Tag Archives: Technology

A trail of digital breadcrumbs

I’m appearing on Cormac Moore and Daniella Moyle’s show on the Irish station iRadio tonight to discuss phone data and personal privacy. I’ll post up the podcast later if possible. If you heard the show and want to read some more of my work on technology and privacy, you might be interested in:

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Who is teaching our children to code?

I’ve just finished a 1200 word feature on the sorry state of ICT education in the UK for the Telegraph’s education section. Many thanks to Mark Surman, executive director of Mozilla, and Iain Livingstone, president of Eidos, for their help.

Young Rewired State, Code Club and Apps for Good do fantastic work, and since the article went live a lot of others have contacted me about their own outreach projects, including the London Borough of Havering which is encouraging its year 2s to download the visual programming language Scratch at home.

Full text of the article is on the Telegraph’s website here, or after the fold.

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‘It smells of science’: hands-on at the Royal Institution

I’ve just spent a fun day in the labs at the Royal Institution for the Telegraph’s education section, taking part in a full day’s biochemistry workshop for GCSE-aged school pupils. Its part of their outreach project aimed at getting more young people into science – who will hopefully go on to study it at university.

The skills gap in science, technology and engineering is growing at an alarming rate, with an estimated shortfall of 10,000 graduates a year.

My feature can be found on the Telegraph website here, or after the fold.

Many thanks to David at the Royal Institution for letting me take part (and lending me a lab coat).

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Clone wars controversy hits equestrianism

This feature for the science section of the Daily Telegraph brings together two of my favourite subjects… horses and technology.

I interviewed the lovely Julia Harrison Lee, a heiress who has become the first Briton to clone a horse. The lucky animal, Romulus 16, was formerly a star of the GB national squad with the rider Damian Charles, but in recent years he has been in retirement at Harrison Lee’s US farm.

If you have £150,000 burning a hole in your pocket and fancy cloning your horse, you might want to have a look at the Cryozootech website, where they provide details of all their previous successes.

They can also freeze genetic samples and keep them in a library of DNA, as a just in case.

Full text is on the Telegraph website here, or after the fold. Continue reading

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What my phone records say about me

A screenshot from the interactive graphic, hosted on the Telegraph website

As part of my coverage of the draft Communications Data Bill – which proposes to expand the level of information which must be held by telecommunications companies about their customers, and to expand the level of access to that data afforded to police and intelligence agencies – I requested a copy of all the data already held by my phone company to demonstrate what a detailed portrait this information can paint.

Using the data, Telegraph developer Dan Palmer and designer Mark Oliver developed an interactive graphic which tracks my movements around the UK over the course of a year.

The graphic is best viewed on the Telegraph website here, but the full text of my accompanying article can be found below.

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Online pirates turn to ebooks

I made the front page on New Year’s Day (well, the bottom of the front page!) with this joint investigation into e-book piracy.

It’s easy to track down major books before they are even released, available for free on the internet, with only Google as a tool – as we proved.

Publishers hope that Google will bring in a new policy to demote these sites in the search results, to make finding the illegal files that bit harder. But it’s a problem that dogs music and film as well as publishing.

Full text is on the Sunday Times website here, or after the fold.

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Flirting site betrays love cheats

More on social media and privacy: this time, a well-known hook-up website which allows visitors to check which of their friends have already joined up.

Badoo uses a tactic which is becoming more and more common in social media sites: ‘opt out’ privacy settings.

It means that unless you are very, very careful about how you join, it will advertise the fact that you have joined up to all your Facebook or email contacts.

For some, this is no problem, for others (e.g. those who are married) it could result in disaster. When we were reporting on Badoo, everyone in the office had a shot at running their contacts list through to see who had joined up… let’s just say the results were surprising and amusing.

Lesson one: if you are going to join these websites, and you value your privacy, be very careful and always read the small print.

Full text is on the Sunday Times’s website here, or after the fold

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Facebook’s ‘shadow profiles’

 

While researching this full page news-feature for The Sunday Times, I spoke to the Austrian privacy campaigner Max Schrems, of the group Europe v Facebook.

He told me that he first became interested in Facebook’s policies when he realised the extent to which the social media giant’s tactics appeared to conflict with European privacy laws.

To demonstrate the huge amount of information held for each user, he requested a copy of all of his private data held by the company under data protection laws. Printed out, it formed 1,222 sides of A4 paper – and much of the data held he thought he had deleted. It wasn’t deleted, it was only hidden from view.

Check out his campaign: http://www.europe-v-facebook.org.

Full text on the Sunday Times website here, or after the fold.

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HMRC hackers steal tax rebates

I worked on this investigation into a number of mysterious thefts from online HMRC accounts for The Sunday Times.

One hacker told us that he was able to access the HMRC systems and obtain log in details for accountants’ online profiles. HMRC have a centre in northern Ireland devoted to combatting online fraud cases like these.

Full text is available on the Sunday Times website here, or after the fold.

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One way tickets to Mars

I have now largely taken over writing the regular ‘briefing’ for the Comment section of The Sunday Times. This article (below) on the future of the space race is the latest.

It’s here on the Sunday Times website, or after the fold.

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