Countries Using ISPs to Help Curb Copyright Violations in 2015

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Copyright violations and copyright law may vary from country to country, but the legal and professional impact they can lead to is essentially the same. The U.S., the United Kingdom, Australia and Russia have all taken steps to prevent copyright violations online in 2015 with the help of ISPs. As a member of the IT community, you owe it to yourself and your clients to learn what steps these countries are taking and how they can impact other areas of the internet, such as social media and sharing sites.

 Down Under Copyright Violations 

In Australia, telecommunications companies will soon be required to let internet users know whenever they are in breach of a copyright and inform users of how to access information the legal way. As a way to enact this new mandate set forth by the Attorney General and the Minister of Communication, telecom companies have to create an industry code for the Australia Communications and Media Authority to register, an industry code that will include how internet users are notified.

Even if users don’t breach a copyright, Australia’s ISPs will still have to do their part in preventing copyright violations, such as working with copyright holders to implement a warning notice and education process. The cost of paying for the systems required for monitoring internet users and sending them the proper notification of a copyright violation will be divided between ISPs and copyright holders. Australia’s government has given ISPs an April 8, 2015 deadline for agreeing on a way to properly address copyright violations.

United Violations 

Starting sometime after the spring of 2015, British ISPs will start sending written notices to repeat offenders who download pirated material along with suggestions as to how they can obtain their materials the legal way. The voluntary mandate, known as the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP), is a joint effort between right holders groups and ISPs called Creative Content UK. For now, the program will only apply to P2P file sharing.

What’s unique about the UK’s approach to online copyright violations is that there aren’t any legal consequences for those who receive warnings. The campaign is more about properly educating internet users rather than punishing them for downloading pirated material. The bigger ISPs have signed on to start sending users written notices, and the smaller ISP companies are being encouraged to do their part as well.

Meanwhile, In Russia… 

Russia has its legal sights set on cracking down on online piracy and copyright violation. Starting this year, any website in the country found to be guilty of several copyright violations will be permanently banned in Russia. If any website is found to be in violation of copyright and blocked, there’s no way that it can become unblocked. While this measure might seem drastic and somewhat biased towards those who are rights holders, what makes the situation even more extreme is that it doesn’t have to be verified that the website is in violation of copyright. A website can be legally blocked if it’s even suspected to be guilty of copyright violation.

The reason the country has taken such extreme measures to curb copyright infringement is that Russia is considered to be the absolute worst when it comes to copyright offenses. It’s been reported that there are more than roughly 70,000 websites in Russia that have been blacklisted, but mainly due to the loosely designed blacklisting mandate.

In addition to the new measure, Russia has also required that communications operators in the country will pay intellectual property rights holders a fee for unencumbered use of online content and universal licenses. What this fee also does is let users off the hook for any piracy liability, which might lower the overall amount of work courts and authorities have to do.

The Copyright Violation Felt ‘Round the World 

As for which countries will adopt the same measures as the U.S., Russia, Australia and the United Kingdom, the answer remains unclear. Since copyright law is different from one country to the next, there’s no such thing as international copyright law. That being said, there are 160 countries that have agreed to a treaty that sets a minimum of requirements for safeguarding the legal rights of rights holders around the globe.

Something else to consider with the copyright laws for different countries is that it can be difficult to decide on what constitutes as a violation when dealing with content that’s shared with several different countries. What’s not considered a violation in one country might be a grave offense in another country. When it comes to such a situation, which country’s laws should be used to determine the outcome of the case?

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Share and Share a Copyright

If you’re on any type of social media platform, then you can be considered to be a publisher. Unfortunately, many of your fellow publishers, and possibly yourself included, tend to publish and share without proper regard to the most current copyright laws. Think about it, how many times have you done your due diligence before sharing a picture, video or piece of writing? You might very well be in violation of a copyright right not and not even realize it.

In regards to Twitter, the idea that original tweets can receive copyright protection depends on the idea of whether or not the protection would safeguard the original author’s interest for work intended for a tangible medium. While you’ll have to fight beak and talon to copyright your tweets, doing so isn’t entirely unheard of.

While social media users are often under the impression that attributing another individual’s work absolves them of any wrongdoing or violation, that’s actually not the case. Giving credit and receiving permission are two separate things. For instance, the original owner of the work might not like the site his or her material was shared on. That being said, social media companies can now be held responsible for the actions of their users, and that’s especially true when the company either directly or indirectly encourages the violation of a copyright. Doing so can make the company vulnerable to a legal claim.

Members of the IT community will do well to remain plugged in to the latest developments regarding copyright violations worldwide. You never know when a user’s or client’s mistake might end up with legal troubles for the both of you.

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Are Certain Countries a Threat to Web Security?

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The concept of cyber warfare is not particularly new. However, numerous criminal organizations in foreign countries claim to work for, or obtain funding from, widely recognized government organizations. Cyber warfare is a multifaceted concept that is almost impossible to trace or predict.

The issue was recently brought to light after Google recently blocked unauthorized SSL certificates issues by the National Informatics Centre of India, a division of India’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. Google first recognized the unauthorized certificates on July 2, 2014. The Indian Controller of Certifying Authorizes revoked all of the intermediate certificates within 24 hours. Google reported that the certificates are “trusted by the vast majority” of programs on Windows, such as Chrome and Internet Explorer.

SLL certificates are one of the main elements of online security. However, there is no definitive proof that the certificates from the Indian Controller of Certifying Authorities were malicious. In December 2013, Google mistakenly revoked trust for digital certificates, which were mistakenly signed by a French intermediate certificate authority.

Cyber Warfare Concerns and Realities

The People’s Republic of China might not be behind the recent attacks from a group of Chinese hackers on the United States. Recently, a Chinese business man was arrested for hacking U.S. defense contractors, including Boeing. There is evidence that the group received underground funding from the government agency. However, the validity of the statement is almost impossible to prove. Hackers can easily find vulnerabilities in systems and emulate a variety of private and government agencies.

In a related example, gamers received fake emails from the domain blizzard.com, which had nothing to do with the MMO enterprise Blizzard. It is common for hackers to emulate .gov and .edu sites in hopes of gaining access to secure government information or appearing larger than life. Is a large government agency backing malicious attacks in hopes of acquiring secure information and wreaking havoc on infrastructure? No one can be sure.

Attacks Focused on U.S. Infrastructure

A primary concern among numerous security experts are vulnerabilities in United States infrastructure. Water systems, wastewater systems, electric grids, and internet service could be brought down virtually by North Korea or Iran. However, the scope of the damage is difficult to estimate. Wet utility providers typically cover a limited geographic area. People left without water could take refuge 30 miles away from their homes. To put things in perspective, similar occurrences happen yearly in the United States due to natural disasters.

Almost by accident, the infrastructure in the United States is largely disjointed. Power grids and wet utility lines are not connected throughout the country. The New York Power Outage of 2003 is proof that life can still go on after utility failure in a densely populated area. However, military bases and nuclear plants such as Y-12 would make more appealing targets for cyber warfare.

Numerous people might be surprised to learn that gaining sensitive information about utility lines and service lines in Buckley Air Force Base located in Aurora, CO is as simple as conducting a Google search. The City of Aurora also published recent information regarding infrastructure in the area that is easy to access on its website.

The Battle for Net Neutrality in the United States

Net neutrality in the United States might or might not solve pressing security issues, especially if vulnerabilities can be traced back to publishing sensitive information on Google. Net neutrality cannot reasonably combat arguably the greatest security vulnerability—user error.

Widespread education efforts about granting access and types of cybercrime are poorly understood by numerous government employees. Currently, a degree of net neutrality exists in the U.S. However, implementing a blanket policy would be a momentous undertaking, and security risks would still exist. Rather than increase internet regulation, national security can be improved by widespread education efforts. The human element cannot be taken out of the most sophisticated systems; the battle for net neutrality will have to be able to address pressing concerns regarding end users before a comprehensive solution can be implemented.

Are Foreign Governments the Only Concern for National Web Security?

Fifteen-year old Jonathan James was successfully able to hack numerous networks including Miami-Dade County, NASA, the U.S. Department of Defense, and Bell South. James was sentenced to prison due to the breach of web security. James downloaded $ 1,700,000 of assets and cost NASA three weeks of downtime and $ 41,000 while the agency investigated the security breach. Sadly, the bright teenager committed suicide in 2008 after being investigated for a number of other malicious web attacks.

One of the largest global engineering firms which routinely completes federal contract work for the U.S. Federal Government recently identified a vulnerability in its network. Temporary administrative access could be obtained for 45 minutes and subsequently renewed every 45 minutes after access expired. The vulnerability was identified by an employee who found instructions for how to gain temporary admin access in the firm’s extensive employee manual in order to fix a routine IT issue after the employee and re-entered the security code to see what would happen. The firm currently has major operations in the United States, China, and Russia. At least the information was published on the firm’s intranet site, which only tens of thousands of employees around the globe have ready access to.

Teenagers, Municipal Employees, Global Firms, and National Security Breaches

Security vulnerabilities are too often associated with rudimentary user error. Did the Indian Controller of Certifying Authorities sign the certificates as an oversight? Did the Chinese group of hackers actually have financial backing from the People’s Republic of China? It is difficult to tell. Web warfare is almost impossible to trace. Net neutrality might only be part of the solution, or net neutrality might be more of a hindrance than a security benefit. In the end, there is reason for concern due to web security threats from foreign countries, and appropriate measures should be taken to mitigate risk.

However, security measures cannot be completely embedded in code. End user education should be considered a primary defense tactic. After all, the last thing a United States Air Force base needs to learn after a malicious attack from a foreign group is, “Well, we just Googled it.”

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Governments Must Step Up to Increase Cloud Adoption in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: Report

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The United Nations released a new report on Tuesday that examines the economic potential of cloud computing for low- and middle-income countries, where rates of cloud adoption are currently low.


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Woman Cripples Two Countries With a Shovel

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Well I am not 100% sure it was a shovel, but leading with, sharpened implement used in scrap-metal hunting would have sucked a lot of the drama and power out of the title. On with the show.

The woman in question was a 75 year old retiree hunting scrap metal for fun and profit. Upon scavenging she inadvertently cut the line that provides roughly 90% of Armenia’s Internet as well as some of Georgia’s Internet as well. Sources from Caucasus Online (the largest Georgina Internet service provider) basically said that Internet was down for just about 5 hours.

The woman might be brought on charges, whether she will or not is up in the air. I have seen a lot of comments on how she needs to rot in jail for scavenging and some folks blaming her for purposefully cutting the line to see if it held copper… etc etc etc.

Isn’t anyone the list bit curious why 90% of Armenia’s Internet is sent via 1 cable? Or better yet why was it so shallowly dug in? Or how is it possible for a 75 year old woman to be able to cut it so easily?

Seriously, this is 90% of a country’s Internet! That sucker should have been shoved deep underground and backup lines deployed. Caucasus Online should have given the woman a bounty for finding so horrible a flaw in their network.

Hmm, a 75 year old, never heard of the Internet before, ethical hacker… you can’t make this stuff up honestly.

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