Saturday, March 16, 2013

How dare they!

How dare they!

The nerve of some governments!  How dare they shut down illegal smuggling tunnels dug under the border between Egypt and Gaza.

Apparently, the owner of a smuggling tunnel already destroyed at least once before but re-dug, is complaining that the Egyptian government has chosen to again destroy his smuggling tunnel.  Readily admitting that the tunnel is used for illegal movement of goods, the owner is still miffed that his investment of over $1M (US) will be wasted.

He argues that the government of Egypt has destroyed his only livelihood.

If this wasn't so funny, I'd almost want to cry... (read full story)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Eat me!

Eat me!

If there's one person you definitely don't want to say this to, it's this New York policeman.

Are you sure your information on Facebook is private?

Are you sure your information on Facebook is private?

Let me begin by saying I don't have a Facebook account.  No Twitter, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, or any other social media account either.

It's because I value my privacy.  You might wonder, then, why I have a blog.  Well, that's a fair question.  I started blogging more than 10 years ago.  Those were simpler times.  There were no social networks, per se.  Instant messaging was just starting out (ICQ was all the rage).  There were no camera phones, heck there were no smart phones of any description.  Blogging and webcams were coming of age, but these online diaries were so obscure (for the most part) nobody but the most prolific or interesting of the world's bloggers were on anyone's radar.

And there was no monetary advantage to be had by anyone "tracking" the posts of bloggers.  Unless they chose to include links to various causes, you really didn't get much of a feel for these peoples' personal lives unless they wanted you to.

So, back to today's world.  Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social websites are hugely centralized and there exist a growing number of indexing services that make searching for people unbelievably easy.  Personal information is worth real currency, and there are now many organized efforts (from both marketers and criminals) to determine your likes and dislikes.

Despite the privacy controls available on many social networks, it has been recently reported that researchers have been able to indirectly determine much of the "personal" information about you that you may not have elected to share with the world.

The concept is so simple, it's scary.  Human beings have a tendency to "hang out" with like-minded individuals.  The majority of people you "friend" are probably those with which you share some underlying traits.  Researchers need only find out information about your "friends" to be able to make some reasonably accurate inferences about you.  So, if you happen to have "friends" that are not as concerned about their privacy settings, it's likely that a determined researcher will be able to build a "profile" of the people they befriend - thereby discovering information about you that you hadn't intended to share.

So, the next time you think your information is private, take a look at the information of the people you have befriended.  Look at what they say on their social media sites, and you may find them talking about you (for the good or bad) and saying things that you didn't want exposed.