What is the sharing economy?


An introduction to the difference between Couchsurfing, Uber, Airbnb, DoorDash, and Etsy

The sharing economy: We all have an understanding of it, but describing it is still a challenge.

We’ve also heard it called many things: “sharing economy”, “collaborative consumption”, “peer economy”, “on-demand”, and even “peer-to-peer marketplaces”.

All the companies placed in these categories have similar attributes: they wed supply and demand. Too often, however, we use the phrases interchangeably when there are actually key differences that should be considered in order to understand how these new categories shape our economy.

The phrase “sharing economy”, most similar to “collaborative consumption” and “peer economy”, suggests an economy based on resources, and not on any abstract system of money. For example, one of the most pure representations of the sharing economy would have to be Couchsurfing, which was founded over a decade ago.

As a host on Couchsurfing, you offer a spare bedroom in your home (or even just a couch) to “surfers”, usually foreigners travelling through the area who need a place to crash. In this case, there’s no exchange of money whatsoever, reflecting a true sharing model.

Yet Uber and Airbnb, not Couchsurfing, are considered the biggest “sharing economy” companies out there, most likely because Airbnb and Uber are valued at $25.5 billion and $62.5 billion, respectively. So where’s the sharing? Someone is either hiring an Uber or renting an Airbnb unit. The only “sharing” piece of the resources used is that the cars and the spaces are owned by individuals and are often underused assets, such as a car, space, and in some cases, a person’s time.

But there’s still money being exchanged. Uber and Airbnb would better be described as “peer economy” companies, because “peer-to-peer” is a decentralized system versus a more traditional capitalist system, where a business owner owns the production and hires the labor. In either case, however, money changes hands.

Further discrepancies arise when you take a closer look at these two peer economy companies. Most obviously, Uber is an “on-demand” service powered by “peer-to-peer labor”, whereas Airbnb is more of a marketplace. One can get a room on-demand, but that’s not a core part of the platform. And there’s no labor component at all.

This differs from Uber, when every Uber call is immediate. It’s an action that demands immediate action.

So what are the other on-demand startups out there that also aggregate labor? Dozens of food delivery companies (e.g. DoorDash and Instacart), household errands and services (e.g. Handy, TaskRabbit), and many others (e.g. Postmates, YourMechanic, Staffly)—these are less “sharing” economy companies, and more “excess labor” companies. In the case of these companies, there are no assets being shared, but services are being provided by a person.

Companies like Breather, WeWork, and Rover, on the other hand, are more like Airbnb, in that they’re marketplaces, with an on-demand component, but not an excess “labor” component.

Finally, there are the peer-to-peer models that are pure marketplaces, including Etsy, Shapeways, Vinted, and Wallapop. For example,  Vinted has no “on-demand” component, but it is a flavor of the peer-to-peer model since individuals are buying, selling, and swapping each other’s clothes. It’s basically Amazon for secondhand clothing.

But across all these companies, consumers are still paying, which is why the Harvard Business Review argues we should be calling Airbnb and all its peers (Uber, Lyft, WeWork, Instacart, Handy, etc.) part of an “access economy”, not a sharing economy:

Sharing is a form of social exchange that takes place among people known to each other, without any profit. Sharing is an established practice, and dominates particular aspects of our life, such as within the family. By sharing and collectively consuming the household space of the home, family members establish a communal identity. When “sharing” is market-mediated — when a company is an intermediary between consumers who don’t know each other — it is no longer sharing at all. Rather, consumers are paying to access someone else’s goods or services for a particular period of time. It is an economic exchange, and consumers are after utilitarian, rather than social, value.

While HBR makes a solid point, however, it doesn’t look like their article (published a little over a year ago) will make any inroads in changing how we speak about this new generation of companies. As a phrase and category, the “sharing economy” is here to stay, and it will continue to be used to describe services as wildly different as Couchsurfing (a website where people host strangers in their home for free), Uber and Lyft (apps where you press a button to hail a ride from a company contractor), and Vinted (an online marketplace where people buy, sell, and swap clothing).

My next pieces will expand on the sharing economy divisions introduced above, and will reveal how even “peer-to-peer” and “on-demand” are broad umbrella categories that don’t always mean the same thing in every case.

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15 digital trends for 2015


Bell-Pottinger-Digital-15-trends-for-2015-infographic

How much do YouTubers make when each of their videos get 50k, 100k, 500k, 1m views?


This is a pretty hot and interesting topic, so I’ll try to make an objective and well referenced answer.

First, you need to know that YouTubers get paid by Adsense and not YouTube. YouTube is monetized by Adsense.

Adsense basically generated to Google billions of dollars (most of Google’s income), it is possibly Google’s most valuable asset. Adsense is one hell phenomenal product of artificial intelligence, cannot be cheated and has a complex way of generating ads and paying the publisher or content producer using a  CPM formula.

Google says: There’s no precise answer, because your earnings will depend on a number of factors.

Youtube is CPM based: CPM (Cost Per Mille) stands for Cost Per 1,000 Impressions. CPM networks pays for every 1,000 YouTube views you generate. 

If a CPM is $1 then it means that they’re paying you $1 for every 1,000 page views you generate.

CPM could be $0.1 or $10, it all depends on the niche you’re using (video games, music videos, educational, comedy, etc…).

YouTube’s CPM is reported to be on average $7.6, that means you get paid $7.6 for each 1,000 views.

Let’s do the math in case and calculate the worst-case scenario of  $1 CPM:

1,000  views $1
10,000 views $10
100,000 views $100
1,000,000 views $1000
10,000,000 views $10,000
100,000,000  views $100,000
1,000,000,000 views $1,000,000

Let’s do the math in case you’re lucky and you got a $7.0 CPM:

1,000  views $7
10,000 views $70
100,000 views $700
1,000,000 views $7000
10,000,000 views $70,000
100,000,000  views $700,000
1,000,000,000 views $7,000,000

However, there are important points to consider:

  1. Not all videos will show advertisements. Adsense selectively shows moderate advertisements to each user, sometimes there are no advertisers at all.
  2. A huge number of users have ad-blocking extensions installed, that would disable the advertisement and the impression won’t be count.

The future of newspapers


Lessons learned from Don’t Spy On Us: Your Guide to Internet Privacy


Lessons Learned From Don’t Spy On Us: Your Guide To Internet Privacy

With 500 attendees and some big names from the data privacy and human rights fields, the Don’t Spy on Us Day of Action was a fascinating afternoon of discussion, debate, and practical advice on how to keep our personal data private from snooping governments. I learned a lot, and I’ve condensed the most important parts of what I’ve learned into five main points.

I’ve also included five things you can do right now to make a difference, both for yourself and for other internet users.

1. Online Privacy Isn’t Just About Protecting Our Data

While keeping our personal data private online is important, the Don’t Spy On Us campaign and others like it emphasize the bigger picture. The speakers didn’t include just security experts; there were a number of human rights advocates and important figures from the press, and discussion ranged from governmental privilege and judicial oversight to the nature of democracy, international cooperation, self-determination, and social relations.

Bruce Schneier (@schneierblog), a security and cryptography expert that we’ve interviewed before, discussed our right to have control over our public face and the people who see it (for example, you can act differently around your family and your friends). But being constantly surveilled violates that right, because you no longer have any control over which information is being shared or who has access to it.

As Carly Nyst (@carlynyst) pointed out, privacy is the ability to choose who has your information and what they do with it. Mass surveillance is dependent on neither of these things being possible.

There was also a great deal of discussion about governmental transparency in surveillance programs, and a number of experts emphasized the need for judicial oversight of the digital intelligence community. At the moment, most of the oversight is political, and oversight committees often include former intelligence officials.

Of course, the government isn’t the only group that’s to blame; Cory Doctorow (@doctorow) pointed out that companies are doing a lot of spying on behalf of the government by turning over vast amounts of data (the recent Vodafone law enforcement disclosure report provides evidence for this).

free speech eff   Lessons Learned From Dont Spy On Us: Your Guide To Internet Privacy

Jimmy Wales (@jimmy_wales) discussed how he and his friends had e-mail discussions when they were teens to explore their politics and views, which sometimes ranged into the radical. Could they have been identified as extremists and targeted for further surveillance? What else might a paranoid government do if they felt that discussions like these were a threat? If people are afraid of punishment for sharing their opinions because of government monitoring, the argument goes, the right of free speech has been violated.

“Privacy is the ability to choose who has your information and what they do with it.” – Carly Nyst

As you can see, there’s a huge variety of issues that all tie into online privacy—and this is just a small sample.

2. Privacy Is An International Issue

While this event focused on information privacy and security in the UK (and, to a lesser degree, in the US), it quickly became clear that it needs to be addressed on an international level. Caspar Bowden (@CasparBowden), a privacy expert and former chief privacy advisor at Microsoft, repeatedly pointed out that the American government uses different standards when surveilling American citizens and foreigners or immigrants, and made the claim that this was a violation of the European Human Right Convention.

privacy world map   Lessons Learned From Dont Spy On Us: Your Guide To Internet Privacy

And with the NSA’s cooperation with GCHQ, it’s clear that countries are willing to share information and, effectively, gather masses of data on behalf of other countries, further convoluting the oversight issue. Carly Nyst pointed out that agreements between governments on intelligence-gathering tactics are often completely shrouded in secrecy, making any sort of oversight difficult, if not impossible.

It’s easy to focus on what’s happening wherever you are, but it’s important to take an international perspective and make your voice heard in many places around the world.

3. Economics Is Our Best Bet For Making A Difference

One of the most common themes of the day was what we can do to take a stand against mass surveillance, and there were generally two points made: first, that the most important action that we can take as concerned citizens is political. Second, in the words of Bruce Schneier, “the NSA is subject to the laws of economics.”

Earlier in the day, Cory Doctorow stated that it costs less than a penny to add someone to the NSA’s or GCHQ’s monitoring lists—at the moment, it’s more economically feasible for these agencies to collect data on everyone because it’s so easy. And while political statements are extremely important, we can also fight back on the economic front by making it more difficult, and thus more expensive, to put millions of people on watch.

sliced dollar bill   Lessons Learned From Dont Spy On Us: Your Guide To Internet Privacy

Even if it costs a few pennies to add someone to a surveillance list, that’s going to make a huge difference in the long run. And when it becomes expensive enough, it will become more economically efficient for governments to only surveil people who are under suspicion of committing a crime.

“The NSA is subject to the laws of economics.”  – Bruce Schneier

So how do we make it more expensive? In short, encryption (keep reading to find out which encryption tools were recommended at the hands-on session of the afternoon). By encrypting our traffic and communication online, we make it much more difficult for intelligence agencies to monitor what we’re doing. Of course, no encryption protocol is perfect; eventually, encryption can be broken. But going through that effort costs a lot more than simply adding an IP address to a list. And when it becomes more economically efficient to monitor only people who are under suspicion of nefarious activities, mass surveillance will stop.

4. DRM And Copyright Laws Are Big Issues

One of Doctorow’s primary areas of advocacy centers around digital rights management (DRM) and copyright law. DRM allows companies to manage how users access their software; for example, the DRM on a Kindle book prevents you from opening it on someone else’s Kindle. The DRM on Netflix prevents you from streaming video unless you have the proper access codes on your computer. And Firefox now packs DRM from Adobe, meaning Adobe has gained some measure of control over how you use your browser.

drm warning1   Lessons Learned From Dont Spy On Us: Your Guide To Internet Privacy

So why is DRM such a big deal? Because it makes security research and testing much more difficult, and often illegal. Even when security flaws are found, people can be nervous about reporting them, meaning that known security risks could go unreported. In addition to this, DRM functions by giving some control of your computer over to the rights holder; and if someone can impersonate the rights holder, they now have some of that control.

“It should no longer be acceptable for our devices to betray us.” – Dr. Richard Tynan (@richietynan)

Fighting against DRM is a great way to show that this betrayal isn’t acceptable, and to show that consumers are willing to take action to take back control of their devices.

As I was preparing this article, Chris Hoffman’s great piece Is DRM a Threat to Computer Security? was published. Go check it out for a great explanation of DRM and the trouble it causes.

5. “Nothing To Hide, Nothing To Fear” Is Still A Common Argument

“If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear” is a very common line when discussing privacy issues, both from the people who support the programs and those who don’t fully understand them. It might sound like a reasonable argument. But upon reflection, it’s just not true.

Adam D. Moore sums it up nicely in three points in Privacy Rights: Moral and Legal Foundations: first, if we have a right to privacy, then “nothing to hide, nothing to fear” is irrelevant. When we lose control of who has access to our information and what they do with it, our rights are being violated, and that’s never a good thing.

big brother graffiti   Lessons Learned From Dont Spy On Us: Your Guide To Internet Privacy

Second, even if people aren’t engaging in illegal activities, they may be taking part in activities or hold beliefs that aren’t accepted by the dominant culture in which they live—whether they hold a different religion than the majority one, hold radical political beliefs, or practice any sort of alternative lifestyle—and want to hide them. If someone’s interest in Marxism, polygamy, or Islam was leaked to the public, they could face character defamation. This is especially of concern when there’s no telling who will come into power next—reading about Sikhism at the library isn’t a crime today, but what if it is tomorrow? And you’re on record as having done it?

And, finally, if having nothing to hide means having nothing to fear, then why are politicians and intelligence agencies so averse to total transparency for their agencies? Bruce Schneier framed this argument as a power imbalance: privacy increases power, while transparency reduces it. By violating citizens’ right to privacy and refusing to be transparent, government agencies are increasing the power imbalance between citizens and their government.

nsa surveillance   Lessons Learned From Dont Spy On Us: Your Guide To Internet Privacy

As discussed above, privacy is a much more complicated issue than just keeping one’s activities a secret: it relates to human rights on a broad scale. And the “nothing to hide, nothing to fear” argument is inadequate for addressing the complex issues that are at stake in the mass surveillance battle.

What Can You Do?

In addition to a large amount of political discussion, attendees of the Don’t Spy On Us event received some really useful pieces of advice, both on how to protect themselves from snooping and on how to make a difference in the fight against uninhibited mass surveillance.

1. Show your support

This is absolutely crucial. Sign up with the organizations listed below, get your name on petitions, and speak out. Follow privacy advocates on Twitter (I’ve tried to link to as many as possible throughout this article), post their articles on Facebook, and tell your friends and family about the important issues at stake. Concerted action by the internet denizens stopped SOPA and PIPA (remember the Wikipedia blackout?).

wikipedia blackout   Lessons Learned From Dont Spy On Us: Your Guide To Internet Privacy

We can stop PRISM and TEMPORA, too. There are a lot of people out there working to defend our right to privacy, but they need as much help as they can get.

“This will only stop politically. This is a political issue.” – Bruce Schneier

There are a lot of others out there—leave your suggestions in the comments! And don’t forget to take every chance you can to show your congressional or parliamentary representatives that you care about your privacy and that mass violations and infringements on our rights, both from governments and private companies, are unacceptable.

2. Use encryption tools

There’s a wealth of knowledge on MakeUseOf about how to use encryption to improve your security. If you’re looking to started with encryption, I recommend checking out How the Tor Project Can Help You Protect Your Online PrivacyEncrypt Your Gmail, Hotmail, and Other Webmail: Here’s How, and 5 Ways to Securely Encrypt Your Files in the Cloud. And if you’re still not convinced that you need to use encryption, don’t miss Not Just for Paranoids: 4 Reasons to Encrypt Your Digital Life.

And there are tons more. Just run a search from the menu bar and you’ll find what you’re looking for. You can also check out this great handout from the Day of Action, courtesy of The Occupied Times:

the occupied times combat surveillance   Lessons Learned From Dont Spy On Us: Your Guide To Internet Privacy

3. Throw a cryptoparty

As I mentioned earlier, the more people that are using encryption, the more secure we’re going to be. Once we reach a critical mass, surveillance will need to become more targeted to be cost-effective. And one of the best ways to share the importance of encryption, as well as make it easy for people to start using the proper tools, is to throw a cryptoparty.

   Lessons Learned From Dont Spy On Us: Your Guide To Internet Privacy

There’s an official group that runs big parties around the world, but you don’t need to go that big. Just throw your own cryptoparty! Have your friends over, tell them to bring their devices, and help them install encryption tools. That’s all there is to it! To make it more fun, don’t make crypto the focus of the party, but just do it in the background (or during half-time of a World Cup game, maybe). Install things like HTTPS Everywhere, OTR-compatible IM tools, PGP e-mail tools, and secure messaging apps.

If people are interested in heavier-duty things, like encrypting their hard drives or cloud storage, help them out with that, too. But don’t pressure anyone into anything—the point of a cryptoparty is to have fun and improve privacy and security. In that order.

4. Stay up to date

Read news about privacy regularly—following the people I’ve linked to on Twitter will help a lot, but make sure to subscribe blogs like Cory Doctorow’s Craphound blogThe Privacy Blog, and Privacy International’s blog, too. Again, please share your favorites in the comments!

It’s also a good idea to stay up to date on general tech news, because that’s often the best place to find out about any new vulnerabilities (such as when our own Tech News Digest reported on the mysterious disappearance of TrueCrypt.)

5. Support open-source tools

While there are certainly closed-source tools that will help you protect your privacy, point #4 above makes it easy to see why open-source software is likely to be more secure. If a program is DRM- and copyright-protected, there are parts of it that are invisible to you, which means no one can be looking for bugs or even intentional security holes. When you can, use open-source alternatives to popular software. It shows companies that transparency is valued by consumers.

open source hardware   Lessons Learned From Dont Spy On Us: Your Guide To Internet Privacy

And don’t just use the software: contribute to open-source projects, too!

Fight Back, Encrypt, Share

Online privacy and mass surveillance are very complicated issues, which is why there are entire organizations dedicated to educating the public about fighting back. It might feel hopeless at times, or like it’s not worth doing, but the fight back against the mass infringement on our rights is worth the time and effort. Encrypting your browsing or your e-mail doesn’t take much, but if even 30% of people did it, we’d make a huge statement that would be impossible to ignore.

Please share this article, and get more people thinking about their online rights and privacy. And fill up the comments section with links for others to learn more, sign petitions, get involved, and make a difference.

It’s going to take a lot of cooperation to do this, so let’s start right here!

(article by Dann Albright)

Francesco “compie” un anno, ecco le 6 innovazioni del Papa social


Il “dogma” Internet, la messa online interattiva, i selfie e altro ancora. Jorge Bergoglio ha portato novità nella Chiesa anche in campo tecnologico. E dopo il suo arrivo il Vaticano ha dovuto potenziare il sistema informatico

Papa Francesco “compie” un anno. Il 5 marzo 2013 cominciarono ad arrivare a Roma i 115 cardinali  che, 8 giorni dopo, avrebbero eletto Jorge Mario Bergoglio, dopo la rinuncia pronunciata da Joseph Ratzinger. La fumata bianca alle 20.13 del 13 marzo. Argentino, 76 anni, è il primo Pontefice sudamericano e arriva “dalla fine del mondo”, come ebbe a dire lui stesso al momento dell’annuncio. Ma è stato anche il primo Papa a portare una ventata di innovazione nella Chiesa, sia nel linguaggio sia nelle modalità scelte per le comunicazione, dimostrando di essere all’avanguardia e di accogliere con apertura mentale il progresso tecnologico. Ecco le 6 principali innovazioni frutto dell’operato di Bergoglio.

1)    Papa social – Il Pontefice, confrontato con i maggiori leader mondiali, è risultato quello con il più alto numero di ricerche mensili su Google e il più menzionato in rete. In questa classifica Barack Obama Edward Snowden occupano il secondo e terzo posto. Il Papa ha inoltre dimostrato grande disinvoltura nell’uso del suo profilo Twitter in varie lingue, riscuotendo grande successo sulla piattaforma  di microblogging ideata da Jack Dorsey. Dai dati diffusi di recente da 3rdPlace, società di strategie di marketing digitale, il Pontefice argentino esprime “un altissimo livello di interazione con i suoi messaggi”. Su Twitter, ad esempio, gli account Pontifex, pur avendo una frequenza di pubblicazione media di 0,79 tweet al giorno, mostrano un engagement medio pari a 6.637 contro i 2.309 del presidente Barack Obama che pure twitta molto di più rispetto al Pontefice (7,76 tweet al giorno). Per quanto riguarda l’Italia, l’utenza che segue l’account del Papa si rivela più attiva di quella di Grillo. Nonostante la pubblicazione di 53 tweet quotidiani, il leader del Movimento 5 stelle raggiunge un engagement medio di parecchio inferiore a quello del pontefice (88 contro i 1.301 di Papa Francesco). Dopo un’attenta riflessione, però, il Vaticano non ha ancora ritenuto opportuno aprire un profilo Facebook del Papa, anche se circolano molti fake. Di fatto alcuni esperti rilevano che, per la comunicazione social, la Chiesa potrebbe fare molto di più sfruttando il carisma comunicativo di Bergoglio. Il Papa ha anche vinto l’anno scorso il MacchiaNera Award (massimo riconoscimento per i navigatori della Rete) come personaggio dell’anno.

2)    Il dogma – A gennaio il Santo Padre ha detto che “Internet è un dono di Dio” perché può offrire “maggiori possibilità di incontro e di solidarietà tra tutti”, aggiungendo che gli “aspetti problematici” e “i limiti reali” della Rete “non giustificano un rifiuto dei media sociali”. È stato il primo a enunciare un principio del genere parlando della Rete.

3)    Altissima risoluzione – La prima messa di Papa Francesco celebrata in Piazza San Pietro per l’inaugurazione del suo Pontificato è stata ripresa con l’innovativa telecamera 4K F55 di Sony, che ha assicurato riprese con una risoluzione quattro volte maggiore rispetto all’Alta Definizione (HD). “Questo testimonia l’importanza della comunicazione e il desiderio di documentare gli eventi di tale portata mediatica con la maggiore ricchezza di dettagli possibile e con gli strumenti tecnologici più avanzati” ha detto in quel contesto Monsignor Viganò, direttore del Centro Televisivo Vaticano (Ctv). Le immagini in 4K offrono una quantità di informazioni quattro volte maggiori rispetto all’HD, grazie ad un sensore evoluto S35mm capace di una risoluzione di 4.096×2.160 pixels, garantendo quindi una qualità delle immagini di gran lunga superiore.

4)   Messa online interattiva – Primato anche per la messa virtuale. A Pasqua 2013 gli oltre 4 milioni di utenti di Banjo, la principale piattaforma di geolocalizzazione per la condivisione di feed dai più diffusi social network, hanno potuto  assistere virtualmente messa di Pasqua celebrata da Papa Francesco. Tutti i feed sul neo eletto Pontefice sono risultati accessibili direttamente dal “luogo” personalizzato disponibile in home page il giorno della festività pasquale.

5)    Sistema informatico potenziato – L’avvento di Papa Francesco ha messo a dura prova il sistema informatico del Vaticano al punto che, nel 2013, ha dovuto aumentare di dieci volte la potenza del sistema. Lo ha detto  il webmaster responsabile del Servizio Internet della Santa Sede, l’argentino don Lucio Adrian Ruiz, in un’intervista al sito specializzato Vaticaninsider. “Ci occupiamo – ha premesso il religioso – della tecnologia, della progettazione, dell’ingegneria e della messa in linea dei siti web e degli altri servizi Internet della Santa Sede, cioè di quelli che rientrano sotto il dominio “.va”, che è un “top level domain” equivalente a quelli di altri Paesi. Oggi sono una trentina, ma ce ne sono almeno dieci in preparazione”. Il sacerdote ha definito “esponenziale” la crescita negli ultimi anni, e “ancora di più con Papa Francesco: c’è un grande accesso alle foto e ai messaggi, c’è una grande ricerca delle parole che lui pronuncia”.

6)    Primo Papa ad adottare i selfie – Infine un’innovazione non strettamente tecnologica ma indicativa di un modo innovativo di comunicare attraverso i tool mediatici a disposizione. Il nuovo Papa, acui piace stare tra la gente e non solo sui social network, ha dimostrato grande disponibilità nel fare i “selfie“, autoscatti insieme ai fedeli, immagini che poi diventano virali sul web. Un gesto semplice che forse ha aiutato il neologismo “selfie”ad entrare nell’Oxford English Dictionary.

(articolo di L.Maci)

The day we fight back: What you need to know


Internet activists are fighting back against Internet surveillance, but what do they hope to accomplish?

The Day We Fight Back

If you visit Reddit, Upworthy, the Daily Kos, or a number of other websites today, you might notice that they are displaying a banner that urges Web surfers to “fight back” against Internet surveillance. Or perhaps some of your friends’ Twitter avatars are now covered by a #StoptheNSA icon.

What’s going on? Feb. 11 has been designated as “The Day We Fight Back” by a broad coalition of activist groups, companies, and online platforms. Organizers are hoping to replicate the response they received for the 2012 Internet “blackout” that targeted the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), which resulted in lawmakers withdrawing both bills.

The effort is also intended to remember activist Aaron Swartz, who took his own life in Jan. 2013. In 2011, Swartz was arrested for downloading 4.8 million articles from JSTOR, a non-profit archive of academic journals, after tapping into the site from a computer wiring closet at MIT. He was charged with four separate felonies that could have landed him in jail for years. Supporters said the punishment was too harsh and in the wake of his death, have been pushing for updates to computer security laws.

So what’s the back story on “The Day We Fight Back” and what do organizers hope to accomplish? Read on.

What are organizers fighting back against? Last year, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden released a treasure trove of classified documents to journalists to shed light on what he said was the NSA’s illegal activity. The NSA has defended its actions, arguing that it is sanctioned by Congress and necessary to protect us from terrorists, but President Obama admitted recently that changes are necessary, at least when it comes to the collection of phone metadata. But things aren’t changing fast enough for Internet activists, who hope “The Day We Fight Back” will help spur Congress into real action.

What type of things are they concerned about? One of the first things the Snowden documents revealed was the collection of phone metadata on a grand scale. Verizon Communications, for example, was ordered to hand over all of its phone records for a three-month period. The feds argued that the content of these calls was not recorded, but detractors said the demands are overly broad and include data about innocent Americans. Meanwhile, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) can order tech companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and more to hand over customer data, but the secret nature of the court means those companies cannot discuss the details of their cooperation with the feds.

That seems a little sketchy, right? It’s a slippery slope. If the feds are trying to track down a dangerous criminal and believe they are using Gmail, Facebook, or Outlook to communicate, you don’t want to tip off those criminals, so secrecy is key. But the extent of the secrecy provided by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is a bit extreme, which is why top tech companies asked for permission to reveal more data about national security-related requests in their quarterly transparency reports. The feds offered a compromise whereby companies could mix in national security requests with other non-classified data. But the companies pushed back, and the Justice Department recently granted a compromise: they could break out the data in batches depending on the data revealed.

But that didn’t satisfy privacy advocates, right? Nope, because the data is still being collected; it’s just being done in a slightly more transparent manner.

So what’s the fix? The Electronic Frontier Foundation urged supporters to back the USA FREEDOM Act from Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican, which it said “could well be our best shot at fixing some of the worst problems with NSA surveillance.” It’s not perfect, according to the EFF; it doesn’t really address “excessive secrecy” or NSA efforts to crack encryption or tap into the data centers of tech firms, among other things. But it “stands in sharp contrast” to a bill from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, which organizers say will just bolster existing programs.

How does Aaron Swartz fit into this? As organizers described it, “Aaron sparked and helped guide the movement that would eventually defeat the Stop Online Piracy Act in January 2012. That bill would have destroyed the Internet as we know it, by blocking access to sites that allowed for user-generated content – the very thing that makes the Internet so dynamic.” As a result, “The Day We Fight Back” is in his honor, as he certainly would’ve been on the front lines, they said.

How is this similar to the 2012 SOPA/PIPA protest? Like the SOPA and PIPA blackout, organizers are asking supporters to add a banner to their homepage that says they are “sick of complaining about the NSA,” and want new laws to curtail online surveillance.

How does it differ? In 2012, the protest went the extra step of shutting down popular websites for a day, like Wikipedia, to demonstrate how SOPA and PIPA might impact the Web. It also garnered support from major players like Google and Facebook, which didn’t shut down their sites, but displayed banners in solidarity with the protest’s mission. Today, however, Google is displaying a link to its Internet safety center on Google.com, and said in a blog post that “we strongly believe that government surveillance programs should operate under a legal framework that is rule-bound, narrowly tailored, transparent, and subject to oversight.”

What can I do? If you don’t have a website that can support a banner, organizers are asking people to change their profile photos on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ or share some anti-surveillance photos posted on the event’s website. Any discussion on social media should also include the #StoptheNSA hashtag. There will also be events around the globe, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Austin, Chicago, Utah, and Minnesota in the U.S.

(article by C.Albanesius on PCmag.com)

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Lotta aperta al cybercrime [Infografica]


Il modello legato ai crimini informatici si è progressivamente modificato passando dalle “semplici” mail di phishing a veri e propri crimini mirati, studiati e sferrati senza tante complicazioni e nemmeno troppe macchinazioni tecnologiche. “A partire dal 2004, circa, i malware hanno iniziato a diventare sempre più veri e propri modelli di business sui quali fare molti soldi”, ha dichiarato Raimund Genes, Chief Technology Officer di Trend Micro, azienda che ha promosso lo studio realizzato da IDC sulla sicurezza IT con particolare focus dedicato a “La diffusione degli attacchi APT (Advanced Persistent Threats) in Italia”, per delineare lo stato rispetto alla penetrazione di queste nuove minacce, alla consapevolezza delle aziende del segmento enterprise sulle misure di protezione e all’adozione delle soluzioni di sicurezza. Dallo studio emerge che il 57,4% delle aziende di grandi dimensioni ha subito un attacco occasionale ai propri sistemi negli ultimi 12 mesi, il 13,2% ha segnalato attacchi che, ormai, hanno una frequenza regolare e il 9,6ha dichiarato di avere subito un attacco APT. Tale attacco ha determinato un impatto rilevante sul business aziendale nel 2,2% dei casi, mentre il 7,4% delle volte è stato neutralizzato in tempo. Questo dato con ogni probabilità è però sottostimato, perché la maggior parte delle imprese non dispone di un sistema di rilevazione per gli APT o comunque prevale la tendenza a tacere gli attacchi. “Da tempo Trend Micro solleva l’attenzione sugli attacchi APT e sull’intensità con la quale vanno a moltiplicarsi le varianti di malware dalle quali devono difendersi le imprese”, spiega Gastone Nencini, Country Leader di Trend Micro Italia che ha concluso, “Sono felice di constatare come la consapevolezza rispetto agli APT nel segmento Enterprise stia crescendo anche se alcuni aspetti legati ai rischi effettivi e alle misure di protezione da adottare devono ancora essere recepiti”. “In ambito di modifiche delle tipologie di attacchi”, ha proseguito invece Raimund Genes, “L’excursus tecnologico ha visto il cybercrime partire nel 2004 con azioni di spyware, proseguire con l’intelligent botnet e i web threats, passare attraverso gli attacchi mirati del 2010, gli attacchi verso dispositivi mobili (2011) e giungere a oggi in cui le intrusioni sono rapide, semplici e prescindono dal sistema operativo, mentre la facilità di accesso a sistemi open source costituisce elemento di grave pericolo e forte interesse da parte dei criminali informatici. Le vittime vengono profilate grazie a sistemi di social engineering che traggono in inganno anche l’utente più attento che  rischia di cadere in una trappola in grado di provocare una chain reaction che, di solito, viene scoperta solo dopo molto tempo dall’infezione. “Bisogna rendersi conto che, ormai, il prodotto che i criminali cercano in rete, siamo noi!”, prosegue Genes. “Tutto ciò che riguarda la nostra vita è monetizzabile in caso di attacco informatico. Dati bancari, indirizzi, beni posseduti e dati aziendali presenti sui dispositivi privati…” conclude il CTO di Trend Micro.

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(articolo di D.Schicchi)

Ciao Marco…