Nicole Perlroth

 New York Times August 30, 2012

 Two Google engineers have been chasing widespread use of
 sophisticated, off-the-shelf computer espionage software
 called FinSpy, used by governments with questionable records
 on human rights such as Bahrain and Turkmenistan. While the
 software is supposedly sold for use only in criminal
 investigations, the two came across evidence that it was
 being used to target political dissidents. It can grab
 images of computer screens, record Skype chats, turn on
 cameras and microphones and log keystrokes, plus has been
 customized for all major mobile phones. What made the
 software especially sophisticated was how well it avoided

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 By Chris Taylor

 MASHable Op-Ed August 29, 2012

 President Obama broke all the campaign rules Wednesday
 afternoon, when he became the first candidate of either
 party to do an AMA ("ask me anything") on Reddit. The
 appearance was a complete surprise, but the site said more
 than 200,000 people were trying to view Obama's Q&A at any
 one time. More than 1.8 million people subscribed to the
 thread. Obama sat at a laptop for one hour, typed out
 answers to all of ten questions, in return won the attention
 of nearly 2 million people. (On the Internet, Reddit has a
 coolness factor that goes far beyond its borders.)

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 Twitter Is Not Backing Down About Protecting Protester's

 By Mary Long

 Media Bistro August 28, 2012

 Twitter is still not backing down from its fight over
 releasing an Occupy Wall Street protester's tweets, filing
 an appeal with New York Supreme Court requesting a reversal.
 And, not surprisingly, the ACLU is filing a friend-of-the-
 court brief in support.  In it Twitter asserts many things -
 chief among them that "Twitter users own their Tweets and
 should have the right to fight invalid government requests."
 Beyond that, Twitter argues that "in addition to providing a
 casual means of communication for millions of people,
 Twitter also provides a voice for liberty across the globe."

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 Job Openings at Amazon Web Services Reveal Its Future

 By Quentin Hardy

 New York Times AM1 Comment August 29, 2012 does not talk much about what it does in
 operating the world's largest publicly available computing
 cloud. But if you read between the lines you can get a sense
 of where it is going - global expansion, a new kind of Web
 browser, and spy work for the United States government.  One
 notable position is for a technical sales executive to the
 intelligence which requires a business and technical
 background, 10 years of selling or product management, five
 years in networking or cloud computing, and a Top Secret
 security clearance.

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 Networks, RNC overlook the deaf in online convention

 By Steve Friess August 30, 2012

 Online streaming was supposed to make the 2012 conventions
 more accessible to the public than ever before. But for the
 48 million Americans who are deaf or hard of hearing, no
 major media outlets provided live online closed captioning
 of the Republican National Convention this week in Tampa,
 Fla. At the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte,
 N.C., the only Internet feed that will carry real-time
 captioning will be the Democratic Party's own online hub.

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 Judge Approves E-Book Pricing Settlement Between Government
 and Publishers

 By Julie Bosman

 New York Times Blog September 6, 2012

 A federal judge on Thursday approved a settlement with three
 major publishers in a civil antitrust case brought by the
 Department of Justice over collusion in e-book pricing,
 paving the way for a war over the cost of digital books in
 the coming months.  Three publishers - Hachette Book Group,
 Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins - agreed to settle with
 the government, while Penguin Group USA, Macmillan and Apple
 declined to settle. They face a trial next summer.

 The settlement day called for the publishers to end their
 contracts with Apple within one week. The publishers must
 also terminate contracts with e-book retailers that contain
 restrictions on the retailer's ability to set the price of
 an e-book or contain a so-called "most favored nation"
 clause. Amazon, which called the settlement "a big win for
 Kindle owners," has vowed to drop prices on its e-books,
 probably to the $9.99 point that it once preferred for most
 bestsellers and newly released e-books.

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 How Google Builds Its Maps-and What It Means for the Future
 of Everything

 By Alexis Madrigal

 The Atlantic September 6, 2012

 An exclusive look inside Ground Truth, the secretive program
 to build the world's best accurate maps.

 Behind every Google Map, there is a much more complex map
 that's the key to your queries but hidden from your view.
 The deep map contains the logic of places: their no-left-
 turns and freeway on-ramps, speed limits and traffic
 conditions. This is the data that you're drawing from when
 you ask Google to navigate you from point A to point B --
 and last week, Google showed me the internal map and
 demonstrated how it was built. It's the first time the
 company has let anyone watch how the project it calls GT, or
 "Ground Truth," actually works.  I came away convinced that
 the geographic data Google has assembled is not likely to be
 matched by any other company.

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 If You Want Customers To Fork Over Private Data, Give Them
 Something Irresistible In Return

 by Dimitri Maex and Paul B. Brown

 Fast Company.Com September 6, 2012

 As more interactions move to digital platforms, consumers
 will also leave behind much more data about what they are
 interested in, since they will be visiting sites and
 consuming media that captures everything they do. This will
 give advertisers the opportunity to get to know them much
 better so we can tailor our offers and products accordingly.
 People agree to take part because they can see the value,
 and even if a company can't persuade consumers to hand over
 data, others might be able to. And they can always resell it
 back with a customer's endorsement.

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 Survey on Privacy and Data Management on Mobile Devices

 by Jan Lauren Boyles, Aaron Smith, Mary Madden

 PEW September 5, 2012

 More than half of mobile application users have uninstalled
 or avoided certain apps due to concerns about the way
 personal information is shared or collected by the app,
 according to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center's
 Internet & American Life Project. In all, 88% of U.S. adults
 now own cell phones, and 43% say they download cell phone
 applications or "apps" to their phones. Among app users, the
 survey found 57% of all app users have either uninstalled an
 app over concerns about having to share their personal
 information, or declined to install an app in the first
 place for similar reasons.

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 Feds Say Mobile-Phone Location Data Not `Constitutionally

 By David Kravets

 Wired September 5, 2012

 The Obama administration told a federal court Tuesday that
 the public has no "reasonable expectation of privacy" in
 cellphone location data, and hence the authorities may
 obtain documents detailing a person's movements from
 wireless carriers without a probable-cause warrant.

 The administration said such data, like banking records, are
 "third-party records," meaning customers have no right to
 keep it private. The government made the argument as it
 prepares for a re-trial of a previously convicted drug
 dealer whose conviction was reversed in January by the
 Supreme Court, which found that the government's use of a
 GPS tracker on his vehicle was an illegal search.

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 Happy birthday Skype. In 9 years you changed telecom

 By Om Malik September 3, 2012

 Skype is one of the most revolutionary services to hit the
 Internet. Long before people talked about viral growth &
 network effects, it swept the planet with a simple idea:
 anyone could make free calls over the internet. Skype
 celebrated its 9th birthday August 29.  That radically
 simple idea changed the telecom industry and the voice-
 calling business forever, and may have been the single most
 disruptive service ever to hit the telecommunications world.

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