News, Opinion

Surprise! The NSA Lied

NSA-650x637Claims made by the NSA that they are not able to find out much about people from the data they collect daily have been blown apart. The NSA and some lawmakers used to claim that the information it was collecting, such as phone numbers and length of calls, couldn’t be tied to any one individual, but an investigation by some who have been collecting data from Android users (on a volunteer basis) has shown that it was easy to put names to numbers.

A program called Metaphone collected data from 5,000 volunteers and gathered such data as recent calls, texts and social network information. The goal was to find out just how much metadata one could grab with surveillance and whether or not they could connect the data with individuals through freely available online tools.

The researchers discovered real names for 27% of the numbers using only Google, Yelp, Facebook and Google Places. They also Googled 100 randomly sampled numbers from their dataset and in under an hour managed to associate 60% of them to a person or a business. When they added in their 3 initial sources, they were up to 73%. Now if the NSA spies wanted to invest a little money into it they could probably get figures of up to 90% accuracy without a lot of effort.

The researchers issued an update to the Metaphone application which enabled instant feedback for users, providing them with a quick view of how closely they were connected to other app users and how many businesses they have been in contact with.

In the end we learn (once again) that there really is no privacy online. It is no conspiracy theory to believe there are spies amongst us, It is up to the population to dismantle organizations such as the NSA but that may prove difficult, as we learn recently that a US judge somehow ruled phone surveillance is lawful.

What a sad and sick world we live in.

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News, Opinion

Thanks To David Cameron’s Draconian Blocking Rules, Tech Sites Have Been Blocked

David_Cameron_officialIt shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that David Cameron’s “save the kids” censorship system turned out to be just another attempt to censor the internet of information.

One victim of censorship is the Norwegian Unix Users’ group website which is now blocked in the UK. To the conspiracy theorist, this would appear like David Cameron despises open source (and if you want to go into full-paranoia mode, maybe there was a lobby by big software to block said sites). Another open source site that was blocked was USENIX, a US-based but international Unix user group.

What’s even worse is that EFF.org is also blocked. Now why a site like the Electronic Frontier Foundation would be blocked makes one wonder. Apparently they hate the fact the EFF defends one’s rights in the digital world against many types of business trolls.

The British can’t reach slashdot.org, linuxtoday.com, blogspot.com, ArsTechnica, openbsd.org, freebsd.org, geekculture.com and even linux.com. Maybe this is due to the discussions on said sites about “free downloading?”

Hopefully these issues get settled and if not, I hope the British bring their complaints directly to David Cameron’s front door. Censorship is an evil, no matter how many times you try to pass it off as “saving the children.” Don’t use children as pawns for your diabolical plans, Politicians!

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Opinion

And so, it is Christmas…

MerryOldSantaIt’s officially the start of Christmas and you know what that means! Lots of presents and egg nog (and booze). Oh, and spending quality time with family and friends, of course.

Personally, I don’t really celebrate Christmas—I don’t really buy into the marketing gimmick of a fat white man in a tracksuit who is meant to lead you into consuming all that you can either but besides all that, I don’t have much in way of family left to celebrate it with so I’ll probably skip the whole ordeal, wind up eating some ham sandwiches and catching up on some much needed sleep as I’m sure many other readers in similar predicaments will.

Peace to all, to all believers and non-believers alike. That should be the main point of Christmas, no?

Let’s try to keep the following in mind: You don’t need to believe in Yule, the Scandinavian fertility god, to enjoy the tradition of Yuletide carols and greetings. You don’t need to be a Wiccan to enjoy the tradition of wreaths or decking the halls with holly. You don’t need to be a Druid to enjoy the tradition of hoping for a kiss under the mistletoe. You don’t need to believe in the god Saturn to enjoy the tradition of decorating a Saturnalia tree in your home. You don’t need to believe in Thor, Odin or St. Nicholas to enjoy the tradition of a visitor bringing you gifts at night. You don’t need to believe in Sleipnir, Odin’s flying 8-legged horse, to enjoy the tradition of listening for the sound of hooves on your rooftop. You don’t need to believe in Mithras to enjoy the tradition of celebrating the sun’s rebirth on December 25th. And you don’t need to believe in Jesus Christ to enjoy the tradition of renaming this ancient holiday to “Christ’s Mass.”

All you need to enjoy these winter festivities is to be merry.

If you drink, try not to drive but if you must drive, drive very slowly and try not to hit any reindeer along the way.

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News

Rob Ford: “Women love money”

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford At News ConferenceSome Christmas advice from Toronto’s mayor Rob Ford:

“Just money. Women love money. Give them a couple of thousand bucks and they’re happy. Get some treats on the side obviously for her. At the end of the day, she wants her cash. So I give her a nice cheque and we’re all happy.”

He made the comment on Sports Junkies, on 106.7 The Fan, based in Washington, D.C., just a day after apologizing to Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale, who threatened to sue Rob Ford for comments he made on Conrad Black’s television program earlier this month.

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News

Northern Gateway pipeline recommended, with conditions

untitledA review panel has recommended the Canadian federal government approve Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline project. The approval has 209 conditions however, such as developing a marine mammal protection plan and researching heavy oil cleanup.

The Panel had this to say in its report:

“After weighing the evidence, we concluded that Canada and Canadians would be better off with the Enbridge Northern Gateway project.”

It took 180 days of hearings in 21 communities in Alberta and British Columbia for the recommendation to come through. The final decision, however, rests with the federal government, which has 180 days to decide. The government can approve or deny the application, but cannot change the conditions put forward by the panel. However, it can request the National Energy Board to change the conditions.

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“Soldiers of Allah” Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale guilty of murdering Lee Rigby

A jury today convicted two British men who considered themselves “soldiers of Allah” of murdering a serviceman who was run down with a car and hacked to death in an attack on a London street. It took the jury of eight women and four men 90 minutes to find Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale guilty of murdering Fusilier Lee Rigby.

They were acquitted on the charge of trying to murder a police officer.

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