Tag Archives: google

Според данни за мобилността от Google: Българите са най-мобилни на Балканите в условията на строги ограничения

Post Syndicated from Атанас Чобанов original https://bivol.bg/bulgaria-balkans-google-mobility.html

петък 3 април 2020


Насред тежките ограничения заради пандемията от COVID-19, мобилността на българските граждани е намаляла най-малко в сравнение със съседните страни, показват данни разпространени от Google.

Данните са от геолокализацията на мобилни устройства и са анонимизирани. Те обхващат периода от 16 февруари до 29 март и са предоставени публично, за да могат правителствата да се информират за реалното положение със спазването на карантинните мерки – твърдят от световния интернет гигант.

Мобилността в България според данните на Google към 29 март.

Мобилността е разделена на три категории – Шопинг и развлечения (Retail & recreation)  или посещения в търговски центрове, кафенета, ресторанти, музеи, кина и атракциони; Хранителни стоки и аптеки (Grocery & pharmacy) или посещения в магазини за хранителни стоки, пазари и аптеки; Паркове (Parks) или посещения на паркове, градини и плажове. Данните са обобщени като разлика в проценти на посещаемост спрямо периода преди ограничителните мерки.

Дисциплината на българите в категориите “Развлечения” и “Пазаруване” е най-зле на Балканите, а в категорията “Паркове” е по-добре единствено от Босна и Херцеговина, показва сравнението на данните за различни страни, направено от Биволъ. Това заключение е условно, тъй като за Албания и Сърбия не са налични данни към този момент.

Шопинг и развлечения

Пазаруване и аптеки

Паркове

Всъщност България стои много по-близо до Нидерландия, където режимът на ограниченията е по-либерален. На Балканите шампион и в трите категории е Румъния. Без изненади, в Европа класацията по намалена мобилност се оглавява от най-засегнатите Италия и Испания.

Една от интерпретациите на тези данни е, че строгите мерки за ограничаване на социалната и физичска отдалеченост в България не се спазват. Ниска дисциплина в това отношение демонстрираха и българските народни представители, които преди два дни се наредиха на опашка за тестване от COVID-19 в две столични болници. На снимките, разпространени в медиите се вижда, че те не съблюдават регламентираната дистанция от метър и половина.

Снимка: Димитър Кьосермарлиев, Bulgaria ON AIR

Copyright Holders Continue to Report Fewer Piracy Links to Google Search

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/copyright-holders-continue-to-report-fewer-piracy-links-to-google-search-200329/

For most people, search engines such as Google are an essential tool to discover and enjoy the web in all its glory.

With help from complicated algorithms, the company offers a gateway to billions of sites, many of which would otherwise remain undiscovered.

This also includes many ‘pirate’ sites. While there are plenty of people who don’t mind seeing these show up in search results, their presence is a thorn in the side of copyright holders.

Roughly a decade ago this was hardly recognized as a problem. At the time, Google was asked to remove a few dozen URLs per day. In the years that followed, that changed drastically.

In 2012, Google was asked to remove more than 50 million URLs and by 2016, the search engine processed more than a billion reported URLs a year. This increase in notices coincided in large part with heavy critique from copyright holders, which asked Google to do more to curb piracy.

These comments didn’t go unnoticed at the Googleplex in Mountain View. In recent years, the search engine has taken a variety of measures to ensure that pirate sites are less visible. This includes demoting known offenders in search results.

Around the same time, the number of takedown requests from copyright holders started to drop. While we don’t know if that’s directly related to Google’s anti-piracy measures, it is clear that the number of reported URLs has gone down significantly.

According to Google’s transparency report, the company processed little over 500 million takedown requests over the past 12 months. That’s a 50% decrease compared to the billion it received a few years ago, and a 25% decrease compared to two years ago, when we first noticed the shift.

The decrease is in large part caused by the most active senders of takedown requests. For example, three years ago UK music group BPI sent in an average of two million URLs per week, with peaks of over three million. This year, the same group is averaging less than a million per week.

Similarly, the Mexican music group APDIF previously reported over four million pirate links to Google every week. This has now dropped to a few thousand, including some weeks with zero requests.

Also, MarkMonitor, which works with many Hollywood studios, reduced its takedown requests by roughly half.

While the data can’t be linked directly to Google’s anti-piracy measures, BPI Chief Executive Geoff Taylor informed us earlier this month that demotion of known pirate sites “has significantly improved the quality of results presented to consumers.”

After years of animosity between copyright holders and Google, both in public and behind closed doors, that’s certainly a major change in attitude.

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

Hacking Voice Assistants with Ultrasonic Waves

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2020/03/hacking_voice_a_1.html

I previously wrote about hacking voice assistants with lasers. Turns you can do much the same thing with ultrasonic waves:

Voice assistants — the demo targeted Siri, Google Assistant, and Bixby — are designed to respond when they detect the owner’s voice after noticing a trigger phrase such as ‘Ok, Google’.

Ultimately, commands are just sound waves, which other researchers have already shown can be emulated using ultrasonic waves which humans can’t hear, providing an attacker has a line of sight on the device and the distance is short.

What SurfingAttack adds to this is the ability to send the ultrasonic commands through a solid glass or wood table on which the smartphone was sitting using a circular piezoelectric disc connected to its underside.

Although the distance was only 43cm (17 inches), hiding the disc under a surface represents a more plausible, easier-to-conceal attack method than previous techniques.

Research paper. Demonstration video.

Google Removes Official Kodi Download Page After “Bogus” Copyright Complaint

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/google-removes-official-kodi-download-page-after-bogus-copyright-complaint-200321/

Millions of people use the Kodi media player for their daily entertainment needs.

While the open-source software is content-neutral, some third-party addons have given the tool a bad reputation by using it to offer pirated content.

This isn’t anything the Kodi development team has control over. Luckily, most copyright holders realize this, but every now and then one appears having apparently missed the boat. And for Kodi, that can result in real damage.

For example, this week we noticed that the official Kodi download page is no longer listed in Google’s search results. Looking more closely, we spotted that it was removed by Google following a DMCA takedown request.

The takedown notice was sent a few weeks ago on behalf of the Turkish pay-TV service Digiturk, which is owned by the beIN Media Group. BeIN is known for its strong stance against piracy but in this case, it was too aggressive.

“The infringed content is sports content (illegal video stream) branded and watermarked with the trademark/logo BEIN SPORTS HD,” Digiturk writes.

The request identifies a series of URLs, many of which are associated with seemingly unauthorized IPTV services. However, it also lists kodi.tv/download, Kodi’s official download page.

Generally speaking, Google is pretty good at spotting such errors but in this case the URL was removed, as mentioned at the bottom of related search results.

Interestingly, Kodi was not the only legal open-source project that was targeted. The same notice also lists two Videolan.org URLs, which is the home of the popular media player VLC. Again, the download pages of the software were listed.

Luckily for VLC, Google flagged these requests as incorrect, meaning that the pages remain available in Google’s search results.

Kodi’s Keith Herrington is disappointed that their software is once again hit by the piracy stigma.

“It’s unfortunate content companies continue to lump us and VLC together with services who are clearly in violation of copyright law by not only providing streams to their content but using their logo, etc and that Google doesn’t even bother to check or validate, they just remove.

“It feels like a very ‘guilty until proven innocent’ model which I do not agree with,” Herrington adds.

The Kodi Foundation has submitted a DMCA counter-notice to Google and hopes that their download page will reappear in search results in due course.

TorrentFreak reached out to Digiturk for a comment on its unusual requests. While they could be intentional, it’s also possible that the company simply targeted these open source projects by mistake.

Talking about mistakes, Digiturk also sent takedown notices for its own website in the past, more than once actually. That’s another error they may want to pay attention to going forward.

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

BPI Has Reported Half a Billion ‘Pirate’ Links to Google

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/bpi-has-reported-half-a-billion-pirate-links-to-google-290310/

Over the past two decades, the music industry has witnessed several shifts in music consumption. First, CDs were traded in for downloads and in recent years streaming has taken over.

Despite the growing availability of legal streaming services in many countries, the piracy problem hasn’t disappeared. In just a few clicks, virtually every music track can be accessed for free through unauthorized sources.

In an attempt to prevent these infringements, the BPI and other music industry groups send millions of takedown notices to Internet services every month. Although all major search engines are targeted, most of these requests are directed at Google.

With roughly a million URLs reported to Google every week, the BPI is the most active music industry sender. When added up the numbers are substantial and have just resulted in the music group hitting a new milestone.

After crossing the mark of 500,000,000 reported links, the BPI has become the second most active reporter after Rivendell. It also means that, of all the URLs reported to Google over the past several years, more than 11% come from the UK group.

While the massive numbers open the door to mistakes, the BPI has a very decent track record. Close to 97% of the links are indeed removed by Google, which rejected less than one percent. The rest are either duplicates or links that aren’t indexed.

For comparison, Google only removed 72% of Rivendell’s reported links while more than a quarter were marked as duplicates or not listed in Google’s search results.

Over the years, the BPI has flagged ‘copyright infringing’ links on more than 30,000 domains. Many of these are no longer operational. The top targeted sites that are still online today are 4shared.com and chomikuj.pl, which were reported 9.2 million and 7.9 million times respectively.

According to BPI Chief Executive Geoff Taylor, the new milestone shows that piracy remains a massive problem that requires the full attention of all stakeholders involved.

“The fact the BPI has had to delist half a billion infringing music links from Google alone, on behalf of UK artists and labels, highlights the staggering scale of the problem of illegal sites, as well as BPI’s unwavering commitment to fighting for the rights of artists and their record labels,” Taylor says.

In the past, the BPI stressed that companies such as Google should take more responsibility. These continued requests eventually led to a “code of practice” where major search engines committed to do more.

This has led to progress, Taylor says, noting that demotion of known pirate sites “has significantly improved the quality of results presented to consumers.”

“The collaboration with search engines, including Google, sets a good example for online intermediaries and platforms, which must urgently take on greater responsibility to combat illegal content,” Taylor stresses.

This is not limited to search engines but also applies to advertising networks, payment providers, hosting services, domain registries, and registrars.

”For too long we have accepted a reactive approach that places all the burden on creators to search for and police hundreds of millions of infringements of their rights across the entire internet. That approach cannot succeed,” Taylor says.

“Instead we should expect reasonable, proactive, preventative measures by all online businesses, using technology and good business practices, to sweep the black market to the edges of the internet.”

According to the BPI, these changes are achievable. If not voluntarily, then with a little help from lawmakers, to push these companies in the right direction.

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

Jehovah’s Witness Body Uses DMCA to Subpoena YouTube For ‘Apostate’ Identity

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/jehovahs-witness-body-uses-dmca-to-subpoena-youtube-for-apostates-identity-200308/

Reddit user Darkspliver, a member of the Jehovah’s Witness community, was recently targeted by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society with claims that his postings infringed their copyrights.

The case drew the attention of the EFF which mounted a defense on the user’s behalf, claiming that the subpoena against Reddit was invalid since Darkspliver’s use of Jehovah’s Witness material were covered under fair use. The court agreed.

“Our client shared comments and concerns about the Watch Tower organization — something they have every right to do,” said EFF Staff Attorney Alex Moss this week. “We are glad that Darkspilver is safe from unmasking, and that a judge saw the important free speech and fair use issues at play here.”

While the identity of Darkspliver is now safe, the religious organization now has a fresh target. According to documents obtained by TorrentFreak, the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania has obtained a DMCA subpoena that requires Google to reveal the personal details of a YouTube user who uploaded Jehovah’s Witness sermons to the video platform.

The subpoena targets an account called ‘JW Apostate’ which advertised itself as a place for “leaking Watch Tower videos”.

At least initially, the channel had many videos listed for viewing but the DMCA subpoena application lists just five.

“Watch Tower conducted a good-faith fair use analysis of numerous infringing posts on the account at issue,” the application filed at a New York court reads. “This content infringes copyrights held by Watch Tower.”

Watch Tower informed the court that it had fulfilled all the requirements for obtaining a subpoena and its sole purpose is to “obtain the identity of an alleged infringer or infringers” so that copyrighted content can be protected.

The allegedly-infringing YouTube channel listed a Reddit account for correspondence so on discovering the application, TorrentFreak contacted the associated user for comment. Very shortly after, the Reddit account, YouTube channel and all of its videos were deleted, leaving nothing in their wake.

A day later, District Judge Cathy Seibel signed off on the Watch Tower request and ordered the clerk of the court to issue the subpoena against Google LLC.

“This matter comes before the Court upon the ex parte application of movant Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania along with the Declaration of Paul D. Polidoro, Esq. and supporting documents for the signing of a Subpoena directing Google, LLC to produce the identity of entities or persons believed to be infringing on the copyright of Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania,” the order reads.

“Having considered the Declaration and all documents submitted in support of the instant application, the Court finds good reason to issue an order directing the clerk to issue said subpoena.”

The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is no stranger when it comes to DMCA subpoena applications or indeed Judge Seibel. The religious group has attempted to obtain several subpoenas in New York courts against Facebook and YouTube users, filing around 60 applications overall since June 2017.

Considering that the aim of most Christian-based religions is to spread the word as widely as possible around the world, it appears that those at the top of the Jehovah’s Witness group would prefer to control access to their information much more tightly.

The application, proposed DMCA subpoena, and order granting subpoena can be found here (1,2,3 pdf)

Image credit: Pixabay

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

Deep Learning to Find Malicious Email Attachments

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2020/02/deep_learning_t.html

Google presented its system of using deep-learning techniques to identify malicious email attachments:

At the RSA security conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, Google’s security and anti-abuse research lead Elie Bursztein will present findings on how the new deep-learning scanner for documents is faring against the 300 billion attachments it has to process each week. It’s challenging to tell the difference between legitimate documents in all their infinite variations and those that have specifically been manipulated to conceal something dangerous. Google says that 63 percent of the malicious documents it blocks each day are different than the ones its systems flagged the day before. But this is exactly the type of pattern-recognition problem where deep learning can be helpful.

[…]

The document analyzer looks for common red flags, probes files if they have components that may have been purposefully obfuscated, and does other checks like examining macros­ — the tool in Microsoft Word documents that chains commands together in a series and is often used in attacks. The volume of malicious documents that attackers send out varies widely day to day. Bursztein says that since its deployment, the document scanner has been particularly good at flagging suspicious documents sent in bursts by malicious botnets or through other mass distribution methods. He was also surprised to discover how effective the scanner is at analyzing Microsoft Excel documents, a complicated file format that can be difficult to assess.

This is the sort of thing that’s pretty well optimized for machine-learning techniques.

Rightsholders Asked Google to Remove Five Million ThePirateBay.org URLs

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/rightsholders-asked-google-to-remove-5-million-thepiratebay-org-urls-200212/

The Pirate Bay is widely known for its refusal to remove content based on copyright infringement claims. Those who tried in the past found themselves mocked instead.

This means that copyright holders have to find other ways to minimize the site’s impact. That includes sending takedown requests to search engines, to lower the site’s presence there.

Most of these takedown notices are sent to Google, which receives requests to remove thousands of Pirate Bay links every day. These quickly add up and have now surpassed five million requests against Thepiratebay.org URLs alone.

Like many other pirate sites, The Pirate Bay has many proxy sites and previously used other domains as well. If we added all of these together, the totals would run into the dozens of millions.

The vast majority of thepiratebay.org URLs were reported since 2016, when the iconic torrent site returned to its original .org domain name, as can be seen in the graph below.

Targeted thepiratebay.org urls

The figures reported in Google’s transparency report count all the URLs that were submitted by copyright holders. This also includes duplicate requests. In other words, it doesn’t mean that five million search results were removed.

Of the 5,047,397 reported URLs, nearly two-thirds (66.5%) resulted in removed links. Little over 10% are duplicates that were sent in before by other copyright holders and 22.2% of the URLs were not indexed by Google in the first place.

It may seem odd that copyright holders ask Google to remove content that isn’t in its search engine. However, the company previously explained that it accepts these requests, which are put on a preemptive blacklist, to ensure that they are not added in the future.

When all of the above is taken into account there is still 0.8% left. These are reported URLs for which Google took no action. This can happen when the takedown request has clear errors, or if the reported URL isn’t copyright infringing.

As we previously reported, rightsholders have repeatedly asked Google to remove thepiratebay.org’s homepage. However, since this doesn’t link to any infringing content, Google keeps this page in its search results.

Google does, however, downgrade The Pirate Bay searches for some content. Because the site is repeatedly targeted, the search engine lowers its ranking in results for movies and other types of media.

While five million targeted URLs is significant, it is by no means a record. Several other sites including 4shared.com, Rapidgator.net, and Chomikuj.pl have been reported dozens of millions of times.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Google Receives Geofence Warrants

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2020/01/google_receives.html

Sometimes it’s hard to tell the corporate surveillance operations from the government ones:

Google reportedly has a database called Sensorvault in which it stores location data for millions of devices going back almost a decade.

The article is about geofence warrants, where the police go to companies like Google and ask for information about every device in a particular geographic area at a particular time. In 2013, we learned from Edward Snowden that the NSA does this worldwide. Its program is called CO-TRAVELLER. The NSA claims it stopped doing that in 2014 — probably just stopped doing it in the US — but why should it bother when the government can just get the data from Google.

Both the New York Times and EFF have written about Sensorvault.

Movie & TV Show Database Bombards Google With Bizarre Takedown Notices

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/movie-tv-show-database-bombards-google-with-bizarre-takedown-notices-200126/

First launched in 1993, France-based company AlloCiné aims to support the entertainment industries by providing information on movies and TV shows.

The company operates a portal located at Allocine.fr where users can research movies, TV series, actors and view a wide range of additional information such as release dates, for example. While less well-known than iMDb, for example, Allocine.fr is a huge draw with more than 46 million visits per month.

During December 2019 and for reasons that remain unclear, a new wave of DMCA takedown notices began appearing on Google’s Transparency Report, reportedly sent by AlloCiné and targeting a broad range of sites. All told and from a standing start, the company appears to have requested the removal of more than 6,300 URLs from third-party sites, claiming that they infringe AlloCiné’s rights.

Determining whether that’s actually the case is not easy since the notices submitted to Google don’t include links where original content can be found. The first notice, dated December 16, 2019, seems to target sites that give the impression of being streaming portals. They bear no close resemblance to AlloCiné and Google eventually rejected every single request.

This pattern largely continues across many copyright claims targeting thousands of URLs but then even more glaring errors start to appear.

While similar to those that preceded it, this notice asks Google to delete a page on rival entertainment database JustWatch featuring Game of Thrones. It also demands that a link to a Rotten Tomatoes page detailing The Mandalorian is deleted, just one of many targeting the site in the days that followed.

For reasons unknown, this notice targets the History Channel while another attempts to delist a Harley Quinn article published by Newsweek.

With Google refusing to take action for almost all URLs thus far, another notice persists by demanding the takedown of an information page relating to the TV series Asylum City published on the CanalPlus website. Another targets pages on both MetaCritic and Decider after they covered the Disney show The Imagineers.

Things only go down from here, with another notice targeting four more Rotten Tomatoes URLs, one belonging to Hulu, plus one owned by Paramount Network. Just a day later, another notice swooped back for another bite at Hulu (it is targeted in several notices) plus an attack on the site AllSeries.co.uk. While this might sound like a TV show platform, it is in fact a BMW-focused sales and repairs company in the UK.

Sadly, subsequent notices don’t offer any improvement, with one in particular standing out after targeting news site Le Parisien for writing about Netflix, Wired.com for reporting on The Witcher, and Vulture for recapping The Mandalorian.

Quite what AlloCiné is trying to achieve here isn’t clear but the very same notice also targets the New York Times, Netflix, KickStarter, IGN, Express.co.uk, Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, Wikipedia and – for good measure – AlloCiné’s very own domain.

TorrentFreak’s request for comment from AlloCiné remains unanswered.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

All DMCA Notices Filed Against TorrentFreak in 2019 Were Bogus

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/all-dmca-notices-filed-against-torrentfreak-in-2019-were-bogus-191231/

Every year we publish around 800 articles here at TorrentFreak, all of them covering copyright, piracy, privacy and closely related issues.

Over the course of 2019, many have detailed the efforts of content companies and their anti-piracy partners who have filed lawsuits, copyright complaints, and DMCA-type takedown notices to have content removed from allegedly-infringing sites.

In many cases those legal efforts were warranted but there have been some obvious screw-ups too.

Time and again, anti-piracy companies have overstepped the mark, attempting to have legitimate content removed. And, yet again, TorrentFreak.com has also been targeted by companies, their bots, or even individuals who simply can’t tell the difference between pirated content and legitimate news and informational pieces.

In previous years we’ve received erroneous complaints from the likes of Amazon, Electronic Arts, Disney, Entertainment One, Vertigo Films, Magnolia Pictures, NBCUniversal, Paramount, and even BBC Worldwide. This year we can add more.

According to Google’s Transparency Report, in 2019 Google received a further 11 DMCA takedown notices targeting our domain, sent on behalf of Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures, and sundry others. All of them were completely bogus.

In January, we were accused of infringing the rights of Dreamworks, among others, after simply mentioning that a DVD Screener copy of the movie Green Book was the 9th most popular movie downloaded using BitTorrent during the first week of 2019.

In March, a complaint sent on behalf of Columbia Pictures told Google that an archive page referencing Boss Baby downloads (dating back to 2016) was somehow infringing their rights.

In April we were the dubious recipient of two complaints, both from the Estonian Organization for Copyright Protection. The first claimed that we were offering the CBS movie Five Feet Apart, simply because we have a content tag on the site mentioning torrent site YTS.

The second claimed we’d somehow helped to distribute the Finnish movie The Eternal Road after publishing a list of the top 10 most popular torrent sites of 2016.

After a whole month of peace, Google received yet another bogus complaint about TF in June, this time from Japanese company ‘유니콘미디어” stating that we were offering the Illumination/Universal Pictures title The Secret Life of Pets for download. We were not.

In July we received two complaints, both on behalf of Sony Pictures. The first because we referenced the movie Inferno and the second because we did the same for the movie Breathe.

The complaint filed against us in August was even more absurd than the others. Fourteen years ago, back in 2005 when TorrentFreak was in its formative years, we published a list of public domain movies that are not only free but also legal to download and share.

However, according to a complaint filed by movie company Vertigo Releasing, that article included pirate links to the 2019 movie ‘The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil’. Why? We have no idea but there were a total of five public domain movies in that list that included either the word ‘cop’ or ‘devil’ in their titles.

A DMCA notice filed with Google in October set pulses racing. According to an adult content creator called ‘LittleSubGirl’, our 2018 article explaining how Netflix was dominating Internet traffic infringed her copyrights. It’s really not the kind of dominating we had in mind when the piece was written, honest.

In November a shockingly broad notice was sent to Google targeting not only us but Facebook, Beatport, TrustPilot, RottenTomatoes and a swathe of others. It claimed that we were offering John Wick 3 for download but was immediately flagged by Google as suspect.

“We believe that an impostor or someone else abusing the process submitted this request. We report it here for the sake of completeness and to provide a view into one kind of abuse of the DMCA process,” the company advised.

Finally, December brought yet another complaint from a company that can’t tell the difference between a news report detailing the most popular titles being shared on BitTorrent and a pirate site offering links to the same.

Grand total: 11 DMCA complaints filed in 2019, all of them completely bogus.

See you next year folks….

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

ToTok Is an Emirati Spying Tool

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2019/12/totok_is_an_emi.html

The smartphone messaging app ToTok is actually an Emirati spying tool:

But the service, ToTok, is actually a spying tool, according to American officials familiar with a classified intelligence assessment and a New York Times investigation into the app and its developers. It is used by the government of the United Arab Emirates to try to track every conversation, movement, relationship, appointment, sound and image of those who install it on their phones.

ToTok, introduced only months ago, was downloaded millions of times from the Apple and Google app stores by users throughout the Middle East, Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. While the majority of its users are in the Emirates, ToTok surged to become one of the most downloaded social apps in the United States last week, according to app rankings and App Annie, a research firm.

Apple and Google have removed it from their app stores. If you have it on your phone, delete it now.

Sky on a Mission to Purge Hundreds of Pirate IPTV Sites From Google

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/sky-on-a-mission-to-purge-hundreds-of-pirate-iptv-sites-from-google-191215/

When a massive police operation in Italy took down IPTV management outfit Xtream-Codes in September 2019, a large proportion of the pirate market was thrown into turmoil.

According to figures obtained by TorrentFreak from network equipment company Sandvine, overall pirate streaming traffic dropped by 50%. But three months is an awfully long time on the Internet and today the market seems to have largely recovered, with providers and sellers finding alternative solutions and users relatively happy once again.

Nevertheless, when chaos reigned back in September, there can be little doubt that customers left high and dry turned to search engines in order to find a replacement. It’s certainly not the best strategy to find a reliable supplier but if Comcast-owned broadcaster Sky has anything to do with it, it won’t be an easy option either.

Back in March, we reported that the broadcaster had been sending thousands of takedown notices to Google in an effort to remove IPTV suppliers’ entire websites from the search provider’s indexes. That effort has not only continued but also been stepped up in recent weeks.

Just as an example, a notice sent in November contains 495 URLs and attempts to delist the entire websites of three suppliers – miglioriptv.net, iptvthebest.ws, migliorstreaming.net – from Google. But that is just the tip of a pretty large iceberg.

The delisting efforts are considerable and target many thousands of URLs (e.g 1,2,3,4). The majority of notices were previously filed on behalf of Sky in Italy but Sky in the UK are also getting in on the act.

As the notice above shows, Sky UK goes down the classic route of claiming that the sites in question directly infringe its rights by providing access to its licensed content. While that may be the case in some instances, it’s far more likely that the services use completely different URLs to deliver that content so at best, the above domains might be considered as facilitating infringement, rather than directly infringing Sky’s rights.

However, when it comes to Sky Italy’s notices, the company has a more detailed approach that may prove even more effective.

“The reported sites illegally provide external links with which users can access and/or download unauthorized copyrighted contents, exclusively owned by broadcaster Sky Italia,” the notices state.

“Reported URLs pages are using without any authorization copyrighted images and logos owned by Sky Italia, which are used to promote and selling unauthorized IPTV services or video-on-demand library with show schedules or video catalogs owned by Sky Italia.”

In this context, the use of Sky graphics to promote and sell pirate IPTV packages to consumers is a slam dunk for the company when it comes to the DMCA. Hundreds of platforms not only use official logos in this manner but also images of Sky box controllers, culled from Sky’s own sites.

Having sites delisted from Google on those grounds alone should be relatively simple for the broadcaster. Copyright infringement of logos and graphics is much easier to determine than IPTV seller site URLs that may (but probably do not) contain any copyright-infringing material.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Google’s Top UK “Where to Watch” Searches Weren’t a Piracy Concern in 2019

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/googles-top-where-to-watch-searches-werent-a-piracy-concern-in-2019-191211/

That Google knows every detail of what its users search for is no secret – after all, the company itself processes all of the requests.

Armed with this data, Google publishes its annual ‘Year in Search‘ report, the latest of which appeared yesterday. From our perspective, there were very few – if any – piracy-related aspects to report, something which should be encouraging to rightsholders.

However, after the BBC published its take on Google’s UK search statistics, noting that several questions in the “How to” category were directed at how to watch sports events and TV shows, the Federation Against Copyright Theft took to Twitter to issue a warning.

“Whether it’s a re-stream on social media, a piracy site, or using a TV-connected device, avoiding official providers to access content is illegal,” FACT wrote, linking to the BBC article.

Of course, it is FACT’s job to draw attention to such things but we wondered, given that Google is quite specific about the top titles searched for in 2019, whether Google’s search results were worthy of particular panic. Or, indeed, whether “where to watch” searches should always be considered dangerous and piracy related. But first, some background.

Over the past several years, copyright holders and anti-piracy groups have regularly complained that Google and other search engines help people find content online in a way that prioritizes pirated over legitimate content.

That isn’t the company’s intention, of course, but there have been numerous instances of pirate sites appearing higher in searches than those offering licensed content. In the UK, Google and various industry players agreed to tackle this and similar issues with the signing of a voluntary anti-piracy agreement back in 2017.

So, when placed alongside these top “how to” searches, has it worked?

#1: How to watch Champions League Final

This search clearly related to the match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool from which the latter emerged victorious, two goals to nil. However, the related Google search is particularly interesting since all of the top results showed users how to watch the match for free.

While that might sound like a cause for concern, these results linked exclusively to completely legal streams offered via established broadcasters. Clearly, the incentive to pirate had been mostly eliminated by giving consumers what they want.

#2: How to watch Game of Thrones

As one of the most popular shows in living memory, it’s no surprise that Game of Thrones appears in Google’s top search lists for the UK. In past years, this kind of search would’ve likely displayed ‘pirate’ results prominently but that is no longer the case. In our tests we had to go through several pages of Google results with links to either buy the show or articles detailing how to watch the show legally first. Pirate results were not prominent.

#5: How to watch KSI vs. Logan

Given the controversy surrounding this pair of YouTube celebrities, searches on how to watch the fight were bound to score highly. However, a search for the fight yet again yielded pages and pages of legitimate sources or articles detailing how to access the bout legally.

#10: How to watch Chernobyl

The results displayed following a “where to watch Chernobyl” search are very similar to those that are returned following a similar Game of Thrones query. One has to skip through pages and pages of legitimate results to find any pirate sources and, on the way, the emphasis to go legal is clear.

The legal choices, as they appear in Google’s results, are as follows: YouTube, Google Play, Amazon, NowTV, HBO, Sky, Hulu, iTunes, Showmax, DirectTV, HBONordic, HBOGo, and Verizon. Admittedly, not all of those are available to UK users, but that’s four pages deep into the results and not one pirate link in sight.

Conclusion

While this is a very limited sample, there does appear to have been a notable change in the way that Google displays its results in the UK when faced with a basic query of “where to watch X”. There is now a pretty clear bias towards legitimate sources in results presented in the first few pages.

Of course, those that wish to refine their searches to actively seek out pirated content will have more immediate success, that’s the way searches work. However, it’s now more difficult to argue that users will be diverted to pirated sources when they’re seeking out legal options, at least for the samples listed above.

It’s worth noting, however, that pirate users’ viewing habits are probably shifting. There is now less reliance on search engines and more emphasis on apps and tools that are designed to produce infringing results by default, which is the exact opposite of what Google offers in respect of the above.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Google Sees DMCA Anti-Circumvention Notices Skyrocket

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/google-sees-dmca-anti-circumvention-notices-skyrocket-191208/

A few weeks ago, we reported that the RIAA targeted several YouTube converters and downloaders by sending relatively rare takedown requests to Google.

Instead of the usual DMCA copyright notices, the music group asked the search engine to remove various URLs for alleged violations of the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provision.

This proved to be quite effective. After taking down the many links to FLVTO, 2Conv, Y2Mate, and Yout, the RIAA expanded its scope to other streamrippers. In total, the music group targeted hundreds of URLs in a few dozen notices.

And the RIAA is not alone. Other copyright holders are using the anti-circumvention route as well. This includes game companies such as Nintendo and Rockstar Games, as well as Netflix.

One upside for rightsholders is that there’s no official counter-notification option. This means that affected sites can’t easily complain when they are mistakenly targeted. However, there’s another major benefit as well.

Some sites that don’t infringe any copyrights directly, can be seen as anti-circumvention tools. This gives rightsholders an extra option to remove URLs. To illustrate this, we only have to look at the RIAA’s recent takedown efforts.

When the music group sent a standard DMCA takedown request to Google for several streamripper URLs in November, the search engine didn’t take these offline. However, a similar DMCA circumvention notice that was sent a few days later was successful.

This may be why there has been quite an increase in these anti-circumvention notices lately. While Google doesn’t list these by default in its transparency report, we used the Lumen database to find out how many notices were sent this year.

At the time of writing, Google has received 6,281 DMCA anti-circumvention notices in 2019. These notices can contain multiple links, sometimes even hundreds. The number of notices has increased significantly compared to last year when 2,960 notices came in.

In 2017 there were even fewer anti-circumvention notices, 921 to be precise.

While today’s numbers are still very modest, there’s definitely a visible upward trend that hasn’t been reported before. This increase is all the more interesting because Google now receives fewer standard copyright takedown notices.

TorrentFreak reached out to the RIAA to hear more about their motivation to use anti-circumvention notices, but the music group declined to comment on the issue.

Considering the effectiveness of their campaign to remove steamrippers from Google’s search results, we expect the efforts to continue. And when more rightsholders discover this option, we expect the number of anti-circumvention notices to grow further still.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Fooling Voice Assistants with Lasers

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2019/11/fooling_voice_a.html

Interesting:

Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant are vulnerable to attacks that use lasers to inject inaudible­ — and sometimes invisible­ — commands into the devices and surreptitiously cause them to unlock doors, visit websites, and locate, unlock, and start vehicles, researchers report in a research paper published on Monday. Dubbed Light Commands, the attack works against Facebook Portal and a variety of phones.

Shining a low-powered laser into these voice-activated systems allows attackers to inject commands of their choice from as far away as 360 feet (110m). Because voice-controlled systems often don’t require users to authenticate themselves, the attack can frequently be carried out without the need of a password or PIN. Even when the systems require authentication for certain actions, it may be feasible to brute force the PIN, since many devices don’t limit the number of guesses a user can make. Among other things, light-based commands can be sent from one building to another and penetrate glass when a vulnerable device is kept near a closed window.

RIAA Delists YouTube Rippers From Google Using Rare Anti-Circumvention Notices

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-delists-youtube-rippers-from-google-using-rare-anti-circumvention-notices-191108/

While music piracy has reduced in recent years due to the popularity of platforms such as Spotify, the major labels remain highly concerned over so-called steam-ripping services.

These sites allow users to enter a YouTube URL, for example, and then download audio from the corresponding video, mostly in MP3 format. This means that users can download music and store it on their own machines, negating the need to revisit YouTube for the same content. This, the major labels say, deprives content creators of streaming revenue.

Tackling this issue has become one of the industry’s highest anti-piracy priorities. Previously, YouTube-MP3 – the largest ripping site at the time – was shut down following legal action by the major labels. Since then, lawsuits have been filed against other platforms but the battle is far from over and recently a new strategy appears to have been deployed.

A pair of DMCA notices appeared on the Lumen Database late October, having been filed there by Google. The sender of both notices is listed as the RIAA, acting on behalf of its members including Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Group.

They are worded slightly differently but each target the homepages of five major YouTube-ripping sites – 2conv.com, flvto.biz, y2mate.com, yout.com, and youtubeconverter.io. Both contain the following key claim:

“To our knowledge, the URLs provide access to a service (and/or software) that circumvents YouTube’s rolling cipher, a technical protection measure, that protects our members’ works on YouTube from unauthorized copying/downloading,” the notices read.

Unlike regular DMCA takedown notices filed with Google, these notices do not appear in Google’s Transparency report. However, Google has acted on them by delisting the homepages of all five platforms from its search results. Other URLs for the platforms still appear, but their homepages are all gone.

The notices are listed on the Lumen Database in the anti-circumvention section, meaning that the RIAA-labeled complaints demand action from Google under the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA, rather than demanding the takedown of URLs based on the claim they carry infringing music titles.

The ‘technical measures’ allegedly being circumvented (such as the “rolling cypher” referenced in the complaints) are those put in place by YouTube, which in turn protect the copyrighted content of the labels.

TorrentFreak contacted the RIAA yesterday, requesting comment and seeking additional information on the basis for the notices. Unfortunately, the industry group declined to make any further comment on any aspect of the complaints.

Nevertheless, the RIAA and its members are no strangers to the claim that by circumventing YouTube’s ‘technological measures’, so-called ‘ripping’ sites infringe their rights too. Two of the sites targeted in the recent notices – 2conv.com and flvto.biz – were sued by the labels in 2018. The original complaint contains the following text:

From the complaint

That circumvention (at least in respect of the labels’ works when users select them for download) may also amount to an infringement of the labels’ rights seems to be supported by comments made in the Disney vs VidAngel case.

An opinion from the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit stated that “[n]o person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a [copyrighted] work. Circumvention means ‘to decrypt an encrypted work.. without the authority of the copyright owner’.”

Nevertheless, it was previously argued by the EFF that stream-ripping sites are not by definition illegal since on top of the usual fair use exemptions, some creators who upload their content to online platforms grant permission for people to freely download and modify their work.

“There exists a vast and growing volume of online video that is licensed for free downloading and modification, or contains audio tracks that are not subject to copyright,” the EFF stresses.

“Moreover, many audio extractions qualify as non-infringing fair uses under copyright. Providing a service that is capable of extracting audio tracks for these lawful purposes is itself lawful, even if some users infringe.”

The anti-circumvention notices detailed above are not only relatively rare but also have an additional interesting property – they are harder to dispute than regular DMCA takedown notices.

As detailed here last year, Google told the target of a similar complaint requesting URL delisting that “There is no formal counter notification process available under US law for circumvention, so we have not reinstated these URLs.”

The pair of DMCA anti-circumvention notices can be found here 1,2 (pdf)

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Google Search Apparently Indexes Over 80 Million Torrent Hashes

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/google-search-apparently-indexes-over-80-million-torrent-hashes-190908/

Like every general search engine on the web, Google indexes every page it can find. That’s what it’s for, after all.

Torrent meta-search engines do things quite differently. These sites are only interested in torrent links found on external sites.

This includes Torrentz2, which is without a doubt the most popular torrent meta-search engine on the Internet. The site took over from the original Torrentz site, which after it surprisingly closed its doors during the summer of 2016.

Over the past three years, the site has rolled out some updates, most of which have gone unnoticed. However, recently our interest was piqued by a rather unusual addition to the Torrent2’s indexed sites.

Starting a few weeks ago, Torrentz3 began listing “Google” as a ‘source’ in its search results. Not somewhere down the bottom, but as the top result for every piece of content. Here’s what shows up on the “Ubuntu desktop 19.04” page.

The Google link on top leads to a Google search for the associated torrent hash, which finds dozens of pages where the Ubuntu torrent is available as well. This works the same for all other results. Usually, Google returns plenty of options, including several sites that Torrentz2 doesn’t search.

What’s also interesting to note is the number of hashes Google has listed in its search engine. According to Torrentz2, Google is currently able to find 82,085,976 unique torrent hashes.

While that’s already an impressive amount, the number of torrent pages indexed by Google is actually much higher, as it often has dozens of pages for each torrent hash. After all, the same torrents generally appear on several torrent sites.

Google, like any other search engine, has always indexed torrent sites. In fact, it even has a dedicated filetype:torrent command. This allows users to search for .torrent files directly on Google, but it isn’t as effective as the hash-based method.

Also, in recent years the site took several measures to make copyright-infringing content harder to find. Nowadays it can be quite a challenge to find something in Google by simply assing “torrent” to a search query.

With Torrentz2 + Google, however, that doesn’t appear to be an issue.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Adult Site Calls For Google Action Against DMCA Notice ‘Carpet Bombing’

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/adult-site-calls-for-google-action-against-dmca-notice-carpet-bombing-190907/

Back in June we reported on massive waves of what appeared to be bogus DMCA notices targeting various adult-focused sites.

Some of the sites hit hard in these earlier waves were so-called ‘hentai’ sites which focus on adult-orientated comics and cartoons.

They complained that a ‘company’ called Copyright Legal Services Inc. (there’s no obvious record of such an entity online) was the author of many notices which attempted to delist thousands of URLs and in some cases homepages and even entire sites from Google. It claimed to be working on behalf of DLSite.com, a platform operated by Japan’s EYSIS, Inc.

Since the initial reports, the same kind of activity has continued, with force. However, notices similar to the ones originally sent by Copyright Legal Services are now being sent by a new entity, Right Protection Corporation, which not only target the main domain pages of various sites but also their entire web structures.

In common with Copyright Legal Services before them, Right Protection Corporation (RPC) doesn’t appear to exist on the web, even though their notices claim they have bases in at least three countries – United States, Japan and China. They are sending volume requests to delete countless thousands of URLs from Google, even though they appear to have no right to do so.

One takedown notice pointed out to TF reveals a notice that has been sent in the form of a PDF, meaning that it can’t easily be searched for using the tools offered by DMCA transparency portal Lumen Database.

However, looking inside proved useful as it reveals that the ‘RPC’ is attempting to have thousands of URLs delisted from a single site – rule34.paheal.net – including its main page which displays nothing but a warning that it carries adult material and a note about cookies. There are many other examples, such as this one, which attempt to do the same thing.

TorrentFreak is informed that some operators of the affected sites, including the operator of Konachan.com, have filed counter-notices with Google and have achieved some success in having their URLs reinstated.

However, the operator of Gelbooru.com, which was hit hard in the first wave, says he’s had huge difficulties in getting touch with Google’s legal team for them to take restorative action, as required when a proper DMCA counter-notice is filed.

“Their [Standard Operating Procedure] is ignore until sued, so we are moving forward with trying to get anyone who runs a website that was affected by this whole situation to contact us directly if they’d be interested in joining a class action that will be filed,” he informs TF.

“We require at least three others to be a class action, and Google must have ignored or denied any counter DMCA notices sent to them to be able to join. Message me, ‘lozertuser’, directly on our Discord.”

The overall aim appears to have Google either respond to the counter-notices or preferably get in touch with Gelbooru’s lawyers, in order to sort out the issue without either company having to waste any more time on the problem. Hopefully, no class action will be required but it remains a possibility.

In the meantime, it’s worth highlighting that DLSite.com, the platform which the notices claim to protect, has categorically denied it is behind the mass notices sent in its name.

A statement sent to the OneAngryGamer site, which covered our earlier report, has the company stating that it had reviewed our article and noted that “EISYS, Inc. / DLsite is not involved in this matter. When we send a DMCA request it will be via: Eisys, Inc. We do not know anything about the company: ‘Copyright Legal Services INC’.”

Them and everyone else, then…

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.