Internet Story: 07 Mar 1999
Be Worried There seem to
be an ever growing number of pointers towards the growing erosions to and individual's
privacy in the online world. A few weeks ago Intel
was in the news about the possibility of machines being tracked via the unique serial
number embedded in their latest Pentium III chips. The debate about this is ongoing. However, this is
nothing in comparison to a little nasty that Microsoft has embedded into Windows 98.
The difference is that the Windows number is tied to an individual's name, to
identifying numbers on the hardware in their computer and even to documents that they
create. If you have already used the Windows 98 Online Registration Wizard then your
details are already logged at Microsoft. "I think this is horrendous,"
said Jason Catlett, president of Junkbusters, a consumer privacy organization based in
Greenbrook, N.J. "They're tattooing a number into each file. Think of the
implications. If some whistle blower sends a file, it can be traced back to the
person himself. It's an extremely dangerous feature. Why did they do it?"
Microsoft executives said on Friday evening that they had developed the feature for
technical reasons related to the need to distinguish between millions of different
hardware and software objects on the Internet. They said they had never considered
the privacy implications. Microsoft also said that they will now delete any
unnecessary information from their databases and alter the way that Win98 collects data in
the next release. Microsoft may also release a free utility to remove the serial
number from the Win98 registry - we'll let you know if they do. See the New York
Times article for full details of this story (free registration required).
Aladdin's Cave Opens Watch out in April as the Mormon Church is about to start putting their vast repository of family data onto the web at www.familysearch.org (it may not be live when you click the link). In fact it will be available for testing purposes any day now. With 2.1 million rolls of microfilm, 700,000 microfiches and 280,000 books, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the ultimate source for many genealogists. The master collection, which includes the birth, death and marriage records of an estimated 6 billion people, is kept in a vault carved 900 feet into the side of Granite Mountain. One of the first FamilySearch databases expected to be offered on line is Ancestral File. The simple database lets surfers type in names and find family trees compiled by other researchers, mostly amateurs. At the moment the church wont say if the more useful "International Genealogical Index" will be on the web.
EXCITEing TV ads Watch out for the TV advertising campaign about to be launched by the UK subsidiary of web portal, Excite. The company is set to spend millions of pounds to try and raise awareness of itself amongst the UK public. They want to show how easy it is to surf the Internet and has incorporated humor to reflect the brand image, which the company itself describes as "irreverent". The ads should air later this month and coincide with a campaign across all media (see spiral marketing). They use one of the best search engines for finding Pendle on!
1999 Solar Eclipse If you want to see the first total eclipse of the sun visible in the UK since 1927 but are afraid that Cornwall will drop off the end of Britain due to the weight of tourists? Go and check out two sites that have all the information about this unique event taking place at 11:11 on 11 August 1999. Cornwall Eclipse 1999 and UK 1999 Eclipse.
Cool Site - Luna Not because it displays any great features, though it's not a badly designed site, just because of pure interest and I think it needs a wider audience. The site is about 24 year old Julia Butterfly Hill who, as the site says, on December 10th, 1997, climbed 180 feet up an ancient redwood she calls Luna and has not come down. Julia calls weekly on her solar powered cellular phone and has the site updated. Go check out what she's doing to save the trees and the environment in general.
Andrew Stringer, © Pendle.Net Ltd, 1999
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