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Internet Population Passes 1 Billion, and We’re Still Afraid

We're learning this week that we have officially passed the one billion number in terms of people using the Internet. Eric Schonfeld writes in his article on TechCrunch that the number is probably higher than that. One billion is a staggering number, even though it makes up only 15 to 22 percent of the world's population. Nevertheless, those one billion Internet users give us a lot to deal with on their own in terms of social and security issues on the web. more

The Perpetual Peril of Open Platforms

Over at Techdirt, Mike Masnick did a great post a few weeks back on a theme I've written about before: peoples' tendency to underestimate the robustness of open platforms. "Once people have a taste for what that openness allows, stuffing it back into a box is very difficult. Yes, it's important to remain vigilant, and yes, people will always attempt to shut off that openness, citing all sorts of "dangers" and "bad things" that the openness allows..." more

Native Web Applications (NWA) vs. Rich Internet Applications (RIA)

A rewrite of the Rich Internet Application (RIA) article is my latest contribution to Wikipedia following last year's full rewrite of the Cloud Computing article (which is now finally fairly stable and one of the main authoritative sources on the topic; according to the article statistics I've just done my 500th edit, or one every eight hours on average so it's about as up-to-date as you'll find). Needless to say I agree wholeheartedly with Mozilla's Mark Finkle in saying RIA is Dead! Long Live Web Applications... more

YouTube, the Government, and Privacy

It was just announced that every member of Congress will be able to create his or her own channel on YouTube. Viewers can go to the House or Senate home pages and navigate via a map to find the videos they're interested in. While it is good that citizens will have more insight into what their Senators and Representatives think, the way this is being done poses a serious privacy risk. more

Nortel… The Good News: Web.Alive

Ok, ok - it's pretty hard to ignore the bombshell news that's on front pages everywhere today in Canada. It looks like Nortel is going to seek bankruptcy protection, perhaps as early as today. This may be a minor story in the U.S. business press, but it's a big story in tech/telecom, and a HUGE story here in Canada. You don't need me to tell you what Nortel means to Canada in terms of pride and joy, although that's more of a distant memory these days... more

More Privacy, Bit by Bit

Before the Holidays, Yahoo got a flurry of good press for the announcement that it would (as the LA Times puts it) "purge user data after 90 days." My eagle-eyed friend Julian Sanchez noticed that the "purge" was less complete than privacy advocates might have hoped. more

The Problem With HTTPS SSL Runs Deeper Than MD5

The recent research highlighting the alarming practice of Secure Socket Layer (SSL) Certificate Authority (CA) vendors using the MD5 hashing algorithm (which was known to be broken since 2005) has shown a major crack in the foundation of the Web. While the latest research has shown that fake SSL certificates with MD5 hashes can be forged to perfection when the CA (such as VeriSign's RapidSSL) uses predictable certificate fields, the bigger problem is that the web has fundamentally botched secure authentication. more

The Web’s Benevolent Dictators

Jeffrey Rosen has a great article in the New York Times Magazine this weekend titled Google's Gatekeepers. In it he deals with the question of whether we are becoming too overly dependent on a few big web companies like Google – and whether it's wise over the long run for us to trust their team of (currently) very nice, well-meaning people who are trying hard to do the right thing when faced with government censorship demands and surveillance pressures. He writes... more

Ties That Bind

One of the throwaway remarks I sometimes make at conferences is that "Google knows you're pregnant before you do". I can say this because the things you search for will change as your life changes, and search engine providers may well be able to spot the significance of these changes because they aggregate data from millions of people. Now Google's philanthropic arm, google.org, has shown just what it can do with the data it gathers from us all by offering to predict where 'flu outbreaks will take place in the USA. more

Coming to Grips with an Internet that Never Forgets

My weekly technology law column discusses the implications of an Internet that never forgets. I note that the most significant Internet effect during the current election campaign in Canada has not been any particular online video, website or Facebook group. Instead, it has been the resignation of eight Canadian candidates based on embarrassing or controversial information unearthed online. more