Great Britain has taken a horrifying page from China and Iran. Internet activity of every person in Britain will be “monitored” under new laws that will expand the government’s powers to monitor email exchanges, phone calls and text messages.

According to a report in the London Telegraph, “Under legislation expected in next month’s Queen’s Speech, Internet companies will be instructed to install hardware enabling GCHQ – the Government’s electronic ‘listening’ agency – to examine ‘on demand’ Internet activity in real time.”

The excuse?

“It is vital that police and security services are able to obtain communications data in certain circumstances to investigate serious crime and terrorism and to protect the public,” a spokesman said. “We need to take action to maintain the continued availability of communications data as technology changes.”

He continued, “Communications data includes time, duration and dialing numbers of a phone call or an email address. It does not include the content of any phone call or email, and it is not the intention of government to make changes to the existing legal basis for the interception of communications.”

Coming soon to the United States? I seem to recall a quote from Benjamin Franklin that went like this: “Anyone who trades liberty for security deserves neither liberty nor security.”

Logic bombs, trapdoors and Trojan horses: A cyber nightmare

“Our government is failing us. Again.”

In a feature article in the April issue of Smithsonian Magazine, former counterterrorism “czar” Richard Clarke is urgently warning us that we are defenseless against a catastrophic cyber attack that could bring down our electronic infrastructure, including the power grid, banking and telecommunications and our military command system.

“I think we’re living in the world of non-response. Where you know that there’s a problem, but you don’t do anything about it,” Clarke writes. “If that’s denial, then that’s denial.”

Who made and launched the “weaponized malware” called Stuxnet, a ghostly computer cyberworm? Is it spreading to computers everywhere? Do we have any defense against cyber attacks that are targeting us now, and in the future?

Clarke, author of “Cyber War,” has the answers.

Regarding Stuxnet, Clarke says it was developed not by Israel, but by us. And he says the code instructing it to self-destruct did not work.

“So thousands of people around the world have it and are playing with it,” he writes. “And if I’m right, the best cyber weapon the United States has ever developed, it then gave the world for free.”

Clarke’s greatest fear that keeps him awake at night will do the same to you.

“A couple people have labeled me a Cassandra,” Clarke says. “And I’ve gone back and read my mythology about Cassandra. And the way I read the mythology, it’s pretty clear that Cassandra was right.”

Elsewhere, in Russia, an ambitious high-tech “Silicon Valley” type of sprawl called Skolkovo is being built outside of Moscow, and the latest IT companies to invest in it are Cisco and Bessemer Venture Partners. Here’s what they’re doing to help Russia advance in the world of cyber technology.

Your Google usage, in detailed monthly report

Google users now have access to monthly reports about their Google usage, including online activities using Google products (Gmail, YouTube, Google+ social network, online search, etc.).

“Account Activity” allows users to “step back and take stock of what you’re doing online,” Google product manager Andreas Tuerk noted in a blog post. “Knowing more about your account activity also can help you take steps to protect your Google account.”

Does this raise a privacy concern in your mind?

Google hits the road

Look ma! No hands! The future is here, with Google now developing a car that drives itself. According to the Google Plus website, its research team has completed more than 220,000 miles of testing with a self-driven car that uses Google’s Street View, which is synthesized with software using information from cameras inside and sensors outside the vehicle to help locate its position.

Google has been testing its hands- and foot-free car since 2010 and was recently awarded a patent on the technology. The company conducted the test as a “technical experiment outside of our core research efforts” to demonstrate how this technology could benefit society if “rigorous technical and safety standards can be met.”

Climb in for a ride.

Free speech, social networks and academia – a dangerous mix?

At what point does a school or college have the right to take action against students expressing themselves on their Facebook, Twitter or other social network page?

Liz Klimas’ report at The Blaze caught our attention with this: “Syracuse University recently discussed expelling a student for a Facebook complaint. In November 2011, a Kansas high school senior was forced by her school to apologize, which she refused to do, after she issued a tweet against the state’s governor. In January, the Supreme Court ruled Pennsylvania school officials could not punish students for fake MySpace profiles they created of their principals.”

A creepy app that tracks women!

An app for iOS called Girls Around Me tells stalkers all the public check-ins and profiles of girls around you. It’s astonishing to see how much information people put online about themselves and others.

According to Cult of Mac’s John Brownlee, the app uses publicly available information, allowing someone to track women in the area without their knowledge.

“These are all girls with publicly visible Facebook profiles who have checked into these locations using Foursquare,” writes Brownlee. “Girls Around Me then shows a map where all the girls in the area. If there’s more than one girl at a location, you see the number of girls there in a red bubble at any given time. The pictures you are seeing are their social network profile pictures.”

Wake up and think about what info you’re putting out there. Though Girls Around Me has now been yanked and blocked from some information, the real warning isn’t about the app, but about how it used the information you are making available.

On the plus side, here’s how apps can change your life. Like this one, SmartPay app, which in addition to letting you pay without leaving your seat, offers you a five cent/gallon discount.

Why China matters

China is set to become the world’s largest smart phone market this year, overtaking the U.S., which has led in years past. So what does that mean? Lower costs for the devices, innovative data plans and probable handset subsidies.

Speed cities

Is your city among American cities with fastest broadband download speeds? Here’s a list of the top 35 cities.

Digital wallet

Here’s how one country is moving towards a cashless society.

Shop ’til you drop!

Find any store anywhere. Store locator does it for you.

Twitter hoaxer comes clean and says: I did it to expose weak media

This Italian decided that faking the identities of world leaders would expose how unreliable social media can be as a news source. And how quickly the media reprints it without verification. Read here to see who he impersonated.

“When you care enough to send the very best”

Hallmark greeting card customers will soon be able to create and send e-cards by uploading their own photos or choosing from video content created by SpiritClips, an online video production and streaming service that also makes personalized digital e-cards.

Donald J. Hall, Jr., Hallmark president and CEO, noted in a press release that “the acquisition offers Hallmark a new way to engage consumers in the digital world and a potential new channel of distribution for the brand. SpiritClips focuses on delivering powerful messages about character, hope and triumph of the human spirit.”

Twitter toilet paper!

It’s the free market economy at work. Someone (rhymes with “hitter”) came up with the idea of loading tweets onto a roll of t.p., proving yet again that there’s no bottom to creative innovation.

The startup’s slogan is “Social Media Has Never Been So Disposable” – and it prints out a Twitter feed on rolls of toilet paper for $35.

Stream to your live audience

A new Facebook Page app called Evinar launched last week via TechCrunch. Evinar lets you stream to a live audience using YouTube, Ustream, Hulu, Facebook photos, Flickr, SlideShare, tweets or uploaded text and images. It has its limitations, but there’s really nothing else like it. Yet.

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.

Leave a Reply