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Pakistan: 3 Percent of Drone Deaths Were Civilians

 

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No, Twitter is not ruining America or American politics — just the opposite, in fact

Gigaom

Is Twitter ruining America? That’s the somewhat hyperbolic claim made by Philip Bump in a recent piece at The Atlantic Wire, in which he argues that the social network has had a primarily negative effect on the political environment in the U.S. — in part by creating a kind of echo chamber in which partisans pay attention only to the things they already agree with. This is a variation on the “filter bubble” argument that Eli Pariser popularized in his book of the same name. But does Bump’s claim about Twitter hold any water?

The Atlantic writer starts off by looking at the recent report from the Committee to Protect Journalists, which describes the Obama administration’s unprecedented attacks on the press over repeated leaks of classified information. But that’s not what Bump is really concerned about — instead, he seems to be arguing that social media such as…

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Ditto Defeats Patent Claim After Teaming Up With A ‘Troll’

 

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New iOS app turns Kim Kardashian’s tweets into a TV channel

Gigaom

While the deep, shaded corners of the Dark Net have lost one valuable source in Silk Road’s shutdown, a new website promises to help lurkers find their next shadowy resource. Venturebeat reports that TorSearch offers a more private (and deeper) Tor search experience compared to traditional engines like Bing and Google, and even popular Tor search website DuckDuckGo.

TorSearch is able to offer anonymity by enabling users to connect to websites and platforms via a third-party introduction point, and then maintains the connection via a random relay service. That means a user with Tor enabled can search for illegal drugs or pirated porn, and then trust the the access point is hidden within the relay. The result is a search experience that a third-party observer could not identify.

While TorSearch, which has an index of 130,000 Deep Web links, has become popular among Tor users (doubling its traffic…

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Spy court suspends surveillance fight between US and tech firm until end of government shutdown

Gigaom

Tech companies like Google(s goog) and Yahoo(s yhoo) want to disclose the number of requests they receive under a controversial surveillance program, but the Justice Department is opposing the demand lest “adversaries” change their behavior because they know the government is spying on them.

The whole matter is being hashed out before America’s secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, but it looks like the process will take a little longer: on Friday, the spy court issued an order, at the request of both sides, that stays the proceedings until furloughed lawyers can return to work and figure out how to move forward.

In the words of the court, the whole thing is on hold until “Department of Justice attorneys are permitted to resume their civil litigation functions and consult with [the tech companies over] access to classified information.”

So, to recap: the government required tech firms to participate in a…

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The Panopticon Is Extremely Convenient (So Use Facebook, Google, And Chrome)

 

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Anonymous comments could suffer under European Court of Human Rights ruling

 

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From a silk orb built by man and worms to a robot magician’s assistant: 5 cool things at MIT

Gigaom

It’s always invigorating to visit MIT’s Media Lab. It’s a bright shiny Montessori school for smart adults — and occasionally a gaggle of reporters. Here are my highlights from this year’s tour — part of the  EmTech 2013 conference.

1: Silk sculpture

The Silk Pavilion looks like a beautiful, ethereal sculpture — which it is — but its also a hybrid of man-made and organic creation that paired the work of 6,500 silk worms toiling away on a pre-constructed scaffold.

The project, which relied on a computer-numerically-controlled (CNC) arm to build the skeleton, could end up enabling big construction projects in which a raft of such machines would work together to fabricate buildings, said our tour host Andrew Lippmann, associate director of the Lab. More here on this by the lab’s Mediated Matter Group.

Silk Road at MIT Media Lab

2: VR Codes

Lipmmann showed off video response or VR codes, which pack dynamic video information into…

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No harm, no foul: Google wins case over browser tracking

Gigaom

A federal judge has thrown out a class action against Google, saying the search giant didn’t harm anyone when it tricked Internet Explorer(s msft) and Apple’s(s aapl) Safari browsers into accepting advertising cookies — even though those browsers’ settings specifically forbid such cookies.

In a Delaware ruling reported by the Wall Street Journal, US District Judge Sue Robinson found Google and two other firms had circumvented the no-advertising settings, but that the consumers were unable to show they had been harmed by the fact the companies collected their data and used it to target ads to them.

News that Google was “hacking” the Safari browser came to light in February of 2011, when a Stanford graduate reported that Google was tricking the browser into accepting cookies; the “trick” worked by disguising advertising-related cookies as functional ones (like those used to remember a log-in), and collecting browser information as the…

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Skype faces NSA-related privacy probe in Luxembourg

Gigaom

Privacy officials in Luxembourg are investigating Skype over its links to the NSA, as The Guardianreported on Friday, and they could force the Microsoft(s msft) subsidiary to stop passing citizens’ data on to the U.S. intelligence agency.

The probe may have been sparked by a June complaint (PDF, in German) by the privacy activist group Europe v Facebook.

Quite a few tech firms, Skype included, are headquartered in Luxembourg as part of their tax avoidance strategy. Sadly for them, it turns out that the tiny nation’s data protection authorities may have sharper teeth than those in Ireland, where many U.S. companies site their international operations for similar reasons.

The Luxembourg authorities began the investigation after Edward Snowden revealed how large web firms were cooperating with the NSA. In July the same newspaper reported that the amount of Skype video call material being collected…

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Audible will release a free, original Homeland audiobook on Sunday

Gigaom

After the new episode of Homeland airs this Sunday, the Amazon-owned digital audiobook service Audible.com (s AMZN) will release a free, 30-minute “soliloquy by congressman-turned-fugitive Nicholas Brody,” the Wall Street Journal reports (paywall). Narrated by Damian Lewis, the actor who plays Brody, this is “Audible’s first stab at creating new content for a TV drama,” and Audible hired a writer to work on it in collaboration with Homeland writers and Fox (s NWS).

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EFF quits internet advocacy group, cites surveillance issues

Gigaom

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), an influential digital rights organization, announced on Thursday that it will resign from a group of tech companies, known as the the Global Network Initiative, that advocates to stop government censorship of the internet.

The EFF claims that it longer has confidence that members of the group, which includes Facebook(s fb) and Google(s goog), can speak freely about privacy and surveillance given the US government’s controversial PRISM and Bullrun programs. The programs, details of which were leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, involve secretly collecting information and interfering with cryptography standards.

In a statement, the organization said:

“EFF can no longer sign its name on joint statements knowing now that GNI’s corporate members have been blocked from sharing crucial information about how the US government has meddled with these companies’ security practices.”

The EFF’s resignation appears to be a tactic to increase scrutiny…

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Obama Care Launched in USA

A central provision of President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law has taken effect, having survived Republicans’ years-long effort to undermine it.

Markets run by federal and state governments opened for the millions of Americans seeking insurance plans.

As many as seven million Americans who do not already have health insurance are eligible to purchase coverage in the coming months.

Republican opposition to the law led to the government shutdown on Tuesday.

At the White House on Tuesday, Mr Obama said the opportunity would be “life changing” for the “15% of Americans who don’t have health insurance”.

“Tens of thousands of Americans die each year just because they don’t have health insurance,” Mr Obama said, with Americans set to sign up for plans standing behind him.

“Millions more live with the fear that they’ll go broke if they get sick. And today, we begin to free millions of our fellow Americans from that fear.”

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EyeQuant gets funding to expand eye-tracking simulation tech to mobile and retail

Gigaom

EyeQuant, a Berlin firm that helps companies such as Google(s goog), Spotify and Barnes & Noble(s bks) figure out where their users are most likely to look, has raised $650,000 in funding. It intends to use the cash to branch out from webpage and email analysis to the mobile space and beyond.

EyeQuant is an intriguing outfit, using neuroscience as a marketing aid. Similarly to 3M(s mmm)’s Visual Attention Service, Feng-Gui and AttentionWizard, EyeQuant tells clients which parts of a webpage or ad are most likely to draw the user’s gaze. It does so in an automated fashion, which is only 90 percent as accurate as performing eye-tracking with live subjects, but much quicker and cheaper.

Here, for example, is EyeQuant’s take on GigaOM’s front page:

EyeQuant Gigaom page analysis

However, CEO and co-founder Fabian Stelzer suggested to me that EyeQuant has a significant technical advantage over those rivals:

“In terms…

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Quri raises $10M to give brands in-store intelligence and help consumers earn cash while they shop

Gigaom

Quri, a San Francisco-based retail intelligence startup, has raised $10 million in a Series B round led by Matrix Partners. The new funding follows $4.28 million previously raised and will help the startup meet growing demand for in-store analytics, the company said.

Launched last year, Quri gives brandEasyShifts a window into how their products are promoted and displayed in-store. According to the startup, retail brands spend more than $600 billion each year on in-store promotions, merchandising and marketing, but lose billions of dollars in potential sales from out-of-stock items and poorly executed displays.

Through a consumer-facing app, called EasyShift, Quri turns shoppers into stealth researchers. As they shop, users complete simple “shifts” involving tasks like checking prices, taking pictures of displays or seeing if a product is in stock. Once they complete the task, consumers get paid for their time within 48 hours.

The company says half…

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East Coast vs. West: SF beats NYC hands down in open Wi-Fi availability

Gigaom

Both New York City and San Francisco are cosmopolitan cities rife with dining, shopping and cultural amenities. But if you were to walk into any given shop or cafe in either city looking for Wi-Fi, you’re twice as much more likely to get connected in downtown San Francisco than you are in Manhattan.

Virtual hotspot aggregator Devicescape analyzed its crowdsourced hotspot and Wi-Fi access data in the central business district cores of both cities and found that San Francisco is much more accommodating city when it comes to offering free Wi-Fi to its denizens. It found that 47 percent of customer-facing businesses in San Francisco offer Wi-Fi to their patrons compared to 23 percent in NYC.

Breaking down the specific types of businesses, Devicescape found Wi-Fi in three out of four coffee shops and cafes in San Francisco (55 percent in New York) and 50 percent of restaurants (30 percent…

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Unmasking the trolls: FTC announces investigation into “patent assertion entities”

Gigaom

The Federal Trade Commission on Friday called for public comments on a proposed investigation into approximately 25 “patent assertion entities,” — more commonly known as patent trolls — and how they affect innovation and competition.

The FTC news, announced in a press release, comes as state and federal law makers are proposing measures to curtail the controversial practice of patent trolling, which involves shell companies amassing old patents in order to make legal threats against companies that actually produce things. Trolling is an effective business model because targets typically pay the trolls to go away rather than undertake an expensive court fight; the trolls, meanwhile, are not vulnerable to countersuits because they are shell companies that don’t have any assets.

In its release, the FTC explains that its investigation would be able to expand on existing studies into trolling by using its subpoena power to force the trolls to…

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China lifts 13-year ban on video games… kind of.

Gigaom

While China could be loosening its grip on social media, the country is definitely lifting a 13-year ban on video games, according to The Next Web. Sony(s sne), Microsoft(s msft), and Nintendo will be able to sell products in the country for the first time since the new millennium, but in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone only. So, widespread distribution of gaming devices won’t be the new normal, but odds are that the country’s elite will finally be able to enjoy Wii Sports in their free time.

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Chasefuture’s Platform Coaches Mainland Chinese Students On University Admissions

 

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