Posts Taged apps

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All or nothing in ISP blocking – here’s why (and here’s AI)

A recent online report shows that the Chinese internet service providers caused intermittent service on the WhatsApp platform. This is just one of the many disruptions experienced by WhatsApp, due to censorship.

This incident leads to the old discussion of “should the ISPs be allowed to block certain websites, platforms or apps, or not?” The blocking reasons may vary, and the risk of encouraging censorship in some regions of the world is just one thing to consider.

ISP blocking, not a generic matter

Generic blocking would represent the “all” version of solving the matter. Yet it is only logical that ISP blocking cannot be allowed in a generic manner, then shifting the power of decision to each provider.

Deciding to block certain websites or platform happened so far as a result of specific court orders. For example, in the UK, the EPL won a High Court Order following which the UK ISPs were required to block certain servers that hosted illegal streams of EPL football matches. This means ISP blocking can be enforced, but a proactive action must be taken by those who are harmed, and the reasons are to be validated by a Court.

In theory, this protects all the websites or platforms that could be unreasonably blocked, if the courtroom stage were not required. However, in a biased governing regime, the legal system would be most likely biased, too. Therefore, providing legal means of ISP blocking may return unexpected results when legal does not equal democracy.

In the UK it has also been proven that ISPs block VPNs by default , which is another way of “censoring” the Internet. No Court Order here, just a legislative promise turned reality, according to the source article.

The not so global Internet

  • When “nothing” is not quite what it seems

When looking at the three examples from the above, we may easily wonder whether our posts or apps reach the big world out there, or not. Well, assuming we are not tackling any problematic issues that might get censored in some country or another, the posts should reach absolutely everyone interested, regardless of their location. At least in theory.

The apps are however another category, as WhatsApp’s case proves. Enabling fast-paced, real-time communications between people might not be to everyone’s taste. The more efficient such apps are, the less likely they are seen as suited by oppressive regimes. Some might even be marked as dangerous by non-oppressive systems, due to the fact that in the wrong hands, they serve dangerous purposes. In that aspect, the matter meets the iPhone encryption dispute.

Wait, what are we doing? Penalizing the best apps because their efficiency might be used for malicious purposes? Ironically, sometimes this might be the case.

A point where AI’s contribution would be strategic

Stepping back a little, the problem could be summarized like this: modern technology brought along modern peoples’ rights. The way they are currently handled is not standardized, therefore it varies from region to region. How can malicious actions be stopped, without inducing an oppressive approach for all that Internet access means?

Monitoring Internet traffic with the help of Artificial Intelligence is one way to go. It is not a thing of the future, either. Only that AI progresses and learns, and the more developed it is, the more effective its presence. Sifting through the big data bulks of the Internet traffic to point out only the real risks is not easy to accomplish. Too many false alerts and the system is not credible, while missing the true risk points makes it unreliable.

Meanwhile, Internet neutrality advocates try to keep the status quo. Maintaining the current liberties could prove difficult, could prove risky from some angles, but it is important and it’s part of who we are, or of who we want to be as a modern society.

Canvy Team, apps, communications, WhatsApp, Snapchat, file sharing

When apps redefine communications – Canvy Team latest news recap

Although the modern communications market is still fragmented, the main communication channels and apps “own” certain features. Meaning that, even if successful features tend to spread via imitation or innovative answers within different apps, the audience tends to keep associating them with the brands that introduced or perfected them.

Some may wonder what else is new in digital communications. Well, the main established players in this market have found out once again that it’s the details that matter. Intuitive UI, friendly logos, tiny features that hold the potential of great impact may all be essential at the end of the day, as seasoning is for a great dish.

 

A successful app now allows sending any type of file

Loyal users everywhere are thrilled – and for a good reason. WhatsApp experiments these days with a feature that allows users to send other files than photos. The accepted files may be as large as 128 MB for iOS, 100 MB for Android and 64 MB for a Web client.

This new feature illustrates the way modern communications widen their range – why go out of the app, in order to send specific files via a different channel?

Well, the question above is not just rhetorical. We already have some critical voices that warn of the potential risks in this new WhatsApp capability. Some files may be malicious, or may carry items that in fact are not legally share-able. In other words, it seems that the difficulty of file-sharing in our day and age is not random. There are important cyber-security considerations involved, as well as legal considerations.

But why spoil the WhatsApp experiment by contemplating the difficulties involved? Most likely, if this feature proves successful, the company will mitigate the risks.

 

Tracking people on the map – a superpower of yet another communication app

No need to hold your breath or start guessing – we are talking about Snapchat. The instant fun, amazingly simple app now allows friends to see each other’s location. This new tool is bound to change the rules of the game a bit – since it basically introduces a tracking feature. See here more on this topic.

As we may see by looking at the bigger picture, both of these recent pieces of news illustrate how the communications apps compete for the fragmented market we mentioned above. Yet the more attractive these new features are, the riskier they might be – in turn.

What is your opinion on this attractiveness vs. privacy topic? Did you have any incidents involving modern communications risks? Are you concerned about the implications of sharing sensitive files via certain communications channels or not?

Let’s remember…

…how there is an intended line between work/office communications and private messaging. Yet the obsolete look and features of some work-destined communication channels results in employees doubling the way they communicate among themselves by employing the mainstream, private-targeted apps. Therefore, the idea that your staff is using more secure channels in order to communicate work-related details might just prove a utopia. These tools are all efficiency-dependent. When they fail to meet the users’ expectancy in terms of speed, responsiveness and friendliness, they end up being rapidly replaced by the next app in line.

Finally, although it may sound like an old Hallmark card, modern communications, in fact, are all about sharing and receiving. Without letting some of your digital persona be seen, these virtual communities would be an extremely boring place. The communications landscape is made out of the few from the many, combined with the more from its “stars” – people who enjoy the spotlight and have found the answer to their dreams in the way modern people communicate – text, photos, file-sharing and all.