“Why isn’t tech for accountability working in Africa?”

Policy briefing by the South African Institute of International Affairs about transparency and accountability technology projects:

It seems that civil society organisations (CSOs) and governments often ‘re-invent the flat tyre’: experimenting with new tools without finding out what has been tried (often unsuccessfully) before.

The conclusion includes recommending a shift from project-oriented towards infrastructure-oriented investments:

[…] those with decision-making power in the wider innovation ecosystem, including donors and governments, need to change their models of support. These changes require an understanding that innovation is a long-term process that involves a commitment to learning and improvement within organisations and between organisations. Currently, there appears to be too much focus on a product-based search for inventions.

Source: policy briefing (via Eldis)


Using Ultrasonic Beacons to Track Users – Schneier on Security

Quoting Schneier:

The idea is for devices like televisions to play ultrasonic codes in advertisements and for nearby smartphones to detect them.

Quoting from the linked article:

We spot ultrasonic beacons in various web media content and detect signals in 4 of 35 stores in two European cities that are used for location tracking. While we do not find ultrasonic beacons in TV streams from 7 countries, we spot 234 Android applications that are constantly listening for ultrasonic beacons in the background without the user’s knowledge.

Source: Using Ultrasonic Beacons to Track Users – Schneier on Security


Banned In Germany: Kids’ Doll Is Labeled An Espionage Device

Wonderful: a doll that records everything it hears, sends it to a company in the US that also does voice recognition for spy agencies, and sells it to companies so they can let the doll talk back to your kids about for instances Disney movies they should see.

The doll Cayla looks like an everyday toy and gives no notice that it collects and transmits everything it hears, German regulators say.

Source: Banned In Germany: Kids’ Doll Is Labeled An Espionage Device : The Two-Way : NPR