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ABC logoMid-morning today I received a phone call from ABC journalist David Mark, who was after a backgrounder on the Tor network the lunchtime current affairs program The World Today. His call brought me the news of what appears to be a significant win in the battle against online child exploitation.

Fourteen arrests were made as part of Operation Round Table, which according to the (American) ABC, was an investigation led by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), US Postal Inspection Service and federal authorities in Louisiana.

The roughly 250 victims were spread across 39 states and five other countries — Australia, Belgium, Britain, Canada and New Zealand. Most were boys between 13 and 15. Two victims were 3 or younger, authorities said.

The pornographic images were shared on an underground website on the Tor network, an online anonymity network that masks the location of servers and conceals an Internet user’s location. The subscription-based website operated from about June 2012 until June 2013, had more than 27,000 members and shared more than 2,000 webcam-captured videos, mostly of young boys, authorities said.

There’s further material in the (Australian) ABC story, Australian victims among 251 identified in ‘members only’ child porn website.

The World Today ran Mark’s four-minute story, including comments from US secretary of homeland security Jeh Johnson, and federal attorney-general for Louisiana Kenneth Polite, as well as my own small contribution.

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The audio is of course ©2014 Australian Broadcasting Corporation, served here directly from their website —– where you can also read a full transcript.

If you’d like some more information on how Tor works, and how users’ mistakes can lead to their anonymity being rather less effective than they’d hoped, my Crikey Clarifier: how the FBI hacked users of Tor, the ‘secret internet’ from August 2013 could be a useful starting-point.

Screenshot from The Project, 28 February 2014It’s been a while since I got to talk directly to The Project presenters, but I did so last night. And I was captioned as a “Cyber Security Commentator”, which is obviously a bit special.

The story was about the security risks of webcams. Presenter Gorgi Coglan introduced it thusly:

What if I told you that the webcam in your computer could be under the control of someone on the other side of the planet, and watching everything you do right now?

I was pleased that The Project introduced the Channel TEN audience to RATs, or remote administration (or access) tools, and managed — as they nearly always do — to strike the right balance between scary and funny.

Over the fold you’ll find the video of the entire four-minute segment — starting off with a “package”, as they’re called, featuring Hacklabs director Chris Gatford, followed by the panel interviewing me.

It was the Friday team, so that panel consisted of presenter Gorgi Coglan, comedian Lehmo, the inimitable Waleed Aly and, just to be different, Richie Sambora, guitarist of Bon Jovi fame.

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ABC logoI did two radio interviews about Bitcoin last week, but unfortunately only one survives. This one, the poorer of the two.

The first one, on Monday 17 February for ABC 666 Canberra, was sharp, and I pulled off what I remember as being good impromptu explanations. But I stuffed up the recording. This second one, for ABC Sunshine Coast on Wednesday 19 February, was done after I’d followed the bottle of Sangiovese Barbera with a couple pints of cider after a long day of work. It’s less focussed.

This conversation with presenter Mary-Lou Stephens includes the word “cryptolibertarian”. It’s all a bit much. I even squeeze in a mention of Honest Beef.

The audio is also presented here without an introduction or a back-announce, because that’s how it was posted on SoundCloud.

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The audio is of course ©2014 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

ABC logoThe third radio spot I did about Attorney-General George Brandis’ comments on digital copyright was with ABC 105.7 Darwin on Wednesday 19 February. Here it is.

(“Third” you ask? There’s only been one other posted so far. That’s true. The second spot was with Dom Knight on ABC 702 Sydney on Tuesday 18 February. But I don’t have a recording for you. Sorry.)

This is roughly the same discussion I had on Spoke on Tuesday, but with presenter Kate O’Toole and after I’d drank a bottle of Sangiovese Barbera after I got angrier about the issues. So the concept of graduated response is a thing again, I allude to the iiTrial and so on. And yes I mentioned Rebecca Giblin’s research.

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The audio is of course ©2014 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

FIVEaa logoThe fact that Apple is in further talks with electric car manufacturer Tesla has triggered rumours that an Apple Car might be on the way. Orly?

Presenter Will Goodings grabbed hold of Joshua Dowling, motoring editor for the News Limited mastheads, and your truly to talk it through on Adelaide radio station 1395 FIVEaa on Wednesday 19 February.

Dowling’s explanation of global auto industry issues was excellent, so I’ve included his comments in the audio here.

I’ve then skipped over a bunch of adverts before getting to my contribution — which mentioned smart cars, the internet of things, the potential for surveillance, and the risk of hacking all these things.

I also spoke about Gartner’s prediction that by 2020 there’ll be 50 billion objects connected to the internet. Yes, the smart rice cooker got a mention, as did the hacking of the smart TV.

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The audio is ©2014 dmgRadio Australia, but here it is ‘cos it hasn’t been posted on the radio station’s website. Besides, this is a reasonable plug.

ABC logoThe fact that a bunch of technology journalists had gathered on the Gold Coast to discuss the latest tech trends caught the interest of the local ABC radio station. This conversation from Wednesday 19 February is the result.

Presenter Nicole Dyer and I ended up talking about the Internet of Things — and of course I mentioned the internet refrigerator and the internet rice cooker — smart cars, smart air conditioning, smart TVs and how they can be hacked. It’s a more lighthearted approach to some topics that I’ve discussed more seriously elsewhere.

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The audio is ©2014 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

3555 logoMy recent critique of Attorney-General George Brandis’ comments about copyright reform in the digital age attracted plenty of positive comments — and also some media attention.

That critique was my ZDNet Australia column on the day of Brandis’ speech, Friday 14 February, What the Dickens will Brandis do to copyright in the digital realm?

The first piece of media interest was from Michelle Bennett, presenter of Spoke, the weekly social issues program on Melbourne community radio station 3RRR. The interview was recorded on Sunday 16 February and broadcast in the Spoke episode of Tuesday 18 February.

The conversation wasn’t just about Brandis’ comments, but also some of the background — including the so-called iiTrial between the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) and internet service provider iiNet, the graduated response or “three strikes” rules for tackling copyright infringement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) treaty, and the idea that internet access can be considered a basic human right.

I also mentioned Dr Rebecca Giblin’s research paper, Evaluating Graduated Response, which looked at those three strikes rules. The conclusion was that “there is little to no evidence that that graduated responses are either ‘successful’ or ‘effective’.”

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The interview is ©2014 Triple R Broadcasters Ltd. Over at their website you can listen to the full program.

Hitachi Data Systems privacy law graphic: click for whitepaperAustralia’s new privacy laws come into force on 12 March. On 12 February, four weeks before the new laws come into force, I hosted a panel discussion on dealing with these new law for Hitachi Data Systems.

The panelists were lawyer Alec Christie, a partner in the intellectual property and technology practice of global law firm DLA Piper; Jodie Sangster, chief executive officer of ADMA, the Association for Data-driven Marketing and Advertising (which used to be called the Australian Direct Marketing Association); and Adrian De Luca, chief technology officer for Hitachi Data Systems in the Asia-Pacific region.

Over the fold is the full 58-minute video. This was done as a Google Hangout, and since there were some internet glitches the video is a bit glitchy too, but the content itself is great.

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The first edition of the 5at5 email letter, which I announced yesterday, was posted earlier this evening — slightly late thanks to some annoyances with TinyLetter, which I’ll tell you about another time. You can read it here, subscribe here, or even look at a local archive copy.

03 February 2014 by Stilgherrian | No comments

Screenshot of 5at5 website: click to go thereI come across a lot of fascinating stuff in the course of my alleged media work. It’s stuff worth sharing more widely. Back in December, I decided that I’d start sending out a daily email linking to the best. That email launches tomorrow, Monday 3 February.

It’s called 5at5, and it’ll bring you five items every weekday at around 5pm Sydney time.

They’ll be connected to [my] interests in some way — the politics of the internet and how technology is changing power relationships at every level of society, security and surveillance, military technology and history, language, journalism and human nature. And more.

I was amused to see Alexis Madrigal, technology editor at The Atlantic, launch his own daily email recently, 5 Intriguing Things. Five is the magic number, it seems.

I’ve chosen to use the same platform at Madrigal, TinyLetter, which is a subsidiary of email marketing platform MailChimp. Why? Mostly because it’s free. TinyLetter is limited to 3000 subscribers, but I’ll worry about that when it happens.

So now you’re going to click through to subscribe, right? Good puppy. Smart puppy.

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