Where is Raed?

You know I am writing a book, at least trying to get to the end of it, and each day I write I find new information, that inspires and is so cool. Today I was just looking for famous bloggers, because I think it’s fun! One such blogger is Salam Pax. Salam Pax (aka Salam al-Janabi, Arabic: سلام الجنابي) is a pseudonymous blogger from Iraq, whose site “Where is Raed?” received notable media attention during (and after) the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The pseudonym consists of the word “peace” in Arabic (Salām) and Latin (Pāx).In his blog, Salam discusses the war, his friends, disappearances of people under the government of Saddam Hussein, and his work as a translator for journalist Peter Maass. Pax’s site is titled after Pax’s friend Raed Jarrar, who was working on his master’s degree in: he didn’t respond promptly to email, and so Pax set up the weblog for him to read. In May 2003, The Guardian newspaper tracked the man down and printed a story indicating that he did indeed live in , with the given name Salam, and was a 29-year-old architect. Salam is an excellent writer; amusing, honest and enjoyable reading in on a subject that is extremely sensitive.

In fact I came across him some time ago, but today I found a great article that he wrote on his first visit to the US that I want to share with you.

Online data mining

Mark Curphew in his blog made an interesting post on the dangers posed by online data-mining. The message is that there are people that with just a small amount of information can piece together quite a lot about you by mining. They Google your name combined with anything else they know about you to amass a whole load more information on you.

I wrote something in this area in my first article (Identity Linkage and Privacy) published for the first time in April 2007. Unstructured information that is posted online, may not have a direct link to you (your identity) however a ‘dormant identity link’ can link this data to your identity. i.e. the aggregate of information can link to your identity, but each of these pieces of information by themselves are meaningless.

I suppose the question is ‘why would anyone want to do this’?. Particularly in the case of Mark, seems like the guy had too much time on his hands. In fact one of the most publicized areas is for the purpose of ‘online grooming’ of children by paedophiles. All of this subject area and more is covered in the book I expect to publish -once I decide who to publish with- in the next month or so. So watch this space 🙂

ID cards for foreign nationals within a year, says UK

Are you a foreign national resident in the UK. Well looks like you’ll have no choice but to be issued with a biometric ID card within the next year. The biometric data is your fingerprint. You know it seems that the UK government have biometric fingerprints already on over 1 million people.

I think it’s interesting this approach the government is taking. The huge resistance against having a national ID card (incl. biometric data) seems to have been sized down to include only immigrants. (Please comment if you know any better) Now, who in England is going to resist that. Particularly as I hear the grumbles about the number of immigrants being allowed to reside in the UK, and how they are taking all the council housing, jobs, etc. Of course the immigrants are not in a position to resist a biometric ID card. Having been an immigrant myself in 3 other countries (including where I live now) I think it’s a pity that the British complain so much about immigrants, instead of embracing the cultural diversity it brings into our lives. Incidentally I am British myself.

Of course the compulsory issue of biometric ID for immigrants is just the start. As they start to become a part of society and its values, it’s a natural progression that a national ID programme will follow will minimal resistance.

American spam-fighter fined $60,000

Oh boy this is sad. I don’t condone hacking but what about the spammers, shouldn’t they be fined?

David Ritz, the veteran American spam-fighter, has been hit by $60,000 in fines plus lawyers fees after losing a civil suit that accused him of illegal hacking. The case has sparked concern and support from the anti-spam community. “He [Ritz] got prosecuted for using the same Unix tools that the rest of us use all the time to troubleshoot problems, admin our systems, and track spammers,” notes Reg reader Mark. Read more….

MySpace and child safety pact

I found this on boston.com. I wonder how effective these measures will be? How will strengthened software prohibit underage users unless they are forced to use their own name, i.e. identify themselves and authenticate to prove they are who they say they are? Will this not impact the lure of what many MySpace users like about it? Interesting… read more here…

Under the agreement, MySpace has endorsed a host of measures to shield children from inappropriate material and sexual predators who use the site.

MySpace has also agreed to strengthen software prohibiting underage users, create a high school section for users under 18, and respond within 72 hours to complaints about inappropriate content. The networking site already takes some steps to protect children, including not allowing registered sex offenders to maintain profiles.

Polish teenager hacks into Tram system causing chaos

Thanks to Matt Palmer for this. Seems that this teenager was not satisfied with a toy train set. He wanted the real thing! Read more…..
A Polish teenager allegedly turned the tram system in the city of Lodz into his own personal train set, triggering chaos and derailing four vehicles in the process. Twelve people were injured in one of the incidents.
“He treated it like any other schoolboy might a giant train set, but it was lucky nobody was killed. Four trams were derailed, and others had to make emergency stops that left passengers hurt. He clearly did not think about the consequences of his actions.”

Profiling vs. intent-based models

I came across this interesting article today that investigates the effectiveness of behavioural marketing and possible alternatives…..

Behavioral targeting has been around since the first dot-com days, but it got really hot again in late 2007, thanks to a few big promoters like Facebook Latest News about Facebook. So, What exactly is it, and does it really work the way it sounds?

A woman shopping for baby clothes, a tie for her husband, and a gift for her sister may appear schizophrenic because she is acting in three different roles — mother, wife and sister. What do you show her next? Tossing strollers ads at her isn’t going to be effective now that she’s shopping for a new cocktail dress for herself.

An alternative that solves the issues with both privacy and effectiveness is one centered on understanding the users’ intentions, instead of their clickpaths or profiles, and pairing that knowledge with specific content, product and advertising E-Mail Marketing Software – Free Trial. Click Here. recommendations. This approach relies exclusively on the collective wisdom of like-minded peers who have demonstrated interests or engagement with similar content and contexts.

The concept of profiles is completely removed in this case. Instead, through understanding expressed or implied intent, content appropriate to the user’s current mindset can be delivered.

This is the next evolution in user targeting that gets beyond clicks and analytics, and instead rests on a proven foundation of modern social science theory. The approach is conceptually simple and mimics how we learn and act in everyday life — making choices based on what others who are in the same current mindset as us have done.

Since humans change roles rapidly, intent-based models allow content recommendations, ads and even search results to change instantly as users act in new or different roles. Further, because historical actions and profiles are not needed, 100 percent of the new visitors coming to a Web site can be targeted with precise content before the first click. Read more here….

What happens to our DNA?

You know I’ve been doing an awful lot of reading lately about DNA and our privacy. I was absolutely amazed / horrified to find out what has been going on. Of course I watch CSI like most people, but only now I am starting to question the justification of providing DNA -that gets put in their database- to prove you are innocent. I reject the idea of taking the DNA of newly borns and their parents -which is what they did in a pilot study in Bristol, 2007 I think, 25,000 people. Then they are taking the DNA of newly borns and their mothers in New Zealand I think (or it could be Australia). The implications are profound. Do you know that countries are sharing DNA databases? Well not actually sharing, but permitting searches for DNA matches, and then the country can request the name of the matching DNA. The sharing of DNA, biometrics, etc., has all been agreed under the Prum Agreement. There are some big question marks concerning the security on these databases. If you want to read some more about this check out my previous posting and the linked report by Privacy International.


Yesterday visited some friends that have a summer house on the coast close to where we live -well 30 minutes by boat. The objective was for the guys, my husband (Leslie) and his counterpart Göran to do some winter water-skiing. A perfect way to start 2008 they said. They still haven’t figured out that the vikings were extinct some years ago. So yesterday Gittan (Göran’s wife) and myself watched as these crazy guys took on a dry-suit and proceeded to water-ski. It was about -3 degrees outside, windy and snowing. Pretty cold. So I froze to death taking the photos, as one drove our motor boat (which has no cabin) the other got on the water-skis, and me navigating the camera on this freezing cold bumpy ride. Maybe I will post the photos later. Afterwards during dinner, Göran and Gittan told us about a sport called geocaching, you need a GPS. The details are provided below. It’s like hashing for those that do this, maybe less social but absolutely loads of fun. Check it out, you may have a cache close to you 🙂

“Geocaching is an outdoor treasure-hunting game in which the participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers (called “geocaches” or “caches”) anywhere in the world. A typical cache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook and “treasure,” usually toys or trinkets of little value. Today, well over 480,000 geocaches are registered on various websites devoted to the sport. Geocaches are currently placed in over 100 countries around the world and on all seven continents, including Antarctica.”