Category Archives: Human Rights

Technology and Human Rights

Photo courtesy of Elena Polio on Flickr |

Edward Snowden didn’t show up in Google’s list of top 2013 searches

When this magazine broke the story of Snowden’s father’s interview, no link was more popular on the web for about 5 minutes. Edward Snowden and the NSA fiasco has been a consistent fixture on the front page of Reddit and other link aggregation sources. For all intents and purposes, Edward Snowden has been one of the most talked about people of 2013.

According to Google, though, that didn’t happen. It’s true that the Snowden fiasco didn’t begin till midway through the year, but given the amount of coverage this story has gotten, it’s surprising to see that Snowden was barely a blip on the radar.

Edward Snowden doesn’t even show up in Google’s top searches of 2013. The recently deceased Paul Walker and the iPhone 5S show up higher. Even Oscar Pistorius, the South African athlete who famously won a race with an artificial leg currently under investigation for murder, has gone higher than Snowden.

via Washington Post

Photo courtesy of Johan Larsson |

Facebook and Apple will help draft facial recognition rules

Facial recognition is the new big thing in surveillance tech, and consumer tech giants recognize it. The US Department of Commerce is meeting with big Tech in February to draft a code of conduct for using these facial recognition products on the heels of scrutiny among consumers of the breadth and reach of his technology.

Google has said that Glass isn’t going to engage in any facial recognition. Apple has filed multiple patents controlling facial recognition on their iPhones. Facebook has also expressed interests in regulating facial recognition use in apps.

“If the self-regulation process succeeds then the companies’ options about how to use facial recognition are narrowed.”

via Sophos

Photo courtesy of Nicolas Vigier on Flickr |

Pirate Bay founder currently being held in solitary confinement

A letter sent to Amnesty International from the mother of recently extradited Gottfrid Svartholm, revealed that the Pirate Bay founder is living in solitary confinement without access to mail or books. Despite attempts to appeal his extradition to Denmark for hacking charges several months ago, he was unsuccessful.

Gottfrid’s lawyer confirmed reports to Torrentfreak that he was living in solitary confinement without a warrant. The Danish government is adamant on preventing Gottfrid from meddling with the investigation – even if it means crossing legal boundaries.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has expressed outrage towards both the Swedish and Danish government, going as far to describe Gottfrid as a “political prisoner”. Gottfrid played in a key role in assisting Wikileaks release the Iraq War documents in 2010.

via TorrenkFreak

Photo courtesy of Beyond Access on Flickr |

Rural Zambian Village gets Novel File-Sharing System

When is the last time you heard about “bandwidth” being raised as a development issue in Africa? As it turns out, with the massive growth of Facebook and other social media in sub-Saharan Africa, bandwidth congestion is becoming a serious problem. Vivek Pai, a Princeton computer scientist, has chosen to take on this problem.

The solution? A novel file sharing system uniquely designed to preserve bandwidth, and being implemented in a rural Zambian village. That’s right: a p2p file sharing network is being developed for a rural zambian village.

“By taking into account bandwidth congestion and service availability issues that you commonly see in the developing world, the research puts an interesting twist on file sharing technology,” he says. “When you are in a rural community, what would typically happen is they might be using satellite links, and that same file is going up and down over that link many times.”

How’s that for a new age?

via Technology Review

Photo courtesy of Shawn Collins |

Google refuses to address British court concerning privacy claims

A group claim was issued by several UK citizens against Google for violating their rights to online privacy. The citizens are accusing Google for secretly tracking their behavior on the Safari web browser by bypassing security features. Google however, is arguing that the claims don’t meet the standards to be evaluated at the London court.

The company had a similar case brought up in the US several months ago which ended up being dismissed by the government. It appears as though Google would like the UK citizens to file a claim in the US since it will most likely have a similar result. Claimants have described the company’s reaction to the lawsuit as “arrogant” and “immoral”.

via The Guardian