China defends screening software

June 9, 2009

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The Great Firewall of China just got an upgrade…
– FlashAddict

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By Michael Bristow
BBC News, Beijing

China has defended the use of new screening software that has to be installed on all computers.

Foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said the software would filter out pornographic or violent material.

Critics have complained that it could also be used to stop Chinese internet users searching for politically sensitive information.

But Mr Qin, speaking at a regular press briefing, said China promoted the healthy development of the internet.

All computers sold in China – even those that are imported – will have to be pre-installed with the “Green Dam Youth Escort” software.

‘Poisoned minds’

The news came in a directive from China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, and the new regulations will come into force on 1 July.

The directive says the newest version of the software has to be pre-installed on Chinese-made computers before they leave the factory.

Imported computers must contain the software before they are sold.

The aim is to build a healthy and harmonious online environment that does not poison young people’s minds, according to the directive.

Mr Qin defended the move on Tuesday: “The purpose of this is to effectively manage harmful material for the public and prevent it from being spread,” he said.

“The Chinese government pushes forward the healthy development of the internet. But it lawfully manages the internet,” he added.

The Chinese government regularly restricts access to certain internet sites and information it deems sensitive.

The BBC’s Chinese language website and video sharing website Youtube are currently inaccessible in Beijing.

Critics fear this new software could be used by the government to enhance its internet censorship system, known as the Great Firewall of China.

But a spokesman for one of the companies that developed the software, Jinhui Computer System Engineering, rejected this accusation.

“It’s a sheer commercial activity, having nothing to do with the government,” Zhang Chenmin, the company’s general manager, told the state-approved Global Times newspaper.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8091044.stm


Google turns map tool into people tracker

February 4, 2009

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It will be very interesting to see how things will unfold with this new technology and what implications it may have on personal rights and freedoms…
– FlashAddict

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With an upgrade to its mobile maps, Google Inc. hopes to prove it can track people on the go as effectively as it searches for information on the internet.

The new software to be released Wednesday will enable people with mobile phones and other wireless devices to automatically share their whereabouts with family and friends.

The feature, dubbed “Latitude,” expands upon a tool introduced in 2007 to allow mobile phone users to check their own location on a Google map with the press of a button.

“This adds a social flavour to Google maps and makes it more fun,” said Steve Lee, a Google product manager.

It could also raise privacy concerns, but Google is doing its best to avoid a backlash by requiring each user to manually turn on the tracking software and making it easy to turn off or limit access to the service.

Google also is promising not to retain any information about its users’ movements. Only the last location picked up by the tracking service will be stored on Google’s computers, Lee said.

The software plots a user’s location — marked by a personal picture on Google’s map — by relying on cellphone towers, global positioning systems or a Wi-Fi connection to deduce their location. The system can follow people’s travels in Canada, the United States and 25 other countries.

It’s left up to each user to decide who can monitor their location.

Also in the Loopt

The social mapping approach is similar to a service already offered by Loopt Inc., a three-year-old company near Google’s Mountain View headquarters.

Loopt’s service already is compatible with more than 100 types of mobile phones.

To start out, Google Latitude will work on Research In Motion Ltd.’s Blackberry and devices running on Symbian software or Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Mobile. It will also operate on some T-1 Mobile phones running on Google’s Android software and eventually will work on Apple Inc.’s iPhone and iTouch.

To widen the software’s appeal, Google is offering a version that can be installed on personal computers as well.

The PC access is designed for people who don’t have a mobile phone but still may want to keep tabs on their children or someone else special, Lee said. People using the PC version can also be watched if they are connected to the internet through Wi-Fi.

Google can plot a person’s location within a few yards if it’s using GPS or might be off by several miles if it’s relying on transmission from cellphone towers. People who don’t want to be precise about their whereabouts can choose to display just the city instead of a specific neighbourhood.

There are no current plans to sell any advertising alongside Google’s tracking service, although analysts believe knowing a person’s location eventually will unleash new marketing opportunities.

Google has been investing heavily in the mobile market during the past two years in an attempt to make its services more useful to people when they’re away from their office or home computers.

http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2009/02/04/google-latitude.html


Google Earth dives under the sea

February 2, 2009

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Please take the time to check out the new addition to Google Earth – it looks amazing!
– FlashAddict

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http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7865519.stm

Google has lifted the lid on its first major upgrade to its global mapping software, Google Earth.

Google Ocean expands this map to include large swathes of the ocean floor and abyssal plain.

Users can dive beneath a dynamic water surface to explore the 3D sea floor terrain.

The map also includes 20 content layers, containing information from the world’s leading scientists, researchers, and ocean explorers.

You can now dive into the world’s ocean that covers almost three-quarters of the planet and discover new wonders
Al Gore

Al Gore was at the launch event in San Francisco which, Google hopes, will take its mapping software a step closer towards total coverage of the entire globe.

In a statement, Mr Gore said that the update would make Google Earth a “magical experience”.

“You can not only zoom into whatever part of our planet’s surface you wish to examine in closer detail, you can now dive into the world’s ocean that covers almost three-quarters of the planet and discover new wonders that had not been accessible in previous versions”.

Approximately 70% of the worlds surface is covered by water and contains nearly 80% of all life, yet less than 5% of it has actually been explored.

Google Oceans aims to let users visit some of the more interesting locations, including underwater volcanoes, as well as running videos on marine life, shipwrecks and clips of favourite surf and dive spots.

The new features were developed in close collaboration with oceanographer, Sylvia Earle, and an advisory council of more than 25 ocean advocates and scientists.

Sylvia Earle, the National Geographic Society’s explorer in residence, said the new features would bring the blue planet to life.

“I cannot imagine a more effective way to inspire awareness and caring for the blue heart of the planet than the new Ocean in Google Earth.”

“For the first time, everyone from curious kids to serious researchers can see the world, the whole world, with new eyes,” she added.

There are also updates on the terrestrial side, including GPS tracking, virtual time travel (where users can observe changes in satellite images, such as the 2006 World Cup stadium or the desertification of Africa’s Lake Chad) and narrated tours of imagery and content in Google Earth.

There are also updates to the Mars 3D section, so if users have had enough of the blue planet, they can always look at the red one.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7865407.stm