Lessons on censorship from Syria’s internet filter machines

“We cannot hope to record all the possible censorship-triggering events, so our understanding of what is or isn’t acceptable to the censor will only ever be partial. And of course it’s risky, even outright illegal, to probe the censor’s limits within countries with strict censorship and surveillance programs.

This is why the leak of 600GB of logs from hardware appliances used to filter internet traffic in and out of Syria is a unique opportunity to examine the workings of a real-world internet censorship apparatus….

At the recent ACM Internet Measurement Conference we presented ou rpaper detailing the relatively stealthy but targeted censorship system that we’d found from examining the logs.

Internet traffic in Syria was filtered in several ways. IP addresses (the unique addresses of web servers on the internet) and domain names (the URL typed into the address bar) were filtered to block single websites such as badoo.com or amazon.com, entire network regions (including a few Israeli subnets), or keywords to target specific content. Instant messaging, tools such as Skype, and content-sharing sites such as Metacafe or Reddit were heavily censored. Social media censoring was limited to specific content and pages, such as the “Syrian Revolution” facebook page.”

Lessons on censorship from Syria’s internet filter machines.

Quantified Self Incrimination, or, When Fitbit Is the Expert Witness

When Fitbit Is the Expert Witness - The Atlantic

Self-tracking using a wearable device can be fascinating. It can drive you to exercise more, make you reflect on how much (or little) you sleep, and help you detect patterns in your mood over time. But something else is happening when you use a wearable device, something that is less immediately apparent: You are no longer the only source of data about yourself. The data you unconsciously produce by going about your day is being stored up over time by one or several entities. And now it could be used against you in court.

When Fitbit Is the Expert Witness – The Atlantic.

Algorithms Are Great and All, But They Can Also Ruin Lives

…Similar faults have seen voters expunged from electoral rolls without notice, small businesses labeled as ineligible for government contracts, and individuals mistakenly identified as “deadbeat” parents. In a notable example of the latter, 56-year-old mechanic Walter Vollmer was incorrectly targeted by the Federal Parent Locator Service and issued a child-support bill for the sum of $206,000. Vollmer’s wife of 32 years became suicidal in the aftermath, believing that her husband had been leading a secret life for much of their marriage.

Equally alarming is the possibility that an algorithm may falsely profile an individual as a terrorist: a fate that befalls roughly 1,500 unlucky airline travelers each week. Those fingered in the past as the result of data-matching errors include former Army majors, a four-year-old boy, and an American Airlines pilot—who was detained 80 times over the course of a single year.

Many of these problems are the result of the new roles algorithms play in law enforcement. As slashed budgets lead to increased staff cuts, automated systems have moved from simple administrative tools to become primary decision-makers.

via Algorithms Are Great and All, But They Can Also Ruin Lives | WIRED.

National Book Award Winners for 2014

Phil Klay has won the Fiction award for his book Redeployment from The Penguin Press/Penguin Group (USA).

Evan Osnos has won the Nonfiction award for Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Louise Gluck won the Poetry award for Faithful and Virtuous Night from Farrar, Strauss and Giroux.

The Young People’s Literature award went to Jacqueline Woodson for Brown Girl Dreaming from Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan.

via National Book Award Winners for 2014 – GalleyCat.

Building a complete Tweet index

Since that first simple Tweet over eight years ago, hundreds of billions of Tweets have captured everyday human experiences and major historical events. Our search engine excelled at surfacing breaking news and events in real time, and our search index infrastructure reflected this strong emphasis on recency. But our long-standing goal has been to let people search through every Tweet ever published.

This new infrastructure enables many use cases, providing comprehensive results for entire TV and sports seasons, conferences (#TEDGlobal), industry discussions (#MobilePayments), places, businesses and long-lived hashtag conversations across topics, such as #JapanEarthquake#Election2012#ScotlandDecides#HongKong,#Ferguson and many more. This change will be rolling out to users over the next few days.

Building a complete Tweet index | Twitter Blogs.

A look at the news and events happening in the Libraries at Waubonsee Community College