Archive for the ‘I.T. Developments’ Category

Eric Schmidt On Privacy: Google CEO Says Anonymity Online Is ‘Dangerous’

Huffington Post   |  Bianca Bosker First Posted: 08-10-10 03:02 PM   |   Updated: 08-11-10 08:47 AM

Google knows what you watch, what you search, and even with whom you’re friends. The availability of all this information raises an important question: Where does Google CEO Eric Schmidt stand on the issue of online privacy?

Schmidt has previously said, “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”

In a more recent interview with CNBC conducted at the Techonomy conference earlier this month, Schmidt offered an additional look at his views on online privacy and anonymity.

Speaking on a panel at the event, Schmidt argued that anonymity on the Internet is dangerous. “In a world of asynchronous threats, it is too dangerous for there not to be some way to identify you,” he said.

Schmidt took the stance that governments may eventually put an end to anonymity. “We need a [verified] name service for people,” he said. “Governments will demand it.”

He expanded on his thoughts in a separate interview.

“Privacy is incredibly important,” he said, adding, “Privacy is not the same thing as anonymity. It’s very important that Google and everyone else respects people’s privacy. People have a right to privacy; it’s natural; it’s normal. It’s the right way to do things.”

However, there should be limits, he said: “[I]f you are trying to commit a terrible, evil crime, it’s not obvious that you should be able to do so with complete anonymity. There are no systems in our society which allow you to do that. Judges insist on unmasking who the perpetrator was. So absolute anonymity could lead to some very difficult decisions for our governments and our society as a whole and I don’t think we want that either.”

He additionally noted, “People aren’t ready for the technology revolution that’s going to happen to them.”

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Google has been struggling and “soul searching” to answer the question: “How far should it go in profiting from its crown jewels–the vast trove of data it possesses about people’s activities?” A leaked vision statement reveals the company is grappling with what it should do with the data it has about its users.

What do you think of Schmidt’s comments? Are they worrisome? Reassuring? Do you agree or disagree and why? Tell us in the comments below.

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Uganda get tough on Cybercrime with more Cyber Laws but is Big Brother getting too big? Where are the Privacy Activists? Won’t the new tools be used to witch-hunt dissent?

Cyber law to fight information misuse
Tuesday, 3rd August, 2010
By Winnie Nanteza and Racheal Ninsiima

THE Government is soon ratifying the law against the misuse of information and communication technology to combat terror, political and criminal mischief.

The Cyber Law Bill, according to the Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Aggrey Awori, is currently being discussed in Parliament.

“The Bill is already on the floor of Parliament. It will cover data and network security, cyber crime, information systems and electronic transactions,” he said.

The move, Awori said, followed the July 11 bomb blasts in Kampala.

He said the attacks had necessitated the Government to set up intelligence cameras at strategic points.

Awori was opening the sixth annual international conference on computing and ICT research at Protea Hotel in Kampala on Monday. It focussed on strengthening the role of ICT in development.

Dr. Josephine Nabukenya, the dean of Makerere University’s Faculty of Computing and IT, said the faculty is building a crimes record system, which would enable the Police to record cases and follow them up to the courts of law.

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The war on privacy and data security took on the worst turn as millions of Facebook  Records were leaked. Facebook’s CEO seems delighted and trigger happy when it comes to doing away with privacy… Well, one solution is since major corporations and individuals are hungry for data, then feed them with ‘data’, there are lots of weaknesses, and as I searched through the data list leaked from Facebook, I could not help but notice thousands of fake and bogus records. Facebook claims 500 Million users but alas! millions must be bogus and fake names – let them have the “data”…

First Wikileaks, now Facebook. Is this the death of privacy?
The parallels between the Wikileaks saga and the openness of Facebook’s user data are striking.

I wrote a few days ago about an appalling misjudgment by Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, who released over 90,000 documents leaked to him relating to the war in Afghanistan. Well, it looks like another scandal is about to blow up. This time concerns personal privacy rather than national security – but the parallels are striking.

On Wednesday, Ron Bowes, a Canadian security consultant, “harvested” the names, profile addresses, and unique ID numbers of 100 million Facebook users – a fifth of the network’s total user base. He collated the information in a single 2.8GB file and posted it on BitTorrent, a peer-to-peer file-sharing network. Like Assange’s Afghanistan dossier, it was immediately accessible to anyone with an internet connection – including corporations. Check out this list of the firms who have downloaded the database so far.

My name appears in Bowes’ database. So does my mum’s. And so, probably, does yours, unless you’re super-vigilant about your Facebook privacy settings. Because, though you might not be aware of it, chances are that certain elements of your Facebook profile are set to appear publicly.

It emerged on Wednesday afternoon that Bowes conducted this exercise to help him learn how to break passwords – very unsettling, I’m sure you’ll agree. But Bowes is not the villain in this piece, because his act of mischief – and we can’t call it more than that, because the information he collected was freely available to anyone who cared to search for it – was only possible because Facebook itself has repeatedly and shamelessly betrayed its users’ trust, instituting rollback after rollback of privacy settings. Finally, in May, Facebook listened to user complaints and simplified its privacy settings, requiring far less information to be public by default.

Julian Assange and Mark Zuckerberg have a great deal in common. Both sit at the helm of powerful organisations that use technology to disseminate massive amounts of sensitive data. Both have clear, and, to my mind, very unsettling, ideologies that are starting to define social norms on the internet.

Assange is an outspoken opponent of the war in Afghanistan, which surely informed his decision to send the Afghanistan dossiers directly to Left-wing, anti-war newspapers rather than simply publish them on the site as had previously been Wikileaks’ method of disseminating information.
And Zuckerberg has repeatedly said that he wants Facebook users to learn to embrace openness. “We decided that these would be the social norms now,” he once said about the growing trend for sharing information online…..

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Kato Mivule

With Bharti facing fierce competition in Asia, it is no doubt that he is desperate to take a huge chunk of the African I.T market. However, Africans should play hard ball too, for they have leverage and Africa’s Telecom sector is one of the fastest growing and lucrative markets in the world.

Museveni meets telecom investors – Daily Monitor
President Museveni has urged investors to exploit opportunities in the agro-processing industry in Uganda including engaging in the production of fertilizers, phosphates and the steel industry. Mr Museveni was on Tuesday speaking at a meeting with investors from India and Singapore.

According a State House press statement, the investors were led by Mr Sinil Bharti Mittal chairman and Group CEO of Bharti Enterprises based in New Delhi, India and Ms Chua Sock Koong, the Group CEO of Singapore Telecommunications limited.
Mr Sunil Bharti Mittal an Indian telecom mogul, is the founder and managing director of Bharti Enterprises.

Uganda's President Meets Bharti, Image Source: Daily Monitor

The $7.2 billion turn over company, according to reports, runs India’s largest GSM – based mobile phone service while Singapore Telecommunications Limited (SingTel) is a telecommunications company that provides mobile phone and fixed line telephone operations.

Zain acquisition
Bharti Airtel recently concluded the acquisition of Zain Group’s mobile operations in 15 countries across Africa for an enterprise valuation of $10.7 billion.
The meeting was also attended by Mr James Mulwana, the chairman of the Zain-Uganda board of directors and Mr Yessi Oenga the managing director of Zain Uganda.

Details on how Zain Uganda will be affected by Bharti’s takeover are likely to be revealed at a press conference that is slated to be held in Kampala tomorrow.

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Kato Mivule | June 8, 2010
With the World Cup fever high, ZDNET published an article showing an increase in cybercrime activities surrounding the World Cup festivities.

Protection tips for the upcoming FIFA World Cup themed cybercrime campaigns – ZDNET
“…With just four days until the FIFA World Cup begins, cybercriminals have already started showing their interest in taking advantage of the event, by launching targeted malicious PDFs/malware serving campaigns, blackhat SEO and fraudulent propositions, followed by lottery winning notifications/letters of claim themed scams. Considering that, these threats and exploitation tactics are prone to intensify throughout the entire event, let’s review some of the most commonly used attack vectors, and discuss the risk mitigation strategies for each and every one of them…”

Spam Volume Prior To World Cup. Image Source: ZDNET

Yet this underscores a major problem in Africa’s I.T Infrastructure, which most of it is insecure not because of a lack of sophistication to handle such cyber threats but a lack of priority.

Most Telecom companies for example do have state of the art technologies that could be channeled to address cybercrime yet none of these resources are utilized in a proactive way.

South Africa as a nation is exceptional in this approach as they have had a considerable investment in research when it comes to Information Privacy and Security.

However, with the exponential growth of the Telecom Sector, and amazing increase in the numbers of youngsters who are signing up for Online Social Networks such as Facebook, Twitter, etc, Privacy and Security can no longer be ignored.

Yet even documented incidences of Africa’s PCs being used as Transits for worms, Trojan horses, and all other cybercriminals need to comprehensively addressed, not forgetting the stereotypical “Nigerian Email” scam.

Yet in a clandestine fashion, African Governments have been known to employ primitive data mining techniques to spy on their citizens to check on all who are criticizing the ‘Village Chief’…

However, Information Privacy and Security should aim at empowering the locals rather than empowering the ‘powers that be’, this can be used to hold the ‘Village Chief’ accountable.

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Bharti’s profit driven ambitions have them close a deal to take over Zain and perhaps a large portion of Africa’s Telecome market. However, is this a good thing for the African Customer? Time will tell but Bharti’s ambitions seek a $5 Billion Profit…

Bharti closes $9 billion Zain Africa deal -Reuters
“…Bharti aims to have 100 million subscribers and $5 billion a year in revenue in Africa by 2012/13, Manoj Kohli, chief executive of its international unit, said on Tuesday. Currently Zain Africa has 42 million subscribers and an annual revenue of $3.6 billion. Zain said in a statement on Tuesday it has received $7.87 billion from Bharti and will receive a further $400 million within 12 months after completing other formal requirements. It will also receive another $700 million after one year of the deal closing, as agreed in March. In return Bharti gets the Kuwaiti company’s mobile operations in 15 African countries, making it India’s second biggest overseas acquisition after Tata Steel’s (TISC.BO) $13 billion buy of Corus in 2007. The Indian telecoms market leader is facing ferocious competition at home and betting on opportunities in Africa are worth the risks of operating there, analysts say, even though some regard the deal’s total enterprise value of $10.7 billion including the assumption of $1.7 billion debt as a full price…”

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South Africa Information Technology Report Q2 2010 (Business Monitor International)
Companies and Markets | 07 Apr 2010

Market Overview ; South African IT spending is expected to increase from US$9.5bn in 2010 to around US$14.4bn in 2014, faster than real GDP growth. Despite an expected slowdown in investment associated with the 2010 FIFA World Cup, there should be opportunities for vendors across several sectors of a steadily growing South African IT market during our five-year forecast period. The 2010-2014 South African IT market compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is projected to be in the region of 11%, as a number of IT infrastructure projects generate spending at federal and provincial levels. Much spending in key IT verticals such as telecoms, banking and mining will be driven by factors internal to those sectors. The IT market fundamentals of sub-10% PC penetration, rising incomes and falling prices also underpin our growth forecast.

A successful hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup could be expected to attract more foreign investment. The IT market will also be driven by a continued improvement in South Africa’s ICT infrastructure and bandwidth availability. 2009 saw steep falls in the cost of ADSL services, which declined by as much as 80% in some areas, bringing broadband internet within reach of a wider proportion of South Africans.

Industry Developments The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has announced that it will spend more than SAR500mn on IT projects in the current financial year. The objectives include improving service delivery and immigration services and fighting corruption. IT projects will receive ZAR514mn in 2009, with this allocation growing to ZAR652mn in 2010/11.

The 2010 World Cup has had an impact, not only in terms of investments in IT systems directly linked to the event, but those driven by associated investments in areas such as infrastructure. Meanwhile, in the run-up to 2010, the licensing of a second national telecoms operator will provide opportunities for operators. In Gauteng, new technology is being used to improve policing and education, put more services such as driver’s licence booking online and automate healthcare records. Following her appointment in 2009 to the Open Source Software Standing Committee, Nthabiseng Mosupye, the director of information services at the Department of Public Works, called for a renewed drive to implement the government mandate of 2005, which saw all government departments making use of free open source software.

Competitive Landscape Government figures have estimated that Microsoft accounts for around one-third of national spending on software licences. In 2010, the software market leader hopes that sales of its Windows 7 operating system, launched in October 2009, will boost its sales in South Africa. Microsoft announced last year that four Microsoft Innovation Centres will be built in Africa in the next two years, two of them in South Africa.

Most of the major multinational IT services players have African regional headquarters in South Africa. In September 2009, IBM opened an Africa Innovation Centre in Cape Town, which the company hoped would act as a driver to grow its customer and business partner network in South Africa. The US company has expanded its local partner community by 200% since early 2008. Despite the tough economic conditions, PC vendors have strengthened their presence in the market with new distribution agreements and partnerships. In 2009 Korean company Samsung appointed local information and communication technology (ICT) distributor Rectron as distributor for its entire line of IT products. HP appointed local company LetMeRepair as a new authorised Home Product Service Partner for in and out of warranty repairs of its PC range.

Computer Sales
South Africa’s computer hardware market is forecast to grow to at a CAGR of 11% over the next few years from an estimated US$4.1bn in 2010 to US$6.3bn in 2014. In 2009, sales were hit by sluggish retail demand, with the wholesale and retail trade sector contracting. The main growth drivers during our five-year forecast period include rising computer penetration, falling prices and vendor and retailer promotions, and the popularity of notebook computers and ultra-light products. In the past few years, falling prices have helped boost PC unit shipments, along with aggressive retail promotions. In 2009, the popularity of low-cost netbooks gave further momentum to this trend. Netbooks are now available from online stores such as kalahari.net and ngrcomputers.co.za for as little as SAR3300, breaking new territory for affordability.

The software market is forecast at around US$1.8mn in 2010 and, despite current economic headwinds, is projected to have a CAGR of around 11% over the 2010-2014 period. South Africa’s software market is developing, despite the problem of software piracy, which still accounts for around 36% of software. The growing regional ambitions of South African companies will be a factor driving corporate spending on software, but vendors will have to meet increasing demand for vertical-specific applications. The economic slowdown represents a challenge to software vendors, as enterprises are tempted to focus more on the bottom line. This situation is likely to lead to further consideration of open source solutions in some sectors. Meanwhile, the progress of the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model in South Africa should receive a boost from projected improvements in South Africa’s broadband infrastructure.

IT Services
The IT services market is projected at around US$3.5bn in 2010 and is expected to grow to around US$5.3bn in 2014. The 2010 World Cup and other major infrastructure and transport projects provide a framework for faster spending growth during the forecast period.

Despite the current economic crisis, work will continue on most of the major infrastructure and IT projects associated with that event. Spending on IT services still depends heavily on government programmes, and in the current economic environment, the government will remain the largest spending IT services vertical, followed by financial services and telecoms.

Internet penetration in South Africa is by far the highest on the continent, although broadband penetration remains low. In the small business sector, some progress is being made: according to a 2008 survey, 63% of smaller companies that use computers to connect to the internet now have a DSL internet connection, exactly the proportion using dial-up five years ago. Despite the opportunities, prospects for the IT market remain constrained by high communication costs and uneven infrastructure development. The government has launched a series of initiatives to tackle this issue, but there are doubts as to whether the government has the will to tackle the key question of termination rates and pricing implications.

The South African broadband market will become increasingly dynamic over the next five years. One development that is expected to have a major shake-up effect on the market is the inauguration of various undersea cables. Some of these are due to go live by 2010 and will help to reduce the cost of bandwidth. Other developments that are expected to provide the broadband market with a major stimulus include local loop unbundling – scheduled for completion in 2011 – and the deployment of new network infrastructures to rival Telkom’s national network.

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