Future of Internet, Internet, News, technology

Google Glass: Augmented Reality

Project Glass by Google
Google Project Glass: Wearable Computing

On Wednesday, Google gave people a clearer picture of its secret initiative called Project Glass. The glasses are the company’s first venture into wearable computing.

The glasses are not yet for sale. Google will, however, be testing them in public.

The prototype version Google showed off on Wednesday looked like a very polished and well-designed pair of wrap-around glasses with a clear display that sits above the eye. The glasses can stream information to the lenses and allow the wearer to send and receive messages through voice commands. There is also a built-in camera to record video and take pictures.

The New York Times first wrote about the glasses in late February, describing an augmented-reality display that would sit over the eye and run on the Android mobile platform.

A video released by Google on Wednesday, which can be seen below, showed potential uses for Project Glass. A man wanders around the streets of New York City, communicating with friends, seeing maps and information, and snapping pictures. It concludes with him video-chatting with a girlfriend as the sun sets over the city. All of this is seen through the augmented-reality glasses.

Google Project Glass
Project Glass could become Project Contact Lens

Project Glass could hypothetically become Project Contact Lens. Mr. Parviz, who is also an associate professor at the University of Washington, specializes in bionanotechnology, which is the fusion of tiny technologies and biology. He most recently built a tiny contact lens that has embedded electronics and can displaypixels to a person’s eye.

Project Glass is one of many projects currently being built inside the Google X offices, a secretive laboratory near Google’s main Mountain View, Calif., campus where engineers and scientists are also working on robots and space elevators.

From New York Times

Civil Liberties, Core Internet Values, Future of Internet, IGF, Internet, News, privacy, technology

A document from 39 years ago: Western Concern for Privacy in the age of Computers

Common Concerns

[ This was in 1973, 39 years ago, when “when computers ran on steam and the internet was still largely mechanical”. I was led to this document from a message posted by Karl Auerbach in the At Large mailing list today ]

Most of the advanced industrial nations of Western Europe and North America share concerns about the social impact of computer-based personal data systems. Although there are minor differences in the focus and intensity of their concerns, it is clear that there is nothing peculiarly American about the feeling that the struggle of individual versus computer is a fixed feature of modern life. The discussions that have taken place in most of the industrial nations revolve around themes that are familiar to American students of the problem: loss of individuality, loss of control over information, the possibility of linking data banks to create dossiers, rigid decision making by powerful, centralized bureaucracies. Even though there is little evidence that any of these adverse social effects of computer-based record keeping have occurred on a noticeable scale, they have been discussed seriously since the late sixties, and the discussions have prompted official action by many governments as well as by international organizations.

western concern for privacy in the 70sConcern about the effects of computer-based record keeping on personal privacy appears to be related to some common characteristics of life in industrialized societies. In the first place, industrial societies are urban societies. The social milieu of the village that allowed for the exchange of personal information through face-to-face relationships has been replaced by the comparative impersonality of urban living. …

Concern about the effects of computer-based record keeping appears to have deep roots in the public opinion of each country, deeper roots than could exist if the issues were manufactured and merchandised by a coterie of specialists, or reflected only the views of a self-sustaining group of professional Cassandras. The fragility of computer-based systems may account for some of the concern… There are few computer systems designed to deal with the disruption that deliberately lost or mutilated punched cards in a billing system-to give a simple example-would cause. Thus, the very vulnerability of automated personal data systems, systems without which no modern society could function, may make careful attention to the human element transcend national boundaries.

The Response in Individual Nations

WEST GERMANY

On October 7, 1970, the West German State of Hesse adopted the world’s first legislative act directed specifically toward regulating automated data processing. This “Data Protection Act” applies to the official files of the government of Hesse; wholly private files are specifically exempted from control. The Act established a Data Protection Commissioner under the authority of the State parliament whose duty it is to assure that the State’s files are obtained, transmitted, and stored in such a way that they cannot be altered, examined, or destroyed by unauthorized persons…

Thus, the Data Protection Act of Hesse seems designed more to protect the integrity of State data and State government than to protect the interests of the people of the State…

SWEDEN

When strong opposition to the 1969 census erupted in Sweden, public mistrust centered not so much on the familiar features of the census itself as on the fact that, for the first time, much of the data gathering would be done in a form specifically designed to facilitate automated data processing. Impressed by the possibility that opposition might be so severe as to invalidate the entire census, the government added the task of studying the problems of computerized record keeping to the work of an official commission already studying policies with respect to the confidentiality of official records.

After a notably thorough survey of personal data holdings in both public and private systems, the commission issued a report containing draft legislation for a comprehensive statute for the regulation of computer-based personal data systems in Sweden.2 The aim of the act is specifically the protection of personal privacy. Its key provisions are these:

  • Establishment of an independent “Data Inspectorate,” charged with the responsibility for executing and enforcing the provisions of the Data Law.
  • No automated data system containing personal data may be set up without a license from the Data Inspectorate.
  • Data subjects have the right to be informed about all uses made of the data about them, and no new use of the data may be made without the consent of the subject.
  • Data subjects have the right of access without charge to all data about them, and if the data are found to be incorrect, incomplete, or otherwise faulty, they must either be corrected to the subject’s satisfaction, or a statement of rebuttal from the subject must be filed along with the data.
  • The Data Inspectorate will act as ombudsman in all matters regarding automated personal data systems.

The Data Law has been passed by the Swedish Parliament and will become effective on July 1, 1973. A transition period of one year will be allowed to implement all the provisions of the law.

FRANCE

Article 9 of the French Civil Code states plainly, “Everyone has the right to have his private life respected. 3 As legal scholars in all countries have noted, however, it is very difficult to define the precise limits of privacy in every case that comes before a court, and in spite of such explicit protection, the privacy of the French, both inside and outside of automated personal data systems, seems in practice no better defended than that of most other people…

One other development on the French scene deserves mention. The 1972 annual report of the Supreme Court of Appeals went considerably out of its way, after reviewing a case of literary invasion of privacy, to comment on the subject of computers and privacy:

… The progress of automation burdens society in each country with the menace of a computer which would centralize the information that each individual is obliged to furnish in the course of his life to the civil authorities, to his employer, his banker, his insurance company, to Internal Revenue, to Social Security, to the census, to university administrations, and, in addition, the data, correct or not, which is received about him by the various services of the police. When one thinks about the uses that might be made of that mass of data by the public powers, of the indiscretions of which that data might be the origin, and of the errors of which the subjects might be the victims, one becomes aware that there lies a very important problem, not only for the private life of everyone, but even for his very liberty.

It appears to us that this eventuality, an extremely probable one, ought to be made the object of consideration of the public power, . . .and that this consideration should take its place among the measures of precaution and of safeguard which should not lack for attention.7

To sum up, the situation in France is complex. The subject of computers and privacy has been given serious attention by a relatively small group of experts, but that group has an influence in government far out of proportion to its numbers. The attitude of the present government is strongly colored by another aspect of the privacy problem: It has been caught in a wiretap scandal, and its defensiveness in that regard appears to be influencing its actions on the computer front. The official report of the present working group is due before the end of 1973, but it does not seem realistic to expect that there will be any definitive action in France before, perhaps, mid-1974.

GREAT BRITAIN

Britain is unique among the countries reviewed in having recently completed a thorough study of the entire subject of privacy.8 Although the committee in charge of the study, the Younger Committee, was restricted in its terms of reference to private, rather than public, organizations that might threaten privacy, the committee’s report is a model of clarity and concern. In brief, the Committee found that both the customs of society and the Common law had evolved defenses against the traditional intrusions of nosey neighbors, unwelcome visitors, door-to-door salesmen, and the like. Against the new threats of technological intrusions-wiretaps, surveillance cameras, and, of course, computerized data banks-the Committee recognized that the traditional defenses are inadequate. To help deal with the threat of the computer, the Committee recommended specific safeguards to be applied to automated personal data systems, although it left the method of application up to the government to decide. The main features of the safeguards are:

  1. Information should be regarded as held for a specific purpose and not to be used, without appropriate authorization, for other purposes
  2. Access to information should be confined to those authorized to have it for the purpose for which it was supplied.
  3. The amount of information collected and held should be the minimum necessary for the achievement of the specified purpose.
  4. In computerized systems handling information for statistical purposes, adequate provision should be made in their design and programs for separating identities from the rest of the data.
  5. There should be arrangements whereby the subject could be told about the information held concerning him.
  6. The level of security to be achieved by a system should be specified in advance by the user and should include precautions against the deliberate abuse or misuse of information.
  7. A monitoring system should be provided to facilitate the detection of any violation of the security system.
  8. In the design of information systems, periods should be specified beyond which the information should not be retained.
  9. Data held should be accurate. There should be machinery for the correction of inaccuracy and the updating of information.
  10. Care should betaken in coding value judgments.9

CANADA

In its report, published in late 1972,11 the Canadian Task Force concluded that computer invasion of privacy is still far short of posing a social crisis. However, the rapidly rising volume of computerized personal data and the equally rapidly rising public expectation of a right to deeper and more secure privacy threaten to converge at the crisis level. To forestall that crisis, the Task Force recommends that a commissioner or ombudsman be established in a suitable administrative setting, that carefully prepared test cases on cogent issues be brought before the courts, and that the operation of government data systems be made to serve as a national model.

from http://aspe.hhs.gov/datacncl/1973privacy/appenb.htm

 

Future of Internet, Internet, NetNeutrality, News, surveillance, technology

Reporters without Borders name “Enemies of the Internet”

Bahrain and Belarus have been added to Reporters Without Borders’ annual list of “enemies of the internet” They join 10 other nations on the campaign group’s register of states that restrict net access, filter content and imprison bloggers.

India and Kazakhstan have also joined RWB’s list of “countries under surveillance” because of concerns that they are becoming more repressive. The body says 2011 was the “deadliest year” yet for so-called “netizens”. It says at least 199 arrests of internet campaigners were recorded over the year – a 31% increase on 2010. It adds that China, followed by Vietnam and Iran currently hold the largest number of netizens in jail.

Enemies of the Internet

“Enemies of the internet”

 

  • Bahrain
  • Belarus
  • Burma
  • China
  • Cuba
  • Iran
  • North Korea
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Syria
  • Turkmenistan
  • Uzbekistan
  • Vietnam

Bahrain’s government expressed a number of concerns about the report, which it said failed to “present the reality of the situation” there.

Several positive steps had been taken towards reforming the media sector since the publication of a report by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) into last year’s crackdown on anti-government protests, it said, including relaxing censorship and increasing the range of political opinions in the media.

In Belarus, the campaign group says, President Alexander Lukashenko’s government has increased the number of blocked websites and arrested some bloggers while inviting others to “preventative conversations” with the police during which they are pressured not to cover protests.

It says the regime has also used Twitter to send messages designed to intimidate demonstrators. It adds that the country’s main internet service provider has diverted users to sites containing malware when they tried to log into the Vkontakte social network.

Elsewhere RWB accuses China and Syria of hiring bloggers to troll sites containing posts from cyber-dissidents, and then flood the pages with messages supporting the governments.

It raises concern that Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has announced plans to create a “clean” web with its own search engine and messaging service, and says Vietnam has attacked Catholic networks and campaigners trying to raise awareness about environmentally damaging bauxite mines.

From a BBC report
censorship, Civil Liberties, Core Internet Values, Future of Internet, IGF, News

India to set up agency to scan tweets, emails and updates

India to scan tweets, updates and emailThe government is setting up an internet scanning agency which will seek to monitor all web traffic passing through internet service providers in the country. The scanning agency to be called National Cyber Coordination Centre (NCCC), will issue ‘actionable alerts’ to government departments in cases of perceived security threats.

… According to the minutes of ameeting held on February 3, 2012, at the National Security Council Secretariat under the PMO, the National Cyber Coordination Centre will ‘scan whole cyber traffic flowing at the point of entry and exit at India’s international internet gateways’. The web scanning centre will provide ‘actionable alerts for proactive actions’ to be taken by government departments.

All government departments will now talk to the Internet Service Providers such as Bharti Airtel, RCOM, BSNL, MTNL and Tata Communications through NCCC for real time information and data on threats.

More at Techgig

Core Internet Values, Future of Internet, News

Russia And China want the Internet regulated Top-Down

 

For all the talk of SOPA/PIPA/ACTA/TPP, there’s another much bigger threat to “the Internet as we know it.” It’s a bunch of countries who are seeking to use the UN’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to create a top-down regulatory scheme for the Internet.

# ITU has made persistent attempts to take over many of the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) and the ICANN (Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers) functions; its game plan is to charm a few countries into a design that would result in Governments handing over all Internet functions to the Telecom Business Union.

FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell’s opinion in the Wall Street Journal The UN Threat to Internet, summarizes the developments.

  • Subject cyber security and data privacy to international control;
  • Allow foreign phone companies to charge fees for “international” Internet traffic, perhaps even on a “per-click” basis for certain Web destinations, with the goal of generating revenue for state-owned phone companies and government treasuries;
  • Impose unprecedented economic regulations such as mandates for rates, terms and conditions for currently unregulated traffic-swapping agreements known as “peering.”
  • Establish for the first time ITU dominion over important functions of multi-stakeholder Internet governance entities such as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the nonprofit entity that coordinates the .com and .org Web addresses of the world;
  • Subsume under intergovernmental control many functions of the Internet Engineering Task Force, the Internet Society and other multi-stakeholder groups that establish the engineering and technical standards that allow the Internet to work;
  • Regulate international mobile roaming rates and practices.

Again this attempt … is to give certain governments much more control over how the Internet is used… and not in a good way.  The Internet thrives today in large part because it’s not controlled by governments, no matter how much they’ve slowly tried to encroach (and the US is particularly guilty of that lately).

The fact that this effort is mainly being led by Russia and China should give you a sense of the intentions here. Neither country is particularly well-known for supporting the principles of open communications or freedom of speech.

As part of this conversation, we should underscore the tremendous benefits that the Internet has yielded for the developing world through the multi-stakeholder model.

Altering this model with a new regulatory treaty is likely to partition the Internet as some countries would inevitably choose to opt out. A balkanized Internet would be devastating to global free trade and national sovereignty. It would impair Internet growth most severely in the developing world, but also globally as technologists are forced to seek bureaucratic permission to innovate and invest. This would also undermine the proliferation of new cross-border technologies, such as cloud computing.

A top-down, centralized, international regulatory overlay is antithetical to the architecture of the Net, which is a global network of networks without borders. No government, let alone an intergovernmental body, can make engineering and economic decisions in lightning-fast Internet time. Productivity, rising living standards and the spread of freedom everywhere, but especially in the developing world, would grind to a halt as engineering and business decisions become politically paralyzed within a global regulatory body.

Any attempts to expand intergovernmental powers over the Internet—no matter how incremental or seemingly innocuous—should be turned back. Modernization and reform can be constructive, but not if the end result is a new global bureaucracy that departs from the multi-stakeholder model.

(This is a TechDirt report from PayAttention Department, quoting Robert MacDowell’s opinion on the Wall Street Journal .  Mostly excerpts with some edits for the readers of this blog; Comments are not to be taken as endorsed by Internet Society India Chennai – Sivasubramanian M)