UN Aviation Want Real-Time Tracking Of Aircraft

In recent years, we’ve had tragic incidents in which aircraft have gone missing, leaving many wondering what happened to the people on board. To prevent further loss, the UN’s international civil aviation organization (ICAO) want to create a system to enable real-time tracking of aircraft.

The three most significant tweaks to Annex 6 of the Chicago Convention (the document outlining how aircraft, airports and anything operating in their airspace needs to work) are as follows:

  • Aircraft must carry “autonomous distress tracking devices” that can “transmit location information at least once every minute in distress circumstances.”
  • The cockpit voice recorder (CVR) must be able to store at least 25 hours of recording, “so that they cover all phases of flight for all types of operations.”
  • Aircraft must be “equipped with a means to have flight recorder data recovered and made available in a timely manner.”

These moves mean that even if you were unable to locate the plane immediately and recover the CVR or flight recorder, the information and details regarding the flight would still be accessible. ICAO’s president Olumyiwa Benard Aliu states that in the case of an accident “the location of the site will be known immediately to within six nautical miles”.

While this may be late for some, the new rules which airline operators have until 2021 to adopt, could prevent others from asking the question of where.

Mark Zuckerberg Wants Universal Internet Access by 2020

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is calling on the United Nations to make universal internet access a reality by 2020. Zuckerberg, who is working with the One organisation, formed by U2 singer and post-Geldof pseudo-Messiah Bono, made the proposal in a speech at the UN as part of its Global Goals initiative, explaining that “connecting the world is one of the fundamental challenges of our generation.”

“Today over half the people on this planet don’t have access,” Zuckerberg later said in a New York Times op-ed he wrote with Bono. “That is not good for anyone — not for the disempowered and disconnected, and not for the other half, whose commerce and security depend on having stable societies.”

Zuckerberg used the examples of African farmers tracking inventory and prices of crops and livestock via mobile internet and refugees that use smartphones to stay in touch with loved ones after fleeing their countries to illustrate that the internet improves the lives of everyone. According to a UN report, 57% of the world – a massive 4 billion people – do not have internet connections.

“It’s one thing to say we should connect the world. The real trick is how,” Zuckerberg said. “There’s no simple solution or silicon bullet.”

With the advent of mobile internet, the biggest remaining obstacle to bring internet to new areas is access to electricity. “Nine out of 10 rural Africans don’t have electricity,” said Zuckerberg. “Governments can make the difference. This is why we support initiatives like President Obama’s Power Africa plan and the bipartisan Electrify Africa Act in Congress, as well as the African Development Bank’s investments in renewable energy.”

Thank you PC Magazine for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Life News.

UN Expert Calls UK Surveillance “Worse Than 1984”

The new Special Rapporteur on Privacy for the United Nations, Joseph Cannataci, has branded the UK surveillance state “a rather bad joke at its citizen’s expense” that is “worse” than the dystopian vision of the future from George Orwell’s 1984. An obvious point of reference, to the point of cliché, but still sadly apposite.

“At least Winston [from Orwell’s 1984] was able to go out in the countryside and go under a tree and expect there wouldn’t be any screen, as it was called,” Cannataci lamented. “Whereas today there are many parts of the English countryside where there are more cameras than George Orwell could ever have imagined. So the situation in some cases is far worse already.”

Cannataci’s fear extends beyond an invasion of privacy, complaining that the commercialisation of user data is just as insidious as state surveillance. “They just went out and created a model where people’s data has become the new currency,” he said. “And unfortunately, the vast bulk of people sign their rights away without knowing or thinking too much about it,” Cannataci told The Guardian.

The UN’s new privacy chief believes the only way to tackle flagrant invasion of privacy is with a Geneva convention-style law to protect against unwarranted digital surveillance, and keep both governments and corporations in line.

“We have a number of corporations that have set up a business model that is bringing in hundreds of thousands of millions of euros and dollars every year and they didn’t ask anybody’s permission. They didn’t go out and say: ‘Oh, we’d like to have a licensing law.’ No, they just went out and created a model where people’s data has become the new currency. And unfortunately, the vast bulk of people sign their rights away without knowing or thinking too much about it,” he said.

Thank you The Guardian for providing us with this information.

War Robots Put Humankind at Risk, AI Experts Warn

An artificial intelligence expert has warned the development of killer robots, or Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS), capable of engaging targets without human intervention puts the principles of human dignity at risk. “LAWS could violate fundamental principles of human dignity by allowing machines to choose whom to kill,” Stuart Russell, Professor of Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley, warns. “For example, they might be tasked to eliminate anyone exhibiting ‘threatening behaviour’.”

A report written by members of the Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic, entitled Mind the Gap: The Lack of Accountability for Killer Robots, counselled the European Union to ban so-called ‘killer robots’, due to the serious moral and ethical ramifications of machines possessing “the ability to select and engage their targets without meaningful human control.”

“Despite the limits imposed by physics, one can expect platforms deployed in the millions, the agility and lethality of which will leave humans utterly defenceless. This is not a desirable future,” Russell adds.

According to Russell, DARPA is already working on such technology and he estimates that it is only a couple of years away from being a reality. Potential LAWS weapons could be armed quadcopters or self-driving tanks with the capacity to identify and eliminate hostile targets.

Russell spoke at the recent United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons event. Germany were receptive to LAWS restrictions, saying it would “not accept that the decision over life and death is taken solely by an autonomous system”, but the UK, US, and Israel refused to commit to an international treaty to restrict the use of LAWS.

Thank you International Business Times for providing us with this information.

David Cameron Will Allow Government to Easily Monitor Your Internet Activity if Re-Elected

UK Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to introduce powers allowing security and intelligence services to monitor internet communications if re-elected in May. He made the promise on Monday morning during a speech on the economy in Nottingham.

Referring to the basic concept of internet privacy, and being able to monitor communications and access content in direct breach of that privacy, Cameron said, “Are we going to allow a means of communication where it simply isn’t possible to do that? My answer to that question is ‘No we must not.'” In other words, anything anyone in the UK posts online is at risk of having their privacy violated, supported by the rule of law.

“If I’m Prime Minister I will make sure it is a comprehensive piece of legislation that makes sure we do not allow terrorists safe space to communicate with each other,” he added, using the nebulous term ‘terrorism’ as justification for encroaching on liberty. The UN brands such actions a violation of human rights, and a move towards an Orwellian state.

Previous attempts to introduce similar legislation have been shut down by the Conservative’s coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, but Cameron argues that these powers were “absolutely right” for a modern liberal democrat, demonstrating a total misunderstanding of the words “liberal” and “democrat”. Then again, the same accusation could be levelled at the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg.

Last year, the head of GCHQ, the British security organisation that handles communications intelligence, implored Twitter and Facebook to grant them greater access to user messages.

Source: Reuters

Razer CEO Warns of Fake Nabu eBay offerings

As announced on his Public Facebook page yesterday, Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan warns of fake Razer Nabu smart bands becoming available on eBay.

His official statement reads:

I’ve been informed that there have been eBay, Craigslist, etc listings of the Razer Nabu and some of the prices listed have the Nabu for over US$400 or more with many customers already pre-ordering the unit at that price.

We have NOT shipped any Nabus to third parties at this time and that we strongly advise against purchasing at any unauthorized third party resellers.

Further – the retail price at the start will be under US$100 – and although you will definitely find scalpers that will resell the launch units for much higher prices (as with any Razer product that we launch) – we highly discourage you from purchasing from them. We know of companies that specialize in buying up Razer products at to resell them for a huge profit at launch and we’re doing everything we can to ensure this doesn’t happen at the detriment of our customers.

The launch units will be exclusively for our Insider members with mass availability to follow after.

If you’re keen to be the first few to get your hands on the Nabu, do check out Insider here at: http://insider.razerzone.com/

PS: Do share this if you can – I’d hate to have anyone scammed because they want to get a Nabu. As with all Razer products – demand always far outstrips the supply but we’ll do whatever we can to keep up with the production for demand.

Please feel free to share this article or click the link above to directly share this status to your friends and family. Although, if you’re going to fall for a triple-priced pre-release offering – maybe you deserve it? We’ve been reporting on Razer’s Nabu offering for a while now, waiting for a release with baited breath. We’ve seen Android app updates be released alongside copious amounts of product information, so please Razer if you’re reading this, stop teasing and give it to us already!

Image courtesy of Facebook

NSA and China Reportedly Spied On The United Nations

Given all the recent revelations about the NSA you’d be surprised if you found out that there was something they weren’t spying on. The latest revelation by Der Spiegel indicates that the United Nations isn’t one of those things. The German newspaper reports that the NSA, as well as China, were both actively involved in spying on the United Nations’ internal video conferencing system.

This means that the NSA has now been recognised as spying on EU diplomats, foreign embassies and the United Nations. The NSA reportedly cracked the encryption code protecting the UN’s video conferencing system. After gaining access to the system the NSA increased the number decrypted communications from 12 to 458 so that monitoring of all communications became easier. However, the NSA weren’t the only ones up to some dubious business at the UN. China was also involved in a number of data breaches since 2004, from a Shanghai military unit. So far the UN has not commented on this incident but will probably launch an investigation into the incident later on this year.

Image courtesy of Development Diaries (.com)

Bolivian Jet Grounded Over Claims Snowden Is Onboard, UN Complaint Ensues

Bolivia’s president Evo Morales was flying back from Russia where he was attending an energy summit when his plane was forced to land in Austria. The reason? Italy, France, Spain and Portugal had all refused to allow his jet to pass through their airspace on the justification that they believed NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was onboard. After being forced to land in Vienna Austria the plane was searched by Austrian officials and it was revealed that Edward Snowden was not on the plane. Furthermore Evo Morales strongly refuted such claims stating that these were rumours made up by the U.S government. Additionally other Latin American leaders are furious over the whole situation stating Evo Morales was “kidnapped by imperalism”.

Bolivia’s UN Envoy is now stepping in to file complaints against the USA, Austria, Italy, France, Portugal and Spain describing the event as “An act of aggression and violation of international law” as the USA desperately tries to bring Edward Snowden into their custody. Bolivia’s UN Envoy member Sacha Llorrentty Soliz told press in New York that the decision to search the plane almost definitely originated in the USA. With Bolivia and Venezuela both pledging their support to Edward Snowden in recent times it is likely the U.S government will try and do anything against them to stop Edward Snowden reaching their territories.

Image courtesy of AFP Photo/Patrick Domingo

UN Warns Of A Global Population Of 11 Billion People By 2100

The UN have been discussing fertility in Africa recently and according to their latest report, detailed by Mongabay.com, high fertility in Africa could push the population of the world to 11 billion by 2100. The African continent could see another 3.1 billion increase in population from 1.1 billion currently to 4.2 billion by 2100. This would mean that Africa would account for about 75% of population increase of the world between now and 2100.

The UN has revised its population projections claiming that reproductive rates in Africa just aren’t falling. In 2011 they estimated 10.1 billion people by 2100 but since fertility rates have remained high it is now believed we are more likely to see 11 billion.

This rising population is very much framed in crisis terms because overpopulation in Africa could further exacerbate current problems such as poverty, food shortages and environmental degradation. Nigeria will see the greatest population increase this century to the tune of 500% by 2100, India is second while the USA is eighth. China on the other hand is expected to decline by about 20% while Eastern Europe, Russia, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Brazil and South East Asia are all also expected to decline.

“Right now, 222 million women in the developing world lack access to modern contraception. This has far-reaching consequences for their health, and their opportunities to get an education, earn an income, take care of their families, and determine their own futures,” said Suzanne Ehler, president of Population Action International, in a statement. “The fact that any woman does not have the tools to decide the size of her family is absurd. That 222 million women do not is a tragedy, and a huge opportunity for all of us to do more.”

Image courtesy of the UN