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Issac Avila

Issac Avila

Study after study attribute the increased number of households without a cable or satellite TV subscription at least in part to Netflix is a game-changer. You know it, I know it, and the pay TV industry certainly knows it. The cord cutting trend is accelerating and study after study attribute the increased number of households without a cable or satellite TV subscription at least in part to Netflix.

While Netflix has changed the game for entertainment, we’re about to change the game for your Netflix experience with 10 tips and tricks you’ll wonder how you even lived without.

Remove things you’ve watched from your history

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 7.50.01 AM
Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 7.50.01 AM

This is the holy grail for many users, and yet they had no idea the option is there.

Have you ever watched something and you’d rather not have other people in your house know you watched it. Don’t worry, we’re not here to judge. We’re here to tell you that you don’t have to be ashamed anymore — you can simply remove the movie or TV show from your history.

On Netflix.com, hover over your name in the top-right corner and click “Your account.” Now scroll down to “Viewing activity.” Head over to the title you’re not exactly proud of and click the “X” all the way to the right. If it’s a show and removing one episode isn’t enough, you can then click the “Remove series” link that appears.

Test new features before they launch

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 7.56.16 AM
Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 7.56.16 AM

Want to check out new features Netflix is testing before everyone else? Hover over your name in the top-right corner and click “Your account.” Now click “Test participation” under Settings. Click the toggle to on and, on occasion, you’ll get access to new pre-launch features that Netflix is testing.

God Mode

 Netflix just rolled out a big redesign that helps fix those annoying carousels but if you really want to see Netflix’s titles presented in the best possible way on Netflix.com, you need “God Mode.” Our earlier post on Netflix God Mode will tell you everything you need to know.

Tell Netflix what you like

Don’t rely solely on your watch history for Netflix recommendations. After all, everyone has those guilty pleasures we’d rather not repeat. Instead, help Netflix recommend more fitting content by telling it exactly what you like.

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 7.27.44 AM
Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 7.27.44 AM

On Netflix.com, hover over your name in the top right corner and then click “Your account.” Now scroll down to “Taste preferences.” There, you can indicate how much you like different themes, and you can also pick which genres you like and which ones you dislike.

Force high-quality streaming

By default, Netflix is set to optimize your stream based on the quality of your internet connection. If you only want to stream high-quality videos, hover over your name in the top right corner and then click “Your account.” Now scroll down to “Playback settings.” Click “High” and you’re good to go.

Flicksurfer

If Netflix’s recommendations aren’t enough and you want help finding new content to watch, check out Flicksurfer. The site lists all content on Netflix and lets you drill down by genre, and then you can sort by Rotten Tomatoes rating, IMDb rating, Netflix user rating, or a combination of all three.

Use your phone to watch, not a set-top box app

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t-mobile-galaxy-s6-edge-netflix

The Netflix experience on your smartphone is so much better than the experiences offered by set-top box apps or smart TV apps. Use AirPlay to stream content from your iPhone or Chromecast to stream from your Android phone. Then you can find content in that great mobile UI, and search using a keyboard instead of moving a cursor around a keyboard on your TV.

See everything you’ve rated, and adjust ratings

Are your Netflix recommendations not as solid as you’d like? People’s tastes change over time, so it might be a good idea to go back through the content you’ve rated and make some adjustments.

Hover over your name in the top right corner and then click “Your account.” Now scroll down to “Ratings.” Here, you’ll see everything you’ve rated and you can either make adjustments or remove titles completely.

Instantwatcher

Do you find it difficult to keep track of everything new that’s added to Netflix? Do you just want to see the most popular content? Or how about the most popular movies and TV series only among recently added content? Instantwatcher is the answer.

Keyboard shortcuts

Heaven forbid you have to move more than a few inches while you’re streaming the latest episode of Daredevil. Use these keyboard shortcuts to control playback:

Space – Toggle Play/Pause
Enter – Toggle Play/Pause
PgUp – Play
PgDn – Pause
F – Full-screen
Esc – Exit full-screen
Shift+Left arrow – Rewind
Shift+Right arrow – Fast Forward
Up arrow – Volume Up
Down arrow – Volume Down
M – Mute toggle

Source : yahoo.com

Google is now smarter at understanding queries that include superlatives and times, as well as more complicated questions.

Google is saying their search engine is getting better at understanding our natural language searches by specifically better handling superlatives, times and more complicated questions.

Satyajeet Salgar, Google Product Manager, said Google is better at understanding your queries in three ways.

Superlatives

Google now understands superlatives, such as “tallest,” “largest” and so on, as well as ordered items. So you can ask the Google app the following questions:

  • Who are the tallest Mavericks players?
  • What are the largest cities in Texas?
  • What are the largest cities in Iowa by area?

Time-Based Queries:

Google is better at understanding the time you mention in your query, for example:

  • What was the population of Singapore in 1965?
  • What songs did Taylor Swift record in 2014?
  • What was the Royals roster in 2013?

More Complicated Queries:

Google is also better at understanding more complex combinations. So Google can now respond to questions like:

  • What are some of Seth Gabel’s father-in-law’s movies?
  • What was the US population when Bernie Sanders was born?
  • Who was the US President when the Angels won the World Series?

Here is a graphic Google shared explaining some of the progression.

How the Google app understands complex questions

 

Source : searchengineland.com

YouTube is going to start selling TV today. At least to people who live in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and two other cities.

This is the 50-plus channels, $35-a-month service YouTube announced in February. The one major update since then: It will be adding channels from AMC Networks, including BBC America and IFC.

That makes AMC the only pure-play cable programmer in the bundle; the rest of the networks in the package are either broadcasters (CBS) or owned by broadcasters (ABC/Disney’s ESPN).

I haven’t played with YouTube TV yet, though it has a 30-day free trial, so I’ll noodle around with it over the next few days.

I assume, since the people who work at YouTube and Google are smart, it will be a pretty slick piece of software.

I also assume that it will work, more or less, like the other internet TV systems that have launched in the past couple years: It’s an updated interface on top of a fairly traditional bundle of TV channels.

Can you hear the ennui in my typing? It’s partly because I’m sick. (Sorry for the overshare!) But it’s also because these internet TV packages, which seemed ground-breaking and/or impossible just a few years ago, now seem pretty ho-hum. They’re all basically delivering the same thing, with slight tweaks for pricing and channel lineups.

And it’s really because I have yet to get the sense that regular people actually want this stuff.

Some people do: Sling et al have likely rounded up at least one million subscribers, which isn’t nothing.

But the more I see of these packages, the more I see the traditional TV business trying to stave off cord-cutting/cord-nevering by selling the same packages people aren’t buying already, with new wrappers.

I know why the TV Industrial Complex wants these things: They think they can sell people on the notion of flexibility and a slight cost savings (remember that when you pay $35 for YouTube TV, you still need to pay another $50 or more for broadband, likely delivered by Comcast*, Charter or some other pay TV company you say you hate) without fundamentally disrupting their business.

Doubt it.

Which doesn’t mean I don’t want these folks to try. I’m certainly up for new ways to access traditional TV. (Hulu, which is launching its own pay TV bundle this spring, has done away with the standard cable TV grid, which sounds like a nothingburger unless you’re an old like me and are used to finding TV that way.)

And at a bare minimum, the fact that internet TV isn’t geographically constrained, like traditional pay TV is, is worth applauding.

It means that instead of a choice of one or two TV providers, you now have a half-dozen or more, which means that they will gradually be forced to distinguish themselves based on price and selection.

That’s good!

But it’s not mind-blowing. So forgive me if I’m not doing cartwheels about this stuff. Also, does anyone have any green tea?

*Comcast’s NBCUniversal is an investor in Vox Media, which owns this site.

Source : recode.net

Wednesday, 05 April 2017 06:16

The Best Reference Sites Online

Whether you're looking for the average rainfall in the Amazon rainforest, researching Roman history, or just having fun learning to find information, you'll get some great help using my list of the best research and reference sites on the Web.

Types of Reference Sites

There are generally two types of reference sites. The first consist of specialized Web sites maintained by subject experts, who will provide detailed and specific responses to your questions.

Which Kind Of Reference Site Is Best? 

Which type of these resources you choose depends on what your question is. If you're interested in a really complex or obscure topic—the history of the mullet, for example—your best bet is to ask an expert on that subject. If you're interested in a broader topic, or simply want a good overview of a subject, the generalists will usually provide you with better results.There are hundreds, if not thousands, of experts in specific subjects that will answer your questions on the Web.

Find and Ask An Expert Via Search Engines

To find your own expert in a specific category, try the following search string at Google or any other search engine:

"expert+subject" (substitute your own keyword for "subject")

Find a Librarian

One of your best sources for expert information is your local librarian. They're trained to find answers to obscure questions, they're friendly, and best of all, you can talk with them face to face. Librarians will often ask you questions that you might not have considered, leading to even better results.

You can get help from librarians online, too.

The Best Reference Sites for General Research

The Internet Public Library is primarily intended to get you started with some ideas and places to begin if you've got a big project. The IPL won't perform lengthy research for you—but they do provide some tools to assist your search, both online and at your local library. Their vast collection includes IPL Expert Guides that are "intended to help you get started doing research on a particular topic, both online and at your local library."

The Library of Congress enables you to not only ask a librarian but search catalogs of libraries from all over the world. This is truly a HUGE resource that should be on your Top Ten of best research sites. Anything from Academica Sinica (Taiwan) to Yale University (US) is here and ready to be searched.

Another useful service is Reference Desk's Ask An Expert Locator. This is an extremely useful site, and while the Reference Desk does not personally answer questions, you have an excellent chance of finding someone who will by using their searchable subject directory.

Answers.com is a free reference search service. Its results are particularly useful since Answers.com weeds out extraneous or superficial sites and gets their results straight from encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other reference tools.

NASA's Ask An Expert is NASA's own source for space and science research help. Search the Archives to see if your question has already been answered, or use the drop down menus to browse through missions, topics, etc.

FirstGov.gov is probably the best place to start when looking for specific government information. Make sure you check the Explore Topics collection to get an idea of what there is at this exhaustive resource.

Reference.com.Extremely simple to use, very basically laid out.

Refdesk.com. Includes in-depth research links to breaking news, Word of the Day, referenceand Daily Pictures. A fun site with a ton of information.

Encyclopedia.com. As stated on their site, Encyclopedia.com provides users with more than 57,000 frequently updated articles from the Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition.

Encyclopedia Brittanica. One of the world's oldest encyclopedias online.

Open Directory Reference. The Open Directory's guide to various reference sites.

WebReference.com. A great resource for webmasters and anyone else who wants to learn how to develop a webpage.

Purdue University Library Quick Reference. A very good site with tons of info; includes resources specific to Purdue University and surrounding areas in Indiana, USA.

Educator's Reference Desk. Probably the best reference site online for teachers. Includes thousands of informative links, lesson plans, and general reference information.

Physician Desk Reference. Look for detailed medical information here.

iTools.com. Excellent site; serves as a gatewayreferencesand research links.

Baseball-Reference.com. Everything you ever wanted to know about the sport of baseball.

LibrarySpot.com. An excellent site that has hundreds of reference and research sources indexed all in one site.

The Internet Public Library. An invaluable resource that will pretty much take care of all your reference needs.

FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing: extremely detailed computing dictionary; I don't think that there's a computing term out there that's not in FOLDOC.

Librarians Internet Index: One of my absolute favorite sites on the Web. You could spend hours here lost in the vast variety of information and resources.

Wikipedia: Another of my favorite sites; lots of great information here for practically any subject. 

Source : lifewire.com

Internet platforms like Amazon Mechanical Turk let companies break jobs into smaller tasks and offer them to people across the globe. But, do they democratize work or exploit the disempowered?

 

Each morning when she wakes up, Kristy Milland powers up her home computer in Toronto, logs into Amazon Mechanical Turk, and waits for her computer to ding.

Amazon Mechanical Turk (AMT), which has been around for over a decade, is an online platform where people can perform small tasks for pay.

Milland is looking for job postings, or "HITs"—and the alerts tell her when a listing matches her criteria. "The alerts go off once a minute," Milland said. "I break from what I'm doing to see if it's a good HIT before I accept the job."

Sometimes, a group of HITs is posted. "If a batch comes up and it's lunchtime, or I have a doctor's appointment, or my dog needs to go out," said Milland, "I drop everything and do it. I'm literally chained to my computer. If this is how you feed your children, you don't leave."

She has been doing this for 11 years.

Milland is one of more than 500,000 "Turkers"—contract workers who perform small tasks on Amazon's digital platform, which they refer to as "mTurk." The number of active workers, who live across the globe, is estimated to run between 15,000 and 20,000 per month, according to Panos Ipeirotis, a computer scientist and professor at New York University's business school. Turkers work anywhere from a few minutes to 24 hours a day.

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Who are Turkers? According to Ipeirotis, in October 2016, American Turkers are mostly women. In India, they're mostly men. Globally, they're most likely to have been born between 1980-1990. About 75% are Americans, roughly 15-20% are from India, and the remaining 10% are from other countries.

"Requesters"—the people, businesses, and organizations that outsource the work—set prices for each task, and the tasks vary widely. They include, but are not limited to:

  • data categorization
  • metadata tagging
  • character recognition
  • data entry
  • email harvesting
  • sentiment analysis
  • ad placement on videos

For instance, a recent task for Milland was to transcribe the contents of a receipt. According to Milland, the company that asks for that work will then sell the information to marketing and research departments at companies like Johnson & Johnson, P&G, and others. (The pay for that specific task was three cents.)

The early days of AMT

Milland calls herself a digital native. "I hit puberty, [and] I was on the internet," she said. And Milland said she's always "hustled online," using platforms like eBay for extra income. So when she came across an article about the opportunity to do click work when Amazon Mechanical Turk launched in 2005, it seemed like a perfect fit.

In those early days, Milland saw it as "more of an experiment" than real work, she said. But during the 2008-2009 recession, that changed. Milland, who had been running a daycare center, had to move—and lost her income. At the same time, her husband lost his job. She began working on AMT full-time. For Milland, that meant 17 hours a day, seven days a week.

"We started viewing it as work," she said. "And we really started questioning it as work."

Rochelle LaPlante, based in Los Angeles, has been working on AMT full-time since 2012. Echoing Milland, LaPlante agreed that the work is unpredictable. "You never know when work will be posted," she said. "It could be at 3 am. And there's absolutely nothing to do at 9 am."

"I'm not as hardcore as some people," LaPlante said, "because I do value my sleep." Others, she said, set alerts. "If a requester posts at 3 am, their computer will ding, their phone will ding, and they'll get out of bed to do that work. It completely controls their day."

Neither Milland or LaPlante experience a "typical" day—primarily because they're usually setting a goal for how much money they need to make. During a normal day, LaPlante may work eight hours. "But it's 10 minutes here, 20 minutes there—it all runs together," she said.

So what do Turkers make, on average? It's hard to say. But Adrien Jabbour, in India, said "it's an achievement to make $700 in 2 months of work, working 4-5 hours every day." Milland reported that she recently made $25 for 8 hours of work, and called that "a good day." Just over half of Turkers earn below the US federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, according to a Pew Research Center study.

LaPlante talked about the difficult choices she needs to make, juggling work and life. "I have to decide: Do I take that job, or do I go to my family dinner?"

"For people living paycheck-to-paycheck on this kind of thing, on the edge of being evicted," she said, "those decisions are difficult."

Master Turkers

For those working on AMT, there's a frustrating reality: Not all Turkers are created equal.

Amazon's system designates certain workers "Master's Level." When a new requester posts a HIT, it's automatically defaulted to find Turkers at this level—which costs more for the requester, and pays more for the worker.

If you don't have that designation, you are eligible for far fewer jobs.

One weekday in March, Milland said, there were 4,911 available tasks on Mechanical Turk. She was eligible for 393 of them—just 8%.

So how does one attain a "Master's Level" designation? No one knows.

Milland has seen unqualified people—those with a low number of completed tasks, low approval ratings, false accounts, or suspensions—all earn a Master's Level.

"There does not seem to be any rhyme or reason," she said.

Amazon won't reveal their criteria to attain this level. (TechRepublic reached out to Amazon for comment, but after initially agreeing, the company later declined to be interviewed for this story.)

There are various theories floating around on Turker forums about how to get to Master's Level. Sometimes, a batch of HITs will be posted, and high-performers on that batch break into the Master's Level. "It's a matter of being in the right place at the right time," said Milland.

Beyond the Master's designation, where you live also disqualifies you for certain jobs. Being outside of the US is an obstacle, for instance, since many requesters restrict their tasks to US-only.

Getting paid

"No two Turkers are alike," said LaPlante. "Some come for essential income, and some people just use it for play money."

 

William Little is a moderator for TurkerNation, an online community for Turkers from Ontario, Canada. He uses AMT for extra cash. Little aims to make $15 a day for three hours of work. "Most of the time, I can achieve that," he said, "which is better than someone starting out."

"No two Turkers are alike. Some come for essential income, and some people just use it for play money."
 
ROCHELLE LAPLANTE, AMT WORKER IN LOS ANGELES

Still, the payment process is a major issue for many Turkers.

Right now, only Turkers in the US and India are paid in cash. All others, including Milland and Little in Canada, are paid via Amazon gift cards.

Little will drive 45 minutes to a US border store, where he can receive free shipping from Amazon, to pick up his packages. There are also workarounds for those who actually need the cash—although they mostly involve taking a loss on the earnings. Different websites, like purse.io, can convert the Amazon gift cards into bitcoins, for instance.

"You put your 'wish list' up on purse.io. I see that list and say 'I'll buy that for Hope.' I purchase that product and ship it to you," said Little. "The bitcoins are held in escrow. When you receive the product, I receive the bitcoins."

Then Little could sell the bitcoins, receive cash by PayPal, and transfer it to his bank. "I'm taking a loss on the transaction twice," he said. "It's not really worth it."

Another problem? Unpaid labor. A job might be rejected with no explanation. And beyond that, Turkers often spend time assessing whether a job is good. Searching, looking up the requestor. Loading scripts, adding tools, checking statistics.

Slaves to the machine

Miland and LaPlante are part of an invisible, online workforce—one that is increasingly in demand for their vital role in helping train intelligent machines.

Smart systems are gradually coming into everyday use, as artificial intelligence (AI) begins to be put to use across society. Today's narrow version of AI powers everything from voice-controlled virtual assistants, such as Amazon's Alexa and Microsoft's Cortana, to the computer vision systems that underpin the Autopilot in Tesla automobiles.

These systems are being taught to carry out tasks that historically would have been too complex for a computer, tasks that can range from understanding spoken commands to spotting a person crossing the road.

A common technique for teaching AI systems to perform these tricky tasks is by training them using a very large number of labeled examples. These machine learning systems are fed huge amounts of data, which has been annotated to highlight the features of interest. These examples might be photos labeled to indicate whether they contain a dog or written sentences that have footnotes to indicate whether the word "bass" relates to music or a fish.

This process of teaching a machine by example is called supervised learning and the role of labeling these examples is commonly carried out by Turkers and other online workers.

Training these systems typically requires vast amounts of data, with some systems needing to scour millions of examples to learn how to carry out a task effectively. Training datasets are huge and growing in size—Google's recently announced Open Images Dataset has about nine million images, while its labeled video repository YouTube-8M links to eight million labeled videos. ImageNet, one of the early databases of this kind, has more than 14 million categorized images. Compiled over two years, it was put together by nearly 50,000 people—most of whom were recruited through Amazon Mechanical Turk—who checked, sorted, and labeled almost one billion candidate pictures.

Because of the scale of these datasets, even when the labeling is spread across many workers, each individual can be repeating essentially the same simple action hundreds of times. It's menial and often mentally wearing work.

Beyond labeling, Turkers and other online workers also clean up the often messy datasets ready for use in training machine learning systems—deduplicating, filling in gaps, and other tasks needed to sanitize the data.

As AI becomes ubiquitous, every big name firm in the tech industry is engaging people in this sort of microwork to support their machine learning efforts. Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, IBM, and Microsoft—all of the major tech companies—either has their own internal crowdworking platform or contracts tasks to external alternatives, such as the two biggest, Amazon Mechanical Turk and CrowdFlower.

"If anybody hears the 'ding' that indicates high-paying work, they say, 'Go, go, go!'"
 
KRISTY MILLAND, AMT WORKER IN TORONTO

These internal microwork platforms, such as Microsoft's Universal Human Relevance System (UHRS) or Google's EWOK, are used for a considerable amount of work. Around the time UHRS was launched, some five years ago, the platform was listed as being used within Bing and across various product teams in Microsoft and as orchestrating 7.5 million tasks per month.

According to Mary Gray, senior researcher at Microsoft, the firm's UHRS is "very similar" to Amazon Mechanical Turk. Gray said the firm uses UHRS to source labor in regions where "Amazon Mechanical Turk doesn't have the best reach" or where the work is sensitive and needs to be carried out in secret.

"Every company that has an interest in automating a service has access to or uses some sort of platform like Amazon Mechanical Turk. Indeed, many of them use Amazon Mechanical Turk," she said.

Chris Bishop, laboratory director for Microsoft Research Cambridge, said that UHRS gives Microsoft "a little bit more flexibility" over third-party platforms such as AMT, saying the firm is using AI to automatically identify strengths and weakness in crowdworkers, such as relative levels of expertise, which in turn helps Microsoft decide whether to attach more or less importance to different workers' results.

Beyond helping train AI, platforms like AMT are used by household names, everyone from eBay to Autodesk, to offload an assortment of repetitive, small-scale grunt work, which has made up the bulk of microtasks on AMT for many years.

This low-skilled, monotonous works spans many tasks: the occasionally traumatic process of screening user-generated images and other content, completing marketing and academic surveys, deduplicating entries, and checking product descriptions and images for online retailers—Amazon created Mechanical Turk to help with its inventory management, categorizing images and products, writing website descriptions, extracting names from emails, translating text, transcribing text from speech or images, correcting spellings, verifying geolocations, giving feedback on web design, leaving reviews for products, choosing thumbnails for videos, or letting companies track which part of an ad you view.

How did we get here?

The idea of humans working to help machines carry out tasks they would otherwise find impossible is nothing new.

While the recent AI explosion has magnified demand for data labeling and curation, these sorts of microtasks date back more than two decades, said Gray, when work revolved around trying to improve spelling and grammar checking in word processors like Microsoft Word.

The wider history of click working and microtasks goes back to the rise of online retailers during the dotcom bubble of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

In 2001, Amazon, looking for new ways to more efficiently organize products on its rapidly growing store and solve difficult inventory problems that lay beyond the ability of computers, patented a hybrid machine/human system.

Four years later, Amazon realized its goal of building a digital platform to provide on-demand access to the huge pool of labor available online, with the launch of Amazon Mechanical Turk.

07-data-jobs.jpg

Estimate for the active MTurk population from June to October, 2016.
Image: Panos Ipeirotis

Being able to tap into Amazon's pool of "artificial artificial intelligence"—Amazon's description of Mechanical Turk's USP—appealed to a broad range of companies, everyone from online retailers to porn sites looking for affordable ways to sort their products, particularly at the low price for which Turkers would carry out microtasks.

In 2015, an average of 1,278 people or organizations were posting jobs to Amazon Mechanical Turk each day. While the amount of work being carried out by crowd laborers is increasing, particularly via sites like CrowdFlower, the exact amount remains unclear, since much work goes unrecorded or is contracted out multiple times.

And while more than 500,000 people may be signed up to work for Amazon Mechanical Turk, according to Amazon's website, these numbers don't reveal how people use crowdworking platforms—whether it's a full-time gig or something people do to earn cash on the side.

The World Bank report, The Global Opportunity in Online Outsourcing, estimated that the two large microtask platforms—Amazon Mechanical Turk and CrowdFlower—had a combined annual gross revenue of about $120 million in 2013. Professor Vili Lehdonvirta, associate professor and senior research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, estimates this is about 5% to 10% of the overall online crowd labor market, but again stresses the difficulty of sourcing accurate figures that account for employment via non-English language platforms globally.

The other cost of click work

Beyond the dull nature of click work for the people doing it, there can be more costly consequences. It can take a severe toll on the physical and mental health of some workers.

"I would wake up, ignore everything else," said Milland. "My family would prepare food and leave it here for me so I could eat while I worked. I would eat at the computer and I wouldn't see my family. If my daughter needed homework help she'd have to go to her dad. It got so bad that I developed a ganglion cyst in my wrist. I've got a repetitive strain injury in my arm, but that's what you do."

"I was lucky that I was doing it at the peak when my husband was home, because he was unemployed," said Milland. "If anybody hears the 'ding' that indicates high-paying work, they say, 'Go, go, go!'"

A Turker from southern India, Manish Bhatia, has been a volunteer moderator for MTurk Forum for almost two years, and currently moderates two forums.

The strangest thing he'd been asked to do? Film himself lying in a bathtub with rose petals. "That was really weird," he said. In terms of the graphic content, Bhatia also reports seeing disturbing images. "You don't get to know beforehand," he said. "You can opt out afterwards." But, then you don't get paid for a job you don't complete and it wastes time.

Milland reported similar experiences. "People say to me 'Oh my god, you work at home? You're so lucky,'" said Milland. "You can't tell them 'I was tagging images today­­—it was all ISIS screen grabs. There was a basket full of heads.' That's what I saw just a few months ago. The guy on fire, I had to tag that video. It was like 10 cents a photo."

Milland isn't the only one tasked with tagging graphic or grotesque images.

"In the YouTube batch yesterday," said LaPlante in March, "there were a lot of beheadings. There's a check-box at the bottom that says 'Inappropriate Content,' and you push 'Submit," she said.

This kind of work can be important, since it has the potential to prevent objectionable material from appearing online. Still, it can be pretty traumatic to the people doing it, and the pay doesn't necessarily match the value it's providing to YouTube or its users.

Little said he would often have to tag photos or videos for pornographic content. "The only time I would take any exception to that is if there was child pornography," said Little. "Then I would report that to the requester and Amazon."

But in terms of gore or mutilation, for instance, it's "par for the course to see stuff like that," said Little.

Once a task is completed, it's impossible to know what happens with the result. "I wonder, is somebody going to review this? Hopefully, this is going to be reported or removed," LaPlante said. "Someone came across some child pornography, and they checked the box, but is that going to be ever checked into or looked into? You just don't know."

Since requesters use pseudonyms, no one knows who is asking for this work to be done. LaPlante calls it "the wild, wild west." And while requesters rate Turkers, there is no way for Turkers to rate or review requesters.

"You could be tagging faces in a crowd, but maybe something is being built for a malicious purpose or something," she said. "You don't know what you're doing, exactly, because there's no information."

02-data-jobs.jpg

Full-time click work has key challenges, as Toronto AMT worker Kristy Milland has learned over the past decade.
Image: Sam Santos/George Pimentel Photography

"It's called vicarious traumatization," said John Suler, a psychology professor at Ryder University who specializes in behavior in cyberspace. "The same thing happens with first responders, and this is another example. When people see horrible images online, they become traumatized."

But we are not always aware of the psychological toll, he said. "Our conscious mind goes numb," said Suler. "But our unconscious mind doesn't—it picks up on things. We're underestimating how all these things we see online impact us at a subconscious level."

Workers have found online community forums to connect with each other and share stories, commiserate, and support each other. "There are so many questions around things like pay [and] content moderation," said Milland.

"It's a place to find social support," she said.

Each of the community platforms has a slightly different vibe. MTurk Forum has a "watercooler feel." On the other hand, Mturkgrind "seems to be more focused on production and efficiency and work," Milland said. At TurkerNation, she said, "the focus seems to be on answering questions and helping new users navigate and understand the system. They're a little more production-minded."

There's also a closed Facebook group called Mturk Members, with 4,436 members. The group uses the page to ask questions, post earnings, and cheer each other on.

LaPlante and three other women created MTurk Crowd, a worker forum for Turkers that helps them locate resources to enable them to do the best work they can on the platform. And there are many other forums, subReddits, and organizing platforms online, as well.

There's also an organizing site for workers: WeAreDynamo.org. It's where the "Dear Jeff Bezos" campaign was initiated. That campaign was an attempt to humanize Turkers, giving a voice to people actively engaged in the platform, where they stated their experiences and voiced concerns about the nature of their work.

Unfortunately, the campaign had very little impact: Although Indian workers were able to receive bank transfers after the campaign, neither Amazon nor Jeff Bezos ever directly addressed the initiative.

Communicating with Amazon is, for all practical purposes, virtually impossible. "The lack of support we have is disturbing," said Bhatia. "There's no live chat, no phone number." The only way a Turker can make contact is through email, which prompts a boilerplate response.

"I am utterly baffled by the choices they are making," said Little, "and the number one choice they are making a mistake in is a lack of communication. Why do they want to be so hands off? It can't because of the risk of a lawsuit, because their terms of service clearly state 'No class action lawsuits.'"

Milland talked to lawyers, but "none of them would ever take on a single worker against Amazon," she said. And Amazon still refuses to talk. "Not even about rejections, not about improvements, not about how we think they could make more money," she said. "Nothing."

Lilly Irani, who teaches at UC San Diego, explores the "cultural politics of high-tech work practices." Irani co-authored a 2013 study looking at forums for Turkers. The work aimed to understand how collective actions could work, looking at things like Dynamo, the collective platform for Turkers, and Turkopticon, which allows Turkers to review and rate available jobs. In a paper called "Turkopticon: Interrupting Worker Invisibility in Amazon Mechanical Turk," the authors stated: "We argued that AMT is predicated on infrastructuring and hiding human labor, rendering it a reliable computational resource for technologists."

Despite the poor working conditions, people like Milland rely on the income AMT provides. And she has a disability that makes her doubt her chances of being hired for a traditional job. "I applied at McDonald's, and they won't hire me," she said.

Download this article as a PDF (free registration required).

Humans working alongside AI

Helping fuel demand for this piecemeal, on-demand employment, predicts Microsoft's Gray, will be the growth of human/AI systems that promote a symbiotic relationship between people and machines.

06-data-jobs.jpg

Kristy Milland's pay chart. "Submitted" means the job has not been adjudicated yet. "Approved" jobs will be paid. "Rejected" means the work was completed but the requester did not accept the work, or pay for it.
Image: Kristy Milland

She cites the emergence of virtual assistants such as Facebook M or customer service chatbots like IPsoft's Amelia, where humans either handle queries with the aid of AI or an AI handles queries and the human takes over when there is an issue the machine can't handle. Over time these smart systems can also learn from human responses, and gradually increase the breadth of queries they can tackle.

Services that use narrow AI to handle easier tasks and humans to handle the more complicated demands are on the rise. One of the major hubs for crowdsourced labor, CrowdFlower, recently launched a machine learning platform to automate certain tasks that previously would have been carried out by manual workers, leaving human workers to "focus on the harder cases and help the [machine learning] models learn". This approach results in significant amounts of manual work being automated, but the more optimistic forecasts predict that, while on a job-by-job level the human's share of the work is reduced, overall employment opportunities won't fall, due to increased demand for these joint AI-human services.

How long will machines need people?

But, for how long will humans have a role to play in training the smart systems of tomorrow?

As intelligent systems gain the ability to perform tasks that once had to be carried out by people, the nature of the work offloaded to humans on platforms like AMT changes.

In 2006, one year after AMT launched, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said a human was needed to spot whether a person was in a photo, a task that can now be carried out by deep learning, neural networks run by the likes of Baidu, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft. So does this mean that the microtasks that offer employment today will gradually be taken over by machines?

The Oxford Internet Institute's Lehdonvirta sees little prospect of demand for AI-focused microtasks being sated. He forecasts that as machine learning is applied to more and more tasks, there will be an ever-increasing amount of data needing to be labeled.

"We see this industry of work that's sourced, scheduled, managed, paid for, and shipped through an API."
 
MARY GRAY, SENIOR RESEARCHER AT MICROSOFT

"It's a moving target. There are so many applications that I don't think we'll be running out of that work anytime soon," he said.

Microsoft's Bishop said that in the near-future, AI systems will likely be trained using a mix of human-led, supervised learning and unsupervised learning. Microsoft's Gray believes there will be a long-lasting need for humans in the loop: "If anything, we would predict they're going to go up because the amount of things we're trying to automate is going up," she said. "If we take those early cases of natural language processing and image recognition as a bellwether or as a benchmark, we see a pretty steady amount of work in the system."

Dr. Sarvapali Ramchurn, associate professor in the Electronics and Computer Science department at the University of Southampton, uses the example of image recognition to illustrate just how much data will still need labeling.

"We are nowhere close to hitting a limit. Image labeling for example still relies on human labeling for every type of context in which pictures are taken," he said.

Such is the range of different settings in which images can be captured—in light, in shadow, obscured, unobscured—that "even after classifying 50 million pictures, only very few items in pictures will be accurately classified in all possible contexts," he said.

Expand that need for data to be labeled in a multitude of contexts to speech, natural language understanding, emotion recognition, and all of the many areas that machine learning is being applied, and there is no danger of the work drying up, he said. Especially as society finds new uses for machine learning.

"Demand is likely to keep growing and we will see more systems combining human and machine intelligence in novel ways to address real-world problems."

Jobs as a service

Whether or not people are needed to help train AI in the long run, the rise of platforms like Amazon Mechanical Turk reflects a wider, ongoing shift in working practices.

Just as the advent of faster global telecommunications links in the late 1990s made it possible to outsource and offshore a far greater range of business roles, so online crowd labor platforms and an abundance of people with access to broadband and a computer at home will again reshape the world of work, said Microsoft's Gray.

"We are able to, for better and for worse, break up jobs that use to be full-time occupations and turn them into work that can be done 24x7 by a range of people in different time zones, in different locations," she said.

"We've not so much dismantled or deskilled the work that we do, so much as we've created modules of it that different groups of people can pick up."

In the long run, Gray sees individuals chopping and changing between microtasks as being a much more common way of working. The practice of software managing the task of splitting jobs into chunks and then farming out the resulting microtasks to individuals via online platforms, as and when the need arises, is a natural progression from the outsourcing practiced by firms today, she said.

"We have yet to grapple in any substantive way with how they completely reorient the vast majority of people on this planet to how they work."
 
MARY GRAY, SENIOR RESEARCHER AT MICROSOFT

"Technologically, we are there and we have been there for the last decade in some areas of customer service," she said, citing the shifting of customer relations from call centers to live web chats and referencing a similar proportion of software-managed manual roles in retail, marketing, and events industries.

As these online platforms become better at rapidly connecting employers with the skills they need for specific tasks, a key appeal of the practice for firms today, so the use of microwork will grow, she said.

"We see this industry of work that's sourced, scheduled, managed, paid for, and shipped through an API [Application Programming Interface]," said Gray. "It's exploding underneath our noses."

The Oxford Internet Institute's Lehdonvirta shares Gray's perspective that it will become increasingly common for computer systems to orchestrate labor.

"Some of these same practices and ways of organizing the work, the computer mediation—the use of platforms to mediate the working relationship—those kind of things seem to be on the rise," said Lehdonvirta.

As online connectivity and crowd labor platforms continue to grow, enabling full-time jobs to be broken into smaller packets of contract work, it's time for governments to start paying attention to the human impact of this shift in the way we work, said Gray.

"We have yet to grapple in any substantive way with how they completely reorient the vast majority of people on this planet to how they work," she said.

"It's been going on for the last 30 years," Gray said. "We weren't paying attention because, frankly, it didn't hit the kinds of jobs that people in power have and their children have."

Source : techrepublic.com

Computers have perfect memories. So why is it so hard to find stuff on them? Probably because our own memories don’t work the same way. Atlas Recall aims to fix that with “one search to rule them all,” indexing everything you see and do on all your devices, but organizing it in very human fashion. The service enters open beta today.

I met with Atlas Informatics CEO Jordan Ritter and VP of marketing Travis Murdock at their office in Seattle ahead of the launch. Ritter, formerly of Napster, among other companies, explained the genesis of the company and product. Essentially, open-ended funding gave him carte blanche to pursue his next venture, and he immediately started down the track of improving search.

“What I remember is fluid across every device I own,” he said — yet, as we all have no doubt experienced, what different services and search engines have access to is very specific.

 

Google searches the public internet; Facebook tracks your private photos and friends; Outlook has your contacts, emails, and appointments; Spotlight knows your local files; Spotify has your music and playlists — the list goes on and on.

And even if you know which silo your data is in, you still have to go there and muck around in it to find what you’re looking for — which Slack room did we put the meeting time in? Which thread had that attachment? Which playlist did my roommate say to check out?

“The house of search is actually two houses,” said Ritter. “One is, find me something I’ve never seen. The other is, find me something I definitely know I’ve seen.”

Atlas Recall is intended to fill the second role better than anything out there. It indexes and makes searchable everything you encounter on your computer and mobile — yes, every single thing. On the web, on Facebook, in Outlook, on your computer, everything. But before you freak out:

  • No, it doesn’t need access to those services or their APIs
  • Yes, it’s always encrypted
  • Yes, you can easily block, delete, and otherwise control what it remembers

Not only does it keep track of all those items and their contents, but it knows the context surrounding them. It knows when you looked at them, what order you did so in, what other windows and apps you had open at the same time, where you were when you accessed it, who it was shared with before, and tons of other metadata.

atlas-recall-search-fields-crop

The result is that a vague search, say “Seahawks game,” will instantly produce all the data related to it, regardless of what silo it happens to be in, and presented with the most relevant stuff first. In that case maybe it would be the tickets you were emailed, then nearby, the plans you made over email with friends to get there, the Facebook invite you made, the articles you were reading about the team, your fantasy football page. Click on any of them and it takes you straight there.

Maybe you remember seeing an article you wanted to read while you were at the airport, but didn’t think to save — search for “LAX” and there are all the things you did or looked at while you were there. Maybe you want to send a slide deck and all the related media to a coworker, but the items are scattered across your laptop, desktop, Google Docs and Dropbox — search for the project and select the pieces you need all in one place.

There are filters for content type, date ranges, and all that in case you want to drill down. You can also tell it not to remember certain websites or apps, and you can temporarily disable it while you do your taxes, write secret poetry, and so on.

atlas-recall-block-screen

When you see it in action, it’s easy to imagine how quickly it could become essential. I happen to have a pretty poor memory, but even if I didn’t, who wants to scrub through four different web apps at work trying to find that one PDF? Wouldn’t it be nice to just type in a project name and have everything related to it — from you and from coworkers — pop up instantly, regardless of where it “lives”?

There’s the main interface that comes up on your computer, but the same collection of stuff will come up on mobile. And you can choose to have Atlas integrated with Google, Spotlight, and other engines, so relevant stuff comes up when you do ordinary searches as well.

All the data is backed up to the cloud, of course, and it may make some people nervous to have such an incredibly detailed record of their online life sitting on someone else’s computer. Ritter acknowledged that trust needed to be built, but as a former security engineer, he said he takes that side of things seriously.

As for privacy, the company doesn’t want to look at your data. Google and Facebook make money by selling ads based on intimate knowledge of your activities. Atlas will work on a freemium model and advertising isn’t on the table; without a guarantee of privacy, who would use the service in the first place? So they’re clear about who owns your data (you), what data they have access to (metadata, not content), and whether you can up and get out of there and leave no trace behind (yep).

Microsoft, Nathan Myhrvold, and Aspect Ventures ponied up $20.7 million for Ritter and his colleagues to pursue this dream of a “searchable photographic memory for our digital lives.” The open beta, which you can sign up for here, is — as you might expect — intended to shake out bugs, refine the interface, and learn what features users like, don’t use, never find, and so on. It’s available for macOS and iOS now, with Windows 10 and Android on the way.

Paid versions will add extra functionality — sharing between workgroups, or administrative tools, for instance — but the basic functionality of Atlas Recall will stay free.

I’ll be testing this out over the next few weeks to see how well it works, what the performance hit is, and whether it creeps me out. Give it a shot yourself — there’s a good chance this could be the next essential digital tool.

Source : techcrunch.com

When it comes to enterprise-level security, Android is still lagging behind Apple’s iOS platform. Android’s laissez-faire attitude that has allowed independent developers to flourish and fill Google Play with a diverse range of apps is also the attitude that has made blanket security protocols difficult.

Indeed, as Galen Gruman, Executive Editor of InfoWorld, pointed out in his discussion of Android vs. Apple in business, the latter’s “tight hold” over the app store has made malware attacks a rare occurrence. In contrast, he notes that malware attacks within Google Play are now so common that barely anyone notes them as “newsworthy”. In fact, a 2014 report published by Forbes found that 97 percent of mobile malware was on Android.

In addition to less stringent checks, Gruman also notes that new versions of iOS are deployed to virtually all devices within a month of its release. However, this isn’t the case for Android devices. As Gruman points out, only 8 percent of active devices had received Marshmallow (6.0 version of the Android operating system) six months after it was released, which made securing the devices a tough task. With device manufacturers and network carriers all having control over the software deployed to users, Android security is fragmented and complicated, especially when compared to iOS security, where Apple has sole responsibility.

Lack of Cohesion Makes Android Users Vulnerable

Perhaps the most obvious example of Android security vulnerabilities came in March 2017, when the Check Point Mobile Research Team released the findings of recent research.According to the team’s security review, at least six Android devices from different manufacturers had been infected with out-of-the-box preinstalled malware.  Even before the devices had been sold in shops, security experts found instances of Loki and Slocker malware on devices from a range of manufacturers, including the Galaxy Note 2, 3, 4, 5, and 8, Asus Zenfone 2, LG G4, Nexus 5 and 5X and Xiaomi Mi 4i and Redmi. This chimes with Gruman’s assessment that the lack of cohesion between Android operators (manufacturers, carriers and Google itself) is exposing users to more malware threats. Although Google has started to address the issue, Gruman believes that Android devices should receive updates faster so that devices across the board are better protected. However, with this process unlikely to happen overnight, it’s up to users to arm themselves against the latest threats.

Being able to carry out business transactions and processes on the move is fantastic, but if Android is your operating system of choice, then knowledge of security issues is crucial. Indeed, aside from the bit of data presented above, research by Hiscox has found that cyber attacks on small businesses increased by 25 percent between 2011 and 2015.

Focusing on issues such as malware, the Hiscox Complete Guide to Cyber Security highlights that 74 percent of small businesses had a cybercrime-related incident in 2015. When you combine this threat of attack with the inherent security weaknesses of Android as a platform, it’s quite clear that business users need to become vigilant against the threat of online attacks and the shortcomings mobile platform security. One of the best ways to do this is by using knowledge of cyber security as the first line of defence.

Staying Safe is a Matter of Understanding the Risks

What the Hiscox guide notes is that knowledge of key threats and concepts such as phishing, data protection and removal of malware were overlooked by small businesses. Moreover, the company’s research has shown that 46 percent of businesses surveyed lacked an understanding of the nature of contemporary cybersecurity threats. In an effort to address this shortfall, the Hiscox Guide to Cyber Security breaks down some of the basic areas small businesses need to focus on, including security, prevention and insurance.

Using the guide, small businesses owners and employees can access a knowledge hub that contains links to resources addressing these three areas of focus. For those with an interest in Android devices and security, the hub offers a wealth of information about malware and practical steps to avoid inadvertently infecting your systems with it. Although this information can’t address the shortcomings of the system as a whole, it will increase the level of protection both businesses and individuals have when using Android for business.

Using mobile devices has become much more practical over the last decade, but that doesn’t mean users can simply rely on manufacturers, developers and Google itself when it comes to security. To give yourself the best chance of avoiding malware issues, it’s important to fortify your mind as well as your devices.

Author : Darla Sutrich

Source : androidheadlines.com

Search Engines is a web based computer program that find pdf documents, Images, Videos and HTML pages for specified keyword and returns the high quality results of any webpage containing those keywords. Web engines crawled and indexed the billions of web pages (including Images, Videos, PDF documents much more) and show the results depending upon their importance. World most popular engine is Google end of 2016 62+ billion pages indexed by Google. Top 5 safe free search engines is Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ask.com, AOL.

1 Google.com    Alexa rank = 1   Similarweb rank = 1

Google.comGoogle.com was developed by Sergey Brin and Larry Page in September 1998. 67.47% search market control by google inc. Company provide thousand of products and services like email, Google+, Google Search, Google Drive, Chrome, Youtube, Blogger, Android. Pagerank and link building is most popular algorithm provided by Google. The company reported 96% revenue was derived from its advertising programs. Using Google you can search images, videos, news, maps. Over 1.1+ billion WorldWide unique visitors use this website and over 55,976 employees work in this company. In 2005 google develop a desktop and mobile mapping service. It offering street maps, satellite imagery. Company CEO = Sundar Pichai. Company revenue US $68.83 billion in 2015. Net Income US $16.889 billion. Company total equity = $108.34 billion. Total employees = 59,976 (Q3 2016).

2 Bing.com    Alexa rank = 28   Similarweb rank = 52

Bing.comBing.com developed by microsoft in June 2009. Bing offering three column display format first column for traditional search results, second column shows structured data and in third column data shows provides from twitter and facebook. Bing offer some additional features such as interface, media, local info, integration with hotmail, integration with facebook, integration with apple, integration with window8. Bing entertainment service allow visitors to View Movies,    Tv shows,   Music  and Games. Bing finance and local services provide complete information about stock market and local business details and reviews. The images and videos search algorithm enable users to quickly search most relevant photographs and videos. Bing e-commerce market features enable users to find hotels, flight tickets and online products. 54.6 million USA unique visitors use this website.

3 Yahoo.com    Alexa rank = 6   Site URL = http://www.yahoo.com

Yahoo.comYahoo is a web-portal developed by David Filo and Jerry Yang in 1994. According to comscore 196 million US visitors use yahoo. Yahoo provides Sports information, news, Music, Videos, finance, messenger, mail, maps. Yahoo offer communication services like messenger and mail, yahoo mail service offer 10Gb storage. the company offer some social networking services like flickr, yahoo buzz, yahoo personals. End of 2010 yahoo offers mobile services like mobile blogging and messaging. Yahoo support the e-commerce market and small businesses. Company CEO Marissa Mayer and chairman Maynard webb. with yahoo service you can access more than one services such as mail, finance, world news, image hosting and watch movies cricket online. Company revenue = US $1.69 billion | Total assets = US $16.80 billion | Total employees = 14,453.

4 Baidu.com    Alexa rank = 4   Site URL = http://www.baidu.com

Baidu.comBaidu was founded by Robin Li and Eric Xu in january 2000. It indexed over 81 million images, 13 million audio and video files, 751 million webpages. It is 5th popular web crawler in the world and No 1 in the China. Baidu company provide several services such as - baidu cloud is most powerful cloud based service it offer 3 TB free online storage. Baidu post bar is another online community where users can share knowledge and ideas. Baidu image and video search services offer millions of multimedia files. Baidu offer social networking service users can post images, blogs, videos through this service.

5 Yandex.com    Alexa rank = 1,257   Site URL = http://www.yandex.com

Yandex.comYandex.com russian based engine developed by Arkady Vlozh and Llya Segalovich. According comscore 56 million users from all over the world use Yandex. Company revenue = $39.4 billion | Operating income = $13.3 billion | Net income = $13.6 billion | Total assets = $34 billion | Total equity = $28.89 billion | Total employees = 5,432.

6 Ask.com    Alexa rank = 106   Site URL = http://www.ask.com

Ask.comThe Ask was founded by David Warthen and Garrett Gruener in 1995. Ask is a most popular question answering site, later it add image and video search facility. Ask browser toolbar can appear as extra bar added to the any type of browser window. According quantcast 33 million US users use this site.

7 AOL.com    Alexa rank = 243   Site URL = http://www.AOL.com

Search.AOL.comAOL is a mass media corporation founded by Steve Case, Marc Seriff, Jim Kimsey. This company invest in many websites. AOL major acquisitions Techcrunch, Engadget, MapQuest, The Huffington post. AOL search facility powered by google inc. AOl also offer News, Lifestyle, Sports, Finance, Entertainment services. Company revenue = $2.19 billion | Net Income = $1.059 billion | Total assets = $2.799 billion | Total employees = 5,987.

8 DuckDuckgo   Alexa rank = 609   Site URL = http://www.duckduckgo.com

DuckDuckgo.comDuckDuckGo was founded by Gabriel Weinberg in september 2008. This website uses data from Wikipedia, Bing, Yahoo, Yendex. It puts privacy first and does't log user information and does not store IP addresses.

9 Sogou.com    Alexa rank = 58   Site URL = http://www.sogou.com

Soso.com is a web based chinese web crawler later this company owned by Tencent inc. So soso discontinued services and now redirects to Sogou.com.

10 Webcrawler  Alexa rank = 2,486   Site URL = http://webcrawler.com

Webcrawler.comWebcrawler.com was founded by Brian Pinkerton in april 1994. It was first fully indexed secure meta engine, that fetched the good results from Yahoo! inc, Google, Bing search, About.com, Ask.com and some others. Webcrawler offering all type of results like multimedia (including videos, images, local business information and news). Webcrawler show advertising results at the top and bottom of the page, and all organic results showing in middle of the page.

11 Wow.com    Alexa rank = 2,104   Site URL = http://www.wow.com

Wow.comWOW.com powered by Google, it provide quick link for most popular websites in the world. According quantcast 5.5 million US unique visitors use wow to find awesome stuff. WOW.com was developed by AOL company. This engine search images based on high quality pixel and its width, height and formats.

12 Info.com    Alexa rank = 8,574   Site URL = http://www.info.com

Info.comInfo.com is an image, video, news and html page finder and fetched results from Google, Open Directory, Yahoo and Bing, Ask. Info.com offers a meta engine that allows you to search multiple leading sources at once, returning more comprehensive and relevant results fast. Info provide some plugins for Firefox, Internet Explorer, Google Chrome. Using it users can easily access millions of images, videos, employment opportunities. Info.com online comparison shopping service enables users to compare products, prices and buy products.

13 Infospace    Alexa rank = 14,246   Site URL = http://www.infospace.com

61 million unique visitors use this website. Infospace was founded by Rich Skrenta in 2007. 5 million US visitors use this site it offer downable browser search toolbar. Infospace use the dynamic inference graph algorithm and slashtag filters.

  1. Excite.com Alexa rank  = 8,347   | Quantcast US rank = NA | Compete US rank = NA
  2. Dogpile.com Alexa rank = 6,371  | Quantcast USA rank = 4,161 | Compete US rank = 2,089
  3. Lycos.com Alexa rank = 15,114   | Quantcast US rank = 14,878 | Compete US rank = 15,185
  4. Contenko.com Alexa rank = 132K| Quantcast US rank = 143K | Compete US rank = 123K


 


Comparison of Best Search Engines

Best Search EnginesCompany namePages indexedAdvertise mentsDaily direct queriesQueries countRunning non free JSSoftware distribution license
Google.com Google Over 63.2 billion Yes Over 413 million Yes No Proprietary
Bing.com Microsoft Over 31.02 billion Yes Unknown Yes No Proprietary
Yahoo Search Yahoo! Over 24.2 billion Yes Unknown Yes No Proprietary
Baidu Search Baidu Over 771 million Yes Unknown Yes No Proprietary
Yandex Search Yandex Over 2.2 billion Yes Unknown Yes No Proprietary
SoSo Tencent Unknown Yes Unknown No No Proprietary
DuckDuckGo DuckDuckGo NA Optional 7.6 million No No Mixed
Gigablast NA Over 1.2 billion No Unknown Yes No Free
Best Search EnginesServer's location(s)Https SupportProxy gateway search links availableIP address trackingBrowser trackingInformation sharingDedicated servers
Google USA Yes Unknown Yes Yes Yes NA
Bing USA/China Yes(SSL blocked in China) Unknown Yes Yes Yes NA
Yahoo search USA Yes Unknown Yes Yes Yes NA
Baidu China & Japan No Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown NA
Yandex Russia Yes Unknown Unknown Unknown No NA
SoSo China No Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown NA
DuckDuckGo USA Yes Yes No No No NA
Gigablast USA No No No No No NA

List of Search Engines

RankGeneral Search EnginesPopular in...?Alexa rankSimilarweb rankDirect trafficGoogle trafficUS UsersLanguage
1 Google.com US, India, Brazil, UK 1 1 71.78% 11% 181M Multilingual
2 Yahoo.com US, UK, France, India, Taiwan 4 4 64.76% 16.96% 161M Multilingual
3 Baidu.com China 5 10 62.92% 8.1% 1.5M Multilingual
4 Bing.com US, France 25 13 68.87% 4.77% 70M Multilingual
5 Sogou.com China, Taiwan, Hong Kong 165 598 48.89% 32.27% 401K Chinese
6 Duckduckgo US, France, UK, Germany 567 578 93.42% 2.43% 1.8M Multilingual
7 Youdao.com China 623 1,645 61.12% 13.78% 231K Chinese
8 Yandex.com Russia, Turkey, Germany, Ukraine 2,174 1,921 61.12% 13.20% 551K Multilingual
9 Go.com US, Canada, Venezuela, UK 81 115 63.31% 16.89% 52M NA
10 Search.aol US, UK, Germany, China 152 94 68.32% 7.66% 19M English
11 Lycos.com US, UK, Canada, Germany 9,856 13,246 54.54% 22.92% 351K NA
12 Qwant.com France, Germany, Belgium 22,765 10,124 89.78% 7.01% NA NA

 

RankMetasearch EnginesPopular in...?Alexa rankSimilarweb rankDirect trafficGoogle trafficUS UsersLanguage
1 Webcrawler US, India, Canada, Indonesia 998 985 7.87% 91.22% 4.5M English
2 kayak.com US, Canada, Spain, Israel 567 1,432 34.33% 26.43% 7M Multilingual
3 Excite.com US, Canada, UK, Germany 7,932 8,583 64.12% 11.34% 512K English
4 ixquick.com US, Germany, France, Netherlands 9,897 3,123 87.24% 2.52% 289K Multilingual
5 Info.com US, Canada, India, Malaysia 8,342 11,342 13.24% 87.35% 1M English
6 Zoo.com Germany, Brazil, Mexico, India 32,564 13,478 96.54% 2.66% 37K NA
7 Yippy.com US, UK, France, Canada 127,328 212,976 41.22% 1.23% 25K English

RankJob search EnginesPopular in...?Alexa rankSimilarweb rankDirect trafficGoogle trafficUS Users
1 Indeed.com US, Canada, Australia, Germany 159 212 36.18% 40.56% 18M
2 Naukri.com India, Japan, United Arab Emirates 445 1,311 54.87% 23.78% 120K
3 Glassdoor.com US, India, Canada, UK 513 1,421 34.89% 43.21% 11M
4 Monster.com US, India, Canada, Philippines 877 1,786 37.68% 43.25% 10M
5 Careerbuilder US, Uk, India, Canada, Philippines 1,578 1,896 47.81% 20.19% 6M
6 Jobstreet.com Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore 2,170 2,765 51.86% 6.89% 61K
7 careers.yahoo NA NA NA NA NA NA
8 Incruit.com Korea, Venezuela, Thailand 2,432 3,123 19.45% 67.72% NA
9 Dice.com US, India, Canada, Eritrea 4,231 5,865 48.97% 12.89% 2.2M
10 Adzuna.co.uk UK, US, Ireland, France 18,475 22,345 38.89% 29.64% 145K
11 Eluta.ca Canada, India, France 49,787 57,987 29.89% 51.78% NA
12 Linkup.com US, India, Canada, UK 81,478 84,875 21.98% 50.98% 231K

 

RankBitTorrent search EnginesAlexa rankSimilarweb rankDirect trafficGoogle trafficUS Users
1 Torrentz.eu 185 484 64.89% 21.32% 2M
2 iSohunt.to 3,432 1,786 25.76% 34.00% 411K
3 Btdigg.org 9,543 6,212 24.87% 17.11% 65K
4 Mininova.org 37,234 18,501 51.77% 14.45% 53K
5 Torrentus.si 92,423 53,674 38.98% 46.81% NA

 

RankQuestion & AnswerAlexa rankSimilarweb rankDirect trafficGoogle trafficUS Users
1 Ask.com 34 25 89.86% 5.12% 20M
2 Quora.com 151 342 32.87% 57.22% 8M
3 Answers.com 328 289 14.67% 52.01% 25M
4 eHow.com 678 1,511 11.31% 85.79% 16M
5 Wikihow.com 189 432 9.87% 90.71% 8M
6 Answers.yahoo NA   45.12 9.87 NA

RankMaps Search enginesAlexa rankSimilarweb rankDirect trafficGoogle trafficUS Users
1 Bing maps 987 1023 56.23 7.23 NA
2 Google Maps 234 342 67.34 26.45 NA
3 Mapquest.com 964 958 47.51% 46.72% 16M
4 Wikimapia.org 2,432 1,121 24.22% 71.44% 461K
5 Here.com 2,618 1,751 25.21% 18.63% 1M
6 Openstreetmap.org 5,897 3,375 43.43% 33.67% 342K

 

RankNews Search enginesAlexa rankSimilarweb rankDirect trafficGoogle trafficUS Users
1 News.Google.com 105 115 53.37 0.95 189M
2 Bing.com/news 212 342 59.67 9.56 NA
3 Topix.com 989 1,378 27.12% 36.61% 4.1M
4 news.Yahoo.com 134 167 49.34 3.23 178M
5 Newslookup.com 243,956 447,432 12.21 84.13 453K

 

RankReal estate/ property Search enginesAlexa rankSimilarweb rankDirect trafficGoogle trafficUS Users
1 Zillow.com 164 223 44.42% 42.12% 25.5M
2 Realtor.com 491 826 42.11% 40.43% 10.5M
3 Rightmove.co.uk 723 1,134 47.18% 35.54% 221K
4 Redfin.com 992 1,961 55.34% 28.91% 2.8M
5 Hotpads.com 5,965 4,213 42.64% 43.87% 1.3M


RankBusiness Search enginesAlexa rankSimilarweb rankDirect trafficGoogle trafficUS Users
1 Justdial.com 411 2,218 11.11% 84.45% 301K
2 Thomasnet.com 12,342 28,543 18.89% 71.12% 558
3 Globalspec.com 18,125 27,301 16.43% 77.99% 441K
4 Business.com 24,891 43,321 38.90% 34.27% 300K
5 Nexis.com 68,125 53,673 52.97% 6.45% 60K

 

RankMultimedia Search enginesAlexa rankSimilarweb rankDirect trafficGoogle trafficUS Users
1 Youtube.com 3 3 46.31% 21.33% 161M
2 Bing videos 3,231 3,389 45.12 6.19 19.6M
3 Yahoo Video 1,231 2,312 48.32 4.67 NA
4 Tineye.com 4,111 6,254 71.34% 19.54% 123K
5 Vevo.com 5,821 5,231 47.87% 31.75% 1.1M
6 Blinkx.com 38,275 6,775 13.11% 2.47% 325K
7 Findsounds.com 147,423 69,334 26.33% 50.41% NA

 

RankSource code Search enginesAlexa rankSimilarweb rankDirect trafficGoogle trafficUS Users
1 Code.Google.com   3,452 24.32 37.10 5.4M
2 Code.Openhub.net          

Source : socialcliff.com

The Concept of Privacy in the Digital Age

The people, who drew the intricate and exquisite images of animals in caves such as those in Lascaux in France, did so in deep and dark surroundings. Their art was meant for the selected few and they often "signed" their paintings by blowing pigment over their hand to leave their mark – a kind of early biometric. Human beings have always understood the concept of privacy and used it to reveal, or not, various aspects of themselves. Privacy is about choice, the choice to reveal or not to reveal, details about yourself and your life. These early people chose to reveal a part of who they were and this ethos of what privacy is, remains with us today.

About this Guide:

This guide will help you to navigate the many aspects of online privacy that have been impacted by the advent of the Internet.

We will look at the current best practices for online privacy, explain how to protect this fundamental and ancient human right, giving you some practical advice on creating user-centric privacy-enhanced ux.

As always, we will try to present technical details in an informative and entertaining fashion.

We each need to feel as if we have control over what information we show to the outside world. Everyday, we find ourselves in situations where we disclose to individuals and organizations, various pieces of information about who we are, what we do, and how we do it.

When we enter our place of work, we may "clock in" showing what time we arrived. When we hand over our bank card to the coffee shop at lunchtime to buy our lunch, the bank now knows that we were at that shop and spent $10 at 12 noon on Tuesday. On our way home we make a call to our partner to let them know our arrival time, the phone company then knows our location and which number was called.

Privacy as a concept has not changed in the 200,000 years since Homo sapiens came into existence, but privacy as an action has changed, and the digital age has introduced layers of complexity to the underlying concept of privacy that we need, as digital citizens, to unravel and understand.

As we head into an era where we are intrinsically connected, to our devices and each other through the Internet of Things, privacy will become an even more disparate and complex landscape. We need to go forward into this new era with a deeper understanding of how to make sure privacy rights are maintained and respected.

privacy stats

How the Internet Changed Privacy Forever

The Internet changed how privacy is handled because of mass exposure. The Internet opened up communication channels that we had never used before and transferred information at speed, across multitude of outlets. There was no layer built into the Internet for security or personal identity. Without this layer, making a choice about when, to whom, and why to reveal certain data, was never going to be straightforward.

But the Internet was compelling, so these seemingly small issues were ignored and we all, as individuals and businesses embraced the power that the Internet gave us. Soon almost everyone had a website, commercial organizations digitized their processes and brought them online for all to access. It was this digitization of processes and tasks that required us to reveal personal information, which brought privacy into the spotlight.

Let's have a look at a typical process, that was carried out pre and post the Internet.



global internet users have some degree of concern about their online privacy

Opening a Bank Account Before the Internet

Before the Internet, if you shared some personal details, such as your home address, it was generally in paper format, such as a form. This would then be handed in, or posted to the bank; one or two people who used it to set up your bank account would then see the form. You'd probably have to prove who you were using a utility bill, or driver's license, which you'd show to the bank teller directly, or post in copies to the bank. All paper details would then be filed away in some dusty cabinet, until it was shredded some years later.

The number of people interacting with your details was minimal. Privacy breaches did happen, but it was on a much smaller scale because of the numbers involved in the process.



Opening a Bank Account Before the Internet

Opening a Bank Account After the Internet

Once the Internet took hold and became commercialized, sharing data, like your home address changed forever. If you now open up a bank account using an online service, this is a typical sharing cycle for your personal data:

Opening a Bank Account After the Internet

In the online bank account setup, your data is now stored digitally and accessible by multiple persons. It can potentially be accessed in the following scenarios if security isn’t well implemented:

  1. During storage by administrators of the database (at the bank and the credit file agency).
  2. By cybercriminals who can hack into the database, perform attacks during transfer, or phish login credentials from either the individual or the system administrator.

The second scenario is the most concerning and we will go into more detail on that later.

The Internet has changed privacy forever and the genie is out of the bag. Unless you have had no online interactions in the last 20 years, no matter where you live, your personal data will be on many multitudes of databases, on many datacenters across the world


banking privacy

Concepts of Privacy

In a digital age, the concept of privacy itself hasn't changed. We, as individuals, still want to retain control over who has access to our personal information. In fact, as our online presence has become ubiquitous, and we've all settled into our digital lives, this need to retain privacy and ownership of our data has increased.

A Pew Research Center report into North American attitudes towards online privacy, found that 91% of adults felt they had lost control over their personal data, with 86% of them attempting to mask their online transactions.

A further report by Pew Research into privacy of data vs. perceived value of releasing the data shows a very mature and informed view of online privacy is developing. For example, 52% of participants were happy for their health data to be uploaded to their doctor's website for management purposes; whereas only 27% were comfortable sharing data output from a smart meter in their homes.

Well, it seems that privacy has a price and if you get something back for sharing your data you don't mind sharing it as much.


privacy concerns
privacy-breach-stats

The maturing of consumer expectations is the driving force behind how privacy is handled online. Companies who transact with customers online, and need to create user accounts, as well as handle user data, have turned to a tool set of privacy-based methods to handle these data. To achieve privacy enhancement and respect for privacy of an individual's data, a number of well-debated techniques have entered the online space. Some of the more contentious ones are discussed below:



78 of Internet users surveyed are worried about a lack of privacy

The Opt-in / Opt-out Debate

A debate has raged in the industry for many years about the use of "opt-in" or "opt-out" options during a sign up process in a web form. At the heart of this debate is user consent, i.e. user choice to reveal information. These options allow the company to get user agreement to use the person’s information, such as their name, email address and so on, to then contact them, usually for marketing purposes. It may seem like a subtle difference between the two, but the act of actively choosing to "opt-in" is important as consent is an intrinsic part of privacy.

Opt-in: Privacy advocates prefer the opt-in choice, because this requires a user to actively check a box to state, I want to do a specific action, for example, share my details for marketing purposes. They see this choice as being "active consent". Although the debate still rages, this option is, in general, the preferred one for privacy enhancement.

Opt-out: This option is seen as more "passive consent". The user would need to remember to uncheck an already pre-checked box. It is seen by privacy advocates as assumptive and puts too much onus on the user to understand the implications off not unchecking the box.

Various countries across the world have dealt with this debate by bringing in legislation. For example, in Europe, the EU brought in the Privacy ad Electronic Communications Directive which explicitly sets out that an organization has to have "prior consent" when collecting personal data for email marketing purposes. This usually means that the user has to actively opt-in to give that consent. However, people interpret this in many ways and may use an opt-out box as long as it has a positive statement associated with it. As long as the statement next to the opt-out box is prominent, positive and cannot be overlooked, using opt-out continues to be acceptable.

The USA has also addressed the opt-in/opt-out debate through legislation across a number of states. The Consumer Online Privacy and Disclosure Act requires website owner to give full disclosure of their intent to collect personal information. Again this can be interpreted as offering an opt-out option, as long as it is backed up with a strong statement of intent.

Irrespective of the legislation and laws around consent and privacy, more companies are showing respect for the individual by using a softer approach to opt-in and opt-out and choosing to use opt-in options as best practice. This is a more pragmatic approach to customer relationship management as users become more Internet and privacy savvy, and understand the implications of targeted marketing and data sharing.

78 of Internet users surveyed are worried about a lack of privacy

Cookies and Tracking

Cookies were invented to make web surfing easier, by keeping certain pieces of information, like preferences, in your local browser. When you then go back to that same website, your information is re-used to make the use of the website quicker and simpler.

However, there is a variant of a cookie known as a "tracking cookie", which can impact on your privacy. These cookies can be configured to collect personal information and send it back to the host for analysis and use. Tracking cookies are used to profile users online behavior and use that to market ads back to you. The use of this type of user tracking for online ad marketing is now infamous. You'll likely have noticed the use of this type of tracking if you go to a particular website, for example eBay, then go to another site, perhaps a news site, where you'll have an ad for eBay pop up on the news site trying to entice you back in. This is done using Google tracking cookies. Google is able to cross match your online browsing between sites and use this to target market ads back to you.

Targeted ads are annoying, but tracking cookies have a more sinister side if the host collects personal data using them. Cookies can also collect data input into online forms, and this is where it could become of a greater privacy concern. Many privacy advocate groups are now pushing for an "opt-out" cookie. This is a cookie that is setup on first accessing a website that then prevents other cookies from being stored. The downside is that these cookies are domain specific, so you have to do this for each and every site you visit.

See also "Cookie Consent" below.


Cookies and Tracking

The Right to Be Forgotten

One of the most worrying things about the Internet is its longevity and reach. If you put a picture of yourself on Facebook after a night out, looking a bit ‘worse for wear’ in 2010, chances are in 2020 it’ll still be there for all the world to see.

That scenario is bad enough. But what if it impacted your business, as was the case for Mario Costeja Gonzalez, who in 1998 had a tax debt that even though paid off, continued to be found in search engines 15 years later. Mr Gonzalez ended up suing Google for his right to be forgotten using EU Directive 95/46/EC. The case was complex and in the end the court ruled that the right to be removed from search engines stood, but that it needed to be balanced against the right to free expression. The court case resulted in a blitz of 180,000 similar requests. This right is now being applied to search engines, but does not apply to news sites and similar.

Although this started in Europe, the principle is now being used worldwide to varying degrees. In Japan a recent case allowed a man convicted of child pornography offences to have his arrest records removed from Google search. Whilst in the USA the right to be forgotten is still hotly debated.


What can you do to be forgotten

Social Platforms and Privacy

Social media has been one of the most successful applications of digital technology. Human beings love to gossip and platforms like Facebook have taken this human instinct and created a successful business model around it.

The model they have used is based on free access. But this comes at a cost to our privacy. Social platforms hold enormous amounts of our personal data. We sign up for an account, entering various details, such as name, address, date of birth and so on. Once we start using the platform, we enter data about our daily lives, our preferences and likes and whom we know – we even let the platform know our private relationships to others.

All of this forms the social graph, which can be used by developers to extract and utilize various social data.


Social media privacy
Top Social Media Sites

Privacy Issues and Social Media

As social platforms have matured, they have been subject to much privacy speculation and debate. Facebook and Google in particular have come under scrutiny over their privacy approach, especially around their personal privacy settings.

One of the criticisms aimed at Facebook, is that is has complicated privacy settings and default settings, which are unable to be opted out of. The privacy settings of other platforms like Google and LinkedIn are similarly complex. Many of the settings are nested. This means that if you have restricted sharing to just friends, but then a friend opens a photo (for example) on the Facebook app, it may well then be shared with third parties, all without your knowledge or consent. In other words, your privacy settings are not inherited.

It has created a privacy web that is very difficult for the average user to navigate and predict. The goal is being set for social media platforms is to have good default settings and to a degree the platforms have complied with this request; Facebook for example, having stronger privacy settings for users under 18. Our social media accounts and posts are a rich seam of personal information, and services such as those offered by Social Intelligence, are set up to specifically use information that users have added to their social posts, or which like buttons they've used, to investigate insurance clams for fraud.

Other privacy issues that Facebook has been criticized for include:

  • Being unable to fully delete an account, offering "deactivation" of accounts instead.
  • The "Like" button has also come under the scrutiny of privacy lobbyists. The "Like" button can be used as a type of tracking mechanism. A German court recently ruled that this breaks EU privacy laws if a user clicks a Facebook "Like" buttons on retailer websites, without giving explicit consent to the data that is then transferred on their behalf.

Social Media Privacy Leaks
Social Media Privacy Control

Targeted Marketing

Targeted marketing must be one of the most irritating privacy intrusions of modern times. Social media sites, like Facebook, LinkedIn and Google, use various methods to push ads out to our social media timeline that they believe we will be interested in.

This has caused a storm in terms of the intrusive nature of the marketing. The social platforms use various techniques, including cookies, to watch your online behavior, such as browsing history, and even mining keywords and phrases from your social messaging. They then use this information as intelligence to push ads back out to you that they believe will be of interest.

This type of marketing has become known as "creepy tech" as it feels as if you are being followed online. Research by marketing analyst group, MENG, has shown that 73% of consumers do not like being tracked or target marketed. "Consented target marketing" however, may be the answer to the privacy vs. marketing conundrum. This is where the consumer tells the retailer what they are interested in and ads are pushed out based on that consent.



Targeted Marketing Stats

Real Names and Social Media

A row broke out a few years ago when Google Plus announced that registration for an account would require a person to use their real name and not a pseudonym. The outcry involved some of the most vocal and respected privacy advocates including Danah Boyd.

The concern was that there should be user choice in how a person presents themselves online and real name use should not be forced as often name choice is predicated on personal circumstances. A woman hiding from an abusive partner, for example, may want to use social media, but keep themselves hidden from that partner. Facebook retaliated saying that they required real names to ensure online safety. However Boyd retaliated with the statement:

"And you don't guarantee safety by stopping people from using pseudonyms, but you do undermine people's safety by doing so".

Unfortunately, this topic is still rumbling away and Facebook have now brought in a policy of real name use. In a recent change to their registration policy, they now require that your name is verified using identity documents.

facebook name confirmation
Real Names and Social Media

Mobile Apps and Privacy

Mobile apps are a phenomena of the 21st century. If a jobs worth doing, it’s worth doing using an app. The mobile app market place is expected to be worth $101 billion by 2020 according to App Annie. That’s a lot of apps collecting a lot of information. And it seems that these apps are not respecting our privacy.

A company called Appthority has analyzed a large number of mobile apps to determine their security and privacy risks. They came up with several key areas of privacy concern in the mobile app space. Appthority found that 95% of the top 200 free IOS and Android apps had privacy violations built in; including tracking location of the user, identifying the user, and accessing contacts of the user, all without express permission. This also ties in with another security analyst findings. SourceDNA found that hundreds of apps were deliberately ignoring the Apple privacy policy on data collection and transmission, by taking personal information from the app user, and transmitting it via an API to third parties.

Mobile app privacy is something users are becoming increasingly aware of. According to a Pew Research report into attitudes of consumers towards mobile app privacy, 60% of users decided not to install an app they had downloaded when they found out how much personal data it required for use.


Mobile Apps and Privacy

Personal Data Sharing Across the Internet

All of our personal data be it contact details, name, address, IP address, geo-location, and even our online browsing habits, makes up our identity attributes. These data are also known as Personally Identifying Information or PII. The Internet is awash with our PII and the transmission and storage of it, using emails, API's, mobile apps, social media sites, text messages, databases and so on, has opened up a "privacy can of worms" that we now need to deal with.

Sharing data across Internet connections has been the driving force behind the upsurge in cybercrime. Personal data is valuable and the price for stolen PII swamps the price for stolen financial details such as credit card numbers. A report by the Ponemon Institute in 2015 showed that the average cost paid per stolen personal data record was $154. If the record contained health data, the price increased to $363. The reason for this value is partly due to the data being useful for secondary cyber attacks because personal data opens doors to other criminal opportunities. For example, the 80 million health care records stole in the Anthem cyber-attack, and sold on the dark web, were subsequently used to make fraudulent IRS tax claims. Whilst our personal information is held across multiple disparate applications, apps and data centers, it will be at risk of privacy violations.

If the Internet is a minefield for privacy, then the Internet of Things is a warzone. The Internet of Things (IoT), a massively connected and disparate group of Internet enabled devices, is the next major technology uplift to hit our world. The Internet of Things is exploding and according to Cisco there will be 50 billion of these connected devices by 2020. The devices can be either consumer or business process focused. Each of the consumer devices will have a multitude of personal information about us. For example, in the health area, wearables, such as the ‘Fitbit’ have personal contact information, name, date of birth, etc. as well as daily activity information – all of it shared and held in a Cloud repository. Smart fridges, have account information and connect with your email account. Even smart beds, have your personal details and sleeping habits, shared and stored across Internet connections.

All of these data is being continuingly transferred between devices, gathered together, held in Cloud storage and analyzed. This leaves our data open to interception and breach. The IoT has been openly criticized for not being designed with a privacy and security layer. This omission means that ensuring privacy of data, generated and shared through the IoT will be a challenge.


Personal Data Privacy

infowatch analytics 2015

database of 656,000 Britons was breached in June 2015

The Law and Online Privacy

As we have entered the age of the Internet, we have needed to update our old pre-digital laws around security and privacy. There have been a number of countries that have created legislation or laws around privacy. The list below is not comprehensive, but gives you an idea of the types of work being done in countries which are actively working in this area.

Europe

In 1995 the European Union adopted the Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC. This was a framework, which worked to balance the protection of individual personal data, yet enable the free transfer of these data. It was brought in to cover computer based data and sets out the rights of the individual who owns that data to control its use. It is an EU wide legislation.

In April 2016 new and updated legislation was adopted to enhance the powers and extend the reach of the original directive. The new directive, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) 2016/680 now sets out the legal expectations of data sharing and free movement of data throughout Europe.

Countries such as Sweden and Norway, although not members of the EU, are now implementing the same EU Directive to control their own privacy violations.

Europe – USA Data Transfers: Safe Harbor

Transfer of data between jurisdictions is always difficult to control. With the European Unions stringent privacy and security regulations, transfer of data between U.S. and European countries has always been an area of concern. To accommodate the EU privacy initiatives, legislation, known as the Safe Harbor scheme was introduced in 2000. However, because of issues that came out during the Edward Snowden vs. NSA privacy affair, this legislation became invalid.

In October 2015 the European parliament overturned the Safe Harbor agreement after the successful outcome of the Schrems vs. Facebook case. Since then a new framework, Safe Harbor 2.0 or the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield has been agreed. This new agreement places stronger controls and guarantees over how U.S. companies handle data generated by EU citizens.

USA

The USA has a mosaic of privacy and security legislation on a state, industry sector and federal basis. However, the U.S. does not have anything comparable to the EU privacy directive to cover individual data privacy. Some examples of this mosaic approach to privacy are:

Australia

Australia brought in the Information Privacy Act in 2014, which was an amendment to the previous Privacy Act of 2012. This amendment was brought in to specifically deal with online data handling and has 13 Australian Privacy Principles or APP’s.

The Rest of the World

There are varying degrees of privacy protection legislation throughout the world. The countries mentioned above have the most stringent approaches, but others are following close behind. A comprehensive world map, showing data protection laws across differing jurisdiction, can be found here.

The Law and Online Privacy

The Law and Online Privacy


The Law and Online Privacy
The Law and Online Privacy


The Law and Online Privacy

Examples of Online Privacy Violations

Privacy violations cut across all sectors of society and technology platforms. The following are some of the more recent examples and some of which have been referred to in the earlier text, such as the Schrems case.

Europe vs. Facebook

Max Schrems, a law student at the time, filed 22 complaints against Facebook’s privacy practices around moving data outside of Europe. One of the issues Schrems had with Facebook’s privacy was that individual’s data may have been given to the National Security Agency, after allegations by Edward Snowden to that effect. The original request was refused by the court because of the existence of the Safe Harbor agreement.

However, in another case where Schrems took Safe Harbor itself to the courts for examination, the EU-U.S. agreement was shown to be invalid. This then opened the door for the original Facebook case to be reviewed. In October 2015 Schrems won his case against Safe Harbor which predicates the Irish privacy commission to investigate Facebook. The judgement can be found here.

Uber's "God View"

Uber have been criticized for privacy violations from the outset. However their "God View" was a step too far. Uber created a mechanism, based on a person's geo-location, as supplied through their mobile device, to track Uber customers at all times. This was even used as "entertainment" at executive parties, with a giant dashboard showing customer journeys in real-time. The company was not only tracking rides, but associating personal data with that ride. Uber ended up paying a $20,000 fine to the New York Attorney general, small fry for Uber, but at least a symbolic win for privacy.

Gmail Email Scanning, Targeted Marketing and Street View Privacy Violations

Google have had a number of privacy violations taken to court. These are some recent examples:

In 2013 Google were fined $7 million for collecting personal information via Wi-Fi connections when performing their Street View Project. The cars used in the project were able to collect information such as URL's that a user has requested and even partial email communications.

Gmail admitted to scanning all sent and received emails from a user's Google Mail. Google then mix this information with other data, such as geographic location, search results, map requests, even YouTube views, to then target ads at users. This resulted in a class action law suit against Google, the main thrust of which was that because they were also scanning non-Gmail emails, this violated the privacy of users outside of the Google Mail system. As of March 2016, this class action was dismissed by the court, but further smaller actions are likely.

Google is still under threat for email scanning of student email accounts. Google posted a blog announcing how they had stopped email scanning for targeted ad placement for students using Google Docs associated with educational emails. This post turned out to be not true and now a class action is being filed against Google for these privacy violations.

Verizon and Their "Super Cookies"

Verizon were fined $1.35 million by the FTC for violating customer's privacy. Verizon were using a type of cookie that allowed them to do cross domain tracking and build up a picture of a user's online web habits and browsing. The data was then analyzed and used to target market ads to customers. The FTC has also insisted that Verizon use an opt-in consent option for customers.

Online Privacy Violations

Online Privacy Violations

Privacy and Security: Two Sides of the Same Coin

Because of the digitization of personal data and PII, security and privacy have become intrinsically linked. They can be thought of as two sides of the same coin, and it is very difficult to get good privacy, without good security. Privacy overs a whole gamut of violations, from state sponsored citizen spying, through to corporate meta data collation for advertising, and ultimately cybercriminal theft of PII and PHI. The abuse of state powers to spy on their citizens is one, which is cloaked in political agendas. However, the latter two areas are both security issues. Corporate abuse of our privacy for targeted marketing is becoming frowned upon, and class actions, like the Verizon super cookie violation are being handled though the courts.

The disclosure of our personal data, however, is down to security. Privacy and data protection laws go some way towards ensuring that organizations take our privacy seriously by using appropriate security measures. Having data breach notification laws also helps by naming and shaming companies who have had a data breach. Organizations such as the Breach level Index (BLI) take this information and put it into the public domain for the world to see. The examples below are from the BLI, showing identity theft in the first few months of 2016, for the USA and Russia:

Identity theft in the USA

Filtered to show United States identity theft breaches – note there were 18 in total (not all shown above)

Identity theft in Russia

Filtered to show Russian identity theft breaches for same period

Because security and privacy are so intrinsically associated, it means that you can improve privacy by ensuring robust security, especially web security, measures are in place. In terms of web security vulnerabilities, the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) actively follow web security risks, and have a ‘Top Ten Project of web vulnerabilities which is helped by the development community with mitigation actions and advise.

Being security aware, means that you are also privacy aware. Security and privacy is not exactly the same thing, but security has many elements that impact privacy. Ensuring that you follow good security practice puts you on the road to good privacy practice.

Privacy and Security

Designing a Website to Enhance Privacy

Being privacy aware, means that we can apply good privacy practice in our website and web application design. We can use all of the output of privacy debates across the privacy community to enhance our website – good privacy makes good customer relationships. Being a privacy-enhanced site, means that you show respect for your customer and take the protection of their personal data seriously. This will also result in better outcomes for your business.

Privacy violations and data theft not only cost businesses financially, but they also damage reputation. Even mammoths like Google and Facebook have taken a battering to their reputation because of their attitude to privacy. In this next section we ill look at some of the fundamental areas that you can look at when designing your site, with privacy in mind.

Designing a Website to Enhance Privacy

Privacy by Design

Privacy by Design (PbD) was a concept first proposed by Ontario's Privacy Commissioner Anne Cavoukian in the late 1990’s. PbD is all about thinking about, and adding in, the elements of privacy at the beginning of the design stage. The argument is that, if you don't consider privacy at the design stage, then bolting it on, as an afterthought, will result in a less than optimal approach to privacy. Privacy by Design is now recognized as an international standard for privacy.

Following these principles as a framework for web design and development will allow you to create the best possible privacy experience for your users and protect your own interests at the same time. The principles are extensible to any digital design project and can be used in the design of mobile apps and IoT devices too.


Privacy by Design Concept

Securing Personal Data

Security is one of the fundamental principles of PbD. It is also a fundamental principle of web design and development. As well as Privacy by Design, Security by Design should be incorporated at the outset of a project. If your site or application in any requires user data to be input, or tracks user behavior, or other meta data like geo-location of users, then you should consider how to do this in a security enhanced manner.

Security encompasses the entire system and the architecture, from the ground up. Your architecture framework needs to have built in security parameters. How to address which areas of the system require security is about research and understanding the security landscape, as well as applying best practice security measures. One of the most difficult things to balance in creating secure online systems is usability.

The solution to this is not linear; this is a multi-faceted problem. Each part of the system needs consideration and may overlap in terms of impact on other areas. Security and usability are especially dependent on each other and there seems to be a direct correlation between increasing security and decreasing usability. However, with careful design, you can have good security whilst maintaining usability. Some areas that you need to apply good security measures to, include:

Secure Communications (HTTPS)

HTTPS is the secure version of HTTP. That is it allows for secure (encrypted) exchange of data across the Internet, between the web server and the browser. It is based on the open standard protocols of Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and the more recent version of this, Transport Layer Security (TLS). Both protocols are based on digital certificates.

To create a secure site based on HTTPS you need to have a digital certificate in place. Digital certificates are purchased either as part of a hosted web package, or independently from a digital certificate vendor. When you purchase a certificate, your company (or you as an individual) is verified. This forms part of the security and gravitas of the certificate.

Any site that requires any data transfer to be made, for example in creating a user account, or inputting any user data, such as name, email address and so on, needs to have HTTPS configured.

Setting up a robust version of HTTPS can have many factors to it. Many web developers forget to ensure all parts of the site have SSL/TLS applied. For example, sometimes the login page itself is not protected by SSL and so is vulnerable to interception by cybercriminals. Getting SSL right is a fundamental security first step in creating a privacy enhanced site or web application. Having an HTTPS configured site also gives your customers a visual indicator that you are taking their data protection seriously – this is in the form of a padlock in the URL bar, which can be expanded to show the details of the certificate.

HTTPS PayPal

HTTPS PayPal

Authentication (Login Credentials)

If you create a user account on your site or web application, you should ensure you have the right level of authentication setup. Authentication (user login) is an area that is an attack site for cybercriminals. Phishing, for login credentials, is a very popular method amongst cybercriminals and all website and applications need to take precautions against this. In 2015 there was a 74% increase in phishing attempts according to Infoblox report.

Login credentials are most often username and password. This is because they are easy for web developers to implement, and easy for a user to remember. However, phishing makes the use of this type of credential vulnerable to attack. Even the strongest password is useless against a phishing email, simply because the user enters the username and password into a spoof site, and as soon as doing so, they are stolen. The only way to harden the use of username and password is to add an extra credential that is used after the username and password are entered. This is known as a second factor credential or 2FA. Second factors are typically SMS text messages, or mobile / hardware based codes, generated at the time of logging into a site or application.

You can improve usability when adding in this extra layer of security by using some other tricks such as device authorization. Device authorization means that when a user first logs into a site they set a policy so that whenever they login from that same device they don't get asked for a second factor – they only enter their username and password. The policy can be set to expire after a certain amount of time and is a good balance between security and usability.

There are a multitude of options you can use for authentication and it really does depend on who is using your website / application. The choice of which options to offer can come down to whether your user base is consumer or employees; if consumer what is the demographic of the consumer and so on.

The following examples are for reference. Ultimately you should carry out usability testing to determine which is the most usable, yet secure, method to apply.

Security Methods and Factors

Securing Personal Data Methods

Extending Privacy to Mobile Apps

Apps should not be forgotten when it comes to ensuring they are built with the ethos of Privacy by Design. In a Pew Research study into how teens view privacy in terms of mobile app use, 51% of them took the decision not to use an app that they considered had privacy issues. A further 46% switched off location tracking because of privacy concerns. Creating privacy enhanced mobile apps will gain customer confidence and improve app loyalty.

The GSMA, which is a global body representing mobile operators across the world, has a really useful guide on building mobile apps with privacy in mind. The guide reiterates the need for interacting with the end user in terms of consent to use data. It also covers more mobile app specific issues such as the collection of location data, use of silent updates and suppression of repeated prompting.

Overall, the design of any application whether for mobile use, or online use, needs to be done with the principles of privacy as part of the overriding design goal.

General Security

Before you start to develop your secure website or web app, you should follow the ethos of secure coding. Many of the vulnerabilities that are exploited by malware that is used to steal user data start off with a source code flaw. Practicing secure coding reduces this risk. OWASP offer a secure coding practices reference guide.

Before you start to code, set out your security requirements in a document that can be used to design the architecture of the system, and which can guide the developers in their tasks. Following the guidelines set out by OWASP in their Top Ten Project is the best place to start in setting out the security requirements for your site or web application. There are certain web security issues that are favorites of cybercriminals and that need to be addressed from the outset. These include Cross Site Scripting (XSS), SQL Injection and Cross Site Request Forgery (CSRF). All of these techniques used by hackers can be mitigated using known techniques, which can be researched online or dealt with by security consultants.

Database security is paramount in ensuring your data is secured and privacy retained. One of the main ways of getting at user data is through the database. Good database architecture and maintenance is the starting point for robust security. However OWASP have identified a number of techniques, which can be used to directly compromise a database. These include SQL and NoSQL Injection attacks which OWASP have set as the number one web attack method.

Keep watch on any issues and have a plan in place to respond quickly to any potential threat. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have created a guide on how to protect PII which gives a lot of advise in protecting and securing personal data.

apps seeking permission to data

User Expectations Around Privacy on Websites

Once you have your security in order, you then need to look at the design of the user experience (UX) in terms of privacy. We mentioned earlier about consent being a big part of UX around privacy. Consent is also a great way to build interaction with your users, and in doing so start to build up a trusted relationship with them. You show that you respect their decisions and privacy; they in turn respect you for doing that. Privacy is a two way street. If you show respect for user’s privacy, they will feel trust in your brand. Having good security and privacy practices protects you as much as your customer.

Privacy Policies

The privacy policy is now an essential part of any website or web/mobile application. It is meant to show the reader what you are going to do to collect share and retain these data. Long gone are the days where the privacy policy was a 100 page legalize written document. Best practice guidelines now suggest that the privacy policy:

  • Is written in plain language, using short sentences and bullet points
  • Closely aligns with your actual privacy practices
  • Explains what you collect, how it’s collected, and who you share it with
  • Don't use a boilerplate - tailor your policy to your business – if you end up in court, this will serve you well in defending yourself
  • Take your own country or state laws into account when creating the policy
  • Make it prominent and accessible on your website / application

Cookie Policy

The EU brought out legislation which requires that any website which uses cookies, of any sort, has to declare this on users first accessing their site. Users then have to allow/disallow the use of cookies when navigating that site. This is usually done using a cookie banner, which asks the user to accept the use of cookies. There is also an associated cookie policy. This usually sets out the following:

  • What is a cookie
  • Why your site/application uses cookies
  • How you can disable cookies
User Expectations Around Privacy
Privacy Policies

Privacy UX

As mentioned earlier, Pew Research found that 86% of users attempted to mask their online behavior to retain their privacy. They did this is a myriad of ways, from encryption, to cookie deletion and even resorting to virtual private networks (VPNs). We can deduce from this that people do not like to be watched. When designing a website, we should take this consumer acknowledgement that privacy matters, and work with our customers to improve their overall privacy UX.

Simple things like the following can enhance the privacy UX and make for better customer relations:

  • Don't ask for any information you don't need. People are very savvy to this now and quickly tire of sites that require what seem like extraneous personal information. Do you really need to know someone’s gender, or their geographic location? If you do absolutely need it, give them the reason why. If you are using web templates to design your site, make sure they don't collect information you don't need.
  • Use the principles of data minimization – related to the point above, only collect what you need and only disclose what is absolutely necessary.
  • Let your users know what will happen to the requested data. For example, you may need to pass the data onto a third party credit file agency to check the status of that person. Let the user know who will be carrying out the checks, and why, AND let them know if that data will be stored, or not. When requesting information ask for the users consent for disclosure to third parties, or use the data for marketing purposes.
  • Use opt-in / opt-out appropriately. In any given situation, simple A/B testing of this can show which option is preferred.
  • Set default privacy settings as "on". That is, make sure privacy is maximized, and allow your user to manage their privacy settings as they wish.
  • Use anti-phishing techniques in emails you send out to your customer – the Anti Phishing Working Group (APWG), a not for profit group of industry members has good advise on how to mitigate phishing attempts.
  • Tell them, engage your users if you make any changes that might affect their privacy.
  • Work with your demographic. If this is a minor, for example using mobile apps, then tailor your privacy to that demographic – children will be much less likely to read your privacy policy, for example. You may need to offer parental consent.
  • Allow users to delete accounts and when they do, remove all of their information from your databases.
  • Get user consent. If you are using targeted marketing, tell them why you will be using it.

Source : webhostinggeeks.com

The future of digital is rapidly transforming right before our very eyes.

Digital is inheriting the earth, and the generational shift is in full force as millennials and Gen X grow older and smartphones, computers, and tablets become the go-to options for media consumption.

But the rise of digital won't just affect news. Advertising and television will also face major disruption in the coming years.

For the past seven years, IGNITION, Business Insider’s flagship conference, has collected the best minds in media and technology to share what they see as the future. Through unscripted interviews, cutting-edge demos, and insights from industry pioneers, attendees learn what key trends to be aware of and what they need to do to stay ahead.

Henry Blodget opened the latest sold-out IGNITION conference with a presentation entitled The Future of Digital: The Next Big Thing. And he should know...Blodget is co-founder, CEO, and editor-in-chief of Business Insider, one of the most-read business and tech news sites in the world with more than 80 million visitors a month worldwide.

Source : businessinsider.com

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