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12Mar/120

Internet Filtering By State



There’s lots of countries where the Internet is free and then there’s the list of usual suspects that practice some kind of Internet filtering or censorship. Some of the names on the list are countries that we already know since they’re not advocates of free speech anyway; still others are more minor players you might not have suspected but are nevertheless not surprised to find labeled as censors.

Algeria is a good example of one of these countries. When this country suffered through some protests last year, their reaction was to block Facebook intermittently. Reports from the time say that rioting was the reason for the government crackdown and the explanation as to why people had taken to the streets was rising food prices.

Soon after the collapse of autocratic rule in Egypt, Libya was quick to start banning both Facebook and Twitter. As early as August of last year, there were published reports that the country was coming back online after a six month blackout.

Of course there are other countries guilty of Internet filtering and some of the catch phrases that are used to cover up this kind of control include “securing intellectual property rights, protecting national security” and “shielding children from pornography and exploitation.”

Regardless of the phrasing that’s used, there’s always the argument that the restrictions are enacted to curb what’s called the lawlessness of the medium.

There are generally several different ways this form of censorship is enacted and they include technical blocking, search results removal, take down and induced self censorship.  While the latest blocking news comes from a country that has never really been an advocate of free speech, the length to which Pakistan is going to block websites puts it at the top of the list for now.

A recent report states that country is adverting for Internet blocking software to block up to fifty million web addresses that it considers undesirable. While the case can be made to block pornographic sites, there’s really no precedent for the way that Pakistan is going about shopping for a censor. And there’s plenty of criticism.

Comments from Shahzad Ahmad, the director of Bytes for All Pakistan sound a lot like the ones that might be made in any of the other countries where the Arab Spring has taken place, or even here in the West.

“The government has nothing to do with what I choose to look at,” he recently told the dailyherald.com. Of course these are the voices that need to be heard as loudly and as often as the government perspective.

 

 

 


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18Feb/120

Iran Blacks Out The Internet. Perfect Storm On Way?



There were recent reports that Iran blacked out the Internet and for thirty minutes on Tuesday, the Web went blank on that country where freedom of speech and information has never really been high on the list of priorities.

Ron Deibert — director of the Canada Centre for Global Security Studies and the Citizen Lab research centre at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto—sees more than just some kind of technical glitch here and warned of dark clouds on the horizon recently for freedom in cyberspace.

He called the whole episode the beginning of a perfect storm where cyber warfare in all its different forms will take the place of many of the geopolitical conflicts we’ve seen in the past. What it all means is experts in the field are warning us that Big Brother knows how important and effective the web can be and is taking steps to control it.

Deibert goes on in the article to say he thinks that the lockdown of the web was more than just a temporary situation, and that the Iranians were in fact testing what they call a ‘National Internet’ that will control all the sites that are allowed into the country.

“To me, this is changing the very architecture of the Internet,” Mr. Deibert said in an interview this week at an academic conference in Toronto that was reported in the National Post in Canada. “The digital curtain is going up all over the place. You can imagine the conversations that happen in, say, Belarus. In the past, these governments would just censor access to a few websites, but in the wake of the Arab Spring, what are they thinking: How do you nationalize this technology?”

It seems that years after one Iron Curtain crumbles, another one is being set up in cyberspace.

And of course what would a discussion on restricting the Internet be without mentioning China? The GhostNet cyber spy ring was discovered by Deibert’s team in 2009, and this Chinese ring was found to be spying on NATO operations in Germany, foreign embassies globally, and even the Dalai Lama’s American headquarters.

Still we can’t just wag our fingers at the people in other countries when it comes to curtailing cyberspace. Let’s not forget The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is being considered right here in North America and here the US government would have the power to shut down websites that were suspected of breaching copyright laws.

Over there they control their Internet to give religious and political institutions power over the people. Here we do it for big business.

 

 

 


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7Feb/120

The Advantages Internet Advertising Brings To The Plate



I deal with people now and again that understand they need some kind of Internet advertising to help their company to take off but they’re really not sure what it is and how to go about getting the right kind.

First off, the benefits to getting exposure on the Web. Simply put, you get more of it for less. With the right people using a combination of social media, blogs and articles as well as maybe even some videos and other mediums, more people will be able to read about the goods and services that you have for sale for a cheaper price than with print or even television and radio.

Availability is another one of the big bonuses to going with online advertising. Remember the work that content writers do for you is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week online. With the search engine optimization techniques that are available to today’s Internet marketers, you can also target a select audience to get your message to.

Online advertising campaigns are also much easier to track and measure conversion rates for. With some of the analytics that are available today, smart marketers can refine approaches to Internet campaigns while they are in full swing, usually at no additional cost to the client. For example, it’s not uncommon for a search engine optimization set of keywords to be evaluated and retooled on a constant basis so the client gets optimal exposure and the best return on investment.

Using social media also allows online advertisers to engage their target audiences more quickly and easily. Properly tracking Facebook and twitter accounts allows companies and individuals to be able to see and react to their target audience’s preferences without the need for long drawn out analytical evaluations of data. Getting the kind of information to keep an advertising campaign running smoothly is much quicker and much more immediate online.

Finally, Internet advertising is much more affordable than its predecessors. The Internet has been able to level the playing field so to speak so that the numbers of companies and individuals that any firm has to choose from are much more diverse.

It wasn’t that long ago that business came to realize that they need to work on the Internet in some way or form to be successful. Advertising has followed suit and now people can get broader exposure at a cheaper price with any of the Internet marketers available on the web today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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1Jan/120

Syrian Freedom Fighters Use The Internet. We Should Help.



The great strides social media has made helping oppressed people unshackle themselves from the autocrats and other dictators that imprison them is finding yet another home in Syria.  The actions of President Bashar al-Assad’s secret police including not so secret massacres of protestors have only been brought to the attention of the world through Syria’s media activists.

Consider the price they pay. The Sydney Morning Herald reports recently on the plight of two teenage brothers that were caught with loudspeakers in the Damascus suburb of Douma and tortured for nothing more than plotting to have the very freedoms we take for granted. They were tortured and eventually released but the crackdown on any news getting out from that country makes what they do all the more important.

Abdullah is a 28 year old who reports in the same article that although people are scared of the nail bombs and other hideous instruments the regime’s forces use, they send texts to each other to report where the government activity is the strongest. Gone is the clenched fist of yesterday’s freedom fighter. Tomorrow’s icons hold up the tiny black box that is the smartphone with a camera.

We have a responsibility to help them from the safety and comfort of our worlds, where ever they may be. If the Arab Spring has taught us anything , it’s that the latest mobile apps, Twitter and Facebook accounts are a great distraction and way to stay in touch from our perspective here in the West. But there’s more to what this technology can do and we need to do our part without letting these opportunities slip by while we turn away from realities like Chamberlain standing on the steps to the plane, paper in hand, proclaiming  peace in our time.

The wave of the freedom fight in Syria will stop at our shores if we let it. Even when the mainstream media picks up on some of the horrendous video and other reports coming out from Syria, their spotlight is momentary and off to the next story that attracts ratings as soon as one crops up.  Bloggers need to pick the cause up and carry it. Spread evenly across the web, the fight of the people in Syria that are yearning to determine their own destinies will be heard and the pressure constant.

What’s being done in the Arab world and other diplomatic circles may have more impact, but exerting whatever influence we can on the net as people who stand shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters in that part of the world can help.  We should do our part.  Write a blog or post a comment where it matters today.

 

 

 


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13Nov/110

The internet doesn’t make terrorists/China worried about false information.



A new report has found the Internet doesn’t play a significant role in radicalizing people and pointing them toward terrorists groups like al Qaida. That’s good news for sure and the report goes on to say  although the web is considered an excellent way to spread information, it lacks the ability to foster intimacy between people. The report comes from the Home Office in the UK. That name alone strikes an Orwellian chord, doesn’t it?

Eric Schmidt is the executive chair man of Google so it’s a safe bet that he knows what he’s talking about. He said recently that broader adoption of the Internet will make it easier than ever before to keep an eye on governments. He told business leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Honolulu recently that adopting more internet technology has made whistle blowing easier than ever before and that everyday people were turning to online tools to keep governments honest. We know all that already, but it’s good to hear the powers with their fingers on the pulse tell us we’re on the right track.

Here’s a David and Goliath story that should make everyone sit up and take notice. A 24-yerar old Austrian law student is taking on Facebook over its privacy policy. Max Schrems requested all the personal data that social network had on him and was surprised when he got over one thousand pages back. There were various photos, messages and different posts all of which he thought  he’d  gotten rid of, but he found that Facebook kept all of those items. Schrems says the problem is with the fact users don’t take the time to read  the fine print and the differences between Europe and America in the attitudes over the ways data is collected and stored on each continent. Right back to the Orwellian theme again.

And there’s always more from China. The latest is that in an effort to stop what’s being called ‘rumors’ on the Internet, all Chinese journalists are being told they need to hold off reporting the news until all the facts have been verified officially. These new rules ban reporters from covering any information they get online or from mobile phones until it has been verified by the government. They have media regulators who are worried about the ‘spate’ of false information. Nuff said. This kind of logic generally speaks for itself.

 

 

 


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7Nov/110

Internet addiction ‘Tsunami’ on the way



A British report is saying that most of the 1000 people who tried to quit the Internet recently as part of a study found it as hard as giving up drinking or smoking. Forty percent of those polled said that they felt lonely without the web in their lives

Laurie Tamblyn is an addictions counsellor in special programs at Toronto’s Bellwood Health Services. She was recently quoted talking about the different types of Internet addictions there are—from pornography to social media and even gambling. Tamblyn says that at least part of the problem has to do with the fact there’s a whole new generation of young people that have been raised on technology and their levels of dependence wont be known for years yet.

However some experts are comparing the scope of the problem to a tsunami involving all the social problems and costs involved with other addictions.  A professor at the University of Toronto also says the problem can be difficult to pinpoint and whereas drinkers and people using drugs are easier to recognize on the surface, problems with people using the web are harder to identify.

There are other reports that Wikipedia will be turning its attention towards India this year as part of its expansion plans. Founder Jimmy Wales recently gave an interviewer the details for the website’s plans for expansion into the subcontinent including a team already on the ground doing public relations work and scouting out suitable people in the university system there.

The website has a five-year strategic plan whereby it wants to move into different areas of the Middle East and Africa.

Finally, you might want to remember the name Christopher Chaney. Chances are you’ve never heard of him before and might never again but this is the Florida man that was recently arrested for hacking into the e-mails of some top name celebrities like Scarlett Johansson and Mila Kunis. He did it by meticulously looking at thousands of tweets and Facebook postings to get the names the celebs might have used for passwords. When the FBI finally caught up to him, they coined a new phrase ‘hackerrazzi,’ to give a name to the crime.  Wouldn’t it stand to reason that giving a new crime a cool sounding handle would only encourage people to get involved? Doesn’t it also make sense that you don’t use your dog’s names, the names of people that you know or even your names as passwords? I’m not a celebrity and I don’t work for the FBI, so I wouldn’t know for sure.

 


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26Sep/110

Canadian Father Helps To Catch Internet Predator



The Internet is a good thing. It helps us in our lives from the way we make our living to the things that entertain us. More and more every day the Internet becomes a permanent fixture in people’s lives but just like human nature, there is a bad side to how people use this innovation.

That’s why it’s a good thing there are people like Robert Kleisinger. The British Columbia native listened to his ‘gut feeling’ when his teenage stepdaughter began an online relationship with an older man. He spent hours researching and then installed the right software to monitor the situation. Finally, the hero from Abbotsford contacted police when he had the evidence to nab the suspect.

To catch the pervert, Kleisinger set up a fake Facebook account to lure the suspect. His work resulted in a conviction.

Staying with Canada for a moment, the regulatory body there plans on keeping a tighter reign on the ISP providers in the frozen North. When the CRTC allowed the providers that work in that country to use traffic management practices to slow down some features so there was ample bandwidth available to all consumers, they opened a can of worms only possible with this kind of bloated governmental interference. Peer to peer traffic was one of the techniques slated. The latest guidelines will essentially keep an eye on the practices that these companies can employ and how much they need to tell the public about which ones they are going to use. A free market here would end these silly little shell games. Maybe it will happen under the current pro business government.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) announced they plan on dramatically increasing the number of domain endings that will be available in the summer. According to reports, there will be hundreds of new domain names available soon including .Google or even .Coke. Currently 250 country domain suffixes and companies looking for industry or firm specific endings will need to show some manner of legal ownership. The process will start according to the BBC in January.

 

Finally there are new rumblings that Yahoo could be sold. After firing CEO Carol Bartz over the phone, more fuel has been added to the fire with an email sent to employees from the top brass and founders saying that all possibilities were being looked at.

 

Still, the same memo states Yahoo is looking for a replacement for Carol Bartz and that in itself isn’t the kind of thing as firm would do if they were looking to sell.

 

 

 


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21Aug/110

Retailers On The Internet Are Gearing Up



The Holiday Season is fast approaching and although there’s good reason to be skeptical with the economy pointing to anything but a big retail season, there are some bright spots as far as ecommerce goes. Remember that in Q2 for this year alone, billion has been spent online according to comScore.

That means while more traditional methods of buying and selling goods and services are feeling the effects of the recent market tumbles and general problems, commerce on the web has been forging ahead with record sales thanks in part to new interactive marketing strategies that gather in social media, search engine optimization (seo) and well written content.

One recent example of an online retailer that’s making a big splash noted their strategy took a few different approaches. The fashion house’s campaign started with the traditional underpinning that’s not likely to change soon for any company looking for great internet based sales—the website. Of course, the website has evolved from a collection of static pages with keyword stuffed content, and the demand for interactive copy that began with social media was the catalyst that changed all that.

In the case of the fashion house in question, shoppers can look through the inventory of what the company has to offer, read values added articles about the latest trends, and even buy the products all from the same website.

What’s also important is they have created a mobile app and a mobile version of the experience because following the trends is essential when it comes to selling on the web.

In related news, there are reports internet advertising in all its forms is taking hold in places where you might not expect. In some parts of the Arab world, Internet advertising has started to make inroads, accounting for 9% of the total revenue but still far behind more traditional methods like television and newspapers. The Omnicom Media Group (OMG) has reported the method will account for US0 million (Dh624.43m) this year. It might not sound like big numbers, but The National, the Abu Dhabi Media company’s first English-language publication, is helping the process along by being a professional, well written English language newspaper in the UAE and reporting on Internet advertising’s climb.

Still not everything is as good as it seems for all internet based companies. Google has been downgraded by the same people that dropped the credit rating of the American Government. It seems their purchase of Motorola Mobility is causing some concern in what’s looking like a brewing war in application patents.

 

 

 

 

 


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17Oct/100

AVG Internet Security 2011 license number free

AVG produces the most popular free security software for Windows and Linux. They recently released 2011 versions of their antivirus and internet security products. The free version of AVG is good for people who are not always connected to the internet and not making online transactions. AVG Internet security 2011 and AVG antivirus 2011 on [...]
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27Sep/100

Email Marketing Strategy: Getting Excellent Performance from Your Internet Marketing

One of the proven ways to build a successful business is to invest a small amount in building a reliable email marketing asset. Keep in mind that this is very essential in today’s market given the influence of the internet. This strategy is especially to people who want to generate profit in their business. What [...]

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