request

Outraged Students Sue Facebook Over Privacy (FB)

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/students-sue-facebook-over-privacy-2012-12

max schrems facebook austrian law student

VIENNA (Reuters) – An Austrian student group plans to go to court in a bid to make Facebook Inc, the world’s biggest social network, do more to protect the privacy of its hundreds of millions of members.

Privacy campaign group europe-v-facebook, which has been lobbying for better data protection by Facebook for over a year, said on Tuesday it planned to go to court to appeal against decisions by the data protection regulator in Ireland, where Facebook has its international headquarters.

The move is one of a number of campaigns against the giants of the internet, which are under pressure from investors to generate more revenue from their huge user bases but which also face criticism for storing and sharing personal information.

Internet search engine Google, for example, has been told by the European Union to make changes to its new privacy policy, which pools data collected on individual users across its services including YouTube, gmail and social network Google+, and from which users cannot opt out.

Europe-v-facebook has won some concessions from Facebook, notably pushing it to switch off its facial recognition feature in Europe.

But the group said on Tuesday the changes did not go far enough and it was disappointed with the response of the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, which had carried out an audit after the campaign group filed numerous complaints.

“The Irish obviously have no great political interest in going up against these companies because they’re so dependent on the jobs they c! reate,” europe-v-facebook founder Max Schrems told Reuters.

Gary Davies, Ireland’s deputy data protection commissioner, denied Facebook’s investment in Ireland had influenced regulation of the company.

“We have handled this in a highly professional and focused way and we have brought about huge changes in the way Facebook handles personal data,” he told Reuters.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It is due to hold a conference call later on Tuesday to answer customer concerns about its privacy policy, which will include representatives from Facebook Ireland.

LOSING PATIENCE

Schrems, who has filed 22 complaints with the Irish regulator, said more than 40,000 Facebook users who had requested a copy of the data Facebook was holding on them had not received anything several months after making a request.

The law student also questioned why Facebook had only switched off facial recognition for users in the European Union, even though Ireland is the headquarters for all of Facebook’s users outside the United States and Canada.

Facebook is under pressure to reverse a trend of slowing revenue growth by selling more valuable advertising, which requires better profiling of its users.

Investors are losing patience with the social network, whose shares have dropped 40 percent in value since the company’s record-breaking $104 billion initial public offering in May.

Last month, Facebook proposed to combine its user data with that of its recently acquired photo-sharing service Instagram, loosen restrictions on emails between its members and share data with other businesses and affiliates that it owns.

Facebook is also facing a class-action lawsuit in the United States, where it is charged with violating privacy rights by publicizing users’ “likes” without giving them a way to opt out.

A U.S. judge late on Monday gave his preliminary approval to a second attem! pt to se ttle the case by paying users up to $10 each out of a settlement fund of $20 million.

Ireland also hosts the European headquarters of other high-tech firms including Microsoft and Google thanks to generous tax breaks.

Europe-v-facebook said it believed its Irish lawsuit had the potential to become a test case for data protection law and had a good chance of landing up in the European Court of Justice.

Schrems said the case could cost the group around 100,000 euros ($130,000), which it hoped to raise via crowd-funding – money provided by a collection of individuals – on the Internet.

(Additional reporting by Conor Humphries in Dublin; Editing by Mark Potter)

(This story was corrected to fix the headline, lead and the first paragraph to show that the campaign group plans to sue Irish regulator, not Facebook, in the first instance)

Copyright (2012) Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012 news No Comments

Source: http://feeds.gawker.com/~r/gizmodo/vip/~3/8wpGGRzhLC0/one-dmca-notice-took-down-145-million-education-blogs

One DMCA Notice Took Down 1.45 Million Education BlogsWe all know that DMCA notices are kinda dumb, but this is ridiculous: a single takedown request from Pearson, a textbook publisher, took down 1.45 million education blogs in one fell swoop.

Ars Technica reports that Pearson targeted a single page from 2007 that was using copyrighted material. Some form of miscommunication ensued, though, as EduBlogs, the host of the blog in question, found that all of its 1.45 million sites were taken down.

EduBlogs insists it was never given the chance to solve the problem itself—rather, the blogs were taken down by the overarching provider ServerBeach, to whom EduBlogs is a client. The whole problem was sorted in around 60 minutes, but that’s not really the point: rather, it highlights how dumb DMCA notices are and how badly they work. [Ars Technica]

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012 news No Comments

How Google Crunches All That Data

Source: http://gizmodo.com/5495097/how-google-crunches-all-that-data

If data centers are the brains of an information company, then Google is one of the brainiest there is. Though always evolving, it is, fundamentally, in the business of knowing everything. Here are some of the ways it stays sharp.

For tackling massive amounts of data, the main weapon in Google’s arsenal is MapReduce, a system developed by the company itself. Whereas other frameworks require a thoroughly tagged and rigorously organized database, MapReduce breaks the process down into simple steps, allowing it to deal with any type of data, which it distributes across a legion of machines.

Looking at MapReduce in 2008, Wired imagined the task of determining word frequency in Google Books. As its name would suggest, the MapReduce magic comes from two main steps: mapping and reducing.

The first of these, the mapping, is where MapReduce is unique. A master computer evaluates the request and then divvies it up into smaller, more manageable “sub-problems,” which are assigned to other computers. These sub-problems, in turn, may be divided up even further, depending on the complexity of the data set. In our example, the entirety of Google Books would be split, say, by author (but more likely by the order in which they were scanned, or something like that) and distributed to the worker computers.

Then the data is saved. To maximize efficiency, it remains on the worker computers’ local hard drives, as opposed to being sent, the whole petabyte-scale mess of it, back to some central location. Then comes the second central step: reduction. Other worker machines are assigned specifically to the task of grabbing the data from the computers that crunched it and paring it down to a format suitable for solving the problem at hand. In the Google Books example, this second set of machines would reduce and compile the processed data into lists of individual words and the frequency with which they appeared across Google’s digital library.

The finished product of the MapReduce system is, as Wired says, a “data set about your data,” one that has been crafted specifically to answer the initial question. In this case, the new data set would let you query any word and see how often it appeared in Google Books.

MapReduce is one way in which Google manipulates its massive amounts of data, sorting and resorting it into different sets that reveal new meanings and have unique uses. But another Herculean task Google faces is dealing with data that’s not already on its machines. It’s one of the most daunting data sets of all: the internet.

Last month, Wired got a rare look at the “algorithm that rules the web,” and the gist of it is that there is no single, set algorithm. Rather, Google rules the internet by constantly refining its search technologies, charting new territories like social media and refining the ones in which users tread most often with personalized searches.

But of course it’s not just about matching the terms people search for to the web sites that contain them. Amit Singhal, a Google Search guru, explains, “you are not matching words; you are actually trying to match meaning.”

Words are a finite data set. And you don’t need an entire data center to store them—a dictionary does just fine. But meaning is perhaps the most profound data set humanity has ever produced, and it’s one we’re charged with managing every day. Our own mental MapReduce probes for intent and scans for context, informing how we respond to the world around us.

In a sense, Google’s memory may be better than any one individual’s, and complex frameworks like MapReduce ensure that it will only continue to outpace us in that respect. But in terms of the capacity to process meaning, in all of its nuance, any one person could outperform all the machines in the Googleplex. For now, anyway. [Wired, Wikipedia, and Wired]

Image credit CNET

Memory [Forever] is our week-long consideration of what it really means when our memories, encoded in bits, flow in a million directions, and might truly live forever.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010 news No Comments

Dr. Augustine Fou is Digital Consigliere to marketing executives, advising them on digital strategy and Unified Marketing(tm). Dr Fou has over 17 years of in-the-trenches, hands-on experience, which enables him to provide objective, in-depth assessments of their current marketing programs and recommendations for improving business impact and ROI using digital insights.

Augustine Fou portrait
http://twitter.com/acfou
Send Tips: tips@go-digital.net
Digital Strategy Consulting
Dr. Augustine Fou LinkedIn Bio
Digital Marketing Slideshares
The Grand Unified Theory of Marketing