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Twitter blocked for several hours in Pakistan, an attack against freedom of expression?

maggio 22, 2012 Technology No Commenti
censored twitter

“The reactions were mixed. Some thought it was outrageous to put a stop to the voice of youth. While some were glad that now my daughter/son will finally spend some time with us.” This is what a young Pakistani writes on his blog about Twitter block occurred the 20th of May.

Supposedly for having spread “blasphemous material” about the Prophet Mohammed, two days ago Pakistan briefly blocked the microblog and restored access few hours later.

As we can learn from Indiatimes.com, it was banned for several hours because “it refused to remove posts considered offensive to Islam,” said one of the country’s top telecommunications officials.
The tweets were promoting a competition on another Social Network, Facebook, where images of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad were posted, said Mohammad Yaseen, chairman of the Pakistan Telecommunication’s Authority. Many Muslims consider depictions of the prophet, even favourable ones, as blasphemous.

“Both Facebook and Twitter were involved. We negotiated with both. Facebook has agreed to remove the stuff but Twitter is not responding to us,” he said. For this reason it suffered the ban. Nothing new, in any case, considering that these two Social Media were blocked, along with Youtube, for two weeks in May 2010 due to a competition organised by an anonymous user who called on people to draw the Prophet Mohammad to promote “freedom of expression”.

It goes without saying that what is really interesting in all of these cases is the users’ ability in bypassing the censorship obstacle by using different tricks. In fact, even before the service reactivation, they had already batten down the hatches using cell phones to send the micro messages, secure browsers like Opera Mini or advanced proxy softwares like Vtunnel.

Today is increasingly easy to put under control single or few computers through the use of remote computer monitoring systems and keyhunters, but facts show how difficult it is to place under surveillance millions of people on the Web.

In fact, this is precisely what Twitter tried to underline in its own defence. The microblogging site, which in February reached 500 million active users, said, in reply to accuses, “We are not able to stop any individual who does something of this nature on the website.”

Another relevant point of the question, which sounds a little bit bizarre, is that Yaseen said Sunday afternoon that Pakistan’s Ministry of Information Technology had ordered the telecommunications authority to block Twitter because the company refused to remove the blasphemous tweets, but we still do not know what led the ministry to the decision of restoring access to Twitter Sunday evening, even though the Social Medium had not removed the offending contents yet.

Intelligence and privacy violation. Does America lives in a huge “Big Brother”?

maggio 21, 2012 Technology No Commenti
terrorism and surveillance

In the late Eighteenth century, English philosopher Jeremy Bentham designed the institutional building of Panopticon. Bentham himself described the Panopticon as “a new mode of obtaining power of mind over mind”. The design consists of a circular structure with an “inspection house” at its centre, from which the managers of the institution are able to watch the inmates without them being able to tell whether or not they are being watched.

Fancy or reality, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, this is more or less what is happening in the United States, due to a continuous and increasingly intrusive surveillance of citizens by Government, through a systems which also involves citizens themselves and private corporations in collecting data and information about population.

“Acting under the broad mandate of the “war” on terrorism, the U.S. Security establishment is making a systematic effort to extend its surveillance capacity by pressing the private sector into service to report on the activities of Americans.”

This is what is written in the ACLU report, according to which “Information held by third parties was either assumed to be innocuous or protected by professional codes of confidentiality.” In this way Government does not fear for political or legal repercussion.

In the report, the ACLU writes that Government has created several programs to control Americans’ lives, supposedly to defend the Country from Terrorism after 9/11.

In January 2002, for example, the Justice Department created a program called the “Terrorism Information and Prevention System,” or TIPS. Considered as “A national system for concerned workers to report suspicious activity,” the program would have recruited “millions of American utility workers, letter carriers and cable technicians to report to the Government anything that they considered an unusual or suspicious activity.”

Bush also called for “Neighbourhood Watch” programs to be doubled in number and expanded beyond their traditional role of deterring and detecting household burglary to involve them in preventing terrorism.

These are only few of the State reporting programs listed in the Surveillance Industrial Complex report, in which authors underline how, beyond these organized watch programs “there are more diffuse campaigns of citizen awareness featured on government Web sites around the nation. These campaigns urge Americans to be suspicious, and to report to the authorities anyone who fits a long list of suspicious characteristics.”

From 9/11 now, there are almost 6000 organizations, of which 2000 are private institutions, which not only cooperate with Government in keeping public order, but also collect an enormous amount of data about individuals and monitor them, probably also through the use of high-tech tools, such as covert listening devices, micro digital voice recorders and spy cameras.

Supposedly to track down potential terrorists, this enormous “big brother” is not only destroying Americans’ right “to be left alone”, but is also creating a huge business which does not suffer from the economic crisis.

Terrorism: a guide for Western people converted to jihad.

maggio 18, 2012 Technology No Commenti

“Muslims follow a religion of peace, mercy and forgiveness, and most of them do not have anything to do with the violent events somebody has associated with Muslims. If a Muslim commits an act of terrorism, this person is guilty of violating the laws of Islam. ”
This is what we read on a website that introduce itself as a guide to Islam. Ideas which any human being agrees with.

However, on the Internet it is possible to find an English guide on how to become a perfect terrorist and how to export the creed of Al Qaeda to the West. A handbook for Western converts to jihad, in other words, written by Samir Khan, an American who worked for the Yemeni cell of Al Qaeda and who was killed by a drone (unmanned aerial vehicle) together with the radical Imam Anwar Al Awlaki.

There are several chapters in the guide and all deal with different aspects of a terrorist life. He is given, for example, some advice about personal hygiene in precarious situations, “a daily shower is ideal but in many cases is not possible.” Terrorists are encouraged to keep in order the environments in which they live, and they hide, often shared with other “brothers”.
The handbook even discusses the possibility for a terrorist to take along his family. However, he is discouraged, to avoid seeing their loved ones raped and tortured, if they were discovered.

In the section entitled “Air Bombing”, Khan describes the sound of the drones, “as the buzzing of a bee,” and advises his potential disciples, in the case of fear, to think about the virgins of Heaven and the prophets that they are going to meet once dead.
Surely the most important and interesting chapters are those in which he gives practical advice on terrorism targets and guidelines to be complied with in order to avoid being detected.

He writes about “attacking America in his own backyard” because in this way the resonance, the effect and consideration that they would get, is much stronger, especially if the attack is carried out by a single individual, more difficult to control.
So, with the spread of the Web, it is even easier for terrorists in general to disseminate their ideas and get emulated in and against Western countries. They have moved, in fact, from the initial face to face indoctrination to pamphlets and books, up to the Network, Youtube for example, and dissemination of guides on it.

Fortunately, however, the technology is not always in favor of terror. For this purpose, in fact, Khan emphasizes the importance of not using cell phones for communication, to avoid being wiretapped in some way. Who knows whether he has considered or not the fact that maybe intelligence service can monitor potential terrorists through state-of-the-art eavesdropping devices and video surveillance systems, such as 3G spy camera which allows you to see, with a simple video call,what is going on in the place where it is concealed or, in the case there is no UMTS network coverage, enables at least unlimited and high sound quality remote listening.

Discovering and fighting usury with the use of bugs

maggio 8, 2012 Technology No Commenti
picture against usury

Reading the newspapers in these last months, on a first sight you can easily understand what is going on all over the world: the economic crisis is having devastating consequences on society, of which it is slowly eroding the fabric, making those who have problems performing extreme measures, such as criminal actions or suicide.

The economic crisis in Europe has affected several nations, but Greece, Ireland and Italy the most, and an alarming increase in suicide rates among entrepreneurs and small-business owners is leading some European newspapers to call the trend “suicide by economic crisis”.

Furthermore, reading the newspapers and watching the television you can also understand how the crisis is leading people to commit different crimes: burglary, drug pushing and usury.

Yesterday in Italy, for example, five people were arrested for having lent money at usury rate to several Tuscan entrepreneurs, threatened and intimidated with actions which are typical of the mafia behaviour.

To get rid of from the clutches of usury is not simple. You may fear retaliation in case of complaint against the loan shark, the same retaliation you would probably have in case of nonpayment.

Nevertheless, who is victim of usury should find the strength to face the problem for his own good and for his loved ones.

It goes without saying that cooperation with the police force is vital, but to catch the usurer red-handed you can rely on several technological devices, such as bugs and micro digital voice recorders. Thanks to their small size, they can easily be hidden in any medium, allowing the person who brings them with herself to have her conversations listened and recorded. In this way, the police can intervene at the right time and arrest the criminal.

Your routes in a few clicks, with the GPS tracker

maggio 4, 2012 Technology No Commenti
Route from a gps tracker

The tracker is a small and efficient portable GPS locator that allows you to chart your course anywhere on the Earth.
This GPS tracker can be easily concealed due to its small size, to a removable magnetic support and to a belt clip, which allow you to hide it discreetly in any medium whether you are in the sea, on the street or on a plane.
Simple to use, this particular GPS tracker can work for over a month with the power of only two AAA batteries, allowing you to record your routes for weeks. Furthermore, it has a 4MB flash  USB memory that, connected to a PC and through the use of a mapping software like Google Earth, can easily show your routes, with no additional costs.
Do you like cycling or jogging? With the new GPS tracker you will be able to control your sport performances, checking how far you ran.
You may also feel the need to monitor a person who is supposed to be in danger. Nothing could be easier with the GPS tracker! All you need is to get that person to bring with herself the GPS locator. In this way you will obtain the map of her course.
Does your son have a strange behaviour and do you fear for his safety? From today on, you can also rely on a GSM bug with a GPS tracker.
If your need is not only to track and record a route but also to know what is happening in a particular circumstance, you could obtain a GPS tracker embedded in a GSM bug.
Easily controlled from anywhere in the world, the GSM bug allows those who control it to catch conversations and background noise with excellent sound quality, thanks to a highly sensitive microphone.
Hidden in a backpack or a piece of clothing, the GSM bug allows you not only to know where your son is but also to find out what is happening around him. All you have to do is making a call from any phone to the number of your bug.

Politic repression against the population in Syria: three american companies accused of having provided the Damascus regime tools for wiretapping and monitoring of dissidents

novembre 28, 2011 Technology No Commenti
syria protest

United States of America are not only exporting democracy, but also controlling tools sold directly to ‘rogue governments’ and schemes. Of course this practice is not new, but lately it has become a little awkward in the Obama administration.

The U.S. Commerce Department is seeking whether the technology produced by a Californian company, has been able to help the Syrian Police to map and monitor dissidents by bugs. Revolts have been followed by a violent and bloody repression that led to the death of thousands of unarmed civilians.

Trade officials are trying to know if Blue Coat Systems of Sunnyvale, Calif., was aware that its equipment and its software could be used by the Syrian government.

The company has already clearly expressed that it did not sell tools or spy software to the Syrian government, but it is aware that its products are used, however in Syria and maybe the regime got them through a third party. The U.S. sanctions imposed on Syria prohibit the tradings of most of the categories and the investigators are trying to determine who gave the Blue Coat technology to Syria.

Here is a declaration from the company, dating back to this month: “Blue Coat is aware of the violence in Syria, and is really sad because of the suffering and loss of human lives that could be the result of actions made by a repressive regime. We do not want our products to be used by the government of Syria or any other country embargoed by the United States.”

According to statements of the company, Blue Coat technology is not designed for surveillance purposes, but it has features that could help the authorities to monitor electronic communications, even allowing to block selected people access to certain websites and certain forms of social media.

Few days ago, in U.S. Parliament, three senators asked the Obama administration to see if Blue Coat and another California company, HP, have been provided with “instruments of repression”  Damascus.

“If the sale of US-made technology devices may have contributed to the ongoing violence, it is unacceptable and a solution should be investigated as soon as possible.”
If the Commerce Department found out that Blue Coat has clearly violated the license, U.S. could make the company pay a fine up to $ 1 million.

U.S. companies wishing to export devices that are “primarily used for hidden interception of oral or electronic communications cable” must contact the Department of Commerce for a license, according to current regulations regarding export. However, sales by U.S. companies in Syria are illegal, starting from the sanctions imposed by President George W. Bush, in 2004.

There’s more. During a Congress audition that took place on November 9, the Assistant Secretary of State, Jeffrey Feltman, said that the Blue Coat technology used in Syria, no export license had been granted.

In addition to Blue Coat, there is also Hewlett-Packard (HP), which has installed more than $ 500,000 of equipment in computer rooms located in Syria. These electronic brains are the basis of a surveillance system being built, able to monitor the use of e-mail and Internet in the country. The operational base of HP is therefore a control center for Syrian officials in Damascus, with whom they could keep track of citizens’ communications and track datas, models and personal contacts. An Italian company, Area SpA, is in charge of running the project.

“HP’s policy is to comply with all applicable export control laws and regulations of the United States,” the company said in a declaration. “We have no employees or facilities in Syria, and our sales in this country have been limited to groups that are recognized by U.S. law. Compliance with the United States and the laws of international trade are the highest priority for HP. “

BiKN and your Apple iPhone become a powerful device to find lost objects and even people

novembre 22, 2011 Technology No Commenti
localizzatore per iphone

When we talk about Apple’s mobile devices, namely the iPhone, we know that we can find a huge variety of gadgets and cases to protect it and keep it safe. We also know that there is a software to locate your phone via GPS in the unlucky event of theft or loss. Perhaps we did not know that engineers from Treehouse Lab have designed an interesting way to keep track of everything: phone, keys, wallets.

We are speaking about an innovative system, designed specifically for those who often lose things around, either because they are careless, or because they are running into a busy life, full of unexpected events.

The new system is called BiKN, a term that is pronounced as “beacon”: just as a light it acts illuminating your life, helping you to regain everything lost (if it bears the rught tag).

But let’s step back and focus on the system, thet consists of a special case for the iPhone keeping inside a receiver that interacts with a tracking tag. On your phone, a special iOS application manages the operations, allowing you to locate up to 8 cards simultaneously. All you have to do is to stuck ‘tags’ on items that you often lose.

Your bag, key ring, camera, wallet or even your dog (putting the special ‘tag’ on the collar). But the most interestingthing regards the possibility to set a maximum distance for each item, after which an alarm on the BiKN iPhone case. In this way, busy parents shoppingin the mall will not have to worry too much when they leave their children in the playground area.

User interface is clear and intuitive. “Find” mode includes an audio and video signal meter that helps you find everything that has been lost, every item that has gone out of place. The “Leash” function activates control within exact spatial boundaries. “Page” mode will sound an alert on one or more active tags (or other devices compatible with smart BiKN), becoming very useful for  families or groups.

The special BiKN clips are designed to be easily stuck to any object, a belt, a keychain, a pocket of a jacket. Each tag is equipped with a plug that opens and reveals a micro-USB port, letting users to set and synchronize via the BiKN iPhone case every single clip. in a mall.

Once purchased the case, the USB tag can be bought with an extra charge and they have to be charged through a computer. All equipment is useful and very practical and it will be available in 2012 for Apple iPhone 4 and 4S. There is still no information about the price.

Telephone interception is already banned on Google

aprile 4, 2011 Technology No Commenti

While on Italian newspapers, forums and blogs there is a lot of talk about the bill on wiretapping that the government is attempting to pass, along with an array of other “ad personam” bills clearly aimed at defending solely the prime minister’s interests, on the web this bill seems to be already in effect, in a quiet way, without explicitly banning eavesdropping or telephone interception.

We are talking about Google, which has recently updated the list of categories of items that can not be promoted through its AdWords advertising service, in addition to the usual restrictions that prevent from advertising pornography, material which incites to racial hatred or violence, or any other illegal product or service.

A few days ago, the Italian branch of the Mountain View giant has sent a message to some of its advertisers, and more specifically those who produce or market listening devices, miniature recorders, hidden microphones, miniature cameras, listening bugs and all equipment used by law enforcement or detective agencies for their investigations against organized crime, fraud, corporate espionage or marital infidelity suspicions.

Google informs its advertisers that they have changed their advertising rules, and they no longer accept ads promoting products for espionage or wiretapping equipment.
We have already seen how, as it was the case with China, the Big G programmers have turned a blind eye to the surfers’ right to access to free information, setting up the filters that the Beijing government required to grant Google access to the world’s largest market, with its wealth of over a billion potential customers for advertisers.

In this case, we do not have (nor it is expected) a confirmation in this direction, but as the Italian long-running politician and former Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti said, “bad thoughts are a sin, but they are often right”, it is not too unlikely that the long-reaching arm of the Italian government has targeted Google and the search engine’s main source of income: advertising.

If we consider that Mediaset, the broadcasting company owned by the Prime Minister have sued YouTube (which, as you know, is owned by Google), claiming a compensation for copyright infringement over publishing of video footage from its channels, the idea of an “exchange” between the lawsuit and a ban on advertising may not sound too unrealistic.

It would be a small and invisible move, but which would make life more difficult not only for those who use listening bugs to fight crime, but also for those who work behind the scenes in this field, manufacturing the bugs that are used during interception operations.

In short, if the Parliament does not pass the bill, in Italy there is always a way to work around that annoying little thing called law, and achieve the planned bill’s main objective: cutting down on telephone wiretapping.

BEAR, a robot to rescue wounded soldiers and not only

novembre 25, 2010 Technology No Commenti

The U.S. Army researchers are working to test a new robot, designed by Vecna Robotics, which would be used to recover and rescue wounded soldiers during combat. The robot, called BEAR (Battlefield Extraction Assist Robot), can spot a soldier in trouble thanks to its sensors and its cameras.

BEAR is controlled remotely via a special glove that allows the use of simple hand gestures to operate it, to make it approach the wounded soldier, pick him up from the ground and take him as soon as possible to the nearest medical point.

The rescue robot can carry a load of about 230 kg, lifting it gently with its hydraulic “arms”. With a height of about 1.80 m, BEAR can also inspect any area behind a wall, or lift its load on a raised surface. The arms are equipped with “hands” that can carry out precision tasks, ensuring that a wounded soldier will be treated with care and not moved abruptly.

Moreover, thanks to these features, BEAR can be used not only for rescue operations, but also for reconnaissance and surveillance, to transport explosives or hazardous materials that must be handled with care, or to inspect parcels which could conceal a bomb, defuse a mine, all this without putting human lives at risk.

The simulations and tests on BEAR are going on since about a year, and also include the development of a new iGlove, the glove used to control it, which will allow for a more precise control and for the ability to send advanced instructions, for example when defusing a bomb. In addition, the future version of BEAR will have several autonomous functions, which can be carried out without human intervention.

For leisure, for business and not only: digital micro recorders

novembre 24, 2010 Technology No Commenti

Until a few years ago, the only ones to use a miniature audio recorder, of the kind with micro cassette tapes, were journalists, and many times we happened to see one only on television during an interview with a politician, a celebrity or a sportsman.

Nowadays, not only audio cassettes, but also compact discs, are obsolete audio media, and have been replaced by digital media and memory cards which provide for a much larger storage space and ease of use, all this teamed up with a much smaller encumbrance.

Thanks to this, the world of audio recording as we know it today is totally different than it was a few years ago.

Now, with devices that are small but highly powerful, yet flexible and very easy to use, the ones that use a digital voice recorder are no longer only journalists, but many other types of professionals: managers may want to use it to record an important meeting in the office; students can take notes in audio format, or simply record their teachers during a lecture; private detectives and police officers, thanks to a digital recorder which comes in microscopic size, are able to gather evidence against a criminal or an unfaithful spouse, and use them as decisive evidence before a court of law.

These of course are just a few examples, but the bottom line is that digital technology of the twenty-first century is now present in many fields, and if used in the right way, may prove useful not only at work, but also in leisurely opportunities.

To find out the various models of digital micro recorders available in the market, and their different characteristics that make them suitable for professional use, for leisure or for investigation and surveillance, we recommend that you visit the Endoacustica website to find the right model for you.

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