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April 02 2013

14:28

Dan Gillmor says journalists are uninformed about who controls the platforms they publish on

Dan Gillmor is writing a book (maybe), and he has a lot of questions. The project, which will probably be self published, will probably be called Permission Taken. Gillmor already owns that domain, so why not, he said in a talk at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society last week. (Also, his agent likes the title.)

Gillmor says he’s been thinking about the project for about a year, and he’s come up with a list of questions that he wants academics and practitioners around the country to help him answer. When Gillmor looks at the technologies, services, and platforms most of us use everyday and take for granted, he asks, in slide lingo,

KVESTIONS

The answers are not always clear.

Gillmor’s goal with the new book is a pedagogical one — he said he considers his students (at Arizona State University) to be his primary audience. He intends for the first few chapters to be a primer for the digitally barely literate on how to protect privacy and shore up digital security in day-to-day life. Some of the later chapters, however, will delve deeper into the nitty gritty.

Some of the ideas that will become a part of the new book Gillmor shared back in October at a symposium on digital ethics hosted by Poynter. Gillmor and other presenters also contributed essays to a book, The New Ethics of Journalism: A Guide for the 21st Century, to be published in July.

Generally, Gillmor doesn’t think anyone is fully aware of how vulnerable they are, technologically speaking. Build a back door into every new technology so the FBI can keep an eye on things, he says, “and I promise you it’s going to be used by criminals. The more you unharden the fences, the more room there is for really bad actors.”

Gillmor is especially concerned about how little he says journalists know about security and the extent to which they retain control over their content once it’s published online. “I ask, why are you pouring your journalism into Facebook where you don’t control it anymore? Why are you putting it on other people’s platforms?” In his slide deck, Gillmor gives the example of a New Yorker cartoon that caused Facebook to temporarily ban the magazine from their site — thereby claiming an unprecedented level of control over what is and isn’t acceptable in publishing.

Facebook is a particular concern of Gillmor’s, and he points to a tweet in his slideshow in which Loic le Meur quotes a friend employed by Facebook as saying “we’re like electricity.” “Is Facebook a utility?” asks Gillmor. “What do we do with utilities? We regulate them. Monopolies need regulation. I’m not a fan of regulation, but we have to think about that.”

Gillmor expressed similar concerns in his October talk about the level of control held by payment processors. Whether because of pressure from the government or an internal decision, Gillmor says, if the processor deems your content unacceptable, “then you won’t get paid.” But what journalists really don’t like, Gillmor told me, is when he asks them why they insist on building iOS apps that cede control of what is and isn’t journalism to Apple. In terms of distribution, they say they have no other option — and even journalists who have considered other options say the risk is worth it.

But some risks are never worth it. “Journalists need to learn more about security right away,” says Gillmor. “They are threatening the lives of their sources if they don’t.” In a recent column about the Harvard cheating scandal, in which the university admitted to scanning portions of employee emails, Gillmor showed exactly what can happen when a news outlet doesn’t know enough about how to protect their sources.

It’s not just employees and others who want to blow whistles who need to be more careful — such as using external accounts, encryption and a lot of other tools to be safer. (Note: I didn’t say “safe”, because absolute safety is exceedingly hard to achieve, if it’s even possible.)

Journalists, too, need better tradecraft when it comes to their dealings with sources. My impression of the typical newsroom’s precautions is that there aren’t many.

For six years as a columnist, Gillmor used a PGP at the bottom of each page — a safe, encrypted method by which sources could contact him. He said in six years, it was used twice — once by someone just checking to see if it worked.

For journalists, Gillmor recommends Tor, “a network of virtual tunnels that allows people and groups to improve their privacy and security on the Internet.” (Committee to Protect Journalists when it comes to educating journalists about the dangers of using certain technologies.

But ultimately, Gillmor says, “It’s a crucial issue — and one that has not gotten enough attention inside the craft.” These issues fall very low on the priority list for an industry that Gillmor described as being in a constant state of desperation. But the dangers are real, Gillmor says, and with his new project, he hopes to find ways of bringing the convenience of private platforms to services that are both free and secure.

For now, though, “increasingly, journalists who really are appropriately paranoid in the right situations are learning not to use technology,” says Gillmor.

If you have a better idea, Gillmor is taking questions — and hopefully, answers.

Photo by f1uffster (Jeanie) used under a Creative Commons license.

August 26 2010

18:06

Free Speech at Stake as India Demands Encrypted BlackBerry Data

Next week will be decisive for BlackBerry corporate users. BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) could provide a solution to help security agencies in India access corporate email by obtaining encrypted data in readable formats. If RIM does not offer a solution before the end of the month, India has warned that it will block BlackBerry Messenger service in the country for corporate users.

BlackBerry phones encrypt their services better than most smartphones do, and this has been one of the selling points for BlackBerry as a device for corporate users. RIM has to this point refused to provide access codes that would allow governments to monitor the content of encrypted messages. Should RIM provide the Indian government with access to the data, it would not only hurt freedom of expression -- it would likely also hurt the BlackBerry's reputation as the business device of choice.

About More Than The BlackBerry

The Indian government isn't the only seeking access to BlackBerry data. The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia claim that BlackBerry's services break their laws and threaten national security. The UAE's Telecommunication Regulatory Authority announced that it will suspend BlackBerry's instant messaging, email, web browsing and roaming services starting October 11. Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, is still allowing BlackBerry's instant messaging service to operate. Saudi authorities had planned to suspend it on August 6, but they only ended up blocking the service for a few hours. The company and government continue to work toward a compromise.

Reporters Without Borders is worried about the BlackBerry issue because the "national security" argument is just a pretext for these countries to take steps to restrict access to new technology and to tools that help with freedom of expression. In the UAE, some BlackBerry users were arrested for using BlackBerry Messenger to try to organize a protest against increased gas prices.

What really bothers these countries is their inability to monitor the communication flowing via BlackBerry's services. Indonesia, Egypt, Lebanon, Algeria and Kuwait have also voiced concern about BlackBerry's encrypted services, and it's no coincidence that some of these countries are home to a wide range of censorship measures. In Indonesia, for example, the government requires ISPs to filter out porn -- without providing them a specific list of offending sites. The inevitable result is that the ISPs cause collateral damage by blocking other websites with no direct link to pornography. This is also the case in Saudi Arabia. Filtering also slows down connection speeds throughout the country. Aside from censorship, these countries are also known for monitoring the communications and web usage of citizens.

It's therefore natural to question whether the requests for BlackBerry to offer access to its services are truly meant to fight terrorism, or if it's about finding another way to monitor the communications of citizens?

U.S. Perspective

These countries would do well to learn from an example in the United States. In 2003, the Department of Justice drafted legislation that would have lengthened prison sentences for people who used encryption in the commission of a crime. Defenders of encryption said it would do little to help catch terrorists, and would instead hamper the work of activists. The legislation never passed -- even though the fight against terrorism was a top priority of the government.

RIM's BlackBerry encryption isn't alone in being targeted. India plans on asking Google and Skype for similar access, which means this issue is about more than just one company's device. It's about the future of private communications in countries prone to censorship and other abuses.

Clothilde Le Coz has been working for Reporters Without Borders in Paris since 2007. She is now the Washington director for this organization, helping to promote press freedom and free speech around the world. In Paris, she was in charge of the Internet Freedom desk and worked especially on China, Iran, Egypt and Thailand. During the time she spent in Paris, she was also updating the "Handbook for Bloggers and Cyberdissidents," published in 2005. Her role is now to get the message out for readers and politicians to be aware of the constant threat journalists are submitted to in many countries.

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February 14 2010

07:48

Any Video Converter 3.02 – Google Nexus One Converter And Support New Encryption Dvd


January 27, 2010, Anvsoft Inc releases Any Video Converter Pro V3.0.2 and Any DVD Converter Pro V4.0.2. In the new version, Any Video/DVD Converter Pro is added Google Nexus One output profile. Users can easily convert their videos to Nexus One by selecting this profile. Any DVD Converter Pro is updated to support directly ripping and converting all encrypted DVD no matter what DVD copy protection method is used. The newly released DVD movies including G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, District 9, Inglourious Basterds, The Proposal and etc. are supported. With new Any DVD Converter Pro V4.0.2, you can avoid converting the potential fake main movie titles and get the scenes played back in the right order.

New Any Video/DVD Converter Pro 3.02/4.02 which is available at: http://www.any-video-converter.com/ adds some new useful options and functions, updates engine and fixes some bugs:

1. Add new DVD navigation mode to show the progress of Opening DVD;

2. Update the mplayer engine;

3. Add Ripping DVD tittles in DVDNav mode and Show fake tittles in copy protected DVD disc two options to DVD Tab in Options;

4. Add Avoid incomplete conversion option to Advanced Tab in Options;

5. Fix the bug that controlling the slider in DVD preview or Clipping mode is not accurate;

6. Update the language files;

7. Add mp2 audio output in the DVD PAL output profile;

8. Add new DVD analysis capabilities to analyze the structure of new encryption DVD, get the accurate position of the main titles and not show the fake titles;

9. Fix the bug of displaying error when merge videos;

10. Add Google Nexus One output profile;

The Nexus One is an Internet and multimedia enabled smart phone designed by Google, Inc, which runs the Android open source mobile operating system. Being a multimedia enabled smart phone, Nexus One can play videos encoded by H.263, H.264 and MPEG-4 codec, play audio formats including MP3, AAC+, Ogg Vorbis, WAV and MIDI. Using new Any Video/DVD Converter Pro 3.02/4.02 can easily convert all kinds of video formats or DVD to MP4 videos playable on the Nexus One. There is a Google Nexus One MPEG-4 Movie output profile for you to choose to start converting.

With new DVD analysis capabilities, Any DVD Converter Pro V4.0.2 can analyze the structure of almost all new encryption DVD. When users insert DVD to Any DVD Converter Pro which is in default settings, the program will display the DVDNav mode to tell the users what is going on. After the analysis, Any DVD Converter Pro will tell the users where the main titles are. This function can prevent users from converting the wrong titles to save users’ time. Also, new Any DVD Converter Pro can handle some new encryption DVD which are difficult to be ripped and converted.

Some bad quality DVD and videos will be fast forward or incomplete after conversion. Now, the new mplayer engine and new option Avoid incomplete conversion for new Any Video/DVD Converter Pro 3.0.2/4.0.2 can help users fix those problems. When users check this option, that means adding -noskip option in mencoder command. With this option, the output videos from those bad quality DVD or videos will play normally.

New Any Video/DVD Converter Pro 3.0.2/4.0.2 (http://www.any-video-converter.com/) is designed with user-friendly and easy-to-use graphical interface. Also, Any Video/DVD Converter Pro is famous for its fast converting speed and excellent video quality.

For more information or questions about Any Video/DVD Converter Pro Series Software, please visit http://www.any-video-converter.com/

###

Contact Information

support@any-video-converter.com

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