Yogi Adityanath calls for solution to Ayodhya issue through talks

Image result for Yogi Adityanath calls for solution to Ayodhya issue through talksHe said the Ramayana circuit will connect all cultural and traditional centres mentioned in the epic, adding that the circuit would be extended to Rameshwaram.

AYODHYA: Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath today stressed that a peaceful solution to the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid issue should be found through bilateral talks.

Both parties must abide by the Supreme Court’s advice regarding negotiations, said Adityanath who was on a visit here. He added that the government would take care of the sentiments of both Hindus as well as Muslims.

In his speech, the chief minister referred to Indonesia and said it was the biggest Muslim country where Ramayana was celebrated.

Indonesians have accepted Islam as a way to worship God, but they are still very much attached to their old tradition of Ramayana, he said.

Adityanath also said that the Union government is thinking seriously to construct a Ram Sethu (Adam Bridge) connecting India to Lanka to give a full and final shape to Ramayana circuit.

He said the Ramayana circuit will connect all cultural and traditional centres mentioned in the epic, adding that the circuit would be extended to Rameshwaram.

The Centre as well as the state government are developing all spots which are traditionally and culturally connected with the Hindu religion, he said.

Development of ghaats along the rivers and cultural activities such as ‘Ram Leela’ and ‘Krishna Leela’ were also priorities, he said.

Adityanath was in Ayodhya to pay tributes to Ram Mandir movement leader Ram Chandra Das Paramhans whose death anniversary falls today. Paramhans, one of the accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case, had died fourteen years ago.

This was Adityanath’s second visit to Ayodhya in less than two months.

After becoming chief minister he had visited Ayodhya on 31 May to take part in the birthday celebration of VHP leader Nritya Gopal Das, president of the Ram Janambhoomi trust.

Yogi, had during his last visit to the temple town also offered prayers at the makeshift Ram temple here.

About a thousand people including sadhus and BJP leaders attended the chief minister’s public meeting in a small place adjacent to Digambar Akahara.

Some persons including some sadhus expressed displeasure saying they were forcefully removed by the police as the chief minister was to arrive.

Faizabad district magistrate S K Rai however said “no one was removed forcefully but we requested some sadhus to go before the arrival of CM for security reasons”.


U.N. warns of escalation if no Jerusalem mosque solution by Friday

Image result for U.N. warns of escalation if no Jerusalem mosque solution by FridayPalestinian men take part in evening prayers inside Jerusalem’s Old City, next to the Lion’s Gate, July 24, 2017.

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – United Nations Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov warned on Monday that a solution was needed by Friday to the Jerusalem mosque crisis, which he said threatens to have “potential catastrophic costs well beyond the walls of the Old City.”

Israel installed metal detectors at entry points to Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem after two police guards were shot dead on July 14, triggering the bloodiest clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in years.

Incensed at what they perceive as a violation of delicate decades-old access arrangements at Islam’s third-holiest site, many Palestinians have refused to go through the metal detectors, holding street prayers and often violent protests.

“It is extremely important that a solution to the current crisis be found by Friday,” Mladenov told reporters after briefing the U.N. Security Council behind closed doors. “The dangers on the ground will escalate if we go through another cycle of Friday prayer without a resolution.”

He also warned that the crisis was not a localized event.

“(It has) the potential to have catastrophic costs well beyond the walls of the Old City, well beyond Israel and Palestine, well beyond the Middle East itself,” Mladenov said.

 Image result for U.N. warns of escalation if no Jerusalem mosque solution by Friday

Israeli police officers stand guard next to recently installed metal detectors at an entrance to the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City July 23, 2017.Ammar Awad

The 15-member Security Council met on the crisis at the request of Sweden, France and Egypt.

Sweden’s Deputy U.N. Ambassador Carl Skau posted on Twitter after the meeting that Security Council members “agree on need for de-escalation, condemnation of violence and urgent dialogue to calm tensions in Jerusalem.”

Non-Muslim visitors wait to enter the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City July 24, 2017.Ronen Zvulun

The Security Council is due to hold its quarterly Middle East briefing on Tuesday. Mladenov appealed to member states to “avoid further inflaming the situation” when they address the public meeting.

The violence began on Friday, when Israeli security forces shot three demonstrators dead, Palestinian medics said. Israeli police said they were investigating the charge.

On the same day, a Palestinian stabbed three Israelis in the occupied West Bank after vowing on Facebook to take up his knife and heed “Al-Aqsa’s call.”

“We will enable everybody to come and pray on the Temple Mount, but at the same time we will do whatever is necessary to maintain security of this important site,” Israeli U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon said ahead of the meeting.

Palestinian U.N. envoy Riyad Mansour told reporters: “We are against violence … and we want the Security Council to have the political will to protect the Palestinian people against such violence from the Israeli occupying authority.”

Additional reporting by Riham Alkousaa; Editing by Tom Brown and Lisa Shumaker


Nintendo’s solution for online voice chat feels half-baked

From the moment you pick up a Nintendo Switch, it feels like a magical device. The company nailed the hybrid TV / portable concept and created a genuinely fun console that seemed to shed the awkwardness of the Wii U. Indeed, Nintendo has a habit for making fun consoles — but for the last three generations, it’s failed to build online communication options on par with Xbox Live or PlayStation Network.

Rather than baking voice chat into the Switch itself, Nintendo’s new console relegates the feature to a companion smartphone app. We just tried it out and it works, but it’s messy, confusing and completely unintuitive.

The idea behind the Nintendo Switch Online app isn’t a bad one — it’s designed so players can access game data, communicate with other players and organize online matches with friends even when they are away from their consoles. Each game will have its own in-app hub with a bevy of options. You can use the app to access SplatNet 2, for instance, to view your match history in Splatoon 2, check which multiplayer maps are in rotation, and even use in-game currency to buy new gear for your character.

Most of those features work perfectly well — seeing how much ink I’ve spilled in Splatoon 2 is neat, as is the ability to see how I performed in the last 50 matches — but the communication aspect is where the experience falls apart. Using the Nintendo Switch Online app to join a voice chat in Splatoon 2 is both physically and logistically complicated.

Here’s how it works right now: Players who want to voice chat with friends need to visit the Online Lounge menu of Splatoon 2’s multiplayer lobby and create a room. This opens a private match and sends a notification to the player’s smartphone — where they can then invite friends to join them through their friends list, a shortlist of other players they’ve encountered in other voice chat sessions who aren’t on their friends list or via a link sent out over social media.

Players invited to that voice chat room will see a notification on their Nintendo Switch — but they won’t be able to simply join it by opening the smartphone app alone. Instead, they have to open the app and join the private match through the Splatoon 2 Online Lounge menu. It doesn’t matter if you’re starting or joining voice chat through the Nintendo Switch Online app, you’re going to be juggling your smartphone and your console.

To make the cumbersome experience worse, hosting voice through the smartphone app separates the game’s audio from the chat audio — which potentially creates a situation where a player is wearing multiple pairs of headphones or choosing between hearing the game and hearing their teammates in voice chat. Nintendo and manufacturers like HORI are creating headset accessories that merge the two audio sources together, but that adds yet a third device into the Nintendo Switch-voice juggling act.

There are limitations, too. If users switch to a different smartphone app, they’ll be temporarily removed from voice chat — making it impossible to check text messages without removing yourself from the conversation. The app also requires the screen to stay on at all times, which takes a significant toll on the phone’s battery life. Finally, the chat ends as soon as your multiplayer sessions is over. If you want to use the Nintendo Online app for cross game chat with friends playing other Switch games, you’re out of luck.

At least once everything’s set up the experience works pretty well. While in the lobby in between rounds of Splatoon 2, all players can chat amongst themselves — but when a match starts, each team is automatically sorted into private chat rooms. The voice quality isn’t bad either and seems on par with Skype or other VOIP programs on a smartphone. Unfortunately, it offers few advantages over just using one of those services instead.

It’s early for Nintendo’s voice chat solution — the only game that supports it isn’t even out yet, and the service itself has only been live for a few hours — but at first blush, it’s not off to a great start. The act of juggling menus between two different devices is cumbersome and frustrating, and the entire process isn’t intuitive to new users at all.

Relegating the chat functions to a separate device is a strange decision, too. Competing services like Xbox Live and PlayStation solved the puzzle of online multiplayer voice chat years ago. Nintendo seems to be reinventing the wheel for no reason.

It’s worth noting, however, that the Nintendo’s Switch Online services are technically in beta and won’t have a full feature launch until early 2018. With any luck, the company will iron out the kinks by then. For now, however, Nintendo’s solution for online voice chat is cumbersome, unintuitive and weird. Unfortunately, that’s classic Nintendo.

In this article: av, editorial, games, gaming, multiplayer, nintendo, splatnet, splatnet2,splatoon2, voicechat

Trump May Seek Solution on Climate Change, Macron Tells JDD

Image result for Trump May Seek Solution on Climate Change, Macron Tells JDDFrench President Emmanuel Macron, who welcomed Donald Trump to Paris two days ago to participate in Bastille Day celebrations, said the U.S. president may seek a solution over the next months for the fight against global warming.

“We’ve spoken in detail on what may allow him to return into the Paris accord,” Macron said in comments published Sunday in the newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche. “It’s important to maintain a dialogue” with the U.S. about its potential comeback in multilateral actions for climate, he said.

In June, Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the 2015 Paris deal and earlier this month Washington was the only member of the Group of 20 nations that didn’t agree that the accord on cutting harmful emissions was “irreversible.” Trump softened his position at a press conference on Thursday with Macron, saying, “something could happen with respect to the Paris accord. We’ll see what happens. We’ll talk about that over the coming period of time. If it happens, that’ll be wonderful, and if it doesn’t, that’ll be OK too.”

Macron and Trump will speak soon about the fight against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, the newspaper reported. Mentioning his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Macron told the outlet that removing Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad wasn’t a “prerequisite” any longer but use of chemical weapons and restricting humanitarian access to civilians were “red lines.” Macron added that France and Russia were making progress on these two topics.

France and Russia are also working on a “protocol” to avoid a repeat of hacking of computer systems, Macron said. Macron met Putin in Versailles on May 29.


A political solution in Syria? How the latest ceasefire deal suits Vladimir Putin, Bashar al-Assad and Iran

Image result for A political solution in Syria? How the latest ceasefire deal suits Vladimir Putin, Bashar al-Assad and IranRussia hopes the “breakthrough” Syrian ceasefire it brokered this week will align the US with President Vladimir Putin’s plans for the war-torn country.

Details of the agreement between Putin and US President Donald Trump Friday to create a de-escalation zone in southwestern Syria remain under negotiation. But scepticism abounds on whether the plan to end a war that in which an estimated 470,000 people have died can succeed where others failed.

Yet something has changed, as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in his comments on the deal, which starts on Sunday with a preliminary ceasefire in areas along the Jordanian border.

Describing the deal with the US as a breakthrough, Putin said at a news conference in Hamburg Saturday that it should become a prototype for a series of zones across Syria that would be administered in coordination with the government in Damascus.

“If we succeed in doing this, we will create an undoubtedly good base and the prerequisites for a political solution in Syria in general,” he said.

Assad is going to retake most of Syria, and there is nothing the US can do about it

Although Putin and all sides are committed to Syria’s territorial unity, the plan would temporarily lead to something like Germany after the second world war, when the allied powers divided the country into four administrative zones, according to Fyodor Lukyanov, who leads Russia’s Council on Foreign and Defence Policy.

“This is the beginning of the soft partition of Syria,” he said. “De-escalation is a euphemism for zones of responsibility, where the different sides will agree which power is responsible for which part of the country.”

The outlines of the Russian proposal approved in Friday’s meeting between Trump and Putin were borrowed from talks between Iran, Russia and Turkey to create de-escalation areas in other parts of the country, Lukyanov said.

Taken together, the two plans represent the Russian military’s strategy for exiting the conflict, Lukyanov said.

They also show how the situation on the ground has transformed over the last year. Syria’s second city, Aleppo, fell back under regime control and the US-led campaign to drive Islamic State (IS) from its self-declared caliphate advanced significantly.

That has left the US with a decision to make on what to do once IS is defeated.

It can wrestle with Iran, Russia and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for control of recaptured areas of Syria.

Or it can declare mission accomplished, agree to oversee the security of zones near the borders with its core allies, Israel and Jordan, and leave most of Syria to Assad, said Joshua Landis, director of the Centre for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Both Russian and US Syria analysts believe Friday’s decision indicates the latter.

There is a new security architecture being imposed in the Middle East and Iran is the beneficiary

“Assad is going to retake most of Syria, and there is nothing the US can do about it,” Landis said. “There is a new security architecture being imposed in the Middle East and Iran is the beneficiary.”

Tillerson said clearly in his remarks after the Trump-Putin meeting that the Syria deal was a starting point for a wider cooperation with Russia after IS’s defeat. The issue then, he said, would be to pacify other areas of the country.

“By and large, our objectives are exactly the same. How we get there, we each have a view,” Tillerson said. “Maybe they’ve got the right approach and we’ve got the wrong approach.”

The agreement could fall apart quickly. The forces who are not party to the deal – including Assad’s forces, Iranian-led militias and al-Qaeda-linked rebels – exist on the ground in southern Syria as well in the North, where a ceasefire crafted by the Russians and the Americans last year collapsed within two weeks.

In addition, so far the only monitors on offer to police the de-escalation zone are Russian. How others might become involved and in what capacity is under negotiation, the State Department official said. The Russian view of how the zones will work is also minimalist and favourable to the Assad regime.


Tasty solution to the signal crayfish problem

An American signal crayfish. Photograph: Adrian Sherratt/Alamy

The word “earn” has become meaningless in today’s society, the word “get” being far more appropriate. In the same spirit, please could I urge you to refrain from repeating the misleading use of “worth” when referring to individuals and their personal wealth (Front page, 4 July). Mike Ashley is apparently “worth” £2.2bn – not to me he’s not.
Deirdre Burrell
Mortimer, Berkshire

 Carey Davies’s Country Diary (3 July) about the American signal crayfish in our rivers was interesting, but omitted to include one way of reducing their population: eating them. Fortunately George Monbiot has already provided information on how to do this (Monbiot cooks up revenge on invasive signal crayfish, 30 September 2009). Just make sure it’s not our (now very rare) native species.
Copland Smith

I have read the article on string theory (Gravitational waves could offer proof of other dimensions, 5 July) three times and am still no nearer to understanding a word of it, but at least I finished Rufus’s crossword on Monday (Letters passim) so all is not lost.
Ruth Eversley
Paulton, Somerset

 Hadley Freeman’s piece on 3 July made me wonder if there is an iron law among Guardian subeditors that an article about Ed Miliband cannot be passed for publication unless the words “bacon” and “sandwich” each appear at least four times. And quite rightly, as no serious appraisal of the man can be carried out without scrutiny of this massively important aspect of his career.
Robert Hammond
Billericay, Essex

On the subject of coloured undergarments at Wimbledon (Report, 4 July), I seem to remember that in the glory days of BOAC there was a cabin crew dress code notice which stated: “Underwear, if worn, shall be white”. Covered all tastes.
Mike Lodge (ex-BA)
Hailsham, East Sussex

 A colleague in the West End orchestra pit where I work was playing “Oh, Jeremy Corbyn” on his violin the other day – in octaves too, most impressive (Letters, 5 July).
Bill Hawkes 
Canterbury, Kent


Ransomware attack needs global solution

WannaCry is a computer worm, which locks up computers until a ransom is paid.

WannaCry is a computer worm, which locks up computers until a ransom is paid.

OPINION: Last weekend’s global ransomware attack, “WannaCry”, has raised many questions – from quirky economics questions such as “Is $300 just the right amount for a ransom?” to “Should we pay the ransom?” What we do know is that the malicious software has now spread to at least 150 countries, with reports of serious impacts on the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, and a range of other government and private sector activity, including reported impacts on big companies like Telefonica, FedEx Corp. and the French car manufacturer Renault.

New Zealand appears to have avoided the worst effects so far, with Russia, India, Spain, Taiwan and Ukraine some of the most affected countries. The computer worm, which locks up computers until a ransom is paid, is expected to infect millions more computer systems in the coming days through newly emerged variants, and will likely cause direct and indirect costs running into the billions of dollars globally.

There are some basic but important lessons that we can learn from the attack, even at this early stage. First, there are still many computers using Windows XP, which was discontinued by Microsoft since 2014. Discontinuation means that in the time between 2014 until now, there have been no security updates to patch the holes discovered in the system – leaving open doors for hackers to enter into. What is truly scary is that 95% of ATMs in the world are still running Windows XP. Imagine the field-day the hackers can have when they can access the ATMs. In fact, the late Kiwi hacker Barnaby Jack demonstrated how to spew cash from the ATMs through a simple hack at the hacker conference Black Hat 2010. In the last few days as a global response to the attack, Microsoft (finally) released software updates for all old Windows systems including Windows XP and Windows 2003.

Cyber security researchers say North Korea might be linked to the WannaCry ransomware cyber attack that has infected ...

Cyber security researchers say North Korea might be linked to the WannaCry ransomware cyber attack that has infected more than 300,000 computers worldwide.

This brings us to the second point. When it threatens their business reputation, software companies can offer software updates to very old software just to save the day (and their reputation). Microsoft has successfully demonstrated their true capability in doing just that.

Third, despite the importance of data, many people do not back up their data in external hard drives, cloud computing environments such as Dropbox, or other computers. This basic human flaw has been a huge enabler of these types of ransomware attacks.

Fourth, attributing attackers is a difficult problem in cyber space. That said, the WannaCry hackers may not be as sophisticated as the original writers of the USA National Security Agency (NSA) cyber weapons this ransomware is based upon. When the vigilante group Shadow Brokers released the leaks about these NSA cyber weapons, it was only a matter of time before some malicious party modified this software into a malware. This has happened in the past with other global attacks such as the Blaster worm more than a decade ago.

In WannaCry, hackers left behind a few trails, such as a URL which serves as a kill-switch to stop the spread of the ransomware, and patterns which shows a certain style of software coding. Some researchers from Google suspect that this is linked to North Korea, due to the coding style bearing similarity to the notorious Lazarus group, responsible for hacks into South Korea (2013 DarkSeoul operation) and the Sony Pictures hack in 2014.

These issues aside, the crisis demonstrates the dangers posed by a growing tendency in national security establishments to develop “cyber weapons” that can be used to disrupt and destroy computer systems, and the corresponding need for enhanced global co-operation on cyber security threats.

Since the terrorist attacks on 9/11, the NSA has taken a lead role in developing offensive cyber weapons to deploy against foreign adversaries. This has been widely revealed through leaks by WikiLeaks, Edward Snowden and others. The problem is these capabilities can be hacked themselves. As with most weapons, they can also be used back against us and we witnessed this irony in WannaCry.

The proliferation of malicious cyber tools from states to non-state actors is as much of a danger as the collateral damage that malicious software can cause. The malware used in the infamous Stuxnet attack against Iranian nuclear centrifuges, likely by the US and Israel, spread to more than 60 countries and is still being modified and used for malicious purposes. It is very difficult to isolate targets when using offensive cyber capabilities without that malware spreading and/or being reverse engineered. Those states that are at the cutting edge of developing malicious cyber tools should expect to become more likely targets for hackers themselves.

Another major problem, which can only be solved by global cyber co-operation, is information sharing. In the case at hand it appears that the NSA knew about the existence of the Windows software vulnerability that has been so ruthlessly exploited, but did not disclose that information until it was too late. The need for governments to share information with the private sector and vice versa also happens too slowly in many cases. This lack of trust and transparency has been a feature of the way cyber security has been dealt with and has precluded effective cross-sector responses to cyber security issues. A global information sharing platform may be needed to immunise the impacts of these types of cyber attacks.

A final problem is the lack of global investment in cyber security in both the government and private sectors. The political row that has erupted in the UK over investment in NHS digital infrastructure is noteworthy in this context. When public sector organisations are starved of funding there is little incentive to invest in upgraded software and hardware. If some NHS computers were not operating on outdated Windows XP operating systems then the effects on the NHS’s ability to keep frontline services running, including X-ray and chemotherapy services, might have been less severe.

The New Zealand government has done a great job in that respect by recognising the need for sustained funding for cyber security research such as STRATUS ) and has taken big strides in recent years in enhancing our own cyber security capabilities and institutions, including the recent establishment of our own national Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT NZ). However, these kinds of cyber attacks cannot be dealt with by countries working in isolation. The global ransomware attack demonstrates a pressing need for global solutions.


Why the solution to ransomware may be predictive analytics

Ransomware is quickly becoming a problem for both businesses and personal computer users. It is also becoming more sophisticated; users may not even have to click or download something to become victim to this scam. Ransomware can spread between networked PCs and servers quite quickly, which leaves the owners of these machines at the mercy of hackers demanding money for access to the owner’s’ most valuable files.

As these threats to steal information and hold technology hostage become more real, so does the need for a way to stop such attacks. Predictive analytics may be the key to preventing ransomware from getting a hold on computers and servers. Here are several reasons why predictive analytics may be the most essential tool to use when trying to avoid ransomware.

Predictive analytics have a good track record

It may be a new tool in the fight against hacking, but predictive analytics have actually been used by the U.S. military to combat cyber threats and to make real world decisions. They have used predictive analytics to help them dive through massive amounts of data in order to make better and more informed decisions about the possible tactics they will use.

This data can include things like past military engagements, social and economic factors and a myriad of other information. Diving through this data by hand would take an incredible amount of time, but with predictive analytics, they have been able to drill down to the most essential predictive data. The military has used this information to prepare for eventualities they may not have seen coming otherwise, which in turn helps avoid costly mistakes.

Predictive analytics stops the problem before it starts

Traditional antivirus programs treat often the problem after it has already infected your computer. Many of these programs do have some preventive options, but they often rely on their users to avoid viruses and hacking programs.

As malware and ransomware evolve, avoidance is becoming trickier, since some ransomware is able to infect a computer without the user making grave errors.  Though human intervention may still be required, predictive analytics can empower users and companies with the information they need to steer clear of the potential threats that ransomware can pose.

It can be used on large, complicated systems

Though ransomware can affect individual users, this kind of malware tends to target larger collectives of users, like companies or parts of the government. The larger the network, the harder it can be to protect that network against cyber threats. Predictive analytics can easily be used on large networks, because it can be modified to dig through large amounts of data. Once that data is analysed, it can be turned over to IT employees and from there, who can further analyse the essential data and ensure that their company or department is safe against ransomware and other threats.

The cost of this technology has also gone down over the last several years, like with converged systems and the hybrid cloud, so it has become a much more cost effective way to deal with problems like ransomware. This decrease in cost has also caused more cyber security companies to start adding predictive analytics to the list of solutions they offer their clients.

Ransomware is evolving constantly

10 years ago, few people knew what ransomware was. Now it is not only making real world headlines, but has also been the main plot point in many TV shows and movies, making it a household name. As people try to stop its effects, hackers using this technology will ensure that ransomware evolves to overcome such defences. Most current cyber defences are mato defeat current versions of ransomware, but they are not made to defeat evolved versions of it.

Predictive analytics is able to account for this evolution. It can be used to predict what sorts of evolutions may occur and then those predictions can be used to avoid the next-generation of ransomware or other malware. It is also very likely that as other preventative software evolves to stop things like ransomware, that predictive analytics will continue to be a part of these steps to ensure cyber safety.

Though ransomware may not be going away anytime soon, we may see its negative impact lessening as more government departments and private companies invest in solutions that include predictive analytics.

By using predictive analytics to explore exploitative eventualities, companies can solve more complex problems that threaten the security of their computers and the security of their networks.


Solution for secure processing of patient data revealed

Image result for Solution for secure processing of patient data revealed

Thanks to a technique developed by Radboud University large-scale research involving patient data can be done without threat to either the security of the information or the privacy of the patients. This technique will be used for a new, large-scale study of Parkinson’s disease.

Collecting and analysing medical data on a large scale is an increasingly important research tool in understanding illnesses. To quickly arrive at new insights and avoid double work, it is important that international researchers work together to use and enrich one another’s data. Such studies often involve sensitive patient information. Patients must be confident that their privacy will be safeguarded and their data securely stored in line with upcoming European regulations on privacy, known as the strictest in the world.

To make this possible, Professor Bart Jacobs and Professor Eric Verheul, both computer scientists at Radboud University, have developed the Polymorphic Encryption and Pseudonymisation (PEP) technique. The PEP technique realises this goal by pseudonymising and encrypting data in such a way that the data cannot be accessed even by the party who stores the data. Moreover, access to the data is strictly regulated and monitored. The PEP technique makes it possible to analyse data from a study while ensuring that a patient’s privacy is safeguarded.

One of the first applications of the PEP technique is a study of Parkinson’s that was initiated by Radboud University. In this study, 650 people with Parkinson’s will be monitored for two years by means of, among other things, portable measuring equipment (wearables). Thanks to the PEP technique, the research data collected in the Netherlands can be shared in pseudonymised form with top researchers throughout the world.

Public investment in privacy

“In the context of international medical research, personal information is worth its weight in gold. So it’s important for the government to invest in an infrastructure that guarantees the protection of this information,” said Bart Jacobs, Professor of Digital Security at Radboud University. “Especially to ensure that people will remain willing to participate in future studies of this sort.” Radboud University and Radboud university medical center are investing €920,000 in the development of the PEP software. The Province of Gelderland is contributing €750,000. The software will be made available as open source so that other parties may also use it.

Bart Jacobs is optimistic about the future of the PEP system. “The study of Parkinson’s should demonstrate the usefulness of PEP. With this showcase as an example, PEP could grow to become the international standard for storing and exchanging privacy-sensitive medical data.” The first reactions from the field are positive, Jacobs concluded.

In short, Polymorphic Encryption and Pseudonymisation works as follows:

· the managers of the data cannot access the data

· participants in the study decide for each study if they want to allow their data to be used

· researchers who use the data are given a unique key

· the participants have a different pseudonym for each researcher. This prevents researchers from using another route to access data that they are not allowed to see.



[Source:- Science Daily]

Facebook Flexes Ad Blocking Muscles; Counters AdBlock Plus’ Solution

After Facebook altered its code to bypass ad-blocking software from keeping ads at bay, within 48 hours, Adblock Plus found a way to push it back to square one of this cat-and-dog fight. However, the social media giant is not the one to back off from a battle as it launched another workaround to AdBlock Plus’ remedial situation. Facebook spokesperson, said in an interview withTechCrunch’s Josh Constine, the AdBlock Plus solution did not just remove ads, but also Facebook posts by Pages and friends.

According to the statement, Facebook said that ad-blocking software only ended up “punishing” users by removing relevant content from its social network. Understandably, that takes something away from the Facebook experience, and the company intends to do something about it. The social media titan recently introducedad preferences to give users more control over the kind of advertisements they want to see.

Ultimately, Facebook does not want to do away with advertisements altogether. The social network instead hopes that giving users more control over what they see will make them accept ads. If the alternative is to have legitimate Facebook posts removed with ads, some users might even accept having ads instead. It is important to note that ads on Facebook are not as intrusive and detrimental to the overall experience as they are on other websites. They are neatly tucked away, and the platform has already stated that it wants its users to see informative and useful ads. This makes sense, given that Facebook does not need advertising revenue so badly that it will accept just about anything.

It is rather interesting to note that Facebook’s plan to block ads was foiled just a few days after it first introduced it. AdBlock Plus found one way and other ad-blocking companies are bound to find other loopholes in its code. The social media giant, however, can find comfort in the fact that it can counter any measures taken by ad blocking companies fairly quickly, as was evident by its most recent counter-measure. It took Facebook less than a day to fix the loophole exploited by AdBlock Plus.

Ad blocking companies also require users to update their software to the latest version for the changes to take effect. Facebook, on the other hand, can revamp its coding with immediate effect. In theory, this means that some users might not even have had a chance to update to the new AdBlock Plus version before Facebook’s counter-measures were already put in place.

It is also interesting to note that Facebook’s new bypassing method for ad blockers is what caused problems for AdBlock Plus. It has mixed the coding for the ads with the content, which is why AdBlock Plus ended up blocking posts from friends along with ads. This interesting combination might perhaps deter ad blockers from messing with the biggest social network. It makes no sense to employ ad blockers on such platform if it means missing out on important posts from friends.

Interestingly enough, ad blocking software is often needed on websites where clicking anywhere results in a dozen popup windows. That problem does not persist with Facebook, so ad-blocking companies might even consider white listing the social network. It is highly unlikely that small companies will be able to keep pace with the acumen of Facebook’s elite team of software engineers. Facebook can also arguably be considered among websites and companies which deserve ad revenue to keep the free product up and running. News and social sources might hence be allowed to keep ad revenue running.

It will be interesting to see if ad blocking companies end up whitelisting such sources. If that happens, the impact of this on ad-tech revenue will have to be monitored. For example, if Facebook and news sources eventually become the only sources allowed to freely place ads, they might be tempted to charge more of a premium for ad placement services. This might lead to a different kind of ad-revenue model in the future, one that might not sit well with all parties. Having that said, it is highly unlikely that either Facebook, ad-blocking companies, or advertisers will face this problem anytime soon.

 [Source: Technewstoday]