CBS News Examines the Internet and Our Right to Privacy

What if you are asked to resign your position because of a complaint about photos you posted to Facebook that you thought were private and for friends only — but weren’t? What if in the pictures you are perfectly sober, but simply posing with two glasses of alcohol, and reference a site that has a profanity in the name? What if the complaint about you to your employer was sent anonymously?

Erin Moriarity of CBS News examines these questions and more in the video below, “The Internet and Our Right to Privacy” from 48 Hours on February 6th, 2011. The producers write:

24-year-old Ashley Payne was forced to resign from her position as a public high school teacher when a student allegedly complained over a Facebook photo of Payne holding alcoholic beverages claiming it promoted drinking. 48 Hours’ Erin Moriarty investigates our ever changing rights to privacy.

There is an article that accompanies the video, ”Did the Internet Kill Privacy?“.

What do you think? If you put something online, is it automatically public, even if you mark it private? Do we have any right to privacy online? Is it morally OK, even if it is legal, for companies to compile profiles about us — without our knowledge and consent — based on our digital footprint?

Our Lives with Data using Data

Can you imagine life without Internet access (email, FTP, etc.)? What about Web access (i.e., anything via a browser)? If you have a smartphone, can you imagine not having one again?

GOOD Magazine decided to take a look at our life with data by creating the somewhat cheesy video below.

The video creators write: “from Google to GPS and Twitter to text messages we’re creating—and using—astronomical amounts of information these days. And the pace is accelerating. Here’s a look at some data about our data.” They list the statistical sources as: The Huffington Post, SmartCompany, Telenav, TechCrunch, InternetWorldStats, TextMessageBlog, SocialTimes, TheFutureBuzz, and MarketWatch.

I was surprised to read that the average person sends and receives 47 email messages per day. I thought the number would be higher.

Did any of the statistics surprise you?

The Web is Dead, Long Live the Internet…and the Web?

Is the Web dead? What about net neutrality?

Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff’s August 2010 piece in Wired Magazine called, “The Web is Dead. Long Live the Internet” caused a bit of controversy. The authors argued that the Web is losing supremacy, and stated that our online world will be cordoned off into closed worlds via Apps (for example) over the Internet. In other words, traditional, pre-Internet business models will reign supreme again.

Two decades after its birth, the World Wide Web is in decline, as simpler, sleeker services — think apps — are less about the searching and more about the getting. Chris Anderson explains how this new paradigm reflects the inevitable course of capitalism. And Michael Wolff explains why the new breed of media titan is forsaking the Web for more promising (and profitable) pastures.

They even created this nifty image below, showing the rise and fall of the Web.

The Web is Dead, Long Live the Internet

Image source:

Then there are the continuing arguments over net neutrality. In short, “net neutrality” refers to whether or not the FCC has the right to regulate traffic over the Internet, and whether or not companies can charge more for or block some types of traffic. For example, Comcast wants to charge more for Netflix’s movie streaming service, which sucks up bandwidth on Internet providers’ networks.
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War Data: a Short Profile of WikiLeaks

What happens when your data is leaked online? What happens when that data contradicts the official reports of a powerful government? What happens if that data is about a war, and the war is currently being fought?

Welcome to Wikileaks — an online site used by journalists and whistleblowers that provides public access to very private government, military, and corporate documents via an ISP in Sweden. WikiLeaks has no official headquarters, five full-time staff, about 800 occasional contributors, keeps no records, and uses military grade encryption to protect its sources and files.

Patrick Clair profiles Wikileaks in the video infographic below. You may read more about the organization on their web site.

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The Internet of Things and a System of Systems

We are drowning in a sea of data. There are more things on the Internet than there are people; currently about 1 billion people use the Internet.

We are learning to take data, create information, gain knowledge, and achieve wisdom. We are able to do this by using The Internet of Things to create a System of Systems. Or, so sayeth IBM’s marketing department.

This System of Systems, however, is not the Science Fiction idea that the computers are running the world — it is a system in which humans are an elemental part of it all. The system itself is unpredictable, as one change in one part of it will affect changes downstream.
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Google Not Being Evil

Why does Google want to know so much about you?

The company provides us with services ranging from maps to email, phones to video, books to social media — all free. Why do they do this, and how can the company afford to do this?

The more products and services the company provides for free, the more of us will use them, and the more data about ourselves is available for the company to mine. The company’s revenues come from advertising, and the more the company knows about you, the better they can target ads to you

“If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.” Eric Schmidt, Google CEO.

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Denial of Service Attacks — Cyber Vandals and Cyber Activism Explored

When a Denial of Service attack occurs, is it vandalism and mischief, an act of war, or a new form of democratic protest? The answer to that question might depend on which side you are on — it is a bit like the quote that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter“. Regardless of your point of view, it is a way to take control of someone else’s data and information by denying others access to it — to illegally tame it, if you will.

First, let’s examine the official definitions of a Denial of Service attack and a Distributed Denial of Service attack.
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How Advertisers Use Internet Cookies to Track Your Online Habits

What is behavioral targeting? Is it a violation of your privacy for businesses to track your movements online via cookies? What are cookies, anyway? Are cookies helpful, or do they provide too much information? Should you worry about how much digital exhaust you trail?

Christina Tsuei of the Wall Street Journal explains how advertisers use cookies to track your online habits in the video below. She states the obvious when she notes, “It’s rarely a coincidence when you see Web ads for products that match your interests”.

I thought this video was a nice reminder for us old hands, and a great introduction for newbies, on how cookies work. For myself, I think I am resigned to a certain amount of “cyber stalking” by advertisers and businesses, even though I don’t like it. I do clean out my browser cookies a few times a month, although I’m not sure how much that actually helps me keep any real privacy online regarding my digital exhaust.

To learn how to control your privacy settings, the Wall Street Journal offers some tips and suggestions as part of series called, “What They Know“.

Did anything in this video surprise you?

How to Tame Your Data When Mom is on Facebook

What do you do when your mom gets on Facebook? Do you not “friend” her, do you become more careful about what you post, or do you put her into a special group with limited access to your page? If you do the latter, what do you do when she asks why she can’t see all of your data and information?

You are a grown up and you live far, far away, and yet, it is like your parents can monitor your activities at any time. That can be creepy and just plain annoying.

The writers and comedians at Saturday Night Live have come up with a brilliant idea — a “damn it, my mom is on a facebook filter”.

I have to admit, although my friends are organized into various groups based on how I know them (high school, college, etc.), I have been careful about what I post since I first got on Facebook five years ago. Having said that, it was still weird when my mother joined and friended me. It was as though my activities were being watched again, just like when I was a child.

Did you change any behavior when your parents and relatives joined Facebook? Why or why not?