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Data, Intellectual Property, and Internet Privacy #10267
10/13/10 11:48 PM
10/13/10 11:48 PM
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The Dark Side of the Moon
AntigoneRisen Offline OP
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AntigoneRisen  Offline OP
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We've had a few users express interest and concern over privacy. This is an important topic that concerns us all. Therefore, I'm starting this thread on some of the key topics and important information, so that our users are informed.

I will try my best to keep the discussion to layman's terms, and I will answer questions.

I will separate the topics, and address them one by one:

- General internet privacy
- Individual privacy on the internet
- Data ownership
- Intellectual property ownership
- Establishing trust with a site/entity
- Ways to protect yourself
- Marriage Advocates and how the UBB software works


Critical Thinking: The Other National Deficit

"That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence." - Christopher Hitchens
Re: Data, Intellectual Property, and Internet Privacy [Re: AntigoneRisen] #10301
10/14/10 02:28 AM
10/14/10 02:28 AM
Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 12,611
The Dark Side of the Moon
AntigoneRisen Offline OP
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AntigoneRisen  Offline OP
Board of Directors
Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 12,611
The Dark Side of the Moon
General Internet Privacy

The Internet

The Internet is a network of interconnected computers that communicate with standard protocols (languages). The Internet spans every continent and country on this planet. Some computers (also known as nodes) are beyond this planet (satellites).

The Internet is quite old. It began as a United States Department of Defense project known as ARPANET. The World Wide Web (known now simply as web) is merely one portion of the Internet, and is the newest widespread portion.

The important point to remember about this brief history lesson: no single entity owns, regulates, or controls the Internet. This includes the United States government.

You may hear people claim that the US government created (and by implication, owns and controls) the Internet. This is true only to the same extent that Henry Ford developed the assembly line. Ford does not own, control, or have access to every assembly line. Similarly, the US government does not own, control, or have access to every part of the Internet.

Internet Computers

When we talk about the computers that host web content, we call them servers. Like the user's personal computers, servers can exist in any country, and often do. When you access a server beyond the borders of the United States, you are no longer protected by US law. (There are some exceptions to this, but I won't get into them here. What I've underlined is the general rule.)

Individual users rarely have any idea where the server they are accessing physically resides, and websites can redirect you to another server without your knowledge. Some browsers have attempted to address this issue by alerting you, but this alert depends on the security settings in your browser. Everyone should be aware of the security settings in their web browser.

A Discussion of Encryption

Encryption is a process by which information is transferred or saved in an unreadable format. You must have a key in order to read this information. Encryption secures information.

Internet Protocols (languages)

The web works off of two basic protocols: HTTP and HTTPS. (This is the meaning of the http: that you will see in many links.)

HTTP is by far the most common. Marriage Advocates, and most other commonly used sites, operate on HTTP. HTTP is not an encrypted protocol; thus, it is not secure.

HTTPS is fairly common for e-commerce (i.e.: Online Shopping) and e-banking. HTTPS is an encrypted and secure transmission. You will see a lock in your browser when you check-out at an online store.

Email works off three basic protocols: SMTP, POP, and IMAP. None of these protocols is secure.

Internet Traffic

A signal does not go straight from your computer to the server, and straight back from the server to your computer. The signal actually passes through many computers designed to read the address and route the signals to their destination. These computers are called routers. Routers will be owned and maintained by many different companies/entities, and you have no control over how your signal is routed.

Think of a typical mail (snail mail) letter. You address and stamp a letter. Once you put the letter in a blue mail box, it is gone. It makes many different stops, and is in many different hands, before it reaches its destination. Any of these could (although they most often do not) intercept, read, and even steal the letter.

Site Certificates

Sites running HTTPS must have a certificate that is transmitted to your browser. Some certificates are self-signed, and some are issued by trusted certificate authorities. Your browser will alert you if the site is using a self-signed (ie: they created it themselves) certificate.

Certificate authorities verify that the entity requesting the certificate is who they say that they are. The most trusted Certificate Authority is Verisign. Verisign sites display the Verisign logo. You can click on this logo and check the status of the certificate.

What does this mean for me?

What does this mean for you? Well, it means you must be careful about what data you transmit over the Internet, how you transmit it, and to whom you transmit it. The information you submit passes through many hands, and is stored by the site/person with whom you are communicating. Once that data leaves your computer, you no longer own it or control it.

Be careful even on secured sites. Any site can run a secure protocol, and the data will be secured between you and the receiver. However, that doesn't mean you can trust the receiver.

Using our snail mail example, you have no control over what the recipient does with your letter. The recipient can keep it (and it belongs to him/her), copy it, distribute copies, sell it, or simply throw it away.

A secure connection is like taking the letter directly to the recipient yourself. While it is secure in route, you still have no control over how the recipient uses the information you have given him/her.

What can I do?

1.) Choose very carefully what information you send across the internet. Never post sensitive information publicly on the internet. NEVER.
2.) Choose carefully what type of connection you use to send information. Do not send sensitive information over an unsecured connection. If you email sensitive information, use secure email, or put the information in an encrypted attachment. Simple compression tools such as WinRAR and WinZip allow you to encrypt a file and set a password. Do not communicate the password to the recipient in the same email as the attachment.
3.) Carefully choose which recipients and sites with whom you trust data. Research their privacy policy, their business credentials, and their site authenticity (such as checking out their certificate). A simple Google search can warn you in seconds about untrustworthy sites.
4.) Never post personally identifying information on a public site or forum. If you post an email address, make sure it is not your primary email address, and cannot be traced by a typical user back to you. Never post sensitive information publicly on the internet. NEVER.





Critical Thinking: The Other National Deficit

"That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence." - Christopher Hitchens
Re: Data, Intellectual Property, and Internet Privacy [Re: AntigoneRisen] #10337
10/14/10 05:56 AM
10/14/10 05:56 AM
Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 12,611
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AntigoneRisen Offline OP
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AntigoneRisen  Offline OP
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Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 12,611
The Dark Side of the Moon
Individual Privacy on the Internet

Anonymity on the Internet

You are never anonymous on the Internet. The anonymity is an illusion. Let me repeat, because this is important: You are never anonymous on the Internet.

Your Return Address

You have an address on the Internet. The most commonly known is the IP (Internet Protocol) address. Every signal you send on the Internet contains this address, and it traces right back to you.

You are assigned a local IP address by your ISP (Internet Service Provider). This transaction is logged to your account, and your particular device (which has its own, unique, registered address called a MAC address). This is your address on the ISP's network.

When you leave that network (by requesting a resource off of the Internet), you are assigned a public IP address, which is really the address of their proxy server (this protects your local IP address from others). The proxy server then maps the response back to your local IP address. The assignment of this public IP address is also logged.

These logs are never deleted. They are always available to your ISP.

Spoofing an IP address through a different proxy makes it more time consuming to track you down, but it does not make it impossible. It really isn't even an obstacle for experts tracking you.

There is always a path back to your device. If this were not so, you wouldn't receive the response on your device. This path is traceable.

Files created using programs on your local machine are saved with information embedded to identify the computer on which the file was created.

With these, and other, tools, even the most skilled hackers and virus authors are arrested and incarcerated.

Every time you visit a site, that site has the option of logging you. Most sites log their visitors: date, time, IP address, previous website (also known as the referrer), browser, and operating system are routinely logged. Every time you perform a search, this information is logged.

What do they do with these logs?

The data is typically used for benign purposes such as refining search engines, catering content to the web traffic, and determining which connection speeds, browsers, and operating systems the site supports.

This data is used to target advertising specifically to you. If your search history indicates that you have an interest in marriage counseling, your next trip to Google will likely contain ads for marriage counselors.

The way this data is used is determined by the website collecting it. You do not own this data; they do. (More on data ownership later.) Their use of this data is typically outlined in their privacy statements, Terms of Service, and Licensing Agreements. Many sites offer users the ability to opt out of sharing their data, but most of these by default opt you in, and you must take some action to opt out.

For-profit, free sites typically use this data as their revenue model. They offer advertising based upon it. Many sell this data to third parties or share it with business partners. This data is analyzed ("crunched") for market research, which is, in turn, sold to agencies (such as advertising firms) interested in the analysis. This is the revenue model for Facebook, in fact.

All Data Sent on the Internet Is Stored Somewhere

All data sent on the internet is stored somewhere. While this data may be archived, and take longer to access and restore, it is never deleted. There are some few rare exceptions, but you are by far better served assuming that all of the data you chose to send is stored somewhere.

Gmail servers have your all your emails. You may delete an email, but it exists in a backup copy of the database somewhere. You may edit a post you made on an Internet forum, but the original likely exists in a backup copy of that database.

Using our previous analogy of snail-mail (traditional mail), it is the same as sending out a letter. People can store it, copy it, etc. You do not own the letter you mailed, the recipient does.

Having said all this, panic is not necessary. Legitimate businesses act in their best interest. By that, of course, I mean their best financial interest. Businesses exist to make money, and to do that they need customers. They are not going to act in a manner that compromises their identifying personal data, which would be exposed and cause a mass exodus of customers. This includes sites that are free: their revenue depends on maintaining heavy site traffic.


What does this mean for me?

Because most businesses and entities on the Internet behave in ways to maintain a revenue base, which depends upon credibility and trust, it simply means you take reasonable precautions.

What can I do?

This list is the same as above:

1.) Choose very carefully what information you send across the internet.
2.) Choose carefully what type of connection you use to send information. Do not send sensitive information over an unsecured connection. If you email sensitive information, use secure email, or put the information in an encrypted attachment. Simple compression tools such as WinRAR and WinZip allow you to encrypt a file and set a password. Do not communicate the password to the recipient in the same email as the attachment.
3.) Carefully choose which recipients and sites with whom you trust data. Research their privacy policy, their business credentials, and their site authenticity (such as checking out their certificate). A simple Google search can warn you in seconds about untrustworthy sites.
4.) Never post personally identifying information on a public site or forum. If you post an email address, make sure it is not your primary email address, and cannot be traced by a typical user back to you. Never post sensitive information publicly on the internet. NEVER.




Critical Thinking: The Other National Deficit

"That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence." - Christopher Hitchens
Re: Data, Intellectual Property, and Internet Privacy [Re: AntigoneRisen] #12168
10/20/10 03:21 AM
10/20/10 03:21 AM
Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 12,611
The Dark Side of the Moon
AntigoneRisen Offline OP
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AntigoneRisen  Offline OP
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Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 12,611
The Dark Side of the Moon
Data Ownership on the Internet

A Word About Data Ownership

Many people* claim that ownership of data is a poor paradigm from which to view the issue. After all, from where did we get the concept that facts about the world could be owned?

I both agree and disagree. Other than individuals who claim that every reference to themselves is their data, when we discuss data ownership, we are not discussing exclusive ownership; we are discussing who owns the copy of the data in question. I agree to the extent that facts cannot be exclusively owned by a single entity.

Who Owns the Data?

You, the user, do not own the data. Let me repeat this, as it is very important: you, the user, do not own the data, even if the data is about you. The entity to whom you submitted the data owns and controls it.

Federal law controls how financial and medical (among a few others) data is collected, used, secured, and distributed. However, you still do not own this data. You do have a right to a copy of this data, but you do not own it. You cannot demand that it be deleted, for example.

The law regarding this issue is very fluid and confusing, but it hardly even matters. When you agree to user licensing agreements, terms of service, and privacy policies, you are legally signing away your ownership of your data. All of these have specific clauses, written by lawyers, to protect the entity to whom you are submitting the data.

Think of your lawyer, physician, bank, plumber, electrician, etc. They all have files on you. You have shared information with them. They own these files. They will copy them for you, but you cannot demand that they destroy your file.

These files will be stored and secured in different ways. Some will simply be in filing cabinets. Others will be locked in filing cabinets, and still others will be in special file rooms with locked doors and limited access.

Who has access to my data?

That depends upon the entity storing your data. Some may share it with third parties, either business clients or business partners.

Continuing our file cabinet analogy, some file cabinets are locked, and some are secured in locked or access-controlled filing rooms. Some files (such as medical records) have a strictly kept audit trail of who has the record, where, and for how long. However, in each of these cases, somebody has the keys. People collect, sort, update, access, and file the records.

Technology doesn't install and maintain itself by magic. It requires human intervention. This intervention comes in the form of Information Technology professionals. Thus, these entities have one or more Database Administrators, Network Administrators, Software Developers, Testers (Quality Control), and Systems Analysts who may have access to your data. Using our file cabinet analogy, one or more of these people has keys to your data.

Each of these is bound by an employment contract with privacy and non-disclosure agreements. Access to live data and the live (known as production) system are tightly controlled, but you may be sure that there are people who have access to your data.

Can I opt out of third-party data sharing?

Most of the time, you can. Best business practices and computer ethics and standards bodies preach allowing users to opt out of an entity with whom they share data in turn sharing that data with third parties. Therefore, many sites offer users the ability to opt out of sharing their data, but most of these by default opt you in, and you must take some action to opt out.

Why the Licensing Agreements, Terms of Service, and Privacy Policies?

The entities on the Internet provide services for a variety of reasons. The most common reason is profit. Other common reasons are sharing information/opinion, and assisting others. By providing these services and this information, they expose themselves to financial risk, particularly in terms of lawsuits.

They write their user licensing agreements, terms of service, and privacy policies to financially protect themselves first and foremost. Most also protect their customers/users.

A company offering free services and working from a revenue model based upon the data they collect (for advertising or research) must have ownership of this data to protect its revenue stream. It must have ownership of this data to protect itself from lawsuits. It must give responsibility for data submitted to its users to protect itself from random misuse by the general public. (Most companies take steps to remove libel/slander/copyright or trademark infringement/privacy violations, but identifying and addressing such content takes some time.)

Marriage Advocates, for instance, does not operate for profit. We operate simply to assist others, and do not want to expose ourselves to huge liabilities in return for helping others. Thus, we have our Terms of Service to which users must agree before participating, which absolves us of this liability.

In these agreements, users must generally agree to refrain from sharing the personal information of others, engaging in libel/slander/copyright or trademark infringement, harassing other users, and other rules for the service. They agree to take responsibility for the information that they submit, including legal and civil penalties.

After all, if you choose to share information or express an opinion, are you not responsible for your choice...even if you later change your mind?

Entities are protected financially from other problems, such as repeated requests by users to modify or remove data. Such actions require staff, and the more requests, the more staff are required. This runs up a large cost. Information technology professionals are not cheap.

Data Ownership Does Not Equal Copyright Ownership

Unless you sign away copyright on original works subject to copyright (more on copyright later), you still own the copyright on any works you create. However, that does not mean you own every copy of your work.

When you publish an original work on the internet, consider it to be the same as publishing an article in a magazine. Unless you have signed away (transferred) your copyright ownership, you still own the copyright on the article. However, you cannot later ask that magazine to remove every single copy of that article in every published version of the magazine.

The owner of the database to which your work has been submitted can retain that copy in their current database, and certainly will have copies in database backups. However, the owner is not obligated to retain a copy.

Why would they remove my data?

Entities on the internet are not required to retain copies of your data. There are a few exceptions, such as financial and medical institutions, but for the most part - no one is obligated to store your data.

As an entity's database grows, so does the amount of hardware and other resources used to store and maintain it. Performance for retrieval of records diminishes. At some point, old data must be archived. Most deletion of data falls under this category - archiving historical records.

Entities have the right to remove (I've seen it described as "scrubbing" out here) any data that they do not wish to keep or display. Again, there are some exceptions: financial, legal, academic, and medical data being the most common. They have the right to restrict access to their system at their sole discretion. Common reasons for this are that the data is objectionable or of no value to the entity, and to protect the message/image they wish to project.

What does this mean for me?

Because most businesses and entities on the Internet behave in ways to maintain a revenue base, which depends upon credibility and trust, it simply means you take reasonable precautions.

When writing any original content for internet forums, blogs, etc that you think is particularly good/noteworthy, retain a copy in Word (or a similar program) on your local computer, as the site owners are not obligated to either retain or retrieve a copy of your work for you.

What can I do?

This list is almost the same as above:

1.) Choose very carefully what information you send across the internet.
2.) Choose carefully what type of connection you use to send information. Do not send sensitive information over an unsecured connection. If you email sensitive information, use secure email, or put the information in an encrypted attachment. Simple compression tools such as WinRAR and WinZip allow you to encrypt a file and set a password. Do not communicate the password to the recipient in the same email as the attachment.
3.) Carefully choose which recipients and sites with whom you trust data. Research their privacy policy, their business credentials, and their site authenticity (such as checking out their certificate). A simple Google search can warn you in seconds about untrustworthy sites.
4.) Never post personally identifying information on a public site or forum. If you post an email address, make sure it is not your primary email address, and cannot be traced by a typical user back to you. Never post sensitive information publicly on the internet. NEVER.
5.) Always retain a personal copy of important/noteworthy original works you publish on the internet.
6.) Always read your registration screens carefully. These screens typically give you the option of receiving marketing emails and having your data shared with third parties.

*Link is to but one example.


Critical Thinking: The Other National Deficit

"That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence." - Christopher Hitchens
Re: Data, Intellectual Property, and Internet Privacy [Re: AntigoneRisen] #75284
02/28/11 03:41 AM
02/28/11 03:41 AM
Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 12,611
The Dark Side of the Moon
AntigoneRisen Offline OP
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AntigoneRisen  Offline OP
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Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 12,611
The Dark Side of the Moon
Intellectual Property Ownership

Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property is intangible property resulting from intellectual creativity. Intellectual property is a concept protecting the rights of those who engage in producing intellectual works: designs, approaches, conclusions, art works, electronic media, etc. Intellectual property is protected by law - patents, trademarks, and copyrights being the most common.

The concept of Intellectual Property emerged to protect the livelihood of those who produce works that, once published, could be freely copied or used by anyone without any compensation to the originator. Failure to protect these rights would result in skilled professionals in these fields becoming financially insolvent; hence, rare or even extinct. Protection of Intellectual Property encourages intellectual innovation.

Use of Other's Intellectual Property

When using the Intellectual Property of another, one must have a license to use the property. This license is granted to the user under certain terms and restrictions, and generally requires a flat fee or royalty to the Intellectual Property owner. Thus, one may develop a product using someone else's patent only under the permission of the patent owner after paying whatever compensation is required by the patent owner.

Copyright law has some exceptions, known as fair use. Fair use is covered under the limitations of US Copyright Law (title 17, US Code, sections 107 through 118). Copyright and fair use vary by country, and are often subject to international law.

As the most pressing issue to participating and posting on Marriage Advocates is copyright, fair use, and plagiarism, this post will focus on these issues.

Which works are protected by Copyright?

According to current US Copyright law, all original works are protected from the date of creation, regardless of whether or not the work is published. A subsection of "unfinished works" are protected by state copyright law (ex: lectures that have not be recorded by some means).

US Copyright Law does not require formal registration of your work. Indeed, the work is protected the minute it is recorded in some manner. Similarly, the use of a formal Copyright notification is no longer required under US Law.

Please check the international, national, and state laws governing your jurisdiction, if you reside outside of the United States. Some countries have stronger Intellectual Property laws, and many have weaker laws.

How long does Copyright last?

Copyright does not last forever. Any new works (or any created after 1977) are protected by Copyright for the creator's lifetime and 70 years after his/her death. Published works may be within Copyright for longer. After Copyright expires, works pass into the public domain, and they can be freely used, copied, and distributed.


Who owns the Copyright?

The creator/author of the work owns the Copyright, unless the creator has transferred the Copyright to another.

Transferring of Copyright is a given in some industries, such as Software Engineering. Employment contracts explicitly give Copyright on any created works to the Employer. In other cases, the original Copyright owner may have sold his/her rights, donated them, or bequeathed them to an heir in a Will.

What is fair use?

Fair use is incorporation of material subject to Copyright that does not require the permission of the Copyright holder. In general, the fair use exceptions exist for academic, critical, reporting, and parody works.

The basic rule for fair use is: do not present the original work as your own.

*Courts weigh four factors when determining fair use:

1.) The purposes and character of the use, including whether the use is primarily commercial in nature;

2.) The nature of the copyrighted work;

3.) The degree and significance of the portion used compared to the entirety of the copyrighted work;

4.) The effect on the market value of the copyrighted work.

Some general rules:

1.) Do not claim credit for others' ideas or work. Always reference and cite the original work. Give credit where it is due.

2.) If you are quoting a work, keep the quote as brief as possible, and always identify it as a quote of the original.

3.) If at all possible, state the information in your own words. Do not quote unless necessary for your point. Paraphrasing is your pal. (When paraphrasing a work, still reference and cite the original.)

4.) When writing on the Internet, give a link to the original, even if it is just a link to the Amazon listing of the original book.

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is using the Intellectual Property (ideas, words, works, music) of another while claiming the work as your own. Plagiarism is avoided by proper citation, quotation, and paraphrasing of others' work within a larger body of your own work.

What does this mean for me?

It means you must be careful when referencing/quoting another's work. Always give proper credit. It also means that you own the copyright on anything you publish, including on the Internet.

What can I do?

1.) Never copy and paste another's work wholesale or in large portions, particularly without reference or credit. NEVER.
2.) Keep a personal copy of any works of particular value that you produce and publish on the Internet.

Additional Reading:

Understanding Copyright by Daniel Steven - publishlawyer.com
Copyright Information Center - University of Chicago
Copyright Law and Fair Use - Stanford University
Fair Use - Stanford University
*Fair Use in a Nutshell - Copyrightlaw.com





Critical Thinking: The Other National Deficit

"That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence." - Christopher Hitchens

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