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Category: Going Digital and the Copyright

What happened to Google’s book scanning project

The Atlantic has a wonderful article about the Google book scanning project and what became of it.

In 2002, Google began mass scanning every book it could possibly their hands on, OCRing it and making it searchable. Authors and publishers soon began sueing Google from here to the south pole and back, but in the end realized that they did not actually want to win their lawsuits.

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Bose Connect App creates illegal listening profiles

A class action lawsuit has been filed against Bose, by Kyle Zak, on the grounds of the Bose Connect App for their wireless headphones creating illegal listening profiles, and sharing data with data miners.

1. Defendant Bose manufactures and sells high-end wireless headphones and speakers. To fully operate its wireless products, customers must download Defendant’s “Bose Connect” mobile application from the Apple App or Google Play stores and install it on their smartphones. With Bose Connect, customers can “pair” their smartphones with their Bose wireless products, which allows them to access and control their settings and features.

2. Unbeknownst to its customers, however, Defendant designed Bose Connect to (i) collect and record the titles of the music and audio files its customers choose to play through their Bose wireless products and (ii) transmit such data along with other personal identifiers to third-parties—including a data miner—without its customers’ knowledge or consent.

Affected are all users of the Bose Connect App, that is minimum users of the QuietComfort 35, SoundSport Wireless, Sound Sport Pulse Wireless, QuietControl 30, SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II, and SoundLink Color II (“Bose Wireless Products”), but possibly more.

Fun Fact: The German adjective meaning “evil” is “böse”.

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Perceptual Ad Highlighter

Perceptual Ad Highlighter is a Chrome Plugin that detects and highlights ads using image/layout recognition on a rendered page/DOM tree.

As law required that ad-content is marked and visually identifyable as promoted content, the plugin renders the page and then visually analyzes the page layout to detect and mark ads.

The source is available on Github, and a paper describes the technology (PDF).

To turn this into a proper ad-blocker, a dual buffering approach would be necessary, in which the full page is rendered into a hidden buffer, including all ads. The perceptual adblocker would then identify the parts of the page that are content and copy them over into a secondary page that is shown to the user sans advertising. The extension could also simulate user interaction with the hidden page to fool robot detection Javascript.

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Native Ad Blocking in Chrome

According to an article in The Verge, Google is rumored to implement native adblocking in Chrome.

The option would be opt-in, and it would remove any and all “unacceptable” ads as defined by Coalition for Better Ads industry group. Those types of ads include pop-up ads, autoplay videos, and what are known as prestitial ads, or those ads that are often fullscreen and show up before you’re taken to the homepage or desired website.

The majority of web users have installed adblockers by now, and adblockers have been increasingly recognized as a malware fighting tool, preventing drive-by exploits by targeted malvertising.

Native Adblocking would be a good way for Google to control the agenda, and to push the Coalition for Better Ads style of advertising – a way for the advertising industry to reign in the wild-west style of user profiling, malvertising, and generally making web browing a bad experience.

This is definitively a step into the right direction, but too little, too late.

 

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Malvertising – we have only seen the beginning

Netzpolitik.org has an article (in German) in which they are interviewing IT-Security Consultant Thorsten Schröder on Adblockers, wasted capped mobile bandwidth and Malvertising.

netzpolitik.org: Neben dem Schutz vor Malware, welche weiteren Gründe für die Nutzung von Adblockern findest Du wichtig?

Thorsten Schröder: Wenn wir als Malware all das klassifizieren, was Nutzer ausspioniert, täuscht, kompromittiert oder finanziell schädigt, haben wir im Grunde schon mal eine ganze Reihe an Gründen abgehakt. Nutzer müssen die Möglichkeit haben, selbstbestimmt das Schutzniveau ihres Computers bestimmen zu dürfen. Hat die Bundesregierung vielleicht mal das Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik (BSI) gefragt? Es wäre eine gute Gelegenheit für das BSI, zu zeigen, was es drauf hat.

»netzpolitik.org: Besides the protection against malware, what other reasons for using Adblockers are important to you?

Thorsten Schröder: If we classify things as malware which spy on users, deceive them, compromise them or harm them financially, we have in principle covered all reasons. Users you have the right to determine the level of protection their computers need. Did our administration ask their Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik (BSI)? It would be a good opportunity for the BSI to show what they can do.«

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Our coming Copyright Overlords

According to the New York Post (yes, I know), Apple’s Eddy Cue are looking to improve the original video strategy Apple has (most likely in reaction to Netflix and Youtube). The wording is worrying:

While at least one of the discussions between Apple and an executive was vague when it came to the tech company’s ultimate goal, the executive was left with the impression that the Cupertino, Calif., company is looking for a transformative acquisition and not just a deal to buy TV shows.

and later

“They talked to Sony and Paramount last week. They are preparing something big,” a source told The Post.

Nobody has anything concrete at the moment, though.

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Fake News Fact Checker “Focus Online” – seriously?

In the campaign against “Fake News”, Facebook is looking for fact checking partners. Der Spiegel reports (article in German) that besides Correctiv.org so far no other proposed partners have been willing, so they are now further down the list, talking to… Focus Online.

How far down the list is Focus Online? Well, check yourself: Anti-Euro Article from 6-Feb-2017 by Bernd Lucke.

Next in line are probably the Kopp-Verlag and the independent action group for more media truth about the KKK.

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EU: End IP based geoblocking, use passport based geoblocking

The European Union has a press release, in which they say fee based online services will have to abandon IP-based access limitations:

The new rules will remove these restrictions for all new subscriptions and also for those purchased before the rules enter into force, thus enabling EU citizens to access this online content while temporarily abroad in another EU country on holiday, for studies or for business.

That will not remove the ability to establish licensing deals with units smaller than all of the EU, though. The IP-based geoblocks are instead being replaced with other blocks.

The agreed legislation will allow online content service providers to take “reasonable and proportionate measures” to verify the EU country of residence of the subscriber. A closed list of permitted verification methods includes checks on electronic identification, payment details, public tax information, postal address details or IP address checks. Service providers will be required to inform customers of the verification methods used and take appropriate security measures to protect their data.

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