Friday, April 22, 2011

The Right to be Forgotten?

MADRID -- Their ranks include a plastic surgeon, a prison guard and a high school principal. All are Spanish, but have little else in common except this: They want old Internet references about them that pop up in Google searches wiped away.

In a case that Google Inc. and privacy experts call a first of its kind, Spain's Data Protection Agency has ordered the search engine giant to remove links to material on about 90 people. The information was published years or even decades ago but is available to anyone via simple searches.

Scores of Spaniards lay claim to a "Right to be Forgotten" because public information once hard to get is now so easy to find on the Internet. Google has decided to challenge the orders and has appealed five cases so far this year to the National Court.

Some of the information is embarrassing, some seems downright banal. A few cases involve lawsuits that found life online through news reports, but whose dismissals were ignored by media and never appeared on the Internet. Others concern administrative decisions published in official regional gazettes.

In all cases, the plaintiffs petitioned the agency individually to get information about them taken down.

And while Spain is backing the individuals suing to get links taken down, experts say a victory for the plaintiffs could create a troubling precedent by restricting access to public information.

The issue isn't a new one for Google, whose search engine has become a widely used tool for learning about the backgrounds about potential mates, neighbors and co-workers. What it shows can affect romantic relationships, friendships and careers.

For that reason, Google regularly receives pleas asking that it remove links to embarrassing information from its search index or least ensure the material is buried in the back pages of its results. The company, based in Mountain View, Calif., almost always refuses in order to preserve the integrity of its index.

A final decision on Spain's case could take months or even years because appeals can be made to higher courts. Still, the ongoing fight in Spain is likely to gain more prominence because the European Commission this year is expected to craft controversial legislation to give people more power to delete personal information they previously posted online.
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"This is just the beginning, this right to be forgotten, but it's going to be much more important in the future," said Artemi Rallo, director of the Spanish Data Protection Agency. "Google is just 15 years old, the Internet is barely a generation old and they are beginning to detect problems that affect privacy. More and more people are going to see things on the Internet that they don't want to be there."

Many details about the Spaniards taking on Google via the government are shrouded in secrecy to protect the privacy of the plaintiffs. But the case of plastic surgeon Hugo Guidotti vividly illustrates the debate.

In Google searches, the first link that pops up is his clinic, complete with pictures of a bare-breasted women and a muscular man as evidence of what plastic surgery can do for clients. But the second link takes readers to a 1991 story in Spain's leading El Pais newspaper about a woman who sued him for the equivalent of euro5 million for a breast job that she said went bad.

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Friday, March 4, 2011

19% admit Web use while driving

About one in five drivers admitted in an informal online survey to surfing the Internet while behind the wheel despite a national campaign to curb distracted driving, according to insurance giant State Farm.

* Some drivers say they access the Internet when they are stopped at a light or stuck in traffic.

By John Spink, Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP

Some drivers say they access the Internet when they are stopped at a light or stuck in traffic.

Some drivers say they access the Internet when they are stopped at a light or stuck in traffic.

State Farm, which found the dangerous behavior in the unscientific survey of 912 licensed drivers in November, says it will conduct a detailed study this year.

In the November survey, more than 19% reported accessing the Internet on a cellphone at least once a week while driving. That compares with 74% who reported making or receiving calls at least once weekly while driving and 35% who reported sending or receiving text messages at least that frequently.

"That 19% might be underestimating the actual use of smartphones to access the Internet while driving, because the majority of the respondents were in the age range of the 30s," says Cindy Garretson, director of auto technology research at State Farm. "The largest users of cellphones tend to be the younger-age population. We would be very interested to know what that number would be if the focus was on the young adult market."

Most surfing drivers say they do so while stopped at a traffic light or stopped in traffic. Sean Black, 38, of Springfield, Ill., says he often surfs the Internet while driving. "I don't read in-depth stuff, but I Web and drive," he says. "I'll check different stuff about sports. I'm not saying it's the smartest thing in the world ... but I guess I just do it anyway."

Black, communications coordinator for the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, says his wife, Jennifer, abhors the practice but he doesn't know what it would take to get him to stop. "The easy answer would be an accident or near-accident," he says. "But part of me wonders, depending on how bad it would be, if even that would do it. I think it's one of those things where you just don't think anything's going to happen."

ROAD DISTRACTIONS: Most teens texting, talking

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has made distracted driving a major focus. Last year, 11 states enacted bans on texting while driving; 30 states prohibit it for all drivers, and eight more have banned it for novice drivers.

In 2009, 5,474 people were killed and 448,000 injured in distracted driving crashes; 18% of the fatalities involved cellphones as a distraction, and the under-20 age group was the most heavily involved, federal data show.

Dakota Woodward, 16, of Crestview, Fla., says he knew of efforts against distracted driving but kept accessing the Internet while driving until last December, when he was in a near-crash while updating his Facebook status on his iPhone. "I was updating my status, telling everybody where I was going," Woodward says. "I was still looking at my phone, trying to look at the road at the same time."

"I think our generation is just so technologically advanced, and we need to keep in touch all the time," says Woodward, a sophomore at Crestview High School.

"I don't look at my phone anymore," he says. "It's more important to keep my eyes on the road and my hands on the wheel than to text somebody back, or update my status, or see what somebody else is doing on Facebook. It scared me so much, I don't text and drive or Facebook and drive anymore, or do anything with my phone."


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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Bully victim suprised by his idols

PHILADELPHIA -- Who says the Philadelphia Eagles are through with national television until next season?

Receiver DeSean Jackson, and two other Eagles, made a surprise visit Thursday on ABC's "The View." They took the stage, and greeted guest Nadin Khoury, 13, of Upper Darby, Pa., with an Eagles No. 10 Jackson autographed jersey.

Jackson, as well as guard Todd Herremans and center Jamaal Jackson, were there to show their support for Khoury, who was bullied by a group of seven attackers last month, one of which videotaped the incident.

Jamaal Jackson presented a gift basket, and Herremans offered Eagles tickets to a game of Khoury's choice next season.

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Monday, January 31, 2011

Kids consult on campaign to Cure The Bullies.

Australian school children were recently involved in creating a web-based campaign aimed at identifying bystander behaviours that enable online bullying.

“Cure the bullies” was created in partnership with SchoolAid (a national Australian schools-based philanthropy network that empowers kids to help kids in crisis) and the Vodafone Foundation.

CureBulliesVisitors to the Cure The Bullies site are invited to take a test to “diagnose” their bullying behaviour, and then view their bottled creature in a public gallery. (Identifying names of kids or schools are not used on the creatures labels.)

According to the site, “the Bullies are nasty, highly contagious viruses that lurk in cyberspace, infecting young cyber citizens with unacceptable online behaviours”.

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Our mission is to provide children with a happier, safer childhood. We have created an online anti-cyberbullying service for parents and schools which makes it simple to monitor children’s online activities. Visit

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Why do kids cyberbully each other?

Who knows why kids do anything? When it comes to cyberbullying, they are often motivated by anger, revenge or frustration. Sometimes they do it for entertainment or because they are bored and have too much time on their hands and too many tech toys available to them. Many do it for laughs or to get a reaction. Some do it by accident, and either send a message to the wrong recipient or didn't think before they did something. The Power-hungry do it to torment others and for their ego. Revenge of the Nerd may start out defending themselves from traditional bullying only to find that they enjoy being the tough guy or gal. Mean girls do it to help bolster or remind people of their own social standing. And some think they are righting wrong and standing up for others.

Because their motives differ, the solutions and responses to each type of cyberbullying incident has to differ too. Unfortunately, there is no "one size fits all" when cyberbullying is concerned. Only two of the types of cyberbullies have something in common with the traditional schoolyard bully. Experts who understand schoolyard bullying often misunderstand cyberbullying, thinking it is just another method of bullying. But the motives and the nature of cybercommunications, as well as the demographic and profile of a cyberbully differ from their offline counterpart.

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Our mission is to provide children with a happier, safer childhood. We have created an online anti-cyberbullying service for parents and schools which makes it simple to monitor children’s online activities. Visit

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Don’t Forget That Mom Sees Everything You Do Online

A mother installs monitoring software on her family computer. She uses it less as a monitoring device than as a means to teach her sons about digital safety. The Post-it on the family’s computer reads: “Don’t Forget That Mom Sees Everything You Do Online.” She does not, in fact, check frequently. She just wants her boys to think before they hit the “send” button, so they understand that there is no privacy online, from her, or anyone.
Should parents be monitoring their children’s use of the internet?

Before one can answer that question they need to be aware of the reasons why a parent would do this. There are a number of issues that need to be considered:

1. The Internet is NOT a private place

Everything you do on the Internet is saved in multiple locations, whether it is email, pictures, messaging or videos. Information is logged on your computer, on the receiving servers and the computers of users that access that information. Even when your intention is private, any information, photo or video can very quickly become public.

2. The damage is irreversible
Information on the internet is backed up, copied and archived. Even if you delete the information you originally sent or posted, it can automatically becomes available from other locations on the internet which you don’t have access to delete. Many employers now search on the internet for information on their prospective employees – inappropriate information and pictures posted to the Internet ‘for fun’ can severely impact the perception of that individual in the future.

3. Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying occurs when the internet, email or mobile phones are used to deliberately and repeatedly engage in hostile behaviour to harm someone. Cyberbullying can result in those involved experiencing social, psychological and academic difficulties. There are growing concerns and links between cyberbullying and teen suicides.

4. Sexual Predators and grooming
The anonymity offered by the internet can allow people to cover their true identities. For example, someone who says they are a 12 year-old girl could actually be a 40 year-old man. This anonymity means that sexual solicitation and online grooming can occur online and are serious risks. Sexual solicitation is where someone is asked to engage in a sexual conversation or activity or to send a sexually explicit image or information. Online grooming and procuring of children over the internet is the illegal act of an adult making online contact with a child under the age of consent with the intention of facilitating a sexual relationship.

5. Exposure to inappropriate material
Children using the internet can be exposed to material that is inappropriate or harmful for them. This could be material that is sexually explicit or offensive, violent or encourages activities that are dangerous. Some websites promote extreme political, violent, racist or sexist views. Some sites contain material that is potentially prohibited or illegal.

6. Privacy
Many people do not read the Privacy Statements or Terms and Conditions of Use on internet sites and do not really know how their personal information is going to be used and whether it is being passed to other organizations. Personal information includes name, address, date of birth, phone numbers, email addresses, usernames and passwords, bank details, student identity card details or passport details.

7. The internet can be above the law
If your child is being bullied or sexually targeted on the internet who do you turn to? Your school, the local police, Internet Service Provider, website owner? What if the perpetrator is anonymous, what if the website is offshore, how do you find who is responsible? There has been many example cases where parents do not know where to turn for help.

My personal opinion is that parents from an early age must have visibility and control of their children’s life. You should not stop your children from engaging in new technologies such as the internet but at the same time you should not be giving them complete freedom – just as you don’t do this in their real life. Visibility and control can be relinquished as the child matures and as mutual trust is built.

Since we’ve determined that the Internet is not in fact a ‘Private’ place, perhaps the Post-it note on the computer should read:

Don’t Forget Anyone May See Anything You Do Online

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

How To Say No To Peer Pressure Without Feeling Guilty

Hope is a 15-year-old high school student from Stratford, NJ. She loves reading, writing, socializing with friends and her favorite subject is English because she wants to be a writer/editor.

Do you sometimes find yourself being taken advantage of? Do you think of yourself as a pushover? There is only one way to stop people from taking advantage of you. Learn how and when to say no. This sounds like it’s easier said than done, right? Well, it is. I will admit, I used to be a huge pushover and that slowly led me in the wrong direction. I would always say yes to everyone because I wanted to be nice but I was always the person who got in trouble. What helped me off of this path was realizing that my poor choices were making my grades suffer and jeopardizing the trust I had with my parents and teachers. I helped a friend cheat on a test but the teacher saw us, took my test and gave me an F, and gave my “friend” a bad grade, too. That was a huge wake up call because my grade dropped so much. My teacher was so surprised because she knew that I wasn’t the type of person that would cheat. She was right. Below are reasons to say no and how to say it.

1. Never help anyone cheat. Cheating is a big deal no matter what. Why would you risk getting in big trouble for someone else? Here’s a good example. You’re in class, taking a test. Your friends’ desks are near yours and none of them studied because they knew that you would give them the answers like you always do. And, one by one, they ask you for answers to the test. Why should you do? Politely say no. If they say that you’re not being a friend by not giving them the answers, they are obviously using you and are not your friends. Then you won’t feel as bad about saying no. Would you want to get in trouble for people who don’t even like you? But if they are your friends, tell them that you are uncomfortable with helping them cheat and they should understand. Real friends wouldn’t want you to feel uncomfortable or get in trouble.

2. Don’t jeopardize the trust you have between your parents and you. Why would your parents let you go to that party or go to see that awesome new movie with your BFFs if they can’t trust you? So think twice before stealing that small item from the store for your friend or accepting alcoholic drinks or drugs because your friends tell you it’s cool. Just tell them that you are not comfortable with
it. If they are really your friends, they will understand. Better yet, don’t befriend people who believe that having a good time involves doing bad or illegal things. There is absolutely no need to lose your parents’ trust over things that shouldn’t be a part of your life in the first place.

3. Be true to yourself. Remember that, when it comes to stealing, drinking, cheating, doing drugs, etc., what you believe is right is the most important thing. Peer pressure can make people do terrible things, but you just have to fight it. Put your morals and beliefs before everything else and you’ll find the courage to say no. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it in the end.

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