Tag Archives: research

Ebook Piracy Grows, Contrary to The Trend

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/ebook-piracy-grows-contrary-to-the-trend/

Piracy statistics can be tricky. Trends often go in different directions, depending on the region, the type of media, as well as the research timeframe.

One of the most elaborate datasets collected in recent years comes from the University of Amsterdam.

Among other things, it suggested that legal options are a better way to beat piracy than enforcement.

The underlying data forms the basis of a new research article where two nearly identical piracy surveys from 2012 and 2017 were compared. This allowed the researchers to look at changes in media consumption and piracy habits among the Dutch public over the years.

The respondents were asked about both legal and unauthorized consumption of music, movies and TV, games, and books. One of the overall findings was that between 2012 and 2017 the interest in physical goods plummeted.

For example, the number of people who bought physical music carriers was slashed in half to 20% and for movies/TV the decline was even more pronounced, falling from 45% to 20%. Physical books saw the smallest drop, with 60% still buying real books, down from 69%.

This trend coincides with a massive boost in digital sales. The number of people who bought digital entertainment increased across all categories, nearly tripling for movies and TV, which is likely due to Netflix. That’s a positive sign for the entertainment industries, which is also reflected in the piracy frequencies.

Results, in Dutch

The survey found that the percentage of people who still download or stream content from unauthorized sources decreased for nearly every category. This effect is most significant for music and games, while movie and TV piracy remained relatively stable.

The only category for which the piracy rate went up was Ebooks. Between 2012 and 2017 the number of Ebook pirates increased from 6.3% to 7.7%, which is marginally significant.

According to the researchers, this shows that these book pirates are missing something in the current legal offering. A good subscription service for example, where people can access an unlimited number of books for a fixed price.

“Looking at the other markets, access-based subscriptions appear to be the most promising, where a large increase in the number of transactions compensates a lower average return per transaction,” the researchers write.

While not mentioned in the article, the massive increase in Ebook consumers may also play a role in the increased piracy rate. The number of people who bought Ebooks, and thus have e-readers, increased by 80% between 2012 and 2017.

Part of this new e-reader userbase apparently showed an interest in pirated books as well, which likely impacted the piracy rate. With that in mind, the piracy increase is relatively modest.

The research also looked at various pirate demographics and how these changed over time. This shows that between 2012 and 2017, women started to pirate more books and fewer games and music. These changes are more pronounced than for men.

In addition, the data reveal that, overall, less educated people pirate less. This is the case across all categories but the biggest difference can be found in the books category.

If anything, the findings show that generic statements about piracy rates and the average pirate are relatively meaningless. It is the finer detail that helps us to understand what’s really happening.

The present survey data shows that physical media is quickly losing popularity as more people consume legal content digitally. At the same time, piracy rates are dropping significantly for music and games, at least in the Netherlands, while Ebook piracy slowly increases.

A copy of the paper (in Dutch) titled “Polderpiraten voor anker” written by Joost Poort, Martin van der Ende, and Anastasia Yagafarova is available here.

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Piracy Boosts Sales of Some Manga Comics, Research Shows

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/piracy-boosts-sales-of-some-manga-comics-research-shows-190920/

Manga piracy has been in the news quite a bit this month.

The popular manga comic scanlation platform Manga Rock announced that it will shut down and a few days later Japanese publishers sued the pirate site Hoshinoromi in a U.S. court.

By now, it’s commonly known that you are not supposed to republish copyrighted works without permission. However, people have different views on what the effect of manga piracy is on the revenues of publishers.

Rightsholders often stress that the industry is endangered by people who ‘steal’ their content, while manga consumers can see it as a form of promotion. Free sampling can satisfy the reading needs that are beyond their budget, expanding their horizons.

Newly published research by Professor Tatsuo Tanaka of the Faculty of Economics at Keio University suggests that both sides have a point.

The findings come from a natural experiment that uses a massive takedown campaign conducted by anti-piracy group CODA in 2015. This campaign reduced the availability of pirated comics on various download sites, which allowed Professor Tanaka to analyze how this affected sales of 3,360 comic book volumes.

The results, recently published in the article titled “The Effects of Internet Book Piracy: Case of Comics,” show that the effect of piracy differs between ongoing and completed series. In other words, the effect of piracy is heterogeneous.

“Piracy decreased the legitimate sales of ongoing comics but stimulated legitimate sales of completed comics,” Professor Tanaka writes.

The overall effect of piracy could not be measured with this methodology but the findings clearly show that piracy does have some positive effects. In this case, it shows the number of sales of completed comic book series increase.

This heterogeneous piracy effect on sales is not unique. Previously, research has shown that the Megaupload shutdown increased box office revenues for bigger films, but hurt smaller releases.

The manga piracy findings are particularly relevant for the Manga Rock situation. Following discussions with publishers, the site plans to remove all its pirated titles at the end of this month and return with a completely legal platform in a few months’ time.

Interestingly, that goes against the recommendation of Professor Tanaka, who writes the following in his paper:

“If the effect of piracy is heterogeneous, it is not the best solution to shut down the piracy sites uniformly but to delete harmful piracy files selectively if possible. In this case, deleting piracy files of ongoing comics only is the first best strategy for publishers regardless of whether the total effect is positive or negative, because the availability of piracy files of completed comics is beneficial to both publishers and consumers.”

The paper was published in August and is based on older, previously-released data. So, one should be careful when applying it to the Manga Rock case, which is newer and deals with fan-made scanlation copies. That said, it could give the publishers some food for thought.

Manga Rock is massively popular and has millions of engaged Mmanga fans in its user base. Keeping some of these on board, even with a smaller library, could be smarter than simply driving them towards the next pirate site.

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“Legal Options Are a Better Way to Beat Piracy Than Enforcement”

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/legal-options-are-a-better-way-to-beat-piracy-than-enforcement/

Piracy is an intriguing phenomenon. On the one hand, it is seen as an existential threat by the entertainment industries. However, pirates are often heavy consumers of legal content as well.

Over the past several years, a vast array of studies have tried to determine to what extent piracy hurts legitimate revenue streams and, equally importantly, how it can be stopped.

There are no definitive answers but each study adds a small piece of the puzzle. One recent article, published by University of Amsterdam researchers João Pedro Quintais and Joost Poort, suggests that affordability and availability are key drivers.

The researchers analyzed a wealth of data and conducted surveys among 35,000 respondents, in thirteen countries. What they found was that, between 2014 and 2017, self-reported piracy rates have dropped in all the European countries that were surveyed, except Germany.

In a 70-page paper, published in American University International Law Review, the researchers try to pinpoint the most likely explanation for this decline, starting with enforcement.

% Pirates on Internet population 2014 / 2017

In a detailed literature overview, the paper begins by discussing various enforcement activities, ranging from pirate site blockades, criminal enforcement, to civil suits against individual file-sharers. While some of these studies suggest that enforcement works, others reveal a limited effect or nothing at all.

This article doesn’t have space for a full review of all the literature, but the conclusion from the report’s authors is clear. Enforcement is not the silver bullet that will stop piracy.

“Despite the abundance of enforcement measures, their perceived effectiveness is uncertain. Therefore, it is questionable whether the answer to successfully tackling online copyright infringement lies in additional rights or enforcement measures,” the report notes.

Instead, the researchers believe that other factors are likely responsible for the decline in piracy rates. Specifically, they point to affordability and availability of legal content.

Through the extensive surveys, conducted in France, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, UK, Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, and Thailand, they find several clues that this may indeed be the case.

Many of the data presented by the researchers have been published before. For example, they show that piracy rates are higher when the gross national income of a country is lower. This effect is particularly visible for lower incomes, as shown below.

Pirates per legal user / GNI in 2014 and 2017

The authors further observe a clear increase in spending on legal content where piracy rates dropped. In addition, they point to an earlier study that shows how music piracy declined in the Netherlands between 2008 and 2012, while piracy rates were still increasing for films and series. By 2012, Spotify had been introduced in the Netherlands (early 2010) but Nexflix not yet and HBO only just.

Based on their analysis, the researchers conclude that affordability and availability are indeed key drivers for declining piracy rates. In particular, they found no conclusive evidence that anti-piracy enforcement is effective.

“The main takeaway from our research is that online piracy is declining. The key driver for this decline is the increasing availability of affordable legal content, rather than enforcement measures,” their paper concludes.

When the conditions are right, people will eventually consume more content legally, it’s argued. This is also backed by the finding that 95% of the self-proclaimed pirates in their survey were legal consumers as well. Many of these turn to piracy due to lacking availability or high costs.

“Where the legal supply of content is affordable, convenient and diverse, there is increasing consumer demand for it. Under the right conditions, consumers are willing to pay for copyright-protected content and to
abandon piracy,” the paper reads.

This means that policymakers and copyright holders should direct their efforts more to the supply side, instead of enforcement activities.

“The crucial policy implication here is that policy makers should focus their resources and legislative efforts on improving those conditions. In particular, they ought to shift their focus from repressive approaches to tackle online infringement towards policies and measures that foster lawful remunerated access to copyright-protected content,” the researchers conclude.

This isn’t a new thought. Over the past several years, many people have hammered on the importance of appealing legal options. The new research confirms this. However, it is worth noting that the paper itself doesn’t provide any data showing that the recent drop in piracy is in fact caused by improved legal availability.

In other words, the empirical evidence doesn’t back either anti-piracy strategy conclusively.

For example, when we look at a graph of the piracy rates among legal users and the gross national income in different countries between 2014 and 2017 (shown above), we see that Sweden experienced the most pronounced piracy drop. However, there’s no clear change in legal availability compared to other countries, as far as we know.

TorrentFreak spoke to Joost Poort, one of the authors of the paper, who agreed that the lack of direct evidence is indeed a weak point. While there are several hints that the recent drop in piracy is mostly caused by better legal options, there is no hard data to back it up in this specific case.

Analyzing the effects of piracy is complicated, and there are signs that enforcement might also work in some cases. For example, just last week we reported on a study that showed how website blocking can motivate some pirates to sign up for a paid streaming service.

For many, however, it’s tempting to conclude that focusing on the carrot rather than the stick is the way forward.

That said, it’s also possible that the solution to piracy includes a little bit of both. While one may be more effective than the other, it’s safe to conclude that the puzzle isn’t solved yet.

The full paper by João Pedro Quintais and Joost Poort titled: “The Decline of Online Piracy: How Markets – Not Enforcement – Drive Down Copyright Infringement”, is available here.

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ISPs Block BitTorrent Traffic Despite EU Net Neutrality Regulation

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/isps-block-bittorrent-traffic-despite-eu-net-neutrality-regulation-190829/

When the European Parliament adopted Europe’s first net neutrality rules in 2015, some people believed that this would put an end to BitTorrent blocking

The rules, which were included in the Telecoms Single Market (TSM) regulation, prevent ISPs from outright discrimination between different types of traffic.

While there has been little research on the topic thus far, a new paper published by Italian researchers shows that several ISPs continue to interfere with BitTorrent transfers.

For the study, Valerio Luconi and his colleagues used a specialized tool called NeutMon to measure traffic flows on several mobile ISP networks. Specifically, they checked whether BitTorrent traffic is treated differently than traffic that appears the same, but isn’t using the BitTorrent protocol.

These traffic measurements were taken throughout the day and in a follow-up measurement, were compared to regular traffic as well. The results show that despite the EU’s net neutrality rules, BitTorrent throttling is still ongoing.

The research started with a broad measurement targeting all of the nine ISPs that were available through the NeutMon tool, some in multiple countries. They then measured the throughput of BitTorrent traffic versus the control group, to see if there are any changes.

The results show that three of the nine ISPs interfered with BitTorrent traffic flowing through the standard port 6881.

This wasn’t the case on all tests, so the researchers selected these providers for a more thorough follow-up run.

This “focused” test looked at the average download speeds for the following traffic types, which were (except HTTP) all similar in respect of types of packets and size.

BT: BitTorrent traffic on port 6881, or a random high number if that fails
CT1: Control traffic on port 6881
CT2: Control traffic on a random port higher than 50000
HT: HTTP request of a large file

After testing the three possibly non-neutral ISPs the researchers found that the earlier interference that was found at the Swedish ISP Telenor could not be replicated. However, on Vodafone (Spain/Italy) and Yoigo (Spain), something was amiss, as the figure below also shows.

The researchers found that Vodafone always blocked BitTorrent traffic on port 6881, except between 1 AM to 5 AM. However, BitTorrent traffic was blocked on higher ports as well. This led to the suspicion that it takes place through deep packet inspection.

“We can in general confirm that classification is done via deep packet inspection, as only BT is always throttled with a very low throughput, both when using port 6881 and when using a random high port,” the researchers write.

The control traffic performs much better, although there is occasional interference there as well. According to the researchers, this might be because this traffic is sporadically misidentified as BitTorrent traffic since it shares the same characteristics. HTTP traffic was, as expected, allowed to flow freely.

On Yoigo there’s also non-neutral activity, according to the findings. Interestingly, much of the control traffic was throttled as well. According to the researchers, this could be due to port blocking.

“From the obtained results we can confirm Yoigo’s non-neutral behavior too, but with quite different modalities,” they write.

“BT, CT1, and CT2 are capped to a very low throughput, whereas HT obtains good performance. These results seem also to confirm that traffic is shaped on a per-port basis.”

BitTorrent was certainly treated differently from the two control conditions though. The researchers report that Yoigo always shut down BitTorrent traffic after a short time, which meant that none of the tests completed. This suggests that the ISP uses multiple blocking measures.

The article concludes that while there’s no blocking on most mobile ISPs, some clearly interfere with traffic in a non-neutral way. They argue that it may be time to introduce real-world monitoring systems, to check whether ISPs play by the rules or not.

That brings us to another issue, which is not mentioned in the article. While the EU has indeed adopted net neutrality rules, it’s up for debate whether BitTorrent blocking is actually prohibited.

ISPs are arguably still allowed to throttle specific categories for “reasonable” network management purposes, as long at it improves the overall “transmission quality.” That would not be a far-fetched argument since torrent traffic can be quite demanding on a network.

The paper titled “Net Neutrality in Mobile Broadband: a European Study Based on a Large Scale Testbed” is accepted for publication in the Internet Technology Letters.

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Pirate Site Blocking Boosts Netflix Subscriptions, Research Suggests

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-site-blocking-boosts-netflix-subscriptions-research-suggests-190824/

In recent years website blocking has become one of the most widely-used anti-piracy enforcement mechanisms in the world.

ISPs in several dozen countries are now required to prevent subscribers from accessing a variety of ‘pirate’ sites. While new blocks are added every month, research on their effectiveness has been rather scarce.

Most ‘studies’ promoted by copyright holders conclude that blocking a site does indeed reduce traffic to the affected domains. While this is hardly surprising, less is known about where ‘blocked’ subscribers go instead.

Do they simply give up and stop pirating? Are they finding ways to circumvent blockades? Do they decide to sign up for a paid streaming service such as Netflix? As it turns out, all of the above can be answered positively, according to one of the most details studies on site blocking.

In a paper titled The Effect of Piracy Website Blocking on Consumer Behavior, researchers connected to the Carnegie Mellon University’s IDEA program thoroughly researched the effect of various blocking orders in the UK.

The latest version of the peer-reviewed paper, which will soon be published in the Management Information Systems Quarterly, builds on earlier findings that we’ve reported on in the past.

For example, the researchers found that when ISPs only blocked The Pirate Bay in the UK in 2012, not much happened. Pirates were still pirating but simply switched to alternative sites or Pirate Bay mirrors. Others circumvented the blockades by using VPNs.

Follow-up research, looking at the effect of 19 additional sites that were blocked by UK ISPs in 2013, revealed a different trend. Blocking more sites decreased the numbers of visits to pirate sites, but only cyberlockers.

This was later confirmed with data from an even larger blocking wave from 2014, which also found that visits to other unblocked pirate sites decreased. These data also revealed another interesting trend. The broader blocking effort also increased the number of visits to paid streaming services such as Amazon and Netflix.

2014 block effects

The latest article expands on the last finding by estimating whether the blockades actually increased the number of subscriptions. This, opposed to the possibility that pirates were already subscribed and simply used the legal services more after the blocks.

To do this, the researchers looked at ‘pirates’ who repeatedly visited legal services after the blockades, but didn’t before, and compared this to people who were not pirating. This shows that the blocks increased the number of paid subscriptions to streaming services.

“We show that blocking 53 sites in 2014 caused treated users to decrease piracy and to increase their usage of legal subscription sites by 7-12%. It also caused an increase in new paid subscriptions,” the researchers write in their paper.

“Together, these results imply that supply-side antipiracy enforcement can be effective in turning users of illegal piracy channels toward paid legal
consumption,” the paper adds.

It has to be noted that the estimated increase in subscriptions is relatively small. It’s just 1.1 percentage points higher than in the control group of people who were not affected by the blocks. That said, this translates to around 50,000 new subscribers in the UK, which is pretty significant.

Overall the research finds that there are varying responses to pirate site blockades. Some may circumvent them by using alternative pirate sites or signing up for a VPN, while others increasingly turn to legal alternatives.

In addition to this, one of the main messages is that blocking multiple sites at once is more effective than blocking just a single site. Broader blocks are likely to make it harder for people to find pirated content and, as a result, some people appear to give up.

The researchers illustrate this by pointing at the ‘Hydra’ comparison, which has been used by The Pirate Bay as well in the past. In Greek mythology, the Hydra is a beast that’s particularly hard to kill, as it has multiple heads that can grow back.

“Blocking a single site is akin to decapitating only one of the Hydra’s heads. The result will only be a more diffuse network of piracy sites, with no curb on pirating activity,” the researchers write.

Stabbing the Hydra in the hard is the only way to kill it effectively. While that may be impossible in the pirate ecosystem, cutting off as many heads as possible comes close. Especially if these heads are important sources for other sites.

“Blocking multiple sites at once is akin to decapitating several of the Hydra’s heads. With the network of sites significantly disrupted, this could possibly be a mortal wounding. We have shown that users’ behavior is sufficiently disrupted and that some increase the use of legal channels, and reduce illegal ones,” the paper concludes.

The website blocking research was carried out as part of Carnegie Mellon University’s Initiative for Digital Entertainment Analytics (IDEA), which received a generous donation from the MPAA. However, the researchers stress that their work is carried out independently.

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Video Piracy Study Estimates Billions in Lost Revenue, But Misses Crucial Data

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/video-piracy-study-estimates-billions-in-lost-revenue-but-misses-crucial-data-190620/

Despite the growing availability of legal options, online piracy remains rampant. Every day pirate sites and services are used by millions of people worldwide.

This is a serious problem for major content producers, Hollywood included. At the same time, it’s also seen a threat to the wider U.S. economy, which generates hundreds of billions of dollars from video entertainment.

How copyright infringement affects the economy in actual numbers is hard to measure, especially since the piracy landscape changes rapidly. That said, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Innovation Policy Center, in partnership with NERA Economic Consulting, attempted an estimate.

In a report titled “Impacts of Digital Piracy on the U.S. Economy” they combine multiple data sources, paired with a broad range of assumptions, to estimate how much revenue video piracy is costing the U.S. economy.

In order to calculate how much piracy costs, the researchers first had to determine the global piracy volume. They did so by combining data from two known piracy tracking firms.

Specifically, the number of pirated movies and TV-shows are estimated using data from the German BitTorrent tracking outfit Tecxipo. These are then extrapolated to estimate the volume of other piracy sources, such as streaming and direct downloads, based on data from the UK outfit MUSO.

In addition, the researchers use academic studies to approximate the displacement rate. This is a crucial variable, as it estimates the percentage of pirated files that can be counted as a lost sale. The report settled on a lower bound of 14%, which means that roughly one in seven pirate downloads or streams are seen as lost revenue.

All this information, paired with location data, the average price per source, and a variety of other variables, ultimately leads the researchers to conclude that in 2017 online video piracy resulted in a revenue loss of at least $29.2 billion.

“The study shows that all of the benefits that streaming brings to our economy have been artificially capped by digital piracy. Using macroeconomic modeling of digital piracy, the study estimates that global online piracy costs the U.S. economy at least $29.2 billion in lost revenue each year,” the report reads.

In raw numbers, the researchers put the number of pirated  U.S.-produced movies at $26.6 billion, while they estimate that roughly 126.7 billion U.S.-produced TV episodes are pirated digitally each year. This piracy takes place mostly from outside the United States. 

The impact on the broader economy is even larger. According to the researchers, online video piracy costs the U.S. economy between 230,000 and 560,000 jobs and between $47.5 billion and $115.3 billion in reduced gross domestic product (GDP) each year.

Jobs ‘lost’

Not all types of piracy are the same of course. A pirated Netflix movie results in lower losses than a Hollywood blockbuster. Similarly, a pirated Bollywood film doesn’t impact the U.S. economy much.

Interestingly, the report notes that piracy by U.S. citizens doesn’t necessarily have to be detrimental to the economy. The money these people ‘save’ by pirating is likely spent locally, which, depending on various factors, could even be beneficial to the economy as a whole.

Or as the researchers put it:

“Consumers spend the income gained from displaced legal consumption on other goods and services, many of which are produced in the U.S. Therefore, the net effect on the U.S. economy of this component of piracy could be either positive or negative, depending on the relative magnitudes of the multipliers for the revenue losses and the revenue gains.”

The most significant impact comes from foreigners who pirate U.S. content, as the money they save is likely not being spent in America.

Overall the report provides a detailed overview of the potential revenue losses. Displacement rates are complex, of course, as there are probably hundreds of other variables that could have been taken into account, but it looks like the researchers did a good job at factoring in the most crucial elements.

Unfortunately, however, there is a glaring error that can’t easily be ignored.

The report specifically set out to provide an up-to-date overview of the new piracy ecosystem, one that includes apps and illicit streaming devices. No surprise, as dedicated streaming boxes are generally seen as the biggest threat to Hollywood.

“These rapid changes necessitate up-to-date estimates of the impact of digital piracy,” the report notes. 

The problem, however, is that most app and streaming device piracy isn’t covered by the study. The report relies on category data from MUSO, which only covers regular browser visits to pirate sites.

This typically excludes most apps and pirate set-top boxes. Also, the boom in IPTV piracy isn’t covered by these data either.

TorrentFreak reached out to the researchers, who informed us that they weren’t aware of this. This means that their overall estimate of the impact of video piracy is even more reserved than they initially assumed. Needless to say, that has not been left out intentionally.

Whether it’s complete or not, these types of studies are generally welcomed by rightsholders. As such, the report will likely be mentioned frequently in future lobbying campaigns.

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Piracy is Ethically Acceptable For Many Harvard Lawyers, Research Finds

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/piracy-is-ethically-acceptable-for-many-harvard-lawyers-research-finds-190607/

Most people know all too well that it’s against the law to share a pirated copy of a movie or TV-show.

However, law and ethics are not always in sync. Not even among those who are schooled as lawyers.

This is the conclusion of an intriguing new study conducted among Harvard lawyers by Prof. Dariusz Jemielniak and Dr. Jérôme Hergueux. The research, published in The Information Society journal, found that many lawyers believe that casual piracy is ethically acceptable.

The researchers polled the perceptions of more than 100 international Masters of Law (LL.M.) students at Harvard, who all have a law degree. They were asked to evaluate how acceptable various piracy scenarios are, on a five-point scale going from very unacceptable to very acceptable. 

The piracy scenarios ranged from downloading a TV-show or movie which isn’t legally available, through pirating music to simply save money, to downloading content for educational or even commercial purposes. In total, 19 different alternatives were presented.

While the researchers expected that lawyers would have conservative ethical positions when it comes to piracy, the opposite was true. The average of all answers was 3.23, which means that it leans toward the “acceptable” point of the scale.

“We find that digital file sharing ranks relatively high in terms of ethical acceptability among our population of lawyers—with the only notable exception being infringing copyright with a commercial purpose,” the researchers conclude.

Not all forms of piracy were considered equally ethical. Pirating content because there’s no legal way to access it is seen as most acceptable (3.36 out of 5). This is followed by pirating due to a lack of financial resources (3.32) and pirating for educational purposes (3.28).

Downloading copyrighted material for commercial purposes is seen as the least ethical, with an average rating of 1.76. Pirating to avoid payment is also at the unacceptable end of the scale, with an average of 2.73.

These reported results clearly show that some forms of piracy are ok, according to these lawyers. However, the reported results are all averages and there obviously is no scenario that’s seen as acceptable by all lawyers.

To give an illustration, when the respondents were asked to evaluate the example where someone streamed a TV-show because it’s not legally available, 58% believed it to be (very) acceptable, 21% viewed it as neither acceptable nor unacceptable, while the remaining 21% saw it as (very) unacceptable.

On the other hand, when presented with a scenario where someone downloads cracked software for commercial purposes, only 7% saw it as (very) acceptable, 71% viewed it as (very) unacceptable, with the remaining 22% ending up in the middle.

While not reported in the paper, it’s worth noting that nearly all of the lawyers have friends who download TV-shows from the Internet. When asked about it, roughly 95% answered positively, with one lawyer noting that “all students do it for personal use.”

The paper further shows that there are differences between lawyers as well. Those who work in the public sector, or plan to work there, are even more tolerant of online copyright infringement than those in the private sector. That makes sense, as the former have a duty to acknowledge the public interest.

The lawyers who participated in the survey are not all experts in copyright law. Still, the findings confirm that there’s a clear mismatch between the law and what is seen as ethically acceptable, even among legal scholars.

This matches the conclusion drawn by the researchers.

“[T]he fact that even the international elite lawyers perceive digital file sharing as generally acceptable signals that policies are increasingly misaligned with social practices,” the researchers write.

The line is clearly drawn at “commercial” copyright infringement. This is also a criterion that was put forward by some scholars, activists, and politicians, including those of the Pirate Party. In fact, many self-proclaimed pirates are against commercial copyright infringement.

The fact that this is not reflected in law may be due to the finding that ‘private sector’ lawyers are more conservative. They are the ones who work on behalf of rightsholders.

According to the researchers, it might be good to reconsider whether that’s a good idea. They suggest that, as it is now, copyright is mostly used to advanced informational capitalism, while ignoring the ethical reality.

“When lawyers and pirates concur in terms of their ethical assessment of file sharing practices, the legal status quo appears to be more of a tool for advancing informational capitalism than reflecting everyday practices of common sense and fairness perception.

“These findings support the calls for further de-criminalization of copyright legislation,” the researchers conclude.

A copy of the full paper titled “Should digital files be considered a commons? Copyright infringement in the eyes of lawyers” is available here, for free. 

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Hundreds of Thousands of ‘Pirate’ Sites Disappear Following Takedown Notices

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/hundreds-of-thousands-of-pirate-sites-disappear-following-takedown-notices/

Takedown notices are a vital tool for copyright holders who want to make sure that infringing copies of their work are not widely distributed.

Every week millions of these requests are sent to hosting platforms, as well as third-party services, such as search engines. 

Quite a few of the major players, including Twitter, Google, and Bing, publish these requests online. However, due to the massive volume, it’s hard for casual observers to spot any trends in the data. 

Researchers from Queen Mary University of London and Boston University aim to add some context with an elaborate study covering a broad database of takedown requests. Their results are now bundled in a paper titled: “Who Watches the Watchmen: Exploring Complaints on the Web.”

The research covers all takedown requests that were made available through the Lumen Database in 2017. The majority of these were sent to Google, with Bing, Twitter, and Periscope as runners-up. In total, more than one billion reported URLs were analyzed.

Most takedown requests or ‘web complaints’ were copyright-related, 98.6% to be precise. This means that other notices, such as defamation reports, court orders, and Government requests, make up a tiny minority. 

The researchers report that the complaints were submitted by 38,523 unique senders, covering 1.05 billion URLs.  While that’s a massive number, most reported links are filed by a very small group of senders. 

“We find that the distribution of notices is highly skewed towards a few extremely active senders. The top 10% of notice senders report over 1 billion URLs, in stark contrast to just 550K by the bottom 90%,” the researchers write.

Not surprisingly, the list of top senders is entirely made up of anti-piracy groups and trade organizations. In 2017, the top senders were Rivendell, Aiplex, and the UK music group BPI. 

On the domain side, the results are skewed as well. The top 1% of all reported domain names were targeted in 63% of all complaints. In other words, a small number of sites are responsible for the vast majority of all takedown notices. 

These and other figures provide more insight into the various takedown characteristics. What we were most surprised about, however, are the researchers’ findings regarding the availability of the reported domain names. 

The researchers carried out periodic checks on the domains and URLs to verify if the websites are still active. This revealed that a few weeks after the first takedown notices were filed, 22% of the reported domains were inactive, returning an NXDOMAIN response.

“Many domain names are soon taken offline and 22% of the URLs are inaccessible within just 4 weeks of us observing the complaints. Hence, it is clear that we shed light on a highly dynamic environment from the perspective of domain operators too,” the article reads.

With a total dataset of more than a billion domain names, this suggests that hundreds or thousands of sites simply disappeared. Whether the takedown requests have anything to do with this is unclear though, as many site owners may not even be aware of them.

The disappearing domain names mostly use more exotic TLDs, with .LOL being the most popular, followed by .LINK, .BID, .SPACE, and .WIN. The vast majority of these (97%) have an Alexa rank lower than one million, which means that they only have a few visitors per day. 

It’s not clear why these domains disappear and the authors of the article stress that follow-up research is required to find out more. It would not be a surprise, however, if many of these are related to spam or scams that rely on temporary search engine traffic. 

Finally, the article also observed worrying activity carried out by copyright holders. For example, some use seemingly fabricated URLs, as we have highlighted in the past, while others send hundreds of duplicate notices. 

All in all the research should help to provide a better understanding of how takedown requests impact various stakeholders. This type of transparency is essential to improve procedures for the senders, but also to prevent abuse.

“Transparency is critical and, as a society, it is important to know how and why information is filtered. This is particularly the case as we have found that these mechanisms might not be always used wisely,” the researchers conclude. 

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

‘Gender Balance in Computing’ research project launch

Post Syndicated from Sue Sentance original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/gender-balance-in-computing-research-project-launch/

I am excited to reveal that a consortium of partners has been awarded £2.4 million for a new research project to investigate how to engage more girls in computing, as part of our work with the National Centre for Computing Education. The award comes at a crucial time in computing education, after research by the University of Roehampton and the Royal Society recently found that only 20% of computing candidates for GCSE and 10% for A level Computer Science were girls.

The project will investigate ways to make computing more inclusive.

The project

‘Gender Balance in Computing’ is a collaboration between the consortium of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, STEM Learning, BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, and the Behavioural Insights Team. Our partners, Apps for Good and WISE, will also be working on the project. Trials will run from 2019–2022 in Key Stages 1–4, and more than 15,000 students and 550 schools will be involved. It will be the largest national research effort to tackle this issue to date!

Our research around gender balance has many synergies with the work of the wider National Centre for Computing Education (NCCE) programme, which also focuses on pedagogy and widening participation. We will also be working with NCCE Computing Hubs when planning and implementing the trials.

How it will work

‘Gender Balance in Computing’ will develop and roll out several projects that aim to increase the number of girls choosing to study a computing subject at GCSE and A level. The consortium has already identified some of the possible reasons why a large percentage of girls don’t consider computing as the right choice for further study and potential careers. These include: feeling that they don’t belong in the subject; not being sufficiently encouraged; and feeling that computing is not relevant to them. We will go on to research and pilot a series of new interventions, with each focusing on addressing a different barrier to girls’ participation.

We will also trial initiatives such as more inclusive pedagogical approaches to teaching computing to facilitate self-efficacy, and relating informal learning opportunities, which are often popular with girls, to computing as an academic subject or career choice.

Signposting the links between informal and formal learning is one of the interventions that will be trialled.

Introducing our partners

WISE works to increase the participation, contribution, and success of women in the UK’s scientific, technology, and engineering (STEM) workforce. Since 1984, they have supported young women into careers in STEM, and are committed to raising aspirations and awareness for girls in school to help them achieve their full potential. In the past three years, their programmes have inspired more than 13,500 girls.

The Behavioural Insights Team have worked with governments, local authorities, businesses and charities to tackle major policy problems. They generate and apply behavioural insights to inform policy and improve public services.

Apps for Good has impacted more than 130,000 young people in 1500 schools and colleges across the UK since their foundation in 2010. They are committed to improving diversity within the tech sector, engaging schools within deprived and challenging contexts, and enthusing girls to pursue a pathway in computing; in 2018, 56% of students participating in an Apps for Good programme were female.

“A young person’s location, background, or gender should never be a barrier to their future success. Apps for Good empowers young people to change their world through technology, and we have a strong track record of engaging girls in computing. We are excited to be a part of this important work to create, test, and scale solutions to inspire more girls to pursue technology in education. We look forward to helping to build a more diverse talent pool of future tech creators.” Sophie Ball & Natalie Moore, Co-Managing Directors, Apps for Good

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has a strong track record for inclusion through our informal learning programmes: out of the 375,000 children who attended a Code Club or a CoderDojo in 2018, 140,000 (37%) were girls. This disparity between the gender balance in informal learning and the imbalance in formal learning is one of the things our new research project will be investigating.

The challenge of encouraging more girls to take up computing has long been a concern, and overcoming it will be critical to ensuring that the nation’s workforce is suitably skilled to work in an increasingly digital world. I’m therefore very proud to be working with this group of excellent organisations on this important research project (and on such a scale!). Together, we have the opportunity to rigorously trial a range of evidence-informed initiatives to improve the gender balance in computing in primary and secondary schools.

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What we are learning about learning

Post Syndicated from Oliver Quinlan original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/what-we-are-learning-about-learning/

Across Code Clubs, CoderDojos, Raspberry Jams, and all our other education programmes, we’re working with hundreds of thousands of young people. They are all making different projects and learning different things while they are making. The research team at the Raspberry Pi Foundation does lots of work to help us understand what exactly these young people learn, and how the adults and peers who mentor them share their skills with them.

Coolest Projects International 2018

Senior Research Manager Oliver Quinlan chats to participants at Coolest Projects 2018

We do our research work by:

  • Visiting clubs, Dojos, and events, seeing how they run, and talking to the adults and young people involved
  • Running surveys to get feedback on how people are helping young people learn
  • Testing new approaches and resources with groups of clubs and Dojos to try different ways which might help to engage more young people or help them learn more effectively

Over the last few months, we’ve been running lots of research projects and gained some fascinating insights into how young people are engaging with digital making. As well as using these findings to shape our education work, we also publish what we find, for free, over on our research page.

How do children tackle digital making projects?

We found that making ambitious digital projects is a careful balance between ideas, technology, and skills. Using this new understanding, we will help children and the adults that support them plan a process for exploring open-ended projects.

Coolest Projects USA 2018

Coolest Projects USA 2018

For this piece of research, we interviewed children and young people at last year’s Coolest Projects International and Coolest Projects UK , asking questions about the kinds of projects they made and how they created them. We found that the challenge they face is finding a balance between three things: the ideas and problems they want to address, the technologies they have access to, and their skills. Different children approached their projects in different ways, some starting with the technology they had access to, others starting with an idea or with a problem they wanted to solve.

Achieving big ambitions with the technology you have to hand while also learning the skills you need can be tricky. We’re planning to develop more resources to help young people with this.

Coolest Projects International 2018

Research Assistant Lucia Florianova learns about Rebel Girls at Coolest Projects International 2018

We also found out a lot about the power of seeing other children’s projects, what children learn, and the confidence they develop in presenting their projects at these events. Alongside our analysis, we’ve put together some case studies of the teams we interviewed, so people can read in-depth about their projects and the stories of how they created them.

Who comes to Code Club?

In another research project, we found that Code Clubs in schools are often diverse and cater well for the communities the schools serve; Code Club is not an exclusive club, but something for everyone.

Code Club Athens

Code Clubs are run by volunteers in all sorts of schools, libraries, and other venues across the world; we know a lot about the spaces the clubs take place in and the volunteers who run them, but less about the children who choose to take part. We’ve started to explore this through structured visits to clubs in a sample of schools across the West Midlands in England, interviewing teachers about the groups of children in their club. We knew Code Clubs were reaching schools that cater for a whole range of communities, and the evidence of this project suggests that the children who attend the Code Club in those schools come from a range of backgrounds themselves.

Scouts Raspberry Pi

Photo c/o Dave Bird — thanks, Dave!

We found that in these primary schools, children were motivated to join Code Club more because the club is fun rather than because the children see themselves as people who are programmers. This is partly because adults set up Code Clubs with an emphasis on fun: although children are learning, they are not perceiving Code Club as an academic activity linked with school work. Our project also showed us how Code Clubs fit in with the other after-school clubs in schools, and that children often choose Code Club as part of a menu of after-school clubs.

Raspberry Jam

Visitors to Pi Towers Raspberry Jam get hands-on with coding

In the last few months we’ve also published insights into how Raspberry Pi Certified Educators are using their training in schools, and into how schools are using Raspberry Pi computers. You can find our reports on all of these topics over at our research page.

Thanks to all the volunteers, educators, and young people who are finding time to help us with their research. If you’re involved in any of our education programmes and want to take part in a research project, or if you are doing your own research into computing education and want to start a conversation, then reach out to us via [email protected].

The post What we are learning about learning appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Majority of Canadians Consume Online Content Legally, Survey Finds

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/majority-of-canadians-consume-online-content-legally-survey-finds-180531/

Back in January, a coalition of companies and organizations with ties to the entertainment industries called on local telecoms regulator CRTC to implement a national website blocking regime.

Under the banner of Fairplay Canada, members including Bell, Cineplex, Directors Guild of Canada, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, Movie Theatre Association of Canada, and Rogers Media, spoke of an industry under threat from marauding pirates. But just how serious is this threat?

The results of a new survey commissioned by Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) in collaboration with the Department of Canadian Heritage (PCH) aims to shine light on the problem by revealing the online content consumption habits of citizens in the Great White North.

While there are interesting findings for those on both sides of the site-blocking debate, the situation seems somewhat removed from the Armageddon scenario predicted by the entertainment industries.

Carried out among 3,301 Canadians aged 12 years and over, the Kantar TNS study aims to cover copyright infringement in six key content areas – music, movies, TV shows, video games, computer software, and eBooks. Attitudes and behaviors are also touched upon while measuring the effectiveness of Canada’s copyright measures.

General Digital Content Consumption

In its introduction, the report notes that 28 million Canadians used the Internet in the three-month study period to November 27, 2017. Of those, 22 million (80%) consumed digital content. Around 20 million (73%) streamed or accessed content, 16 million (59%) downloaded content, while 8 million (28%) shared content.

Music, TV shows and movies all battled for first place in the consumption ranks, with 48%, 48%, and 46% respectively.

Copyright Infringement

According to the study, the majority of Canadians do things completely by the book. An impressive 74% of media-consuming respondents said that they’d only accessed material from legal sources in the preceding three months.

The remaining 26% admitted to accessing at least one illegal file in the same period. Of those, just 5% said that all of their consumption was from illegal sources, with movies (36%), software (36%), TV shows (34%) and video games (33%) the most likely content to be consumed illegally.

Interestingly, the study found that few demographic factors – such as gender, region, rural and urban, income, employment status and language – play a role in illegal content consumption.

“We found that only age and income varied significantly between consumers who infringed by downloading or streaming/accessing content online illegally and consumers who did not consume infringing content online,” the report reads.

“More specifically, the profile of consumers who downloaded or streamed/accessed infringing content skewed slightly younger and towards individuals with household incomes of $100K+.”

Licensed services much more popular than pirate haunts

It will come as no surprise that Netflix was the most popular service with consumers, with 64% having used it in the past three months. Sites like YouTube and Facebook were a big hit too, visited by 36% and 28% of content consumers respectively.

Overall, 74% of online content consumers use licensed services for content while 42% use social networks. Under a third (31%) use a combination of peer-to-peer (BitTorrent), cyberlocker platforms, or linking sites. Stream-ripping services are used by 9% of content consumers.

“Consumers who reported downloading or streaming/accessing infringing content only are less likely to use licensed services and more likely to use peer-to-peer/cyberlocker/linking sites than other consumers of online content,” the report notes.

Attitudes towards legal consumption & infringing content

In common with similar surveys over the years, the Kantar research looked at the reasons why people consume content from various sources, both legal and otherwise.

Convenience (48%), speed (36%) and quality (34%) were the most-cited reasons for using legal sources. An interesting 33% of respondents said they use legal sites to avoid using illegal sources.

On the illicit front, 54% of those who obtained unauthorized content in the previous three months said they did so due to it being free, with 40% citing convenience and 34% mentioning speed.

Almost six out of ten (58%) said lower costs would encourage them to switch to official sources, with 47% saying they’d move if legal availability was improved.

Canada’s ‘Notice-and-Notice’ warning system

People in Canada who share content on peer-to-peer systems like BitTorrent without permission run the risk of receiving an infringement notice warning them to stop. These are sent by copyright holders via users’ ISPs and the hope is that the shock of receiving a warning will turn consumers back to the straight and narrow.

The study reveals that 10% of online content consumers over the age of 12 have received one of these notices but what kind of effect have they had?

“Respondents reported that receiving such a notice resulted in the following: increased awareness of copyright infringement (38%), taking steps to ensure password protected home networks (27%), a household discussion about copyright infringement (27%), and discontinuing illegal downloading or streaming (24%),” the report notes.

While these are all positives for the entertainment industries, Kantar reports that almost a quarter (24%) of people who receive a notice simply ignore them.

Stream-ripping

Once upon a time, people obtaining music via P2P networks was cited as the music industry’s greatest threat but, with the advent of sites like YouTube, so-called stream-ripping is the latest bogeyman.

According to the study, 11% of Internet users say they’ve used a stream-ripping service. They are most likely to be male (62%) and predominantly 18 to 34 (52%) years of age.

“Among Canadians who have used a service to stream-rip music or entertainment, nearly half (48%) have used stream-ripping sites, one-third have used downloader apps (38%), one-in-seven (14%) have used a stream-ripping plug-in, and one-in-ten (10%) have used stream-ripping software,” the report adds.

Set-Top Boxes and VPNs

Few general piracy studies would be complete in 2018 without touching on set-top devices and Virtual Private Networks and this report doesn’t disappoint.

More than one in five (21%) respondents aged 12+ reported using a VPN, with the main purpose of securing communications and Internet browsing (57%).

A relatively modest 36% said they use a VPN to access free content while 32% said the aim was to access geo-blocked content unavailable in Canada. Just over a quarter (27%) said that accessing content from overseas at a reasonable price was the main motivator.

One in ten (10%) of respondents reported using a set-top box, with 78% stating they use them to access paid-for content. Interestingly, only a small number say they use the devices to infringe.

“A minority use set-top boxes to access other content that is not legal or they are unsure if it is legal (16%), or to access live sports that are not legal or they are unsure if it is legal (11%),” the report notes.

“Individuals who consumed a mix of legal and illegal content online are more likely to use VPN services (42%) or TV set-top boxes (21%) than consumers who only downloaded or streamed/accessed legal content.”

Kantar says that the findings of the report will be used to help policymakers evaluate how Canada’s Copyright Act is coping with a changing market and technological developments.

“This research will provide the necessary information required to further develop copyright policy in Canada, as well as to provide a foundation to assess the effectiveness of the measures to address copyright infringement, should future analysis be undertaken,” it concludes.

The full report can be found here (pdf)

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

Hong Kong Customs Arrest Pirate Streaming Device Vendors

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/hong-kong-customs-arrest-pirate-streaming-device-vendors-180529/

As Internet-capable set-top boxes pour into homes across all populated continents, authorities seem almost powerless to come up with a significant response to the growing threat.

In standard form these devices, which are often Android-based, are entirely legal. However, when configured with specialist software they become piracy powerhouses providing access to all content imaginable, often at copyright holders’ expense.

A large proportion of these devices come from Asia, China in particular, but it’s relatively rare to hear of enforcement action in that part of the world. That changed this week with an announcement from Hong Kong customs detailing a series of raids in the areas of Sham Shui Po and Wan Chai.

After conducting an in-depth investigation with the assistance of copyright holders, on May 25 and 26 Customs and Excise officers launched Operation Trojan Horse, carrying out a series of raids on four premises selling suspected piracy-configured set-top boxes.

During the operation, officers arrested seven men and one woman aged between 18 and 45. Four of them were shop owners and the other four were salespeople. Around 354 suspected ‘pirate’ boxes were seized with an estimated market value of HK$320,000 (US$40,700).

“In the past few months, the department has stepped up inspections of hotspots for TV set-top boxes,” a statement from authorities reads.

“We have discovered that some shops have sold suspected illegal set-top boxes that bypass the copyright protection measures imposed by copyright holders of pay television programs allowing people to watch pay television programs for free.”

Some of the devices seized by Hong Kong Customs

During a press conference yesterday, a representative from the Customs Copyright and Trademark Investigations (Action) Division said that in the run up to the World Cup in 2018, measures against copyright infringement will be strengthened both on and online.

The announcement was welcomed by the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia’s (CASBAA) Coalition Against Piracy, which is back by industry heavyweights including Disney, Fox, HBO Asia, NBCUniversal, Premier League, Turner Asia-Pacific, A&E Networks, Astro, BBC Worldwide, National Basketball Association, TV5MONDE, Viacom International, and others.

“We commend the great work of Hong Kong Customs in clamping down on syndicates who profit from the sale of Illicit Streaming Devices,” said General Manager Neil Gane.

“The prevalence of ISDs in Hong Kong and across South East Asia is staggering. The criminals who sell ISDs, as well as those who operate the ISD networks and pirate websites, are profiting from the hard work of talented creators, seriously damaging the legitimate content ecosystem as well as exposing consumers to dangerous malware.”

Malware warnings are very prevalent these days but it’s not something the majority of set-top box owners have a problem with. Indeed, a study carried by Sycamore Research found that pirates aren’t easily deterred by such warnings.

Nevertheless, there are definite risks for individuals selling devices when they’re configured for piracy.

Recent cases, particularly in the UK, have shown that hefty jail sentences can hit offenders while over in the United States (1,2,3), lawsuits filed by the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) have the potential to end in unfavorable rulings for multiple defendants.

Although rarely reported, offenders in Hong Kong also face stiff sentences for this kind of infringement including large fines and custodial sentences of up to four years.

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

Security and Human Behavior (SHB 2018)

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2018/05/security_and_hu_7.html

I’m at Carnegie Mellon University, at the eleventh Workshop on Security and Human Behavior.

SHB is a small invitational gathering of people studying various aspects of the human side of security, organized each year by Alessandro Acquisti, Ross Anderson, and myself. The 50 or so people in the room include psychologists, economists, computer security researchers, sociologists, political scientists, neuroscientists, designers, lawyers, philosophers, anthropologists, business school professors, and a smattering of others. It’s not just an interdisciplinary event; most of the people here are individually interdisciplinary.

The goal is to maximize discussion and interaction. We do that by putting everyone on panels, and limiting talks to 7-10 minutes. The rest of the time is left to open discussion. Four hour-and-a-half panels per day over two days equals eight panels; six people per panel means that 48 people get to speak. We also have lunches, dinners, and receptions — all designed so people from different disciplines talk to each other.

I invariably find this to be the most intellectually stimulating conference of my year. It influences my thinking in many different, and sometimes surprising, ways.

This year’s program is here. This page lists the participants and includes links to some of their work. As he does every year, Ross Anderson is liveblogging the talks. (Ross also maintains a good webpage of psychology and security resources.)

Here are my posts on the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth SHB workshops. Follow those links to find summaries, papers, and occasionally audio recordings of the various workshops.

Next year, I’ll be hosting the event at Harvard.

Detecting Lies through Mouse Movements

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2018/05/detecting_lies_.html

Interesting research: “The detection of faked identity using unexpected questions and mouse dynamics,” by Merulin Monaro, Luciano Gamberini, and Guiseppe Sartori.

Abstract: The detection of faked identities is a major problem in security. Current memory-detection techniques cannot be used as they require prior knowledge of the respondent’s true identity. Here, we report a novel technique for detecting faked identities based on the use of unexpected questions that may be used to check the respondent identity without any prior autobiographical information. While truth-tellers respond automatically to unexpected questions, liars have to “build” and verify their responses. This lack of automaticity is reflected in the mouse movements used to record the responses as well as in the number of errors. Responses to unexpected questions are compared to responses to expected and control questions (i.e., questions to which a liar also must respond truthfully). Parameters that encode mouse movement were analyzed using machine learning classifiers and the results indicate that the mouse trajectories and errors on unexpected questions efficiently distinguish liars from truth-tellers. Furthermore, we showed that liars may be identified also when they are responding truthfully. Unexpected questions combined with the analysis of mouse movement may efficiently spot participants with faked identities without the need for any prior information on the examinee.

Boing Boing post.

Another Spectre-Like CPU Vulnerability

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2018/05/another_spectre.html

Google and Microsoft researchers have disclosed another Spectre-like CPU side-channel vulnerability, called “Speculative Store Bypass.” Like the others, the fix will slow the CPU down.

The German tech site Heise reports that more are coming.

I’m not surprised. Writing about Spectre and Meltdown in January, I predicted that we’ll be seeing a lot more of these sorts of vulnerabilities.

Spectre and Meltdown are pretty catastrophic vulnerabilities, but they only affect the confidentiality of data. Now that they — and the research into the Intel ME vulnerability — have shown researchers where to look, more is coming — and what they’ll find will be worse than either Spectre or Meltdown.

I still predict that we’ll be seeing lots more of these in the coming months and years, as we learn more about this class of vulnerabilities.

Sending Inaudible Commands to Voice Assistants

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2018/05/sending_inaudib.html

Researchers have demonstrated the ability to send inaudible commands to voice assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant.

Over the last two years, researchers in China and the United States have begun demonstrating that they can send hidden commands that are undetectable to the human ear to Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant. Inside university labs, the researchers have been able to secretly activate the artificial intelligence systems on smartphones and smart speakers, making them dial phone numbers or open websites. In the wrong hands, the technology could be used to unlock doors, wire money or buy stuff online ­– simply with music playing over the radio.

A group of students from University of California, Berkeley, and Georgetown University showed in 2016 that they could hide commands in white noise played over loudspeakers and through YouTube videos to get smart devices to turn on airplane mode or open a website.

This month, some of those Berkeley researchers published a research paper that went further, saying they could embed commands directly into recordings of music or spoken text. So while a human listener hears someone talking or an orchestra playing, Amazon’s Echo speaker might hear an instruction to add something to your shopping list.

Critical PGP Vulnerability

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2018/05/critical_pgp_vu.html

EFF is reporting that a critical vulnerability has been discovered in PGP and S/MIME. No details have been published yet, but one of the researchers wrote:

We’ll publish critical vulnerabilities in PGP/GPG and S/MIME email encryption on 2018-05-15 07:00 UTC. They might reveal the plaintext of encrypted emails, including encrypted emails sent in the past. There are currently no reliable fixes for the vulnerability. If you use PGP/GPG or S/MIME for very sensitive communication, you should disable it in your email client for now.

This sounds like a protocol vulnerability, but we’ll learn more tomorrow.

News articles.

Airline Ticket Fraud

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2018/05/airline_ticket_.html

New research: “Leaving on a jet plane: the trade in fraudulently obtained airline tickets:”

Abstract: Every day, hundreds of people fly on airline tickets that have been obtained fraudulently. This crime script analysis provides an overview of the trade in these tickets, drawing on interviews with industry and law enforcement, and an analysis of an online blackmarket. Tickets are purchased by complicit travellers or resellers from the online blackmarket. Victim travellers obtain tickets from fake travel agencies or malicious insiders. Compromised credit cards used to be the main method to purchase tickets illegitimately. However, as fraud detection systems improved, offenders displaced to other methods, including compromised loyalty point accounts, phishing, and compromised business accounts. In addition to complicit and victim travellers, fraudulently obtained tickets are used for transporting mules, and for trafficking and smuggling. This research details current prevention approaches, and identifies additional interventions, aimed at the act, the actor, and the marketplace.

Blog post.