Where America’s Computers Go to Die

This article talks about the economic and social harm that hazardous computer waste has when not disposed of properly. It goes to poorer and more developing areas where people are hired to take apart and sort different computer parts for pennies. This exposes them to multiple harmful and toxic metals like lead and mercury.

On the other side, where computers are made, majorly in China, people come from the poorest of areas to work exhausting hours making 30 center per hour to put these machines together. As American consumers, we hardly pay attention to these problems, going about our day to day lives using computers and throwing them away without second thought. Part of this is awareness and knowledge. We need to become more aware of these harmful actions and take a stand. At the very least, we can dispose of our old electronics properly.



Tech Firms Push to Control Web’s Pipes

Google and Facebook are expanding their efforts to control more of the world’s internet backbone, raising tensions with telecom companies over who runs the web. In the last year, these companies that supply much of the world’s online content have ramped up their investment in Internet infrastructure. The moves include bringing online new submarine and underground cables they have funded, striking long-term agreements to lease so-called dark fiber, and building their own networking hardware. In the process, they are beginning to rival some of the telecom companies that count them as clients. Google has spent years piecing together a network of private fiber-optic cables and now controls more than 100,000 miles of routes around the world, said one person familiar with its assets


Full story: http://online.wsj.com/news/article_email/SB10001424052702304173704579262361885883936-lMyQjAxMTAzMDEwNjExNDYyWj

Google’s robotics program has legs, but where is it going?

A lot of people are unaware of Google’s robotics program. Google owns a company that make robot robot arms, robot eyes, and now robot legs. This 80 person program can make robots that can “run faster than Usain Bolt and catch their balance after slipping on ice. Google’s robotics team is capable of developing the kinds of robots we only see in science fiction. It is unclear what Google is trying to build Google has declined to elaborate on its robotics program.


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Review panel will reportedly recommend sweeping changes to NSA’s electronic surveillance operations but allow some controversial programs to continue

The still-classified report of the five-person panel, whose official moniker is the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology, recommends sweeping and far-reaching changes in the way the NSA conducts its electronic surveillance operations, from a greater degree of executive-branch oversight of the agency’s operations to the imposition of new limits on what data it can collect, especially inside the United States – a move that will most likely anger the NSA and its supporters inside the U.S. intelligence community. But the report also recommends that the agency be allowed to continue some of the most controversial of these operations, which will not please its critics on Capitol Hill and among privacy advocacy groups.

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Disruptions: Internet’s Sad Legacy: No More Secrets

:And that change can happen on the technological side, where the technologists that are disillusioned by the incessant tracking will use their skills to make surveillance more costly.”

After the documents leak by Edward Snowden, it seems like we are more certain that NSA is indeed watching us and we know how they do it. While there is nothing much we can do about that, we should at least be more aware of how our decision in using certain online services like Google and Facebook and apps like Snapchat and Whisper. Terms and regulations that we often skip reading and click on “I agree” may give those companies the rights to use our contents however they want and put ourselves at risks. I would suggest that such hidden tricky  phrases in the long agreement are required to be explicitly highlighted. In building a free and more comfortable Internet society, programmers and security experts should help by increasing the encryption of our data, especially those private information that we feel the  government should stay away from. Even if we don’t have anything to hide, it is simply too creepy to have someone watching us all the time.

Link: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/12/15/disruptions-internets-sad-legacy-no-more-secrets/?ref=technology/


Genetic Tester to Stop Providing Data on Health Risks

“But supporters of the company said such concerns were unfounded and that people had a right to the information in their own DNA.”

A genetic testing service, 23andMe was ordered by the Food and Drug Administration  to  stop providing information regarding customers’ risks for certain diseases using their DNA samples. Before FDA gives the green light to carry on with its practice, the company can only provide ancestry information and raw data. If the concern is with customers taking inappropriate actions based on the test results, 23andMe should invest in hiring doctors or genetic counselors in their business. With proper regulation in ensuring that the company is not making money from misusing customer’s DNA information or producing inaccurate test results, people should be able to benefit from the scientific means of finding out about their health risks so they can start their prevention in advance. Better still, companies should provide follow-up consultancy service in assisting customers with how they would react to the test results.

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/06/business/genetic-tester-to-stop-providing-data-on-health-risks.html?ref=technology

In the Murky World of Bitcoin, Fraud Is Quicker Than the Law

“There is absolutely no consumer protection in any sector of the Bitcoin economy”

While investors are becoming more interested in the use of Bitcoin, the lack of regulations for this virtual currency has led to its use in the black market, frauds, and cyber attacks. Some governments decided not to allow or endorse Bitcoins in their banks. Others have yet to properly classify Bitcoin so the authorities still do not know how to regulate its use. Until then, Bitcoin consumers are vulnerable to risks and would be helpless if their Bitcoins are being robbed or stolen. If Bitcoin is meant to be the currency of the free Internet society, perhaps the big players in the economy should collaboratively provide a solution to this drawback. Otherwise, if the use of Bitcoin is proven to benefit the economy, law enforcers and agencies need to quickly decide on a protocol to protect Bitcoin consumers and punish those who misuse it. However, governments should not intervene too much in the use of Bitcoin as it may cause Bitcoin to appear less attractive as it is now.

Link: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/12/05/in-the-murky-world-of-bitcoin-fraud-is-quicker-than-the-law/?ref=technology&_r=0