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 Wednesday, 27 May 2009

As part of this year’s focus on education, the UN Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technology and Development (GAID) presented the newly formed University of the People, a non-profit institution offering higher education to the masses.

For hundreds of millions of people around the world higher education is no more than a dream, Shai Reshef, the founder of the University of the People, told reporters. They are constrained by finances, the lack of institutions in their region, or they are not able to leave home to study at a university for personal reasons. Mr Reshef said that this University opened the gate to these people to continue their studies from home and at minimal cost by using open-source technology, open course materials, e-learning methods and peer-to-peer teaching. Admission opened just over two weeks ago; and without any promotion some 200 students from 52 countries have already registered, with a high school diploma and a sufficient level of English as entry requirements. Students will be placed in classes of 20, after which they can log on to a weekly lecture, discuss its themes with their peers and take a test - all online. There are voluntary professors, post-graduate students and students in other classes who can also offer advice and consultation.

Source: United Nations

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Wednesday, 27 May 2009 15:12:29 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
A Taiwanese man has been arrested for allegedly swindling more than 200 million Taiwan dollars (6.25 million US) from 50 women in one of the largest cyber scams in the country, police said.

The suspect, Chuang Shih-chung, claimed to be working for a Malaysian investment firm and encouraged the women he met on online dating sites to buy overseas stocks through him, said the Criminal Investigation Bureau

At least 50 women from across Taiwan have fallen victim to the 31-year-old, who was arrested on Tuesday with four accomplices, the bureau said, adding that more victims have subsequently contacted the police.


(Source: AFP)

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Wednesday, 27 May 2009 15:07:34 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Experts on information and communication technology (ICT) from the United Nations, private industry, non-governmental organizations and government agencies have met in Geneva to look at ways to use the latest digital innovations to fight poverty and improve public health.

“The objective is to introduce cutting-edge, innovative knowledge, experiences, expertise and best practices” to the work of the UN, and the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development in particular, according to the UN Global Alliance for ICT and Development (GAID), which organized the one-day meeting. “New technologies can boost education through distance learning, content creation and delivery, and teacher training,” GAID noted in a news release. “They can help create new job opportunities for people living in poverty. These technologies can also empower women and the disadvantaged to increase their access to information and participate in the economy.”

The Alliance also noted that advances in health information systems based on ICT are improving patients care and healthcare providers’ productivity worldwide. However, developing countries lag behind in employing ICT to these ends. “While diseases in developing countries account for over 90 per cent of the global disease burden, it is estimated that only 10 per cent of the more than $100 billion spent annually on health research is allocated for health problems prevalent in these countries,” it stated.

Source: UNESCO

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Wednesday, 27 May 2009 14:30:56 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

With US government and private computer networks facing increasing attack, the White House announced that President Barack Obama would unveil a report on US cyber security on Friday.

"The report is an important first step towards securing our nation's cyber infrastructure," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters. "The administration recognizes the very serious threats public- and private-sector networks face from cyber crime and cyber attack," he said.

"Recognizing these threats, the president has elevated cyber security to a major administration priority," Gibbs added.


(Source: AFP)

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Wednesday, 27 May 2009 14:01:50 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 26 May 2009

A Chinese man who extorted virtual items and currency from a fellow Internet cafe user to improve his performance in online games was sentenced over the weekend, local media said.

With three friends, the man beat up the victim and forced him to turn over virtual currency worth 100,000 yuan (US$14,700), China's official Xinhua news agency reported late Sunday. The attackers also extorted virtual equipment for online games from the victim, local media said. The men were each fined and the main attacker sentenced to three years in prison by a court in northeastern Liaoning province.

Selling in-game weapons, armor and other items to players for real-world cash is a common way for China's online gaming companies to a turn a profit. Internet cafes in China are often packed with chain-smoking teenagers who play World of Warcraft or similar Chinese games for long hours.


(Source: PCWorld)

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Tuesday, 26 May 2009 12:40:11 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The American Academy of Pediatrics has released a report showing that there are some significant factors which increase the likelihood of online sexual abuse of girls. The researchers suggest that 'girls are more likely to experience online sexual advances or have offline encounters if they have previously been abused or have a provocative avatar'.

Sites such as Facebook and MySpace allow individuals to describe themselves as well as post photographs and the type of photographs and accompanying texts give individuals their online identity and directly affects online behaviour and interaction.

The authors suggest that....."self-presentations can change the way Internet users interact in a manner that increases the risk for online sexual advances.."

(Source: CNN)

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Tuesday, 26 May 2009 12:15:42 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 25 May 2009

A new Vatican website,, has gone live, offering an application called "The pope meets you on Facebook", and another allowing the faithful to see the Pope's speeches and messages on their iPhones or iPods.

The Vatican's World Communications Day this Sunday is devoted to communicating the gospel with new technologies. "We recognise that a church that does not communicate ceases to be a church," said Monsignor Paul Tighe, secretary of the Vatican's Social Communications department. "Many young people today are not turning to traditional media like newspapers and magazines any more for information and entertainment. "They are looking to a different media culture, and this is our effort to ensure that the Church is present in that communications culture."

Users of the new site can select from more than a dozen "virtual postcards" with pictures of the pope and messages from him on faith, love and life specifically aimed at young people, and send them to other users.


(Source : Reuters)

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Monday, 25 May 2009 13:08:20 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

California has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate a law to keep violent video games out of the hands of anyone under 18. A U.S. Court of Appeals revoked the law in February. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger urged the court to let parents decide. But the Entertainment Software Association called the petition a "complete waste" of time.  

The law was passed by California legislators in 2005 but was blocked by the video-game industry. Brown and Schwarzenegger compared the ban on violent games to banning pornography.

"I signed this important measure to ensure parents are involved in determining which video games are appropriate for their children," Schwarzenegger said. "By prohibiting the sale of violent video games to children under the age of 18 and requiring these games to be clearly labeled, this law would allow parents to make better informed decisions for their kids."


(Source : NewsFactor)

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Monday, 25 May 2009 10:45:29 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 22 May 2009

Video-sharing website YouTube has removed hundreds of pornographic videos which were uploaded in what is believed to be a planned attack.

The material was uploaded under names of famous teenage celebrities such as Hannah Montana and Jonas Brothers. Many started with footage of children's videos before groups of adults performing graphic sex acts appeared on screen. YouTube owner Google said it was aware and addressing the problem.

Under other uploaded videos, online users posted comments such as: "Take the tags off, you'll get us caught." Another said: "Your gonna kill us all!" As the disturbing videos were being uploaded, many viewers added them to their favourites and rated them highly.


(Source : BBC)

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Friday, 22 May 2009 15:17:34 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

China has targeted cybercrime in three new sets of regulations issued this month as the activity starts to look like an established industry in the country.

Cybercrime in China has grown such that attackers often divide the labor needed to design malware, distribute it and turn the resulting access to remote PCs into monetary gain, security analysts say.

Over 1.2 million computers in China in 2008 were infected by software that let an attacker control them as part of a botnet, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).


(Source : PCWorld)

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Friday, 22 May 2009 13:10:25 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 21 May 2009

Identity thieves that hit Facebook last week with a new round of phishing attacks are harvesting passwords for profit.

The newest Facebook attacks resemble previous phishing rounds in their tactics: A compromised account sends a malicious link to friends. That link leads to a site that mimics the legitimate log-in page. But users duped into entering their usernames and passwords are likely giving away more than just their Facebook credentials.

"It's not surprising that they're targeting Facebook," said Kevin Haley, a director on Symantec's security response team. "Facebook has, what, 200 million-plus users? The bad guys always go where's there's a lot of people."


(Source : PCWorld)

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Thursday, 21 May 2009 16:16:57 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Militants and hate groups increasingly use social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and YouTube as propaganda tools to recruit new members, according to a report by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

The report was based on "over 10,000 problematic Web sites, social networking groups, portals, blogs, chat rooms, videos and hate games on the Internet which promote racial violence, anti-semitism, homophobia, hate music and terrorism."

Examples of what the report calls "digital terrorism and hate" range from a Facebook group named "Death to gays" in Croatian to a YouTube video of a Koran being burned and various Web sites promoting militant groups such as Hezbollah, the Taliban, al Qaeda and Colombia's FARC.


(Source : REUTERS)

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Thursday, 21 May 2009 11:00:31 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Researchers from Cambridge University have found that many photos were still accessible on a number of social networking sites  including Facebook, even after having been deleted.

The researchers reported that Flickr and Google's Picasa performed better, while Microsoft's Windows Live Spaces removed the photos immediately.

A Facebook spokesperson stated: "When a user deletes a photograph from Facebook it is removed from our servers immediately. However, URLs to photographs may continue to exist on the Content Delivery Network (CDN) after users delete them from their Facebook, until they are overwritten. overwriting usually happens after a short period of time".


(Source: BBC)

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Thursday, 21 May 2009 07:39:27 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 20 May 2009

The UK Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre reports in its Annual Review that it had assisted in protecting '139 children and disrupte 82 paedophile networks' during the past year.

The types of crimes, in the UK and abroad, include a wide range of offences from possession of indecent images of children and rape.

Jim Gamble, CEO of CEOP, stated, "..This is not about technology - this is about people. There is no distinction between the online and offline worlds......This is about the behaviour of offenders manipulating any environment to abuse children..."

CEOP's Annual Review showed that there was a "fast and growing trend" of grooming through social networking sites and warns that mobile Internet access was "placing new and additional responsibilities on parents".

Mr Gamble added, "...Child protection is everybody's business and we should afford our children the same protection online that we would give them in the park or playground".

(Source; BBC)

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Wednesday, 20 May 2009 07:51:08 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

New York State Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo's office reports that a group of 7 individuals operated a 24hour prostitution service called 'Room Service Entertainment' from Craigslist's erotic services section.

Cuomo's office added that Craigslist was the "sole vehicle through which the company operated". The advertisements listed included either a pornographic or semipornographic photograph with a phone number "to arrange a date". If found guilty of enterprise corruption, the group of 7 could all face up to 25 years in prison.

In a written statement, Andrew Cuomo stated, "Until Craigslist gets serious about putting real protections in place, it will continue to be an environment where criminal operations thrive with impunity".


(Source: CNN)

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Wednesday, 20 May 2009 07:22:32 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 19 May 2009

The sentencing of a Lori Drew, convicted of three misdemeanours counts of accessing protected computers without authorisation to obtain information to cause emotional damage to Megan Meier.

Mrs Drew was accused of fraudently using the MySpace site to pose as a teenage boy who pretended to be interested in Megan Meier. Tragically Meier committed suicide after the "boy" made disparaging remarks about her online.

Source: CNN

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Tuesday, 19 May 2009 09:43:46 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Sunday, 17 May 2009

ContactPoint, the 224 million pounds database containing details of all children in England has finally been launched following two delays due to data security concerns. This information will be available to 390,000 childcare professionals who must have undergone 'stringent security training'.

Although the UK government argues that such a database will allow for improved coordination in the services provided to children, a 2007 report by auditors Deloitte and Touche stated that it could never be secure.

(Source: BBC)

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Sunday, 17 May 2009 08:28:29 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 15 May 2009

Recent sexting (the sending of naked or partially clothed photos of an individual to others via mobile phones) cases in the USA have led to concern about whether such online behaviour should be classified as a criminial offence or simply a 'misdemeanour'.

Such cases have resulted in police arrests of several adolescents and criminal charges of child pornography.

Sending or distributing explicit images of child under 18 is illegal in many countries.

Parents are being encouraged to warn their children about the possible consequences of sexting (for both the sender and receiver).

A recent National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancies survey of more than 1000 teenagers in the USA, found that one-fifth of 13-19 year olds had actually sent compromising images of themselves via text or online. A third of boys and a quarter of girls reported that they had had nude or semi nude images, originally meant to be private, shared with them.

Speaking to the BBC, WiredSafety founder, Parry Aftab stated, "It is dangerous behaviour that we don't want children to be encouraged to do.....Not only could these images end up in the hands of paedophile groups and place kids at higher risk of being targeted, but they could also be subject to extortion by those who have ended up with the images".


(Source: BBC)

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Friday, 15 May 2009 15:02:47 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 13 May 2009

"In a document that outlines a Digital Japan Creation Project, dubbed the ICT Hatoyama Plan, Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications revealed plans to build a massive cloud computing infrastructure to support all of the government’s IT systems. Called tentatively the Kasumigaseki Cloud, the new infrastructure will be built in stages from now until 2015."

"The goal of the project consolidate all government IT systems into a single cloud infrastructure to improve operation efficiency and reduce cost. 'The Kasumigaseki Cloud will enable various ministries to collaborate to integrate and consolidate hardware and create platforms for shared functions,' according to MIC. 'Efforts will be made to efficiently develop and operate information systems with the aim of greatly reducing electronic government–related development and operating costs while increasing the pace of processing by integrating shared functions, increasing collaboration among systems, and providing secure and advanced governmental services.'

According to the MIC, the Kasumigaseki Cloud will eliminate the need for individual ministries to maintain their own IT systems by consolidating current data centres, and allow each ministries to use only the computer resources necessary through the cloud platform. Additional proposals were put forth to develop and implement ubiquitous Green ICT solutions, including initiatives like the Kasumigaseki Cloud, boost ICT human resources, and the creation of 'safe and secure networks' for the public.

Read the full story on Green Telecom here.

This blog entry was shared through Bill St Arnaud's blog spot

Wednesday, 13 May 2009 18:37:25 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

In order to increase efficiency in municipal parking services in Turkey, the Municipality of Istanbul and Turkcell Mobile Phone Company, have come up with a project that aims at solving the parking problem in Istanbul by using mobile technologies, especially mobile phones. Subscribers to the service use SMS function of their mobile phones to park their cars and the parking bills are sent to them within their mobile phone bills.


Project Website


Wednesday, 13 May 2009 10:07:53 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 12 May 2009

"Persistent illegal file-sharers should be cut off from the net". BBC reports that: "An alliance of United Kingdom's creative industries wants the government to force internet service providers (ISPs) to disconnect users who ignore repeated warnings about sharing illegal content."

"The creative industries, have issued a set of "urgent recommendations" that they want to be included in the United Kingdom government's Digital Britain manifesto. They argue that many jobs in the 800,000-strong sectors of film, TV, music, and software are threatened by illegal file-sharing. However, the Internet Services Providers' Association (Ispa) - a trade body that represents ISP's - said that users could challenge disconnections through the courts and, at present, the technology available for monitoring and detecting illegal sharers was not of a standard "where they would be admissible as evidence in court".

"Suggestions for rights-owners to take many thousands of legal actions seeking damages against individual file-sharers in court are neither practicable nor proportionate and would create a drain on public resources," the joint statement reads. The statement stops short of calling on the government to introduce legislation with detailed technical measures to prevent illegal file-sharing. "Instead, [the government] should provide enabling legislation, for the specific measures to be identified and implemented in an Industry Code of Practice," it recommends.

Read the full story on the BBC website here.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009 20:19:53 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Saturday, 09 May 2009

UK children's charities want to ensure that children do not have access to those online goods which are aimed at adults. To that effect, a private members bill going through the House of Lords will oblige web retailers to have such a system in place.

Charities have fully endorsed this bill following concerns about children purchasing alcohol, knives and violent video games online.

Trading standards officers from a London Council performed tests on a sample of websites in order to establish whether there were age verification checks being made. In a controlled test, a 16-year old managed to purchase pre-paid credit cards which were registered under his true date of birth and address. This adolescent successfully bought knives, drink and adult-rated DVDs as well as games from 12 different online retailers.

Only three of the retailers asked the 16-year old to confirm his age, and when he "lied" was not challenged or asked for proof.

Zoe Hilton, policy advisor for the NSPCC, speaking on behalf of the Children's Charities Coalition on Internet Safety, stated, "..Retailers' increasingly successful efforts to control the sale of age-restricted products over the counter on the High Street are being seriously undermined by their failure to take similarly effective steps to limit sales of exactly the same items on the Internet".

(Source: BBC)

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Saturday, 09 May 2009 12:42:42 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 07 May 2009

Craigslist, a centralised network of online communities featuring  online classified ads, may face criminal action in South Carolina if it fails to delete ads which 'promote prostitution and pornography'. Attorney General Henry McMaster, sent a communication to Craigslist CEO, Jim Buckmaster asking him to remove such items listed  under "erotic services" and "casual encounters" in the South Carolina section.

Sherriff's deputies in Richland County, South Carolina, have made up to 121 prostitution-related arrests from Craigslist ads, claims attorney general spokesman Mark Plowden.

(Source: CNN)

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Thursday, 07 May 2009 10:16:24 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Eight paedophiles from Scotland were convicted of child abuse and producing indecent images of children. The charges against them include abusing infants from three months old to conspiracy and possession of more than 125,000 images of child abuse.

The accusers were caught after one of them, Neil Strachan, took his computer to be repaired. The repair technician found indecent images of children. 7000 more images were uncovered, with emails showing that other children were at serious risk. Local Scottish detectives were granted warrants by courts in the USA to have access to email records from Microsoft.

Investigation into the digital camera used to record the abuse exposed another of the accusers' identities. Sophisticated tracking equipment pinpointed this individual's broadband Wi-Fi signals in a specific area of Edinburgh, Scotland. Further investigation by the police revealed the identities of all eight paedophiles.

(Source: Guardian)

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Thursday, 07 May 2009 08:51:15 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 06 May 2009

In the USA, Democratic congresswoman for California, Linda Sanchez, is leading a bill aimed at combatting cyberbullying. However, opponents argue that such a bill silences free speech.

The bill itself, states that any electronic communication (to include emails, blogs, instant messaging and texts) sent to "...coerce, intimidate, harass or cause substantial emotional distress" could result in a fine or a two year prison sentence.

Those who oppose the bill are concerned about honouring fthe reedom of expression as set out in the US constitution's first amendment. The bill is named after Megan Meier, a Missouri teenager who committed suicide after being the victim of cyberbullying on MySpace.

In the UK, the secretary of state for children, schools and families, Ed Balls, refers to such online abuse as "insidious".


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Wednesday, 06 May 2009 13:29:19 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The first ever 02 Digital Families Report released yesterday showed that for families, the Internet was more important than food and other household bills. The telecommunications company, 02 polled 500 families in the UK in order to find out which items they were reluctant to cut back on, and found that more than 67% opted for Internet access over school uniforms (59%), family holidays (30%) and their weekly food shopping (24%).

(Source: Telegraph)

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Wednesday, 06 May 2009 08:09:29 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |