Jan 232015
strong passwords are important for online security

“There is a big problem with trust today,” says cable operator Liberty Global’s Micheal T. Fries.

He was sitting on a fascinating panel at the World Economic Forum this week with Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer, Salesforce founder Marc Benioff and World Wide Web creator Tim Berners-Lee looks at the issue of trust in the tech world.

In a world where everyone wants access to our data, it’s a pertinent and timely discussion from people at the front line of where these issues of ethics and privacy are being dealt with.

Oct 172014
what do we share on social media sites

The Guardian today has a stunning expose on the Whisper social media network and its practice of tracking users.

In trying to sell its services to the Guardian, the company showed that it was betraying their promises of anonymity to its users.

Whisper’s behaviour is particularly disgraceful given the service’s promise of user confidentiality and their changing of their terms of service only shows the company’s struggle to understand ethics.

No social media service can afford to burn user trust in the way Whisper has.

If you’re going to promise users anonymity and security then you better deliver. Whisper has failed


Oct 122014

A  cute little story appeared on the BBC website today about the Teatreneu club, a comedy venue in Barcelona using facial recognition technology to charge for laughs.

In a related story, the Wall Street Journal reports on how marketers are scanning online pictures to identify the people engaging with their brands and the context they’re being used.

With the advances in recognition technology and deeper, faster analytics it’s now becoming feasible that anything you do that’s posted online or being monitored by things like CCTV is now quite possibly recognise you, the products your using and the place you’re using them in.

Throw all of the data gathered by these technologies into the stew of information that marketers, companies and governments are already collecting and there a myriad of  good and bad applications which could be used.

What both stories show is that technology is moving fast, certainly faster than regulatory agencies and the bulk of the public realise. This is going to present challenges in the near future, not least with privacy issues.

For the Teatreneu club, the experiment should be interesting given rich people tend to laugh less; they may find the folk who laugh the most are the people least able to pay 3o Euro cents a giggle.

Aug 222014
communications is critical to modern business

In the early hours of this morning I spoke with Rod Quinn on ABC Overnights about what exactly is metadata in light of current Australian government plans to mandate a data retention law for internet service providers.

Part of the problem in the debate is defining exactly what metadata is, something I’ve attempted to do previously.

The attempt to bring clarity to the discussion isn’t being helped by the confusing explanations of politicians as shown in this interview with Malcolm Turnbull, the communications minister, shows.

One of the things that kept coming up in the conversation, which we hope to have available shortly, was people who have nothing to hide should have nothing to fear.

These two videos — Don’t Talk To Cops Parts I and II — feature a law professor and police prosecutor speaking about how innocent people can be caught out by the law.

First the law professor;

Then the police prosecutor;

A question the law professor asks, “did you know it’s a Federal offence to posses a lobster?” The answer is ‘yes’ and in every country there’s almost no way any individual can be confident they haven’t committed a crime under some obscure or archaic law.

This is why an adult discussion on laws that change the burden of proof and how government agencies conduct themselves is important.

Another key point from this morning’s conversation is how we need to reconsider the boundaries of privacy and personal information.

Jul 142014
private property limiting access to cloud computing and social media web services

Drummond Reed, CEO of the Respect Network, is the latest guest on the Decoding the New Economy channel.

The Respect Network offers ‘private clouds’ for individuals and companies where users can choose to trust others to share information.

After over twenty years of working in the IT security industry, Drummond founded the Respect Network after becoming worried at the power social networks are having over individuals’ privacy.

Drummond explains how a network designed to be private may be the future of online services.

“The internet is only 18 years old,” says Drummond. “We want to bring it into adulthood.”

Jul 072014

Tonight was the Australian launch of the Respect Network in Sydney which followed similar events in London and San Francisco. I’ll be writing more on this over the next few days.

One of the key questions when considering the Respect Network is how much the average internet user values privacy; the business model of the service relies upon people being prepared to pay to preserve their privacy.

Another question is how many lies people will tell to get free or cheap stuff – respect is a two way thing.