Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Keeping up to date with privacy policies

A good number of the websites we use have a privacy policy. The supposed function of these is to let us know what those sites are doing with our personal data. If you are a cynic, they're a legal covering exercise so that when they do something with our data, they can point to their privacy policy and say 'you should have read that'. Some of these policies are delightfully vague - warning you that your personal information might be shared with 'third parties' for 'purposes'.

However, these policies often change, keeping up to date can be a hastle - even if you're a full-time researcher on privacy.

A reader-tip on lifehacker today suggested using a third party RSS feed generator to keep track of changes on. That way, any changes to the privacy policy page, should be updated to a suitable feed reader.

Which of course leaves you with the problem of what you're going to do about the changes, given the site likely has a lot of personal data on you, and is probably providing some service or utility.

the suggested feed generator page2RSS is here. I haven't used it, can't vouch for it.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Living Places

My wife Kat Barnard-Wills (aka Kate Barnard) has just had an article published in the national arts publication 'Arts Professional'. In the article, she talks about some of the work that she's been involved with over the last year and a half in her role at Arts Council England. The culture and sport planning tools that she played a leading role in the development of should help to ensure positive changes in the way that culture and sporting infrastructure is planned, funded and delivered across the UK

You can read Kat's article 'Living Places' in Arts Professional, here.

The culture and sport planning toolkit can be found here and information on the arts and museums standard charge here. The toolkit is a set of information, tools and resources for planners, developers, and cultural professionals. The standard charge is a robust methodology for establishing required levels of arts and museums infrastructure. This should help make the case for developer contributions and other funding streams towards arts and museums. The idea here is that developers building large numbers of new housing stock should contribute to making sure areas has sustainable cultural and sporting infrastructre - making them better places to live and work.

Good stuff!

Russian Counter-terrorism - a critical appraisal.

Asaf Siniver's edited collection 'International Terrorism Post 9/11: Comparative Dynamics and Responses' has just been published by Routledge

Ces Moore
and I contributed the chapter 9 - 'Russia and Counter Terrorism: A Critical Appraisal'

to quote the blurb:

This multi-cultural study of counter-terrorism strategies identifies common lessons from failed and successful attempts to counter the terrorist threat and provides guidelines for an effective counter-terrorism strategy. The book explores the changing dynamics of terrorism from a range of perspectives – from the global threat posed by home-grown terrorism in North Africa and the larger security dimensions in the Middle East, to the various strategies employed by western and non-western societies in their efforts to develop effective counter-terrorism strategies. Core themes in the book include the divergent dynamics of the phenomena categorised under the 'terrorism' label, and the domestic, national and regional variants of international terrorism. As such, the book offers in-depth analysis of the relationship between the local and the global, both in the root causes of, and responses to, terrorism since 9/11.

With the chapter on Russia, we brought together Ces' research on the Caucasus, with an attempt to look at the role of technology in the process. It turns out that some of the Chechen groups were early adopters of web communication to try and gain support for their causes. Also that Russian counter-terrorism efforts have taken this into account, combining traditional military strategies with efforts to shut down servers and the like.

No doubt, Russian counter-terrorism efforts are going to be in the news at the moment, with bombings in Moscow. NY times & Guardian reports.

Update: Ces has written an article on the recent bombings for The Guardian, it identifies the context and the history of these attacks.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Speed Camera Resistance presentation

Identity & individualism
View more presentations from davidbarnardwills.

These are the slides from the presentation I gave for the Department of Informatics and Sensors internal seminar a week or two ago. I was talking about the research Helen Wells and I had done on resistance to speed cameras that was published in surveillance and society last year. It went well, and we had some interesting questions and discussion at the end.

how the internet is changing politics

Quite interesting article here from Mark Pack, who ran two general election internet campaigns for the liberal democrats. He was giving a talk at the School of Politics and International Relations, University of Nottingham as part of their practitioner series. Would have quite liked to have seen this. [full disclosure, I did my PhD in this department]. His broad argument is that the things analysts talk about regarding the internet and campaigning are not always what practitioners are concerned with.

On a related note, the School is running a blog about the forthcoming election, which is drawing upon the expertise located in that department to provide some very useful commentary on the election, that should differ from the mainstream commentary in the press. I like this a lot. It's pretty important that the knowledge that academics have be made available and useful to a broader audiance, with a quicker timespan than the two years it can take for a journal article to get published.

School of Politics and IR.... It is about time.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

charlie brookers on passwords

Nice piece by the ever acerbic Charlie Brooker in the Guardian which cuts to the core of some of the 'identity management' problems that currently exist with online security.

In this age of rampant identity theft, where it's just a matter of time before
someone works out a way to steal your reflection in the mirror and use it to
commit serial bigamy in an alternate dimension, we're told only a maniac would
use the same password for ­everything. But passwords used to be for
speakeasy owners or spies. Once upon a time, you weren't the sort of person who
had to commit hundreds of passwords to memory. Now you are. Part of your
identity's been stolen anyway.