Tag Archives: Apple

Great Entrepreneurs Break the Law

Or at least bend the rules…  It has to do with the very nature of innovation; pushing the boundaries, trying new things, doing it different, living outside the box. But the tragic death of 26-year-old hactivist, Aron Swartz, have highlighted some very interesting perspectives on the relations between law and regulation on one hand, and innovation and entrepreneurship on the other. As it turns out, three of the greatest entrepreneurs of our time,  Steve JobsBill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg, start by innovating near the edge of the law.

“The word “hacker” has an unfairly negative connotation from being portrayed in the media as people who break into computers. In reality, hacking just means building something quickly or testing the boundaries of what can be done.”

Mark Zuckerberg


And the fact is, if these titans of industry had faced the same sort of overly aggressive prosecution that the late Aaron Swartz did, they could have been threatened with being locked away and branded felons before ever starting AppleMicrosoft, or Facebook. They might have even faced a ban against their use of computers, rather than using them to create hundreds of thousands of jobs. 

Steve JobsBill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg. All three are credited with creating some of the most successful businesses in the history of the Internet, but they also have something else in common: they got their start by doing something that probably would have been classified as “illegal” by the same authorities that threatened Aron Swartz with 35 years in prison and drove him to commit suicide.

In the aftermath of the Aron Swartz’ death, several online communities have joined a campaign that aims to reform the US computer law – known as the CFAA.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is a driving force behind the campaign, and according to the EFF  the CFAA and other computer crime laws shouldn’t allow overzealous prosecutors to lock away the next Steve Jobs or Aaron Swartz for years, or even to threaten to do so in order to force them to plead guilty.

“In all of their names, it’s time we bring some proportionality back to computer crime laws, both in their scope and in the penalties they provide,” Trevor Timm at EFF.org writes on their website.

“The CFAA can (and should) reach serious computer intrusions that cause real damage, as should related laws criminalizing identity theft, stealing trade secrets, or engaging in massive fraud. But the law needs to recognize the difference between commercial criminals and those who are merely “testing the boundaries” or engaging in youthful indiscretions. Right now, it hands prosecutors the same sledgehammer regardless.”

EFF.org have also made some interesting comparement between the greatest IT entrepeneurs of our time – Steve JobsBill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg.

The conclusion is even more interesting: If they had been subjected to the same treatment as Aron Swartz, there would be no Apple, no Microsoft or no Facebook today.

FULL POST@Rational Arrogance




Filed under International Econnomic Politics, Laws and Regulations, National Economic Politics, Technology

Microsoft Confirm: We’ve Been Hacked, too

We are not surprised, Microsoft writes in a statement released friday afternoon.  Quite frankly, neither am I…

As reported by Facebook and Apple, Microsoft can confirm that we also recently experienced a similar security intrusion.” 

Microsoft Security Response Center


When trying to log on to my online banking service this morning, I was met by a message that said that the service was down due to technical problems. It may, or may not, be related, but somehow I got a feeling it perhaps was more to this story than met my sleepy eyes.

And I really hate to tell you; I might be right.

On the Microsoft security pages, I found the following statement, issued on Friday afternoon:

As reported by Facebook and Apple, Microsoft can confirm that we also recently experienced a similar security intrusion.

The IT giant goes on explaining:

 During our investigation, we found a small number of computers, including some in our Mac business unit, that were infected by malicious software using techniques similar to those documented by other organizations.

Microsoft also says that the company has “no evidence of customer data being affected and our investigation is ongoing.”

Personally, I don’t find these standard press release statements very reassuring

In fact, I find the following line more interesting:

This type of cyberattack is no surprise to Microsoft and other companies that must grapple with determined and persistent adversaries.

Compared to the banking industry‘s attempts to convince me that online banking is totally safe, it seems rather clear that they are not telling me everything…

Here’s the prior analysis of emerging threat trends by Microsoft.

(Full statement)


Filed under International Econnomic Politics, Laws and Regulations, Technology

iPhone Is Secretly Tracking You

Apple iPhones and 3G iPads running iOS 4 might be tracking their owners’ movements, according to a new report from O’Reilly Radar. Evidence has been found that the iPhone and iPad, makes unprotected backups of detailed information about locations and time that shows where the mobile devices have been at any given time.

“I ran the application on my computer to find out if my iPhone has been tracking me. It returned a detailed map showing the many places I’ve been with my smart phone.”

Don Reisinger

Alasdair Allan, senior research fellow in astronomy at the University of Exeter, and writer Pete Warden say they have found evidence that the iPhone and iPad, (and backups on users’ computers) contain detailed location information, including latitude, longitude, and time stamps, that show where the mobile devices have been.

In addition, the information is unencrypted and unprotected, and it’s on any machine you’ve synched with your iOS device, they claim.

The information is reportedly stored in a file called “consolidated.db.”

The writers claim that the information, which isn’t always exact, started being collected around the time of the launch of iOS 4 last year.

They say that they have found tens of thousands of data points in this file  that, they believe, were collected via cell-tower triangulation.

However, the fact that the iPhone or 3G iPad can be tracked isn’t all that surprising.

Apple currently offers a free app, Find My iPhone, that lets users track their smart phone from another device.

The service is also available to iPad and iPod Touch owners.

But the claims made by Allan and Warden are a bit different.

For one, in their findings, users don’t know that they’re being tracked.

Moreover, exactly why that information is reportedly being tracked is unknown at this point. And as they rightly noted, “cell phone companies have always had this data, but it takes a court order to access it.”

Although the alleged findings will raise some red flags in the privacy and security community, the information the writers allegedly came across has  not being leaked out on the web – yet.

People who are concerned that their iPhone or iPad is tracking their locations can find out with the help of an application Allan and Warden released, named iPhone Tracker.

The open-source application maps all the points of location information saved in the user’s devices.

Don Reisinger at NEWS.com (CNET.com) writes:

“I ran the application on my computer to find out if my iPhone has been tracking me. It returned a detailed map showing the many places I’ve been with my smart phone.”

Map showing location-tracking information from the iPhone.

Allan and Warden plan to discuss their findings in more detail later Wednesday at the Where 2.0 conference in Santa Clara, California.

Apple did not immediately respond to the web site CNET’s request for comment.

(Source: O’Reilly Radar)

Related by the Econotwist’s:

Comments Off on iPhone Is Secretly Tracking You

Filed under Laws and Regulations, Philosophy, Technology