Well Connected? The Biological Implications of ‘Social Networking’

Hours per day of face-to-face social interaction declines as use of electronic media increases. These trends are predicted to increase (data abstracted from a series of time-use and demographic studies).

Hours per day of face-to-face social interaction declines as use of electronic media increases. These trends are predicted to increase (data abstracted from a series of time-use and demographic studies).

Author: Daniël Verhoeven

Two scientists express their concern about the use of the social Web.  According to Sigman’s article, entitled “Well Connected? The Biological Implications of ‘Social Networking.”, it could  increase the risk of problems as serious as cancer, strokes, heart disease and dementia. Lady Greenfield expressed earlier this month her concerns  in a debate in the House of Lords, in which she said that social networking, as well as computer games, might be particularly harmful to children, and could be behind the observed rise in cases of attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder.

Research suggested that the number of hours people spent speaking to others face-to-face had fallen dramatically since 1987 as the use of electronic media increased.  Social networking sites such as Facebook could raise your risk of serious health problems by reducing levels of face-to-face contact, a doctor claims. Emailing people rather than meeting up with them may have wide-ranging biological effects, said psychologist Dr Aric Sigman.

Social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook allow people to keep in touch with friends over the web. They can swap pictures, play games and leave messages which explain how their day is going. But the lack of face to face contacts can cause health problems as to Sigman. Continue reading

Introduction to Contextual Information Search


Author: Daniël Verhoeven

cg2Googling has become a verb in our language. This shows the deep impact of Google on our culture and our lives. But Google is not primarily about searching. Google is an information shovel selling adds. In a previous article I intuitively described contextual search as finding information on the web not using Google. I was a little bit surprised about the interest for the story, because the idea of contextual search was still an embryonic idea. In this article I will develop this idea of contextual search further correlating to and in opposition to googling trying to find out what it is and what it is not. When looking for better information search strategies I want to compare our search behaviour using  CMC based systems like Google with natural communication. This is the starting point. This may sound odd and completely off the record, but in fact I’m only re-joining a tradition that has started in the sixties and seventies at the Biological Computer Lab in Urbana Campaing by Gordon Pask Continue reading

Google’s Stasi practices registering behavioral profiles of its users, invading our privacy

Posted at Adbusters, 12 March 2009
Author: Micah White
Keywords also in Wikipedia: Google, Privacy, Activism, Google Watch, Uberveillance
Keywords at Adbusters: privacy, Google, disobedienceclick, activism

We can force Google to stop their privacy violations while ridding the internet of advertising… by clicking ads.

Google is keeping logs of our private lives. (Picture source) Continue reading

Deep Packet Inspection: Berners-Lee says no to internet ‘snooping’

Published 11 Mar 2009 on ZDnet, for fair use only
Author: Tom Espiner  ZDNet.co.uk
Keywords also in Wikipedia: Open Society, Closed Society, Advertising, Surveillance, Uberveillance
Keywords on ZDnet: Advertising, Programme,  Packet, Targeted

Speaking at a House of Lords event to mark the 20th anniversary of the invention of the World Wide Web, Berners-Lee said that deep packet inspection (DPI) was the electronic equivalent of opening people’s mail.

“This is very important to me, as what is at stake is the integrity of the internet as a communications medium,” Berners-Lee said on Wednesday. “Clearly we must not interfere with the internet, and we must not snoop on the internet. If we snoop on clicks and data, we can find out a lot more information about people than if we listen to their conversations.”

DPI involves examining both the data and the header of an information packet as it passes a ‘black box’ on a network, in order to reveal the content of the communication. Targeted advertising services, such as Phorm in the UK, use DPI to monitor anonymised user behaviour and to target adverts at those users. In addition, UK government initiatives such as the Intercept Modernisation Programme have proposed using DPI to perform mass surveillance of the web comunications of the entire UK population.

Speaking to ZDNet UK at the event, Berners-Lee declined to comment about any particular company or government initiative, but said that internet service providers (ISPs) should not perform DPI. Continue reading

Firms bought secret personal data on staff – privacy chief

Major companies accused of colluding to ‘blacklist’ troublesome workers

Published by the Gaurdian.co.uk, 6 March 2009, for fair use only
Wiki keywords: Privacy, Employment
Authors: Rob Evans and Phil Chamberlain

Construction site

Construction industry was supplied with secret data. Photograph: David Sillitoe

More than 40 major British companies face legal action for allegedly buying secret personal data about thousands of workers they wanted to vet before employing them.

The information commissioner, Richard Thomas, will today publish a list of the companies he believes may have broken data protection laws, after an investigation by his office that was sparked by fears that many workers were being unfairly “blacklisted”.

Rob Evans on the information commissioner’s action against companies buying secret data Link to this audio

The commissioner alleges that the firms, including Balfour Beatty, Sir Robert McAlpine, Laing O’Rourke and Costain, have, for many years, covertly bought details of workers’ trade union activities and their conduct at work.

Thomas believes that workers have been unfairly denied employment because they have had no chance of challenging any inaccurate information, some of which has been stored for decades. Continue reading

Google Takes a Stand for Location Privacy, Along with Loopt « EFF

Posted at EFF, for fair use only
Author: Kevin Bankston

Wiki keywords: Privacy policy, Google
EFF Keywords: Cell TrackingPrivacy

Thanks in part to feedback from EFF, Google has chosen to take a strong and public stand on what legal privacy protections should apply if the government comes calling for the location data collected by Latitude, Google’s new cell phone-based friend-finding service. Google has decided to match the policy for dealing with law enforcement demands first adopted by its friend-finding competitor Loopt after consultation with EFF, a policy which relies on the strongest possible legal arguments for protecting users’ location privacy. The gist of the Latitude and Loopt policies? “Come back with a warrant.”

Like Loopt, Google’s Latitude doesn’t (currently) keep a historic log of its users’ locations; both companies overwrite the old data each time you report a new location. We think that’s the right move privacy-wise, and hope that between Loopt and Latitude, the we-don’t-keep-historic-logs policy will become the industry standard in the friend-finding space.

Being lawyers, though, we at EFF were just as concerned-if not more concerned-with legal policy: what would Google’s legal position be when a law enforcement agency tried to make it start logging a Latitude users’ location as part of an investigation? This is a particularly important question considering that when it comes to using the phone company’s cell tower data to track your location, the government’s position is that it doesn’t need to get a search warrant (though EFF’s been doing a good job of convincing the courts otherwise).
Continue reading

Abuse of your privacy data collected on Internet

Author: Daniël Verhoeven
Wiki Keywords: Interactive Media, Privacy, Marketing, Advertising, Uberveillance, Contextual Advertising

When doing research on the use and abuse of privacy data on the Internet I bumped again on the case of the media corperation Advance. I pointed to it before and I was allowed to re-publish Karin Spaink’s article about it. Wondering how it had developed I discovered that there were no texts about it in English, and that is a pitty, because what Advance is doing is probably done by others on the Net, so I decided to cross the language barrier.

Advance Interactive Media is not only collecting privacy data, it does also hunt these data actively putting all kind of eliciting questionnaires on a range of sites (Je echte leeftijdVolgens mama, VerjaardagsAlarm). Also the questionnaires are often linked to TV-programs of SBS and RTL, both popular stations in The Netherlands. Ironically, Joop van den Ende’s investment trust owns 30% of Advance. Joop van den Ende was one of the owners of Endemol, the television production company that developed the format of ‘Big Brother’.

Advance says to have an ‘interactive relation’ with 2,2 million Dutch people (of about 15 million). Of 300,000 it possesses more than 100 personal characteristics. Of course Advance collects these data to sell them to other companies. One of the big pharmaceutical corporations who had a contract with Advance was Pfizer. The Dutch Privacy Commission CBP has started an inquiry following an article in the ‘Volkskrant’.

Continue reading