Privacy

Real Name Registration System Implemented In South Korea

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Any South Korean websites with at least 100,000 users per day must supply  real names and resident registration numbers in order to submit comments on websites.

Government, media and foreign owned websites are required to comply with South Korea’s ‘Act on the Promotion of Information and Communications Network Utilization and User Protection’, which was in effect April 1, 2009.

Google is protesting this law by removing the ability to upload videos by users in South Korea.

Good for Google.

The disturbing trend is that this type of law is now being adopted in other countries like China, possibly even the United States.

Real-Name Registration Required for News Websites in China

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In China, in order to comment on a news website, you must register your true identity before you are allowed to post comments.

What’s next? Controlling which websites are allowed and not allowed if they don’t validate a users true identity? Probably…

While this isn’t surprising as it’s coming from China, what may be surprising is if this trend starts to spread to other democratic countries like Canada and the United States.

It’s likely that type of action would be part of a larger move, something such as the ‘Internet Kill Switch’ that’s been recently introduced by Senator Joe Lieberman.

This effectively means, no more anonymity on the Internet.

CIO Magazine Resorts To Fiction To Deliver Privacy Message

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I guess this is the only way to try and teach people a lesson about disclosing too much information about themselves.

Privacy, much like security, is an after thought to many people, especially when we are all closely connected more than before.

Sites Asking You To Test Out Your Password Is a Bad Idea

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I came across a website that tests out the strength of your password and had a few comments regarding it.

There maybe disclaimers that it doesn’t store any data. There is even links to the source code to prove it.

But the site doesn’t use SSL (I don’t see HTTPS in the URL of my browser) so your password is transmitted IN THE CLEARIT’S NOT ENCRYPTED.

Okay, you aren’t supplying a user name, but your IP address will most likely give you away as to what area you are from.

Sure the source code is available, but does the regular, every day person understand code? Who has tested it and verified that it works properly and it can’t be hacked. How secure is the website and the web host? The answer: You don’t know.

Bottom line: You shouldn’t be entering your password where it doesn’t belong.

Certain SSL Certificates Might Be Vulnerable To Hacking

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Software is created by humans, and humans aren’t perfect.

It’s still up in the air as to whether this truly pans out as a legitimate vulnerability. Komodo says XYZ, and Verisign/Symantec says VWX.

It’s not all gloom and doom. People just need to be aware of the websites they are using and if that site is using the certificate type that is vulnerable. If it has that certificate, send a message to the webmasters of the site and to the maker of the certificate asking them to kindly fix it – FAST. And don’t use the site that is affected.

Not all sites are going to be affected mind you. Not all SSL certificates are created equally.

Remember, it’s “your” privacy that’s at risk.

Peer Into the Minds of Anonymous Online Posters

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Boston.com contacted some people who frequently comment on their website to talk about anonymity. They share their thoughts and experiences and you get a good idea of the background of these people. They are normal people.

Boston.com tried contacting the trolls etc. but none of them would talk.

This is what stood out for me and justifies why anonymity is important…

… while preserving some measure of anonymity, so that, say, a closeted gay student would still feel comfortable posting a comment about the climate at his high school.

I don’t agree with the registration system where you have to provide a “real name” and “real address”, as these can easily be faked.

I don’t have to carry identification when I walk the street do I?

Have You Ever Lost Your ‘Work’ Laptop? Did It Have Important Data On It?

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Businesses big and small should consider running desktops on virtualized servers for employees that frequently travel.

One benefit of having a virtualized desktop, is that all important company data is stored in your environment and not on the laptop that the employee carries around.

That way, if the employee loses the laptop, they only lose the hardware, and no customer lists, addresses, phone number, social insurance numbers, credit card information etc. etc.

Anonymity and The Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Disaster

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Quick summary if you haven’t already heard: Leroy Sticks (which is also a pseudonym) created a parody/fake Twitter account, BPGlobalPR, that mocks BP and the way they are handling their response to the oil spill disaster. The account has proven to be a BIG success.

As of Day 52 of the oil spill, @BPGlobalPR currently has 155,000+ followers and appears on 4200+ Twitter lists. As of Day 55, the verified corporate account @BP_America has but a paltry 15,000 followers. Here is a sample of what @BPGlobalPR has to say:

Investing a lot of time & money into cleaning up our image, but the beaches are next on the to-do list for sure. #bpcares

Tar balls in Florida? BP’s very own paid “reporters” aren’t so sure they exist. Stay informed people! http://ow.ly/1Xs9C

This is what @BP_America is saying

Cleanup crews work around the clock, despite heat. More than 27,000 people & 5,500 boats involved. I appreciate their dedication. ^Tony

Lately, there has been a lot of talk about anonymity and how its going the way of the dinosaurs due to the increasing popularity of social networking. Situations like the oil spill tend to make me think otherwise and make me realize just how beneficial anonymity can be for everyone.

Admittedly, anonymity is a grey area, as it can be used for right or wrong reasons. However in certain circumstances, it can have positive effects, even in the face of negative situations.

In this case, behind the anonymity of @BPGlobalPR, is 160,000 followers who have real identities, who aren’t anonymous. Many of these people are angry that this disaster has resulted in the loss of innocent lives, lost jobs and an extremely polluted environment. In turn, these followers are spreading the same messages to their own audience.

In retrospect, I don’t think ‘Leroy Sticks’ would have been nearly as successful in getting the attention that he does had he used a real name and real picture. While the content would have been the same, it probably wouldn’t have been as successful compared to what parody and anonymity can achieve.

The anonymity of BPGlobalPR let’s people judge only the content it delivers on Twitter. What is important is what’s being said, and not who is saying it.

How Do You Manage Your Online Reputation?

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The article goes on to discuss the results of a survey conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project regarding reputation management and social media. One conclusion that was drawn was that 18-29 year olds were the least likely group to trust social networking sites.

On one hand, I understand the need to manage one’s own reputation online. People must protect themselves from people that feel the need to discriminate or gossip, have loose lips or become judgemental about things that don’t concern them.

On the other, I find it disappointing that people have to resort to censoring themselves and monitor everything they do, just to ‘fit in’, wherever it might be. It sounds a lot like high school, but I think it’s actually the other way around: high school is a lot like life.

At the end of the day, I do believe that if pictures, blogs or personal information are freely accessible on the Internet, it’s fair game for any one to view it.

That is why people must protect themselves.

This is what I suggest:

  1. Google yourself to see what content “your name” is associated with.
  2. Continually monitor your name by creating ‘Google Alerts’ that are sent via email or RSS
  3. Create an extra account on Facebook for professional (work) use only, separating if from your personal life.
  4. Get your name as a domain name. If you have a common name, you may be mixed up with someone else. Get it before someone else does.
  5. Check your friend’s social networking photo albums to see if they have any photos of you that could be considered ‘inappropriate’ (your friends may not have strict privacy settings)
  6. Review your privacy settings on all social networking sites and lock them down if necessary. Remember to test it out to see what it looks like.
  7. Think about what you want to say before posting it as a comment on social networking sites, discussion forums or news articles. Could your comments be used against you in the future?

I enjoyed this quote from the article…

Stefanie Juell, a 28-year-old in Westchester County, N.Y., has become increasingly aware of this. So she recently opened an extra Facebook account after her supervisor and people she’d met through work started to friend her on her personal account.

“You don’t exactly want to reject your supervisor,” she says. “Nor do you want him or her to see everything that your friends write on your wall or the pictures that people tag of you.”

As a site note, Googling yourself use to be referred to as ‘ego surfing’. CNN also reported about the same Pew Internet report but it wasn’t as extensive as the Toronto Star article that I posted.

Is Anonymity Going The Way of the Dinosaur?

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Is anonymity going the way of the dinosaur, with the rise in popularity of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter?

From the Youtube comments:

The point of anonymity: to fight back in a world where people get offended and expect the world to conform accordingly.

Christopher Poole talks about the good and bad of anonymity and how it has affected 4chan.

Anonymity has been a part of the Internet for a very long time. It’s becoming a more prominent issue as the Internet becomes a part of our every day lives.

I believe anonymity has every right to live and stay alive on the Internet. We walk the streets without the requirement of having identification papers on our bodies, so why should it be the same online? We might as well have identification papers on us at all times if anonymity on the Internet is abolished.

If there is no anonymity, then that means everything you do or so, will be tied to your name forever. People may forget, but the Internet won’t, because there will be a permanent digital archive of everything we do and it can all be read about like it happened yesterday.

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