Affiliated with the University of California's systemwide
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The MacArthur Foundation
• Optic Nerve program collected Yahoo webcam images in bulk• 1.8m users targeted by GCHQ in six-month period alone• Yahoo: 'A whole new level of violation of our users' privacy'• Material included large quantity of sexually explicit imagesBritain's surveillance agency GCHQ, with aid from the National Security Agency, intercepted and stored the webcam images of millions of internet users not suspected of wrongdoing, secret documents reveal.GCHQ files dating between 2008 and 2010 explicitly state that a surveillance program codenamed Optic Nerve collected still images of Yahoo webcam chats in bulk and saved them to agency databases, regardless of whether individual users were an intelligence target or not.In one six-month period in 2008 alone, the agency collected webcam imagery – including substantial quantities of sexually explicit communications – from more than 1.8 million Yahoo user accounts globally.Yahoo reacted furiously to the webcam interception when approached by the Guardian. The company denied any prior knowledge of the program, accusing the agencies of "a whole new level of violation of our users' privacy".GCHQ does not have the technical means to make sure no images of UK or US citizens are collected and stored by the system, and there are no restrictions under UK law to prevent Americans' images being accessed by British analysts without an individual warrant.The documents also chronicle GCHQ's sustained struggle to keep the large store of sexually explicit imagery collected by Optic Nerve away from the eyes of its staff, though there is little discussion about the privacy implications of storing this material in the first place.Optic Nerve, the documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden show, began as a prototype in 2008 and was still active in 2012, according to an internal GCHQ wiki page accessed that year.The system, eerily reminiscent of the telescreens evoked in George Orwell's 1984, was used for experiments in automated facial recognition, to monitor GCHQ's existing targets, and to discover new targets of interest.
It sprang from the brain of one man, Tim Berners-Lee, and is the fastest-growing communication medium of all time. A quarter-century on, we examine how the web has transformed our lives1 The importance of "permissionless innovation"The thing that is most extraordinary about the internet is the way it enables permissionless innovation. This stems from two epoch-making design decisions made by its creators in the early 1970s: that there would be no central ownership or control; and that the network would not be optimised for any particular application: all it would do is take in data-packets from an application at one end, and do its best to deliver those packets to their destination.It was entirely agnostic about the contents of those packets. If you had an idea for an application that could be realised using data-packets (and were smart enough to write the necessary software) then the network would do it for you with no questions asked. This had the effect of dramatically lowering the bar for innovation, and it resulted in an explosion of creativity.What the designers of the internet created, in effect, was a global machine for springing surprises. The web was the first really big surprise and it came from an individual – Tim Berners-Lee – who, with a small group of helpers, wrote the necessary software and designed the protocols needed to implement the idea. And then he launched it on the world by putting it on the Cern internet server in 1991, without having to ask anybody's permission.2 The web is not the internetAlthough many people (including some who should know better) often confuse the two. Neither is Google the internet, nor Facebook the internet. Think of the net as analogous to the tracks and signalling of a railway system, and applications – such as the web, Skype, file-sharing and streaming media – as kinds of traffic which run on that infrastructure. The web is important, but it's only one of the things that runs on the net.3 The importance of having a network that is free and openThe internet was created by government and runs on open source software.
It sounds like the stuff of science fiction: seven keys, held by individuals from all over the world, that together control security at the core of the web. The reality is rather closer to The Office than The MatrixIn a nondescript industrial estate in El Segundo, a boxy suburb in northern Los Angeles just a mile or two from LAX international airport, 20 people wait in a windowless canteen for a ceremony to begin. Outside, the sun is shining on an unseasonably warm February day; inside, the only light comes from the glare of halogen bulbs.There is a strange mix of accents – predominantly American, but smatterings of Swedish, Russian, Spanish and Portuguese can be heard around the room, as men and women (but mostly men) chat over pepperoni pizza and 75-cent vending machine soda. In the corner, an Asteroids arcade machine blares out tinny music and flashing lights.It might be a fairly typical office scene, were it not for the extraordinary security procedures that everyone in this room has had to complete just to get here, the sort of measures normally reserved for nuclear launch codes or presidential visits. The reason we are all here sounds like the stuff of science fiction, or the plot of a new Tom Cruise franchise: the ceremony we are about to witness sees the coming together of a group of people, from all over the world, who each hold a key to the internet. Together, their keys create a master key, which in turn controls one of the central security measures at the core of the web. Rumours about the power of these keyholders abound: could their key switch off the internet? Or, if someone somehow managed to bring the whole system down, could they turn it on again?The keyholders have been meeting four times a year, twice on the east coast of the US and twice here on the west, since 2010. Gaining access to their inner sanctum isn't easy, but last month I was invited along to watch the ceremony and meet some of the keyholders – a select group of security experts from around the world. All have long backgrounds in internet security and work for various international institutions.
The credit crunch and the internet are making writing as a career harder than it has been for a generation. Robert McCrum talks to award-winning authors who are struggling to make ends meetRupert Thomson is the author of nine novels, including The Insult (1996), which David Bowie chose for one of his 100 must-read books of all time, and Death of a Murderer, shortlisted for the Costa Novel of the Year awards in 2007. His most recent novel, Secrecy, was hailed as "chillingly brilliant" (Financial Times) and "bewitching" (Daily Mail). According to the Independent, "No one else writes quite like this in Britain today." Thomson has also been compared to JG Ballard, Elmore Leonard, Mervyn Peake and even Kafka. In short, he's an established and successful writer with an impressive body of work to his name.After working seven days a week without holidays, and now approaching 60, Thomson, you might think, must be looking forward to a measure of comfort and security as the shadows of old age crowd in. But no. For some years he has rented an office in Black Prince Road, on London's South Bank, and commuted to work. Now this studio life, so essential to his work, is under threat. Lately, having done his sums and calculated his likely earnings for the coming year, he has commissioned a builder to create a tiny office (4ft 9in x 9ft 11in) at home in his attic, what he calls "my garret".The space is so cramped that Thomson, who is just over 6ft, will only be able to stand upright in the doorway, but he seems to derive a certain grim satisfaction from confronting his predicament. "All I want is enough money to carry on writing full time. And it's not a huge amount of money. I suppose you could say that I've been lucky to survive as long as I have, to develop a certain way of working. Sadly, longevity is no longer a sign of staying power."Thomson is not yet broke, but he's up against it. The story of his garret is a parable of literary life in Britain today. Ever since the credit crunch of 2008 writers have been tightening belts, cutting back and, in extreme cases, staring into an abyss of penury.
Prime minister blames political enemies for abusing social network sites with stream of fabricated internet postingsThe Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said Facebook and YouTube could be banned following local elections in March after leaked tapes of an alleged phone call between him and his son went viral prompting calls for his resignation.Erdoğan claims social media sites have been abused by his political enemies, in particular former ally U.S.-based Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen who, he says, is behind a stream of "fabricated" audio recordings posted on the internet purportedly revealing graft in his inner circle."We are determined on this subject. We will not leave this nation at the mercy of YouTube and Facebook," Erdoğan said in an interview late on Thursday with the Turkish broadcaster ATV."We will take the necessary steps in the strongest way."Asked if the possible barring of these sites was included in planned measures, he said: "Included."Erdoğan says the release of his purported conversations is part of a campaign to discredit him and wreck his government, which has presided over more than a decade of strong economic growth and rising living standards in NATO member Turkey.Gülen denies any involvement in the recordings and rejects allegations that he is using a network of proteges to try to influence politics in Turkey.Five more recordings have appeared on YouTube this week, part of what Erdoğan sees as a campaign to sully his ruling centre-right AK Party before the March 30 municipal elections and a presidential poll due later this year.In the latest recording, released on YouTube late on Thursday, Erdoğan is purportedly heard suggesting the proprietor of Milliyet newspaper sack two journalists responsible for a front page story about Kurdish peace talk efforts.Erdoğan has signalled that a criminal investigation could be launched against Gülen's Hizmet movement.Asked on Thursday night whether Turkey could seek an Interpol red notice for the extradition of Gülen from the United States, Erdoğan said: "Why not?"TurkeyRecep Tayyip ErdoganFacebookInternetSocial networkingYouTubetheguardian.
Viewing conflict on Buzzfeed or Instagram doesn't guarantee authenticity: without context, any 'news' can be manipulatedWhen I was 19 I read about Plato's Theory of Forms. The theory, crudely put, argues that everything exists in a metaphysical realm in its ideal form, and that everything we have on Earth is a poor attempt to imitate the ideal. So, a cat on Earth is a poor imitation of the ideal cat; and a picture of the earthly cat is even more imperfect because it is even further away from the ideal.I've been thinking about the Theory of Forms in relation to how conflict is presented through social media. For it seems to me that social media has gained prominence as a medium of conflict reportage because it is seen as closer to reality – or, in Platonic terms, closer to the conflict in its purest form. Traditional media, with its serious reporters, analysts and montages, seems further away from the truth of the conflict: it's a dilution of the purity of the on-the-ground reality.When I occupied the department store Fortnum & Mason with 145 other people in 2011, word came that the BBC was erroneously reporting that we were rioting inside. To counter that claim I started tweeting pictures of protesters sitting around reading and chatting to staff, and I received messages from people thanking me from providing them with the "real" news.But were my tweets "real"? There could have easily been a riot taking place a few feet away (there wasn't), and ultimately there was no sound reason for people to believe me rather than the BBC. But I was seen as instinctively more trustworthy, partly because my rudimentary amateur photos seemed more authentic: a more truthful rendering of the protest than what the mainstream media had to offer.The ultimate example of this is probably the Arab spring, most notably the Egyptian revolution of 2011, which has since spawned a Wikipedia page, "Twitter revolution". In Egypt, where the news media was censored and communication lines cut by compliant telecoms companies, social media was a way of disseminating the reality of revolution to a watching world.
Rights campaigner Malala Yousafzai features in doodle providing 'a glimpse' of what some women across the world are doingGoogle is celebrating International Women's Day with a homepage doodle featuring footage of women from around the world including the education rights campaigner Malala Yousafzai and the British businesswoman and charity worker, Camila Batmanghelidjh.The search engine's creative team put together the doodle, which features 27 female chromosomes and a video package with the faces of more than 100 women as well as a musical soundtrack from the Belgian-Congolese vocal group Zap Mama. Others who make an appearance include the President of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaitė.The doodle was designed by Google with the intention of providing "a glimpse" of what some women across the world are doing and to focus in a positive way on their lives.International Women's Day has been observed since in the early 1900s, a time of turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies. The first National Woman's Day (NWD) in the US was observed across the United States on 28 February, 1909.Clara Zetkin, a German Social Democrat, tabled the idea of an International Women's Day in 1910 during an international conference on women's rights in Copenhagen.The day is being marked in a variety of ways in countries around the world, from Afghanistan to Zambia. In the UK male presenters are to be banished from BBC Radio 1 for 39 hours this weekend to celebrate International Women's Day.Google doodleWomenMalala YousafzaiInternetSearch enginesGoogletheguardian.com © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
Olympic Park scores coup by hosting annual fair, tapping into Britain's rich pool of amateur tech talentIt is described as the greatest show (and tell) on Earth, a family-friendly festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness. Think Glastonbury meets TEDx and you get an idea. And now it's coming here. An unashamed celebration of geekdom, Maker Faire is, according to its founders, "an all-ages gathering of tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students, and commercial exhibitors".To the uninitiated, that may sound like a glorified Star Trek convention, but Maker Faires have enjoyed huge success in the US, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors and helping popularise a raft of product innovations including 3D printers and build-it-yourself computers, drones and robots.Today, at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas, Maker Faire will announce that it is to open its third annual flagship fair, the first outside the US, at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in east London. The event, which from next year will run in the summer holidays for up to four weeks, is expected to draw up to 75,000 people.For the London Legacy Development Corporation it is a major coup that will help the 2012 London Games meet one of its key aims – regenerating a once unloved part of the capital."This is yet another example of how the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is attracting the cream of world-class international events," said the mayor of London, Boris Johnson. "In turn, this is propelling forward our vision to cultivate a hotbed of tech talent on the site, creating thousands of jobs."But the arrival of Maker Faire also symbolises a fundamental shift taking place in the technology arena. Hi-tech titans are waking up to the possibilities of making everyday objects communicate and process information. Harnessing these capabilities, developing what is being called the "Internet of Things", will pay huge dividends, according to the likes of Cisco and Intel.
The tech industry is championing a new initiative to get us all to try programming for an hour. But just how hard is coding, and why should we all be doing it? We speak to four expertsSo what is the Hour of Code?Avid Larizadeh, co-founder of accessories design firm Boticca.com and head of the Hour of Code UK campaignThe Hour of Code is an attempt to teach people the basics of computer programming in 60 minutes in a fun, simple way. It is part of a campaign that Code.org, a non-profit organisation, launched in the US with the goal of introducing coding into the US curriculum and raising awareness around what coding is. The idea was to show that it's not just about the geek in the basement or the super-tech-savvy person but that it actually plays a role in everything we do and everybody should have access to it. And 20 million kids signed up to it.And I just thought, this is something we should be doing in the UK too. So I spoke to Joanna Shields [the former managing director of Facebook in Europe and now chair of Tech City] and Sherry Coutu [a tech investor] and they were both extremely excited about it. We decided to have it ready for 3 March, which is the 25th anniversary of the launch of the world wide web.We're not saying we want to build a nation of coders. We're saying, "Just go online and see what it means." The Hour of Code is actually a 60-minute set of tutorials, including one by Mark Zuckerberg and another where you write lines of code to get an Angry Bird to catch a little piggy.There are a lot of different people behind this. As well as the women that you see here, there is Martha Lane Fox, and Michael Acton Smith from Moshi Monsters. In the States, Will.i.am and President Obama appeared in the launch video. We want to tell boys and girls to just do it. It's easy, just give it a go.So, in terms of the makeup of this group of people who've come together this afternoon, you are all women, which is quite atypical, isn't it? Are you deliberately trying to challenge people's perceptions about what computer programmers look like?Avid Absolutely, we want to demystify what code is about.
Oscar-nominated Quvenzhané Wallis stars in the new film version of the musical. Cue Twitter comments that all begin: 'I'm not racist, but …'Name: Annie.Age: 11.Appearance: Headstrong, smartass, black.Hold on a minute. Annie's not black. She's a little blonde Swiss girl who lives in the mountains. That's Heidi, you idiot. Annie's the little red-headed girl who looks like Sideshow Bob.But this new version of Annie doesn't look anything like Sideshow Bob. That's because in this remake she is being played by Oscar-nominated actor Quvenzhané Wallis.Oh, her! She was great in Beasts of the Southern Wild. Yes, she was. And, provided you're into musicals about toothy orphans singing about tomorrow, she'll probably be great in this too.Well, super. Fantastic, isn't it? Everyone's agreed that Wallis is a fabulous actor, and that she will do a great job as Annie even if the film seems slightly beneath her. Wow, this is an unusually short Pass notes. Well done, everyone.Hold on. Hold on, what? I don't like the sound of this.Have you checked to see what the internet thinks about this? No. I can take a look if you like, but I can't imagine that people will be… oh. Oh goodness.Found some racists? No, definitely no racists. They can't be racist, because all their tweets start with variations of: "I'm not a racist, but …"Do you have any examples? There's "Not to be racist, but since when is Annie black?!". And "I'm not racist but first the karate kid then Johnny Storm and now Annie!" And, obviously "I'm not racist or anything ... But this new Annie movie is all mixed up!!! Annie is WHITE!!!!!!"Really? People are legitimately getting worked up about the race of a girl in the lead of a kid's film? This is the internet. People would get worked up about oxygen if you let them.How depressing. Whatever would Daddy Warbucks say? There is no Daddy Warbucks any more. He's been replaced by Will Stacks, a telecommunications billionaire with mayoral ambitions, played by Jamie Foxx.What? This is an outrage! Not you, too. Anyway, we're forgetting the real issue here.
Houses without a connection or slow download speeds can be worth up to 20% less, say estate agentsHouses without broadband could be worth as much as 20% less than comparable properties with a good connection, according to experts who say superfast speeds are increasingly important to prospective homebuyers.With soaring numbers going online to perform everyday tasks or to work from home, a robust connection is considered so vital that the property search website Rightmove has added a broadband speed checker button to every one of its listings, alongside details of transport links and schools. Estate agents report that rising numbers of buyers are willing to pull out of a deal if broadband is not available in that area.Bernard Phillips, the head of consumer platforms at Rightmove, said: "We already offer a number of tools to help consumers make informed decisions about a property, and we're pleased to be the first to add broadband speeds to this. Broadband has become ingrained in people's lives and is an important factor when choosing a home."Yet many households – particularly those in rural and hard-to-reach areas of the UK – remain stuck on sluggish speeds of 2Mbps (megabits per second) or less. That can make anything aside from sending and receiving emails a struggle. The government's rollout of the superfast network to reach 95% of the UK, promising downloads at more than 30Mbps, has been pushed back to 2017, with latest figures from the communications regulator, Ofcom, showing that just 19% of the country is currently able to access these speeds.This is despite the fact that broadband is now regarded as "the fourth utility" after gas, water and electricity, according to property expert Henry Pryor. "A home without at least a standard broadband connection could be worth up to 20% less than a comparable property," said Pryor. "The more demanding buyers now want fibre-optic superfast speeds as, whether working from home, streaming entertainment or managing the stack of equipment that now relies on this, a property needs to have 21st-century connectivity.
The prime minister says we need 5G, which will be 1,000 times faster than the current 4G, to keep Britain in the technological leadDavid Cameron mocked for paying for Facebook friendsName: 5G.Age: Minus two years.Appearance: Look, over there! You missed it. Now it's over there! Too late. Quick, now it's … no, it's gone again.Are you trying to say that 5G is fast? That's exactly what I'm trying to say. You know 4G?The thing that gives you internet on your phone? Yes, that's right. Well, forget 4G. 4G's old hat. David Cameron has just announced a deal to develop 5G technology with Germany, and it's going to be 1,000 times faster than 4G.Oh. My phone still only goes up to 3G. 3G? What are you, some sort of loser? How long does it take you to download a film to your phone?I don't really download films to my phone. I mainly just use it for Facebook and Angry Bir … One second! That's how quickly you can download a film on 5G. In the time it took me to tell you that, I could have downloaded every film that Michael Bay ever made. Pow!What's the benefit of that? Who genuinely needs to download a film in less than a second? People with … people who want to … oh, look, I don't know. But it sounds cool, right?This isn't just about films, is it? Nope. Cameron says he wants the UK to be the most digital nation in the G8, and this is simply a step towards achieving that.What did he say exactly? "Countries like the UK and Germany will only succeed if we have a relentless drive for new ideas and innovations".And unnecessarily fast mobile internet is one of those innovations. Yes. But he's also investing £73m in The Internet of Things.Wait, the what? I'm confused. Isn't the internet already a thing? For now. Soon it will be our pulsating sentient overlord that feasts on the blood of the young but, look, we'll worry about that when we have to.So what's the Internet of Things? In the future, your watch will take your blood pressure and then tell your fridge to preventatively buy in vegetables and probiotic yoghurt, because the things you own know you better than you know yourself.
The multimedia empire's chief executive on video journalism, North Korea – and why he won't be taken over by a big rivalShane Smith stayed up late getting drunk with one of his presenters, and now he is exhausted, hungover and behind schedule. Bottles of spirits stand, taunting him, from a table in the opposite corner of an office at Vice Media's headquarters in Brooklyn's voguish Williamsburg neighbourhood, while he slumps in a brown leather armchair.The bearish 44-year-old chief executive seems about as pleased to have an interview in the diary as a boy faced with a plate of broccoli. "I go to bed late and I get up early," he mumbles into his beard. But after an orange juice he soldiers on, sleepily repeating his proud sales pitch for the company estimated to have made him some $400m.Founded 20 years ago by Smith and two friends in Montreal as a scrappy youth magazine, Vice has since mutated into a buccaneering multimedia empire spanning an eclectic website, a TV show, a film production house, an advertising agency and a record label. While other media firms rooted in print continue to struggle, it is forecast to make $125m in profit on half-billion dollar revenues this year.This week it launches its latest online venture, Vice News, a more focused outlet for the kind of video journalism that has recently earned Smith and his team at the much-lampooned "hipster bible" some grudging respect as the unlikely champions of proper, on-the-ground foreign reporting and gritty US domestic stories. The online channel's first offerings are rough around the edges – someone forgot to add subtitles to a video package from Sochi – and Smith admits "we are not the greatest at launching things". Still, he promises that "two months in", all glitches will have been eliminated, and Vice will have changed the media weather again.Long and short foreign video dispatches from its international, multi-ethnic gang of young reporter-hosts will sit alongside what Smith calls an "innovative, unique and beautiful" way of broadcasting breaking news.
Series three of axed Victorian detective drama will be available in May on Prime Instant Video and aired later on BBC1Period crime drama Ripper Street, axed by the BBC, will be returning for a third series on Amazon's video-on-demand service.Amazon confirmed on Wednesday that Filming on the third series will begin in May and be exclusive to subscribers to Prime Instant Video, formerly its LoveFilm VoD service, but will be aired a few months later on BBC1.As part of the deal the first and second series are now available to Prime Instant Video subscribers.The deal between Amazon and Ripper Street producer Tiger Aspect marks a significant moment for the UK TV industry – the first time a VoD operator has stepped in to fund a drama series after it was dropped by a major broadcaster.Ripper Street, starring Matthew MacFadyen and Jerome Flynn, was dropped by the BBC last year. The reason given by the corporation was it "didn't bring the audience we hoped".Tiger Aspect confirmed in December that it was in talks about alternative funding for the show, with Amazon tipped as being most likely to step in.Confirming the return of the notorious H Division police precinct, set in Victorian Whitechapel, the head of Amazon Instant Video international content acquisition Jason Ropell said: "We're delighted to have secured not only the highly popular first two seasons of Ripper Street for our Prime Instant Video customers but we can also confirm today that we will be making season three, news that we know will delight the millions of fans of this brilliant British drama."The US online retail giant announced earlier in February that it was rebranding its UK VoD service, LoveFilm, as Prime Instant Video.BBC controller of drama commissioning Ben Stephenson said: "This is an exceptional opportunity to bring back Ripper Street for a third series by working with a great partner."• To contact the MediaGuardian news desk email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 020 3353 3857. For all other inquiries please call the main Guardian switchboard on 020 3353 2000.