9/5/2005

Australian Court: Current Kazaa System Illegal

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

A court ruled Monday that popular file-swapping network Kazaa breaches copyright in Australia and gave the service’s owners two months to modify their Web site to prevent further piracy by its millions of users.

Although the ruling is only enforceable in Australia, the record industry hailed it as a victory that would resonate around the world.

“The court has ruled the current Kazaa system illegal. If they want to continue, they are going to have to stop the trade in illegal music on that system,” record industry spokesman Michael Speck said outside the court. “It’s a great day for artists. It’s a great day for anyone who wants to make a living from music.”

In a statement, Sharman said that it was “obviously disappointed that we have not been completely successful.” But it added, “we will appeal those parts of the decision where we were not successful and are confident of a win on appeal.”

Source: AP

Social Bookmarking A Threat To Privacy

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Social bookmarking websites such as Digg.com and del.icio.us are growing rapidly in popularity and with it also the privacy concern of these sites users.

Social bookmarking sites are sites in which users submit links to pages they found around the web, and other users are voting in one way or another for the popularity of that link. The more votes a link gets the more popular and interesting the page is.

Better than spyware:
One of the most prominent reasons for the existence of spyware is the ability to spy on user surfing habits and to compile a user profile. Using this profile advertisers can display ads that are in close relevance to the user鈥檚 interests.

In the case of social bookmarking web sites, the users themselves unknowingly creating their own profile. By voting for a site or news item, the users saying 鈥淭his is of interest to me鈥?. Having enough votes one can build a user profile, knowing what is interesting for that user.

The voting history (diggs) is already publicly available in most sites. Going to any user profile, you can see all the stories that user voted for. From there you can assume what interests that user.

Some of these sites have privacy policy noting they will not sell private information, but on others there is no privacy policy and they are free to do whatever they want with this valuable information.

Large search engines and big portals that can collect this kind of personal information are under heavy public scrutiny regarding the safe guard of this kind of data, but social bookmarking sites stayed under the radar.

Collecting this valuable information, which by the way can be associated with the user’s IP address, is done automatically by the servers. Having access to this kind of information is very useful to advertisers, which can run targeted ads according to the user’s profile. If the sites owners will not sell this info I will not be surprised if some black hat hackers will try to obtain and sell this information to the highest bidder. Thus social bookmarks sites have to to be very careful about securing their database and also to provide a clear privacy policy in order for the users to know what information is being collected and sold to third parties.

So until you see a clear privacy policy, stating that the site will not sell your personal data, and the security measures the site employs, be very careful of what you digg. One more advice: If you value your privacy, use an anonymous proxy when using these sites, so you can not be associated with an IP address.

Windows Vista - Less Restarts After Patching

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The next version of Microsoft’s Windows operating system will include new patching technology that reduces the number of required restarts and stores user data before reboots.

Code-named “Freeze Dry,” the technology uses a new restart manager in Windows Vista, a Microsoft representative said in a statement Friday. In most cases, consumers won’t have to restart Windows Vista when installing or updating an application, according to Microsoft.

It will even be possible to patch some applications while they are in use, the software maker said. “Windows Vista automatically replaces the file the next time the application is restarted,” the Microsoft representative said.

To safeguard user data when an application restart is required after patching, Windows Vista can save the person’s data, close the application, apply the patch and restart the application, Microsoft said. “As a result, most updates need not interrupt users’ work,” the company said.

Source: ZDNet

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