Daily Archives: 20/02/2011

( There is a lot of discussion about Do Not Track at the moment. The FTC has announced supportfor the idea; Mozilla has added a Do Not Track header option into Firefox betas, and Congresswoman Jackie Speier has introduced a Do Not Track bill. Other proposed privacy legislation, such as Rep. Bobby Rush’s bill, could also achieve similar objectives. And yesterday, EFF submitted comments urging the Federal Trade Commission to defend online privacy by supporting the header-based Do Not Track feature.

Do Not Track is important because it creates a policy mechanism to augment the privacy enhancing technologies that we currently have. There is an arms race between practical privacy tools and ubiquitous online tracking, and we fear that the trackers have powerful techniques that will almost always allow them to win the arms race against ordinary people.

Some other anti-tracking technologies have also been discussed a lot recently, including
Microsoft’s IE 9 Tracking Protection Lists, and AdBlock Plus with EasyPrivacy. These are great tools, and very much complimentary to the Do Not Track header proposal. We’ll be posting about them at greater length soon.

Do Not Track is a technically simple proposal: add a header1 to the messages that browsers and other HTTP clients send when they fetch web pages. The header simply requests that webservers not track the user’s behavior. It could be turned on if the user enters “private browsing mode”, or if they have enabled a separate configuration setting.

There is more flexibility on the policy side of Do Not Track: “what is tracking?” “what should websites do to avoid tracking users who set the DNT header?” “would any websites be required to comply with the header?

There is a spectrum of good answers to each of these questions. This post will try to set out what we think some of the good answers are. Read More

( Police in China showed up in force in several major cities after an online call for a “jasmine revolution”.

Calls for people to protest and shout “we want food, we want work, we want housing, we want fairness”, were circulated on Chinese microblog sites.

The message was first posted on a US-based Chinese-language website.

Several rights activists were detained beforehand and three people were arrested in Shanghai, but the call for mass protests was not well answered.

Reports from Shanghai and Beijing said there appeared to be many onlookers curious about the presence of so many police and journalists at the proposed protest sites, in busy city-centre shopping areas.

Police in the two cities dispersed small crowds who had gathered. There were no reports of protests in 11 other cities where people were urged to gather on Sunday.

The BBC’s Chris Hogg in Shanghai says the men arrested there were roughly handled as they were dragged away shouting “why are you arresting me, I haven’t done anything wrong”.

Our correspondent says it was not clear what prompted the arrests and the men had not shouted any political slogans.

China’s authorities blocked searches for the word jasmine on the internet.

Protesters in Tunisia who overthrew President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in January called their movement the Jasmine Revolution.

On Saturday President Hu Jintao called for stricter controls on the internet “to guide public opinion” and “solve prominent problems which might harm the harmony and stability of the society”.


(Daily Kos) As I wrote yesterday , there is a leaked email that has gotten surprisingly little attention around here. It’s the one where Aaron Barr discusses his intention to post at Daily Kos – presumably something negative about Anonymous, the hacking group. But that’s not the email I’m talking about here.

As I also mentioned yesterday, in some of the emails, HB Gary people are talking about creating “personas”, what we would call sockpuppets. This is not new. PR firms have been using fake “people” to promote products and other things for a while now, both online and even in bars and coffee houses.

But for a defense contractor with ties to the federal government, Hunton & Williams, DOD, NSA, and the CIA – whose enemies are labor unions, progressive organizations, journalists, and progressive bloggers, a persona apparently goes far beyond creating a mere sockpuppet.

According to an embedded MS Word document found in one of the HB Gary emails, it involves creating an army of sockpuppets, with sophisticated “persona management” software that allows a small team of only a few people to appear to be many, while keeping the personas from accidentally cross-contaminating each other. Then, to top it off, the team can actually automate some functions so one persona can appear to be an entire Brooks Brothers riot online. Read More