Not So Great Britain

Where were you online? Advertisers know

June 22, 2007
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Personal identity has taken on a new meaning in the digital age, where basic facts like your name, address or age are far less important to some people than the collected records of what you were looking at online.

Technologies for monitoring and interpreting Internet habits as a predictor of future behavior cropped up at the start of this century, but only now are gaining momentum as the newest gold mine for Web sites and their advertisers.

Known as behavioral targeting, the premise is to follow the sites you visit and build a picture of what products may interest you, then deliver related advertising in time for you to choose your purchase.

U.S. marketers will nearly double their spending on such advertising to $1 billion next year from $575 million in 2007, according to research firm eMarketer. By 2011, behavioral targeting will surge to nearly $3.8 billion of online ads.

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Cameras May Watch You Take Tests Online

June 22, 2007
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New technology will place cameras inside students’ homes to ensure that those taking exams online don’t cheat.
This fall, Troy University in Alabama will begin rolling out the cameras for many of its approximately 11,000 online students, about a third of whom are at U.S. military installations around the world.

The device, made by Cambridge, Mass.-based Software Secure, is similar in many respects to other test-taking software. It locks down a computer while the test is being taken, preventing students from searching files or the Internet. The latest version also includes fingerprint authentication, to help ensure the person taking the test isn’t a ringer.

But the new development is a small Web cam and microphone that is set up where a student takes the exam. The camera points into a reflective ball, which allows it to capture a full 360-degree image. (The first prototype was made with a Christmas ornament.)


Murdoch Talking With Yahoo About Swap for MySpace

June 21, 2007
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News Corp.‘s Rupert Murdoch has been discussing a deal to swap his MySpace social-networking site with Yahoo for a one-quarter stake in the Internet-portal company, even as he pursues his $5 billion offer for Dow Jones.

The talks with Yahoo are preliminary and began before chief executive Terry S. Semel resigned Monday, said a source familiar with the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussion is ongoing. It is unclear whether the talks will move forward under Semel’s successor, Jerry Yang.

Yahoo declined to comment. The talks were reported in today’s Times of London, which is owned by News Corp.


What The “Chinese Style” Internet Will Look Like

June 20, 2007
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Control freaks the world over, including most recently Tony Blair, have called for the introduction of a Chinese style Internet, where the World Wide Web is tightly regulated and free speech stifled on the whim of a government censor.

Here’s what Internet 2, the Chinese format, will look like.

Say goodbye to downloading your favorite music or videos in seconds via high-speed cable or ADSL. There is no high speed broadband Internet in China. Since every website you access has to first pass through a government approved list, even the likes of Yahoo and Google lag and stumble onto your monitor, as if you’re using dial-up.


Feds told they need warrants for webmail

June 20, 2007
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A federal appeals court has upheld a lower court’s ruling against warrantless seizures of email. Law enforcement agents need to obtain a warrant before looking at a user’s email even if it is stored online, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeal ruled on Wednesday.

For 20 years, long before the introduction of knee-jerk law enforcement powers ushered in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the Stored Communications Act (SCA) has been used by government agents to carry out secret searches and seizures of stored email, without requiring a warrant. A case brought by Steven Warshak challenged this practice.


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