Skype Hides Your IP in Effort to Protect You

We’ve all heard or seen about Swatting, but for those who haven’t let me explain its principle. Normally it happens when you find someone online, usually in the process of streaming a video or even them record themselves playing a game. As they are online you use software to track down their IP, this information tells them where you are in the world. Using another piece of software, you ring the police and state that you are in danger at that address, wait a few minutes and you see police appear all over your screen and begin to laugh at your accomplishment.

Swatting is not a joke though and while it is also a waste of police time, it is also extremely dangerous. In an effort to help protect against online trolls (people who cause grief to others online), online services are acting to do just that, such as the latest update which allows Skype to hide your IP.

In the latest update to the global service, IP addresses will be hidden by default. This means that once you’ve updated, you can be sure that you protected that little bit more from those who would seek to cause you pain or have a laugh at the expense of your happiness.

I think this is a great update, protecting users from all kinds of problems. Online services have a duty to protect their users and Skype is doing just that with this update.

Online Trolls and Racists Being Targeted With Billboard Ads Near Their Homes

Online bullies, trolls and other people hiding behind the half-anonymity of the internet while insulting people have been a cancer on our society for quite some time and it probably won’t be stopped anytime soon either. We got a lot of stupid people in this world and they don’t seem like they’re learning. In Brazil however, they now risk their comments to be blown up and shown on billboards near their homes for everyone to read.

The campaign is called Virtual racism, Real consequences and it is backed by the civil rights organisation Criola. The group collects comments from Facebook and Twitter and uses geolocation tools to find the location from where the racist comments were posted. The group then buys billboard space nearby and posts the comments in huge letters for everyone to see. The group does blur the photo and names out, but the message comes across.

Translation: “A black girl called Maju. You can’t complain about prejudice.”

“The campaign is intended to encourage people to speak out and report racism,” said Criola’s founder Jurema Werneck. “Those people [who post abuse online] think they can sit in the comfort of their homes and do whatever they want on the internet. We don’t let that happen. They can’t hide from us, we will find them,”

The campaign was launched in July when a prime-time weather presenters photo, who happens to be coloured, was posted on the channel’s Facebook page and sparked a wide range of racists comments. Ironically, the same day was the Brazilian national day against racial discrimination. The billboard campaign has been running ever since and it has gotten mostly positive feedback since launch as well as launched a debate about the issue, which probably is the best effect they could have hoped for. Dialogue is the start of getting along.

Translation: “If she bathed, she didn’t get grimy.”

Does a comment on the internet cause less damage than a direct offence? Maybe for those who make the comments, but those who suffer the abuse experience the same prejudice and effect. I personally think that it is very sad that a campaign like this is needed in our day and age. We as the human race should have evolved beyond such neanderthal-ish behaviour by now. We are all humans and we all share the same small planet, it is about time that we all finally get along.

Translation: “I arrived home smelling black people.”

Facebook is Creating a ‘Dislike’ Button to Help Users Express “Empathy”

Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg was originally skeptical of implementing a ‘dislike’ button but appears to have had a change of heart. Apparently, the ‘dislike’ function is now a necessity to “express empathy” and offer support to friends in bleak moments. Zuckerberg explained his plans and said:

“I think people have asked about the Dislike button for many years,”

What [users] really want is the ability to express empathy. Not every moment is a good moment.”

“We’ve talked about for a while how can people express a wider range of emotions.”

According to Zuckerberg, it could be some time until the button is publicly revealed:

“It’s surprisingly complicated to make an interaction that will be simple.”

In all honestly, I think this is an incredibly naive move and open to flagrant abuse. At first glance, it appears fairly suitable as friends shouldn’t begin trolling each other and disliking their activities. However, Facebook is awash with business pages, groups and other content which could turn into a colossal mess. I wouldn’t be surprised to see work acquaintances behaving in a petty manner as “friends” on Facebook can refer to a whole host of various relationships. In reality, it’s impossible to maintain more than perhaps 20 close-friendships and people with over 1000 “friends” could be targeted by people on their contacts list.

Unfortunately, people turn to social media for communication and rely on it too much. Therefore, many add so-called, “friends” to appear more popular and successful to their peers. I believe the ‘dislike’ button will only create a cesspool of hatred in a similar vein to Reddit comment sections, then again I could be wrong.

Thank you Digitalspy for providing us with this information.

‘Pixels’ Copyright Notices Removed the Studio’s own Trailer

Pixels is an atrocious video game-themed movie and less endearing than a swarm of angry wasps. The film has gained notoriety for its sheer incompetence and it has received an astonishingly low score of 18% on Rotten Tomatoes. Not content with ruining the childhood memories of many iconic arcade games, Columbia Pictures has attempted to copyright the term “Pixels” and instigated a wave of copyright take-downs.

According to TorrentFreak, an anti-piracy group called Entura, hounded a number of independent filmmakers and removed their work from Vimeo. This includes a film from 2006 produced by NeMe, a non-profit organization and ‘Independent Museum of Contemporary Art’. In a forum post, the company said:

“Our NGO has just received a DMCA notice for a video we produced in 2006 entitled ‘Pixels’,”

 “The video was directed by a Cypriot film-maker using his own photos and sounds/music on a shoestring budget and infringes no copyright.”

“Please somebody do check the video in question and confirm for yourselves that it breaks no copyright laws and that it has nothing to do with the latest multi-million blockbuster which prompted this notification.”

Unfortunately, the video no longer exists and the URL displays a redirect error. Once again, this illustrates how absurd the DMCA algorithm is and how often it affects legitimate pieces of content which have nothing to do with an automatic copyright claim; the copyright legal framework is absurdly outdated and needs radical reform.

In a hilarious twist, a DMCA takedown actually removed Pixels’ trailer from the official account designed to market the film. This should serve as a lesson to companies who attempt to copyright a widespread term and bully content creators. The current DMCA policy is flawed and constantly abused to remove critical videos or fan-made creations containing a copyrighted music score. Columbia Pictures, Adam Sandler and Entura should be ashamed of themselves.

Thank you TorrentFreak for providing us with this information.

Badmouthed the Silk Road Case Judge Online? You Could Be Prosecuted

The conviction of Ross Ulbricht for creating and running the online black marketplace Silk Road has elicited some heated reactions, with many attacking the case’s judge for ignoring Ulbricht’s plea for leniency in favour of making an example out of him in the war against drugs in her sentencing. Now, in the wake of the trial, prosecutors are seeking to prosecute a number of people who made comments online about the judge.

The US Department of Justice is attempting to trace the identities of certain commenters on Libertarian website Reason.com, as revealed by Popehat, a legal blog that published the grand jury subpoena outlining the DoJ intent to find the posters of derogatory comments regarding US District Judge Katherine Forrest.

“Why is the government using its vast power to identify these obnoxious asshats, and not the other tens of thousands who plague the internet?” Ken White, blogger for Popehat wrote. “Because these twerps mouthed off about a judge.”

After Ross Ulbricht’s sentencing, Reason.com published a blog, sympathetic to Ulbricht, calling Silk Road “a revolutionary website that made it easier and safer to buy and sell illegal drugs” and lamenting that Ulbricht’s plea for leniency went ignored. The post garnered over 100 comments, the majority of which were extremely negative toward Judge Forrest.

Prosecutors have taken exception to eight comments in particular, and are seeking “any and all identifying information” related to them. Here are the eight comments that have cause such ire:

  • Agammamon: Its judges like these that should be taken out back and shot.
  • Alan: It’s judges like this that willbe taken out and short. FTFY.
  • croaker: Why waste ammunition? Wood chippers get the message across clearly. Especially if you feed them in feet first.
  • Cloudbuster: Why do it out back? Shoot them out front, on the steps of the courthouse.
  • Rhywun: I hope there is a special place in hell reserved for that horrible woman.
  • Alan: There is.
  • Product Placement: I’d prefer a hellish place on Earth be reserved for her as well.
  • croaker: F**k that. I don’t want to oay [sic] for that c**t’s food, housing, and medical. Send her through the wood chipper.

The subpoena was issued to Reason.com, demanding identifying information related to the above commenters on the grounds of “interstate threats”, a violation of Federal law 18 USC Section 875.

Is this just a case of hyperbolic internet idiots, or should such comments be taken seriously as threats?

Thank you Ars Technica for providing us with this information.

UK Solicitor Will Defend You Free Against Copyright Trolls

More and more customers of UK ISPs have received letters from copyright trolls in recent weeks, demanding settlement fees for alleged illegal downloads and threatening with lawsuits if not paid. Both Sky Broadband and Virgin Media customers are affected, but not exclusively.

The companies behind it all, GoldenEye International also known as Mircom, had monitored torrents and then forced the ISPs to hand out the personal details based on those logs and now they hope that the people receiving the letters will be too scared to go to court and just pay up to get peace. But that’s generally a bad idea, as paying is the same as admitting guilt and they’ll drag you into the courtroom anyway.

But there is good news for the receivers of these letters as the Southampton-based Micheal Coyle of the Lawdit Solicitors told TorrentFreak that he would give his time free to defend them. Coyle is one of the most experienced UK-based solicitors in the file-sharing arena. Since 2008 he has spoken with or acted for more than 700 individuals who have received so-called Letters of Claim, including those involved in the infamous ACS:Law case that ended with solicitor Andrew Crossley being severely disciplined.

“I am a Copyright Solicitor and regularly enforce copyright where it has been infringed. People should respect the copyright of third parties. However, are some copyright holders abusing the great British public?” Micheal Coyle questions. “The amounts are quite staggering. In the most recent campaign 2500 letters were sent out. Typical sums demanded are in the range of £500 to £1000. If everyone pays say £700.00 this would generate £1,750,000 which is not bad even for the porn industry.”

There is one minor string attached, but it’s a good one. Coyle is a regular runner of the London Marathon and has raised thousands for children’s charities while doing so. If people want his help in these cases they’re going to have to get generously via this year’s donation page.

Thanks to TorrentFreak for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of DieTrollDie

Gaming Reviewer Contacts Mothers of Trolls

Alanah Pearce, an Australian gaming reviewer on the radio and on YouTube, has come up with a novel method of getting back at her online trolls and harassers.

In a Guardian article, she says that she discovered that many of her online bullies were young boys, not 40-year-old men.

“A while ago, I realised that a lot of the people who send disgusting or overly sexual comments to me over the internet aren’t adult males,” said Pearce from her company’s Brisbane base.”

So, she decided to take it to where it’ll hit them hardest – their mothers. Instead of blocking them or reporting them to the authorities, she told their mothers to have a good old word with them.

She posted one of her exchanges with a mother on Twitter, which has since received over 20,000 retweets.

Source: Jezebel