Author Archives: carrelbg

The NSA and Celebrity Photos

For this post, I read the article, “We Need a Serious, Federal Digital Privacy Law” by Larry Womack from the Huffington Post.  This article discusses the fact that there are no real digital privacy laws concerning theft and distribution of information and pictures, as long as it is not financial.  The main focus is on the recent Hollywood leaks of all the nude celebrity photos, and other nude photo issues. He talks about several cases where people who distributed nude pictures of other people without their permission were not prosecuted or even charged because most states do not have laws regarding posting nude pictures of people over the age of 18.  Even worse, the people whose pictures are posted are usually the ones who get in trouble, rather than the person who posted them without consent.

Almost every law concerning nude photos or videos only pertains to material of or distribution to minors.  This needs to change because people over the age of 18 have pictures and videos of themselves “leaked” all the time, especially celebrities.  This is clearly an invasion of the privacy of these victims, yet nothing is done about it.  Womack suggests that federal laws need to be made that punish these types of crimes in ways other than sex offense charges.  The theft and distribution of private material needs to be treated the same across all types of data, wether that is theft of financial information, identities, or pictures.  A common argument against this is “they should not be taking nude pictures in the first place” but the blame should absolutely be placed on the people who distribute the pictures and not the victims.  People expect that their private information will be kept private.

This also applies to information collected by governments and corporations without consent as well, such as the recent NSA scandal.  If a government agency is monitoring all communications between people who are not considered threats without their permission, those people should have the right to press charges against the agency, or at least be able to see the information that is collected about them, so they can be more informed on what the government is doing.  I personally think that, when agencies collect this type of information, it has to be reviewed by a select committee, and permanently erased if there is no threat found.

Satellite Pirates

In the article, “Pre-1972 copyright ruling goes in favor of music community, but does it set any precedent?” found on Complete Music Update, Chris Cooke discussed the recent copyright lawsuit between the 1960s band The Turtles and Sirius XM Radio.  It states that current law mandates that all music before 1972 is subject to copyright law and therefore royalties have to be paid to use it.  Sirius XM had been sneaking around this law, since satellite and online radio is not explicitly stated in the law.  However, California judges ruled that they are not exempt from paying the band royalties.  This means that Sirius XM, and other satellite and online radio stations, will have to adhere to paying royalties for music made before 1972–at least in California.  There are also several other cases in other states involving the same issue.

This has an impact on both the radio industry and the music industry.  The radio industry is faced with an enormous loss of money if this ruling applies to all states, as they will have to pay millions of dollars every year to play older music.  Not only would these stations have to pay royalties for playing the music from now on, they would also have to pay retrospective royalties, meaning they would be faced with an estimate of how much it would have cost to play their music up to this point in time. It could possibly mean the end of smaller satellite radio stations as a whole, who could not face the financial impact of paying these royalties.  The music industry benefits greatly, as they will receive the money that the radio stations are paying.  They could also use this ruling to their advantage in future cases, as satellite radio is no longer exempt from copyright laws.

Creative Commons: Making Scholarly Articles Visible

My article, The rise and rise of Creative Commons, written by Cameron Neylon, is about the organization Creative Commons, as the title suggests.  This is a non-profit organization that allows a large quantity of licensed works to be shared for free.  The purpose of this organization is to share content that would otherwise be restricted for users who do not subscribe to it.  This allows for the spread of information and knowledge.  The article states that this Creative Commons has 1.2 million pieces of scholarly work licensed to be shared freely throughout the world.  The author argues that all companies and organizations that currently restrict their content to subscribers should instead use Creative Commons because it will improve the information available to the world.

I disagree with Neylon because most of these organizations make money off subscriptions, and that is how they continue to exist.  If they were forced to make all of their content free to access, they would eventually cease to exist and not be able to publish their information, which would in turn decrease the amount of information available to the community.  I do understand why he argues for Creative Commons and agree that it is a great idea, but it is just not practical for organizations that rely on subscriptions for income to make all of their content free.

This is also related to the “invisible web” that we talked about last week because content hidden behind subscription walls is not available to search engines, and therefore less likely to be found. I do not know if Creative Commons content can be found by search engines, but I am sure it has a much better chance than subscription content.  It would be much easier to access these scholarly articles if they were free because they could be linked to and found by the search engine “spiders.”

THAWed Out

This article is mainly a video that showcases a new type of digital interaction.  It is called THAW, created by the Tangible Media Group at MIT.  From the name, this group deals with physical substances or objects that can be controlled through technology or can relay data.  This specific technology allows a smartphone and a computer to interact much the same way that a computer with two monitors hooked up to it works.  Files can be dragged from the phone to the computer, or vice versa.  The screen of the phone can be used as a window on the computer screen to affect games.  The phone can read and analyze data that is presented on the computer and vice versa.

The way THAW works is the software in the phone relays the view of the computer screen that is visible through the smartphone camera.  Then, the computer can send the data from that portion of the screen to the phone screen and it can be interacted with by touching the phone screen or moving the cursor onto it from the computer.

THAW is a very interesting new technology that could change how we upload and download data forever.  Instead of plugging a usb cord to connect your phone, you could just put it against the screen and update your apps, music, and files.  Flash drives would cease to exist because their function would be available on the smartphone: you could copy files onto the phone and bring them with you to whatever computer you are working on.  This would also allow for a generation of computer games that operate like a Wii U, where there is one main screen and one smaller one handheld one that only one person can see.  The data can be sent back and forth between the handheld and console, so this could work essentially the same way, but cost much less and be portable.

The End of Personal Privacy

In this article, Joe Queenan talks about how household appliances are becoming more and more connected, and why that could be dangerous.  Almost everything around the house can be controlled wirelessly or through a smartphone app, which he calls the “Internet of Things.”  However Queenan discusses the possibility of being hacked through these common goods.  He notes that, not only can hackers break into one of these appliances with relative ease, but that they can also hack into any other devices that are connected to them.  For instance, someone could hack into a remote controlled light switch, which is connected to a smartphone, which is connected to bank accounts.  However, he also say that, due to its relative ease, amateur hackers could do it for fun and have the light switch turn on and off randomly.

I think that this is a very real possibility in the near future.  My dad worked for the Air Force with cyber-warfare and such, and he would always talk about how easy it is to hack things that are supposed to be secure, such as bank accounts, personal information, and social media profiles, simply by being on the same network as a device. If a hacker can get into these with ease, imagine how easy it would be to break into a remote controlled appliance.  I think the scenarios he comes up with are a bit ridiculous, but definitely possible.  Instead of his example of making a self-driving car to Venezuela, it would more likely be driven to the hacker’s home or somewhere (s)he could store it and sell it.  If Queenan’s vision for the future does come true, I think that everyone would be in danger of having any and all personal information and property available to the public at any time.  This is a very scary idea because we are all used to having at least some privacy, even when it comes to our social media and sharing things actually want to share.