Tag Archives: internet

How To See A Map of Every Location Where Google Has Tracked You

I’m not here to bash Google or Google Maps. I use both regularly and I definitely appreciate the convenience they’ve added to my life (the time before Google Search seems more and more like the dark ages these days).

But with added convenience often comes added cost. One of those costs is allowing Google to track your movements using GPS satellites.

This allows them to give you a very high level of accuracy during navigation, but it also allows them to store your movement history, just like they’ve stored every Google search since the website launched. We can only speculate on what they do with that data.

The good news is, there’s a way to see everywhere that Google knows you’ve been: an interactive map that allows you to see your tracking history.

The map includes a timeline (below it) that you can scroll over to see exactly where you were at certain times, as well as how far away you were from your home base at that time.

But the coolest feature: the map can be “played” as an animation, allowing you to go back in time and watch your movements as they unfolded.

Login to whichever Google account you use the most (or if you have a specific one for your phone, use that one), and then click on the picture below to try it out.

Tip: Use the calender to the left of the map to select a wider range of days and see a more complete picture of your movements:

For any of you that are familiar with Austin, Texas, I promise I don’t go to 6th as often as the map above makes it seem. Apparently, I just always seem to need my location services when I’m there for some reason…

What things will you learn about yourself when you check out your own tracking history?

BONUS: While doing research for this post, I tried to find the total number of Google searches since Google’s official first year in 1998.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find that number, at least not from a credible source. But I did, however find some statistics about recent years.

In 2013, for example, there were nearly 6 billion Google searches every day, for a total of about 2.16 trillion searches for the year.

Source: Google Official History, Comscore. Click to enlarge (Courtesy of statisticsbrain.com)

(h/t Business Insider)

70% of Young Children Can Use A Computer Mouse. Only 11% Can Tie Their Own Shoes (Infographic)

With the rise of modern technology, the look of the classroom has been changing rapidly. Computers are replacing workbooks, iPads are replacing notebook paper, and teachers are increasingly using social media to communicate with their students.

Check out the awesome infographic below to learn more about how modern technology has been changing our education system (click the image to see the full size version):

The NSA Just Admitted That Their Data Collection Systems Are Too Complex for Even Them to Control

If you weren’t aware, the NSA is facing a bunch of lawsuits over their overzealous surveillance programs, which were revealed last summer by Edward Snowden.

One of these lawsuits, Jewel v. NSA, was actually filed before the revelations. The class-action lawsuit, filed on behalf of novelist Carolyn Jewel and a number of other ATT customers, challenges the constitutionality of the NSA programs which were collecting data on American’s telephone and internet activity.

Carolyn Jewel, lead plaintiff in the case against the NSA, outside her home (Photo: Beth Schlanker / The Press Democrat)

As part of the lawsuit, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (who represents the plaintiffs) filed a number of motions to prevent the NSA from destroying data that the EFF planned to use as evidence.

This past Friday, during a hearing over the issue, NSA Deputy Director Richard Ledgett argued that holding on to the info would be too burdensome for the NSA, saying,

“A requirement to preserve all data acquired under section 702 presents significant operational problems, only one of which is that the NSA may have to shut down all systems and databases that contain Section 702 information.”

NSA Deputy Director Richard Ledgett

Ledgett continued by arguing that the complexity of the NSA’s surveillance programs meant that efforts by the NSA to preserve their own data might not even work. Not surprisingly, he also tried to get his way using scare tactics, saying that trying to preserve the data would cause,

“an immediate, specific, and harmful impact on the national security of the United States.”

The EFF was surprised by Ledgett’s argument, since the NSA had already been ordered to preserve the data back in 2009. On top of that, a second restraining order was filed in March to prevent destruction of data.

Either way, the EFF’s legal advisor, Cindy Cohn, isn’t buying Ledgett’s arguments. In a recent interview she had this to say about the concerns he raised:

“To me, it demonstrates that once the government has custody of this information even they can’t keep track of it anymore even for purposes of what they don’t want to destroy… With the huge amounts of data that they’re gathering it’s not surprising to me that it’s difficult to keep track– that’s why I think it’s so dangerous for them to be collecting all this data en masse.”

The EFF has said that there is “no doubt” that the NSA has already destroyed some of the information they requested for the lawsuit, but the actual amount data that has been destroyed thus far is unclear.

Read the full story from The Washington Post here.

A New WikiLeaks-Style Website Is Taking Some Huge Bites Out of Wildlife Crime

WildLeaks is a new website using the internet to target and investigate the kingpins of illegal wildlife activities, such as poaching, the illegal trafficking of tropical pets and deforestation, among other things. The website utilizes Tor technology to ensure anonymity.

WildLeaks’s first major revelation was the story of how Somalian terrorist group Al-Shabaab had been smuggling ivory to fund their operations.

Founder of WildLeaks Andrea Crosta

“We had our first tip within 24 hours and the response has been beyond our wildest imagination,”

says founder Andrea Crosta, who is also the director of the Elephant Action League. Crosta explains that since many of the major wildlife crime operations rely on corrupt law enforcement officials, the site provides whistleblowers a safe avenue to report the crimes:

“You can’t, for example, export containers full of ivory from Mombasa without bribing people left, right and centre… We definitely feel we are filling a gap.”

In the three months it has been operating so far, the site has yielded 24 major tip-offs of wildlife crime, including:

• elephant poaching in Africa and illicit ivory trading in Hong Kong;

• killing of Sumatran tigers, of which there are just 400 left in the wild;

• illegal lion and leopard hunting in South Africa;

• chimpanzee trafficking in Liberia;

• illegal fishing activities in Alaska, including alleged mafia involvement;

• importing of illegal African wildlife products into the US;

• illegal logging in Mexico, Malawi and Siberia

According to Interpol, the illicit wildlife trade makes $10-$20 billion dollars every year. Read the full story from The Guardian here.

Lego Asks British Government to Stop Using Their Toys In Anti-Scottish Independence Ads

On September 18th, Scottish citizens will vote in a referendum to decide whether to remain part of the United Kingdom or to break away and become independent.

Though only about a third of the Scottish population is in favor of leaving the UK, the British government has been leading a campaign to discourage voters from choosing independence.

Scottish Prime Minister Alex Salmond, who proposed the separation when he was elected back in 2012 (Photo: Reuters)

A cornerstone of the British government’s pro-unity argument is their claim that staying part of the UK will make the average Scotsman better off by £1,400 UK ($1,900 USD) per year, as compared to if the country were to separate.

To illustrate this point, the British Treasury Department made a BuzzFeed style list of the “12 things that £1,400 UK Dividend could buy”, using legos to illustrate each entry. They have since removed most of the images, but you can check out some of the original entries below:

Unfortunately for  Britain’s PR team, the plan backfired. Many people accused the government of patronizing the Scottish with suggestions like, “Scoff [eat] 280 hot dogs at the Edinburgh Festival,” or, “cover your family’s yearly shoe habit for about the next 6 years”.

On top of that, the Lego company (which is based in Denmark) asked the government to remove the images, saying,

“We have requested that the images are removed due to our neutral political stance. We are a children’s toy company and therefore all of our communication is targeted towards children. People all over the world use Lego to depict stories and scenarios – some of it not to our knowledge. We maintain our position as being a politically neutral company.”

Read more from The Guardian here.

Megaupload Founder Puts Up $5 Million Bounty for Help In His Case Against the Government

Kim Dotcom is the founder of Megaupload, a popular website that shared movies, TV shows, and music among other things. Megaupload was thriving up until 2012, when the federal government shut down the website and brought an online piracy suit against the company.

Dotcom has always maintained that the case is stacked against him. He recently tweeted the following:

Dotcom claims that the U.S. government, along with close ally New Zealand (where Dotcom lives), conspired to take down his file-sharing empire at the request of Hollywood studios. Major music labels as well as the film industry have also hit the company with separate lawsuits.

Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom, who calls himself an, “innovator… not a pirate”

Dotcom talked to the website TorrentFreak.com recently about the bounty:

“We are asking for information that proves unlawful or corrupt conduct by the US government, the New Zealand government, spy agencies, law enforcement and Hollywood…

“It is the opinion of my legal team that disclosure of such information would be lawful. I would also guarantee any whistleblower coming forward would have the best legal representation at zero cost.”

Dotcom and his 3 co-defendants will have their extradition hearing on July 7 in Auckland, New Zealand. If they are extradited, they will face charges of racketeering, money laundering and copyright theft here in the U.S. The charges carry a jail sentence of up to 20 years.

The U.S. Justice Department alleges that Dotcom and his associates netted $175 million in criminal proceeds, costing copyright owners more than $500 million in revenue.

Read the full story from The Guardian here.

The “Independent” Consumer Groups Attacking Net Neutrality Are Actually Funded By Cable Companies

Yesterday, investigative journalists from VICE reported that some of the largest and most influential consumer advocacy groups, previously thought to be completely independent, are actually being funded by the lobbying arm of the cable industry.

For example, Broadband for America, which describes itself as a collection of, “independent consumer advocacy groups,” got $2 million of their $3.5 million budget last year from the National Cable and Telecom Association (NCTA), one of the biggest lobbyists in the cable industry.

The American Consumer Institute (ACI) is another so-called independent consumer advocacy group which has been publicly opposing net neutrality. The VICE article discovered that ACI is being funded in large part by the CTIA, a foundation controlled by powerful lobbyists from the wireless industry (which would also stand to benefit from a loss of net neutrality).

At this point I must pause to point out just how corrupt the FCC is. Since 2001, the commission charged with regulating these massive cable companies has been chaired by the worst possible candidates: former CEO’s of the industry’s biggest lobbyists, NCTA and CTIA.

The current chair, Tom Wheeler, actually headed both of these organizations before becoming chairman.

The corporate revolving door of the FCC. Click to enlarge

Last month Broadband for America wrote a letter to the FCC, demanding that they “categorically reject” any suggestions to make broadband a protected public utility like water or electricity.

Advocates of net neutrality had recently proposed this idea in the hopes that it would prevent massive broadband providers like Comcast and Time Warner (who are currently trying to merge into one mega-company) from throttling connection speeds to companies who don’t pay up and/or give into their demands.

A great example is Netflix. Earlier this year, Netflix increased the amount of HD movies available on their service, which consequently increased the amount of broadband Comcast had to provide for them.

So Comcast started slowing connection speeds way down on Netflix’s HD movies, sparking outrage from Netflix users. Netflix held out for a bit, but eventually gave into Comcast’s demands.

The graph below shows how the negotiations affected connection speeds on Netflix (they gave into Comcast’s demand in February):

Click to enlarge

The FCC recently approved a “fast-track” plan which would essentially kill net neutrality, allowing broadband providers to give preferential treatment to companies who pay them more and yield to their demands.

They put off their final decision for 120 days to allow the public to comment; to date, they have received nearly 65,000 comments and over 300,000 e-mails in support of net neutrality. 

It seems the only real voice of the people in this argument is… well, the actual voice of the people. Go figure.

Read the full story from VICE here.

NASA Made an Amazing Mosaic of Earth Using Over 36,000 Selfies Taken All Across the Globe

Last month, NASA set out to create a “global selfie”. First, they asked people around the world to take pictures of themselves with a little NASA placard saying where they were. They then compiled the 36,422 selfies they got into a stunningly accurate mosaic of the Earth.

A close up of part of the mosaic (Courtesy of NASA)

For Earth Day (April 22), NASA used social media to pose the question, “Where are you on Earth right now?”, encouraging fans and followers to take selfies and post them using the hashtag #GlobalSelfie.

Selfies were taken on every continent (including Antarctica), and 113 different countries and regions were represented. Each picture was used as a tile on the earth, creating a fully zoomable global mosaic that you can view by clicking the image below.

Everybody got in on the fun, including Elmo, a lego pilot, an astronaut and even a lazy cat. Check out some of the coolest selfie submissions below.

(h/t RT)

#ResetTheNet Campaign: Major Websites Unite To Encourage Widespread Encryption Usage

Just last month, the House gutted the FREEDOM Act, which was put in place after the Snowden revelations to prevent mass cellular surveillance of American citizens in the future.

Internet and privacy activists alike have grown tired of the government’s empty promises about protecting internet privacy. So they decided to launch a campaign to take the issue out of Washington’s hands and put into the hands of the public.

The campaign, known as #ResetTheNet, was initiated by Fight for the Future, and encourages websites and individuals to start using encryption to protect their data. It kicks off today on the one year anniversary of the Edward Snowden revelations of NSA surveillance last year.

Hundreds of websites and other organizations are participating, including Reddit, Imgur, Mozilla, Greenpeace and Amnesty International. Google, who initially refrained from joining, has now endorsed the campaign, and added that they will be, “releasing email encryption tools and data, and supporting real surveillance reform.”

The goal is to not only educate people about encryption but to actually provide them with the online resources to begin encrypting their own information. The campaign’s splash page, which is displayed on many of the participating sites, includes lists of good encryption software and tips for both computers and mobile devices.

Some of the companies participating in the campaign. Click to enlarge
Some of the companies participating in the campaign. Click to enlarge

While encryption definitely makes your data significantly more secure, it is not completely impervious- the NSA has whole departments dedicated to cracking encrypted info.

However, organizers of the campaign believe that if encryption starts to become fairly common, the government simply will not have the resources to be trying to break through everyone’s encryption, forcing them to give up on mass internet surveillance.

Yesterday, Edward Snowden issued a statement with his support for the campaign. He ended it like this:

The official website for the campaign is resetthenet.org. The organizer’s also released this video explaining the campaign:

Read more from RT here.

BONUS: The battle for net neutrality is also being waged right now. After approving a “fast-track” plan which would allow large corporations to pay for preferred real estate (ie. more visibility) on the internet, the FCC invited the public to comment for 120 days before they make their final decision.

Comedian and political satirist John Oliver used his new HBO series, Last Week Tonight, to explain what net neutrality is, why it’s so important, and how the major cable companies pushing to make it happen are screwing the consumer.

Oliver urged all of the internet trolls to take advantage of the FCC invitation to comment, saying,

“…for once in your lives, focus your indiscriminate rage in a useful direction.”

The massive comment volume following the airing of Oliver’s show crashed the FCC website for a while.

Check out video of Oliver’s net neutrality segment below: