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The Protect IP Act: Google’s Eric Schmidt squares off against RIAA and MPAA

The Protect IP Act: Google’s Eric Schmidt squares off against RIAA and MPAA

The Protect IP Act: Google's Eric Schmidt squares off against RIAA and MPAA

Protecting intellectual property sounds like such a noble cause that you’d have to be a anarchistic free-market extremist to be against the idea, right? Actually, we don’t think Google CEO Eric Schmidt is particularly extreme in any definable way, yet this past week he spoke with gusto, railing against the proposed Protect IP Act, which was designed to “prevent online threats to economic creativity and theft of intellectual property.” If passed into law, it would give the government the right to shut down any “Internet site dedicated to infringing activities” — “infringing activities” largely being of the sort that allows dude A to download copyrighted item B from dude C when it’s unclear whether dude C has legal rights to be distributing B in the first place.

So, you know, it’s targeting the Pirate Bay and its ilk, giving government officials greater power to sweep in and snag the domains of such sites. Schmidt calls this approach a set of “arbitrarily simple solutions to complex problems” that “sets a very bad precedent.” The precedent? That it’s okay for democratic governments to go and kill any site they don’t like, something Schmidt says would only encourage restrictive policies in countries like China. While we don’t think China really needs any sort of encouragement at all to keep on building up its Great Firewall, we tend to agree that this is a much more complicated problem than the Act makes it out to be. That said, one must admit that Schmidt’s opinions are necessarily somewhat swayed by the knowledge that any such law would also have a negative impact on the business of search engines in general.

But of course no such volley of words could go unanswered from the two shining knights of copyright protection, the MPAA and RIAA, which mounted up their corporate blogs, rode down from twin castles full of lawyers, and collectively told Schmidt he’s full of it. The MPAA spun Schmidt’s comments into some sort of act of civil disobedience, saying that “Google seems to think it’s above America’s laws.” Meanwhile, the RIAA called the statement “a confusing step backwards by one of the most influential internet companies.” Obviously it’s only going to get nastier from here, so buckle your seatbelts, place your bets, and hang on to your BitTorrent clients.

Facebook’s Two New Security Features Introduced

Under fire for its recent disregard for user privacy, Facebook has made amends by tightening security and has now introduced two new features to enhance secure accounts – one-time passwords and remote logout.

One-time password is meant for people who access Facebook through public places like cybercafes. This is significant in a country like India where there is low PC penetration leading to a great chunk of the users accessing Internet from Internet Cafes. Unfortunately, this feature is restricted to U.S. only, but it may be extended to India as well. This feature is accessed by sending an SMS to receive a temporary password that expires after twenty minutes. Remote logout lets you, well, remotely sign off your Facebooks session. It’s useful when you log in through a friend’s computer or phone, but forget to log off.

However, if experts from IT security firm Sophos are to be believed, Facebook’s one-time password still leaves users vulnerable to security risks. According to Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, “If you believe a computer might not be secure in the first place, why would you use it to access personal accounts such as Facebook? A temporary password may stop keylogging spyware, giving cybercriminals a permanent backdoor into your account, but it doesn’t stop malware from spying on your activities online, and seeing what’s happening on your screen.”

Makes perfect sense, because the first rule of security is to stay clear of any unnecessary scenario that compromises security. So there’s no real reason to log into Facebook from public computers. However, for those who have no choice – like the ones who don’t have a PC – it’s an added layer of security. Like they say, something’s better than nothing.

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