Statement of the Working Party on current discussions regarding the data protection reform package

Statement of the Working Party on current discussions regarding the data protection reform


Since the adoption of the data protection reform package on 25 January 2012, the Working Party has issued two opinions providing input into the legislative process (WP191 and WP199). Having regard to the current discussions and the stage of the legislative procedures both in the European Parliament and in the Council, the Working Party would like to again express its views on 6 identified areas of concern that are in need further attention, these are flexibility public sector, personal data and pseudonymisation, consent, governance, international transfers and risk-based approach.

In addition to these areas of concerns, the issues of lead DPA and competence and of the exemption for household and personal activities have been more thoroughly discussed, the outcomes of which are attached to this statement.

Flexibility public sector

The Working Party is aware that there is an ongoing discussion on providing more flexibility for the public sector in the proposed Regulation on the protection of personal data. The Working Party understands that processing activities by the public sector for public interest purposes will have to remain possible also under the proposed Regulation, there are however no compelling reasons to create even more flexibility than already provided. The Working Party would like to stress that data protection is a fundamental right, guaranteed both by the Treaty of Lisbon and the Charter on Fundamental Rights. As a fundamental right, the right to data protection is not dependent on whether the data controller is from the private or the public sector. Moreover, given the powerful position of governments in relation to individuals, effective protection is all the more needed. A distinction between the public and private sectors would only lead to legal uncertainty and would also be unworkable in practice, since there are large differences between the Member States regarding what functions are done by public bodies and what by private bodies.


Personal data and pseudonymisation

Since 2007 the Working Party has held that a natural person can be considered identifiable when, within a group of persons, (s)he can be distinguished from others and consequently be treated differently. This means that the notion of identifiability includes singling out.1 Where identification of the data subject is not one of the purposes of the processing, technical measures to prevent identification can play an important role. Using pseudonymising techniques, to disguise identities to enable collecting data relating to the same individual without having to know his/her identity, can help mitigate the risks to individuals. Encryption is a measure to technically protect personal data, it however does not change the nature of the data, which remains personal. Pseudonymising data is disguising identities in a retraceable way. When identities are disguised in a way that no reidentification is possible this is anonymisation. Therefore using a pseudonym or encryption, means that where it is possible to backtrack an individual or (indirectly) identify an individual by other means, data protection rules continue to apply.


Consent of the data subject is one of the legal grounds for processing. The Working Party insists that it is absolutely necessary to ensure consent cannot be misused. Therefore, where consent is used as the legal ground, it must be sufficiently clear. Consent can be expressed in many different ways, for instance through a statement or an affirmative action, but it should be an essential requirement that it is explicit. To truly enable data subjects to exercise their rights, especially on the internet where there is now too much improper use of consent, requiring it to be explicit is an important clarification of the notion and should therefore not be deleted from the text. Furthermore placing the burden of proof on the controller and introducing safeguards in the context of a written declaration, greatly strengthen the rights of individuals. In addition, the Working Party would like to stress that consent cannot be a valid legal basis if there is a significant imbalance between the position of the parties concerned.



The Working Party has played an important role until now in terms of policy making and the provided interpretative guidance has proven its added value. The Working Party’s successor, the European Data Protection Board (EDPB), will possibly play an even more important role in the future. The enhanced duties for both DPAs and the EDPB will help ensure EU-wide compliance and will greatly enhance the protection of personal data. These extended duties however also imply great changes for the DPAs regarding the (re-)allocation of their scarce resources. To ensure all DPAs are sufficiently equipped to perform their tasks, the budget of a DPA should be based on a fixed amount to cover the basic functions that all DPAs have to undertake equally, supplemented by an amount based on a formula related to the population of a Member State and its GDP and the amount of main establishments in that Member State. In addition, the Working Party feels DPAs should be enabled to be selective in order to be effective. They should be able to define their own priorities and to start actions, such as investigations, on their own initiative, notwithstanding the obligations regarding cooperation, mutual assistance and consistency according to Chapter VII. Therefore, to ensure DPAs and the EDPB can effectively carry out their duties it is necessary to provide clear rules on issues such as budget, equality of powers, the margin of discretion for DPAs and how the mutual assistance and the consistency mechanism are to be put to practice.


International transfers

Considering the interconnected world and the trend of globalization, the Working Party recognizes the need for data to cross borders. It is however important that individuals receive the same protection of their personal data when it is transferred to 3rd countries as within the European Union. Considering the discussions that currently take place on the Regulation on data protection to also enable data transfers by using non binding instruments, the Working Party would once more like to stress that bindingness is one of the most important requirements for tools enabling international transfers for ensuring appropriate safeguards for data subjects. Furthermore, self-assessment for transfers to third countries should remain a derogation to adequate safeguards with a very limited scope. As already stated in Opinion 1/2012, such a derogation must be based on an exceptional basis, only for nonmassive and non-repetitive transfers. The Working Party furthermore stresses the need to include in the Regulation the obligatory use of Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs) in case of disclosures not authorised by Union or Member States law. Without a provision on the obligatory use of MLATs when they are in place will, amongst others, allow for wide transfers of personal data for a large and unlimited category of “important grounds of public interests”. When a judgement of a court or tribunal or a decision of an administrative authority of a third country requests a controller or processor to transfer data from the EU to that third country and there is no MLAT or another international agreement in force between the requesting third country and the Union or Member State(s), the transfer of such data should be prohibited.

Risk-based approach

The Working Party recognizes that some of the provisions in the proposed Regulation may pose a burden on some controllers which may be perceived as unbalanced and has therefore in earlier opinions already expressed the view that all obligations must be scalable to the controller and the processing operations concerned. Compliance should never be a box-ticking exercise, but should really be about ensuring that personal data is sufficiently protected. How this is done, may differ per controller. This difference however, is not only dependent on the size of the controller, or on the amount of processing operations it carries out, but is also dependent for example on the nature of the processing and the categories of the data it processes. Basing exceptions on quantitative qualifiers risks excluding companies from certain obligations that are actually of vital importance. Data subjects should have the same level of protection, regardless of the size of the organisation or the amount of data it processes. Therefore the Working Party feels that all controllers must act in compliance with the law, though this can be done on in a scalable manner.

FTC Releases Top 10 Complaint Categories for 2012

Identity Theft Tops List for 13th Consecutive Year in Report of National Consumer Complaints

Identity theft is once more the top complaint received by the Federal Trade Commission, which has released its 2012 annual report of complaints. 2012 marks the first year in which the FTC received more than 2 million complaints overall, and 369,132, or 18 percent, were related to identity theft. Of those, more than 43 percent related to tax- or wage-related fraud.
The report gives national data, as well as a state-by-state accounting of top complaint categories and a listing of the metropolitan areas that generated the most complaints. This includes the top 50 metropolitan areas for both fraud complaints and identity theft complaints.
The remainder of complaint categories making up the top 10 are:
Debt collection199,72110 percent
Banks and Lenders132,3406 percent
Shop-at-Home and Catalog Sales115,1846 percent
Prizes, Sweepstakes and Lotteries98,4795 percent
Impostor Scams82,8964 percent
Internet Services81,4384 percent
Auto-Related Complaints78,0624 percent
Telephone and Mobile Services76,7834 percent
Credit Cards51,5503 percent
A complete list of all complaint categories is available on page six of the report.
The FTC enters complaints into the Consumer Sentinel Network, a secure online database that is available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies across the country. Agencies use the data to research cases, identify victims and track possible targets.


EU may fine Microsoft over browsers by end-March - sources

EU competition regulators plan to fine Microsoft Corp before the end of March in a case tied to the U.S. software giant's antitrust battle in Europe more than a decade ago, three people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
The European Commission had accused Microsoft in October last year of breaking a promise to offer European consumers a choice of rival browsers in the previous version of its Windows operating system.

The company made the pledge in 2009 to settle an EU antitrust investigation and stave off a penalty that could have been as much as 10 percent of its global revenue.

"The Commission is planning to fine Microsoft before the Easter break," one of the sources said, adding that it is possible that procedural issues could push back the decision.

The size of the fine could be significant because this is the second time that Microsoft has failed to comply with an EU order.

The spokesman for competition policy at the Commission, Antoine Colombani, declined to comment.

Microsoft, whose shares were up slightly in afternoon trading, did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

The Commission has sanctioned Microsoft to the tune of 1.6 billion euros ($2.1 billion) to date for not providing data at fair prices to rivals, requiring software developers to create products to work with its products, and for tying its media player to its operating system.

The EU antitrust authority has said that the latest offence occurred between February 2011 and July 2012. Microsoft has blamed it on a technical error, saying that it has since tightened internal procedures to avoid a repeat.

The matter did not escape the notice of Microsoft's board, which cut the bonus of chief executive Steve Ballmer last year, partly because of the Windows division's failure to provide a browser choice screen as required by the European Commission, according to its annual proxy filing in October.

Microsoft's share of the European browser market has roughly halved since 2008 to 24 percent in January, below the 35 percent held by Google's Chrome and Mozilla's 29 percent share, according to Web traffic analysis company StatCounter.
By Foo Yun Chee

Developing a Framework To Improve Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity


Notice; Request For Information (Rfi).


The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is conducting a comprehensive review to develop a framework to reduce cyber risks to critical infrastructure1 (the “Cybersecurity Framework” or “Framework”). The Framework will consist of standards, methodologies, procedures, and processes that align policy, business, and technological approaches to address cyber risks.
1For the purposes of this RFI the term “critical infrastructure” has the meaning given the term in 42 U.S.C. 5195c(e), “systems and assets, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that the incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination of those matters.”
This RFI requests information to help identify, refine, and guide the many interrelated considerations, challenges, and efforts needed to develop the Framework. In developing the Cybersecurity Framework, NIST will consult with the Secretary of Homeland Security, the National Security Agency, Sector-Specific Agencies and other interested agencies including the Office of Management and Budget, owners and operators of critical infrastructure, and other stakeholders including other relevant agencies, independent regulatory agencies, State, local, territorial and tribal governments. The Framework will be developed through an open public review and comment process that will include workshops and other opportunities to provide input.

Table of Contents Back to Top

DATES: Back to Top

Comments must be received by 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on Monday, April 8, 2013.

ADDRESSES: Back to Top

Written comments may be submitted by mail to Diane Honeycutt, National Institute of Standards and Technology, 100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8930, Gaithersburg, MD 20899. Submissions may be in any of the following formats: HTML, ASCII, Word, RTF, or PDF. Online submissions in electronic form may be sent to Please submit comments only and include your name, company name (if any), and cite “Developing a Framework to Improve Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity” in all correspondence. All comments received by the deadline will be posted at without change or redaction, so commenters should not include information they do not wish to be posted (e.g., personal or confidential business information).Show citation box


For questions about this RFI contact: Adam Sedgewick, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230, telephone (202) 482-0788, email Please direct media inquiries to NIST's Office of Public Affairs at (301) 975-NIST.
Source and read more:

Apple erasing iCloud emails containing phrase 'barely legal teen'

Rather than isolating them to a spam folder, Apple is deleting any trace of emails received by iCloud users that contain the phrase "barely legal teen." Reports of the odd situation have surfaced lately and The Verge is able to confirm firsthand that messages including the text (either in subject or the email's body) are disappearing. Apple is also erasing any emails sent from an iCloud email address that contain the three words in succession. Bizarrely, changing "teen" to "teens" is all it takes for a message to get through successfully.
Back in November, InfoWorld reported that users were observing similar behavior when email attachments included the trigger phrase. Apple now appears to be screening plain-text messages for the words. We've also tested a number of other phrases and found that nearly any other vulgarity could be sent without issue. Thus we're not sure if what we're seeing is intentional on Apple's part or merely a bug, but it's important to note such actions are permitted under Apple's Terms of Service:
Apple reserves the right at all times to determine whether Content is appropriate and in compliance with this Agreement, and may pre-screen, move, refuse, modify and/or remove Content at any time, without prior notice and in its sole discretion, if such Content is found to be in violation of this Agreement or is otherwise objectionable.
Is Apple — no stranger to porn controversies — quietly enforcing censorship, or is this instead the result of an overzealous spam filter built into iCloud? We've reached out to Apple for more details on the matter and will report back should the company respond.

By Chris Welch

The pirated audiobook from Paulo Coelho


"Dear friends:
Close to one year ago I wrote a piece on SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act)
In that post, I said:
we should fight any control on Internet. Because all writers want what they write to be read, whether in a newspaper, blog, pamphlet, or on a wall.
The more often we hear a song on the radio, the keener we are to buy the CD. It’s the same with literature.
The more people ‘pirate’ a book, the better. If they like the beginning, they’ll buy the whole book the next day

Yesterday, Feb 27, I found a pirated audiobook of “The Alchemist”.
The only thing you have to do is to click the link at the top of this post, and there you have the full book, read by Jeremy Irons.
You can listen or download it, and nobody is controlling you – except your conscience.
But you calso tell the entertainment industry that “piracy” is not the danger they think it is.
Everybody is esssentially honest. I believe in this, and I am not naive.
Let’s make a deal:
If you listen to more than 5 minutes, please buy the book (or the audiobook ) so the industry will understand that “piracy” is not a threat to their business.
Nobody is watching you, as I said before.
It is your decision, and I am sure it will be the best decision.

 See more at:

A Medical Lab in Your Smartphone

The digital age has made what was once obscure visible. In ways we never could before, we can quantify the world -- make it knowable to us, comprehensible to us -- by gathering data and identifying patterns and generally converting experience into information.
One of the last things to have its outlined sharpened through data's lens, though, has been the object most intimate to us: our own bodies. For that understanding, we tend to rely on the same sources of expertise that previous generations of humans did: medical professionals. We may turn to websites like WebMD, out of curiosity or genuine health concerns or hypochondriacal tendencies, to diagnose our minor ailments; we may log our diets through MyNetDiary or our workouts through FitBit; we may track our sleep patterns with products like WakeMate. But while sites and apps have been very good at tracking our health-related behavior, they have been significantly less good at tracking our health itself. Our bodies remain, for the most part, mysteries. Mysteries that are solved, for the most part, only by occasional trips to the doctor.
But that's changing. Medical practice, while still largely undertaken in hospitals and doctors' offices, is expanding out into patients' day-to-day lives. A world already familiar with home pregnancy tests and home blood glucose tests and even home AIDS tests now has another home-based diagnostic product to make use of: an at-home urinalysis system. At the TED conference in Long Beach this week, former MIT student and current entrepreneur Myshkin Ingawale introduced uChek, which is, as its name (sort of) hints at, a urine-testing app.
Yep: Urinalysis -- there's an app for that.
And, no, the app does not require you to pee on your smartphone. It does, however, require you to pee into a cup with a chemical strip attached to it. The app, Wired explains, then analyzes those strips "by first taking photos with your phone at predetermined times and comparing the results that appear on the pee-soaked strip to a color-coded map."
The app then offers a breakdown of the elements present in the user's urine, comparing levels of things like glucose, ketones, leukocytes, nitrites, and proteins -- much like a urine test conducted at a medical lab would do, only without the trip to the lab. The app then presents the results to the user, offering visual breakdowns that indicate normal versus abnormal levels of each compound. (It also offers more detailed info on each compound so you can see more about, say, what ketones are and what high levels of them mean to your health.)
The specific idea of the app isn't to write doctors and other professionals out of the equation; it makes a point of its ability to provide doctors with more detailed information for them to analyze. The app does, however, aim to help those with diabetes -- or with kidney, bladder, or liver problems -- to manage their diseases on a day-to-day basis. (It might also offer some evidence of things like urinary tract infections.) The broader point, though, is to empower people as patients -- to acquaint them them with their bodies' rhythms, to familiarize them with the workings of their own atoms and bits. "The idea is to get people closer to their own information," Ingawale put it. "I want people to better understand what is going on with their bodies."

By Megan Garber

Lightning Lab – New Zealand’s Digital Accelerator

The Lightning Lab puts seed investment and intensive mentoring into elite teams of startup entrepreneurs and pushes them to make their business idea fly within three months. Businesses are supported by a set of dedicated technical and business personnel, mentorship from leading entrepreneurs and business experts.

We provide an investment pathway for brilliant teams, with great ideas in interesting markets.

The programme is open to any team of startup founders across New Zealand and internationally and will run early 2013. Applications are now closed. If you are interested in applying to future programmes subscribe for updates!

A member of the Global Accelerator Network, which comprises 51 of the top accelerators globally, Lightning Lab puts startups in front of a world of knowledge, talent and connections to turn a 12-week sprint into a high-growth digital business with momentum and follow-on investment.

The Lightning Lab is an in-residence programme based in Wellington. It will culminate in a major pitching event called Demo Day, to a packed room of investors.

The first of its kind in New Zealand, this is the opportunity of a lifetime to get your business opportunity kick started with funding, expertise, massive exposure and connections.



Big biology: The ’omes puzzle

Where once there was the genome, now there are thousands of ’omes. Nature goes in search of the ones that matter.

’Omics bashing is in fashion. In the past year, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal have run pieces poking fun at the proliferation of scientific words ending in -ome, which now number in the thousands. One scientist has created a bad­omics generator, which randomly adds the suffix to a list of biological terms and generates eerily plausible titles for scientific papers (example: ‘Sequencing the bacteriostaticome reveals insights into evolution and the environment’). Jonathan Eisen, a microbiologist at the University of California, Davis, regularly announces awards for unnecessary additions to the scientific vocabulary on his blog (recent winner: CircadiOmics, for genes involved in daily circadian rhythms).
Botanist Hans Winkler had no idea what he was starting back in 1920, when he proposed the term ‘genome’ to refer to a set of chromosomes. Other ’omes existed even then, such as biome (collection of living things) and rhizome (system of roots), many of them based on the Greek suffix ‘-ome’ — meaning, roughly, ‘having the nature of’. But it was the glamorization of ‘genome’ by megabuck initiatives such as the Human Genome Project that really set the trend in motion, says Alexa McCray, a linguist and medical informatician at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. “By virtue of that suffix, you are saying that you are part of a brand new exciting science.”
Researchers also recognize the marketing potential of an inspirational syllable, says Eisen. “People are saying that it’s its own field and that it deserves its own funding agency,” he says. But although some ’omes raise an eyebrow — museomics (sequencing projects on archived samples) and the tongue-in-cheek ciliomics (study of the wriggling hairlike projections on some cells) — scientists insist that at least some ’omes serve a good purpose. “Most of them will not make sense and some will make sense, so a balance should be in place,” says Eugene Kolker, chief data officer at Seattle Children’s Hospital in Washington, and founding editor of the journal Omics. “If we just laugh about different new terms, that’s not good.”
Ideally, branding an area as an ’ome helps to encourage big ideas, define research questions and inspire analytical approaches to tackle them (see ‘Hot or not’). “I think -ome is a very important suffix. It’s the clarion call of genomics,” says Mark Gerstein, a computational biologist at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. “It’s the idea of everything, it’s the thing we find inspiring.” Here, Nature takes a look at five up-and-coming ’omes that represent new vistas in science.

By Monya Baker
Source and read more:

When Google got flu wrong

US outbreak foxes a leading web-based method for tracking seasonal flu

When influenza hit early and hard in the United States this year, it quietly claimed an unacknowledged victim: one of the cutting-edge techniques being used to monitor the outbreak. A comparison with traditional surveillance data showed that Google Flu Trends, which estimates prevalence from flu-related Internet searches, had drastically overestimated peak flu levels. The glitch is no more than a temporary setback for a promising strategy, experts say, and Google is sure to refine its algorithms. But as flu-tracking techniques based on mining of web data and on social media proliferate, the episode is a reminder that they will complement, but not substitute for, traditional epidemiological surveillance networks.
“It is hard to think today that one can provide disease surveillance without existing systems,” says Alain-Jacques Valleron, an epidemiologist at the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris, and founder of France’s Sentinelles monitoring network. “The new systems depend too much on old existing ones to be able to live without them,” he adds.
This year’s US flu season started around November and seems to have peaked just after Christmas, making it the earliest flu season since 2003. It is also causing more serious illness and deaths than usual, particularly among the elderly, because, just as in 2003, the predominant strain this year is H3N2 — the most virulent of the three main seasonal flu strains.
Traditional flu monitoring depends in part on national networks of physicians who report cases of patients with influenza-like illness (ILI) — a diffuse set of symptoms, including high fever, that is used as a proxy for flu. That estimate is then refined by testing a subset of people with these symptoms to determine how many have flu and not some other infection.
With its creation of the Sentinelles network in 1984, France was the first country to computerize its surveillance. Many countries have since developed similar networks — the US system, overseen by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, includes some 2,700 health-care centres that record about 30 million patient visits annually.
But the near-global coverage of the Internet and burgeoning social-media platforms such as Twitter have raised hopes that these technologies could open the way to easier, faster estimates of ILI, spanning larger populations.
The mother of these new systems is Google’s, launched in 2008. Based on research by Google and the CDC, it relies on data mining records of flu-related search terms entered in Google’s search engine, combined with computer modelling. Its estimates have almost exactly matched the CDC’s own surveillance data over time — and it delivers them several days faster than the CDC can. The system has since been rolled out to 29 countries worldwide, and has been extended to include surveillance for a second disease, dengue.

By Declan Butler
Source and read more:

Social Resilience in Online Communities: The Autopsy of Friendster


We empirically analyze five online communities: Friendster, Livejournal, Facebook, Orkut, Myspace, to identify causes for the decline of social networks. We define social resilience as the ability of a community to withstand changes. We do not argue about the cause of such changes, but concentrate on their impact. Changes may cause users to leave, which may trigger further leaves of others who lost connection to their friends. This may lead to cascades of users leaving. A social network is said to be resilient if the size of such cascades can be limited. To quantify resilience, we use the k-core analysis, to identify subsets of the network in which all users have at least k friends. These connections generate benefits (b) for each user, which have to outweigh the costs (c) of being a member of the network. If this difference is not positive, users leave. After all cascades, the remaining network is the k-core of the original network determined by the cost-to-benefit c/b ratio. By analysing the cumulative distribution of k-cores we are able to calculate the number of users remaining in each community. This allows us to infer the impact of the c/b ratio on the resilience of these online communities. We find that the different online communities have different k-core distributions. Consequently, similar changes in the c/b ratio have a different impact on the amount of active users. As a case study, we focus on the evolution of Friendster. We identify time periods when new users entering the network observed an insufficient c/b ratio. This measure can be seen as a precursor of the later collapse of the community. Our analysis can be applied to estimate the impact of changes in the user interface, which may temporarily increase the c/b ratio, thus posing a threat for the community to shrink, or even to collapse.

Authors: David Garcia, Pavlin Mavrodiev, Frank Schweitzer

The Internet Needs a Plan B

Danny Hillis is one of the earliest internet users. He registered the third domain name ever, (“I thought, so many interesting names, maybe I should register a few other names? Nahh that wouldn’t be very nice.”) Clutching a gray book about an inch thick on stage, Hillis described those early days. “This is everyone who had an internet address in 1982,” Hillis told the crowd at TED 2013 on Wednesday. “It had your name, address and phone number. You were actually listed twice, because it was also indexed by internet address. We didn’t all know each other, but we all kind of trusted each other.”

If you could do it, Hillis estimates today’s internet directory would be 25 miles tall. As Hillis has watched the internet grow in size and importance in the last three decades, he has also watched its vulnerability grow. “We have taken a system essentially built on trust, and we have expanded it way beyond its limits.”
Why that vulnerability is so frightening to Hillis is that so many things we don’t imagine as being connected to the internet actually are. “When you take off from LAX, you don’t think you’re using the internet,” Hillis says. “When you pump gas, you don’t think you’re using the Internet. But these systems are using the internet for service functions, for administrative functions.”
The internet has expanded from connecting that small directory of people, to connecting all kinds of systems and things. “No one really understands all the things it’s being used for right now,” Hillis says. And while a lot of attention is paid to protecting individual computers and networked systems, no one is really focused on protecting the internet itself. “We’re setting ourselves up for disaster, like we did with the financial system,” says Hillis.
Hillis points to a series of recent disasters or near-disasters. YouTube went dark for all of Asia recently because Pakistan was fiddling with how it censored it. All flights west of the Mississippi were grounded because a single router had a bug in it. A year ago, 15 percent of U.S.-based internet traffic, including the data stream from U.S. military installations, was routed through China. “China Telecom says it was an honest mistake, and it’s possible that it was,” Hillis says. “But certainly someone could make a dishonest mistake of that sort if they wanted to.”
And then there was Stuxnet, an ingenious bit of coding that caused the centrifuge at an Iranian nuclear facility to spin out of control and destroy itself. “That facility didn’t think of itself as being connected to the internet,” Hillis says. But the malicious code still made its way there.
“What if there was an effective denial of service attack on the internet?” Hillis asks. “We don’t know what would happen, and we don’t have a Plan B — we don’t have a plan for how to communicate when the internet is in trouble.”
What Hillis imagines is a second network that could come online in case of emergency. It would use different protocols from the existing internet, and would be kept separate as much as possible (“Hygiene would be required,” Hillis says.) So when the internet goes down, police stations, hospitals and airports could still function.
In the face of the billions of dollars that companies and governments face to lose if their swath of the internet is taken over by bad guys, to say nothing of the chaos that would occur with a wholesale shutdown of the internet, the few hundred million dollars it would cost to build Hillis’ Plan B seems like money well spent.
It wouldn’t be too hard to pull off technically; it’s just a matter of focus and will. “It’s very hard to get people to focus on Plan B, when Plan A is working so well,” Hillis says. “There is a belief somebody must be on it, somebody is out worrying about this problem, but nobody really has responsibility for the whole thing.”
Hillis imagines that private industry would be willing to pony up to help fund the development of this backup network, and agree to subscribe to it as a service. “Then we’ll go build it,” Hillis says.
By Michael  V. Copeland

Game of Thrones Director: Online Piracy Doesn’t Matter — Wait, It Does

The television adaptation of Game of Thrones isn’t just a success for its parent channel, HBO; it also holds the dubious honor of being the most pirated television show of last year on TorrentFreak and other public bittorrent trackers, something that one of the show’s directors, David Petrarca, didn’t seem to mind … at least until his comments on piracy at a recent panel discussion attracted widespread internet attention.

Talking during an appearance at the Perth Writers Festival last weekend, Petrarca reportedly told his audience that he believed that illegal downloading didn’t matter because of the “cultural buzz” and commentary generated by those watching. He went on to say that HBO’s sizable subscriber base — 26 million in the U.S. alone, and 60 million worldwide — meant that the channel was able to afford to create high-quality programming despite those downloading and watching the show illegally.

According to TorrentFreak, a single episode of the show saw around 4,280,000 downloads last year — roughly the same number of people who watch the show on HBO in the U.S. — with more than 80 percent of the downloads occurring outside of the United States. Australia is said to be responsible for 10 percent of each episode’s downloads, a statistic that led to Petrarca’s comment in Perth.

Almost as soon as Petrarca had spoken, his words were widely disseminated and discussed across the internet, leading to a retraction from the director. “I am 100 percent, completely and utterly against people illegally downloading anything,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald earlier today. “Nobody wins by illegally downloading content.”

What he originally meant, Petrarca explained, was that the high level of illegal downloads merely proved that the strength of the show’s fanbase and buzz, not that the downloads contributed to said buzz. “A buzz is created by the fact that so many people want it,” Petrarca explained, adding that he hopes that there will one day be a legal way for international fans to watch the show online. “It is my hope that technology will find a way to take care of the piracy issue,” he said. “I think most people would be willing to pay for a show they love.”

When contacted for comment on this story, HBO released a statement to Wired that “Game of Thrones is sold worldwide, available legally on a large variety of viewing platforms and is one of HBO’s most popular series. With that kind of success comes a great amount of social media chatter, so can’t say we see an upside to illegal downloads.”

Despite HBO’s comment about the show being available legally “on a large variety of viewing platforms,” there remains an ongoing discussion about online access for HBO’s content. Outside of HBO’s proprietary HBOGo service — a streaming service which requires a paid subscription to the HBO cable channel — and individual episodes or seasons for sale on iTunes and Amazon, the show is not legally available online in the United States; HBO rejected offers from the likes of Netflix for streaming rights to its shows in an attempt to maintain as much control over its content as possible.

Last year a fan-led campaign called Take My Money, HBO! tried to convince the cable channel that there was a willing — and paying — audience for a standalone HBO streaming service. “We pirate Game of Thrones, we use our friend’s HBOGo login to watch True Blood,” the campaign admitted. “Please HBO, offer a standalone HBOGo streaming service and Take My Money!” In response, HBO tweeted that it “love[d] the love for HBO,” but directed everyone to a TechCrunch article that suggested that such a decision wouldn’t make financial sense for the channel. With such a high level of piracy, however, the channel may soon have to reconsider the question of whether or not streaming distribution via third party aggregators will end up being the lesser of two evils.
By Graeme Mcmillan

Apple, Google, Facebook Tell Supreme Court: Gay Marriage Is Good for Business

The biggest tech companies in the world are standing up for same-sex marriage, but not just as a matter of fairness. Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft are just a few of hundreds of companies that have signed on to a brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that federal same-sex marriage restrictions hurt their businesses.

In all, 278 companies joined to support the friend-of-the-court filing, among them some of the country’s biggest and most visible. Other tech companies listed as backers of the brief include Adobe, Cisco, eBay, Electronic Arts, Intel, Intuit, Oracle, Twitter and Zynga.

And tech companies aren’t the only ones getting behind the push to overturn the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Some of the biggest non-tech names include Citigroup, Johnson & Johnson, Goldman Sachs, Nike, CBS Corp., Starbucks and Disney.

All of the companies signed on to the filing are located or operate in states where same-sex marriages are legal or recognized, according to the brief. The conflict between those laws and DOMA, which bars federal recognition of same-sex marriage, needlessly burdens those companies with extra costs and bureaucratic tangles, the filing argues. In effect, DOMA puts the companies in a position that “forces us to treat one class of our lawfully married employees differently than another, when our success depends upon the welfare and morale of all employees.”

That morale, the brief goes on to argue, depends upon “a workplace ethos of transparent fairness.” Specifically, the companies argue federal law forces companies to engage in administrative acrobatics to offer equal benefits to all employees “to compensate for the discriminatory effects of DOMA,” such as unequal tax treatment of opposite-sex versus same-sex couples. As a result, keeping morale high and recruiting new talent — a persistently present issue for tech companies — becomes harder, which the companies say affects their bottom lines.

Morale and money aren’t the only issues, however. The companies say that DOMA also forces them to betray their principles. “DOMA conscripts (companies) to become the face of its mandate that two separate castes of married persons be identified and separately treated,” the brief complains, even in states, counties and cities that ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and marital status.

The filing comes at a pivotal point in the shifting debate over same-sex marriage. Tomorrow is the deadline to submit friend-of-the-court briefs to the Supreme Court in the push to overturn DOMA and California’s Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage in the state. Yesterday a group of prominent Republicans filed their own brief arguing against the same-sex marriage bans — among them Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman, whose own company did not join many of its Silicon Valley rivals in attaching its name to today’s filing.

Not so many years ago, the decision by these popular companies to take a stand on such a divisive social issue would have seemed incredibly risky. Even today, Apple, Google, Facebook and the others have plenty of fans who are no fans of same-sex marriage.

But Stanford University law professor Jane Schacter, who specializes in constitutional and sexual-orientation law, says the landscape has changed as opinion polls begin to show majority support for same-sex marriage, especially among young people. Schacter believes the companies likely see support of same-sex marriage as a good marketing move to court the demographic groups they covet most.

“It’s almost a branding thing (for companies). ‘We’re the future. We’re where things are moving, not where they’ve been in the past,’” she says. “I think there is very little for them to lose.”

What’s more, she says the brief could influence the justices’ thinking on the issue. Opposition to the same-sex marriage bans from such a broad range of institutions signals to the court that the debate over the issue doesn’t break down along predictably partisan lines.

Ultimately, Schacter says the court has to decide if the government has good reason to discriminate against one class of people. Vocal, reasoned opposition to the laws from big companies means one less good reason in the Supreme Court’s eyes to uphold same-sex marriage bans, she says: “It’s likely to look to the court more like an issue of prejudice and intolerance.”
By Marcus Wohlsen

"You do have to worry about your computer security, but you also need to worry about everybody else's"

Technology journalist Mat Honan and Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince have something in common - they've both been hacked by a Long Beach teenage member of the UGNazi hacktivist group.
At the RSA Conference in San Francisco today, Honan and Prince spoke about their experiences in a session entitled "We were hacked: Here's what you should know".
And, I'm afraid what they had to say spells bad news for those of us who love to use the internet and embrace cloud-based technologies to manage our lives more easily.
Because you no longer have to worry just about your own computer security - you also need to start worrying about everybody else's.

The hack of Mat Honan

In the case of Honan, who has written for publications such as Gizmodo and Wired, the hack last year resulted in him having his Gmail account hijacked, and his iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air remotely wiped.
To make things worse, Mat Honan hadn't backed up his laptop for 2 years. And when his MacBook was wiped, he lost priceless photos of his daughter who was just 18 months old at the time. (Yes, he admits he was "a jerk" for not making backups.)
For good measure, the hackers also locked Honan out of his @mat Twitter account, and began to post racist and offensive comments. For a short while, the hackers were also in control of the official Gizmodo Twitter account too.
Just how Matt Honan's online accounts fell at the hands of hackers has been well documented - although Honan himself has to shoulder some of the blame for not using free security features such as two factor authentication to defend his Google account, Apple and Amazon's customer service departments and account recovery processes unwittingly assisted the hack.
As Honan described it in his talk, "you do have to worry about your own security, but you also need to worry about everybody else's".
All of this effort to hack one journalist, and you have to ask yourself why? According to Honan, the only answer he ever got from the hackers was that they were after his rare three character Twitter account - @mat.

How the hack of Cloudflare hit 4Chan

CloudflareMatthew Prince had a similar unpleasant experience, at the hands of UGNazi hackers - even though he probably thought he was doing everything right. For instance, he had a long, complex, randomised password to protect his Gmail account.
But last year hackers were able to trick Google into adding a bogus recovery email address to Prince's personal Gmail account, and then use that address to reset his password.
No guessing or cracking of Prince's passwords was required.
In a series of automated voicemails, the hackers taunted Prince - even revealing that they had bought his social security number from an underground Russian website.
As Prince told the delegates at the RSA conference, "If you don't think your social security number can be bought from a Russian website, you're wrong. It can."
It gets worse, though. Prince is CEO of Cloudflare, and like many other companies Cloudflare uses Google Apps for Business for its email system. The hackers, who were now in control of Prince's personal account, were able to request a password reset for Cloudflare's Google App's admin panel.
This shouldn't have been possible, because Cloudflare was using two-factor authentication for its Google Apps accounts, but an oversight in Google's account recovery process meant no authentication code was ever asked for. (Google says it has since fixed the problem).
With apparent ease, the UGNazi hackers had gained access to Cloudflare's communications.

By Graham Cluley
Source and read more:

Respect For the Masters: RIP "Privacy and Freedom"'s Father "Alan F. Westin

Alan F. Westin, a legal scholar who nearly half a century ago defined the modern right to privacy in the incipient computer age — a definition that anticipated the reach of Big Brother and helped circumscribe its limits — died on Monday in Saddle River, N.J. He was 83.

The cause was cancer, his family said.
A lawyer and political scientist, Mr. Westin was at his death emeritus professor of public law at Columbia, where he had taught for nearly 40 years.
Through his work — notably his book “Privacy and Freedom,” published in 1967 and still a canonical text — Mr. Westin was considered to have created, almost single-handedly, the modern field of privacy law. He testified frequently on the subject before Congress, spoke about it on television and radio and wrote about it for newspapers and magazines.
“He was the most important scholar of privacy since Louis Brandeis,” Jeffrey Rosen, a professor of law at George Washington University and the legal affairs editor of The New Republic, said in a telephone interview on Thursday. “He transformed the privacy debate by defining privacy as the ability to control how much about ourselves we reveal to others.”
Since the first hominid grunted gossip about the hominid next door, every new communications medium has entailed new impingements on privacy. In a seminal 1890 article in The Harvard Law Review, Mr. Brandeis, the future Supreme Court Justice, and his law partner, Samuel D. Warren, were the first to articulate privacy as a legal right, defining it as “the right to be let alone.”
Brandeis and Warren were concerned primarily with covert photography; later scholarship, including work by Mr. Westin in the 1950s, centered on things like illegal wiretapping.
But by the 1960s and ’70s, as the widespread computerization of legal, financial, medical and other personal records loomed, technology had outrun the law.
Reproductive rights cases of the period — including the landmark Supreme Court cases Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965 and Roe v. Wade in 1973 — held that the Constitution protected an individual’s right to privacy in matters of the human body, including contraceptive use and abortion rights. But the law was largely silent on the question of how personal data might be used by government or the private sector.
During these years, long before the personal computer and longer still before the Internet, Mr. Westin set out to codify just this kind of privacy for the modern age.
“He knew social history, and he could appreciate the directions that the technology was pushing the social contract,” Lance J. Hoffman, the director of George Washington’s Cyber Security Policy and Research Institute, said in an interview.
Individuals, Mr. Westin argued in “Privacy and Freedom,” have the right to determine how much of their personal information is disclosed and to whom, how it should be maintained and how disseminated.
“This concept became the cornerstone of our modern right to privacy,” said Marc Rotenberg, the executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, an advocacy group in Washington. “Part of ‘Privacy and Freedom’ is the argument that privacy enables freedom.”
“Privacy and Freedom” received two prestigious journalism prizes, the George Polk Award and the Hillman Prize.
The book, along with other work by Mr. Westin, is widely considered the foundation of a spate of modern privacy laws, among them the Privacy Act of 1974, the first law to delimit the gathering and use of personal information by the federal government.
Mr. Westin was no absolutist. In his early work on wiretapping, for instance, he condoned its use in certain instances, including cases where national security was at stake.
His argument prefigured the current national debate about privacy engendered by post-9/11 legislation like the Patriot Act, which Mr. Westin, in a 2003 interview, called “a justified piece of legislation.”
“He insisted on a balance between the competing demands of privacy, disclosure and surveillance,” Mr. Rosen said. “Much of his work in the 1960s and ’70s appears so prescient after 9/11 and in the age of Internet.”
When it came to the use of consumers’ personal data by corporations, Mr. Westin also steered a middle course. Consumers were entitled to withhold such data, he argued, but were equally entitled, if they wished, to have it used to alert them to products and services targeted to their interests. (This stance caused Mr. Westin to be accused by some critics of allying himself too closely with business interests.)
Mr. Westin, who in the 1970s was editor in chief of The Civil Liberties Review, a publication of the American Civil Liberties Foundation, published and edited the newsletter Privacy & American Business from 1993 to 2006. He was a consultant on privacy issues to major corporations, including Equifax, the consumer credit reporting giant; GlaxoSmithKline, the pharmaceutical concern; and Verizon Communications.
Mr. Westin’s wife died before him, as did a son, David. His survivors include a son, Jeremy; a daughter, Debra Westin; and three grandchildren.
A posthumous book by Mr. Westin, about privacy as a historically and philosophically Jewish construct, is being completed by Mr. Rosen.
In recent years, Mr. Westin turned his attention to the Niagara of personal data loosed by Google, Facebook and their ilk. Trying to stem this tide was a hopeless task, and he knew it.
“He recognized that the problems of protecting privacy are now so daunting that they can’t be dealt with by law alone, but require a mix of legal, social and technological solutions,” Mr. Rosen said.
The son of Irving Westin and the former Etta Furman, Alan Furman Westin was born in Manhattan on Oct. 11, 1929; received a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Florida in 1948, followed by a law degree from Harvard in 1951; was admitted to the bar in 1952; married Bea Shapoff, a teacher, in 1954 in a ceremony in which the bride wore a waltz-length white gown; joined the Columbia faculty in 1959; earned a Ph.D. in political science from Harvard in 1965 (his dissertation topic was “Privacy in Western Political History”); lived for many years in Teaneck, N.J.; edited a string of books, including “Freedom Now! The Civil-Rights Struggle in America” (1964), “Information Technology in a Democracy” (1971) and “Getting Angry Six Times a Week: A Portfolio of Political Cartoons” (1979); once made a sound recording titled “I Wonder Who’s Bugging You Now”; was a member of the American Civil Liberties Union, the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith and the American Jewish Congress; had a Social Security number obtained in Massachusetts; and was a registered Democrat who last voted in 2011 — all public information, obtainable online at the touch of a button or two. 
By Margalit Fox

Inside the Battle of Hoth: Security Mistakes

How did the Galactic Empire ever cement its hold on the Star Wars Universe? The war machine built by Emperor Palpatine and run by Darth Vader is a spectacularly bad fighting force, as evidenced by all of the pieces of Death Star littering space. But of all the Empire’s failures, none is a more spectacular military fiasco than the Battle of Hoth at the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back.

From a military perspective, Hoth should have been a total debacle for the Rebel Alliance. Overconfident that they can evade Imperial surveillance, they hole up on unforgiving frigid terrain at the far end of the cosmos. Huddled into the lone Echo Base are all their major players: politically crucial Princess Leia; ace pilot Han Solo; and their game-changer, Luke Skywalker, who isn’t even a Jedi yet.

The defenses the Alliance constructed on Hoth could not be more favorable to Vader if the villain constructed them himself. The single Rebel base (!) is defended by a few artillery pieces on its north slope, protecting its main power generator. An ion cannon is its main anti-aircraft/spacecraft defense. Its outermost perimeter defense is an energy shield that can deflect Imperial laser bombardment. But the shield has two huge flaws: It can’t stop an Imperial landing force from entering the atmosphere, and it can only open in a discrete place for a limited time so the Rebels’ Ion Cannon can protect an evacuation. In essence, the Rebels built a shield that can’t keep an invader out and complicates their own escape.

When Vader enters the Hoth System with the Imperial Fleet, he’s holding a winning hand. What follows next is a reminder of two military truths that apply in our own time and in our own galaxy: Don’t place unaccountable religious fanatics in wartime command, and never underestimate a hegemonic power’s ability to miscalculate against an insurgency.
Source and read more:

Foreign hackers steal more than a terabyte of data per day in ongoing cyberwar

Security experts predict attacks will get worse before they get better

Two decades after computer security began generating billions by selling expertise and software designed to protect unwanted network intrusions, experts say those networks are more vulnerable than ever. Florida-based Internet security firm Team Cymru said in a report released today, shared exclusively with The Verge, that analysts there uncovered a massive overseas hacking operation that is making off with a terabyte of data per day. Some of the victims include military and academic facilities and a large search engine. The report doesn't identify who might be behind the attacks, but Team Cymru director Steve Santorelli conceded that, given the amount of resources behind the attacks, it is obvious the group is state-sponsored. "This is Internet theft on an industrial level," said Santorelli, a former detective with Scotland Yard.
The United States is under siege. Team Cymru's report follows on the heels of similarly damning research issued last week by security firm Mandiant, a document that could be read as an indictment of the entire cyber-security sector. Mandiant detailed how a group of cyber commandos employed by China has electronically raided the computer networks of hundreds of American companies over several years to pilfer precious trade secrets. In a story about the Mandiant findings, The New York Times reported that Washington now believes China also has the ability to use the internet to sabotage water supplies, shut down power stations and hobble our financial system. But security experts say China is only one of dozens of different threats bearing down on the United States and it's been that way for a long time."Washington is going crazy right now," said Richard Forno, assistant director of the University of Maryland, Baltimore's Center for Cybersecurity. "Everyone is pointing fingers at the Chinese. That's not a strategic response. We should be asking why did China have this type of access for so long? What are we doing wrong? The attitude is: 'How dare you?' But if you're worried about fire, then why build an all-wood house."

Source and read more:

Internet Sleuths Add Evidence to Chinese Military Hacking Accusations

Regular users of the Internet have been busy in the week since The New York Times reported that Mandiant, a computer security firm, had tied a prolific Chinese hacking group to a specific People’s Liberation Army unit in Shanghai.
Chinese-speaking users and amateur hackers have scoured the Internet for traces of the online personas of those who Mandiant claims work on behalf of China’s P.L.A. Unit 61398. The new evidence, while circumstantial, adds to the signs suggesting Chinese military efforts to hack into American corporate computer systems. Mandiant said that in one case, people were able to trace one of the P.L.A.’s hackers to an apartment building located 600 meters from the military unit’s headquarters. In another, they were able to trace one hacker back to the P.L.A.’s Information Engineering University, described by American computer security researchers as one of the Chinese military’s top training schools for computer hacking. They also found recruitment notices for Unit 61398, suggesting the group has been active since at least 2004, despite the fact that the unit’s headquarters were not built until later.
In its report, Mandiant singled out a hacker named “DOTA,” possibly shorthand for the video game “Defense of the Ancients,” which is often abbreviated to DotA. That hacker created e-mail accounts that were used to begin several cyberattacks. The password for several of those accounts were a play on the Chinese military unit’s designation. To register the accounts, DOTA used a Shanghai phone number.
This past week, Chinese-speaking Internet users disclosed on Twitter that DOTA’s telephone number was listed in a 2009 ad for a Shanghai apartment rental. The apartment is 600 meters from Unit 61398’s headquarters.
Another online persona that Mandiant singled out was of a military hacker named “Superhard.” The author of a cybercrime blog, Cyb3rsleuth, connected the user name “Superhard_M” to the e-mail address That e-mail address was also used in a job posting, in which the person lists his skills and interests as “network security and developing hacking tools.” The address listed in the post matched the address for the Information Engineering University. In a Northrop Grumman report for the U.S.-China Economy and Security Review Commission last year, defense analysts said the school, in Zhengzhou, Henan Province, “is perhaps the military university with the most comprehensive involvement in information warfare and computer network operations training, planning and possibly also execution.”
Cyb3rsleuth found that a P.L.A. university student named Mei Qiang was co-author of two papers about hacking in 2007 and 2008, one titled “HTTP Session Hijacking on Switch LAN and Its Countermeasures” and the other “Stack Protection Mechanisms in Windows Vista.”
Mandiant’s report found that Unit 61398’s headquarters in the Pudong new area of Shanghai was not built until early 2007. But China Digital Times found a 2004 military recruitment notice on a Zhejiang University Web site: “Unit 61398 of China’s People’s Liberation Army (located in Pudong District, Shanghai) seeks to recruit 2003-class computer science graduate students.”
“This corroborates our assertions concerning the kinds of personnel that Unit 61398 recruits,” Mandiant said in a blog post online. “This also indicates Unit 61398 has been operating in Pudong since 2004, even though the current headquarters facility was not built and operational until years later.”

By Nicole Perlroth

Red Bull Gives You Wings - Commercial 2013


"Anadolu Efes" Reklamı : "Senden Daha Güzel"


Eulerian Video Magnification for Revealing Subtle Changes in the World


Our goal is to reveal temporal variations in videos that are difficult or impossible to see with the naked eye and display them in an indicative manner. Our method, which we call Eulerian Video Magnification, takes a standard video sequence as input, and applies spatial decomposition, followed by temporal filtering to the frames. The resulting signal is then amplified to reveal hidden information.

Using our method, we are able to visualize the flow of blood as it fills the face and also to amplify and reveal small motions. Our technique can run in real time to show phenomena occurring at temporal frequencies selected by the user.

Authors: Hao-Yu Wu, Michael Rubinstein, Eugene Shih, John, Fredo Durand, William Freeman

Source and full text:

EU eHealth project epSOS wins HealthTech Innovation Award

epSOS project coordinator Fredrik Lindén received the 2013 HealthTech Innovation Award for pioneering the adoption of auto ID technologies in the world of healthcare.
During the ID World Summit held in Abu Dhabi, the HealthTech Innovation Award was given to Fredrik Lindén, Project Coordinator of the Smart Open Services for European Patients (epSOS).
“This award to Mr. Fredrik Lindén is for the development of feasible cross-border eHealth services, addressing technical, semantic and legal interoperability challenges that culminated in the large scale pilot project, epSOS, The project can improve the quality and safety of healthcare for citizens travelling to another European country” said Sophie B. de la Giroday, President of Wise Media and Host of the Summit.
The prestigeous HealthTech Innovation Award is assigned to the person who is pioneering the adoption of auto ID technologies in the world of healthcare to improve patient security, hospital efficiency and the safe supply of pharmaceuticals.



Monday, 11 March 2013 to Friday, 15 March 2013

Stamford Plaza Hotel, Auckland, New Zealand

The CRF is delighted to announce registrations for CRF2013 in Auckland, New Zealand from Monday 11th to Friday 15th March 2013 have exceeded expectation.
Hosted by the New Zealand Companies Office CRF2013 marks the 10th anniversary of the organisation and the conference promises to build on the great work that has been achieved over this time.

This 4-day event is designed to maximise the flow of information and your networking opportunities. We have three evening events we are sure you will not want to miss, and all are included in the registration fee. We look forward to meeting with you in March 2013.

Source and other details:

MWC 2013: Visa, Samsung sign global alliance agreement to accelerate NFC m-payments

Visa and global device manufacturer Samsung have signed an alliance agreement to enable Samsung mobile devices with Visa payment technology and to partner with financial institutions to accelerate the availability of mobile payment solutions globally.
Under the agreement, financial institutions that are planning to launch mobile payment programs will be able to use the Visa Mobile Provisioning Service to download payment account information to NFC-enabled Samsung devices. In addition, Samsung has agreed to load the Visa payWave applet onto its mobile devices featuring NFC technology. Visa payWave is Visa’s mobile payment applet that enables consumers to make “wave and pay” contactless payments using mobile devices.
In recent news, Visa has launched a new partner program designed to accelerate the introduction of payment solutions globally and further drive the global migration from cash to electronic payments.


Disease Diagnosis at the Touch of a Button

Caltech researchers develop affordable and portable disease diagnostics for the developing world
When viruses like HIV/AIDS strike in underdeveloped regions of the world, they often spiral out of control in part because there is no easy way to bring diagnostic equipment to remote areas so that the diseases can be identified, treated, and stopped before they spread. Now, an inexpensive, portable, easy-to-use device, built by a team of Caltech engineers and biologists, promises to speed the diagnosis of HIV/AIDS and other diseases—and improve treatment—in even the most far-flung corners of the world.
The team is led by Caltech biologist and Nobel Laureate David Baltimore, president emeritus and the Robert Andrews Millikan Professor of Biology, and Axel Scherer, the Bernard Neches Professor of Electrical Engineering, Applied Physics and Physics. With two recent grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Scherer and Baltimore have built a new version of a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) device, which generates many copies of a pathogenic nucleic acid, allowing the infection to be detected.
The new PCR machine is small enough to stow in a backpack and is as simple to operate as a DVD player. Its inventors hope that it will make rapid molecular diagnostic techniques and the resulting health-care benefits available and affordable to all who need them.
The device is the result of nearly 10 years of research at Caltech. In 2004, Scherer, a leader in the field of microfluidics, and George Maltezos—then Scherer's graduate student (PhD '07), now a Caltech senior scientist—were investigating how to manipulate biological fluids on a chip. While this was an interesting engineering problem, Maltezos began to wonder whether he could apply the microfluidic techniques that he was perfecting to real-world problems. Then the H5N1 bird flu pandemic erupted in Asia, and he and his colleagues had their real-world problem.
The best tool for diagnosing H5N1 is a PCR machine, which, in this case, takes small amounts of viral material and makes a large number of copies so that the virus can be identified. In 2005, a PCR machine cost about $50,000—too expensive for most health clinics in the developing world. That summer, Maltezos built a prototype of a far less expensive PCR machine that went on to perform well in field tests in Thailand, where H5N1 was rampant. Still, it was far from a commercially viable product, in part because it didn't give results quickly enough.
To improve the performance of the device, Maltezos and Scherer thought that they needed a better handle on the biology behind infectious diseases, so they then teamed up with Baltimore. It made sense to approach Baltimore, who won his Nobel for work in virology and is one of the world's leading experts on AIDS. If they could build something to detect H5N1, they figured, it would be equally useful for detecting other viruses or diseases, like HIV/AIDS.
By the end of 2006, a newer version of the instrument could evaluate a sample in just 94 seconds—compared to 45 minutes with standard PCR machines—and a company, Helixis, was soon formed to manufacture and sell the technology. Helixis's first product, a pathogen-detection PCR instrument called the Eco, sold for $13,000 and quickly became a global market contender. In 2010, Helixis was acquired by Illumina, a San Diego–based biotech company, for approximately $105 million.
But while the Eco is fast and relatively cheap, it's still the size of a microwave oven—not something that you want to lug up a mountain trail or through a rainforest to reach a village with sick people. After the buyout, Maltezos teamed up with Baltimore's and Scherer's labs to help build a new-generation PCR machine specifically for use in remote areas of the developing world. With such a simple PCR machine, doctors in an African village, for example, would be able to almost immediately diagnose people suffering from hard-to-diagnose diseases like tuberculosis, or determine whether a patient's AIDS medications are effective against the virus.
To bring a portable PCR machine to a point-of-care setting in a remote area, Scherer says, "it has to be inexpensive, it has to be robust, and we also have to automate as much as possible." The newest prototype, which runs off a rechargeable battery and operates at the push of a button, consists of a chip that can analyze a blood sample to spot different pathogens. In addition to tuberculosis and HIV, the machine can diagnose acute lower-respiratory diseases, diarrheal diseases, malaria, and other conditions.
The goal, Maltezos says, is to bring the machine's cost below $1,000 and each test under $5. The preliminary results from clinical tests show that the device is working well. "Now we need to get it out of the lab and to the people who need it," he says.
For Baltimore, the motivation behind teaming with Scherer and Maltezos was the chance to make a difference in global health. "I believe that the basic science we do can make an immediate difference in the lives of the people most at risk in the world: the poor people of the underdeveloped countries," he says. "Our HIV work has that focus, and in Helixis I saw the opportunity to improve the diagnosis of disease in resource-poor environments. Helixis went part of the way toward that goal, and with Axel and George we continue to improve the access to PCR technology."

By Michael Rogers