Regular web users can now access anonymously-published websites that are masked by Tor's hidden services thanks to a new tool called
The tool, created by former Reddit developer Aaron Swartz and WikiScanner creator Virgil Griffith, enables people to view these hidden websites (designated by the .onion domain suffix) without diving into Tor, which can be a pain for casual surfers.
The creators hope that the existence of tor2web will encourage more organizations to publish content anonymously through Tor, now that such a heavy access restriction has been lifted.
The Tor project is most famous as a tool that allows Internet surfers to access websites privately and anonymously from within the onion router. Put simply, it works by passing your requests to another node that acts as a middleman between you and
a website, which in turn passes the request onto other nodes, and so on. Every step is encrypted except for the final exit node to the content server connection, and the network is run almost entirely by volunteers.
Tor's hidden services allow web publishers to publish content anonymously so that law enforcement (and general snoopers) can't detect where the information is coming from. The only problem with publishing websites under Tor is that they can only be
accessed from within Tor, meaning that the available audience at any given time is infinitesimally small compared to the overall Internet-using population. This is the problem that Swartz and Griffith hope to address with tor2web.
Consumers will have to pay at least £46 ($70) a month for Virgin Media's new super-fast broadband service, which offers more than
double the speed of its closest rivals.
Today, about 1.5m Virgin Media customers can upgrade to 50 megabits-per-second broadband, which allows hour-long TV shows to be downloaded in a minute.
By the end of the year, it plans to have 40% of its network online with the new service, with the rest completed by summer 2009.
But the UK still lags behind South Korea, France and Italy, where speeds of 100MBps are becoming available.
Virgin hopes the extra capacity will appeal to households where several family members are online at once, which strains slower connections. Other potential uses include high-definition television streamed over the internet or a home-security network.
Virgin says its customers have doubled their data consumption in the past 18 months.
Technology that claims to simply identify illicit images on PCs has attracted the interest of Australian cops. The
software, developed in an Australian University, might eventually be used to screen PCs during border inspections.
Compared to breath test tools used by the police in a different context, the software - developed at Perth's Edith Cowan University in association with local police from Western Australia - is undergoing beta testing.
Described as Simple Image Preview Live Environment (SImPLE), the application is designed to be easy to use by law enforcement officers, even those with few computer skills. The main application of the technology is said to be hunting for images of
child abuse though other application, such as border screening of computers, are under review.
The software runs off a Linux-bootable CD that can be put into the CD-ROM drive of a PC to load up a separate environment without affecting anything already on the PC. Copies of potentially interesting evidence are written to a DVD- writer.
Evidence obtained through the tool is admissible in court, at least in Australia.
Australian scientists hope to sell the software to law enforcement agencies worldwide following its release, scheduled for next February. The application is only capable of searching for dodgy content in existing files, not for deleted or
partially overwritten files, unlike more powerful forensic tools.
Its developers say the tool will cut down on the workload faced by computer forensic specialists by allowing front line cops to perform a screening role. That might be good for the needs of law enforcement but it might encourage a stop and
search culture of computers, particularly at border control, that is sure to raise objections from civil liberties activists and result in more random searches.
The Protect Our Children Act of 2008, S. 1738, signed into law this week by President Bush, allows ISPs to compare the "hash
mark" - a unique digital signature - of each image file (even video) or document passing through its system with a list of the hash marks of known child porn images, and to report any hits to the FBI or other appropriate government agency.
Digital Entertainment has come up with a gadget known as CopyRouter, which ISPs could place in their data stream. According to an article on msnbc.com, CopyRouter's function is to compare the hash mark of each file passing through the ISP's
computer system with the government's list, but it also takes the further step of blocking any flagged files it detects and substituting a file provided by law enforcement which contains a warning, The hardware also has the capability of
reporting the attempt to access the file to the government, together with the IP address of the file's intended recipient.
CopyRouter uses deep packet inspection, which MSNBC which can detect hash marks in real-time as the data is flowing through the system. Brilliant Digital claims that its unit can detect the hash mark of an encrypted file for comparison with
the hit list.
Now, if it were simply the ISP itself that decided to use CopyRouter or some other child-porn detection software or hardware, and it made its users aware that it intended to scan all files flowing through its system, that would not present any
constitutional problems. But there are a few flies in the ointment.
But if the ISP does its snooping on the sly, without informing its customers, that's clearly an invasion of privacy - and if it did so at the request of some government agency, that's a Fourth Amendment violation, since it would be a warrantless
search - and it's unclear whether Cuomo's attempts simply to browbeat ISPs into performing the searches constitutes a similar violation.
Brilliant Digital thinks it can get around these problems because its CopyRouter doesn't look at the document itself, just its hash mark.
The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) has expressed concern over what it sees as prior restraint of speech if an ISP blocks files based on the hash list.
You can't declare speech, or images, illegal without judicial proceedings, CDT's John Morris said: That creates enormous First Amendment problems. You can't have an agency or outside firm acting as judge and jury on these images...
Interestingly, the nutters of Morality In Media (MIM) also object to the law - because it doesn't go far enough. If S. 1728 comes up for a vote, it will pass easily because Congress can't do enough to curb sexual abuse of children, wrote
MIM president Robert Peters in a press release: But if Congress is ready to spend hundreds of millions of additional dollars to curb sexual abuse of children, why doesn't it also spend several million to fight 'adult' obscenity?
Help could be at hand for those who cannot resist dispatching a wee-small-hours email to a boss or an ex.
An altruistic Google employee has come up with a system that will block -or at least make you think twice about - the kind of message you will only regret the next day. Mail Goggles, which can be set to spring into action late at night and at
weekends, asks emailers to answer a series of short mathematical posers before sending their message off. The idea, according to Gmail engineer Jon Perlow, is to help people who are a little too tired and emotional to foresee the consequences of
Sometimes I send messages I shouldn't send, he confessed on the Gmail blog: Like the time I told that girl I had a crush on her over text message. Or the time I sent that late-night email to my ex-girlfriend that we should get back
together. The program, he said, was designed to establish whether you're really sure you want to send that late-night Friday email.
Google have jumped the gun on Microsoft who announced a porn mode facility for the next release of their
Internet Explorer browser. Google have just released their new browser, Chrome, featuring similar functionality.
For times when you want to browse in stealth mode, for example, to plan surprises like gifts or birthdays, Google Chrome offers the incognito browsing mode. Webpages that you open and files downloaded while you are incognito won't be logged in
your browsing and download histories; all new cookies are deleted after you close the incognito window. You can browse normally and in incognito mode at the same time by using separate windows.
Browsing in incognito mode only keeps Google Chrome from storing information about the websites you've visited. The websites you visit may still have records of your visit. Any files saved to your computer will still remain on your computer.
YouTube Comment Snob automatically hides any comments posted on the video-sharing website that fail to meet a range of good
The filter can be set to hide comments with misspelled words, swearing and excessive punctuation.
Comments that do not begin with a capital letter, or which are composed entirely of capital letters, can also be blocked. Users are able to personalise their censorship settings depending on the quality of posts they want to read
Malicious commenters - known as trolls – are the bane of many websites, but YouTube has become notorious for hosting to some of the most confrontational and ill-formed comment exchanges on the internet.
Discussions about even the most inconsequential videos regularly degenerate into profanity-strewn slanging matches, many with a xenophobic undercurrent.
YouTube Comment Snob has been created by an individual software designer called Christopher Finke and has no connection to the official YouTube site, which has a separate system that allows users to give a “thumbs down” to comments they
The comment blocker, which is only available for people using the Firefox browser, has already earned rave reviews from YouTube regulars.
This is a wonderful idea, now all I need is a similar filter for the entire web, wrote Aletha on the popular Boing Boing blog.
After two years in evolution, the world's first, intelligent, virtual sex toy has arrived in the form of the MX.
The initial, serial port, robotic toy design has come a long way since its inception and the MX, designed and created to synchronise with especially encoded adult DVD content, works on internet protocol (IP) networks (computers and television sets
via set-top box services), Bluetooth (mobile telephones) and other compatible remote media systems.
The MX website explains: Virtual sex has been spoken of since Woody Allen's 1973 film, Sleeper, introduced the world to a fictional electromechanical device known as the orgasmatron. Now, for the first time ever, this fictional concept has
become a reality in the shape of the MX.
The MX is available in both male and female variants; the male version being a real-feel, jelly-flesh silicone sleeve and the female version resembling a superior quality vibrator. Both have been embedded with 100% user safe encoded software
motherboard and trigger modules which mirror the accompanying, personally interactive, DVD content.
The MX has no wires and does not need to be attached to anything. The male MX sleeve is fitted with a removable device consisting of a series of six trigger point modules, four down the shaft and one on either said of the base, each controlled in
accordance with the on screen action. For example, when the actress says she is going to lick the top of the viewer's penis and does so, the relevant trigger point module will simulate that specific action, essentially meaning the MX will
kinaesthetically replicate the visual and aural stimuli.
The female MX is similarly controlled, with each of the multiple functions of the vibrator triggered by the on screen action. For example, should the actor say he is going to rub the viewer's clitoris and begins to do so, the related trigger point
will vibrate accordingly.
A third MX design has been created especially for the gay market, meaning it is essentially also the world's first sex toy which specifically caters for the active gay man. As with the other versions, the gay MX works in conjunction with gay adult
The MX prototypes have now undergone vigorous and independent testing and the company is interested in speaking with toy manufacturers and distributors about partnership options.
Microsoft internet explorer version 8 will have a new feature the private browsing mode also known as the porn mode. This feature provides special privacy when browsing porn sites.
With the porn mode enabled users can surf porn sites without leaving any traces behind. The online history, personal information, cache all gets erased. The porn mode also alerts user when they are being tracked.
According to Microsoft internet explorer 8 features the most important component, privacy. The aim is to make internet explorer 8 a trustworthy browser.
Privacy browsing is not a new feature and already seen in the Apple safari browser since 2005. Firefox 3 browser also was supposed to feature the privacy component but was not implemented because of complex designing issues.
The final version of the internet explorer 8 is expected to be release by the end of 2008.
Yahoo have launched Fire Eagle which lets users manage information on where they are.
Hard privacy protection questions need to be asked, said Jeff Chester, director of The Centre for Digital Democracy: These services are all being sold to consumers as only providing real benefit. No one is talking about the fact they are about
building and collecting more data ,not just about the content you like but where you go and where you are at the moment.
Fire Eagle, which has just been opened up to the public, helps manage location information for websites and for any device that has internet access.
This is a way for the user to take their location to the web, for every site on the web to become geo-aware and to respond to where users are, explained Tom Coates head of product at Yahoo's start-up project, Brickhouse.
So far more than 50 third-party developers have signed up to offer Fire Eagle to their users, including Pownce, a micro-blogging service, brightkite, a location based social network, and DOPPLR which links travellers.
Yahoo said the service gives users complete control over their information and over which applications have access to their location. Users can also control whether an application can track their exact location, their ZIP or postcode or just the city
they are in. Every 45 days, the service will send users an email to reauthorize the sharing of their location with the enabled applications: We only store your current information and don't keep any historical logs. That information will stay there
until you over ride it or change it.
Coates said as an added protection Fire Eagle lets you hide your location at times and even lie about where you are if you want to.
Some blogs note however that while users can purge information from Fire Eagle, this will not delete location data collected over time by authorised sites.
Greg Sterling of SearchEngineLand said the added benefits of location information offers great opportunities for advertisers: Advertisers have yet to catch up to the possibility this space offers and Fire Eagle makes it that more explicit for them so
I think we will see more targeted adverts coming into being that can take advantage of a person's location.
Olympic visitors are going to find themselves faced with internet restrictions when they get back to their hotel room or local internet cafe, thanks to that handy dandy Great Firewall of China.
Lucky for them, the Chaos Computer Club has prepped a solution called the "Freedom Stick" which when plugged into a computer redirects its internet traffic over The Onion Router, a worldwide network of anonymous computers designed to hide your
steps. Naturally, you can just download the software yourself, but the $30 USB dongle could come in handy if you're not on your own PC, or just want to leave behind material evidence of your indiscretion. The Freedom Stick will only be available through
the duration of the Olympics, so get one while you can.
SurfRecon Inc have announced the release of SurfRecon 2008, a new rapid-image-analysis tool that is available to law
enforcement, parents, business owners, and schools for the first time.
This highly-mobile tool was originally created to enable members of law enforcement to quickly find, categorize, report-on, and delete pornographic content from almost any computer system, including many devices or media that can be mounted to the
SurfRecon is currently being used by police, adult probation and parole officers, and federal agents worldwide. I was excited to finally have a tool I could use to quickly search computers in the homes of my probationers, said said Cole
Christensen, Adult Probation and Parole Officer, Utah State Department of Corrections, And guess what? The first time I used it, I found pornographic content. Images I wouldn't have found normally.
And now the same technology is available to parents, community leaders, and business owners.
The SurfRecon application comes pre-installed on a thumb drive. Furthermore, the application is cross-platform compatible, capable of scanning almost any Windows, Macintosh, and Linux computer system--and many devices or media that can be attached
to the computer, such as recordable DVDs and CDs, iPods, cell phones, thumb drives, external hard drives, etc.
Different from a filter or firewall, SurfRecon actively searches for pornographic content, leveraging a database containing millions of hash values or digital fingerprints. With nearly 100 million image hashes in the database and with another 4
million added per week, if a computer contains pornography, SurfRecon will find it, said Andrew Brandt, SurfRecon Director of Business Development.
Each hash value in the database is the equivalent of a digital fingerprint, which uniquely identifies an image. SurfRecon uses "digital fingerprints" to determine the exact nature of any image that it discovers on a computer system. It
can then pre-categorize the images, making it easier for individuals to view the contents of a computer system.
A friend tried to send a email from a Wanadoo account (Now Orange I think) that mentioned 'cunt' [just a typical email, nothing that could
be mistaken as spam]. He couldn't send
it without putting 'c*nt' in the header.
I just tried to send him an email also using the word 'cunt' and it was returned by Wanadoo unreceived....
As Youtomb discovered There is a tag available through the YouTube API the indicates the country (or countries in some cases) to which YouTube will restrict access to the video. These videos are not (necessarily) blocked by the country itself, but by
Here’s what I’ve found blocked so far
(TH Thailand, FR France, CN China, GB Britain)
PL TH DE FR,www.youtube.com/watch?v=oU9iT3vEdWo
PF TF YT GP DE RE FR GF MQ PM PL,www.youtube.com/watch?v=lt2Zsr9bwlE
I wondered if Youtube might start tagging videos of the protests in Tibet in order to have Youtube unblocked with the specific videos being blocked for users in China. But after running a few (definitely not comprehensive) Tibet related search terms all
I found so far was that it appears that BBC videos are blocked for users in Great Britain:
Online shoppers in the UK will be able to pay direct from their online bank account rather than via a credit or debit card, thanks to a new service.
The POLi online bank payment platform aims to increase payment choice while reducing card-not-present fraud.
The technology behind POLi was developed by Australian firm Centricom Pty. According to merchants in Australia using POLi, the service now accounts for an average of 23% of their total online payment transactions.
Centricom teamed up with UK-based online payment firm Neteller last August to launch a joint venture to roll out POLi in Europe, starting with its launch in the UK last week. The service, distributed through Neteller’s payment processing arm Netbanx,
supports transfers from all major UK high street banks. Netbanx is in the process of recruiting merchants to POLi.
Merchants would offer a "pay-by-POLi" option. Clicking on the link prompts users to select and then log into their online banking accounts where payments are made and authorised. Once users log-in they will see the merchant's details and the
amount of the purchase. Merchants need only store transaction ID numbers and dispatch details, without a requirement to store information on a customer's online bank account.
POLi pricing is based on volume of transactions, rather than a percentage of sales charged to merchants by credit card firms. As a result, costs to merchants and consumers alike ought to be lower.
YouTomb, a project of the MIT Free Culture group that studies takedown notices by the video-sharing website YouTube, has identified a mechanism used by Google to restrict video content in specific countries. This appears to be the method YouTube is using
to filter videos on behalf of governments and private actors that request it.
A growing number of countries have instituted mostly short-lived blocks against YouTube for containing culturally or politically sensitive content, including Brazil, China, Morocco, Syria, Thailand and Turkey. On February 22, 2008, Pakistani ISPs were
ordered to partially block YouTube reportedly in reaction to a video making fun of the Prophet Muhammad, and ended up disrupting access to the entire site for users around the world for up to a few hours. In some cases, YouTube has blocked the identified
offending video(s) in that country in order to have the block lifted.
If you happened to be searching for a video at YouTube.com Sunday afternoon, there's a good chance your browser told you it was unable
to locate the entire Web site. Turns out, much of the world was blocked from getting to YouTube for part of the weekend due to a censorship order passed by the government of Pakistan, which was apparently upset that YouTube refused to remove
digital images many consider blasphemous to Islam.
According to wire reports, Pakistan ordered all in-country Internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to YouTube.com, complaining that the site contained controversial sketches of the Prophet Mohammed which were republished by Danish
newspapers earlier this month. The people running the country's ISPs obliged, but evidently someone at Pakistan Telecom - the primary upstream provider for most of the ISPs in Pakistan - forgot to flip the switch that prevented those blocking
instructions from propagating out to the rest of the Internet.
So, what happened? From everything I've read and heard, the YouTube situation appears to have been due to an innocent, if inept, mix-up, which allowed Pakistan's ISPs to effectively announce to the world that its Internet addresses were the
authoritative home of YouTube.com, and for about an hour or so, most of the rest of the world's ISPs incorporated those updated directions as gospel.
In a country where the government more or less can tell resident ISPs what to do, blocking citizens from visiting certain sites is simple: The ISPs simply tell their customers that if they're looking for a censored site, they either receive an
empty page or are redirected to wherever the ISP or government deems as an appropriate substitute destination.
Some experts are crying foul, saying this was an deliberate act of defiance or assertiveness by the nascent Pakistani government. But most seem to agree this was little more than a screw-up. Still, a nation state or other adversary could stir up
diplomatic trouble by toying with this sort of trust built into the Internet. What would our government make of it, say, if all of a sudden all traffic destined for .gov domains wound up in China or North Korea?
Marc Sachs, director of the SANS Internet Storm Center said for now the checks and balances in the system today are that the same trust that allows network providers to abuse the system can be revoked. In this latest case with Youtube, network
operators affected by the bogus update simply discarded the errant directions from Pakistan and in all likelihood told their own routers to ignore any further updates from Pakistan, at least for the time being, Sachs said.
Citing recent major changes in the marketplace, Toshiba has ended its development, manufacturing and marketing of
HD DVD players and recorders.
It's official; the Sony-championed Blu-ray format has won the war as the market choice for hi-definition content delivery.
Adult content producers have struggled over hi-def deployment issues plagued by speculation over which of the rival next-generation DVD replacement formats would become the dominant player in the marketplace.
While Blu-ray has its advantages, questions over licensing and duplication have helped HD DVD become popular within adult circles.
According to a current XBIZ poll, 47% of hi-def releases are in the HD DVD format, while Blu-ray distribution accounts for 39%. 14% are available in both formats.
We carefully assessed the long-term impact of continuing the so-called 'next-generation format war' and concluded that a swift decision will best help the market develop, Atsutoshi Nishida, president and CEO of Toshiba Corporation, said.
While we are disappointed for the company and more importantly, for the consumer, the real mass market opportunity for high definition content remains untapped and Toshiba is both able and determined to use our talent, technology and intellectual
property to make digital convergence a reality.
According to a company statement, Toshiba will continue to provide full product support and service for its HD DVD products.
HD DVD player and recorder shipments to retail outlets are scheduled to end in March, with volume production of HD DVD disk drives dwindling within the same timeframe – although limited production of PC drives may continue to meet customer
Psiphon, an Internet censorship evading software project developed by the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab has
been deemed the world's most original, significant and exemplary Net and Digital Initiative by a panel of French and international government, media and business experts. P
siphon was chosen first among 100 technology projects from around the world that were nominated for the Netxplorateur of the Year Grand Prix award.
Psiphon aims to restore the original promise the Internet once held out as a forum for free expression and access to information, said Professor Ron Deibert, director of the Citizen Lab and the psiphon project. We are honoured to receive
such a prestigious award. Internet censorship has become a major global problem, with dozens of governments blocking access to news, human rights, and political opposition websites as well as new media of self expression, such as blogs and
Psiphon works by leveraging the Internet and social networks of trust that span censored and uncensored jurisdictions. Those with friends, family or colleagues in censored countries download the small psiphon application on their home computers
and then give the unique connection information to their psiphon node to those living behind firewalled jurisdictions. Instead of attempting to access banned content directly, users of psiphon connect to the psiphon nodes over an encrypted channel
and use them to surf the Web instead. As each psiphon node is private, encrypted, and separate from each other, the system as a whole is virtually impossible for authorities to discover and block.
While the psiphon software is free and open source, the Citizen Lab's developers have recently launched a start-up company, called Psiphon Inc., to provide professional services for businesses, media, and organizations that face increasingly
difficult challenges operating in a carved up Internet environment.
The Indian Supreme Court will hear on February 15 an application seeking directions to the Union of India for blocking access to a website promoting pre-natal gender identification kits from abroad.
The Voluntary Health Association of Punjab is petitioning to seek strict implementation of the Pre-Conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition on Sex Selection) Act, 1994.
The application said that a website promoting sale of gender identification kits was reported in the media.
The website, according to the applicant, says the test seeks to identify the presence of male or female foetal genetic materials in the mother's blood. The website provided the methods by which the test was conducted, the process of
ordering the test kit, safeguards to be taken, etc.
Since the website was accessible anywhere in the country, a blanket blocking of this website was essential to prevent the misuse of technology and violation of the law, the application said and sought a direction in this regard.
It's easy to restrict access to mature games on the Nintendo Wii and Xbox select a passcode, and then enter the rating of the games you want kids to be able to play.
Unfortunately, if you have a PlayStation 3, you're going to have a much more awkward time. The PS3 uses a mysterious and seemingly arbitrary system of parental control "levels." You can set the PS3's parental controls from level 1 to 11,
and neither the menu nor Sony's support site offer much context for what the levels mean. The lower the level, the PlayStation 3 site says, the greater the restrictions on games. Unfortunately, actually figuring out which games will be blocked by
which level will require a bit of trial and error.
The PS3 obfuscates DVD parental controls, too; while the Xbox 360 lets you choose the MPAA ratings of the DVDs you want to play, the PS3 again offers an inexplicable gradient of levels. Blu-ray discs aren't quite as awkward, but they could
certainly be better; instead of levels or MPAA ratings, you can enter the age of the user to restrict Blu-ray playback.
According to GamerDad, level 5 under game parental controls should limit the system to T-rated titles, and level 3 under DVD parental controls should limit it to PG-13 movies. It's not the most certain system and you might have to nudge the levels
up or down an increment or two to make sure the right titles get blocked and the right titles play, but it's at least a start.